I have just read the review of the New Year cruise written by (?)Dan Tobey. My husband and I did a back-to-back and were on board the week before this reviewer and also the same week. The ship definitely did have more passengers on the New Year cruise and this was obvious in all the ways he stated.
Our experience of embarkation was very similar - we waited in line for over 3 hours, the ship's departure time was delayed for over 2 hours due to the embarkation chaos and our luggage did not arrive at our cabin until after 8.30 pm that evening despite having been in NCL's hands since 9 am that morning.
Yes, they really do need to sort our the logistics and adminisatration on this front.
I also echo his comments re queues for dining and wait times for restaurants. I never did have the patience to wait for at least one non-reservation restaurant and could not be bothered to join the queue to make a reservation for those that required it. This should tell you something about the length of time one was expected to spend in line to get service - even from the purser when querying your end of cruise bill!!
I also found the entertainment to be 3rd rate - definitely not to my taste. If I want to see a circus act (contortionists) I will go to a circus (I hate them!) and I do not see a violinist as mainstream entertainment. Suffice it to say that I was very disappointed with the quality of the entertainment having cruised on ships where the clientele is mainly British as opposed to American.
Yes, it is a lovely ship. The staff are friendly, but definitely too few in number to cope with a capacity sailing. It was my first experience of NCL and freestyle cruising and I was disappointed.