We aren’t long home from our amazing 7-day cruise from NYC to Bermuda. In this post, I’m going to share my tips to cruise on Norwegian Breakaway. I have a more cruise posts coming up with more detail about cruising with kids, our stateroom & activities on the ship. This post lists the most important takeaway points I found on the ship. These are things that if I had the cruise to do over again, I’d follow these tips!
My 15 takeaway points from the cruise:
1. The ship docks at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal at 12th Ave, around 53rd street. Getting there via taxi can get congested so leave yourself enough time. There is parking on the pier so you can drive & leave your car.
2. The Breakaway is HUGE. It holds over 4,000 passengers & is over 1,000 feet long. This is an important point to remember – lots of people will be getting on & off the ship with you. Be prepared to be patient & wait. There is no point getting panicked about being the first one on or off the boat. It works much better to sit back & let the masses go through first.
a. Embarcation: Pack snacks for the kids & only carry what you need with you. There’s a good amount of walking & waiting around. It’s very well organized. They began allowing people to board the boat around 12:00. We arrived at 11:30 & things went very smoothly.
b. Disembarkation: NCL offers an “easy walk off” at 8:30am where you bring your own luggage off the boat with you. We didn’t take that option. Rather, we sat & had breakfast & watched everyone lined up around the boat with their baggage. It didn’t look like fun times.
There are so many people trying to leave at that time, that they ended up circling the outside of the boat. Then after exiting the boat, there’s a very long walk along the pier. If you’re not in a rush, I’d definitely advise having your breakfast & letting NCL take your bags off for you.
c. If someone in your party needs a wheelchair, NCL provides one & someone to push it for you. If you have a child in a stroller, they allow you into the wheelchair line that takes the elevator & that is a much faster route.
3. Everyone goes to the buffet when they get on the boat. It is a mad house & extremely unnerving if you have children. I hadn’t realized that the main dining rooms were open as well. I’d recommend going to Taste or Savour instead & have a sit-down lunch in peace.
4. If you book a room on the starboard side of the boat, you have a great view of the Statue of Liberty as the boat leaves NYC. And, when docked in Bermuda you have a view of the Royal Navy Dockyard rather than the ocean. We had a starboard mini-suite (a balcony room) on Deck 9, midship & loved the views & comfort of our room. Here are some views from our balcony:
5. If you are travelling with children, be sure that your room steward gives you a child-size life jacket before leaving the dock.
6. You receive a newsletter every day. It has the next days itinerary & special offers listed on it. It’s worth taking a few minutes to read through everything & circle what you might like to do. Here are a few things that came up for us during our cruise (I don’t know if they run the same specials every week):
a. Unlimited wifi deal for $25 per day. You need to pay for all 7 days. I wish I had taken this deal. It was only available on Day 1 & 2, then the prices went crazy for very little data.
b. Drink of the day. Cocktails come to around $12 after adding the 18% gratuity (the daily service charge you pay does not include bar gratuities). Every day there is a cocktail for $6 (around $8 after gratuity). They were tasty & a money saver.
c. There was a deal towards the end of the week to have a bag of laundry washed for $20.
7. You can ask your room steward to empty the mini fridge. We stocked ours with water & juice instead. You can also request extra hangers if you need them. I kept the kids clothes folded on the shelves in the closet & had plenty of hangers.
8. Kids Club:
a. Is located on Decks 12 & 13.
b. You register when you get on the boat (or any time after). There may be a total of 3 adults who are allowed to drop off & pick up a child. In order to drop/pick up you must have your own card & the child’s card.
c. When the child attends for the first time, they get a wristband that stays on for the duration of the cruise.
d. There is an itinerary for each age group that you receive at registration. Children may only attend their own age group. My son was 3 months away from turning 6 & they would not allow him into the 6-9-year-old group with his brother & cousins.
e. During port days, all the ages are together. My boys attended twice during port days & really enjoyed it.
f. If you leave your child for lunch or dinner, it costs $6 per child for them to be taken to O’Sheehans (a complimentary restaurant) to eat from the kids menu.
g. Under 3’s have a play room where a parent must stay with them. We went to the room twice & were the only ones there. It was a nice break for my daughter to play with toys.
h. There were daily family arts & crafts which few people attended. We loved them! One day the kids painted Sponge Bob t-shirts.
9. Reserve shows & restaurants you want to see in advance on the NCL login page. Burn the Floor is in the main theater but is in the Manhattan Room some evenings. Be careful with your reservations.
10. If you want your photo professionally taken, I recommend making an appointment with the photography studio. There were offers towards the end of the week where if you bought an 8×10 photo, you received a free 6×8 & could purchase the image on USB card for an additional $20.
11. If you travel as a group, the iConcierge App is a real lifesaver! It’s free to download & there’s an activation fee of about $8 per phone when you get on the boat. You can text & call anyone else with the app, call staterooms, restaurants or check your account balance as much as you want. It was the best money I spent on the cruise! There is no way we would have ever found each other by wandering the boat.
12. If you want some peace & quiet on the boat, stay on it when you get to Bermuda! Everyone leaves & you have the place to yourself.
a. We had lounge chairs right next to the kids pool & the kiddies splashed & played with only a couple other kids. There were no lines for the waterslides. The adult pool & other areas of the boat were also quiet. On sea days, people were getting up at 6am to reserve lounge chairs (not my idea of a holiday).
b. Somethings are closed while in port such as the ropes course & most restaurants. Check the newsletter for what’s open.
13. Bermuda, Royal Navy Dockyard:
a. They accept American Dollars.
c. There is a free shuttle that looks like a train & it goes around the dockyard.
d. There’s plenty of taxi’s, buses & ferries to get where you want to go.
e. The Frog & Onion Pub has really tasty cocktails & souvenir glasses!
f. There is a small beach in walking distance if you have small kids & don’t want to travel to a beach.
g. There is a one hour time change – you move your clocks forward one hour for Bermuda.
14. Be sure to have your room cards for everyone & photo ID (for adults) for leaving & getting back on the ship in Bermuda. You also need your room cards for attending shows. You may close the account on your kids cards so that purchases can not be made with their cards.
15. The Ice Bar requires reservations. It was so fun & the cocktails were really nice!