We flew to Honolulu 2 days early and stayed at the Marriott on Waikiki Beach. NCL registered us (and took our credit card information and our identification pictures)from their office in the hotel. We attended a NCL orientation breakfast and finished booking our excursions then. I had outlined where we wanted to eat each night on the cruise and gave that list to the NCL office which they said they could enter for us. (As soon as we got on ship, I went to front desk to confirm the dinner reservations, but they had none, so I gave the lady at the front desk my requests and she entered all of them. For East Meets West, you must indicate which part of the restaurant you want--we choose Teppanyaki (they cook you food in front of you.)
Getting to the ship was easy....with NCL transfers. We entered the cruise terminal and were guided to a desk where we picked up our cruise cards. From the time we were off the bus (at 12:45 p.m.) until we were on the ship took 15 minutes! We went and bought our coke stickers from the first bar we saw and we were ready for a great cruise!
We loved the aft room. The deck was 10 feet by 12 feet. It had 2 chairs and a lounge plus a little coffee table. We found a new use for the bungee cord! We let it hang straight down after attaching it to one side beam and it showed us how strong the wind was blowing! (Usually use it as a clothes line.) The bathroom was nice. The room was fine. Our room was clean, bed made, ice bucket filled and towels exchanged. We were careful to leave the messages on the turnwheel outside our cabin. Our cabin person would have received a bigger tip from us if he had come and visited with us. He seemed very busy--too busy to talk. Other cabin stewards talked more to us than he did. We enjoyed our cabin!
We did shore excursions 4 days out of 7. We rented a car on Maui from Dollar and it cost $35. Captain Zodiak was good. We really enjoyed the final day all day excursion that put us at the airport at 7:30 p.m. for our 11:59 p.m. flight home. NCL owns the Polynesian Tour company on each island, so NCL continued to make money off of us even after we left the ship!
We found the crew to be very hard working and really trying to keep things done up to the customer's expectations. We attended the anniversary party. The crew in charge of this party told us before the party about how hard they worked and how they really enjoyed working on the ship. The girl talking to us had her college degree and plans to work until she saves some money. The guy helping her enjoys the ship's opportunities and plans to stay for several contracts. NCL recruits employees through job fairs. There were many older Americans (not just people in their 20's) working on the ship also.
Our one suggestion to NCL is to make one of the big dining rooms into a designated dining room with set time to eat and set people to eat with each night. That way, they could accommodate people who wanted the stability of knowing who to eat with and when to eat taken care of.
We enjoyed the exercise facilities....very nice. My husband and I exercised every day.
The chocolate buffet was wonderful! Lots of good things to eat. We ate at the Cadillac Diner several times. The food was always good. We ate in Jefferson Bistro, East Meets West, Little Italy, Lazy J Steakhouse--our favorite of the speciality restaurants, Liberty, and Key West Grill each one time. We ate at Aloha Cafe many times. I loved the ability to choose where to eat. I heard a lot of frustration from people wanting to eat at a certain restaurant, but couldn't get in. KEY: Make reservations 1st night....you can always change them later....also make reservation for 4 people if you plan to invite guests to eat with you. Reservations for 2 people are easier to get.
We enjoyed the night time programs...fun! There were strong winds 3 nights we were on the cruise. The front desk will give you sea sick medicine if you need it.
It was a great cruise! Thanks NCL! We did not have time to do everything that the ship had to offer.