About US - we are early 6O'S and recently retired (teacher, nurse). We are active and enjoy reading, golf, gardening, and sailing our boat in the summer on the Great Lakes. We have done 16 cruises on several different lines to Europe, Caribbean, and Bermuda. We select a cruise based on itinerary and look at it as a way to unpack once and visit several different places without worrying about where to eat our meals. We do a lot of research on CC and Trip Advisor before we cruise and tend do our own thing when ashore. We do not expect to be pampered by a ship's crew, but just receive courteous service. My wife has always wanted to see Hawaii, so this was her retirement trip. We also added on a cruise to Alaska the week prior on HAL Volendam (separate review).
Pre-Cruise - we saved a lot of money by flying to Seattle instead of Vancouver. Money saved was used for 2 nights in Seattle and AMTRAK tickets to Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver about noon the day prior to our Alaska cruise and after returning from that, we had 2 more days in Vancouver before this Hawaii cruise. We stayed at Coast Coal Harbor Hotel. It is less than a year old, about 4 blocks from Canada Place, and I recommend it. We toured various sections of Vancouver by using public transportation and walking. It is one of the prettiest cities that I have seen, but somewhat expensive (12% sales tax). Embarkation was the worst I had ever experienced, I think because there were 2 ships there and one of them had arrived late, so they were late in getting people off, which really congested the terminal. The week before it only took us 15 minutes to get aboard. It is a beautiful port to sail from, as we left from Canada Place terminal and were surrounded by large buildings. Very nice.
Ship - The Rhapsody of the Seas is a good size ship. Small enough to easily get around, but large enough to enable you to find your own space. We had any time dining, which we enjoyed. Sometimes we had a table for 2 and other evenings we shared with other couples. We ate dinner in the dining room the first 5 nights, but then seemed to gravitate towards the Lido. THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION, but I usually looked at the menu and said "I guess I could have that" rather than being wowed by the choices. We like to actually see the food in the buffet and try small bits of several dishes. Of course we had just done a 7 day cruise. The crew was very efficient and the Captain was great. We could find him strolling through the ship and stopping to visit with passengers. He even took walks on the deck on some days at sunset and sometimes passengers walked with him. We used the gym 4 times.
Entertainment- I have done a lot of cruises and am not usually big on the shows, but after the first evening, I decided to see them all. The singers and dancers were very good, and the guest performers were also very good, except one gentleman who I feel should have retired several years ago. The pool entertainment was also very good.
The Cruise - we like re-positioning cruises. It is like really going somewhere. You can see different cities on each end and stop at ports on the way. I think crews also enjoy them as it is a chance to get out of the same place they have been for 4 or 5 months. We were worried about 5 sea days in a row, bu they were relaxing and seemed to fly by. Also, we left Vancouver and the first sea day was cool, but then it gets warmer each day as you approach Hawaii, and the last 2 were pool days as temps were about 80.
Ports - I will give it in the port section at the end of the review. We did our own thing and it all worked out well.
Almost Perfect - I only say almost because nothing is perfect. We both agreed this was one of the best of the 16 we have done. The weather was great and the skies clear. The night transit between Hilo and Kona allowed us to "sit" off of the shore and watch red hot lava flow into the sea for almost an hour. Truly a site to see. We enjoyed talking with people from many different countries. Some people stayed on the ship and continued to Australia, but we had been on the road for 28 days, so decided to save that for another time. We had a great time and I recommend this cruise.
We rented car from Enterprise. This was our best rental experience. We spent about 5 hours driving to and through Volcano National Park. We also stopped in a small town for shaved ice and then visited Akaka Falls. We were back aboard and at the pool by 4. Night transit to Kona was beautiful, as we watched the lava flow for an hour.
We rented from Dollar at the King Kam Hotel next to the dock (tendered). We drove to the Place of Refuge and toured it. Very nice. We also saw the Painted Church and visited Bayview Coffee Plantation. After returning to Kona, we parked the car and found a nice waterfront restaurant for lunch. We returned the car, did a little shopping, and were back aboard by 5:00.
We anchored overnight in this port. We tendered in and rented from Hertz. We were in Lahaina. We drove about 45 minutes to see the Iao Valley. Very nice. Had to make a choice of what to do next and we decided to drive to the summit of Mount Haleakala (?) a dormant volcano. A vert tedious drive of switchback roads, usually 15 mph, reaching the summit at 10,000 feet. So glad we did it. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. On the way down, we stopped a Kula Lodge for a very over priced lunch with one of the most beautiful views ever. Following lunch we drove through Lahaina and up to Kaanapali (?) where we window shopped in Whalers Village. We had intended to keep the car for both days, but felt we had seen enough, so we turned it in about 6:30 and walked back to the pier (15 min). Great day. Day 2 - we rested strolled through town, had a little lunch, and did some shopping.
We planned to do only 1 expensive thing and this was it. We flew with Wings Over Kauai. Half the price of a helicopter tour and one of the BEST 2 tours we have ever done (the other being sailing with Calabazza in Barbados). Very professional and personable. Highly recommend this company. after I flight we were driven back to the ship. We changed into our swim suits and returned to the nearby beach. Beautiful. We enjoyed lunch at Duke's Canoe Club on the beach. Did some shopping and returned to the ship about 5:00. Great day.
Ship is your hotel for 1 night at this port. We left about 8:15 and walked 5 minutes to bus stop. We were at Pearl Harbor by 9:15 and had our free tickets to visit the Arizona Memorial (11:00). We visited some of the exhibits and then caught the tender to the Arizona. Very interesting and moving experience. We left Pearl harbor about 12:30, caught the #42 bus and rode it all the way through Honolulu to Waikiki. We saw the hotel we would stay in for the next 3 nights. Returned to the ship, packed, had dinner, and then sipped wine while looking at the lights of Honolulu. Ship was very quiet this evening. many people ashore. Next morning, we left the ship wearing our bathing suits, dropped our luggage at the Hotel Renew (highly recommend) and went to the beach. We had 3 beach days and rented a car for 1 day. It took us about 6 hours to see all of what we wanted to see on Oahu.