Chose this cruise to return from a coach tour of New Zealand to go to Singapore where we would fly home to the UK so using it as a final opportunity to visit key places on the east coast of Australia as it is unlikely (with increasing age) that we will ever revisit this part of the world again. Key places we wanted to see were : Sydney, to revisit places we saw on our last trip to Australia; Brisbane, an iconic city with the GABBA as an attraction to two cricket lovers; Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef. NCL offered a catamaran trip to the Barrier Reef from Airlie Beach and we booked this but as they did not offer anything from Cairns and we wanted to maximise our only chances to visit and snorkel on this feature we booked a helicopter flight to the reef from Cairns. We were also lookinf forward to visitng Bali and seeing some of their temples.
On our coach tour round New Zealand we got an email from NCL telling us of major changes in the itinerary, but with no explanation. Brisbane was to be missed out even though it featured heavily in their brochure advertising the cruise and was to be replaced by Port Kembla (no, me neither), Bali was dropped and Cairns would be called at on the day after it was due there in the original itinerary. So with very little spare time on the coach tour we had to cancel our independent trip arranged for Bali and rearrange our helicopter flight in Cairns for the following day. Then only two days before the cruise we got another email this time telling us that Bali was reinstated and that we would be going to Cairns on the original date. We managed to re-book the trip in Bali but it was too late to rearrange the helicopter flight as they were now fully booked on that day. So two of the main reason for this cruise had been knocked on the head. What we found difficult to understand in all this was that the captain etc knew there was a problem with the engines but instead of putting into port and getting them fixed (which they were forced to do when the engines gave up outside Melbourne and the ship had to be tugged back to port) they seemed to think that they could limp on with faulty engines for the rest of the trip and just cut out destinations from the itinerary. Did not make sense.
Embarkation was a nightmare - over one and a half hours queuing in hot and humid conditions in a long snake of a line with water and seats only available at the start of the queue. Seems as though they were surprised at over 2000 people turning up to get on the ship as there were nowhere near enough staff and computers to cope.
Typical NCL BB grade cabin, possibly with a smaller balcony than on other ships