I have read reviews of this ship on this site and several others and I would like to say:
ANY POSITIVE REVIEWS OF THIS SHIP ARE WRITTEN BY FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND EMPLOYEES OF NCL.
FRIENDS DO NOT LET FRIENDS CRUISE NCL!
My first bad experience with NCL occurred just after I booked the cruise for myself and my five teenage children (three staterooms). A few days after I booked NCL reduced the price by $500 per person with a balcony stateroom. My travel agent, Ruth, called NCL for us and found that they wouldn't let her upgrade our room or refund any money. I would like to add that she ( our travel agent) has several times found special fares for us and negotiated refunds (HAL, Princess). Ruth then gave us NCL's phone # and asked us to call. I then did and was put on hold numerous occasions and transferred to several departments. Eventually I reached someone who promised me a refund! Then was cut-off!!! I called back but couldn't find that person again and I was then told that only my travel agent could call and that this is their procedure. I called Ruth about what happened and she said that she would try her best. Several days past and Ruth called to say that NCL would not deal with her and gave her this option - Cancel the cruise, take a $500.00 p/p penalty and rebook the room. $500.00 p/p times seven is $3,500.00! I'm stupid I said OK. I have three children at three universities and two at high school and four different schedules to balance. We went from outside staterooms to staterooms with balconies. Thanks to Ruth we received better rooms at least!
Rooms - small, but adequate for seven days, or less. More than seven would be too small. The rooms are very, very noisy. The ceiling creak in the corners. Out of the three rooms we had booked ours was the worst. I complained about it being unbearable at times to Reception. Of course, they did nothing. More on this later. My wife said she dreamed that the mirror crashed down on us and woke up due to the noise level.
Ship - beautiful, well appointed, but flawed. NCL did not take into account the rough waters of Hawaii. The floors and ceilings creak in every room. Light sleepers will not enjoy this cruise just because of this. I have been in some rough water and on boats that weren't so quiet (Crystal Harmony, Royal Princess), but nothing can compare to the level of noise on this ship.
Freestyle Dining - not well executed. Two and half hour dinners and less than attentive staff makes for a miserable experience. Food was the worst on any cruise line that I have experienced. You are forced to partake in alternative dining since the main dining rooms is packed. Christmas Eve and Christmas the wait was horrible. Of course, it does not feel good with people in the dining rooms wearing beach attire when you make it a point for the family to dress formally on Holy days.
Service - This ship was clearly not ready to serve customers. Rude service at the Blue Lagoon. Restaurant staff that was not well trained. Manager with clipboards running around talking to staff about their shifts and job details (I never saw managers on any cruise talking in front of customers about this ever). Bar servers that danced at events blocking the view of passengers to the band. It goes on and on.
Itinerary - Fanning Island. Didn't see it. The reason - bad water conditions entering the atoll. BS, pardon my language. The waters were calm. We didn't leave the boat so we were at sea for four days straight. The straight dope - the sea from Fanning Island to Maui was going to be rough so the Captain decided to forgo landing so that the tours would be on time in Maui. The previous cruise had stopped, but was late to Maui, canceling the majority of the tours. Big money loser.
Cruise Director - All of the Cruise Directors I have had were fantastic, except one.
Entertainment - shows are short, then...good bands (Ironics are very good), but bad disco. DJ is not experienced and interested in playing what he wants to hear and not what people want to dance. Been to the disco and watched people go to bed. No night life.
It pains me to write a bad review about something that I truly enjoy. I cruise three times a year and bring my family with me whenever possible. I wish that NCL would become a cruise line that will be competitive to Carnival, Princess and RCCL. This is not the case. I was lied to and felt cheated by the level of service of this cruise. This is one cruise to avoid.