It has long been my dream to see Hawaii. My husband and I are in our upper 60s and finally decided that it was now or never. NCL's Hawaiian cruise included the 4 largest islands and seemed our best bet. For me it was more about the destination than the cruise. We let NCL make all the arrangements including the flight to and from Massachusetts to Honolulu. We also booked an excursion on every island through them. Doing things this way was worry-free. From the moment we were met at the airport by an NCL representative to the time we left Honolulu after a 2 day post-cruise stay, everything was taken care of. The trip exceeded my expectations in all areas.
I had read some negative reviews about the Pride of America, but we found the captain and crew to be extremely friendly and helpful at all times. Our balcony stateroom was small (as expected) but with plenty of room for us to unpack everything. My house should be so organized! The ship seemed very clean to me. Although our stateroom showed some signs of wear (a chip in the woodwork and a crack in the vanity) it was very clean and the queen-size bed was really comfortable. That was a huge relief as it is a big deal for me to get a good night's sleep. On past cruises we have always used the dining rooms, but on this cruise we fell in love with the ease of the Aloha Café and ended up eating there for every meal. The food was simply great and by using the cafeteria, we could make any combinations we wanted.
We chose to have NCL take care of all our excursions because we were unsure how to manage it otherwise. The ports in Hawaii are all very simple to deal with, however, and I now know that I could have booked tours independently. Tour buses for other than NCL-booked tours were always lined up right next to the NCL ones and there were no crowds such as you might find in the Caribbean. For peace of mind use NCL, but if you're more adventurous and/or want to save some money you can book the same (or other) tours on your own on-line. Since you cruise each night, you have more time than usual in the ports giving you plenty of time for a long excursion or individual travel to get a good look at each island. The only hard part of the whole trip was the long flights. My advice is to bring plenty to do, such as puzzles, electronic games and/or readers, earphones, etc.