Let me start by saying that this was our second cruise ever. The first was last year on the Carnival Splendor. Had this been our "first" cruise I would have said "Cruises suck. Can this be what people have been raving about?"
First and foremost, FREESTYLE CRUISING...is just a RIP OFF. The food in the "included restaurants" was terrible. The menus are limited and the hours of operation are a JOKE! The Versailles restaurant, which had just mediocre food at best, was only open for lunch from "12 noon until 1:30pm! An hour an a half window? For 2000 passengers? Are they crazy? Yes, crazy like a fox! Because then you are forced to eat the horrific bad food at the Market Cafe buffet. There are better buffets in a skid row kitchen. And even then, the times are so limited...so what is so "Free Style" about not having a good restaurant......ahhh, here it comes....the only good food on the ship is in the "PAY A COVER CHARGE" restaurants, like Cagneys or Le Bistro. They are up to $25 cover per person for that food. Yes, that is VERY good food, but the reason you go on a cruise is also to have GREAT food INCLUDED! Carnival had WONDERFUL food and it was included in the price of the cruise. NCL was awful.
The room was dirty. YES, dirty. The bed ruffle sham had some sort of leaked looking fluid on it that I hope was just someone's dripped ice cream (at least that's what I am telling myself). The sheets were crusted, I don't know what was on it and I unfortunately did not discover this until the next morning when the sheets were pulled back. I pulled the sheet off and left it on the floor so they would replace it. They did, with another sheet that had grease marks on it. The pillow case actually had dried BLOOD on it. Horrifying!
The crew is mostly from the Philippines and you can hardly understand a thing they say. They are not even aware of where things are on the ship. You ask them how to get somewhere and they stare at you as if they had forgotten they were even on a ship. They seemed to "act" happy to talk to you but it seemed forced. The cruise director was a over-tanned George Hamilton look-a-like that should have retired from cruise ships and gone back to doing stand-up in the Poconos. The entertainment was just okay. The performers were used everywhere in other positions. I wouldn't be surprised if they were cooking in the kitchen during the day.
The ship is not designed well. To get from one end to another you need to use various elevators and stairs, even if you just wanted to walk from bow to stern on one deck. It seems like there were a lot of areas that were under renovation and they didn't let the guests know that they were missing anything. The only way to know was to pull the colored tape off the deck signs near the "you are here signs". Rip off.
I don't know if it was just this particular cruise or just an NCL thing, but the passengers were only in 3 categories. Parents with annoying children, people on their last legs (I have never seen so many walkers or oxygen tanks) and mostly, really low class, loud, drunks who smoke like chimneys.
Well, as you can tell, I will never go back on NCL again. It was a waste of time and a big disappointment. I'm gonna go back to Carnival or try another cruise line.