We booked one night pre and post cruise at the Aqua Palms at 1850 Ala Moana Blvd. This is a condotel. Every room has a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and dishes. Don't remember if there were utensils. Everyone receives a bottle of water at check-in. In the morning, they have a continental breakfast in the lobby with fruit, coffee and muffins till 9:30 am. There is a stop for the Pink Trolley right in front of the hotel. In the morning, we walked 4 blocks to the Ala Moana Shopping Center which opens at 10 am daily. This is an open-air shopping center with 220 shops, services, and restaurants. They have a huge food court.
In November 2006, the state of Hawaii instituted a smoke-free bylaw which states that there is no smoking within 20 ft of entrances and also no smoking at bus shelters.
At 12:30 pm, we returned to the hotel and they had ordered a shuttle for another group that we could join. It was $ 7 USD per person. I don't remember the company name but it started with a K. When you get to Pier 2, the NCL luggage handlers come right to the van & take your luggage.
There are reps from Roberts Hawaii & Gray Line Hawaii that offer tours. Their websites are graylinehawaii.com & gorabbitgo.com
If you have cruised with NCL before, go to the Latitudes check-in line.Embarkation begins at 11:30 am.
We were on the ship by 1:30 pm & wait straight to our room. Our room was right around the corner from the elevator. We didn't hear any elevator noise but the housekeeping carts are noisy. You can hear them clanging down the corridor. It didn't seem quite ready for us. In the bathroom, there was still garbage in the trash can, only 1 face & hand towel, some debris in the toilet and it remained that way until the next day !
Spent the rest of the afternoon having lunch, taking the ship's tour, exploring the shops. They have a coffee bar right outside the shops on deck 7 but it is not operational. They are using this as the Specialty Restaurant reservations desk.
On the first night, they have an outdoor bbq & hula show from 6 -8:30 pm. The lifeboat drill is at 5 pm and the make-drill is the next day at 4 pm. There is no safety video to view on the tv until after the drill. Instructions are on the back of your stateroom door.
For shore excursions, there is an Embarkation Day special: Buy 5 tours & save $ 25, buy 7 tours & save $ 50.00
Photos are $ 19.95, specialty restaurants are 50% off for reservations after 9 pm. Internet is $ 0.75 for pay as you go or there are packages which work out to $ 0.40 or $ 0.55 per minute. Plus there is a $ 3.95 activation fee. Latitudes members receive discounts at: gift shop, art gallery, spa, photo gallery, internet cafe & the jewelry shops. The gift shop has a Power Hour on Embarkation Day. Save 10% on purchases over $ 20. This is the only time that items are discounted. Onboard shopping is NOT duty-free. There won't be any t-shirts sales eg. 2 for $ 30.
We had dinner in Kahili, the AsianFusion restaurant. You can order 1 item from each course. We found the starter portions to be small but the entrees were generous. You can order sushi at an additional charge.
Day 1 Kauai Day 1:
NCL offers a luau at the Kilohana Plantation for $ 95 USD per person. Buses depart at 4:15 pm. If you are attending the luau, you should plan for a light day of sightseeing. Free shuttles to Hilo Hatties, K-Mart & Walmart are available in all ports ( some are near the beach ). Due to the heavy rains in Kauai in 2006, guests are no longer taken into the Fern Grotto as the soil is unstable.
There are movies shown ONCE during the afternoon 3 times during the week.
Tonight, we ate in the main dining room. They only have 3 course meals. For some reason, my husband & I received different menus. Another annoying thing is that just because it's on the menu doesn't mean they have it. Eg. I ordered the carrot & ginger soup & was told 'we don't have that'. This was at 5:30 pm when the restaurant opened. Because of this, we opted to eat our dinner nightly in the buffet. During the dinner, we were asked several times by the headwaiter, waiter, and assistant waiter 'how is your dinner' We thought it was overkill.
Day 2 Kauai Day 2:
Ship departs at 1 pm. Good day to take the shopping shuttles.
Day 3 Hilo
We took the Volcano & Rainbow Falls tour. It was a full day including lunch at the Volcanos restaurant. Authentic hawaiian food. It is not cold her but really windy. If your tour includes the Thurston Lava Tubes, bring a flashlight as it's quite dark. The Rainbow Falls is nothing. When the sunlight hits the water, it 'creates' a rainbow.
Every evening in the ship's buffet, there is a different item in the carvery: roast beef, ham, pig, turkey etc. In the morning, there is an extensive selection of milk: fat-free, 1%, 2%, homo, lactaid, soy. There is no smoked salmon. They have an omelette station on the Huikilau Lanai and a waffle station inside. There is a separate area for toast & bagels.Day 4 Kona
We took the Parker Ranch Tour. This tour is misleading. You visit the museum which is in town. Then you drive on a long windy road up to the ranch to listen to the history of the Parker family & view 2 historic homes. There are no cows or horses, no cowboys !
Day 5 Maui Day 1
We took the Maui Plantation & Iao Valley tour which was ok. NCL doesn't offer a luau in Maui anymore. Instead, they offer Ulalena; a Cirque du Soleil type magic show. The ship docks in Kahului which is 45 mins from Lahaina. You should plan for a light day of sightseeing if you are attending this show.
The evening entertainment during the week was 2 production shows, 2 comedians & a magician.
Day 6 Maui Day 2
Good day for another full day of sightseeing or taking the shopping shuttles. The Hilo Hattie shopping shuttle takes you to Kihei which departs from 9 am to 11 am. There is also a Hilo Hattie in Lahaina.
Disembarkation: * by 9:30 am Easy Fly ( only for US residents within USA on AA, UA, or CO, $ 19.99 per person, max 2 bags, some restrictions apply ) * 7:30 am early flights ( before 11 am ) * 7:30 am Express Walk Off ( must carry off your own luggage ) * 7:45 am Deck 10 * 8:15 am Deck 9 * 8:30 am Deck 8 * 8:45 am Deck 7 & 6 * 9:00 am Deck 5 & 4 * 9:45 am Post - cruise ( if purchased with NCL ) & all remaining guests * Luggage storage: available at Pier 2 for $ 5 per bag. Bags must be collected by 6 pm on disembarkation day. NCL offers a shuttle to the airport at 6 pm.
Summary: for NCL ships in Hawaii, the focus is on the islands, not the ships ( may be different for POH or Pamerica ). There are no ice carvings, no chocolate buffets.