Embarkation was an absolute nightmare. We arrived about 12:45 to find a sea of people standing in one huge room. There were no signs directing us so we assumed we should just join the crowd. I understand that there was a problem with the ship being late and that the passengers had to debark before we could begin our embarkation, but I feel they could have made announcements explaining the problem. After 2 ½ hours we finally were directed to the next room to check in.
The ship is beautiful and immaculate. Sailing out of New York past the Statue of Liberty was absolutely thrilling. After watching the skyline of NY disappear we went inside. My husband & I were sharing an oceanview stateroom with our daughter and my son & his wife had an interior stateroom. Our room was supposed to have a sofa bed and two twin beds made into a queen. There was no sofa bed so my daughter slept on the bed that pulls down from the wall and we left the beds as twins to give her room to climb in & out. The stateroom has good storage space and drawers, but the bathroom only has one small shelf to keep anything on. There is a safe and a refrigerator in the room. There is also a kettle with a supply of tea bags and instant coffee, which I loved.
Dining: We ate in the Venetian dining room one night. It was very good. The service was wonderful. It's a beautiful room. We ate at Salsa. It's the Tex-mex restaurant. There is no extra charge but you do need reservations. Everyone enjoyed the meal and the service was very good.
Our favourite was La Trattoria, the Italian restaurant. You will need a reservation, but there is no cover charge. Our waiters were Tudor and Mike. They were a lot of fun and the food was excellent.
We ate in the café a lot. The food was good, but I found there weren't enough "plain" choices for me, for example, when it was Cajun night the food was ALL Cajun.which I don't care for unfortunately. I would have appreciated a little more ordinary variety. The NY deli for lunch was great!
The best thing about all the dining venues is the hand sanitizer stations everywhere. I really appreciated knowing that all the people handling utensils etc. before me had cleaned their hands.
Staff & Crew:
They were friendly and helpful. I found many of them a little reserved which surprised me, but they were very nice if you said hello or talked to them first. Perhaps they were just tired and looking forward to the drydock they were going into right after our sailing.
We didn't see a lot of it, but really enjoyed Bollywood, and the ventriloquist/comedian was hilarious!
All of this is of course my own opinion and I'm sure thousands will love NCL and freestyle cruising. Bottom line I think it just isn't right for us. On RCCL we were treated like gold from the moment we stepped into the terminal at the port. I admit I like being spoiled and freestyle is just a little too "free" for me I suppose. I want to sit in the dining room and be pampered by the waiter who knows us by name & the assistant waiter that brings me my cup of tea as soon as I sit down. And on the nights we don't want to change I'll go eat in the Windjammer Café.