I'll keep this relatively short as this was my 7th cruise, second on this ship. I have been on RCL 3x, CCL, Princess and NCL all 1x. You can search them out if you want more details. Short background, I work for an internet travel agency which will remain nameless, in cruise operations. With that said I have much knowledge about what a good cruise should be. I was traveling with my wife of 16 years, left the child home.
We drove the 2 plus hours to the New York pier. My in-laws were going on the 7 nt Carnival Victory Canada/NE so we dropped them off and made our way to check in for the cruise to nowhere. We arrived around 1215pm after a GPS mixup. The lines were average but very slow. It was the usual people on cell phones not paying attention, people not having docs ready, etc. BUT the agent we had after 40-45 minutes in line, was very slow. She swiped my CC 3 or 4 times and then typed very slow. This process took another 10+ minutes. We were onboard around 115pm. We were greeted with bubbly and mimosas. Since we know our way around the ship we bypassed the cluster and found our cabin, deck 9 almost mid ship though NCL classifies it as a forward cabin, same layout as last cruise on the Spirit different color. The bedding was brand new and second only to CCL. Spent much time on the balcony. We headed for the buffet..what a disappointment. It was very limited and average at best. NCL was pushing people outside for the barbeque hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, etc. My first thought was if we were first timers, it would be our last time.
We ate what we could and walked around. My wife tried a burger from the outdoor grille which was not much better. We headed for the Blue lagoon which did not open until 4. The Freestyle daily offered very little to do so we headed back to our room for a short nap. Headed down to the Blue Lagoon at 4 to find it packed. More walking and the got ready for dinner. The dinner menu did NOT have any type lobster dish as advertised. We did get in quickly, no wait and had a table for 2 by a window. My meal was very good but not great. My wife had a steak with peppercorn sauce....it had zero flavor, no pepper flavor just a steak with a bland sauce. Our server was like a robot with no personality. Again first timers would be very disappointed.
We then headed for the comedy show...or lack of comedy. The performer was off and people heckled him, probably the funniest part of his act. We stayed for the Adults only Quest which was wild. Headed back to the cabin for the night. Had breakfast in Windows the next morning, quick seating and window table for 2. The server was much more personable and food was much better but too little too late.
The ship was not as well kept as a year ago but still in good shape. The overall service was average. The other guests were mainly party crowd, bachelor and bachelorette parties so sometimes a little loud and crude. The shopping was poor unless you were a smoker. Overall disappointing. I paid a reduced agent rate with NCL and even the discounted price did not make up for the food quality and slow check in line. If NCL wants to use this to attract customers for longer pricier cruises, they need to rethink it. This is a money maker for them and as such they should offer top notch food and service. It was ok at best for what I paid, at a consumer price it would have been rated much lower.
I have 2 more to review in the near future. I am going on the Solstice inaugural Nov 12, the first sailing to leave the FLL port and Disney Wonder land/sea in January. Feel free to email any questions.