This was my first-ever cruise on Norwegian and I was excited to see the brand-new ship. The ship itself is beautifully decorated. Embarkation was a breeze - easiest I've ever had in 12 cruises. But pay attention to your boarding pass - NCL uses two places to embark for the Getaway and you have to go to the correct terminal. Two people in my party were at Terminal A and my companion and I were at Terminal B and they would not let us board together. Once we got to the correct terminal, the process was quick and easy and we were on the ship in no time.
I really enjoyed the layout of the ship - there are a lot of innovative designs that I haven't seen before, such as the Waterfront, an area where several restaurants offer outdoor dining. I also enjoyed the outdoor areas with the pools. We did not travel with any children but I think older children and adolescents might be a little peeved with the pool area for them. There is a splash pool for the little ones, and then a tiny pool squeezed in between the splash pool and the end of the water slides, but that's the only pool option for teens and tweens. Security routinely shooed kids out of the adult-only pool in the middle. There is also an adults-only area at the back of the ship with lounge chairs, umbrellas, a bar and a water feature that you can sit in - that part was really nice!
I also really liked the bathroom in the cabin - the shower was (relatively) large and had a glass door - no clingy curtain! Thank you NCL for providing shelves in the shower to hold soap, shampoo, etc. and a bar for the ladies to rest their foot while shaving. I think the storage was a little skimpy but the closet space was ample with more than enough hangars. I also appreciate having two outlets in the cabin - I didn't even need to use my power strip.
Now for the food - on the positive side, there are lots of options. You have the Garden Cafe (the buffet), several specialty restaurants, three dining rooms, a pub that is included in your fare and is open 24 hours a day, room service, the Flamingo Grill (most people didn't seem to find this until about halfway through the cruise) and more. On the negative side, I was looking hard to find food that was actually good. Most of the food was just mediocre and bland - the chef apparently has never heard of salt. I've never salted my food so much in my life! Even the specialty restaurants aren't that good - we went to Ocean Blue (the restaurant designed by Geoffrey Zacharian) and the food was good but not worth the $49 surcharge. The Teppanyaki restaurant was bland again (how can you cook with soy sauce and still need salt?!?!). My favorite specialty restaurant was Moderno (the Brazilian steakhouse) and I heard that the French restaurant was good but we didn't try that one. The dining rooms were just bad - I think NCL wants to push people toward the specialty restaurants (for an additional cost, of course).
The entertainment was OK - no one in my group particularly enjoyed Burn the Floor. I loved Howl at the Moon and the comedians but I don't like having to make reservations in advance for them (how do I know before I cruise what I'm going to feel like doing on Wednesday night??). The show at the Illusionarium was good but the food was horrendous. Same thing at Wine Lovers, The Musical - show was cute, food was bad. Frankly, if you're truly a wine lover, skip the show - NCL does a more traditional wine tasting also during the cruise and would have been a better use of my $25. The Ice Bar is a fun novelty but you might want to choose a time when you're wearing closed toe shoes - I was wearing flip-flops and my feet were freezing! I think we only stayed in there about 15-20 minutes - the fastest two drinks I've ever had!
Some nice touches that NCL does: I appreciate the towel exchange and water as we returned from port. It was nice in St. Maarten, for example, to be able to drop off our wet sandy towels and pick up clean ones before we even got back on the ship. The zip-lining excursion in St. Thomas was AWESOME - not to be missed! I also appreciate that there is a self-serve wine machine in the buffet or there are roving waiters who will get a drink for you. Unfortunately, the wine machine is not included in the Ultimate Beverage Package.
Overall, it was a good cruise but I'm not sure I would choose NCL again. I'm a bit of a foodie and the food is a big reason why I like cruising so eating bland food all week dimmed the experience for me. Other cruise lines I've been on have better food for a lower fare and more food options included in the fare. I also feel like NCL nickels and dimes you to death with all the reservations and upcharges - doesn't feel so much like "Freestyle Cruising" to me!