We just got back from our very first NCL cruise on Saturday. Alaska was beautiful and EVERYONE should cruise it at least once. We had perfect weather (yes in May!!) with absolutely NO rain, except when leaving Vancouver.
We were in a mini-suite, and had high expectations from NCL about being considered "VIP" or "special". If you are book a mini-suite to avoid lines, waiting, delays, or just want something special...DON'T. Our room was really torn and passed the point of simple "wear and tear".
We arrived at the original port thinking we would be taken through VIP boarding, but ending up waiting in lines with hundreds of other people to get on the ship. On our Carnival cruise, it was so fast, we must have been on within 30 minutes! However, with this cruise it took us an 1 1/2 hours! We left late waiting for people to get on too.
NCL is only my second cruise and our first was with Carnival. For some reason, I expected to by wowed by NCL, and in return was pretty disappointed. If you think Carnival is "cheap" then NCL is will be shocker, it's even cheaper! They try and sell you everything and anything. They have "themed" parties, but you have to buy the t-shirts for 15.00. Then they do activities like yoga and towel animal creation classes, but they all cost 15.00 too. All the interesting things on the ship (beside shows) cost something extra.
We had cigarette holes in our sofas, nasty scratches all over the furniture, and the fridge tended to not close most of the time. If you are looking forward to nice, new, comfortable bedding (like Carnivals), give it up now. We had to ask our stewardess to change our sheets 3 times, because they had all been washed soo many times, they had tons of darns in them. Then there are the showers. They do not stay a consistent temperature! The water only went from really hot to really cold, so forget shaving.
Then theres the food. Really not good. The restaurants are pretty decent, but they all cost extra money. The free ones are disgusting. If you want to eat for free on the ship, the best places to go are the Blue Lagoon or room service. Cagney's is just as amazing as everyone talks about, but it cost us 90.00 for two people. If you want the lobster are crab legs, you not only pay the cover of 25.00 but then have to add ANOTHER 10.00. They charge for absolutely everything. Even Carnival gives you a free pen, no such luck on NCL.
Surprisingly enough, we aren't complainers. We mentioned our troubles lightly a couple times and even stood in the tremendous line for customer service in the lobby of the ship, to get someone to help us. All they could do is ask what department we needed.....all of them??? While I know they probably couldn't have given us a new room, and tried once to fix the shower, I simply would have liked to see an effort to make things better.
At this point, I can say that I will not recommend NCL to anyone I know. I'm only in my early twenties and LOVE cruising, which means I have years and years left of it do, there lose. What a disappointing ship.
On a positive note, Alaska was soooo amazing, and we tried to live on the balcony basically, so it couldn't damper my trip!!