Embarkation We arrived early at Southampton, 10:30 and dropped off our cases before parking. Embarkation took a while as it seemed as if the whole 2800 passengers had arrived at Southampton en-masse. We were on the ship by about 12:45 and enjoyed a glass of champagne!
We were not hungry at this stage so enjoyed a drink or two by the pool whilst waiting for our rooms to be made ready. We wandered down to deck 10 and found our room at about 2:00pm although it had not been announced that rooms were ready.
Cabins Our balcony cabin on deck 10 was very comfortable, the bathroom was the best we have ever had on a ship. The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in anywhere! The room was quiet and the stewards Emerson & Ramon attended to all our needs. The fridges in the room were ideal for storing our wines and beers, we had all the contents removed by our steward to make room.
Public Rooms Whilst bright the decor was tasteful and ideal for a holiday atmosphere.
Dining We sampled all the free restaurants and some of the extra cost restaurants. The food and service was excellent in all apart from The Blue Lagoon. The food in The Blue Lagoon was excellent especially the fish & chips but service was very slow. We never had a problem getting a table anywhere and if there was a wait we took a pager which always went sooner than the estimated time. Of the extra cost restaurants we sampled:
Cagney's - excellent steak and would recommend the Fillet Mignon, Captains cut followed by the Molten Chocolate Cake!!
Le Bistro - I had the Rack of Lamb, delicious and the Creme Brulee.
Papas Italian - I chose the Veal Masala which was OK but probably not too my taste.
No extra Supplement Restaurants:
Alizars - very enjoyable meals and service, we preferred the atmosphere in this restaurant to the Grand Pacific.
Grand Pacific - Only went here once, enjoyed the meal but somehow this felt a bit too grand.
Panilos - We really liked this restaurant and would recommend 'Ill Poppo'.
Blue Lagoon - As mentioned before, food great just the slow service let's it down.
Garden Cafe - We had all our breakfasts here and the majority of our lunches. There was so much choice it was amazing, my husband enjoyed a cooked breakfast here every morning especially the freshly fried eggs. I enjoyed the waffles and pancakes, the fruit and pastries and also the museli (but not all at once). The sandwich bar at lunch time was great and we particularly enjoyed the cookies and brownies which we ate with a cup of tea in the afternoon. We also had the occasional dinner here as well, the curries were particularly good and we even had Beef Wellington one evening. They also do crepes which are cooked while you wait with various toppings to go with them.
Entertainment On the whole we enjoyed the entertainment particularly the shows 'Shout' and 'Smoky Joes Cafe'. The English comedian was very good as was the English singer, sorry cannot remember their names. We felt that this was a quiet ship compared to others we have been on, perhaps being so large it is difficult to generate a camaraderie. There was no 'Sail-away party' apart from the first day from Southampton, which was disappointing, we felt quite envious as watched the Queen Mary 2 sail away from Lisbon to the strains of a reggae band. The Gospel singing in The Atrium was delightful.
Service Whilst service in some areas was excellent there were some areas where it fell short, there seemed to be a shortage of staff and those that were in attendance seemed to be run off their feet!
Excursions We only went on two NCL excursions, Florence, and Monaco, Monte-Carlo & Eze, the Monaco trip was good value as it was advertised as a half day trip but was actually a full day! Florence was hot and tiring and very crowded but we were glad we went. The guides on both these trips were excellent. One thing to note if you pre-book your trips before you go take your confirmation as we were overcharged, fortunately I had written confirmation with me and was able to sort this out.
Overall this cruise was good value for money and we enjoyed it immensely. We would definitely cruise NCL again as freestyle suits us.