I absolutely loved this cruise!! It was my first cruise experience, and I traveled with my boyfriend, my cousin, and her boyfriend. We are all in our mid to late twenties. We would all travel on a cruise again and from conversations we had with other passengers, they also rate Norwegian as one of the better cruiselines.
Pros: The ship itself is very beautiful. We had an inside cabin on the 4th deck, and although it isn't big on square footage, it was comfortable for 2 people with plenty of storage space. The amenities we used and enjoyed included the Barong Spa, the gym, the outdoor jacuzzi (especially the one at the very front of the ship - it is more secluded), the game room, the card room, all the bars, the basketball area, shuffleboard, and the shops. The food was EXCELLENT. We didn't mind paying cover charges at Le Bistro, Soho, and Ginza - and all three served very tasty dishes. Making reservations VERY EARLY ON, like the first day or two, saved us some money too since More
the cover is reduced to half price when you dine at 5:30pm or 6pm. The Versailles dinner menu changed every day, but the formal night menu was the best (lobster tails). The other areas we frequented to eat were Market Cafe and the Blue Lagoon Cafe. These served well prepared food that was hot, tasty, and sometimes available 24 hours. The mac and cheese from the Blue Lagoon was probably my favorite dish.
As for the service, we were very happy with everyone we encountered, from our stewardesses, to the waiters and waitresses, to the staff who kept us entertained. They were always greeting us and asking us if we needed anything. We had heard that the shore excursions would be a big selling point for the ship, but no one hassled us about that, and me and my boyfriend didn't end up taking any because you can get a cheaper rate from local tour companies and because we speak Spanish, so we were more comfortable bargaining and getting tips from the locals. My cousin and her boyfriend did take an excursion, and they had a great time as it included a jungle tour, snorkeling, and a meal in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa for $65 dollars each.
Cons: Honestly, I can't find more than a couple of things that did not please me about this trip. One was the saltwater pool on deck 12. I had no idea it was salt water, so when I dove in I was unpleasantly surprised. Needless to say, I didn't enjoy it and only used it that one time. Also we did notice that the service was a bit relaxed and slow at some of the sit-down restaurants. But we found that it depended on the waiter or waitress that was working and actually it allowed us to relax and converse as we waited for each course. Also, the room service is very limited and they will charge you for any fruit juice, whereas you can get fruit juices for free at the Market Cafe. Other than that, I can't think of any other displeasing aspect of the cruise.
Tips: Reserve restaurant seating within the first day or two on the ship, and try to get the earliest they have, as this will give you the best value. Also, the most confusing restaurant to eat at is Ginza. They have three options for dining. #1 the all you can eat sushi bar - but they allow you only to order 5 rolls at a time #2 their standard menu #3 the teppan grill, which only seats 3 times a night. Each of these options has its own cover charge per person. Don't feel compelled to give tips to everyone that serves you; always remember that each day they are charging $10 dollars to your onboard account to cover that. Only pay for the souvenir glass at the bar once, after that, rinse it and bring it with you to save the extra dollars they charge for the glass alone. READ THE DAILY NEWSLETTER. There is ALOT of important information in it about shows, activities, acceptable attire in restaurants in the evening, changing your clock to reflect the ship's time, etc.... The liquor deals they have in their shop are really great, but they do not allow you to take your bottles with you until the night before you disembark - but at that point you can drink one if you like. I got 2 1-liter bottles of Absolut Vodka for only $20 dollars!! We also brought a bottle on board from home in our suitcase and they gave us no problems with it.
Overall this trip was excellent. You get room, board, food, drinks (water, tea, coffee, and some juices are included - any soft drinks or bar drinks you have to pay for) ice cream, 24 hour friendly service, activities, and entertainment for a really reasonable price. The ship was always on time or early at each port and if you are careful with your extra spending (like any massage/spa services, alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, etc....) you really do get a great value. I don't understand some of the negative reviews I read here before I took my trip; they just sound to me like they are coming from some pretty overly-critical and needy people, who are a bit too bitter and uptight to be on vacation in the first place. If you relax and have a great attitude your cruise experience will be ten times better. Less