What a fantastic cruise. This word should sound familiar to those of you who have already sailed this season to Hawaii onboard the Star Princess. But more on that later.
This cruise was the most enjoyable trip we have been on. We worried about the number of days at sea. But as the cruise director told us at the beginning of the cruise, if we brought books or knitting, we might not get to do that as there were so many activities onboard and a wide variety.
Embarkation: Los Angeles. We booked the Princess shuttle bus from the airport to the cruise port. This went very smooth. A Princess rep met us at the baggage carousel at the airport. We gathered our luggage and handed the luggage over to rep’s and we boarded the bus – that easy. The trip took about ½ hour, the bus was modern clean and comfortable. We arrived at the cruise port went to the check in area, we were given a group number and waited about ½ hour. Our group number was called we went to the check in to get our room keys and other paper work and continued thru security. This process took about 1 hour. Very smooth and organized. We dropped off our carryon bags in our room and went for late lunch in the Horizon court. The Princess Patter (newsletter) was in our room and directed us to eat lunch in the Horizon Court on embarkation day and the restaurant locations and times are listed on the back page of the Patter.
Safety: Most impressed with the safety orientation, but at the same time it was way too long. We stood for a long time, in a hot room. There was a recorded message and it covered every safety aspect imaginable, including what not to flush down the toilet. During one of the announcements the Captain said if it is not safe they don’t do it.
Our Room: Our balcony room was perfect, our room steward Ian Japy Rez always made sure our towels were fresh , ice in the fridge, the room was always clean and chocolates on our pillow every night. The bed was very comfortable, pillows were rather flat, so we asked for 2 fluffy pillows. There was a hair dryer in the room, so no need to take one of your own. There is also a safe to keep your valuables like your passport and wallet etc. The shower and toilet were working good no problems or overflows, if you RV then you will be very comfortable with the size of the bathroom. Some people on the ship put things down the toilet that cause a lot of problems, so please make sure you use common sense, only TP goes down the toilet nothing else. The towels in our room were great, soft and smelled fresh. I think that there were more TV programs offered on this cruise than in the past.
Food: We chose anytime dining and ate most of our meals in the Horizon Court. But we did eat in the anytime dining room, if you want to eat early (5:30PM) then arrive at the dining room about 5:10. There will be a line up, but once the doors open the line goes thru quickly. We also ate burgers, by the pool deck, had pizza, and ice cream. The dining room menu is posted everyday for lunch and dinner. The menu is varied but it also has some standard meals that are always offered on the menu. There were many theme dinners in the Horizon court, such as Indian, Mexican, Filipino, American Grill. There was always a good selection and variety of foods such as beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, cold meats, fish, salads, soups, vegetables, buns and pastries. Breakfasts were delicious, again a huge variety. I presume The Chef knows the ethnicity of the passengers and incorporates some ethnic foods into the menu on a daily basis. Dining service, - we always had prompt and courteous service, dishes were removed from our tables and refills were offered for water and coffee. The only beverages included with the cruise fare are water, milk, coffee and tea and lemonade. Orange juice and cranberry juice in the morning are free. For all other drinks there will be an extra charge, such as soda pop and specialty coffees and of course alcohol drinks. Afternoon tea is served in the dining room at 3:30 everday.
Entertainment – second to none. Thanks to David Cole, CD and his staff. Also to his talented musical duo Dave and Leialoha known as “Elua”- Fabulous entertainers.
Some of the Other Entertainers onboard and not to be missed include
Craig Richard –saxophone ( soprano and alto) instrumentalist. – Phenomenal & outstanding
Joszef Mezel Trio – classical
Alan Shiels – piano, singer, he knows all the tunes, such a smooth voice.
Jerome – Comedian – lots of laughs, good clean jokes, things you can relate to and even laugh at yourself.
Heather Sullivan – piano singer
“Walk like a Man – a tribute to the 60’s & 70’s – a great show
Mathew Fallon – hypnotist – amazing and respectful.
Productions Shows, with the Princess Dancers and Princess Orchestra - we didn’t miss one, all are a must see.
Things to Do
Groups and Get togethers. There is something for everyone, you name it. Get togethers for Veterans, RVers, service clubs, knitters and needleworkers, LGBT,Red Hatters, Friends of Dr. Bob & Bill W., Bible study, etc.
Games . There is Trivia everyday, sometimes twice a day usually in the Explorers lounge. There is WII, cards such as bridge, horse racing, mah jongg, Texas holdem, Casino, Blackjack,. Everyday at the entrance to the internet room, sitting on a shelf is a Sudoko quiz and a trivia type quiz.
Sports & Fitness – Table Tennis, Basketball, Zumba Bocce Balls, croquet, golf putting, Line Dancing, Hula Dancing and ball room dancing lessons
Music Lessons – The highlight of our trip was the Ukulele lessons, (ukulele’s provided). This culminated with a Aloha Oe passenger participation show at the end (optional)
Music – Princess Pop Choir, Karoke, Dancing every night in the lounges.
Day Trips -Hilo – We took a free shuttle bus to & from the Farmers Market, the standard jewelry, trinkets, and clothing. There is also a quilt shop “Fabric Impressions” just around the corner with a fabulous selection of Hawaiian material – just ask one of the locals to point you in the right direction. If you forgot a crochet hook or knitting needles you can pick some up at a Thrift shop nearby. We also went to the Ukulele store ( opens at 10AM) around the corner and bought 2 Ukulele’s. In the afternoon we took the free shuttle to Hilo Hatties and a shopping centre. We picked up some provisions at Walmart and had lunch at KFC.
We also took bus tours in Nawiliwili and Honolulu. The bus drivers provided a narrated tour, lots of humour along with history and interesting facts. The best scenery was Waimea Canyon, and loved boat ride up to Fern Grotto. We were not able to dock at Lahaina due to bad weather and choppy seas. Instead the Captain headed south in the evening and provided a good view of the orange glow from the active volcano. That certainly made up for not getting into Lahaina!
TIPS: Take an extension cord so you can plug in your electronics, as there is only one outlet. Take a small travel clock, as there is no clock in the room, you can check the read out on the phone, or wait about 10 to 15 minutes for the ship channel on the TV to display the time.
Drinks – we took empty water bottles and juice crystals and filled our bottles up daily.
Disabilities? The cruise ship is easy to navigate, and you can rent scooters and have them delivered on board. We saw people with walkers, canes, crutches, wheelchairs and someone with a service dog. The staff are well trained if they think someone needs assistance they discreetly ask passengers if they need help.
Disembarkation: We are Canadian citizens and needed to go thru the customs & immigration line. All of the people that were not US Citizens had to wait and stand one hour in the line up. Customs decided they were going to finger print everyone coming off the ship. Luckily we had already gone thru this process when we registered for Nexus, but we still had to wait 1 hour. This is not the fault of Princess they have no control over US Customs. But perhaps they can use their influence on them. Also make the passengers aware of this ahead of time so we are better prepared.
One Final Note – A big huge thank you to “Mr Fantastic” aka Niko in the Horizon Court. He greeted everyone, everyday, while he manned the serving line in the Horizon Court. Everyone knew him and asked how he was doing today. He answer was always “Fantastic Madame Sir”. What a great to start to our day. He had everyone saying that they were fantastic as well.
All in all, a fun filled, busy trip. Hopefully we are going to book the same itinerary next year, with the same cruise director and Elua.