This was my first time to take an ocean cruise and I was a little nervous about how I would like it, especially a 14 day, lengthy open sea cruise. Overall, I found it amazing and fun. We drove up to the L.A. departure pier from San Diego with no problems on a Sunday morning, got in line for disembarkation, and in very short order found ourselves in our stateroom. We had booked a mini-suite which was located on the forward port section of the ship, deck 9. This proved to be a very good location, very quiet and with great views from our balcony. We were introduced to our room steward, Alberto, who made it clear he was there to make our trip as smooth as possible. In some of the other reviews, I've heard the beds mentioned as hard, but we didn't find that to be the case. They were firm but just fine. I did get a little sea-sick the first two days out, which surprised me since the seas were fairly calm. One of the waitresses in the Piazza area, Gergana, recommended I eat salty dry foods and little liquid in the stomach. We also got the pressure point wrist bands. Whatever the case, I never had a problem after that, and even got to really enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat. We got lucky with the weather, esp. in January. Quite a bit of sunny weather to read up on the decks with and get a tan. The movies under the stars were fun, with blankets to snuggle up in and fresh popcorn to eat. The food in the dining rooms was good, not great. But the service was impeccable throughout the ship. Our waiters in the Canelleto Dining area were Michael and Gerald, and they were alot of fun. We felt like we were letting them down if we failed to show up for supper. We chose the later sitting which worked out great, especially after going onto the islands. We didn't do any of the cruise sponsered excursions, preferring to rent a car in each port and do our own thing. Just a personal choice. We did join the zip-lining on the island of Kauia which I highly recommend: super exciting, something you'll rarely have a chance to do elsewhere (especially in such a beautiful setting)and not that physically challenging. On the other islands we saw the volcano on the Big Island, along with Akaka Falls (gorgeous), sipped a lopped off cocoanut from a small local stand, saw Obama's high school, Hanama Bay for snorkling, Sandy Beach for body surfing, the beach at Waikiki, Snorkling again in Kanapalli beach in Mauai, etc. As you can see, we were pretty active, and loved every minute of it. The trip back was a little sad thinking that the end of the trip was near. Overall summary: great trip. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Good location. Quiet. Not too bumpy being lower down on deck 9. Plenty of room for storage. Balcony did stick out from those above, but that didn't present a problem.