I'm feel it's my duty to pay back all those who provided info on this board and am, therefore, submitting this review. However, I am certain that the NCL evangelists may dislike or dispute what I feel is a fair evaluation.
Background: Guests were DW, 3 sons (13,11, & 9) as well as the grandparents. 3 generations with varied interests in 3 cabins. 1 inside, 1 outside and 1 balcony. This was our 9th cruise but first on NCL after Carnival, RC, and Celebrity.
Embarkation: Pretty challenging. Arrived before noon but the NCL parking deck was full so it took us over an hour to find our way thru a maze in the port to an alternative garage and get a bus back to the terminal. 4 lines in the terminal took over an hour to navigate. Total boarding time was over 2 hours....not a good way to start a cruise.
Cabins: All were smaller than other cruise lines but well laid out with plenty of storage. The balcony cabin was especially small. The beds and bedding were More
Entertainment: Some very good entertainers. We enjoyed Second City and Shark Bait. The grandparents liked the productions shows. The pool band was excellent and plays often...a plus vs. other cruise lines. There was not a live orchestra at the shows....others have one. We thought the additional entertainment events were too limited. No poolside games or demonstrations. Dance parties only on 3 nights. No Captains party.
Ship: dEcor was much nicer then we expected. Very clean, Easy to maneuver. The theater has theater-style seating. I much prefer the sofa/cocktail table set-up on Celebrity. More room to stretch out.
Food: Overall, the most disappointing part of the cruise. All 3 generations though the food was weak. The buffet was always packed and chaotic. It is apparent that NCL has cut costs in the dining rooms and hopes to push you into the surcharge restaurants. Examples: The shrimp cocktail consists of tiny, salad shrimp rather than large shrimp on other cruise lines. The steaks are tough. The selections very limited. The lobster tails were small and rubbery. The pizza wasn't easily accessible from the pool. To be fair, the kids did enjoy the hand-scooped ice cream. We thought the Blue Lagoon food was better then either dining room. Cagney's was OK but the service fell short.
Ports: I highly recommend Victor Bodden tours in Roatan. Ben was our driver and met the needs of all 3 generations (culture, zip lining, monkeys, West Bay, beach, etc). In Belize, we tendered into port and negotiated a snorkel/beach trip with Fab tours. Overall, pretty well done. We enjoyed the snorkeling but the beach was small. Grandparents did not feel safe outside the gated area in Belize City. Paradise Beach is Cozumel was nice. Great Stirrup Cay was very, very crowed. However, we enjoyed the day at the beach and the tendering was smooth.
Kids Club: Out oldest teen was very disappointed. We didn't have a chance to register him the first night. The next day, when he decided to join some activities, he was told he couldn't. They didn't say..."let's get you registered for the rest of the cruise. Rather, he got the feeling he was not unwelcome. Further, since there were so many younger kids, they sequestered the teen center on some cruise days to show movies. Since he has enjoyed the teen clubs and made numerous friends on previous cruise lines, this was a short coming for NCL. I think they were overwhelmed with the number of kids and didn't want to welcome anyone else into the program. Luckily they have brothers.
Disembarkation: Fairly smooth. Choose you time to depart. I suggest later as most other guests are cleared out and luggage is then simple.
Service: Good. Bartender and servers were excellent. Dining room waiters didn't really care....we did miss getting to know our servers as on other ships. Room stewards were efficient but, once again, not very personable.
Overall: Only our opinion, but we'd place NCL a decent step below Royal Caribbean and significantly below Celebrity. However, you get what you pay for. We booked NCL because of a last-minute lower fare. It's really our own fault for doing so.
Summary: Even a cruise that is slightly disappointing is a wonderful experience!!! Less