Category Archives: Norwegian Cruise Line

Cuba Update

Cuba classic photo

Cuba.  The very sound of the name always seems to make one’s ears perk up a bit.  The mystique of being off-limits for Americans for so many years has caused it to gain more instant recognition than any of it’s fellow Caribbean islands.  So now when you hear of a cruise which includes Cuba (or Havana), many might say “well aren’t there some new restrictions on our travel there that makes it less attractive?”  or “are we still allowed to visit there at all?”

The truth is that, while there were some revisions to the U.S. policy on travel to Cuba in late 2017, we Americans can easily travel there and the best way is by cruise.  The aforementioned ‘restrictions’ primarily relate to restricted hotel stays, meaning some are indeed not permitted by our government for Americans to stay as guests there. However, when visiting by cruise ship, this is obviously not an issue.  There’s also the added benefit that Cuba cruises to Havana dock directly in the heart of town and you can easily walk to many great local sights. Cuba offers the most diverse cultural experience of any of the Caribbean islands; the architecture, the food, the people, the history – it’s all fascinating!

Many of the cruises to Cuba call at Havana only and are 4 or 5-day itineraries from Florida, but there are also others which call at multiple Cuban ports by circumnavigation of the whole island nation.  For some examples, click the following, or give us a call:

Royal Caribbean
Norwegian logo 2016

Azamara logo 2016

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Filed under Azamara Club Cruises, Cruise Escapes, Cuba Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean

Norwegian Breakaway

by Don McCann

Norwegian Breakaway in NYC

Norwegian Breakaway with her Peter Max New York themed hull

Ah, that new ship smell which hits you when you first step onboard a brand new ship!  OK, so maybe it’s not the same as a new car, but you get the idea.  As I mentioned previously, it’s always exciting to see a new ship; any new shipNorwegian Breakaway offers it’s company’s brand distinction of ‘Freestyle Cruising’, which means a host of options.  Most notable is with the dining.  This ship offers 27 dining venues and all are ‘Freestyle’, meaning that none are assigned to you.  Also of note are the charges; 11 of the 27 are included in your fare (no extra charge), but the rest have an additional charge (click here for complete dining guide).  The dining is such a major part of this cruise that I’ll do a separate post on that later. The myriad of dining choices is nearly rivaled by the selection of entertainment venues, as well.  In fact, one place even combines the two with the Spiegel Tent which is a sort of dinner show with a Cirque Dreams show taking place overhead during your dinner (yes, this is at an extra charge).  There is, of course the main show lounge, Breakaway Theater, for big productions.  Rock of Ages is currently being featured and Ihave to say I found this a very ‘interesting’ selection for a large, mainstream cruise ship.  It’s billed as edgy, or adult, but will surely catch many off guard with it’s use of risqué dress with sexual overtones and several ‘F bombs’ dropped during the dialogue.  Regardless, I guess with Freestyle you

Norwegian Breakaway Fat Cat's Jazz & Blues Club

Fat Cat’s Jazz & Blues Club

are free to approve, or simply venture elsewhere.  Moving along, there are other great options such as Fat Cat’s for jazz & blues, Headliners for comedy, disco in Bliss, or a great outdoor option at Spice H2O for the cool set (or those who want to at least try to feel ‘cool’).  Of course there is the usual cruise ship inclusions of the casino and a host of great bars, too.

When it comes to accommodations, I have to say that our standard balcony cabin was more spacious than many I’ve seen.  There was a full-size sofa, good storage space, and a very nice sized bathroom.  It was interesting that there was no chair in the cabin.  There was a dual purpose ottoman for sitting at the dresser which also had a fitted hard top cover to use as a side table and it opened up for storage inside.  Clever and practical, but a simple chair with back support would be preferred by most folks, I think.  As for other accommodations, there are many choices, with the most notable

The Haven on Norwegian Breakaway

The Haven private pool deck

being The Haven.  This is an Norwegian trademark and functions as a cruise within a cruise.  The Haven are suites and deluxe cabins in their own private access area, located forward on the top of the ship.  Here you’ll find your own private pool area, private lounge area, private dining room, and private deck all for Haven guests only.  It has great snob appeal and is honestly a great appeal to non-snobs, too!  Their concept is to cater to those who would want a deluxe more intimate experience (think Seabourn, or Silversea), but would appreciate the amenities of a large ship, such as multiple entertainment options and facilities for kids (The Haven is perfect for grandparents bringing on the whole family for an inter generational cruise experience). Another Norwegian exclusive for accommodations is the Studio.  Here they have built a good number of single occupancy cabins for solo travelers who don’t want to pay the usual high single supplement in a standard cabin.  These cabins are cozy, but very well designed and even have their own lounge area where you can mix & mingle if you so desire.  This makes such good sense and I think they’ve done very well so far (this is the second Norwegian ship with Studio cabins).

So enough factoids.  Did I like the ship?  Yes!  Norwegian Breakaway has great facilities and really seems to ‘flow’ well to me.  It’s very large, but does not really ‘feel’ all that large.  Most areas have a very open design and this seems to bring it all together, rather than being chopped up into multiple locations as on some ships.  Most of the décor is quite pleasant and not ‘in your face’ like you may find elsewhere on other ships.  The only ‘over the top’ feature is the huge waterpark and ropes course on the back of the top deck, but then that’s just another example of having something for everyone!  Overall, I found it all much more appealing than my last Norwegian experience a few years ago.  They have different management now and have honestly been trying to upgrade their product and make improvements the last few years and it shows.  This is good for us to see as we’ll have a Norwegian ship sailing from Houston starting next year.  While it won’t be a brand new one like the Breakaway, it will have the Norwegian Freestyle trademarks and facilities so we’ll look forward to this new option for our Texas clients! In the meantime, the Norwegian Breakaway is sailing from New York to Bermuda this summer and will offer itineraries to the Bahamas & Florida from New York in the winter.  In early 2014, she’ll be joined by a twin sister, Norwegian Getaway, which will be based in Miami for year-round sailings to the Eastern Caribbean.

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Filed under New Ship, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Cruise Line, Our Cruise Stories

New Ship Review – Almost Here!

by Don McCann


Norwegian Breakaway with it’s Peter Maxx custom painted hull

It’s always exciting to see a new cruise ship!  Most cruise lines host a travel agent ‘preview cruise’, or cruise to nowhere to showcase their new vessel.  Such is the case this week in New York with Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Breakaway.  I’ll be fortunate enough to participate in tomorrow’s cruise, which will return on Sunday.  With all the tools of technology available today, the cruise line created a cell phone app just for our departure, loaded with all kinds of ship info, deck plans, onboard events, and a host of info to boost our excitement (and I have to admit the excitement angle has worked!).

Look for updates and photos this weekend, as our time permits, but in the meantime USA Today has some nice photos; take a peak…photo tour  

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Filed under New Ship, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Cruise Line, Our Cruise Stories