Sailed 10/22/05 for 7 night Hawaii cruise with my wife on deck 8 midship. Embarkation: Went smoothly with minimum wait
Cleanliness: This was the 6th cruise I have taken, first with NCL. This ship was by far the least clean of any I have been on. Windows, glass and mirrors always needed to be cleaned. Hallways had debris in it for a few days before being cleaned. Room service trays remained in halls all day. Packets of sugar were on my balcony floor when we checked in and remained there all week. There is a constant smell of sewage on board on many decks and stairways. Aloha cafe never seemed to get a real good cleaning. The tables always seemed to be barely clean. Our Little Italy, Skyline, and Liberty restaurants were exceptionally clean. On other cruise lines, you always see workers vacuuming, cleaning brass, cleaning elevator mirrors, etc. You won't find this on POA.
Cabin: -The ship has been sailing for less than a year, yet the balcony rails are already More
rusting quite a bit. I can't imagine what they will look like in a year -We found that the coffee mugs in our cabin are not replaced after use but just rinsed out. My wife's lipstick was still on the mug. We had to empty out the used coffee grinds because the steward neglected to do it. -The bed is comfortable and the room is quiet. However, NCL has this silly PA system. If you are in your cabin or on the balcony, you can't hear any announcements. You have to open the door into the hallway in order to hear anything. -On other lines, the steward introduces him/herself to you on the first day. You are lucky to see your steward on this ship. -You cannot access your account on the TV since this ship doesn't provide this service.
Entertainment: -Comedian was good. We skipped the juggler's act. -The Broadway review type show was so-so. -Thursday night show was entertaining. Native dancers from all the islands did a great job. -Piano singer at the Pink Champagne Bar was good. -Overall entertainment is C+
Bar Service: You will die of thirst if you sit around the pool waiting for a waiter to come by. There was a gap of 1 hour 45 minutes between waiter visits. So you go to the bar yourself and depending who the bartender is you may get served in 10 minutes or served by a surly female bartender at one of the aft bars. Check cleanliness of your glasses before you pour a beer into it. Smudges and greasy stains.
Excursions: -Went to Luau on Maui. Very touristy, but fun. -Volcano excursion from Hilo was cancelled since rough waters prevented ship from tying up to dock. We rented cars on Maui, Kauai and in Kona. Definitely the way to go. You can rent a full size for about $32. (use AAA or other type of coupon when booking). On Kauai, must see the Canyon. On Maui, there is a parking lot directly across from the boat if you want to leave car overnight. Rental cars provide shuttles from ship to rental location
Food: Little Italy has great food and service. Must make reservations as soon as you board to lock in a table. The waitress addressed us in French and this seemed a little too much. East Meets West was nice but food was so spicy, you couldn't taste the meal. (Book for Saturday night and it is 2 for 1) Liberty and Skyline restaurants are the main dining halls. Food was good and we were served in reasonable time. Cadillac Diner has typical diner menu. OK for afternoon snack.
-The ship has the chocolate buffet at 2:30 pm. Many are off the ship on excursions or travelling around. Why not in the evening???
Overall, I was unhappy with the ship. They seem to be understaffed and this shows in the overall condition of the ship and service provided. Many employees work hard but they are overwhelmed. The turnover rate is very high according to many employees. In the Skyline restaurant one evening, they were 5 waiter teams short. The waiters who did show up were always playing catch up. Scott and Joe did a great job as did Domenick Presto.
-Friday night cruise around Na'Pali coast was great.
I would not recommend NCL to friends nor will I travel with them again. When I looked at cruisecritic.com before sailing, I hoped that the many negative reviews were wrong. They were right on the money. Part of the problem, I believe, is that the crew is comprised of American workers. They do not work as hard as the foreign crews found on other shipsI have sailed on. Bottom line is that they are the only game in town. But as unhappy as we were with the ship, we were still in Hawaii. Less