Go Back   Cruise Critic Message Board Forums > Cruise Lines "A - O" > Norwegian Cruise Line
 
Register here!
Forgot Your Password?


Notices

Norwegian Cruise Line
Read thousands of Norwegian Cruise Reviews from real cruisers and compare the best Norwegian Cruise Deals

How to Set Up a Meet & Mingle on Your NCL Cruise

NEW! Find Your NORWEGIAN Roll Call


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old December 21st, 2011, 11:43 AM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default Review of Hawaii Dec 10, 2011 POA

Review Hawaii December 2011 on Pride of America & 3 day Oahu (Dec 8-18, 2011)

I'm doing my review in pieces since I don't know how to copy and paste the entire file (please let me know if anyone has done this before).

We just returned from our 15th trip to Hawaii in as many years. This year we decided to do NCL Pride of America. Despite reading some unfavorable reviews, we were honestly impressed with the ship. This is, by far, the best way to see the main Hawaiian Islands. We booked a cruise/land package with 3 days in Oahu prior to the cruise. The total price ended up costing about $100/night pp but we booked it several months ago & got a great deal. The land portion included airport to hotel pickup and delivery to cruise ship, two nights at Waikiki Resort Hotel, plus daily breakfast and a Honolulu sightseeing tour with Pearl Harbor. Quite a bargain, in my opinion, considering the cruise includes your hotel, all food & entertainment. I used airline miles for the roundtrip to Hawaii.

The last time we cruised NCL was on Pride of Aloha in 2008 when it offered the 10-day cruise. I wish they would bring it back, as it offered a couple of sea days to relax and catch your breath. We also tried Princess and Holland America 15-day trans-Pacific cruises from mainland, but we donít like having 10 ocean days and only 4 days in Hawaii. Plus you have to make a stop at Encenada and bring a passport. Flying directly to Oahu and Island hopping is expensive and requires packing and repacking, hours in the airport, and having to arrange rental cars and hotels on each Island. With NCL Pride of America, you fly directly to Oahu and catch your floating hotel for the next 7 nights and have more days in Hawaii.

In this review I will mention what we did for shore excursions on this trip, but also include some of the other favorite tours we did in the past. Hopefully this way you can get an idea what you may want to do if this is your first time in Hawaii. I will also include tips that I think might be helpful.

WARNING ABOUT READING THE REVIEWS:
Whatever you read about NCL remember this: everyone is responsible for creating their own fun, as we were reminded of this by the comedian Bud Anderson on the first night of our cruise. He joked, ďwe are all animals. Do you want to be a zoo animal or a wild animal? Not the type that kills other animals, maybe somewhere in between. Hereís what a zoo animal looks like,Ē then he laid down on stage as if asleep and scratched his rear. He explained that you can either WAIT for fun to appear to you, or you can create your own fun. I choose the later. In the same light, if you look for something bad, Iím pretty sure youíre going to find it. I honestly could not find any fault with Pride of America, but then again, I was busy having fun, meeting people, and allowing the magic of Hawaii to overtake me. My advice is not to read the reviews, or read them but keep an open mind. I found everyone friendly & helpful, the food abundant and delicious, and the entertainment (the few shows we attended) enjoyable.

This cruise had the most polite, patient and friendly people on any cruise ship we sailed. Iím not sure if itís because of all the reviews that mention the rude, pushy, and impossible to please people and we were all on our best behavior.

The ship itself was well maintained, polished and had a fresh coat of paint in many areas. It was immaculate and clean. Never was there congestion, except when we embarked and disembarked, but this took only a few minutes. There was only one public bathroom on the ship that was closed that I noticed. Other than this, everything was in good working order.

AIRLINE RIDE FROM MAINLAND: For the plane ride from the mainland, I recommend booking a 767. The leg room is better and overhead storage more ample than the smaller aircraft. Some reviews will tell you to sit on one side or the other to get the first views of Hawaii, but it depends on the flight pattern & can change at any time.

Hereís a pic of Diamond Head Crater from the left side of a 767 on Continental:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0214.jpg (13.1 KB, 310 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #2  
Old December 21st, 2011, 11:51 AM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

CABINS:
You can indulge and splurge on a Penthouse suite and get your own butler (if youíre going to DO Hawaii, this is the best way to do it), get a balcony or window suite to enjoy the views, or do what we do and get the inside suite to have extra money for shore excursions. We missed having a balcony, but seldom were we in our room. The cabins are small but would accommodate all our stuff with lots of shelves, drawers, and storage under the bed for at least 2-4 large pieces of luggage when the twin beds are pushed together. It is the best use of space I have ever seen. The bathroom mirror (in the inside & balcony staterooms) opens up with a large corner shelf for toiletries and such. I took an over-the-door shoe holder to place on the back of the bathroom door to hold small items, but didnít need it because of all the shelves they provide to hold your stuff. In fact, we had several drawers we never used.

There are ample hangers and the closet can be switched into shelves if needed. There is a good blow dryer on the desk (no electric outlet in bathroom) and there is a separate two-outlet electric plug on wall at the desk. If you have an iPhone, iPod, camera or anything else that needs a USB port, you can bring a Belkin surge protector with three plugs and two USB ports that only use one of the outlets. Itís only 5x2 inches and fits easily in our luggage as well as in the electric socket at the desk. You can get them at either Lowes or Home Depot for about $10. The light in the cabin and especially the bathroom is bright (even without any window), and there are lots of full-length mirrors to make sure you look gorgeous (or in my case to check the size of my hips when the cruise was over). There is a safe for storing valuables and cash. There is a refrigerator for storing soda & water (we had the cabin steward empty it immediately so as not to be charged for anything in the mini bar). The outside of the cabin door has a rotating wheel to switch to DO NOT DISTURB or WELCOME. There are peep holes in the door to check who is outside (you can see all the way down the hall). The beds are comfortable and the linens soft. In summary, a very comfortable cabin.

This time we had a HUGE handicap room (10157) since DH had his little Go-Go scooter to get around the ship. Unfortunately it wasnít working properly after we got off the plane in Honolulu, maybe the handlers dropped it, so we ended up pushing it to the Waikiki hotel, then to the ship, then off the ship, then to the airline terminal in Honolulu, then through the airport at home to the baggage claim area. It was like dragging around a 45-pound ball and chain, but at least we got the big handicap cabin. The cabin was about the size of a family suite. The only downside is that it is located directly under the Aloha Cafť where the carts go into the kitchen, so there is a LOUD rumbling sound from around 6am to 11pm, or when the cafť is running. I brought ear plugs but still used this sound as my alarm clock.

Here is a pics of the room (10157) with DH Go-Go in the corner (notice the 4 drawers to the left of the desk and shelves above the TV):

The next two pics are blurry but hopefully you can get an idea of the storage & size of this room:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0400.jpg (16.5 KB, 601 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0401.jpg (13.5 KB, 498 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0402.jpg (13.3 KB, 475 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #3  
Old December 21st, 2011, 11:54 AM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

The bathroom in the handicap room is also huge. The bathrooms of the inside and balcony cabins are tiny with small shower (a good shower curtain though) but would still hold all my stuff behind the mirror (we visited our friendís cabin & had balcony on Pride of Aloha in 2008). Hereís a pic of the bathroom:

Here is the shower area:

Here is the amount of storage behind the mirror. The inside & balcony cabins have about the same amount of space:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0403.jpg (12.3 KB, 389 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0404.jpg (10.9 KB, 321 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0406.jpg (13.1 KB, 329 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #4  
Old December 21st, 2011, 11:55 AM
Cubechick's Avatar
Cubechick Cubechick is offline
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 6,139
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just4You View Post
Review Hawaii December 2011 on Pride of America & 3 day Oahu (Dec 8-18, 2011)

I'm doing my review in pieces since I don't know how to copy and paste the entire file (please let me know if anyone has done this before).

We just returned from our 15th trip to Hawaii in as many years. This year we decided to do NCL Pride of America. Despite reading some unfavorable reviews, we were honestly impressed with the ship. This is, by far, the best way to see the main Hawaiian Islands. We booked a cruise/land package with 3 days in Oahu prior to the cruise. The total price ended up costing about $100/night pp but we booked it several months ago & got a great deal. The land portion included airport to hotel pickup and delivery to cruise ship, two nights at Waikiki Resort Hotel, plus daily breakfast and a Honolulu sightseeing tour with Pearl Harbor. Quite a bargain, in my opinion, considering the cruise includes your hotel, all food & entertainment. I used airline miles for the roundtrip to Hawaii.

The last time we cruised NCL was on Pride of Aloha in 2008 when it offered the 10-day cruise. I wish they would bring it back, as it offered a couple of sea days to relax and catch your breath. We also tried Princess and Holland America 15-day trans-Pacific cruises from mainland, but we donít like having 10 ocean days and only 4 days in Hawaii. Plus you have to make a stop at Encenada and bring a passport. Flying directly to Oahu and Island hopping is expensive and requires packing and repacking, hours in the airport, and having to arrange rental cars and hotels on each Island. With NCL Pride of America, you fly directly to Oahu and catch your floating hotel for the next 7 nights and have more days in Hawaii.

In this review I will mention what we did for shore excursions on this trip, but also include some of the other favorite tours we did in the past. Hopefully this way you can get an idea what you may want to do if this is your first time in Hawaii. I will also include tips that I think might be helpful.

WARNING ABOUT READING THE REVIEWS:
Whatever you read about NCL remember this: everyone is responsible for creating their own fun, as we were reminded of this by the comedian Bud Anderson on the first night of our cruise. He joked, ďwe are all animals. Do you want to be a zoo animal or a wild animal? Not the type that kills other animals, maybe somewhere in between. Hereís what a zoo animal looks like,Ē then he laid down on stage as if asleep and scratched his rear. He explained that you can either WAIT for fun to appear to you, or you can create your own fun. I choose the later. In the same light, if you look for something bad, Iím pretty sure youíre going to find it. I honestly could not find any fault with Pride of America, but then again, I was busy having fun, meeting people, and allowing the magic of Hawaii to overtake me. My advice is not to read the reviews, or read them but keep an open mind. I found everyone friendly & helpful, the food abundant and delicious, and the entertainment (the few shows we attended) enjoyable.

This cruise had the most polite, patient and friendly people on any cruise ship we sailed. Iím not sure if itís because of all the reviews that mention the rude, pushy, and impossible to please people and we were all on our best behavior.

The ship itself was well maintained, polished and had a fresh coat of paint in many areas. It was immaculate and clean. Never was there congestion, except when we embarked and disembarked, but this took only a few minutes. There was only one public bathroom on the ship that was closed that I noticed. Other than this, everything was in good working order.

AIRLINE RIDE FROM MAINLAND: For the plane ride from the mainland, I recommend booking a 767. The leg room is better and overhead storage more ample than the smaller aircraft. Some reviews will tell you to sit on one side or the other to get the first views of Hawaii, but it depends on the flight pattern & can change at any time.

Hereís a pic of Diamond Head Crater from the left side of a 767 on Continental:
Can't wait to read more. What you've said so far mirrors our experience. The crew on the America had the friendliest crew we've sailed with to date. Hands down. (Love your snippet about what the comedian said, BTW!)
__________________
Cruises gone by...
NCL Majesty 05/02, NCL Majesty 06/03, NCL Majesty 06/05 ,NCL Majesty 06/06, NCL Spirit 04/07, NCL Majesty 06/07, NCL Majesty 10/07, NCL Gem 01/08 (Mmm.. New Ship Smell), NCL Dream 5/08, NCL Dream 6/08, NCL Dawn 10/08, NCL Gem 01/09 (best cruise yet! ), NCL Pearl 6/09 (WOW!),NCL Spirit 09/09 , NCL Gem 1/10, NCL Epic 6/10...Most Excellent!, Mahalo Pride of America 4/11, NCL Star Panama Canal 10/11, NCL Spirit 2/12, NCL Sky 5/12, NCL Epic Med 10/12, Breakaway One Night from Rotterdam 4/13, Breakaway TA 4/13, NCL Star Norway & Faroe Islands 9/13, NCL Gem Eastern Caribbean 1/14, NCL Jewel...GV to Alaska!

190 days and counting...

Cruise on deck!

NCL Dawn...back to Bermuda!

Travel Blog -->http://cubechick.wordpress.com/

Travel photos -->http://www.flickr.com/photos/39515557@N04/collections/
Reply With Quote

  #5  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:26 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

I believe that even the tiny bathrooms in the inside or balcony cabins are adequate. If you donít like your little shower, you can always take one at the Spa bathroom, which is open to all guests. The separate men/women areas have showers with Elemis products (same body soap & shampoo that is provided in a dispenser on the shower wall in each cabin), dry sauna, & steam room (this is according to DH, I did not go there. On Pride of Aloha there wasnít a steam room on womenís side so Iím not sure about Pride America). DH also took a soak in the hot tubs located by the pool (there are 4).

FOOD:
All the food comes out of the same kitchen, but each restaurant has different offerings. We ate at Liberty once, Skyline twice, and the Aloha Cafť a few times for lunch and dinner. We always got room service for breakfast since we had a tour each day (make sure you fill out the room service card and hang outside your door before midnight the morning before). We also got room service at night while watching the recorded TV programs of the activities we missed while in port (ohÖ to have one of those greek salads with a BLT sandwich right now!)

We ate at only one specialty restaurant (Lazy J) the first night on ship (it is only $20 instead of $25 this night) and had the most delicious filet mignon that didnít need a knife to cut. I also had the crab cakes while DH had portabella mushroom stuffed with crab as appetizer. It was delicious & we would have returned if we knew when we would be hungry. I really like the FreeStyle dining concept as we ate whenever we were hungry. We could have eaten at any of the specialty restaurants without a reservation except for maybe Jefferson Bistro and Teppanyaki on some nights. There are electronic boards located on ship that show if tables are available or have a short wait.

Speaking of the specialty restaurants, on other cruises we invited friends we met on the cruise to the specialty restaurants and treated them. We still have lifelong friends from this simple gesture. When you think about it, for only a few dollars per person you can have a really spectacular 4+ course meal with the ambience of a nice restaurant. In my opinion, the food, service and ambience at Liberty and Skyline was just as good except it had more people around you in the giant dining rooms.

All the food was delicious & beautifully prepared. Executive chef Erika Suarez put on a hilarious show in the lobby making a black forest cake with hotel director Dallas and Cruise director Silas (we saw the videotaped show on our TV in our cabin).

The waiters in the restaurants were courteous and prompt, and Leo at Skyline (table 35) remembered our names and what we liked after only one visit. I recommend NOT eating right at 5:30 pm when the restaurant opens, as there may be a line out the door. It moves quickly, however, and we were told itís never more than 15 minute wait. We shared a table so were seated almost immediately and got to meet 4 others at our table which made for a delightful time. Once at Skyline two of the crew joined us, Ashley & Daniel of the cruise director staff.

The BBQ buffet on the lido deck at the Kauai sail off had the most delicious ribs, chicken and corn on the cob. There is a variety of food from which to choose at Aloha Cafť. At one time there were even crepes at one of the stations. Both sides of the cafť have ice cream machines. I heard the Aloha Cafť can get congested in the morning, but there is also a Lanai buffet with lots of tables outside. On other Hawaiian cruises, the outside lido aft deck was where we often spotted whales during Dec-Apr.

Lobster night (small lobster tail) was Monday (I think, this is what Terrence at the restaurant reservation desk told us) but we missed it since we were at Sunset Dinner Cruise in Maui. If you like lobster, make a reservation at Jefferson Bistro for Wed as they pick up large lobsters in Kona. We made reservations but cancelled them when I found out they serve the whole lobster. Even though they cut it open for you, I donít like the idea of seeing the entire lobster on a plate. Iím a little weird that way and used to be a vegetarian for that reason.
__________________
Reply With Quote

Ad Sponsored By
  #6  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:30 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

BEST VIEWING TIPS ON SHIP:
Look for whales off the Aloha Cafť/Lanai buffet lido aft deck (outside) while in Maui during Dec-April (whales migrate to Hawaii to give birth and mate, then return to Alaska).

Best lava view is from starboard side (right) after leaving Hilo, around 10 pm. We like Deck 6 since it is seldom crowded. Other good areas are any of the outside decks or your balcony. To hear the narration, make sure you are either on Deck 6, 11 or 13. Unless you have a good camera (Iím impressed with the Panasonic ZS10), itís best to purchase the photos from the ship ($9.95 for 3). Make sure to bring binoculars, although the lava this time was amazing and didnít we need them.

I donít have a pic of the lava, but here is our favorite photographer, Josh, with our Ďsecretí handshake:

When leaving Kauai at 2pm watch for the tug boat that does a funny spin around as if waving goodbye to us.

Na Pali coast sailby and narration begins at 5:15 pm after leaving Kauai. Get a seat at one of the tables at Waikiki Bar on deck 13 (to get to it, take stairs from aft deck of Aloha Cafť lido deck to deck 12, then another set of stairs to deck 13) & sit on the port side (left). Look for the faces in the mountains. I only got one pic (look under Kauai below). The ship turns around and the view is seen by the starboard side (right), but by then the narration is over. Bring binoculars & a light jacket. Once the sun sets it can get chilly and windy on deck.

Hollywood Theatre: there are no bad seats. We could have sat anywhere, even after the show started, but there were only the two of us. Larger parties may want to get there a little early to sit together. After the show it only took about 10 minutes for the entire theatre to empty.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0567.jpg (18.5 KB, 377 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #7  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:33 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubechick View Post
Can't wait to read more. What you've said so far mirrors our experience. The crew on the America had the friendliest crew we've sailed with to date. Hands down. (Love your snippet about what the comedian said, BTW!)
Wasn't it great? Writing this review is bringing it all back again... I don't want it to end!
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #8  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:37 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

MAPS OF THE ISLANDS:
Make sure you grab a map of the island in the warehouse where the ship docks and on the pier in Kona where the ship anchors. Sometimes the ship has these maps when you disembark. The maps are great to know where you are going and where youíve been. I put a little ďxĒ next to each stop so I know what pictures Iíve taken and where.

CELL PHONE/iPHONE RECEPTION:
My iPhone worked great while ship was in port, even in the cabin (not when sailing away from the island or when anchored off Kona). If you get poor reception, go to Deck 11 or get to shore. There is a fee for internet service, but I was able to check my email and send replies on my iPhone free of charge. I was even able to google things I wanted to look up.

CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET:
Mandi, one of the members that blogged with us on cruisecritic.com, arranged the meet and greet that took place in the Martini Bar (also called Lanai Bar, Deck 13 forward).

Mandi placed these adorable invitations on our cabin door:

Several officers and staff showed up, including Dallas Easterly (hotel director), Tony Winkler (Food/beverage director. Tony was one of our favorite people on the ship. Every day he was there to greet us and somehow managed to remember our names. By the end of the cruise we were hugging when we saw each other like we were old friends). Others: Sayeed (Guest Svs Mgr. Sayeed went out of his way to try to find a copy of the videotape of DH on stage with the comedian, but they didnít record the 9pm show), Erika Suarez (executive chef), Jackie (Front of House), Dustin Brown (Beverage Mgr), Silas Cook (Cruise Dir). There were others but I didnít catch their names. They presented us with complimentary mai taiís or fruit drinks and a selection of cookies. It was great fun to get to meet everyone we had been blogging with for the past several months as we had our countdown-to-cruise comments. We also enjoyed getting to meet the officers.

Hereís a group photo of the cruise critic members at the meet and greet. Iím seated in middle with blue silk Aloha shirt & lei. Dan (DH) is kneeling next to me with his cane on ground. Mandi (who set up the meet & greet) is to my right & her son is sitting in her lap, her other son is in her mother-in-lawís lap:

Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0588.jpg (11.2 KB, 313 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0589.jpg (9.7 KB, 330 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0270.jpg (25.1 KB, 470 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #9  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:39 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

At the meet & greet, I gave a little charm of the Hawaiian state fish: humuhumunukunukuapuaía (trigger fish) to the couples celebrating anniversaries (there were three in our group, not including us). I feel bad that I gave out some wrong information so I am apologizing here. I showed a natural and polished opihi shell (limpet) and said the polished ones can be purchased from the warehouse entering the ship in Kauai, but it was really Maui. This goes to show that no matter how many times Iíve been to the pier I still get lost in Hawaii. Sorry to anyone who waited until Kauai to find these.

Hereís a pic of natural and polished opihi shells, along with a kakui nut necklace (given to me by Kainoa Dela Cruz of Hawaiian Royalty who was the ďKingĒ of the Aloha Festival in 1993) and a trigger fish charm. I wanted to give everybody something but didnít have enough to go around and DH forebade me from giving away the stuff here. The polished opihi shells look like they have faces, some think this one looks like Jesus (you can be the judge):
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0590.jpg (16.3 KB, 278 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #10  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:47 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

TIPPING ETIQUETTE:
The only reason Iím including this is because almost every day someone was asking me how much to tip. The following is from 15 years of travel to Hawaii (and other places) & research from various websites on the topic. Please feel free to give more or less, depending on what you can afford or how impressed you are with the tour. You can give nothing, the recommended, or moreÖ you decide. These are guidelines we use, but do not imply that anyone has to follow it.

Pride of America automatically charges $12 pp/d for tip that is divided between the staff (cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter, etc). For example, the cabin steward might be lucky to get $4. You donít have to give any extra because itís already included in your cruise. However, we always like to leave a little extra on the bathroom sink area with a note for our steward to have a great day. We have received exceptional service (i.e., extra towels, pillows & glasses, a towel animal to greet us in the afternoon). Even when we didnít leave a daily tip we received this service, but it makes us feel good about giving a little extra and we donít feel obligated to give anything extra at the end of the cruise when the steward meets you in the hallway as you disembark from the ship. Some of the cabin stewards & wait staff are on 4-6 month contracts and this is their only source of income to support a large family. Again, feel free to give what you want.

Cabin Steward: $3-5 day for both of us (max $18-30 for 7-d cruise).
Room Service: $2-3 total when food is delivered to room
Tour guide: $5 per person for half-day tour (4 hrs or less), $10 per person for full day tour (6 hrs+)
Driver of bus to destination: $1-2 per person
Musician/Band song request: $1 per song

LAUNDRY SERVICES:
We pack light and wear the same clothes 2-3 times. NCL used to have a $20 per bag laundry deal but I donít think itís offered anymore. Now they have a per piece laundry service. There are no self-service facilities. The Penthouse & some of the suites get this service free of charge.

Here is a picture of the laundry/Valet service prices:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0593.jpg (15.6 KB, 210 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #11  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:49 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

FUN STUFF TO DO ON THE ISLANDS:
What follows are all the shore excursions we did with pictures and what I would recommend based on what we did in the past. It also includes some tips to get the most out of your experience. It is separated by the islands we visited: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai.

OAHU:
Our first night in Oahu we ran into performers from Polynesia Cultural Center (PCC) who are students from New Zealand. They were practicing their dancing across the street from Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Waikiki where I was pigging out on Kalua pig and drinking my first mai tai. In some of my older reviews I gave PCC a bad rap because I thought it was a hokey, Disney-like production. After speaking with the students I found out they work hard in order to get to go to school there. The university is right next to PCC, and students go from class directly to work at PCC. The New Zealand students we met perform as the Aotearoa people, one group of the Polynesians who migrated to Hawaii. You need a day to see everything, especially the evening show Ha! Breath of Life, a beautiful production that depicts the circle of life. Next trip we plan to revisit PCC.

Hereís a pic of the New Zealand students:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0224.jpg (21.2 KB, 217 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #12  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:51 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

A yearly tradition for us is to eat fish tacos at Dukeís on Waikiki. DH also had Poke and we shared a Hula Pie for dessert. I could barely button my jeans the next day, but OHHH IT WAS GOOD! Hereís a pic of the fish tacos. I already ate one before I realized I didnít take a pic.

We also like to ride the outrigger canoe ride next to Dukeís. About 6 people climb into the vessel along with a pilot and rudderman, you paddle out, turn around, wait for the right wave, paddle quickly, then holler like crazy with arms holding oars overhead when you catch the wave. You go out twice. I think itís about $10 pp. Itís like surfing without getting wet. Well, not too wet anyway. It was too late to ride the outrigger this year as they shut down early, around 4:30 pm.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0246.jpg (24.9 KB, 380 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #13  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:52 PM
InTheCruisingYearsOfLife InTheCruisingYearsOfLife is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 722
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just4You View Post
... Whatever you read about NCL remember this: everyone is responsible for creating their own fun, as we were reminded of this by the comedian Bud Anderson on the first night of our cruise. ...
DW and I first encountered Bud on our first cruise to Alaska (Sawyer glacier route) on the Sun, and then we had the pleasure of seeing him again on our Pearl cruise to Alaska (Glacier Bay route). He's a really nice guy, with a pleasantly clean humor, broad view of life, and a natural readiness to mingle with pax.

Glad to know he's still aboard NCL.

InTheCruisingYearsOfLife
__________________
July '04, 7 days -- NCL Sun -- Alaska, Sawyer Glacier -- stern mini-suite.
Oct '08, 11 days -- NCL Sun -- San Francisco, Mexican Riviera -- bow mini-suite.
July '10, 7 days -- NCL Pearl -- Alaska, Glacier Bay -- penthouse UPSOLD TO Deluxe Owner's Suite.
Feb '12, 7 days -- NCL Spirit -- Western Caribbean, NOLA -- rump penthouse.

Upcoming Ubercation, Fall of 2014:

25 Aug, 14 days Scenic Pearl, Amsterdam to Basel on the Rhine and Moselle rivers
8 Sept, 11 days Paris, overnight rail to Venice
20 Sept, 7 days NCL Jade, Greek Islands -- rump penthouse
7 days on the Grand Canal in Venice,
4 days Cinque Terre B&B,
5 days Lucca,
4 days Amalfi,
5 days Rome,
4 days NCL Epic Rome to Barcelona, spa mini-suite, but bailing out one night early at Palma de Mallorca,
7 nights there.
Reply With Quote

  #14  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:54 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

Sunrise at Diamond Head. On the morning we were to embark on the cruise ship, I met Mandi (who set up the meet & greet) at 5:30am at my hotel lobby & we took a cab to Diamond Head (about $12). We got there when the park opened at 6 am (cost $1), and we hiked up to the summit. This day (Dec 10, 2011) was the full moon & lunar eclipse. It was the first time I saw the moon set with lunar eclipse and sun rise at same time. It was magical. My legs were sore all week from the hike, but it was totally worth it. It only took about 35 minutes to get to the top, so even if youíre not in good shape you can make it. My problem is that I tried to keep up with Mandi who is in terrific shape. Make sure you bring the following: cab fare, $1 to enter park, flashlight if prior to sunrise, light jacket for summit, camera, small bottle of water, hat if going during the afternoon. If you go during the day be prepared for crowds. There is an alternate stairway now which makes the crowd control better.

Here is a great review with map of the hike: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/hikediamondhead.html

Hereís a pic of the sunrise & a closer pic of the crater as we hiked down (the pics of Waikiki beach at sunrise didnít turn out but the view is spectacular):


Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0263.jpg (9.6 KB, 277 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0267.jpg (22.9 KB, 245 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #15  
Old December 21st, 2011, 12:57 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by InTheCruisingYearsOfLife View Post
DW and I first encountered Bud on our first cruise to Alaska (Sawyer glacier route) on the Sun, and then we had the pleasure of seeing him again on our Pearl cruise to Alaska (Glacier Bay route). He's a really nice guy, with a pleasantly clean humor, broad view of life, and a natural readiness to mingle with pax.

Glad to know he's still aboard NCL.

InTheCruisingYearsOfLife
The comedian Bud Anderson was on the first night on POA. It was a wonderful way to start our cruise.
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #16  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:01 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

We always like to do the Grand Circle Island Tour when we disembark on our last day. Itís arranged with NCL and the bus picks you up close to where your luggage is laid out at the warehouse dock around 9 am, they store your luggage under the bus, and drop you off at the airport around 5-5:30pm. It includes a delicious buffet lunch at Kualoa Ranch. It is a great way to end your vacation in Hawaii before your plane leaves if you have a flight after 7pm (the NCL website states 9 pm, but we have never missed a flight). Other stops on the tour include Hanauma Bay (best swim/snorkel site but closed on Tues), Halona Blow Hole, Aloha Tropical Farms (get sample of coffee and macadamia nuts), Sunset Beach (Bonzai Pipeline at north shore where competition surfing occurs in winter), Dole Plantation. You can go to http://www.dole-plantation.com to order pineapples to ship home. I ordered a 6-pack before we left (called their toll free number & told them when to ship) and they were delivered to our home on Saturday the day before we arrived home (usually takes about 3 days to ship). They are DELICIOUS and make great gifts. They are a little spendy, about $13 each for a 6-pack, but shipping is free. (I'm eating the sweet, tender pineapple right now!)

Hereís is pic of DH under a rainbow at Dole Pineapple, then a pic of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (youíll have to turn your head sideways for this one):


Hereís a pic of a surfer at Bonzai pipeline at north shore (look for the little dot in the surf), the waves were about 20 feet this day & surf conditions were dangerous (the next 3 pics are out of order as these were taken on our last day in Hawaii on Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour):
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0581.jpg (17.4 KB, 255 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0583.jpg (15.4 KB, 243 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN0585.jpg (26.4 KB, 223 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #17  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:05 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

Other fun things to do in Oahu (sorry if I missed anything):
Oahu is the most crowded of all the Hawaiian Islands but there are lots of great things to do. You can ride the public bus for only $2.50 and take it all the way around the island with one free transfer. If you get off more than once you have to pay another $2.50. It runs every 20 minutes and is a great way to see the island on your own. Years ago we bought the bus map but have never used it. Just ask the locals which side of the street to catch the bus & the driver will tell you when to get off. One of our favorite things to do is go to Bishop Museum (an easy bus ride but a little bit of a walk from bus stop to the museum). I recommend at least 6 hours to really see everything the museum has to offer.

Pearl Harbor is a must-see to pay homage to those who lost their lives Dec 7, 1941 (this was the 70th anniversary). The best time to tour is early in the day so you can get a ticket to the boat that takes you to the Arizona Memorial.

On the east coast is Sealife Park where you can swim with/pet/kiss/coddle a dolphin or sea lion for an extra cost. They also have a wholphin named Kekaimalu (cross between a false killer whale and Atlantic bottle nose dolphin). The park is small so you can see everything in about 3-4 hours. Make sure and watch the main show. Check the website for any coupons. I recommend taking the bus (about 30 min ride) since a taxi is expensive ( it cost us around $75 three years ago but the driver drove really SLOWLY and made sure he caught all the lights which ran up the bill). We heard the conditions here are not as good as some of the hotels which also offer dolphin encounters, but the animals here seemed to enjoy the human interaction and performing in the main show.

The Ohau Deluxe Island Helicopter is a good way to see Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl Crater, Diamond Head Crater, Waikiki beach, Nuíuanu Valley cliffs (where King Kamehameha defeated the Oíahuans in 1795), Sacred Falls, and Dole Pineapple from the air.

There is a tour to the North Shore to Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and Bonzai Pipeline. Next you will see the beautiful coastline of the Koolau Mountain range and shrimp farms, Chinamanís Hat, and a stop at the Mac Nut Farm and Byodo Temple. The bus then takes you to airport.

There are at least two goft courses on Oahu: Koíolau and Ko Olina.

Waikiki beach is fun if you want to play in the gentle surf and walk along the beach. There are surfing lessons, rentals for boogie boards and other toys, and a fun place to watch people. Every Friday there is a firework display from Hilton Hawaiian Village (only lasts about 10 mins) around 7:45 pm. The best place to view it is from the beach or pier at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Hotel. All beaches in Hawaii are public access, so donít worry if you are not staying at a particular hotel to enjoy their beach or hotel lobby.

Hereís a great map of Waikiki with hotels: http://www.discounthotelshawaii.com/waikikimap.html
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #18  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:07 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

MAUI:
The ship docks in Kahalui port for two days so you can do a night event the first night (many like to go to the Old Lahaina Luau). We rented a car and drove to Lahaina (itís like a miniature Key West with lots of little shops). There is a free parking lot off Front Street but it fills up by the afternoon. There is also parking all along Front Street. To get to Front Street take one of the roads off Highway 30 (Honoapiíilani), or if you are like most people (or us) you will pass it and have to backtrack but can take Front Street right off Hwy 30 if traveling from the North.

Hereís a pic of the Banyan Tree (note the lack of tourists but only locals selling their wares under the tree. The tip is to leave ship right when it docks, get shuttle to rental agency, & drive directly to Lahaina. Our camera was still set to Central Time, but it was really 9:46 am):
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0273.jpg (24.9 KB, 261 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #19  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:10 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default

We like to revisit the Maui Ocean Center each year because this is the best way to see what lives UNDER the water. They donít have cetaceans (whales or dolphins), as their mission is to foster understanding, wonder & respect for Hawaiiiís marine life, and whales and dolphins have displayed a higher intelligence with self-awareness. They also donít have monk seals but you may see them on the beaches. Please make sure you give them and the sea turtle(Hanu) lots of space and privacy. You will be fined if you are too close or caught trying to feed or pet them. The locals might come up to you and tell you off, the only time I have seen them get upset with tourists. It makes me sad to see a crowd of tourists huddling around a turtle who is trying to eat the algae on the beach.

At Maui Ocean Center the fish get fed before the park opens and after it closes, so donít expect there to be any feeding times. There is a see through tunnel where you can stand to watch rays, sharks and fish swim right over and below you. There are presentations with a scuba diver in the tank to answer questions, so make sure you watch the times for this interactive show. One of the Tiger Sharks takes up almost two of the window lengths where the diver show takes place. Online you can find various combinations of tours for a discount, for example, Ocean Center & Submarine tour.

Later we played around Mai Poina ĎOe Laíu State Beach and watched the wind surfers do acrobatics in the surf. We next went to Maíalaea Bay for a Quicksilver Sunset Dinner Cruise with Captain Eric and his crew (the only dinner cruise that was offered on Sunday this year). It is a catamaran and serves a delicious ono fish or prime rib meal with all the trimmings, open bar (first 2 drinks are free), and beautiful sunset. Capt Eric kept the boat in perfect position for the sunset. His crew would have wiped the dribble from your chin if you wanted, they were that attentive. The seating is first-come, first-seated, so get there about 15-30 mins early & sit in line on a bench in front of the boat. The best seats for the sunset are upstairs, but even downstairs is a great treat because this is where the live band plays. There is plenty of room to walk around upstairs or down so you will enjoy sitting at any table for the dinner and can walk upstairs for the sunset. The bathroom for men is on starboard side, womenís is port. Make sure you bring a list of your favorite sunset/Hawaiian songs for the band. They sang everything from Somewhere Over the Rainbow to the Bee Gees. I went around and took requests from upstairs, wrote down about 20 songs, took it to band downstairs, and they played everything on the list. Pretty impressive. It can get a little chilly (and windy) at night, so wear a long-sleeved shirt or bring light jacket.

Hereís a pic of us with another couple at the sunset dinner cruise:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0276.jpg (19.0 KB, 238 views)
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #20  
Old December 21st, 2011, 01:11 PM
Just4You's Avatar
Just4You Just4You is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near Houston, still in the boonies
Posts: 682
Default Maui (continued)

The Green Flash:
In Hawaii, there is the phenomenon called the Green Flash. When the horizon is clear & the weather warm, be aware of the sun setting along the west side of Maui (best to take a sunset cruise). Donít look directly into the sun or it might burn your retina & youíll see a green haze (foolís flash) & possibly hurt your eyes. Right as the very top of the sun starts to slip below the horizon, look at it directly and you might notice a vivid flash of green when the sun completely goes below the horizon. This is due to the sunís rays passing through the thickest part of the atmosphere where the light is bent, much like a rainbow. The light that bends the most is green & blue, but more green, so a flash of green is prevalent. This only occurs in Hawaii because of the latitude and atmosphere. Legend states that this is Hawaiiís gift to us, her beautiful green cloak that she sheds for us at sunset. This year is was unseasonably wet and cool so we didnít see it.

CAR RENTAL:
We drove back to the airport to turn our car in around 8pm after getting gas near the airport (~$10 total), and took their free shuttle back to the ship (last shuttle from airport to ship is 9pm but taxi is only ~$8 if you get back late since ship is only 2 miles away). The rental car cost $32 for the next size up from the smallest and we drove total 72 miles. I recommend checking the website for the best price. Between Thrifty, Avis, and many others the cost varied only a couple of dollars. I prepaid in advance so there was no wait for the car when we got there. I believe all the car dealers have shuttles to/from ship but call the Hawaiian (808) number to check (donít call the main number, they donít know or will tell you incorrect information). Donít wait to book a car when you get there, it can cost a LOT more! Better to at least reserve one & pay when you get there.
__________________
Reply With Quote

Reply

Bookmarks


Ad Sponsored By
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:17 PM.


© 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved.
"A Community of People Who Love To Cruise"
All of the information contained within Cruise Critic is protected by copyright. You may, however, download a single copy only for your personal use.