Norwegian is really promoting their Freestyle concept but it ends up being chaotic and disorganized. Cruises are known for two outstanding features: fantastic food and service. Norwegian disappointed on both of these.
First, the positives: the Pearl is beautiful and has a wonderful deck plan. It's a good size even though it felt incredibly crowded despite being undersold. The entertainment was above average for cruising. It was very very good and diverse (juggling act, comedy acts, dancing, singing) with opportunities to meet the entertainers or take free classes from them (we learned to juggle from former Ringling Brothers clowns). The ports of call were great. The 3:00 afternoon BBQ on the pool deck is really good. Our son loved the kids program (6-8 yr olds) which is a first for him. The cabins were relatively small but nice.
This was our 6th cruise, 4th cruise line. We like to cruise. But the food was only average and didn't taste special. The Garden Cafe buffet is the same every day - it varies in maybe one or two dishes. It is boring. The "included" nice dining rooms have the same menu EVERY DAY - there are a few rotating items but only at dinner. If you eat in a main dining room, it takes no less than 1 1/2 hrs to get your 3 course meal - yes, the meal that doesn't change every day. The waiters are running around like crazy but it takes forever to get anything extra. We were 5 days into the cruise before we learned we could have tea with our meal - they only offer water unless you ask specifically. It must be some ploy to force you into paying more for their option dining rooms. We had half a lobster tail one night (no butter with it), and fish 2 other times - that's it for the seafood. We got so frustrated with the nice dining rooms, we went to the buffet most meals - now what is special about that? We met at 5:45 for dinner each night and barely made the 7:30 show the dining room was so slow.
Our cabin stewards could barely smile. We didn't have any materials the whole cruise to order room service. Two mornings they woke us up at 7:15 to clean the room. It seemed uncoordinated and disorganized. Some days we had a towel animal, some days not. They don't deliver your cruise newsletter until after 6:30, so you can't discuss next day plans over dinner.
Bottom line - it felt like they were cutting corners and trying to upsell you on other things. This wasn't relaxing. The music by the pool is very very loud - we had to leave just to have a conversation. But with kids, you are forced to be at the pool with them. We won't cruise Norwegian again, and are disappointed as we'd always heard what a nice line it is.