I had read so many fair or less, reviews on this cruise. Because of what I read, I had no plan to be as pleased as I was!
This ship was lovely, I understand, newly renovated. The food in was just fine! We had signed up for three specialty restaurants but after the first we cancelled our reservations only because we found that we wanted the freedom to come and go between the balance of eating and seeing all the shows.
The buffet food was very good, we ate our breakfast and I think one lunch this way, much to choose from, fine!
We ate in two of the in plan restaurants, we just did not bother with the Cadillac restaurant. The Jefferson and I think the other restaurant, I think it was the Skyline, atmosphere was good, food selections were varied enough and everything tasted close to great! The only issue I had in one of these places is that the waiters were way too aggressive in taking away your plate. I actually had to tell some man to leave me alone in that he was making me nervous of course then he was slow in coming back when I wanted to leave lol !
One complaint about the ship, I found the drinks to be missing alchohol. Each drink was weak and I am not much of a drinker. Be wary do not order a Martini, they are not good and cost over $11.00. However, all the drinks again, not very good in taste even. I actually got and received a credit back for one drink that tasted like a weak soapy lemon aide. I tried a series of drinks during the cruise, not good at all!
The entertainment was very varied and there were three or four options each night. My sister and I loved the staff water spitting show on the first night ( I know it sounds awful but it was so funny). Also we liked the Four Season Impersonators, the Magician was great as well as some of the feature artist song nights in Champagne lounge. Each night there was music from the raptor of Elton John, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, etc. Also they had a staff talent show and the MC did a great job with all the dance nights, an example, Abba night.
While not every single show was of the highest level of quality most of what we saw was good enough to bring a smile on our face. There was one entertainer "Willy", he was an Hawaiian singer skip this show!
The staff was very good mostly on this ship, plenty of people around and friendly. However there seem to be a real lack of communication with the front desk. While everyone there spoke English they did not necessarily understand English We had an issue with a bill that was very frustrating to have corrected for this reason.
Also and this is really pretty serious. I had a fall on one of the excursions and the receptionist at the medical office on the ship was very rude to me and the doctor was pretty much useless. As it turns out I broke my elbow and had a concussion and this so called doctor said I was fine. The staff at the medical office, their priority was just in getting my statement to the security officer. I have to say I have made a complaint to NLC and not once have I gotten a call back to see even how I am?
The ports of call were good. We did a Rd To Hana with Valley Tours, great day however do not believe the special barbeque lunch. The meal was made by the tour guide and what we got was some chicken, some corn and a piece of candy for desert.
I did Captain Zodiac Raft, Snorkel and Dolphin Adventure Trip, this was a great day although the captain of the ship Jack was a bit rude to me. While I only saw pretty much coral and one fish the group before me saw an eel and a shark! There was no sighting of any Dolphins and as far as turtles I saw a few of them on the surface of the water as we were leaving for the day. I also did the Turtle Bay snorkel trip with NCL that was also a nice day even though a man on the boat had a heart attack in the water and we had to jump into the boat and meet the coastguard in order to get him some help, I heard he was okay. Oh also on this trip, our day, no turtles.
Also we went via NCl Waimea, Wailua, Fern Grotto, this was a really nice day, this excursion is very well worth it and the lunch was good as well. The Waimea Canyon ( where I fell in the parking lot) is amazing, better than the Grand Canyon in terms of color.
We went on the Gold Coast Cloud Forest, we did not like this day at all, boring and not worth a precious day in Kona.
I really suggest you do not miss Secrets Of Puna, we had a great tour guide Rich, wonderful day, really !
We ended the trip on the Grand Circle Tour. The guide was nice, the day was long and if nothing else it is a great way to get your luggage to the airport. While we made a few stops it seemed like they were to gift shops mostly. As an example we went to the Dole Plantation gift shop but no time to take a tour.
Overall we had a great time!