This was the third cruise for me and my wife, but first time in Europe. My parents also went on this cruise, and it was their first one. We cruised before with NCL, and had a pleasant experience, so decided to go with them again, especially that the price was so good.
Itinerary was great! I really enjoyed it, although in my opinion, there was no need to spend a day and a half in Barcelona, but that is probably my personal preference (I would rather spend another day in Rome).
Embarkation process was smooth, and we received our luggage relatively quick.
Shore excursions were crazily priced, but that is the same with all cruise companies, and that is why I spent quite a bit of time online months before the departure, and was able to find great deals, for instance, in Italy, we paid for whole day tours in Rome and Florence (that is two days) only 850 euro for the four of us, whereas on the ship it would have costed us $2000, and we would have to travel on a bus with bunch of other people and adhere to the set schedule. Same thing with airport transfers, the cruise line wanted $160 per person, I found 160 pounds for the four of us.
Food was good. I do not agree with some of the reviews that stated that at the main restaurants the selection was the same - no, they have half of the menu exactly the same (even identical to the other cruise we had with NCL), but that is on the the right side of the menu, but on the left it is different every night. I am not quite thrilled with the service we got from some of the waiters, but looking at how fast they have to run makes you think if the company overworks them too much.
Entertainment... I really enjoyed the cast of NCL - the singers. They were simply AWESOME!!!!!!!! We also enjoyed a couple of acrobats/gymnasts, they were great, too. I did not care for the rest very much, but the shows with the NCL cast were excellent. I especially enjoyed their version of Smoky Joe's Cafe. I even watched some clips on Youtube after I came back, but could not find anything as capturing as what I saw on the ship.
By the way, the ship was right on the schedule at every port. On the night before arriving to Cannes the sea was rough, and the captain decided to extend the stay at Cannes by one our to compensate for bad weather, yet we still got to our next port of call on time the next morning.
I do agree that $12 per person per night is a bit steep, but the rates of NCL seriously outweigh that!
The first time I went on a cruise was with Royal Caribbean, and of course NCL does not compare, BUT it is a good company that takes good care of the people, even those who travel in cheapest cabins (such as myself). Of course, if you prefer to stay at Ritz Carlton instead of Holiday Inn, NCL may not be the best choice for you, but for a budget minded traveller who wants to enjoy what is on shore just as much as what is at sea, it is great. As a matter of fact, we re thinking of taking another cruise with NCL next year, going to Eastern Mediterranean.