My husband and I traveled with our 12 (almost 13) yo son to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Hawaii had been on our list for many years and this was a great way to sample the islands. We enjoy cruising, and have frequently cruised with Disney and Royal Caribbean. This was our first NCL cruise.
First the good - Hawaii is absolutely amazing, and we loved seeing all of the islands. The itinerary is why we chose this cruise and it can't be beat. We had a long time in each port to explore and felt we had a good sampler of Hawaii. The weather was amazing, and we did some once-in-a-lifetime excursions (mostly booked privately). This review will talk more about the cruise and ship conditions, which were not optimal.
The first issue is that the ship is short-staffed. I understand that the ship has to be staffed primarily by American labor since the registry is American, but the staffing issues were evident in multiple areas. The staff that was there worked incredibly hard, and were all very nice, but there just aren't enough of them, and many seemed really stressed. Multiple venues and bars were closed. We had a very nice dinner in the 2 upscale restaurants: The Bistro and Cagney's, but these were the only options other than the main dining room and Cadillac diner, which always had a line if you didn't get there at 5:30. We also had a drink package, but it was difficult to use because there just weren't many bars open. The one pool bar usually only had 1 bartender. We had to wait forever, even if we just wanted a diet pepsi. We're used to other ships, where soda is self-service, and bar service is plentiful, and found this incredibly frustrating. Also, the buffet seemed to close down at random times, and for a while their soda fountain wasn't even operating. Other venues such as the ice cream and gelato stand on deck, etc. weren't even operating. One of my son's favorite things about cruising is the free soft-serve, but you had to go into the buffet to get it, and it wasn't even working most of the time.