Repositioning cruises offer great value for the money. People tend to not like flying one way and rarely does one live out of the city the cruise leaves or arrives from. Got a great deal with a week to go! We live in Vancouver area so we parked at the long term YVR lot, then took Skytrain downtown to Waterfront. Sadly NCL doesn;t park at Canada Place, instead they are at Ballantyne. The silver lining was only one boat and easy access via cab. Got in line early, around 11:30am and had a very short wait till they actually started processing the line. We were on the ship having lunch by 12:30pm.
Our cabin was immediately accessible with our luggage arriving by 3pm. Sat on the outside deck as we sailed out of Vancouver harbour and under the Lions Gate Bridge. Astoria was a quiet old fishing village that offered very little to see up and down the main street. The old trolley is fun but gets packed with the cruise in port. Easy walk to and from town which would have saved us $7 each for the trolley / bus. Day at sea is always fun to sleep in, eat and do whatever. We managed quite well to spend the day doing not very much.
Much like Vancouver, NCL does not use the easy yet expensive ports so upon arrival in San Francisco we found ourselves south of the Bay Bridge and an $12 cab ride to Fisherman's Wharf. Dress for cool weather in SF even if everywhere else it says hot. By mid afternoon things warm up but till then it's cold. Fishermans Wharf is always fun to snoop but nothing is cheap. Another day at sea and we ended up in San Pedro, Los Angeles.
NCL is famous for Free Style dining and it's food quality. Let's get the worst part of the food review first - the dining room was slow service on most days and the food was average or above average at best. Which is strange considering the buffet is exceptional. We only did the dining room twice for dinner and one time for breakfast.
The Garden City Buffet is amazing. NCL doesn't offer trays so you can't pile your food onto multiple plates and waste it all. The food is cooked in smaller casserole dishes offering hotter, fresher and tastier dishes. Food choices include dessert crepes, made to order pasta, made to order omlettes, made to order sandwiches, cold cream soups, made to order soups, international varieties, full turkey, chicken, beef, lamb and pork. Exceptional food choices, all of them very tasty, every day for lunch and dinner. A chocolate buffet goes on once a cruise usually the 2nd day at sea.
We dined on a previous cruise at the Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant. Very good food and worth going but not for the $50 (we got a coupon discount on that last cruise). We overhead others saying that most of the extra charge places were just ok and not something they would do again, except for the Teppanyaki one.
Entertainment is hit and miss. The broadway shows are great. The Jersey Boys review is good if you like that music. The comedy is hit and miss. Second City is a waste of time.
Disembarkation: Just walk off. Keep your bags in your room on the last night and walk off the ship whenever you want after they dock. Enjoy your last day breakfast and take all your luggage with you. Easy off the boat and easy process through customs. Really enjoyable process.
Room tips: Be sure to bring an extension cord with multiple outlets. There are only one or two outlets in your cabin and none of them are in good spots. This is a must if you bring cameras, phones, chargers etc.
Overall we really like NCL. Freestyle anytime dining is a real nice option. We like dining when we want, we like the buffet food quality and the smaller ships seem to be more to our liking.