Got a later start on Friday, but breakfast foods were still available in the Garden Cafe at 11am. The staff keeps ¼ of the buffet open for breakfast while lunch is being prepped; great for the late risers!

We did not want to wander too far from the ship today, our final day in port. We walked towards the Maritime Museum, and as we got closer, noticed a sign for “Fun Golf” and “Beach Water Sports.” We actually saw these signs upon arrival two days ago, but assumed it had something to do with boarding a bus and traveling elsewhere, since neither of these amenities were mentioned anywhere on the ship; not even in any of the literature. We were (pleasantly) surprised to learn that we were already there!

That’s right…just on the other side of the wall of the Maritime Museum! A beach with chairs for rent and all types of water sports and activities, AND, next to it, a separate entrance for FUN GOLF. Fun Golf has an 18-hole putt putt course, and each hole is a miniature version of a famous hole from 18 different PGA tour stops! The facility is brand new (about 45 days since its opening), and obviously well maintained. The co-owner, Jill, explained to us that there will be more, with plans to add a restaurant to the already popular Caddyshack Bar, where we hung out for about 90-minutes, after our 18-holes! The cost to play golf is $15 per person, and is well worth it. This was not one of those putt putt courses that you can complete in 20-minutes! We wish we knew about these two facilities earlier. Be sure to check them out, and look for pictures on our Facebook Page soon!

We boarded the Breakaway about 3:30pm, had a late lunch, and then headed for the obstacle course. Not much of a wait time at all, so I was in gear in no time. I am not fond of heights, but saw all of these kids doing the course, so I had to do it! I’m happy to say that I completed the course, but did so in probably half the speed of everyone else. I got to the plank, and actually walked it…and even thought it was easier because it was a solid piece to walk on, while most of the course was suspended and gave a bit when you walked on them. It was cool, because the ship was leaving the port as I walked the plank. By the way Oasis-Class Ship Fans, there is a zip line on the NCL Breakaway too…it’s part of the course, and is about the same distance across!

After dinner we made our way to deck 16 to grab some chairs for the fireworks display, set to begin about 11:15pm. The music of the 80’s Party was fantastic, and it led straight into the fireworks display, which was choreographed to the music! The fireworks lasted for about 5-minutes, and while others expected it to last longer, I did not think it would last five minutes. What can you expect at sea? Another successful innovation for Norwegian Cruise Lines!

On Saturday, weather permitting, it is off to the water park. Enjoy the weekend…cheers!

The beautiful weather continued, and the wind died down, so it seemed a bit warmer although it was only about 75 degrees. But, it was a welcomed change for someone who currently calls South Florida his home.

We decided to be served breakfast today, so it was off to O’Sheehan’s…and yes, they DO serve breakfast…and we were glad! It seemed to be one of the best kept secrets on the ship. All of the servers were smiling, friendly and attentive, and it was a nice experience to start the day.

Today we rode the ferry, also just steps from the ship, into Hamilton. The cost was the same as a round trip bus ride, but takes a fraction of the time; about 25 minutes compared to a 50-60 minute bus ride. NOTE: Ask the dockside workers about the ferry schedule! The printed schedules that were handed to us only noted one-hour intervals. It turned out that there were ferries every half-hour, and the schedule only showed that for weekends.

Hamilton was very beautiful, but typical of most of the cruise ship island destinations in the Caribbean. Typical meaning the same types of shops, pubs and restaurants that cater to the mainstream masses. Venture down some of the side streets and then you will find where the locals go. And THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL NOTICE THE DIFFERENCES!! In Hamilton, you will feel much safer; it just seems this way. You also do not have several people coming up to you asking for money, or if you want your hair braided! The city is well maintained, and we joked that it should be called “The Island of Boca Raton (Florida).” Definitely more upscale in appearance, offerings, and yes, in price!

We had lunch at a local restaurant called “The Lobster Pot.” Everyone in our party enjoyed the atmosphere and the food. We each had an alcoholic beverage with our lunches and the bill was a reasonable $101, and it included the gratuity. The lobster bisque was excellent, though none of us had lobster for lunch.

From there, after a little shopping, we caught a cab ($22 divided by 4 people) to the Crystal Caves. Entrance into the caves cost us $22 per person, and included a guided tour. The caves were beautiful and the stories behind how they were discovered are very interesting. The tour was brief, maybe 30 minutes, and there is a lot of climbing involved. It is about 87 steps back up, and then a subsantial incline to reach the exit (also the starting point). Don’t drop your cameras or iPhones into the waters, because that is where they will stay. The guide called it “the other gift shop!”

We returned to the ship, but not before stopping at the Rum Cake and Glass Factories at the dockyard shops. You can sample the rum cakes and watch the artists create glass art!

We had dinner at the Noodle Bar, on board, and it was very reasonably priced. I had the fried rice with beef and pork, and a vegetable spring roll. My wife had the Peking noodles, and she enjoyed it enough to order another!

Later in the evening we enjoyed the GLOW PARTY, formerly known as THE WHITE HOT PARTY. I don’t think we were the only passengers that did not know about the change, because three-fourths of all in attendance were in their white-hot get-ups! If it is on NCL’s website, either we missed it, or it needs to be more obvious. Regardless, it was fun, and is the reason why Day 5’s blog update is coming to you this morning!!

Time fell short on us yesterday, so today we are going to, hopefully, get onto the rope course, and walk the plank. Make it a great day everybody!

Today was our first day in Bermuda, docked at King’s Wharf. The beautfiul weather encountered during our days at sea continued today. Because of this, we decided to make this our beach day, so we headed to Horseshoe Bay beach.

Transportation was easily accessible, and the buses were large, comfortable and air conditioned. Tokens and bus passes were available for purchase just steps from the ship, and the buses were located close by as well. Note that they only accepted cash or travelers checks; no credit cards. It was $7.50 round trip per person.

The bus ride to Horseshoe Bay took about 25 minutes, and there were no stops between the ship and the beach. It is a winding, one-lane road in either direction. Once we reached the stop, it was another 500 yards, downhill, to the beach entrance. If it is the return to the top you are worried about, there is a $2 per person shuttle that will take you in either direction! Beach entry is free.

At the entrance, there are restrooms, showers and changing stations. Both the mens and the womens sections were fully functional and cleaned throughout the afternoon. To the left, you will find a snack bar restaurant, with seating located just outside, and beautiful views of the beach. Cold soft drinks, beer, coffee drinks and water are all for sale, along with sandwiches, wings, burgers, chips and more. By the way, beers are very reasonable here. And, Coolie made us feel very welcome!

The beach is very picturesque, but we favor a calmer surf. We call Florida home for now, and we are more accustomed to the calmer waters of South Florida and the Caribbean. The sand was incredibly fine and soft, and easy to clean off of everything, including our bodies. After a few hours, we walked up the hill (our workout for the day), and waited in line for the next bus. We boarded, and it was standing room only. If you have difficulty standing for long periods of time, I advise you to wait for the next bus (if you find yourself in this situation). It is a very winding road, and there is LOTS of stop and go traffic. It can be a challenge!

We arrived back at the shipyard and headed straight to The Frog and Onion Pub. We had fish and chips, fried pickle chips, French Onion Soup and wahoo (a local catch). They also brew their own beer, so we ordered their IPA and the Wheat Beer. We were four people, and the bill was $127, which already included the gratuity. They also gave us souvenir pilsner glasses, which was a nice surprise. Heading back on board, we had to show our stateroom keys AND government issued photo IDs.

Once on board, I went back up to deck 15, pool deck. This time, I analyzed the layout more closely. Most of the areas to lay out near the center of activity are shaded! If you want to catch some rays on Breakaway, you’ll need to head aft, toSpice h2O (adult only area), or find a lounge away from the pool area, where you really won’t hear the music. For a ship based out of the cooler Northeastern U.S., I am kind of surprised at all of the shaded areas on pool deck; and I do not mean temporary structures that can be moved. This would be more understandable in a ship based out of a warm weather climate, going to more warm weather climates! But, not complaining…just an observation, since my mind is built this way!

We will be back tomorrow, with more from Bermuda, and a plan to try the suspended obstacle course and the plank! Good night!

Another full day at sea and one day closer to Bermuda! Here are today’s experiences and observations from the Norwegian Breakaway:

1. Seems like a definite pattern. Breakfast at the Garden Cafe (Buffet Deck 15) is fully open by 7:30am (all stations). If you want to avoid the crowds, have your plates filled and be seated before 8:30am. By the way…the eggs taste real (not the powdered stuff!). In addition, don’t miss the hash browns! They are like miniature potato pancakes and have great flavor!

2. Foods that are supposed to be hot are hot; consistently now for three days.

3. We enjoyed an international beer tasting today! $15 per person for five samplings and lots of history and information. It all took place at Maltings Bar. We also experienced a Michael Jackson dance class, featuring the song “I Want You Back”, and prep for a flash mob!

4. We enjoyed a game of miniature golf on the 9-hole course. It was crowded but we only had to wait about two minutes for clubs and balls. In addition, deck space was not an issue…if you did not have to be by the two Main Pools.

5. One of the highlights of the day was a photo with two of the Radio City Rockettes. All of our photos will be posted when we are in a fast and reliable WiFi zone. Sorry to say, the satellite service still doesn’t cut the mustard.

6. The casino has an addicting “crane game” that gives you a chance to win lots of cash and iPads. The object is to make an over-sized key-shaped object fit perfectly into an opening, so that it will latch on to the prizes of your choosing. All it takes is a $1 swipe of your room key. But beware, it is not easy, although it seems so simple, and it is easy to lose track of how many turns you have taken.

7. Dinner tonight was in Le Bistro, a French restaurant venue with a $20 pp cover. Service and fare were each excellent, and the food continued to exceed our expectation, especially on a line better known for its entertainment. We have heard comments from several about their pleasant experiences with the meals and food venues.

8. An observation…seems there are more smokers on cruises out of the Northeast than on cruises out of Florida. Keep this in mind if you plan to dine outdoors, as the Breakaway has an abundance of outdoor dining venues.

9. “Rock of Ages” in the Breakaway Theater was amazing…full set, just like on Broadway. The music, and how it was used to tell the story…brilliant, and brought back fond memories. Loved the cast…and they were available for FREE meet and greets and photo opps (with your own cameras) as you exited the Theatre!

Overall, the staff and crew have been very friendly, and we are often greeted with smiles. A couple of times we encountered a shy bartender, but after a few minutes, each seemed to loosen up a bit. However, you can tell which ones are going to be more successful in the long run! That’s it for today. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day. We are back with Day 2 of our cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway, which is a full day at sea en route to Bermuda. Keep in mind, due to the extremely slow internet speed, we will be uploading most photos on Sunday, after we disembark. You will not be disappointed! Here are today’s thoughts and tips:

1. We had a wonderful day relaxing onboard, spending most of our time at Spice h2O, an adult-only deck/pool area, aft, deck 16. Chairs were easy to obtain, whether you desired shade or sunlight. This area not only protects you from young children, but also from high winds! It is close to all of the food venues on deck 15 (Garden Cafe buffet) as well as the adjacent Uptown Bar & Grill. And, it is where one of the Sabrett Hot Dog Carts is located!

2. I started the day, however, in the gym at 9:20am. It was packed. I took the tour on the first day, and did comment how small (for a ship this size) the gym is, but did not figure it would be so busy. It was still packed at 4:00pm! I truly am surpised with its size, considering it is based out of New York City. There are less older folks on board (than cruises out of Florida, for example), and as with any ship based out of the north, you would think there IS going to be greater amounts of indoor activity, and indoor use. On the flip side, the fitness centers are rarely overcrowded on the cruises out fo the south. And, on the newer megaliners (Oasis, Allure and NCL Epic) the gyms are huge!

3. I LOVE this ship, but I must mention, it DOES feel crowded. When compared to ships of similar size, hallways are narrower, buffet restaurant walking areas are tighter and the staterooms are smaller on average. The Oasis class of ships can hold about 1,500 more people (at capacity), but during my experiences, they never felt crowded.

4. Be sure the bring flip flops to the pool decks…the floor gets hot.

5. You must place you stateroom key in a slot (by the front door) to bring power into the room and for the lights to turn on. Be sure NOT to remove the key at night to shut the lights. Your electronic items will not charge up!

6. We had dinner in the Manhattan Room, one of the main dining rooms, tonight. It is a beautiful space, and has a dance floor. We enjoyed it and did not feel rushed. Since everyone has different taste buds, we are careful not to be food critics, but in our eyes, the stretch of good food continued today…no disappointments!

7. In our stateroom, the lavatory trash bin is INSIDE the door of the cabinet underneath the sink.

8. My wife was not disappointed with the service and quality of food at Wasabi Sushi Bar.

9. The DJ and staff was excellent at getting everyone involved with the Norwegian Night Out Dance Party at Spice h2O, 10:45pm. The dance floor was packed just 15 minutes into the event.

Thanks for stopping by! We will back again tomorrow with Day 3.

We promised to report live from the Norwegian Breakaway all this week, and we are going to deliver. Here are our experiences for Day One, Sunday, May 26th:

1. We arrived at the port via a Sprinter Van. It took 22 minutes and 38 seconds from the first step out of the van to the first step into the Breakaway. Arrival at the port was 11:22 AM. Our time included walking all the way to the BACK of the terminal for even deck check-in, and we were filtered into the Latitudes Rewards line. The entire was painless, from the security checkpoint to receiving our sail and sign cards. You will, however, know you are in New York! Fast, to-the-point instructions and talkers, from the curbside baggage handlers to the staff inside the terminal. Pay attention!

2. We stepped into the ship towards the aft, and the entrance was not grand. It is always nice to be awed, and form terrific memories, when you step inside for the first time, and that did not happen here. As is typical with Day One Boarding, elevators did not arrive quickly…but they did eventually. The elevators seem larger than those on most other ships.

3. Our staterooms were ready, so we dropped our carry-ons and went straight up to the Garden Cafe. The variety of food was incredible. Pastas, brats with kraut, seafood, pizzas, Asian fare…so much to mention. The desserts were awesome, as expected coming from NYC suppliers. It’s gotta be in the water! Speaking of water, The Garden Cafe offers flavored water dispensers, along with the usual iced teas, lemonades, water and coffee. They also had wine machines! You swipe your room key, and choose your wine…it’s that simple!

4. The Muster Drill was organized and quick. Dress lightly, however. The stations are all indoors and it gets warm with all of the bodies around you…especially if your spot is in the area with the big screen. Those lights make it very warm.

5. Sail away was awesome. If you have never sailed out of New York City, put it on the list! The city, the Statue of Liberty and sailing under the Verrazano Bridge…all sights to see and experience from onboard any tall cruise ship. There are excellent photo opportunities and it was fun to hear the entire deck cheer when the ship successfully cleared the Verrazano (watch for our video to soon appear on our YouTube Channel, cruiseCX). After we cleared the bridge, we sampled a “dirty water dog” at the Sabrett hot dog stand!

6. We then had a “snack” at O’Sheehan’s Pub, on Deck 7. Comfort foods galore at O’Sheehans, and it is all included in your fare. We had the wings and cheese sticks, and I ordered a Chef’s Salad. We topped it off with some beers from their selection of 20 different ones.

7. Tonight we had reservations for the Cirque Dreams Dinner Theatre to see “Jungle Fantasy.” We paid the extra $10 for premium seating ($39 pp overall), which is worth it and just about under the “tent” portion of the Theatre….very close to the action. The food was excellent and the show was FANTASTIC. Tremendous athleticism and superb choreography which drew many “oohs’ and “aahs” from the packed house. Without exaggeration, we would see it again!

8. We rounded out our evening at Fat Cat’s Jazz and Blues Club, featuring Slam Allen. Allen has been a part of the NYC blues scene for decades, and he played to a packed room. If you ever have the chance to see Slam Allen, you will be in for a treat. He is a man full of love and soul, he will keep you wanting more, and it will be difficult to find someone who loves what he does more than Slam Allen!

We are looking forward to the week and hope that it doesn’t pass too quickly. We will be back tomorrow with more! Sweet dreams everybody, and thanks for stopping by!

NJ Transit Newark Airport Station

NJ Transit Newark Airport Station

NY Pizza at Penn Station!

NY Pizza at Penn Station!

My wife Cathy and me with Mr. Met!

My wife Cathy and me with Mr. Met!

It is difficult to top New York City when it comes to public transportation.  Upon our arrival into Newark International (Friday from Miami), getting into NY was a snap. We took the airport air train to New Jersey transit Newark train station, where we caught the train to Penn Station in Manhattan, $12 each.  Once in Penn Station (which is beneath Melo’s home, Madison Square Garden), we had our first taste of NYC, a slice of pizza!  It was awesome, and they had quite a system going at the counter; in about a minute, our order was taken, food was served and money paid! From Penn station we took a cab to meet our cruise mates (and family), who then drove us from Manhattan to their home in Queens.

Today, Saturday, we took in a Mets game at Citi Field; the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves.  Before the game, we took the subway into Manhattan to meet more family, so that they would not be alone on the 7-train to Citi Field.  Let’s just say he (we’ll call him “John”) watches too much “Law and Order!”  Citi Field is beautiful (especially compared to old Shea Stadium) and there is a wide variety of food choices.

We took advantage of many of them, prepping our bodies for the onslaught of NCL Breakaway food!  Hopefully, the weather will improve as we board the Breakaway tomorrow and head towards Bermuda.  It’s late May and the temperature dropped to the upper 40’s with 20-30 mph wind gusts.  It felt like late fall, and we left the game in the 6th inning, went to a cafe, and ate some more; desserts with coffee and Bailey’s!

In a few hours, we will be boarding our van to head to the Norwegian Breakaway!  Be sure to check with us daily over the next seven days; we will have lots of information for you!

Contributor, Tore Berger

Contributor, Tore Berger

When a new cruise ship is on its way from a paper drawing to an actual ship, there is literally tons of work to be done besides the physical aspect. Inspection, inspection, inspection!

To be an inspector on a yard, for a cruise company on a big new build, is somewhat of an experience. The yard company is the overall responsible party, and there is probably a two-figured number of construction deliverers working for the yard. Perhaps one company for the buffet restaurant, another for the “American” styled bar, another for the nightclub and so on. Each with their special fields and skills, and, again, additional providers for furniture, electronics, carpets, and so on. Different companies for different bars, for the different areas, restaurants etc.

I repeat, the yard is responsible. The contractors have their duties and work, and the cruise company wants it all to be perfect. And here lies the work for the inspectors. A small delegation of trusted employees, from the cruise company, does the inspections. A Chef or two to inspect the galleys; Bar Manager for the bars; electrician, engineer, headwaiter, boatswain and so on. Every inch of wall is examined: scratches, marks, stains, technical, furniture, painting, and the finish in general. Everything is supposed to be shiny, new, functioning properly, and looking perfect. The inspectors do this utilizing their respective skills, and on behalf of the company and owner. Trust is the key word from the company, and pride is the answer from the handpicked inspectors.

An inspection goes on with a representative from the yard, from the deliverer, from the contractor, and the company inspector. Hours and hours, details, and notes. After as many as 10-12 inspections, the area can be signed and “delivered.” Everybody involved signs, and the inspector does it for the owner. This is always like a small ceremony, and the tension can be high. As a trusted inspector for my company, I have to say it’s a special honour. The trace of a ship is linked to me. To my name. To my job. The flip side of the coin? I am responsible for signings up to millions of dollars. Anyway, it is, and will in the future, be worth it.

Cruise ship inspector, a job to remember for life.

On behalf of the owner: Tore Berger.

“A business that only makes money, is a poor business!”

The Rockhouse Restaurant in Negril, Jamaica.

The Rockhouse Restaurant in Negril, Jamaica.

I’ll never forget the first time my mother said, “why are you going to eat in Jamaica when you can eat for free on the ship?”  I’ll tell you why!  For me, it’s more than wanting to sample the local cuisine (although it is the primary reason)…I just like having options.  And, I love having options aboard as well.

Two of the great debates (among cruisers) lately are traditional dining versus anytime dining, and whether the surcharge for certain alternative venues are justified.  Regardless of your preferences and opinions, one thing is certain…the cruise lines don’t make us do anything…we choose…and we have options!

I’ve never understood the debate between anytime diners and traditional diners, since you have the ability to choose either option!  Yes, even on NCL; the company that introduced the Freestyle dining concept.  In fact, before the terms “Freestyle” and “anytime” dining existed, we’ve all swayed from our assigned times in the Main Dining Room to eat at the buffet; or to dine ashore!  “Anytime dining” has always existed!  Although dining in the main room was what the majority of folks were accustomed to, it also served as the “fall back plan.”  We knew our settings would be there waiting for us, in the event we did not want to dine elsewhere.  Even with the assigned time, we CHOSE to dine at that time!

Surcharges seem to be another hot topic with regards to cruises.  And, I have absolutely no problem with surcharges…for several reasons:

  • The Specialty Cafe example:  Take any specialty coffee shop on any ship…if these items were included (in your fares), everybody would patronize and the wait times would be ridiculous.  Furthermore, you can still get your FREE coffees and teas at their traditional locations on board
  • The Specialty Restaurant example:  Again, you have a choice, and these choices do not have to be made way in advance.  The inclusive dining options are still there!  And, for several, when you are on holiday, you might want to take your dining experience to the next level of service.  It is nice to have the option.
  • The Cruise Fare example:  Cruise fares, on average, have decreased over the years.  If several of these extras were to be included in the fare, the cruise-only price would certainly increase, whether you take advantage of the options or not.  Currently, cruise prices are reasonable, and you only pay for the extras if you use them!

There are no right or wrong answers to the debates briefly touched upon above, but I do know this… the Bermuda restaurateurs will certainly get to know us as we “Breakaway in late May!”

shp_br_lov-state_sch_379You can enhance your Cruise Experience and save money by choosing your stateroom wisely.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Do you truly need a larger stateroom, spending the extra bucks for a mini-suite or larger?  Think about how often you spend time in your stateroom, and how you spend that time?
  2. Along the same lines, how often do you use the balcony? Is it necessary to spend the extra money on the balcony when considering the amount of time you spend out there?
  3. If size is important, a travel agent can help.  He/she should know the average stateroom sizes for each cruise line, and ship.
  4. If Hurricane Season doesn’t faze you much, you can find better deals on Caribbean Cruises in late August to mid-October, which is the peak of the Caribbean Hurricane Season.  This might be your opportunity to get that mini-suite at balcony stateroom prices.
  5. Booking a Guarantee (a category level without knowing your stateroom number until the cruise gets closer) will save you money.  It is also quite possible that you get bumped up to a higher category level.
  6. If you are a frequent cruiser on a particular line (and sister lines of a parent company), perks tend to include upgrades to higher stateroom categories.  Be sure to look into this!

Don’t get me wrong…a suite is sweet!  However, I certainly do not cruise to spend much time in my stateroom.  And, when I am in the stateroom, its size isn’t an issue, since I’m either on the bed, in the lav and/or paying attention to my beautiful wife!  The money saved on the proper stateroom can be used for other amenities on board, as well as for shore excursions and shopping.  And, maybe…just maybe…a drink or two (or three)!!