NCL- your thoughts as a whole.
Service is excellent. Cabins are clean, as is the rest of the ship. At least the ones we've been on. CS is great. Any issues are handled promptly. We love the casualness of freestyle. Not rushing back to the ship for dinner or whatever.
I feel the same... I love love love NCL. I adore their specialty resturants ( with the exception of maybe one bad expereince), and HATE having to have assigned seating. Its a cruise, and I don't want to be told when I have to do things. All the staff were fabulous ... I don't get what in the world the problem is.
LOL, and cruisecritic .. AGHHH too many reviews, too many weird things people focus on I.E. the bathrooms inside the staterooms of the Epic. Everyone is freaking out the the shower and toliet are in seperate room areas, I thought it was kind of cool.
Ours came out great.
COMPLIMENTARY DINING - The dining is really good overall. I have dined in the main dining rooms, the buffet (though not for dinner... not my style), the poolside grill, room service, and Blue Lagoon (24 hour place). We liked the buffet for breakfast and lunch as it offered us a good variety and we didn't usually make it early enough for breakfast in the dining rooms. Room service is nothing to write home about and there aren't a lot of options -- we actually ordered breakfast before bed, specified a time, then they delivered it an hour early and forgot the coffee! Whoops.
SPECIALTY (FEE) DINING - I have also tried some of the dining options that charge a fee over my 3 cruises, including Pizza 24/7 twice ($5 a pizza), Cagney's twice, Le Bistro twice, Italian (La Cucina and Mamma's Italian I think they were called) 6 or 7 times, the sushi bar twice, and the coffee bar. The food was good in the complimentary options, though a little inconsistent. Never order a steak or prime rib in the main restaurants, as the cuts on the steaks are so thin that they can't be cooked the way you want them and they put gravy on the prime rib. The fish was great in the main dining rooms. If you want steak go to Cagney's, La Cucina, or Le Bistro, each with a great steak on the menu (or many in the case of Cagney's). La Cucina's pizza is also very good. Also, if you like desserts, ANY dining option has great desserts. Sometimes the tables are too close together, but the service is usually good and the food is great overall. If you expect fine dining then go to the specialty restaurants for a fee, though the main restaurants do a decent job at reasonably fine dining.
SERVICE - The room stewards were good at their jobs and friendly, the bartenders are wonderful (especially the casino bartenders), and the waitstaff is great. I had good experiences with the guest relations staff and the duty free store clerks. The jewelry sales clerks are a little pushy, but that's to be expected. NCL charges a service charge every day to include tips. This makes sense and most people would tip more in cash then what is included. While it adds a significant amount to your bill, it is worth it in the end and you can even pre-pay it.
ACTIVITIES/SHOWS/NIGHTLIFE - My fiance and I aren't big on organized activities, but when we did participate they were enjoyable. The shows we went to were great, like Band on the Run and the cirque-style shows, but we avoided shows like magic and comedy because we aren't into those. Bingo and Deal or No Deal were fun but on the expensive side. The casino pays out poorly and is a waste of money. The bar/club scene was hit or miss, but usually there was a pretty good showing of people out and about at night.
EXCURSIONS - Excursions are on the expensive side, but I imagine that is the same with every cruise line. On our Bermuda cruise we did not do any excursions and instead rented a scooter on our own and just explored. We did our own thing in Cozumel (COZUMEL BAR HOP!), Nassau (took a sightseeing tour from a random company at the dock and also went to Senor Frogs), and Port Canaveral (took a cab to Cocoa Beach). We did excursions in Costa Maya (Chacchoben Mayan Ruins), Belize (cave tubing and zip lining... so worth it), Roatan (private island excursion, don't remember the name), Great Stirrup Cay (para sailing, expensive but so much fun). There are so many options and you can mostly just do your own thing at most ports. We chose to do excursions because they were things that we really wanted to do and mostly once in a lifetime things.
I hope this helps to give the average person's perspective on Norwegian.