This was my first and last cruise with NCL. Wait staff could care-a-less about you. I eventually quit purchasing priced beverages. You will be expected to find a waiter, order, then wait and wait and then have a mandatory 15% gratuity foisted on you.
A.M. breakfast room service was a joke. On day two I finally figured out that I would have to go to main desk and ASK for menu and cards to fill out and hang on door knob. The next day when I have a 7:45 a.m. ship excursion, it was almost 30 minutes late! I complained -- was told that I needed to call and tell them I need it on time because I will be on an NCL excursion?! So the following day it is then 30 minutes early! There were more issues with room service -- suffice it to say they make it so that you don't use it.
Excursions were extremely over-priced. Plan ahead and rent a car -- we did for Maui and that was one of the best days we had heading up the observatory and then to a few beaches. We also used Roberts to go to Volcanoes National Park and saved hundreds (we were a group of 8 people). NCL staff is programmed to not answer any questions beyond sponsored excursions and shopping, so you really must plan ahead or be at their mercy. One thing I wanted to do was an outrigger canoe ride and ship staff was very dismissive every time I brought it up. Fortunately I knew ahead of time that I could probably get it done in Kona via the King Kamehameha hotel, which I was able to do. We chartered one for an hour, saw spinner dolphins all around us -- it was awesome! We did use NCL for Waimea canyon, jungle kayaking and the luau. The NCL excursions were nicely executed, but very pricey. If you do the jungle trek and kayaking bring serious lace-up water shoes or dive booties. The literature just says water shoes recommended, but you need footwear that can handle ankle deep mud and lava rock for when you get to the falls. I did not have adequate footwear and the quality of the day was greatly diminished. The luau was actually very fun, great show, open bar and local vendors selling lots of neat craft items.
Drinks on board were also absurdly priced. $5 + mandatory tip for a can of Bud?! Good luck finding a bartender that will not put OJ in your on the rocks margarita. We specifically asked to have none put in, and while my husband was watching, the bartender tops of my drink with OJ! I read somewhere that the majority of the shipboard staff can best be described as college students with attitude. That sums it up pretty well -- including the very annoying entertainment director. Aloha is a beautiful word, yet he managed to squawk it out in the most annoying fashion several times a day.
The ship has so many specialty restaurants, that you will have to go upstairs and around to get to things like the Aloha cafe and Gym.
Pool on-board is not nearly adequate for the number of people it must service. Also, expect some decks and areas to be off-limits as they are constantly remodeling -- even while at sea. So you will also be treated to the sounds of hammering and electric saws.
You cannot hear shipboard announcements in your cabin. There is no TV station with local weather or time (Bring something that can tell the time or you'll be buying a watch!).
The ship stabilization methods are not adequate for the rough waters around the islands. However, all ships provide high-quality sea-sickness anti-nausea, anti-dizziness medication if you ask for it.
The only thing this cruise was good for was getting a sampling of the islands. When we pulled out of Kona (upon trying to get a drink order placed), I threatened to stick my credit card between my teeth and jump off the back of the boat. I instead trekked up down and around to the aloha cafe and got some free tea.
It will say water shoes recommended. Should be required. And they will need to be pretty sturdy.
Really fun. Great show, fantastic dancing. Food was OK.
Rent a car. There is nothing to do nearby.