I have not taken many cruises, but I knew that meals were included and alcoholic drinks were not. From the minute we boarded the ship, we were nickle and dimed to death. There was an additional charge of $1.50 for coffee at the bar, as it was "special" coffee. The advertised "world famous" milkshakes at the Cadillac diner were another $3.50. Of the 12 restaurants, 7 were "specialty restaurants", where there was an additional charge of $10 to $25 per plate. We dined at one of the restaurants that charged an addiontal $25 one evening, but decided the food was no better than in the regular restaurants. Wine with dinner will increase the cost by a miniumum of $30 a bottle. Drinks in the bar, oddly enough, were fairly reasonably priced.
Service was fair to poor in the restaurants and the cabins, even though an additional $12 gratuity per day per person was charged to our bill.
When NCL x-rayed the checked luggage prior to boarding and discovered any item they thought was suspect, from manicure scissors to a bottle of wine, they left a letter for the guests outside their cabins late in the afternoon to come down to deck 3 to have the suspect item confiscated before releasing the bags. Two in our party had to wait with approx. 200 other passengers in a hot, uncomfortable space for over an hour for this process to be completed. Needless to say, NCL staff were dealing with very cranky guests and had to listen to a lot of complaints. Guests then had to take the bags to their rooms themselves.
NCL will allow you to bring your own wine on board when you are at a port, but will confiscate it and return it to you for a $15 corkage fee. When our wine was delivered and we asked that the cork be removed (that's what corkage means), the steward was quite surpirsed, as he had brought us a cheap corkscrew to use.
Three of the four ports at which NCL docked were in industrial areas. Free shuttles were available to take guests to Walmart, Target or Hilo Hatties (a sourvenir shop). There were no taxis or other shuttles at these ports and we can go to Walmart or Target at home and one visit to Hilo Hatties is plenty. We had arranged private tours on Kauai and Maui, so were able to see interesting things on these islands without resorting to the ship's shore excursions, which were overpriced.
We only went to the entertainment one evening, but were disappointed that it seemed to be stuck in a 50s timewarp/