And the verdict is ... it's a winner.
After a week of inaugural festivities for Norwegian Cruise Line's new Norwegian Breakaway that included orientation tours for thousands of travel agents and journalists, the early word on the biggest new cruise ship of the year appears to be almost universally positive.
In a post this week on his first impressions, AvidCruiser.com's Aaron Saunders calls Breakaway a "well-designed, surprisingly classy" vessel with features that will "redefine the way we think of mainstream cruising," and cruise columnist John Honeywell of the U.K.'s Daily Mirror is saying Norwegian could have a "runaway success" on its hands.
Also praising the 4,028-passenger ship in recent days is cruise review giant , with correspondent Adam Coulter noting that Norwegian took the blueprint for its last new vessel, the 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic, and "refined it, removing what doesn't work and smoothing out the rough edges, creating a great ship."
Meanwhile, Tom Stieghorst of travel trade publication Travel Weekly writes that cruise-focused travel agents who saw Breakaway over the past week "had plenty of good things to say," with one agent enthusing that the ship's innovative, multi-restaurant outdoor dining area called the Waterfront "puts Norwegian in a different class from everyone else."
As we, too, wrote earlier this month after a sneak peek in Europe, many of the reviewers are saying Breakaway is a lively ship that will appeal to vacationers who like big mega-resort type vacations. Intimate, it is not.
In addition to the Waterfront, much of the praise for the vessel centers around its activity-packed top decks, home to five water slides, and its three bustling interior public decks, which are chock full of restaurants and nightspots.
In the words of industry watcher Cruise Week, "the ship is hopping at night," with Broadway shows like Rock of Ages available to passengers at no extra charge in addition to comedy shows, a jazz club, a nightclub and a dueling piano bar. Porthole Cruise Magazine blogger Fran Golden writes that deck-top '80s celebration is the "best party ever at sea."
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
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