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23 Hawaii Luxury Cruise Reviews

First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. ... Read More
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. Excursions were overpriced and terrible! Staff was nice but struggled serving a full ship. We often had to flag down our wine steward for refills. Long time Crystal cruisers commented that things have gone down hill with the new ownership. They needed a dedicated children’s section in the main dining room so other diners were not impacted by children crying, whining, etc. Lots of little things disappointed us given we are long time cruisers. They ran out of food items like tea bags to make decent ice tea. Hallway carpets are worn out and need repalcing. They say the cabins have 110 and 200 outlets but there was only one 110 outlet and it was by the vanity. If you wanted to plug in something by the bed nightstands you need to bring plug adapters. Save your money and go on other high-end cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Because of the name NCL Norwegian pride of America. the food was OMG, all the Excursion that I attended were fabulous the luau took my breath away ,pictures for a lifetime great friends great company met a lot of people very friendly love ... Read More
Because of the name NCL Norwegian pride of America. the food was OMG, all the Excursion that I attended were fabulous the luau took my breath away ,pictures for a lifetime great friends great company met a lot of people very friendly love every moment of it. Can't wait for my Alaskan cruise. It was so much to do on the ship you really didn't have to get off for any excursions but I chose to and it was absolutely amazing like I said earlier I would love for my family too join me next time. The staff was so knowledgeable courteous the ship's director Miss Jamie girl you rock. The gelato the prime rib going to the clubs at night and I don't even Club but I did while I was on your ship. And all my memorabilia that I brought that with me souvenirs for friends and family. And it was so easy getting on and getting off of the ship that's a plus that's kudos keep up the good work see you soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Princess has it right on Embarkation and Disembarkation. Smooth process proved to be one of the best. The ship is older and void of all the exciting pastimes of newer ships but full of traditional pastimes for older passengers. Cabin ... Read More
Princess has it right on Embarkation and Disembarkation. Smooth process proved to be one of the best. The ship is older and void of all the exciting pastimes of newer ships but full of traditional pastimes for older passengers. Cabin service was so exceptional that any flaws in furnishings was not noticed. Wow service for sure there! Food was exceptional in all aspects..better than any other cruise line I have experienced. Dining service was exceptional as well. Entertainment left a little to be desired. Needed more productions, more seating and better entertainers...something more breathtaking like "arial" acts, and such. Found myself bored at certain times, but mainly because of the weather and lack of other exciting activities. Not just gambling. Service everywhere was exceptional and I loved the staff. Only a couple of issues there, not worth mentioning. The Islands were awesome, economical and interesting. Less expensive than Ensenada, Mexico (who had ridiculously high prices) and no bargaining. One fan for $7.....really!!!! Don't even get off at that port. The cruise was rough sailing but we never got sick so hats off to Prncess! We would recommend but would not go again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own ... Read More
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own cabin, and I always make new friends onboard. Crystal is the best cruise line for solo travelers, charging FAR less than the 200% most of the others charge. I think my cabin was priced at 130%. Anyway, the cabin was perfectly situated midship, with a window with a partially obscured view, which meant that just the edge of a lifeboat was within my view, not bad at all. The cabin was very comfortable and spacious. There is a sitting area by the window, with a little sofa. The bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom has double sinks, and a tub/shower combination with a handheld shower head. Bath products include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (and, naturally, bar soap). There are lots of extras, like a little sewing kit, shower cap, Q-tips, cotton balls, shoe shiner, shoehorn, even an umbrella. When my cabin stewardess entered that first day, we realized that she had serviced a Babis for me on a prior trip. Very nice. She did a fabulous job, everything was completely clean and tidy, and she refilled my ice bucket twice/day. Back to embarkation—-a friend dropped me off at the pier, and I joined the seated fellow passengers to wait about 15 minutes. We were called by group number. Very painless. Onboard, a line of uniformed officers and crew greeted me and welcomed me to the ship. Very nice touch! I was given my cabin key card and then headed to the dining room for lunch. The food not only looked good, but tasted great. I have found that not to be the case on, say, Princess. The menus were varied and creative, and my waitstaff team was perfect. On my birthday, they decorated the table and presented a cake. I elected to be seated at the solo dining table for 8, which was a great choice. I met lots of very nice fellow solo travelers. Obviously, there were lots of Sea Days, which I really enjoy. Typically, I had room service breakfast in my cabin, a standing order that I didn’t need to order again and again; it was just brought to me each morning at 7:30. I would then take a bridge lesson, go to an excellent lecture, participate in the Trivia Contest, have lunch in the dining room, go to another lecture, read, attend an Art Class, then return to my cabin to dress for dinner. After dinner, there were shows featuring the amazing Crystal Dancers and others. Disembarkation was completely painless, no waiting whatsoever. All in all, I had the time of my life! I love Crystal, especially for the warm and wonderful service and erudite and interesting fellow passengers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The Ship: The hull started life as a Russian satellite tracking ship. It's beginning to show its former self. There was a lot of rust and despite a refit a few years ago, it's looking old. A metal flashing came off a stair when I ... Read More
The Ship: The hull started life as a Russian satellite tracking ship. It's beginning to show its former self. There was a lot of rust and despite a refit a few years ago, it's looking old. A metal flashing came off a stair when I walked up an exterior stair. I moved it out of the way so no-one would trip over it and reported it to the crew. It was still there at the end of the cruise. The cruise had ~360 passengers on board of a capacity of 500. The crew said it felt empty. I can't imagine another 140 passengers on the ship. The common areas were crowded in the evenings with 360 passengers and the dining rooms were quite busy. The Food: The food was mediocre and very rich. There was a sameness to the food that got boring quite fast. It was hard to get a simple, good salad. Most things had a heavy sauce. Considering the average age of the passengers, it seemed like the cooks were trying to kill off their clientele with cream and salt. Much of the food was bland, other than the salt. The wait staff was excellent and remembered preferences. They tend to push the wine of the day, but you could ask for a different wine. There were premium wines available for an additional fee. The steakhouse, Prime 7 was mediocre. The caesar salad dressing was a gloppy mess. The filet was thin and overcooked (ordered medium rare, came well done), the ahi was also overcooked. The Sete Mare restaurant served Cioppino that was very salty and very overcooked. My wife's sea bass was good. Room service was a limited menu and good or bad, depending on what was ordered. Coffee was inconsistent in quality. The Entertainment: With one exceptional show, most of the theater shows seemed like high school productions. There was a piano player and a guitarist onboard. They were personable, but after a few days, you had heard all there was to hear. Most of the music on board was geared toward people in their 80s or older. My wife and I are around 60 and the music seemed to us like the stuff our grandparents listened to. The in-cabin movie selection was excellent and varied. The internet: It's a good thing it was included in the price of the cruise, because it was inconsistent and cumbersome to use when it worked. The Service: The service was excellent and they seemed to be falling over themselves to make the passengers happy. They seemed genuinely concerned with doing their best. The excursions are weather dependent and it was winter, so some were better than others. The Ensenada trip to a closed off-season hotel was bleak. The pool was too cold to swim in and the place was deserted most of the time. We did a cruise to the Caribbean on the Celebrity Eclipse a few years ago. Everything about that cruise (except similar excellent service) was better—and at 25% of the price of this Regent cruise. Perhaps the NCL purchase of Regent is the reason. This is not the Regent of the past. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
From start to finish everything was great! We couldn't have asked for anything better! Everybody on board and off were great! What a great time. Our staff on the Haven deck were the best you could ask for! Anything we asked for we ... Read More
From start to finish everything was great! We couldn't have asked for anything better! Everybody on board and off were great! What a great time. Our staff on the Haven deck were the best you could ask for! Anything we asked for we got. Amazing. This was my first cruise and would do the cruise again without hesitation. The scenery the Excursions the people that lead the excursion were all great. We left on time and returned to the ship on time. I think we got a little extra being the last cruise ship in the Alaskan port until next season. Extra sled dog time, extra Glacier flying time, extra everything. We learned a lot about the people working on board the ship. They come from all over the world and were very knowledgeable with not only our cruise but others they have worked on as well. Hats off to the entire Staff and Crew of the Norwegian Jewel! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This is the longest curise that my wife and I have taken and wanted to see if we could last the 15 day's and stay instered in the curise. We booked 6 excursions in 5 ports now 2 of the 6 left something to be desired wiki beach ... Read More
This is the longest curise that my wife and I have taken and wanted to see if we could last the 15 day's and stay instered in the curise. We booked 6 excursions in 5 ports now 2 of the 6 left something to be desired wiki beach break was unorganized and quite boring would not do it again next was the nipilia zodiack snorkle to start with this tour did not have the flotation divice that we have used in the open ocean on past curise excursion thay offered noodles rather then flotation vests and the seas were quite high in my opinon ((this is our 5th princess curise) all of my excursions have been booked with princess in the past these were no deal brakers but just keep in mind ,next the ship it self was everything that my wife and I had hoped for had one small problem with stateroom door lock which during the curise would not unlock and thay sent two techs to try to repair but ended up replacing the entire lock this happened at around 10:00 pm and thay had finished at 11:00 pm thay deat with the problem quickly and efficiently. We had the traditional dining as always the wait staff was very good as well as the cabin steward all interactions with the staff was very pleasant and appreciated. Entertainment and ashp board activities were more than enough to keep one busy during the day and entertained at night had state room c-702 balcony all in working order and very clean the balcony it self was quite large and had a half covered ceiling which let sun in and keep rain out over all curise was a howling sucess had greatest time will curise with princess again !!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The Star Princess shouldn't even stop at the Mexico because there were not must for kids to do and it's drinking and party. If the ship didn't stopped in Mexico then we don't have nightmare for custom check-out. It was ... Read More
The Star Princess shouldn't even stop at the Mexico because there were not must for kids to do and it's drinking and party. If the ship didn't stopped in Mexico then we don't have nightmare for custom check-out. It was a mess and cost us delay for excursion cutting short. We paid for the excursion and they were skipped the scene and rushed back on the ship. They should have stay one night in Hawaii island. They just do focus only Hawaiian islands than didn't have too much US custom issues. We spend 2 hours for just stood inline getting off the first island and there were passengers were confused. The amounts we paid for balcony for Christmas should be covering juice and soda. There were no seafood provided but that was separate amounts. There are too many Bingo activities on the ship than other activities. They need more activities for adults like more classes crafts. Also, overcharge for WIFI package. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise because we wanted to cruise to and around Hawaii. We had a beautiful five days at sea. Ship was very nice and crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Ate one night at Murano and the food was delicious. We felt like ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to cruise to and around Hawaii. We had a beautiful five days at sea. Ship was very nice and crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Ate one night at Murano and the food was delicious. We felt like we were the only table that our server had. She was very knowledgable and prepared our lobster tails at our table. The Vancouver terminal was not very well laid out and seemed a lot of unnecessary going up and down escalators just to check in. They need to rethink their check in process. But once we boarded it was all good experiences. Two ports had tenders and that was a little rough. We don't really dock anywhere that is a high tourist area so not a lot of Hawaii experience. That was kind of a let down. As long as we were on the ship itself it was great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our two week trip to Hawaii was twenty years in the making and my wife and I considered all our travel options very carefully. We booked an Un-Cruise Hawaii for the week of March 5 through 12. For us, the total $9,500 fare is a ... Read More
Our two week trip to Hawaii was twenty years in the making and my wife and I considered all our travel options very carefully. We booked an Un-Cruise Hawaii for the week of March 5 through 12. For us, the total $9,500 fare is a significant amount and we came into the trip with very high expectations. I would never have imagined that our expectations would be so thoroughly exceeded and that we would finish the week so delighted with the experience. In our mid-fifties, we consider ourselves physically and intellectually active; we are not content to travel to a warm clime and spend all of our time on a beautiful beach with a book. At first glance, being on a small cruise boat/yacht might sound confining but this was not the case at all. Instead, every day was full of activities, sightseeing, and learning from the time we woke up until we fell asleep exhausted at the end of the day. That said, my “gushing” should not mask the fact that this cruise would not be for everybody. The majority of the guests were very active and if you are not able to get about easily, you may want to consider another, less physically demanding, adventure. The value proposition is largely centered on unique Hawaiian activities. Also you might not be happy with the cruise if you are not “social” but more on this aspect later. Our Yacht, the Safari Explorer carries 36 passengers and 15 crew. It is a converted research ship. The condition of the passenger common areas and cabins is very comfortable, clean and well kept. It has a full compliment of “toys” (kayaks, paddle boards, exercise equipment, DVDs, library, etc.) and nothing was wanting in that respect. The Bar was very well stocked with top shelf wine, craft beer and liquor. It should be noted that for our week, there were only 16 passengers booked- I understand this is an anomaly that occasionally happens (I tried to book other dates that were full). The following summarizes what made this cruise so wonderful. Crew: I have had the opportunity to travel on business and stay at high-end lodgings so I have a basis for comparison. The crew was by far the most exceptionally great hospitality professionals I have ever encountered. At every level, from the Captain to the stewards, they made you feel like you were “their guest” on a very warm and personal level. One example, the night we were going to have a “stormy” crossing to Hawaii, the Captain spent considerable time explaining what was going on and how it would proceed in great detail and with clear concern that all of the passengers would be as comfortable as possible. Realizing the crew gives so much of themselves every week to a different set of guests is amazing. Activities: First, there were at least two to three activities each day. These included whale and dolphin watches, snorkeling, kayaking, snorkeling with sea turtles and manta rays, yoga, massages, marine biology and cultural lectures and land excursions. Additionally, the activities were very well planned and executed. When the weather or some other factor did not work with plan A there was always a plan B & C as backup. The Expedition Leaders were incredibly well informed about the science and culture of every aspect of what we were doing. They were clearly passionate about the subjects and enjoyed sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with us passengers. Food: We consider ourselves foodies. We have very high standards from four-star restaurants to food trucks- very, very high bar to clear on this one. I was amazed but every meal was very good to excellent. Flavorful, artfully presented, freshly cooked, and in a very appropriate proportion size (not needing to make up for a lack of quality with quantity). Other Guests: We had a very enjoyable and fulfilling time getting to know the other guests. I am sure the dynamic with each cruise is probably somewhat different. In the group we were in for the week the passengers were all couples (55 or older) or pairs of friends, all professionals and not particularly diverse beyond different home locations- which included the USA, New Zealand, Australia and England. The meals are served based on a scheduled seating time and seating is family style; meaning you sit with one or two other couples. Our dynamic was such that we all very comfortably rotated around to different groupings each meal. It was a lot of fun from a social standpoint getting to know the other passengers in this manner. Additionally, you have the opportunity to interact during activities and cocktail hour. We established some relationships and are hoping to keep up with our fellow cruisers. Conclusion: The Un-Cruise is not going to be for everyone but if you consider yourself active and a foodie it is worth a serious look. We came away with a deep appreciation of the parts of Hawaii we visited and some great memories of our activities and companionship during the week. We particularly left with deep admiration and respect for the crew. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I had so much fun on my 7 day Hawaiian cruise. My friend and I flew in from Phoenix on a 6 1/2 hour Hawaiian Airline flight. It took awhile to get through the Boarding Process; but once through, the week was so much fun. Two ... Read More
I had so much fun on my 7 day Hawaiian cruise. My friend and I flew in from Phoenix on a 6 1/2 hour Hawaiian Airline flight. It took awhile to get through the Boarding Process; but once through, the week was so much fun. Two days in Maui. One day in Hilo and one in Kona on the Big Island. Two days in Kauai. This is my third visit to the Hawaiian Islands and hopefully, far from my last. I love the islands and this was a wonderful way to visit 3 islands on one visit. Port & Shore Excursions: Big Island Snorkel. Our group was the first to be loaded on the Tenders at Kona to be transported to the Body Glove catamaran at 7:15 am, which was nice for us because we had the full day until 5:30 pm, to explore Kona after the excursion. This Excursion was exceptional. The staff was informative, helpful, friendly, and patient. The food was abundant and delicious. The coral reef where we snorkeled was about 45 minutes from shore. We saw a pod of Spinner dolphins as we to the reef. Once we arrived, the snorkeling was very well organized. The view of the reef and the ocean life was excellent. The only challenge I faced on the snorkeling excursion was that I decided to go down the water slide. It was nothing like the big yellow slides at a water park. I pulled a muscle trying to get onto the slide and when I landed in the water, it felt like a giant slap to my whole body. I can't think of any way to enter the water more gently from the slide. I imagine that it hurts because of the speed and distance of the drop. It's not necessary to go down the water slide, and I would just skip that experience if I had it to do over again. Other than my decision to use the water slide, the rest of the experience was fun and memorable. Also, I was generous with use of sunscreen which I highly recommend. I brought my own spray on 50 spf sunscreen, and there was also sunscreen available on board. Thank you to the Big Island Excursion staff. They couldn't have been more helpful and considerate to a snorkeler with limited experience. Entertainment: The shows were amazing. I went to all of the 7:00 shows except for Thursday, Luau night. Performers were highly talented and professional. Costumes were gorgeous. The 'Oh What a Night' Tribute was probably the highest quality of all; but every show was a 5 star performance for me. The Cast was fabulous. Each show lasted about an hour and left me wanting more. I definitely recommend taking advantage of the superb entertainment offered at 7 and 9 pm nightly in the Hollywood Theater. Summary: Thank you to Norwegian and to all the staff that made it such a fabulous experience. Thanks especially to our Cabin Steward, Henry. Actually, the whole Pride of America staff treated us so well. I highly recommend Pride of America to anyone who wants to enjoy the islands along with a Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as ... Read More
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as dining at 7 or 730 you are in a dining room emptying out around you with clatter of tables being set and moved and waiting staff rushing around in a frenzy preparing for the late seating. The food was excellent but the enjoyment was spoiled by the feeling of being in the way and also at times the service was slow as the waiters had to clear and reset their own table settings. We cannot understand why the By Reservation Diners are not put in a corner of the dining room together not dispersed around the restaurant like fish out of water. The afternoon tea was ok but if you arrived after the initial set up of tables and the waiting staff had to reset a table for you then you were given paper napkins and no cutlery and one time even given a paper towel folded which was more 2 star than 6. Our overall experience was good with lots of friendly efficient staff,excellent food in dining room ,Bistro and lunch buffet but overall tainted by the dining experience. Unless the Dining By Reservation is improved immensely the competition of Seabourn ,Silverseas and Oceania will be getting our future reservations . The cabin attendant was efficient but never introduced herself throughout the whole voyage or enquired if all was ok. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The Queen Victoria is a wonderful ship. The cruise to Hawaii had a total of eight sea days and only four ports in Hawaii and one final port, Ensenada. We enjoy the atmosphere aboard ship and the sea days were nice, but the weather was ... Read More
The Queen Victoria is a wonderful ship. The cruise to Hawaii had a total of eight sea days and only four ports in Hawaii and one final port, Ensenada. We enjoy the atmosphere aboard ship and the sea days were nice, but the weather was surprisingly cold. So for most of the trip you couldn't use the pool. We have traveled on the Queen Victoria before and find the staff outstanding. We have taken many cruises with Cunard, on all of their ships, and find the tour office really lacking in proper tours. What they advertise and promote as Cunard tours and at an expensive price, are not in reality the tours you get. I have found that if you go ashore and find your own guide for a tour, you save almost 75% of what Cunard charges and you get a much better tour. Cunard also nickles and dimes you with fees and charges. $2.00 for a bottle of water + 15%, 15% gratuity on anything you purchase on board including, corking charges for wine, the wine at meals and the carefully measured cocktails are not cheap with the added 15%. At the first Hawaiian port hundreds of people were purchasing sodas and liquor to bring back on board. And this happened all additional ports too. Forget the ship's laundry service, $4.00 to clean a shirt. So if you can get a good discount on a Cunard cruise to places you wish to visit and can avoid their lousy tour office recommendations and avoid the bar purchases and extras, the ship itself and the staff are wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
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
We sailed on the Cunard Queen Victoria 2-week Christmas voyage from Los Angeles roundtrip to Hawaii in the Queen's Grill level of service this year -- December 21, 2011 through January 4, 2012. I have to say, the service, ... Read More
We sailed on the Cunard Queen Victoria 2-week Christmas voyage from Los Angeles roundtrip to Hawaii in the Queen's Grill level of service this year -- December 21, 2011 through January 4, 2012. I have to say, the service, accommodations, food and itinerary were outstanding. I have been a frequent traveler on Crystal Cruises (Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony) over the years. In comparison, I would give a slight edge to Crystal for their fewer passengers on board, and better embarkation/disembarkation experience. Otherwise, the Cunard experience was really really tremendous. Stateroom Accommodation -- I travelled with my mom and her service dog. While I love my mom, we do like our space. Also, although our service dog is small, a deck was essential. Our stateroom was QV4188. The room was one of the larger Queen's Grill "standard" suites (same price as most others), and had over 700 sq ft (including the balcony). (Thanks to Joe at PG Travel who helped arrange this!) It was at the stern of the ship on the 4th deck. As a corner unit, it had an unusually large wrap around balcony. The balcony was also deep. The balcony easily held 2 lounges, 2 tables and 2 chairs -- with lots of room to spare on the other side. Being at the back of the ship, we did get a bit more noise -- perhaps from the stabilizers. Certainly we got some noise from the anchor being lowered and raised. Our neighbor passenger requested to move because of sensitivity to the vibration/humming, but we did not find this to be a problem. I note that we did seem to roll on the waves a bit -- other passengers commented on this too. Not sure if we had rougher seas, or the ship's size contributed a bit. That said, my mom really liked being in this location, she says it was the best spot on the ship, as you could watch the wake, see the rainbows in the rain, and be lulled to sleep by the rocking. Inside the stateroom, we had a decent sized "living" area for the sofa, desk table and chair. We had 2 twin beds, which was a bit cozy, but for 2 weeks we managed. We each had separate closets and my mom used the separate dressing area/table just outside the bathroom. The bathroom was rather large with 2 sinks, and tub with jets and a separate shower cubicle. The room also had a nice granite counter, small cooler fridge and bar sink. We were very comfortable. Internet/Television. The internet service was spotty at best. Don't even think about Skype -- the bandwidth is just too small. Honestly, the television availability was terrible -- but you are not on a cruise to watch tv, right? Bring DVDs. (The library is very extensive, too, and has lots of books peruse and DVDs to watch). Dining. I was very impressed with our dining experience. In the Queen's Grill, the facilities felt small and intimate. We had our own table for 2, but were able to get to know our neighboring diner's a bit without being "stuck" with them for 2 weeks. The food was exemplary. My favorite were the breakfasts. I splurged and had eggs benedict with the eggs perfectly poached on most days. Dinners were an event! Being a native Californian, I did notice a scarcity of greens -- fresh lettuces, broccoli, etc., but no worries. We had an amazing Christmas dinner with all the trimmings -- turkey, gravy and stuffing. My mom is partial to caviar, and had it several times -- properly served with all the trimmings! Our sommelier was outstanding -- I was able to try wines and send them back if not pleased -- most of the time, I was very much pleased! I did note a smaller selection of European wines than available on the Crystal. Afternoon tea is very special. Tea is served in the Queen's Room -- a beautiful room -- and accompanied by a string quartet (quite delightful). Usually the tea service is packed. We visited on the "Ensenada" day when most people were out on the town. The scones lived up to English expectations. Lounging. Queen's Grill and Princess Grill passengers had their own designated bar/lounge area. This was especially nice at cocktail time, as we got to see the same people and get to chat with them a bit. We also had our own private deck areas to lounge in so that you didn't have to "fight the masses" for a deck chair near the pool. Service. The service for Queen's Grill guests was super. We had a butler, and butler's assistant who were very good. With me, my mom and a dog, we were a handful. (I took care of all of the dog's needs, including potty clean up). Everything was tidied up and fresh towels available twice per day. We had fresh flowers in the room, canapés delivered every afternoon (around 5 pm) to give us energy for the evening activities. A special note about Cunard and my mom's service dog. The service and accommodation we received was commendable. The advance team was generally helpful and tried very hard to facilitate our departure. The Chief Purser, himself, greeted us at the embarkation area to help sort out getting us on board, and also made valiant efforts to help us with governmental officials in Hawaii. Most of the staff were delightful to us all, and my mom's service dog received lots of affection and attention. Note that travelling with a service dog is doable, but not a trivial task. I wrote a blog giving practical tips about cruising with your service dog, my experience with Cunard in particular, and the trials of dealing with governmental regulation in Hawaii. Please see www.travelindog.blogspot.com Spa & Salon. The salon was pleasant and huge! considering this was a cruise ship! There were 3 chairs for hairdressers (who were constantly busy), a manicurist station, waiting area, plus a whole labyrinth of rooms or spa treatments. My mom visited the hair dresser 3 times during the trip -- they were adequate. I visited the masseuse twice -- she was AMAZING! All services are pricey, but good. Shopping. Ok, I like to shop. Because of the ship's size there was a surprisingly good selection of goodies, clothing, jewelry and books -- all of very good quality. I especially liked that they tried to feature goods made in England, including "Harrod's" items, jams, chocolates, and some leather goods (including Radley of London). Live Entertainment. Top rate talent, and lots of it! Live string quartet every day at tea, concert pianist , cocktail pianists, bands and Broadway/West End level shows. Christmas Activities. The efforts by the Cunard staff were amazing -- they brought a wonderful holiday spirit to the entire cruise. First, the decorations were abundant! The main lobby area banisters were festooned with garlands over three decks. There were lighted Christmas trees in almost every public space. Special activities on board included gingerbread house making (a favorite with the younger "Under 10" set), Christmas carol singing (many of the crew and lots of passengers participated), a special non-denominational Christmas service (select crew read relevant passages from the Bible, and we had LOTS of singing of Christmas carols), and of course, a visit from Santa! There were also professional photographers almost at every event, and happily took your photo in front of a Christmas tree or with Santa for next year's Christmas card. Embarkation & Disembarkation. This was truly a disaster. On embarkation, we were in the cruise departure area -- a massive room holding all 2000 passengers - it seemed simultaneously. Though Queen's Grill passengers, we had to queue up for a solid 45 minutes -- even though in a separate line. Admittedly, there was some problem with the computer system, but this was ridiculous for my mom to be expected to stand that long (she did sit down, although others were told they could not). Disembarkation was a free-for-all. First, we had to completely leave our room by 8 am, and sit in one of the large public rooms. Again, even though we were Queen's Grill, since we were taking the Cunard-provided-bus transportation to the airport, we had to sit with the other 1000 or so others doing the same. We sat there for a solid hour and a half. Then, off we went to the massive cruise terminal; I raced across to find our bags and haul them to where I could flag down a porter. The bags themselves were definitely beaten up and mishandled (I can imagine the luggage crew hurling them off the deck into the bins). The porter was super, I must say. He got us out to the bus, and on we went. We got to the airport -- 3 hours early. I only blame Cunard in that we should have been taken to a nicer place to wait as Crystal Cruises does, if we had to get off so early. Using the tenders at one of the ports was also unpleasant. While Queen's Grill passengers have priority to get on a tender, I didn't know this, and waited 45 minutes to get off. Also, at the other end, we were stuck waiting in a line of about 100 other passengers in the hot sun to get back. In sum, the Queen Victoria is a big ship holding 2000 passengers and 900 crew. (In contrast, Crystal Cruise ships hold around 800 passengers and 500 crew). The Queen's Grill level of service, accommodation and dining are absolutely comparable to Crystal. Some of the features of a big ship are wonderful, including more variety. Some of the features are not so wonderful -- you will have to deal with crowds at some point -- embarkation/ disembarkation/ tenders, and certainly, don't go to the Lido Buffet at lunchtime! I have to say overall, this was one of the most memorable and most wonderful cruises we have taken. Certainly over the holidays, it is quite special. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Having travelled on the Queen Victoria in 2008 we were happy to be returning and knew how beautiful the ship truly is. Because we had 4 sea days in a row going and coming from Hawaii, we decided to treat ourselves and upgraded to a ... Read More
Having travelled on the Queen Victoria in 2008 we were happy to be returning and knew how beautiful the ship truly is. Because we had 4 sea days in a row going and coming from Hawaii, we decided to treat ourselves and upgraded to a Princess Gill cabin. It was worth every penny and I hope to do it again! The Princess Grill dining room was excellent and we had one of the best tables for 2 (109). Our waiters were Rajesh and Edwin and they did an excellent job of taking care of us. The Queen Grill lounge was a nice place to relax before lunch or to enjoy afternoon tea, however it does get VERY crowded at tea time and just before lunch. Cunard might want to expand this space just a little, because at peak times compared with everywhere else onboard I felt very crowded in this space. Embarkation The embarkation at the Port of Los Angeles was the worst of all 18 cruises we've taken. We arrived at the port shortly after 11am and were handed a card with a number 3. Our cruise documents indicated we should plan to arrive a 12pm, however our documents mentioned priority embarkation and we were very eager to get onboard. After passing the security check we were told to have a seat and wait for our number to be called. After waiting for over an hour the room was quickly filling up and with no announcement or information about the delay we asked one of the staff if we would be given priority boarding, the response we got was yes, but just please sit and wait. At 12:35 a shore side staff person standing toward the front of the crowded room started calling number one, but since no one could hear clearly what she was saying, everyone just rushed for the line. We had to push our way into line and stand there for 45minute to be given our room keys. There was no priority embarkation for grill passengers and it was pretty much a free for all, we later learned it was like this all day long, even passengers arriving at 3pm were greet with long waits a bigger lines. This could have been handle much better with just a small amount of planning or thought towards passengers. We were given multiple reason for the delay but each one conflicted with the other. Our luggage was among the very last bags on board and we received them after the lifeboat drill. Just before the muster drill I went up on deck and looked over to the pier, there was 3 cages of bags left to be brought onboard and sure enough our bags were on the top of the last cage, this was NOT the priority luggage service the Cunard advertised for Gill passengers!!! Dining and Food We loved the Princess Grill and our table. We could eat when we wanted, however a very loud and someone ignorant group at a table for 4 seated nearby meant that we had to adjust our dining times to avoid having to listen to them argue to call the waiter by yelling "hey mister". The service was excellent and I really love flambe desserts so Thomas (Maitre'd) made sure that I had one almost every night. Our Christmas dinner was excellent. Our waiter Rajesh quickly learned that we like to play and joke around a bit, and a couple of nights later made a great joke with our menus,by giving us a menu in a different language, a few nights later we were given breakfast menu for dinner. We enjoyed most of our meals. However, there were a few entrees that we thought weren't what we'd expected them to be. The steak Diane wasn't flambe'd at the table and what was presented was a big disappointment. One of my soups didn't resemble anything like what I expected or what was described on the menu. Rajesh and Edwin (assistant waiter) were very quick to observe when it appeared we didn't like something and they discretely asked if they could replace something. Cabin We loved our cabin and it was close by to the elevators, in fact it was too close to the elevators and there was some occasions when you could hear screaming kids running down the stairs. We were just forward one of the Carpathia suites(7070) on the port side. I wouldn't choose this location ever again, it was handy being steps from the stairs or the elevator, but I found this to be more of a sound problem. A couple of nights I was awoken because there was a service door very close by and there was linens in a huge being banged around. There was also a service closet for the suite which was beside us and when the linen carts were being stocked it banged very loudly on the cabin walls. On the last night I was kept awake for over 2 hours while the luggage dragged, thrown scraped down the service stairwell as it was being taken off the floor. By 3am after asking the staff twice to please be quiet because we couldn't sleep, I finally had to go to the pursers desk to complain. Entertainment There were some shows which we enjoyed and couple which we had to walk out of. The casino was ok, many of the slot machines really need to be updated and they could reduce the number of tables and increase some of the slots. During the busy times in the evening all of the slot machines were quite full but there was two tables were totally empty with dealer just standing around. We loved watching the Strictly Cunard competition however it was really hard to find a seat. Some of the lectures were quite interesting and overall for a longer sea voyage I would chose Cunard over any of the other lines because the daily activities are better organized. Disembarkation Because of the nightmare we experienced boarding we choose self disembarkation also because I arranged for a car to take us to LAX and we had a 11:55 flight. We were the 3rd and 4th passengers off at 8:15am The shore side staff were a little more helpful this time. I loved seeing Hawaii and it was made even more enjoyable because we did onboard my absolute favourite cruise ship! I really hope I get to enjoy the Queen Victoria again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a ... Read More
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a bit of a wait for 5:30 seating in the Non traditional dining room, but it went fast. A smile and a thank you went a long way with the Maitre D. He was a bit harassed. The ship was great too. Lots of places to go and relax or not. That's what I love about cruising, the choices are yours to make. Not sure I got my money's worth with the soda package, but it was fine. I didn't get the coffee package because I drink one cup of coffee in the morning and I'm not a gourmet about it. I most often got coffee from room service and had it on my balcony. The bed wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. A bit hard for me, but not that bad. The Trident Grill was nothing to write home about nor was the Pizza parlor. The ports were fine, although I have no comparison, since this is my first trip to Hawaii. I loved the way they organized the departures for the excursions. It was really well done and absolutely no waiting on a dock to find out where you were going. You waited in the Princess Theater until your group was called, went to the disembarkation deck and got right on the bus or van. It was truly great. They do need more seating in the Princess Theater. I only got to see one show because there was no seating. The 10:30 was too late for me because I get up at 6 am, without an alarm clock. I'm not sure what I missed, but everyone said the shows were great. My only issue was my flight home. When I left, I was flying out on US Air 6344, but when I got to the airport, they said there was no such flight. Finally, I got on a 10:10 flight that took me to Philadelphia. Not my first choice, but at that point I didn't have any choice. I'd have liked to know about the change before I left the ship. I spent money trying to check-in on line. It was frustrating. Can I blame Princess for that snafu? I don't think so, but they should have let me know about the change. US Air's people were great. They helped me all the way along. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Many people take cruises for many different reasons. On this occasion we decided to take a cruise to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday. Because this gift was for such a special occasion we decided to really go all out and purchased the ... Read More
Many people take cruises for many different reasons. On this occasion we decided to take a cruise to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday. Because this gift was for such a special occasion we decided to really go all out and purchased the owners suite, cabin S709. We received a text, a phone call and an email the day before to inform us that the Golden Princess would be late arriving due to bad weather, so embarkation would be delayed until 2:00 p.m. This made little difference to us. We arrived about 2:15 p.m. and were able to board quickly. Our embarkation took about 30 minutes, until we were in our room. We were very happy with our suite and how it was appointed. It became a very comfortable home for two weeks. In fact we can say that about the ship as a vessel. The ship is beautifully decorated and flowed well. The last time we sailed with Princess we were very unhappy with the flow of the Caribbean Princess. It has too many cabins for the common/public areas not to be over filled. After we made final payment for our booking we went to our Cruise Personalizer on the Princess website we filled in our preferences. Shorty after we arrived to our cabin we saw it made no difference. We specifically filled in our mini bar requests, but had a standard set up. When we asked our cabin steward, Joseph about it, he told us that was filled by room service department. He wrote down our requests and arranged to have them swapped out for our requested items. This was only one time out of many that our cabin steward fixed a problem from another department, such as the time the laundry lost my bathing suit for a day and a half. Only one wet bathing suit on a Hawaiian cruise is not a comfortable position to be in. We also had an appointment discrepancy with the spa that we had pre reserved. They wanted to change our time and we were just not available at that time. We told them to cancel and perhaps we would reschedule, but then they found the time for us after all. Later that evening we went to dinner. No matter where we ate the food was only mediocre at best. There was the exception of the Chefs Table experience. That was a very memorable meal where everything was impeccable. But the real disappointment was the service we received in the Crown Grill. We hosted the dinner with two other couples we had befriended onboard. Water glasses were left empty at times. Cocktail glasses were not taken away when empty; napkins were not folded, servers reaching over while serving. Just not the level of basic service we are accustomed to while fine dining. Again the food was only okay. Certainly not equal to Capital Grill or Ruth Chris. The service in Sabatinis was very nice. The breakfast available to suite guests, very good as well. But the food at dinner was only okay. In fact there was small talk among the guests about the lobster risotto being terrible. I laughed when the subject came up openly during the Chefs table. I didnt start the conversation, but had the same discussion privately with my husband. The morning we arrived in Hilo, Hawaii, my husband was not feeling well. He went and saw the doctor. We had about a 40 minute wait while he saw other patients. When we did, we were very pleased with his care. He examined and treated my husband so he could enjoy the rest of his vacation. He did tell my husband not to go on our planned excursion. He stamped our tickets and we brought them to the shore excursion desk and received a refund. This was much appreciated. We were unimpressed with the entertainment on the ship. It wasnt that we didnt enjoy the production value or even the singing, but the dancing was terrible. The dancers were out of sync and running into each other. If the other aspects werent so good, it would have been comical. One the first day, we went to the gift shop to purchase cigarettes. We placed and paid for our order. On the last sea day, we were awoken by a phone call from the gift shop telling us that their inventory control system was all messed up and they could not fill our order for one of our brands. So my husband requested a refund for that product. We were told we had to come down to have the refund processed. So we interrupted our day to do so. On the last day of the cruise, we received our order for they product they did have in stock, but it was the wrong brand. I went down and requested to speak to the shop manager and was presented to the assistant shop manager. I politely asked her to explain the incompetence for a simple order. She was very kind, apologized and corrected my order. We were most annoyed that we were woken up on the final sea day. That was not necessary at all. When were realized we couldnt get our cigarettes from the gift shop we went to the Players Club Bar, where smoking is allowed, to enjoy a cocktail and cigarette and purchase some as well. This is where the most offensive thing that has ever happened to me by a crew member in all the cruises I have gone on. After he sold us the pack of cigarettes, he continued on about how he was very pleased that starting the next day, crew members were not longer allowed to smoke in their quarters. That his roommate smokes and it annoys him. He also told us only a moron would smoke and any idiot can read on the package that it kills. Look, I know many people have issues with smoking, but I do not expected to be lectured by the hired help while on holiday. This was a big bad note and one that we really never shook off. Perhaps because when we complained to a food and beverage supervisor about the incident, the same bartender was in the bar for the remainder of the cruise. We had expected after such an incident and complaint he would have been removed to another location. But I suppose it is okay with Princess to have their crew members insult their guests. In regards to disembarkation, we where not pleased again. On the final sea day we were giving our departure tags we were not given a preferred time. So we went to the pursers and inquired about it. We were told we didnt have a preferred time but a special place. When we arrived at this special place we were greatly disappointed to find a picked over tray of pastries and self serve coffee/tea. There were only napkins and cups and no one to bus the tables. The most amusing thing that happened was when they got on the microphone and asked people to bring sections of the paper back because they didnt have enough to go around. This is the first time I ever disembarked from a cruise without a full breakfast served to me. I could go on and on with little things that happened that were unpleasant, but I feel that I have explained enough to cruise on another cruise line. I have enjoyed much better experiences on other competing lines and will continue to cruise where I feel I am appreciated. 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Sail Date September 2011
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. ... Read More
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. Starting dinner at 8,30 pm followed by a show at 10,30 pm means a very late bed-time.Because of this we missed many shows. We liked the magician and the dancers. Dressing up each evening is a hassle. Dinner is a fussy affair on this ship. You have the option of the self service though. Cabin adequate with comfortable balcony. Staff most friendly and polite at all times. One great plus : the LIBRARY ! The weather during most of this cruise was frisky and cloudy. So we spent a lot of time there. One last BIG complaint. Not for the cruise line. Disembarkation took 4 hours because of long lines at re-entry U.S. immigration.We lost a full half day of our holiday because of this disagreeable interminable long wait. The cruise had a stopover in Ensenada. I would gladly have missed this kitschy,seedy tourist-trap if it had meant a faster disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and ... Read More
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and shower all in one place...if you are tall..well, mind your head. Did manage to stow all of our stuff however..suitcases fit nicely under the bed. Our cabin steward, Rick, did a super job taking care of us. We liked the lay-out of the ship, nice feel in all the areas,even tho the ship was full did not feel crowded...we found the staff and passengers extremely friendly, did not encounter and grumps! Our recent experiences have been on QM2 PG dining room so we struggled with the Britannia dining room for dinner. Tho the service was ok the main courses were...tasteless...apps and soups and salads and desserts were good...several times we just had soup and salad. We did enjoy in the Lido, very good fresh made pizza, burgers and great fries, and a good salad selection. Also for breakfast fresh cooked eggs to order. Entertainment & speaker we are split on. I thought the after dinner shows were great the speakers good except for one who was teaching a class...in a dull voice! We had loads of laughs in the Pub for games after the show..or dancing every night in the Queens Room. Cunard has the very best ships for ballroom dancers afloat. Large dance floors! Afternoon tea or a classical concert. Cunard does a super job keeping passengers busy. Or a quiet read in the very nice library. If you enjoy meeting new people than you can't go wrong with a Cunard cruise, we have always found our fellow travelers very interesting and well traveled! We had 4 formal nights in 14 days...I love it... All in all the only problem we had was dinner in the Britannia dining room, we are Calif foodies...and we found the dinner hit and miss! Disembarkation in LA was very smooth. Our time was 8:50am we were at the curb by 9:15am! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Crusing for me is one of the best ways of spending my vacation time. My partner enjoys it as well. This cruise was the longest we have ever vacationed. As you can imagine we loved having other take care of the chores while we endulged. ... Read More
Crusing for me is one of the best ways of spending my vacation time. My partner enjoys it as well. This cruise was the longest we have ever vacationed. As you can imagine we loved having other take care of the chores while we endulged. There were some highlights. Alison Farr played spectacularly on piano with fellow inspiring violinist for several concerts. I was messmerized and thrilled by their flawless interpretations. Another gift of the voyage was a former airline captain who kept audiences in stitches on several occations with his commentary and naughty film publicity clips. The people onboard were mostly mature and cultured guests. Only on rare occation did I witness passengers behaving poorly. One such occation, followed an accupuncture talk, where a senior citizen cut in front of the few people waiting to make appointments with the ship's therapist, ignoring those clearly waiting before her. The ship's staff did not ask her to wait for her turn. Another complaint was that a couple of the guests with electric wheelchairs would drivers into other passengers. Nobody was injured, but nerves were freyed. There were multiple stories told about ill-tempered passengers who hogged laundryroom equipment. One such incident only ended after the ships armed security staff had interviened. For myself, the one incident that could have been handled differently, was Cunard's standard response after having damaged my new luggage. It was considerate of Cunard's staff to use a piece of silver duct tape to close the hole they made in the $150 luggage. But, it seems odd to be told by the perser's staff that one's only recourse is to file a insurance claim, providing I had the forethought to protect my investment from Cunard's carelessness. All in all, there are a lot of words above devoted to describing what passengers might see on any cruise. I would like the reader to take away the notion that I was generally happing with staff's service, decor, weather, safety, and much more. I recommend going on this cruise. Do not let my discription of the few Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that ... Read More
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that extra pizzaz and "wow factor" that is missing on the "QV". After talking with several fellow passengers, the consensus was the same. We loved our balcony cabin with it's tiny shower in the bathroom. One of our tablemates suggested that you soap the shower walls and then "twirl"! Didn't try it, but sounded like a hoot! We had plenty of drawer and closet space. Our room steward, Benny, was very efficient. He kept our cabin spotless and the ice bucket filled. The weather on this particular voyage wa quite cloudy and windy....not what we expected on crossing the Pacific Ocean in February. In the fourteen days we were sailing, we had two sunny days on the ship and only two of the four islands had sunny warm weather. Definitely not Cunard's problem! Our dinner in the Britannia every night was delightful. Sandy, our head waiter, was absolutely flawless in his presentations. He has many years experience with Cunard, and it shows! His assistant, Jacek, from Poland, was my favorite! He is young, eager and ready to go far in this world! What a smile! Our wine steward, Rao, was new on the job with this cruise, and learned his duties very quickly. Three out of the six at our table requested drinks with a little extra flair (blue cheese stuffed olives in their Manhattans and Martinis) and Rao came through! The food was delicious! We ate most of our meals in Britannia,and a few lunches in the Lido. The portions were just right, soups and entrees always hot and tasty. The desserts were spectacular! We had the same delightful tablemates at dinner every night, and sat with different people at breakfast and lunch. We saw all of the shows in the Royal Court Theater. Every one was professional and elegantly done. The costumes were amazing. Two shows featured John England, a pianist who "blew our sox off"! He played requests that passengers asked for during the trip. I do know that "As Time Goes By" will never sound as good as when he played it. My only complaint was that on a cruise to Hawaii, it would have been nice to be presented with a flower lei on landing at any one of the four islands. You could buy them after leaving the ship in the four ports, but that extra touch from Cunard wasn't there. There was no luau on board or offered in the tour packages on any of the islands. We had a wonderful vacation that was a year in the planning and flew by too quickly! I would sail on the "Queen Victoria" again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our first visit to Hawaii and sixth cruise, our previous cruises being in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, on Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean lines. Booking: We booked directly with NCL through their website, and ... Read More
This was our first visit to Hawaii and sixth cruise, our previous cruises being in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, on Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean lines. Booking: We booked directly with NCL through their website, and reserved an aft balcony category BA cabin 10180. Approximately 4 weeks before sailing, the "UpSell Fairy" called with an outstanding offer to take a category AA owner's suite, cabin 10002, at a reasonable increase in price. Travel: It is six time zones and a 10 hour flight from the east coast. We used One Pass miles to fly Continental non-stop, first class, and it was very comfortable with decent food and wine. Honolulu / Waikiki: Arrived Wednesday evening; had booked Halekulani via their website. Outstanding hotel with reputation for services and dining. We were not disappointed. Centrally located in Waikiki. Lots of shopping. Enjoyed the La Mer, Orchids, and House Without a Key restaurants. Great, elegant hula. A small beach but smooth sand; large beautiful pool and excellent pool staff and drinks. Quiet clientele with many wedding ceremonies. Extensive privacy and security; security staff wore suits and carried covert communications devices. Kicked back quite a bit Thursday / Friday and tried to adjust to the time change. Saturday Boarding: VIP boarding privileges with the suite; we were speeded through in 5 minutes. Our baggage arrived within the hour. NCL Concierge met all suite guests in the Lanai Lounge, and helped with reservations for tours and dining at the specialty restaurants. Cabin: I can't say enough about the Owner's Suite. It is a floating apartment; 1 1/2 baths; a Jacuzzi; dual sinks; stall shower with spray guns; 3 televisions; a huge lanai with chaise lounges, table / chairs, and 60" hot tub completes the picture. The room includes choice of 3 liters of liquor, very decent brands including Beefeater, Stolichnaya and Kahlua. There is also a large espresso / cappuccino machine. Butler service, which we did not make full use of, is included. Only complaint was ice, ice, and more ice. I needed to call every day for ice. Breakfast / Lunch: Suite guests can enjoy private sitting in the Lazy J. Food was good but menu never changed. I did get one bad meal, a "grouper filet" which obviously had just come from the freezer via the deep fat fryer. I was afraid to bite it, expecting to get the hook. Dinner: Dined twice in Jefferson Bistro; twice in Liberty; once in Little Italy; once in East Meets West; and one dinner was the Luau field trip. Portions were small in Liberty, although seating and service was speedy (table for 2) and food was tasty. Little Italy was nothing special. Bistro and East Meets West were excellent. Avoid the Aloha Cafe: we walked through by mistake during the "All You Can Eat Prime Rib" dinner; it was a scene from a freak movie, with heavyweight guests in motorized chariots whizzing by with multiple slabs of beef hanging off their trays. I Told You So: The day after the prime rib dinner, the ship was locked down for a norovirus protection protocol. All the buffets were covered in Saran wrap, with ship personnel doing the serving with latex gloves. The sprayers were out in force, with fire extinguisher-sized bottles of alcohol disinfectant. We later saw a report on Honolulu TV that over 100 PoA guests and staff were ill. Entertainment: The singer / guitarist in Napa Wine lounge was excellent and we enjoyed happy hour there most days. To be kind, the other onboard entertainers were not special and not up to the level we experienced on our other cruises. There were no late night party scenes nor midnight buffets that we were aware of. Day Trips: With the exception of the Kauai Luau, we did our own tours each day. All car rentals were handled by Thrifty; it speeds things greatly by being a Blue Chip member and reserving via the Thrifty website. Maui Day 1: Drove to Lahaina; toured historic sites; clunked my head on the largest banyan tree ever; and shop, shop, and shop. Drove north to DT Fleming beach; lunch at the Ritz-Carlton Beach House (!) which overlooks the action from a serene, cool setting. Note fairly heavy traffic (Sunday) so we made sure to be back on the ship by nightfall. Maui Day 2: Took the Hana Highway a few miles to Paia, which was advertised as the last stronghold of 1960's hippiedom on the Island. Didn't see hippies, but did tour a Buddhist temple (the Maui Dharma Center) and an ancient Japanese cemetery which was crumbling into the ocean. Some light shopping, but really this town can be safely avoided and it looks like most people do. We drove south to Makena Beach State Park. Note, Big Beach and Little Beach; each has different clientele so be cool and don't act surprised. I lost my prescription sunglasses when a rogue wave broke over me. Thanks to the Aussies who helped me comb the surf for the glasses; it's a big ocean. Hot; bring water, sunblock and an umbrella if you can find one to rent. Hilo: Drove to Volcano National Park; did the obligatory viewing of the steaming volcano; I was ready to throw my pocket change into the crater. Walked through the 1st part (artificial lighting) of the Thurston Lava Tube; this is no big deal as I used to exit the NYC Subway at Whitehall Street, and frankly Whitehall St. looked older. We drove back to Hilo and then north to Akaka Falls; nice photos. Ate lunch at "What's Shakin'", which has to be the best smoothie place on the island. We took the 4-mile scenic route back to ship, which passes the botanical gardens. Note many tour buses. We looked forward to the hot lava from our hot tub at 9:45pm; the ship stays about 1/4 mile offshore so needless to say photos are not easy unless you bring great equipment. Kona: Anchor and tenders. Suite guests given priority, thanks NCL. Thrifty does not pick up at the dock, so we cancelled the car and opted for a shuttle to Kahaluu Beach park. The Beach Shack, right across the street from the pier, offers a $20 per person deal for round-trip shuttle including snorkel gear. We saw plenty of nice, green sea turtles: I told a lady near me that they were man-eaters. She really lost it; sorry the devil made me do it. All in all, a very nice experience. Later that afternoon was shop, shop, and shop for coffee, coffee, and coffee. Kauai Day 1: Drove north to Kee Beach, which is the end of the roadway. Nice beach, crowded, parked up the road on the shoulder. Huge banyan tree roots approach the water. Shop, shop, shop at Princeville and more swimming at Hanalei Bay. Some of the characters around Hanalei looked like they'd been puffing the magic dragon for quite some time. Kalamaku Luau: Imagine a wedding with 900 guests, none of whom you know but all of whom seem vaguely familiar. In the center, a stage with scantily clad performers of various genders gyrating to the rhythms of sensual drum beats and studiously avoiding each other's flaming torches. Then, the mighty Pig appears, seemingly rising from its grave, fully roasted and ready to feed one and all. There was also potato salad and coleslaw. Kauai Day 2: Early start; drove south to Poipu Beach. Passed through the exciting Tunnel of Trees. Shop, shop, shop. Note huge developments going on; assume hotels, condos, golf courses are in Poipu's future. Too bad. Breakfast at Brennecke's, then swimming. There is a neat little "island" that you can wade to; makes great pictures. Back to ship early for the 2:00pm sail past the Napali coast. Great photos, just like postcards. Debarkation: Easy. Woke up late, had breakfast in Lazy J and walked off at 9:30am. Thrifty shuttle picked us up right away. Waikiki, Round-2: Three more nights at the Halekulani, this time with a rental car. Saturday - Check in not until 3:00pm. Used hospitality suite to change into swimsuits; slept soundly at pool. Evening walk through Waikiki Beach shopping; viewed penguins and giant goldfish at Hilton Hawaiian Village; couldn't get into Duke's and opted for a quick meal upstairs at the Hula Grill. Note massive street festival going on. Sunday - nice drive up to North shore. We napped on the Banzai Pipeline beach as waves were rough. Found nice lunch at Ola's at Turtle Bay. Excellent swimming at the public beach, which is adjacent to Ola's. The well-advertised north shore shrimp trucks were very, very crowded on Sunday, and we did not wait. Back to Waikiki and casual dining at Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber; avoid Jimmy's Mai Tai's as DW said they were a disappointment, and she is a big drinker (just kidding !!!!). Monday - Early start with take-away fruit from the ABC Store. Drove south, entered the Diamond Head park, but opted out of the 1 ½ hour hike to the summit. Drove through the beautiful Kahala area, skipped Hanuma Bay (DW said too much snorkeling was as dumb as buying an aquarium DVD) and wound up swimming at Sandy Beach. Continued winding around Oahu; got to Kailua Beach Park, very very nice but we were hungry and thirsty (mostly thirsty). Found Buzz's, which has got to be on everybody's list of the best lunch places anytime, anywhere. Truly inspired Asian Seafood Over Linguine Monday special. Note cash only but lunch prices reasonable. DW says Mai Tai's much better here. Tour books suggested a more private beach experience could be had just south of Kailua at Lanikai beach, so sure that's where we went, but everyone reads the same guides and the beach was hardly deserted. Swimming was nice and we had our trusty rubber tubes to float around in the surf and digest Buzz's good food. Note that the return drive to Waikiki from Kailua is spectacular on the Pali Highway (Route 61). Tuesday - Check out day !!! But the Halekulani came through for us. I explained to the lady at the front desk that our flight wasn't until 7:50pm. She offered that we could stay in our room until 3:00pm, and afterward use their hospitality suite to shower and change clothes. Great! We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast buffet at HWAK and enjoyed the pool and ocean for the remainder of the day. Wednesday - We woke up in Newark, New Jersey. I must have been dreaming. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009

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