What a fabulous time on this newly refurbished cruise ship! For my first time in Hawaii this cruise could not be beat and being on its second run after coming out of dry dock was an added bonus. We had a 2 bedroom family suite with a large balcony room (8702). When they say large balcony they are not kidding! Situated aft the balcony curves around and has about six chairs on it with several little side tables. The room has a regular bedroom with a queen bed, a sitting room with a huge floor to ceiling window. The sofa converts into a double bed and it has a pocket door. The living room was spacious and we had our own espresso machine!! Now that was a bonus. There was a ton of storage and shelving, 2 closets and flat screen TV's in every room. Our butler was on the ball and was right there whenever we needed anything. This was the perfect room for us and the price was really well worth it. We feel we got a fabulous deal!! The bathroom was a little small for the room but it worked and there was storage and the shelves in the shower were perfect. Gotta say the towels were great , big and fluffy! Strangely I have to say we only had one small trash can in our room. Loved the little tucked in area with shelving and the safe. The sofa in the living room converted into a queen bed so you could potentially have 6 people in that room. There was just the 2 of us and the room was spacious and well laid out. The room was in a great location we had no problem with noise and we had great views of Kilauea at night, the Napoli Coast was amazing and our balcony gave us just incredible views of everything from sunrises to sunsets.
Boarding the ship was a bit much. We got to the port around 1pm and then stood in line to check our luggage for about 30-45 minutes. It was very warm and even though we had priority boarding that did not pertain to luggage check or security. Once we checked our luggage there was the security wait for about 15-20 minutes. Once we got thru those 2 things then we were escorted to the priority boarding area and that was a piece of cake. We were then escorted onto the ship and taken into the Napa Wine Bar for a little chat with our Concierge and then told we had access to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch as part of the suite! We had no idea and thought this was such a great treat, loved the steak and eggs for breakfast. For lunch my favorite was the shrimp cocktail and the chicken and cheddar polenta , out of this world!
We did try the room service breakfast one morning but it was not nearly as good as the restaurants, of course the view while we ate was a show stopper!
The ship looks great , do not know what it looked like prior to the refurbishment. It's a smaller ship but we really enjoyed it. Clean and fresh we had little to complain about.
Best bar on the ship hands down was the Champagne Bar, which by the way should be renamed the Martini Bar. The bartenders went above and beyond. They were creative with the drinks and going to the Martini tasting was one of the highlights of the trip. That was full and we were happy that we signed up for that right away. We almost didn't go to that bar but when I saw all the infused vodka's I got all excited. AMAZING MARTINI's. We had a little engine glitch and pulled into Kauai a little late so they opened the Champagne Bar that morning and I was right there for a Bloody Mary Martini , one of the best concoctions I've ever had!
Could not understand why the Waikiki Bar was not open earlier. We were by that pool one morning around 11-12 and many other people were there. That bar does not open until 1 so you have to walk to the other side of the ship for drinks until then and there is no wait staff to get drink orders. Also the seats at the Waikiki bar are the most uncomfortable things to sit in! Just a little observation.
The other observation is the photo taking as you are getting off the ship. It was holding up the line getting off in ports , it was kind of ridiculous and blocking people getting off the ship was annoying. The initial embarkation was the same with the picture taking.
The ports were just right and enough time was given to each so you could get a good feel of all of the islands. Each island had its own feel and they were different in their own way.
We did try to get to the spa but it seemed that they were booked. We usually do a lot of spa treatments; we even did a spa room on the Epic. Unfortunately I had one treatment the first day of the cruise and then could not get an appointment for the rest of the cruise! That was a first for us. It did save us plenty of money, more to spend on martinis! Advice - book your spa treatments early!
We didn't do many tours thru NCL. I wanted to do the Haleakala Crater Sunrise but by the time I went to book it weeks prior to the cruise it was sold out on NCL. I booked it thru another vendor and it worked out for me. We did a lot of the Trolley's to get around the islands, did a lot on our own and for Hawaii this worked out just fine. When we were on the Epic in Italy we did everything thru NCL which was perfect for that trip. There was so much information on the Cruise Critic site about Hawaii we were really set on how we could do the islands and what would be good for us and which outside vendors were the best. Roberts Hawaii seems to be the one to go to for all sorts of transportation and tours. We booked the airport , Hotel , Pier transportation, couldn't beat their price, helpfulness and efficiency.
The other person I traveled with had a late evening flight back home and our Concierge was good enough to suggest a hotel that allowed her to rent a room for the day! He arranged everything for her. This was a great find. She could check in at 9am and stay until her flight time. It was a little expensive but she said worth every penny.
This trip was definitely one of the best trips I've taken, we appreciated the staff and crew and how accommodating and friendly they all were to us. We are now in the planning process for our next big girls' trip. As usual it will include land and cruise. As usual I will be on Cruise Critic getting plenty of information. This is just giving back by reviewing and I will post pictures. Pictures can also be viewed on PHOTOBUCKET.