I've never wanted to go to Hawaii because of the cost and air travel but when my husband said it was his "Dream of a Lifetime Trip," I couldn't say no. We booked the POA because it was a 7 night cruise that had a port intensive itinerary. We didn't want to spend several days at sea getting there.
I will be honest and say I've heard some negative comments in the past about NCL but we are here to say this was one of the best cruises we've experienced (10 prior cruises on other cruise lines). The ship wasn't the newest but that didn't bother us at all. Crew members were always on top of things and our steward always had our cabin made up and he always made us smile at the end of the evening with our towel animals. He was always very cordial. Thank you, Jonathan !!!
There were only 2 pools and to our amazement, they were fresh water pools. I don't believe I ever saw this mentioned on the cruise boards but that was a wonderful surprise. There was a shallow pool 1.5 - 3 ft and a 4.6 ft deep pool. There weren't many children on board so the shallow pool had lots of adults just cooling off, lounging in it. I spent a great amount of time sitting in the shallow water, reading a book. Just lovely.
We tried two specialty restaurants, Jefferson Bistro and East Meets West. Both were very good and you can order anything you wish, as much as you wish. We celebrated Hubby's birthday at Jefferson Bistro and were given a "Happy Birthday" cake at the end of our dinner to take with us to enjoy later. Very nice !! East Meets West had a great selection and we certainly had full tummies when we left. Since our goal for this cruise was "low stress" we had our other meals either in the Skyline dining room or Aloha Cafe because hubby could wear nice shorts to dinner on those nights. We truly enjoyed all of our meals except for the Cadillac Diner. We don't recommend it. One major complaint we had was regarding their "soda package." We bought the soda cup, which was a tall souvenier cup, and then were basically told we couldn't use it. Anytime we asked for a soda, we were given soda in a small, perhaps 6 oz. cup. When we handed them the cup we received with our soda package we were told they couldn't put soda in the cup due to sanitation issues. All the bars use a sprayer to put soda in the cups. It would never touch the rim of the tall cup. We felt that somewhat of a bait and switch. You obviously could have all the refills you wanted in the little plastic cup. As I said, VERY inconvenient.
We booked 3 excursions through NCL and 3 independent excursions. We booked the Haleakala Sunrise, Volcano, National Park, and Body Glove Snorkel through NCL. Each one was very organized and I appreciated the fact I didn't have to find my way in a car. I've read lots of people rent cars but I didn't want the hassle of driving. It was worth it to us to pay the extra. In Waikiki we booked Tommy's Tours, who picked us up early at The Royal Hawaiian and took us to Hanauma Bay for a 4 hours snorkeling tour. Very casual, we were dropped off early and didn't have to pay the entrance fee or watch the film. We were picked back up 4 hours later in the same spot. In Maui we booked Maui Country Farm Tour and it was a small group. We were fortunate to be in a nice van with just the tour guide and another couple. Very intersting, lots of sites but did go over almost 2 hours of the listed time of 6 hours. It was almost 8 and I was very tired by the end of the tour. On our disembarkation day we booked the Honolulu City & Park Harbor Tour with Roberts. The bus was there when we walked out of the terminal and after the tours were dropped off either at your hotel or airport. Good tour also. So, yes booked a little of both and it worked perfectly for us. I will be happy to answer any questions about tours.
NCL does a great job. I feel they were organized and very welcoming. We had participated in a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and there were senior officers there to welcome us and answer any questions. There was also a follow up meeting but we weren't able to make it as we were using our last day to soak up all the sun we could at the pool deck.
All of our flights were on time. We were fortunate enough to book first class, upgrading with Skymiles points. Otherwise, it would have been difficult sitting in close proximity almost straight up for that amount of time.
I know I've left out a lot but wanted to get this posted. I welcome any questions. Thanks ~ Cindy