Gave NCL a second chance on the "Spirit" to West Caribbean. Should have gone with my GUT feeling. NCL has one advantage that many may like: "free style" dining but in my opinion not really worth the sacrifice of a full service cruise.
Cabin was clean and adequate. Cabin stewards were excellent. Food on board was only marginal unless you wanted to pay the extra sur charge for the "Fine Dining" specialty restaurants. Don't expect "great" desserts, which I have found to be far superior on other cruise lines.
The production shows were very nice, however SKIP the crew's talent night. Because of the heavy influence of Filipino and Polynesian staff, you may be bored with the lack of variety of cultures presented. Oh yes, and you will want to miss the VERY predictable "WE ARE THE WORLD" finale of cavorting crew members mouthing the words. Sorry folks...just a bit too corny for me.
I wont even comment on the lounge entertainment.
Not crazy about the mandatory automatic gratuity added to stateroom bill. Obvious to me that with a guaranteed "tip" the staff had no motivation to "take good care of the guests" To me a gratuity should be based on performance after the fact, not before you even leave port. Of course you always have the option of digging deeper into your pockets to give additional gratuities but I was insulted by the mandatory amount. NCL has a long way to go to compete with more upscale cruise lines at comparable price points.
I have been on at least 7 cruises of various lines, NCL has some work to do to keep up. And they also have the highest per day Fuel Sur Charge of $7/day. SHAME ON YOU.
I constantly felt that I was being nickeled and dimed to death as opposed to an all inclusive experience.
To make a positive comment. They did have one guest "lecturer" who was VERY well in formed. His name was Kevin Lowell, presented by Columbia Emeralds. I wish he had had more than 2 short lectures onboard. He was truly knowledgeable about his "jewelry" craft and the history, legends, mysticisms of and origin of gemstones. KUDOS to Kevin.