We have 40+ cruises, mostly on Carnival. We wanted to see the most Hawaii islands possible in 7 days. This could only be done on NCL. We sailed NCL about 14 years ago and it was a disappointing experience mostly with dining. So, we were ... Read More
We have 40+ cruises, mostly on Carnival. We wanted to see the most Hawaii islands possible in 7 days. This could only be done on NCL. We sailed NCL about 14 years ago and it was a disappointing experience mostly with dining. So, we were reluctant to sail on NCL again. Many on the current reviews are not good, so that didn't help.
We flew into Honolulu a day early to sight see and guarantee we do miss the ship. I recommend this because our flight was delayed and we missed a connection. So we did a 3hr south shore tour and watched Fireworks on Waikiki beach( Every Friday Night they have a show ). Look it up. Saturday we were able to get on the ship at 11am, if your a latitudes member, get in the fast lane. First thing you need to do is setup you dining reservations for the week. NCL had a system glitch that erased ours. Monday Night is dress up night. About 40% of the people dress up. Tuesday night is dress up in white night for the White Hot Party. Back to Saturday!
Have lunch in the Main dining room, you will be impressed with the menu. Our room wasn't ready, but they allowed us to leave our backpack and wine in the room. Did you know, you can bring as many bottles of wine on board as you like but they charge $15 per bottle at check in. Don't pack in your checked bags. It's cheaper than buying on board for $40min. You can bring your wine to dinner and they will serve it. Since the ship leaves at 7pm, we decided to go to China Town, and Aloha Stadium Swap meet. The Taxi was cheaper than Uber! They both closed 3pm, so we didn't have much time. Really good deals at both. We spent hours at the swap-meet rebuying all our souvenirs. Walmart has a lot of souvenirs but the swap meet was much cheaper. Make sure you're on deck when you're leaving at night, it's beautiful. The first night we ate at the Steak House which was very good and too much food. During the cruise, we ate at 3 different pay restaurants. The Brazillian Steak house was Awesome. Teppanyaki was awsome with a great show. East Meets West was very good too. I was also happy with all the food in the Main Dining rooms (Skyline and Liberty). NCL have really stepped their food game up. The 24 hour Cadilac diner was also very good.
If you didn't know, this is an American based ship that never leaves the the US, so there's No Casino. and they must hire mostly if not all american staff. So, it is very different from most cruise ships. All of the restaurant staff were very nice and helpful. The cabin stewart could use some inprovement. I along with another cabin requested ice every evening, and that seemed to be a problem. The last night, no turn down service ,
no ice, and no extra tip! All shore excursions average $100+ per person in each port
It was 9 adults and 4 teens in our group, so we rented a cars in every port and self toured with the Shaka App. Awesome way to see the island on your own time. Good prices for cars: DiscountHawaiiCarRental.com, CostcoTravel.com, Priceline.com. No credit card needed to hold cars. Most of the rental car companies are slow moving so, you can get your car faster if your a member. Avis and Budget has quick service where you can pickup your car quicker. Make sure you call and add your member number to your reservation, you will thank me later. You can't add the number many times when you book thru a second party, so call.
Many people have the question about parking rental cars overnight at Maui and Kauai.
In Maui, I was tould I could pay for airport parking and the shuttle will bring me back and forth. I decided to rent 2 different cars for the 2 days. I turned the car in each night. If you're driving to Hana, don't rent a full size SUV, the winding road can get tight in many places. I had a Jeep and it was just right. In Kauai there is overnight parking outside the port. Free parking is limited (about 20 spaces street side) this is good if you need to go to the ship for a couple of hours and go back out to a Luau (15min walk). They have overnight cruise passenger parking at the Arbor Mall for $20 (30min walk), plenty of parking available. We drove to Smith's Luau (15min). We're not big eaters so we purchased tickets to see the show only for $15. Awesome show. Get there early to enjoy the gardens and get good seats at stage before the buffet ends. Day 2 in Kauai too short to rent a car. We took advantage of all the free shuttles availible to 3 different mall, Walmart, beach, etc. There's a little beach behind the Arbor mall. You can take the shuttle there. There's also a free tour trolly that has many different stops. We were so busy and tired everyday that we didn't catch any shows on the ship, so I can't comment on any. I saw the advertisements. They had 2 different broadway shows, a magician, and a comedian. There were probably others that I missed to. Our dinner always conflicted with the shows. The show times were always 7:30 and 9:00. It was a late night adult comedy show one night about 10:15. After dinner every night there was Karoke, Piano Bar/lounge. The nightclub was open everynight with a theme Toga night, white hot party, 70's, 80's, 90's, etc. All the performers and staff are in the nightclub everynight putting on a show on the dance floor. The first night it was a live band with several different singers.
The other nights they have various activities on the dance floor to motivate you to dance.
At 11:00, the staff misteriously disappears and you are left with the DJ. He dosen't take requests, so don't even try. The few that are there, slowly begin to leave. I rarely seen anyone dancing after the staff left. The nightclub closes at 12:00. The Piano bar closes at 12:00 . The ship is a ghost town at 12:01. Good time to go to the 24hr diner. Food pretty good. I overdosed on the Buffalo wings.
Wake up early, and eat breakfast in the main dining room, it's so much better than the buffet. There are many different restaurants, cafes, bars, and areas of the ship I didn't get to visit. I think I needed a sea day to catch up. I hope I covered everything.
Debarkation was smooth and easy. I flight didn't leave until 11:30pm. We booked a room so we would have somewhere to store our luggage and freshen up before our flight. We went back to Aloha Stadium Swap meet and Pearl Harbor Museum (Awesome must see). Read Less