We booked a 10 day Hawaii Vacation which included 2 nights in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor Tour, Airport Transfer and 7 night cruise on the Norwegian Pride of America. Here are my comments which will hopefully help you in planning your trip:
• Airport Transfer- Lei Greeting- What a Cluster mess. Took 3 hours to get from the airport to our hotel (which is a 20 minute drive). We had to wait to fill a huge bus full of people and stop at what felt like every hotel on the island to drop people off. Skip the transfer and just take a taxi.
• Honolulu--We upgraded the hotel that was included in the package to the in Honolulu to the Holiday Inn Beachcomber which was great. We had to pay a little more to get two adjoining rooms so we could all fit comfortably. Free breakfast at Jimmy Buffet Margaretville (kids voted best waffles ever) and just a walk across the street to Waikiki Beach. Lots of close shopping and restaurants.
• Pearl Harbor Tour—Amazing tour and memorial however again it was a huge bus full of people, AC broke so we had to transfer buses. Everyone in Hawaii moves very SLOW- after all it is vacation but it was hard for our family to slow down we wanted to hurry up and get there. We skipped the bus city tour afterwards and jumped into a cab. We did not want to sit on a big bus and drive around in traffic for 3 hours hearing about the city….we hit the beach which was AWESOME!
• Magic of Polynesia Show—I debated about going to this because of the cost but what a great surprise… the magic show was awesome. We did not do the dinner portion but show only. We were sat on the front row. The magician was hilarious and we saw a Lamborghini and helicopter disappear . The boys loved this!
• Cruise- on boarding. We showed up at the port at 3 pm. No lines. Have your luggage tags printed in advance.
• Ship Rooms. We upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite with a large balcony so the 5 of us could fit. The room was at the very back of the ship and the balcony was HUGE—200 sq ft with seating for 8+ with great views. The room also came with a butler, concierge and lots of perks. It cost a little more that getting 2 separate staterooms and was SOOOO worth the extra money.
• Ship Food- Terrible in the “free” areas. Scrambled eggs came out of a plastic bag. Steak did not even taste like steak. We ordered medium rare New York strip and we got a well done T bone…waiter said sorry we ran out of strip…unacceptable. Skyline took on average 2 hours for a table of 7 of us to eat each night—way tooooo long. We did pay to have dinner at Cagneys Steakhouse and it was night and day comparison—food, service was all A++. I did not go on the trip for food so it is not that big of deal….
• Ship Service- Amazing. The people are great—especially the Concierge, Thomas. They went out of their way to offer advice and guidance to help your vacation go as smooth as possible.
• Ship Entertainment—The average age of the passengers was 55 so the entertainment was all focused around this age group. Lots of 50’s, 60’s tributes. We skipped most of it….we were so tired from our full days of activities we were in bed by 9:30 each night. We did go to the white hot party but it was disappointing because there were young guys- maybe 21 but looked 19 drinking alcohol and hitting on young teenage girls—maybe 15 or 16. Not sure where the parents were but I would not have approved….
o Dancing with the Stars was HILARIOUS—go see this.
o I wanted to play Family Feud but we could not stay awake. The 5 hour time difference was tough.
• Maui: We rented a car through www.discounthawaiicarrentals.com and booked it with Alamo who has a free shuttle at all the ports to take you to the car. Quick, easy and cheap.
o Road to Hana Tour—I booked through Valley Isle Excursions. Small Van, very comfortable, cool AC, unlimited drinks, great tour guide. We made a ton of stops but they were all very quick. This 10 hour tour had way more driving (5+ hours) that I expected but the views were worth it for me—The kids did well but they really wanted to play and swim in the pools which were closed due to high water so we did not get to swim at all—bummer. The winery did not sell wine by the glass so you get two sips and your back on the road. If this tour is for you then I would definitely recommend Valley Isle. Do not try and drive it yourself. The turns and bridges will give you a heartattack.
o The Royal Academy Surf Lessons—we booked private surf lessons for our group of 7 at Lahaina beach. The instructors were fabulous. They take you to a special place where the waves are perfect for learning. We all got up and did amazing with their expert guidance, encouragement and help. They had a professional photographer taking pics so we got a dvd with 200 pics of us surfing for $100. Bonus!!
o The Black Rock at the Sheraton- The boys really wanted to cliff jump so we headed to the black rock. We parked at the Sheraton garage and walked over. The jump is over 30 feet. The rock is sharp- wear swim shoes. It was pretty scary per my 11 year old but dad and the 8 year old did it with no fear. I enjoyed the resort area and beach—no jumping for mom.
• Hilo—We decided to stay on the ship and skip this island. We needed to sleep in. I went to the Spa and got a massage. BEST massage ever!! The boys had fun playing in the 3 on 3 basket ball tournament on Deck 14. Kids club was not for us. There were not a lot of kids on the boat and it seemed to babyish for my boys.
• Kona—My favorite port. We booked the 5 hour snorkel tour with Sea Quest Rafting and Snorkeling Adventures. The kids LOVED this. The boat was super fast—we felt like we were on a tube hitting the waves behind a speedboat…hold on tight! The water was amazing, fish beautiful. We got to see 20 dolphins up close. The tour guides were GREAT. We explored seacaves and lunch was included. A++++-- our favorite excursion and I don’t really like to snorkel. My husband played golf this day thru the ship at Makalei. He loved it and the pro gave him so really good tips plus he got a free digital down load of his swing in 100+ images so he can really study what he is doing.
• Kauai—We booked a Zipline Safari Tour with Outfitters Kauai. You better be fit and in shape—this tour is not for the sissy type. We started off kayaking a couple of miles…. I got lucky and was paired with the hunky muscular guide who did all the work so I could relax ;) This is such a beautiful island and this tour really did a good job letting you experience the beauty up close. Next was the hike—we stopped at a lagoon with a rope swing—the boys loved this. We took a ride on a tractor through the fields and enjoyed lunch. Next was ziplining which was AMAZING. Great zips- very long and you can even go upside down and tandem. My favorite was the last zip which was into a lagoon- the water felt great and was so refreshing. The lady guide on the tour was not nice and treated us like 5 years olds- I don’t think she liked her job or people or both. Almost ruined the tour—I tried to avoid her but it was hard because she wanted to bark orders at my kids the whole time. The hike back was long through the rainforest/jungle but very cool that you got to experience it up close.
o Professional Photos—I booked a session with the ship professional photographer to have our pics taken on the beach that evening at sunset. WOW!!! The pics were beautiful. Expensive --$1000 for the DVD and canvas collage but so incredible I could not pass it up. Photos of a lifetime. Wear bright colors and take lots of action shots and laughing shots. We ended up getting splashed by all the waves but it made the pics fun.
o The second day in Kauai I had reserved a rental car but we skipped it and hung out on the beach by the port and on the ship—great music by the pool- live band and jimmy Buffett tribute.
• Honolulu- We took our time getting off the ship. We stored our luggage at the port $5 per bag and took a cab to the aquarium- cheap and cool because it had a wand that talks to you about each of the windows. It was great to do this at the end of the trip because we were able to talk and learn about all the different fish we had seen snorkeling. We then went to the Ward Cinema to catch a movie before our flight home.