Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar

 

Recently we had the opportunity to go on a Norwegian Cruise Line voyage. We vacationed onboard the new Breakaway that first set sail in April 2013, and travels from New York to Bermuda during the northern hemisphere summer months and to the Bahamas and Caribbean in the colder months.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar sign

The Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway is a state of the art cruise ship offering its passengers outdoor attractions in the form of pools, water slides, rope course, a climbing wall, as well as a basketball court, 9-hole mini golf course, and a jogging track.
The ship is equally impressive with its indoor facilities featuring an ultra modern gym, a spa with relaxation and treatment rooms contributing to the vacation atmosphere of the ship, as well as shopping facilities, an art gallery and children and youth clubs.
Then, of course, there are over a dozen of restaurants and bars both on the outside and decks for the thousands of travelers onboard to sample and enjoy.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar bar

The Ice Bar

On the Breakaway’s elegant Deck 8, travelers will find a unique watering hole in the form of a sub-freezing temperature Ice Bar. The idea is not new and was first introduced back in the 1990s in the  Ice Hotels; the

The idea is not new and was first introduced back in the 1990s in the  Ice Hotels; the Icehotel in Sweden being the first permanent location that is still in existence.
Over the years, Ice bars became quite trendy, so it wasn’t a surprise when the concept was adopted and taken onboard by Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar statue
An ice bar had already made the Norwegian Cruise Line famous when the Epic, (Breakaway’s older sister) was featured on Chilloutpoint.com website as one of the best Ice Bars of the world, so naturally, company officials opted to continue the winning streak and put one on their newest ship too.

The venue is small and can fit 25 guests at any given time.
The process is simple: passengers pay, then wait to go in and can stay for 20 minutes if they can stand the cold for that long. The entrance fee covers two alcoholic drinks as well as a warm coat and gloves.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE-BREAKAWAY ICE BAR decor

The Ambiance

The  Bar’s decor is a sculpted winter wonderland scene of New York City made out of transparent colorless ice and is lit with bright blue lighting that makes it look modern and mysterious.
It includes sculptures of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, the Statue of Liberty and a giant chair that becomes a dare to sit in because you can freeze your private areas off by doing so.

Since almost everything in the bar is constructed or sculpted of ice including the bar table, the walls, the floor, the door and even the drinking glasses, the venue makes for an unusual attraction to see.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar chair

The Menu

The locale menu is relatively simple with six specialty vodka cocktails inspired by the city that the ship sails out of: Spiked Apple Juice, Broadway Dreams, Yellow Cab, Times Square Lights, Central Park and Rock Center.
There are also two non-alcoholic drinks offered for passengers who are either underage or don’t wish to consume alcohol appropriately named  Lady Liberty and Coney Island, both fruit-based beverages.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE-BREAKAWAY ICE BAR tv

Autism Dining Tips

  • The Ice Bar admits children too and has non-alcoholic beverages on their menu for them.
  • The bar can be crowded, and it is important to make reservations especially so you don’t have to wait in long lines
  • The venue is highly popular, so travelers need to make reservations as soon as they get on board since the spots fill up fast.
  • It is important to talk to your kids about the dangers of frostbite and warn them against holding their bare skin next to the ice for prolonged periods of time.
  • It is freezing and even though the Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar staff give you a hooded coat to keep warm, it is important that kids wear closed shoes and socks.
  • Though it is interesting to see, the venue doesn’t offer any entertainment, so younger kids might find it boring after the first few minutes of exploring the place.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar menu

 

 

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park

 

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park pin

One of the highlights of our Cruise aboard ‘Allure of the Seas‘ was attending the Thanksgiving dinner at the ship’s elegant  150 Central Park.This specialty restaurant is located mid-ship on Deck 8 and is the centerpiece of the Allure of the Seas Central Park neighborhood.

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The restaurant

150 Central Park is decorated in lovely muted neutral tones which create both an intimate and elegant dining experience for passengers. It is open daily for dinner and features two rotating, six courses, seasonal menus designed by Chef Molly Brandt. Chef Brandt is the esteemed winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge.

Her specialty is blending textures and spices from around the world. Like other specialty dining venues on cruises ships, there is a surcharge to experience this high-end dining experience. Reservations are strongly recommended, particularly during holiday cruises or if you would prefer to dine at an earlier seating.

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Though a Prix-fix menu at $45 per person surcharge was a bit pricey, we decided to splurge since we were celebrating Thanksgiving. A lovely offering of favorite American staples with innovative twists provided us and fellow diners with a chance to sample new and exciting blends of textures and tastes .
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The decor

The venue’s décor was a modern spin on old-fashioned elegance. Velvet and plush carpeting in hues of green and gold provided a posh atmosphere for discerning diners.The oval tables with a light gold tablecloths were set in white bone china with a thick gold trim and topped off with the cruise line’s glass stemware.

 

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The menu was printed in gold lettering and was a great memento to take home.
From the minute we were seated for dinner, we were enchanted by the unique container of salts from around the world that accompanied the freshly baked rolls. There were six types of salts, and we loved them all except the red one from Hawaii that we thought smelled a bit like rotten eggs.

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Our server explained each dish to us at length and recommended a choice of several wines with dinner. The assortment of wines was not included in the price of dinner.

The food selection

Our dinner choices included the Chile-spiked crab salad, smoked mayonnaise, pickled chorizo, crispy capers, celery caviar, olive oil tuile as well as the Camembert and Lager Soup which we found to be a bit salty. The Camembert Soup garnished with spiced caramel popcorn with cayenne pepper, crisp bacon, and arugula might be a problem for vegetarians.

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park salts

 

The warm appetizers consisted of Cornbread gnocchi with brown butter, butternut scotch squash, wilted mustard greens, hazelnuts, and hen of the woods mushrooms. Olive oil poached sea bass with sumac-pistachio crust, cauliflower thyme couscous, and pomegranate molasses gastrique which was very subtle were also enjoyed specialties.

 

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As the main course, one could choose from either apple cider marinated veal tenderloin-buttermilk spaetzle, brussels sprout slaw, ginger beer glazed apple and root vegetables, violet mustard veal jus or roasted Harris Ranch beef tenderloin seared broccoli florets with steak sauce spiked cherry tomatoes, onion tempura, and Caesar sauce hollandaise sauce.

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Desserts

Dessert was a bit of a disappointment for all of us except our son who happens to love pudding of any sort.
There was a sticky toffee pudding with star anise creme fraiche ice cream, and cinnamon cotton candy. Completing the excellent meal was a plate of Cheeses along with specialty coffees.

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Our favorites

We had two dishes that we found outstanding. The veal was excellently prepared in its jus and the sumac poached sea pass with a very subtle hint of tartness was tasty.

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Overall, dining at 150 Central Park made for a memorable Thanksgiving experience involving all the senses. We enjoyed the attentive service, upscale atmosphere, and the innovative seasonal cuisine the restaurant is so famous for offering.

Autism Travel Tips

The restaurant is an elegant fine dining venue for teens and adults only. Parents should only bring kids that can sit quietly through a  long dining experienc .

The venue did require casual-formal dressing but accepted our son in a polo shirt and slacks.

 

Rita’s Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas statue
Location

Rita’s Cantina is a Mexican themed restaurant aboard Royal Caribbean‘s Allure of the Seas cruise ship. It is located on the ship’s BoardWalk.The deck which is on the ship’s sixth deck aims to replicate a Coney Island boardwalk and boasts a handcrafted carousel, several food venues including a hot dog stand, ice cream place, and the Aqua Theater. Though boardwalk tends to be more noisy and crowded at night, it still maintains its family friendly vibe the cruise line is so famous for.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas hat
When you should go

The restaurant is open for lunchtime and dinner when the ship is at sea.On most days one can just walk- in or wait for a little to get a table, however, Fiesta Nights are popular so make sure you book your desired date in advance if you want to participate.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas table
What you can expect

The restaurant painted in vibrant colors is on the small side with the majority of tables providing an open a view of the ship’s Boardwalk.Most tables are for 8-10 persons though there are a few smaller ones that accommodate parties of four persons.Although the main stage is in the front of the venue, the music and dancing encompass virtually the entire restaurant, spilling into the boardwalk at times.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas carusel

Should you go?

Although on the ‘kitschy’ side it is still fun to attend and the food is surprisingly good.In the $20 per person package fiesta you get several rounds of appetizers and main courses that are served on family style platters and replenished as needed.The package also includes three margaritas or any other alcoholic drink of choice for passengers 21 and up as well as unlimited sodas drink for patrons under 21.

Noteworthy
The fresh guacamole and salsa were a great starter and, unfortunately, we ended up eating too much, leaving less space for the variety of food items that followed.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas food
Autism travel tips

Since the restaurant is incredibly noisy, ask to be seated in a booth -away from the main dancing floor or loud speakers when you make your reservation.
If your child is noise sensitive, bring earplugs or noise canceling headphones.
The food menu is fixed with no real selection possibility so if your kid is on a restricted diet, ask the Maitre D’  to bring food from alternate ship food venues.
When you first arrive the servers hand out Mexican sombrero straw hats for the guys and light-up necklaces for the ladies but the staff is very accommodating and will let you chose whichever trinket your kid prefers. Our son found the sombrero hat itchy and opted to take the light-up necklace instead.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas entree
Our personal favorite

Like many other fellow diners, our kids found the fresh churros with the chocolate dip pretty irresistible and asked for seconds, and third helpings.

Rita's Cantina aboard Allure of the Seas nachos

 

Mariner of the Seas Portofino restaurant

The service

The service at  Mariner of the Seas  Portofino restaurant was just right, being neither slow nor rushed, and quite well coordinated.The Maitre D’ was very understanding after my short explanation and even permitted our son to wear his usual shorts and t-shirt combo instead of the more dressy attire usually required. He even helped to cut Jeff’s steak and returned to the table multiple times to inquire as to whether we had any other needs or requests.
Moreover, when our server noticed that our son liked the eggplant dip, he replenished it continuously. They were somewhat dismayed to see me leave before the meal ended and gave my husband my dessert platter to take back to our cabin (in case I wished to enjoy it later.)I wanted to, but my son beat me to it and had a second helping for the evening.

The decor and food

The venue decorated in dark tones of gold and winter greens had an understated modern look with its velvet seating and stainless steel open kitchen. The dishes offered in the restaurant’s prix fixe menu were average sized, beautifully presented and tasty.Our sons’ favorites were as expected the assorted fresh bread and the mouth watering desserts!

Noteworthy

On a personal note: I enjoyed the music played, composed of a selection of San Remo 60’s and 70’s Festival winners, the likes of Peppino di Capri and the famous duo of Romina Powell and Albano, for those who are familiar with the genre. It not only provided me with a rare chance to expose my family to a different type of music but also to reminisce about my favorite childhood songs.

Autism travel tips

Since this is an upscale venue on the ship, I would recommend trying this restaurant only if you have kids or teens that have had some gastronomic exposure and are eager to sample different Italian regional dishes, as it would be difficult to enjoy a meal sitting next to a fussy eater or misbehaving child.
The trick to enjoying the Mariner of the Seas  Portofino restaurant when traveling with autistic family members is to go as early as possible during the cruise, preferably even the first night.
Also, you should never book a table for a formal night, and always try to be the first customers in the restaurant when it opens. By doing so, it ensures that the restaurant will not be overcrowded, allowing a more personalizedservice from the crew and complete parental relaxation.

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