We booked cruise with air using an online TA in late June of 2007. Aside from a good price we did not really get any other service from the TA - never any hard copy of anything just an email receipt. Getting pre-cruise information and assistance from NCL was often challenging but I found that persistence and patience were virtues. Spent many lunch hours on the cell phone tracking down answers about everything from EZ fly to IDs, airline tracking numbers to bon voyage gifts to excursions.
Overview - Flights over/back all were on UA - everything was on schedule and uneventful - luggage arrived without incident.
Pride of Aloha - The ship was in good shape. Some scuffs on a baseboard here and there but everything was clean and functioning. The crew/staff were all courteous and generally kept busy. Our steward Rebecca was excellent - stateroom was clean, towels and ice filled twice a day, towel animals and mint on the pillow with every nightly turn down.
Food - was good but not amazing. We ate at all the restaurants at least once: Crossings/Palace - the main dining rooms share the exact same menu. Dress code (long pants) was not enforced in the Palace. Service could be slow at times - skill/energy level of servers varied GREATLY. Josh in the Crossings was far and away the best server we encountered and we always asked for him but were not willing to delay our seating if his section was full. The Buffet food was good - not great- but the set up of the serving lines and the limited seating was frustrating to many PAX on board. Quality of food/service was very good in all the specialty restaurants. Kahili was my favorite of the three.
Entertainment was good to very good. Magician Matt Marcy was our favorite. I think the performers rotate between the NCLA ships. Singer Sonny Rose and Juggler Henrich Bothe were enjoyable. We missed the crew talent show and the Broadway review.
Kids Club - Both the kids enjoyed themselves tremendously - Staff were very friendly and responsible. Only about 20 kids were on this cruise compared to several hundred onboard during the summer per the staff. So it was a low key affair - but the kids always were eager to return.
Itinerary - one word - AWESOME. - we only booked one excursion(Captain Zodiac at Kona) thru NCL . Others were booked with www.tombarefoot.com - mahalo Lori!. See daily details belowDay 1, Wednesday - Honolulu Left SMF at 6:15am to LAX then to Honolulu, arrived on time at 11: Flights over/back and cruise all operated smoothly and on time. Airport transfer was smooth and easy. Check in was equally easy and we were onboard shortly after noon. We were on Deck 10 starboard far aft - under the Hukilau Lanai/Cafe doorway. Sometimes I heard faint rumblings in early morning from carts overhead but that didn't bother us. We never heard any noise from companionway or adjacent staterooms. The 4 of us comfortably fit in the one stateroom with overhead bunks. Beds were very firm but that was to our liking.
Day 2, Thursday - Honolulu We used The Bus www.thebus.com to get to Pearl Harbor. Took advantage of time change to leave at 615am. We arrived at USS Arizona Memorial before they opened and got tickets for the 3rd tender. Thereafter we toured the USS Bowfin and then USS Missouri. These are all not to be missed IMHO. Pacific Aviation museum is very much a work in progress.
Day 3, Friday - Kahului - Maui. Rented a car from Thrifty (www.hawaiiandiscountcarrental.com) got a convertible for $55/day and drove to Maui Ocean Center (www.mauioceancenter.com) then drove up to Lahaina and had lunch at Cheeseburgers in Paradise before going on the Atlantis Submarine excursion. (http://www.atlantisadventures.com/maui.cfm) Cruising past the Carthaginian was very cool! We returned to Kahului and found lots of parking available at 4:20pm. Then we grabbed a taxi and ended this long day with a Luau at the Maui Tropical Plantation. (http://www.tombarefoot.com/maui/waikapu-luau.html) There were only about 125 people at the luau and we enjoyed everything about it. Day 4, Saturday - Kahului - Maui We were up WAY early to make our way down to Maalaea harbor to take the Pacific Whale Foundation snorkel trip to Molokini and Turtle Town. (www.pacificwhale.org) Everyone really enjoyed the clear calm water but the depth kind of made my DD uneasy. I was glad I decided to get rash guards before our trip. After the snorkel trip we explored Iao Valley for a while before returning to the ship.
Day 5, Sunday - at Sea - North Coast of Molokai and circumnavigate Oahu. Kids enjoyed the Kids Club while DW and I watched "Molokai -the Father Damien Story in the Stardust. Nice change of pace compared to the first few days.
Day 6, Monday - Nawiliwili - Kauai. Rented another convertible with Thrifty and the counter service was the worst we experienced on our trip. We finally were able to visit a beach - and we really liked Lydgate Park. That afternoon we went on an excursion "Tubin' the Ditch" (www.kauaibackcountry.com) Yet another great time - be sure to wear bug spray. Afterwards we visited Wailua falls before returning to Lydgate Beach where we snorkeled and played on the beach until dusk.
Day 7, Tuesday - Nawiliwili - Kauai. This was our last day in Kauai so we just had to visit Waimea canyon. We drove all the way to the last lookout at end of the road. Awesome scenery! Later that afternoon the ship sailed past the Napali coast while we relaxed on deck. Speaking of relaxing on deck - we took advantage of the Teen Passports which is a coupon book for non alcoholic drinks of any kind at any venue - 20 coupons for $40. Also checked for happy hour offerings and purchased a helmet of beer - 6 for the price of 5 served in an ice bucket shaped like a helmet.
Day 8, Wednesday - Hilo - Hawaii We again rented a car and spent most of our shore time at Volcanoes National Park. This was the only day we had any rain and it misted most of the day. Exploring the lava tube was the highlight of this visit. No lava flows are visible on foot at this time. We made time to visit Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory - (ho hum); Rainbow Falls - very pretty and right in town and finally stopped at Big Island Candies(www.bigislandcandies.com) - great shortbread and candies very close to the airport rental car return areas.
Day 9, Thursday - Lahaina - Maui the ship tendered at Lahaina and we took the bus up to Kaanapali and made it a beach day. We enjoyed Lydgate on Kauai more then Kaanapali.
Day 10, Friday - Kona - Hawaii. This was the only excursion we booked through NCL- www.captainzodiac.com This was perhaps our favorite excursion of all. The zodiac boats met us at the tender pier and enroute to Kealakeua Bay we were able to go right up to a pod of pilot whales! Really cool! The skipper even let my son take the wheel for a while when we resumed the ride to K-Bay. The snorkeling at Captain Cook monument at Kealakekua Bay was ABSOLUTELY THE BEST! Even DW enjoyed it and she is not a big snorkeling fan. We had lunch at Kona Brewing Company and returned to the ship in the mid afternoon.
Day 11, Saturday - Honolulu, Oahu We used E-Z fly for the luggage and rented a minivan to drive around the island before our 915pm return flight. Stopped at Diamond Head but decided not to hike to the top as it was getting hot. Continued around the island and stopped at a blowhole then grabbed a plate lunch at L&L (http://www.hawaiianbarbecue.com/) before going to the Pali Lookout (http://www.hawaiiweb.com/oahu/sites_to_see/pali_lookout.htm) and the Byodo-In Temple(http://www.hawaiiweb.com/oahu/sites_to_see/byodo-in_temple.htm) Finally we took the H3 back to Honolulu rather than continuing on to Ewa and we ended up at the Dole Plantation to try out the Pineapple Maze.……. Great time everyday but boy we were tired by the end!