Florida/Bahamas cruise

Florida/Bahamas cruise from New York march 2016

My wife and i decided to take our kids. 4 and 9 years old on a cruise this year for our yearly vacation.  I have a lot of family that have cruised with this company so i felt confident this trip would be amazing and it surely was great for the most part. We cruised with Norwegian cruise line on the Breakaway ship.  The website was a bit vague on what documentation we needed for kids but we figured it out with customs.

This ship had A lot for the kids to do. They could have taken part in the “splash academy” program, we wanting to spend this trip as a family the entire time so we choose to not put them in this program.  Perfect choice as we had a blast.

Our biggest issue was our room steward, or lack there of.  The first night we had to ask for bedding for the spare bed, and every night following that we had to ask for parts of the bedding. One night pillows, another night blanket.  Being first time cruisers we had heard of the folded towel animals. So we were excited to see these.  After 3 days of not getting any i asked the steward if this was something we had to pay extra for. She said no and she would make some that day.  We got one that night and the next day but no other days. so 2 out of 7 days.

On our last full day. (day 6) we returned to our room after hitting the Carlos bakery shop on board (amazing) to find that our bathroom was flooded and the toilet spewing water out of the back.  Not over flowing. This was a connection broken on water inlet.  I informed the steward who said she would take care of it. Nothing got done after me telling her 4 more times (10 minutes apart each time) that it was still coming out. So i called the operator from room phone in a panic.  After being in the room watching the water flooding our bathroom almost getting into the actual room for an hour and 15 minutes (no idea how long it was flowing before we arrived).  finally a maintenance crew showed up and turned the water off.  I was not pleased that our steward didn’t act faster, so i went to the guest service desk and asked to speak to someone about this and the other issues and they told me to just fill out a complaint card. I was not impressed.  I did not hear anything from management while on the ship and still have not to this day. Not what i expected from this company after everything else was perfect.  Nor for the money we paid into gratuities and original booking price.  The rest of the staff was amazing and super friendly. And even all of the other stewards we saw and had contact with in the hallways.We would have liked our down time to be a little more rest full. And not spent calming our 4 year old down due to being frightened the room was going to flood.   But don’t let these issues deter you from taking this cruise because it was an isolated issue with our room.

Great cruise for kids of these ages and as a family.  We met a lot of great family’s with very young kids as well. And these family’s did not seem to have any issues like this.  The buffet food selection is huge.  They had a lot of the same items each day. (Burgers, fries, pizza, chicken, ect) but each day and meal they had specialty items like prime rib, special pasta dishes, omelet stations. And so on.  The ship also offers other restaurants.  Traveling with young kids we did not even attempt to eat at any other places because we knew they wouldn’t like those style foods.  Your kids might be different so it is worth looking at all of the complimentary dining options.

Something to be aware of when you get the “ultimate beverage package”  part of their promotional jazz. Please note that when close to New York and again near port Canaveral Florida. You will have to pay port taxes on the drinks.  The staff can explain but basically you will pay 50cents or so (depending on that states beverage tax)  for the drink. This charge will go onto your room charges that you pay at the end of your cruise. if you did not add a credit card to link to your room when you checked in at the departure port, you will end up having issues at the drink counter.  basically your credit card links to your room key, you use your room key when you get beverages. if you have a drink package it will charge you zero. but in port it will charge the tax. if no credit card is linked then it will give them an error and they cant serve you. your daily room gratuity automatically charge to your room card as well each day, and at the end of the cruise they will charge your credit card.  a good piece of information, as it is loud and noisy on the ship and hard to understand a good portion of the crew. best thing to do is to either link a credit card when checking in upon arrival, or go to the guest services desk and put cash down to cover room charges. it will save you frustration trust me. Once at sea there is no tax so drinks are completely free again. Depending on what type of drink you get. And what package ( ours was anything under $15 was free) definitely caught me off guard so its good to make sure you are prepared for this.

Something to think about ahead of time is snacks water and other drinks you may want when your in your room. You can get food from the buffet pretty late but your room might be a good distance from that area, and if you have kids with you it can be a hassle to go get stuff.  At the departure port we noticed that other people had brought cases of water, soda, and snacks along with their luggage when they got on the boat. And then others got off in port Canaveral Florida and took a taxi to stores to get stuff. security and staff did not say anything and it seemed like it was allowed. I did not see any notices saying other wise.  Definitely something to think about and a great idea.  We will be doing this next year.

Ports

New York City

New York port was pretty easy to get to from Vermont. I expected many more hassles but it was a breeze. once you arrive to the area the signs are clear.  You park right next to the ship. Go down the elevator and thru check in. Then you wait to board.  Pretty painless.  I do highly suggest you bring entertainment for kids as the wait can be a couple hours depending on when you get there.  We found that arriving around 10am was perfect as the line was very short. And as it got closer to 11 and 1200. The lines were long and folks got grumpy waiting.

Port Canaveral Florida

We  got off in Florida to see the small shops and hit the small bait shop just outside of the terminal (they had cheep beverages snacks here.  Very nice folks).  The walk to get off the boat was a bit of a hike.  We did not explore much here, as the kids got pretty tired just from the walk and they also wanted to get in the pools.

Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

When you get to great stirrup it was a bit of a wait to get on the tender boats.  I suggest signing up very early the day before for your tender boat assignment.  just go to guest services desk and they will help you. Its painless.  Be warned the water can be pretty choppy going onto the island.  For folks that have never been on a boat in the ocean this can be scary, as my wife found out. The boat will rock.  You will be fine just hold on and try to relax.  Remember they would not take you if it was unsafe.  Once on the beach it was a blast.  The water was cold but it was also only March we expected the water to be cool.  Lunch on the Island was decent. They had an area to wash off the sand from your body. There is also plenty to do on the ship if you choose to return before the end of the day. As we did.  Tender boats go back and forth all day. Make sure you have your key card and photo ID. Every time you get off the boat.  And kids birth certificates if they don’t have pass ports.  Very important to remember that.

Nassau Bahamas

The next day was Nassau.  This was a great stop as well.  You get to walk right off the boat onto the pier here, so not much of a wait.  Again have ID and papers. They will ask for them on both sides of security.  The water is a color so hard to describe. So beautiful. you can get a lot of great pictures right as you get off the ship. take a short walk to the terminal entrance.  Once you get through Bahamas customs(very quick and nice people)  you come into an area that has a lot of shops and shack like stores.  Everyone by the shops are nice.  But beware that the folks by the stores are very in your face trying to sell you their items. And then the taxi drivers and tour people are the same way.  A bit frightening when you have kids and in a strange area.  Keep your eyes open and just beware.  They do have many military/police force members in this area so you are safe. But it can be over whelming.  I am6 foot 3. 280 pounds and even i was a bit uneasy with this situation. So we returned to the shop area and did not go outside of this gated area into the town.  Still an amazing area.  From the top of the ship you can see the town from above. Its beautiful.  Great time for pictures.  After this it was a straight shot back to New York. Took a few days and most days were warm enough so kids enjoyed the pools and kids water park.

So all in all it was a blast.  I would go again in a heart beat.  Look for deals when booking.  We found amazing deals right on the cruise ships website.  And remember each cruise company operates different so ask many questions when booking and on the ship as well.  Hope this helps someone.

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