This 21 Day Mediterranean cruise was our 10th with NCL. We have had some issues with NCL over the past few cruises, mostly related to cleanliness of cabins (we had a mini suite and an inside cabin for our kids that was across the hall), and to what seems to be an effort by NCL to keep costs low by cutting things, or charging extra for amenities.
Our two sons, 12 and 16, have been cruising since they were quite young, and are very familiar with NCL's teen and children's programs. It is one of the big selling factors for us, as it always is top-notch. Our boys are expected by us to behave themselves (i.e. not running amok and being an annoyance to others), and we have never really had any problems with NCL's policies regarding children. The only issues we had with this cruise in this area was with the director of the teen program--a young man who seemed to have a perpetual case of PMS. He threw many "hissy fits" at the teens over stupid things. On his off days, a kids club woman had none of these issues with the kids, and my older son, who was in the teen program, enjoyed his time with this female leader. It was apparent to myself and other involved parents that the male leader also gave blatant preference to South American teens (he was from S.A. himself). Regardless, not a huge problem, but annoying nonetheless.
We had a consistent issue with the cabin stewards, which we tried to resolve with them on multiple occasions, then with the hotel manager. Now, I'm not that picky, but our room was quite dirty. For example, we found pistachio shells under the bed (not ours), snot on the mirror in the living area, and the room was never cleaned before mid afternoon and not turned down until after 9pm. We removed some of our gratuities as a result.
The ports were great, things went very smoothly. We did a few tours with NCL and others we did on our own. The tours we did with NCL were excellent, except for being dragged to whatever store/business the guide wanted us to, at the end of the tour, often getting hard sell on things like Turkish rugs.
The shows were excellent, and had a good amount of variety. Glad to see the restaurants have expanded the menu some.
As far as the cutting corners thing, most of it is in relation to the restaurants. They have way too many pay restaurants, and the buffet is not a 24 hour, and has frequent points during the day where it is closed. This is a serious issue NCL would do well to address. The pay restaurants can also gouge you. For example, my family went to Cagney's, and it was over $125 (and my 12 year old ate nothing on the on Cagney's menu, just chicken nuggets from the main NCL menu, which they charged us $13 for).
The spa "membership" should be cheaper, although the facilities were very nice.
We had a bit of a fuss over illnesses on the cruise. At two points, all food was being served by staff (i.e. you needed to get them to put all items on your plate, even in the buffet). Many people whined about this, but I guess I'd rather have them do that than get sick. Also, the "disinfecting" they were doing all throughout the cruise involved staff spraying everything with these big sprayers that resembled garden pest sprayers. I'm not sure if maybe breathing in all that is healthy. They did it in the cabins too.
Overall, a great cruise, I don't think I'd do 21 days again, but still a good time