Sailed on PoA from Honolulu 7 nights. About the ship: The PoA is a floating hotel, like a holiday inn. While quite nice, if you go expecting a ship like the four seasons hotel you will be disappointed. We went on a Carnival cruise 3 yrs ago at the same time of year so we had some basis of comparison. The goal of this ship is to get you to the various islands and it meets that goal amazingly well. You see all of Hawaii and only unpack once, nothing is better than that. We saw everything we wanted to see. We did spend 3 extra days in Honolulu so we easily saw all of Oahu. I suggest if you go that far, spend the extra time.
The ship itself - very nice, very large, easy to navigate, interior decorating was lovely. It was clean I never saw one area that was not clean. Used the gym it was a bit small and one morning every treadmill and elliptical was in use but it met our needs. Hot tubs were fine. We did not use the pool but it was really small. Our room was on deck 7 and we had what was listed as "obstructed view", but I picked it from the layout and realized we would be between the first forward lifeboat and balcony rooms, so we really did not have hardly any obstruction. The window was floor to ceiling and we had a good view. Our room and bathroom were bigger than when we were on Carnival. There were three of us 2 adults and one 17 year old. The pullout bed for the teen was not very comfortable but he was ok with it. The main bed was great, big and comfortable. The facilities on the ship such as the bars, theaters, gameroom, library etc were all very nice.
About the odd odor on decks 5 and 6 that others have written about. It really exists!! If you hang around where the smell is then sure, it is a problem, but if you are just passing through you get a whiff and move on. The only place the smell remained was in Pink's champagne bar and I wonder how the staff tolerates it. But we sat at the bar on the left side one night and I did not smell it from that spot. You could not smell it in the library or the game room, it is just in limited areas, so just move on and you will be fine.
The staff were great. Everyone said hello and were willing to help. Our only issue was that housekeeping claimed only 2 names were on the ship manifest so my son's fold out bed never got sheets until I hunted her down and she used that excuse (hard to believe his name was on everything else) but from that point on the bed was set every day. They even did those goofy towel animals. She kept our room really clean. Cleaner than my house. I had to ask her to vacuum once when it was dirty and then she kept it up.
The food was ok. We actually thought the food on Carnival was better. The freestyle was a nice convenience. On a ship like this when you spend more time in port than on the sea they really could not do it any other way. All the shore excursions come in at various times and we would have missed lots of meals if we did not have flexibility in the dining rooms. We tried two of the pay extra dining rooms - the east/west and the steak house. The east/west was not worth the extra fee. The steak house was good. The areas with no extra fee - main dining rooms, buffet, Cadillac diner, and Italian were fine. The Italian was pretty good, the risotto was not as good as my grandmother's but for a big cruise ship they did a nice job.
Entertainment - the comedian was terrific! The magician ugh! We did not go to the holiday shows but I saw it on the TV replay in our room and it was as bad as I knew it would be. Bottom line - get off the ship, you are only at sea at night so during the day, see the islands! You will be exhausted and won't mind going to sleep early. My 17 year old spent every evening at the teen club and had a wonderful time. There is not much to do on the ship during the day so get off the ship.
Shore excursions - we paid for the NCL arranged excursions. On the Carnival cruise to the Caribbean we booked cheaper private ones and we were really sorry, one day our bus never showed and we had to scramble to do something else. The NCL excursions were VERY expensive but we had piece of mind. However, there is a company in Hawaii called "Robert's Hawaii" and we used them for transportation to and from in Honolulu and they do shore excursions. The limited experience we had with them just for transportation lead me to believe they would be wonderful for shore excursions. One issue is that you dock at industrial ports and you don't get off the ship in town so you spend a lot of time on a bus getting from the ship to your shore excursion. If you see that the excursion is 7 hrs plan on spending an hour each way getting to and from the excursion. The luau on Kauai was really nice, food was really good, entertainment was great, worth the price. There are so many excursions it was so hard to pick. Spend time on the internet reading about the islands to decide what you want to do. I used the travel channel.com and it gave me a lot of great info. About the weather, it was a bit rainy but that is typical for this time of year but it never impacted our excursions.
Bottom line - you are in Hawaii so enjoy it. Get off the ship, see the sights, soak up the sunshine. Take surfing lessons, go to the top of the highest mountain in the world (technically Mona Kea is the tallest mt in the world). Have a great trip!