Driving to the Port of Miami from Orlando took 4 hrs. Parked in garage C at $20 a day which I thought was way too much. Checked bags in with porter and made way to the NCL entrance to check in.
EMBARKATION:Had to wait 1/2 hour just to get into the building. I asked where the VIP check in was and was directed down a hall to the VIP desk. I presented all the paperwork and it was completed quickly. Things went downhill from there. We were sent upstairs to a large hall where hundreds of people had gathered to get their boarding cards. A very rude agent took the cruise document from me and never came back with the cards. I inquired where the cards were and was told to sit down and they would be brought to me. Everyone else in the hall got their cards and passengers coming in way after us were getting their cards. After waiting for about 45 min, I again inquired where our cards were. Same rude agent said she forgot to call for them. 15 more min passed and the cards finally came. If that is what NCL calls VIP service then they have a serious problem.
We got on the ship where things jumped from 0 stars to 5 star service quickly. We were met at the gangway and escorted to out suite by a ships officer and another crew member who turned out to be our butler.
Cabin 8632, suite: More than we expected. Very nice. Everything one could want and then some. Champagne, flowers, fruit every day. Cabin spotless always.
Overall impression of the ship was outstanding. Very clean. Crew always friendly and always with a friendly greeting. We did not experience a bad attitude anywhere from anyone on the ship.
Dining: we had meals in all the specialty restaurants and they were all very good EXCEPT Mama's Italian. Worst meal we had. The main dining rooms were excellent along with the fast food places on the ship. Good food, quick service. No complaints there.
Entertainment: Went to all the shows and found them to be very good and well presented. The casino was good and of course I was one of the lucky ones that took out much more than I put in (for a change).
Disembarkation: A big problem, but really not the fault of NCL. Express disembarkation is no where near express. The problem is with the CUSTOMS people. Government employees work at their own speed and are in no rush to get anything done. We, along with several hundred others had to wait for 2 1/2 hours after the ship got in before we could get off the ship and go through customs. It was no different than if you had the crew take your luggage off. Everything happened at the same time. I always thought that express meant fast, but I guess not.
Final Thoughts: We really enjoyed NCL and the Freestyle cruising. It makes things so much better when you are not restricted to a set time to dine. This was our 8th cruise and 1st with NCL. It will not be our last. Other than getting on and off the ship, it was a very enjoyable experience.
A suite is well worth the money. It is like staying in a 5 star hotel and better. Plenty of room, great service and a lot of perks that you don't get in regular cabins.