Embarkation: Southwest train from Waterloo station in London to Southampton Central train station for 38 pounds, anytime train. 90 minute ride. Brief taxi ride to pier. Was on ship in less than an hour.
Beautiful brand new ship. Given the size, there are only 2 sets of elevators- midship and Aft. Was in cabin 10102 forward with view off helipad. Great storage space, room seems larger than online floor plan, bathroom is largest I have experienced. Shower has glass door and is put back with toilet (EPIC). The cabin attendant was barely seen and made the beds and changed the towels. Extremely long walk just to get to cabin. Hallways are very narrow, except at mid-ship, where the hallway bends. Elevators move fast and are plenty in each set. Aft ship elevators take you right into the Garden Cafe. There are several sinks to wash your hands for those who dislike "washy washy." The cafe area is large and has 7 sections, except for 2 dessert stations, 2 ice cream stations, 4 drink stations, and 2 wine self-serve centers (taste, 1/2 and full glass of wine options) Great food selection and again, no trays to be used.
The door to the Studio cabins was left opened several times. I ventured into the area and found the studio cabin extremely small. The lounge, looks much bigger online than in person. The second floor lounge area is opened to the first floor and has a limited sitting area with a stair case to the first floor of the lounge. Those in the lounge area seemed to be retirees with a few young people.
See NCL for the listing of all the specialty restaurants. There are a few "a la carte" eateries that include Shanghai, Wasabi Sushi, Raw Bar, Carlos Bake Shop and Dolce Gelato.
The specialty restaurants all have outside eating areas attached to their main area. Of course being on the Atlantic Ocean, it was too cold for anyone to eat dinner outside. Make sure you book those reservations beforehand, as there is very limited seating outside and on a great warm Caribbean evening those places will be booked first!
Complimentary Restaurants include room service except, $5 for pizza 24/7, Manhattan Room is at AFT of ship. There are smaller dining rooms attached to main dining room which is much quieter than the opened dining room floor, Up Town Grill is outside, Savor and Taste, and O'Sheehan's Irish Pub (24/7).
The staff was very friendly and excited about being on the new ship.
Just about every public venue (restaurants, bars, shopping, casino, shore excursions etc) is either on decks 6, 7, 8 center to AFT of ship. Brand new touch scenes are located at every stair landing, elevators and 6-7-8. Touch screens allow you to make reservations for any restaurant or entertainment venues. Complimentary entertainment require you to make a reservation. Reservations can be made also through your flat screen TV, box office, or Guest Services. Doors open times are posted, get their early as the lines form prior to the doors opening. Daily menus are not yet posted anywhere on those screens or cabin's TV, still have to go to restaurant to look at any menu or the Restaurant Reservation Desk at Guest Services. Menus for specialty restaurants are found also at that restaurant of at Guest Services. First night went to Cagney's Steak House, perfect as usual. Manhattan Restaurant is quite loud with people talking over the live dance band. Fortunately was seated in the back left part of the restaurant, almost a separate dining area from the main area, very quiet area, you still can hear the live music.
Casino area is located on Deck 7 with the atrium opening in the middle of the casino. Splitting the casino into 2 sections, because smoking is permitted in the casino, smoke goes everywhere including the center atrium. And on Deck 7 with the casino, one has to walk through the casino if you want to stay on that deck. The slot tournament pays $500 to the winner, however the Black Jack Tournament pays the winner on a sliding scale.
Touring the ship at port, went up to scope out the SPA's new Hydrotherapy Courtyard. Week's pass $146 and Daily pass $39. Was told there were only 120 passes (week and daily) Considering this was a transatlantic, my intent was to relax and enjoy all the aspects of this new area, including the new Salt room. I paid the $146. Went to enjoy the area once the ship left port. The hot tub was empty and the heated benches were lukewarm, at best. First day of crossing, went up to use the facility at 10am, opens at 8am. Hot tub still not working and empty, no heated benches to use, no space in salt room to sit and hydrotherapy pool was iced cold, the first night the HP was warm. People were quite upset. When questioning the spa staff about all of the problems, they acted as if that level of problems was acceptable. I spoke with the assistant manager and got a full refund and was very disappointed in the problems with the space. She said, 'we are working on it.' Then don't charge anyone since the services of the area were not fully operational. (NCL would have made many friends!) In the men's locker room, gone are the steam room, sauna, and on some ships a single-sex hot tub. All of those facilities are found only within the Hydrotherapy Courtyard. Decided to venture back to HC to see if I could get in without paying and what was working or not. There is no one guarding that area, just walk pass the reception area to your left, and down the hall to the locker rooms. The hot tub was never fixed and still empty. The hydrotherapy pool's temperature was nice and warm. The steam and sauna rooms perfect. The salt room is room temp. Having paid for the HC, a simple white sticker was affixed to the backside of your key card. Not to offer the use of a steam room and sauna
Hot tubs throughout the ship are either not working, or the temperature is too cold to enjoy.
The shops: large areas of expensive shopping (duty-free), NCL logo merchandise is mainly on counters and built-in shelves of the walkways. I purchased a combo of hat and shirt for $49. (paper thin tee-shirt) As the week progressed, different sales took place of merchandise that is not displayed. Photography is now organized into an assigned portfolio, your folio number is found on your keycard.
Cirque Dreams and Dysfunction Family Reunion priced shows include a fixed menu. Depending on the roughness of seas, Cirque Dreams could be cancelled. 2nd City cast did a great job. Michael Finney the Comedic Magician is barely entertaining and he himself spoke of the bored audience, more than once....HINT?
Carlo's Bake Shop actually has 2 locations on the ship, the location on Deck 8 is limited opening times (12noon-5). The other location is part of the Atrium Cafe on Deck 6. (opens at 7am)
Breakaway Theater: Gone are the multiple balconies and side boxes. Theater seats 875 and there are 3 sections and only 2 aisles. Any one entering the theater has to climb over 2/3 of the people to sit down in a seat. Steps into the theater are inconsistent with varying degrees of depts. A railing is needed down the 2 aisles. Seats are very uncomfortable with a slant downwards with no back support, however, they are wider than a typical theater seat. BURN THE FLOOR and ROCK OF AGES were well produced with the musical problem of mostly recorded music.