We arrived in New Orleans on Friday for a cruise on Sunday. We got an excellent deal on the rooms and I can't say enough good things about the Drury Inn and Suites. Their breakfast and evening meals were great. Our group had a great time while we were there.
We had never been to New Orleans so it was a great chance to see Bourbon St. We even did a walking tour on Saturday and stopped at Cafe Dumond.
Now for the cruise itself.
Embarkation was OK. The only negative is that the procedure is very confusing. We were given numbers as we came in and when your number was called you went to check in. Then you went to a holding room. We were one of the first in the terminal and when they started calling people to board they called several letters first and people that had gotten there much later than us got on before us. I am not sure what the process is but it did not seem to make sense. NCL had the staterooms ready as soon as you board. This was a refreshing change from Carnival where we normally have to drag around our carry on luggage for a couple of hours. The next thing I will say is luggage delivery was very early and that allowed us to be unpacked before the muster drill.
I said that this was probably the wrong ship and I say that for a couple of reasons. I will start with the room. This balcony cabin was much smaller than any we have ever had. The room was nice but there were several problems such as incomplete carpet work that was done, large crack in the shower tile, one of the bedside lamps did not work. None of this had any affect on the good time we were all having.
The Ship itself is very cut up, getting around was a bit of a challenge for some things but all in all the major drawback is the size of the ship. The casino was very small and if you wanted to play the slots you better get there early because they filled up fast.
Food: We have cruised many times and the quality of food on this cruise was a bit lacking. I know that food is a very subjective thing but a lot of the items seemed to be repeated and the variety was lacking in the main dining rooms. I think that this is probably a plan on their part to get you into the upcharge restaurants. We tried cagneys and it was ok. I was expecting to be blown away but my steak was over cooked and my wife had a Filet that was kind of tough. I would like to echo the comments of another reviewer. GO TO BLUE LAGOON. The wings were great and we had a great time in there with friends. We determined that Free Style Dining is great for small groups but for a group the size of ours it just did not work. We always had to wait for a table no matter the number of us there. At the Garden Dining Room they give you pagers like they do in a land based restaurant. Dinner seemed to take longer due to the freestyle aspect of it because the kitchen staff is constantly switching from appetizers to entres and back again. I think formal dining times are better and get the food moving faster. We did Raffles for breakfast every morning and it was a lively place to be. "Chocolate Cake" was a fixture of our morning and his constant calling out of "Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey"
Service: For the most part the staff we encountered were great. Everyone was very friendly and when a request was made it was promptly taken care of. The problem was that in our cabin we had to request towels or robes several times and those should be automatic. Our room steward was really good about towel animals. These are one of my favorite parts of cruising and we averaged 2 different ones a day.
Entertainment: The only show I saw was the Magic Show and it was not very good. A lot of slight of hand but no real great tricks. The Band on the pool deck was GREAT!!! One thing that is a huge plus for this ship is no Jumbo Tron so the band played more on this ship than most I can remember. Karaoke was done at the bier garten and that is outside above the pool. We went once and it was not as much fun as being in an intimate bar setting in my opinion. The only other comment I have for this area is that everything started late. Most things like Karaoke or the piano bar started after both of the shows let out. So if you did not go to a show there was not much to do until 10pm.
I have to say that any cruise is a good cruise. It was 75-80 every day and it was cold at home. I also think that you can let little things ruin a good time if you want to. None of the things I have listed prevented us from having a good time. I think NCL has done the most it can possibly do with this small ship. I give them credit for that, but I think that the focus on the upsell restaurants is a little over the top.