I have been reading the Cruise Critic reviews for a few years and felt that I needed to give something back so here is my first post and I hope that it will help you in making your plans.
This was our first time cruising with Norwegian. We felt that the crew, by and large, put in effort to make sure the guests were having a good time. I actually felt bad for them when we observed people being nasty -ridiculous situations such as screaming about cold eggs (for goodness sakes you're on a cruise ship just politely ask for a new egg.) I thought the buffet was plentiful and had different items as well as standards each day.
I was very pleased that Norwegian did not push drinks constantly 24X7. In fact, they really were not pushy at all. All sales pitches for jewelry, art - the usual on ships were low key. We appreciated this. We speculate they make up the money by having the specialty restaurants but this was perfectly fine for us. We very much enjoyed Moderno - the food was excellent and more than we could eat. Even my son, the picky eater, was very happy and asked if we could go again. We also ate at the Japanese steakhouse and enjoyed the food/conversation.
The room was clean and we enjoyed the extra space afforded by the balcony. I wondered if there would be enough warm days to use it and was pleasantly surprised the answer was yes. We liked keeping the door open on warm evenings or just reading a book with the ocean flowing by. The escape from the crowds was great. The nice amenity was a great hair dryer in the room - not like the vacuum hoses on other ships.
Other nice touches that we have not seen on other ships: upon coming back from port, they distributed sanitizing hand towels which served the dual purpose of having something nice a cool and also clean. They grilled on the pool deck- large grills will mounds of rice and barbecue chicken that smelled delicious.
The entertainment was really good and the variety offered was excellent. I would rank this up there with one of the best for evening shows. They had everything from a Broadway singer to a really good cirque act. The ship's performers were OK. I thought the comedians were better than most I have seen on the ships primarily because they didn't need to be crass to be funny. As a result, our whole family could enjoy the show. Man from Mars was excellent.
The one downside was the seating in the dining room. We usually enjoy sharing a table and meeting interesting people. Norwegian does not seem to promote this interaction. Despite asking the hostess to seat us with other people or have them join us - we often sat alone. I don't know if this was a misunderstanding or if the other passengers were not interested. The other issue was asking to have the same wait staff. We asked for a particular person and was told we could be seated in the section near her. Eh??
After saying this was very important to us (ok, we pushed this issue), the hostess finally relented and seated us in our favorite wait staff's section. For us, and as the wait staff agreed, it's nice to build a relationship for the duration of the cruise where they know what you like eat, if you want coffee after dinner, etc... and you know a little about each other. If this is not your thing, then you will have no problem with the dining room (Grand Pacific) other than it runs a little slow for breakfast. (Suggest you just skip it and go to the outdoor buffet.)
Also, our kids did not enjoy the youth programs. They went the first day and refused to go back. They group 13-17 together and my older child commented that, at 17, she really has nothing in common with a 13 year old. It would have been better if they had a 15-17 or 16-18 grouping. My son just didn't get into the programming for the 10-12 youths and didn't like the 2 hour minimum to stay after checking-in. He found it easier to meet other kids around the ship and come/go to various activities as he pleased.
The last 36 hours of the trip were rough due to the weather. 25 foot waves and 67 mile/hour winds. The ship rocked and swayed leaving a good 50% of the passengers seasick. If this happens to you, I suggest hanging out around mid-ship on deck 6. It seemed to be the best place to find some steady ground - of sorts. The higher level floors were very hard to navigate and stay upright. That said, I think Norwegian did a good job to provide information and make the passengers comfortable on disembarkment day since we were we late coming into port. We were allowed to stay in the rooms until 11 and grab a leisurely breakfast. They provided coffee and juice on deck 12 after 11a.
Port Review for Semana
We chose to go to 'Cayenas del Mar.' They have a website (just Google the name) and checkout their options. I emailed them about the beach day pass with lunch. The internet reservation saved us 10% and the total cost for 4 people including transportation and lunch was 97. It's a beautiful spot. Lunch was plentiful, very good, and perfectly timed for when a little rain cloud burst opened up. It was not crowded - only 20 people or so on the day we went. Well worth it compared to the stories we heard from other people who were disappointed about the muddy trip to the falls or into town.