We drove to New Orleans a day early and spend the night. I would recommend doing so since there is a lot to do in New Orleans and it gets you in the proper mood for your cruise.
We had no trouble finding the terminal and were directed to second level where we unloaded the bags and then to the fifth level where we parked. Entered the embarking area and since we are latitudes members were immediately directed to a waiting rep from NCL. The whole process took only a few minutes and we were on our way to the ship.
When we got on the ship we were directed to the buffet, but we had read an earlier post that we could eat in Windows. After a little hemming and hawing the young lady guarding the door to Windows smiled and let us in the dining room.
It rained the night we left so we did not have get to go to the top deck for a sail away party.
We ate in Cagney's (good food), Shogan at the stove ( very entertaining and good food) and most of our meals were in Windows. The food was good and anything that I don't have to prepare and serve myself is fine with me.
We took no shore excursions so I cant comment about that.
We found the staff to be very friendly and pleasant to be around. I have found that if you smile you will usually get a smile in return. Each night we did have a before dinner drink at Champagne Charlies and found the servers went out of there way to accommodate you.
Spent every night in the casino playing Poker. By the second night we had a table of regulars and the casino host would by us a round of drinks. The casino staff was friendly and courteous. (No one likes a grumpy dealer when you are already losing money) We did ok at the poker table but heard from our friends that the slots were TIGHT!!.
The midnight buffet was in the casino and each night they set up a table with veg platter, cheese platter, cookies and a hot dish ( chicken strips, etc) We found this was a nice little snack and really all the food you needed.
We had breakfast once in the Blue Lagoon and it was hot and tasty.
We had a meeting of the Cruise Critic group on our first day at sea and it was attended by several members of the senior officer staff which I though was a very nice touch.
All in all we are easy to please and I would sum up this review with the following statement "The worst day on a cruise is better than the best day at work"
This is our 6th cruise and I would cruise NCL again.
PS We like the "Free Style Cruising"