Cass, if you want to read more updated reviews CC has several posted in the past week or so. Let me tell you our experience on the Sun 4 years ago. We are sailing her again in 2 plus weeks and I will have an update at that time: We had a balcony cabin the first time BC, and will have BA like you this time.
You can sleep with the balcony door open, the balcony is as private as any cruise ship balcony I have seen, more private than some. I wouldn't wander around totally naked but it is very private and quiet. There will be a queen sized bed and a fold out couch. The biggest problem you will have is the couch will be between the bed and the balcony door or it was in our case.
Freestyle is the best way to handle meals in my estimation. It is more like what you would experience on a land vacation and great for laid back types. With so many choices of eateries there is always something you will like and if some what to dress up for formal night, they will not be out of place as several will be dressed to the nines while others will be content wearing polo shirts or basic sport shirts. Gals will be dressed in everything from capris to formals. I will say, you won't see nearly as many formals and tuxes as you do on many ships.
the chance of you getting upgraded are pretty slim, but other than a mini suite there isn't really anyplace for you to go.
You mention not being excited about the ports< I don't blame you. All the lines that sail out of Texas on NOLA do about the same. It is great for those who like to snorkel, otherwise many of us are waiting for the cruise lines to do the eastern Caribbean, even if just a port of two with embarkation originating in Texas.
Trying to compare the 2 lines is a bit more difficult: Princess is a little more subdued with less activities. The food will be similar. Some like the food on Princess better, NCL has many more options. Both offer a form of freestyle, but Princess's isn't nearly as relaxed as NCL> The cabins are similar in size. Princess may be slightly larger.
I can't think of much else to add right now, but if you have more questions I would be glad to answer them. NMNita
ncl, carnival, HAL, Costa, RCI, commodore,chamdres,celebrity,Princess