I've been reading the posted reviews and feel that I was on a different ship from the other posted reviews.. Our experience was not at all positive from the very beginning when NCL changed one our cabins without notifying us. We are a group of twelve experienced cruisers and the general consensus is that we would never cruise NCL again.
Food - The food was mediocre at best and the portions were very small. There were nights when we looked at the dining room menu and felt that there was nothing to eat. Unlike other cruise lines that always have "standard items, i.e. chicken breast, shrimp cocktail, available every night NCL does not offer that. We did request a shrimp cocktail one night and were told no. We booked a standing reservation every night for the Seven Seas Dining Room but they were unable to provide us with the same wait staff every night so we had different servers for the entire week. We really liked our first waiter but were told they rotated the wait staff, so we never saw him again. By Wednesday we felt the need to go to one of the specialty restaurants so we could get a decent meal. I will say that our dinner in the East meets West was fabulous and based upon that experience we tried and liked the Japanese restaurant. It does annoy me to spend extra, albeit a small amount, to buy food when it is already included in the price of cruise. We felt that the food in dining room was purposely mediocre so that you would leave and go to one of the specialty restaurants. The last night was the worst - basically it was stew beef on a skewer. The buffets, both breakfast and lunch, were always the same. The pasta bar was great but on days in Port you could easily wait 30 minutes to get a dish of pasta. There was NO dessert at lunch that was edible, everything was gelatinous. I overheard one lady claim that she "would kill for a piece of cake". We considered ordering a plate of cheese and crackers one night for the stateroom but the $19.99 price tag seemed a bit steep. NCL doesn't consider that room service but a function - I'm not sure how they decided that 4 people are a function but they did. We tried to get crackers off the buffet but basically you needed to beg for them from the soup guy and there was never any kind of cheese but slimy American.
Service - Our cabin service was the worst that I have ever experienced. The cabin steward never introduced himself, never quite figured our schedules (we were pretty predicable - always having dinner after 8; 00), and never really got the concept of knocking before entering. On numerous occasions he walked in on people in various stages of dress and undress. They never removed dirty dishes or glasses from our room and one night they forgot to make up our room. I found it interesting that there was no phone number to call for housekeeping - you needed to call the reception to have them send someone to you room. The blue igloo cooler with the self-service ice in the hallways was another really classy touch. One of our group actually removed her stateroom tips because the service was so bad.
Entertainment - It was pretty standard cruise stuff. The band Prism was pretty entertaining and we did catch the comic one night that was pretty good but other than that there was not much going on.
Pool area - The hot tubs were really tiny. There were 5 of them but no more than 4 adults could actually fit in one. There is only one pool area on the ship so you always need to put up with noise of band, the pool games etc. All of the chaises were basically sun chaises, there was nothing with any cushions for people who may just want to nap or read.
Positives - NCL really has the embarkation and debarkation process down pat. It was the easiest that I've ever experienced. NCL does do a good job with the hand sanitizing and people were pretty compliant for the most part. Unfortunately that is about the only positive thing I can think of.
Everyone has different experience and we were sorry that our experience on this line was not more positive. I don't think the reviews from passengers who were booked into Penthouse Suites or Villas could compare with the "regular" passengers. It was nice to be away and we did have a good time in spite of the shortcomings that we experienced. I'm glad other people had positive experience but I know that I'll never take a chance cruising the freestyle way again..