My wife and I are from Northern New Jersey and took a cruise for the first time with my wife's parents, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their two kids.
We embarked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York. It was fairly easy for us to be dropped off and take our luggage to the terminal. When we got to the terminal, our luggage (which was already tagged) was taken from us, not to be seen again until later in the afternoon. We arrived at the terminal around noon, and the check-in process was fairly smooth. We were able to complete the check-in process and board the ship by about 1pm.
Aboard the ship throughout our time there we were very impressed and pleased with the ship's amenities. The rooms were clean and made great use of the small space they had. The pool and hot-tubs were at comfortable temperatures. The restaurants had amazing food. (Note: we did not try any of the restaurants that had an added cover charge. We enjoyed the food in the main dining rooms so much that we didn't have too!)
We really enjoyed the "Freestyle" cruising that Norwegian offers. We loved just being able to eat and do whatever we wanted to whenever we wanted to do it.