This was our first cruise with NCL, but it will not be our last. To sum it up in a few words it was excellent. We showed up for embarkation at 11:45 and the line up was less than 15 minutes. We had our photo taken and then found out that we were surprisingly upgraded to VIP status which was a great way to start the cruise. Yahira the concierge escorted us to the VIP lounge and explained the perks. Then we were taken to Cagney's for lunch and to wait until our cabin was ready, which was prior to 1PM. At Cagney's we met Edrex, a waiter we ran into several times on the trip. He was very pleasant and friendly, we could hear him singing big band tunes when he left the dining room and entered the kitchen. We had a complimentary fruit basket and a bottle of wine in our room from Armando the director of hotel services. Subsequently we received either hors d'oeurves or chocolate covered strawberries each evening. We had 32 CRuise Critic members show up for the M&G on the first sea day and Armando and most of the senior officers were present. They served coffee, juice and had sandwiches and sweets. We ate most meals at Raffles, the buffet and the food was good, but not great. The most difficult part was finding a seat. We had one supper in the garden and the food and service was excellent. We had one supper at Trattoria, a specialty restaurant, and it was excellent. We had passed bt the Blue Lagoon several times, but only tried it for the first time about day 5. We ate there several times after that, as the pub style food was a nice treat after a busy day, without having to fight to find a table in Raffles. Henry's Pub prepared popcorn every afternoon and it became a routine for us to pick up a couple of bags to have when we watched an in room movie. The casino was nice and we visited it a few times. We attended several art lectures, which was a new experience for me. We even ended up winning some free art.
The shore excursions were great, the Mosque in Morroco was fascinating. In Tenerife I went to see Mt. Tiede and in the afternoon we walked around Santa Cruz. In Lanzarote we visited Timanfaya national park and this was a amazing as was los Hervideros, where the waves crashing on the rocks was breathtaking. In Malaga we went to Mijas a town set in the side of a mountain. This was my wife's favourite excursion. She did some shopping while I toured the village with the group. The white buildings and narrow streets reminded her of Santorini. They also had Donkey taxis, but we just walked. The views were spectacular. Anne was our housekeeping lady and our room was always well taken care of. My wife loved the towel animals and Anne always greeted us by name and asked about our day. We only went to a couple of shows as we were involved in other activities, but the ones we attended were very good. Though the ship is old it is well maintained and the view of the atrium while descending is stunning. I would like to finish by stating that although we were upgraded to VIP, which was almost embarrassing at times, it was the friendliness of Anne, Edrex and all of the other staff, who were not aware of this status, that made this our best cruise ever. Way to go NCL.