Embarking: took bus to port authority - 32.00 by cab plus tip to port. took approx. 30 minutes. Bit of a mess dropping bags, porters not set up well, people were just leaving luggage on the sidewalk and leaving. once inside very easy and straightforward, took no time to get on the ship. from taxi drop off to our stateroom under 1 hour. the staterooms were ready, that was a first for me and nice to be able to set things down that I did not want to put through the checked luggage.
Ship: was basically what I expected. it was clean and in good repair. bit of a choppy design as you had to go up to deck 7 to go down to deck 5 etc. adult pool area was very small, sanctuary was right there which was great, but it did cost 10.00 per 1/2 day, either 8:30-12:30 or 1 to 5. we spent an afternoon there. very small casino area, which of course you walked through when going and coming from the theatre on that level. Not much in the way of shops, extremely limited and small. Restaurants were ok, but you felt very closed in, they were not open at all and a lot of steps up and down for anyone with walkers etc.
Hand sanitizer - usually you see them everywhere etc, they were outside of going into the buffet area and if you looked you could see others, but I could not find one outside the 3 main restuarants, which was odd I thought.
Food: It was ok, the buffet was better than the dining rooms. we did not eat in specialty. the dining rooms were ok, no real flavor and the selection was not great, but you certainly would not starve, lol. we had tried to get 6pm dining, but ended up with any time dining. so we stood in line quite a bit, they had pagers there but usually they did not use them and just made you stand waiting to get in. we always shared table etc. sat with lovely people and had great stories. we only ate breakfast once in dining room, rest of time we were in buffet as it was way better, I think a lot of people did this as it was hard to find a seat.
Bar service: there was none to put it bluntly, we had to stop someone and asked if we could get a drink. then they would not come back to ask if you wanted another etc. I had two drinks the entire cruise. I saved money. also we took our empty glasses back to a bar area and our plates from around the pool meal area as well, no one was clearing.
Entertainment: people said it was like high school musicals. basically it was ok. something to do. the comedian was good and AJ at the piano near the atrium was very entertaining. he needed a larger area as the seating overflowed and people stood around.
Room : our room was average and clean, our room steward was great, always had a genuine smile and said hello etc.
Staff: the matradee and our room steward were only staff truly happy it seemed. everyone else were just going through the motions. we never saw the captain. The cruise director needs to move on. he really truly was not good. the only time we saw him was at the end of the shows in the theatre. he talked too fast and hurried about what else was going on you could barely hear him and he would rush off.
disembarking: all was smooth, we chose self walk off and it was easy except they had you go to dining room on a floor we could not get to without going down and back up etc.
General: we don't know if it was the itinerary or the group of passengers, but it was a different experience. There was nothing going on around the pools, no entertainment, games, etc. the spa and fitness room were average with other ships we have been on.
Princess: we had wanted to see Canada and New England, we got this cruise for 529 US each total and were glad we did not pay more to be honest. I had always been told princess was way above NCL, but I found it about the same, or NCL better. you can always get a drink on NCL and they give you pagers for anytime dining. Royal Car is great and I go with them unless there is too much of a price diff and then we do NCL. I would go Princess again if the itinerary and Price was right. but would not go out of my way to go back. sorry Princess but you did not win us away from NCL or Royal.