1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Hawaii Cruises
  4. Hawaii Cruise Reviews

40 Hawaii Holiday Cruise Reviews

I traveled with my family of four on the Ruby Princess for its Christmas Cruise to Hawaii. We flew from Oklahoma the night before the cruise was to debark and had done 'massive' preparation for the trip. We packed seven ... Read More
I traveled with my family of four on the Ruby Princess for its Christmas Cruise to Hawaii. We flew from Oklahoma the night before the cruise was to debark and had done 'massive' preparation for the trip. We packed seven checked-in bags plus carry-ons. We marked each piece of checked luggage with bright green duct tape on the sides, top and handles, and made luggage tags out of candy-cane red striped paper slipped inside of plastic nametag holders and connected to the bags with zip ties. This made identifying our bags in the busy LAX airport very easy. We did have to pay for a luggage cart in a couple of places due to the number of bags, but we needed the extra items packed this time (more to come on that later). As our cruise was scheduled the day that the new Star Wars movie was to come out, we decided to stay in Hollywood and go to the Disney-owned El Capitan theatre (across from the Chinese Theatre on the Walk of Fame) for a midnight showing of the movie. We bought these tickets online a couple of months earlier to ensure we'd have a seat. We rented a car and drove to Hollywood and parked at the highland mall to have access to the Lowes hotel, which is extremely nice and freshly renovated. The lobby of the hotel was filled with an amazing display of decorated gingerbread houses, which we really enjoyed looking through. Warning on this is that there's someone to pull your bags out of the car, and another porter (who won't take no for an answer) to whisk your bags up to your room. We spent $14 on tips before we got to the first night. Because we got in so late, we got a free upgrade to a huge room with a great view of the walk of fame. We got back from the movie and viewing the extensive prop and costume collection on display at El Capitan at about 3 AM. The next morning we did the short, 2-hour Paramount Studios tour, and enjoyed the short drive from Hollywood to the studio. The tour was really fun, with a tour guide driving us all over the backlots with stops to get out and see sound stages, prop rooms, a museum, the employee theatre, and backlot locations like the area that makes up New York City and more. They offer a four hour tour but we didn't want to be rushed for getting to the port. We had planned to get to the port at the beginning of debarkation and I would drop my husband and one kid off at the port with all the luggage, and drop the car off at the San Pedro location of the Hertz rental car, just a few blocks away. We did this and then Hertz dropped us off at the port for free. After having read numerous reviews about embarkation and the perks suite guests get, including priority embarkation and a suite lounge to wait, we were expecting to walk in, check in, and walk on board. We gave the porters our 7 bags and 7 dollars and went inside to an absolute madhouse. The entire building was completely full and we had to literally climb through and over people to find the check in area for suite passengers. Once we fought our way to the entrance of checkin it was smooth, but we were notified that at 1 pm there were still hundreds of passengers on the Ruby due to some immigration issue. We inquired about the suite lounge and the guest services lady said it would be completely overflowing if we could even get there. We were basically directed to 'find any spot we could' and wait. We waited over an hour before the passengers holding Black Elite / Suite cards were allowed to embark, so this was not a great start. (note, when we got home, I saw that Princess did email us during the morning of embarkation to let us know of the delay, but we weren't checking email that day.) However, once we crossed that gangway to the ship, magic happened. We walked into the piazza of the Ruby Princess, completely decked out with Christmas trees, garland, lights and three singers dressed in 1940's singer costumes in red and white singing lovely Christmas songs. At that moment, I felt the stress from the awful embarkation experience drain from my soul. We immediately caught an elevator and made our way to D101/105, the family suite on Dolphin Deck 9 to find a lovely, large group of rooms waiting for us, fresh from dry dock with amazing new beds. As other reviewers stated, the family suites are all the way at the forward end of the ship and there are two entries to the suite. One entry goes to the master bedroom with what felt like a king-size bed, a large closet and full bathroom. The other entry went into basically an interior room for the kids with twin beds and twin berths overhead, and a half bath, with two closets. Both bathrooms had a suite amenities bag, including some lotion, a loofa, gel eye cover, sunscreen, emory boards. Other amenities in the rooms included canvas totebags to keep, sewing kits to keep, fluffy robes to borrow, disposable spa slippers, notepads, and pens. Both rooms had desks with chairs and their own flat-screen TV's, refrigerators with ice buckets filled; they were connected by a family / living room with two love-seat sized couches that have seen better days and were not comfortable for long sits. There was also one sitting chair and a small table. There was a ton of storage nooks and crannies all over the suite, so much that we left a majority of the cabinets unused, which says a lot since we packed so much. The family room had a curved wall and then a sliding glass door out to the extremely oversized balcony with four chairs, a table, and two footstools. The chairs were not in my opinion, any kind of upgraded furniture for suite guests, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but the balcony location is directly under the bridge and with the best views of the sea and port anywhere on the boat. The downside of this suite is that it's on the front of the ship and there is no glass on the forward side of the balcony. We thoroughly enjoyed the balcony on port days and spent all our sailaways there, but on sea days the wind was very heavy (up to 40 knots some evenings), this particular balcony was so windy that we had to flip the furniture over because it was flying around. We recommended to the cruise line that they add a glass wall to the front to the expensive room's balcony could be usable on sea days. We had planned to eat lunch in the main dining room while all the other passengers fought their way through the horizon buffet. Unfortunately due to the lateness of disembarkation and embarkation there truly was no MDR open for lunch. We called dining reservation to book our complementary night at the Crown Grill (suite perk) and then left to get a piece of pizza to hold us over. One thing that was frustrating was that the time for the muster drill changed a couple of times, making it hard to plan for dinner, and getting showered, beforehand. One other thing we noticed about the ever-changing muster drill times was that these were being announced by a person with such broken English that we caught ourselves saying, 'what?' to each other to figure out the announcements, and we'd recommend to the cruise line that safety information be delivered in clear English in the future. We made it through muster drill, which was unlike we'd had on other cruiselines where you actually go to your lifeboat and put on your jacket. Here we met in the extremely crowded princess theatre and listened to announcements and then stood up to wriggle our way into lifejackets while trying not to elbow our neighbors. But it was over soon enough and we raced back to the room for the Crown Grill. The suite perk of a complementary entry fee to the specialty restaurants on embarkation day should not be left unused. The food and service in the crown grill is impeccable, and the food selection are amazing. At our table of four we had a huge tray of lobster tails, salads, steaks for three people, and prawns for the fourth. Everything was cooked perfectly and was a wonderful meal to celebrate the start of an amazing cruise. We also did not have to dress very nice that first night since luggage had not been delivered, although we all had on long pants and blouses/collared shirts since we packed them in carry ons along with our bathing suits. After dinner our luggage had arrived and I unpacked as much as possible. We already had two rounds of dirty laundry so we started the process of cataloguing and sacking up the laundry bags to take advantage of another suite perk - free laundry and dry cleaning. We also sent out all our formalwear for the trip to be dry cleaned and pressed for the first formal night. We sent laundry out six times during the trip and watched bills be added and removed on our stateroom account throughout the cruise. At the end I noted that we'd gotten over $500 in free laundry/cleanig services on the trip. All the laundry came back clean, pressed, and hung or folded, and had a little itchy label identifying us ironed inside each piece. I highly recommend taking advantage of this suite perk. Back to dining. On the first few days of the cruise, we ate breakfast all over the ship, including the buffet, room service and the international grill, but then we decided to try the suite perk of private-ish dining (only other suite passengers) in the crown grill. Immediately we knew we'd made a mistake by not doing this every day. The Maitre'd checked our name and room number one time and then recognized and greeted us each morning. This became one of the highlights of the trip - wonderful, personal service, fun conversations with wait staff, and really good coffee. We ordered things both on and off the menu, but highlights were the massive amounts of amazing bacon served, beautiful crustless French toast, fruit plates, and omelets with any ingredient you like. We enjoyed this part of the trip, and the same two or three waitstaff each morning that I actually cried on the last day of suite breakfast. (They give free mimosas at suite breakfast too, but we usually didn't have them.) From that first discovery, we only had breakfast there unless it was a port day with an early shore excursion meet time. On disembarkation day there was no suite breakfast but suite passengers were allowed to have room service, so we did that. On our room service mornings, we ordered ungodly amounts of food to feed four people and the waitstaff a;ways had it there at the beginning of the service time we'd requested. To. The. Minute. They would come in, set out a table cloth and then lay down the food and leave after getting a small tip. We had nice conversations with the same waitstaff each morning and became friends with this young lad as well. For lunches, we mostly did pizza, hotdogs/hamburgers and the buffet. I think we ate in a MDR one time for lunch but that takes a lot of time so we preferred to grab and go for lunchtime. The hamburgers on the ship are the best around, so don't miss out on that. Dinners we had anytime dining and enjoyed the MDRs many nights. The selection and quality of food were good, but dinner was always time consuming. We did the buffet one night at 5, which is officially snack time, not dinner time. This was a mistake and we felt like it was 'scraps' being served. This put us off the buffet for several days until we tried it again one night after 530 and found that it was better food a little later. In the MDRs we did shared/social tables a lot and actually enjoyed meeting people who've traveled all over. We did not expect to enjoy that, so it was a good surprise. The desserts including the chocolate journeys, were all pretty much perfect and delicious. For Christmas they served turkey and dressing along with a large selection of really nice dishes. On New Year's eve, they served prime rib, escargot, several nice fish dishes, among other tasty treats. They also passed out hats and party favors, which was a nice touch. On drinks. there are perpetual coffee, tea, hot water machines in the buffet, and you can order lemonade for free in the buffet as well. The coffee in the buffet is NOT the same as room service or the MDR/suite breakfast and is frankly, awful. We came to call it, 'sludge.' If you're a coffee drinker, we recommend having it delivered via room service along with free hot chocolate for the kiddies, served in cute teapots. Our kids also got the drink cards and went to the international cafe for mocktails and hot chocolate numerous times. They probably paid for the drink cards 3x over, so we'd do that again. We bought about ten drinks in bars over the course of the cruise and spent a little over $100 on that. We also took advantage of the free mini-bar that started with 2 courvosiers, 2 vodkas, 2 gins, and 2 whiskeys, along with 2 beers, 2 perriers and 2 bottled waters (another suite perk). We did leave a note for our room steward that we wanted to swap the gins, the perriers for other things and he changed them out on his next visit. This leads me to the Room Steward, who was amazing and friendly. Not a lot to say other than we had a perfect experience with him. We did wrap a Christmas gift for him and gave a little cash in a card on Christmas morning. It turns out he is from the Phillipines with a wife and young son at home. Our room was thoroughly cleaned and we enjoyed visiting with him. We got corsages and boutonnieres delivered free (suite perk) on the first formal night, enjoyed canapes in the room, and chocolates delivered on formal nights as well. One other thing on the room. As promised, here's why we had so much luggage. We packed a Christmas tree, room decorations, magnetized door decorations for two doors, tinsel, lights, stockings, Christmas table cloths, unwrapped presents, stocking stuffers, and paper/bags/tissue. We decided to do a regular Christmas. So we took the time to really decorate it up. A lot of other cabins did their doors so that made the trip extra fun. After I wrapped presents, I gave the cabin steward all of the leftover wrapping supplies to share with crew. At the end of the cruise, I left two suitcases worth of decorations, which also got taken downstairs after I discussed it with the cabin steward. I'm so glad we drug extra bags with us to do this. Things we enjoyed doing on the ship included trivia three times daily, led by the cruise director's staff. Each session was hilarious and entertaining. We also went to a magic show (meh), and then a big production magic show (excellent), a culinary demonstration and galley tour (amazing and funny), karoke night, a blackjack tournament, the casino, movies under the stars, a couple of lectures, hula lessons, the voice of the ocean contest, and just so much more. We also enjoyed binge watching the Love Boat series, showing on the TV's 24 hours a day. My husband is still watching episodes now that we're home. There was so much to do we just couldn't do it all, and that's the way it should be. My husband and daughter did the behind the scenes tour (highly recommend this). You need to sign up for this on day 1 at passenger services, as it's limited to 12 people. This cruise did a second round on the way back so we got in with our late signup. This tour was about 3 hours in length, cost $150 and was worth every penny to see the bottom floors of the ship, meet the captain, and all kinds of special access things. When they got back, each of them received pictures of them throughout the ship with their tour group and the captain, a frame, a robe, customized stationary. We thought this was a really nice touch. Our teenage son had the most wonderful trip. The teen club kept him hopping and with friends from afar all day long. There were most days on the ship that we didn't see him and had to set check in times or tell him that x activity/dinner with the family was mandatory. He just had so much fun with the teen hot tub parties, formal nights, video games, etc There's a lot about his trip that we'll never know but we always felt he was safe and out of trouble so c'est la vie. Our ten year old daughter had sign out privileges of the kids club and she enjoyed the evening movies in there and a few of the daytime activities. They had full schedules but the boat was very full of kids so she often preferred to hang out with us, especially once she started having so much fun at all the trivias. We swam a few times and did hot tubs a few times too. I used the thermal spa (suite perk) many many days, and loved this free aminity. All but one day I was the only one there. My routine for this was to wake up at 745 and have bathing suit/robe on and be in the hall by 755, spa by 8 when they opened. I'd check in (leave my cruise card) at the spa desk, make my way to the waiting area for massages to get an icy lemon water to take downstairs with me, then I'd shower in a cool fog shower and sit in an aromatherapy grotto for as long as I could stand, shower again, and then fall asleep on the 'rock chairs' (heated chairs), covered in towels. I'd wake myself up snoring and then drag my way back to the room to get ready for the day. There's nice soft music playing in there and it was a great place to reflect and meditate (sleep). If you're a suite passenger, don't miss this perk. I loved the solitude and relaxation. One other note about the spa - my son got a good haircut on the ship for $35, which was high, but it was a good haircut. We loved New Year's on the ship, which was a fun, (very formal) night on board. Tuxes and real gowns were the order of the day. We were glad to have these items, as even going to the show would be awkward when not dressed like everyone else. We also participated in a gingerbread house making contest, and had packed a ton of little sweets, lights, and decorations for it. We were disappointed to find we couldn't use the items, scissors or anything else to help us, but it still turned out to be a jolly fun time for all. We were AMAZED to see some of the creations people came up with using only the things provided in the box. As a side note, after the contest the ship put out a huge display of their chef-created gingerbread houses which were unlike any I've ever seen anywhere, so beautiful. Shore Excursions - we did the volcanoes national park excursion on Hawaii through princes. This was a large bus full of people and a day packed with activities and a lunch. If you want to hike, see a ton of the island in one day, we'd recommend this. Bring your walking shoes and a bottle of water. Also, lunch isn't until 130 or so, so you might want to throw in a protein bar or other packaged item for this excursion. No ship food is allowed offboard. On Oahu, we rented a car and prearranged for pearl harbor tickets. We spent the morning there then did the dole pineapple plantation (a waste of time in my opinion), drove to the North Shore to watch the surfers enjoy the big wintertime waves (expect heavy, slow traffic full of people in bikinis), and then we drove to Waikiki and spend the last few hours of sun in the lagoons by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We watched sunset on Waikiki, dropped the boys off at the ship and then the girls went shopping. It rained on an off during this day, but it did not keep us from thoroughly enjoying a convertible and warm weather. ON Maui Christmas Day, we took a snorkel boat, which was waiting for us at the tender point. Weather was very rough, and the captain couldn't get us to Molokini Crater that day. We instead went to two amazing snorkel sites that were calm and just wonderful, with tons of fish, turtles, eels, rays, etc. We had nice breakfast and lunch on the snorkel boat and went from the boat back to our tender, never really seeing Maui, which was just perfect. On Kauai, we did the tour of the island in a minibus that took us to all the movie sites. It was a cool setup - the guide had a TV in the front of the bus where he'd show 'so many' clips of scenes filmed in a location while we were driving. Then we'd look up and boom, we'd be at the same spot we'd just seen on screen. Things like gilligan's island, jurassic park, just so many movies made here, for a reason. Kauai is beautiful and the beaches are the best and most beautiful in the world. We saw the entire east half of the island, had a lovely lunch at a local restaurant, and saw the property of many celebrtieis like Bette Midler, Mark Zuckerberg, and also where Elvis had a bungalo at the CocoPalms resort. A very full day that got us back to the ship with minutes to spare before sailaway. My comment on Hawaii was that we'd like one more day there, made up with faster ship speed or a day tacked on. We didn't have enough time to see it all, especially on Oahu. We did not get off the ship in Ensenada, which appears to be a poverty-stricken, dirty port that has brown water and heavy industry. I heard from other passengers that they were followed numerous times by families with small children begging and/or selling items, and that they felt not good about this. I'm glad we stayed on the ship, packed and enjoyed our last day of eating too many desserts. We discovered late in the cruise the cruise messenger service, which you can access free on your iphones. We recommend figuring this out on day 1 to keep track of those in your party. This eliminates the need for walkie talkies and whiteboards, both of which we very rarely saw on this cruise. What did I forget to pack? A clock - they're rare on the ship. I saw a few outside the elevators, and around the pools. Other than that, you're left to wonder what day and time it is. There is a channel on the ship where it scrolls the ship's position and time, but we sure wished I'd brought that clock. I would not pack beach towels or snorkel equipment again. We used the excursion's equipment and brought ship's striped towels with us, along with all the other passengers doing water activities. Disembarkation was well communicated in advance. We asked for a 930 disembarkation and knew where to have luggage when, and where to be (club fusion / suite members). We did have room service that morning, and then enjoyed coffee in the disembarkation lounge while we waited. This was smooth and on time. We had a wonderful time on this cruise, came back totally disconnected from the real world and with so many fond memories. Other than the few bumps, we'd highly recommend this cruise to families or anyone who wants to be around other travelers for two major holidays. Just a great great cruise. Also, if you think this might be your only time to Hawaii and you can spare the money, we highly recommend getting a suite if there's one available. The perks of the suite breakfast, the thermal spa, priority tenders, free flowers and special chocolates made our trip so special that it was definitely worth it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Carnival was not "up front" with it's guests for this cruise. A lot of us didn't realize until it was too late, that the Miracle has been having propulsion problems since early this year, and decided to continue ... Read More
Carnival was not "up front" with it's guests for this cruise. A lot of us didn't realize until it was too late, that the Miracle has been having propulsion problems since early this year, and decided to continue operation of the vessel, which is now scheduled to go into dry dock in early 2015. Because the ship couldn't cruise at normal speed, we had a multitude of itinerary changes. We arrived late a some ports and in the case of Maui (the highlight of the trip), we totally missed it and we were compensated with 1/1/2 hour in Kona and a $200 credit. The stop off at Ensenada at the end of the cruise was at 8 pm rather than 3 pm. The ships crew blamed everything on the "weather"...which none of us could believe. 2 of our 4 excursions were canceled and debarkation as well as the tendering process was a gaggle!! It also appears as if Carnival is also cutting back on service personnel. We had to go to the bar most of the time (whether inside or outside) to get our own drinks...on previous cruises we could barely turn around when someone was asking to wait on us. Not to mention the internet and TV service were totally unreliable. When we asked about it, the cruise director said that there was no "satellite service" in the ocean???? REALLY......most folks on this trip were seasoned cruisers, so we knew better. We spent $50 just trying to confirm our upcoming airline flights on the internet...but they did refund us for that. It's just a hassle to stand in line for 2 hours at guest services to try and get anything taken care of. I will say our cabin steward was top notch...but they always are. It was truly a disappointment, especially since we had booked the cruise a year in advance. We realize that things come up and if it had happened that way it would be different, If they had just been "up front" with us in advance, we wouldn't have had a problem with it. They definitely made the wrong call!! This is really the first bad experience we've had with Carnival....just wish it hadn't have been on such a long trip. It's the first time I couldn't wait to get off of the ship and go home!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed on NCL - Pride of America for Christmas. Staff was definitely the best I have ever seen and I have been on 7 other cruises with various cruiselines. The ship itself was old and I knew that before hand and the rooms are definitely ... Read More
We sailed on NCL - Pride of America for Christmas. Staff was definitely the best I have ever seen and I have been on 7 other cruises with various cruiselines. The ship itself was old and I knew that before hand and the rooms are definitely tight. We had 4 of us in a rooom, 2 adults, and a 16 and 12 year old. It was manageable but room for all of our stuff was tight, especially in the closet. The only real complaint that I had about the room was that the bathroom always smelt like urine, and my in-laws said the same thing about there room at the other end of the ship! If you are looking for nightly entertainment, this ship is not for you unless you like to just sit in a bar. After the show there really is nothing else to do, which wer were ok with since we are not realy partiers. The ship does get rocking around at night when you are sailing so if you are one who gets sea sick, be prepared. I really didn't think it would be rough, but man was I wrong. The islands were great, but we did have some problem with excersions booked through NCL always running late!!! Also we had booked the Circle of Fire helecopter tour and all of the flights that day were ground due to weather (which apparently happens alot) which I was very dissapointed about, since it was the one thing we were really looking forward to! The food in the restaurants was alright, but nothing great. The main diningroom, seemed like it always had new people working in them and there was always soemthing wrong with our food, or wrong food or no food at all. This happened during breakfest and at dinner. The Cadillac diner had amazing wings!!! This cruise is definitely one you book for the islands so dont expect alot from ship itself, but it is a great way to see Hawaii and the staff definitely help make the ship enjoyable! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Checking in was a breeze. Luggage delivered pretty quick. Went to room, aft balcony and found the air not working, empty wrappers behind drapes, along with sticky straws next to safe. Spoke with our steward and was told he would put in a ... Read More
Checking in was a breeze. Luggage delivered pretty quick. Went to room, aft balcony and found the air not working, empty wrappers behind drapes, along with sticky straws next to safe. Spoke with our steward and was told he would put in a work order with his supervisor for air, We waited and waited and waiting. Finally hubby went down to front desk and was told they did not do much in the way of repairs when the ship would be leaving port. My husbands response was "then just tell me when it will be done, because if you cannot get this fixed, i may as well disembark (and he was serious). Food; we tried La cucina has spaghetti carbonara (more like alfredo & was supposed to have pancetta, not that i could see) Minestrone soup, no flavor. Hubby like the osso bucco. Cagney's steakhouse, was continually told the chef was finishing up our order, only to receive lukewarm steaks & congealed gratin potatos, It was not even crowded. Skyline I had ordered a sirloin steak that i could not even cut (seriously) Buffet was ok had choices, but pretty sad to travel all that way and live on pizza. I traveled with a party of 6, They all felt the same. John adams coffee bar was good, but sooooo slow. I normally love dessert, the only thing i liked was the crepe, which you had to wait forever for and the soft serve ice cream.. Service staff: beware near buffet they cross with carts like they are driving nascar, and would not dream of stopping to let a "guest" go first. Aft deck 11,12, 13 wakaiki bar smell like grease. The shows were great.. i am all for being able to hear what is said, but when it was a musical you would of thought they were playing 10,000 seat stadium. Very loud. Room: aft balcony deck 19. very small. one person at a time to get around bed to balcony. The showers are miniscule, hubby was trying to wash legs etc and realized his head was hitting the soap dispenser and was pumping out soap onto his head. NCL provides soap and shampoo that's it. No conditioner, no lotion. Poor quality, went and bought my own soap and thankfully packed some conditioner. Shore excursions: waterfall hike, beautiful, had a great tour guide TONY. A little tougher than i anticipated. Hubby had bruises on bottom of feet. Mine were mostly from the knees down. Very uneven walking. Whale watching. So excellent saw 4 whales and the catamarran was brand new. KOna coffee and choclate factory was interesting. Luau was done very well. Lastly if you are a smoker cigar or cigarettes, you can only smoke in wakakai bar aft deck 13. Has a canopy for shade, but can get real windy up there. also when it rains there is no protection from the rain which blows in sideways. Personnel is great there!!! Children: is it really that hard to teach kids 10-17 not to run in halls and about run you down and some manners would be nice. I say this only because at some time or another they are going to hurt someone! I was told because this is the only american based ship, that half the crew has to be american. I really do not think i will be experiencing ncl again. I had 5 others traveling with me, that feel the same.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens and we are Elite cruisers on Princess. We booked this 15 day cruise to be away for both Christmas and New Years. It was wonderful. Our last two cruises were Hong Kong to Shanghai and Yokohama to ... Read More
We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens and we are Elite cruisers on Princess. We booked this 15 day cruise to be away for both Christmas and New Years. It was wonderful. Our last two cruises were Hong Kong to Shanghai and Yokohama to Vancouver in the spring (2014) on Celebrity Millenium. They were truly horrible cruises in all ways so we have dropped Celebrity from our cruising list and have returned to Princess. Everything with Princess was superior. Embarcation was quick. I've noted other comments on this cruise about the ship leaving late - but so what??? We were on the ship, getting comfortable in our 2 oceanview cabins, eating a great lunch and an even better dinner and watching a show. Whether we were in port or on the sea is totally irrelevant as far as we are concerned - we were on shipboard! Our cabins were clean, spacious and comfortable - loads of closet and drawer/shelf space. Our steward was unexceptional but competent. Almost all the staff were friendly and accommodating. There was very seldom a line-up at Guest Services compared to Celebrity were most of the entertainment seemed to be meeting hoards of people in the Guest Services lines because there was so much to complain about on Celebrity. The on-board entertainment was the usual, and included a couple of fabulous magicians and the theater is lovely. All the decor was attractive, bright and cheery. The food in the dining room was fantastic almost without exception. And hot. We thought the whole menu Celebrity was cold food only since none of our meals arrived warm on the Millenium. On Princess the fish was to die for. The beef was so/so, but we cruise for something different than we eat at home. We can eat good steak at home but fabulously prepared fish and lobster tails (served twice) are a real treat. The desserts were good too. Room Service was fine. Biggest complaint is the coffee which is crappy. But we remedied that by buying a few coffee cards which get you premium teas, hot chocolate and espresso drinks (lattes and cappucinos). Our girls enjoyed the teen club, although would have preferred less freedom and a few more structured activities. I had a great massage onshore in Ensenada and the 4 Hawaiian ports were also great. We rented cars on Hawaii and Kauai, taxied on Oahu and visited with friends on Maui. Our only complaint was on Maui. It was a tender port and the lineup to reboard was over an hour and a half. When we approached the front of the line we requested the top deck on the tender so we could get some photos of the ship and indicated our willingness to wait for the next tender we were referred the officer in charge who was a total jerk and a Hitler clone. We were treated very disrespectfully but refused to let it spoil an otherwise lovely cruise. You always meet the odd idiot when travelling. We took independent debarkation in S.F. and exited swiftly. All in all a lovely 15 days. Thank you Princess. We're already booked for 2 cruises totalling 35 days on Princess for 2016. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My family (parents and husband) and I recently returned from this cruise (11/19-12/4/2014) and were very happily surprised after reading a few bad reviews about the Grand Princess. Yes, she needs a rehab to the cabins (public areas were ... Read More
My family (parents and husband) and I recently returned from this cruise (11/19-12/4/2014) and were very happily surprised after reading a few bad reviews about the Grand Princess. Yes, she needs a rehab to the cabins (public areas were rehabbed a few years ago) and you will see rust, etc. but this is still a beautiful ship! We would very gladly take this cruise again on the same ship next year! Pros: The crew is genuinely friendly and accommodating. They obviously have great management and leadership, and have many activities that help to keep them happy (we spoke to several crew members about their lives onboard). We loved the Cruise Director, Mike Witte, one of the best we have experienced in 20 cruises. The food was also better than expected - we had cruised on the Sapphire in January, which had a much smaller buffet, and we were very surprised to see that the Grand Princess' buffet was larger. These are older ships, so unfortunately the buffets are not as large as on the newer Celebrity or Royal Caribbean ships, which are quite amazing. The pizza at Alfredo's is the best on the sea. Wish our pizza was that good in LA! The entertainment was very good - several comedians, magicians/illusionists, and musical acts such as twin musicians who played the violin and viola, and the best was Lovena B. Fox - gorgeous, amazing voice, and tons of energy - a real star! The Princess dancers and singers were also very good. The Movies Under the Stars is also really fun. The ports: Loved Oahu and Maui, Hilo there isn't really much there unless you go to visit the volcano, which we didn't do, and we went to the beach in Kauai (within walking distance of the ship). Cons: The sea was a bit rough crossing to Hawaii and back, and we were told that is normal. This is an older ship, so she does not have the stabilizers that the newer builds have. Be prepared for a bit of rocking for the sea days. We did not see anyone get sea sick, just wanted to make that note. Would love to see the ship rehabbed, otherwise, an amazing cruise. The cabin: Our cabin was nicer than we expected, although the bathroom counter and shower curtain left a lot to be desired - very cheesy (especially compared to the Celebrity Silhouette). The balcony was quite large - they took some space from the cabin to enlarge the balconies. The bed linens and towels were very nice and you can request an egg crate and featherbed to soften the otherwise hard mattress which does not have a boxspring. We had 9 sea days, and loved every moment of relaxation! We all read several books and completed a few jigsaw puzzles, and there are always activities to do onboard all day long, every day. We would love to do a Christmas cruise - the crew were already decorating Christmas trees a couple of days before we disembarked. We did celebrate Thanksgiving with a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and there was a very large cake and decorations in the Piazza, which was nice. The crew is very special on this ship - they really go the extra mile to make you happy. It was fun to see the impromptu entertaining in the piazza. I can see why people are loyal to the Princess brand, because they do strive to make their passengers feel special. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We have sailed to Hawaii 5 times during the Christmas and New Year combined and this was one of our best. We departed very late but was no problem--once on board we escape completely! Everything is wonderful-- Food, Shows, Happy Hour, ... Read More
We have sailed to Hawaii 5 times during the Christmas and New Year combined and this was one of our best. We departed very late but was no problem--once on board we escape completely! Everything is wonderful-- Food, Shows, Happy Hour, Music, and a total floating resort. We have already sailed under the Golden Gate before during the day but we still stayed up for this one and it was great and exciting at about 2:30 am. We select the Christmas time mainly because everything is very festive and Princess really knows how to make everything festive. The decorations are beautiful and the music around the ship and TV makes it even more special. This was our first cruise on the Grand and one thing that made this cruise and ship most special was the live music provided in several part of the ship. Our favorite was the music provided by the group Makani E. Their Hawaiian music is the best! Their selections, harmony, instruments, voices, and movements made this cruise a true Hawaiian Cruise. Several times they also played music other than Hawaiian that added to even like them more--rock, folk, country, and a lot of good dancing music. We will continue to sail during the holidays and we hope the music in the future is as good as this one, and hope that Makani E will be on our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Booked our dream vacation and were generally disappointed. Poor value for the money and the ship is in poor condition (showing wear and tear). Better value in the Caribbean. The five days at sea going over to Hawaii were OK. Lots to do ... Read More
Booked our dream vacation and were generally disappointed. Poor value for the money and the ship is in poor condition (showing wear and tear). Better value in the Caribbean. The five days at sea going over to Hawaii were OK. Lots to do exploring the ship, attending great lectures and eating. Great weather and getting excited about going to Hawaii. Had an obstructed ocean-view room and were pleased with the space and layout. Bed was good and loved having daylight in the room during the day. Booked into the late sitting for dining (Bottecelli 210) and had great people at our table. Our waiters were EXCEPTIONAL and made the dining experience something to look forward to (not to mention the food quality). Had great time in Nawiliwili, Kauai. Amazed with ability of crew to steer into this awkward harbor. Great tour of waterfalls then Wailua riverboat to Fern Grotto. Definitely walk trough the Marriott right beside the dock - nice beach and great garden area in the middle of the complex (great koy pond). Honolulu was everything expected: Diamondhead, Royal Palace, and Nu`uanu Pali Lookout, Waikiki Beach was a bit of a disappointment (hard to see with all the tall buildings), but a great city tour and nice to see all the landmarks you see on TV. Pearl Harbor was OK - BUT, the Federal shutdown created problems touring the Arizona Memorial (a real letdown for many people). Been there - done it! Stopped in Lahaina, Maui and had the greatest fun snorkeling at Molokini Creater , but, the highlight was swimming with the sea turtles not far from the dock in town - GREAT!!! Nice town to just walk up and down the front street and shop, eat & drink. NICE PLACE!!! Last stop - Hilo, Hawaii -- WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!!!! Thought we would drop the expensive excursions to the mostly closed volcano sites and just spend time in town relaxing - wrong.... The small city of Hilo has absolutely nothing to offer tourists (no beach, no front street, no character - just a long bus ride through industrial area to a Walmart and and a Sears shopping mall. This was a total waste of a day in paradise!!!!!!! Now for 5 days back at sea to the mainland. Got a little tired of the sea days but the entertainment and food kept us going. Got really tired of non-functioning bathrooms and elevators throughout the ship. Now here is the confusing part - for some reason, the ship came back to a little town called Encenada in Mexico. This town had nothing to offer other than a crowded market street with the usual cheap crap being peddled by annoying marketers - not to mention the little children trying to sell you chicklets and beds. Nothing to really do bu find a bar and have a margerita. TOTAL WASTE OF ANOTHER DAY!!! One more day at sea and were are back at San Francisco. Princess would be well advised to modify this trip and make the stop for 2 more days in Hawaii and drop Ensenada. Also get out of Hilo - it is a dump..... Probably would not advise any friends to go on this cruise as it is a waste of time and money for the sites that you get to see. Fly and stay instead........... Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is still construction on the street outside the terminal, but our cab driver easily negotiated it. We tried to check our bags at the obvious spot, but were told to take them inside. Seemed unusual but we diligently went inside, where we were told to take them back outside. OK, finally got them checked and came back through the line. No other embarkation problems of note and we were quickly onboard enjoying the buffet lunch. Met the other Cruise Critic Rollcall members at the Sunset Bar for sailaway drinks after muster drill. One member had made beautiful pin-on buttons for all of us, and we wore our Mardi Gras beads to identify ourselves. Good way to get the cruise started! The officers were friendly and mixed with the passengers every day. It was great to have the Captain greet you personally at breakfast and the Hotel Director spend 1/2 hour with you at Elite Happy Hour. These are the little things that make traveling on the Century very special. She may be older and smaller, but the ship has a devoted following. This was a quiet cruise with a lot of sea days and was definitely an older crowd. But there was lots to do if you chose to do it. The enrichment lectures on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater in WWII were fabulous and June, the Hawaiian arts and crafts lady, was great fun. The standard of excellence that Celebrity maintains in its service, food, maintenance of facilities, etc., is what keeps us coming back time after time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Just got off POA and was extremely disappointed in the whole cruise, the Islands were great, but the ship left a lot to be desired. Food, average. the ship had been in dry dock for a refurb just prior to this sailing and had not been ... Read More
Just got off POA and was extremely disappointed in the whole cruise, the Islands were great, but the ship left a lot to be desired. Food, average. the ship had been in dry dock for a refurb just prior to this sailing and had not been completed. Deck 13 had 2 x 20 foot containers still on and half deck closed. No TVs in the rooms worked Food just average - buffet only Water leaking from downlights at reception deck 5 Bar staff pretty average Cabin staff obliging and kept room well Know of at least 1 cabin that was flooded Very little entertainment I had gone on this cruise with rave reviews from my parents, I paid single supplement for my cabin and have to be honest it was the worst cruise I have done. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our 10th cruise, 5th with Norwegian, which has rapidly become our favorite cruise line -- though we'll certainly go on others when the itinerary, timing, price, etc., warrants. There were 14 of us who went on this cruise: ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise, 5th with Norwegian, which has rapidly become our favorite cruise line -- though we'll certainly go on others when the itinerary, timing, price, etc., warrants. There were 14 of us who went on this cruise: our honeymooning daughter and her husband (married the morning of the cruise on Waimanalo Beach), our other daughter and her husband, my sister-in-law and her husband, their adult daughter and his 89-year old father, four grandkids (17, 5, 3, 3) and the two of us. One of our daughters and her family actually live in Mililani on Oahu, having moved their six months ago. Prior to the wedding and cruise, we stayed two nights at the Hotel Mirimar on Waikiki. It was a decent hotel. Pretty good location though not "on" the beach. I'd stay there again if I was doing a pre-cruise stay. I probably would not stay in Waikik/Honolulu otherwise. Because of the wedding, we were all transported to the port in a limousine. Our embarkation was very smooth but three of the four staterooms were suites so we got even more preferential treatment than we'd normally get as gold Latitudes members. It was pretty painless and we were escorted up to our suites area pretty quickly. We had been on the Norway way back when, and then only on Gem-class ships so the Pride of America would be pretty new to us. We had read a few negative reviews about the ship, the staff and the cruise itself but we were pleasantly surprised that our experience was quite the opposite -- everything was very good to excellent! We booked one of the obstructed view family suites (7594) because a) we needed to sleep eight people (four adults, a 17-year old, a 5 and two 3's) and b) we really didn't want a balcony with the young ones. We would normally get at least a balcony when it's the two of us. We were pleasantly surprised by the suite. It had a large room with a queen bed and a sleeper sofa, along with plenty of closet space and sitting space. It also had a second, separate room with two singles (could be made into a queen) and two pull-down bunks. Each sleeping area had its own bathroom. There wasn't an overabundance of space, but we never felt we were right on top of each other, either. It certainly met our needs well. The first night, all the adults went to the Lazy J Steakhouse, having made reservations 45 days in advance. The food was quite good but the service was a little lacking. I wouldn't rush back there. That was the only specialty dining we went to. (One daughter did the Little Italy and found the opposite, great service with so-so food. The other daughter did Jefferson's Bistro and raved about it. We will do that one if we go again.) We did all breakfasts in the Aloha Cafe (buffet), even though we were in a suite, and we were quite happy with it. Any lunches we had on board were also there and they were quite good, also. We also did one dinner there (first time ever for us) and were pleasantly surprised at a) how good it was and b) how many people do the buffet for dinner! Otherwise, when we had dinner on board, it was in the Liberty Main Dining room where we wound up asking for the same waiter, Gavin, and assistant, Chris, each time. We never had a wait, though we are late diners, usually 8:00 or later. But even with a wait, you just grab a beeper and head to some live music until the table is ready. Food was great, service was very good. Nothing but positives to say. Another unusual thing for us is that we never got to see one show -- the grandkids kept us busy! But others who went said they were quite good. Even our 17-year old grandson raved about one. We also discovered Randy Meyers, a singer/guitarist, late in the cruise. We had met Randy on a Mediterranean cruise two years ago so we wish we had known sooner that he was on board. We really didn't have much chance to see any other entertainers. We didn't attend White Hot Night ourselves (bummer) but the younger adults did and enjoyed themselves. We also had a couple of evenings of fun karaoke (Ash was great leading the effort), and we were picked to be the elderly statesmen for the "Not So Newlywed Game" as our fellow passengers had put our name in. We did it and it was fun. Prior to the cruise, we had told our 17-year old grandson about the Teen Connection and he pretty much dismissed the idea. When on board, we convinced him to give it a try -- if you don't like it, just leave. Well, we couldn't tear him away from the place once he tried it. Kudos to the counselor there. Additionally, we availed ourselves of the Kids Rascals Club most evenings for the 5 and two 3-year olds and they loved it. They even went there for a while a couple of late afternoons. The staff there were outstanding, well-deserving of the hefty gratuity my daughter and son-in-law gave them! We never did the late-night babysitting service but might consider it in the future. One other well-kept secret for kids is the small pool and hot tub area for kids right next to Rascals. We went in there with the little ones and they (and we) had a blast. Another well-kept secret that we never got a chance to avail ourselves of was the (very) quiet Oasis Pool area, aft on Deck 12. Only a handful of chairs and never seemed to be full. The first port was Maui and the pier was on the windward side -- and was it windy! We had rented a van and just traveled the 8 miles over to Lihei where there were plenty of sun-drenched beaches and no wind! Four of us went that evening to the Feast at Lele in Lahaina -- NOT a shore excursion. If you do one "luau", do this one. It's really marvelous. It's more for adults. You have a five course meal. A given course is served (yes, served) and is of the foods that are common to the islands in question, followed by a little show about the cultures of those islands. So, you have Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji for the four courses and four shows, followed by dessert. There is also a virtual open bar (some drinks are a dollar or so more). The second day we drove up Mt. Haleakala but only got to the visitors center as it was very foggy and raining on the top. Fortunately, we had been up there before. All aboard for a 6PM departure after our overnight in Maui. Next port was Hilo on the Big Island. My daughter had an extra ticket for a zip line tour so I went along. It was the ship shore excursion Rainforest Zip Line & Waterfall. This was a great excursion. It was my first time zip lining and I'd recommend this one to any beginners. You zip across some deep and pretty ravines, but you typically go from ground to ground, not up in the treetops (see later). It also afforded a little bit of travel on the Hilo side. We later drove over to a black sand beach not far from the ship. At night, the ship leaves Hilo and heads for Kona. While cruising, the ship goes by the area where the active volcano has lava running out into the sea. Though not as active as a year or so ago, it was still quite a sight to see. The next stop is Kona on the other side of the Big Island. You need to tender in at Kona so we had no specific plans. We hitched a taxi and went to Turtle Beach several miles up the coast. Nice -- and different! We spent the better part of the afternoon just lounging aboard before our departure for Kauai. The Kauai port is Nawilili. We rented a van day one and took a trip up to Waimea Canyon. This is a must-see if you go to Kauai. It's not the Grand Canyon, but pretty close -- and the views going up there and back down are outstanding. That afternoon, we took our 17-year old grandson and headed to Port Allen to hop on a sailing catamaran (Captain Andy's) for a sunset dinner cruise of the NaPali coast. Unfortunately, it was too rough up that way so we just cruised the coast and saw a few whales. It turned out to be a great trip. This is NOT a ship excursion. The second day I was roped into another ship excursion, Tree Top Zip Line Adventure. I was happy I had experienced zip-lining on the tamer tour in Hilo because this was truly treetop -- zipping from one platform to another up to 90' up. It was fun and exhilarating and we had two acrophobiacs who made it okay thanks to the fine guides there. I'd recommend it but be aware you are truly in the treetops for a couple of hours, solid. Back to the ship for a 2PM departure so we can all get an afternoon view of the NaPali coast. This is the highlight of the cruise -- not to be missed. The coast is beautiful and we got relatively close to view it. For disembarking, we normally just walk off with our luggage but, with 14 of us, we decided to have NCL take our luggage off. Disembarkation was about as smooth and painless as one can imagine. Helpful that there were no customs requirements, having stayed entirely in the USA. All in all, we found this to be an outstanding cruise and the easiest and best way to see the four main islands of Hawaii. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This is a brief overview of my 14 day pre-Xmas cruise to Hawaii on the Sapphire Princess. I spent a pre-cruise night at the LAX Marriott. Transportation to San Pedro was via motorcoach the following afternoon. Embarkation was a ... Read More
This is a brief overview of my 14 day pre-Xmas cruise to Hawaii on the Sapphire Princess. I spent a pre-cruise night at the LAX Marriott. Transportation to San Pedro was via motorcoach the following afternoon. Embarkation was a breeze. I have Platinum status with Princess and from arrival at the pier to my cabin took approximately 20 minutes. The Sapphire Princess was decorated for Christmas...even had a small decoration on my stateroom door. I had an interior stateroom. I'm not in the cabin much, so I don't need anything fancy. I prefer to eat at the Horizon Court Buffet & International Cafe. I always found plenty of things to eat. Activities are too numerous to mention. You can be as busy as you want or as lazy as you want. I want to give a special shout out to my guys Alex and David of the cruise director's staff....YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! These 2 wonderful guys kept me dancing at all the parties, singing in the pop choir, and went out of their way to make sure I was having a great time. I really enjoyed my cruise to Hawaii on the Sapphire Princess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We sailed POA over this Christmas Holiday and had a lovely time. The ship is family friendly and, although clean and lovely, is definitely on the more casual side. We booked owner's suite 8500 - a beautiful, private and spacious ... Read More
We sailed POA over this Christmas Holiday and had a lovely time. The ship is family friendly and, although clean and lovely, is definitely on the more casual side. We booked owner's suite 8500 - a beautiful, private and spacious room. Separate living room and bar area with dining table/chair for 4 as well as couch and two armchairs had ample space for sofa bed to open and roll away bed for our two tween daughters. Balcony with private hot tub and two chaise lounges. The balcony view is somewhat obstructed by dividing and front walls, but once the ship was underway I understood the need for the walls. The wind on the front of the ship was quite strong (!!) and it was difficult to sleep with the very loud rattling of the two sliding doors. There are other staterooms of the same category that face the side of the ship and I would recommend those for that reason! The bedroom area was lovely and also had a sliding door to the balcony. The bathroom and closet areas were really fantastic. Double sink with large counter areas. Plenty of storage and hanging space. Large marbled walk-in shower and separate large jacuzzi bath. Well-stocked and maintained by our wonderful cabin steward who serviced the cabin twice daily and seemed to always be nearby and eager to help us. The perks of booking suite level accommodations were numerous and included access to one of the specialty restaurants for a more quiet, private breakfast each morning. The concierge was present at breakfast each morning and was very helpful and informative about the days events. Lunch was also offered. Also priority for tender in Kona as well as private area for arrival/check-in. Suites also come with daily water/soda service and three bottles of liquor for the cruise. We did not see our butler often. He did leave a little treat each afternoon when we returned from excursions and was available by phone but we did not really ask much either! We chose to have dinners in the specialty restaurants. Extra cover was $15-25 per person. They were all good, especially East Meets West. Sushi was available in East Meets West (and Teppanyaki) at an additional charge and was good. My husband loved the sashimi. Teppanyaki was so-so. Jefferson Bistro was the most formal and the food was good but not over the top. They have one night when they offer whole Kona lobsters which were delicious. I would recommend reservations in advance and early seating for that. Cadillac Diner was a fun place for lunch with great smoothies! My parents tried Liberty (main dining room) one night and liked it. It is the more formal of the two main dining room - no flip flops or shorts! The buffet was crowded and noisy but the food was decent.... but honestly the ship is always in port during the day so we were exploring and doing excursions at lunch time. The best thing about this cruise is the ability to easily visit and explore multiple islands. Embarkation is from Honolulu, overnight to Maui - Kahalui Harbor not Lahaina. The boat overnights in port. Maui is VERY easy to explore on your own. I would not bother with organized excursions here. There are free shuttles to the airport car rentals (5 minutes away). We spent one day relaxing on the beach at the Kea Lani in Wailea (30 minute drive) and the second in the upcountry on the slopes of Haleakala touring the winery, goat farm (really fun!), lavender fields and dinner at the Hailemaile General Store. It was gorgeous and easy driving. You can easily drive to the summit yourself. The road to Hana is more difficult and for that I would at least book a driver so that you can actually enjoy the scenery. Bear in mind that the port in Maui has no shopping or restaurants in the immediate vicinity, but you are staying overnight and a fun option is to go to one of the many great island restaurants instead of the ship. Hilo is the first port on the Big Island. It is an industrial town and it rains a lot!! We booked the Crater Rim Hike and Akaka Falls. Hike at Volcano is about 4 miles and although not strenuous the footing is a little tricky. You see steam but not lava. Stop at the museum is interesting. The Akaka Falls were just gorgeous..Another short hike on paved trail with lots of steps. It poured which just added to the beautiful atmosphere. Also stopped at Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm/plant which was fun. That night when the ship pulls out you sail past the lava flow in the dark. We were extremely lucky and saw rivers of molten lava flowing clear from the top and streaming like waterfalls into the ocean. It was an amazing and unforgettable sight. You may want to tailor your dinner reservations to lava sighting time! The second port on the Big Island is Kona. It is dry and makes a good beach day. Miles and miles of old lava flows. Kona is a tender port. Kauai is beautiful. Take the helicopter tour of the island which takes you over the Na Pali Coast. It was stunning. Probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Rainbows, waterfalls. Not to be missed. Boat docks within walking distance of resort (Hilton?)/beach/little shopping area with restaurants. Check out the chickens. The ship offers much more than we had time to sample. There is a gym with exercises classes and the standard equipment. You can do personal training as well. Who had time? There were shows and evening entertainment which people seemed to like, but we didn't have time (or energy!) to get to. Never went to the pool area but it looked nice. They will deliver food to your stateroom day or night and there are several bar areas. Overall this was a great vacation with enough variety of activities and accommodations to suit almost anyone. Our suite was pricey but worth it. The kids were worn out by the end of each day. My husband and I had a great time. The level of service was very good. My father-in-law has mobility issues and the staff were extremely helpful and prompt with wheelchair assistance. Aloha and have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space ... Read More
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space for 14 day cruise. Service was very good and timely. Entertainment: Production shows OK but music is getting stale. Would be better if newer music was introduced into productions. Movies were provided in the "Screening Room" daily which proved to be useless with only 30 seats available. Considering that this cruise occurred during the Holiday Season and to Hawaii was amazed at the lack of Christmas and Hawaiian music or Hawaiian themed activities. Thankfully HAL did have Kaimoa who represented the Hawaiian culture and provided a lot of good information on Hawaii. Without his presence there were few if any Hawaiian activities. Needed more activities on ocean days and more interaction from cruise director. Food: We had open seating and overall the food seemed better than we have had in the past. Pinnacle Grill excellent and well worth the extra charge. Should continue to offer flavored coffee in Lido. Ports: All very good, was surprised how crowed and cosmopolitan Waikiki had become. Would skip in future. Debarkation: Slow Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our ... Read More
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our stuff and headed for the Lido deck. The food was ready and waiting for us. My luggage was in the cabin when we returned from lunch, but my companion had to wait until 4:45 p.m. for hers. The cruise to Hawaii took four days and was relaxing except that we did not receive any water in our stateroom the first three days. We thought that they didn't provide it in the stateroom anymore, until there was two bottles in the room on the fourth day along with a receipt for three bottles that we never received. I couldn't find the cabin steward so I returned the water to the front desk and requested that no more be left in the stateroom for the rest of the cruise. The next day we returned to the stateroom to find a bottle of water with a receipt for two more bottles. Once again I took the water to the front desk and requested our bill be corrected, which it was. When I returned to the cabin I left the cabin steward a note requesting the removal of all items in the mini bar so we were not charged for anything else. He complied. As I stated, the cruise to Hawaii was relaxing, but on the cruise back it seemed as though the number of children doubled in size. I was told by another passenger that most of them were children of the crew, which I could not substantiate. I certainly hope that Holland America does not risk the loss of paying customers in this way. The unsupervised children took over the pool and all three of the hot tubs. At one time there was an elderly person with a noodle in the deep end of the pool and the kids were jumping in the water on both sides of him. Another time a child in the hot tub was splashing people as they practiced line dancing. The aft pool is for adults only, but it is outside and the air temperature stayed in the 50's and 60's. The aft pool should be for the children; it is even decorated for them. The shore excursions were organized and informative. The food in open seating was excellent on some nights, but bad on other nights. Service after the first night was excellent. We had Gede as our server after the first night and we requested him every night until the end of the cruise. We took a cruise to the Panama Canal a couple of years ago on the Zuiderdam and was very impressed with the food. I guess your can't judge by cruise lines, you have to judge each ship on it's own merit. The shows were good, especially the Oosterdam singers and dancers. I would have liked to see more of them. We were scheduled for disembarkation between 9:50 and 10:00 a.m. but were called around 9:10 and went directly off the ship. Easiest disembarkation ever. When I returned home I checked my credit card account online and was again charged $12.03 for the mini bar, that was empty since day four. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My husband and I decided to escape on Princess this Christmas holiday. We have never been away for the holiday. We thought Hawaii, the beauty of the islands and the warm weather just might be the ticket. (No. VA.) We were not disappointed. ... Read More
My husband and I decided to escape on Princess this Christmas holiday. We have never been away for the holiday. We thought Hawaii, the beauty of the islands and the warm weather just might be the ticket. (No. VA.) We were not disappointed. Everything Princess created for this holiday sailing was something that delighted our spirits. Santa even showed up with gifts for the children. It even snowed in the piazza. That's a remarkable sight. Princess is our cruise line of choice. We were not disappointed. We have been on several different ships with Princess, never the Sapphire. We liked the style of the Sapphire very much. New to us were several dining rooms to choose from. Smaller rooms. Decorated differently. Although the food was the same it felt as if you were dining in a different restaurant. With anytime dining this allows us the freedom to choose whatever we feel suits us best. Great option! We chose the Santa Fe first. Because we are early birds we go to dinner early and retire early. So, one of the first things we did was to check on each of the dining venues available to us as anytime diners. We decided on the Santa Fe. Because this is part of what we enjoy on our cruises we like to make our selection early. In the end, since there were a great many families on board we learned selecting early to be helpful. There proved to be more competition for early dining. At the restaurant (shortly after embarking) we were greeted by a most helpful young man who selected a dining table for us. Little did we realize how fortunate his choice for us would be. What a difference our waitress and her assistant made to our trip. We felt as if we were dining in her home. The service was excellent and the kindness, attention to our needs, and professional style could not have been better. This detail set the theme for the rest of the trip. Our cabin was perfect. My husband has difficulty walking especially up and down stairs. Our first ocean view balcony although somewhat small was very clean and comfortable. With the balcony adding to the space this allowed enough area to relax in quietly breathing in the fresh sea air. Our attendant did an outstanding job keeping the cabin perfectly clean and tidy adding to the comfort. He never intruded in our quiet time but magically appeared to refresh our premises while we were away. We always enjoy talking to the other passengers. The addition of the families was very special. Lots of little one to watch as well as the older youth. I'm uncertain whether it was because of the holiday or maybe the beautiful weather we encountered in the Hawaiian islands but the tone of the atmosphere was delightful! This trip is in the winter in the northern hemisphere. The winds can be a bit strong on the islands this time of year. Although the Pacific was gentle the wind affected our getting into port in Kaui. Our only disappointment. An island we were looking forward to seeing. The captain tried but he just couldn't safely enter. So, he sailed around the island so we could see a special area that you can't see by car. Then he ventured out to another island close by so we could see that before sailing on. Honolulu was amazing decorated for Christmas! We forgot about the holidays given it was just the two of us (65 & 70). This brought it back. Oahu is a port with a full day. Princess arrives early and departs late. A great opportunity to really drink in the port. I wish this was possible with all the ports. That would be so much better!!! This day we were able to see the other side of the island and spend the evening in Honolulu. We tendered in Maui. That was fine too. Nothing could have spoiled this sailing for us. The big island only gave us time for one item on our list which was the tropical gardens. We were driven by cart to the depths of the garden and back when we were ready. Not much walking and plenty of benches. For us an outstanding choice touching the beauty of the island! The on board lectures were interesting .. history of the islands and its people. The shows great. Their female Zumba instructor (Zumba new to me) was fantastic. That was set outdoors .. even better. Did a walk for the cure. All great for the waist line! Everyday at sea there are so many things to choose from it is difficult to fit in a nap or balcony time . My advice ... get going! Take the family out for the holiday or any other opportunity. Enjoy the Princess style it is well worth the expense. We find by choosing Princess we receive the quality we are looking for and can do more cruises. We have wonderful memories. Great nights rest. I am not an employee ... I'm a fan of what is offered by Princess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I have never written a cruise review before, but wanted to write a detailed one, in appreciation for all the great tips and information I have learned from reading previous reviews here. Here goes my very long review! We went on the 2 ... Read More
I have never written a cruise review before, but wanted to write a detailed one, in appreciation for all the great tips and information I have learned from reading previous reviews here. Here goes my very long review! We went on the 2 week 17Dec11 -- 31Dec11 roundtrip cruise on the Sapphire Princess from LA to Hawai'i to LA (H149). Overall we had a wonderful time, and just loved this cruise. Cruise Director Dave Carson was great (more on him later), and many of the activities, TV shows, and movies were themed around Hawai'i, which made the cruise feel so special. My husband and I live just 70 miles north of the cruise terminal so we drove and parked our own car (total parking bill at the end was $168). We pulled into the parking lot at 1:30 pm and were sitting in our room by 2:15 pm. We have only cruised 3 times total on Princess so we have no special status or expedited lines, but the whole embarkation process was very smooth and easy. We wanted to carry our medium-sized luggage with us onto the ship as we could easily manage it ourselves, but were not allowed to do so. We were only permitted to carry our backpack and small duffel. However, our luggage was waiting outside our room by 4:30 pm, so it was not too bad. We were able to get a mini-suite on the Dolphin (Deck 9) for less than the original cost of a balcony room. We had booked a balcony room in December 2010 via an internet travel agent, and checked on the price monthly via e-mail all year long. We changed to a mini-suite when the price dropped sometime in the summer. The mini-suite was very nice, especially the spacious bathroom. However the bathtub was set so high, I think it might be difficult for some people to get in and out of. While the mini-suite was nice, it was only a little bigger than our previous regular balcony staterooms on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas or on the Carnival Splendor. The Sapphire Princess mini-suite has a sofa where I could sit comfortably and read or watch TV. In a regular Sapphire Princess stateroom, one has to either sit on the bed or in the single chair in order to read or watch TV. I would never bother with a mini-suite on the Mariner of the Seas or the Carnival Splendor as their balcony staterooms feel very spacious to me and come standard with a comfortable sofa, coffee table, and chair, but I think the mini-suite is more of a "necessity" for me on the Sapphire Princess (lol!). Our cabin steward was great, and kept everything in tip-top condition for us. We originally had fixed time dining at 8 pm in the International Dining Room, but our whole table was moved 2 days later at the request of our tablemate due to some extremely loud and unruly children seated next to our original table. Princess assigned us to fixed 8 pm dining in the Vivaldi Dining Room. It is a shame neither the parents nor Princess made any attempt to control these children, but to Princess' credit, they did move us with no hassle. I have multiple food allergies and am vegetarian, so the travel agent notified Princess of this at the time of the booking. I also spoke to the Food & Beverage (F&B) Supervisor in both the International Dining Room and the Vivaldi Dining Room, and they could not have been kinder or more understanding about meeting my multiple and very specific dietary needs. After 2 days of the special food they prepared for me, I asked if I could have Indian vegetarian food (which I love) instead, as I was not really enjoying the other food. Mind you, there is always one vegetarian entrée on the menu, but Indian food was never on the menu. F&B Supervisor Adrian Trifas in the Vivaldi Dining Room was so kind and helpful and assured me it would be absolutely no problem. I was always provided with 2 separate Indian lentil/vegetable preparations, rice, raita (yogurt salad), papads (rice wafers), and Indian flat bread. I could not eat this much, so I requested they eliminate the papads and Indian flat bread. After 2 days of this, I asked Adrian if the lentils/vegetables could be toned down in the spice level as they were a little too hot for me. Again, I was met with nothing with kindness and an immediate accommodation of my request. They never repeated the lentil/vegetable dishes, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the delicious food they made for me. My husband (who is not vegetarian), ordered off the regular menu, and enjoyed a variety of dishes including the hot soups, cold soups (served like smoothies), the escargot, the lobster tail, steak, etc, etc. We selected a table for 8, and were blessed to be assigned really lovely and charming table mates. The other 3 couples were quite different from us, but we really looked forward to seeing them every night at dinner as their delightful company really enhanced the whole cruise experience for us. My husband and I both agreed the desserts were actually better at the Horizon Court buffet than in the MDR, as the cakes and tarts seemed too dried out in the MDR. Soft serve was available up on deck during the day but regular ice cream was only served in the MDR. I tried 2 or 3 of the ice creams but was very disappointed in the non-premium quality, compared to what we had 2 years ago on a previous Sapphire Princess cruise. While we did not enjoy our June 2011 cruise on the Carnival Splendor very much due to the relentless blasting of music at an extremely high volume everywhere on that ship, at least they served Haagen Daaz in the MDR (or something that tasted like it), but the Sapphire Princess ice cream was a big disappointment to me. I ended up ordering the sorbet most nights and was happy with that. We also went to the British style pub lunches that were offered 3 or 4 times during the cruise. Although there was nothing vegetarian on the menu for me, my British husband greatly enjoyed these meals which reminded him of the "old country", so it made me happy. We ate breakfast and lunch every day at the Horizon Court Buffet or the Pizzeria. I always only have a toasted bagel and tea for breakfast so I was fine, but my husband said he was a little tired of the breakfast selection by the end of the 14 days. The lunch selection seemed more varied, and always included a vegetarian pasta dish, as well as rice and one vegetarian Indian dish. The staff at the Horizon Court were so friendly and genuinely helpful in bringing us beverages and immediately clearing up tables. They procurement dept did not plan too well though as they ran out of lemonade on about Day 11. Good thing my husband had brought his own individual serving packages of Crystal Light with him. The Horizon Court was congested several times though, and I think both sides of the buffet could have been opened up more often to alleviate the crowding. Only thin crust pizza is available in the Pizzeria, and it is excellent and actually better than most land based pizzerias I have been to. Cheese and pepperoni pizzas are always available, and they rotate a signature pizza of the day (sometimes vegetarian and sometimes not). I was a little apprehensive about the condition of the ship as the Sapphire is scheduled to go into dry dock in mid-January 2012, but I was pleasantly surprised at the excellent condition of all the public areas and the very nice condition of our mini-suite. Cruise Director Dave Carson was amazing and put together a really special Hawai'i themed program over the 14 days, which really enhanced the whole cruise experience for me. His knowledge of the islands, the culture, the Hawaiian language, and Hawaiian music is extensive and he said he had been travelling to the islands for 20 years. It really showed, and I think Princess would be doing a disservice to passengers on any Hawai'i cruise without a Cruise Director who is knowledgeable about Hawai'i and who does not prepare Hawaiian themed activities. My husband and I participated in multiple activities, and on several occasions, we had to make choices between 2 equally tempting things scheduled for the same time. We never paid extra for any activity as the ones we went to were all free. An activity I especially enjoyed was the ribbon lei making class on the outward journey, and a real orchid lei making class on the journey home (orchids were picked up in Honolulu). Dave Carson gave progressive ukulele lessons daily on sea days, and our dining companions who took his classes said he was a wonderful teacher. Dave Carson also gave wonderful hour long port lectures on each island, prior to our arrival in Hawai'i. His in-depth knowledge about the islands was evident, and we never once had to suffer through any of those ridiculous shopping "tips" during his port talks. The ship was unable to dock in Kauai due to bad weather, and Dave provided an impromptu 1.5 hours of excellent and informative commentary as the captain cruised us around both Kauai and the forbidden island of Ni'ihau. Debbie from Canada, one of Dave Carson's staff members, was another standout and was so knowledgeable about Polynesian culture and led many of classes. She is also an excellent hula and Tahitian dancer, and offered daily classes on sea days. Students from Debbie's and Dave's classes put on a very nice performance the last night of the cruise. Naturalist Pat Kramer gave excellent talks every sea day on Hawaiian culture, movies filmed in the islands, whales, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Polynesian navigation, the flora and fauna of the islands, etc, etc. Her knowledge, enthusiasm, and un-stilted, natural speaking style made us look forward to her presentations. Completely un-Hawaiian related, but thoroughly enjoyable, attorney Michael Bishay gave intellectually engaging and fascinating presentations every sea day on different criminal cases. We learned a lot about legal issues and had some of our notions about the law challenged in a super interesting, non-dry, and non-boring way. His presentation style is very audience interactive, and we loved his talks. I give presentations very often for work myself, and although I am nowhere in Michael's class, I can recognize a superb presenter when I hear one. If he is ever speaking on your cruise, do not miss going to his presentations! I loved how Cruise Director Dave Carson arranged for many of the TV shows and movies to reflect the Hawai'i theme. There were shows on Hawaiian language lessons, multiple documentaries on whales, volcanoes, formations of the islands, movies about the attack on Pearl Harbor, about the young Princess Victoria Kai'ulani, etc, etc. There were even re-runs of the old show Magnum PI which was filmed in Hawai'i, for nostalgia's sake. There were also multiple non-Hawaiian themed movies which were pretty new which I wanted to see, but which I had no time to see either in the Princess Theater or on TV, as we were too busy with all the other fun things we were doing. One of my "rules" on any cruise vacations is that I must get a treatment at the spa during every sea day, so that I can truly relax. Thanks to previous reviews I read here, I only made a few appointments via internet for the first 4 days of the cruise, and waited for the deals to begin. Well the deals started on the third day and saved me big bucks. Thanks to all previous reviewers! Some involved getting a treatment at 8 am, but most of the deals involved getting treatments at whatever time I wanted and were 50% - 60% off the normal treatment price. Some of the deals were advertised on flyers sent to every cabin, some were offered to me by the masseuse for a future treatment, and some I got just by asking at the spa front desk. We went to all of the production shows, the comedy acts, the ventriloquist, the juggler, and the special evening singing acts. We were able to see a new performance every night, and really enjoyed ourselves. Some were definitely of a better quality than others, but overall we had a great time. We opted for the disembarkation where we would handle our luggage ourselves. We were told to wait in a lounge at 8 am, but due to a hold-up by US Customs, were not allowed to get off till 8:40 am. Once we got the all-clear however, everything went very smoothly, and we arrived back at our own home by 10:15 am. While there were some things we definitely did not like, overall we had a fantastic time and loved our visit to the islands. Cruise Director Dave Carson's Hawaiian themed program really enhanced our cruise. While on board, we signed up for a future cruise and put down a deposit. We can hardly wait to begin planning our next Princess cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The good things: there was something for everyone and we are aged 13 to 80. We all liked the evening entertainment, particularly the gymnast and the comedian who did the impressions and some of us liked the singers and dancers. (meh). ... Read More
The good things: there was something for everyone and we are aged 13 to 80. We all liked the evening entertainment, particularly the gymnast and the comedian who did the impressions and some of us liked the singers and dancers. (meh). With a few exceptions (hey that lobster thermidor was really bad) we had a good time at dinner from opening night to the final Parade of the Baked Alaska (and for those of you who hate and avoid it, what can I say? We waved our napkins with the best of them.) The waiters were great and always remembered my cappuccino. We played Team Trivia every day and came-this-close to winning a ball cap. Some of us did that mile walk every day and I tried learning Tai Chi and the Hula - good instructors too. I meant to take the camera class and never got there but maybe next time. We all enjoyed dress-up (the grandchildren too) and looking at others who made the effort. Some pretty tiny dresses on some of those teen aged girls but at least one of us wasn't complaining... The not so good but not that big a deal: Rotterdam needs to redo the bathtubs as they are really grungy and that tall lady in the Office is grouchy. And the less said about the coffee...Also the wonderful Stryker the Piano Man needs a bigger room. That little bar area was over flowing every day just to hear him. And why couldn't we have more of the talented Adagio Strings - maybe tea time? Best travel tips from others: using a small transparent shoe bag over the bathroom door for odds and ends, bringing a magnetic white board for the door to leave messages for the rest of the family, and packing the thingy with the extra outlets for our BlackBerries, cameras and razor. That one teeny one at the desk is not enough. And we will all remember the other passengers: Bathrobe man(never seen in anything else), red sequined ball cap lady (never took it off but made it easy to spot our tour group) and best of all: sleeveless shirt man who always wore the same one every day...unless he had 14 identical ones. The Captain was memorable for his calm and in control announcements, even the one telling us about the fire....(which fortunately was just a little electric one in the Spa.)Grandson was disappointed he didn't get to get in the lifeboat. The stops were fine: Hilo, Maui, Honolulu. And kudos to the patient and wonderful crew. We agreed it had all been the best Christmas ever. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We were sailing as a family group of 7. Myself and BFF Jeannine (40 somethings), our two adult (19 & 20 yo) daughters, Jeannine's mom (65) and my dad and his girlfriend (70+) Let's start from the beginning: We spent the ... Read More
We were sailing as a family group of 7. Myself and BFF Jeannine (40 somethings), our two adult (19 & 20 yo) daughters, Jeannine's mom (65) and my dad and his girlfriend (70+) Let's start from the beginning: We spent the night at the Doubletree San Pedro. Excellent stay, free breakfast and free shuttle to the port,(make sure you reserve your time as soon as you arrive) and free parking for duration of the cruise. Rooms were comfy, but if you are handicapped or have mobility issues, make sure you call and request a room near the lobby or elevators, otherwise it can be a VERY long trip down either side of the building. There is only one elevator in the center of the lobby, and it gets busy, and again, long schlep if your room is at one of the far ends. We took another posters advise and left the checked baggage in the cars, and we took the cars down to the port about 1015am and were able to drop off all the checked baggage with a porter. We returned with the cars, grabbed our carry ons and waited for our shuttle. Since we did not have all the baggage to load onto the shuttle, we were loaded, arrived and dropped off quick as can be. Highly recommend this. We also did the reverse after we returned. Grabbed the shuttle with no luggage, grabbed the cars, headed back and loaded them up. Saves loading and unloading cars multiple times. Embarkation: It started off rather smooth, and then went to hell rather quickly. The problem seemed to be that one group of agents told us one thing and then another contradicted those and told us something else. We had one person in a wheel chair. We got told the whole group would board together. After we got over there we were told only 1 of us could go with her. We asked for a supervisor and got told to go pound sand...only 1 person, because they were too busy to do our whole group even though we were all together. We had read that you can board by 11:30am, not this trip. They did not start boarding until after 12:15pm, and it was still chaotic. They changed sides halfway through our group, it was a gaggle. Boarding with Princess got them a big fat F in my book. It really started the cruise off on the wrong foot. We talked to multiple elite and platinum cruisers and they all said this was the most disorganized embarkation that had ever been through. Two couples actually take this same cruise during the holidays every year, and could not understand why there was so much conflicting information being given out to all the passengers. Cabin and Lunch: The cabin was a little smaller than expected, however, the layout was very nice and the closet space was really well thought out. We had a balcony cabin on Caribe deck so that it would be larger. It was totally worth it. We spend lots of time on it with our daughters, and they could escape from from the grandmother on it. We met our stateroom hostess Liezel and she was very nice. She was like magic keeping our room clean, although I have to admit, the closet space really helped. We made it to the sit down lunch in Donatello dining room. I know some people felt that they were herded to the buffet but that was not the case with us. Lovely lunch and were finally starting to throttle back from the debacle of an embarkation. We were able to get over half of our unpacking done before the muster drill and finished before dinner. It was nice to be ready to go and still have a couple of hours to spare. Ports - The ports are what you make of them. We loved Hawaii and are already making plans to go back and stay on a couple of the islands. We did private and ship tours and all but 1 were very good. There was one broker/vendor who was awful on Honolulu. I went through Discount Hawaii tours and booked through them with North Shore Shark Cage diving for my daughter. I do NOT recommend either of them. I will posted details of why under excursions. We went through Shoretrips.com for our other private excursions and they were great. Ensenada was a port day as far as we were concerned. Entertainment - We have been spoiled by Disney, however, the shows were not bad, and I found them better than RCCL for the shows. There were a couple of entertainers brought on board who were just narcissistic self promoters of themselves and their children, and frankly they were not that good. The one comedian was awesome. Saw him twice and would have gone to every show he did. We teamed up with two other couples for trivia and did quite well. We were a well rounded team. Our girls started coming to compete with us, but they never won! We did all the lei making classes and really enjoyed them. Also did a couple of the special speakers and enjoyed those also. Frankly, if you are afraid you will be board, it is because you do not know how to read a patter and pick out something to do! Food - I know it is subjective, but here are my thoughts (ymmv) Buffet - Eh to yuck. We ate there once and did not like it at all. My dad and his girlfriend at breakfast and lunch there and loved it. So to each his own Sabatinis - Food was just ok, and the service was less attentive that in the main dining room. I had the lobster 3 ways, the next night they served it in the main dining room, and it was actually better there. We had to ask for refills of everything from water, iced tea to alcoholic beverages. In fact, one round we ordered never arrived. Everyone was underwhelmed. We expected something like Palo on the Disney lines and this fell far short. Was it bad? No, but I certainly didn't think it was worth the $20 per person, especially when the service was so inattentive. Breakfast & Lunch - We did sit down in Donatello's and tended to share tables with others. Food on the whole was quite good with a few that left us going, no thank you and others left us with a ohhh we want more! As other posters have noted, cream of anything soups or soups in general should be questioned before you order them. Cream of mushroom was really more of a puree. A creamy potato soup was more like broth with potatoes in it. Not bad, just not what I expected. Dinner - We had anytime dining and ate at Bernini's. As we were a group of 7 we had our own table. We were traveling with 3 rather picky senior citizens and had to work with the head waiter to finally get a match on service with the pickier aspects of our group. One person still thought it took too long for dinner, but she wanted a gourmet meal at a fast food pacing. The rest of us were quite happy. Again, most of the food was good, but two items were utter fails. The tower of seafood was about 1/4 of an inch tall (tower) and was the nastiest tasting thing I had ever had. One bite and was ready to lick the bottom of someone's shoes to get the taste out of my mouth. The other fail was the Mile High Lemon merrange pie. Seriously, the slice was about 1.5 inches long and the merrange barely poofed up. I have to say though that almost all of their ice creams were really really good. Service was excellent and we did tip extra because they were just awesome. Room Service/International Cafe - Room service was boring after two go arounds because the menu is so limited. Same with the IC at breakfast. In the afternoon and evening we really liked the quiches and would get those and cookies with mike to take up to our room. Photos - Wow, can honestly say they are too expensive and you are lucky if you get your tables picture taken during formal nights. As for the no sitting fee for formal pics, while there is not a sitting fee, the pics are $5 more than the 'regualar' 8x10 prices. So instead of $19.99 they are $24.99. Really a rip off. We normally spend a lot on ship photos, but not this trip. They were just too expensive. Disembarkation - Far better than embarkation. I really liked the ice water, coffee and tea in the various lounges and that you could still get treats at the international cafe. Overall Impressions - We sailed on a sold out cruise but it never felt like it. On a couple of the rainy days some of the public areas were a little more crowded and of course anything in the piazza tended to get jammed, but with few exceptions we never felt elbow to elbow. We never met a crew member who was not happy and cheerful. Most of them were long term employees. Unlike Disney which seems to cut their experienced and more expensive employees look, Princess really seems to like to keep them and keep them happy. It showed and we did not have one bad encounter with any of the ships folks, including the ships maintenance workers. We booked a future cruise credit while we were on board and intend to use it for Alaska. I would recommend Princess for those who want a nice experience with their family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first trip on the Queen Victoria having made a number of prior cruises on the Queen Mary 2. Embarkation at the rather huge cruise terminal at LA, was relatively hassle free and we were soon on board. Our luggage arrived at ... Read More
This was our first trip on the Queen Victoria having made a number of prior cruises on the Queen Mary 2. Embarkation at the rather huge cruise terminal at LA, was relatively hassle free and we were soon on board. Our luggage arrived at our cabin on Deck 8 just a few minutes after we did, so it was a quick unpack and off the to explore the ship and what a beautiful ship it is. Our cabin was of a good size, and yes the bathroom was miniscule, but that is the same on most modern cruise ships. The cabin stewardess, La Rosa from the Philippines was very attentive and kept the cabin spotless. There could have been some loungers instead of the upright chairs on the balcony and possibly some more storage space but these are relatively minor issues. Given that the cruise was from LA to Hawaii there was always going to be more days at sea than on most cruises and more opportunities for the traditional Cunard formal themed Balls in the Queens Room. OK, we appreciate that some people might not particularly like so many formal nights, but hey, Its Cunard! Having said that it was noticeable that staff on the ship was not strictly enforcing the dress codes as evidenced by one particular Canadian gentleman who wore jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap for every occasion! Struck it lucky with our table partners, 2 couples from California and a Canadian Couple who know live in Mexico. We enjoyed all the food on offer In both the Britannia restaurant and the Lido. We particularly enjoyed the social "banter" with the waiters at our table. Especially with the wine waiter from the Ukraine. There were four lecturers on this trip. There was a couple talking about Hawaii, it is always difficult to do a "double handed" lecture but this couples presentations were dire to say the least. There was an excellent motivational speaker, how could you not attend a lecture entitled "Are you the person your dog thinks you are?" There was a military historian who spoke about the war in the Pacific and in particular about the men involved in the iconic "raising of the flag" on Iwo Jima picture, it turned out that his late father was one of the men involved. He was a truly excellent speaker. Then we had a travel writer with a series of lectures called "America 101" again really interesting and informative. The entertainment Staff, led by the least pretentious and self-promoting Entertainments director we have met did a wonderful job. The Royal Court singers and Dancers did some fantastic production numbers worthy of any Broadway or West End shows. There was a lady violinist - she was excellent as was the solo pianist. The other acts, a singer (a Nat King Cole tribute) a comedic juggler and an American comedian were good but didn't stand out. Were the excursions on offer value for money? Probably not, as at each island equivalent "local" tours were available at a cheaper price. However in Honolulu, we were advised to get the ship excursion to the USS Arizona memorial as the tickets to the memorial are provided with the tour. If you did do it yourself you would have had to take pot luck on getting a ticket, dependant on what other cruise ships might be in port and you would almost certainly had a long wait to get to the memorial which was not the case with the ship provided excursion as we were at the memorial within 45 minutes of arriving at the site. Would we travel with Cunard again? certaiinly Would we travel on the Queen Victoria again? certainly Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
After alot of decision making, we decided to book the 7 Day Cruise on the Pride of America during Christmas 2011... The reviews we read here were mixed, but were mostly poor, but we really liked the itinerary, so we figured, why not? Lets ... Read More
After alot of decision making, we decided to book the 7 Day Cruise on the Pride of America during Christmas 2011... The reviews we read here were mixed, but were mostly poor, but we really liked the itinerary, so we figured, why not? Lets take a chance.. Norwegian took care of the Air arrangements as we flew from Florida to Honolulu via Atlanta on Delta. We arrived at Honolulu and was met by the cruise line rep at the Airport as soon as we came of the Airplane. They told us to get our luggage and then they took care of everything from there.. They transferred us directly to the ship... Getting onto the ship was a breeze.. They were very organized.. Didn't wait in any line for longer then maybe 5 minutes.. Once on board, we were greeted with a drink and headed to check out our room. As with other reviews, the room was a bit small, but had the balcony, so it made for a nice experience.. The port at Maui was nice.. We rented a car and drove everywhere.. No problems.. We booked the Luau at the Hyatt Regency Lahaina on our own and it was ok... We had seen it 10yrs ago and it seemed better then, I would recommend it if its your first time.. We then went to Hilo on the big Island.. To be honest, its not the nicest place to go.. Hilo is very old and run down.. We went downtown and turned around and went back to the ship.. We spoke to other people and they said the Volcano trip on the Helicopter was the thing to do there.. Not crazy about helicopters so we decided to hang out poolside. That night, we sailed past the Volcano.. It was amazing to see, but we were a bit far off the coast to really get a good look at the Lava.. Maybe due to safety, but if your going to take pictures,make sure you have a good zoom lense and the ability to slow down the shutter speed to capture the picture. We then arrived at Kona.. We decided to rent a car and drive around a little bit on our own.. We ended up at the Marriott Wailulua.. As it turned out, this was the beach where Norwegian had their Beach Day Excursion.. We didn't even know it until we got there... A word of caution though, DONT RENT YOUR CAR FROM DOLLAR in KONA.. They do NOT provide a shuttle from the Pier.. It cost $30.00 EACH WAY for a cab to go from the Pier to the Rent a Car lot at the Airport.. Alamo was the only shuttle bus we saw at the Pier.. FYI... We then sailed to Kauai... Kauai is a beautiful Island... We signed up for the Plantation tour and Luau.. It was very nice , but Ill tell you, the cost was way to much for what they gave you.. Dinner was ok, but it was very small portions and was more like a pre - appetizer.. The show itself was very good, but only lasted about 25 minutes.. This excursion costs about $160.00 a piece.. To much money for what they gave you... The Plantation tour was ok.. The home was beautiful , but the folks there rented out every room in the house to various vendors instead of restoring it.. That to me destroyed the charm of the home.. So sad as it is a historical landmark.. Anyhow, the next day, we got back on the ship and the captain headed for the Napilli Coast of Kauai.. The Napilli Coast is absolutely breathtaking.. Looked like something out of a Thomas Kinkade Painting.. We spent well over an hour at Sunset cruising north along the coast.. At Sunset, the ship stopped at the northern point then slowly turned around to head back to Honolulu.. This was the highlight of the trip in my opinion.. I cant find words to describe this part of the journey.. Back in Honolulu, it was time to disembark.. Again, a very smooth process.. There was no lines at all to get off the ship.. We did the self check out and carried our luggage off.. All in all, this cruise was much better then I expected.. The crew on board could not have been nicer to us.. We cruised other lines ie; Carnival many times, however this is by far the best experience we ever had.. The only complaint I could come up with was that my in room coffee pot had some dust on the lid on the first day, but was quickly cleaned up after we arrived! The photographers did get a bit out of line in the costs of their pictures that they took of you .. I suggest you take your own pictures as the costs quickly added up.. That was it!! I highly recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to get a taste of the Hawaiian Islands... GREAT TRIP!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We couldn't have asked for a better cruise! After reading a number of negative reviews on this ship our expectations were fairly low so we were delighted when this cruise proved to be nothing like anything we'd been ... Read More
We couldn't have asked for a better cruise! After reading a number of negative reviews on this ship our expectations were fairly low so we were delighted when this cruise proved to be nothing like anything we'd been anticipating. We found our cabin, although quite small, to be very comfortable with lots of storage. It was spotlessly clean and our cabin steward was eager to please at all times. We were impressed when we were boarding that as he showed us to our cabin he already knew our names - we'd told him our cabin number and he welcomed us on board and used our surname! It is only a little thing....but it is what I expect from 5-star service and not necessarily for passengers located on Deck 4, as we were, and not in an owner's suite. So this was a nice start :) Bathroom was small also but the ribbed shower curtain was a definite plus - no wet curtain sticking to you as you shower. We've been on other ships where that shower curtain (un-ribbed) is nothing but a nuisance. We'd arranged for a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet which Leonie (Group Service Co-ordinator) organised for us in the Napa Wine Bar. Two Officers came and met with us, Dallas (Hotel Director) and Frank (Food and Beverage Director), and talked about the ship and answered any questions we had. It was lighthearted, very informative and a great way to begin our cruise. It was also a lovely to meet the eight other CC folks and we seemed to bump into them fairly often throughout the cruise and managed to catch up for dinner with some them of them at various times which we enjoyed very much. As it turned out all of us who attended the M&G were also invited to an Officer's table for dinner on the Tuesday evening after our day in Hilo. What a lovely surprise! We were split up at different tables and at our table was Steve (in charge of staff) and Brian (in charge of fire safety). It was a wonderful evening in the Liberty Main Dining Room. Our table shared good food and lots of laughter. It was lots of fun and very memorable. (Thank you POA!) The food served in the Dining Rooms was good to very good. Not 5-star fine dining by any means but fresh, attractively served and very enjoyable. We mainly had our meals in the Liberty and somehow we always had good service although I did hear stories of long waiting times. Apparently the first evening in Kauai the service was very slow due to the fact that the one of the main dining rooms was closed as a huge number of people were ashore for a luau. This night we had chosen to have a quick light meal at the Cadillac Cafe as we'd done a sunset cruise on a catamaran sailing past the Na Pali coast and they had served a delicious chicken and salad meal before we docked at 6pm. We tried the Lazy J Steakhouse one evening and the steak was "to die for" - absolutely melt in your mouth fillet steaks and definitely worth the cover charge. We enjoyed this restaurant as service was exceptional and food mostly great. We did not enjoy the prawn cocktail - prawns tasted very watery and did not have much flavour - probably frozen and thawed. All, and I do mean ALL, the staff were wonderful. We did not come across one member of staff in any area of the ship who was unhelpful, surly or less than friendly. Without exception they were eager to assist and always smiling. We had been a little worried about the tendering process at Kona as on various other ships we've been on tendering sometimes proved to be a long drawn out process. Not here! Smooth and quick and no waiting time at either end. I wish I could say the same for the initial embarkation in Honolulu. Two hours is an awful long time to stand in a queue! Maybe the fact that Apec was starting in Honolulu that morning had something to do with the slowness of being able to board....but maybe not. Maybe its a current occurrence. I would have thought though that since the POA does this week after week that they would have a smooth system in place. Even to have had the rows sign-posted better could have helped. It wasn't until we were finally near the front of the queue that we could see the sign that said "Latitudes".....hmmm, if only that had been at the end of that long row!! That is my one and only complaint otherwise everything was just perfect. The ports, the cruise, the ship, the passengers, the cabins etc etc was perfect, perfect perfect. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our first cruise and I think we got the best! I read some of the negative reviews and do not understand them at all - Our experience was great! The Pride of America was clean and in great shape. The crew was very friendly ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I think we got the best! I read some of the negative reviews and do not understand them at all - Our experience was great! The Pride of America was clean and in great shape. The crew was very friendly and knowledgeable. Our stateroom steward learned our names quickly and pampered us the whole trip. The food was really good - The Aloha Buffet had a good variety of food and tasted great. Also, room service is included in the food package and we took advantage of that several times, including the early breakfast room service. They were always ready early, and would call 15 minutes early to see if it was OK to bring it then. WOW - that's good service! The "Freestyle" cruising fit our needs perfectly. We go on vacations to relax and not be on a schedule. Unlike more formal cruises (where you eat at a certain time, same table with the same people), the Freestyle cruising means you can eat wherever and whenever. It was on OUR schedule - Which was great. The shore excursion were great - especially the Luau on Kauai. DEFINATELY upgrade to the Manor House and Plantation Tour. Instead of the luau buffet, you get waited on at the Manor House, then get escorted to front row seating for the entertainment. When they say "Premier seating", they mean it! It was great - The highlight of our trip! We will be sailing with Norwegian Cruise Lines again without hesitation! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 ... Read More
Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 minutes, pre-checkin on the internet did help. This was the fastest embarkation I have ever experienced. The Volendam is a wonderful ship, very traditional with only 1400 guests it does not have that overcrowded feel of the larger ships. The layout is such that you never have to queue for anything. The two pools one of which is situated at the stern were more than adequate for the number of passengers on board. Dining was a real joy to look forward to every night. The main dining room the Rotterdam is on two levels, one being for traditional dining and the other for anytime dining. We chose the latter and always got a table without queuing- the two waiters at our first night were so good that we dined at the same table for the entire cruise. The standard of food here was very high ,the best we have experienced on a cruise ship,-Holland America have Daniel (the Head Chief) to thank for that-, so much so that we did not even try the speciality restaurant (The Pinnacle Grill). The other dining options-the Lido Cafe, Canaletto's and poolside Mexican/American grill were also of a very high standard. Entertainment was good with the resident company doing shows plus visiting artists gave us a wide variety of performers to enjoy, again the quality of the shows was very high. There is also a cinema on board which showed recently released films daily and free popcorn was provided. There were two bars where you could enjoy a pianist and a string quartet, so everyones taste was catered for.The biggest difference we noticed between Holland America and Princess were Holland America paid more attention to the "niceties", there were cloth towels in the public washrooms, staff provided free lemonade around the pool,use of glasses and china, not plastic plates around the pool, no pressure to "buy,Buy,Buy" on board and generally the service on board was much higher than Princess or Celebrity and some of this must go down to the staff. Apart from the uniformed officers every single person had a smile always acknowledged you when passing, very often knew your name, no mean feat when there are 1400 of us. They worked hard to ensure that we had a great experience and always without fail exceeded our and most other guests expectations. I believe that Holland America has got this element of cruising spot on. We had on two occasions reason to complain about the pool and attitude of a uniformed officer, both issues were dealt with immediately and we were very impressed at the way they deal with any form of poor service- well done. The ports of call were interesting, included New Caledonia, Ile des Pines, and Samoa. We were supposed to visit Eden in Australia, but due to inclement weather we had to forgo this please and instead have an overnight in Sydney, to everyone's delight!! On the whole we were very impressed with the standard on this ship, we loved it and will return again to experience the feeling of being part of the Voldendam Family. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click