This was my 28th Cruise, but first on NCL and I was surprised with my experience, considering the negative reviews I read before booking and sailing. We invited a recently widowed friend as our 3rd person, so we decided to book a Penthouse Suite. We sailed in room 9202, which also accommodated my special needs father in his scooter. Our butler, Francis and Concierge Armando made this cruise nearly flawless. We were met by both at check-in and immediately knew that they had great personalities and would add to our fun on board. The room was large, beds comfortable and they both heard my request for extra pillows.
We had breakfast and lunch in Cagney's, specialty dining in Tempanyaki and Cagney's for dinner and they made sure we were booked in Four Seasons and Seven Seas on other nights. I preferred Seven Seas since it seemed to have more formal attention than the Four Seasons dining room. The food at every meal was amazing! I was nervous after reading poor food reviews, but was never disappointed. We even had wings in the Sports bar and they were fantastic. The chefs in Tempanyaki were entertaining and the steak and chicken were cooked perfectly. We laughed through the entire meal.
We had the pleasure of meeting the senior officers and the General Manager Igor even took time to get to know us throughout the cruise. Any issue we had was heard by Igor and he was receptive to our comments. We rarely watch the shows in the evenings on other ships, but were present 4 of the 5 nights on this cruise. The entertainment was excellent and we loved the comedian, Juli Barr. We had some very rude guests during her show, but she handled them with grace and they thankfully left her show without incident.
The only "complaints" I have are only comparisons to other cruise lines. For the expense of the drink package on NCL, I feel they could provide a better drink menu for each specific bar, better olives for martinis and more uniform mixology among the staff at each of the bars. We normally develop a rapport with bar staff and this was not an option on this ship, except for one bartender in the pool bar named Mark. I did notice that they had a bar in the dining room, which cut down on the time we had to wait for drinks and wine during dinner and dessert.
Costa Maya was a great port and had lots to do without leaving the area. It was easily accessible for a wheelchair or scooter and had plenty of shopping and dining options. We unfortunately had to tender in Cozumel, which meant my father couldn't get off the ship due to the 13 ships in port that day.
We did book several spa services, including massages and facials. I regret not learning the name of the blond staff member in the spa, as she called us by name every time she saw us on the ship. The massages were perfect, as was the facial, and the staff made us feel at home.
Overall, we truly enjoyed this small ship and were pleased with our first experience on a Norwegian cruise.
Great cabin, good layout and spacious bathroom. Shower was cramped, but jetted tub also has a shower, which we used. Difficult for special needs passenger to shower.