I took my first NCL cruise which was also the first POA cruise, a 4day on June 6th out of San Francisco. The crew was not really ready for prime time but they muddled through. I heard lots of stories from disgruntled passengers, but I really didn't have any major problems. There was a story going around about one crew member who quit and took the tender to shore on the 2nd day out. As the days passed the crew seemed more and more exhausted. I don't think they could sleep well because of the excitement and/or the new environment. Many were not only new to crewing but some had never even been on a ship. We had 8-10 ft swells at times and I imagine some of the crew probably got seasick. Every crewmember I spoke with had a great attitude but many were sorely lacking in experience.
The food in the main dining room was consistently excellent, but the one night I ate at the Bufffet I was severely disappointed. How can anyone make meatloaf and meatballs that are tough and chewy? There was no ice cream anywhere but in the main dining room, so if you ate at the buffet you either had to trek down 7 decks or do without. Someone in Management had the bright idea that they didn't need the icre cream parlour that had been planned for up there after all. Very bad decision, and I predict it will be reversed.. The BBQ they had at poolside every night was horrible. I tried it two nights in a row and had to throw everything on my plate out. so I gave up on that. The pizza was good, so I made a lunch of that on several days when I came back from ports too late for lunch. Breakfast at the buffett was good, but the first couple days they closed it down at 9:30am. I'm sure they got lots of complaints, as I noticed on the 3rd day onward they were open til 10.30am.
I can understand how they didn't want Travel Professionals to experience their growing pains, so I don't blame them for cancelling that familiarization trip. Better to wait until they have consistentcy, and then show it off. I have no doubt that they will get it together and have a great product. Many of my fellow passengers thought the cruise was just horrible, but I really couldn't see it that way. I had a fantastic time. When I did have to go to plan B, frequently it turned out to be a really pleasant surprize. This is my first experience with NCL's Freestyle and really like it a lot. For the reasonable price I paid, I would go back and do it again anytime. Give them time and I think POA will be a very popular cruise ship.