12 Honolulu Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year. In lieu of a hokey party, we wanted to take the party on a cruise to Hawaii. We brought along our 3 sons, my son's girlfriend, my brother in law, his wife and ... Read More
My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year. In lieu of a hokey party, we wanted to take the party on a cruise to Hawaii. We brought along our 3 sons, my son's girlfriend, my brother in law, his wife and their 2 sons. We had an amazing time. 4 of the 6 are in college; 5 different schools between the 6 kids. They are starting to make their way, look for jobs, etc; my nephew may go to school out of state next year. As we knew our time with the kids was limited so we splurged for that one final all out trip to celebrate our anniversary. My husband said this was our most "error free" vacation. He was right. Every cruise member was outstanding, every excursion on time, every tour guide a perfect fit for our large crew. We couldn't have had a better experience and already know that our next cruise will be on Norwegian. This is the second cruise for both families and the NCL staterooms and suites were beyond compare. There was plenty for everyone to do on board which allotted for family events, couples dinners and personal time in the spa and fitness center. Thank you for the vacation of a lifetime with our kids! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We were celebrating our 47th year Wedding Anniversary & my (Three scores + 10) . This was our first cruise we didn't know what to expect, our Hotel accommodations was very nice. I was very surprise of how humongous the ... Read More
We were celebrating our 47th year Wedding Anniversary & my (Three scores + 10) . This was our first cruise we didn't know what to expect, our Hotel accommodations was very nice. I was very surprise of how humongous the ship was. I have never seen anything so large. We attend one show, which we enjoyed. The service was superb in the restaurants and the food was excellent. Port and shore excursions we really enjoyable on the islands and going into the neighborhoods by the guides . Travel to embarkation port was very fast moving. Inside the ship I was in awed how beautiful everything was, the workmanship and décor. Our room was very comfortable, Our steward was very attentive to our needs, he went above and beyond .We were disappointed about the WIFI-internet we were trying to get. My greatest regret is not taking more advantages of the ships activities. We would do it again. We thank the Norwegian's Pride of America cruise line for your accommodations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We selected this cruise because we wanted to visit several of the Hawaiian islands and the cruise allowed us to do this without taking days of our time packing up, island hopping by plane, and unpacking to do it all over again in a couple ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we wanted to visit several of the Hawaiian islands and the cruise allowed us to do this without taking days of our time packing up, island hopping by plane, and unpacking to do it all over again in a couple of days. We enjoyed the excursions we selected and felt each port had something for everyone. The food provided on the cruise was very good as the different venues offered different selections. We did upgrade for 3-nights of optional dining venues for variety but thought that if we did this cruise again, we would just use the dining package that was included as those options were very satisfactory to us. I loved the Spa and had one of the best massages I have ever received. We did not attend any of the nightly entertainment shows as we chose the evenings to relax. We enjoyed the cruise so much we are talking about going on another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
i really enjoyed this cruise - lots of on board activies and friendly staff the only thing i didn't like was the blow dryer in the cabin had to plug in at desk area and cord didn't really stretch to sink are where there was a ... Read More
i really enjoyed this cruise - lots of on board activies and friendly staff the only thing i didn't like was the blow dryer in the cabin had to plug in at desk area and cord didn't really stretch to sink are where there was a mirro - other wise everything else was really goo - i had one of the single's staterooms and was really surprised at the size - had a full size bed and plenty of storage for your clothes and other items meals were really nice and all the staff were so nice and friendly and smiling- really enjoyed the art auctions and the shops on board were very reasonably priced - liked all the trivia and games and crafts which were really fun - food was really good and the specialty restaurant teppanyaki was really good and enjoyed the chef and his show - crafts were kuki nut lei's and ribbon lei's along with bead fish and origami folding and alot of other crafts Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise because this was our first trip to Hawaii and we wanted to experience as much as we could in 7 days. We had done a 12-night Mediterranean cruise with NCL a couple years ago, and found it to be a great way to see a lot ... Read More
We chose this cruise because this was our first trip to Hawaii and we wanted to experience as much as we could in 7 days. We had done a 12-night Mediterranean cruise with NCL a couple years ago, and found it to be a great way to see a lot in little time. No need to spend time during the day travelling to your next destination when you can go by boat and travel by night, not have to change hotels, pay for extra transportation, etc. We flew from DFW to Honolulu non-stop and, leaving DFW about 11:30AM and arriving in Honolulu about 2:30PM. We had enough time to stop by Walmart on the way to the boat (which is about a half-mile off the track on the route from the airport to the cruise terminal) and pick up a case of water and sodas (saving a small fortune onboard). We saved the Honolulu excursions for the return trip. The embarkation was about as smooth as I've ever seen. There were no crowds at all and essentially no line to board. I was almost thinking the cruise was half-empty. The ship is about average size for a cruise ship. You can tell it's an older boat due to the size/amenities, but very well maintained. It's comparable to the NCL Spirit, which we were on for our Mediterranean cruise. There is no casino onboard due to Hawaiian gambling laws. The boat stays in US waters at all times, so there is no international water maritime law being applied that would allow for gambling. The boat appears to be about 75% balcony rooms, which seems to be significantly above the norm (and also why you can get a relatively good deal on a balcony room). We took 4 NCL-sponsored excursions, and 3 DIY excursions. The NCL excursions included the following: Maui: Molokini Crater & Turtle Snorkel - unfortunately the weather was lousy, so we had to go to an alternate destination. The snorkeling was OK, but not nearly as good as we expected at the advertised destination. I don't know how often the weather is lousy, but it's a bit of a risky proposition due to the price paid. Maui: Waterfalls & Rainforest Hike - this was nice, although again, I'm not sure if it was really worth the price. The location was Wailele Farm in Ho'olawa Valley. I think this is actually a free site to visit, so if you're paying that price for a guide and transportation for a dozen people, I think it's considerably over-priced, but it was nice nonetheless. Bring water shoes for this, as several parts of the footpaths are across shallow stream areas and there is plenty of mud as well. Hilo: Hilo Bay Waterfall & Kayak - this was also nice and probably better for relative value, though slightly overpriced. You essentially have a 10-minute van ride to Hilo bay, and use a two-man kayak to go across Hilo bay and up a short river tributary with falls. The ocean was at low-tide and was probably 1-2 ft lower than the river source. As such, there was a small area requiring portage to get to the upper part of the river containing the falls, and a subsequent rougher-than-normal ride back down the river. Although quite fun from my perspective, one of the 8 kayaks dumped it's crew on the way down the short drop. No injuries, but plenty wet. Honolulu: Pearl Harbor w/USS Missouri (Airport Dropoff) - This was probably the best value, because it included a full day at Pearl Harbor, admission to the USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial and they took care of your luggage all day and provided airport transportation. The USS Bowfin submarine was extra, but there was time for that if you desired. There was not enough time, however, to visit the Pacific Air museum. The trip to Pearl was followed by a short visit to the Punchbowl Crater Memorial. DIY excursions included the following: Kailua-Kona: We wanted to do the Kona brewery, but the tours are limited to 17 people. If you want to do this, book early. We walked around Kona, and stopped by Kona Canoe Club for a couple beverages. The view was great. This is probably the best location on the cruise for souvenir shopping. Kauai: Smiths Family Garden Luau - we had seen mixed reviews on the cruise-ship-recommended Luau Kalamaku, so we opted for Smith's Family Garden Luau. It was about half the price and was great! They even provide round-trip transportation to/from the cruise port for a nominal price. Kauai: Instead of using the cruise line's surfing excursion, I opted to wing it and go to the local Kalapaki beach and see what I could scrounge up. Turns out this was a great option. Free transportation using the Anchor Cove/Beach shuttle, and surfing lessons at Beach Boys for 1/2 the price. Ask for Marlo - he's great. Eveyone in our party got up on the board the first time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We recently returned to the Pride of America (POA) for another spin around the islands. We had sailed on her in 2007, about the same time of year, so the weather conditions were similar. We were once again greeted with an orchid flower lei ... Read More
We recently returned to the Pride of America (POA) for another spin around the islands. We had sailed on her in 2007, about the same time of year, so the weather conditions were similar. We were once again greeted with an orchid flower lei for me and a shell lei for my husband. They had Hawaiian music playing and water available. Since we were returning cruisers, we were able to get in the ‘short line’ so had our photos taken for our key card and were walking across the gangway in a short amount of time. Since our cabin was not yet available, we decided to go to the Skyline Dining Room for lunch rather than the buffet for a change. We were ushered to Table 1, a great little table for two in the corner at the window. I had a FABULOUS marinated shrimp salad and my husband had a cobb salad and fish and chips - the salads were brought promptly, but the fish and chips took quite a while to be served. After lunch we went back out to see if our cabin was ready and they were announcing that cabins were ready floor by floor - there didn’t seem to be any logic or reason to the order as the first deck to be announced was Deck 4, then Deck 9 then us on 11 - I would have thought it would have been the deck with the suites, but apparently not. We were on Deck 11, cabin 11536, so we went up and checked it out. We had never been in a cabin on that high of a deck nor that far forward before so we knew it was going to be a different cruise experience. The cabin interior was the same, with even the same foot protector, but new carpeting. I had forgotten how beautiful the woods are on the POA! I also liked that the murals of various spots and landmarks around the country at the head of the stairs were still there. Apparently the refit was to add 4 studio cabins and more suite cabins and move some areas around to do so, but the rest of the ship was the same, which was good - it really didn’t need improving! The one thing I really questioned was the large overhang from Deck 12 that extended out about 10 feet farther than our balcony, that obstructed the view upwards - it didn’t seem to be that much of a deal, but as the day progressed, it DID turn out to be a liability. At 4 p.m. we heard a VERY loud noise and realized that it was the Blue Angels doing their performance at Pearl Harbor! It was SUCH a delight to watch the angels doing their amazing flying, but again, having that overhang REALLY got in the way. About the time they were finishing up, it was time for the Muster Drill, or as they call it Assembly Drill. I have never participated in a more organized, detailed, quick muster drill in my life! They had even lowered one of the life boats down so folks could look inside. Very impressive! Since we were there as a part of a group, there was a cocktail party at the Lanai on Deck 11, aft. It was nice to be out there as the sun set and we sailed away. We had hit it off with another couple, so all four of us went to dinner at the Liberty Dining Room. This is an elegant room, done in rich navy and maroons with large paintings of presidents and other patriotic items as decor. I had the caesar salad and the mahi mahi, which was served with couscous and mango salsa - it was very tasty! On our way back to the cabin, there was a pianist playing at “Pinks” the Champagne lounge on Deck 6. Michael Masci was exactly the type of pianist I enjoy - talented, yet with enough personality to be interesting but without being corny. He was delightful! Day 2 was the first day on Maui (the itinerary had changed from the 2007 itinerary - for the better I might add). We went for breakfast at the Aloha Cafe - we have learned to go ALL the way to the back where we can enjoy our breakfast outside (I’m actually always surprised that there is usually room out there, which for us, are the best seats in the house, ESPECIALLY in Hawaii!). After breakfast we went down to catch the shuttle to the Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center. On the way back we struck up a nice conversation with one of the many Australian passengers - apparently there were about 300 Aussies on this sailing. There were also a lot of Japanese as well as a handful of other folks speaking languages I didn’t recognize. There was probably an event at the theatre that told how many from the various countries, but we must have missed that one. Once back on board we went up to the Aloha Cafe for lunch, where we again sat outside and enjoyed the warm, but humid, windy and cloudy day (Hawaii was also going through a heat wave, so it was unusually warm). On the way back from lunch we stopped by the spa and made our massage appointments and came back to the cabin. We decided to take advantage of the sauna and steam room prior to our massages - that totally started the relaxation process and by the time my massage with Jesse was over (who was EXCELLENT I might add), I was pretty much a giant blob. Since we hadn’t had dinner yet, we decided to order room service, which was perfect because we ended up turning out the lights at 9:30! Are we the life of the party or what? Maui - Day 2 - Since we had done this cruise before, we had already done the Sunrise at Mt. Haleakala excursion, which I would HIGLY recommend. It is truly a bucket list item that should be done at least once, but having someone else drive and the warmth of a bus is even better. If you do go, make SURE you take plenty of warm jackets as it is VERY cold at 10,000 feet! After our outdoor breakfast at the Aloha Cafe, with today’s weather being a little calmer and sunnier, we went back to the cabin. Since there was a session with my group right after lunch, we really didn’t have time to do too much so it was nice to just have a leisurely morning. We did enjoy watching the activity of truckload after truckload of sand was being loaded onto a barge. After my session, we changed and went down for dinner at the Skyline Dining room. This room is done with a New York theme, with contemporary chairs, mirrors, and etched glass mimicking the skyline of New York. Very simple and elegant. My husband had the french onion soup and I had the caesar again and we both had the special, which was a coconut crusted mahi mahi with a raspberry sauce, along with plantain mashed potatoes and carmelized onions - it was FABULOUS! The service wasn’t so hot, but the food was GREAT! Tonight’s entertainment was the “Not So Newlywed Game” which is one of MY personal favorites on cruise ships. Usually there is one couple that is especially entertaining, but all four of these couples had a particularly entertaining answer at one point or the other, so it was especially good. Norwegian even stepped up a bit more than just congratulating the couples with a bottle of champagne - the winning couple got a gift certificate for a set of bamboo sheets at one of the bedding stores on Kauai! Good for Norwegian! Hilo - Day 3 We were up early and had breakfast so we could do the Volcanos National Park excursion. John was our tour guide/driver and was FABULOUS! Not only was he good at his job, he had just returned after having taken 3 weeks off to move his 75 acre ranch, including family and animals, out of the way of the advancing lava flow. He was amazingly calm after having spent 3 weeks moving, but as he put it, you accept that when you live on Pele’s island. The first stop was the Big Island Chocolate Factory, where we were able to watch the workers make the chocolate. They also gave out plenty of samples and of course, there were lots of sales! We drove by a beautiful Japanese garden and then up to the park. Our first stop at the park was the Kilauea Iki Trailhead, where we were able to look down into the Kilauea Iki Crater, formed in 1959. From there we went to the Thurston Lava Tube, where we got out and were able to walk through the lava tube - what an amazing experience THAT was! We then went on to the Kilauea Caldera, which is where the Halemaumau Crater was formed in 1974 when it erupted. This was also the site of the Jagger Museum, named after the first volcanoist who started collecting data and studying volcanos. It was a very good excursion but warranted a good nap back at the cabin upon our return! Dinner was back at the Skyline Dinner with more friends from our group. Kona - Day 4 Since we were unable to dock, today we were anchored off the coast and had to tender in. After breakfast we got our tender tickets and were shortly on our way to Kona. Kona is a completely different climate than the rest of the islands and it was VERY warm and humid there, and today was no different. We caught the shuttle to Hilo Hatties and loaded up on Hawaiian shirts and macadamia nuts and returned to the pier. Lunch was at a new restaurant , Paradise Cafe, upstairs overlooking the harbor (and ship). Dale had hot chicken wings and I had pulled pork with a mango salsa. It was quite good. Tonight we splurged and paid the surcharge for the steakhouse Cagney’s. Dale had the St. Louis ribs and I had the filet - both were excellent! For dessert, Dale had the raspberry creme brulee and I had the oreo cheesecake. So much for that diet! From there we hopped in the hot tub to warm up a little and then got dressed and went down to the Hollywood Theatre for a Tribute to Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons by the group, Oh What A Night, four guys that were VERY good, both vocally and in their performance. Kauai - Day 5 Today was our excursion to Wiamea Canyon so we met our group at the Hollywood Theatre and we walked down to the busses - all four of them! A young Hawaiian lady was our tour guide/driver, but she was not as good as John. Our first stop was the Spouting Horn out at Poipu Beach. This is a natural formation of lava that spouts water when the waves rush in. It also hosts some local vendors with hand crafted items and rest rooms. We then headed out to another store, which had a variety of refreshments and of course, another opportunity for shopping before heading up to the canyon. The drive from the store to the canyon is a winding road that takes about 20 minutes before you actually arrive at the lookout point. I had forgotten how beautiful the canyon is. So many striated layers of earth, some waterfalls and of course, helicopters and planes doing tours of the canyon. We got back to the ship and had a couple of hours before it would be time to meet to go to the luau. We had the 4:30 meeting time for the Luau Kalamaku - apparently there was a 4, 4:15, 4:45 and 5 p.m. meeting time as well! We found out later that there were about 750 from the ship in attendance!!! WOW! We had been to luaus before so figured it would be about the same - boy were we wrong! This was WAY more than your usual luau! This was a performance that included lights, costuming, make up, props and for lack of another explanation, would call it an opera, done in Hawaiian style. They followed a story line depicting a father and his daughter that had fallen in love. The story followed the father and boyfriend as they went to find the new land and then returned, the couple married and then ended with the birth of the new generation. It was VERY well done - in ALL ways. Kaui - Day 6 My husband left early for his helicopter ride of Kauai - this was his third and his favorite thing to do on Kauai. Since I was involved with my group the entire morning, I met my husband for lunch at the Cadillac Cafe, which is the 50s diner on Deck 6 midship - they had the usual diner menu, so he had a hot dog and I had a cheeseburger and fries, then we split a hot fudge brownie - it was all very tasty, although the service was a little odd. As Platinum members of Norwegian Cruise Lines, we had been invited to a special event held out on the bow of the ship at 2 p.m. as we sailed from Kauai, so headed out with hats and sun glasses. Boy was it hot out there and the reflective light from the white of the ship seemed to make it worse. As you might expect, they were serving champagne and mimosas, so it was a very nice event. After the welcome speeches and actual sailing, it got a tad breezy, although that was welcomed as it did cool us down a little bit, but we lasted about 1/2 hour before it got just too hot. We went back to the cabin and started packing so that we could enjoy sailing by the Napali Coastline, which would happen at about 5 p.m. Since we had already unzipped the expandable part of the main suitcase in order to come, we had to do some real organizing but we got it all into the suitcases and went back out to the balcony to enjoy the beautiful scenery! Sadly, the wonderful narration of the coastline was only available through the public address system on open passenger decks, not through the Navigation channel, bridge channel or even through the loud speakers in the hall, so we missed out on that, but we were NOT going to move from our balcony to one of the crowded open passenger decks just to listen to the narration. After the ship turned around and headed back, we went upstairs to the Skyline Dining Room for our last dinner. We noticed ‘Table 1’ was in the process of being cleared, we asked if we could sit there, knowing it would be a quiet table and were soon ushered to our table. The waiter had a bit of an attitude but we ordered and got through dinner and went upstairs to the Mardi Gras lounge for “The Perfect Couple” Game - since we had never seen this, we really didn’t know what to expect. It was not as good as the Not So Newlywed Game, but it was entertaining. From there we went down a deck to the Hollywood Theatre for the final ‘show’ - the Variety Show. The magician (whom we had missed before) was back, as well as the Oh What A Night guys for some more Frankie Vallie tunes and then the crew did their thank you’s by bringing up on stage as many folks from the various areas of the ship to wave and say good-bye. This is always an emotional event. We pulled into Honolulu Harbor and had our final breakfast. We met for the last time in the Hollywood Theatre and joined the rest of our group at 9 a.m. and disembarked for the last time and boarded the bus. Since our flight wasn’t until 11 p.m., we had the whole day to kill, so this tour would take us 140 miles around the island of Oahu, with a stop for lunch and various places along the way. Leo was our bus driver/tour guide and he was delightful and had 35, 40 and even 80 point questions throughout the day (of course no one was keeping score and the points were random, but it added a sense of fun to the day). It was well worth the money for the tour AND was very informative. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Flew non-stop from ORD United Airlines to HNL day before (Friday, June 6)POA cruise. Arrived 2:30 PM Honolulu time. My group (17 cruisers) planned this cruise over a year in advance. Some of our group left several days early but the ... Read More
Flew non-stop from ORD United Airlines to HNL day before (Friday, June 6)POA cruise. Arrived 2:30 PM Honolulu time. My group (17 cruisers) planned this cruise over a year in advance. Some of our group left several days early but the majority of us were on the same round trip air schedule. Since we had very early tickets (8 AM Arizona) to Pearl Harbor, we did not want to stay far from our first excursion. Note: we reserved our tickets to Arizona online 6 months prior to trip We stayed at the Outrigger Honolulu Airport Hotel which had a free shuttle from airport. Did not want to cab to Waikiki for dinner as it would have added another $100. After check-in at hotel, we got cabs to eat dinner at Nico's Pier 38. This restaurant got good reviews from previous CC members. . Saw a large signed picture of Guy Fieri from Food Network. Dinner was great and we enjoyed sitting outside watching the tour buses go by and looking out over the pier area. There was entertainment inside the restaurant with a live band that we could hear outside. Went back to hotel 3 hours later. Easy to get cabs from restaurant. Caught a cab back to hotel to get some rest for busy embarkation day. Note: we spent a great deal of time and money in cabs on this island. Be prepared to spend more money on cabs in Honolulu Saturday June 7: we had pre ordered tickets to Arizona 6 months prior online for Pearl Harbor 8 AM . Early check out from hotel and had bellman lock our luggage in storage. Took cab to Pearl Harbor and arrived by 7 AM. Walked around till time to line up for short movie presentation and then took shuttle to Arizona. Pearl Harbor brings out many emotions and we were so thrilled that we were able to see this remarkable historic place. Stayed at Pearl Harbor for 3.5 hours and then took another cab back to hotel. Freshened up in lobby bathroom and then got luggage and cabs to Pier #2. Embarkation: When we arrived before 11 AM we saw no Porters at the pier so we wheeled our own luggage to the place where everyone was dropping off luggage for X-Ray. Then we got into line with carry-on luggage, passports and e-Doc’s. Went through security and then into line for boarding passes. Got Group A. Had our Lei Greeting and Embarkation Photo’s taken with family and group. While waiting to board ship, we were entertained with Hawaiian group that sang and danced for the passengers. It was before 11:30 AM that Group A was called and we were on our way to the POA. Our group went straight to the Aloha Buffet but you could go to the Skyline for lunch. We just liked the variety of food at the buffet. After eating we lounged outside on Deck 11 until they called our Deck 10. Cabin 10062 Family Stateroom Category B2. This is a very tight fit for 4 adults – Mom, Dad, Son (24), & Daughter (19). We were able to put our clothes away in all the drawers and closet. We always bring extra hangers and also 2 hanger tree’s that has eight clips each. Luggage came after Muster drill. Bed arrangement: 1 pull-out couch (single), 1 bunk bed that comes down from ceiling which extends over pull-out couch and part way over double bed. There really was not any room for the ladder to go up on bunk, so if you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night the double bed people had to make room so they could get down. I just could not justify getting a suite when I knew we would not be spending much time in the stateroom and really no Sea Day’s. We have traveled on other cruiselines with 4 in the room, but this arrangement was extra tight. If we wanted to get to the Balcony we had to step on the beds. We knew this upfront but experiencing it was extra special. LOL Room Steward(ess) name was Nicole. At Embarkation we found our room clean, no dust on shelves and flat surfaces, ice bucket filled, enough towels for 4. We did ask for 2 more bathrobes which were promptly put in our room. She did a fine job all week which we showed her our appreciation at the end of the week. Room Service: Almost every morning we ordered room service. They were always on time. Twice we ordered room service at peak hours for late lunch/late night snack and they quoted a 45 min. wait. That was what we expected because of prime times that we ordered. Food was always on time and good. I must comment that the people who brought our food got a chuckle when they saw how crammed it was in our room. The trays had to be left on the double bed because there was no way they could get to any surface to put down. Our small table had to be put on the balcony otherwise they could not open single couch. Dining: We did not have time to try specialty dinning. Dinners were mostly in the Skyline Dining Room after our exhausting shore trips. Service was generally acceptable, once it was very slow, but conversations about our activities during the day made the time go by. Our meals were enjoyable. We did not expect fine dinning so we were not disappointed. Excursions: We planned our own excursions from tips learned on CC. We rented cars from Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Shuttles were there to pick us up to take us to the Car Rental Terminals at Airport locations. Exceptions to Shuttle service was in Kona. After tendering from POA, our pick-up was at King Kam Hotel located near the pier. We rented 2 days in Maui and parked overnight at pier parking lot (free). Next day it was very easy getting off the ship, walk to lot, and drive to our next adventure. In Kauai we rented only 1 day since the following day is short in Kauai and parking has a $30 charge. Maui Day #1: Started our day with visit to Hookipa Beach and watched the surfers. Got some welcome sun (we had an awful winter in Chicago and no Spring season) then drove south to the Tedeschi Vineyards for the wine tasting from a selection of pineapple wines made from locally grown Maui Pineapples and their grape and sparkling wines. The grounds were very nice and we all purchased some bottles to enjoy later. Then we backtracked north to the Alli Kula Lavender Farm near Kula. $3.00 per person entrance fee. The grounds are carpeted in lavender and we toured ourselves around the beautiful grounds. Bought several souvenirs of lavender products. Next we drove to Haleakala to experience the summit. Words just cannot describe the view. Spectacular does not even come close. We spent several hours in the park and decided not to do the sunset. Just was hesitant to drive down on pitch black roads with the sharp turns and going downhill very slowly. Maui Day #2: Iao Valley and Iao Needle. Kaanapali, and Lahaina. Hilo: Volcano National Park ( weather was cool and rainy), Akaka Falls Kona: Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, Painted Church, Southernmost Point of the US, and almost to Green Sand Beach (long story, but you have to hike 1.5 mi each way or have vehicle that can drive on any surface. We went part way but road too treacherous). Kauai Day #1: Helicopter Tour with Safari. Book online and save. Excellent Tour of Island and everyone we met from Safari company were wonderful. Drove to Poipu Beach and stayed several hours, then to nearby Blowhole. Kauai Day #2: No rental car. Took shuttle to Anchor Cove and went to beach at the Marriott. We toured the grounds and shopped. From all our daytime activities, we were exhausted by 9 pm. We did see the Frankie Vallie show but we strained to stay awake. Did not miss the casino. The live bands that played near pool area were very good and enjoyed listening to music and having a cocktail as we left ports. One area that I usually spend money is the gift shops, but I did not purchase anything. What is wrong with me??!! Disembarkation: we had an extra day in Oahu, so when they put out the luggage tags a few days before Saturday, I took the purple tags which were for later times (9 AM). By Thursday night no more purple tags were available so get them as soon as they put them out. We took our time getting off the ship and the lines went quickly. Found our luggage right away and waited in line for shuttle to get rental car. Big mistake to rent car. The traffic that weekend was even worse because of Parade honoring King Kamehameha and festivities. We ended up paying extra to drop off car near our hotel as we were not going anywhere with blocked streets and congestion. Our group had originally planned to drop off luggage and tour Oahu. We stayed at the Outrigger on the Reef and enjoyed our time there. My group really did not want to leave as it was very comfortable and lovely at the hotel. They had entertainment at night near lobby/pool area. We walked to restaurants and shops. Enjoyed hanging out in open lobby area. Sunday: Took cabs to Diamond Head. Made it to the top though a struggle for me. I had gotten a bad cold and was running a fever by Saturday night. Glad I made the effort. It was fun to finish the climb! Check out of hotel at 12 Noon, and enjoyed pool area for the afternoon. Used complimentary hospitality room to get ready for trip back to airport. Had to leave early for 7:25 PM flight because more streets blocked off. Luckily the cab driver to Diamond Head gave us the "heads up" of the situation. Outrigger staff were outstanding and went out of their way to get us information and made our stay with them very enjoyable. Summary: Loved seeing Hawaii for the first time on the ship. We saw so much on the islands but little of our POA. If you are able to get time off of work, stay several days before and after the cruise. We so so many sites in 10 days. I am so glad we choose to cruise on POA for our first trip to Hawaii and would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
A little about us, we were part of 14 Aussies who spent time in Hawaii before boarding this lovely lady of the sea. My daughter and I arrived early and spent 8 days staying at the Outrigger Waikiki, I have stayed there previously on 6 ... Read More
A little about us, we were part of 14 Aussies who spent time in Hawaii before boarding this lovely lady of the sea. My daughter and I arrived early and spent 8 days staying at the Outrigger Waikiki, I have stayed there previously on 6 occasions and can say that it is location,location. Our cruise left Honolulu 11pm Sat 2nd Nov 2013. We arrived a little later than most to board, approx 2.30ish and it went very smoothly. We were met on board with a beautiful drink of Champagne and from then on it just got better and better. I have previously cruised on Princess and NCl, this was our first time on Celebrity. Loved it so much we just booked our next 18 night cruise on Celebrity Solstice, Perth, Port Hedland, Australia up to Bali, Indonesia then back to Darwin, Australia, Cairns,Brisbane, Newcastle and back to Sydney. Our cabin was spacious and very well looked after by Jose, a very special man. Spent most of our day out by the pool as we were sailing the Pacific and the weather was magic. Entertainment was great but would have liked to see more of the Celebrity Dancers and Singers. The food, well what can I say, the Metropolitan Dining Room, never had a bad meal..steak, crab cakes, french onion soup, creme brulee to name just a few. The Grill by the pool had the nicest hamburgers and fries..Cafe Al Bacio had the best pastries..the Ocean View Cafe provided you with everything you could wish for. Freshly cooked pasta to which you were able to ad garlic or whatever you chose. Freshly cooked fish and chips....yum, sushi to die for..we had not one complaint out of our group of 14. The ship was so clean and she has class all over her, the crew just great, always there with a smile and again no complaints about anyone of them. Met the usual whingers, cannot understand how you can constantly whinge over such minor little things, aren't you just so glad to be cruising and grateful for the experience. Ports of Call Papeete, Tahitit Disappointed with the capital of Tahiti, it was not the cleanest of places and the living conditions for most very poor. Sad to see people living that way, having said that they were lovely and you could not find a more friendly race. Bora Bora, Tahiti, oh this was just a beautiful island, we did a tour that we picked up when we arrived, half the price of Celebrity tour and went to the same places. Sad to see most of the hotels and holiday places were closed down due to lack of visitors. Moorea, Tahiti Did another local tour and went out swimming with stingrays and reef sharks, have already experienced swimming with dolphins so this was another highlight. Our tour guide was so funny..he made our day. Suva, Fiji This was sadly a let down, had been there in 1976 and it has got worse, very dirty, sad to see again the local Fijians struggling to survive. We also found it to be very smelly. Noumea, French Polenesia I loved this place as it is so clean, very expensive but a smaller version of the French Riviera. Overall the whole experience was fantastic and I have no reservation in saying that I love sailing with Celebrity. Gwenda (64yrs) Lisa 41 (yrs)   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was a 17 night crossing of the Pacific from Honolulu to Sydney via Tahiti and New Zealand. The service was great, the food was great. We went to Chops Grill, Giovani's and the Samba Grill. Food and service was top notch. The ... Read More
This was a 17 night crossing of the Pacific from Honolulu to Sydney via Tahiti and New Zealand. The service was great, the food was great. We went to Chops Grill, Giovani's and the Samba Grill. Food and service was top notch. The ports in French Polynesia were beautiful. Wellington was windy and it rained in Picton but you can't do anything about the weather. Most of the crossing was calm with 1 night of 4m swells between Tahiti & NZ but the 1st 24 hours after we left Picton was a little wild (up to 7m swells I heard) but Raidiance seamed to handle the seas very well. After 1 slight slow down due to the weather the Captain put the throttle on hard and we did about 24knots for most of the next day or so. Great thrill. In Bora Bora we did a Tour organised via another Cruise Critic member that was fantastic.. Caught up with a few staff from our previous cruise on Radiance and renewed friendships... Overall it was just a great time and I was sorry to disembark. Small items of critisism. The dance floor in the colony club was not as well utilised as we had experienced on our previous cruise. The "Big" production shows were virtual repeats from last year... You'd have thought RCI could have come up with some new shows in 12 months... Still good shows, just repeats. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We flew from Boston to Phoenix and Phoenix to Honolulu via US Airways. 12 hour flight. The airlines does not offer any movie or radio from Boston to Phoenix and back so bring some entertainment. There is a movie or two on flight from ... Read More
We flew from Boston to Phoenix and Phoenix to Honolulu via US Airways. 12 hour flight. The airlines does not offer any movie or radio from Boston to Phoenix and back so bring some entertainment. There is a movie or two on flight from Phoenix to Honolulu and radio channels that have a lot of static. From Honolulu to Phoenix there was one movie because it was an 11pm flight. Food offerings were few and were for a fee. They do offer a lot of cold drinks for free and liquor for a fee. O the flight home with a very short time between flights they ran out of sandwiches and we had only a snack for 12 hours. Flights were on time and fairly smooth. The flight attendants did only there job. No real interaction with the passengers. We were met by our tour company rep. and received a very fragrant lei greeting. Got our luggage quickly and were off to the hotel for an overnight stay.The hotel Ohana East was clean and nicely situated to the beach and shopping and restaurants. All price ranges. The next day Sat.3/31 we went to the ship . Again met with a lei greeting and picture taking of course. Check ion was simple and we were on the ship right away. It was about 12:30 pm and we were on board and went to the Aloha Cafe for lunch. The usual buffet food but nothing outstanding. Plenty of seating. We looked around the ship which was nice but showing her age. Our room was ready by 1:30 or 2 and we unpacked. we found the room to be much smaller than the usual balcony rooms and can't imagine a 3rd person in the room. Not as much storage space either but enough. You need to look around the room to find some of the hidden places like in the BR behind the mirror on the left. We were tired the first night and ate in the Cadillac diner.The food was good and the brownie sundae was incredible.This was lobster night in the DR. We went to the show it was ok for a welcome aboard show. Sun 4/1 we were in Maui. No we didn't do Road to Hana , we explored the island instead. We took the bus to Lahaina . It's a very quaint little town and we loved it. It is very easy to get around there if you find the right people to hook you up. $2.00 R/T on the bus. You need to watch your time to get the shuttle back to the ship. Before we left the ship we ate in the Skyline DR for breakfast. The food had no taste. Even the eggs tasted like they had been sprayed with water and oil. We ate lunch on the island and then had dinner in the Cadillac. Entertainment that night was Aloha Polynesia.A celebration of the islands mIt was very good. I think this was the night we also saw the comedian Bud Anderson. Don't miss his show you'll be dying of laughter. Don't know where we ate. Nothing to remember or wish for. Then we went to the Bingo , they had prizes one of which was a ticket for one to the luau, some jewelry, champage, tee shirts and mugs. Mon. 4/02 we went on the Best of Maui tour from 8am to 5pm. Very nice tour up to Haleakala Crater and back to Lahaina Town. The crater is 10,o32 ft above sea level and they stopped every couple of thousand feet so you could get use to the altitude changes. What an incredible view being above the clouds. OMG. Then we went to IAO Valley. Very nice rainforest . Many plants and pools. The weather was perfect. Then onto Lahaina . We went to Hilo Hattie's free drinks and some samples and of course shopping. We had lunch at Bubba Gump's. The food was great.It was a little pricey . Back on the ship for dinner. The show was Lights,Camera ,Music. They could dance but they couldn't sing. Later they had the Not so newlywed game and the 50's sock hop both a lot of fun. Tues 4/03 Hilo We went on the Volcano Spectacular and Hilo Waterfall Tour . 9am to 4:30 pm. This is where you walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. Very dark,wet, and slippery. It is also a long walk down and back up if you have any mobility issues. Back on the ship we ate in the East Meets West. Food was good except for the Shrimp. It was very salty and I use salt but my Sister doesn't. We found out they soak the shrimp in Soy sauce ginger and sugar. The show that night was The Blast, Musicians from TN. Sorry but we didn't go. They also had FABBA ,the music of ABBA and Dancing with the American Stars. Both good shows. Wed. 4/04 Kona and we took the day off from excursions and walked around the town. What a beautiful place . Plenty of shopping and restaurants. This was the tender pier so we had room service and waited for the tour people to get off the ship. We got a shaved ice at the Scandanavian place with ice cream and Lava flow which was condensed milk. We got a medium for $5.00 and shared it. There were no words to describe it. Bought a lot of nice things here and the prices weren't bad either. The tender going back to the ship was a little rocky. If mobility impaired they will assist you in every way possible. The crew was wonderful to people with canes,walkers and wheelchairs. There are 13 steps to get down to the tender from the ship. That night at the DR was a disaster. We went to the Skyline for dinner. The Prime rib again tasted steamed and had no flavor. First cruise where I left the DR hungry. I was offered another choice but when my meal is spoiled I don't want anything else. The DR manager came over and he was very nice and offered us a meal in one the pay restaurants so we could see how the food was in the "better restaurants. I explained that I shouldn't have to pay to get good food ." "I'm already paying for the food" He asked if we had tried the "Pay" restaurants and we told him we had eaten at the East Meets West and that the food was good. I turned down his offer but my sister wanted to go . She felt that his gesture was genuine and that we should go. I will tell you later about that. That night the show was Oh What A Night , a tribute to Frankie Valle, What a great show. They also had The Perfect Couple and The White Hot Party. Both also a lot of fun. Thurs. 4/05 Kauai, In the morning we explored Kauai on our own. We took the shuttle over to the shopping center, went to the beach by there and enjoyed the day. That night we went to Smith's Luau. Not the ship sponsored Luau. There were about 400 people at this one versus 1400 to 1500 at the ship's . What a great place. The food and entertainment was fabulous. They made you feel at home. Many animals, gardens and music. We saw the pig in the Imu and then unearthed. There also was a new goat born while we were there. Fri 4/06 We went to Waimea Canyon 7am to 12:30 pm. What a beautiful place. Back on the ship we went to the Jefferson Bistro for dinner that was given to us by the Dr manager. The food was unbelievable and our reservation was as we passed the Napali Coast so it was nice to be where we were. Sat 4/07 we disembarked. It went very smoothly. We left at 8 am because we were going to Pearl Harbor. What a beautiful place and very touching. From there we went on a tour of the island and then we went back to Ohana East to stay in Hawaii for 4 more days. That night we went to the Sheraton for the Crab legs and Prime rib dinner and then to the Society of Seven show . Both of which were fabulous. Sun. 4/08 We shopped and went to the beach for 4 hours then that night we went to the Illusionist show . It was alright. The food was not so good. On Monday 4/09 We went the Polynesian Cultural Center from 11:45 to 9pm. What a beautiful place. The dinner was great and the show was very touching. Tues. 4/10 We took the Grand Circle Tour because we didn't have a flight until 10:50 pm . Then we flew home. Overall The trip was nice , the tours were good, but the ship was not my favorite and the food well everyone has their own taste. I like to eat but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
The people of Hawaii treat each other, their visitors and their country with love and respect. On September 25 my daughter-in-law and two friends set out for a seven day cruise in Hawaii. After a one day flight delay aboard American ... Read More
The people of Hawaii treat each other, their visitors and their country with love and respect. On September 25 my daughter-in-law and two friends set out for a seven day cruise in Hawaii. After a one day flight delay aboard American Airlines we boarded NCL's Pride of America on September 26, 2010. This ship began a seven day cruise, in Honolulu to four Hawaiian islands; Kahului (Maui), Hilo and Kona (on the Big Island and Nawliwili (Kauai). Let me backtrack the first night of our cruise September 25 was actually spent in the Makena Resort on Maui because, as I stated earlier, our flight was delayed and instead of boarding the ship in Honolulu we were flown to Maui and boarded the ship there. The ship was beautiful and clean. I had heard beforehand that the crew aboard the only American ship in NCL'S fleet were not as gracious as the crew aboard other NCL ships, I did not find that to be true. The crew on Pride of America was wonderful, everywhere we went everyone was friendly and courteous. My cabin steward Errol was so pleasant and responded to every request with courtesy and timeliness, I even became friendly with the cabin steward in the next section, because I would pass her everyday in the hall and on my last night there she gave me a postcard with dolphins on it to remind me to remember Hawaii with a smile. I thought that was kind of her, her name was Lula. As far as the transportation and shore excursions go. I only did one excursion with NCL and that was the glass bottom boat because NCL shore excursions are too pricey. I read other reviews before I went to Hawaii and contacted Roberts Hawaii at gorabbitgo.com and booked my airport to pier and back transfers thru them because they only charge six dollars and NCL charges twenty dollars for the same bus ride in the same coach buses. They also offer great deals on shore excursions. In Maui we met Reynolds who has a SUV taxi and we booked our Road to Hana tour with him; we chose this instead of renting a car because that road has about a hundred curves some of them are very narrow and we preferred to let an expert handle that driving. If you go to Maui that tour is a must, you will see the beauty that is Hawaii. Hawaii has all types of shuttles taxis and tour buses. You can also rent your own car if you like because at Maui and Kauai the ship is docked for two days. Because Hawaii is so beautiful and there is so much to see we didn't spend a lot of time onboard the ship, but I did manage to get to the pool every morning and have breakfast which was good. My one complaint about the pool and the area surrounding it, is it is not large enough to accomodate the close to three thousand people that are on the ship and when the children arrive they just take over and you cannot enjoy the pool at all because they are throwing the ball and hitting folks in the head. Also there are not enough poolside lounge chairs.......just saying. There was a Hawaiian couple who taught us all things Hawaiian. Some days we were taught to make different types of leis, including an orchid lei and one evening the lady (or wahina) taught us the history of Hawaii which was interesting for me because I am a history buff. The food was pretty good, I didn't try any of the specialty restaurants this time but I did eat in the dining room every night and the food was delicious and I ate at the Cadillac Cafe a couple of times, I like it there because they serve comfort food. Wednesday night NCL hosted the Hot White party in the Mardi Gras lounge which was fun and Thursday was the luau. Now I didn't go to the NCL and I'm glad I didn't because everyone complained that the food was horrible. I didn't go because some reviewers said the food was horrible. I chose Smith Tropical Paradise for my party's luau and it was wonderful. The food was very good, except for the purple sweet potato and the show was outstanding. One thing I observed about Hawaii the people of Hawaii are very proud of their country and they keep it very clean. I didn't see a scrap of paper or broken glass anywhere and they host thousands of tourists everyday but they kepp that place clean. I enjoyed sailing past the erupting volcano and the Na Poli coast was awesome. So that was my experience and I gotta tell you I love Hawaii, the Hawaiian people were wonderful and I can't wait to go back. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Hawaii on NCL Pride of America September 9-19,2009 This is a summary of the detailed review below of our cruise/land arrangements to Hawaii September 9-19, 2009. We flew through Denver per travel agent advice via United Air and the flight ... Read More
Hawaii on NCL Pride of America September 9-19,2009 This is a summary of the detailed review below of our cruise/land arrangements to Hawaii September 9-19, 2009. We flew through Denver per travel agent advice via United Air and the flight was uneventful. We spent the first two days on Oahu, staying at the Sheraton Waikiki, a wonderful hotel, perfectly located, (newly renovated/updated) in our opinion, an upgrade to our tour package, for a modest price. Our land arrangements those days were through Globus and could not have been better. We sailed NCL's Pride of America and, particularly, given the fact that it is the only ship now working the Hawaiian islands, the cruise was fantastic. The crew was courteous and responsive and in one instance, a crew member actually argued with us over an additional tip we wished to give. (This is an American flagged ship and I was led to believe the crew is union with full benefits, unlike some other flagged vessels, so that tipping is "discouraged".) You should note that a daily "tip" of about $10-11, if I remember correctly, is included in your bill and unfortunately labeled as "discretionary", which means that where it goes is up to NCL, not you, a fact that escaped some people on the boat who complained incessantly about it. (There were some nights I questioned the quality of the cruisers, not the crew!) The ports of call were awesome, the weather was perfect, and our tour selection worked out wonderfully. We would heartily recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to sample the Hawaiian islands without packing and unpacking. Our only regret is that we did not tack on an extra day or two at the end to spend a little more time on Oahu and in Honolulu. For more detail, read on. September 9, 2009 We booked this trip (land/cruise) through a travel agent. She recommended Globus to arrange the details on Oahu. Seven in our group, all adults, no children. Flew United Air through Denver to Honolulu. Flight was full. Met by Globus representative at Honolulu Intl. Airport. Friendly, courteous greeting. Everyone got a Lei. A Globus van (they use Roberts for all transportation) took us to the Sheraton Waikiki, (we upgraded from package to be on the beach and we were glad we did), still going through extensive exterior remodeling. Interior had been completed, together with new infinity pool (adults only but another bigger pool for families) which was wonderful. Working on exterior when we departed. Fast check in. Clipboarded assistants in spacious lobby to answer questions of the hotel. Assigned room 1158. Fabulous view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach from our room and balcony. Rushed downstairs for warm weather and exploration of the beach. Walked over to legendary Duke's, right on the beach, for lunch and sat on the patio. Courteous and friendly staff. 3 piece combo played happy hour music. Food good but typical of a bar/restaurant setting. Evening stroll through downtown Honolulu. Lots of shopping. Plenty of ABC stores, like convenience stores, but more upscale. Stopped in Rum Fire bar on our return to the Hotel. (Rachel Ray just did a piece on it on Food Network.) Great, open air, bar with 101 rums. Music and drink ended our first wonderful day even with the travel. September 10, 2009 Breakfast buffet in Sheraton's Kai Restaurant was wonderful: eggs, cheeses, cereal, fruit, bacon, sausages - just everything. Our waitress, Moni (Linda) was terrific and we asked for her each morning. She would give us tips on things to do and what we could expect. We walked to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, which you book if you don't upgrade, for our first tour. There we were met by Debbi, the Globus representative, who was just awesome. She went over our arrangements, gave us her cell phone number, told us things to do and what to avoid. I have never seen anything like it - she was just extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Travelled by bus from there to Pearl Harbor stopped several times for pick ups at other hotels. Bus driver, William, very knowledgeable. Got great exposure to greater Honolulu. At Pearl Harbor Debbi had warned us no bags, packages, purses etc allowed in. Must be able to fit items in pockets. Moving tour of Pearl. After video, launch takes you from shore to Memorial. You are asked to treat the area with the respect accorded a graveyard. Battleship Missouri is parked behind Memorial but not accessible from tour. Left Pearl and went to Ulani Palace, City Hall, Government offices. Returned to hotel for day at the pool/beach and some shopping in Honolulu by ladies. Evening dinner buffet at hotel, again wonderful selection, hot food. Walked over to Outrigger Waikiki Hotel to see Society of Seven cabaret show where Debbi met us. Entertaining show, but not very long, about an hour. Returned to our hotel and had a drink at the bar on the top floor. Another great day. September 11, 2009 Picked up a rental van through Budget with pick up within walking distance of our hotel to drive to Diamond Head and the country side. Got a nice Dodge van seating 7. We climbed Diamond Head. The climb is rigorous but non-experienced hikers can do it if they take it easy. Go early as it gets very hot during the climb. Trails form the initial part of the climb, mostly paved. Then you traverse about 280 steps. The access winds around at the top with a spiral staircase which is a little daunting. The observation areas at top are crowded. (We get 2 cell calls up here, one from a friend back home and the other a wrong number!) The wind up there that day was somewhat disconcerting/scary. The views are spectacular, especially that of Honolulu. After that we met Bridget, a cousin of one of our group, and headed to the Dole Plantation and the North Shore of Oahu. The Plantation is really nothing special and we could have skipped it. The Pineapple Express was a somewhat interesting tour of the plantation. However, pineapples are not grown on Hawaii to any large extent anymore and Dole does not use the plantation as a principal growth farm. The Plantation has a large gift shop so its mostly commercialized, tourist stuff. After Dole we continue toward the North Shore and stop at a small restaurant/shopping area. There are a couple of restaurants there and we opt for Breakers where we have a nice lunch of mostly mainland-style bar food. Then we head to Wiamea Valley Park. We get there just before the swimming is to end at Wiamea Falls and run/walk (kind of like Amazing Race) to get back to the Falls before closure at 5 p.m. There is a fee to get in but it was pretty modest due to the late hour. The vegetation is fabulous. The Park was used for several movies, including Jurassic Park. We brought our towels to swim at the Falls. We arrive to find the lifeguards still on duty and we ask if we can just have a quick swim. They are very friendly and say we have plenty of time another 20-30 minutes. Everyone grabs a "kick board" and in we go. A lot of fun swimming up to the Falls and standing under them. Friends who don't join us take pictures from the shore. We are very grateful toward the life guards for the opportunity. From there we drive to the North Shore to catch the sunset, going past the popular Jamison's which is right on the water. The North Shore waves are fabulous and we stop to stand on the beach to watch the sunset and take pictures. It's beautiful and a lot of locals are gathered around with us to watch the end of the day and finish up surfing in the twilight. We return to Honolulu and try to get into the Yard House to eat but it's an hour wait so we eat outside, which everyone liked better anyway, at the outdoor bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel next to the Sheraton, a great way to end another great day. September 12, 2009 We spent the morning at the Hotel pool. The Roberts bus came to the hotel to pick us up for transfer to the dock. Debbi was there to see us off and wish us well. The driver was a little goofy, trying to be funny, and had a language issue. After several stops we arrived at the pier. We took our bags over to a loading area and they were quickly taken away. Check in was very smooth, but the line was long. Disappointing that the embarkation pictures only allowed 4 at a time. We wanted our 7 but once we saw the cost, probably would not have gotten one anyway. The staff on the ship were friendly and courteous. When we get to our room's deck (Cabin 9518, portside, forward, balcony) the luggage was lined up in the hallway for all cabins in our area. We helped ourselves to our own. The cabin was very nice with much in the way of storage areas with a fridge, a small safe (big enough for some jewelry, wallets and small cameras) and small desk area and loveseat. The balcony was spacious with a regular deck chair with high back and a chaise lounge that I napped on one afternoon after an early tour. The room had some leftover trash in the can and a bottle opener that needed some cleaning but all else was very nicely made up. (We later learned that the staff has 2 hours to turn around all the cabins on the day of departure.) We ate in the more formal large dining room, the Liberty, which we found a little to "stuffy" for us. The food that first evening was fair to good. The wait staff was pleasant but a little overwhelmed. After dinner, we checked out the shopping, had a drink in the Key West Grill and then headed to our cabin to finish unpacking and to get some rest. September 13, 2009 The ship arrived in Maui and the approach to the dock was beautiful. We got a shuttle to the Alamo car rental facility. Were told at the desk that the last shuttle returned to the pier by 9 p.m. We had a date at the Old Lahaina Luau that might run over. But you can get a cab that will call for you from the nearby airport about 10 mins. away to take you back to the ship if you miss the shuttle. Things went well at Alamo. They offer a GPS for $11 but we brought our own from home (it's great as a handheld walking pathfinder). The drive to Lahaina was very nice. We stopped at the first scenic overlook and spoke to some "free divers" with spear guns. We also visited the Black Sand beach. In Lahaina we took in the shopping and ate at Lahaina Fish Co./Hammerheads Bar and had a great lunch. We next stopped at a nearby Black Beach and then went to Black Rock near the Sheraton just north of Lahaina. Did some ocean bathing on a beautiful day. Changing room there allowed all to change prior to Luau. We headed back to Lahaina and stopped at Whaler's Village so that the shoppers could shop. The guys found a place at the bar at Leilani's on the Beach, in Whaler's Village, which was beautiful and the bartenders great and had a few while watching the NFL games. Proceeded to Lahaina for the Old Lahaina Luau which was very nice. The wait staff was extremely pleasant and the food good (except for the poi which was the "runny-tourist version". Plenty of alcoholic drinks for the price. The show was very good. We got back to Alamo around 9:30 and the shuttle was still there and the driver promised he would wait for us. We quickly turned in our vehicle and were back on board the ship by 10 p.m. for a nightcap. September 14, 2009 Up at 2:15 a.m. for our tour to take us to Haleakala to see the sunrise. We are told by one couple that this is their third attempt to see it. Each time before the cloud cover was too great. Spouse takes her coat. I wear 100 weight fleece with wicking garment underneath and long pants. We both wear knit hats and gloves. Each of us has a flashlight. It's cold, but not too cold. Temp is around 50 degrees. Jim, our tour driver is very nice and informative. He really respects what we are about to see. Our tour bus holds about 20. We have 17. There are buns, coffee and hot chocolate on the bus if we want to wait until the last minute to get to observation area. DON'T WAIT - head right for the observation area if you can. We waited for 5:30 when the visitor center opened. We go through it to a spot outside the visitor center. People scramble for best observation/photography spot. Some are so rude. They want to stand right in front of us but we ask them to move away and most do so without saying anything. Predawn is awesome but at 6:06 a.m. the sun comes up and it is fabulous. It is only partly cloudy and in the crater below us float hundreds of clouds. It is a fantastic sight. Jim brings us back down the mountain and we stop at a couple of observation points and then a snack/souvenir stand. We get back to the ship at about 9:30 or 10 a.m. and get some breakfast and just chill for the ship is sailing in the afternoon. That night we eat in the Skyline dining room. It is the "free style" dining room and any reasonable attire is permitted. Things are busy and we have a good meal with good, courteous wait staff. We did not eat in any of the "cover" restaurants. We felt it unnecessary to pay additional money to have our meals and we enjoyed being together at a big table with good food, not gourmet or overly fancy. In the mornings we took our breakfast from the Aloha cafe on the fantail of the ship. You get your food inside and can enjoy the wonderful, bug free, weather sitting outside on Deck 12. September 15, 2009 We had some excitement. Two travelers were taken off our ship with "intestinal disorder". The ship went into its "service mode" which meant that all buffet food service areas are "masked" with plastic wrap and you may not serve yourself - only the staff may serve you. This is in response to the H1N1 threat. The possibility of a higher required response level from the ship was confirmed by one of our friends who travelled with us and worked for U.S. Health and Human Services. Although an inconvenience, we felt it better to be safe than sorry. Everyone still got the same amount of food and the servers were very, very pleasant. Today is the "Secrets of Puna" tour. We have made a lot of jokes about the name amongst ourselves but by the end of the day we will have taken one of the most fabulous tours of any we have ever been on. The tour is booked through the ship with Kapohokine Tours. When we get off the ship our 7 are together and ready to go. April claims us as her group and brings her Lincoln Navigator, which sat us all comfortably, around to pick us up and off we go. We immediately hit it off with her. She is knowledgeable, attractive and has a great personality. The women adore her, especially as the mother of 3. She says she lives on a ranch near Kilauea Volcano. She tells us we have the first clear, beautiful day in quite some time. We stop at the "painted church" which has beautiful interior painting. It's the church of Father Damian whose statute sits outside the state office building in Honolulu. A little odd in light of church/state separation but he is recognized as someone who helped everyone, no matter what their religious affiliation, belief or lack thereof. Across the street is the Noni Factory, a homeopathic remedy that we try but I don't care for. No one buys any. We next visit the Kapaluna lava flow area. Breathtaking with steam rising off in the distance from an active lava flow from Kilauea. In the car, April gives us something to read and we listen to a CD describing the devastation of the town that was once there when Kilauea erupted years ago. Walking on the cooled lava flow at Kapaluna is awesome. Next we head to Mackenzie Park for some fabulous views of the Ocean. Then on to Puna Girl Ranch to view the ranch's floral offerings and enjoy the view at a gazebo dedicated exclusively to our tour and lunch. Another tour group from the same company is there with us. We have Macadamia nuts (all you can eat, still in the shell) and a wonderful lunch of Huli chicken, beer, mimosas and vegetables all freshly cooked on the grill by our tour people and the ranch owner. We are taken next to a Black Sand beach where there is loose Peridot to be found. The women are fascinated as April helps them find the semi-precious gem bits. We tear ourselves away and proceed to a roadside stand that sells white pineapple and stopped to buy some. Then we travelled to Lava Tree State Park and saw some of the plant life that was affected by lava flows. We end the day with swimming and snorkeling (they supplied snorkels, masks and water shoes) in a lagoon not far from the ship's dock. It is fed by a spring and the ocean so the water was both warm in spots and chilly in others but it felt great. That night we established our "spot" at the Waikiki Bar, Deck 13, on the fantail of the ship, always our favorite spot, and Jennifer, our server, who was simply fabulous, made sure our drinks kept coming while we whiled away the evening prior to dinner. After dinner, the ship sailed past the Kilauea lava flow and it was fabulous (although pictures were hard to get because of the movement and the distance at night) but even better was when the Captain turned out the lights on deck and we could see all the stars. What a terrific experience. September 16, 2009 Our first tender port is Kona. The tendering over goes smoothly. At the dock I use my GPS to get our bearings and navigate a walk. (It is really hard to get a car rental in Kona, you have to book WAY in advance and the car rental area is not near the tender dock.) Really, there is not much opportunity to get lost. Getting off the tender and turning right from the dock onto the main street there is a small beach immediately next to the pier with no one on it. It is a nice beach but not fantastic. Certainly you could sun there if you wanted. The shopping along the main street is okay but nothing terribly fancy. There are a number of bars and restaurants. Some of the merchants seem anxious for customers. After walking through the downtown area we journey up a hill to Hilo Hatties (a big upscale souvenir chain in Hawaii) for some souvenirs and they are very gracious about the use of the bathrooms. They hand out some free shell necklaces which is a nice touch. After Hilo Hatties we walk over to Kona Brewing Co. to tour the brewery. You have to sign up when you arrive at the brewery as they won't take any more than 8 or 9 at a time. There is also a nice restaurant there. We get a sampler of some of the beers. All beer at that brewery stays on the islands according to Randy, our tour leader. Kona beers for the west coast and east coast are brewed in Oregon and New Hampshire, respectively, by recipe. This "contract brewing" goes on with many smaller brands of beer. Melissa, our waitress is very nice. After a filling lunch (the portions are huge) those of us who want to take the tour do so. Very interesting with some free samples at the end. No charge for the tour which takes about 45 minutes. The day is hot and we decide to return to the ship which will be leaving on an early departure. The tender line is somewhat long but moves very quickly and we are joking with some of the passengers so things move along nicely. The tender crew compliments everyone for cooperating to keep things moving. That afternoon we remain at the Waikiki Bar playing card games and enjoying the weather. That night we visit the Lanai Martini Bar, one of the favorite places for us on the boat, Deck 12 forward, I think. It is richly paneled like a New York establishment and that night they have half price "specials" on certain martinis. (This happened almost every night, during certain hours, in an attempt to get cruisers to use this "hidden gem".) September 17, 2009 Today's port is Kauai the scene of our Heaven and Earth tour through Sunshine Helicopters. The helo rides are seat assigned by weight and don't be offended because my spouse found they add ten pounds to everyone's "stated" weight. (You have to turn in a form at the excursion desk on the ship with that information on it.) Unfortunately, and to the dismay of my spouse, because we are lighter than most, we are separated from our friends and placed in another group with "Domi" as a tour leader. In the end, this worked for the best since it kept those who really needed to stay together, together. Our helo ride is set for first thing in the a.m. Our friends are doing the "earth" part of the tour first and flying later on. (The helo flights take place all day long.) In the end, we could have just settled for the helo ride, which was fabulous. The earth part was longer than we would have liked and somewhat unusual, but fun, thanks to Domi. Steve Schaefer is our pilot. (They operate two choppers and that day the other was flown by the company owner's son.) Boarding is by a set procedure they use and is easy. There are 8 of us. Steve advises that he has flown for and with many movie stars, was a Blackhawk pilot in Vietnam and the island's only ordained pilot/minister. He recently flew a couple in the reality show The Bachelorette, he says, and could have recently married a couple on the show (remember Reed, he says?) but the bachelor got jilted. Steve's voice is very smooth. He points out the camera in the helicopter which is recording us from the inside. (There is also at least one external camera.) Steve backs us off the landing pad for a just awesome flight covering almost the entire island: new Marriott development near the docks, Na Pali Coast, the valleys and falls and mountains (we can see the other chopper up ahead), Barking Sand Beach, all with running commentary (we can hear him through our headsets but cannot talk to him) about the island. The flight is just great and passes quickly and we are soon on the ground after about 45 minutes. From there Domi takes us to the "headquarters" of the tour operator where you can buy T shirts and other souvenirs as well as a DVD of the flight, which we bought and thoroughly enjoyed although my spouse and I laughed at the way we looked on the cockpit camera. (We sat right in front with Steve.) Domi then takes on the earth part of the island tour. We catch the Falls, the lighthouse, the Secret Beach (there is no one there and it is beautiful!) and the homes of Stallone and Willis (yes, the celebrities' Hawaiian villas, and we only pass by - no stopping). Domi also takes us to his home and shows us his pet pig "Omar". We have lunch with Subway sandwiches (so much for island cuisine) at park nearby the Stallone and Willis locations and then Domi makes us sing and shows us how to perform the hula. Our friends enjoyed their experience on their tour but may have seen less than us. We pass several golf courses on the way back to the ship. A warning that when the sun is out it is very hot and I would have not enjoyed a golf excursion, personally, unless it was very early in the morning. We are back to the ship in the late afternoon and get some dinner. Steve's (our pilot's) son is the bar tender at another Duke's located on the island about a 10-15 minute walk from the pier, just behind a small strip mall, next to the Marriott, (past Nawiliwili Park) and his son in law is the manager. We walk over to have a drink without our friends who are too tired. The walk is okay but somewhat dark but we have flashlights and no one bothers us going or coming even though we run into some young people hanging out. At Duke's we sit at the open air bar on the beach and enjoy the final moments of our day out. September 18 We went to the beach in front of Duke's and the Marriott today before our ship sailed. A nice sandy, hot beach. There was a rental stand there to get some chairs and, if you wanted two attached chaises with an umbrella in between. The beach chairs were great, practically brand new. The beach was clean, with a shaded grassy area behind it, and had a smooth bottom, no water shoes needed here. We stopped at the strip mall to do some shopping. Again the ubiquitous ABC store was encountered but there were some nicer shops as well. That evening the ship took us along the Na Pali Coast, turned around and sailed back down it to return to Oahu. What a sight of the cliffs in the setting sun! Just breathtaking. It was very windy on deck so we retreated for our nightcaps to the Lanai Martini Bar where our wonderful server, Valerie, took care of us. (By the way, the ship's officer in charge of all the ship's bars, stopped to visit with us one night and asked for some suggestions to get more travelers into the newly revamped Lanai. Following our conversation he "comped" us! What a charming guy!) September 19, 2009 We returned to Oahu this morning. Our plane is leaving late and we are very sad to have to go. The trip has been wonderful. Our agent suggested renting a van, touring the island somewhat, and then returning to an inexpensive room in a hotel near the car rental location where we could use the bathroom and freshen up. We used National Car Rental and took a room at the nearby Best Western, within walking distance of the car rental location, and that worked out great. Our van, again, was a very nice one, same as before, and off we went to explore the southeast coast of the island. First stop was Hanauma Bay. You had to pay to use the beach but the parking area is just a dollar and the paths provide a fabulous view of the Bay. The next stop was the Halona Blow Hole with great views of the coast. We drove up the coast for awhile looking for a place to eat and stumbled upon the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens. What a find! It's a little off the beaten track, you have to enter through a residential neighborhood, and the sign for the place is small and comes up quickly but it is absolutely gorgeous. With over 400 acres there is plenty to see. And there was a Hawaiian wedding there that day as well which was fascinating! We took H3 down to Park Ridge Center still in search of lunch, nothing appealed to us, when we realized there was an air show going on after one of the jets thundered right overhead. From there we jumped back on the causeway to our digs - deciding to get some snacks, beer and wine while we waited to leave for the airport. The hotel shuttle took us for the 10 min. ride to the airport and we were on our way back home via United Air. What a great, fabulous trip. We would recommend this cruise to anyone, but be sure you do your planning. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009

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