Embarkation, after a taxi from Barcelona Airport (half the price of NCL bus!), took merely minutes and we were on board before cabins were available - so we took advantage of lunch in Blue Lagoon, a 24/7 cafe.
The cabin was beautifully clean and well presented. Cabin steward was courteous, friendly and efficient. It was a delight to get reports from the bridge over the PA, and the Finnish captain was friendly and kept us regularly informed (whereas with MSC we never heard from the captain, and feel he may not have sailed with us!)
DINING was a delight, and better than we experienced on Jewel or Jade. Using mainly the free dining rooms (Alizar and Grand Pacific) for dinner each evening, service was excellent, menu selection was good, and food was produced quickly, beautifully cooked and well presented! The Brazilian diner was an extra cost restaurant - but was worth the $20 surcharge for the different dining experience! As on other NCL ships, the Garden Cafe buffet was More
exceptionally good, with great variety, and only modest quantities being on display (to prevent drying out), but topped up continually! Always courteous friendly service ... And an exceptional attention at all times and in all dining rooms to passengers being made to use hand sanitizer! Sincere congratulations to the head chef for his superb food!
DRINKS on this ship the bar service was less high pressured than on Gem or Jewel, waiters were around when required and service was great. Sadly, prices were rather high (especially wines at dinner), and whilst adding 15% is tolerable for waiter service, I deeply resented going to the bar to get a dring, and still getting a 15% surcharge for self service!
ENTERTAINMENT ... The best of any ship I have been on! Frequently full houses for both shows each evening, and variety, polish and presentation were excellent! Shows ran for at least 45 min. And the star show 'Elements' was a breathtaking tribute to Cirque du Soleil, mixed with magic and live music! Better than brilliant!!! ...and almost 75 mins!
... And the technicians who 'operated' the theatre deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism, changing lavish 'sets' each day ... And never a slip in their presentations! (again, on MSC a lavish theatre seemed to have one amateur operator, and one show was only 12 mins!)
On the down side, the shore excursions seemed expensive, but in most ports, busses operated free or for token charges into the towns, and the hop-on hop-off City Tour busses were great for getting round the towns (Funchal, Teneriffe, Lanzarotte and Malaga). Yes, as reported in another review, bags were x-rayed, but NCL seem very security conscious - and I thank them for that!
Altogether, FREESTYLE cruising (formality optional and not essential) works well for me! The lack of tipping (daily cabin surcharge) means the staff are friendly and efficient ... Great food, great entertainment, it all made it a great holiday for me! Thanks NCL! Less