Embarkation was fairly easy as we had arranged for a limo service from Long Island which worked out perfectly. A no fly cruise was an added plus. Having e-docs in hand and waiting to board took all of fifteen minutes. Well done to Norwegian and their crew.
First impressions were average to say the least. The public rooms are very muted in colors and the atrium gives the impression of a four star hotel without all the glitz. I have seen many an atrium in my cruising days and I was a little disappointed in this as it did not live up to all the hype about the ship. In all fairness, I have to say that their new feature, The Waterfront was an absolute delight. To bring back the concept of an open promenade with indoor and outdoor seating for their restaurants in addition to having a Sabrett hot dog cart with all the fixings I was in heaven to say the least. I have to agree with some other reviewers when they said that there were not too many quiet spaces to be found. It is absolutely true. Too many venues with loud music and for fee activities and not enough down time or relaxing music for the rest of us.The pool area is adequate with chairs and tables although the pools themselves are quite small given the amount of people the ship holds. If they had cut back on the slides and enlarged the pools it would be better. Open deck spaces are easy to navigate as well as the indoor spaces, although the signage indoor is inadequate.
One major disappointment is the cabins. We took an average midship balcony on deck 11 and could not believe the size as well as the balcony. Any smaller and you could compare it to the french balconies on Seabourn's smaller ships. Storage is minimal at best and furniture is most uncomfortable. Norwegian clearly did not make this ship for cruising, instead it appears to be a revenue making ship at best. What a shame.
Activities abounded non stop as well as the music, although they clearly cater to a younger element and seem to forget that there are seniors that are still living and do enjoy older and more classic music as well. There were no sing a longs at a piano bar or name that tune trivia about music from the 40's on up and there really was not much activity that most of us could engage in. All the shows were geared the same way too. Again, what a shame.
Ah dining-my favorite category. The food in all venues generally was very tasty,plentiful and well presented. Without going into too much detail I will say that Norwegian clearly gave you plenty of choice and variety in both the complimentary and for fee dining venues. I am not happy with certain items being removed from complimentary dining. For example, not one meal featured shrimp or escargots or even simple pasta dishes. Those items which regularly appear on other main stream cruise ships were found here only if you were willing to pay a fee for their "specialty restaurants". To be brutally honest, I will say that their specialty restaurants left much to be desired as they are way overrated with the exception of Moderno's which my husband and I ate at several times during the week. We are accustomed to Brazilian steakhouses and this really came up to par. The appetizer salad bar was exceptional as well as all the smoked meats that the gauchos served. Well worth the extra money, but that was the only one. Waitstaff was easily recognizable from other ships as Norwegian apparently hand picked them for this ship. They knew the routine, no question.
Service and staff throughout the ship were very accomodating and pleasant. Absolutely no problems anywhere. The only thing I feel was a lack of presence of any of the ship's officers. Even the captain did not make himself visible like quite a few others and not one day did he give a weather update at noon which was sorely missed. They leave the tv to do their work for them and personally I would rather have the human element to deal with. Too much technology and not enough human interaction.
We only visited Bermuda which really has not changed since we last visited. The new dock at Kings Wharf is not completed so it is quite a walk when you leave the ship as well as return to it. You can buy a bus pass for 1,2 or 3 days that gives unlimited use of the bus system as well as the ferries and you will be able to see the entire island with it for practically nothing.
My husband and I are booked on the 12 day sailing to the southern caribbean this coming January 19th before it reverts back to their 7 day sailings. Norwegian needs to fine tune several things but I can honestly say it would be a pleasure to sail with them again. Most importantly, aside from the all the added fees which I feel are unecessary, Norwegians are the best sailors at sea, and to me that is the most important, which is to feel safe at sea.
P.S. As soon as we left the pier Friday evening, it was non stop partying until we docked Sunday morning. The city that never sleeps.