our family went on the star 7/13-7/20. it was a wonderful cruise, probably the best cruise we have ever been on. we cruised with our14 year old daughter and my parents, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. i will split this review into a couple of different post.
my husband, daughter and i arrived 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the hilton hawaiian village. we rented a car through hertz as they have a rental site on the hotel and we were able to drop the car off there on sunday morning. we arrived on friday afternoon and checked into the hotel which is very lovely. within 30 minutes we were at the snack bar and beach. we were really hungry and then realized that there was a 4 hr. difference in the time and it was near the time we eat dinner. the beach was great and the pool was large. that night we went to the aloha friday king's jubilee & fireworks. then we went shopping at the markets around the hotel and bought cokes at abc and some other treats. as many people have mentioned food is expensive at the hilton. a large coke my daughter ordered on the beach was $3.50. hence the trip to abc for $2.99 a six pack. there was a fridge in the room. the time change really caught up with my daughter and husband and by 8:45 they were sound asleep. the next day we got up early as my daughter was going surfing.
&nb sp; someone off the aol boards recommended this great surfing teacher. http://www.isurfwaikiki.com roger was great. he picked us up at the hotel and then took us to waikiki. he gave mallory and hour + lesson for $35.00. she stood up on her first try and was immediately hooked. we booked a lesson for the next morning. there was a surfing contest going on so she liked buying the local t-shirts and rash protectors. they also have photographers taking pictures so she got a picture of her eventful day. i tried to video tape, but the surfers were far out and hard to pick out who was who.
that afternoon we had lunch at dukes which was located down the beach. it was a great place to eat and they had really neat t-shirts. after lunch we headed out to hanuma bay and snorkeled. we did not get there until after 3:00 pm so the crowds had thinned out. there were lots of fish but also rough waves. we really had to swim to see the fish. i had been here 10 years ago and was surprised that the number of fish was not as great as i remember. also people were no longer allowed to feed the fish. it was a fun day and we arrived back at the hotel, tired and hungry. we ate dinner that night at the golden dragon. the food was wonderful. another plus for the hilton is the entertainment that is around the hotel. nearly every bar or lobby had live entertainment.
we got back to our room to find a note from ncl that they would pick up our luggage at 10:00 the next morning and take it to the pier. the room had an iron/ironing board so i was able to press some of the clothes that got wrinkled on the flight over. i had brought a thin hang-up bag and was able to carry on pressed clothes to the ship. a word of warning. i had planned to do a small amount of laundry at the hilton. they have no guest laundries. i ended up going to a nearby small motel that had machines in the parking garage.
mallory went to her next surfing lesson on sunday. we got back to the hotel around 9:30 she showered and went back to sleep. we didn't have to check out until 2:00 pm. (join hilton honors or ask for late check-out) we got on the ncl bus from the hotel to the pier and after a 20 min ride we were checking in on the ship.
there were hundreds of people checking in at 3:00 pm. our latitudes membership saved us from waiting in the really long line. soon we were on-board and in our room. my parents had come in from dfw and were all ready on board. we had a quick lunch in the market place (not the best place for lunch) and headed for the pool area. my daughter was in the pool and having a great time.
that evening we had dinner at versailles. mallory went to the teen program which started at 10:00 pm. they were given a permission slip to have signed by their parents and told to be back at 11:00 pm. by 10:30 pm she was sound asleep.
today we visited hilo and the volcano. this is a very quick day. my parents took a helicopter tour that they book through http://tombarefoot.com/hawaii/heli_bigisle.html. they enjoyed this very much and were given a tape. they were also dropped off at hilo hattie and walked over the wal-mart and then took the shuttle back to the ship. we took a tour with sharks tours. it was ok. we were picked up at 8:00 am and went straight to volcano national park. this is a drive. we saw the visitors center, thurston lava tubes, etc. the guide was very nice. we were unable to see the lava as it was 1 â½ miles. my husband said he wished we had gone straight there. my parents saw lava in the helicopter. the price for the tour was $60 hr and we were there for 4 hours. i know we saw more than we would have on the ship tour but it is a let down not to be able to see the lava flow. we returned to the ship and began our trek to fanning island.
that afternoon my family went to the hula lessons and the lei making class. this was wonderful. the hawaiian ambassador who hawaiian name is longer than a line and goes by the name of june is one of the best people they have working on the ship. other great people were james deering and patti the cruise director.
tuesday was a day at sea and this is the first time we have sailed that we didnâ€™t spend a fortune in the spa on this day. june had plenty of actives to keep us busy. my daughter along with many other teens attended all of june activities. as she said she would rather learn hula and make leis than fix pizza. we also played bingo and went to james deering wine tasting. we actually had lots of fun and were not board. that night we ate in soho. this was wonderful. the wait staff was very good and the schezwan filet was unbelievable. we also enjoyed both the piano players in gatsby. mt husband liked the cigar room havanaâ€™s. we went to the late show which was super. overall it was a great day.
a word of warning
shore excursions book up very fast. many were booked before we ever got on the ship. my father waited in a long line on sunday to book his golf tour on kauai. you could not book this until you got to the ship. my daughter wanted to surf in maui and it was full. i posted at least 3 different posts on these boards to ask about this excursion and no one knew anything about it nor had anyone who had taken it. so if you want an excursion book ahead.
wed. fanning island
we arrived at fanning island on one of the early tenders thanks to me. deering placing us on the vip list. my daughter was in the hula class and we didnâ€™t leave until the lessons were over. (she became addicted to the hawaiian culture info "being at lessons at 8:00 am) the tender was a short ride to the island. it was like you had stepped back in time. upon our arrival there were a group of adults singing as we walked down the dock to the island. we had purchased gifts for the children and after finding a table to put our beach stuff we headed for the straw market. we bought several necklaces and my 14 year old daughter enjoyed giving the gifts to the children.
the kids we so sweet and cheerful. they liked anything you gave them. we took about 20 small trucks that we bought at big lots. the boys loved these. there are two trucks on the island so they kids knew what they were. we had also taken lip gloss and finger nail polish to give to the teen age girls. mallory did not find very many teenagers, but the grandmothers really loved the finger nail polish. another big hit was the blow up beach balls we took. everyone loved these. we only had a few but plastic rings that you find at the party store but they were very popular. i wished we would have brought more of these. we commented riding back on the tender we could have brought our old madi gras beads. it is recommended you do not give candy as there are no dentists. once you see the adults you will know there is no dentist. also there were a lot more babies than i thought. someone had brought balloons and as a former preschool teacher i cringed every time i saw a small child, teething, biting or sucking on a balloon. they are so dangerous and can get sucked down your windpipe and kill small children. i wished we had bought rattles, teething rings and even some baby clothes. most residence do not wear shoes so there is no point in baby shoes. they children always say thank you and are not greedy. we have been on many cruises and my daughter thought this was the best shore excursion or best place she had ever visited. it is such a life changing experience. since they have no electricity the wash by way of boiling their clothes. ncl offered them electricity and they said no they have nothing that needs it. she was amazed at everything they did.
other activities on the island were adults doing native dancesâ€"they never stopped the entire time we were there. also there are beautiful beaches and swimming. yes there are some flies but we have flies in el paso. there are lots of dogs on in island. we saw no cats but others said they did. ncl had a wonderful bbq lunch and fresh baked pizza. they also provided lots of cold water in coolers. you were not expected to by ncl bottled water. a word of warning is to apply sunscreen before you leave the star and then again when you are on the island. you are so near the equator that you burn easily. even my daughter who was very tan, checks got red, not to mention my husbandâ€™s shoulders. we took one of the last tenders off the island. it is a place i will never forget and would like to go back in 5 years or so to see how things have changed. be sure to attend mr. deering talk on fanning island. if you miss it you can see it on tv.
thursday was another day at sea. much like tuesday. my daughter did hula lessons in the morning and they had a show in the afternoon. she had a tattoo done by the team of polynesian dancers and went to the fashion show on how to tie sarongs. the entertainers are all young and very very nice. she went to another class with june and made a bandana. later in the evening we went to the polynesian show and then dinner at le bistro where we celebrated my parentâ€™s 50th anniversary. the dinner was very good. i had purchased an anniversary package for them and it included, dinner, wine and photo which they did the package. we had a wonderful time.
the ship was supposed to arrive in maui by 1:00 pm. many people had booked cars, and planned excursions. the ship was finally cleared around 2:30 pm. we finally got off at 3:00 and had to be back by 9:00. when we boarded the star on sun. there was a golf excursion to the dune at maui. the excursion cost $199 and included club rentals, golf balls and a drink. before leaving texas my dad had booked a round of golf at the same course for $43. after two it is twilight rates. he and my husband took a taxi which cost the $10. the course is very close to the ship. they brought their own clubs and thought the golf was ok for the price they paid. the course is only three years old and by the time they got started the drink girl was off for the afternoon. they were not happy with this. since they didnâ€™t start playing until nearly 3:00 they didnâ€™t finish all 18 holes before it got dark. the skipped one hole and missed another when it got dark. they said they would have been really been upset if they had paid $199. http://www.dunesatmauilani.com/frames_golf/frame_golf.html
http://www.teetimeshawaii.com/maui_dunes.html (cheaper at this site)
my mom, daughter and i rented a car from thrifty (i would recommend budget or alamo as we saw twice as many of their buses at the pier. it took two calls to get thrifty to come.) we then headed for lahania. we left the airport at 3:30 and there was a major traffic jam and a small brush fire. it took nearly 2 hrs. to get to lahania. we were running around like crazy as were other people from the ship. the ships bus to get to lahania is $20 per person. the rent car was $32. several people we saw shopping said their tours were cancelled at 2:00 pm. they assume it was because we were so late getting in. the rent car said the people off the ship had been late the last few weeks. anyway my suggestion is if you are late to skip going to lahania. shop in the town near the ship. there are many stores and a big k. a place we wanted to stop but didnâ€™t have enough time. another suggestion is the ships luau at the sheraton. people who attended said it was wonderful the food was great and the entertainment was even better. we got back on the ship we had dinner in versailles. my daughter went to the karaoke bar and sang in one of their private rooms. overall had i not been to maui before i would have been really upset. my daughter wanted to surf and by the time we got down to where she could it was so lateâ€"she decided to blow it off because she wanted to shop. then she heard when she got back to the ship that the surfs up was cancelled because there were no waves.
kauai was great. it more than made up for maui. my father and husband took the ships golf tour and played at the marriottâ€™s lagoon course. they said the course was wonderful and well worth their money. my mom, daughter and i went on the movie tour. http://www.hawaiimovietour.com we purchased it through http://tombarefoot.com/kauai/activities_kauai.html (this was cheaper). we saw so much of the island. they picked us up at the pier and dropped us off at the beach and stores near the ship. my daughter who wore her swim suit jumped in the water several times. the lunch was great and at a lovely beach. i would recommend this to anyone who was on the ship. there were many excursions on the ship which looked good. once again sign up early as they were booked.
after the tour we were dropped off at a group of stores that was within walking distance of the beach. my daughter went to the beach and we rented a boogie board for an hour. you could also surf but the board rentals are for the day. she loved the boogie board as the waves were breaking close to shore and you could just ride in. also there were huge sea turtles ---as big as her boogie board that you could see. this was a wonderful day and we all came home with great memories and were dead tired. we had to pack tonight. once again thanks to mr. deering for getting us vip embarkation tickets. we were off the ship by 9:00 am on sunday. anyone who wanted to carry their own luggage out could have gotten off by 7:30.
this was the easiest day we had in ever leaving the ship. we got off the ship and headed for our hertz rent car at the airport. we had rented a van which was nice and went straight to pearl harbor. there was a 2 hr. wait after we got our tickets but we went to aloha stadium very near by and shopped. great pricesâ€"10 t-shirts for $20. towels $3 lots of shell/ hawaiian jewelry. our two hours went fast and then we did our tour. it takes about 75 minutes to do pearl harbor. we all had been there before except our daughter and it was still interesting. our daughter really liked it mainly she knew lots about it from the movie pearl harbor. we stopped to get something to eat, drove by punchbowl and my mom to make one last trip to the abc store. she wanted to buy their macadamia nut liquor. we dropped them back off at the airport and headed back to hilo hattieâ€™ s. this is their flagship store and is huge. there is a back room where things are marked down really cheap. we drove around and then turned in our rent car to get our 10:15 flight back to phoenix. we slept all the way home.
overall this was the best cruise vacation we have ever been on. the people of hawaii are so nice. each port we sailed into had people greeting us, music and dancing. it was a wonderful trip and one we will not soon forget. we will probably go again when the pride starts sailing.