This was our second cruise on the Norwegian Escape and we have previously cruised on Princess and Celebrity. Based on 3 cruises in total we are pretty sold on NCL. However, it isn't for everyone.
Embarkation: We had the air option, so took the transfer to the terminal offered by NCL. When we arrived at the terminal, it was clear that there were A LOT of people who showed up either early, or at the same time as we did, which was a little past 11am. I looked at my watch to see how long it would take to get through. We were on board by noon, and felt like the line was moving quickly the whole time. It certainly didn't feel like it took almost an hour to get through.
Smoking: The first thing we did was look for the smoking lounge...hubby is a smoker. This is where the ship has changed since our first sailing and is an opportunity for NCL to improve. There is no longer an outdoor smoking area on 6-7-8. I booked our cabin near the elevator/stairs on deck 9 to make it easy for my husband to get his nicotine hits. I understand why NCL wants to limit smoking, and I wish this wasn't something I had to worry about, but I have a suggestion: Why not eliminate smoking in the casino, and have an outdoor smoking area near the casino? This is something that Celebrity does and it works well. (We travelled with folks who are as addicted to black jack and one arm bandits as they are to ciggies and they were very happy with the Celebrity situation). The added bonus to this is that the inside of the ship doesn't stink and the non smokers (and ex-smokers who are worse than non smokers like me) won't complain about the smell.
We had a 9pm flight back home out of Miami. So we rented a car, did a boat tour of the millionaire homes, cruised south beach, walked the beach etc. Beware, it was a beautiful Saturday, so everyone was out and parking was $40. Valet parking was the same price, so might be worth it. The people watching was absolutely amazing.
Nice beach, pool, music and some interesting shopping. The drinks were outrageously priced though.