Despite the many changes in itinerary, and the fact that we never made it to Kauai because of a storm, this cruise was very good. The inside cabin, while miniscule, was clean, functional and very quiet (except for the occasional rolling carts above our heads on the pool deck). We were on Deck 10, which was very convenient in that we did not have to take any elevator to get to breakfast and the buffet line at the Hukila. Every meal we had at the specialty restaurants (we ate at all three) were excellent, although the portions were sometimes pathetically small (1 lambchop as an entree!) The trick is to always order two or more appetizers, or entrees, as well as desert. I know that sounds like a lot, but believe me, it's the way to go. The only specialty restaurant that had reasonably sized entrees was the Italian restaurant, Kahili (which, by the way, was beautiful). The Bistro was also very beautiful, very art deco. The strolling Hawaiian singers were a great touch. We also ate at the main restaurants a few times. They were nice, but often much louder than the specialty restaurants because of the number of people, many groups, and of course, many small children. I preferred The Crossings to The Palace for my choice of main restaurant. It just had more wood, seemed cozier, and was terrific for lunch. (Whale watching out the back windows was a real treat).
Service was good. Keep in mind, however, some of the servers are young and quite chatty. Many like to discuss their personal life with guests, I'm not quite sure why, but some just seemed anxious to reveal personal details about their life in the middle of a meal. However, there were some professional servers who had the maturity to simply take your order and graciously leave unless you need them. All servers were pleasant and went out of their way to make the experience a good one. I like the fact that if you don't finish your wine at dinner, they hold it for you and wherever you are on the boat the next day, you just tell your server and they retrieve it. Very convenient.
We rented a car in each port (Hertz Gold service - well worth the fee) and went sightseeing. We saw everything we wanted to and really enjoyed the freedom it gave us. Of course, we purchased The Entertainment Book for Hawaii because we knew we would not be taking any tours and could take advantage of the lunch coupons. And, because we would be staying in Oahu for pre and post stays we easily saved a few hundred dollars throughout the trip. The special show tickets for Oahu were really super savers. Half off on shows, luaus, great restaurants, ATV adventures, horseback riding, everything.
The pool was very popular, though we never went because we were not on the boat during the day (except for the unscheduled one day at sea). The secret jacuzzi at the front of the ship, on the 12th deck looked really nice. It was really private up there and the bar was never crowded.
The New Year's Eve extravaganza, on the the pool deck was quite something. But the fact that you had to pay for your champagne just seemed so cheap, after hearing about "food and drinks galore" as advertised on the private ship tv channel all week. I mean, would it have killed them to go around with bottles and pour a glass for those who wanted one. There weren't as many people there as you would guess. I think due to the fact that there were a lot of families with young children on the boat. Also, by midnight, most people were exhausted because of the time difference.
Don't miss the chocolate lovers buffet, it was terrific. The fresh chocolate dipped strawberries were yummy. (Dipped while you wait). Champagne was only 99 cents at this buffet - what a deal! Also, the ice sculptures were great.
The art auctions were a lot of fun. (free champagne - see a pattern here? Thus my BubblesII member name). Also, the possibility of winning free art and watching people outbid each other and go crazy when they win should not be missed. Also, the "Not So Newlywed Game" was hysterical. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. The shows were very good. The magician and the comic shows were my favorites. Keep in mind, if you take the hula lessons you will get to be on stage with your class and show your stuff. I was sorry I did not take the class.
Take advantage of every photo op they offer, i.e., all ports-of-call, formal pictures, photo with captain, everything. On the last morning all photos are $5 (Half price - I wish I had known.)
The Lattitude party was really nice. Some really cool gifts were raffled off. Drinks and snacks were provided.
Tender service - try to make it on the first or second boat in the morning. Fast and easy. However, returning to the ship could take up to an hour and a half, so keep this in mind if you make early reservations (6:00 P.M.) at the specialty restaurants. You will be charged a fee if you are late and even more if you just don't show up.
If you are staying in Oahu at all, lucky you! There is so much to see and do you'll need a few days. Pearl Harbor, of course. The Zoo, The Polynesian Cultural center on the north shore, luaus, great shows in Waikiki (we saw the Blue Hawaii Elvis show - it was great - and we saved $64 using The Entertainment Book. We ran out of time, but heard the Magic of Polynesia was not to be missed.
Enjoy your trip. It's a great way to see Hawaii.