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NCL Breakaway- 7 days from New York to Bermuda

Take two: trying to reach Bermuda during peak hurricane season. We attempted this itinerary last year, only to be rerouted last minute to Florida and the Bahamas. For ex-cruise ship staff, this is the last run you want to do again- our home port used to be Canaveral or Ft Lauderdale for Caribbean runs, and we only thought of these locations as an opportunity to pop off and buy toothpaste.

Storm's projected path- our cruise was September 8-15th

Storm’s projected path- our cruise was September 8-15th

 

Of course, we made the most of it and had a great time, but I really didn’t want to miss Bermuda again this year. Weather reports a few days out showed Hurricane Gabrielle whipping through our exact course, and I mentally prepared myself for another 3 days in Florida. But no! Our fearless captain would take us as scheduled into the fray, fingers crossed we wouldn’t become yet another mystery wreck buried at the bottom of the Triangle.

Bridge meets Bridge as we sail away under the Verrazzano

Bridge meets Bridge as we sail away under the Verrazzano

The Ship

The NCL Breakaway is currently Norwegian’s newest and largest ship to home port in NYC. With new onboard activities, open promenade called “the Waterfront”, and top-notch entertainment options, the sea days that await you will not be boring.

Our balcony cabin

Our balcony cabin

Our cabin was a starboard balcony that our cabin steward fluffed with pool loungers for us. The contemporary water-themed decor appeals to the modern New York aesthetic, and the adults-only “Spice H20” lounge at the back of the ship is the perfect vantage point to watch as you sail away from the city that never sleeps.

View from Spice H20

View from Spice H20

The top deck holds the Ropes course, complete with a zipline that runs the width of the ship and an open-air platform extended over the edge to venture out on. Also new- an aqua park with 5-story water slides and a vertical freefall. There is also a climbing wall and mini-golf for the less adventurous.

Climbing Wall and Ropes course

Climbing Wall and Ropes course

Flying through the air

Flying through the air

Water water everywhere

Water water everywhere

When the weather is less than lovely, the Atrium hosts trivia, shows, and movies which you can watch from the Irish Bar above. I admittedly spent one afternoon with “Pitch Perfect” and a bucket of Buffalo Wings, even though it was beautiful outside.

Dancing with the Breakaway Stars in the Atrium

Dancing with the Breakaway Stars in the Atrium

One thing that we missed on this ship was the indoor lounge area at the bow of other NCL ships- Late-night shows could be housed in here, thereby allowing  more “R-rated” content without offending the kiddies. I once spent a lovely rainy day reading in one of these lounges, curled up on a tacky velvet couch watching the storm though floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Entertainment

Upon getting settled, we made all our reservations for the week- including Burn the Floor, Second City Comedy, and Rock of Ages. Pre-cruise, each room was only allowed to book each show once over the course of the week- in reality, we went to see each multiple times just by showing up 5 minutes before showtime. Our favorite- Rock of Ages. The cast was excellent, the show surprisingly racy for a cruise ship, and the music undeniably ’80s. We even hung out in the hot tub with some visiting friends of the cast, reminiscing about our own days at sea.

Comedic Magician Michael Finney, flummopxed by a five year old

Comedic Magician Michael Finney, flummopxed by a five year old

We also love Second City, but be aware of which show you are attending. Some of the shows are scripted, meaning they pull from the annals of the famous comedy troupe to recreate famous skits. The “Scriptless” shows are freeform, where audience suggestions are used to make up a show on the spot. I prefer the latter, as you really get insight on how hard it is to be funny.

Have a spare minute? Bring a whiskey out to the Waterfront by Fat Cats Blues lounge and listen while enjoying the fresh sea air.

The Food

As usual on NCL, we found the food in the main dining rooms quite nice, and the addition of Burn the Floor dancing in the dining room was a bonus. We brought our own wines with us, paying the extra $15/bottle for the assurance that we would drink well.  (Side note, we also had Casino free drink cards, which once you wrap your head around being cheap, can prove quite useful.)

Delicious gnocchi with pumpkin sage cream sauce

Delicious gnocchi with pumpkin sage cream sauce at Taste

The Waterfront is one of those “why haven’t they done this sooner?” design solutions, which provides many of the specialty restaurants with outdoor seating. Additionally, it holds Carlo’s Bake Shop, a Gelateria, and Ocean Blue on the Waterfront, with beachy snacks like fish tacos. The seating out here is hard to come by, but a great place to while away the hours in a comfy lounger.

These were only our appetizers!

These were only our appetizers!

Cagney’s Steakhouse is a bit of a staple for us, and we go everytime we “cruise like a Norwegian”. This Cagney’s menu is different then the rest, and they have taken away some of our favorite items. Where are my Oysters Rockerfeller? And what, no crab cakes? I’m sorry, crab salad is NOT the same. Something else to note about specialty dining- they now note additional fees for extra main courses. How anyone fits that much food in their mouths, I have no idea, but you’ll be paying for that extra T-bone.

Porterhouse at Cagney's Ateakhouse

Bone-in Ribeye at Cagney’s Steakhouse

Of course we love our fancy steaks and truffle fries, but an addictive favorite of mine- pub food. I definitely ate too many fish and chips and drank too many German Hefeweizens at O’ Sheehan’s Pub. Bathing suit season will be over soon, right?

Bermuda

Our approach into Kings Wharf

Our approach into Kings Wharf

That land of pink sands and mystery was trying to evict us again- the hurricane winds disallowed our ship to approach until the evening of day four. At 8 o’clock and too excited to wait, our feet finally touched down in Bermuda. The winds ripped, the rain drizzled, and with a quick lap of Kinds Wharf, we got right back on board.

The canons of Fort Hamilton

The canons of Fort Hamilton

The following day was much nicer, so we purchased our ferry tickets to Hamilton and headed out early. If you have been to the Caribbean before, this town is very similar to all the other port towns- but more expensive. Prepare yourself for $9 beers and $25 lunches, along with all the standard tchotchkes for purchase. This was the first holiday that I didn’t buy anything.

The floating walkway through Crystal Caves

The floating walkway through Crystal Caves

Though Bermuda is quite easy to navigate by public transportation, I would advise a well-thought out plan of action to ensure you don’t miss that last bus/ferry in order to avoid the $100 taxi ride. After checking out Fort Hamilton, we boarded a #10 bus along the coast to the famous Crystal and Fantasy Caves. 

Crystal Caves clear blue waters

Crystal Caves clear blue waters

Our guide told us how the caves were discovered by two little boys playing cricket in the early 1900s, who found the hole their ball had dropped down, and decided to drop down there as well. Tip of stalactites had been sawed off by early visitors, who thought their perilous descent into the caves earned them a souvenir.

A replica of the ship Deliverance

A replica of the ship Deliverance

From there, we continued north to St George, a Unesco heritage sight steeped in history. This was the original British settlement, and there are museums, churches, and forts scattered throughout the parish that bring you back to the 1600s. Personally, after walking around for about an hour, we felt about ready to go home. Going against everything I usually believe, we opted against $20 rounds at a cheesy port bar in favor of lovely wine on board for much less.

Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

We dedicated the next day to beaches with the weather completely on our side. Another ferry and 45-min bus ride down the coast landed us at Horseshoe Bay Beach- the most famous and crowded of them all. This beach has all the amenities, plentiful cabs by the road, and much less lounging space because of them. We used this as our starting point, walking north through a few smaller beaches and swimming holes to Warwick Long Bay Beach. Less than a mile from the first, Long Bay was practically empty and completely beautiful.

Alone at Warwick Long Bay Beach

Alone at Warwick Long Bay Beach

After full day soaking up the sun, we returned to the ship. We may have missed out on diving and had a shortened visit, but I don’t feel that we missed much. I am thankful we made it to Bermuda finally, but doubt we will return.

So  long, King's Wharf

So long, King’s Wharf

Summary 

Overall, we love the convenience of sailing from New York, thought the NCL Breakaway offered a great variety of entertainment, and for two very busy individuals, this cruise offered the perfect opportunity for relaxation. Was this our last cruise? Probably not.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Matt from Saverocity October 7, 2013, 1:01 am

    Loved this trip. Might have something to do with 24hr chicken wings 🙂

  • Quickroute October 7, 2013, 1:52 am

    Never been on a cruise but been lucky to visit Bermuda twice on off season airfares – your accomo looks fab and entertainment / food onboard looks promising – BYOB sounds like it’s the way to go

  • Elaine October 11, 2013, 11:59 pm

    Wonderful trip report! Usually I don’t like pics of food but I even liked those! I have only cruised twice – a week to Alaska with my husband, kids and my mom in 1994 or 5; and a 3 day quick cruise to Mexico from LA with a favorite cousin in the early 2000s. I would love to cruise more. The ship sure offers many more things to do than I remember and we did go Norwegian to Alaska. Also have never been to Bermuda and never even heard of those caves which looked fabulous.

    Growing up in a family that flew for free on TWA (courtesy of my dad’s job there), we travelled often but for the most part only to places on the TWA map. If they went to Bermuda, we missed it. Then as a grownup I moved to the west coast, where it is so much more convenient to go to Hawaii. But now I think I’d like to get to Bermuda.

    I am thinking that Allison wrote this one – I don’t think I saw even one “whilst” 😉 !! So glad you guys had such fun!

    • Allison from Saverocity October 13, 2013, 3:06 pm

      Hi Elaine,
      You’re right, it was me 🙂 Food-based travel planning is common for us, so I like to include some shots of our eats as well.
      My grandfather was a pilot so I understand how your itineraries would be shaped by that, and I think my family’s travel stories influenced my wanderlust. We’re dying to do Alaska again- though I think if I were in your shoes, I’d choose Hawaii over Bermuda every time.

  • Jen January 8, 2014, 8:01 pm

    What? Not returning to Bermuda?! We had a fantastic vacation in Bermuda a few years ago. We rented scooters and rode all over the island, so we weren’t restricted to touristy destinations (except our pricey resort). I’m in Hawaii right now and pick Bermuda any day! It’s fun to read others’ opinions, thanks for sharing.

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