We were excited to be cruising in the waters around Hawaii. Add a completely new ship and our expectations were that NCL would pull out all the stops to overcome the continual stream of negative remarks regarding their cruises.
There were a few glitches such as lack of towels, overworked cruise members (because of crew shortage)etc. Overall I would rate the American crew as good. They tried hard.
Now to the food. If future cruisers can avoid the main dining room they should. The menu for that restaurant was a major disappointment. Lack of entries drove me to the items that are available every night. Bummer! The two beef entres were Hamburger Steak and Flank Steak. In my opinion these don't even belong on a cruise ship. All other Lines I have sailed with not only have main menu items of lamb, steak, prime rib, and lobster, they offer "available any night" items that include beef sirloin, good salads, perhaps prime rib etc. Pride of Hawaii did offer lobster one night. One of the side dishes they served with entrees was some kind of substitute for potatoes (I think). Could not eat it the first night and we were served the same terrible stuff three more times in the seven days aboard ship. Yuk!!!
After night number two in the main dining room we understood the long lines the first day for reserving the other restaurants. They had eight other restaurants, six of which charged additional fees. When we tried to make reservations on Day three, all of the other restaurants were booked for the entire cruise. So, if you choose this line, book the other restaurants early or suffer less than mediocre food the entire cruise.
This is a money maker for NCL. Apparently they serve main dining room quality food in these other restaurants but charge each diner an additional $15-$25 per night. What a back door policy to charge a cruiser more for what should be included in the basic price of the cruise. One example was the sushi restaurant. They charge extra-my favorite cruise line has a free sushi restaurant. I did hear that the Italian and Japanese steak House were good though.
Service in the main dining room was extremely slow. This appeared to be the fault of the galley and not the wait staff. My guess is that the specialty restaurants have priority on the galley and they fit the main dining room when all others have been served. As a result we waited 20-30 minutes between courses.
It took so long to dine that we were late for shows. No excuse for that as we dined at 6pm. In this case however the shows were not worth seeing so after three attempts to see them (we were late), we just gave up and passed on the remaining shows. Comments heard around the ship indicate we did not miss much.
Know that the poor food program is apparently a constant across the Line. This is a Corporate decision and I believe you will see the same terrible menu on all of their ships. Beware!
I have now completed fourteen cruises and this cruise ranked so far below the other thirteen that it is difficult to describe. I will not sail with this line again.
We did not take the tours so cannot comment on them. They seemed extremely expensive however. Arranged air from Phoenix-Hawaii-Phoenix on Hawaiian Air was great. Check in for the cruise was okay and disembarkation was a good process. Unfortunately, we did not arrange to go early or stay a few days in Honolulu after the cruise. There are some great places to visit in and around Honolulu, I wish we had done that.
A couple other thoughts. This ship does not have a casino. Since I don't gamble it was nice not to have to walk through a smoke filled casino. But, if you want to gamble this is not the ship. They cannot open a casino in U.S. waters and this ship was designed to sail only in the Hawaiian waters. Instead they added more shops aboard. Too bad they did not add to the dance floor space. It would have been more enjoyable. The ship itself is new. It was decorated very colorfully-perhaps gaudilly. Our cabin crew did a good job-but heard lots of complaints from other passengers. In fact, I have never heard so many complaints about various things on a cruise ship i.e. food, service, entertainment, cabin service, lack of responsiveness by some cabin crews etc. Some of this undoubtedly was because it was a new ship, and hopefully have been resolved by now.
To put my opinion bluntly, this was a most disappointing cruise. If you have cruised before be prepared for major disappointment. If this is your first cruise-know that almost any other cruise line is much better.