We cruised thanksgiving week 2013. First let me say we had a great time, despite the service being quite bad on our cruise. Due to the typhoon in the Philippines the ship was very short staffed, which resulted in the crew struggling to keep up with the demand. Your service experience may be quite better than ours and we chose to not penalize the crew for what happened to their homes and families.
parking: we parked at safe cruise parking. same area as other non port parking facilities, close to port and very bad neighborhood. But parking lot was fenced off, easy to find, free shuttle to port. waited 10 mins for shuttle getting to port. no wait getting back to car.
embarkation: very easy and quick. we got to port at 1030 am and did not have a line for security or checking in. we were on the ship by 1130. *traveling with kids- you cannot put a money limit on their card. its full access or no access. beware they can rack up video arcade charges extremely quick.
rooms: curved walls give a unique look but limits space walking around. There is lots of storage. little space to walk around due to design. balcony was nice, the toilet and shower are split in the room with only frosted doors. bad design, floor gets wet and little privacy if traveling with more than a spouse. rooms do have hairdryers.
Ship; the ships seems big at first but is quite easy to figure out after 2 days. Lots of space and the bars/ dining rooms were spread out nicely so it rarely seemed crowded. lots to do aboard. The ship does have some poor design flaws. example: no mid ship elevators, if your cabin is mid ship be prepared to walk a lot. swimming pools are small and were filled with kids. Spice H20 (adult area) pool is too small to enjoy with people in it. always some music playing on pool deck. slides were a blast.
dining rooms: were very nice and food was great, but our service was horrible. at least 30-45 mins to get seated and another 1 to 2 hrs to get food and finish. only 1 server working each section. the buffets were the easiest place to eat, but the food was hit and miss. some days were much better than others. breakfast was always good but go early and always go to the back of the garden cafe to find good seats. *tip silverware is rolled and put on the tables during peak times its a nightmare trying to find silverware to eat with. *staff constantly spraying your hands with hand sanitizer around ship but i found it silly that napkins and silverware were left on tables where people ate. no 24/7 pizza or cafe
specialty dinning: did not do any of these restaurants
shows: shows are great. but book early to get time and date you want. entertainment on the pool deck was not very good.
Staff: seemed over worked. hardly ever seen the cruise director or the support staff, they barely ever came out on the pool deck to mingle with the crowds. only a couple of drink servers walking around by pools. most of time you will have to go to the bar to get a drink. our room steward was great but others in our party were not so lucky.
debarkation: was easy if you carry off luggage. took 10 mins to get off and through customs.
ok. so we did have a great time. we have always sailed on carnival cruise lines. this was our first on ncl and it will be our last with them. for us carnival seems to be a lot more fun hanging out by the pools and enjoying the laid back island atmosphere. also we enjoy the fun staff being involved daily with the crowds. nothing against ncl. just not our things. ncl seems to nickel and dime you quite a bit. pay 5 for pizza, 25 deposit to get a beach towel by the pool. the pictures prices sky high to buy multiple ones. *tip order a usb for pictures, get all pics on a flash drive. they don't advertise that.