This was my 8th cruise and first time on Norwegian. I've done RCCL 3 times, Celebrity 2 times, Carnival 1 time, Princess 1 time. Also the first time I am writing a review. I am a 31 yr old single male from New Jersey who loves cruising and found a good deal for a balcony cabin out of NYC so I booked it.
Embarkation: If you are going to the mid-town port from NY I highly recommend doing what I did which was take NY waterway from Weehawkin. It costs $210 for the week to park at the pier. Between parking and the ferry, it cost me $97, and only pleasant 10 minute (8 block) walk along 12th Ave. I got there early, about 10:45, checking in went quick and smooth, and sat in the waiting room. We were able to board at 11:30, after exploring went to Tsar's palace for a nice lunch. I highly recommend using Tsar's for lunch as all week there was practically nobody there and you got great service. The buffet is usually crowded.
Food: I'm not too picky. I thought at worst it was ok and at best very good. There wasn't anythng I ate the whole week that I did not like or was not cooked properly (except maybe the lobster on the 2nd night but it is typical for cruise lobster to be tough). Beef was cooked fine and how you asked which contradicts other reviews I read which said it comes out well done no matter what. That being said they are not very abitious with their menu offerings. It's pretty basic but that's ok. I guess if you want a bit more gourmet you go on Celebrity. Because of the Freestyle concept the service is more informal but it is much quicker than other ships. Typically dinner is 1:00 - 1:30, whereas on other lines it's usually over 2 hours.
I did breakfast buffet most of the time which I thought was very good with a good selection. NCL's bread is absolutely to die for! Lunch buffet also good but I like to keep it simple with sandwich's and fries/salad. I split between Tsar's and the buffet for lunch. I did not do the buffet for dinner.
For specialty dining I did Teppenyaki habachi and Tango's Mexican. Teppenyaki was a lot of fun and good for me since it was a group seating as opposed to eating solo at Tsar's. Food was good, about the same as any habachi in the US, and for $25 it cost about the same. I had filet and shrimp which was very good and green tea cake and green tea ice cream. Ok so with tip maybe $35 or so. Tango's was just ok, fine for $10, if any more I would have been disappointed. Most of the appetizers are greasy. I had the lobster tacos which were ok but the lobster meat was buried under a gloppy cream sauce and I wouldn't even have been able to identify it was lobster if it didn't say so on the menu. You get a margarita included which is about the size of a shot glass. Cinammon chocolate cake was delicious!
Ship: Decor is cheap and tacky, goofy cheap colors. Believe me this has no bearing on my enjoyment of the cruise. I just have a lot to compare to. Royal Carribean has the best and most beautiful ships. My biggest complaint of the entire vacation was the pool set up which I believe is typical for NCL. There is a main pool area with a pool and 2 hot tubs for kids/families, and same for adults. This is no where near big enough for a ship of this size. If you want to spend time around the pool during the day, think MTV spring break. People literally on top of each other and music absolutely blasting. Fortunately for me, I have fair skin and only use the pool after about 5:00 when it is less crowded and the music thankfully stops at 5:30. NCL could completely solve this by adding what RCCL has which is the quiet adult only "solarium" pool on each ship. On RCCL this is one of my favorite parts. In a separate area from the loud pool area and feels like a Turkish bath.
Activities: Clearly they need to supplement their cash flow with many activities with a fee. Everyday there are multiple "tasting" sessions with food. I really can't comment on this because it didn't do it. They have the usual trivia and games but I would like to see more free activities.
Entertainment: There was a comedian magician, a "do-opp" group, and production shows. The magician and do opp group performed in multiple evening shows which cut their costs but there was less variety. However I enjoyed both of them so didn't mind, but if you expect a completely different show each night you will be disappointed.
Cabin: I had a balcony for the first time on the 10th deck. Very nice and well kept, cabin service 3 times per day. I loved sitting on the balcony and watching the ocean go by. Room service on the balcony was great. Need a bigger table out there though. I was alone in the room so I had plenty of space but I can imagine 2 in a room would feel cramped, I used pretty much all of the drawer space and most of the closet space. Here is one tip though! They offered a laundry special of $25 for an entire bag, which I didn't do because I didn't need it but it I do NCL again I will pack less and take advantage of that mid-week.
Cape Canaveral - nothing to do unless you do an excertion or take a shuttle to cocoa beach. I did the airboat which was fun but as always a bit overpriced.
Great Stirrup Cay - nice but small beach. You MUST get to the photo gallery early to get a ticket for the 1st or 2nd tender. There are not enough beach chairs for everybody. They do a BBQ on the beach which is great, plenty of seating to eat. Basic stuff, burgers/dogs/chicken/sides/salads.
Nassau - 3rd time here, not a big fan. Walked around a bit and went to Senor Frogs. It was a fun party atmosphere.
Experience: As I mentioned I did travel alone and although I was there to just kick back and enjoy myself, I would like to have met some people. I felt like the only single on the ship. It was dominated by families and couples. They had 2 "events" for singles (which basicly meant NCL suggests a place and time and they expect people to just show up and talk, there is absolutely nothing about it that is organized). I went to both but clearly I was the only one there for it. Maybe the Epic will be better for me next time I decide to travel solo. As I mentioned earlier, I was eating solo in the main dining room all but one night when I met a couple. They don't do big tables, you sit down and eat with your party. And while that is what most people would prefer, including myself if I was traveling with others, it is not good for a solo traveler.
Here is the best thing about the entire cruise (depending on your point of view). Dress code is NON-EXISTANT! I packed 2 pairs of kakis and 2 pairs of jeans but didn't need them at all. Some guys wore gym shorts and tank tops for dinner! NCL's attitude is that is YOUR vacation and you wear what you want. That is more than fine with me. I was comfortable wearing Kakis shorts and polo shirts for dinner. Keep this in mind when packing.
Overall: I had a great time. No it's not up to RCCL or Celebrity's level of food/ship quality/service, but still quite good and great for laid back families with kids who don't want to dress up. For the right price I would do NCL again, but all things equal my favority is still RCCL.