Let's start with a positive. We had a family suite (SJ) and could not have asked for a better setup. We have a family of four and our kids (ages 6 and 4) were set up perfectly. We had more than enough room to move around and this cabin worked really well for us.
Being in a family suite also entitled us to butler service. I'm not sure what exactly that meant, but this was very disappointing. Upon embarkation our butler came in and basically gave us the "24/7 whatever you need I am here to help". What in turn we got was very poor service, the feeling we were inconveniencing them with every small request, failure to follow through in many cases, and an ego of entitlement where they fished for additional gratuities at every possible chance. To be fair I must point out that our steward ran circles around the butler every week....proactively asking how they could help, making sure we had everything we need, paying special attention to the kids. Amazing considering the different roles....in my estimation roles should have been reversed. I gave the steward all the butler's tip money...far bigger asset for NCL.
Food was okay. Big range of dining options on the ship. The free options (buffet, Versailles, etc) weren't very good. The paid restaurants were decent, but not great value. Also a little disappointing when you spend the additional money we did on a suite to also encounter almost $700 in dining charges to eat at these other restaurants. In terms of quality would rank them steak, teppanyaki, italian, asian. I will mention the speed of service. I know I'm on vacation and am not supposed to have a sense of urgency. But making our 6 and 4 year old sit meal after meal in 90min or two hour meals was tough. Be aware service is slow and not proactive whatsoever (drink refills etc)
We bought the drink package (Ultimate Beverage) for me and my wife and made out fine. $49/day all you can drink and covers nearly everything. Most premium liquor is included...anything under $8/drink. The only thing that wasn't included were things like single malts, cognacs, high end wines. I think we made out okay...just do the math. I'd say on average $6.50 per drink if you were buying one at a time, beer about $4-5. One annoying thing is they required us to buy the soda package for the kids....my kids are 6 and 4 and don't drink soda. When I fought it they said tough - it was their policy.
Now for the real downer - the stupid kids club policy. I was traveling with a group of ten. We had kids ranging from 4-12. The three youngest are ages 3.5, 5.5, and 6. When we went to kids club we expressed a need to keep them all together. They break them up into groups 3-5, 6-9, 9-12, etc. We told them about the family situation and told them unable to accommodate - again NCL policy. So we asked at a minimum if the 5.5 could go up with the 6 year old OR have the 6 year old come down to 5.5. Again told no. We elevated all the way to the cruise director on the first night and she said "it's in my report every week as the number one complaint my passengers have." Yet NCL does nothing, only pulling the "its our policy" card. That seems to be the excuse for everything that doesn't have good reasoning.
Overall the boat was okay, cabin was great, itinerary good. We got over a lot of this stuff and had a good time as a family. But the bottom line is we will never cruise with NCL again. Too many disappointments when there's a highly competitive situation for our vacation dollars. Especially considering what we paid for the family cabin....in the end this trip failed to live up to the expense.