We flew independently the day before and stayed a night at a hotel on La Rambla. Booking ourselves and making our way from the airport to town and then to the ship saved about Â£350 for the two of us. Here's some of the ways how.
Aerobus from airport to Plaza Catalunya (PC) - 6 euros. Direct and quick bus - stops right outside the airport terminal building and PC is the last stop (of about 3). You can't get the wrong bus nor miss the bus stop. Bus A2 goes from Terminal 2 at the airport; A1 goes from terminal 1. On the way back you need to get the the bus that goes to the terminal you are going to. Despite some confusing nonsense you might read elsewhere, the bus stop in PC is very easy to find and not outside Cortes Ingles.
We stayed at a small hotel on La Rambla which is the main tourist street and right off a corner of PC. It's perfectly easy to walk from PC to the port bus stop with cases (with wheels). There are no roads to cross as you walk down La Rambla and you are not in danger of any criminal activity (which other reviews led me to believe was the case). We grabbed a coffee on route and that broke the walk but it is an easy walk done in one go. It's actually slightly downhill towards the shore. At the bottom of La Rambla, at the column (Colom), cross the roundabout and slightly to your right, behind a government building, is the blue port bus stop. You can't walk to the ship with cases. It's about 2.5km. The port bus is 2.5 euros.
Ports - Funchal - we joined a private tour which saved us some money and was ok. There isn't that much to see except for some great views (if it's not very cloudy which it was when we were there). If I did Funchal again, I'd either spend more time in the town or organise a walk on the Levant paths which looked great.
Santa Cruz - We walked around the town. Others did more interesting things.
Arrecife - Others spent time on the volcanic wasteland and on camels and enjoyed themselves
Malaga - Beautiful Spanish town with interesting Roman ruins, history, Picasso Museum/Gallery. Gorgeous, clean and we will definitely go back.
The ship - Nice enough. Nothing spectacular about it but very comfortable.
Food - Buffet - Raffles Court - Unfortunately it was often a scramble to get a table but plenty of food, most of it well cooked. In better weather the scramble would be less annoying because there are lots of outside tables to use.
Both other 'free' restaurants were great. The choice of food was good and, if you remembered to ask for it hot, it was hot enough to eat. If you didn't, the food would be lukewarm.
We ate at the Shogun ($15 supplement). Nice to eat in more intimate surroundings but it's Chinese food for people who've not eaten Chinese food before; not very Chinese and not very good.
Drinks - The free tea and coffee were both undrinkable. Coffee was cold and weak and the tea (well they don't make it properly do they, as Eric Idle would say). Beer is expensive $5.50 plus 15% for a bottle. Pepsi was $2.10 plus 15%, Wine from $24 a bottle, $6 a glass.
Service - as good as it always is on a cruise.
Evening Shows - Actually incredibly good. The choreography and production of the shows was TV standard. The comic juggler was very good indeed. Made me laugh out loud. The cruise director's insistence on warming up the crowd after the show was patronising and irritating but hey, the shows were good. ("Did you enjoy that?", warm applause, "No come on, you can do better than that"). I might be being a bit unfair to the cruise director because the illusionist and the singer both implored the crowd to be more enthusiastic too. Maybe it was me but I don't like being told to enjoy something more than I am enjoying it.
Cabin - sorry, Stateroom. (What is that all about?) - Clean except for the pre-stained chair. Recent-ish refurbishment to the TV/drinks bar has been v poorly done. I wouldn't have paid the joiner who did it. Oceanview picture window is great though and so good that I wouldn't get a balcony again. Shower good and roomy. Overall, comfortable and clean and our steward, Joenar, was charming and smiling and efficient too.
General Bad Points - Pushing the sale of bingo, raffle tickets and other unwanted nonsense. I hate that. Presume it works for them but jeez, it's annoying. No organised bridge tournament/play. Poker tournament - too expensive/too high a rake and terrible structure so I didn't play in them. Wifi on board is ludicrously expensive $100 for every 10 seconds or thereabouts. Ok, ok...
General good points. - lots of them but having BBC News, Sky News and SSN on the ship was great.
Overall, extremely good value for money but in a match between NCL and Celebrity it would be 4-1 to Celebrity for me.