After trying other lines for the past 12 years, we decided to give NCL another try. We had only carry-on luggage so we opted to take the train from New Jersey, then a taxi to the port. We arrived at 10:00 a.m. and was pointed to a line. Shortly thereafter we were lined up to go through security, we were then seated in a waiting area. We spent approximately 90 minutes waiting before actually checking in and boarding. Our pictures were taken while checking in which was great as we avoided waiting on line to enter the ship. My first impression was that NCL has lost the Midas touch. Before the line was sold, we were always greeted with a white-gloved waiter with a welcome drink and thereafter we were guided to our cabins. A very cold greeting indeed. Unlike other cruise lines, access to all staterooms was blocked so you had to go directly to the buffet or restaurant for lunch. We dragged our luggage and opted to go to the Grand Pacific where we had a wonderful lunch. They offered an option to drop carry-on luggage at the Bliss lounge but we declined. A little after 2:00 p.m. we received an announcement that our rooms were ready. The stateroom was quite small and very difficult to move around in and, for someone with long legs, it was a challenge sitting on the commode comfortably. We requested one large bed but got two small ones which were quite comfortable so we left them that way but again space was very limited to move around. I was also disappointed that conditioner and lotion was not provided as I did not bring any since it was always available on other lines. I did not like the fact that everything was in a dispenser. Sort of cheapened the experience. They also did not provide a beach bag, which is customary on other lines so I had to ask the room steward to try to find a couple for us since we did not bring one.
Meals and entertainment were quite good and I didn't see the need to pay for a specialty restaurant. The Groove International band was outstanding and very versatile.
We had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Chef and Assistant Housekeeping managers. They were very professional and did their best to ensure that everyone was well taken care of. They are an asset to the company for sure. Our room steward, Christian, was also a gem. He did an excellent job taking care of our room. Once we experienced a few waiters the first couple of days, we asked for the same waiter, Norman, for the rest of the cruise as he was the best at what he does.
The cruise director and his assistant are very good and quite personable but I have one comment about the Fountains show. It may have been entertaining for some but watching people exchanging bodily fluids by spitting on each other was not my idea of good entertainment and I thought it was a tad raunchy for the number of kids at the show. I did, however, enjoy his Beyonce Single Ladies performance.
No paper and pen was provided in the room nor was there a daily news synopsis available, like on other lines, and the TV was very limited.
Unlike other cruise lines, there was no form to complete indicating your disembarkation arrangements. You had to go to the front desk to inquire. Disembarkation was a nightmare and very disorganized. The worst I have ever encountered. They need more staff to guide people around and monitor the lines as people getting off the elevators were cutting the line which extended out into the cold. I was definitely happy to get off at that point.
Overall it was a good cruise.