I've read several times on this website that this is the best way to see Hawaii for the first time and I absolutely agree. My husband and I just got back from this cruise and we loved every minute of it. We have never visited Hawaii before and we had plenty of time at every stop to do everything we wanted to do. Let me tell you a little about ourselves before I start this review because that helped me when I was reading them. We're both 25 years old and went into this experience knowing we wanted to see and do a lot everyday. We were not traveling with children, I don't know if I would say we're adventurous, but we planned on hiking, snorkeling, and being on the "go" the entire trip. We didn't want to just lay on a beach at every port for 7 days. If you want to do that, I would suggest staying in one of the resorts in Maui. Also, because we're younger and saved for this trip for the past year, we did have a budget. It wasn't very strict, we didn't miss out on things if we really wanted to do it, but at the same time we tried to save money whenever we could. We didn't book an excursions through the boat. We enjoyed making our own schedule and honestly think we got to do a lot more by not doing the excursions. I hope this review helps someone because I used the reviews on this site so much, it was very helpful in us planning the trip.
BEFORE THE CRUISE: We flew into Oahu on Friday and stayed at the Best Western-The Plaza Hotel because it was close to Pearl Harbor and the airport. It was okay, I'm not sure if I would recommend staying there. We saw (what we hope) were ants in the bathroom and on the desk. Anytime I see any type of bugs in hotels I can't help but wonder what bugs we aren't seeing! We took the city bus to Waikiki beach that afternoon. It was $2.50 per person but I would NOT recommend doing this to Waikiki beach. It took almost an hour because we stopped every 100 feet. It's very economical to do this, but took way too long. We walked around Waikiki until after sunset then took a taxi back to the hotel.
We went to Pearl Harbor Saturday morning. The city bus was a good choice to Pearl Harbor. It was just a few stops away and only $10 for us to travel there and back. I read and heard from several people Saturdays are extremely crowded but we reserved our tickets for the Arizona Memorial in advance so we didn't have to worry about getting there very early for tickets. I didn't realize you could reserve tickets until the day before we left but you can at www.recreation.gov. There is a reservation fee of $1.50 per ticket(the actual tickets are free) but it's worth not having to worry about what time you're tour will be.
DISEMBARKMENT: We got on the boat around 1:30-2:00 p.m. and everything went very smoothly. We went through security and got checked in very quickly, they were very well organized. We got lunch and dinner at the Aloha Cafe and just enjoyed the boat the rest of the day. Our room was ready around 3:00 and we had an inside cabin on deck 4. We were worried about noise because the theater was directly on top of us on deck 5 and we were close the elevators but we didn't have a single noise problem the entire cruise. Also, our inside room was small but for two people we had plenty of room and we were never in there anyway other than to sleep and we enjoyed the complete darkness that came with the room.