Embarkation at Los Angeles was a nightmare. It took 2 hours to get through check in and on board. I understand the ship had customs problems when it came into the port so everything was delayed.
This was our first time on NCL. We have sailed Royal Caribbean primarily. My mother cannot walk far distances so we rented a scooter from Care Vacations. This was a great idea, as she was able to get everywhere on the ship with ease. The scooter fit easily into our mini-suite, just parked it in the entry hallway.
The suite was large enough for 3 adults. The couch pulled out to a bed, but was very hard. We asked our steward to bring foam for the bed. He said the foam was only for the single beds. Instead he brought another comforter to put under the sheet. This helped a little.
We were worried about the pre-paid gratuity, but found the room stewards quite accomadating and friendly. Most waiters were friendly. We did encounter bad service at the Summer palace dining room. The garden cafe, great outdoors, blue lagoon all had average food. It was basic buffet food. Indigo had better food and service over the Summer Palace. We also ate at two speciality resteraunts (Teppanaki) was not worth the cover charge of $25.00. Miso soup had no flavor. Shrimp and steak was average. Cagneys was worth the $25.00. Definately a must DO.
I purchases the spa package for $119 for the week to use the hydro pools, heated beds, saunas. Not sure it was worth it, but provided a nice place to be since we didn't have long days in the ports. Also the cold weather outside added to wanting to be warm. The hydro pool, however, was suppose to be at 97 degrees and for the last 3 days it was too cold. People complained, but to no avail. Also it was quite crowded in the afternoons. They claim to have a limited number of spots so they push you to purchase the plan on the first day. On day 4 they were still pushing this service.
I also purchsed a spa package on day 4 for $99.00 (Body Scrub, back/shoulder/scalp massage and mini facial. The body scrub was no product just running a brush along the body. The rest of the service was good, but they really push the products at the end. Even after I said I wasn't going to buy anything, she kept going on about what I needed for my skin.
Wait until later in the week to book services, because each day, they got cheaper.
We opted to bring our own wine on board and pay the corkage. There is no limit to the number of bottles. You just pay $15.00 corkage fee. We paid it up front and brought all 14 bottles to our room. Sometimes we opened them in our room and other times, took to dinner/casino. They will keep them cold, but you can walk around anywhere with your own wine. Just put it in your carry on. They did see it on the scanner and directed us to the person to pay the cork fee. This enabled us to have no bar tab!!! The corkage fee is worth it, because our wine was $7-9 bottles. The cheapest one on ship is $35.
The shows were Ok, but we really enjoyed Second City. Casino was very smokey and stingy on the payouts, but that is to be expected.
Overall, we prefer Royal Caribbean, because we like the traditional dining experience. Unless you wanted to eat in the main dining rooms right when they opened (5:00 ish) there was a wait.
The captain (Lars) rocked however!!!! Very humorous with his announcements.
We opted to carry our own luggage off the ship in Vancouver, because we had a 12:00 flight. This was so easy and we were off the ship and in a cab by 8:20.