I’m back from my fun, whirlwind two-day cruise aboard the new Norwegian cruise ship, Breakaway. I have a lot to say about this ship—more than can fit in one blog post—but I wanted to hit the highlights for you this week. How does this ship measure up for solo travelers? Pretty well, I thought. I’m happy to report, solo travelers have another great cruise ship option in Norwegian Breakaway. I’m a little biased, since I’m a fan of big ships with lots to do, and this ship has that in spades.
Here are 10 things solo travelers can love about this ship:
The Studio Staterooms and Lounge
They’re ba-a-ack! The Studio Staterooms for solo travelers that have been such a big hit on Norwegian Epic are available on Norwegian Breakaway, too. There are fewer of them, though: 59 compared to Epic’s 128. (Breakaway is a slightly smaller ship than Epic.) If you’re unfamiliar with them, here’s the scoop: The Studio cabins are priced for solo travelers—no single supplement—and sized for us, too, at about 100 square feet. They’re all interior staterooms (sorry, no balcony here) with large beds and tons of storage space for your stuff (some cleverly hidden). They are identical to the Studio cabins on Norwegian Epic.
The Studios have exclusive keycard access to the Studio Lounge, a two-story lounge featuring a bar, games, casual seating, TV, and free coffee and cookies daily. Because there are fewer Studio rooms aboard Breakaway, the Lounge is also half the size of the one aboard Epic. The color scheme is nicer, though, if you care about such things. Every evening, there is a social hour in the lounge for solo travelers to meet and mingle. There will be a crew member assigned to host and facilitate group dinners and other activities if people are interested in that. It’s a great way to meet the other solo travelers on your cruise.
Note: If you are traveling solo aboard Breakaway and want stay in a different type of room than a Studio, you will only have access to the Studio Lounge during the social hour in the evening. The rest of the time, it’s off-limits. So I recommend going to the social hour the very first night of your cruise (at least) to meet folks and get signed up for any group activities for solo travelers.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Norwegian’s freestyle dining concept, where you get to choose where and when you eat. This runs counter to the old-style cruise ships where you are assigned a time and table to eat. (Ugh.) I love having freedom of choice.
With over 20 dining options aboard, including a buffet, several free restaurants, a deckside bar and grill, a wide variety of signature restaurants (available for an extra fee), an Irish pub, a coffee and pastry bar, cake shop and gelato stand, even the pickiest of eaters will find something to love here. I pretty much loved everything I ate. The good news for solos is that everywhere I looked, there was solo-friendly seating: Tons of counter and bar seating as well as a decent number of two-tops in all the restaurants, and on the Waterfront (see below). Service was just as prompt and friendly for me as it was any of the neighboring tables at the restaurants where I ate.
Fear not, you will not be forced to dine with strangers at their table if you don’t want to (except possibly one of the dinner shows). I was always ushered to a two-top when I entered a restaurant and told them I was dining alone. It was never an issue for me. However, if you do want to socialize over dinner, I highly recommend dining at the bar/counter or at the fun Teppanyaki restaurant. If you should wind up with an unfriendly group at Teppanyaki (highly unlikely), you’ll at least be able to focus on the “show” the chef puts on.
I cannot gush about this enough. This is what cruising is supposed to be like, people. The Waterfront is a quarter-mile promenade around the ship on deck eight, featuring outdoor seating for restaurants (Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney’s Steakhouse, La Cucina, Ocean Blue). That’s right, now you can enjoy a fine dining experience al fresco aboard your cruise ship.
There’s also an oversized chess set on deck if you want to challenge someone to a game. Or you can buy a gelato and take a stroll, while enjoying the ocean view. Or have a drink at one of the bars (Maltings, Shakers, Fat Cats Jazz Bar), all while getting some of that fresh ocean air.
I thought it would be tough for the Breakaway to top Blue Man Group when it picked a signature show for its new ship. But they did a fine job with the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Rock of Ages, which plays in the Breakaway Theater.
I’d been up since 2:30am the day I saw this show, which started at 10pm. I didn’t think I’d be able to stay awake until the end. Turns out, that wasn’t a problem at all. This Broadway musical delivers a rockin’ good time with a somewhat thin plot, but lots of heart, a great message, and all your favorite ’80s rock tunes. (I dare you not to sing along.) Note: If swearing and sexual innuendo offends you, this may not be the show for you.
And Rock of Ages is just one of several awesome evening entertainment options aboard the ship. You’ll also love Burn the Floor, a sexy, energetic ballroom dance show in the Manhattan Room and Breakaway Theater, and the one and only blues master Slam Allen who has made the move from The Epic to perform in Fat Cats Jazz Bar here on the Breakaway. Every cruise will have an ’80s dance party and fireworks, weather permitting. (It wasn’t on my cruise, though we did get to see nature’s fireworks in the form of a thunderstorm–does that count?) Throw in Bliss Nightclub and Spice H2O, the giant LCD screen in the Atrium where you can watch concerts and sporting events, and you’re in no danger of having boring nights aboard ship.
678 Ocean Place
The open tri-level deck concept is not new for a Norwegian ship—there’s one aboard The Epic, too—but this one kicks it up a notch in terms of eye-catching design and entertainment options. I could not stop taking pictures of the LED chandelier and staircases here; they have a futuristic design I really loved. What makes 678 Ocean Place a place you’ll gravitate to, though, is how much is concentrated in this one area of the ship: You’ll find restaurants and bars, the casino on deck 7, and the exits to the Waterfront on deck 8. I enjoyed just hanging out at the railing taking photos and people-watching.
Self-serve wine stations
This was quite possibly the most popular feature of the ship during my sailing. You wouldn’t believe how people oohed and ahhed over these. Essentially, these are wine vending machines. You walk up to one, pay, and get your wine. No human interaction involved. I predict these are going to be a huge hit with passengers. Personally, I’m not a wine drinker, so I didn’t use them. But if they made a self-serve mojito station, I’d be all over it.
I know I can’t be the only solo traveler who would rather not be surrounded by children during my entire vacation. If that resonates with you, you’ll want to check out Spice H2O, which offers a kid-free lounging experience by day (with waterfalls and hot tubs) and a lively outdoor nightclub experience by night. Also check out the Vibe Beach Club, which also has a hot tub and cozy little private loungers where you can enjoy the ocean views while shutting out the rest of the world. (You must purchase a pass for entrance to Vibe, and they’re limited, so if you want one, be an early bird.)
Anyone who says they’re “bored” aboard Breakaway must be hanging out in their room all the time, because there are approximately 1,0001 things to do aboard this ship. Okay, I’m exaggerating. But seriously, here’s just a small number of things you can do: Swim, sunbathe, enjoy the spa, workout in the gym, use the jogging track, check out the first salt room at sea, go on the ropes course, zipline, climb the rock wall, bowling, darts, play wii on the giant screen in the atrium, read in the library, play some games in the arcade, and so much more. Once you’re aboard, be sure to read your Freestyle Daily for more fun things to do. You’ll probably need a nap when you’re done with all those activities.
New York, New York
Since Breakaway’s home port is New York City, this is a very convenient ship for New Englanders, anyone in the New York Region or down the Eastern seaboard to DC. You could spend a couple of days in New York before or after your cruise to enjoy the real thing. But when you board the ship, you also get to take the city with you—sort of.
The New York theme permeates this ship in fun ways. The Rockettes are its godmothers; Carlo’s Bakery of “Cake Boss” fame has an outlet on the ship; the ice bar has a New York theme; and you’ll see all sorts of fun little nods to New York around the ship. I’m a sucker for themeing, and I got a real kick out of that. And honestly, there’s nothing like watching the New York City skyline go past as the ship sets sail. Nothing like it.
The Ice Bar
Okay, confession time: I didn’t actually get to see the inside of the ice bar aboard Breakaway. It was one of the things right at the top of my list to do, but when I went to make a reservation at 3pm on Friday, every time slot for the whole weekend was booked solid. [Cue overwhelming despair.]
But I did get to experience the ice bar aboard Epic, and I can say you will want to experience this. Trust me. It’s a ton of fun.
You’ll be served tasty and colorful vodka drinks in ice glasses at an ice bar, while looking around at ice sculptures of New York landmarks and trying to stay warm in your borrowed parka that makes you look like Nanook of the North. I recommend changing into long pants and socks before heading in there: It’s 17 degrees fahrenheit in that bar.
Put together a group of solos from the Studio Lounge and go together, or go by yourself and make some new friends in the bar. Either way, it’ll be a cool experience. Heh.
Those are just 10 of the things I loved about the Breakaway. I’m sure you’ll discover even more or perhaps even different things (the cannolis in Carlo’s Bakery, perhaps?). I have a lot more to say about this ship in future posts (and more photos), so stay tuned.
Disclaimer: I was hosted for the Breakaway inaugural weekend by Norwegian Cruise Lines, but my opinions are my own.