This was our first trip with NCL. We haven't cruised that often and have only cruised with Holland America in the past. I know NCL is more of a 'family' experience but having booked outside school holiday dates we were surprised at the number of children on board. The boarding experience was fine and our luggage was delivered promptly. We popped into the Garden Café for lunch and that one experience persuaded us to buy the Ultimate Dining Card! From the first day we ate in the speciality restaurants. Cagneys was excellent, Jasmine average, Teppanyaki was entertaining but the food was rather under flavoured, Le Bistro was OK but we didn't think it was as good as it could have been. Breakfast and lunch in the Grand Pacific were good.
We booked a 'mini-suite' 11088, which was no different to the regular balcony staterooms on HA. It was either very dated or maybe they're going for a 'retro' look, if so it didn't come off very well! The toiletries consisted of a handwash container on the wall over the handbasin and a shampoo and shower gel container on the wall in the overbath shower. Nothing else. The sliding door to the balcony was not fitted properly and creaked and rattled when the ship experienced slight movement. It had clearly been wedged with various bits of wood in the past and the carpenter's solution was to wedge in yet more wood slivers. If sun is important to you, this stateroom is shaded by the overhang of the Garden Café on the deck above. You can also hear children running up and down.
Our cabin steward did a very good job and the ship appeared to be in good clean condition with plenty of hand sanitisers everywhere.
I seem to recall that the lifeboat drill on HA was done in a more professional manner. I was surprised to see that anyone who had missed the drill on the first day could go along on the first day at sea and attend it then. I always assumed it was obligatory to attend before the ship leaves port. We didn't go to many of the shows as we were usually having dinner at that time. It seemed to be mostly acrobats and illusionists. Fine in their way but not for us. The 'Dancing with the Jade Stars' was good and very funny. Great to see people entering into the spirit of it. We didn't go to the White Party as men crawling round on the floor wearing brassieres on their head isn't that funny unless you're very drunk. Neither did we take part in the 'Sexy Legs' competition. In fact we only sat by the pool one day when most passengers were ashore. The loungers were crammed together and also many were reserved with towels early in the morning. The pool staff did their best by putting time stickers on the loungers so that they could see how long they were unused. This didn't seem to make much difference as we saw them taken off and discarded.
There's a good library on board and the usual shops and 'art' auctions.
As you can probably tell we have decided that NCL isn't for us. It is what it says it is, family cruising. We'll be sticking to smaller ships in future and preferably adult only. I mean no criticism of NCL it's just not our 'cup of tea'. Speaking of which....why can't cruise companies teach their staff how to make tea? It's not rocket science! A pot of hot (not boiling) water and a teabag in a saucer just doesn't do it!! Maybe the lack of boiling water is a safety issue?