We had sailed once before on Norwegian and since we were a little disappointed with some of the aspects of our first NCL cruise we were not expecting this cruise to be as wonderful as it was.
Traveling on a budget we opted to stay the night in New Orleans at a hotel recommended by some friends. It was a Super 8 on Chef Menteur Hwy that allowed us to park the car for the duration of the cruise at no extra charge. Although the area was not the best, they had security and we felt completely safe. It was easy access to I10 and not too long of a drive to the French Quarter. The staff at Super 8 was very friendly and helpful. They arranged for a limo service to pick us up (only $7 pp to the cruise terminal) and even allowed late check out at noon, again no extra charge. The hotel is older but clean and free breakfast, cruise parking and great service for $67 including tax!
We were dropped off at the cruise terminal and had a bit of a wait to get through security, but not too bad. We boarded and were greeted by crew directing passengers to the buffet or staterooms. The ship was beautiful and decorated for Christmas. We asked if the MDR was open and it was. We were sitting in Versailles (MDR) which was open for lunch by 1:30. This was our first surprise! We had remembered the food on NCL as being inferior to other cruise lines. Lunch was delicious! We were immediately hopeful that all the MDR food would be much improved over our last NCL cruise.
Our second surprise was the quality of service. After lunch we made our way to our cabin and we were greeted by our cabin steward, Wahyu (pronounced 'why you'.) He asked our names and from then on never failed to greet us by name. Our room was a little smaller that Carnival's cabins, but adequate for us. We really liked the layout of the bathroom especially the sliding shower door. Our cabin was always spotless and twice a day Wahyu never forgot to leave ice in the ice bucket, fresh towels or adorable towel animals. Our first NCL cruise had adequate cabin service, I can honestly say Wahyu gave us the best service we have had yet from any of our cruises.
Dinner in the MDR the first night...another surprise...Lobster! The last NCL cruise I was on served some sort of bits of lobster in pasta. This was real steak and lobster. My husband ordered 2. From then on we ate in one of the MDRs every night and the food was really good. I had ocean perch, prime rib, filet mignon, mahi mahi over etoufee (what!) and tender juicy ribeye. I can't complain about any of the meals, even the buffet was good.