We have cruised with Holland America, Celebrity and Princess mainly, once on Carnival (enough said). We have always wanted to try a transatlantic but were nervous about having a lot of sea days, however this one offered interesting ports and only 5 sea days prior to arrival in NYC. We flew to Copenhagen with a stopover in Iceland (amazing) and spent a day and a half exploring beautiful Copenhagen.
We booked the cruise with 6 other friends and acquaintances about a year ago and received the drink package and specialty dining package as perks, along with OBC from the cruiseline. There was nothing 'free' about these perks - we had to pay gratuities on both packages upfront. We have had the drink package on Celebrity in the past and were not required to pay extra....in addition specialty coffees, fresh juices and bottled water were all included - not so on NCL.
Embarkation was fine, there was a power failure for a bit that slowed things down but all in all everything went smoothly. We were impressed with our cabin, a mini suite on deck 10. The bathroom was large, balcony was tiny, bed not very comfortable and pillows rock hard. First impressions of the ship - huge but public areas too small for the number of passengers. It was difficult to get a drink at any bar as understaffing seemed the norm throughout. We had dinner in the Manhattan room the first and second nights, just 2 of us and we found it extremely noisy and dark, service very slow. Night 3 we dined with our friends there for the last time, service was extremely slow and not friendly at all. We also dined at Le Bistro (food okay to good, service surly), Teppanaki (great food, good service), Ocean Blu (excellent everything), La Cucina (food and service good), Cagneys (food generally good but not hot, husband had to send his raw prime rib back, service ok). We used the buffet for breakfast and lunch and found the food to be pretty good. We dined once at Savour with our friends and this was by far the worst experience - wine steward was positively surly and service SLOW. Six of us were done our entrees while 2 still waited for theirs! The remainder of our dinners onboard were at Taste where we found a lovely waitress (Melanie) and several other great staff. For the first time we were asked how our day was and advised of the chef's recommendations. On the whole, other than some standouts in specialty restaurants, food was ok to good, maybe 3 star. Food was often just barely warm, rarely hot.
Cabin was great except the bed was not very confortable and the pillows were too firm. Bathroom was very nice and roomy.
We could hear the thump of rock music every night from deck 8 that went on until about 11.