All is geared toward making you pay more. You might pay less to book a cabin than on some other lines, and you’ll get what you paid for - a small cabin with inferior furnishings. Ours even had a pole in it which prohibited the single beds from being place together to form a double -- yet there is no mention of this on the ship’s deck-plan. Guess they like to surprise you.
Cocktails are poor, but the free food is good if you get it when it’s hot and don’t mind redundancy. Dining after 8 PM or breakfasting after 8:30 AM is risky in this regard. The pay restaurants are a joke, as the food is no better than at the free restaurants, and we saw few go for them. We ate once at the Shogun, great appetizer, but the classes of wine I ordered were spoiled by the staff; a Mondavi Chardonnay had been watered down, and an Argentine Malbec spoiled by incorrect storage - perhaps near an oven. Another try was equally humorous, at Le Bistro we suffered thru fake French food which was old and tasteless, and a bottle of California Merlot that I left with and gave to a young couple that wouldn’t balk at the poor quality. This dinner with wine was given complimentarily to us by the cabin chief after we complained about our room with pole, and excessive noise from the dance floor in the Galaxy lounge, three decks above us. He also offered to swap out our room, while the guest services desk declared that ship was full – however, there were only around 1600 out of the 2200 capacity. Guest services also offered us earplugs as a solution when we complained about the noise.
The ship is small and easy to get around. The activities are the normal ones available on ships, like bingo, card tables, a library, and a theatre. The nightly performances were well done, especially the dance aspects. The casino was dubious. I repeatedly saw stud poker players correcting dealers pay outs on winning hands, which were sometimes overlooked. The dice table and a $25 minimum blackjack table were always empty, and the $5 blackjack tables seemed questionable - shuffling machines seemed to deal out pat hands around the table and also give the dealer a 21 through several hits. This happened 5 times in a row when I was playing, which is when I quit. I wonder if these casinos are ever controlled by gaming authorities.
The crew seemed very happy and congenial. I think the idea that NCL has is that a happy crew makes the guests happy. This is a common cruise hospitality fallacy. An efficient crew that works well makes the guests happy. Perhaps NCL should take that into account, along with some of its misrepresentations. It should, at least, fix its deck-plan information to show any pole intrusions in rooms.
Over all, I recommend NCL only to experienced cruisers. A first cruise on NCL would be a big mistake, due to the cuisine and shabby, skimpy cabins. If you’re experienced, and get a low price, and don’t mind eating early, and don’t spend time in your cabin, then this is for you. Don’t forget to simply refuse the daily gratuity charges they tack onto the bill. It’s all a front to get you to pay more, feeling that those happy grew members deserve your tips. Truth is they receive no part of the tacked on gratuities - they are all on fixed salaries and your refusal to pay will not affect them.