Having read previous reviews I was somewhat apprehensive about having booked this cruise. We sailed on the 9/19 - 9/29 cruise. Embarkation was fairly simple. Had to drag the luggage about 150 yards to the bus and lucky us we got to sit in the back of the bus...fairly warm. The check-in process was fairly quick and painless and since we arrived about 3:00pm the day of the cruise we were able to go directly to our cabin. We had an oceanview cabin on Deck 8 and it is quite small with limited storage, especially for an 11 day cruise. Suitcases did fit under the bed so that wasn't too much of a problem. In general the cabin was fine...we don't tend to spend a lot of time in the cabin anyway.
We ate at the buffets at the aft of the ship (Deck 11)and found the food to be generally good. If you are an early riser you won't have any problems. If you plan on eating at 8:00 - 9:00am, get in line with everyone else. Even the days we dined with the masses it wasn't a big issue. Ate at the Pacific Heights a couple of nights and it was enjoyable and the service was good. Never ate at the Crossings, heard a couple of horror stories. The ship is used for "training" so you'll get a wide variance in service levels and capabilities. In general we found the staff capable and if you make an effort to get to know them, they respond favorably.
The Port schedules went well except for Hilo. Had a "glitch" don't know whose fault, NCLA or the port, but we ended up docking a couple of hours late on a day stay so had to hustle to see the Volcano. Other ports were pretty much like clock-work and even the two we tendered into were fine. Tenders were lifeboats from the ship and they would take 80-90 people a trip, usually had four boats operating.
Loved the 11 day itinerary, we were ready for the "day at sea" to rest. Can highly recommend Poipu Bay Golf course, beautiful place.
If you view this cruise as a way to see the Hawaiian Islands you will have a great time. We rented cars through the local agencies (paid less than $50/day for a convertible or luxury car) and made our own plans. Our sixth time to the Islands, but first on a cruise there, so we had a good idea of what we wanted to see (see again in some cases). Parking near the dock at Maui can be done, if you're not out late, we were back around 8:00pm and made a spot for ourselves along the seawall parking area, just a little way from the ship. Kauai, you need to reserve overnight parking for $10, the rental car bus driver will tell you and they have signs up too.
Entertainment on the ship was good, we saw the magician and comedian three times, different shows each time. We never made it to the production shows, but did a couple of other acts and the crew variety show. We enjoyed it enough to do it again.