We just got home from our first Norwegian cruise line. We have previously sailed on Celebrity. This cruise we were sailing with our 4 children ages 13, 15, 17, and 20, as well as my parents (in their 60's). This was Thanksgiving week so the boat was full. Embarkation was excellent we arrived at 11 am and were on the boat by 11:20 am. The boat is huge. Day one was a bit chaotic. Trying to use the elevators was ridiculous. There are 8 elevators on the front of the ship and 8 on the back. It was very crowded and people were discouraged. After day one we all were a bit more familiar with the ship and the elevator situation calmed down.
Restaurants: while on the ship eating at Cagney's is a must! Excellent food and service. Carlo's bakery is good too. We loved the White and Dark Chocolate mousse cakes, and the lobster tail pastry, they were delicious! We also tried eating at Taste and Savor, the complimentary dining rooms, the service was terrible and extremely slow. It took two hours to eat! The Tropicana Room which is also complimentary was a better choice. Better quality of staff, nicer environment, there's music and dancing. Just very nice overall. We also liked O'Sheehan's Bar, they have great burgers and chicken pot pies. I would not recommend eating at the Italian restaurant La Cucina. Everyone we talked to on board said they were very disappointed with it and it was empty most of the time. So I think people are on to it. The Garden Cafe was okay (the buffet open all day). The breakfast is much better at the Flamingo bar and grill on deck 16. The Garden Cafe wasn't horrible. If you like Golden Corral then you will like the Garden Cafe. Overall the general food menus at the complimentary restaurants were so so. Not much variety and the food and desserts were whelming as many other cruisers mentioned. We really enjoyed the staff and people in Tropicana room and ate there 3 of the 7 nights. If you like a red wine the bottle of North South blend is excellent according to my parents. Not a wine drinker but they ended up getting a bottle every night because they liked it so much. I will note that the extra charges for better desserts, 1.50 -2.00 arcade games, 5.00 for bowling and it wasn't even a full size bowling alley etc. was a bit much. I really feel like we were nickel and dimed to death!
There were lots of fun activities on board. We loved the cruised director and his staff. Adam the assistant cruise director was our favorite. Very down to earth and friendly. There was always something going on. IF you want to watch any comedy shows or shows where you have to reserve a spot. I would recommend doing it as soon as you get there. On Day two when we went to sign up for shows. None were available. We were super disappointed because we love comedians and didn't see a single one while on the ship because all spots were full. Entourage the teen area was fun for my youngest. She had a blast -lots of dancing and funny activities planned for the teens. Bring some fun accessories for 50's and 60's dance party as well as the 70's thru the 90's- each night they had a different party but the 80's was the best! The kids loved the glow party so bring a casual all white outfit so you can glow when they put on the black lights! The ropes course was cool my son loved that and the climbing wall.