When I first got the email asking me if I’d like to review the Norwegian Breakaway for Cruise International Magazine (I know!!), the name Norwegian Cruise Line initially made me think of slipping through icy fjords and gazing at a skyful of Northern Lights. Although that would have been amazing, and is still something I want to do, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our itinerary was incredible: starting from New York (NEW YORK!!), we would sail to Port Canaveral in Florida, then Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s own private island in the Bahamas, and then to Nassau, before heading back to New York.
As it coincided with the Easter holidays, lucky Charlie got to come with me and experience first New York (more of this later) and the wonderful cruise.
Sailing out of New York is just breathtaking. The docks are really close to midtown, right next door to where the Central Line tours take visitors to Staten Island. The Breakaway is huge, and has a colourful painted hull splashed with images of New York. On the way out, you swish right past the Statue of Liberty, which is unforgettable, and there are gorgeous views of Manhattan:
After all the excitement of leaving New York, we had a wander around the ship and then headed off to find our cabin, which was really slick and modern, with touches of bright colours and shiny, dark wood (I can’t find my photos at the moment, but will add them when they appear). We had comfy twin beds, a fridge and a flat screen TV. The bathroom was all-in-one with a step-in shower and we had lots of storage spaces, including loads of room under the beds to kick our suitcases out the way. The balcony was small but perfectly adequate – that white awning you can see actually covers a really lovely outdoor area which is linked to several of the bars and restaurants, called The Waterfront, it’s the perfect place to sip a cocktail and watch the fireworks, a feature on every cruise:
Up on deck:
The ship is brand new (launched just last year) and huge (it’s over 1000ft long and can hold nearly 4000 guests) and has the most incredible deck space I’ve ever seen. Check out these slides:
…and the ropes course – if you look carefully, you can see Charlie up there right at the top. He also walked the plank which takes you right out over the ship, but I have no photo as I was too busy squeaking and shouting ‘ooh! Hold on!’ (it’s honestly really safe as you’re all harnessed up, but it looks terrifying):
Nick Jr and Nickelodeon characters feature heavily on board ship, so you’ll often bump into SpongeBob (I was actually quite starstruck when this happened) and his friends, both at the pool area, in the kids’ clubs activities, and at character meet and greet sessions:
There’s a fabulous wet play area for smaller children, as well as a larger children’s pool:
… there’s also an adults only pool with several jacuzzis and a bar area (obviously I coordinated my toe nails on purpose):
There are also a gazillion and one things to do below decks too (16 of them in all – just as well, as sadly the weather was not kind to us on a couple of days): a massive casino, clubs, gorgeous spa, shops, theatre, spiegel tent, ice bar, jazz club, art gallery, a large double-height atrium area with a massive movie screen and stage … you name it, it’s there, as well as obviously a ton of restaurants and bars.
678 Ocean Place is really the social centre of the ship – it’s open on multiple decks and leads to restaurants, bars, shops, nightlife and the casino:
The kids’ clubs are particularly good. Charlie made amazing friends in the Entourage teen club (ages 13 – 17) and has kept in touch with lots of them since saying goodbye. It runs until 1am (there’s a curfew aboard ship – and there is a security team wandering about who do ask them their ages, so they can’t wander unsupervised) and there are meet-ups, pool parties and scavenger hunts. There are kids clubs (called collectively ‘Splash Academy’) for all ages. Younger kids are split into Turtles: 3 – 5 years, Seals: 6 – 9 years and Dolphins: 10 – 12 years and the activities (everything from craft sessions, discos and quizes, through to circus school) go on from 9am through to 10.30pm. There’s also a ‘Guppies Playroom’ for supervised play with babies. This is one of the best things about cruising. Of course, being on holiday with the family is fab, but it’s great to have the opportunity to get some adult time for a visit to the spa or a dinner a deux, knowing that your children are having fun and being supervised by qualified, kind staff. You can always keep in touch with ship phones.
If you’d like to read my article, it’s in the current issue of Cruise International, or you can see it online at cruise-international.com. Next up: entertainment, restaurants, spa and those all-important shore days.
Oh and while you’re reading, I’ve been shortlisted in the Best Blogger category in the Cruise Awards 2014 – it would mean so much to me to win this as cruising really is a thing close to my heart, so please if you’ve got a minute, I’d be really delighted if you’d vote for me. Just click here (you don’t have to fill in all the categories if you don’t want to). Thank you x
VIRGIN HOLIDAYS CRUISES: 8-night New York Stay & Bahamas Cruise from £999pp
Departing on 15 November 2014, Virgin Holidays Cruises offers an eight-night New York Stay & Bahamas Cruise with one night at the 4V+ Westin New York at Times Square in the Big Apple before joining Norwegian Breakaway for seven nights on a Bahamas cruise, sailing from New York, calling at Port Canaveral (Florida), Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas) and Nassau (Bahamas). Price is per person based on two adults travelling, sharing an inside cabin on a full-board basis (cruise), room only accommodation in New York, Virgin Atlantic flights direct to New York from London Heathrow and Virgin Holidays Exclusive Extras including $100 per cabin onboard spend. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. To book, visit www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk, call 0844 488 3084 or visit one of our 130 stores located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.