My wife and I, both in our late 50’s, cruised Hawaii on the PoA the second week of September. We traveled with 5 relatives and friends around our age. We’ve cruised 22 times on multiple lines although our “go-to” is RCCL although we like the lower cost and good locations that NCL offers. Overall we greatly enjoyed this cruise and would recommend it for those wanting to see the Hawaiian Islands.
Embark/Debark – We arrived at the ship at 11:30 and were on it within 15-20 minutes. No passports needed for US citizens, just driver’s licenses (and credit card, heh, heh). Rooms weren’t ready until 2. Lifeboat drill was at 4:45 although we didn’t leave port til 7pm. Disembark at the end was easy, we went to breakfast before 8:30 and were off the ship by 9. Can leave as early as 7am if you haul your luggage yourself.
The Ship – We thought the ship was in great shape, it was obvious it had been refitted a few months before. New carpet, paint, flat screen TV’s in rooms. The ship was fairly small which is fine for this cruise as you are only on it at night as you move from island to island. It never felt crowded except at the buffet the first few mornings when we arrived in port (more on that later). It was very easy to get around with three main stairwells and plenty of elevators.
We had a standard balcony on deck 7. It was probably the smallest balcony room we’ve ever stayed in but the ship was built almost 20 yrs ago. There was adequate storage in the room, plenty of drawers and shelves, plus room under the bed for our 2 large suitcases. The bathroom was fine, about similar in size to other cruise ships. Unf they do not have junior suites on this ship so it’s either this or larger suites.
The new TV in the room was nice although a little small. They offered nearly-first-run movies on 2 channels (ex: Spectre). The balcony was very comfortable with a table, 2 chairs, and 2 footrests. You definitely need a balcony for cruising Hawaii! We never used room service as there is now a $5 charge for each order. Exception was you could use the morning order card to get a cold breakfast without a charge, but if you ordered a hot item, it was charged.
Honolulu was a necessary evil to get on the ship unf. The night before the cruise, we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which was great, but there were crowds everywhere. The traffic in Honolulu is horrible these days. It took us longer for the taxi from the hotel to the ship (2 miles, almost 30 mins) than to get on the ship. After the cruise, we rented a car to drive around until our 8pm flight. Big mistake, traffic jams everywhere, even on the west side of Oahu (went to Disney resort there for lunch). My advice is to minimize your time in Oahu, esp Honolulu.
Maui was the first stop for 2 days. Unf we had rain both days but still saw our sites. Rented a car (Enterprise – short walk from ship) and drove around. First day drove up to Haleakala crater, about 1 hr drive up to 10,000 ft elevation. Very windy and chilly there, take a jacket and maybe long pants? Unf cloudy so couldn’t see much. That night our group drove to the Old Lahaina Luau and had a great time, rain ended by then. This was not the ship’s luau but one we arranged and we noticed a few other passengers there. Lots of food and drinks, good show. 45 min drive so you need a car.
We parked the rental overnight in the nearby mall parking lot. It’s a 15 min walkway, with guards, from the ship. Unf the parking at the pier was taken up by construction. Mall has “no overnight parking” signs but the rental company said park there. The next morning we drove to Hana (“Road to Hana”) to see the many waterfalls. It was raining again and the road was very windy (a lot of tight turns), it took 3 hrs to go 52 miles inc short stops for pictures. Very scenic and a nice “do once”. Some in our group took the snorkeling excursion and had sunny weather and a good time.
Kauai was somewhat cloudy and rainy – we were told this much rain in September was unusual for Hawaii. We rented a car (Enterprise – had a shuttle to/from the pier) and drove around our 2 days there. First day we drove to the south coast and went snorkeling. Went to Boss Frog’s Snorkel to rent gear, the parking lot had an outdoor shower for rinsing off. Water was rough but we had a good time, lots of fish. Hawaii reefs aren’t spectacular as they are formed by lava so mostly gray, but lots of reef fish. After that we drove up to the Waimea Canyon for the spectacular views. It’s only about 5 miles long so make sure you drive the length of the canyon to see all the lookouts. The farthest lookouts also give a view of the Napali coast on the west side, spectacular! Kauai is a small island so we did this in a few hours.
That evening we drove to the Hukilau Lanai restaurant 15 mins north of the ship. Somewhat pricey (as is all of Hawaii) but our last chance for Hawaiian food. Great location by the beach. We parked the car overnight about a 10 min walk from the ship in the nearby strip mall, cost $20 but had a guard and a shuttle bus which ended at 8pm. A few cars were able to park for free in the limited slots on the side of the street but those slots were gone by 7pm.
The next day was short as the ship departed Kauai at 2pm. We drove up the northern coast to Hanalei and back. Some spectacular scenery if you drive off the road a few miles to the coast. We used GPS Tour Guide apps on my phone for our touring on all the islands – gave us great ideas on places to visit and also local info. The ship cruised up the Napali coast that afternoon and we saw some spectacular scenery (again) this time from offshore.