This cruise included my aunt 80, my cousin 51. myself 52. by husband 56. and my friend 61. My cousin booked the cruise through his travel agent, and we gladly joined in. He and my aunt had an outside balcony on deck 10, and we were in an inside cabin for 3. We were supposed to be on the Aloha but were switched to the America and were happy with the final results. We flew into Honolulu on Friday May 9. We stayed at the Sheraton Princess K in Waikiki. Our pre cruise stay was in the new tower and we had a great view of the ocean and the pool. The room was clean and suited us well. The hotel had entertainment down by the pool. The location is perfect and the staff helpful. After our cruise we returned here for an additional night. We checked in at 9:45, and my aunts room was ready but not ours. We had a trip to the PCC planned so we sent all the luggage to my aunt's room and left for the day. When we came back we found that we had a room with a gorgeous King size bed but we had 3 adults. The reception deck downgraded us to the old tower. Let me just say that upgrades are fantastic, but downgrades are just not fair. The room was very old and worn out and dirty with a room overlooking the parking lot. I've stayed in worse to be sure, but it still wasn't very fun. We had lunch at the International food court on 2 different days. We really liked our food, but 3 or the 5 of us each got ripped off of $10.00 at the booth that sells smoothies. The attendant gave change back on a $10.00 bill when a $20.00 was given, not once but twice. Also he claimed I hadn't paid yet when I had already given him a $10.00. If you eat there watch your money carefully.
Embarkation was very quick. We went through the latitudes line and bypassed a rather long line. The room cabins were clean and suitable. Sleeping in a bunk was no big deal. Mints were left on the beds of my aunt and cousin every night, and at least once they got a towel animal. Flowers were left for the women on Mother's Day (an awesome touch). Sadly The mints flowers and towel animals never appeared in my room. The steward said something about running out. Also twice we came back to our room to find the door wide open and the steward no where around. Both times he arrived about 5 minutes later, but that would have been enough time for someone to steal from us. The steward was very friendly but perhaps needs a little extra training. The steward for my aunt's room was awesome, and seemed to keep track of her. I spoke to him several times each day and he always knew where she was. I spoke to many of the staff. Most were upbeat and very friendly. Pay attention to what they say, and you will learn a lot, like where the locals hang out, and ways to make the cruise better. Debbie in the Cadillac Diner was very helpful, and Anton in the Aloha Cafe always had an extra smile for us.
Most of the staff are excellent in all they do, but sadly some are lacking. Service in the dining rooms was poor at best. We tried the Skyline on Monday and had to miss the shows because it took so long. On Tuesday we tried the Liberty. Same results. We waited an hour to get cokes after being seated. We asked at least 3 times for the sodas but we still had to wait. The food took so long to arrive that 2 or our group left in the main course, and the rest of us decided to leave without dessert. We again had missed the shows. You may need to decide if you would rather do the show or dinner as we had to. We tried the Lazy J steakhouse and everything there was wonderful. The Cadillac Diner has great food. The shakes are well worth the extra $4.18 plus tip. The chocolate brownie sundae is no longer available. The food quality in all the restaurants was fine, as was the variety. I had to look a little harder to find good food in the Aloha, but it was there. I loved the omelets in the morning, the chocolate crepes at night. There was a heavy asian tone to the food, and I usually avoid those foods due to the spices. There are no trays in the Cafe so it is a little hard to carry food, and seating takes a little effort. There were always seats somewhere, but often took a little time to find. On another cruise a staff member always came to help my elderly aunt get seated and carry her tray, but this one was to each his own. We managed OK, but that was a plus on the other cruise. Three of our party bought the soda cards. On embarkation there was a sign saying they were $42.00 but on the bill they were $52.00 I would say save your money. In the Aloha they are served in a small juice glass and very hard to get a refill. In the dining rooms it seems that they are almost impossible to get at all. In the shows they are slow and usually small. My group usually settled for water or self made lemonade than have the hassle. You can easily bring soda on board from each port. We liked the shows when we could get to them. I missed having the Jean Ann Ryan dancers, but the entertainment was still good.
We spent most of our days in the ports, and didn't need much on board stuff. The shops were good, the prices OK and the staff helpful. The photo crew was friendly. In the ports we did a mixture of ship excursions, following staff advise, and exploring on our our. Each day was great. My favorite was Captain Zodiac, and my least favorite was the glass bottom boat, both of which were in Kona. I thought we would at least go somewhere in the glass bottom boat but we only moved a few yards. It's kind of dull to be on a boat that doesn't go anywhere. They might as well have made a bridge to go over the water. Captain Zodiac was everything I read about online and more. We took the VNP bus tour. This was a good mix of activities for our group. Walking in the rain forest and the lava tube were highlights for me. We rented a car at the last minute in Kauai, and it was quite easy. We asked the shuttles what they had available until we found one we liked. It was easy to drive around this island and having a rental gave us the freedom we needed that day. My own comfort factor only wanted to rent a car on the days we were over night in a port so I didn't need to worry about getting back to the ship.
Disembarkation went smoothly. We picked brown tags (9:20). We were off the ship and checking into our hotel by 9:45. Bottom line is this. We had a wonderful time. We would like to do it again. There were some problems but they didn't ruin our trip. Some of the staff need training, a few of them need to be replaced, but as a whole they are trying to make a good vacation for everyone on board. Aloha Oi!