As others have said, this cruise is more about the ports than it is about the ship. It is the only cruise ship with this wonderful itinerary. But it is not just a floating hotel with small rooms. It is an interesting and fun way, especially for a family, to visit Hawaii. Our 15 and 11 year olds loved the trip (and so did their parents).
We found the crew to be hard working, professional, and upbeat. Not much different really than a crew on a ship that is not American-flagged. In fact, it was nice to be able to chat with crew members from the USA, it was different than what we have found on other ships, but not in a bad way. We also appreciated the willingness of the ship's officers to visit with cruise critic members at the meet and greet, and the officers impressed us with their earnestness and interest in making the cruise a wonderful one.
The ship was generally clean and well maintained. We did see some things that made us feel that this is not up to the same standards as some other ships. For example, drawers that do not open smoothly, small rust spots in the railings of our balcony, some worn spots in the upholstery in our room, and a safe that did not work. These were small things, however, that did not in any way spoil our trip. The ship did roll a little, perhaps because of the weather or large Pacific swells. This was more fun than anything, as it was interesting to watch people walking down the long passageways, weaving from one side to the other as they went. The ocean view cabin with balcony we had was small but adequate (and we had four people in it). "Adequate" means that there was room under the beds for most everything, even though it was hard to move around in the room unless someone went out to the balcony or was in the bathroom. The beds were very comfortable.
We went to Skyline (one of the two main dining rooms) only once, and went to a restaurant with a cover charge (Little Italy) only once. Neither really impressed us. The food was OK in both, but not gourmet. The service was faster in Little Italy than in Skyline. It seems that at least on this ship, the "Freestyle" dining may have the result of sending people to the buffet, which was outstanding. We were not interested in waiting to have a long dinner in the main dining room, or to pay extra, to eat somewhere else when the buffet was consistently good. We particularly enjoyed the parts of the buffet where you can get Asian food, pasta to order, and dessert crepes. Yes, the buffet can be crowded at certain times, but this never interfered with the service or quality there. The people who run the buffet do a really great job. We ate there for breakfast every day and also for dinner on five five days. For a family with kids, the buffet is convenient and it can't be beat. When using the buffet, remember to go aft to the outdoor portion, which is a pleasant place to watch the scenery while having breakfast or dinner.
We went to a couple of shows, including the comedian and broadway cabarets. The Toby and Beau show and the Frankie Valli tribute were both outstanding. We really liked the comedian too, who drew standing room crowds for his shows. The ship's singers and dancers are excellent. The cruise director is energetic and fun. The teen club is well-run and was a popular spot for our daughter.
Embarkation and disembarkation were amazingly smooth. They went better than on any cruise we have been on before. Note that if you have used NCL before you should sign up for "Latitudes" membership, as this will speed up your embarkation process substantially.
We would gladly go on this cruise again, and would recommend it to others.