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Where does Sponge Bob Square Pants rub elbows with the Rockettes? Onboard the new 4,028-passenger Norwegian Breakaway which launched last month. On May 8, the godmother Rockettes, the Nickelodeon characters and the cast of five-time Tony Award-nominated “Rock of Ages” joined “Burn the Floor,” The Second City, Howl at the Moon and blues master Slam Allen for the ship’s launch.
The christening ceremony, with celebrity baker Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's “Cake Boss,” as master of ceremonies, featured the Rockettes cutting a long yellow ribbon to break the champagne bottle against the Peter Max-painted hull of the ship.
The $840 million ship, which sets the pattern for the upcoming Norwegian Getaway (January 2014) and two later ships known as Breakaway Plus, launched a number of changes from Norwegian Epic. The unusual bathroom design on Epic has reverted to a conventional bathroom, and the Studio staterooms for solo passengers have been reduced by half. In addition, 28 spa balcony staterooms and 20 spa mini-suites offer soothing decor and complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suite. The main dining room configuration has been replaced by three restaurants: Taste, Savor and the Manhattan Room, the last with its preview of Burn the Floor, which is offered in full in the theater. For more drama, a fireworks show is set off on the next-to-last night of each cruise.
Some of the changes on Breakaway are New York-specific, like the Sabrett’s hot dog stands and the Ice Bar with sculptures of the New York landmarks: the Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building and Statue of Liberty. Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s president and CEO, who grew up in New York, said he envisioned Breakaway as both a ship for New Yorkers and for those who want a New York experience at sea.
In addition to all its New York echoes, Breakaway claims 27 restaurants. Among the no-fee ones are the three main dining rooms, the two pool bars and grills, O’Sheehan’s Pub (24 hours), the Garden Cafe buffet, the coffee bar in the atrium and room service, with the exception of pizza delivery, which carries a $5 charge. Specialty restaurants with varying fees, include longstanding Cagney’s Steakhouse, La Cucina and Shanghai’s Noodle Bar. And, although the Geoffrey Zakarian Ocean Blue has a charge of $49, it also has a take-out window where patrons can buy lobster rolls and crab toast a la carte for much less.
With all of the references to “walking the plank,” passengers may have thought “Pirates of the Caribbean” was being enacted onboard the Breakaway. The buzz was about Sky Trail, a ropes course definitely not designed for those with a fear of heights. Among its features are a bungee trampoline, a zipline and an eight-foot-long plank that extends above the lifeboats located 10 decks underneath. If that wasn’t enough in the thrills and chills category, the Aqua Park has five colorful multi-story waterslides, including a pair of free fall slides in which a trapdoor opens under your feet and you fall 250 feet into a loop; there’s also The Whip, where two passengers compete on a twisted course.
Breakaway was hailed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the largest cruise ship ever based year-round in the city, where she will join the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem, which also sails year-round from Manhattan. The Breakaway is sailing to Bermuda on 22 one-week cruises until October, when she will offer cruises to the Bahamas, Florida and the Southern Caribbean out of New York.