This past August, I decided to take a chance on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). As I mentioned in a few of my earlier posts, this was my first cruise with NCL, and my first out of New York. With low expectations, I was completely blown away by how incredible the staff of the NCL Breakaway made the voyage.
While there were many great parts of this voyage, I want to focus on just the beginning of the voyage, as the ship departed NYC. The departure was unlike any other that I have expereience. Leaving out of NYC, we sailed under the Verrazano Bridge and around the Statue of Liberty. Since I have only sailed out of NYC on NCL, I am not sure if these memories are made solely by NCL or if other cruise lines do similar things. Nonethless, I have to say that NCL really did their part to make it so special.
Before the ship even sailed out, passengers were able to take in incredible views. The water may have been a little dark, but the skyscrapers made up for it. I have sailed out of Port Canaveral, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) many times; those views don’t dissapoint, but they are more generic, island vacation views. Sailing out of NYC is completely different with its skyline. Most people think of New York as a lively city with great nightlife, businesses, and shows, but usually they forget about the cruise ship terminal. Some people probably do not even know that there is a cruise port in the city.
As the day went on, passengers completed the life boat drill and headed to one of the top decks for a sail away party. Words cannot explain how this deck party made everyone feel. The NCL entertainment staff not only hosted a normal deck party, but they also acted as tour guides. Our Cruise Director, Dan Dan, spoke on the microphone, pointing out different landmarks. As we got to the Statue of Liberty, the DJ began playing patriotic songs like “I’m Proud to be an American” and Dan Dan told us all to look to the right. With that, all passengers at the deck party ran over to the edge of the ship with their phones to take pictures. The Entertainment Staff started talking about our soldiers and thanking them for their service. Somehow, all of the strangers on the deck of the Breakaway joined together and felt like a family. The feeling just cannot be explained.
Later in the deck party, the boat sailed under the Verrazano Bridge. You may think, “what’s the big deal,” and that is a great question that I had myself. Watching this mega ship sail under the bridge was so interesting. The captain does this every week and you know that you will make it under, but somehow, you still get worried that the ship will scrape the bottom of the bridge.
If you think driving a car can be difficult in a tunnel or under a low bridge, think about steering an 18-floor ship. Passing under the bridge brought out all different kinds of feelings. The music and the Entertainment Staff created an environment of suspense. Would we make it? Well obviously we would and we did. As we made it to the other side, the Assistant Cruise Director announced, “You are officially on vacation!”
The voyage under the bridge was so incredibly cool that I ended up waking up at 5:30 AM on the last morning of the cruise to see it all happen again… and I certainly was not the only one! As we sailed back into NYC, I was able to see the sun rise across New York and New Jersey. We sailed back around the Statue of Liberty and even passed the Staten Island Ferry (which can be seen in the pictures below).
On top of all of this, the NCL Breakaway is branded as New York’s Cruise Ship. The hull art includes paintings of skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. The ship offers Broadway performances of Rock of Ages, Burn the Floor, and Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy. On sea days, the crew even rolls out a hot dog stand that offers New York street-style hot dogs. Overall, there is definitely a city feel to the ship, thanks to decor, menu items, and other features.
All in all, sailing out of NYC was an extremely special experience that I will never forget. Whether you are a cruise addict or just love NYC, you should definitely take a cruise out of NYC sometime soon!