This was our 1st NCL cruise having previously cruised with Celebrity and loved their product. Wasnt certain whether we would enjoy the 'freestyle'quite so much - but we had a fine time.
Embarkation at Barcelona was quick, we were at the port by 11.45 and onboard by 12.30, a quick wander around and bite to eat and they announced the cabins were ready by around 1.30.
Balcony cabin small, but adequate, with three people you just needed to be super organised. Plenty of storage, comfortable beds, bathroom situation ok with us - never caused any problems particularly with the privacy curtain.
Food on board was good in all venues we visited. Mostly used Garden Cafe for breakfast / lunch, plenty of choice and although busy we always managed to find a table. Evening meals at Taste or Manhatten, both placed food was good. Usually went there around 8 - 8.30 and only once had to wait a while (15 mins) to be seated (and even then was given a glass of bubbly while waiting)
Enterainment - went to Blue Man... excellent - but can undertand if it's not everyone's cup of tea ! Otherwise went to Maltings or casino. Daytimes returned from ports to Spice H20 which didnt seem quite so busy as the rest of the outside decks, enjoyed cocktails and buckets of beer here late afternoons. Not really night owls so didnt do any of the late night activities - ports too intensive to stay out late each night.
Ports - only went on one ships tour, otherwise used ships shuttle to get into town at Livorno & Marselle - a little painful waiting in line for the shuttle tickets - could have got this organised a little better, also at $12 p/p return thought this a little pricey for the small journey.
Disembarkation - Easy - we did self disembark. Didnt have to rush off to get a flight, so tried to hang around on ship as much as possible. Just got a knock on the door from the steward at 8 am to ensure we were awake. Had breakfast at 8.45 in cafe sat around for a bit and walked off ship with our luggage at around 9.30 to get the port shuttle into town.
Final mention of staff - everyone seemed happy with their job - all smiles and willing to help.
How did it compare to previous cruises... yes - freestyle certainly more casual, but quite a bit more hectic with kids running around much more, sometimes difficult finding a peaceful area outside. Missed not having somewhere aft to watch sailaway and the wake of the ship with a glass in hand (big screen got in the way).
Overall a happy cruise.