Breaking Down The Breakaway

Okay, so...let's do FOOD!  It is, after all, one of my favorite things about cruising.  And one of my favorite things about Norwegian Cruise Line.  The Freestyle experience includes not only NOT making you sit down at the same dining room with the same people every night.  It also includes giving you lot's and lot's of choices about WHAT to eat.

The Breakaway continues and expands on this concept.  There are pretty much all the standard choices, plus a few new ones, including bringing on some celebrity chefs to help create new eaterys, and partnering with some old New York traditions.

I think the best way to do this is start with all the "included" food choices, and then go to the premium dining, for which there is a cover charge.  A word on cover charges:  They are ridiculously low!  I know some of you think "Hey, I paid for the cruise, I am not paying extra for food".  But, in my estimation, the cover charges are typically about 1/3 to 1/4 of what you would pay for similar meals in land-based restaurants.  And since the cover charge includes everything, including appetizers and desert, and you can order pretty much all you want, it is a real steal.  Plus, those of us who don't live in major metropolitan areas also have to drive to  restaurants that serve this quality of food.  Cagney's Steakhouse, for instance:  From my home I have to drive an hour and a half to L.A. or two hours to Las Vegas or San Diego to even get to a Morton's or Ruth's Chris.  And you really can't compare anything I have in town...As much as I love The Texas Roadhouse or Outback, it's just not THAT good.

So, let's put that aside and take a look at the "free" food onboard the Breakaway:

Way up top, on Deck 16 is the Uptown Bar and Grill - a casual, semi open air spot for burgers, chicken, fries, etc.  Also serving Brooklyn Lager, and I believe one of the 3 Sabretts hot dog stands will be nearby.  I am sure you have to pay for the brew, and I don't know if the dirty water dogs are free or fee...but either way, the combination sounds like an awesome place to hang out and grab a casual bite on a sea day.  Located between the sun deck above the pool area and the Spice/H20 Adults-0nly area, it appears to be designed to serve both.

Also on Deck 16 is the Haven Restaurant, which is, technically, included...but you have to be staying in a Suite with Haven access to get there.  I ate in the similar EPIC Club on the Norwegian EPIC, and I have to tell you, it was one of the best meals, EVAH...as well as superb service, and a vury, vury classy ambience.  It is my devout hope to partake of a meal there, either on the pre-Inaugural or on the 7 Day Bermuda Inaugural immediately following.  Depending on who the Hotel Director is, I think my chances are better than even.

Down to Deck 15 is the Garden Cafe nearly 24 hour buffet.  It includes an open air eating section, and if it follows the pattern of most Norwegian ships, there will be grill areas on either side of the outdoor section that, during the day, serve burgers and salads and quick bites like that.  I am not a big fan of buffets, but NCL does pretty well with them, spreading them out so lines don't back up, and having lot's of "action stations" for fresh prepared foods, like omelettes in the a.m. and pasta or stir fry dishes at lunch and dinner.

Now, down to Deck 7 - right in the middle of 678 Ocean Place.  Nearly all the public space is here, on decks 6, 7 and 8 (Hence the catchy name).  Deck 8 has various indoor/outdoor venues, Decks 7 and 6 are basically indoors.  So, anyway...to the rear is the Manhattan Room, the largest of the 3 Main Dining Rooms (all the Main Dining Rooms are included in your cruise fare, and you can go to whichever one you want, whenever you want to).  The Manhattan Room on Breakaway looks to be basically identical to the EPIC's.  Seating on 3 sides of a large dance floor, with 2 story high ceiling in the middle and dramatic floor to ceiling windows looking out the stern of the ship.  Dinner music/dancing on the dance floor.  EPIC also has Legends Unplugged several times a week.  I am not sure if any kind of feature entertainment will be in this Manhattan Room.  Towards the front of Deck 7 is O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar and Grill.  Also a reprise of the wildly popular O'Sheehans on EPIC.  Basically, a great, 24 hour sports bar at sea, serving classic Irish pub grub and other comfort foods, and with billiards, darts, TVs and a giant (2 story) big screen which shows major sporting events and in the off hours doubles as a ginormous Wii screen for golf and bowling competitions.  One of my favorite spots on EPIC, and the best breakfast on the ship.  They do a pretty good take on the classic Irish breakfast with bacon, sausage, eggs, grilled tomato, beans and mushrooms.

Finally, down on Deck 6, at the stern are the other two Main Dining Rooms:  Taste and Savor.  Word is they will each have different menus, and if so, that would be awesome for those who want more choices, but don't want to hit one of the premium restaurants.

So, there you have it.  Oh, wait...there's also free room service!  Somewhat limited menu, but, you know...if you just don't want to drag your carcass out of the room and want a little bite to eat...again, just MORE CHOICES!

Now, on to the cover charge, premium Dining.  Oh, wait...in between the two, we also have a couple of "a la carte" choices on the Breakaway:  There is a Sushi Bar (Wasabi) and the Raw Bar on Deck 8 if you're craving raw fish or raw oysters.  Also, down on 7 is the Shanghai Noodle Bar.  Both Shanghai and Wasabi on the EPIC have been excellent, and the a la carte pricing very reasonable.

NOW to the primo stuff!

Back up to Deck 8:  At the stern, one to starboard, the other to port, are Cagneys and Moderno Churrascaria.  These are my two favorite restaurants at sea, as you would know if you've read my other reviews of Norwegian...both have been responsible for more than one nomnomgasm.  The arrangement is similar to EPIC, with both restaurants overlooking the dance floor of the Manhattan Dining Room below.  But there's a catch!  To backtrack a little, I said in my previous post that Breakaway was designed to incorporate pretty much all the good stuff from EPIC, and also to address some of the negative feedback she generated.  And that one of those negatives was a "disconnection" from the sea.  People felt you couldn't really tell you were on a ship in the ocean from a lot of the public spaces.  Well...check it!  The Breakaway also has Cagney's on the Waterfront, and Moderno on the Waterfront!  Yep.  Open air dining!  The Waterfront is a quarter mile of open deck on both sides of Deck 8 with a bunch of restaurants and bars, right outside!  If THAT doesn't solve the problem of disconnection from the sea, it's hard to see what could.  So, now when you go to Cagney's or Moderno (or La Cucina or Ocean Blue), you can choose to sit outside.  Or inside.  Whatever, whenever!  Now, back to my story.  Cagney's is a steak and chop house, with all you would expect from such...a variety of steaks, lamb and pork chops...chicken for those who don't want to die of a heart attack, as well as sides and deserts worthy of any good landbased steak house.  Moderno is the to-die-for Brazilian Churrascaria which consists of a dozen or so types of grilled meats, from steak to chicken to sausages.  Both Moderno and Cagney's share the best damn salad bar, ever.

Moving forward on 8, I suppose I should throw in Dolce Gelato, a real Italian gelato stand on the open air side of the water front, and Carlo's Bake Shop.  Owned by celebrity baker Buddy Valastro, the original Carlo's is not *quite* a New York thing...but close.  Located in Hoboken, it is pretty much famous and, yes, some New Yorkers will actually cross the Hudson to get their bakery fix from Carlo's.  Again, just going on rumour, regular coffee and some basic pastries/cookies/cupcakes will be free, and speciality coffees and fancier confections will carry an a la carte charge.  No word, but I bet they'll be cheaper here than in Hoboken.  Ditto for Dolce.  (gawd, I've been wanting to work that phrase in somewhere).

So, yeah, again moving forward from Dolce, you will come to Geoffrey Zakarian's Ocean Blue and Ocean Blue on the Waterfront.  Again with the choice of indoor or outdoor dining.  And Norwegian's first big time Celebrity Chef.  Now, Cunard has Todd English, and Crystal has Nobu Matsuhisa.  Oh, and for a mere $75 you can eat at Disney Cruise Lines "Remy" a collaboration by Arnaud Lallament and Scott Hunnel.  And, lest we forget, Carnival accelerated it's race to the bottom by hiring Guy Fieri, who took a break from hosting game shows and opening possibly the worst restaurant in New York City to come up with a burger joint straight from Diners, Dives and Drive-ins.  But  Norwegian seems to be taking direct aim at Royal Caribbeans Michael Schwartz's new eatery on the Oasis.  Both Michael and Geoffrey got their start at Le Cirque, arguably one of the best restaurants in the world.  And both have gone on to open various successful restaurants, Michael in South Florida, and Geoffrey in New York City.

For those of you who don't know, Geoffrey Zakarian is or has been Executive Chef of several fine restaurants in New York City, as well as an Iron Chef on Food Network, along with a few other shows.  He is developing the Raw Bar,  Ocean Blue, and Ocean Blue on the Waterfront for the Breakaway.  The Raw Bar will be, of course, a raw bar, pairing various crustaceans with various wines.  Ocean Blue will be keying on fine seafood dishes, in an elegant setting, Ocean Blue on the waterfront, a more basic and casual seafood menu and ambience.  I personally, can't wait!  I also hope to snag a few minutes to talk to Zakarian, as I am sure he will be on the pre-Inaugural to oversee the big opening.

Finally, a little farther forward and to the port side is La Cucina and La Cucina on the Waterfront (bet you saw that coming, huh?  La Cucina is an old standby for Norwegian.  Excellent Italian food, and again, I have reviewed several iterations from the Star, the Pearl and the EPIC.

Heading down to Deck 6 again, we have two more old friends, Teppanyaki and Le Bistro.  Teppanyaki is probably the hardest seat in town on most Norwegian, due to limited seating and times, as well as great food and, of course the entertainment factor.

Le Bistro, likewise, is on all ships in the Norwegian fleet with a pretty decent French menu.  French not being my favorite food, I am not really a good judge.  But, this Le Bistro, while it doesn't have access to the Waterfront, does have some of the seating "out" in the atrium, kind of a sidewalk cafe deal.  Sounds promising.

And finally we have the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy.  Like the Cirque Dinner and Dreams on EPIC, it will have a surcharge that covers the set menu dinner.  Frankly, reviews of the food have been mixed, though most people rave about the show.  Jungle Fantasy promises to take the show to a whole now level.  But I am guessing the meal will be set-menu again, and probably, by itself, not outstanding...but that's just a guess.

So, there you have it.  As one who remembers the good old days of cruising when everyone lined up at 5minutes to 6 to jam in THE dining room, or tried to catch the buffet when it was open...things most certainly have progressed.  And Norwegian has been at the forefront all the way on alternative dining venues, open seating times, etc.  It is the  number one reason I am their #1 Fan.

And Breakaway promises to take the whole concept to a new level.  I am SOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to 9 days of cruising, come May!

Of course I will be posting a "Live from the Breakaway" series, and of course, I'll be posting here between now and then...we still have Entertainment, Activities and Accomodations to get thru!

And if you are ready, now, to book that Breakaway cruise, or any Norwegian Cruise, call us at Holman Travel, 760.265.3687 and we guarantee the best service and the best prices!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing. Your post is awaiting moderation.