With sky-high rent, a super-competitive job market and intriguing nightlife every day of the week, getting rest isn’t easy when you live in New York. The antidote for New Yorkers looking for downtime without completely letting go of the best of what New York City has to offer? A cruise. Yes, a cruise.
Designed with city dwellers in mind, cruise ships such as the Norwegian Breakaway offer a taste of NYC on every level, from hot dog vendors and mani-pedi appointments to red-roped nightclubs and fine dining curated by celebrity chefs. It’s the perfect way to get away from home, without having to leave it all behind. Here’s how my recent sailing on Norwegian Breakaway turned me into a cruise evangelist:
No schlepping to the airport necessary.
Nobody has time to waste in the Big Apple — we want things quickly and efficiently. Well, the start of your holiday couldn’t be easier: Just hail a cab and head over to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on the west side (ships also leave from Brooklyn or New Jersey). No waking up at the crack of dawn to catch an early bus, train or plane as most cruises leave in the afternoon. No dealing with traffic to JFK airport or the AirTrain to Newark, or layovers, transfers and jet lag.
Your vacation begins the moment you step aboard the cruise ship, literally. Grab a drink, head up to the lido deck and eat lunch or spend a few hours exploring the ship. Your vacation is already well underway by the time the cruise ship leaves the dock.
The option to digitally detox. Or not.
These days, you can travel to the nether reaches of distant lands where nobody speaks a language you understand; yet you can still check your email. Where do you go to free yourself from of all things Internet? Hop aboard a cruise ship.
While it’s near impossible for New Yorkers to let go of our smart phones and laptops, most cruises, including on Norwegian Breakaway, give you the choice of whether or not to remain connected. You can preemptively decide by opting to purchase a Wi-Fi package, or by getting a limited-access pass on board. Alternatively, zero cell reception and Internet connection are too offered on the ship — free of charge. After a week off the grid, your soul will be thankful.
Dine whenever you want, wherever you want.
Getting a great meal on board doesn’t have to require lots of planning or preening if that’s not what you want. Though if you do wish to get dressed up and linger over a decadent meal, there exists the option to get fancy and experience fine dining just like you would at home.
Whether you spontaneously decide you feel like make-your-own nachos at the Garden Cafe Buffet or opt to spend a little more at Geoffrey Zakarian’s fine seafood restaurant, Ocean Blue, it’s totally up to you. Not to mention, there’s 24-hour food delivery on the Norwegian Breakaway. Room service is all-inclusive (except between midnight and 5 a.m., which requires a small surcharge), so you don’t even have to worry about racking up an unnecessary bill if a meal in is more your style. Just pick up the phone, and don’t be afraid to answer the door in your pajamas.
You can keep up your frenetic urban pace...
The city never sleeps, and if you can’t let go of the constant stimulation you know and love, you don’t have to. There are more than enough options on the Breakaway to fill your days and nights, starting your day with a Rockettes-style stretch class, followed by yoga and, if you’re really motivated, perhaps Zumba on the upper deck. Then have breakfast at one of seven restaurants, drop in on a detox health seminar, give the ropes course a go, get in an early massage appointment at the spa or try your hand at blackjack in the casino.
After lunch, take a nap outside at the Waterfront on deck 8, catch a recent-release movie in the theater, check out the entertainment by the main pool, and/or try a martini tasting at Shakers Bar. Squeeze in a game of ping-pong before dinner, catch one of several live-music shows (offered daily) or take in a Broadway show, such as Rock of Ages, and then stop by Headliners for some late-night comedy from Second City's Dysfunktional Family Reunion.
Tired yet? Book end your day with another energetic workout courtesy of the nightly dance parties, as well as the after parties, and refuel with a late-night slice of pizza — just like back home.
...Or, you can choose to let go of it all.
Resist adhering to a busy schedule on a daily basis if that’s what you’re trying to recover from. Instead, forget time exists and have a late breakfast in bed, lunch and dinner at your leisure — with 29 dining possibilities, not to mention endless entertainment and workout options, you don’t need to plan anything ahead of time.
Need to get in a little cardio but don’t feel like a group activity? Take a solo jog along Deck 7, where there’s little foot traffic. Just feel like lounging outdoors with a good book and a cocktail? Plenty of opportunities for that, including at the private Vibe beach club (if you’re lucky enough to score passes on embarkation day). Midnight snack? Put on your flip-flops and pad over to O’Sheehans for a snack. Or don’t move, and just call 24-hour room service. There’s no need to worry about arranging complex itineraries. Because there will always be something to do — if and when you decide you want to.