Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: July 6th, 2003
This process went very smoothly. There is lots of security measures we went through, but we arrived at a slow time so everything was relatively quick. Once on board we were on our own to find or cabin. The other cruise ships we've been on always had someone there to meet you when you got off the elevator to assist you in finding your cabin.
We had an inside cabin, which compared to our other cruises, was very small. Once we got over the close quarters we did find that the room had lots of amenities and many hidden places to stow things. There are hair dryers in all cabins, a nice size magnifying mirror, along with the regular mirror, in the bathroom. There is a shampoo and soap dispenser in the shower. The room steward always kept the ice bucket full.
This ship was the largest we've been on, and it took a few to discover all of it's features. The store and the show theater were the largest we've seen on a ship.
The ship was very clean a real delight to anyone's eyes.
There are 3 pools that we saw. One was exclusively for kids, the main pool, and a heated pool in the spa. There were several hot tubs located throughout the ship.
There are two main dining rooms and about five specialty restaurants. The specialty restaurants all have a cover charge anywhere from $10 to $12.50 per person, except the Trottoria which is free. All must have reservations. Every time we tried to make a reservation they were booked up. Go early to reserve. We were successful in landing one night at the Le Bistro. The food in the specialty restaurants is excellent. The food in the main dining rooms was good, but not up to the quality one expects from a cruise ship.
We ate most of or breakfasts in the Market Cafe. They have a nice variety. We ate one dinner there, the night of the seafood buffet. Very disappointing! Don't bother. They didn't even have shrimp. What's up with that?
The staff gets an A+. They are extremely hard working and very friendly. They were also so neatly dressed and had a polished appearance. We discovered that the wait staff works 12 hours a day 7 days a week, 10 months a year. Imagine what you would look like if you worked those hours.
Fanning Island was a great experience. The people there are friendly and have a nice welcoming for you. We suspect that the day the ship comes in is always an island holiday. The cruise line puts on a real nice picnic and the staff works hard to keep the area clean.
Maui was very dry. The hills were brown instead green like we expected. The cruise line touts the town of Lahaina as a must see. It was nothing but a tourist trap with tons of shops, very disappointing. Maybe we should have gone east off the ship instead of west. The Maui that everyone talks about might have been that way, it certainly wasn't west.
Hawaii's main claim to fame is it's volcanoes. The day we arrived it was raining and the volcanoes were socked in by clouds. We did see the lava fields which were vast and covered many miles. There is not enough time allotted to see much of this island.
Kauai. Ah yes at last Hawaii as you always dreamed it would be. If we ever go back this is the island where we would stay. This island is clean, plush, beautiful beaches, lots of flowers. Waimea Canyon is awesome. Even from the first lookout point the view is breathtaking. You are even above the helicopters. Visit the fern grotto. It was here where they filmed much of Blue Hawaii and Raiders of the Lost Arc. This was not crowded at all and the boat ride was very enjoyable. A must see.
Oahu. Here we visited Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, The Dole Plantation, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Get to Pearl Harbor early. as the wait can be quite lengthy as the day goes on. The shop at the Dole Plantation is nice. Try the pineapple whip a specialty. If you have time you might like to try your hand at the Pineapple maze. Don't take the train through the pineapple fields. Not worth the $7.50. You see the same stuff driving down the road. At the Polynesian Cultural Center make sure you catch the Samoa show the best in the place. We bought our tickets off the internet for a substantial savings. The lulu is not like the lulu one imagines. It is just a big buffet. The evening closing show is nice.
Honolulu is way to hectic and crowed for our taste. Too many people, hotels and cars. Stay outside the city if possible.
We would probably sail with NCL again. The ship and crew were very nice. However, we weren't too fond of the freestyle dining with the additional charge for the specialty restaurants.
There was just not enough time to explore the islands. We were told that next year Fanning Island will not be on the docket for the 7 day cruise. That should give people a lot more time to explore the other islands.
Would we ever go back to Hawaii? Only if we win a trip, and we would push to stay in Kauai.