Norwegian Sky Reviews

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98 User Reviews of Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship

Hawaii
Publication Date: June 4, 2006

I highly recommend that no one take this ship. Everyone in my party of 20 got sick, the bathrooms were not working, the ship had a horrible smell, the crew were rude except a few, the food was repeated over and over and the norwegian cruise line made no accomodations for the toliets not working and also the water not working. Stay healthy and stay away from the pride of aloha

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Hawaii
Publication Date: June 4, 2006

Our cruising experience on NCL's Pride of Aloha was a bit of a let down. Let me begin by explaining that I made a critical error in booking this cruise too soon. I wanted to get in on "NCL's Biggest Sale of the Year" so I booked in February for our June sailing. In doing so we ended up paying more for our outside cabin than others paid for a balcony stateroom. I noticed this before our sailing and contacted NCL through Expedia, who was acting as my travel agent. NCL refused to upgrade me to a balcony even though they continued to sell tickets for less than what I had paid. Lesson learned... .book later if possible!

I also purchased the airport pier transfers... DON'T! NCL charged $100 for two people roundtrip. In reality this is a service available at the Honolulu baggage claim information desk for $8 per person each way. Save yourself the $68 round trip. Even if you were unable to get the shuttle service at the airport, a cab would not be any more expensive than NCL's transfers for this short distance. In the event that

you are also planning to spend some time on Oahu before or after your cruise, I recommend booking a hotel in the Waikiki area. We made the mistake of booking at the Best Western Plaza Hotel near the airport for convenience to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It was not a terrible hotel (a bit old and noisy), but there is certainly more to do and a better view in Waikiki.

On to the actual cruise... the ship was exactly what someone who cruised before would expect. The normal lay out minus the casino due to gaming regulations. Unfortunately, during our vacation the ship was disease ridden. Over the course of the seven days approximately 10% of the passengers experienced illness, some quite serious. Rumor on-board was that this lead to the immediate resignation of many ship staff. If true, it would explain the lack of service we received.

In all fairness I must mention that our stateroom attendant did a fine, timely job. There were only a few inconveniences in this area. For example the tissue box in our stateroom remained empty for the last 5 days of our cruise and occasionally we were shorted linens. We also found it strange that our bed was lacking a top sheet with only a comforter to cover us.

Our dining experience was another story. The buffet was lack-luster at best. Due to the illness passengers were served from the buffet rather than dishing out what we wanted. We were even served our beverages at the beverage station. If one tried to help themselves to anything in the buffet area they had better watch out because a crewmember immediately disciplined them. In addition, the food quality was substandard. The non-pay restaurants were better in food quality, but service was incredibly slow.

Arrive early to avoid a long wait for a table. We left the dining room during two breakfasts without actually getting our entrees after being seated for over an hour each time. There was often people milling around waiting to be seated when at no time during our cruise did I ever see either of the dining rooms full. The "lite fare" at the Longboard bar was ok... .sandwiches, pizza, etc. However be prepared to wait there too. There appeared to be only two crew members working there and the bartender never helped the server who was running around trying to wait tables. Again, for a pizza and beer expect to stay at least an hour.

Speaking of drinks, there were no discounts on this cruise. Even the "drink of the day" was usually $6.95 with beers costing about $5.00. We went to one pay restaurant onboard. The bistro was a delight. The filet was amazing and the service impeccable. I highly recommend it. On the first two nights of our cruise the cover charge was only $5 per person. Then it went up to the normal cost of $10 pp for the remainder of the cruise. Too bad one has to pay an additional fee for what should be standard cruise service.

The last information I have regarding the ship is that the on-board entertainment was not all that great. It was definitely geared toward a retirement-aged crowd. The cruise director, Fith, was over-the-top and appeared very condescending when using his performance persona. Liko, the Hawaiian cruise ambassador, was friendly and hard working. The best performances were the two comedians. The musical and dance performances were a real let down, although I could see how an older crowd may have enjoyed them. I cannot comment on the pools, spa, or hot tubs. We chose to avoid them due to the illness on board.

Now regarding the excursions I have one recommendation. In Kauai do the NaPali Explorer! Well worth the cost. We saw a variety of marine life and snorkeled with the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles. We also explored the coast from both a comfortable van and a pontoon style boat. The tour guides we kind and helpful on this excursion. This was by far the best excursion of the six that we booked. We also had high hopes of the Molokini and Turtle Arches Snorkel in Maui. Unfortunately the water was so murky at the Turtle Arches that nothing was visible.

Molokini was better for visibility but also teeming with Portuguese Man-o-war (stinging jelly fish like creatures). Two people were stung on our excursion. Other excursions include The Circle of Fire Helicopter in Hilo (don't expect to see much flowing lava, although there was a little), Deep Sea Fishing in Kona (We didn't even see a fish. Just spent four hours pulling a lure around.), Beach Day at Ka'anapali (it is about a 45 minute drive each way which eats up a lot of time on the beach), and the Pacific Paradise Luau (extremely over-hyped, but something that you probably should do if you've never been to a Luau. Mostly just a beachfront barbeque, some hula dancers, and watered down drinks, but the fire dancer and the sunset were quite impressive).

Overall, I would say there are better options out there as far as cruising is concerned. Having been on Royal Caribbean once and NCL twice I can say with complete certainty that this will be the last NCL cruise we take. Additionally, with the airfare wars in Hawaii right now one could probably see all the major islands on his/her own for less of a cost.

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Hawaii
Publication Date: March 11, 2006

My family of 4 and my friend's family of 3 took the cruise. My family and I have cruised once with NCL in the past and 5 times with other cruise lines. Quite frankly, this is by far the worst and most disappointed cruise. To be fair, this is an older vessel and I had read about the negative on-board reviews before I went hoping that in the span of almost 2 years in operation, there should be some improvement.

First, food at the buffet and dining room. There is nothing stellar about it. Food at the buffet was boring--food court quality with barely enough selections. Food at the dining room was slightly better, but the quality was inconsistent. For instance, I had a juicy steak one nite and a beef jerky another nite, and I ordered them medium rare on both occasions. We didn't try the specialty restaurants this time, and may be we should have, then we wouldn't have been disappointed.

Second, service. All I can say is NCL does not try to create a culture of customer satisfaction and service at least with this vessel. Friendly smiles and greetings

were rare. Some staffs didn't even look at you as you walked by them. Many looked tired and indifferent. We made a dinner reservation one nite with a female staff whose computer was not working properly. She simply wrote our name and the # of people on a piece of paper. We were puzzled and 10 minutes later my friend decided to check the validity of the reservation and found that she had made a mistake with both our name and # of people. When we tried to correct her, she denied the mistake and impatiently asked for our name to begin the reservation procedure again. My friend argued with the entire reservation team and finally got our wish without one word of apology from them.

I have never seen such poor customer service and you can imagine my disappointment. One interesting fact though, we found out that the best dining room service were consistently given by staffs of Asian background. My guess is because they come from cultures that are hospitable and accommodating, and they know the importance of service within a community. In other words, they are more people-oriented and depict less egotistic individualism. The cabin steward was OK. We hardly saw him except that we knew that our beds were made.

The biggest smile and courtesy came from the Purser and the Excursion desks. I guess they are well-trained to handle inquires and complaints. All in all, I wouldn't recommend anyone to cruise on the Aloha unless substantial improvement in food and service have been made.

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Hawaii
Publication Date: February 12, 2006

7 day cruise on this ship was fantastic! For the record, this was my first cruise. I lived in Hawaii for several years, but had not been back in 26 years. I never thought I was the "cruise type." From the moment I entered the top deck for the pre departure barbeque, I thouroughly enjoyed myself. Our cabin was one of the "lesser" ones, with no window, but I found it very cozy and functional. It was very quiet, with the air circulating very well and fresh at all times.

Our porter was a young man named Paul, from Miami, FL. He was very good at his job, and our interactions with him were very fun. The crew for the most part were very young, and all trying hard to please everyone

My worst memories of the trip were encounters with jerks(passengers) who seemed to enjoy taking out their wrath on these poor kids for things like "running out of mushrooms" at the omlete station, or clearing dishes from a table "before I was done." I even saw one couple lash out a young girl who thought they had left their cell

phone behind when they left it at their table. I am sure crew training dwells extensively on dealing with people who just can't seem to leave the stress of their lives behind them. This mean behavior was exhibited by just a few people, but it was like poison to everyone around them. Thats the dark side of cruises, and human nature I guess.

Things were not perfect on this cruise by any means, but if people could just relax, and go on Hawaii time as soon as they got on board, they would find a trip like this much more memorable. High point of the cruise was narrated talk about Hawaii as we took in the incredible scenery of the Kauai coast, and observed whales alongside the ship. Low point for me was the long, slow security line after the luau, after 15 busloads of passengers disembarked.

If I had it to do again, I would skip the luau, or find a smaller one somewhere on my own, but not on the same night! This was the only line that was tough to deal with, otherwise coming and going from the ship went smoothly, and was even enjoyable. I hated to leave this ship, it was like leaving friends. We tipped our porter, and our waiters and waitresses generously, they certainly deserved it!

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Hawaii
Publication Date: October 16, 2005
We had a fairly large group sailing on the Pride of Aloha in Oct. that was arriving in Honolulu on different days and times for the mainland. The service at the airport in Honolulu was very poor. You arrived in one terminal and had to get to another terminal to pick up your own luggage, then you had to move it to the NCL pick-up point outside the terminal. There was no one to help you do this. Once we were all on the buses, they left and took everyone to the port. Check-in was very smooth and easy. Once on board, we found our rooms without any difficulty.  The luggage took forever to reach our rooms because one of the luggage elevators was broke.  The rooms were very small, we had a room on deck 10 with a balconey.  There isn't a lot of closet or storage space. Luggage has to go under the bed with most of your clothes still in it. The bath is small but useable. As the cruise director said at the show that evening, once you got soap on you could spin around in the shower and be clean. Our cabin steward was very helpful and did re-arrange the beds in our room.  We had 3 ladies sharing the room. Some of us went exploring the ship and to have a bite to eat. The buffet on deck 11 was OK.  Not as good as some of the cruise lines I have been on. Later we had made plans to meet at one of the bars before dinner.  Service and drinks were fine. We had dinner in the Palace dining room and was it a disappointment.  The menu was very lacking in choices.  They have a set menu of 4 entrees as well as 3 or 4 other entrees to pick from.  The steak was a tasteless piece of shoe leather. Ponderosa Steak House has better tasting steaks. The lobster was quite good and the salmon was good. The buffet had a lot of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We were tired of the dining rooms and the poor service we received in them, so we had dinner at the buffet one night.  We were able to have some very good prime rib, baked potato, vegetables and fix a salad the way we wanted.  The desserts were excellent there.  The people that worked in that area were always nice, helpful and polite. Our shore excursions were all we hoped they would be. I would highly recommend the Road to Hana tour. It was delightful. The luau was OK. After we left Hilo, around 9:30 or 10 PM we were sailing by the lave flow . The captain stopped the ship and then turned it 360 so everyone had a chance to see the lava flowing into the ocean. That is something no one should miss. The shows on board were Ok but I've seen better. The entertainment in the lounges or bars was Ok. The disembarkation was very smooth.  We didn't have to worry about the luggage because we were staying in Honolulu for a couple of days after the cruise.  The wait at the airport on the day we left was a bit long. Some of us plan to return to Hawaii again but will never sail on NCL ships anywhere.
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Hawaii
Publication Date: September 11, 2005
Ok once and for all after reading the last review I must say we also cruised to Hawaii on the POA. We were on Deck 4 the lowest deck. Our cabin was Perfect. NO Smell. Our cabin steward was wonderful our room was always  clean. People need to get over this tiny cabin thing. If you don't like small rooms don't take a cruise go to a resort and stay there. Complain is all some people do.  The food was good and at times excellent. This is the best way to see Hawaii's beautiful islands! The staff was by far the friendliest we have encountered. We have been on 5 cruises before never on NCL. So I feel I can compare. Now as far as excursions are concerned booking on the boat was very expensive. Don't do it. Just get off on the island and book your tours thru the guys on the island. We took 4 and 5 hour tours on each island with another couple for less money and more personal service. To our wants and needs. The tour guides were wonderful people and will do anything you want and get you back in record time. On Maui though we did do the Maui downhill ( ship excursion)_  which I absolutly loved it was fantastic the best experience everyone and anyone should do it. We flew all the way from TX so we did have a long flight but it was worth it. Embarkation and disembarkation was the best I have had on any ship so far. They never tried to push pictures on you nor push drinks which was great. We also had a post cruise stay in Honolulu. We stayed at the Radisson Prince Kuhlio it was a beautiful hotel. The cruise bus took us and picked us up on time we never had to wait. Being on time is a big thing with me. In  a nutshell take this cruise it is fantastic. Trip of a lifetime. We had a wonderful wonderful anniversary. It's our 30th and what a way to celebrate.
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Hawaii
Publication Date: September 11, 2005

We began our vacation with a 10.5 hour non stop flight from Newark, NJ to Honolulu. We arrived 3 days before the cruise because we attended a wedding held in Paradise Cove on Oahu. We stayed at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider. What a beautiful hotel!!! I would recommend staying there any time you might be fortunate enough to do so. On to the cruise....Embarkation was fairly easy. We skipped the customary photo and went right on board. There was staff all over the ship to help with cabin location. Since I am an avid follower of opinions on this board, I was quite hestitant to even book this cruise. I wanted to avoid the problems like the tiny cabins, the long wait at the shore excursion desk, and the lines at the restaurants. I decided to book a Penthouse Suite. This was by far the best decision I made, although it was quite costly. The suite was lovely. Not extravagant by any means, but very comfortable.

We especially enjoyed the large balcony. Suite 8202. We had 2 butlers, Sam and James, and a concierge, Patrick, to fulfill any requests we had. To

be truthful, we really didn't know what to do with them at first, but believe me you can get used to being spoiled. After the mandatory life boat drill, we went exploring. When we got closer to midship, we noticed a peculiar smell. It sort of smelled like cabbage cooking. Someone overheard us talking about the smell and said that it was sewer gas. My fears about the ship were coming true. As the smell was not throughout the ship I felt I could deal with it, but when we returned from the sail away buffet on deck, the smell was in the cabin and it seemed to be coming from the bathroom. So much for booking a suite. I knew from reading the comments on this board that I probably wouldn't get very far by complaining, so the next day when we got to Kauai we bought air fresheners. That seemed to help, and the day after that the smell seemed to disappear altogether all over the ship. Thank goodness. Our cabin was kept clean and neat. The room steward was friendly and accomodating to our crazy schedule. I did hear some comments from other passengers about the lack of upkeep of thier cabins. One man said that he strategically placed paper on the floor to see if they vacuumed. The paper was there all week!!! The public areas on the ship are very pretty. I did miss having a casino on board, though. I was wondering why we actually came home with spending money! Shore excursions...We took 2. Atlantis sub in Kona and a circle island tour of Oahu after the cruise. There is no need to book the sub from the ship. When you tender in Kona just walk over to the Atlantis tour place and you can book right there. Our sub was scheduled for 2:15. We found out later that this is the day that there is the chocolate buffet at 3:00. We were not told at the shore excursion desk when we booked the tour. I was a bit annoyed at this, so when we got into Kona, we went directly to Atlantis and asked if there was an earlier time and they booked us for 1:00. Perfect. The ship just offers 2 times, but there are many more to choose from. The Circle Island Tour on Oahu was great. It did not go to Pearl Harbor which was one of the reasons we chose this particular tour as we had gone there on our own before boarding. On Kauai, Hilo, and Maui we rented cars from Alamo. They were very efficient. The roads are quite tricky to drive on, so if you decide to rent a car, be careful. We went to the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui. It was wonderful. The ship offers a tour to a different luau exclusive to NCL passengers, but after doing some research, I discovered that the Old Lahaina Luau is the most authentic so we booked it way in advance. It sells out quickly so if you are fortunate enough to get a reservation, by all means do so. The islands are breathtaking. I especially enjoyed Kauai. The NaPali coast is unbelievable. Another highlight is sailing past the active volcano at night. We watched in awe from our balcony. Now on to a subject that has been discussed frequently on this board, Food....We felt the food was acceptable. In our opinion much better than other cruises we have been on. We ate at the buffet, Palace restaurant, Kahili, and the Royal Palm Bistro. All were fine. Actually, our butler delivered the dinner from the Bistro to our suite. What a treat! Tipping...There is no longer a $10 per person per day surcharge,so the tipping is very confusing to say the least. Since we had never had the priviledge of having a butler or concierge before, we were really confused. We just gave what we thought the service deserved. I know this is not very helpful and NCL should clarify this for their passengers once and for all. Just be sure to bring small bills with you. Disembarkation was a breeze. You could choose to just carry your bags and walk off. We had booked the tour so our bags were in a special place, very easy to find. The tour bus stored our luggage on board and dropped us off at the airport right at Continental. The flight home seemed better because wwe were able to sleep for a few hours. I still have jet lag, however. The 6 hour time difference is difficult to get used to.

General Comments...

Hawaii is beautiful, and I'm glad we decided to rent cars instead of doing the ship's tours which were very expensive.

I don't think I would go back. Once for me was enough.

The service was very good for us. I'm not sure if it was because we were suite passengers or not. I would hope the level of service was the same for all passengers.

NCL America could be an excellent cruise line. They really seem to try, but just seem to fall short.

Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and would suggest if could afford to do so, book a suite, the cabins are very small.

If you have any specific questions that I might be able to answer, please feel free to email me.

Aloha.

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Hawaii
Publication Date: August 28, 2005

Prior to our embarkation, I read a great many of the reviews of this Pride of Aloha Hawaiian cruise. Because this was a surprise gift from my husband, I really didn't want him to be disappointed, so I kept the negative comments to myself. I have to admit, however, that those who travelled last year (2004) must have been on a different ship and with different crew members!

When we arrived, our cabin was spotless, a bottle of wine was in the refrigerator, and a bucket of ice was on the table. Our room was cleaned a minimum of three times daily and our bed was turned down each night. Our steward, Jeff, was EXCELLENT!

We ate in several buffets, at the Crossings Restaurant, and at the Kalihi for dinner (at which we had outstanding personal service, excellent food and wine) and all for only $32 (we gave the two waiters a $20 tip because of such good service--the meal and wine only cost $12)!

The stateroom was comfortable and well maintained...

We had only one complaint--the buffet areas needed more seating, as they were always crowded...most folks were accommodating and left after

their meals, and the staff, knowing that tables were at a premium, were constantly bussing them...we even saw crew members in dress whites bussing tables...and always with a smile.

The crew was young, but extremely polite, courteous, and friendly. We heard no grumbling of ANY kind, in fact they were EAGER to please you.

The entertainment was fine...the Polynesian troupe was excellent, the magician was, too...those are the two shows we enjoyed...

We have been to the islands many times, but never on a cruise...this one did NOT disappoint...what disappointed ME was the prior negativity surrounding this ship...we found NONE of the problems others say they encountered...

In fact, the casual dining was more to our style...the one thing we could have easily skipped was our two hour dinner in one of the more upscale restaurants--we eat out a great deal at home, this didn't really interest us--we had other things to do, rather than waste time dining!...

If you want a more relaxed, casual cruise, this is the one...we thoroughly enjoyed being able to go to breakfast in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, and we enjoyed the more than friendly staff, from the cabin steward to the young people who waited on tables...

I suppose going in late August and early September IS a great time to visit the islands...we had NO trouble booking cars for off-ship excursions and at reasonable rates...We have been home for five days and are still talking about how relaxing and enjoyable a trip we had. I hope those of you who are planning a trip enjoy yourselves as much as we.

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Hawaii
Publication Date: August 7, 2005

Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Mark Sullivan Hawaii August 7, 2005

Well we just got back...What a GREAT time we had. First off I want to say to all the people on the fence about this cruise....GO!!!!!!!!....Absolutely beautiful places we got to see. I read the reviews and was going into it as the ship was a "taxi"....let me tell it's WAY MORE than a taxi. My wife and I didn't have ANY complaints...The crew bent over backwards and was extremely friendly. We didn't see one unhappy or disgruntled crew member. The food was fine...everyday was a diffrent style buffet...mexican, cajun, japanese, chinese, BBQ. Lots and lots of choices, so there's something for everyone at all times...DO NOT MISS the "Waffle Guy"...he's in the Hukilua Lania(back end of deck 11)..He sings all morning...so entertaining...also they make Omelettes...we ate there every morning...great food, people and views. The pools were awesome and clean...SALT WATER...so be prepared :) There was ping pong tables, basketball court(full size I think), golf driving nets...even shuffleboard. The Bars are really nice...although I was over the fruity drinks by the 5th day :)...Vodka and Cranberry broke up the same ole

Rum drinks :) The room is small just like you'd think but plenty big enough for 2...how long you gonna be in there anyhow? :)..huge port hole(oceanview stateroom) cleaned everyday by a nice staff of stewards who will cater to your every need. Niiiiccceeee :) Clean, freindly, plenty of "free" food at almost all hours, (free room service anytime) good shows....dont miss the Not so new Newly Wed Game...hilarious!! :)...Bring your voice for Karaoke...that how you spell it? :)..Blue Hawiian Bar is the main music bar with DJ Mike....great guy. Stardust Theater(stage) in the back end of the ship....huge place with nice shows. Shore Excursions: Now I can't speak for all of the excursions....but there are TONS to do. We took the Circle of Fire helicopter tour in Hilo over the volcano....great views....awesome if you can afford it.

We went on the Captain Zodiac snorkel in Kona....gorgeous cove in Hakelua Bay...nice guides...great sites. Maui Ocean Center....absolutely a not miss if you dont want to snorkel and would like to see the native fish UP CLOSE....awesome place.

Lahainia On Your Own....wish we did this "on our own"...tour bus didn't give us enough time....great little whaleing village with streets of shops....perfect day if you like to walk and shop...ladies will love it...guys can always rent a Harley and let the ladies shop :)..can also charter Deep Sea fishing boats(hint: get to the town and shop around for diffrent prices on tours) for instance Parasailing: one place was 49 a person...another was 9 a person....so be frugal and look around before jumping on the first one you see.

Now let me talk about Kauai...this was my favorite island...although we didn't book an excursion here....there's plenty to do right off the ship in walking distance(5-10 minute walk)easy. Shops and rentals...scooters, mini cars(we did that and got directions to Kipu Falls) a local swimming hole with a 60 foot waterfall and rope swings...plenty deep enough...fresh water. Had a blast jumping off the waterfall...be brave and try it :)..FREE beach...clean and great sand. plent of stuff to rent right on the beach, snorkel, boogie boards and surf boards....I wish we'd have realized this was the best beach of them all. we figured they would only get better....but THIS is the best place to hangout all day with a Corona and watch the surf. Kanapali beack(right next to Lahaina is great too). Kona has a really nice port of shops also. HOT HOT place...Kona is known as the place of "merciless sun"...watch it you will get burnt if you dont be careful....again it's gonna be HOT outside. This is the only port you have to anchor off shore and take tenders in...hot boat ride...but not to bad.

AGAIN....Go on this cruise.....dont let a few bad reviews by people who think a bad day is not getting waited on hand and foot by a butler.

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Hawaii
Publication Date: May 29, 2005

Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Kelly Hawaii May 29, 2005

This is an interesting review to write, as this cruise was quite different from any of the four I've taken before. Let me start by saying that we cruised on the same ship with NCL to Alaska in 2003. They have substantially improved the quality of their dining room food, so thumbs up on that. HOWEVER, I must say that Hawaii is not a vacation that lends itself to cruising. Read on and see if you agree with me!

Embarkation was great. You can board the ship from 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm so having such a wide window of time really helped to spread out the crowds. No line whatsoever in the Latitudes (previous NCL guest) checkin. Received fresh flower leis as we boarded the ship, which was nice (don't expect leis from your airline or hotel unless you pay for them). Went to room 5201 (oceanview) and tried keycard...doesn't work. Tried husband's...doesn't work. Go to reception, get new cards...works. OK. Having sailed on this ship before, we knew how small the rooms were, so we were prepared for that.

The people complaining how little room there is for luggage pack too much!! We saw several people with like 6-8 suitcases per ROOM! It's Hawaii, people, you bring bathing suits and sundresses!

Anyway, I go to use the bathroom in our cabin...and find a VERY unpleasant surprise. Let's just say that our toilet did NOT work (no water the entire cruise) and someone (last occupant? the maid?) had left a very messy present for us. We immediately went to reception and complained and were told, "Oh my, that's terrible, we'll have someone fix that immediately." This was at 3:30. We go and wait in a common area, and return at 4:30. Problem was not fixed. Complain again. "Oh, we're so sorry, I'll get someone on that right away." Go to mandatory lifeboat drill at 5:00. Come back to room at 6:00. Problem not fixed. Husband happened to pass a ship's officer in the hall and gave her an earful. Problem got fixed in about 20 minutes that time. Our cabin steward promised that she would get a plumber in there...no one showed up all week. We figured out that in order to get the toilet to flush, we had to fill it up with water from the shower each time, so this is how we spent our week toilet-wise. :-(

Now, lest you think we are complainers, we are NOT. We don't let little things spoil our trip. But Deck 5 itself is CRAP. It did put a huge damper on our trip for the following reasons. First, it's right under the jogging track. There are signs saying, "No jogging between 9:00 pm and 8:00 am." Do you think this was followed or enforced? NO! EVERY MORNING at 6:00 we were awakened to the sound of pounding feet. BOOM boom BOOM boom BOOM boom....Also, the deck plans of the ship do not show that the Deck 5 inside staterooms belong to the crew. They were very quiet, but the hall reeked of smoke the entire time because of a crew lounge area. And the final and most annoying aspect about Deck 5 was that there was a door at the end of the hall (right beside us) that slammed incessantly. It's a major thoroughfare for the crew to walk through, so at all hours of the day and night we heard it slamming. We complained about it to reception and security (could they leave it open? Adjust the hinges so it shut more gently?) and of course were ignored. Oh, I almost forgot, the nights you sleep in port (Maui and Kauai) they do ship repairs all night, so we were awakened at 3:00 am by loud banging to fix the thruster. What does this all add up to? DON'T STAY ON DECK 5!

Before I tell you about the ports, let me say that the ship has the most ridiculously overpriced shore excursions I have ever seen. Book them yourself. See below.

The ports: Kauai. Went to Fern Grotto and Waimea Canyon. Both are great. Cost: $47 for rental car from Hertz, $16 each for Fern Grotto, Waimea Canyon free. Total cost: $79. Ship charged $92 each for Waimea/Fern shore excursion. Savings: $105 for doing it ourselves. There is a beach within walking distance of the ship that belongs to the Marriott that was nice. Ship lets you carry off beach towels. We brought snorkels, masks and floats from home and were glad we did.

Hilo: Probably our favorite port. Rented a car for $43, drove to Volcanoes National Park which is a must-see; entrance fee $10. The park is great; just know you will not see red lava here. Ship charged $47/pp for this shore excursion. Total savings: $41. Drove to Akaka Falls National Park via the "scenic road" (highly recommend). It's free, but I believe the ship charged about $25/pp to drive you out there. Savings: $50.

Kona: Second favorite port. You don't need a rental car here. We rented bikes for $15 each, which was fun, and rode around. Most of the beaches around here are ROCKS, so after about 2 miles of biking, we went back to the pier and snorkeled right there. I have to say about Hawaii's beaches, they aren't what I expected. Honestly Florida has better beaches - the sand is whiter, they are more swimmable, no rocks. Hawaii has better wildlife (saw turtles, sharks, dolphins) and better water sports ability, but don't expect wide expanses of white sand and calm waters. Ate at Pancho and Lefty's - super Mexican food.

Maui: Rented a car from Hertz, $33. By the way, I must say, Hertz is SUPER. Rented a car 5 times, got upgraded without asking all 5 times!!!!! Took a helicopter ride from Alex Air over the west Maui mountains. Awesome! It cost us $75 each. Ship charged $179 each for same flight. Total savings: $175. Played golf at the Waiheu Municipal course. $26 greens fees, $20 club rental, $16 cart rental. 3 holes are right on the water. It was a very challenging and fun course. You could book golf through the ship but all their courses were the most expensive ones; we're talking $180 greens fees and up. Bring your own balls; it was $38/dozen on the ship! We turned in our car that night and rented a new one the next day. Apparently you can keep your car and park it overnight at the pier, but parking was very limited and far away from the ship, so we just found it easier to rent another one the next day. Oh, by the way, rental car shuttles are promptly at the pier as soon as you dock so that's very convenient.

Next day on Maui, we just drove around looking at the different resort areas. Kapalua, Ka'anapali, Wailea. All very nice. We went to the Tadeschi Winery. Decided to go swimming at Big Beach, one of the few public white-sand undeveloped beaches in Wailea. BE VERY CAREFUL. The water is SO ROUGH! Terrible undertows, huge waves...again, not at all like Florida or a "calm" beach that most people are used to.

The cruise itself: Shows were good, even though two of them were the exact ones we saw in Alaska! They are a bit risque, so I would hesitate to brings kids to them, especially the first night (the Hawaiian/Polynesian one) and the "Hey, Mr. Producer" night. They had an art auction every day with free champagne, so there's some free booze for you (feel free to ditch the auction). Less activities than other cruises, but most of your time is spent in port so that's not a drawback. The food had highs and lows...breakfast got old, same old same old in both the buffet and dining room....we always ate lunch off the ship...but dinner in the dining room was great. Good food, good service. The buffets they offer for dinner aren't good - looooong lines, mediocre food. Skip 'em and head for the dining room instead. We keep trying to get reservations for the specialty restaurants but they were always full. We always appreciate NCL's freestyle dining, which enables you to get tables for 2 instead of being forced to sit with 8 people all asking, "Is this your first cruise? Where are you from? Do you have any kids?" every night. Oh, and there was a variety of ages on this ship - young, old, families, singles, you name it.

So, in a nutshell...would I take this cruise again? No. You don't get the relaxing, "Let's go down the beach and have a leisurely day" feel that you do if you stay in a resort. The resorts have the lock on the best beaches because they have paid to make artificial lagoons that block their guests from the waves and currents. What do you get? A Hawaii preview trip, basically. You get to see a little bit of each major island and do a lot of land-based stuff, but you don't get the paradise beach experience. I'm glad I got to see each island, but we found ourselves wishing that we had just stayed at a resort instead. Our Alaska cruise was so wonderful because no one really has any desire to stay overnight in any of those ports, but in Hawaii, you want to stay, relax and linger....this cruise doesn't allow that.

 

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