I just returned from my "vacation of a lifetime," with four dear friends -- I have to say it was disaster! I had been looking forward to taking a cruise since I had never been on one before -- even with the assurances of those who are seasoned veterans this trip has soured me on cruises.
Food: The food in the buffet and the Liberty/Skyline were either overcooked or undercooked. Choices were very limited and never in my life have I been served "white salmon" with barbequed sauce! It seemed that it was an obvious attempt to push you to the restaurants with the cover charges (which were always "reserved"). When we were able to get a reservation in the Lazy J Steakhouse the food was delicious. I expected to have delicious meals all of the time but this was not the case at all. The food in the buffet was picked over, cold, and unidentifiable. We continually ran out of the basics, coffee, diet coke, clean spoons, glasses, etc.
Staff: The staff was overworked, tired, untrained, and unprofessional -- with the exeception of our Stateroom steward,Monica, who tried very hard to keep our room tip-top (even with a bruised ankle). We had a very good experience with one of the Shore Excusion staff personnel - Michael. He was courteous and professional at all times. However, most of the staff seemed to be very frustrated and short tempered. We had an occasion in one of the Cadillac Diner of the waitress slamming a drink down on our table and walking away. We were herded like cattle everywhere we went and it seemed as if most of the staff did not understand or know what they were doing!
Entertainment: There was a singer in the piano bar, WT Greer, that was very good, but again he was there only a short time and had to leave before the cruise was over. There was no real entertainment on board. We suffered rain most of the time so we were looking for onboard type activities that were not available. Of course, there was no casinos since this ship was not in international waters and gambling is not allowed in Hawaii.
Excursions:The excursions for the prices were awful -- we went from gift shop to gift shop (as if the ship was getting a cut on what was sold to us)! I felt as if I was nickled and dimed to death on this cruise-- of course, after I received the final bill I wish it was nickels and dimes instead of hundreds of dollars! You are charged and recharged for everything!
Don't do the Luau -- again over 1000 people attended the Luau and they only proved a 2-stall bathroom for the women. The buffet food was sub-par and by the time you received it -- it was cold! The entertainment for the Luau was not authentic and with the number of people there you could not see it!
Stateroom cleaniliness: We had to pull out the couch in the stateroom to look for a lost earring, and it was disgusting with dirt and other passengers lost items! Had not been cleaned in a while.
I will not recommend or travel NCL again!