Hey, gb52877, we were on the June 25, 2011 sailing!
As I mentioned, we found the service to be very good. The problems of old have been solved and they now offer a wonderful experience. So those who were on the ship years ago and found poor service would be pleasantly surprised as to the changes that have occurred as it's completely different.
In each port, we pre-reserved a rental car in each port and did our own thing. It was the cheapest and best way to go, and we're so glad we did it. The excursions were too short, too pricey, too crowded, and too regimented. We got to do what we wanted, go where we wanted, stay as long as we wanted, and got to go places the excursions couldn't go. Plus, we never paid more than $45 for a car in any port, which really beats the price of excursions. In fact, in Hilo they gave us a brand new Ford Mustang convertible with only 6 miles on the speedometer for $35!! On Maui, we even drove the famous Road to Hana and went another 6 miles down the road to visit Charles Lindbergh's gravesite - something none of the excursions do. And on Kaui'i we drove over to the waterfall shown on the TV show Fantasy Island - another place none of the excursions go to because there's no room for them to park. We took our GPS with us, which made it very easy. Also, it helped us to find some wonderful local restaurants that were amazing. To us, it was the only way to see the islands - it was awesome!
The one thing I definitely suggest is going at least two nights before the cruise and renting a car on Oahu. For those of us on the East Coast, it's roughly 5-1/2 hours to the West coast and then another 5-1/2 hours to Honolulu, so it affords you some time to unwind after a long trip. Plus, you need at least one day to do some sightseeing on the island. One thing that is a 'have to' is Pearl Harbor. Being ex-Navy and having a daughter currently in the Navy, this was someplace I have wanted to visit for a very long time. It was quite moving. The new museum is amazing. But you have to get there early to get your free time-stamped tickets as there's usually a very long line. Afterwards, we spent time driving around this beautiful island.
We are so glad we didn't listen to those who complained about it and decided to do it for ourselves as we were not disappointed. But now that we have done it, we don't need to do it again because now we'd much prefer to just go and spend time on one island. But if you've never been there and want to see more than one island, it really is a great way to travel around the islands.