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Sail Date: September 2004
Recent Vancouver to Hawaii Cruise - 25/9/04 - Radiance of the Seas -

I have just returned from the above cruise and I wanted to write to you to say what a fabulous time we all had.

The whole trip was perfect from start to finish ... Read More

Recent Vancouver to Hawaii Cruise - 25/9/04 - Radiance of the Seas -

I have just returned from the above cruise and I wanted to write to you to say what a fabulous time we all had.

The whole trip was perfect from start to finish and we could not have had a better time. We did not have one complaint throughout the whole trip. The ship is fabulous, large spacious and with loads of space. We were fortunate enough to get upgraded to a stateroom with a balcony which was a real delight.

Captain Kent Ringborn was charming and all his the crew were extremely efficient and always courteous.

The entertainment director Tim and all his assistants went out of their way to make it a great trip. Finally our table waiters Jeffrey and Marko (Table 472) were excellent and we must compliment the chefs and kitchen staff for providing superb service and food. Our table was even treated to our own "private" Indian meal on one evening.

We met so many nice people on board and also had a fantastic group of people at our table. Everyone we met & spoke to on the cruise all said the same thing and commented on what a great time we all had.

Hawaii was superb and we enjoyed every port that we visited. All the Islands are diverse and have their own character. The highlight was our guided tour of Nawilliwilli by a local Yukele playing Taxi driver (Troy-happy to provide his number if required). The highlight being the part of the day we spent on the beach where they filmed "Bally Hi" with Troy playing his Yukele.

It was a shame we did not have more time...........

My only slight criticism was with the disembarkation procedure and something you may wish to note. I am aware, from previous a cruise, that this can be complicated and there are delays.

Along with many others we were staying on as part of a post cruise arrangements at a hotel on Waikiki Beach. We all were the VERY last to be off loaded at around 10.45am and then had to wait in a long line waiting for a coach to take us to our hotels.

Our luggage had already been collected the night before along with the other passengers on the basis that is was to be delivered to the hotel for us.

Eventually we were placed on a coach (with very cramped seating and I'm only 5'4" !!) arriving at the hotel around 12 noon but with still no sign of the luggage. I know that it is not always possible to gain access to hotel rooms before early afternoon so we had to hang around again hoping to at least get our luggage delivered.

We managed to get to the room around 3pm but there was still no sign of our luggage, or any of that belonging to any other of our fellow travellers for that matter. At around 5pm the luggage was eventually delivered and on this basis we had wasted a WHOLE day which was a real shame when you have such limited time. We had intended to go to the Arizona Memorial and obviously had to leave this until the following day when we had wanted to spend this on the beach!!.

If we had realized this was going to be the case we would have held our cases ourselves and gone by taxi to the hotel to save time.

I thought that you should be aware of this issue, as it would be easier for passengers to have the option to choose how to transfer to the hotel rather than wait around for ages on the ship or at the hotel.

We did not want the cruise to end and are really looking forward to our next cruise

Best wishes to Steve & Renee (our personal tour guides!) Rick & Sue, Karen & Roy, John & Claudia, Karen & Bob, along with Doug & Leanna and Skip and Debbie our "dinner guests" Thank you ALL for making it a fantastic trip

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Sail Date: September 2004
The embarkation process in Vancouver was not nearly efficient as it was in Miami, the backlog came with going through security and then immigration.

The atmosphere and staff were great.. We really enjoyed this trip and did not want to ... Read More

The embarkation process in Vancouver was not nearly efficient as it was in Miami, the backlog came with going through security and then immigration.

The atmosphere and staff were great.. We really enjoyed this trip and did not want to leave. We only wish we could have had a sea day between ports to recover. Our original itinerary was changed from 12 nights to 11 nights and 3 islands from the original 4. The advantage to only the 3 islands is that we had 2 full days in Lahaina, and 2 full days in Kona. It is too bad we missed Kuai though. Having more time in port was great.

Food was good, although sometimes more variety in the main selections was needed, i.e. one chicken, one beef, one pork, etc. A couple of times the chicken was very bland and not spicy enough. Overall much better quality than on the Voyager. Good alternate selections were available with Portofinos, Chops and the Seaview Cafe.

The entertainment was good, we did not attend many of the Broadway or comedian shows as we were busy with other shipboard activities.

The cabins are smaller on this ship than on the Voyager, basically set out the same. Love the balcony.

The shore excursion we did take was excellent... Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure... Most of the tours are very expensive and really take you only to the Tourist Spots...

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Sail Date: September 2004
This is my husband and my first Celebrity Cruise on the Infinity. What a beautiful ship with a lot of class. We have sailed on the Norweigian and the Princess lines before this cruise. Now to critique our cruise:

Embarkation - our ... Read More

This is my husband and my first Celebrity Cruise on the Infinity. What a beautiful ship with a lot of class. We have sailed on the Norweigian and the Princess lines before this cruise. Now to critique our cruise:

Embarkation - our plane was delayed in Chicago and we arrived around 3PM on the day of the cruise. We had no lines to check in and were immediately led to our cabin in the CC Class cabin 9133, Sky Deck.

CC Class Cabin 9133 - The cabin was nice with a queen bed and a love seat and ample storage for clothes for 11 days. The mattress was very comfortable with no notice of merging two twins together. The balcony was lovely with two nice padded chairs and a table. The bathroom was roomy and the shower stall seemed to be bigger than on the Golden Princess. My only complaint about the room was that there was no room between the mirrored wall and the bed for two people to get around unless the couple went single file. The fresh flowers in the room were a nice touch along with the deluxe robes and pastel towels. The overhang on the balcony was not an issue with us. Priority Tendering was well worth the CC class, especially if you had shore excursions booked.

Elevators: If there were a rating on elevator service this would be a A+. If we were anywhere on the ship the wait time was less than a minute. By far better service than any ship we have ever been on.

Dining - Late Seating - We ate in the Dining Room every evening, but one night, which we ate in the Specialty restaurant. First let me tell you that the main dining was magnificent. The service was wonderful and the food and the desserts were superior. Our waitress and waiter were concerned that each one of us were happy with the overall dining experience each evening. At our table we had 2 couples that I met on the Cruise Critic roll call and another couple from California. We looked forward to dining with them every evening and recapped about our activities that we did for that day.

Specialty Restaurant: Wonderful experience, well worth the $30 per person charge. The goat cheese souffle was incredible!! Service, Service, Service. Go there if you want to be treated like one of the "Rich and Famous".

Buffet Dining: I give this a mixed rating. The following ratings: General Food: C; Pasta Bar: A; Omelet Bar: A; Pastry Bar: A; Waffle Bar: A; Service: A+. Compared to the Princess I was disappointed in the general food buffet. The specialty bars were great along with the service.

Pool Cafe: Hamburgers and Hot dogs (how can you screw up) Pizza OK, but to compare to the Princess Pizza, Celebrity can't come close. They need some help in the pizza department.

Pools and Spa Pool: Pools were warm with salt water. Princess had fresh water pools, but were much cooler. I prefer myself the warmer water. The Spa Pool is a must, again it was warm and very relaxing. The "Chair Hogs" are on every cruise and are just rude and inconsiderate people. There were at least 70% of the the lounge chairs with towels and books on them and only 10 people in the hot tubs and pools. This is a great disappointment. I would think that the cruise lines would be able to remedy this problem. My husband and I only wanted a few hours around the pool on a few days, but had to yield to these rude obnoxious people.

Bars: Martini Bar is a must!!! Service was excellent and the Martini's were the best. Martini Tastings should not be missed. It was $5.00 and you got to sample 6 different martinis. My suggestion is that they should have a different sampling for at least 5 nights on an 11 night cruise. I give this bar and the servers an A+++ with 5 stars.

Casino: Good Casino, didn't win except for the last night.

General Overall Comments: Beautiful ship with my kind of taste, eloquent but yet not gaudy. Service was A+ with not anything lacking in that department. Cabins were nice, but layout a little cramped, rating would be a B-. Cabin layout on Golden Princess rating would be a B+. Food in dining room - Celebrity has Princess beat, Food in Buffet - Princess has Celebrity beat, Service - Celebrity, Celebrity.

I would cruise either Princess or Celebrity again depending on the itinerary and price. This was a great cruise and one to remember. Weather in late September and early October was perfect.

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Sail Date: September 2004
Cruising sure has changed. We have been loyal to RCI for many years, but alas, I think it's time to move on. Every cruise prior to this one has been jaw-dropping incredible. We've even done this exact cruise before and had the same exact ... Read More
Cruising sure has changed. We have been loyal to RCI for many years, but alas, I think it's time to move on. Every cruise prior to this one has been jaw-dropping incredible. We've even done this exact cruise before and had the same exact stateroom, but times have changed and so did our cruise experience. It is clear that the company has made sweeping cutbacks--food quality, service, activities, staff professionalism, staff-to-cruise ratio, cleanliness, etc. This was not a bad cruise experience, but I am unhappy to report that is was only okay. Not only has the cruise line changed, but so have the patrons--I've never cruised with so many unhappy people. I am not sure if that's because of the cutbacks, or if the attractive fare discounts are attracting grumpy people, or something else maybe--I don't know.

That all being said, our family of four had a great time (we don't let things get us down). We enjoyed each other's company and created some memorable experiences.

Vancouver was rainy and cold as it often is this time of year. We spent our pre-cruise watching movies, dining, and gazing at the skyline out our hotel window. Our room at the Vancouver Hyatt was very nice and roomy.

Embarkation was a breeze. Surprisingly, no one stopped me from bringing an entire case of wine onto the ship and into our stateroom--there was a general sense of "who cares" among the embarkation crew.

Rough seas highlighted passage to Hawaii for most of four days. Dining room was usually half-empty due to the large number of sick cruisers. Much of the crew was reportedly ill as well. Kids thought it to be fun--jogging around the deck of a bobbing ship every morning was interesting.

Young captain--if it weren't for his gray hair, he could pass for 35 or so. Not very social however--we never once saw him in the dining room. Our stateroom was situated closest to the bridge and we saw him frequently there, but we did not speak.

Hawaii was wonderful as always--you can't go wrong with these islands. We learned years ago not to mess with the provided excursions--too expensive, too long, too crowded. Rental cars are available at every port so we create our own excursions.

Post cruise at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Very nice but be prepared to spend $$$$$$$$. For dining, shopping, etc.

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Sail Date: September 2004

We have just returned from an absolutely lovely vacation: Vancouver-Hawaii 12 days (5 days trans-Pacific, 7 days around the Hawaiian Islands) aboard the Carnival Spirit. I must say we were impressed by the Spirit. We have sailed on ... Read More

We have just returned from an absolutely lovely vacation: Vancouver-Hawaii 12 days (5 days trans-Pacific, 7 days around the Hawaiian Islands) aboard the Carnival Spirit. I must say we were impressed by the Spirit. We have sailed on Carnival before, and enjoyed the experience, but the Spirit is much more tastefully turned out than the other Carnival ships we have been on. The floors have beautiful marble inlays, there is generous use of wood, lovely stained glass light fixtures and beautiful art glass objets in niches in the stairwells. Gone are the tacky purple/red/orange stripes/plaids, etc. that some of her Carnival sisters display.

The cabins were very comfortable, and the shower curtain didn't attack us every time we showered as was the case on the Triumph, where we spent more time disentangling ourselves than shampooing!

The staff was marvellous: our dining room staff Murali and his assistant Ahmed could not have given us better service--they were without a doubt the best waiters we have ever had on any cruise. We were at a large table with 10 other friends and we were the last to leave almost every evening. Never did they complain, they served us with grace, creativity and a never-ending smile!

The port stops were beautiful, and except for an interesting tendering experience in Kona, uneventful and fun. Mostly we did our own thing in port--because there were 12 of us. We managed to book two totally private tours (in our own small bus) for far less than the tours offered by Carnival. In other ports we rented cars or walked/taxied to where we wanted to be. Kauai was my favorite island--I definitely will go back there to spend more time. The canyon there is breathtaking, please don't miss it!

We then spent 5 days in Oahu at the Miramar--a great location, but the hotel itself is pretty tired--the bathroom fixtures were at least 20 years old and kind of groaty. However it was easy to walk to everywhere from that location, and so we were content to stay there, as we didn't spend much time in our room at any rate.

I enjoyed this cruise so much, I would be happy to do it again someday. The five days trans-Pacific were calm and smooth and very restful--it gave me time to chill down so that I could enjoy the rest of my vacation on Hawaii time! I would definitely recommend this itinerary, and also the Spirit.

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Sail Date: September 2005

My wife and I love Hawaii and have always been curious about cruising, so it was a fateful moment when Lois spotted an ad in our local paper for repositioning cruise of The Serenade of the Seas off the Alaska season to Hawaii. The price ... Read More

My wife and I love Hawaii and have always been curious about cruising, so it was a fateful moment when Lois spotted an ad in our local paper for repositioning cruise of The Serenade of the Seas off the Alaska season to Hawaii. The price in the paper was very reasonable for the cruise plus 2 nights in Honolulu and airfare home to Vancouver. I called a travel agent the next day and booked a deck 3 inside cabin, which on the advice of a friend we upgraded to a deck 8 inside cabin. This was good advice as the upper deck was very quiet.

Living 30 minutes from Ballantine Pier made for a short drive to the ship which from ground level looked very big and somewhat intimidating. Our cruise agent suggested checking in after 2pm to miss the noon crush of guests arriving from out of town. This suggestion worked well as we were on the ship and in our cabin within 20 minutes of our arrival at the pier.

Our inside cabin was very well organized, all space is utilized to maximum advantage and was clean and inviting. The Serenade of the Seas is an impressive ship!

In the six months prior to our cruise date we spent many hours online viewing the ship on different websites. None of the photos we looked at could compare with the splendor of the real thing! The 9 story Centrum with the glass elevators, balconies and artwork simply can not be experienced on a small photo.

Our dining experience was shared with two other couples also from BC. The food quality, quantity and presentation in the dining room was very good. Every evening brought a varied selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts which met the dietary needs and desires of all of our table mates. Three of our table mates were diabetics and found no difficulty meeting special needs. In fact the sugar free desserts were usually the best! I recommend trying them. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer. The relaxed cafeteria style was perfect for varied appetites and moods. The selection was always fresh, varied and plentiful. Tables overlooking the stern to watch the wake of the ship was relaxing and enjoyable.

The entertainment on board was constant, always something going on. The piano players in the lounges were great, the stage shows lively and varied, the interactive shows such as the Quest were very funny to watch as well as take part in.

Royal Caribbean should be commended on their efforts to promote physical exercise, all those calories need to get burned up!

Our cruise stopped in Kona, Hilo, Lahina and Honolulu. At Kona and Lahina we were anchored off shore and tendered in. This ability to move 2000 people back and forth was very efficiently accomplished.

We did only one shore tour at Hilo. This was an 8hr volcano/island tour with Roberts tours, which we booked online through Royal Caribbean prior to departure. The tour was good value as have been all of the Roberts tours we have been on. On Maui we acted as tour guides for a couple we met from Oklahoma, renting a car and seeing the sites. The opportunity to visit several islands was one of our reasons in choosing to cruise and we were not disappointed.

Disembarking in Honolulu was a letdown. The dock is a working dock and as such is not pretty. The luggage handling and connections to our hotel went smoothly, once again thanks to a detailed set of instructions provided by our travel agent.

Our first cruise was very enjoyable. For me it was the most relaxing vacation I have ever had. The service on board was exceptional. Our cabin steward Hollis was very helpful, polite and made wonderful towel animals. Arnel and Preston our dining room waiters were very efficient, friendly and attentive. The grand entrance and parade of waiters on Italian night was fantastic! Bernadette who waited tables in The Schooner lounge (one of my favorite hangouts) was friendly, lively and always interesting to talk with. Considering the long hours these people work and the length of time the are away from their families they were always smiling, congenial and ready to fulfill any request. I was impressed with the all the staff I met and spoke with.

Royal Caribbean should be proud of their staff. My wife and I look forward to our next cruise experience with Royal Caribbean. We made some wonderful friends from all over Canada and the USA with whom we are now keeping in touch and planning on visiting with again.

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Sail Date: September 2006
On September 17th, 2006, my wife and I boarded the Norwegian Wind for a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii. As past NCL passengers, on both the Star and the Jewel the following review is based on comparisons between our first ... Read More
On September 17th, 2006, my wife and I boarded the Norwegian Wind for a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii. As past NCL passengers, on both the Star and the Jewel the following review is based on comparisons between our first two NCL cruises and this most recent one.

Embarkation

The lineup to clear security and U.S. Customs was not very long and was very smooth considering that 2 other ships were also boarding passengers at the same time as the Wind. Once we cleared customs we were told that the Wind was not yet ready to board and we were directed to a waiting area. Passengers boarding the other two ships continued on to their ship.

The waiting area was quite small and did not have enough seats for all the waiting passengers. There were only 80 seats in this room, clearly not sufficient to accommodate all the waiting passengers, and especially in view of the fact that most of the passengers were over the age of 70 and would certainly have appreciated the chance to sit.

On our past NCL cruises, we have waited to board the ship and it has always been quite comfortable as snacks, juices, coffee and water were always available. None of these items were available& not a great first impression. (There were water coolers being prepared as we were called to board, so I assume there was water available to passengers boarding later than us, but snacks, juices etc. were no where to be seen.)

The final registration and key card / picture process was very efficient and we were off to board the ship.

Stateroom

Our stateroom was a standard obstructed view exterior room. The stateroom was actually much larger than the standard rooms that we have had previously on the Star and Jewel. There was no refrigerator, which was a bit of a disappointment. The water from the tap in the stateroom did not smell or taste very good, water from all other locations on the ship was fine. Air conditioning worked well and kept our room cool for the entire cruise. Overall the room was very nice. Our cabin stewards provided excellent service throughout the cruise.

Reservations

We decided to seek out the restaurant reservations desk. We had decided that we wanted 7:00PM reservations so we could have dinner and then make it to the late show in the Stardust. First we were told that the two main restaurants, Four Seasons and Terraces, do not accept any reservations between 5:30PM and 8:30PM&. And second, we were told that the two specialty restaurants, Le Bistro and La Trattoria, do not accept reservations at 7:00PM.

WOW! Well, the crewmember working the reservations desk explained that for just the two of us (as opposed to a larger group), getting a table in one of the main restaurants at 7:00 would not be a problem, we would not require a reservation, simply show up and we would be seated as it would not be very busy. I accepted this and we proceeded to book our reservations in the specialty restaurants for 6:30PM. (This is never an issue on NCL's newer ships, purpose built for Freestyle Cruising)

Restaurants

We decided to eat in one of the main restaurants for our first night. We arrived at Four Seasons to find it completely packed with guests and a waiting list of over 30 minutes, with the exact same scenario at Terraces. We had never experienced this on either the Star or the Jewel. Extremely unimpressed, we made our way to the Sports Bar & Grill buffet.

From previous experience we try to avoid dinner at the buffet at all costs (breakfast and lunch are fine, just not dinner)& this dinner simply reinforced our beliefs. The poor selection, temperature and quality of food combined with the very small and inadequate eating area made for a disappointing first meal.

Other meals on this cruise ranged from good to disappointing. We had made 3 reservations at Le Bistro. Our first meal was below average. The service was less than impressive. It has been typical on previous NCL sailing that the waiter or waitress always has an assistant, this waitress did not, and the service suffered. Both cutlery and water glasses were returned during this meal. The water glass had a large lipstick mark on the rim, and one set of cutlery was marked and spotted. We did not experience any of these disappointments on either of our previous cruises. The food was good, but not spectacular. During our second visit to Le Bistro, we enjoyed excellent service from Avelino and his assistant Marcial. The food was again good, but not up to the standards set by other Le Bistro restaurants on the Star and the Jewel. Based on our first two meals at Le Bistro, we cancelled our third reservation.

The food and service in La Trattoria was excellent, and met the NCL standard throughout our cruise.

Breakfast was generally available in three locations. A la carte, or sitdown in Terraces, and buffets in Four Seasons and the Sports Bar & Grill. The comments made previously about the Sports Bar also apply to breakfast. The buffet in Four Seasons was nice, but good luck finding a clean table. There were plenty open, but staff was lacking to clear and clean these tables, we were forced to sit and eat at a dirty table at least 5 mornings.

Service in Terraces was slow, and often inaccurate. Cutlery, glasses, dishes were also returned as dirty in this restaurant. Combine this with a room lacking sufficient air conditioning and ventilation in the morning sun, and it made for a less than pleasant breakfast experience.

Entertainment

The entertainment on this ship was, for the most part, excellent. Our cruise director Ricky Matthews and his staff were outstanding& the best of our three NCL cruises thus far. (Note to NCL: Get Ricky and his staff onto a different ship& preferably the Dawn in March 2007)

Our lone complaint about the entertainment is The Comedy and Juggling of Jeffrey Daymont The words comedy and juggling cannot be used to introduce this entertainer I'm sorry, but Mr. Daymont is clearly not ready for cruise ship entertainment yet.

Ship Decks / Exterior

On our previous NCL cruises there has always been some type of live poolside entertainment in the afternoons. Unfortunately, for sailaway day and 3 full sea days following, there was no live entertainment& this is not a misprint, 4 days of no entertainment. On day 5 (sea day 4) they brought out Waclaw Koneczny. As this ship sails to Hawaii, Mai Tai's and Coronas flowing, NCL decides to bring out an accordion player& now don't get me wrong, it is possible that Mr. Koneczny is the best accordion player in the Pacific but&&need I say more?

The Caribbean band Flex boarded the ship at our first port and provided great poolside entertainment for the remaining 3 days of our cruise. Unfortunately, the remaining 3 days were all port days& we were extremely disappointed in the lack of poolside entertainment.

Our bar waiter Sailesh, who provided our drink service at the pool deck area, also provided our poolside entertainment. Sailesh was wonderful, his sense of humor and excellent service went a long way to making our poolside time very enjoyable. (Note to NCL: Get Sailesh onto a different ship!)

The reclining sun / lounge chairs on all of the upper decks were an embarrassment to NCL. Most were missing nuts, bolts, or some piece of the structural support; nearly all were, in one way or another, in need of repair or replacement.

If you enjoy walking the promenade deck, you will find that deck 7 is quite nice except that the aft/starboard area of this deck must be avoided at all costs. The sewage smell (of which I have read in other reviews) is nearly unbearable in this location. This unpleasant odor also infiltrated our stateroom on a couple of mornings. Obviously there is some type of vent in this area. Although not the fault of NCL, it requires mentioning, and is simply one more reason that NCL must remove its name from this vessel as soon as possible&. More explained later. Disembarkation

We took advantage of the Express Walk Off option, and loved it. If you are able to take care of your own luggage, we would certainly recommend this option. We were able to leave at our leisure, and not have to worry about locating our bags in the great sea of luggage.

The Retiring of the NCL Wind

At the end of this winter cruise season, the NCL Wind will be stripped down and refitted as a gambling ship to sail the waters of southeast Asia under a different company name.

In my opinion, this fact goes a long way to explain the poor service and other issues we have experienced. It does not, however, absolve NCL of the requirement to continue to provide the same standard of service that they have established on their newer ships.

It is clear that NCL is simply letting this ship go.

Unfortunately the September 17th sailing of the Wind has cost NCL numerous past and potential future customers. If I were to base my future cruising decisions solely on this past sailing, I would not be booking another NCL cruise before trying the other options.

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Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I recently returned from a 13-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii on the Sun. We were accompanied by my parents and 2 aunts, all of whom are aged 80 to 89—my husband and I are in our mid 50s—and all of whom are ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from a 13-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii on the Sun. We were accompanied by my parents and 2 aunts, all of whom are aged 80 to 89—my husband and I are in our mid 50s—and all of whom are experienced cruisers. This was our 2nd cruise on Norwegian, the first was on the Dreamward some 12 years ago. We have also cruised with Carnival (3 times), Princess (3 times), Royal Caribbean (once), and MSC (once). Our very first cruise was with Norwegian and because the experience was so absolutely wonderful, cruising has become our favored vacation method. Given our warm memories, we quickly agreed to accompany family taking the 13-day Hawaii cruise for my Mother's 80th birthday which coincided with my parent's 55th wedding anniversary.

In Vancouver we lined up for quite some time to get through security only to join another long line so that we could be directed to chairs in which we were required to sit until there was space at the check-in desk. It is a more awkward system than that of, for example Princess, which uses the same terminal (we'd gone from Vancouver to Alaska in August 2006) and took considerably more time. NCL had water and cookies on hand for the wait, although they ran out of cookies quite quickly.

Our inside deluxe cabin turned out to be much larger than we had expected, the luggage arrived very quickly, the room was very clean, and the stewards were both extremely friendly and competent.

The 5 full days at sea passed very quickly and really allowed all of us to unwind. While my husband and I prefer to read on deck in the sun, the rest of our party preferred to do crafts, play bingo etc. NCL had a Polynesian group on board who taught crafts etc. and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. The Library on the ship also had a very large selection of books and, even better, a bin in which passengers could deposit books that they had finished so that others could take them to read. Every day, passengers could also get a crossword, a soduku, and a trivia questionnaire.

The evening shows on most of our other cruises paled in comparison to that of our 1st Norwegian experience so many years ago, and I suppose that we expected the shows on the Sun to be top-notch this time as well. However, although some of the entertainment was quite good, there were some acts which were simply painful to watch, for example, the magician. Probably the best shows were put on by comedian James Stephens III and by hypnotist Nadeen. It was also an extreme pleasure to listen to the guitar playing of the "Brothers and Friends Trio".

We were absolutely appalled by the food, both in lack of quality, lack of taste, and in the virtual absence of presentation. In general the buffet food was way below par in relation to other cruise lines, and there was very little selection. On more than one occasion we simply turned away from it as it looked like a re-hash of the day before. As to the main restaurants, we gave up going to them as well for a number of reasons. Several times we were brought the wrong orders, the food was cold, the meat was tough, dishes were bland, and the service was terrible. There was nothing exciting about the menus in the main restaurant. It seemed to all of us that NCL had taken certain dishes off of those menus and had perhaps put them on the menus in the restaurants for which there is an added cover charge. It was not until the end of the 13-day cruise that we even saw lobster or a decent beef dish—even then, the beef was really tough. We only saw potatoes once. I must say, though, that on the 1st or 2nd day both my husband and my father had the New York strip steaks which were apparently really good.

As to service in the main restaurants, on more than one occasion our waiter had a large number of tables and was doing everything himself ie. pouring water, bringing buns, running down for the food, delivering the food, changing the silverware, bringing the coffee cups etc. etc. The restaurants were never filled by any means and yet our wait times in between courses were excruciatingly long. We wondered if perhaps the number of restaurant staff had been cut.

We were generally pleased with the ports of call, however, we could quite frankly have done without Kahului and Hilo. At Kona we booked a catamaran snorkeling trip that was excellent. We saw a large number of dolphins on our way to the snorkeling site, and we were then able to snorkel until our heart's content. Refreshments were included (wine, beer, pop etc.) along with sandwiches, chips and fruit. The sails were then hoisted and we went for a beautiful sail before returning to the vans for the trip back. At Nawiliwili we swam in the surf in front of the Marriott Hotel which, by the way, has the most beautiful grounds of any hotel we have ever seen.

Lack of NCL presence on shore was troublesome especially given that there were a very large number of older people on board. At our first stop in Kahului (Maui), there was no NCL staff on shore, the signage was not clear and there was some confusion as to which line was for which shuttle bus. An older woman collapsed on the pavement as we were waiting for shuttle buses and no one could find a chair for her to use so a passenger simply held her in her arms. Shore security did not know what to do and it was not until a U.S. Customs officer arrived, that an ambulance was called.

At Nawiliwili, we tendered just a few feet into port so the tender trip took only a few short minutes. There was only one Nawiliwili security guard on shore and no NCL personnel beyond tender personnel. There was absolutely no signage of any kind as to where to line up for the various buses and vans which were arriving to take passengers shopping or to their excursions. The first passengers therefore formed their own lines depending on where they were going and waited for the next buses to arrive. At one point, a number of vans and buses arrived at the same time as new tenders arrived. Many of the people getting off the tenders simply ran through those that had been waiting which resulted in an absolute mob scene as everyone surged to the vehicles. In all of the places we have been, we have never witnessed such a frightening scene.

Our last stop was Honolulu where we used the local bus to get from the cruise ship to Waikiki Beach. The cost was only 2$ as we got a transfer when we first got on and then used it to return to the ship at the end of the day. When we got back to the port, we found out that the ship had to move forward to allow another ship to dock behind it. NCL staff on shore told that we had to stay in the terminal until this was done—we were 5th in line and waited 75 minutes. By the time we were able to board, the line-up ran all the way back to security. Again, there were many older people in line and there were no chairs on which they could sit, only a set of stairs. Had we been told that this was going to happen, we would have timed our return to the ship accordingly. Quite a number of people in line (ourselves included) had dinner reservations to prepare for, and had other people waiting for them on ship not knowing where they were.

We had looked at booking a shore excursion with NCL to see Pearl Harbor and the Arizona. Luckily we did not, as we took the same excursion from a company located right at the dock for only 20$, much less than that charged by NCL.

Disembarkation was very fast and efficient. We spent 2 nights at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel, close to Waikiki Beach, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We swam at the Beach, did all of our souvenir shopping, and indulged in the best pineapple that I have ever tasted!

In general we enjoyed the cruise—being with family, seeing the Islands, snorkeling etc. But I must say that this is the last time we will be taking NCL.

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Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I just returned from our second NCL cruise this year. The first being on the Dawn in March and this one on the Sun in Sept. This cruise was our 5th with NCL. We have cruised 3 times with Princess.

Embarkation in ... Read More

My husband and I just returned from our second NCL cruise this year. The first being on the Dawn in March and this one on the Sun in Sept. This cruise was our 5th with NCL. We have cruised 3 times with Princess.

Embarkation in Vancouver was very well organized and we were in our cabin in no time.

Our balcony cabin was midship and very nice. Luggage was delivered to cabins quickly. Our cabin stewards (Lukeman & Thomas) were very friendly and accommodating. They were quick to respond to any requests we had. The nightly towel animals were fantastic.

We were at sea for 5 days before reaching Hawaii. The activities and entertainment were very good. Lots to do. A Polynesian group was onboard throughout the trip, providing excellent entertainment,demonstrations and free classes on how to make many Hawaiian crafts (Leis, necklaces, hats etc). This was a great way to pass the time while at sea and you got to keep what you made.

The food left something to be desired. The Buffet area is VERY small and crowded. Breakfast was the usual fair, but you had to go to different floors and venues for waffles, eggs, omelettes. Lunches and dinners in the buffet were awful. The same foods were served each day, just called something different. The main courses looked like a mismash of leftovers mixed together and called casseroles or stews. Potatoes were rare, they were either scalloped or sweet potatoes. There was no prime rib and regular potatoes offered at anytime during the cruise. The braising beef they had ONE night was so raw that the blood poured out of it, which is very unhealthy. The main restaurants were not much better. The menu for 13 days consisted of Pork, Lamb, Duck and more Pork, Lamb, & Duck. There was no variety. Everyone onboard was complaining about the food and saying the specialty restaurants were not any better. The pasta was the same everyday. My husband will eat almost anything, but he refused to eat the slop we were offered. We were forced to eat hamburger and fried chicken everyday at the outdoor grill. Room service menu was limited to sandwiches, but this was better than the restaurant food.

Our first port was Kahului, Maui. My husband and his friend went golfing at the Kahili Golf Course and had a great time. I went shopping.

Our second port was Kona on the big island. We took an excursion called Magical Seahorse discovery. NCL advertised that you would pet and hold the seahorses. This was not the case. First off this is a research facility and it is not equipped for bus tours. There was ONE toilet available (employees). There is no shade or a/c. Our bus had no a/c. The tour is mostly out in the hot sun. Plastic water containers are placed on chairs throughout. We saw a couple of small umbrella table/2 chairs only. You were allowed to put your hands in the plastic barrels where the seahorses were only one at a time, under supervision and told NOT to touch the seahorses or move your hands. Their tails were wrapped around one finger for about 30 seconds, that was it. Tour was to be 2 1/2 hrs. and was only 1 hrs. This tour was a waste of $49.00 + taxes per person.

Next we went to Lahaina, Maui. We took the public bus to the beach ($1.00 each oneway). A great way to go.

On to Kauai. Our excursion was cancelled by the operator, so we walked off the ship to go shopping. We found a tour operator off ship who offered an excursion to the Fern Grotto at half the cost being offered by NCL, so we took it. It turned out to be a great day.

In Hilo, on the big island, we rented a car (before we left home) and drove ourselves to the National Volcano Park. We saw the Thurston Lava Tube(amazing), walked on lava, up close to craters and steam vents. It was great.

Our last stop was Honolulu. We had an overnight stay here and disembarked early the next morning. We did a lot of walking, shopping and dined at a great restaurant in the Aloha Towers Marketplace, overlooking the ocean. The restaurant was the Town Grille BBQ.

On disembarkation day, we chose to take a tour as our flight did not leave until 7:45p.m. We toured the north shore and were dropped off at the airport at about 1:30p.m.

Overall the cruise was great (except for the food). Next time we are considering trying RCCL.

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Sail Date: September 2007
DH and I are 62 and 60, 9 cruises behind us on Carnival, Princess, RCCL and Disney. Our reason for this cruise was 39th anniversary and a restful 5 sea days.

Pre-cruise - We flew in on Tuesday 9/18 from Boston on Delta. Surprisingly, ... Read More

DH and I are 62 and 60, 9 cruises behind us on Carnival, Princess, RCCL and Disney. Our reason for this cruise was 39th anniversary and a restful 5 sea days.

Pre-cruise - We flew in on Tuesday 9/18 from Boston on Delta. Surprisingly, all flights went like clockwork. In fact, our luggage (all 3 pieces) were among the first 10 bags on the carousel. We had opted for Carnival pre-cruise package so we had transfers to the PanPacific hotel. All went really well. Only five minutes for the shuttle and they let us off right at the hotel. After the flight, we arrived at the hotel around 1:30pm. A really nice room was ready. We had a nice view of the city. The PanPacific is beautiful. It is situated right on the waterfront. You can access the cruise port by using their elevators. We took a walk to Gastown and had a really good lunch around 4pm. We explored the hotel, had a light snack around 9pm and got a good night's sleep.

Embarkation day - We awoke to a beautiful day. Vancouver is such a beautiful city. We have been there twice before. We went to the balcony of the hotel to see the ship. She was stunning. We wandered down to the pier and were able to watch people disembarking from Alaska. Around 11:30, we checked out of the hotel and went to the check-in for the ship. We had to go through security and then Customs before being allowed to check in. We had decided to splurge and get a suite. This gave us VIP check-in privileges. Wow, this was great. We were in the first group allowed to board. The ship looked to be in great shape. Everything was gleaming and sparkling. We went to the Lido deck and had lunch. We then went to the restaurant to change our table to a table for two. There was only one person handling this and the line was slow, but, we got a table for two with no problem. We then went to the Spa to make our reservations and then to the cabin.

The cabin is probably the size of about a regular cabin and a half. Lots of windows and storage. The bed was set up as a king. There was a couch and chair with a table. There was a desk with a minibar underneath and a shelf with lots of glasses above. There were 4 drawers with a marble countertop with a TV above. This is also where they have the safe. There were two closets in the bedroom and an additional two closets (one with shelves) in the dressing room. The bathroom was great. Large, two sinks, and a whirlpool tub. Amenities basket contained disposable razors, toothpaste and some Oil of Olay moisturizer. Lots of towels, thick and plush. The balcony was 6 feet deep rather than the 4 feet we are used to. The width coordinated with the cabin. We were midship. Both of us were very happy with the cabin. Our steward(ess) was Pauline. She was very friendly and kept our cabin well stocked with whatever we asked for.

The five sea days - We had previously done a Pacific crossing 10 years ago. I was a little concerned about no ports for 5 days but thought that since I'm older and slower, the 5 days would be a good rest. I was right. However, I did start to get a little antsy on day 4. This is no complaint about the activities. The cruise director (Shawn Bussey) and her staff had plenty of activities going from morning to late night. The entertainment was fine throughout the cruise. The headliner was Norm Crosby. Since he originally was from the Boston area, many of the places he mentioned during a meet-and-greet were places we live close to and have frequented. Mrs. Hughes did a couple of shows. They had a Motown night and a couple of LasVegas type nights. More comedians, a magician, and a hypnotist as well as a passenger talent show. All were fine.

The food was good to excellent. I loved the pizza, DH LOVED the Reuben sandwich at the deli. He said it was among the best he has ever had. We both felt the LaPlaya grille was a little confusing. You could get turned around and heading the wrong way without knowing it. Perhaps we were both directionally challenged. We did go to the Nouveau supper club. I'm sure that we'll be in the minority, but we were not impressed. The food was fine, the dEcor was great, the service was good, but we felt it was a bit pretenscious. I'm sure some people love it, but both DH and I felt uncomfortable being fawned over constantly. We have previously eaten at Sabatini's on the Princess line. That was outstanding with a very comfortable setting and atmosphere. Our dining room staff was great. Our waiter (Calixto???) and asst. waiter were attentive and friendly. Food was really good - certainly better than I expected.

The ports - what else can be said about Hawaii? It is everything you think you know and more. It was our second trip to the islands. We had seen most the the main sights before. We decided to wander around Kona and Lahaina. Both were great. Lots of little shops along a main street with a seawall. Vistas were spectacular. In Kauai, we decided to do the Hollywood in Hawaii tour. This was great. A small minibus 15-18 people - big screen TV showing the movies that were filmed in Kauai at the sites they were filmed at. When we reach a spot, they would show those movies that applied then point out the specific points. Both DH and I (admitted movie buffs) had fun. A highlight of the trip was the Coco Palms hotel. Elvis filmed the ending of Blue Hawaii (yes, the wedding scene) there. We were able to see the Palm courtyard and the bungalow Elvis stayed in whenever he was in Kauai. Unfortunately, the hotel has never been reopened since it's almost total destruction by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. It almost hurts to see it that way. In Kahului, Maui we did the Road to Hana tour. We were so glad we opted for a tour and let someone else do the driving. There are over 600 turns and twists with over 50 one-lane bridges - the road is two lanes (most of the time). This was another highlight for us. The views were breathtaking and we're so glad we did this.

I went into the port in Hilo and was able to do some of the shopping we needed. I ordered flowers for my mother from a stand that we had used 10 years ago. By the way, the flowers arrived as promised and are beautiful!

The next day we arrived in Honolulu. From our balcony, we had a clear view of the Aloha Tower. We had deliberately booked a tour in the afternoon so we could wander around in the morning. Right on time, at 1pm, Kos Hummer Tours picked us up for a tour to the sites where "Lost" is filmed. I did mention us being film buffs. We had never been in a Hummer 4x4 before. After this tour, I don't know why I won't go on roller coasters! He went places in that vehicle that only a mountain goat could get to. It was fun. The driver had one other couple and stopped wherever we wanted. It was personalized and we had a good time.

Debarkation - We decided against self-disembark. Carnival has a new system with numbers based on your post-cruise plans. We had indicated that we would like to be off the ship by 9am. We got #7. We were called at 8:50am. No problem finding luggage. We opted for the airport and took a shuttle there at $5 per person. After the agricultural inspection, we checked in. Since we were so early (our flight was 6pm) the Delta supervisor had to override the system. This allowed us to go to the Delta Crown Room lounge. We paid $25 each for full access to a lounge with soft lights, comfortable chairs, snacks, magazines, and AN OPEN BAR!!!! The best $50 we have ever spent. Our flight home, while long, were uneventful. Everything was on time and when we reached Boston, again our luggage was within the first 10 pieces on the baggage carousel.

Summary - Great ship, relaxing 5 days, beautiful destination. Embarkation and debarkation were good. Entertainment was good and better than we expected. We hadn't sailed with Carnival in 20 years and were hesitant about going backwards. However, after this cruise, we wouldn't hesitate to go on Carnival again.

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