Having seen the negative reviews, my wife and I arrived from New Zealand with some concerns about what we were letting ourselves in for. The NCL representative in Auckland had told our travel agent that we could have a full refund if we wanted to pull out, but we decided that we would just go with the flow, as we had been looking forward to the cruise for some time, and it was to celebrate my wife's birthday. The end result was that we had a truly great time for the whole week, and it was hard to find anything to criticise.
embarkation was a dream. We arrived dockside at 3.30 pm, and by 5 pm we were in our room with our luggage - having booked shore excursions, and dinners in the speciality restaurants, as well as attending boat drill. The cabin was clean and comfortable. Although there was not a lot of room, it was more than adequate, with everything we needed, and the balcony outside topped things off.
The first night on board, we came back after dinner to find a complimentary bottle of Champagne and a large bowl of fruit for my wife's birthday next day. As far as the food was concerned, we found it generally to be of a good standard, and enjoyed the constant supply of fresh fruit. We tended to go for meals an hour or so after starting times, and seemed to avoid long queues that way. The speciality restaurants were uniformly excellent, and well worth the surcharge. At the freestyle restaurants, the menus were fairly constant but there was enough variety within each menu, we felt, especially as you could alternate the restaurant nights with buffet nights, and mix things up. The longest we had to wait for a restaurant seat was 30 min. Our name was taken, we went off and had a drink and came back to be seated straight away.
We enjoyed the wide variety of entertainment. The shows in the theatre were of a good standard, although the sound was a bit too high at times. Everybody enjoyed other activities like the karaoke and the quizzes. There seemed to be every opportunity to do as much or as little as you wanted.
The shore excursions were great, and we were amazed at the variety of things on offer. They were more expensive than similar prices on shore, but I felt it was probably worth the extra to be hassle free. We only had one occasion where there was a delay getting various parties off the ship, which we thought was pretty good considering the logistics of moving 2000 people around. I was amazed the attitude of some people when confronted with minor delays - they seemed to think the staff had taken out a personal vendetta against them. Incidentally we found all the crew to be friendly, courteous and helpful.
This was our first cruise, and we really felt we had had a great time. We would have no hesitation in recommending it to our friends. It would seem to me that NCL has got its act together on this cruise. Either that or some people are very hard to please.