This was our 2nd NCL cruise (jewel), and 6th overall (other 4 RCL). We had balcony stateroom 11044. If I had to do it again, I would have gotten 11036 or 11034. Great location on the starboard side near pool and elevators. However, with ... Read More
This was our 2nd NCL cruise (jewel), and 6th overall (other 4 RCL). We had balcony stateroom 11044. If I had to do it again, I would have gotten 11036 or 11034. Great location on the starboard side near pool and elevators. However, with music at the pool most afternoons and a restaurant above, a little more forward would have been perfect. Same deck as Aloha cafe as well.
I was expecting a less than friendly staff based on previous reviews here, but that was not the case. Other than one maître d' at Cagney's, every person was extremely friendly, and caring, and engaging. As soon as we got on deck 11, looking for the Aloha cafe, a bartender came out and approached us, asking what she could help us find. This became the norm for the whole staff, the entire week. (except for our stateroom attendant, see below)
While our stateroom was as expected, our stateroom attendant was MIA. We never saw him/her the entire week. Not kidding. Never met him/her, saw him/her, nothing. We are used to having our cabin made up between breakfast and lunch and turned down in the evening, normally while out to dinner or show. 6/7 days our attendant visited our room just once. The other day, no visit. There was a great stateroom attendant, Lucia, down the hall that was very sweet and apologized all week, exchanged towels, etc. On day 5, we made a complaint, got towels from Lucia, nothing changed.
However, we still had a great time. We arrived on Friday, took a $35 or so (one way for 2) shuttle from airport to hotel and stayed at the Marriott Waikiki, via one free pre-cruise night deal. Baggage took about 45 mins to arrive on the carousel. Shuttle doesn't need to be prearranged, they are against the wall in a booth and you can set it up then. Less than expected for a Marriott, but it appeared all the hotels were old and outdated. We explored the beach and had dinner at one of the local restaurants. The next morning, there was a place to meet for transportation that is provided from Marriott to ship. This was nice as you left your bags in your room that morning, tagged with cabin number, and they were ready in cabin when you arrived. Hotel to ship was 15 mins or so.
Check-in was a breeze, maybe 15 minutes including security, etc.
We ate in Aloha and then headed to the pool deck as the cabins were to be ready between 2:30 and 3:30. Luckily we wore our swimsuits because it was hot and the rooms weren't ready until around 3:50. They said there were toilet issues. Luckily they were resolved and we had no issues all week.
Set sail for Maui and we did the Molakai Crater and Turtle Snorkel. Highly recommend this excursion. Top 10 snorkel location in the world. It is run by a non-profit as well. We happened to see bottle nose dolphins on the way to snorkel and spinner dolphins on the way back, however they said this was rare to see in the area. Incredible visibility and great fish. The seas were to rough at the Turtle snorkel area so we stayed longer at the crater. Photo available for purchase $20 cash or card)
The next morning, we got up at 1:30am to meet at the terminal to do Haleakala Sunrise and Bike Tour. This was done by Maui Downhill. There is a bit of wasted time at their shop getting fitted for gear and just sitting around. Then there is an hour and half drive up the volcano. If you've read reviews about this tour and you've heard to take warm clothes, do not discount this advice. However much clothes you think you need, double it. I had on 3 layers including long sleeve pullover and sweatshirt, sweatpants and two layer wind pants, and was still frozen. However, it was worth it. The sunrise was awesome. You then drive down from 9700 ft to around 6900ft and get on bikes and ride down. You cruise downhill between 15 and 30mph. Again, this was awesome. No pedaling, just steering and braking. The bikes weren't fancy, but they needn't be. Highly recommend this tour as well. Tipped the driver and the bike tour guide. The bike tour guide does recommend a tip of $20 per person, which seemed a little forward, but I get it.
The next day was at Hilo. Here we did a zipline through paradise excursion. 8 double ziplines (meaning two lines) up to half a mile long. Very Very rough road leading from main road to zipline and back. Guides were extremely safe and knew what they were doing. Zip line over a couple of different waterfalls. It was pretty good. Not as exhilarating as I was hoping but the rest in our group seemed to love it. Pictures are made throughout the ziping and are available for purchase. $25 for one or $49 for all (12+).
At Kona you tender in life boats. Its a short ride over to the pier. There is a small beach there where we hung out most the day. Its nothing fancy, but not bad. We rented an umbrella for $12. You could do 2 chairs and umbrella for $29. Water there was very cold as it is fed by a natural spring. Again we put on our snorkel masks (we bough full face snorkel gear from amazon for around $40 ea-highly highly recommend) and saw some incredible species. They also rented stand up paddle boards, kayaks, etc.
In Kauai, we again went to the nearest beach and hung out. There are free shuttles from the ship to the shopping/beach area. There is a Marriott there as well, that sits on the beach. They have the world's largest Koi collection. Again here you could rent stand up paddle boards, surf boards, etc. Not much sea life that we saw in this area.
Later that evening we did the Manor house toru and Luau. This is the most expensive Luau option. 600-800 guests from the ship will get off and go to the Luau. The Manor house tour gets you first bus there, first bus back (think about all of those people going through security). It also includes, a train ride around the property, prime front row seating and a separate dinner at the manor house while everyone else eats at the Luau buffet. However, this dinner was less than appetizing to many in our group. Its a set menu which our night included chicken wontons for appetizer, roasted fish on spring greens salad, pork and fish wrapped in thai leaves, rice, and cheesecake for dessert. I found the appetizer, the pork, and the cheesecake very good. Again, many from the ship in our group did not enjoy it at all. They then lead you to your table in the front row. I think you definitely could, at that time, go to the buffet and get dinner if you didn't enjoy the first dinner. The show was spectacular. You are then led out first back to the bus to get back to the ship. Highly recommend this tour.
Day 2 at Kauai, we used as a rest day. You leave port around 1:30pm and tour around to see the Napali Coast. Incredible view of this side of hawaii.
When back in honolulu, we used the terminal baggage storage ($5 per bag) and stored our bags until 4:45pm. You must pick up your bags by 5pm. once our bags were stored we got a free shuttle back to waikiki. The caveat was that you had to go through a 20 minute tour at the Maui Dive shop to see how their jewelry is created. Actually very interesting. These guys are located at the bag storage area. They do free shuttles throughout the afternoon at various pickup points. However, we just used them from terminal to their shop and then to the Ala Moana shopping center. From there we took public bus ($2.50 pp - google maps will tell you which bus/stops to use for your desired route) back to terminal at 445 and then a taxi from terminal to airport ($35).
During the cruise we ate at Cagneys and Teppanyaki. Both were great meals.
Entertainment was surprisingly good. Both the magician and the comedian (forgot both their names) were very good. There also was a quartet, Well Strung, that was top notch. It seems like maybe this ship has more rotating entertainment than most. I believe all 3 of those had just gotten on that week and weren't staying on very long. There was a vegas style show on Friday night (last night) that was a bit risque'. Looked like a lingerie show.
Hope this helps someone as they plan their vacation. Read Less