We spend 4 nights on Maui and 3 nights on Oahu, before embarking on the cruise. The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel on Maui was wonderful, and we loved the beautiful grounds and friendly staff. We saw many whales while we were there. On Oahu, we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. There are many fine amenities in this hotel, and it is well situated.
Embarkation: Really efficient. We grabbed a cab at checkout time, and dropped off our luggage and checked in to the ship. We were then allowed to leave again, and do some more sightseeing in Honolulu, without having to worry about our bags.
Our Cabin: Cat FF. Okay, it's a little small compared to other lines, but the head of the bed is at the window, so you can lie in bed and watch the world go by. The shower curtain stays closed by itself, so that's a bonus. The shower gel smells nice, but it's in one of those dispenser things with shampoo. There is no conditioner. There are also no soap bars at the sink. Just another dispenser with liquid soap.
Room Service: We never had any luck with this. We would ask for breakfast at 7:00 (the door hanging order card), set our wake up call for 7:00, and they would phone to wake us up at 6:30 to tell us our breakfast was on its way. It would arrive ... at 7:00. Out of the 2 times we did this, once they didn't provide sugar for the coffee, and the other time they got the order wrong. We also tried waking up and phoning for coffee. They said it was "on its way" and half an hour later when we were dressed and ready to go, we called and cancelled. Keep in mind, we do tip room service.
Dining room: Except for the lobster, the food was really good. The lobster was a little overcooked and dry, but the rest of that meal was also great. The service was hit and miss. Some nights we had really good service, one night it was so terrible all we wanted to do was get out of there. As mentioned, the food was pretty good, but there were no Hawaiian offerings, in spite of our location.
Sushi Bar: If you like sushi, don't miss this. Well worth the price of admission.
Buffet: Pretty good for buffet. Lots of options, but, like the dining room, no Polynesian offerings.
Hawaiian Cultural Program: We didn't do everything, but this is well run and very informative.
Debarkation: Only the main part of the buffet was open for breakfast, so it was a nightmare jam-packed with slow-moving people. I didn't manage to get much, since I am somewhat crowd-phobic. Leaving the ship itself was very simple; however we chose the debarkation tour for Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri, and that didn't go nearly as well. Our tour guide was, unfortunately, substandard for this, and actually insulted us in the name of "humour" a few times. In spite of the fact that this is an 8 hour tour, no formal lunch break was designated and the tour guide did not tell us we would have to get lunch during the gift shop time. And if you're pescetarian or vegetarian, with the options available, you're fairly out of luck.
Airport: We were dropped at the airport before our airline opened its desk (4:00, airline checkin opened at 5:15). We hadn't eaten very much, having only managed to grab a snack. The only thing available food-wise, before you go through security -- like if you have luggage -- is a Starbucks. Be ye warned! Since I had printed our boarding passes the night before, I was able to leave TWGH with the luggage while I went through security and got us some pretty yummy take out sushi. TSA was very understanding.
Good location, except in port in Maui. You will feel pretty exposed there.
We did the Road to Hana with Valley Isle Excursions. Our guide, Barry, was excellent. We really enjoyed this, and took over a thousand pictures. We would not have enjoyed it nearly as much if we had driven ourselves.
The second day on Maui, we did the Molokini Crater snorkel through NCL. We really enjoyed this as well. Please note: they do recommend, rightly I think, renting wetsuits so you can stay in the water longer. The water here is not as warm as the Caribbean, so this is a good idea. We were charged $10 for each suit. Once snorkelling is done, there is lunch and a sightseeing component. At this time, they open the bar and all drinks are $1.
We did the Crater Hike and Akaka Falls through NCL. This was awe-inspiring. So much incredible scenery. There was also a stop at the macadamia nut factory, so we could by souvenirs and get free samples. Important note: by default there is no vegetarian/pescetarian option for the provided lunch on this tour. I was told I should have notified the shore excursion desk.
We did the Historic Kona tour throught NCL. It included a Kona coffee gift shop, a Hawaiian place of sanctuary and a painted church. It was informative and scenic. At the gift shop, try the taro cookies, they are really good.
Here we took shuttles to the various shopping opportunities. This was interesting, and allowed us to do some sightseeing. Then we did the NCL luau excursion. The show was really good, and the food was pretty good also, although it did not include some of our more favoured Hawaiian dishes (luau, and poke ahi).