Prior to departure I had read some bad reviews about this ship. Although there were some negatives, I would have to say that our experience was mostly positive.
First our embarkation and debarkation couldn't have gone any smoother. This was our first cruise with Norwegian so we were not able to get in the Latitudes Club line. We went early (around 12:30 pm) and we were on the ship by 1:30 pm. It did take them 6 hours to deliver our luggage to our room. Luckily we were not planning to eat at one of the fancier restaurants our first night. Aside from the delay in receiving our luggage, our housekeeping staff was exceptional. They worked within our time schedule making sure our room was cleaned or beds turned down while we were out. We found the ship to be extremely well maintained. At night, areas were constantly being cleaned or painted. Since the pools are salt water, they seemed to be emptied and refilled every other day or so. The decks were pressure washed nightly to avoid becoming too slippery. The carpets are the only item throughout the ship that needs replacement. Our stateroom was small but adequate and very comfortable. We have a tween boy and found that the 10-12 kids club was not really appealing. If your child wants to spend the day inside the arcade instead of outside by the pools they might like the kids club. Also, we noticed that the more interesting activities were on excursion days. Since we were all out exploring the islands, this held very little interest for us. With that said, he really enjoyed both the kids' pool area with its waterslides and the Tivoli pool.Regarding entertainment, it was obvious that Norwegian's entertainment focus was on making money. Their three big activity pushes were: the casino/bingo, the art auctions, and the duty free shopping. All other entertainment was secondary. They did have a magician show which was fantastic, the musical shows were pretty good, and we heard the Second City shows were very good as well.
We found the food at the included restaurants (Windows, Garden, Blue Lagoon, and Raffles buffet) to be good but not exceptional. The service at these venues, however, was quite poor. Norwegian would benefit by taking away the automatic tip at these restaurants; perhaps the staff would then put forth a little more effort. On the flip side, the food at the speciality restaurants (Shogun-Sushi($15 cover), Teppanyaki($25 cover), Cagney's($20 + cover), La Trattoria($10 cover)) ranged from very good to exceptional. We found the service at these restaurants to be very good as well. It's too bad that you have to pay above and beyond the already substantial cruise price to get a very good meal and service. You can make same-day and following-day reservations for dinner. We found that with our group of three we had very little problem getting the restaurants we wanted. Large groups may find it a bit more difficult and it may take a bit more planning. We did take advantage of the excursions offered by the cruise line. Our tour of the El Yunque Rain Forest in Puerto Rico was very good. Our tour guide was excellent. We took the Virgin Gorda Baths trip. Although the tour itself was not very well organized, the destination (The Baths) was amazing. We'd like to do this trip again but on our own so that we could enjoy the scenery. The highlight of the entire cruise was our excursion in the Dominican Republic. We visited the mangrove forest by kayak, cave and beach excursion. This trip will stay in our memories forever. The tour guides were exceptional. We want to go back. All in all we feel that Freestyle cruising is for us. We liked being able to do what we wanted when we wanted, whether it's a show, shuffleboard, or a walk around Deck 7. Food is plentiful 24/7. Does it get any better than that?