This was our fifth cruise, 4 with Royal Caribbean and first with NCL. We chose NCL due to itinerary. There were few listings mentioning kids so thought it worth sending our thoughts. We had a 3 yr old and an 80 yr old with us sharing 2 connecting balcony cabins.
We stayed the day prior at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa on the beach with the 3 yr old in mind. Nice place, good for kids, next time we would just stay at the port. Their check in policy left a lot to be desired.
Arrival and embarkation went well although it was a little more crowded and had more stops than RCCL. We had lunch and were in the cabin by 1 pm. The ship was clean and well maintained, not as striking as the RCCL ships we had been on previously but nice.
With a 3 yr old we didn't do a lot of activities or use the entertainment much. He was in the kids program and loved it. They really did a good job and the hours were better than we expected. The kid's pool was a little small and there wasn't a lot of room for parents to watch but he enjoyed it so that's what counts.
The service was better than expected, mainly as the reviews we read mentioned a poor attitude but we didn't find that at all. The restaurant staff all did a good job and were attentive. The food itself was a little bland except in the specialty restaurants. We ate in the steakhouse, french, and teppanyaki and the only one not to get high marks would be teppanyaki. We would have done the french place twice if we knew earlier how good it was.
The cabin was kept clean and the steward was unobtrusive but kept on top of things. We tipped him extra just due to the cleanliness and the fact he stayed out of our faces expect when needed.
The seas were rough so we were late in Belize and diverted to Nassau instead of the NCL beach. We typically don't take the ship tours as getting local tours has been, in our experience, cheaper and often similar in quality. So in Roatan we got a cab and did the glass bottom boat and a beach stop for about half what the ship charged. In Bahamas we went to Atlantis Resort for less than half what the ship charged.
Disembarkation was our biggest surprise. We asked the steward when we had to be out as we were used to being out by 7am on RCCL. He looked a little bewildered and said when the luggage color was called we left. Until then we had the stateroom. So we had the room until about 9:30 which was a godsend as our 3 yr old had an accident which would not have been pleasant without having the room. So NCL gained a fan there.
In conclusion, there were many pluses and minuses, we are not big time converts but would not turn our noses at NCL either for our next trip. It will depend on the ship, date and price.