This was such a good deal, GBP299 each including flights that it couldn't be refused! We sailed 17-26th January '13.
Our only previous cruise was with P&O on the Arcadia at about 8 x the price, so not completely fair to make a direct comparison, but I will!
We have not flown Easyjet for many years but I have to say that they were excellent. On time, friendly, allocated seats, clean etc. so perfectly acceptable for a short haul flight.
Embarkation was smooth and we were on board about mid-day with 3 or our 4 cases at our cabin shortly after. The 4th was impounded by the alcohol police and I had to prove that we only had cans of soft drinks and no alcohol.
We purchased a wine package (thought the AI upgrade was overpriced) which worked out about GBP15 per bottle and all were acceptable with some being very good. Part bottles are stored away and can be called to any restaurant, bar or to your cabin.
The ship was better than we expected from the reviews. Yes the room was a touch shabby and some furniture was a bit rickety, but the public areas were very well maintained and cleaned. It had the edge in style and condition over the Arcadia.
We overslept on the first morning so had to eat breakfast in the buffet and vowed never again! But we had the same reaction on Arcadia as well. If I want to eat in the equivalent of a motorway service restaurant I can at home and I don't understand why so many are happy to put up with being bumped and jostled for lukewarm food when you can sit in peace and quiet of Windows restaurant and be served. But I'm glad they do as this means easier access for us!
Windows proved much nicer than the Garden Room. Same menu but tighter packed, noisier and standard of service seemed lower in Windows. We used three of the speciality restaurants - La Trattoria, wouldn't bother again, not great service and seemed to be standard food. Cagneys - much better though my wife's filet mignon had a jelly like consistency that put her off. My rib of beef was superb. Le Bistro, we liked this the best. Nice atmosphere, great service and great food.
The shows were much better than Arcadia's, not that we thought they were bad, just that NCL's were much more professional. Dancers were excellent, the English comedian/juggler was hilarious though not sure all of the non-Brits understood his sense of humour, the French acrobats/dancers were simply magnificent and the Italian magician/illusionist was, well a typical showman, in love with himself and unfortunately as there have been so many shows explaining how tricks work I think a dying art.
We used the casino a couple of times, just to pass time on the slots. Shame there is not a dedicated cinema, but we watched a film in the Maharaja bar. We didn't spend much time in the Galaxy of the Stars bar as this seemed more like a working men's club, so much preferred Charlies.
Others have written about the fact that we did not dock in Arecife, nor did the cruise before ours, and I also believe that this was pre-planned. This meant that in the 9 days we only docked at 3 ports (Madeira, Tenerife and Malaga) which meant far too many sea days.
We did not dress as formally as we did on P&O, but we could have and some did so no-one should or would feel out of place wearing a DJ. I took a suit and wore it twice and my wife wore semi formal dresses.
For the price we paid the holiday was simply excellent value for money and in some respects, and to our pleasant surprise, outshone P&O, but there are also some shortcomings that might be more noticeable if paying full price!
Will we sail with NCL again? Well we are, as we just happened to win the raffle prize of USD1k voucher off a cruise, so as we planned to be in Vegas for NY 13/14 we have booked on a 14 day LA to Miami cruise via the Panama Canal leaving 5th January. Without the prize we would not rule out sailing NCL if a good deal was available, but having only cruised twice we want to try more companies before we decide who to go back to.
Oh, I've seen other reviews pointing out that the service charges can be removed. True, but when you have paid such a low rate for the cruise it seems really tight fisted to do that when you know that these form the bulk of the staffs wages, and almost without exception they worked very hard and with a smile. Think twice before you do this!