Feb '10 I cruised w/RCI to Mex Riveria for my 40th B'day - LOVED IT!
Dec '10 I cruised w/Princess to Mex Riv for a friend's wedding - liked it.
Mar '11 I cruised w/NCL to W. Caribbean and it was awful.
The fact there were a slew of college kids being over-served (alcohol) and vomiting was not the worst part of the trip. Dealing with the front desk, no beverage service on the sun-deck, mediocre food, and a general lack of communication were the issues that upset me the most.
On my last 2 trips, RCI & Princess split the on-board credit equally between cabin mates BEFORE WE BOARDED. NCL not only missed this step, but when asked to do so said "We can't." When I informed them other cruise lines are able to do this a curt "Which cruise lines?" was the reply.
At no fault of NCL, the ship was diverted due to a medical emergency. The ship docked 10 hours late. What NCL COULD have done to help the situation is communicate alternatives, offer assistance with changing travel arrangements, free up more than 5 laptops for a ship of 2000 passengers.
The ship pulled into the 1st port late. Captain's fault. We were told "due to high winds we could not dock" tho other ships were docking.
What we weren't told is: NCL could have hired tender boats to come get us (as they were planned to do in our 2nd port, Belize, where the winds were no calmer.
What we weren't told is: the ship makes more money where we're at sea than when we're in port. So we cruised on to Belize and the Capt offered 20% off at the Premium Restaurants (making more money for the ship).
We pulled in late the the next 3 ports. At each port we returned to the ship famished but found only tacky little finger sandwiches and ice cream at the buffet. Really? Was this the 1st cruised where passengers returned from an active day ready to replenish?
The dining experience was underwhelming, starting with the menu. Though I have traveled through Europe & Mexico and am something of a foodie - each night on my RCI cruise there was a menu item I had to ask questions about (and the experienced waiter answered every question), there was nothing special on NCL's menus. The down-side to "freestyle cruising" is you don't get the same wait-staff every night; and since the line takes their tip out of your account AUTOMATICALLY, they don't work as hard for tips. I prefer to hand my tip to my wait-staff at the end of the cruise; I also tipped higher to the RCI staff than what Princess & NCL decided to take.
Embarkation was fine. Disembarkation was a night-mare (unless you have a desire to be herded like cattle). Ridiculous lack of communication.
The Stateroom was fine. The bathroom could have been better-lit.
The Entertainment was mostly mediocre. The dancers were excellent, but the singers were awful. The Aussie boyband needs to learn how to play disco if there is to be a 70s night. The Filipino couple in Champagne Charlie's was superb, tho.
In summary, I will NEVER spend another dime w/NCL and will do my best to redirect friends toward a better cruise line.
AND A NOTE RE: NOLA CAB DRIVERS:
They're shady. They quote you a price to a destination, then tell you they cannot get TO you destination due to traffic and want to let you out blocks away and expect you to pay the full fare. Then, once you've drug your luggage through the streets you reach your destination (hotel, cruise line) and see that there are other cabs driving up to your destination.
From the airport to the hotel I fell for it. but from the hotel to the port I wised up and refused to pay the agreed price if he weren't taking me to the agreed location.