This was our third cruise, and our first with NCL. Our first two cruises had international crews with a friendly "no problem!" attitude. We were attracted to the PoA because of the cost and the itinerary. On the positive side, the ship itself was beautiful, clean, and well decorated. My cabin was adequate, kept clean, and was comfortable. The entertainment was great, as was the itinerary. I especially liked the way the captain went out of his way to give us a close sail by of the Na Pali coast complete with humpback whales, and a nightime cruise by the lava flow on the big island.
I was, however, really disappointed in the customer service. We had several problems with shore excursion scheduling, starting from our advance booking on the NCL website. Unable to make changes on the website, or to speak with anyone in customer service who had any knowledge of any of the trips offered, we had to deal with the sullen American teenagers behind the shore excursion desk. Numerous More
mistakes and problems had us showing up there on a daily basis. My advice to you is to do your own homework and rent cars at each of the ports directly online. Most, if not all, of the companies pick up at the piers.
We had maps from AAA and guidebooks, and were able to see everything we wanted to, and on our own time schedule. We heard many complaints about the bus tours. Our excursion to Molokini Crater was cancelled due to weather, but because we had a car, we were able to find a great snorkeling spot on our own! Another thing that we did was to buy the Hawaii "entertainment" book online, and we saved a lot of money on half priced meals and event tickets.
When you get on the ship, they try to sell you a coupon for unlimited soft drinks for $35. Unless you are at a restaurant or show, it is almost impossible to get waited on once the servers know you are drinking Coke instead of alcohol. You can get free tea, coffee and water in the buffet.
We found the buffet and the free restaurant food to be so-so. We ended up having three dinners at the specialty restaurants, and we found the service and the food there to be excellent. On one night we had to walk out of the Palace (free) restaurant after 2 1/2 hours and not completing our meal in order to see a show. The breakfasts were on time and the omelettes were especially yummy.
The tipping is really crazy, because you pay $10 per person, per day, but what they don't tell you, is it doesn't cover gratuities on alcohol or the specialty dining restaurants, which you are expected to tip extra in ( and they well deserve it!!). The service at dinner in the regular restaurants would be considered unacceptable on the mainland, as would the quality of the food. We soon got tired of the young American crew with their lousy work ethic. While many were friendly, we found most to be bored and looking forward to getting off the ship. NCL really needs to conduct training on how to work with higher end customers! Less