We completed the N.Star Pacific Coastal 7 day cruise on Sept 26.
Our first trip on Norwegian and we were apprehensive to start, however we are happy to report that we had an excellent cruise. In brief:
1. Entertainment: by far the best we have experienced on any cruise line,
including Princess, RCCL, Carnival and Celebrity and HAL
2. Food: Excellent in the alternative (pay) dining room we used (Ginza). Excellent
in the snack bar and good to average in the main dining room. Good selection
of desserts, poor selection of seafood.
3. Service : Excellent room maintenance service, bar service, and dining service,
except in the main dining room when it was very busy. Poor service in the
high end jewelrey section, however I found the shops generally poor all around,
poor selection and high prices.
4. Embarkation/Debarkation was very good, debarkation especially was quick and
painless. Being able to stay in your room until your baggage colour is called was
5. Shore excursions : no comment, we did not do excursions since we have been
to all of the ports before and could make our own arrangements.
6. The ship sailing was excellent - I don't think I ever felt motion, however we did
have good weather.
7. Pre-charged tipping: we were OK with this because I don't see how you could
do it any differently with freestyle cruising. I don't really think this had a negative
effect on service.
8. Excellent service at the front desk, we had to change our billing half way through
the cruise and they were most accommodating.
9. The main negative about the cruise was the Port of San Pedro which you can't really
lay at NCL's door. I have never experienced such a lack of service and confusion at
any port - we waited 45 minutes to get a shuttle, those who had prereserved shuttles
were at no advantage to those who had not.
This was an excellent cruise, however the key to NCL and also Princess is whether or not you like freestyle cruising. We found that it is not for us because we enjoy meeting the same people at dinner each night - with freestyle they sit you with others and since you are meeting them for the first time, your conversation does not have time to get past the preliminaries each evening. We also feel that there is less commotion at dinner and at lunch if you have an assigned seating time - on the Star if you did not get to dinner at 5:30, or after 8:30 you usually experienced a line up for the main dining room (I won't wait on line at any restaurant, at sea or on land).
I think if you are with your own group, freestyle would not be a problem (except for line-ups for dinner/lunch in main dining).
Hope this helps for those considering NCL.