Don't be apprehensive by the negative reviews. This is a great ship with plenty to do and everyone in our party of 12 had a blast. My wife and I are in our late 40's / early 50's from Philly.
Embarkation: Quick and easy 30 mins from bag drop to ship.
We went to guest services for a pass for the private pool and they were sold out. We then went to our room which was ready and dropped our bags. We had a mini suite on deck 8 with a large balcony, 2 chairs and 2 loungers with small table and still had ample room to move around. Being on deck 8 your in the middle of things, so we went down to Cagney's were we had our first dinner. There is a nice buffet set up in Mondero with hardly anyone there. We had a nice lunch with the rest of our party.
The sail-away party was great and the crew got things going. No problem getting drinks and views of the NY skyline. Our first day ended with dinner at Cagney's and a night of dancing. Rather than go on and on I will touch on each topic as it related to our cruise.
FOOD: This is tough as I am a self trained chef and the bar is set higher by me than most standards. We paid for the UDP and did not find it of value as though the service is great the food is not that spectacular. Cagneys, a decent steak, Mondero, a decent sald bar average meats, LeBistro, is a gem with great food and service, LaCuchina is a typical italian restaurant. The buffet believe it or not was pretty good. They have a moderately good variety and decent fruit.The MDR was pretty consistently poor with the exception of the prime rib. It is apparent this is not a foodie ship, I never seen one person in Ocean Blue although did not go out of my way to look. I believe that you can do fine with the MDR' and buffet and allow 2 or 3 nights for specialty resturants. By the way you have to get a lobster tail from Carlitos.
DRINK: We took the UBP and I think they may cancel this after they review our consumption. NCL has changed the policy to include all alcohol that is $10 or less. This is basically anything you can imagine including almost all the martinis. The drinks were good and free poured. Never had to wait for a spot at the bar or a drink to be refilled. Do the math though, my wife and I like to party and a typical round of a mixed drink and beer is about $14 so you have to drink about 8 drinks a piece to break even. This is not hard if you pace yourself and stay out late each night like we did.
POOL: Small but always had a seat poolside and they have 2 bars. Never had to wait for a drink and could get in and out of the pool with ease. Tip, stay on board the first port day and you have the run of the ship. The water slides were a blast, no wait and my wife and cousin even walked the plank while at sea !
ENTERTAINMENT: Solid, enjoyed all that we saw.
CASINO: Smokey but I won $1,000, so no complaints. TIP: Go on the first night and next to last night, they like to payout to get you enticed and then try and get you to go back. This only works for slots which is what I hit on.
OVERALL: Would go again on this cruise and take the UBP and forget the UDP. Don't listen to all the nah Sayers, I am sure if we looked hard enough we could have found something to complain about but hey we were on vacation and so you will be as well.