Being a European woman, travelling on her own, I was delighted to find this NCL cruise-promotion. For hardly no money at all, I had booked myself this trip on the Eastern part of the Mediterranean (Venice - Dubrovnik - Athens - Izmir - Naphlion). I had travelled on the Norwegian Gem before, so I knew about the fabulous service, the never ending buffets and the advantages of freestyle cruising.
Needless to say I had a wonderful time on board.
What struck me most on this trip, was the professionalism of the staff: housekeeping staff & waiters greeting you by your first name, cruise assistants helping you out with all kinds of questions, handling the logistic part of excursions, etc.
What I appreciate on cruises, is that there is always something to do, and that you can look into the program the day ahead. A lot of the activities may have a semi-commercial purpose, or have a raffle to make them more attractive, but you never have to get bored.
For a non US citizen, travelling with an American cruise line is somehow exotic. It's not that there is a true culture clash, but life on board doesn't always compare to the European habits... Passengers seem a little "overprotected". For instance, washing gel to disinfect your hands is available at all of the ships restaurants, entrances, etc. Still there are members of the staff standing next to the dispensers spraying that same fluid on your hands. Why not let passengers take their own responsibility? The "washy washy" phrase that goes with the spraying is fun the first time you hear it, but after a few days, you get really bored with it.
If I had to point out 1 thing that could have made my life on board more easy, I would say that more attention could go to single travelers. Although I feel very comfortable travelling by myself, dining all alone is not the most pleasant activity. And since there are lots of people travelling by themselves on freestyle cruises, situations like these can be helped with hardly no extra care at all. By proposing to open a shared table at a restaurant when someone asks for a table for one, for instance. Especially the first few days of the cruise, this can be very helpful.
Would I plan this trip again, knowing what I know now? Yes, I certainly would, especially if the same persons I have made contact with, are once again on board (thank you Peter for your charming company)!