Our cruise was truly a yin/yang sort of thing. The first six days were great (the yin) but on Friday, the last day of the cruise, we BOTH got sick (the yang). The wife caught an intestinal flu, and I caught a upper respiratory flu with horrific sinus infection. The wife recovered after several days, but it took me over a month to get better, which is why this review is so late.
We stayed in cabin 11006, a suite. This was our first suite "experience", and we will definitely book a suite when we cruise from now on. The room was huge by cruise ship standards, about the size of an average hotel room. It had a very comfy king bed, a huge deck, a wonderful coffee maker and plenty of storage for our junk. Suitcases all went under the bed. The cabin was exceptionally quiet. We never heard anything from adjoining cabins.
We never met our room steward, but our butler, Mark, was great. He was friendly and available, and took care of us whenever we had a question or problem (the coffeemaker was cantankerous until you learned its quirks).
Every crew member we dealt with was friendly and helpful. Never a single disappointment in this regard.
No casino on board! Wonderful! No smoke!
The food on the ship was outstanding! With a suite, we could choose between the buffet and Cagney's for breakfast. We simply loved Cagney's. The wait was short and the food fantastic. We ate most other meals at the buffet, including Thanksgiving dinner. We found the buffet food to be quite varied, fresh and very tasty. One thing I must mention is that if you like pizza, DO NOT miss the room-service pizza. It was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten, and I LOVE pizza. I think the cheese made the difference, as it was a blend, not just plain mozzarella. Well worth the $5.00 surcharge.
The only port we had visited on previous trips to Hawaii was Hilo, and HIlo was a big surprise compared to the other ports/islands as it wasn't too commercial and we really liked all the old, historic buildings downtown. We rented a car at all ports except Kona, where we took one of NCL's excursions--a bus trip to the beach--for $45 each. After waiting at the dock for almost an hour for no-shows, we finally got to the beach, which was nice, with lots of options for activities. We rented all the cars from Hertz, and really enjoyed driving around seeing things again from previous trips.
Back to the yang: My wife had to visit the ship's doctor to get an injection to stop the nausea. The doc mentioned that we were in high flu season, and there were multiple strains of flu from all over the world that our flu shots wouldn't protect us from, some strains very miserable. Uh, yeah. He also talked about all the efforts made on board to keep the spread of diseases form turning into epidemics.
So we left the ship with two lessons learned: 1) Don't travel near any major holiday--just too crowded. 2) Don't travel in late fall as that's high flu season. We also learned that a cruise ship is much like an airplane in that there are hundreds/thousands of people in a confined space, with mostly an artificial environment (air conditioning) to breathe, which is why flus spread so fast on board. Caveat emptor. Getting sick is miserable, and taints the memories.