FREESTYLE DINING: This really worked for me! Since I was traveling alone, I initially thought that I might eat most meals in the buffet, but it always seemed crowded and chaotic. So I turned to the "free" dining rooms. I was always asked if I wanted to share a table, I always said, "I'd rather not," and I was always given a table to myself, even on one night when the dining room was especially crowded. Excellent!
I had two breakfasts (very good) in the Versailles, two dinners (good) in the Aqua (I only had jeans to wear), plus a lite dinner (OK) in the Blue Lagoon and the final morning breakfast (OK - good) in the Market Cafe buffet. I grabbed lunches (good) at the walk-up pool grill or BBQ.
TIPPING: I added "additional" tips to most bar bills. However, these resulted in confusing adjustments on my onboard account statement and in at least two instances the tips were omitted (and I didn't have time to look into this before leaving the ship). If I were doing this again I would leave such "additional" tips in CASH to avoid the confusion.
SMOKING: As a non-smoker, this was my #1 concern. Thus, I was very pleased to find that I could NOT detect smoke (either current or past) in my cabin. But the hallway was often smoky, especially during early evening hours. And I don't think I ever took a lap on the Promenade deck without encountering smoke, in a couple of cases bad enough that I had to duck inside the ship for a minute. I was disappointed that the "port side only" rule enforced at the pool area did not also apply to the Promenade deck.
I should note that I did NOT see anyone smoking where it wasn't allowed. Thus, the "problem" resulted from NCL's policies and not from (as is often the case) the bad behavior of a few individuals.
I'd guess that when compared to my "real" life in a state with tough anti-smoking laws, I encountered about 3 week's worth of second hand smoke on this 3-day cruise. Bottom line: Do NOT go on this ship if you expect a smoke-free environment!
DEBARKATION: For the sake of convenience I had purchased a somewhat pricey airport transfer from NCL. But here's how it really paid off: The transfer group was the first group called after "express" (hah!) debarkation. We were escorted out a special door to the Promenade deck and were allowed to weave in line at the gangway. So I was off the ship, through Canadian security and on the transfer bus in not more than 30 minutes. Sweet!
THINGS I WISHED FOR: I wish they had a "quiet bar" where you could order a drink and stare out the window WITHOUT being subjected to entertainment, organized activities, sports TV or overly boisterous behavior. I also wish that they had "free" beverage dispensers in the pool area (or, if they were there, I never found them). And/or I wish that I had taken along a small water bottle that I could have refilled in my cabin and carried with me about the ship.
WOULD I CRUISE ON NCL AGAIN: Yes!!! But I'm subtracting one point from my overall rating due to the smoking situation.