This was our 15th cruise (second on NCL) and we rate it at the bottom of the list. Weather didn't help, windy and rainy, but can't blame the cruise line for that.
NCL sold out this cruise by offering deep discount fares late last year. The ship could not accommodate the crowd.
This ship had been enlarged some years ago by some 400 cabins plus a dining room. The ship was cut in half and a center section was inserted. Thus, the ship had no atrium, which is a beautiful spot to relax on other ships and adds to the ambiance of the cruise experience.
While a dining room was added, the kitchen was not enlarged, hence, meal service was extremely slow. One of the main dining rooms held the breakfast buffet, which was so crowded on one of the sea days it was impossible to find a table, much less someone to refill a coffee cup. This was so bad, we made an appointment with the dining room manager, who went out of his way to give our group of 6 extra special service thereafter. He explained the situation about the small kitchen, poor kitchen layout, etc. Dinner service took at least two hours, making it impossible to eat when the dining room opened (5:30) and still be on time for the early show. The timing of the shows (7:30 and 9:30) could have been improved to alleviate this situation.
The ship does not have a breakfast buffet with inside and outside seating, such as the Lido on Princess ships. Besides the buffet in the main dining room, there was one in the Sports Bar, a small, unattractive, and very noisy cafeteria. Nor was there a regular lunch buffet, except for the Sports Bar. There was an outdoor lunch buffet on the pool deck on a few of the sea days, but with no protected seating. The wind was so strong at one point, salads were blowing off plates. Breakfast on disembarkation day was a total disaster. It took over 90 minutes, most of the time spent sitting and waiting.
Tender service was very poor. We rented cars on the islands and had to wait until all who booked shore excursions went ashore before being allowed to board a tender. Because of the wind, the ship was unable to tender us to Maui, so we missed the port we most wanted to see. This may have been out of NCL's control, but was a major disappointment nevertheless.
We did not like the Freestyle Cruising concept. We asked to have the same table at 6:00 pm each day and the dining room staff agreed, however, the table was not available when we arrived and requested it. We gave up on this idea, and missed having a waiter and assistant who gave personal service as they got to know our preferences. Service was adequate at best, but not really the fault of the dining room crew. They were working under extremely difficult conditions.
One positive note.... our staterooms had a sitting area at one end with a curtain which could be drawn between it and the bed. This was great, allowing one person to read without disturbing the sleeping mate. Storage space in the stateroom was minimal, but we were able to make it work. Stateroom service was adequate, at best.
Disembarkation day, except for the breakfast disaster, was handled well. We were not required to leave our cabins by any special time, and could have stayed on board until 11 am if we so desired.