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One enjoyable aspect of living in south Louisiana is Mardi Gras week. I anticipate this week not for the parades, but because the kids are predictably off from school for the entire week, allowing me to plan family vacations. Many families use the opportunity to go skiing in the Rockies or to visit theme parks in Orlando. An overlooked and superior option in my opinion is taking a cruise from New Orleans. My 4 and 5 year old boys had a fantastic time and made some great memories this year on the Norwegian Breakaway. My wife and I loved the cruise as well but for completely different reasons - convenience, relaxation, great shows, good food, and especially the included ultimate drink package. Except for embarkation our experience on the NCL Breakaway was superior to our recent 7 day cruise on the Carnival Dream. The Port of New Orleans was predictably chaotic due to an active Mardi Gras parade on St. Charles, preparations for the Bacchus parade/ball at the convention center, and embarkation of two large cruise ships (NCL Breakaway and Carnival Dream). Getting to the port and navigating to our parking lot was an exercise in patience and we will try to find an alternate method next time. Carnival has exclusive use of the Erato parking garage and port building. NCL passengers instead park in front of the Riverwalk Mall next to the huge whale murals and then walk through the Riverwalk Mall itself to find the Julia St. cruise terminal. Parking is $20/night and luggage drop off is adjacent to the parking lot. Security and check-in was slow and crowded as passengers were all instructed to arrive early due to the Mardi Gras parades. Embarkation was a pain but at least we didn't have to navigate an airport and fly with our two kids. The ship itself is quite new (2013), attractive, and impeccably clean. We booked a standard family room with picture window (just over 200 sqft) and found we had adequate space. Our boys loved the fold-away bunk bed from the ceiling, and the bathroom with tub was bigger than expected. The art, decor and color schemes throughout the ship were classy and not at all tacky or obnoxious. Dining was great with one caveat. Make all evening dining reservations as soon as you can! This will save you from waiting and will ensure you get to experience the specialty restaurants that interest you. You can always cancel later. The main dining room fare (Taste, Savor, Manhattan) was at or slightly above average for cruise ship dining. Le Bistro and Ocean Blue were really good. Teppanyaki was meh. Didn't get a chance to try Cagney's since we missed our reservation after getting far too drunk. Didn't try the italian or brazilian place. We didn't eat at the buffet, but our boys ate their weight in mac&cheese, pizza and soft serve ice cream. Cruise ship buffets always feel crowded but finding seating was never difficult. Entertainment was quite good. All of the live performance shows were well rehearsed with great dancing and vocals. We didn't spend much time up on the pool deck so can't really comment. Some of the bars looked under-staffed but it's easy enough to walk 100 ft to the next bar. Our favorite bar was Shakers on the 8th floor which served up some excellent (and powerful) martinis. Splash Academy (kid's camp) does an incredible job. The counselors are all friendly and enthusiastic. Our 4 and 5 year old boys spent 8-10 hours/day in camp and clearly had a blast. Each night they fell asleep the moment their head touched pillow. Our favorite cruise stop was Harvest Caye, the island owned by NCL. Drinks were pricey and not covered by on-ship drink packages. But we loved the island with its gigantic pool, swim-up bars, and decent beach with abundance of chairs and shade. Our family cruised on the Carnival Dream last year so we are in a good position to make comparisons. We certainly enjoyed our trip on the Dream but prefer the Breakaway for many reasons. On Breakaway the kids camp was slightly better with more councilors, more variation in activities and more extended hours. The ship itself felt more luxurious and less crowded. Far less waiting for elevators. The variety of activities on board and the variety of dining options helps ensure that the 4000 passengers are well-dispersed. The food and food variety is better on the Breakaway. Alcoholic beverage variety is better as well with some themed bars having special drinks (whiskey, martinis, etc). And NCL beverage package is unlimited, so you will not be cut off after so many drinks like on Carnival. However, an NCL cruise is probably 25% more expensive in the end (once adding the Carnival drink package) so everyone should decide for themselves if the extra expense is worth it. Our family is booked for a repeat cruise in 2020!

Perfect Mardi Gras family vacation.

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by leveedogs

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Family Oceanview Stateroom with Large Picture Window
One enjoyable aspect of living in south Louisiana is Mardi Gras week. I anticipate this week not for the parades, but because the kids are predictably off from school for the entire week, allowing me to plan family vacations. Many families use the opportunity to go skiing in the Rockies or to visit theme parks in Orlando. An overlooked and superior option in my opinion is taking a cruise from New Orleans. My 4 and 5 year old boys had a fantastic time and made some great memories this year on the Norwegian Breakaway. My wife and I loved the cruise as well but for completely different reasons - convenience, relaxation, great shows, good food, and especially the included ultimate drink package. Except for embarkation our experience on the NCL Breakaway was superior to our recent 7 day cruise on the Carnival Dream.

The Port of New Orleans was predictably chaotic due to an active Mardi Gras parade on St. Charles, preparations for the Bacchus parade/ball at the convention center, and embarkation of two large cruise ships (NCL Breakaway and Carnival Dream). Getting to the port and navigating to our parking lot was an exercise in patience and we will try to find an alternate method next time. Carnival has exclusive use of the Erato parking garage and port building. NCL passengers instead park in front of the Riverwalk Mall next to the huge whale murals and then walk through the Riverwalk Mall itself to find the Julia St. cruise terminal. Parking is $20/night and luggage drop off is adjacent to the parking lot. Security and check-in was slow and crowded as passengers were all instructed to arrive early due to the Mardi Gras parades. Embarkation was a pain but at least we didn't have to navigate an airport and fly with our two kids.

The ship itself is quite new (2013), attractive, and impeccably clean. We booked a standard family room with picture window (just over 200 sqft) and found we had adequate space. Our boys loved the fold-away bunk bed from the ceiling, and the bathroom with tub was bigger than expected. The art, decor and color schemes throughout the ship were classy and not at all tacky or obnoxious.

Dining was great with one caveat. Make all evening dining reservations as soon as you can! This will save you from waiting and will ensure you get to experience the specialty restaurants that interest you. You can always cancel later. The main dining room fare (Taste, Savor, Manhattan) was at or slightly above average for cruise ship dining. Le Bistro and Ocean Blue were really good. Teppanyaki was meh. Didn't get a chance to try Cagney's since we missed our reservation after getting far too drunk. Didn't try the italian or brazilian place. We didn't eat at the buffet, but our boys ate their weight in mac&cheese, pizza and soft serve ice cream. Cruise ship buffets always feel crowded but finding seating was never difficult.

Entertainment was quite good. All of the live performance shows were well rehearsed with great dancing and vocals. We didn't spend much time up on the pool deck so can't really comment. Some of the bars looked under-staffed but it's easy enough to walk 100 ft to the next bar. Our favorite bar was Shakers on the 8th floor which served up some excellent (and powerful) martinis.

Splash Academy (kid's camp) does an incredible job. The counselors are all friendly and enthusiastic. Our 4 and 5 year old boys spent 8-10 hours/day in camp and clearly had a blast. Each night they fell asleep the moment their head touched pillow.

Our favorite cruise stop was Harvest Caye, the island owned by NCL. Drinks were pricey and not covered by on-ship drink packages. But we loved the island with its gigantic pool, swim-up bars, and decent beach with abundance of chairs and shade.

Our family cruised on the Carnival Dream last year so we are in a good position to make comparisons. We certainly enjoyed our trip on the Dream but prefer the Breakaway for many reasons. On Breakaway the kids camp was slightly better with more councilors, more variation in activities and more extended hours. The ship itself felt more luxurious and less crowded. Far less waiting for elevators. The variety of activities on board and the variety of dining options helps ensure that the 4000 passengers are well-dispersed. The food and food variety is better on the Breakaway. Alcoholic beverage variety is better as well with some themed bars having special drinks (whiskey, martinis, etc). And NCL beverage package is unlimited, so you will not be cut off after so many drinks like on Carnival. However, an NCL cruise is probably 25% more expensive in the end (once adding the Carnival drink package) so everyone should decide for themselves if the extra expense is worth it. Our family is booked for a repeat cruise in 2020!
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