The Ship I would sail on this ship again in a heartbeat. We very much enjoyed the ship and the itinerary. The ship is clean, comfortable and tastefully decorated using lots of tropical colors (turquoise, green, pink). The food was good in both the dining rooms. Food in the buffets was especially good, with a very wide selection. Eggs Benedict were available on the buffet at breakfast. Fresh, sweet pineapple was available at all meals on the buffet, as was cold milk. Being a U.S. flagged ship, I wasn't anticipating great service, but was pleasantly surprised when the service turned out to be as good as other ships I've sailed on, and better than many. Morale among the crew is high, and their pride is evident, making for a most enjoyable and relaxing environment. Both embarkation and disembarkation proceeded efficiently and quickly. Avoid getting to the port of Honolulu early in the afternoon, unless you like to wait in line. We got there about 4:30, and practically walked straight on. If you like to laugh until the tears run down your face, do not miss the crew talent show. Continue reading for info about our independent pre-cruise stay in Honolulu and snorkeling and shopping in the ports.
Honolulu accommodations and rental car We stayed our first two nights on this trip in Honolulu at the Hawaii Equus Inn (formerly the Hawaii Polo Inn). It was not a fancy hotel, but it had a prime location, and our room had comfortable beds and a refrigerator. The hotel also offers a complimentary continental breakfast of orange juice, coffee and pastries. Hotel parking was $15 per day. Check-out is at noon, but it was easy to ask for a 1:00 check-out. McDonalds is less than a block away and Ala Moana Shopping Center, with an extensive food court, is just a few blocks in the other direction. We rented a car from Alamo to get from the airport to the Waikiki hotel area. Airport van is $9 per person one-way, so groups can actually save money by renting a car. Alamo has an office on the west end of the Waikiki strip, and they offer complimentary shuttles to the pier between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM on sailing days. If Honolulu is a port, you can rent a car from the Waikiki office, too, and they'll pick you up at the pier and shuttle you back to the pier. But, rent the car directly from Alamo and not through an agent: the clerk at the Alamo office said they're having a dickens of a time working with NCL. Continue reading for information about snorkeling and shopping in the ports.
Snorkeling and shopping in the ports On the Big Island, we found outstanding snorkeling about a half hour south of Kona at Honaunau Bay: probably the best I've experienced in the U.S. (I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars-fabulous coral, lots of fish, and even turtles). Free parking and toilets make it even better. On Maui, in Kihei, we found almost as good snorkeling at Kamaole Beach 1, and at Maluaka Beach, which is just past the Maui Prince Hotel (a few more miles south of Kihei). I rate them both four out of five stars: excellent coral but fewer fish than Honaunau Bay. All three of these snorkeling spots are better than Molokini. Shopping, you ask? If you forgot some of your snorkel gear, Wal-Mart in Honolulu has an excellent selection(it's just one block north of Ala Moana Center). For island-wear, you can get it at Hilo Hattie, or find it for much less at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.