To start off, it is my impression that on a cruise there should be a high level of pampering and catering to. We never felt this, except at times with our steward. We just expected more for the price.
Apparently, we boarded the ship during a re-staffing period, so for the first two days the ship was under-manned until new staff arrived. Long waits in the restaurants and general confusion among passengers was the result.
Embarkation and travel to ship: I was surprised that we were expected to handle our checked baggage from the airport to the ship ground transportation. I had always understood that the cruise line should handle this. The embarkation process was quick and hassle free.
Ship: The ship was generally clean and looked well kept, although the glass panels near the pool and on the decks looked water stained and dirty. The ship would look many times better by cleaning the glass on a regular basis. Certain areas on the ship, like some of the hallways, could be very crowded, but you never had a problem finding a peaceful spot if you wanted to.
Stateroom: We stayed in a Balcony Stateroom, which we found to be clean yet somewhat small, even for two people. The safe did not work, after three days of requesting it to be repaired or activated we gave up. We did not have an iron in the room upon arrival and finally received one on the third day. The room was cleaned and supplied with clean towels on a regular basis.
Dining: The Aloha Cafe was unprepared the first night, with a limited selection of food available. The food seemed to be typical cafeteria food.
We headed to Aloha Cafe the next morning at about 7:00, which resembled a cattle stampede. We found that going before 6:30 was a much more pleasant experience. Breakfast food at the cafe was decent.
The Skyline restaurant served good breakfast and dinner. I have to stress that the food is not what you would find at a fine restaurant. We went here for the majority of our meals. We also went to the Lazy J and Little Italy restaurants and had good meals with decent service.
Service: After the second day, the ship seemed to be adequately staffed. The crew seemed a bit inexperienced, which at times would be addressed by their superiors. While this is necessary to train the crew, I don't agree that "dressing down" a staff member in front of a customer is good for business. I saw this on multiple occasions.
Our "first" steward seemed OK, but didn't seem very attentive as she was leaving the ship on the second day of the cruise. Her replacement did a good job overall keeping the room clean and being somewhat sociable.
Entertainment: We did not go to the theater for any activities. We thought the entertainer at the Champagne Bar did a good job, although the "Name that Tune" segment wouldn't be missed. Just play music and let us enjoy it!
Shore Excursions: We chose our excursions online about a month before the cruise. Some were outstanding, others not so good. We set the bar high the first day in Maui with the Molokini Crater snorkeling excursion. Highly recommended! We had a great time the next day horseback riding on Maui. In Hilo, the lava viewing hike was more of a van ride to the lava park and the current lava field. I would recommend getting a map and rental car in Hilo and saving some money. The Kona snorkeling excursion was great, but shopping around could result in saving money as well. We went on the Waimea Canyon trip but did not see the canyon due to fog. I think a cheaper alternative would have served us just as well for this excursion.
Vog: The last half of our cruise was hampered by a condition the Hawaiians call "vog". This is the volcanic smoke emitted from the Big Island, and it completely covers all of the islands. If the tradewinds cease to blow, the vog saturates the island just like fog. On the last two days of the cruise, we had very limited visibility of shoreline from the ship and began to develop sore throats due to vog, which is mostly sulfur dioxide.
Disembarkation: Quick at 7:30 AM.
Conclusion: Overall, we had a great time in Hawaii. We heard lots of people complaining about certain things on the ship, but we tried not to focus on negatives as this was our honeymoon, and we didn't spend alot of time on the ship. The cruise is a great way to travel and see the main attractions of Hawaii, although it can be done cheaper/better with some research. Cruise: average. Location: Excellent! But beware of the vog!