We loved the itinerary and the price was right, so having sailed previously with other cruise lines (Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania) we decided to give Norwegian a try. BIG mistake!
On the upside, the ship's public areas were spotless, some of the featured entertainment was excellent, most of the staff was very friendly & helpful, and our one meal at a specialty restaurant (Papa's Italian) was really quite good. Unfortunately, multiple problems both big and small made this a cruise line we would NEVER recommend to anyone:
-- Spare blankets and pillows stored underneath the couch had disgusting brown stains on them.
-- Cleaning out the coffee pot, the housekeeper spilled coffee on the floor of the bathroom and didn't bother cleaning it up.
-- The coffee pot didn't fit the coffee maker so we had to manually hold it in place for several minute for the coffee to drain out of the filter chamber.
-- The main dining rooms (especially Alizar) were always understaffed, so service was always extremely slow.
-- Meal quality in the dining room ranged from very good to poor. Beef Wellington was WAY too salty, and the chef often got entire recipes wrong (e.g. chicken piccata is made with lemon and capers, not tomato sauce).
-- Many bars lacked basic amenities, such as salty snacks.
-- Paniolo Tapas and Salsa restaurant offered neither tapas nor salsa. No chips and salsa, not even during "Margarita Madness" -- and after buying a round of drinks and sitting at one of the tables, the restaurant manager kicked us out at 5:30 saying he needed to open for dinner (even though the restaurant was completely empty and he didn't have any customers waiting).
-- After a late night out prior to our one day at sea, we decided to have a late breakfast the next morning at Blue Lagoon as the Grand Pacific dining room was already closed and the Grand Buffet was a total zoo. Unfortunately, midway through our otherwise quiet meal a sales presentation (for the new NCL Epic) started down in The Atrium, with audio blasted at an overly loud level throughout the entire open space.
-- Seats in the big theater were small, hard and uncomfortable, and for some inexplicable reason the drink holders were placed at floor level on the back of the seats in front of us.
-- The ship's decor has never been updated even though it's now been years since it was pulled out of Hawaii.
-- There were several large cracks in the plastic (fiberglass?) bathtub in our cabin.
-- The Grand Buffet was almost always incredibly crowded (far more so than on other ships we've sailed), to the point that people are always bumping into one another.
-- On this Western Mediterranean itinerary, NCL is actively marketing to Europeans. As a result, smokers are almost everywhere -- from the outdoor public areas to the balconies up and down the length of the ship. At the Great Outdoors in particular, smokers though nothing of grabbing tables in (and bringing their ashtrays to) the non-smoking area once all of the tables in the smoking area were completely filled.
Bottom line: while there were several nice moments on board throughout the cruise, the overall experience was ruined with the kind of problems we have never before experienced on any other mid-priced cruise line. Maybe it's okay for first-time cruisers who don't know any better, but we strongly recommend staying away from NCL!