We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. The reason for the low score for NCL is that there were lots of little things which were not as good as other cruise companies and they added up to make a big difference. Firstly the good:
The organisation of the Freedom dining is fantastic. We only had to wait (briefly) for a table on a couple of occasions - the rest of the time it worked like clockwork. This is down mainly to the ladies who work at the front desk. They do an exceptional job.
The staff in the dining rooms were all fantastic. Hardworking and always cheerful. No mean feat!
The chinese restaurant is included rather than the usual cover charge and we thought the food was superb.
The presentation of the food in the main dining rooms was the best we have seen
There were proper showers in all of the rooms (not just shower curtains)
The menus in the Chinese and O'Sheehans never changes nor does it in Grand Pacific at lunch time. Not too bad if you are on a 7 day cruise but this was 19 days of the same choice.
The drinks are very expensive
The ship was late in to nearly every port. Sometimes just by 15-20 mins but it messed up our plans (and on two of the occassions this was when the ship was only travelling a short distance between ports)
Disembarkation was a shambles with poor communication.
They put on too few tenders when needed so that it took us until after 1pm to get off the ship when we had to be back on board by 4pm.
We paid for an upgrade to an ocean view room and yet all we could see was a lifeboat. There was no warnings about it being a partial view.
There was insufficient shade on the ship so there was always a battle to be up early enough to grab some.
They have a great lounge at the front of the boat where you can sit in the shade and cool and look at the view but insisted on running bingo and other talks in there all through the day despite having other areas that would accomodate these things. They even had to draw the blinds in the room to make it dark enough to see the projector.
The talks about the ports and countries we were visiting were awful.
The entertainment in the bars was not to our taste and hardly varied.
No gala type dinners so no lobster or other special food.
Food was the worst we have had on a ship (not bad like other reviews have said - just not as good as other ships)
The food in the buffet was not great and was very repetitive.
All of the entertainment was geared towards Americans (even though they were in the minority on the ship). I understand that they are usually the majority so I guess it would be too much trouble to change things cruise by cruise.
Guest Relations were terrible. They handled a minor complaint so badly that it ended up being a big issue. They have zero authority and a terrible attitude.
One thing that isn't the ships problem but is worth mentioning is that we like to share our table with others in the evening. Clearly most people who choose NCL don't like to so it was rare that we managed to get a table with other people on it.
See above re view. It was 90% obscured.