ABOARD THE NORWEGIAN BREAKAWAY — Cruise fans are buzzing about Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, the Norwegian Breakaway. And for good reason.
The 4,028-passenger vessel, which will be christened next week in New York, is no doubt one of the most spectacular mega-resorts at sea, chock-full of restaurants, lively nightspots and deck-top amusements.
Regular readers will recall that Breakaway was named in a contest held here at USA TODAY's cruise site, the Cruise Log, and we're getting a sneak peek at the ship this week before its U.S. debut. Here, we highlight five things to love about the vessel (for a more expanded look at Breakaway, don't miss our new massive photo tour).
1. The Aqua Park. You don't have to be a child to appreciate the appeal of this sprawling water play area, one of the largest at sea. Looming above the ship's main pool deck, Aqua Park offers five major water slides that rival anything found at a land-based resort, including twin "free fall" slides that drop passengers nearly straight down several stories before spinning them in a loop. There also are two pools, four hot tubs and a SpongeBob-themed watery play area with squirting water features designed for little ones. In short: Prepare to be soaked.
2. The deck-top sports complex. As if the Aqua Park wasn't enough deck-top fun for one cruise vacation, Norwegian has devoted another generous chunk of the ship's exterior space to a three-story sports complex with a smorgasbord of gee-whiz amusements. Among the attractions is a suspended-in-the-sky ropes course that has 40 different elements including The Plank, a platform that extends 8 feet over the vessel's edge. The sports complex also offers a miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline and a 24-foot enclosed climbing cage called the Spider Web.
3. The Waterfront. Norwegian is bringing back the sea as a focal point of the cruise experience with this boardwalk-like area where passengers can dine overlooking the water. Located on both sides of Deck 8, The Waterfront features outdoor extensions of half a dozen Breakaway restaurants including the line's signature Cagney's Steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria and Italian eatery La Cucina. It also harbors an outdoor extension of the ship's Shaker's Cocktail Bar, and Malting's Beer & Whiskey Bar, and it is home to Norwegian's first gelato outlet.
4. Ocean Blue. Created by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, this $35-a-person seafood eatery is as tasty as it is stylish, serving up many of the same dishes found at the Food Network star's Lamb's Club in New York. Menu items include such Zakarian signatures as whole roasted Dover sole with a sauce meuniere to sea scallops with grapefruit, carmelized pork belly and white anchovy, and Zakarian also is overseeing an adjacent raw bar that serves up oysters on the half shell, clams and other shellfish. A third, more casual outdoor Zakarian outlet is located nearby on The Waterfront.
5. The Broadway shows. Norwegian has been at the forefront of an evolution in cruise ship entertainment in recent years, and nowhere is that more evident than on Breakaway, which boasts three high-energy shows that have played on Broadway. Breakaway's 800-seat Breakaway Theater features a slightly shortened version of the hit musical Rock of Ages, one of the longest-running shows on Broadway, and the ship's circus-like Spiegel Tent has a lively dinner show that is an adaptation of Broadway's Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy. The third big show, Burn the Floor, is a sizzling display of ballroom dancing.
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
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