Let me start by saying I think I found out that I am NOT a freestyle person. But more on that later. The ship was pretty, and portions well laid out. Other areas (see casino note below) were unacceptable. Who designed a ship where you walk through a smoking area?
9 people, 2 families. kids ages 13-20
What I loved: - Fat Cats - amazing. - 2nd City-again, very very funny, top quality entertainment - Embarkation - never so fast or easy. - Muster drill - OMG -under 10 minutes, all in A/C, no life jackets. - O'Sheehans - what a great concept. Loved it. - Always found lounge chairs at the pool - Photo gallery- well thought out, face recognition helped a great deal
What I hated: - Why MUST I walk through the smoking section of a casino to get anywhere on Deck 6 or the smoke which drifts up to deck 7 - The room - a section to itself (see below) - Dining-another section to itself - Nickel and diming. $5 to bowl per person. $5 for pizza room service. $5 for a spin class (!!!), $1 for soda delivery to room if you had a card. Charged for using the air hockey table! Give me a cruise price and let me pay for true extras (excursions, spa, alcohol, gaming) - Pool area. Are you kidding? Smaller amount of pool than on RCCL Voyager class for 4100 people. You had to stand up and not move IF you could find a place. Insane and unacceptable. I found the pushing of drinks EVERY 5 mins very annoying. - Epic theatre: Poorly designed, many bad side seats, and it seemed MUCH smaller than most ships
The other things (not loved or hated) The 'marketing' issue: Don't tell me you have batting cages IF they are only put up for 2 hours a day and only in port, in the sports court. Don't tell me you have ice skating if there is a piece of plastic to slide on occasionally. Don't tell me there is an Ice Bar on ship BUT forget to tell me you have to reserve in advance and you get shut out by day 2. . Etc, etc. Also,Spice H2O always had kids there, and they actually showed the bow camera leaving Cozumel on the screen. The pool (?) is a joke, the area has lots of potential if NCL can figure it out and utilize it better.
Dining: Main Dining rooms very average, wait staff seemed adequate at best. 5 standard main dishes, and 3 specials every night. Sorry, but Tom Turkey is not a special. Quality of the food average. I think the idea is to up-price you to specialty dining. After paying $25 for dinner per person for specialty dining on a cruise, I don't expect to pay ANOTHER $10 for a special there (like surf and turf). Food at Cagneys and LaCucina were wonderful and worth it, Bistro - ok. Tappanyaki was poor, tight. Shangai was very good, but not very good Chinese food. In other words,I really liked the food, but it was totally not Chinese food! Which is fine.
The room: Translucent shower/toilet not the issue. The issue is you cannot take a shower (or anything else) if one member of you family is out of the room or risk being seen by anyone in the hall upon their return. It is the first thing you see when you open the cabin door. The room (Balcony) at 216 ft seemed SO MUCH smaller than the RCCL balconies at 220. They are laid out terribly. Had to climb over the bed every time to get to the balcony. Bed it too short-even for my 5'1" wife. The curved wall is a stupid waste of space.
Too much work for me. If I reserve 7 people for the murder mystery I should not have to get there 30 mins early to get us sitting together. They should have a table of 7 reserved. Arriving 40 mins early to every show to get decent seats was bad. Having to reserve and decide what you were doing when before you cruised was the only way to ensure you got into what you wanted. That doesn't sound freestyle to me.
The guest relations area seemed ill equipped
I think I like someone telling me I have dinner at 6:30 and a show at 8:30 and there will be room for me. I like my waiter knowing me and me tipping them (generously) for that 'extra something' you get on a cruise.
One final note - Don't disembark at 8:30 - 30 mins for an elevator to wait another 40 mins on line. This was to 'card' off of the ship. Immigration and Customs were a breeze