Embarkation: 20 minutes or so in the Latitudes line. Fairly smooth.
Feeding Frenzy: I think some people skipped their cabins altogether and went right to the dining rooms after they boarded.
Food Quality: Dining rooms were the best bet. On the first day, the food was pretty good, but it went downhill every day with the same bland veggies and frozen meats. It was the same meats every day with a different sauce and new, fancy name. Chilled soups and desserts were pretty good. Tried Le Bistro once and it was OK. The Sports Bar and Pizzeria were passable at best. For the price of the cruise, I think the quality of the food is fair (and certainly plentiful) enough.
Freestyle Dining: Liked it very much. Usually made reservations 24 hours ahead and rarely had to wait. Breakfast in the Four Seasons was a bit of a cattle call, though, and sometimes you'd have to wait 10 minutes or so.
Service: Dining room service was excellent. A little kindness and respect goes a long way with these people. Had a couple of clinkers but overall, the wait-staff did a terrific job. The maitre d' in Four Seasons was a bit harsh, though. A girl from the Philippines dropped a plate and he reprimanded her right in front of everyone. The sound of a dropped plate didn't affect our dining experience at all, but this guy humiliating her almost to the point of tears left us with an uneasy feeling. One very busy night, a lady was giving the waiter a hard time about the "ravioli not meeting her expectations." Obviously some people want a five-star dining experience with a McDonalds budget.
Grand Cayman - great port as always.
Roatan - "Rotten". A bunch of fat white people getting off the ship to watch a bunch of poor black people dance and beg for money. NCL played a video on the cabin TVs showing the torn-up main street in town and the only general store. In the corner of the general store, two guys sit at the counter and laugh when the camera fixes on them. One of them quickly flips the bird, but NCL must have missed that part because it was left in the video! We stayed on the ship.
Belize - Nasty weather, not much to see or do anyway. Again, we stayed on the ship. NCL skipped their private islands in favor of these two ports? Sad.
Cozumel - Terrific. It made up for the two wasted ports that we avoided. We took a $50 taxi tour of the island and all the beaches. There were several fantastic, uncrowded beaches that NCL never even mentions. I recommend renting a Jeep and visiting the beaches on your own. Some of them are real jewels and much better than Chankanaab, etc.
Automatic Tipping & the German Group: We had a large group of Germans on board who seemed nice enough. However, while I was waiting at the service desk one day, I saw four German men who insisted on not paying the automatic tips. When asked "how much do you want to give," they replied "Nothing! We're not Americans. We don't have to tip anything. Take all those charges off our account." Cheapskates. I hope they got the service they deserved. For reasons like this, I don't like the automatic tipping. If I was a waiter or steward, I'd want to know who the good people and the skinflints are.
Disembarking: Nice to be able to stay in the cabin as opposed to the corral in the public areas. We took the Miami city tour because we had a late flight. It was well worth the few extra bucks, and they drop you at your airport terminal.
Overall: This was my fourth cruise and the second on NCL Wind. The ship seemed cleaner than when I was on it in 1998 although some of the carpet and furniture is wearing with age. It wasn't "smelly," as some reviews suggested. A drain problem in our cabin bathroom was repaired promptly.
Dealing with NCL and RCCL in the past has always left me with the feeling that these companies are a bit greedy and the customer service pretty poor (if they make a major blunder they do little to make amends). However, their service people have always been fantastic and it is truly proof that the "working people" make a company strong, not the corporate bigwigs. This is a nice cruise for the money and you shouldn't expect a five-star experience. If you like large groups and are not the independent type, you'll have a wonderful time on the Wind. If you like wonderful food and exploring on your own, this is probably not for you. This is probably our last cruise as we would prefer a hotel at a resort with the freedom to explore on our own and be a bit more selective about dining.