We left NYC on a Saturday afternoon. All went well. The embarkation was organized and there were minimal frustrations. That was not so with disembarkation (noted later). We weren't shown to our room, but that was ok. We knew how to find it. A pre sailing meal was easy to find and lines were minimal. Sailing from NYC is always exciting, and this one was too.
We were in a DD ocean view. The price was right and we have seen the Atlantic on other crossings. Most days were nice on the crossing, so a veranda might have been useful. We have cruised on Oceania and Celebrity before so we were curious to see how NCl compared.
Generally the food was good. The disappointing fact is that the food in the main dining rooms were not at the quality level of other cruises, and also that of the specialty restaurants. Freestyle gets a little lost in that equation. On cruises we look for quality not quantity. Its some how disheartening to know that you have to pay $50 for two to have an exceptional meal. Buffets were a nice surprise though.
The ship is beautiful and well designed but with some inherent flaws. The Theater holds a large number of people but without aisles on both sides people must move by everyone in the row to get in. And NCL holds open seats for the suite and villa people even if they don't attend the show. So some people are sitting in the aisles while 50 seats are left empty but unavailable.
Movies...the movies (only 3) were show in the atrium which also serves as a shopping mall and bar. So it was hard to hear and concentrate while people were buying watches and beer next to you. There were only pay movies in the rooms.
TV...very limited satellite stations......
Bingo... a necessary evil. NCL gives out free bingo cards to get people into the session. The assistant Cruise Directors then calls you "bingo stalkers" when you show up for the free game card. It was said in a somewhat comic vein, but it still hits home. The assistant cruise director tended to be more annoying than entertaining. Casino...friendly and play was available for all dollar and skill levels.
Entertainment...sometimes very good and sometimes just good...ship cast shows were good not great. Ship's special parties were what you would expect and not too much more. Having entertainers available for Q & A and general discussions are a great idea.
State room....DD Ocean view was comfortable while not huge. Stewards were fantastic! Our room had a couple of broken pieces of furniture and maintenance was slow to repair them.
Dining Room service...staff ranged from good to excellent. I still think staff are different when they know their service only to you determines the gratuity. Freestyle means no assigned dining staff.
Freestyle is over played. Freestyle tends to = a la carte. Not much in freestyle is free. If there was a love boat, this is the a la carte boat. IE bowling at $5 per game on a rolling sea is quite pricey.
Drinks were not pushed to the extreme as on other ships. This voyage tended to over promote scratch type lottery tickets and other simple gambling devices
We didn't do much on the way of excursions, so we'll leave that to others.
Embarkation was amazingly disorganized. I'm not sure if it was the Venice authorities or NCL. But they left a large number of guests waiting early in the morning for the buses to the airport. They actually kept calling for additional groups to disembark before they were letting people off the ship.
All in all a nice cruise on a nice ship. It was a great cruise but well worth the price.