This was by far our favorite island. It was gorgeous!
KAUAI DAY 1: We caught the Thrifty shuttle and easily got our rental car at the airport nearby. We went on a helicopter ride with Jack Harter Helicopters at 11:00 a.m. and it was the highlight of our trip. We went with Jack Harter because they offer a helicopter ride with no doors. It was fantastic, just you and the scenery! Our tour guide was very very helpful in pointing out things and giving us facts. We got a full hour in the air and my (sometimes frugal) husband said a thousand times he would spend this money again in a heartbeat. Afterward we drove up to Ke'e Beach and hiked the first two miles of the Kalalau trail. This is labeled strenuous for a reason. We're in shape and it was tough. The views of the NaPali Coast made it worth it though. Overall gorgeous area. We stopped at Bubba's Burgers on the way back for dinner and really enjoyed it. It's small but apparently very famous and we didn't even know it. They had pictures of Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Clinton, Matt Damon and many more on the wall from when they had stopped in to eat. The Boston cook talked with us while we ate and it was a very neat, good local place. We went to the Smith Family Garden Luau after that. We opted not to do the entire luau, just the show only option. It's kind of hidden on their website but the option is there. It was only $15 per person for just the show. We knew we would rather have more time exploring that afternoon and also knew we weren't going to eat $70+ each in food. The show itself was good, very educational and told the history of Hawaii. There is over night parking down the street from the ship in a small shopping center. A shuttle runs from the lot to the ship until 9 p.m. You have to pay $20 to park there which we didn't know if we really needed to pay (or just park for free) but a man said they did tow and we didn't want to take the chance. He gave us a parking pass to put in our car.
KAUAI DAY 2: We left early for Waimea Canyon. It took longer than we expected to get there, I think about 1 hr. 15-30 minutes. It was very beautiful though, worth the drive. After that we went South to the Grand Hyatt because we read about Shipwreck beach and a hiking trail in that area. It was hard to find the beach, you have to drive past the Hyatt and onto a dirt road. The road is pretty rough for a car, but once we got to the beach it was very pretty and isolated. We even saw a seal sunning itself on the beach! We used www.kauaiexplorer.com to pick out beaches and trails. It was a very helpful website.
DOCKING/LEAVING: Again, everything went very smoothly. We didn't get a luggage tag for a specific time to leave because our flight was later in the afternoon and we had two bags we could carry on our own. We slept in and were off the boat at 9 a.m. (the latest you could stay on was 9:15.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Something I read on this site that we did, and many other passengers wished they did once they saw us doing it, was order room service the night before and packed our lunches for the next day. We brought a small cooler from home and Ziploc bags and ordered sandwiches, chips, cookies and fruit every night before bed for our lunch the next day. It saved us a lot of money and sometimes we would be places that didn't have any food options around. Also, I read on this site where people thought the boat was outdated and not nice. I completely disagree! I've been on several other cruises and I thought this boat was great and up to par with every other boat I've been on with Carnival and Royal Carribean. They also had a lot of activities at night. They had a show plus the comedian plus someone playing in the piano bar plus something else going on. There were always options at night.
Again, I hope this review helps someone plan their trip and prepare for what to expect. We would recommend this cruise to everyone!