I was on the 10/31 sailing of the POA and had a wonderful time! I agree there were still some service problems - tables at the breakfast buffet not being cleared quickly, sometimes slow service in the dining rooms etc., but nothing that deterred me from having a terrific time. The key is knowing what to expect, so nothing catches you unaware. When small things happened (such as paper napkins at the breakfast buffet on the Saturday), I just smiled to myself and thought "I had been told this might happen". Should it have happened? No, of course not, but it was not going to spoil my cruise! I did hear veteran cruisers complain that they were used to better service etc., but sometimes the "fawning over" by waiters becomes too overbearing for me - but that is just me.
I arrived at 11.30 - left my suitcase and explored the Aloha Tower area - returned at 12.00 and they were letting people into the terminal. By 12.40 I was already on board with all documents processed. The cabins were not quite ready, so they took everyone to wait in the Stardust Lounge. Was that an ideal or maybe correct way to handle it? Perhaps not, but for me sitting in a comfortable chair, in a/c, was a lot preferable to standing in line, outside in the hot sun. I was in my cabin by 1.10 - everything clean and in order. Also surprised that there was a bottle of wine and bottle of champagne in the fridge, for which I was not charged. My cabin was always kept clean, fresh towels and the bed turned down at night. No problems at all. My cabin steward did not introduce himself, but I only saw him a couple of times anyway - it was not important to me, as long as he was doing his job.
The $10.00 resort fee was again waived this week, so I tipped when I wanted to.
Service in restaurants was a bit erratic, but I never had to wait to get seated. "Brian" in Crossings is a great waiter - one night I sat down at 6.15 - had wine, appetizer, entre, desert, coffee & cognac - all by 7.05! You can't get any quicker than that!
I usually ate breakfast at the Hukilau Lanai - everything was fine - no runny scrambled eggs - crisp bacon, although sometimes you had to sort the bacon to find the real crispy pieces - but no different than any buffet.
I ate in the Royal Palm one night - I found the filet to be really small and the vegetables to be very meagre. Maybe it was just what I ordered, but I did not feel it was worth the extra cost. But other people I talked to were extremely pleased with the specialty restaurants.
I really had no problem with the food - yes maybe it was not always gourmet dining which it should have been, but I knew this going in. And before anyone says about you shouldn't be paying full price for a sub-par cruise, yes I agree, but I thought the ship was beautiful - I love bright colours! And I certainly paid a lot for my cabin - I'm Canadian, so I had to pay the exchange on the U.S. dollar; was travelling solo, so paid the dreaded single supplement; and had a balcony on the 9th deck. Did I think it was worth it to see the Hawaiian Islands?? A resounding "yes"! I had booked some awesome shore excursions - I did a helicopter flight on each of the islands of Kauai, the Big Island and Maui - expensive, but I cannot recommend it enough! And for an additional $20.00 you get a video of your actual flight, including the narration by your own pilot. I did the Volcano National Park and the Atlantis Submarine dive in Maui. (I had stayed in Honolulu 4 days before the cruise, went to Pearl Harbour and around the north shore of Oahu; visited the Polynesian Cultural Centre - they have an amazing Horizons show in the evening, after the luau.)
I thought the entertainment was just first class - and I go to the theatre a lot! All shows were a "must" to see. But go early for a good seat for the early show.
As I was travelling solo, I had no problem with the size of my cabin - and of course, it had a balcony - loved watching the sun rise and set and seeing the wake of the ship.
All the crew were very friendly and obliging - no problems with anyone - and I am known to have a short fuse on occasion!
The bar I enjoyed the most was the Plantation Club - 12th deck aft - I agree with other posters - Charles Nahale has a great voice - sings Hawaiian and easy listening music. I spent a lot of time in that place - very comfortable and a great place to relax. Make sure you try it - right across from the Royal Palm Bistro.
Would I recommend the cruise? Absolutely, in a heart beat and without any question - as long as you know what to expect and are prepared to "go with the flow". The thought of packing, unpacking and heaving my luggage around airports to do a land vacation was not appealing at all to me - repacking after being in Honolulu for 4 days me and getting to the POA was enough for me! NCL are fully aware that there are still problems - they now refer to the sailings of the POA as the "inaugural season", and they are adjusting things as they go along to continually improve the cruise. Obviously, it is only getting better each week/month that goes by. The people who I heard complaining had no idea prior to boarding that there were any problems!
As in life in general, attitude is the key!!! e.g. my shore excursion tickets were in my cabin upon my arrival - except that I had to report to the shore excursion desk for the helicopter tickets, as I had to declare my weight (seating positions in helicopters are determined by people's weight). I had to wait maybe 3-4 minutes and the man in front of my was whining that he had booked the shore excursions ahead of time, so he wouldn't have to come to the shore excursion desk. I pointed out that he was next in line - but felt like saying he should count himself lucky to be able to go on a helicopter flight! As I say, attitude is everything - knowledge is even more key!!!
Disembarkation was very painless and easy. One tip, unless you have an early flight, spend $5.00 a bag for luggage storage - right next door to where you pick up your cases. Well worth it - secure and convenient. You are then free to walk around the Aloha Tower shopping area - great shopping and take a taxi to the airport at your leisure - when I was ready - a taxi was immediately available.
In conclusion - my thanks to all who have contributed in the past to these cruise boards - your tips and comments were invaluable to me - I felt I already knew the POA without even stepping foot on her!
To all those who sailed in the past, I am sorry your experiences were so unpleasant - to all who have booked or are thinking of booking in the future - go - enjoy - and don't sweat the small stuff - as a lot of it on the POA is now just "small stuff".