This was our second cruise on Norwegian and we loved it. The ship was great, the destinations were great We found nothing but helpful and accommodating staff. The only minor problems we came across were other passengers - usually persons from other cultures either unaware or uninterested in following american social mores (like waiting your turn) or inconsiderate persons who felt because they paid for a cruise they should be allowed to do what they want, but those were honestly few and far between.
I have to say I was getting a little nervous before we sailed based on a lot of the reviews that were posted, but that was not our experience at all, but you have to be aware of what you signed up for. We like a big boat - we like the variety, we like the stability and we like the party atmosphere, but that brings up my first comment...
- On a big boat, there are a lot of people. For our sailing they said there were 4700 passengers on board. To be honest, except for a couple times, it didn't really feel like it though. If you really want to do something, you need to make it a priority - make a reservation ahead of time, get there early, be flexible about your schedule.
- You will be adequately fed - Its not necessarily gourmet food, but you will never go hungry. Our experiences were mixed, O'Sheehans wings were cold the first day, but really good several other times we went. Tropicana room was better the first time than the second, Moderno was good (twice), Teppanyaki was fun and delicious. The buffet was... a buffet, but it filled us up and fit the bill when we just wanted a quick meal so we could do other things
- The entertainment was mostly outstanding, and if not outstanding, at least fun - We loved Burn the Floor, and Million Dollar Quartet. Don't let the need for reservations stop you - they release reservations 10 min before the performance and take walk-ins. We always got into the show (because people make reservations then their plans change) The Cirque show was fun. Dueling pianos was mediocre, Syd Normans was a great new venue and a lot of fun.
- Don't go to the front desk on the first day or the last day if you can help it - the lines will be long and it will be noisy. Wait, go during breakfast hours (everyone is at the buffet then anyway), go when there is not a band playing. There were plenty of times when we went by and no one was there. We had 2 minor issues over the trip, both were handled quickly, and very helpfully.
- Cabin was nice, better arranged than our cabin on the Epic a couple year ago, and a decent size bathroom/shower for a ship (again, better than the Epic).
We mostly did our own thing on shore, so I can't comment on any of the cruise excursions. We did use the cruise shuttle bus in Rostock, it took a little longer to get everyone boarded than I would have liked, but it wasn't a problem for us since we weren't going that far that day. If you are planning to go to Berlin on your own, plan to take a taxi.
The ports were awesome
Copenhagen - spent 2 days there before the cruise, felt like just the right amount of time for us, though others could definitely want more, especially if you want to go outside of the city.
Rostock - we didn't want to make the hike to Berlin, so we took the train to Schwerin Castle. Fun day, but we had been "warned" from another review that the town is not as accommodating to non-German tourists, which we found to be correct. Not really a problem, just something to be aware of - and bring euros if you want to buy anything - we only had dollars and credit card so it just meant we couldn't buy anything (we probably didn't need it anyway). Train was easy enough, though we got lucky with the timing, we probably should have researched the times before hand, but it worked out for us.
Helsinki - semi-easy, if long, walk into town. Just enough time to see what we wanted. Rock church was OK, but not as amazing as I was led to believe.
St Petersburg - 2 full days, definitely needed both. Did a 2 day private tour with SPB. Our guide, Olga R, was AWESOME. Two very full, busy days of wonder.
Tallinn - fun, walkable, low stress half day spend wandering. St Olaf's tower is closed for renovation until 2020. Stumbled on the KGB Prison museum which my family enjoyed.
Stockholm - kind of a bummer that we docked in Nynashamn and had to ride the train for an hour, but the port made it easy for you - buy the 24 hour train ticket at the TI, pick up the paper with the train schedule, follow the blue line to the train station and voila, 1 hr later you are in the heart of Stockholm. Get to Town Hall early if you want to tour/climb the tower. Don't miss the Vasa