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NCL’s Breakaway: Florida and the Bahamas cruise from New York

The Norwegian Breakaway
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The Norwegian Breakaway

Cruises are one of the best values in family travel.  It is even better when the expense and inconvenience of a flight can be eliminated.

People who live within driving distance of New York can have just that with cruises like Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bahamas and Florida sailing. This itinerary has been aboard the Breakaway, and continues with NCL’s Gem, Escape, Dawn, and Bliss.

Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York City
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Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York City

The Breakaway is a  4,000 passenger ship with a wide range of adventures and other family-friendly things to do. Parking is available right at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, which is by the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum Complex. More NCL ships will be added to this itinerary.

NCL Breakaway
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NCL Breakaway

Th Breakaway has a three-level sports complex with a rock climbing wall, the fastest waterslides at sea,a basketball court,  a ropes course, and, for those who dare, a harnessed plank walk extending 8 feet over the side of the ship. There is a smaller pool area and ropes course for younger children. 

Ropes course, NCL Breakaway
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Ropes course, NCL Breakaway

The three deck atrium is another hub of activity. It dazzles with restaurants, shows, shops, a casino and its enormous color-changing chandelier and staircase. In December there was also a towering Christmas tree and enormous gingerbread house with a train running through it.

atrium of the NCL Breakaway
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atrium of the NCL Breakaway

Florida

We cruised past the Statue of Liberty en route to Port Canaveral, where there were excursions to the Kennedy Space Center, beach and boating adventures, including airboat rides in search of alligators and other wildlife, and transfers to Orlando theme parks. 

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida
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Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral

Statue of Liberty
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Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCL's Breakaway in Nassau, Bahamas
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NCL’s Breakaway in Nassau, Bahamas

The Bahamas

The next stop was Nassau, once home to legendary pirates like Blackbeard. It is now known for shopping, beach excursions, snorkeling, scuba diving, a colorful straw market, casinos and glass-bottomed boat rides. The final port was a beach day enjoying the crystal clear water at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island.

Nassau, Bahamas
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Nassau, Bahamas

 The final port is a beach party day enjoying the crystal clear water at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island.

Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
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Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

A family cruise

There are daily family-centered activities like circus or balloon twisting workshops and miniature golf.

Children's ropes course, NCL Breakaway
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Children’s ropes course, NCL Breakaway

The evening Family Glow Party attracts 300-400 people. But sometimes, kids want to be with other kids and grownups want time to themselves. That is where Splash Academy comes in.

Having high-quality supervised children’s program makes this trip a vacation for all. Everyone has a chance to have fun, relax, and enjoy the onboard amenities while enjoying plenty of fun family time, as well.

Splash Academy

Splash Academy is a lively program for children ages 3 to 17. There are creative themed activities — parties, parades, sports, face painting and arts and crafts. Children are grouped by age — Turtles for ages 3-5 (must be potty trained), Seals for 6-9 year olds, and Dolphins ages 10-12.

Teens have a separate facility with a daytime lounge and evening dance club, a safe environment of their own. There is also a parent-supervised playroom for ages 6 months up to 3.

The open house on embarkation day is a chance to meet the counselors and see Splash Academy. The staff is known to the children and teens by colorful nicknames like Shrimp or Captain Crunch.

Counselors have a degree or equivalent in child care or sports oriented activities and at least 2 years experience working with children. They are first aid and CPR certified and pass background checks.

face painting after Splash Academy aboard the NCL Breakaway
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face painting after Splash Academy aboard the NCL Breakaway

 

Special needs children are welcome and programs are adaptable to their needs. Parents or other caretakers with special concerns can have a pager.

Places are limited and fill quickly for events like the evening Fairy Tale Parade, when face-painted children in crowns form a procession around designated areas of the ship, and the spirited Pirate Parade held while in Nassau.

If you want an earlier bedtime for your child you may want to limit participation in the evening programs.

Supervision during meals and for late night hours is available for a fee.

Top 10 tips

Dining Room, The Haven, NCL Breakaway
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Dining Room, The Haven, NCL Breakaway

1-Luxury option—Want to enjoy the multitude of activities and  amenities of a megaship AND enjoy an intimate and luxurious smaller ship ambience and away from the excitement?  The Haven is a premium-priced private enclave with its own restaurant, private pool, two-level beach club, and 24-hour butler and concierge service. Per person fares generally range between $2000 for the spa balcony to over $5000 for the Owner’s Suite.

2-More for less—If you do not want to pay the premium pricing for The Haven but want access to a soothing and private area, Spa Balcony staterooms and Spa Mini-Suites are located near the spa and include spa access. Alternatively, buy a spa pass, around $250 onboard, less online in advance, for the week, is generally a less expensive option. A limited number of spa passes are issued so it is best to book in advance online. Willing to take a chance? A few days before sailing we received an offer to bid on a higher stateroom.

view from a balcony, NCL Breakaway
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view from a balcony, NCL Breakaway

3-Budget friendly—Like to save money? Book a Sail Away stateroom in any category for the best value. It guarantees your category or better but your stateroom can be on any deck and assigned as late as the day before departure.

However, Sail Away staterooms are not eligible for promotions that can include onboard credits and up to 5 free options, including a free 3rd or 4th passenger in the stateroom, dinner in specialty restaurants, unlimited bar drinks, a $50 per port shore excursion credit per stateroom, free 250 minutes of wifi per stateroom. Check the promotions first and see what makes the most sense for you.

4-Attend spa presentations for helpful information, access to additional spa specials and raffles for complimentary spa services. Spa specials tend to be best on port days when the spa is not as busy.

5-Sign up as early as possible for Splash Academy. The embarkation day open house is an opportunity to meet the counselors and see the facilities.

Sign in early for popular activities like parade nights, when the number of participants is more limited. Places fill up on a first-come, first-served basis. Also note the Splash Academy schedule since it it is closed during for certain hours.

dessert at Le Bistro, NCL Breakaway
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dessert at Le Bistro, NCL Breakaway

Oysters Rockefeller, Cagney's Steakhouse
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Oysters Rockefeller, Cagney’s Steakhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6-Book the shows and specialty restaurants in advance, preferably online while at home, for the best selection of times and dates. Specialty restaurants —A  Brazilian churrascaria, French bistro, Japanese Teppanyaki, steakhouse and more —assess a surcharge of $30 per person plus an 18% gratuity.  Package pricing is available for multiple nights. Zakarian’s Ocean Blue assesses a higher premium.

Don’t want to pay extra for specialty restaurants? Make reservations for Manhattan, modeled after the NY-style entertainment-focused supper clubs popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Check the daily program for scheduled live entertainment. Don’t miss the evening when the dancers from the Burn the Floor show perform.

7-For those who live a distance from New York City it is a good idea to book a hotel in or just outside city the night before the cruise, especially when winter weather is a concern. Have a leisurely breakfast on the morning of departure and be among the first to board the ship.

8-Download the Norwegian iConcierge app to have access to the daily schedule, features, and activities onboard. Onboard Internet access is expensive but is not needed for this app.

9-Love your cruise? Take advantage of the prepaid deposits on a future cruise, which doubles your money toward a future cruise. The funds must be used in 4 years.

10-Begin taking family photos early in the cruise. There is no obligation and the more you take the greater the chance of getting that special family photo. Unless you must have a photo with the captain go to the shorter lines with basic backgrounds. We found the photographers there had more time to interact with children and get the right pose.

Memories, after all, are what it is all about.

On disembarkation day the NCL Breakaway cruises to New York City before dawn.
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On disembarkation day the NCL Breakaway cruises to New York City before dawn.

Caribbean, Transatlantic and European cruises are available aboard NCL’s Breakaway. There are also sailings from Boston to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada/New England. Visit the NCL website  for additional information.

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