Our first experience with NCL was in 2008 on the Dawn. Unfortunately, a woman fell overboard the first evening, and the seas were very rough on the way to Bermuda. The staff was not very friendly, but could have been a result of the tragedy. We decided to give NCL another try. I'll make comments about each aspect of the cruise.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier 10:15AM, went through an organized and quick registration. Approximately 11:30 we were able to board. Amazingly ALL staterooms were ready by 1:30PM!
Stateroom: we selected 5082 which was about mid-ship. It was kept neat and clean throughout the cruise. Word of caution! - if you are a light sleeper, DO NOT select this cabin. It is below the Art Gallery and Gatsby bar. We got little sleep the first night as a result of hearing walking and chairs being dropped. They were setting up for the next days art auction. We called guest services twice (1AM and 2AM) to complain. The next day we went to guest services to discuss. They were VERY apologetic, and even gave us a complementary bottle of wine and cheese plate. We also mentioned the situation to the Hotel Director (Sean) and the Food/Beverage Director (Shailendra). They too said they would make sure this was addressed in the future. Aside from this the stateroom was excellent.
Entertainment: First night was the ship's singers/dancers performing 70's songs. The performance was mediocre at best. Other performances included: the female contingent of the ship's singers/dancers performing 60's songs. It got old after about 10 songs so we left; a duo that were ex-circus clowns and they basically did tricks; a group from Second City Comedy. It was hilarious!; a husband/wife ballet duo. We're not into that, so we walked out after 15 minutes. The last night was a performance called 'Elements', performed by the singers/dancers, a magician, and the ballet duo. It was OUTSTANDING!
Food: We ate in the Market Cafe (often), Aqua (2x), Versailles (3x), and Blue Lagoon (a snack). The food was adequate, but not excellent. The repetitive menu in the main dining rooms was frustrating. They do have specials each day however. Don't miss the BBQ at the pool deck (Oasis) each day for lunch!
Bar: We mostly frequented Gatsby. The staff there was SO friendly and entertaining. We loved Lorelie, Elizabeth and Ricky! If you like martinis, they have a tasting available ($$).
Disembarking: We decided to do the walk-off with our own luggage. Ship was cleared by 08:00 and we were off by 08:30. It's the easy way to go!
Other: Advise for first-time cruisers - Cruise activities are always trying to sell you something. Bingo,'deal or no deal', lottery tickets, etc. It's a money maker for them. We chose not to participate, but it's up to you.
There should be a non-smoking area of the casino. We do not go there because of it. You can smell the smoke as you walk past the casino. Smoking area poolside should be more clearly marked.