We both enjoyed our trip and it was a great experience but we feel that there are some things that need discussed. Firstly, NCL's website is clunky at best and made sorting out excursions before travel a little frustrating. We booked the extra dining package (on advice) through their website but it never showed on our account and I had to ask for an email confirmation so that there was no argument. The speciality dining package is essential because the main restaurant food is not up to cruise standard but the smaller speciality restaurants are good. The French Bistro and the Steakhouse are best.
We did the '4 days in Honolulu' before the cruise and it was well worth it, thanks in large part to our guide, Robert. It is not for the feeble hearted and you need the cruise to relax afterwards. That all went very smoothly. DK's restaurant in the Waikiki Marriot has the best french onion soup anywhere.
On board, the cabins are small no matter what price range and, yes, it More
is not a big ship. However, the fact that the ship cannot operate a casino and there is limited alcohol, both of these because it is registered in Honolulu and operates in Hawaiian waters, means that corners have to be cut somewhere to cope with the lack of profits. So, it is a case of cram 'em in and charge extra for worthwhile food and wine. The coffee on board is cheap and unpleasant, even in the coffee bar. To send me onshore looking for a bitter Starbucks, it has to be poor.
There are endless combinations of excursions from the ship (you really have to get off for something to do!) As reported above, the bars are not open all the time).There is some overlap and it can be repetitive. We enjoyed the 'Directors Cut' very much and the best of the others is one that has a poor rating on the NCL website. 'Flowers and Coffee' is a low key tour hosted by a delightful, gentle man named Kamaki. It is a tour of small, niche industries around Hilo - tropical flowers and coffee - and with lots of relevant and interesting information you won't get from anyone else. The review-poster must be either lacking in sensitivity or have not understood the nature of the trip.
Just don't bother with the submarine excursion; what they don't tell you is that photos are well nigh impossible due to the loss of colour below 25 feet. We stayed in Maui for three days after the cruise and noted that the excursions bought on the cruise were three times the price of the same ones you could book locally - but you pay for the convenience of course.
On board evening entertainment was good and, like the rest of the on-ship events, was well organised. We particularly liked the staff talent night!
Despite what I have said here, we enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed the experience very much. With one notable exception the crew were excellent and we actually ended up with contactable friends amongst their numbers as well as fellow passengers we met. Less
The view was the best bit of the cabin location and it was convenient for stairs and elevators. The downside is the cramped area and limited closet space - too many cabins for the size of ship. The cabin facilities all worked well.