Just home from cruising Venice to Rome, via Dubrovnik, Split, Koper, Messina, Naples. I've cruised different lines many times, both as crew and passenger. This is my third on NCL. I expect to take more of them because I like the "freestyle" element. This ship was one of the cleanest I've been on, and had the best service I've experienced. It was my first Med cruise and I found a bit of language difficulty, but expected that of a European itinerary and multicultural passenger ship. No real problems though. The crew seemed to be very happy in any dealings we had with them. Chatting with one crew member, I was impressed with the support she felt she had from management. Everyone we dealt with from our steward to waiters was pleasant and eager to help in any way.
The most outstanding thing I noticed was the smooth sailing -literally. I'm not sure if it was being higher on deck 10, the calmness of the seas last week, or just very skilled bridge officers. You never felt or heard the ship dock or leave the docks. The only way to know the ship was moving was to look outside. Very nice sailing!
Embarkation went quickly since we didn't arrive until 4pm. It was quite a trot pulling a bag from the people mover to the ship though. I didn't see the shuttle bus I'd read about in the parking lot. If I ever sail from Venice again, and my ship is at the very end, I'll definitely find a better way to get there.
As for the entertainment, these are only my opinions. I'm a bit jaded with ship shows, but the entertainers work very hard so I try to see most of them. Mr Rawlings was a fun comedian, the 4EVER singing group, mostly from Spain, were great - sort of a more mature II Divo. The production singers and dancers were mostly what you see anywhere, except for the Element show. I expect it was a nice challenge for them to do something different. The show starts out a bit dark and pagan. I wondered if they'd be sacrificing a goat before it ended. It got better towards the end, though. I personally don't care for illusionists, but the acrobatic parts were impressive. If you're bored with the routine song and dance on cruises, do see Element for something different. It's quite a production.
I found the food neither outstanding or awful. I don't see how anyone can not find something they like to eat on a ship with that many options. Be sure to remember the bars add a gratuity to your tab, so you don't add more.
The casino was much less busy than I usually find on ships. if everyone else had bad luck as I did on the slots, I can see why. But I never expect much winning from ship casinos, so didn't spend much time there.
My friend and I always splurge when we board on the spa package that allows use of the thermal spa for a limited number of people. It's a nice retreat for some quiet time every day, especially on a ship that large. After using the facilities and their nice showers, it's pleasant to stretch out on the warmed seats and look out over the ocean. I didn't use the other services (salon, massage, acupuncture, etc) as I find they are a bit over my budget. The gym is adequate. I never had a problem finding treadmills or weights. The aerobic room is large and a good place to stretch. If you like to walk they also have a track on the top deck. The last day, I found the promenade that goes completely around the ship. Deck 7, I think. Had I known about it I'd have walked there every day. Very pleasant walk and not crowded.
The ship does give you many opportunities to spend money, just as other ships I've sailed on in this price range. Expect it and don't get caught up in it, unless you want to. I will say over $5 for the bottle of water in the room is a bit ridiculous. I wasn't sure if we were furnished a bottle a day, as I've had elsewhere. Glad I asked the steward before I assumed it was free and drank it. Water sitting out is part of the minibar.The other surprise was that the infirmary wouldn't sell us ibuprofen without a consultation with the doctor. My fault for forgetting to bring my own. Instead they directed us to the gift shop where we paid over $7 for 10 tablets. I suppose that's a company directive to make money, as I don't see the shoppies being more qualified to sell OTC medicine than the nurses. One thing I do appreciate about all the "nickel and diming" is that the cruise staff isn't in your face every minute trying to sell something. Bingo cards, lotto, pictures are all there and mentioned, but they aren't pushy about it.
I won't say much about the itinerary because they are changing it now anyway. One thing I will say for Americans not used to being in Europe is be patient, and be bold when you need to. You may find people here don't stand in lines, or cue as the Brits say. If you try standing politely in line, you could find yourself waiting awhile as people go in front of you. Cultures are different, and there are many countries represented on a European ship. If you expect others to adapt to your style, you'll be disappointed. If you can get past that, sit back and listen to the many languages around you and embrace your worldliness. You might make a few new interesting friends.