We flew to Honolulu via WestJet 5 days early, and stayed at the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel. It was wonderful, complete with a really extensive buffet breakfast each morning. Other than relaxing and some shopping, our 2 main goals for Honolulu were to climb Diamond Head and to snorkel at Hanauma Bay, both of which we did and enjoyed. We didn't rent a car, but used The Bus to go anywhere that wasn't within walking distance. On Friday, May 2, we took a cab ($20) from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal. We arrived about 12:30. We had completed our Fun Passes online ahead of time, but had to provide the information all over again manually, since the embarkation people did not have computer access. However the process was quick and we were on board eating lunch soon after 1 pm. It was nice to meet up with some of our fellow CC'ers on the first night and to chat with them periodically throughout the cruise.
The service on board was excellent. Our cabin steward kept the room immaculate and well stocked with ice, amenities and towel animals. The cabin (7181) was an outside extended balcony cabin and was huge compared to other cabins we had occupied on previous Princess and RCL cruises. It was a nice bonus to be able to check your onboard account from the TV in the stateroom. There was lots of storage space and the shower and bathroom were a good size too. There were very nice robes hanging in the closet for our use -- we liked them so much that we bought a couple of robes to take home.
We stayed docked in Honolulu for 1 extra day, followed by days at Kauai, Kona, Hilo, and 2 days at Lahaina, Maui. We had to tender in to Kona and Maui, but the tender system was quick and efficient, in our opinion. We didn't have any shore excursion deadlines to meet in these ports, so we left the ship on later tenders. For the most part, we just walked or took local shuttles or buses around these ports. At Hilo, we had arranged online ahead of time to rent a vehicle (Alamo) and we visited the Volcanos National Park and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory. The ship's excursions were very expensive, so we arranged our own excursions in the various ports.