We like the idea of seeing four different islands in one week, with one flight (paid for by NCL) and only unpacking once, and it worked out great.
This was our second NCL cruise — we cruised Southeast Alaska six years ago — and once again the food, cabin and service/friendliness of the employees was great.
On this trip, other than the first day (Saturday) and final day (Friday), most of your days will be spent ashore, exploring and experiencing the islands, so amenities like the pool, spa and exercise areas aren't needed or used. If you're going to swim in saltwater, let it be on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii!
We rented cars for the two overnight stops, Maui and Kauai, and saw what we wanted on our schedule. You'll need to make sure you have a place to park the car overnight ... which was much easier in Kauai than in Maui (there is a mall relatively close to the ship in Kauai which rents out overnight parking for $20 ... worth it).
On the Big Island stops, Hilo has a free shuttle from the port to town, which is quite a long walk with sidewalks under construction. From there, we found our own tour that stopped at many of the city's highlight attractions — saving quite a bit of money from if we would have booked through NCL.
In Kona, you'll have to tender to and from the ship, and this process takes a bit of time unless you're up early. To NCL's credit, they had cups of water and cold towels for you while you waited in line for the return tender trip in the hot afternoon sun.
The buffet worked fine for us, especially for a quick breakfast before heading out each day. There were always seats on the open-air back deck, usually with good views.
And we had no problem finding tables for two for dinner at the Skyline and Liberty restaurants (we usually ate around 8 p.m.; if you like to eat earlier or have a larger group, I would reserve your times more in advance). Plenty of good food choices and the staff was
Finally, while we didn't see a show every night, most of the ones we saw were good — especially the "These Guys Worldwide" singing group, backed by the ship's house band. I wish they could have played longer!
If you're a first-time visitor to Hawaii and want to experience several sites in one trip, I would highly recommend this cruise.
It was plenty of room for the two of us. They make efficient use of space for storage, and our steward kept the room very clean. Dark and quiet for sleeping, and if you want to look out (such as for the Napali Coast), plenty of seats are available on public decks.
Rented a car (from Bio Beetle! great company and within walking distance of port) and explored the island. We highly recommend the Kelii Kayak (tour guide: Greg) kayak and snorkeling tour; go out in the morning, it's not as rough on the water.
Really liked Hilo, seemed like more of a "real town" than other stops. Be ready for rain and bring a raincoat or umbrella; NCL will charge you a fortune for theirs. And surprising, our tour included the town zoo and it was well worth a visit (as was the Macadamia Nut factory, of course).
My favorite stop on the island — great beaches on the north shore, and the views and hiking of Waimea Canyon are worth the trip (be prepared for rain up there). We also enjoyed the Smith family luau (this is not the one pushed by NCL, but Smith's show was really excellent)