Let's get right to it. DW and I, Mother and Father, MIL and FIL and Brother and his Friend had 4 adjoining inside rooms on Deck 9. I booked this cruise as a gift for my mother's 60th birthday, and purchased everyone's rooms. This was my first NCL cruise, having been on Celebrity, Princess, HAL and Carnival for longer cruises previously. We favor Celebrity with HAL a close second. My wife and MIL had a very bad experience years ago on NCL when they allowed a ship that was to be retired to make its last 4 cruises with engine troubles and missed ports. In this day and age, a cruise line could not do that without websites like this keeping them in check, but those were the days, as they say. So I convinced them to give NCL another try.
We live in Central NJ, so we drove to the terminal, arriving at approx. 10:30 a.m. and parked with ease. We were one of the first to check in before they moved the computers behind the x-ray machines, so we were on the ship as soon as they allowed boarding, approx. 11:45 a.m.
We ignored the rather insistent NCL employee shuffling the rest of the unsuspecting passengers to Raffles, and thanks to the good advice on this board, took our luggage to Windows to eat lunch after we made dinner reservations at Cagney's for 6pm (we later went to explore the ship and looked at the buffet upstairs -- needless to say, Windows was a GOOD choice). The food was OK, nothing great -- in fact, it was lukewarm, but tasty. The service, IMHO, sucked. Our waiter was just going through the motions, could not be bothered to smile and just didn't want to be there, serving people. If he were my waiter for 7 days, I would not have been happy.