My family and I got back from our cruise almost two weeks ago and we loved it!! As it was our first cruise, we didn't really know what to expect and some of the reviews made me slightly wary but we never had an issue with anything and we had the best time.
Embarkation was slow, but to be expected. We were standing in line for around 2 and a bit hours which was painful but we made some friends in the line which provided a welcome distraction!
Our first day/afternoon on the ship was pretty busy. We weren't able to get adjoining cabins, so our family of four was split up on the fourth and tenth levels. Because my sister and I are still minors in America, the booking had to be made with one parent assigned to each of us in our cabins. We swapped once we got on the ship so our parents were together and so were my sister and I, but our luggage had obviously gone to the different rooms which meant my sister and dad had to swap around their luggage to their actual rooms once it had all been delivered. It couldn't be helped, that was the way the booking had to be made.
When we were assigned our room cards, we found that no pen would write on the back where the signature had to go! No one else we saw had the same problem but we eventually managed to use a Nikko pen from the front desk which worked.
My sister and I were on the fourth floor in an oceanview room while my parents were on the tenth in a balcony room. I actually prefered the layout of our room to my parents one. In their room, with the way it's layed out you have to squish into a corner if you're standing near the bed and someone wants to go past it. With two people it was probably manageable, with the four of us in that room it was a struggle.
I thought our room was much more spacious, I was actually surprised when I saw it because I thought it would be a lot smaller and your knees would hit the bed as soon as you walked in which thankfully wasn't the case. There was quite a bit of a length between the beds and the door and we had no problems with getting around. There is heaps of space to store belongings and heaps of room under the bed for your luggage and then some. Yes, the bathroom is small and the toilet is very loud but it's a cruise ship after all!
We had our first meal that night at the Liberty for the surf and turf and we were served by Henry and John. I would recommend them both to anyone, particularly Henry. They always made you feel welcome and were very attentive. Henry always offered his recommendations and they always turned out to be spot on. Whenever we went there we requested to be served by both of them and we always received exceptional service. Henry also works in the Aloha during breakfast so be sure to say hi if you see him.
If you ever go to the Liberty, request Henry and John and say the Duffy family highly recommended them! They will take great care of you :)
We ate breakfast every morning at the Aloha and they always had a good range to choose from. Some people have said in their reviews that the staff were miserable and complained to them about how much they hate their jobs. We NEVER found this was the case! Every staff member we encountered was lovely and wherever you went they greeted you with aloha's and a smile.
We ate twice in the Cadillac Diner, it was good but we didn't really bother going back because we found better food in the Aloha. They have great milkshakes though that you do have to pay for but it's worth trying it at least once.
We ate in Moderno for breakfast one morning, they basically offer the exact same menu as Aloha but it's more limited. You can make up a meal from the Aloha and walk next door to Moderno or to the outside dining area and eat there as it's a bit quieter.
We had teppanyaki one night for dinner at East Meets West. Our chef was very sweet but it wasn't the most entertaining teppanyaki we've had. The food is always good though and you definitely never leave hungry but we we wanted food thrown at us and I am yet to see an onion ring volcano!
We only ate at the Aloha for lunch once and for dinner twice. The food is actually quite good if you're after a bit of variety although their desserts aren't that amazing, and there were little chocolate fountains with cake pops although it was always closed off. Oh and we missed the midnight buffet, I wasn't expecting them to announce it but I thought they may have hidden a sneaky little hint in the daily but we missed it completely. I can't remember the night they had it when we were there but I would imagine it would change every week because apparently the last time they announced it, it caused a huge mess and they had to pull people from their duties to help clean up.
We didn't bother with the entertainment too much as we were always so busy off on excursions and we always had to get up early the next day so we never stayed out late to watch anything. We did catch the last twenty minutes of the tribute show which was good but more for the old people.
It is also more of an older persons cruise so we were usually the younger people anywhere we went.
We tried out the pool and hot tub on our third last night because we wanted to get into it at least once and during the day it was very noisy and crowded and I like to swim and do laps so we went at night. We were sailing that night so there was a bit of a swell in the pool which made swimming difficult but kinda fun! The hot tubs weren't that hot, more lukewarm to warm, not unlike at the Hilton where they almost burn you and you swelter in them and find the cold pool a massive relief!
We didn't meet our stewardess until towards the end of the cruise because whenever she was in to clean, we were always out in port. Lovely lady though, took great care of our room. At the beginning of the cruise, our toilet wouldn't flush so I went straight to the front desk and when I returned to my room it had already been fixed. Waay faster service than at a certain hotel we stayed at before!!
Our shore excursions were great, the best one was definitely the Maui Downhill Bike Adventure. We had RC as our main guide and Tony as our driver. Both were awesome, particularly RC who was full of energy and enthusiasm and made it heaps of fun!
The rest of our guides on other shore excursions were good but you could tell that some of them were a bit bored and they didn't have the same enthusiasm as RC, which definitely rubbed off on the rest of us.
We did the Kona kayak and snorkel, I felt sick on the kayaks and was terrible at it and kept getting swept out to sea. The guides take care of you and push you back if you're going out too far. We stopped for lunch on the rocks and then snorkled and you had the option of jumping off a cliff, which only three of us did, me being the first! The snorkling wasn't amazing but it wasn't terrible either.
The Jungle Hike Adventure on Kauai at Kipu ranch was fun, a lot of Hollywood films have been made on that ranch, including The Descendants (we got to drive down the same road on the ranch that was in the film), Jurassic Park and the opening scene of Mash, to name a few. You get to zipline, the last zipline is the longest and the highest up. There are two swimming holes, one with a zipline into the water and a mini cliff dive, the second with a rope swing and incidentally the same swimming hole Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz swam in when filming Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. Closest I'll ever get to be to him in my life! The hike through Kipu ranch was very pretty although you can't stop and look around you too much because you really need to watch every step you take. I slipped and fell on wet rocks despite being really careful so be very cautious!
The Directors Cut tour was great, on the bus they have a screen at the front where clips from films are shown and as they show you the clip, you drive past/through the area where that scene was shot. The timing was excellent! They also take you to beautiful Hanalei Bay where the Descendants was shot and some other movie. We didn't stay there long but if we go back again I'd stay and swim there all day - it's absolutely beautiful. It's definitely a tour for movie buffs!
Also in Kauai, there's a place called The Feral Pig, Brian on the Jungle Mountain Trek recommended it to us and we tried it out. They do a burger called the Feral Burger, it isn't on the menu, you just have to know to ask for it. It's definitely one for meat lovers!
Disembarkation couldn't have been easier, because we'd had a shore excursion on the last day when you picked up your tickets for disembarkation the next day, we missed out on getting a later time. We walked off at 8:20, picked up our luggage and cabbed it to our hotel for four more nights.
Overall, a really amazing holiday (we would go back in a heartbeat!!) and we miss it all and everyone so much!