Transferred from FLL to Miami port went smooth. Embarkation was pretty quick - got on ship just after noon. Ate lunch in main dining room (Venetian) to avoid the buffet crush - very pleasant. Room was ready before 2PM but luggage didn't get there until 4PM.
General Impressions - service was generally pleasant,most of the crew seemed interested in making the trip enjoyable. Restaurant service was OK to very good (not excellent), it seemed at times some dining rooms (even specialty dining) were understaffed and a little disorganized. Shows were pretty good and you could get a seat if you arrived 5-10 minutes before showtime. Drinks were a little pricey - beers were $4.50 - $5.50 plus 15% gratuity,frozen drinks were upwards of $9. Even smoothies (if you don't buy the pass) were $6.50. Excursions were ok, but there was a lot of travel time on some - tender to dock,then ferry to another island - so actual activity time was limited. Workout facility was adequate,equipment was a little dated and they could use some new resistance machines. There were enough treadmills and cross trainers, didn't have to wait. Jogging track crosses a traffic area so I didn't use. Public areas were beautiful,although ship did show some wear - especially carpets. Room was a little small but bathroom had a decent sized shower.
Restaurants - Definitely make reservations (up to 48 hrs in advance) at the specialty restaurants you want to try. Cagney's ($20 cover) was excellent, filet mignon melted in your mouth. Waiter was a little pushy with the wine - suggested the $98 bottle. Found out that NCL has an anniversary wine - $30/bottle - tried the red -it was pretty good. Impressions (italian) had no cover and was excellent - ate there twice. They start with antipasto - bring a cart around and you choose what you want. Also ate twice in Salsa's = tex/mex - service was a little disjointed but food was good - great appetizers,also you can hear the piano bar from the floor below as the dining room is wide open. The asian fusion restaurant ($10 cover) had great appetizers and desserts - service was confused. Ate in one of the main restaurants - Aqua - food was ok - like a better banquet hall quality, service was professional but rushed - we were done with our meal in 45 minutes. Ate breakfast in Venetian three times - nice to avoid the buffet occasionally. Buffet breakfast was typical cruise ship - had a waffle and omelet station. Was able to get ice cream - really small cones by the pool, or a scoop at the 24 hour buffet during limited hours. Tried the wings and potato skin place once for lunch - its OK for a diversion or for the kids. Had a slice of pizza from the buffet almost everyday. Midnight chocolate event was a big yawn.
Everything else - good shows - magician did some decent illusions - he also held a memory improvement seminar on a sea day - was ok but was essentially an infomercial for his DVD. Dance acts were decent. Beer tasting ($15) at Pearly King pub was fun - met some party type people. Excursions - private beach at Samana was ok - people who did mangrove and cave tour liked it, as did those who did all inclusive resort. Eco Tour at St. John (from St Thomas) was fun - although beach time is very limited, tried to do the Baths at Tortola through Speedy - got there and back ok - but it was so crowded I didn't want to risk having to wind through the rock and cave path to get back in time to meet the taxis. Pub crawl in Tortola was a bust - they went to a few crappy bars - not even the 2 famous ones. Took over an hour for us to get a tender to private island - it was crowded but they had plenty of (small) chairs. Snorkeling was very good there - we bought a decent snorkel set at Sam's club - saved a bundle. Ship service was pretty good - I had to call maintenance twice - once for a sliding door that fell of its track in the bathroom, once to change a light bulb - they fixed things by the time I returned to the cabin. Deck chairs - on sea days - get your deck chair by 8:30 AM - people save them (even though they shouldn't). My 14 year old son went to the teen club - he wasn't impressed.