We joined our son and daughter in law on this cruise and other than being on Norwegian in Hawaii, we always have chosen to cruise with either Crystal and Celebrity. We were hesitant to take this cruise because of many negative comments posted on the boards.
As always a cruise experience is what you make it.
Embarkation in Athens - We were approached by the concierge so our embarkation was ultra-smooth, but we noticed that there were very long lines for others. This was at approximately 2:30 P.M. We were very pleased that our butler materialized to take us to our room. We always travel in the top category on every ship and usually we have to fend for ourselves. This was a pleasant experience.
Cabins - We had a Garden Villa as my husband is a large person and wants a lot of walking around room. It was beautiful, but very, very big--like 4200 sq ft. Easily would accommodate a large family. Great perks being in a Garden Villa--lots on concierge service,special meals in Cagneys, etc. Our son staying in a Courtyard Villa and I must say that for the money this was a very small cabin. Norwegian should have a bigger one bedroom cabin rather than take this small amount of space (Courtyard Villa) and try to make it a two bedroom suite. The plus side there is that there are two baths.
Butler service - ours was horrible, his name was Henry. However, our son had another Henry and he was wonderful. Guess it depends on the employee. We receives hors d'oeuvres only after asking for them.
Room Stewards--excellent, although in the beginning they did not do our room twice because they did not realize that we were early people and wanted early service.
Concierge Service - We had Ruth Hagger who is being transferred to the Norwegian Jade and she absolutely made the cruise. Because of her wonderful care and attention we will consider Norwegian again in the future.]
Freestyle dining - There are four restaurants where you don't have to pay. Then there are four for which you do pay a cover charge. We ate at Tangos (good); Chin Chin (way not too good) and almost every night at Cagneys (wonderful for this ship)
Freestyle isn't as free as we would have liked as men had to wear long pants at night everywhere except the Garden Cafe.
Quality of food - We are not big eaters and we are not particularly fussy, but the food is definitely substandard. Cagneys was the only good food we had.
Cost of alcoholic beverages - High. It is a vacation though, so we feel that it should be factored in.
Cleanliness - This ship is SOOOOO CLEAN. The staff are constantly polishing and cleaning and in all areas there are antibacterial hand washers and employees who spray your hands and this is a good thing. They do not let you drool over the buffet or touch the food, but serve it. This is a good, clean thing. They need more servers though as sometimes a person has a long wait while someone makes up their mind what they want to eat.
Entertainment - This is the HORRIBLE WORST we have seen anywhere. Good thing we are not night owls.
Casino - Although we are not high rollers, we stopped in and played slots twice, a little. Very tight slots! Great looking casino.
Ships tours - We took some of these, especially the overnight to Cairo. They are comprehensive, have good guides and are well worth the money. We generally prefer private tours though. In some cases like in environments like Cairo, we felt that there was a definite advantage in going with a large food. The hotel they picked was very nice and clean and all places they stopped for food were good. The bus had a bathroom which is a real plus in Egypt.
NCL definitely is in business to make money. Do not plan on anything being "cheap" and expect to pay for any extras you want. Incidentally, the photos are less costly than other ships.
I think I have covered everything. This was a good cruise.