This is my 11th cruise but not on NCL. But I was excited to experience another cruise line and do the freestyle cruise offered by NCL.
The ship, Pride of America, wasn't as big as I was lead to believe by the web site but I tried not to compare it with the other cruise line that I've traveled on. Matter-of-fact, it was smaller than the smallest RCCL cruise ship.
We arrived at 6:00 and the embarkation was fast probably because we missed the rush of the noon boarding. But I have to admit the disembarkation went pretty fast and orderly.
There wasn't many activities on board the ship but what activities that they did have there was a charged. For example, in the cruise pamphlet of the day it mentioned to come and try and do a make over in the spa. I didn't realize that there was a charge. A member of the group went for a wine tasting and that was charged. Now the only reason I mentioned this because the other cruises we were on did not charged, at all, for any activities. We were charged for different services, such as hair salon, messages, etc. But not for any activities.
The service was very poor. I am use to the room attendant introducing themselves and even asking me what they can do to make things more comfortable. Give you that little extra touch. I didn't see the attendant until the 3rd day and she acted as though she didn't want to even greet you. My beds were made, the sheets were never changed. OK, I can see not changing the sheets every day but not the whole 7 days. We got a mint on the bed only the last two days. I didn't even know they did that. Several services were done without a smile. My girlfriend made the employees speak to her by saying good morning.
I had a balcony stateroom which was small. There wasn't enough room for storage. My other balcony stateroom were larger even though I thought they were just OK. I believe now I would say they were better than OK since I've been on this ship.
Now as for this freestyle cruising. Don't believe what you see on TV. There were several specialty restaurants in which you had to make reservations. The food and services in those restaurants were excellent. The food in the Skyline and Liberty were good but the waiting was ridiculous. We were told it was better to make reservations. If this is freestyle why am I making reservations? Then they do not except reservations from small parties, 4 and less, which happens to be our party. The restaurants would be crowded because of large parties making reservations so they accommodate them first. We had to wait up to an hour. So if I can eat any time I wanted to why do I need a reservation in the regular restaurant. Isn't that the same as having a set time to eat on the other ship. I think this freestyle cruising needs to be revisited. Also, on the other cruise line you can eat all day. On this ship you eat when they say so. I missed the mid-night buffet and the all out buffet. When we came from an excursion the Aloha buffet was closed. The Windjammer is opened late. My girlfriend and I went out at 10:00 looking for something to eat. Didn't find anything because everything was closed.
The shore excursions were outstanding. We had four excursions and they were top notch.
We went to a night club and there were children there at 10:00 and 11:00 at night, dancing with the adults. I thought that this was disgusting and children shouldn't be there and no one said anything.
The entertainment was a joke. I am used to Broadway type shows with singing and dancing. There wasn't anything like this just six people singing. Boring. But the magician and comedian were good. In summary, I do not believe I will cruise on NCL again. I would rather have a set time to eat with all the amenities then have this so called freestyle and have none. On RCCL I was treated like a queen. It was nice to be treated as though I was a celebrity. I was sent a survey and gave them very poor rating which I believe they will ignore. NCL has no competition during the summer months cruising to Hawaii. If they did I believe either they upgrade and do better or they would definitely be knocked out by the better cruise lines such as RCCL or Princess. Someone stated that the international crew were more respectful and friendlier then the American crew. I agree.