My cruise history: Relative newcomer. 2003 - NCL Majesty from Boston to Bermuda [Inside cabin; deck 4] 2007 - NCL Pearl from Miami to Cozumel and Belize [Balcony] 2010 - NCL Spirit from Boston to Bermuda [this review; Taurus suite, room 10008] We departed Friday 28-May and returned 4-June.
On-board shops: I'm not a big shopper, but realize this is important to many people. The shops are smaller and fewer than those on the newer Pearl. The liquor store is practically cramped. Overall people seemed pleased with the selection of goods, liquor , and jewelry.
Restaurants: There are plenty of free/included restaurants, and restaurants with cover charges. The only type restaurant that seems to be missing is a Mexican restaurant. We ate at Le Bistro (twice) , Shogun, Cagneys, Windows (both Main and Garden), and the Bier Garten. We thought the food was great everywhere we ate. On one night we attended the "Taste of India". It was fantastic.
Wine and Beer: Good selections.
Mixed drinks: The ones available at the pool or in the lounges or at shows. One word describes them best: WEAK. They tasted good, but to me seemed not to have much (if any) alcohol.
Gym & Spa: Decent. The Pearl's gym was much bigger and much better. I got a body composition analysis. The info was nice, but the staff seemed very interested in selling me an algae program that would have cost $800 [to lose seven pounds]. I had been looking forward to those heated chaise-lounges that were on the Pearl.
Entertainment: Second City television was great. The acrobats from Poland were fantastic. The other stuff at the Stardust Theatre was standard fare. As other reviews have indicated, the Cruise Director thinks he is funny; he is not. We walked out of the tribute to Rock & Roll music. The singers and piano players at mid deck (Champagne Charlies etc.) were very nice to listen to. [I wish Peter James had been there]
Gambling: I'm not a big gambler. I just play poker. The casino looked like any other casino to me. I can't really comment on it.
Art Gallery: Some fantastic paintings. Auctions are fun. Free champagne too. My wife wanted to attend the auctions. I'm both happy and sad we did, because we actually bought some art.
Service: Here's where we were blown away. The week before we left, my wife received a call offering us an upgrade to a suite for another $350. She decided to accept. Those of you who have had suites might remember what it's like to be a first-timer. We were stunned by the attentiveness and customer service.
Our suite was one of the 18 serviced by Bruce van der Boon, the concierge. Check the NCL site for the floor plan and amenities. Trust me---it is fantastic. We had a welcoming bottle of champagne; hors d'ouevres every day; the best seats at shows and restaurants; we were let into the chocoholic buffet ahead of the crowd, and had five minutes to take pictures of the chocolate creations. They did everything for us. They made my wife and I feel special.
BTW, Everyone remembers Bruce, but don't forget the butler and steward. Our butler was Naveen, and our steward was Mariano. They were fantastic as well.
This cruise was a birthday cruise for me, and the NCL team made it a memorable one.