We normally cruise with RCI, but decided to give NCL and their freestyle cruising a try on a short 4 night mini cruise out of Barcelona.
The check-in process was very quick & hassle free. The port itself also seemed to be well organised. After having read other reviews about the port, we decided to take their advice and get a taxi, but realistically we could have walked.
We had a mid-ship balcony stateroom which we specifically picked as it had a larger balcony (enough room for 2 chairs, table & sun lounger). The 'wave' style stateroom was nicely decorated with plenty of storage space. However, due to the layout and style it did feel slightly smaller than previous rooms we have had. There were 3 adults sharing the room- plenty of space, but a bit difficult to move about. The bathroom was slightly odd, having a separate toilet and shower with frosted glass. There is a curtain to separate the 'bathroom' from the rest of the stateroom, however, you also have to remember to lock your stateroom door so nobody can walk in and get an eyeful! Overall however, the stateroom was very nice.
The ship itself is nicely decorated and well kept. I found it a bit dark to start with, but soon got used to it. There is plenty to do- swimming pools, hot tubs, sports court, climbing wall and water slides.
There are plenty of dinning choices on board. Most of these have a supplement applied, and due to our short stay we never got to try them, but sure they would have been good. We mainly ate breakfast/lunch in the garden cafe which is buffet style. We always found a large choice of food on offer, and something to suit everyone. Im a vegetarian, and my mum is rather fussy, but we always had plenty to choose from. It can get quite busy, but the waiters/waitresses offered to help find seats. We only managed to try the Manhattan dinning room once, but again found the food to be of excellent quality, and the service was great. In the Taste resteraunt we found several people trying to serve us at once. It did get a bit confusing who was serving, but everyone was just trying to be helpful. On our last night we tried to get into Taste after a show, but had to wait 15mins for a table to become available. We were each given a voucher for a free glass of wine while we waited.
The entertainment was of good quality, by far the best though was the Cirque Dreams & Dinner. This carries a $25 supplement, but is worth every penny. Due to a late booking we had to take the premier seats which are $35, but I would certainly recommend spending the extra $10, its well worth it as you are so close to the stage. I had read several reviews saying the food wasnt that great at the Cirque, but we found it to be good quality. Even without food, the Cirque would have been well worth the money. The performers were amazing and never stopped.
Also in the entertainment line was Legends In Concert- not really to our taste (due to the acts that were on), but still a good show. Next up is the Blue Man Group, which I can officially say is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. Im still not sure whether I liked it or not, some parts were really good, others not so much. But again, it was a well produced show.
Alongside the main show there was various singers/game shows etc. The best night though was at the White Hot Party- basically where everyone dresses in white and there is black lights to make you glow. It wasnt to everyones taste- the music was a mix of pop/dance and very, very loud. I would say that a good 60% of the boat was there- some sober, some drunk, some dancing sensibly, others not so much, but everyone was just there to have a good time. No trouble, just a really good atmosphere. The only problem was the black lights were pretty rubbish and not much glowing going on!
In Marseille we took the shuttle bus from the port which was quite expensive at $20. Not much to see there, but a walk up to the cathedral for the view was well worth it. On the way back to the boat we got held up in traffic, which resulted in everyone getting a full refund whether they complained or not.
Palma was nice, a bit more to see and could easily fill a few hours there. Again we took the shuttle, but could have walked. As in Marseille, the shuttles ran regularly.
Disemarking was very easy and relaxed- we chose to walk of independantly. Left the boat a good half hour later than we were supposed to, but never got hurried up or felt pressurised to get off. We decided to walk back into Barcelona rather than paying for an over priced taxi- very easy and didnt take long at all.
Overall, we all thoroughly enjoyed our first experienced with NCL, and would certainly go with them again.