As an experienced cruiser, I've been on a cruise with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. I tried Norwegian for the price. The ship itself is very nice, decorated with a Hawaiian theme...which sets the mood for a tropical place. The ship is easy to navigate and the crew is helpful if you have any questions. The stateroom people were friendly and introduced themselves and were always greeting us.
My friends and I did not dine in any of the restaurants you have to pay for..as college students we are on a budget..but reading here on the boards we tried the Palace for the first dinner night and found it to be overcrowded and it took forever to be served. The following nights we dined at Crossings and found it to be awesome, the Hostess always gave us the best tables with beautiful views of the sunset and moon rise. The food was good, not exceptionally out of this world but good with plenty of choices. The crew people were also kind enough to give my friend a complimentary cake and sang her happy birthday after I asked the Hostess. Lunch at Garden Cafe is crowded with Lines but if you head towards the back of the Cafe there are less people. The food is buffet but good. For Breakfast we would get yummy omelets and waffles from Il Adagio without lines..which was good and then we would head to the Cafe for the fruits and hash browns.
My friends and I did Karaoke, 2 songs...and then we left but it was fun. The comedy shows were funny and entertaining, the shows were good, although one singer was horrible and butchered some songs. Didn't spend much time in the Casino, but it looked nice, kind of small but nice. As we are in our early to mid 20's we didn't find a place were all of us could hang out with people our age. The crowd was mostly families and there were many teenagers on board...at the Dazzle's Night Club there were suppose to be an 18 n + crowd but they weren't strict about it and so it was kind of annoying to have the youngsters around. The music was good, props to the DJ! The cruise director was very fun and the assistant cruise director was too! The ship has the usual games the couples show, battle of the sexes, quest...all in good fun and a way to pass time.
In conclusion, free-style cruising was beneficial in the dinning experience because we could dine and fit it in our schedule of what we wanted to do. The crowd wasn't what we hoped to be....but that could be due to the time frame we went. The only minor details I saw were a bother were the overflow of children in the Jacuzzi. I did not appreciate trying to find a spot and then get squished in a the hot tub with stranger's kids.
Drinks and cocktails were yummy and there was 2-for-1 specials. All in all we had a great time, would we cruise again in NCL? Perhaps...until then....enjoy your cruise, and make the best of it, it's your vacation after all!