After overnighting at a LAX area hotel, we hired a shuttle service for a 10:00 pickup and were at the port by 10:30. Porters were on the job and the lines were non existent at that time. We boarded the ship around 11:30 and went to the Market Cafe for lunch. Adequate number of stations but NCL is a little cheap on the beverages: the juice fountains are only stocked at breakfast and the rest of the day, water and iced tea only... The buffet staff (kitchen side and table cleaning side) were efficient and pleasant, unlike what a lot of people wrote about the Norwegian Star. We ate at most of the restaurants (except Cagneys) and got appropriate to great service every single meal; we just could not find any bad service. I guess some people are hard to please and we were no longer under the "first cruise spell" when everything is new and amazing. Although the freestyle dining makes it harder to connect with the staff, we took matter in our own hands and sought out our waiter team from the first night's dinner at Soho throughout the week at their other assignments.
Kids program: our kids (9,7,and 3) are diehard Camp Carnival fans so we were not expecting too much but wrong again: aside from shorter hours (no port day activities and babysitting until 1 am instead of 3 am on Carnival), this program was excellent and the counselors were right on. By having mostly American and Canadian staff, I find that the communication with the kids was easier.The main pool was a good size and the 2 slides were ok but not recommended for adults, as their pitch and water flow were insufficient for larger humans. There is also a kiddie pool and slide complex on deck 12 aft. The fitness room seemed to be well equipped (I chase my kids instead).
The main theater was auditorium style and the decor was nothing luxurious. I prefer RCCL and Carnival's venues. The talent was adequate for the production shows; the vocals and dancing were good. Enough said because everybody has different tastes when it comes to music and shows.
The shopping area (Galleria) was odd: set up all the way aft on deck 7 (you could really feel the swell on rougher sea days). One large open concept store that includes the liquor area, a Colombian Emeralds outlet (saved us from wasting shore time to check out jewelry and staff was pleasant and not pushy). You also have your collectibles, t-shirts, beach toys, etc. I don't think this is the best concept at sea because it looks a bit like a flea market, without the bargain prices.
Port days (4) allowed for some well deserved beach time (kids rule) but we did not book any excursions. In Puerto Vallarta, you can pick up your tequila at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club (about 500 ft from the ship). We docked at 2 ports and tendered at the last 2. We loved Zihuatanejo for its lack of beach vendors.For those who care about staterooms (the place where you sleep a little and get changed), the size was ok but we prefer Carnival's 185 sq. ft. We had 2 inside cabins and everything worked properly. Cabin stewards were fine. Debarkation was average; a bit of waiting for your previously chosen color to be called and then a bit of congestion in the hallways (30 minute trek) to go to immigration (Aqua dining room) and then get off the ship to luggage area.
In summary, this was another great cruise and I would recommend this ship to most people if you want to check out the Mexican Riviera.