We sailed on the August 26 cruise. We booked airline reservations and some shore excursions through NCL and some on our own. NCL met us at the airport and took us by bus to the cruise terminal. Embarkation was quick and efficient. NCL really knows how to handle embarkation. After a 9 hour flight, it was a real joy to get on the ship with a minimum of waiting.
Our "stateroom" was small but clean. The toilet never worked properly during the entire cruise despite numerous calls and visits to the Reception Desk. It seemed to be possessed by a menehune and flushed periodically during the day but never on demand. Room service was good. Turn down and towel service were prompt and efficient. We did not see our room steward, but our written instructions were handled promptly.
The ship was well maintained overall, but she is showing her age. POA is a smelly old girl with a strong smell of sewer gas inside and out.
Shore excursions were the high points of the cruise. We attended the shore excursion talk by the cruise director, but the information was of little value to anyone who did some research and planned ahead. We booked activities on Kauai, Big Island, and Maui through NCL but booked our own tours on Molokai and Oahu.
Food was average at best. NCL appears to be cutting corners on food quality and variety. We are not gourmets by any means, but the menu choices were limited and desserts were a disappointment. We found the buffet to be as good as the main restaurants. The boutique restaurants were not that much better. There was no waiting. Service was poor. Waiting staff seemed completely uninterested in providing guests with a quality dining experience.
The truest test of crew training is a coordinated task such as tendering (Kona) and the crew failed miserably. Tendering was disorganized and caused a hour-long delay in shore excursions. The crew took our group through a crew-only area and then promptly abandoned us below decks. After being lost in unauthorized areas for a few minutes, we finally found the right gangway. The crew had a lackadaisical attitude and didn't really seem to care much of of anything. One wonders how this crew would respond to a real emergency.
Entertainment was good. Broadway-type shows were better than most cruise ships despite a small theater setting. As usual, photographers were a nuisance during disembarkation and dinner.
Disembarkation was well done, as usual for NCL. We used the Easy Fly program which takes care of luggage and boarding passes. Definitely a great idea.
Overall, we enjoyed ourselves because we love Hawaii. We try not to let occasional problems with NCL ruin our vacation. Nevertheless, POA was the worst experience we've had with NCL.