We sailed on the Norwegian Spirit out of Barcelona on Oct 12, 2012. When arriving at the embarkation point the staff of the Spirit were there to cheerfully greet us and usher us on our way to the start of a fantastic vacation. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) are noted for their "freestyle cruising". Being a first time cruiser this did not mean a lot to me at the time but I have to say it definitely fit my lifestyle. Not one who likes to dress in fancy clothes and sit with people I don't know to make stilted conversation, NCL is my best fit. Freestyle cruising, you do not have assigned seating, you can eat when you want, where you want and the only rule is you must wear long pants. Respectable jeans are allowed. You can certainly dress up if you like, lots of people were dressed up and the have dress up or not nights. Life Safety drill was done before leaving port.
Our room was mid-ship balcony - port side. Everyone says the balconies are small, my question - what are you doing on the balcony - how much bigger do you want it? The balcony was fine, the room is fine and the bathroom is great. I have been in smaller rooms in hotels in NYC. We did not spend a lot of time hanging out in our room or on the balcony of our room.
The food was great, in all the venues. We ate at the buffet, dining rooms, ordered pizza, ate wings and salad - we never had a bad meal on this cruise.
The ship is meticulously clean, service in the dining rooms, buffet venue, and bars are 10 out of 10. Service in the casino is a 6 out of 10, lots of time there was no one at the desk, and you would wait forever for a waiter to come around to take your order, (no the drinks are not free for most) - I think if you are a big player or have some kind of status you can get free drinks.
The evening shows were amazing, great entertainment.
Arriving at all the ports and exiting the ship was not a problem, line ups that maybe took 5 mins if that before you were off the ship.
We opted to do the tours with private companies and did not do any NCL tours, so I cannot comment on NCL arranged tours.
Disembarkation day was fine, you were given a colour and your colour corresponded with a time you were to disembark. No problems there.
The friendly, cheerful staff, freestyle dining and cruising (if you bought a drink in one bar you can take it to another) was definitely a hit with us and we would cruise NCL again.