Who We Are: We are two women in our late 50's and mid 60's. We met on a group trip three years ago and have become good friends and travel buddies because my husband does not travel and I love to travel. We are easy going roll with the punches type of travelers. I would consider us seasoned travelers although this was our first cruise. Our motto has always been that we will have a good time and we have never been disappointed.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Beachcomber for 3 nights before the cruise and found the property clean, comfortable, extremely convenient and at a reasonable rate. This is not a 5 star hotel but it totally met all our needs as we were just looking for a place to crash at night and this totally fit the bill. We used Roberts for our transfers from the airport to the hotel ($13 pp) and from the pier to the airport at the end of the cruise ($8 pp)and they looked after us very well.
Dukes's was our favourite restaurant. We frequented it very often having experienced it for breakfast lunch and dinner. We loved the view and thoroughly enjoyed the food there. The ABC Stores are great for picking up whatever you may need including wine, liquor, water, clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, etc.....the list goes on and on (thanks for that tip and many others KCfoxy). ABC Stores are also located on many of the other Hawaiian Islands as well. The International Marketplace was another great place to shop. We also picked up a lot of our souvenirs there. Most merchants will bargain with you here.
For $25 - $30 (can't remember the exact price)the Na Hoku II Catamaran in front of Moana Surfrider Hotel and beside Dukes Barefoot Bar is a cheap, relaxing way to spend 90 minutes. I believe the sunset sail is a bit more expensive. It was so nice to sit back and enjoy the gentle rocking ocean and listen to the island music with a mai tai in hand. The price includes complementary drinks and they were very good and always asking if you wanted a refill. You can't miss their boat (yellow boat with red and yellow sails).
The Oahu Circle Island with Pearl Harbor Tour 7A through Discover Hawaii Tours was a great tour for under $110. It is a 25 passenger mini coach and the price also includes your lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour which included many breathtaking views, as well as stops at Dole Pineapple, Haleiwa, Waimea, Pipeline & surfing beaches, Spouting Horn,free Kona coffee and macadamia nut samples.
We shared Hawaii23 Transportation with another cruise critic couple for our transfer from the hotel to the pier ($18 per couple)as Roberts only had a set pick up time of 12:15 (I believe) and we wanted to arrive a bit earlier to avoid the rush. This ended up being a good idea as we really had very little wait. Our arrival at the Pier was around 11:30 or 11:40ish.
We had purchased some wine in the ABC Store for a very good price so upon check in we declared it and were charged $15 corkage per bottle and able to bring the wine with us. This meant we were able to keep our wine in our cabin to have a glass on our balcony as well as bring it back and forth to dinner each evening.
We were on board the ship before we knew it and our cabins were also ready so we were able to drop off our carry ons and head for lunch and to explore the ship. The Aloha Café was a total zoo and there were no seats to be found as that is where everyone headed so we decided to go to the Skyline for lunch. We had great service and a wonderful lunch. I was thrilled that they even had a separate glutten free menu for me. We ended up having all our dinners in the Skyline. The food was always excellent and they went above and beyond to try to ensure that we were very well looked after. We did have some of our breakfasts in the Aloha Café and although crowded we found a spot in the back sports bar that we were able to eat - they did have a good selection....something for everyone.
We spent some time exploring the ship and then headed back to our cabin to unpack. I was amazed at how much storage is actually in the cabin. We had no trouble finding a spot for everything (so many nooks and crannies) and then stored our luggage under the beds. Don't forget that there is a corner storage unit behind the glass in the washroom.
We booked a combination of excursions on our own and ship excursions. Every excursion accommodated my glutten free diet.
Maui Day 1:
Our first day in Maui we had an excursion booked with Valley Isle Excursions - Road to Hana Tour. The van came to the pier to pick us up as arranged. They even sent us a little map and photos to show us where we would be picked up. Our tour guide was Debra and she made sure we had an absolutely wonderful tour. Yes, it was a long day but so worth it! She is a local and truly loves the island and her job and is so knowledgeable! She even took us to some off the track locations. We saw so many truly beautiful spots.....waterfalls, bridges, black, red and white sand beaches...... The tour was $122 for me and $133 for my friend (seniors discount) included lunch and worth every penny!
Maui Day 2:
Our second day in Maui we booked the Snorkel & Turtle Watch with Pride of Maui. This tour included breakfast and lunch as well as the best Mai Tai's of our trip prepared by the captain after the snorkeling was done. The cost was $97 plus $27 for transportation to and from where we needed to catch the boat. We snorkeled at Molokin Crater first. The water was amazingly clear with plenty of colourful fish. After leaving the crater and while waiting for the delicious bbq lunch we were fortunate enough to see a humpback whale and her calf. Our next stop was turtle town and we spotted one as soon as we were anchoring. The water is not as clear here but we did see a number of turtles. I even had one swimming directly below me.
When we got back to the ship we decided to go for a dip in the pool. I found the water to be very cool. All of the activity made us hungry so we headed to the Cadillac Diner for a snack. Potato skins for me and a brownie sundae for my friend. We were not disappointed! (we also had breakfast there one morning and it was very good as well)
We booked our Rainforest Zip Line & Waterfall through NCL. I found this tour a little on the expensive side ($197 each) but we did love it and have a wonderful day. The final zip is two lines so you can race a friend and was a lot of fun. Neither of us had zip lined before so I think this course was a good one for people to try it out. We had 2 guides with us the whole time ensuring that everyone stayed safe. After the zip lining there was a nature walk that was also very enjoyable.
We had no excursions booked for this day as we felt we would probably need a more low key day after our hectic itinerary. We caught the tender to shore and hopped on the trolley ($2 each per transfer) to head for Kahaluu Beach Park. The park was not what we expected. There wasn't anywhere to really leave our stuff while we snorkeled and we had foolishly left our water shoes on the ship so it would have been difficult to get in the water. A shaved ice truck was parked there and since we had not yet had an opportunity to try some yet we each got a small one to try. It was very good put definitely sweet. Not wanting to waste time waiting for the next shuttle we decided to walk back to the previous beach (Magic Sands)on the advise from the shaved ice guy that it was only a 5 minute walk. Not true...it took us at least 35 minutes in the hot sun. At least we burned off some of that sweet shaved ice and got our exercise for the day. Magic Sands was beautiful but the waves were pretty big and we could not manage to get over them. We spent a couple of hours there enjoying the beauty and relaxing and then caught the trolley back to the pier. We had been given a coupon for Kona coffee so picked up some to take back home and enjoy. Kona coffee is wonderful and not bitter at all. We headed back to the ship for an afternoon nap so we could stay awake for the sail by the lava flow that evening. The lava flow was quite a bit in the distance but the captain turned off the ship lights to allow us a bit better view. What a sight!
Kauai Day 1:
Day one we booked a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters through NCL. The cost of this tour was around $300 each but so worth every single penny! This was the highlight of our trip and the most amazing thing we have ever done! We also bought the DVD of our flight which I have enjoyed and relived a couple of times since my return home. We went shopping after the flight and then to Duke's for lunch (we were thrilled that our favourite restaurant was on this island as well). We had an awesome rainforest table and shared our first very very large Hula Pie. I am not even sure how we managed to eat it all after our lunch but we did!
Kauai Day 2:
Our last day in Kauai we took the trolley from the pier to the beach and rented an umbrella and 2 loungers to enjoy the half day. It was so relaxing enjoying the wonderful view, reading, and taking a dip. We had a final snack at Duke's (awesome nachos!) and walked back to the ship with only 10 minutes to spare. We enjoyed the Napali sail by from the comfort of our balcony, sipping our cocktails and managed to see a few more baby whales.
This trip of a lifetime was everything we expected and more! It was so hard to see it come to an end! We are now hooked on cruising and have already booked our next trip with NCL..... a 10 day Southern Caribbean Cruise next March.