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586 Hawaii Romantic Cruise Reviews

The Princess Sea of Cortez Cruise was outstanding! The ports of La Paz and Loreto are not visited often and remind me of what Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were like decades ago. We chose to make this a relaxing cruise and did not take any ... Read More
The Princess Sea of Cortez Cruise was outstanding! The ports of La Paz and Loreto are not visited often and remind me of what Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were like decades ago. We chose to make this a relaxing cruise and did not take any excursions, but we walked around all 4 ports and loved doing that. The Star Princess is an older ship but it is well maintained and a perfect size, not too big or small. The production shows were underwhelming, but the smaller venue entertainers were excellent. Cruise Director Gary Golding is one of the best on the seas, and his staff was fun and omni-present. And there was not a single crew member that we interacted with that wasn’t helpful and friendly! Dining room food was outstanding. Enjoyed the pizzeria, hamburger grill and ice cream bar. The buffet food was acceptable and had a nice variety. Highly recommended! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Selected cruise for its Hawaiian ports and warm weather plus sailing on the Grand via San Francisco. Amazing cruise, amazing service by Grand Princess staff, and beautiful islands. Highly recommend Grand Princess for its world class ... Read More
Selected cruise for its Hawaiian ports and warm weather plus sailing on the Grand via San Francisco. Amazing cruise, amazing service by Grand Princess staff, and beautiful islands. Highly recommend Grand Princess for its world class service, wonderful and warm staff, and clean ship. Though it's an older ship, staff work hard to maintain the Grand Princess, and officers and staff were present throughout the ship 24/7. Had an excellent cabin steward and professional and wonderful dining room wait staff. Amazing trip onboard the beautiful Grand Princess! Like our waiter, Jonel Bola said, "The Grand Princess is known for #1 service out of its entire fleet of 18 vessels." The entire dining room staff was amazing and wonderful to all its dining passengers. The food was good, plenty of desserts to choose from, and staff are generous with service, extras/portions, drinks, and smiles! All staff throughout the ship were kind, courteous, warm, and provided consistent service and were very hard working. Service throughout the ship was consistent and amazing! Ship Captain, JP Bryant, was very nice and courteous and always greeted passengers pleasantly. This was a 16-day cruise! Have done shorter and longer cruises, but a 16-day is a perfect amount of time for a winter getaway! I highly recommend the beautiful Grand Princess! Others might be concerned that it's an older ship but I find it to be quaint, comfortable, has character, beautiful, has internet service, and has excellent and consistent customer service. I've sailed on the Grand 6 times and each time I've experienced consistent customer service! And, if something wasn't right, staff will work quickly and very hard to make the problem right! No complaints when I'm on the Grand! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Profit enhancement appears to have won out over service and conveniences. After about 20 cruises: with Princess, still cannot get a table for 2 without getting in line to complain. Did they think I was not serious when I request 2-seating ... Read More
Profit enhancement appears to have won out over service and conveniences. After about 20 cruises: with Princess, still cannot get a table for 2 without getting in line to complain. Did they think I was not serious when I request 2-seating every time for more than a dozen cruises? Yes, I mean it, every time. If they cannot honor their request without a dustup every time, at the beginning of the cruise, they should not bother asking. the 10th deck cannot get cool enough. specially at night, the room would not cool down. pre-purchased gifts are not delivered to the room, you have to go get them. so forget about surprising your wife with a box of candy. we like coffee cards. except now, you do not know how many drinks you have left and you cannot any longer carry the unused drinks to the next cruise. desserts are sequestered from reach, you have to ask for them. so the joy of loading up your plate with treats to sample cannot be, not without the inquisitive scornful eye of staff. I do not mind the kids running around all over. but who gave them noise makers? all in all very relaxing pilgrimage we make to the islands about every year end. these are relatively minor complaints. not eating in the dining room is no big deal, and after all, the food there is not so good anyway. basically a cattle call. sabatinis and crown grill the places to go. the food is nice and fresh in the buffet and it is quiet and less crowded. they say about eating places, follow the locals. on board where does staff eat? i saw the captain at the horizon grill. 14th deck. Smart choice. we missed kauai due to weather. that is fine. it happens. you need patience and tolerance when in uncertain conditions. I do this cruise every year. And will again. By the way, princess bedding is terrific, and the tv's are large and have a good variety of programming. all good there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. "Pride" is the only cruise ship that stays in the Hawaiian Islands (no days at sea). We went 2 days early - to make sure luggage arrived before sailing, and to enjoy some sights on Oahu. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. "Pride" is the only cruise ship that stays in the Hawaiian Islands (no days at sea). We went 2 days early - to make sure luggage arrived before sailing, and to enjoy some sights on Oahu. We arrived at port about 3:00PM, and there were very few people waiting for check in. Embarkation went very quickly and smoothly. We originally purchased a balcony cabin, but had bid on and "won" a suite (more later). So the butler introduced himself as soon as we checked in and took us to a nearby sitting area with refreshments. After a few more people joined our group, he did a short talk on what we could expect as suite guests, then personally took us to our suites and showed us the amenities. We had carefully examined the "Free At Sea" offerings, and had the option to select ALL. Knowing about the HUGE automatic gratuity charge on the "unlimited drink package", we did not choose that. We chose the 3 nights dining in specialty restaurants, and doubled up on the $50.00 discount per day on shore excursions. We did not need the wi-fi, since our Verizon had good connectivity near the islands (but lost it between them). We couldn't use the "free and reduced airfare" since it could not accommodate our need for extra leg room. Although we enjoy shows, we ended up attending none due to timing with our dining. Also, being seniors, we don't stay up late. We thought the shore excursions were well handled. There are "many" luaus available in the Hawaiian Islands, and I really think Norwegian should offer more than one as shore excursions. We did the Volcanoes National Park tour at Hilo, submarine at Kona, and "Director's Cut" on Kauai, all of which were good. Dining was fine. Suite guests were invited to enjoy breakfast and lunch in Cagney's Steakhouse, which we did on several days. The food, as expected, was excellent. We also had both in the dining rooms and buffet, which were well done. Our dinners in the specialty restaurants were excellent. The shops were as expected. There were a few basic pharmacy items (if you may need something, BRING YOUR OWN, Consider buying it on land BEFORE you get on ship). We missed the advertised 50% off sale, but $99.00 for an Aloha shirt???? Buy your souvenirs on shore. My only complaint is that sometimes, the ship was FREEZING. This was mostly in our cabin, but also in the corridors and even in the Bistro. I was happy to find the public areas, particularly the pool deck, were not BLASTING music. I've been on other ships (not Norwegian) where earplugs were needed to lounge around the pool, and we had to scream in the central area of the ship since the live music was being amplified 5 decks above. It was a joy not to have a casino. I'm happy to play blackjack for a few hours on a cruise, but HATE the cigarette smoke. No smoke to deal with here! GREAT CRUISE! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The staff on the ship was, for the most part, excellent and helpful. The food was average to poor. The NCL excursions were too limited in what was offered. One day our excursion was cancelled at the last minute due to not enough people ... Read More
The staff on the ship was, for the most part, excellent and helpful. The food was average to poor. The NCL excursions were too limited in what was offered. One day our excursion was cancelled at the last minute due to not enough people have signed up. We were told nothing else was available. We had to scramble to contact other companies and found a good selection of independent excursions of which we took advantage. The shows were pedestrian aside from the magician who was very good. The cabin was small but fine for two people. The poor customer service was from NCL before the cruise. We booked the cruise directly with NCL. When we spoke to the booking agent we discussed that the reason we choose this cruise was because it toured the Napali Coast off Kauai. That was our only "absolutely must see" of the Hawaii trip. We discussed and understood that itinerary is subject to change due to weather, natural disasters or other emergencies. Well a few weeks before the cruise were were notified by NCL that the Napali Coast was going to be skipped due to maintenance being performed on the ship. We called to try to reschedule the cruise for when it would return to its normal itinerary or to cancel. We were told by NCL that we did not call soon enough before the sail date to do that. We explained that we called as soon as we were notified about Napali being skipped for ship maintenance but basically we were told tough luck, NCL can change the itinerary for any reason and you have no recourse. I am sure that NCL has enough satisfied customers that they do not have to concern themselves with a situation such as ours. However, we will not use them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Despite multiple trips to Hawaii in the past, this cruise showed me more of the Hawaiian culture that I have not discovered before ! Amazing to go on the cruise and come back being able to play the Ukelele and also do some Hula dancing ! ... Read More
Despite multiple trips to Hawaii in the past, this cruise showed me more of the Hawaiian culture that I have not discovered before ! Amazing to go on the cruise and come back being able to play the Ukelele and also do some Hula dancing ! All the entertainment on board was excellent ! Nice to have ping pong tables indoors to play despite windy cold weather at times Crown grill dining was excellent and very attentive staff Excellent excursion through Princess in small group in Hilo to Rainbow falls and the lava tube and tasting candies at Big Candy store and walk around black sand beach and get to meet the Green Turtles sunbathing ! Excellent to have a full day in Honolulu with so much to see ! Great to have enough time to get to my favorite bar in Waikiki in Royal Hawaiian hotel for my Mai Tai ! Great excursion to the Fern Grotto in Kauai Overall, all the staff on board the ship were very friendly and knowledgeable and willing to help Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We went for Renewal of Vows and a Holiday get away to a warmer climate. We had a fantastic time on this Hawaii cruise! Weather in Hawaii was perfect in December, 75F-90F. We didn’t find any all day excursions, but didn’t want to do ... Read More
We went for Renewal of Vows and a Holiday get away to a warmer climate. We had a fantastic time on this Hawaii cruise! Weather in Hawaii was perfect in December, 75F-90F. We didn’t find any all day excursions, but didn’t want to do only 1/2 day. We just took Uber to local beaches for snorkeling, lunch, and drinks. All in one location. Beaches were not crowded and we had a blast! Most of the passengers on this cruise were elderly, hardly any kids. It was nice: quiet and not crowded. Only during breakfast it was quite difficult to find a table. There were too much food, so we usually skipped lunch. Pools and jacuzzi were not crowded as well. We really enjoyed the whole experience, very friendly service, great captain, food was delicious and well presented. We loved Formal nights and went to the Crown Grill, and Sabatini restaurants. Both were great! Balcony dinners were our favorite experience! Private and very personal dinners with fantastic waiters! Highly recommend. Captain did a very romantic Renewal of Vows, it was a touching moment. Then photographer took us to several locations and we loved our photos so much, we bought a $400 photo package. We loved the Spy Lectures Series and last Dancing Show. Made many great memories and loved this vacation! If you purchase any packages, print summary. Stuff gets confused what’s included in what package and it’s easier to show them a paper to claim all of the services. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was a pre Christmas cruise that we extended to Dec 28.Exploring San Francisco before and after the cruise was an added bonus.We had the amazing itineraries of Hawaiian ports and then Mexican ports back to back.The ship was so ... Read More
This was a pre Christmas cruise that we extended to Dec 28.Exploring San Francisco before and after the cruise was an added bonus.We had the amazing itineraries of Hawaiian ports and then Mexican ports back to back.The ship was so beautifully decorated for the season,embarkation and disembarkation so easy,the cabin larger than the standard.The servers were enthusiastic and gracious.The food was excellent -the steaks on the Crown Grill done to perfection.The main dining room had offerings from Curtis Stone and the Vista was a reliable and tasteful place to dine.The afternoon tea in the dining room was delightful and an elegant experience. Sabatinis the Italian Restaurant even had the best desserts.Vines had Opus One bottles of which we bought 2 as gifts. Faouzzi, the pizza chef at Alfredo's pizzeria even created his favourite pizzas for us on request.The One 5 disco had a great DJ.Many fun activities on board for everyone-trivia a favourite, hula dancing classes and lei making before reaching Hawaii pleased everyone.There was even a native show when we were docked in Hawaii. The excursion at Honolulu visiting Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial and even to explore the submarine USS Bowfin was a once in a lifetime experience. The music especially the music of piano man Liam Stewart was exceptional.He even had his own 2 performances of Elton John songs in the Vista Lounge which were well attended. A couple of hundred children joined the ship with their families on Dec 18 and their spirit brought new joy to the ship and passengers. Adam Gorst the Hotel Manager was always visible with his wit, charm, and vigilance.The first woman Head maitre'd on Princess ships- interacted constantly with everyone during the dining with warmth and interest. A great time for every passenger on a newly renovated ship with lots of history and charm! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I was told that Princess Cruies were great. I found out differently. The food was not what I had expected. The buffet closed in the afternoon and the selection were the same thing day after day. The best part of my cruise was the cabin ... Read More
I was told that Princess Cruies were great. I found out differently. The food was not what I had expected. The buffet closed in the afternoon and the selection were the same thing day after day. The best part of my cruise was the cabin that was well kept. They should offer more keroake. It was something that I enjoy doing. The shows were not what I had expected. The casino could be a little bit looser. It was run like an Indian casino. No winners only loosers. The gift shope were ok. The Effy Jewelry store was well stocked and the staff was very friendly and helpful. I enjoyed seeing Faye, Saba, Ozzie, Crieg, and Sheva they have nice personality. I spent a lot of time in the Effy Store and spent a lot of money but got some great buys. I wish I could say something better about my cruise but I was quite disappointed with the food and the shows. I'll stick with NCL for sure Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Everything was fantastic. Price was cheap. Experience was amazing. Recommending it to everyone. Lots of buffet food in Aloha Cafe. Specialty food was horrible so dont try it. Lots of options in the ALoha Cafe Cabin was clean. ... Read More
Everything was fantastic. Price was cheap. Experience was amazing. Recommending it to everyone. Lots of buffet food in Aloha Cafe. Specialty food was horrible so dont try it. Lots of options in the ALoha Cafe Cabin was clean. Little bit smaller but it was comfortable. Shows were amazing and entertaining. Standup comedy and shows were great. Service was great. Everyone was smiling and ready to help. Chef's were engaging and talking. Felt bad for kids to be working so hard on the cruise but when I spoke to one of them he explained me that he's on cruise for 4 months and get 2 months vacation so that was good. Spa is expensive. Massages are $200 or more per hour. We didnt do any shore excursions but its better to rent the car on each island and it was amazing experience. I didnt like the fact that we had to come back before 5-6 to cruise because later evening stay would have been fine and we could have covered more places driving around. Anyways, this Trip is one of my best trip. I do lot of trips but this one stands apart. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We've been on this cruise many times. So all was as expected. There are many sea days filled with activities or just relaxing. Loved the lectures about Hawaii...culture/history/natural wonders...what to see and food. Loved the hula ... Read More
We've been on this cruise many times. So all was as expected. There are many sea days filled with activities or just relaxing. Loved the lectures about Hawaii...culture/history/natural wonders...what to see and food. Loved the hula and ukulele lessons, and all the Hawaiian crafts and music. Food was as always consistently good. Effy was giving out charms if you attended some of their workshops. These cute charms are great to give to grand daughters. Amazing to see the mass of women wanting these inexpensive freebies (and I was one of them :)). British Invasion singers were excellent. The Voice of the Ocean was funny and fun. We were surprised by the very talented contestants. Already taken many tours in past trips so this time we did the following local things... Hilo:Took free Farmers' Market bus took us to their local farmers' market and crafts' market downtown. Ate delicious Ono fish at a local restaurant. Shopped for inexpensive Hawaiian candy/cookies and coffee at local grocery store. Took taxi back from bus stop...$5 each for car load. Honolulu:Took bus (with Medicare card only $1) to Waikiki beach near zoo, visited best place for inexpensive trinkets/souvenirs...Duke's Marketplace, and walked all the way to end of Hawaiian Village Shopping (ate in food court) center. Took bus to Ala Mona shopping center. Thought it was too big and commercial so took bus back to ship. Arrived in time to see ship's visiting Hawaiian show. Mau,Lahaina: Walked all of Front Street (full of beach/ocean views, cute shops and cafes) to outlet shopping mall. Took local bus to Konopoli ($1 for senior). Walked beautiful beach. Had delicious Hawaiian lunch plate at Whaler's food court.Then took a taxi($17 or $5 per person if 4 or more) back to tender area. Kuai, Nawiliwili: Took free bus to tiny local shops/restaurants nearby (Also in walking distance.). Walked the nearby beach and grounds (otanical garden with koi pond) of Marriott Resort. Ate at Duke's. Took a free shuttle to Walmart to buy macadamia nut products and 100% Kona coffee. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Went on the cruise to see the Hawaiian islands on a low budget. Overall it was great to do so and felt shorter than it was. The cabin was nice in size and great except the bathroom did not seem like it was cleaned out prior to us being in ... Read More
Went on the cruise to see the Hawaiian islands on a low budget. Overall it was great to do so and felt shorter than it was. The cabin was nice in size and great except the bathroom did not seem like it was cleaned out prior to us being in the room and would occasionally have a odor of urine coming from the toilet. Dinning options were good with a variety. The food just was over seasoned for myself personally at times it was very salty. Entertainment was always available each night which was a great addition. Only downfall was the Dj who played the most strange combination of music it sent us back to the cabins early due to the music selection. We wish some of the drink tastings started a little later than the times they started because it interfered with our excursions at times. Overall service of the ship service was great. Everyone was always helpful with answers to any questions we had. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I have very few complaints and even those are minor. This cruise had something for all age groups, although clearly, the vast majority of the passengers were elderly. Daniel Oliver, the nighttime singer in the Crooner's Bar is an ... Read More
I have very few complaints and even those are minor. This cruise had something for all age groups, although clearly, the vast majority of the passengers were elderly. Daniel Oliver, the nighttime singer in the Crooner's Bar is an outstanding talent, both as a pianist and a vocalist. It was a 15-day cruise but the variety of entertainments, classes and lectures about Hawaii, dance lessons, cooking lessons, you name it was absolutely great. Tomas, our stateroom steward was a jewel. The MaitreD in the Club Class dining was exceptional. The embarking and disembarking process was the smoothest I've ever had. I have a few areas for improvement. In the casino, there were only 2 Buffalo Gold slot machines and the wait to use those was ridiculous. It's a popular game, they need more. The hamburgers were never hot. They were warm or room temperature. The cheese didn't even melt. I went to a lecture entitled future cruses expecting hear about exciting destinations, and instead it was a presentation on interpreting your cruise card and what to expect on a cruise. The lectures on Hawaii were great, educational, and poignant. A note of warning: The excursions fill up quickly! Don't procrastinate if there's something you want to do or it will be full. Last, I want to commend the captain. A passenger became critically ill during this voyage. We were 2 days out of Hawaii. The captain made an announcement that be was advised that the situation was critical and he was speeding with all haste to get to our next port. He apologized, but said the ride was going to be rocky. It was. We rocked, rolled, and lurched about the ship for two days. However, he got us to Ensenada 12 hours earlier than scheduled to try and save this passenger's life. Ambulances were waiting when we docked. I was very impressed with how they responded to this emergency. Finally, the food was outstanding with the exception noted above. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The Star Princess is showing the age that she has. Overall, she is still in good shape. But the Crew! They are what made the trip. The Asst. Cruise Directors Molly, Dan, Roxy, and Oz were the best. Always with a smile and a funny quip to ... Read More
The Star Princess is showing the age that she has. Overall, she is still in good shape. But the Crew! They are what made the trip. The Asst. Cruise Directors Molly, Dan, Roxy, and Oz were the best. Always with a smile and a funny quip to start your day or night off. Funny, Funny games always. Our two servers, Benny and Mario, were always there to help us get whatever we wanted and when we wanted it. Great with the suggestions when we were not sure of the food that we wanted to try. In the photo gallery, the trio of Marita, Illia and Patrick were very understanding of what we wanted in our pictures. The light was always right and the poses prefect. We had a Renewal of Vows for our 25th and the pictures were wonderful. The Officer Andrew that organized our Renewal of Vows was great. He looked after everything that we needed and could not apologized to us enough times. It wasn't even his fault. The Captain did not speak loud enough for my wife to hear and could not repeat after him as requested. As such, it ruined the video of our R of V. He made sure that we received everything that we were supposed to and even threw in some extras as for a sorry. The last one would be Milos, out Crown Grill waiter. He made the already great meal at the Crown Grill better. Milos was smart, witty and always taking care of us. My wife wanted to adopt him. It was a great, great trip and we could have not asked for a better trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
From stepping on the Grand Princess I felt privleged by the crew! There wee so many crew members willing to asist when you may look lost (hehe). The public areas were nicely appointed in the fabrics used and the decor of each lounge. ... Read More
From stepping on the Grand Princess I felt privleged by the crew! There wee so many crew members willing to asist when you may look lost (hehe). The public areas were nicely appointed in the fabrics used and the decor of each lounge. I was impressed that all the bars had their own menus different form others so I enjoyed trying each and especially the drinks made from Rob Floyd for Princess. The dining room menus were very creative and always different, no recycled food being renamed like on other ships menus. I felt I had an epicurian experience at evey meal, especially lunch and dinner. Chef Thomas in charge of the specialty restaurants impressed me the most! He knows how to cook lobster to lamb and so much more. We have dined in the finest restaurants and never experienced the consistancy that Chef Thomas brings to Princess. Eko part of the bar service always made us feel welcomed and we veiw him as family. Can't wait for Alaska in August! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We enjoyed this cruise so much and will be back soon! We chose this cruise for the accessiblility and because it gave us the opportunity to see all the major islands of hawai'i. Our experience was special right from the start. The ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise so much and will be back soon! We chose this cruise for the accessiblility and because it gave us the opportunity to see all the major islands of hawai'i. Our experience was special right from the start. The crew was very accomodating and fun. We felt very welcomed especially by our stewardess and all staff onboard. We really enjoyed the bands that played especially "The Drivers" The night shows were great and the food was excellent! As far as any constuctive criticism all we can say was that it could have been easier to stay at one port in big island instead of going to both kona and Hilo. I also wrote in the room review that the shower area could have used a little bit sprucing up. I also wanted to give a lot of recognition to our stewardess who did such a great job keeping our room nice and clean. Keep up the good work! Ps washy washy Maria was fun keeping us clean between meals :) Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Our honeymoon-fantastic/Super fun!!! We booked our trip through a travel agent -We did half land and half sea cruise- Honolulu for a few days then pride of America In Honolulu we saw: Wakiki beach, Pearl harbor , dole ... Read More
Our honeymoon-fantastic/Super fun!!! We booked our trip through a travel agent -We did half land and half sea cruise- Honolulu for a few days then pride of America In Honolulu we saw: Wakiki beach, Pearl harbor , dole plantation, pacific airport museum, Polynesian cultural center , kaula ranch( awesome movie props present ) as well as bus tours We did excursions on the cruise: 1.Snorkeling molokini turtle 2.Hilo bay waterfall and Kayaking 3.Submarine and Lahaina on your own 4.Parasailing 5.Hiking 6. Kaui directors cut The directions to our excursions were very easy to follow. We had the specialty dining package and ate at most of the fine dining restaraunts - all delicious The room we had was balcony view with tv and bathroom . The room was cozy and clean. The activities on board were entertaining but the pool hot tub and mandara spa were our go to locations. We enjoyed every minute. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We wanted to go to the South Pacific and a 51-day cruise with 26 ports returning to North America was the best option for us, a newly retired couple. was done as a back-to-back with the Incan Empires Cruise, so our embarkation was ... Read More
We wanted to go to the South Pacific and a 51-day cruise with 26 ports returning to North America was the best option for us, a newly retired couple. was done as a back-to-back with the Incan Empires Cruise, so our embarkation was simple. Disembarkation was a little late in San Diego (about an hour), but it wasn't a problem for us. The Amsterdam is a wonderful ship in terms of size and layout. Even though the decor is dated, we like the elegance of the ship and the ample public spaces. You rarely feel crowded on the Amsterdam. However, there are numerous opportunities for upgrades. A single outlet isn't nearly enough for 2019 and no USB charging ports just doesn't make sense. The TV's are outdated and passengers don't have access to interactive TV services the way they do on the newer ships. The ice machine on the starboard side of the Lido hasn't been working for at least 6 month and creates a big bottleneck and inconvenience with times when there is no ice to be found. The cabin was perfectly adequate in terms of layout and storage space, as was the bathroom and bed. The biggest issues were in the bathroom where hastily repaired grouting in the shower fell out every time we used it and where the water temperature vacillated from cool to scalding all on its own. We also had a couple of episodes when water systems were disrupted. The Lido Market was great for breakfast and lunch with generally short lines except the pasta bar (which is understaffed) and the ice cream bar which just gets busy. The food quality is very good and you have the advantage of being able to see it before you order it (there is very little self-serve). Afternoon Tea is a wonderful, but underutilized service. We went whenever we could and the staff were amazing. Evening dining in the Main Dining Room was good, but not excellent. If you recognize something on the menu, you almost certainly won't recognize in on your plate or in your mouth. Not that the food is bad in any way, but it won't be prepared the way you are used to it. Seating is good, but reservations are recommended at popular time for Gala nights. Service is good to very good with the speed dependent on the number of people at the table. They should really reduce the number of large tables (8 persons plus) because no one likes them (too slow and very hard to have a conversation). Desserts are generally a disappointment and the ice cream in the dining room always has ice chips in it. The entertainment was variable, but generally good. The Amsterdam Singers and dancers were very good. It is just plain sad that they are being discontinued when they are the most consistently enjoyed presentations. I understand that they will have more of the other entertainers which range from bad to good with most being just fair. Too many acts that I would call "novelty" and too many comedians that are past their prime. Guest speakers were also variable, but mostly interesting. The EXC Coordinator did a good job of orienting the passengers to the many ports. The Excursions Manager was humorous in his descriptions, but not always accurate. We were disappointed in a few of the HAL excursions we took, but providing feedback is very hard and really not encouraged at all. The staff is the best thing. With few exceptions they are friendly, efficient and helpful. I feel sorry for them trying to provide a great experience while the head office keeps cutting resources and services. A part of many passenger conversations is the ceremonial listing of the ceremonial listing of things that have been taken away and how despite the hundreds of loyal HAL passengers, HAL corporate seems bound and determined to chase them away with a bad loyalty program and never-ending cutbacks. Sadly, the reputation that HAL has earned in the past will be very hard to rebuild once it is gone completely. It was a good choice for us, we probably won't be going on this cruise again. We just prefer to explore new terrritory. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Took the cruise to celebrate 40th Anniversary. Have been on other cruise lines with much better food in the dining rooms and specialty restaurants. Cadillac Diner had the best Overall quality of food out of all the dining options. We had a ... Read More
Took the cruise to celebrate 40th Anniversary. Have been on other cruise lines with much better food in the dining rooms and specialty restaurants. Cadillac Diner had the best Overall quality of food out of all the dining options. We had a great time, yet quite disappointed on our anniversary dinner that we had scheduled at a specialty restaurant....we brought the card ...as we were told to...that was in our cabin to let them know it was our anniversary...woman ripped off the bottom...gave back the rest and said I’ll take it.....never even got a “happy anniversary “ from her...who I guess is like maitre d....or anyone.... let alone anything else....was very disappointed Comedy show...saw him three times...was very funny. Magician was very good. Pianist was very good....saw him several times. Some of the other entertainment not so great. Excursions we went on were great. Met some great people. Our cabin steward was very good and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Chose cruise as it was after operation and before chemotherapy. And you never know. We had the 5 ultimate dining pkg as an inducement and the 2 for latitudes platinum. We ate well. Liked the old decor of last year before refit. But did ... Read More
Chose cruise as it was after operation and before chemotherapy. And you never know. We had the 5 ultimate dining pkg as an inducement and the 2 for latitudes platinum. We ate well. Liked the old decor of last year before refit. But did like sub chargers in room and lights. Two pride of America cruises under our belts so old hat. Captain of jewel stayed further out from napali coast than pride of America did. But he was a nubie on this cruise in Hawaii. Did not like air package travel to airport at end of cruise when they expected to take us to airport in morning and wait all day for 8:55 pm flight. No option to opt out and get 40 dollars they charged so we found luggage storage at terminal and took bus w/o Waikiki for day. Roberts Hawaii big bus picked us up for about 32 dollars and took us to airport from cruise terminal. We were only couple on full size bus. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing. The itinerary and price was too good to pass up. Leaving from San Diego was the perfect start of this 17 day cruise. Embarkation was a bit chaotic as a Disney ship was embarking at the same ... Read More
We booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing. The itinerary and price was too good to pass up. Leaving from San Diego was the perfect start of this 17 day cruise. Embarkation was a bit chaotic as a Disney ship was embarking at the same time. This caused an hour or more of standing in line and wait time. This was the perfect way to visit Hawaii. The 5 days on the Pacific crossing were warm and beautiful. Visiting the Hawaiian ports and being able to live and eat on the ship made it an economical vacation. Tenders were required for 2 ports and at Maui there was a 3 hour delay for disembarking. The food was wonderful and we had the same table in the dining room every night for anytime dining. The ship was a bit "tired" but the staff was exceptional. The first two nights there was loud pounding noises which prevented our sleep. We and others in nearby cabins called to complain. We discovered the noises stopped when someone placed rags in the balcony dividers below us. Some of the treadmills in the gym were non functioning. There was rust on the balcony and some of the carpets were needing updated. Even with all of this, we felt this was one of our favorite cruises. We saw dolphins and whales and lots of blue sky. We would definitely recommend this itinerary to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2709491-review-miracle-journeys-cruise-to-hawaii-oct-19-nov-2-with-pics/ Howdy all! My wife and I just recently returned from a two week journeys cruise on the Carnival Miracle to Hawaii out of ... Read More
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2709491-review-miracle-journeys-cruise-to-hawaii-oct-19-nov-2-with-pics/ Howdy all! My wife and I just recently returned from a two week journeys cruise on the Carnival Miracle to Hawaii out of Long Beach, Ca. This was a bucket list cruise for my wife and I, and a new experience for us as we have cruised exclusively to Caribbean destinations prior to this. A note on pre-trip prep (and this will be a common theme for the first week of Vacation), I live on EST. My body does not care what day it is, or if I am on vacation, it just knows that I need to be up at 5:30 am, and by 9 PM I am rapidly running out of steam. Seriously, I am the type that goes to Vegas for conferences, and I am usually in bed at 7PM local time, and up, dressed, and at the poker table around 3 am. This became a running joke around my house in the weeks leading up to the vacation. If my wife and I were watching TV and falling asleep around 9:30 PM, I would look at her and casually mention that “In Hawaii, it’s 3:30 PM. That Luau you booked doesn’t start for another two hours, or end for another five…” As such, the Monday before departure, I stayed up to watch Monday night football (Lions/Packers) and got to bed around midnight. This didn’t work as I had hoped for, as I was still up at 5:30 am, and proceeded to drag butt through a day of work, frantic last minute travel stuff, and crashing around 9 on Tuesday…. Pre-Cruise Hotel: While a lot of people in our cruise critic group were staying at the Queen Mary, it just wasn’t for me personally. We decided to splurge a little bit and stayed at the Hotel Maya. It can get a little pricey when you start loading up on the upgrades (balcony, top floor, harbor view), but I do not regret it. The grounds themselves are simply fantastic. If you have the means, I highly recommend staying here for your pre-cruise night. We arrived at 1 PM and were a tad early for a room check-in. They stored our bags for us and let us use the free shuttle to head into town. My wife wanted to grab a few things (sunscreen, tide pods) and I was looking for 12 packs of soda. The driver dropped us off at a local super market where my wife quickly found what she was after, but alas they did not have my soda of choice. After walking a few miles up and down the main drag and stopping to grab a late lunch, I finally had to concede that finding a 12 pack of cans of diet mt dew was just not in the cards and I settled instead for regular dew (screw it, I’m on vacation!). Rather than call for the shuttle and wait for him to arrive, we decided to call an Uber back to the hotel (16 min/$12.37). We were pretty tired when we got back to our room, so we showered and relaxed on the balcony to read and communicate with people back home. From our room, we had a view of the current carnival ship in port (Imagination? Fascination?), and were able to watch it leave port. I think we passed out around 8 PM local time. Here’s the funny part. I got up later, convinced it was the morning of the cruise. I grabbed something to drink and went to the balcony to see if the Miracle was in port yet. It wasn’t, so I went back in the room, which was when I glanced at the clock. The time? 11:30 PM…. Departure Day (YEAH!!!) Wife and I woke up early (surprise surprise!), showered and got repacked. We ordered breakfast from room service (which was fabulous!), and relaxed and waited for checkout. Our check-in time for the boat was 12:30. We did have priority status, but I was not sure how far that would get us on a journeys cruise. We were initially set for an 11:00 shuttle, but instead of getting there early and risk standing in line for 90 minutes, I asked to be on the noon shuttle. We checked our baggage at the hotel, and walked the grounds, eventually coming to rest at one of the many outdoor patio areas, where my wife got in one last phone/internet fix while I read a few chapters. We eventually made our way back to the lobby, where I noticed several people with baggage and carnival luggage tags boarding a shuttle. Thinking it was our shuttle (turned out to be the 11:30 but they let us on anyway), we grabbed our bags and got on. I made a crack about “So, is everyone going to the aquarium?” which garnered several laughs, but confused the heck out of the one group that happened to actually be going to the Long Beach Aquarium. I got to chatting with a couple from Houston, and before we knew it, we were at port! (YEAH!!) Apparently they DO have priority boarding on journeys cruises. Upon handing our luggage off to the porters, a woman greeted us at the terminal, took a look at our tickets, and ushered us to a line with nobody in it. We breezed through security (though my travel luggage scale of all things, gave them pause), and we were on board inside of 10 minutes of being dropped off. We made our way to Lido to grab a bite and wait for the 1:30 room call. I found a new (to me) item that I really enjoyed – popcorn chicken! We grabbed a couch/table on the serenity deck and relaxed (carryon with two 12 packs was getting heavy!). At 1:30, we got the announcement that the cabins were open. We made our way to our room to drop off our bags and did a little exploring of the ship. Coming back to our room, we found my wife’s luggage waiting. My bag arrived shortly after, so we got unpacked and relaxed on the balcony for a bit to await the muster drill. I have to say, the corner vista suites on the spirit class ships are my new favorite rooms! It has a long entry way, into a living room, with a dressing room, a large bathroom, and a separate bedroom. Then there is my favorite part: the LARGE balcony! We had two loungers, two normal chairs, and a table, and there was room for double that! I spent a lot of time out there, both during the day and at night. Soon it was time for the muster drill. A muster drill on a smaller boat in October is a lot nicer than a large boat in June. It went quick, I wasn’t herded in like cattle, and I wasn’t slowly cooking in the sun. We were down, through the drill, and back to our room in no time. After watching the sail away from our balcony, we decided to explore the boat some more. We ended up in the skybox sports bar, where we watched some college football (Michigan/Penn State was the big game on). The sports bar is actually rather nice, but they do not utilize it properly (more on that later in the week). We then made our way to the MDR (we had YTD). We do not usually do the MDR, but decided to give it another try. Our experience this time did not change our minds. The service was not very good. It took a long time to get menus and a long time to get our order in. We never got the bread or water refills (we did not have a pitcher like on other tables), and the service was generally slow. I will say that the food was great! My wife tried a strawberry bisque, which was excellent (though I was sad to not see it again), and my roast was great. After dinner, we walked the deck, toured the boat some more, and then the “Time Zone Effect” started to kick in, so we headed back to the room and eventually passed out. The first leg of our cruise was four consecutive sea days. Before I begin, let me back up a tad. The day before departure I was reading the LA Times. They were reporting how the power companies would be shutting off power to some towns north of LA due to expected high winds over the weekend possibly knocking over power polls and starting fires. (Fast forward to the first full sea day). I slept like a log through the night, but when I got up in the morning, I didn’t feel right. I went out to the balcony, and my large balcony seemed awfully small. I felt like I was bouncing around pretty good, and could suddenly imagine, with clarity, exactly how it is that some people accidentally go overboard. I went back inside to take a shower, which proved to be very difficult as I had to cling to the safety rail with one arm and wash up with the other. I got dressed and tuned to the ship channel where I saw the ship reading 70 mph winds coming from our starboard-aft corner. We decided to try the sea-day brunch and headed down to the MDR, meanwhile I was feeling worse and worse. I ordered a standard breakfast (eggs, toast, hash, and bacon) which looked delicious. However, I took one bite of bacon, one bite of hash, and I was done. This was probably a smart move, since as my wife stated multiple times (while doing a poor job of hiding evil glee) that I was looking “green around the gills”. Her astute diagnosis was confirmed as we left the dining room and I saw faces that were sympathetic (and probably concerned for their own clothing) as I walked by. We decided it was probably best if we head to the carnival shop and pick up some Dramamine (They actually had Bonine instead). We took the “long” way to get there, by way of lido deck. On the walk, I noticed that all the pools were drained with netting over them. My sickness addled brain actually thought this was because it was mid 70s and too cold to swim. After obtaining the meds (there was a line of people buying the same thing), we headed back to the room, took the meds and had a seat. Now, I had never been seasick. I grew up boating on lakes in MI, and have taken several Caribbean cruises with no ill effects. This was completely new to me. I’ll explain it like this: it was almost identical to a bad migraine, with the very notable exception of having no light sensitivity problems (which was the only reason I was sure that it wasn’t a migraine). If you are reading this, you do not know me, but I can tell you unequivocally that what happened next was so NOT in line with my personality: I became miserable and despondent. I was bereft of reason. Ignoring the fact that rather large winds were buffeting the ship, I began to wonder if this was because we were at the back of the boat (had never booked there before), or if the Pacific was always like this (had never sailed it before). At one point, I actually had the thought (that I only later shared with my wife) that there was no way I was going to sail back from HI to CA for 4 days, and that as soon as we got to HI, I was going to look into booking flights back to LA. Yeah, it was bad. I eventually retired to the bedroom and lay down. This of course is when I began to worry that I was going to ruin the cruise for my wife, before I looked over to see her sleeping as well. This is when I finally gave in (note: not “up” but “in”) and I SLEPT! I now look at the whole sea sickness shenanigans as a blessing. For the first time in a few years, I actually felt rested when I awoke. The “time zone effect” was over for the duration of the vacation. The seas were once again calm and I truly began to enjoy my vacation. When speaking of this later with fellow passengers, the rumor was that we had over 20 foot swells, which sounds like a lot to my untrained ear, but the rest of the cruise was smooth sailing. The other three sea days were great! We did do some trivia. Saw some shows. Walked around the boat and just generally relaxed (and of course ate too much!). I discovered that the popcorn chicken that I loved so much, was actually full sized chicken tenders when you got them fresh, so that was my NEW new favorite. I tried a couple of times to get a Texas Holdem game going, but as usual on these cruises (with the computerized tables and the LARGE rake), there was very little interest. It just could not have been a more relaxing time. We had no internet, no TV, no Phone, work, email, kids, Facebook, etc. We just had each other. I know some couples that would dread this. For us, it rejuvenated, re-energized, and reinvigorated us to realize that we had nothing anymore to take our focus away from just being “us”. Anyway, on to Maui! I personally call the three islands we are visiting, the “Goldilocks Islands”. By that, I mean that Oahu has the bigger city, is slightly faster paced, and more touristy. Kona/Hilo seems slower paced, almost rural. Maui, on the other hand, to me, falls somewhere in between and is “juuust right!” There are some larger towns, and some wide open spaces. Large green mountains shoot through the clouds and into the sky to paint a beautiful backdrop. If I were to ever pull up stakes and move to Hawaii, the island of Maui would be my choice to plant my flag. Getting off the boat was quick, easy, and painless. The port is more industrial than it is touristy, and it showed. The “terminal” that you walk through is all gray metal and concrete. There is an area right outside the “terminal” where it looked like tours were meeting and cabs were waiting. If you are walking to the street to hit the stores (or in our case, the car rental agency), you have to continue on walking between fenced off areas to get to the main road and it is a bit of a hike. Our plans today were to rent a car and drive around. We had pre-purchased tickets to the Maui Ocean Center and had tickets to the old Lahaina luau for dinner. There are two rental car agencies right outside the port. The distance from the port entrance is about half of the distance from the cruise ship itself to the port entrance. I had booked a car rental through Enterprise months in advance. I would highly recommend this, as the price that I heard some paying in the lobby were 50-100% higher than what I paid. The process to get the car went pretty quick and smooth, especially considering the crush of cruise passengers flooding the agency. We made a quick stop at a gas station for a beverage, took a minute to get the top down on the car, hooked up the android auto app on my phone to the car for GPS directions, and we were underway! Which reminds me, if you are renting a car, be sure to bring a charging cord for your phone! Aside from the obvious benefit of charging, a lot of these cars need the direct connection so that they can integrate and display the turn by turn directions. First stop was the Maui Ocean Center. This is not a long drive from the port (maybe 15 minutes). Carnival had an excursion for this, but once it was decided that we were renting a car, we simply booked the tickets ourselves online. The Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium complex. If you are an aquarium junkie as my wife is, it has everything most aquarium complexes have, just a little bit more and a little bit better. There are loads of exhibits, both inside and out, with tons of colorful and interesting fish, as well as sharks, turtles, and everything else. They also have plenty of real live people around that were eager to answer questions and tell stories about what they do there. We also caught a 3-D humpback whale experience, which was better than I thought it would be. After the aquarium, we decided to head up the coast to Lahaina. The drive was awesome! I know a lot of people will talk about taking the northern route. This is not for me! That route is very curvy, with single lane roads. I have heard the views are great, but I would never know as I am sure my knuckles would be white and I would be too focused on driving to actually see any of it. I’ve seen the pictures, they look great, and that’s good enough for me! The southern route is a very wide, two lane road, taken at a leisurely 50 MPH. The views there are breath taking as well! As an added bonus, they have a couple of scenic overlooks where you can park and take pictures at leisure. Here’s another tip. If you decide to drive with the top down, and your hair is a little thin up top, either wear a hat or use some sunscreen! It was a tad painful brushing my hair for a couple days after…. We were a few hours early, so we parked in the downtown shopping district and did some walking. First we headed to the public beach. We did not do any swimming, but the walk was nice and the beach was relatively quiet. I had never seen sand crabs before, but they were in abundance here. I was simply mesmerized by how fast those suckers can move! We then proceeded to the shopping district. It looks like any touristy type shopping district you would find in the Caribbean, but there was one important difference. My wife found a shop that had a lot of flowery dresses. You know the type as they are all over every shop in the Caribbean (and my Wife’s closet), and usually go for $20 - $50. The first one she found, that to me looked no different than others, had a price tag of $1,300. Overall, I did enjoy the walk. The weather was nice and the town was hopping with tourists. Next up, was the luau we had booked. What Hawaiian vacation is complete without attending at least one luau? We did some research into this, as the official offerings from the boat seemed a little sparse, and we settled on the “Old Lahaina Luau”. It is a more traditional luau, with a classic show, and does not have the fire twirlers like you see on TV, so if that is a must have, this is not for you. However, I can tell you that it was fantastic! Book your tickets online as far out as you can, as they do tend to sell out. The luau was scheduled for 5:15 and we arrived a tad early. Upon check-in, they give you a traditional ley and escort you to your assigned table. There are around 70 tables, each holding about 8 guests, set in a semi-circle around the central stage. Before dinner begins, you are free to roam around the grounds, take in the various areas that show how coconut is prepared, poi is made, a talk on Hawaiian history, all while walking along the shore watching the sun set. Oh, and I should probably mention that they have an open bar with a rum punch that was great! In a bit of a statistical anomaly, seated at our table were 3 other couples all from the Miracle, 2 of which had vista rooms like ours. They were from LA, TX, and MI and were all very nice and the lively conversation made the dinner even better. Our assigned server had a long Hawaiian name, but we were told to call him “Tim”. He was extremely friendly and a great server. The dinner itself is served buffet style. It contained a bunch of different foods including fish, steak, chicken and poi, with rice and veggies, (all of which I made sure to try) but the main attraction was the pork! Definitely get the pork, it was so delicious! After dinner, they serve a tray with assorted desserts. The highlight for me was the banana bread with an in-house butter that was to die for. They give you a bag of bread when you leave to take with you, which became my breakfast the next morning. Near the end of the meal, and during desert, they start the show on the center stage. As stated, it is a traditional show, with dozens of talented dancers and was very captivating. I only grabbed one bad picture, but between the food, the show, and the lively conversation with my table mates (not to mention the rum punch!), I did not think to grab more pictures. When booking this luau, that is not Carnival official, you will get some naysayers telling you that you are cutting it close and you may miss the boat, etc. Allow me to give you an official timeline to help allay some fears and stress. The boat was set to leave port at 11:00 with a back on board time of 10:30. We left the luau at 8:12, calmly drove back to the port area, stopped at a Costco to fill up the tank, returned the car, walked to a Long’s drug store to buy another 12 pack (side note: Long’s is EVERYWHERE on the islands, like Starbucks in Seattle), walked back to the boat, took a quick shower and changed, and were sitting on our balcony by 9:32. Oahu Today, our plan was to visit Pearl Harbor, then do some shopping and hit up Waikiki beach for some swimming. We looked at doing the Carnival Excursion, but opted to get to PH ourselves. Tickets are purchased online for only $1 and you have to schedule a time to be there (we had an 11 AM time-slot). Our cruise Facebook group was most helpful in alerting us when the tickets for our date became available. Originally, before I became addicted to Uber, I was thinking of taking the city bus (“The Bus” as they call it on Oahu), however the ship had some kind of delay getting us released and everyone was late getting off of the ship. To complicate matters further, the line to get off was long and winding. We got in line in the atrium (which was where you got off and didn’t seem too bad), but then the line wound down the hall, through the casino (which caused a lot of non-smokers to complain and I understand), through the coffee bar lobby, into the theater, to the stage, back out to the lobby and all the way back to where you started, just to get off. Honestly, I thought the line moved along pretty well, but there was a lot of grumbling and a lot of people were nervous that they were going to miss their activities. I did hear that many did not make their appointment time at PH. Once we got off the boat and through the terminal (which is just as nice as Long Beach), we were able to grab an Uber just outside the doors. (25 minutes / $24.09) We arrived at PH with 15 minutes to spare. They do not allow you to bring anything in with you except your phone and a very small purse. They do have lockers available there if you do need them, but I would recommend that you leave everything on the ship. My wife just tucked her ID and S&S card in her phone case and we were set. At your appointment time, you are ushered into a theater where they show you a movie on the history of PH with a focus on the attack. I found this both interesting and moving. After the movie, you are then ushered to a small ferry boat that takes you out to the Arizona memorial. Your group gets dropped off, and the group that was there, gets on the boat to head back. You get about 20 minutes to walk around and read about the Arizona, before the next group comes and you are taken back to shore. Back on land, you can see the USS Missouri, the Bowfin submarine museum, and an aviation museum. When we were done, we grabbed an Uber and headed back to the ship. (26 minutes / $24.45) We had a late lunch on the ship, after which we put on our beach clothes and disembarked again. We grabbed another Uber and had him drop us off at the HRC (18 minutes/$13.20) so that we could grab the shot glass. From there, it was a short walk to the Beach. The beach area itself is nice (but definitely NOT Aruba!) and they have public facilities where you can change and wash the sand off your feet if you need to, and the beach itself was clean and was not awfully busy. My only real complaint about the beach is that in the water, there is a tide line of sharp rocks and shells which wrought havoc on my poor feet! It was fine once you crossed either going out or coming in, but I would definitely get a pair of beach shoes to go swimming. There is also a 3 foot drop off and a decent undertow to be aware of if you bring the kids. After swimming, we walked around town a bit and did some more shopping before calling an Uber to get back to the ship. (35 minutes/$15.59) That night, we had reservations at the steakhouse on board. I want to say that I very much enjoyed dinner. The food was excellent. The service was great. The Chef came out and talked to us for a bit (his wife worked on board as well). The environment in the actual room was great. The carnival funnel is tainted red and is translucent which paints the room in a warm red glow. My minor gripes were with outside influences. The first is that the steakhouse is on deck 10 and there is a walking deck just outside. Not a big deal, but it’s a little unnerving to look out at the scenery and have a passenger staring back at you. The second gripe I have is that the steakhouse is over the atrium and is open all the way down. This means that in the middle of dinner, you could be treated to sounds of pop songs being played by the band 10 floors below you. The music was not bad; it just was not in keeping with the atmosphere in the restaurant. Don’t read too much into my complaints as I had a wonderful time and would most definitely go back. Kona This may be helpful for those of you wondering about canceling Carnival excursions and what happens when you do. We originally had booked an excursion to the Kona Coffee factory. My wife is a bit of a coffee nut and thought it would be cool, and I was just along for the ride. Around two weeks before leaving, my wife had a change of heart, and decided that Kona would be a good shopping day and decided to cancel. She simply went online to our booking and cancelled. It could not have been too difficult, as I didn’t hear any complaining. Within 2-3 days, we received a FedEx envelope with a Carnival gift card loaded up with the amount we had paid for the excursion. Kona itself is a tender port. I had never done a tender port before, so this was an all-new experience for me. It got off to a bit of a rough start as first the ship was late, and then they determined that the sea was too rough (though it appeared calm to me)and needed to turn the ship 180 degrees. They also had a sort of lottery system to get off the ship. You had to get a number from a designated spot up on lido in the morning, and that would determine your time slot to get on a tender. When it was your time, you met down at deck 2, where they put you on one of the 5 or 6 lifeboats that they had running back and forth, and it took you to shore. When you were ready to come back, you just met one of the boats at the dock, and it took you back to the ship. Since the wife and I had no place to be, we didn’t bother to grab a number and just decided to hang out on the boat until the madness died down and we could get off at leisure. We finally went down just after lunch, and found that they were still calling the last of the numbers. It was not a big deal for us, we just had to wait in line for about twenty minutes and we got on the boat. I asked the pilot if he minded if I drove, to which he responded with a laugh but never actually answered the question. The majority of the people on the ship complained about it being “the worst tender process ever”, and that they really "botched it", and that may be true. Personally, my only issue was that it was hot and stuffy with very little air flow in the boat, but I was not in a hurry like others were. The ride only took about 10 minutes and we were dropped off at a dock near a shopping district. We spent about three hours walking up and down the street doing some shopping for souvenirs and such. I was told by fellow passengers that there was some very good food to be had there, but we did not personally eat anything. Again, the weather was great, and the views were good. There was a lot of interesting foliage to see up and down the street That night, we decided to go back to the MDR for the first time since the first night. This time, we were seated in a different section and it was a night and day difference. The service this time was awesome! The food was great, and everything was pretty close to perfect. The server gave us her card, so that we could ask to be seated in her section for the rest of the cruise. We did end up going back almost every night thereafter. I know some people did not like the decor of the dining room, but I enjoyed it and dubbed it the “grape hall”. Those of you that have been there know why, and those of you going will get it quickly. After dinner, we walked the deck for a bit. They had brought a “Mentalist” on board to do a show that night only. It was held in the main theater and was definitely worth the time. I had never seen a “Mentalist” show before, but he was very funny and had a pretty amazing routine. After dinner, we went back to our balcony to relax for a bit before falling into bed for the night. Hilo Hilo is actually the other side of the island from Kona, but it is another climate altogether. Where it hardly ever rains in Kona, it rains very frequently in Hilo. There is nothing to do what so ever in the immediate port area. There are two general stores (not even a Long's!) within a quarter mile and that is it. They do have a shuttle bus that took several passengers back and forth to the Walmart shopping area in town. If you are only going to take one excursion on the cruise, this is probably the best place to do it. This was the case for us, as we had booked a 5-hour tour of the area called "Land of Frozen Fire". I started my day by heading down to the sports bar after an early breakfast. We were not in port yet, and it was Sunday, and with the 6-hour time difference, that meant the 1 EST NFL games were starting at 7 am local, and I was hoping to catch some football. I knew from the start that the game I wanted to watch (Lions/Giants) would not be on, and it wasn't. They did however, have several games going on the TVs, so I took a seat to watch. After a while, I noticed that the Lions/Giants game was being shown on one of the smaller TVs, so I excitedly switched seats to get a good view. After about 10 minutes of that, the TV suddenly switched to the game that was playing on several of the other big TVs. I got the bartender's attention and asked if he could switch it back. He stated that he had no control over the TVs and they were controlled "somewhere else" (There was no word on if this "somewhere else" was on the boat, at Carnival HQ in Miami, or my wife with the clicker at the coffee bar messing with me). After he walked away, I glanced back at the TV and saw that it was now playing women's college volleyball. I left in a mix of frustration and disgust. Seriously Carnival, you have a somewhat decent sports bar area, do better. My wife collected me when we docked, and we headed out to meet the tour. The tour itself was on a 25 person mini bus, and was led by a 20-something local woman who had only left the island twice (to go to Oahu) and nowhere else. She was very personable and knowledgeable about the area, and an overall fun tour guide. I did get a kick out of her whenever she would say stuff like "back in the States" or "do you have these in the States?" She drove us through town, where she told us the history that was very much shaped by a couple of Tsunamis, before heading out of town and on to Rainbow Falls, where we stopped for some pictures and a bathroom break. There was no sun at the time, so we did not get a rainbow, but the area was still nice. We next ventured off towards the lava flows. On the way, she told us about 2018. Her tale included three earthquakes, mudslides, the lava flow, two tsunami warnings, and a false incoming ballistic missile warning (She definitely did NOT moonlight as a local realtor). We briefly stopped at a road that had been closed due to lava flow damage. It was raining, but the tour provided plastic rain ponchos for our use. It was a short five-minute stop and then we were off to a park nearby that was set up around the lava flows. We were able to get out there (there were bathroom facilities) and take the half mile hiking trail through the woods to look around and take some pictures. Next stop was one of the two “painted churches” on the islands. It is a small church that had been completely moved at some point (the reason currently escapes me), and was beautifully painted on the inside with beautifully maintained grounds on the outside. She next drove us down to the water’s edge, where the lava flows had met the ocean and had formed a sea arch. Along the way, we passed an area where steam was still coming up from the ground. At the sea arch, we parked and again were able to get out and walk around to take pictures. Next stop was a lava field which had a sort of pop-up shopping area next to it. I do not know how best to describe it other than that. We were given 30 minutes to look around. Some people went to walk the fields to the ocean’s edge, we went shopping. We bought a hand carved turtle from a woman selling out of a VW bus, walked by the general store and “restaurant” and entered a glassware store. I got to talking to the proprietor, which was a 50-something woman that was born in Wyoming, had lived in Florida, Texas, and California, and had somehow ended up on this very remote part of Hawaii. I would have loved to have sat down and heard her life story. Her and her daughter made most of the glass and ceramic pieces, and there were several local artists that had wood pieces, pictures and paintings that she put up for sale. My wife bought a couple of pretty (surprise surprise) coffee mugs, and paid to have them shipped to us via USPS. Our next (and last) stop on the tour was the Mauhna Loa macadamia nut factory. They had a café with hotdogs, drinks, ice cream and other things, as well as a store that sold MANY variations of nuts, chocolates, nick-knacks, etc. We bought a few too many bags of various forms of chocolate covered nuts, a bag of Kona coffee, and a few souvenirs, before getting back on the bus to head back to the ship. Once we were dropped off at the port, I briefly left the area to grab one last 12 pack before getting back on the ship. This was the smallest of the three ports we were at, but had the most security check points. We were stopped at the gate, stopped again at the terminal, run through a metal detector/x-ray combo inside the terminal, checked again before getting on the boat, then run through the Carnival metal detector/x-ray combo on the boat. It was not a big deal at all, I just found all the extra security at this port a bit odd. Once back on board, we took a quick shower and watched the sail away from our balcony. From a distance, you could see the many bands of rain hitting different parts of the island. We had dinner in the MDR that night, before doing our nightly routine, and enjoying the balcony for a bit before falling into bed. Sea days! I like sea days, especially sans children. I know some people do not want to be in the room and prefer being on deck, or out and about, but I actually enjoy relaxing on the balcony with a good book. I was actually able to finish off five books on this cruise. We actually slept part of one night under the stars on the balcony. That’s not to say that we spent the entire time in the room, as we did spend a good deal of time out experiencing the ship. We caught several sessions of various trivia. Caught the lecturer's shows on star navigation and camera usage. We played Clue. We caught the morning show with our cruise director Chloe (who was great by the way). My wife got more familiar with her barista, and I tried unsuccessfully a few more times to catch a poker game. They had a “throwback” day with eighties dress and a midnight buffet. My wife experienced a little melancholy on the first day as we were beginning our journey home, but got over it quickly after I pointed out that we still had seven days before boarding a plane and heading home. The most notable of the sea days was the fourth one, as it was Halloween. Passengers really went all out with their costumes. I really had to wonder how some people managed to get their elaborate costumes on board with a restriction of luggage space. For our part (and I SWEAR this was my wife’s idea), she was dressed in a pumpkin sweater with black shorts, and I wore a t-shirt that said “PETER! PETER! (I’m with pumpkin)”. Many got the joke and it garnered both laughter and a few disapproving stares, each reaction equally satisfying to me. I unfortunately did not get a picture of us in costume, but several of our fellow passengers did stop us to take our picture. If any of them happen to read this and can post, I would be thankful. Ensenada After the sea days, it was time for a day in Ensenada. My mindset, one that I am sure is shared with many, is that Ensenada is just a port added to fulfill the requirement of a foreign port, and not all that special. That aside, I was pleasantly surprised by our experience here. The day began with a little bit of excitement as it was announced that we were being met by the Mexican Navy who were delivering medical supplies for a passenger with a bit of a medical emergency. After a late breakfast, we went to the theater to catch the end of Clue and Chloe’s talk on the disembarkation process in Long Beach. Chloe mentioned that the shops on board would close once in Ensenda and would not reopen. Due largely to my wife’s shopping, we were in need of additional luggage, so we hit the shops to buy a wheeled Carnival duffel bag. While in the shop, I happened to look out the window and catch the sight of 20 to 30 dolphins that were jumping out of the water alongside the ship. We rushed out of the shop, and outside on to deck 3 to watch. After buying the bag, we headed back to the room to pack a little, and relaxed on the balcony to watch the ship pull into port. This is where we were treated to the second sea life event of the day: sea lions. You could hear them before you could see them. We first caught sightings of them lounging on the buoys in the bay, and then once at the port, there was a large group of them on the rocks. It was really neat to see –at first. By the end of the day, a group of about 50 had gathered near where the ship was tied, and had to be chased off. The sea lions constantly “barked” their disapproval at our presence. Seriously, it was constant and loud. Even as we left port that night, you could hear their barks echoing from miles away. You know how when you leave Vegas, you can still hear the sound of slot machines a day later? I swear I woke up the next morning in CA and could still hear their bark echoing. Getting on land was quick and easy. There is a little shopping area that you walk through when you come into port. If you are going no further, feel free to shop. Otherwise, I would recommend waiting to buy anything as I found prices to be slightly higher than you could find in town, and you will always have a second chance on your way back on board. For a nominal fee (I *think* it was $4 for both of us), we had round trip bus tickets into town. The bus brings you right into the heart of town where there is plenty of shopping to be had. One store had a vendor in it that was intent on proving everything was “real leather” by taking a lighter to it. There was a part of me that was morbidly curious if he would start a fire in the store. After leaving the store with some nick-knacks, a small leather clutch, and a hand-made bag with the “Patriot” logo on it (my wife isn’t perfect and was born in Maine so I am just happy that she now uses the letter “R” properly and we no longer have to go to the “bah” for a drink), we stopped at a McDonald's for some bottled water and to use the free Wi-Fi. We then walked down the street passed a park where they were having a day of the dead celebration, then back to our bus pickup. There were a couple of street vendors there that were a tad pushy. One saw my wife’s new Patriot bag and tried to sell her a bracelet with the logo. The price started at $5, then kept going down to $1. I finally found a dollar and handed it to my wife. She tracked the vendor down for the bracelet, and all of a sudden it was $5 again. We left with naked wrists. Once back on the boat, it was time to start the sad process of packing. We grabbed a late, light dinner up on lido (double bacon BLT!), watched from the balcony for a bit, then headed for bed. Debarkation Originally, we had flights for 12:30 PM out of John Wayne airport (Santa Ana). We received an email several months prior from American saying that our flight had changed to a 7:45 AM departure. Doing some quick math in my head, I was able to determine that would not work. We called American and had our flight switched to Sunday. I usually prefer a “buffer” day before going back to work, but it did give us an extra day of vacation. I see questions asked a lot on this board regarding if they can make X flight at Y airport. I will not answer this for you. What I will do is give you the timeline that we experienced. We decided to carry our luggage off ourselves, and had priority since we were in a suite. We left our cabin at 7:42 AM and headed for the designated meeting place (the main theater) on deck 2. We had to wait a little bit for an elevator that wasn’t already full, but we eventually made it to the theater entrance where disembarkation had already started. We kind of snuck in the line that was already leaving the theater and waiting for the elevator to take them up to deck 3. I kind of felt bad about cutting the line a bit, but I just didn’t want to haul the luggage up the steps, into the theater, then back down more steps on the other side. Apologies to fellow passengers. The line moved rather quickly and we were off the ship in no time. Customs may have been as easy as I have ever seen it. No declaration forms or anything. The Official just looked at our passports, asked us our birthdays, and waved us on through. Once outside, we called an Uber that quickly met us just inside the parking garage and headed off to our hotel in Santa Ana. By 8:25 we were passing the exit for the Long Beach airport. By 8:45, we were being dropped off at our hotel which was right next to the John Wayne airport. (34 mins/$38.12) Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Embarcation: our booking said our check in time was 1200 but in actual fact, check-in was FROM 1200 so we wasted much of our day in Honolulu (having arrived the day before) and wished we had checked in by 5pm. We checked in and then ... Read More
Embarcation: our booking said our check in time was 1200 but in actual fact, check-in was FROM 1200 so we wasted much of our day in Honolulu (having arrived the day before) and wished we had checked in by 5pm. We checked in and then got off the ship again to walk up Diamond head and arrived back at 4:30pm but realised later, we need not have checked in so early. Cabin: we had the cheapest cabin on the ship so I was expecting a tight squeeze, we lost an upgrade 'bid' so didn't think about it too much, however we were pleasantly surprised by how much space and storage it had for two ladies. We weren't disappointed. Dining: The food in the restaurants was impeccable. So glad we didn't have the enormous American style portions and the food and presentation was excellent quality. We didn't have the specialty dinner package but we didn't need to. We ate in the Asian restaurant a couple of times and we felt that was like having a specialty dinner package. You really don't need to go extra on the restaurant upgrade. I liked having lunch from the buffet and taking it to a table outside with a cocktail at the back of the ship. That was nice. My only complaint was that the American diner looked very cheap and cold. We didn't eat in there but I imagine it would have been good for kids. It could have been furbished to look warmer than a burger king. Entertainment: My friend and I were celebrating our 50th and were up for a fun, good time but the ship got fairly quiet by midnight and we found ourselves going from lounge to lounge looking for a bit of action. The ship had a lot of older people who seemed to get up at Dawn and go to bed early ready for the next dawn. The shows were average except for the Jazz band. They were great. Comedian was rubbish, but then I"m not American, so slap stick jokes aren't our thing. The disco on some nights could have been much better. A couple of nights the DJ was there and that was good, but for some nights the music was just a tape and that was disappointing. Having said that, we liked the fact that there was lots of options and if Karaoke, bingo and quiz was your thing, there was plenty to do. Although I felt our demographic was in the minority, it was so easy to hang out and meet people. Everyone we came across was very friendly and chatting to strangers was so easy. I did not feel at all uncomfortable to go out on my own and sit at a bar or table or chat to someone nearby. It was thoroughly relaxing and I loved the fact that it was a do what you want, when you want, how you want type of cruise. Service: impeccable 99% of the time. Everyone was courteous, the dining staff went over and above, our cabin was serviced twice a day, loved how they had beach towels for you when you got off the ship and offered a fresh cup of water when you arrived back. I'd say the ship was clean, well groomed and maintained and the bar staff were productive. I only would have complained once about one bar staff who tried to tell me I couldn't have a cocktail as the bar had just closed and he'd turned the ice machine off, but then when I asked him what cocktail I could have, he turned it on (pressed a button) and ta da, he made me the cocktail I originally asked for in less than a minute and the three staff were still working there. His attitude didn't impress me, but that was the once and only time. Other than that I was extremely impressed. Ports: We loved the itinerary and were out all day in the ports so we missed what was going on on the ship. We did two big excursions in Maui which were great but because these trips are so expensive, we decided to do our own thing in the other ports. The ship has the hopper on and off trolley's that take you from the ship to the town and other places of interest. We did those and got to see some great places. It is very easy to rent a car as a shuttle takes you from the ship to the airport to do just that. There are also plenty of taxis to get you around so you don't need to do an excursion if you don't care for that. My only complaint would be the port in Maui. We docked on the boring side, so if you are not doing an excursion, get yourself over to Kanapali beach side on the south. Kauwai is the most beautiful and most scenic, shop in Kona, not Hilo and snorkle in Kona but look for turtles in Hilo. If you make time in Honolulu, a big mistake we made is thinking we could turn up to Pearl harbour and get tickets for USS Arizona, but you have to buy tickets at least a day in advance. We got over there (an hour on the trolley) and couldn't go out on the boat to the Arizona unless we had pre-paid tickets. We walked up to the top of Diamond head in 25 minutes flat without stopping, but allow 45 minutes unless you are unfit. Tips: Pre pay gratuities. I hate tipping. unless you have a good reason not to, purchase the drinks package, especially if you are travelling with a friend. It saves a lot of "its your round, not mine". It certainly makes for a more relaxing cruise not worrying about paying for drinks. I would do this cruise with my children next time. I think they would love it. Overall it was fantastic and highly recommended but we did have to disembark early to catch our international flight from Honolulu so we missed the last trip around the coast. We were very sad to leave when we did. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We were celebrating our 25th anniversary and Hawaii has been on our bucket list. The ship was a perfect way to see all of the islands. Our trip was a breeze from the moment we got left off at the pier. We sailed through check in and ... Read More
We were celebrating our 25th anniversary and Hawaii has been on our bucket list. The ship was a perfect way to see all of the islands. Our trip was a breeze from the moment we got left off at the pier. We sailed through check in and were led to a separate area for a snack. The cat was out of the bag and I couldn’t hide the surprise from hubby. I had booked us in a penthouse suite with a butler After a short wait we were brought on board by Lauren. We then had lunch at Cagney’s, which is the breakfast and lunch spot for suite guests. Our deck was called while we were eating an amazing lunch. When we got to our rooms, our bags were outside our suite. Jeffery was our butler who brought us breakfast in our suite, helped us with tenders and priority disembarking. We spent most days ashore doing excursions, with only 2 lazy pool days. We enjoyed the specialty dining with Cagney's and Moderno being the favourites. Our other evening was Teppanyaki. Good ambiance but we found the food was prepared with too much butter and salt. We ate at Cadillac diner, Aloha cafe and Key West grill. We did excursions with NCL and Roberts Hawaii. Even though the scenery is breathtaking, the driver does make the tour worthwhile. We had great drivers and others that weren’t on their game. Our preferred tours were with Roberts. If you can take part in the Cruisenext program it is worthwhile to plan the next one, as the on-board credits pay for 1/2 of the deposit you put down. With the other on board credits accumulated, our next cruise deposits cost us nothing. Overall this was an amazing cruise. Despite bad reviews, we did not have any negative experiences. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We were in Hawaii 36 years earlier and wanted to revisit. With NCL's "Free at Sea" offer, this was an exceptionally affordable and effective way to schedule our return without worrying about booking expensive hotels, meals ... Read More
We were in Hawaii 36 years earlier and wanted to revisit. With NCL's "Free at Sea" offer, this was an exceptionally affordable and effective way to schedule our return without worrying about booking expensive hotels, meals and airfare. Our plan was to use the ship as our floating "home base" to re-visit our favorite spots and explore new locations. The cruise itself was awesome. From smooth check-in and embarkation, ease of finding areas of interest onboard due to well-marked signage, daily newsletters and always friendly and eager-to-assist crew members to well managed flow of passengers on/off the ship at all ports, the staff should be highly commended. The ports chosen were awesome as well. These are non-traditional ports that involve a walk through 'souvenirville' before you can leave the port area. All ports offered a more than ample variety of shore excursions to meet most everyone's needs. We like snorkeling and found the opportunity to snorkel on 3 different islands seeing a tremendous variety of fish, spinner dolphins sea turtles and even a moray eel. With our busy schedule, we didn't find time to participate in the many onboard activities or entertainment. As part of the free at Sea package, we enjoyed dining at Cagney's Steakhouse (steak/seafood), the Jefferson Bistro (French) and La Cucina (Italian) Specialty Dining Restaurants, all were exceptional. The other nights we ate in the Liberty and Skyline Main dining rooms. After disembarkation from the ship, we rented a car and spent the day touring Pearl Harbor, an absolute must before returning to the mainland. The ship offers this excursion with a return to the airport but we wanted the freedom to spend as much time as we wanted there. Discounted airfare to/from Honolulu was one of the factors to seal the deal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019

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