Embarkation: Disaster! We stayed the night at the Best Western Sunrise ($100) that has a free shuttle to the pier. We were informed that there were problems so we could not board until 1:00pm. We got to the pier around that time but it was total mayhem. Thousands of people standing around not knowing what to do or where to go. The gangway was broken and the X-ray machine was broken so there was a huge delay with the people getting off and we could not get on. We sat in the cold and rain for over 4 hours with two children. I saw NO ONE from Celebrity to even help at all. This was very poor service on their part. Everyone has very angry. There were lines that went no where, people just wondering what to do. They dropped the ball on this one. They may not have caused the problems but they handled in the worst way.
First four days at sea: The boat is GORGEOUS! It is very elegant but understated. It is a little confusing at first but in no time you figure everything out. Our cabin was inside on the skydeck (9). There is some noise from the restaurant and deck above so bring earplugs. There is also a sewage smell every once in a while but I don't know if that was around all the boat. I only smelled it on our deck. The cabin was small but fine but we were crowded with 4 people (our choice). Our cabin steward was great (Jose). I could not ask for anything better in this arena. He was efficient and quick as we rarely ever saw him. The sea was rough for the first couple of days so a lot of people were sick, myself included. The meclezine cleared it up for me. The activities on board were in one word BORING. They have a commercial you watch were it says that Bingo is the official sport of Celebrity, they mean it! There is lots of bridge playing (Bridge?)I don't even know anyone who plays. They had financial lectures (yawn), computer classes (interesting, but this is my vacation!),oceanographer series, and a "Hawaiian ambassador" (he was nice). I did the trivia, which was fun but the questions were strange and very age based. I played Bingo (because there was nothing else to do), the Newlywed game was very fun but just one night.
The kids program was great for my six year old. He spent every minute there and had a blast. My teenager had a hard time finding the other teens as they did not so a lot to bring the older kids together but they eventually found each other so then there was a small pack of teens hanging out. After that we never saw him at all.
Hilo: I highly recommend renting a car (Thrifty) and seeing things yourself. The ship's excursion is about $100 per person and they went to the same places we did but we spent just $35 for the car and they pick you up at the pier. We ate at a place called the coconut grill that was yummy ($50). The macadamia nut factory is on the way to Volcanoes Natl. Park so you can make a very easy trip of it.
Kauai: My favorite, we should have rented a car. We went to the Fern Grotto and did the river cruise $60 for the fours of us, I really enjoyed this, it is truly beautiful. Taxis are hard to come by but there is a shuttle to and from the Coconut Grove Marketplace from the pier. Rent a car! Also if you arrange your tour from the pier or throughout the little freebee magazine. You can get a helicopter tour for half what the boat charges.
Honolulu: Yuck is this LA? We rented a car ($35) and did the Arizona which was nice but not as moving as I had hoped. We got there about 9:30 and got tickets for 10:45am, not too bad. The film was great but the museum was so crowded you could hardly even look at anything. We skipped the Mighty Mo and the Bowfin (which I wish we would have done). We went to the Dole Plantation, skip it! The cost to go on the train ($30)was ridiculous and boring. We did the Paradise Cove Luau, Which was a lot like a Vegas night club act. I am glad we saw one but I don't ever need to see another. The food was so-so. We had the Entertainment book coupon which saved us $100.
Kona: The only port that was tendered and we had a super short day there 8-3. Considering how long it took you get off the boat, you really only had about four hours to spend. The boys went parasailing with UFO parasail (BOGO w/entertainment book) which was great! The weather was the best in Kona at about 85F and sunny. I snorkeled right off the pier which surprisingly had a lot of fish and things. You can take a free shuttle to the better snorkeling beach as well. Kona was very nice and not too touristy like Honolulu.
The last days at sea: We watched Cirque du Soliel and it was good. The shows were good as well but the movies, could they get any older? As I was desperate for activities we went to all of them. I enjoyed the library and the spa. I wish they would have had a laundry mat so we could have packed less. We lost quite a bit in the Casino but there was not a whole lot to do so we spent a lot of time there. The seas was great on the way home but not a lot of sun on the whole trip.
The Normandie: We ate there and it was so worth the extra $60
The food was very good but there is not evening buffet which really limits your choices. The casual evening restaurant was lousy. The pasta bar is great but my kids only ate hamburgers by the pool side. The sushi bar was good and the pizza OK. The service of the wait staff is impecible (Kumar/Julian).
I will cruise again but not with this company. This is tailored for the over sixty crowd. I didn't mind being in the minority but I would have begged for some fun things to do. Our last cruise had midnight buffets with conga lines and great bands and lots of fun. This had Bingo and bridge and lectures. The whole ship was in bed by 10:30. I was hoping for a little more rounded experience of luxury and partying. I hope I have been fair.