4th time NCL cruiser and this was the most and probably the one that will push me toward Carnival or RC. First off, i must say the staff was absolutely great. very friendly, courteous, and most seemed to be willing to do anything for you. they are mostly phillipine and just genuinely nice! embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. very easy, and friendly staff there as well.
the ship itself is just a mishmash. very nicely laid out cabins, although they were definitely worn and showed a great deal of wear & tear. signage on the ship could have been better. food quality was about 2 star. the buffets were the same old stuff, boring, bland, lacking visually. specialty restaurants were indeed better, but really only about 2.5- maybe 3 star at best. there was nothing extraordinary or exciting about any of the food! with all the phillipino staff on board why not offer a few native entrees, at least on the buffet line -- NCL should take advantage of this! (trying new cuisines from different cultures would have been most welcomed) Food in the main dining rooms was boring, bland, and just not very good at all. Service was better at specialty restaurants also (more senior staff?)
layout of the ship was blech. terrible pool deck. the tiered effect just didnt work for us. it seeme like they tried to cram in the pool, hot tubs, and silly, unused waterslides in far too small of a space.
the overall decor of the ship was just old, and blech. although the ship was built in 2000, it had a very 80's fern bar feel with all the fake plants, disco rope lights, etc.
Ports of call were tired,and boring, except for Cozumel. They should eliminate one of them and maybe overnight in cozumel (do any ships even overnite anywhere anymore?)
as far as the crowd, how can i be polite in saying that never have we seen so many overweight, obese people before! it seemed like everywhere you went, or everytime you turned around you ran into someone on one of those danged scooters....which we all know are being used because the people are overweight, not handicapped. (evidenced when you see them get up and easily walk to the buffet lines. sounds funny, but the carts got to be annnoying, and it slowed down the elevators, hallways, etc. (not kidding there weren't just a few, but dozens of them!)
spa services were expensive, and only mediocre! not a fan of having to pay an additional $30 on top of the service to use the indoor pool, indoor hottub, or just to shower after a massage!! (horrible policy)
if you've never cruised before, you might like NCL, but if you are a veteran of other lines, you probably won't like it very much. mostly the crowd looked like veterans of shows like horders, biggest loser, and at times intervention or even cops.
overall its probably a two star experience. base fare was downright cheap, but once you realize how much you spend onboard to compensate for the blech food, you probably could have splurged on a more expensive cruise. trust though, those who ate solely at the buffet, main dining room(if they brought the clothing) and took advantage of the beer bucket specials certainly got their moneys worth!