This cruise was part of our first visit to America. We'd had a few days in San Francisco, then two nights at Waikiki before arriving at the port. Check in wasn't too bad. We met lots of friendly couples in the queue for embarkation and it didn't seem to take too long until we were actually on board. We did have to ask someone where our cabin was. On previous Thomson cruises there had always been a member of staff to take you to your cabin. But this was a much larger ship so I expect they were busier, plus everyone seemed to be arriving at once. Well our cabin wasn't ready so we found our way up to one of the outside bars and eventually we were informed the cabins on our deck were ready.
Compact balcony cabin but with good sized bed and lots of storage space tucked into nooks and crannies. Bathroom was small but adequate and everything was clean.
We ate mainly in the Alhoa Cafe. There was a good variety of fresh food for all meals and my husband particulary enjoyed the carvery section. We also ate at the Skyine Restaurant. The food and the atmosphere was good. We only had one meal at the Jefferson Steak Reataurant. Not cheap, but excellent food and service.
Of the bars, we enjoyed the music in Pinks Champagne and spent several evenings here. We also had drinks in the Gold Rush Saloon. In the afternoons we often went to the Aloha Lanai Bar for their Happy Hour. We only managed the main entertainment once as we were tired after the day's activities, when they did 'Jersey Boys'. An excellent production.
We really enjoyed the whole experience of the cruise. The ship and staff were both great and the itinary was just what we wanted. We spent quite a few happy hours sipping cold drinks and whale watching from the back of the ship. I don't think you'd get that from many hotel rooms. This was definitely more than a floating hotel.
Only real gripes about NCL was the cost of drinks and the fact that you were not able to bring any wine on board to enjoy on the balcony. Some American ladies we met, complained that NCL were always trying to 'nickel and dime you'.
But overall, the ship was lovely and although it was full, it still felt spacious. I think the only time we struggled to find a seat was a couple of times at breakfast, when everyone wanted an early meal before trips.