The ship embodies the best in "Free-Style" cruising yet.
The Waterfront is a true outdoor promenade
deck where people can spend hours
"Free-style cruising" invented by Norwegian Cruise Line, means a cruise ship provide many different options to each cruiser all the time. It means the end of regimented cruising where everyone has the same meal, in the same restaurant and sees the same show every night.
Norwegian promised us that the previous ship, Norwegian Epic inaugurated in 2010, would represent the epitome of Free-Style cruising; and while that ship fulfilled that promised, it also had a few drawbacks, mostly with its oddly designed "new wave" cabins which were cool in concept but fell short in a few practical ways.
Therefore, by default, the line's newest ship Norwegian Breakaway, which just debuted last month (May, 2013) has become the ship that truly brings "Free-style" cruising to its best potential. The ship has more dining venues and even more cool neighborhoods for hanging out than any ship ever built. It also has a much better stateroom resign than Epic.
Needless to say - this Free-Style concept wouldn't work if Norwegian Breakaway didn't execute in the quality of its food and entertainment - and the ship does that. In all honesty, when you are on a ship where everyone says "the food is surprisingly good" you know you are onto something. This includes the main dining rooms and the buffet area - both included in the cruise fare. I have heard this is true of the food on all NCL ships, and so I have to say "congratulations" to them - they put a lot of effort into upgrading the food quality and they succeeded.
But even more important is the fact that Breakaway has some 27 different eateries onboard - more than any cruise ship in history. That is true "Free-style" dining where you can definitely have your pick of several dining venues night after night.
Making the dining concept even better, is the addition of a concept taken further on the ship that on any other ship afloat - the "Water Front" - an open deck area running along the outside of the ship open to strolling and al fresco dining for a number of restaurants very close to open water - close enough to the hear the sound of sea water rushing by.
Other ships have had open promenade decks - mostly for people doing their daily strolls and not much more. But the Waterfront is a true neighborhood at sea where people can spend hours meandering, eating dinner, dessert and staying up to party at night.
Without a doubt, the area where Norwegian Breakaway excels the most is entertainment. The onboard production of the hit Broadway show Rock of Ages is as good as any production one will find land - and that is a rare statement for a cruise ship. This show was a proven smash hit on Broadway in New York already and a hit movie starring Tom Cruise.
Second City, Howl at the Moon and the Slam Allen Blues Band in "Fat Cats" are also top notch. To sum it up - Norwegian Breakaway entertainment is not just good for a cruise ship - it is great entertainment for any venue, putting it in the top tier of best cruise ship entertainment. With Breakaway, cruise ship entertainment has finally attained credibility, and that was even reflected in the attitude of the players in these shows. If Second City comedians couldn't find something to knock about the ship's design - (and they didn't hold back any jokes about the stateroom design on Epic) then you know it has to be good.
The two newest Norwegian ships win the title for "Best Cruise Ships for Singles" because of the combination of the Studio Lounge and the Studio Staterooms with no singles supplement.
I have never seen solo cruisers feeling more at home and included in the cruise experience. With some 90 studio staterooms being sold without a singles supplement, solo cruisers are assured plenty of company on every cruise. Even better, they will be able to easily find their compatriots on every cruise, and that is the biggest obstacle solo cruisers face on any cruise ship - meeting the people who are interested in meeting them.
Solo cruisers need to be together on a cruise ship, but it isn't just the studio staterooms that make this happen, it is the Studio Lounge, the "living room" just for solo cruisers to meet. The lounge has a nearly full-time hostess, a bartender and a refrigerator stocked with salads, sandwiches and desserts. People
Congregate for playing games, making arrangements to meet for drinks, shows and dinner and really having fun.
By the way, at first I knocked the idea that the room did not have keyed access as originally advertised, but I now think many singles will opt to pay for a balcony cabin with the supplement fee solely because this will be the best solo cruise ship in service but not everyone will want a studio stateroom. There is no reason why they should be excluded from the solo cruiser activities onboard.