I was aboard for the christening in NYC May 8 and the 2 day inaugural cruise.
Arrived at LGA and took a taxi, which I split with another agent, for $43 plus tip, to pier 88. Long check-in line but that was the last line we were in for the rest of the cruise. The christening was beamed throughout the ship, and we had been assigned to O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill to view it (while sipping wine and munching on corned beef sandwich and my wife on a salmon salad). The christening was blessed by Cardinal O'Malley, and Mayor Bloomberg was there, and the godmothers, the Rockettes, performed as well as pulling the ribbon to christen the ship. Buddy Velasco from Cake Boss on the Cooking Channel MC'd the christening.
Guests were assigned various complimentary stateroom categories, and our room was a category O1 Family Oceanview with Large Picture Window on deck 5, 5174. Sleeps 5, with two twins, a Pullman, and a double sofa bed. Large room, but almost no drawers for storage.....a comment I heard from others. Nice bath with double wide sink and shower in a bathtub, a nice feature for families with small ones. Two closets. The cabins with just a shower have a bar in the shower for women to use when shaving legs.
We enjoyed the Manhattan Room for dinner the first night with our Norwegian business development specialist, and again the second night by ourselves to dance during dinner and then watch the preview of Burn the Floor there. We like the food and service. We toured all restaurants. Cagney's and Moderno are huge. Taste and Savor are smaller and subdued. The new Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zacharian is small, but he also has raw bar with open seating adjacent to it. The Noodle bar as also next to that. There are about 4 teppanyaki tables with about 12 to a table. La Cucina Italian restaurant is very attractive, and the French Bistro has some tables in a courtyard setting that resembles a Parisian cafe. Looks great. The made a point of emphasizing that there are 27 places to eat, 11 of which are complimentary, and 16 have service charges. All the action is on decks 6, 7, and 8 midships. There were no crowds in the Garden Cafe at breakfast or lunch, with omelet's to order, too. Not "action stations" exactly, rather a line of stations. You don't need to wait in line.....just move from one area to another. Very nice views there, including wrap around windows facing aft.
As you may have heard, the "promenade" deck on deck 8 is The Waterfront, and has outdoor seating for Moderno, Cagney's, Ocean Blue, Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar, Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, and Shakers Cocktail Bar. There is a gelato window and a hot dog cart, and a window to Carlo's Cakes Shop with cupcakes and pastries. We went to Rock of Ages, the second night, and the music and dancing is terrific, but NOT for children due to sexual innuendo and actions on stage. It is produced on board by the same production team that currently has the show running on Broadway. Even the audience got into it clapping and swaying arms, etc. I had no real idea about the show in advance, but was not grossed out and really did enjoy it. We also really enjoyed Slam Allen and his jazz band one night, late, in Fat Cats. The place was packed.
The Sports Deck is amazing with ropes course, spider web, and bungee trampoline, rock climbing wall, basketball court, and really terrific waters slides, including 2 that start off with a vertical, feet first, drop. Despite a bit chilly weather, there were folks using the water slides.
We inspected all types of cabins, including the Haven on decks 15 and 16, with its own lounge/bar and restaurant. As we have heard, overall the balconies are small, but there is so much to do on the ship that, although a balcony fan, I'd spend most time in other venues. Except for large aft facing balconies, most are 31 to 35 sq ft. The Bermuda itineraries that the ship will sail from May until October have 3 days in Bermuda on a 7 day cruise anyway. But this is a great ship with so much to do in addition to using a balcony.
The sail away party the first night was at Spice H2O, and we enjoyed fireworks as we sailed out past the Statue of Liberty, and again fireworks the next night at sea during an 80's party out there. They will have fireworks on their regular itineraries, which started May 12.
Debarkation began at 8am and in the normal Norwegian fashion, you don't really need to vacate your stateroom until 9:30 am. The Garden Cafe was open for breakfast until then, too. No rushing everybody out. Taxis were not easy to get at the street outside the terminal, although there was a taxi stand across the street. The taxi was still less expensive than cruise line transfers.
We spent that day in New York and left our luggage with the hotel concierge and bought the Gray Line hop-on/hop-off bus ticket, 2 days unlimited for $59 a person. We checked TKTS, but the lines were too long, although there were tickets available at up to 40% off for some of the Broadway shows. We did the down-town loop and it took about 3 1/2 hours, going all the way from 44th St to Battery Park, past the World Trade Center memorial, Wall St, Chinatown and the Italian and Korean areas, Fifth Ave, Radio City Music Hall, etc. The 2nd day we did Uptown, all the way to Harlem, Central Park, and more. I'd never been to that area.
The first night we decided to go to one of Gregory Zacharian's restaurants since we couldn't get into the one on the ship. We had spoken with Geoffrey onboard ship and he said The Lambs Club in the theatre district could get you in and out in time to see a Broadway show. The other is The National in the Benjamin Hotel at 50th and Lexington. We chose the latter and spent a leisurely evening, although expensive, but with great food. His menus at his restaurants, including the one on the ship, try to compare and contrast flavors. On the ship we did go to his take out window and the crab toasts and the calamari were excellent, little differing flavoring nuances.
After lunch on Saturday at a great little wine bar and restaurant on 8th Ave near the hotel we took a taxi back to LaGuardia and the trip home. Prices in New York restaurants are high.
My only two complaints about the ship are that they need more drawers in the staterooms, and the internet/wireless coverage is very spotty. Overall my impression is that this is a great ship, and it will go over very well. It is nothing like the Norwegian of the past, although I personally have been sailing on Norwegian for about 10 years, including before I became an agent. This was my 74th ocean/river cruise. This one ranks right up there with Oasis and Allure, both of which I have sailed on. It is a New York ship through and through. Kevin Sheenan, the Norwegian CEO, was raised in and attended college in New York, and the theme is there.