We were a group of 14. 2 Couples with 7 children between us, Grandparents and single family friend. Children were ages 9-15. A bit of a family reunion. Overall we all really liked the cruise. My husband and I only had 1 princess cruise to compare this to and the others were new to cruising. The Grand Princess definitely had better food last year than the Star. The Star didn't have terrible food it just definitely wasn't as tasty as your favorite restaurant. Hit and miss. The presentation of the food "the look" was great but if they would've put as much effort into the taste as the looks then many more would've been pleased. We ate at a couple of specialty restaurants and they were good but not super great.
When we arrived at the pier we were told that the ship would have a different itinerary due to a mechanical problem. We would not be going to Acapulco and Zhituana sp?. We had really wanted to go to Acapulco but really weren't that disappointed since they substituted Manzanillo instead and it was nice. We just took a taxi to a beach quite a ways a way and had a nice day. Mazatlan was another port substituted and it too was very nice. Some people were really upset over change of plan but all was all right with us since we were comped about $100 per cabin ship board credit to make up for it.
We had an obstructed view cabin on deck 8. It was fine. Our kids were across from us in an inside cabin. With 4 in there it was a bit tight but they managed quite well. The 9 and 10 year old loved their kids programs. they went about 1/2 the time to the planned activities. Our teens went a bit less often as they could sign them selves in and out of the program. The week after Thanksgiving there weren't as many kids as the week before, especially teens and I think that is why the teens didn't have quite as much fun in their program. But it still gave them something to do on non port days.
The entertainment was pretty good. We especially liked the off Broadway shows and thought they were above par. The magician was good and comedian ok. We thought there were a bit less activities on this ship than the other ship we had been on. We still had a wonderful time and would recommend this cruise to any family. It was a good value.
As a couple we probably wouldn't choose NCL again because I thought the fixed seating and food were definitely better on Princess. I liked the familiarity of the waitstaff and they had a lot more at stake for poor service as they were graded by you at the end of cruise. (Not so with NCL) We were not disappointed because I had read review of the food so I wasn't expecting anything more than we got. We ate breakfast every morning in the Market (buffet) and it was ok. We chose to eat leisurely in the Versailles the last morning. We ordered hot chocolate on a recommendation of another cruiser and it was fabulous. Homemade tasting. We wish we would've discovered it on 1st day and would've breakfasted every morning in dining room!
Getting off was fairly smooth as long as you looked at card night before and saw the schedule and weren't too antsy to get off earlier. We weren't pushed to be off before 8:30 a.m like we were on Princess. Our color wasn't scheduled to disembark until 11:00 and that was about when we got off. With only about 1/2 hour of waiting in a lounge for color to be called to go thru customs.
Overall every one in our group (kids 9-15) us 35-42 years and YOUNG grandparents 60-62 we all had a great time. Our teens had lots of independence and we felt safe letting them be somewhat on there own with periodic check ins. The kids programs gave us couple time in afternoon and evening and all was included in cruise. Definitely a great deal! Our weather was wonderful and we came home not spending more than we had anticipated... a definite plus with Christmas around the corner.