We are a couple in our early 60's, newly retired. We have done this itinerary twice before. Each time the cost is higher, but the # days is shortened. This was a B2B cruise for us, since we boarded the ship in Sydney Australia for the TransPacific repositioning. We stayed in the same cabin (9616), and had the same fabulous cabin steward (Boren Franover), so we were very happy with the stateroom.
The service on the ship was great, as usual. Most of the staff goes out of their way to be friendly, answer questions, and to provide a wonderful experience. Instead of our usual Early Dining, we opted to try My Time Dining this cruise, in order to free up time to watch sunsets and sailaways. We made reservations for dinner times in the MDR, but didn't have great experiences with that. The first night, we were seated at a table with others who had reservations for a 1/2 hour before us, and had to wait until we arrived in order for the table to be full enough to order. The second night didn't go much better, so we opted to eat in the Windjammer Buffet after that, except for one night in Chops Grille. The buffet, Park Cafe and steakhouse were excellent food, and the sunset views on the aft deck were an added bonus.
The first 4 days were port days (Honolulu, Lahaina, Kona and Kauai), so the Meet & Mingle was held on day 6. It was not well attended, and very little mingling happened -- a real disappointment after the previous cruise from Sydney. The port day in Hilo was cancelled after the volcano erupted and the earthquake happened. RCI substituted a day in Victoria instead at the end of the cruise. Victoria is a great city and we had a lovely day, but we would rather have had another day in any other Hawaiian port. We live in Greater Vancouver, and having paid a premium price for a Hawaiian cruise, we weren't thrilled with the substitution.
Entertainment on this segment was mostly a repeat of the previous cruise, so we didn't attend many of the shows. Instead we saw more of the game shows in the Colony Club, and played pool on the self-levelling pool tables. We also spent more time trying to improve our mini-golf skills, doing puzzles and working out in the gym.
The weather from Kauai to Victoria was cooler and rocky the first few days, making poolside lounging unappealing. Due to a medical emergency, we picked up speed and arrived in Victoria the evening before planned ETA. The one bonus to stopping in Victoria was that we were able to clear Customs in Victoria and avoid the Customs lineups in Vancouver, where 3 other ships were also docked at the same time.
Kudos to Alex (Activities Director) and Sophie (Activities staff) for their tireless enthusiasm in running activities, contests and games to keep us entertained.
I would consider doing this cruise again, but only if the duration is restored to 12 or 13 days, and if our favourite Hawaiian port of Hilo is restored. That last part, of course, is up to Mother Nature, and beyond RCI's control.
Excellent cabin, good size, lots of storage space, good layout. Bathroom was a good size, nice cupboard area and well-ventilated. Good privacy on balcony. Cabin steward was one of the best we've ever had.
Being consecutive cruisers, we had to go through debarkation and embarkation in Honolulu. This was arranged very efficiently through the Shore Excursions desk. However, when we disembarked, we still had to go through Customs with everyone else (about an hour), and be back to the ship to embark by about 3 pm, so it did not leave us much time to do anything in Honolulu. The last time we did this itinerary on the Rhapsody, we had an overnight in Honolulu, which left more time to explore the area.
We walked over to Kalapaki Beach (by the Marriott hotel) and spent the sunny, warm day lazing on the beach. We also visited Duke's on the Beach for hula pie and mai tai for lunch - yumm. It was a lovely lazy day.
Spent the morning at the lagoon beach next to the tender pier, swimming and snorkelling. Wandered along the main street, found an excellent cafe/ice-cream shop for lunch. Stopped at ABC store for macadamia nuts, chocolates, and Kona coffee to bring home. Was going to buy most of those items in Hilo but that port stop was cancelled.
We live in the Greater Vancouver area, so a friend picked us up and we went home.