Anchor’s up as you depart from New York’s Hudson River aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest addition: the Norwegian Breakaway. This 18-deck cruise ship towers high enough to make a lasting imprint on the city's skyline, as it stands the largest ever to homeport in New York City. We recently sailed on the Breakaway to find out what floats and what sinks among the 25-plus restaurants, five multi-story slides, fireworks show, and more.
1. Breakfast in the Garden Café is best.
Breakfast on the ship is surprisingly limited, and we found a lack of innovation in the morning's selection. But for the best options, head to the bustling Garden Café buffet -- and start from the very back of the buffet. Lines for favorites like the omlete station are remarkably long in the front, while lesser-known stations near the rear of the ship are often empty. And be sure to stock up on the café’s incredibly delicious French toast, made on-site with super thick bread and seared to a perfect crisp.
2. The main dining room beats the specialty restaurants.
The food options for dinner on the ship are plentiful -- if you’re willing to pay. Here, nine specialty restaurants serve cuisine ranging from Asian noodles to Italian and fresh seafood. These are add-ons that charge anywhere from a la carte prices to a hefty $99 for a chef’s table experience. We say skip the extras, as the main dining options included with your cruise are just as extensive and impressive. Why pay these additional fees when a dinner in the Manhattan Room is just as flavorful and comes complete with live music and a dance performance from Burn The Floor? Plus, the specialty restaurants restrict orders to one appetizer, entrée, and dessert per person, while we were thrilled to order multiple items off of each column in the main dining room.
3. Beer buckets are not for the nomadic.
The bars, live music, and daily activities -- including live band karaoke and jumbotron Wii dance parties -- make the Breakaway a fun ship to be on. To enhance the festive atmosphere, Norwegian offers beer buckets of six bottles, charging for only five and essentially giving the last beer for free. (Domestics starting at $5.50, and a 15% gratuity is automatically charged.) But our word to the wise: The weight and cumbersome dimensions of the bucket do not manage well as you roam the ship. So if you’re planning on staying in one place for a while or have a large group, you’ll save a few bucks. But when there's always a bar in sight and you love to explore, lugging the bucket around may be more trouble than it's worth.
4. Overnight is the best way to charge your batteries.
The cabins rely on your key card to provide power to your room, meaning that when you remove the key card, the power goes out, too. You won't be able to leave cell phones, cameras, and iPads charging in the room while you're out exploring -- perhaps unless you're traveling in a pair, have two keys, and are willing to keep one inside.
5. Rock of Ages rocks the ship.
The Broadway hit Rock of Ages blasts audiences back to the '80s, when big hair and heavy metal ruled. The show kills it with a cast of talented stars-to-be that belt through a catalog of your favorite '80s songs set to a love story of epic proportions. The show is an onboard favorite and fills up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation online in advance -- or at the latest right away at the box office as soon as you board. For those looking to see the show on a whim, a standby line offers the chance to see the hit by allowing guests into the theater 10 minutes prior to curtain, pending availability.