Here is the bottom line first: we had a great time and I loved the ship. We would do this itinerary again in a heartbeat.
Itinerary: NYC-BOSTON-HALIFAX-QUEBEC CITY-PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND-SYDNEY, NS
Embarkation We arrived at the pier in Manhatten at 10:00 am the ship had already disembarked from the previous cruise. We went directly into the line and were processed for our key cards, etc. Unfortunately, since there had been some guests with a viral infection on the previous cruise, we were held up while the ship was sanitized for about 2 hours. Upon boarding, we went to the Tzar's Palace for lunch and then explored the ship before sailing.
The Ship We found the ship to be very clean and very nicely appointed. Some of the common rooms are a bit gaudy in the decorations but we did get used to them over the length of our cruise. Our cabin was just what we had expected, small but comfortable. The ship was in the middle of upgrading to the Freestyle 2.0 pillows and other bedding. They renewed our bedding on the second day.
Food and Restaurants Food and Restaurants: We ate at the following Specialty restaurants -- Cagney's (twice) Chin Chin, Mama's, Tango's. We also ate at Tzar's Palace, Azura's, the Blue Lagoon (often) and the Garden Cafe'. We did not have a bad meal on this ship. Cagney's was exceptional and that is why we ate there twice. I feel that is worth the $20 PP that we spent (just for the Jumbo Shrimp cocktail according to my wife).
Entertainment We had some great entertainment led by a great Latin/Tango singer/dancer named Daniel Bouchet. Daniel gave three concerts during the cruise, two formal and one informal, jazz-type performance in Bar City. Daniel is a great performer who brought a international flavor to the cruise. Tony Duncan provided a juggling act that was very good. One of the highlights of the cruise was the show by Kenny Byrd, a ventriloquist who did a very funny show aided by a few of the passengers. One of the "volunteers", a young lady named Lucy from Utah, provided one of the funniest performances that I have ever seen anywhere. Other shows included the Jean Ann Ryan dance shows. The best of these was the last one called "Cirque Bijou" which includes a lot of tumbling and acrobatics and was very professionally done.
Staff We had two of the best stewards taking care of our room. Everything was done faster than our expectations. They left towel animals every day for our enjoyment and on separate days left us a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries and a plate of hot cookies prior to our bedtime.
Ports and Excursions We did everything on our own except for a bus excursion in Boston. We were glad we did this since the pier was a long distance from the downtown area and there were no cabs located at the pier when we disembarked. We found the the piers were located within walking distance to the towns at all of the other ports. Our favorite after Boston, was Quebec City.
Cruise Director Staff and Activities The staff was very good and they had the usual activities for our participation. We especially enjoyed the trivia games which were very well attended. The only down-side was that NCL no longer gives out gifts for each game (NCL branded cards, key chains,etc.) but has opted to issue a trophy to the winning team that has to bring the trophy back to the next game to turn over to the next winner. There were several Ballroom Dance Classes that were excellent. These classes seemed to be popular with the guests. Other NCL 'university" classes included a great series on digital camera photography. One complaint was that many of the NCLU classes were actually wine, beer or liqour tasting classes that charged $15 PP to attend. I do not consider these classes as "life enrichment" classes proposed under Freestyle 2.0.
Disembarkation We did the express disembarkation from the ship at 8:15 AM in NYC. The ship arrived on time and cleared customs quickly. We were off the ship quickly but it was a long walk to the street.
Other It has to be noted that the ship was utilizing extreme sanitization procedures during the cruise. Everyone was required to spray and clean their hands upon entering any eating areas. All food at the action stations in the Garden Cafe was handled by the crew only, using tongs. Passengers were not allowed to pick up anything. Salt and pepper shakers were not on the tables. In the dining rooms waiters handed out individual pieces of bread and rolls, the baskets were not placed on the table. In the common areas, public bathrooms had their doors blocked open so that they would not be handled by people entering and exiting the doors. Hand sanitizers were in all of the halls and in each elevator.
The good news is that even though we heard that some passengers had fallen ill, no one that we knew personally got sick.