Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: February 22nd, 2003
Having done Hawaii (Oahu) in the spring of 2002, we were very anxious to get back. Unfortunally, we were very disappointed with NCL's Norwegian Wind.
The embarkation was fine - we were one of the first, but the BBQ on deck was rained out, and there were way too many people who were trying to get a small portion of food. Set the tone for every meal thereafter.
The room was fine, but service was no where near as good as on other ships. Don't expect hte towel animals that you get on other ships. That was a hit or miss thing. Our cabin was at hte aft end, near the engine room (big mistake).
The "Freestyle" dining was a mess since everyone wanted to eat at the same time. We waited 20 min to get our names down for another 30 min wait for tables. When we sat at tables for 2 or 4, we found the service lacking. Tables for 6 or 8 were given more attention. This decline in service is probably related to the general tip charge - your tips go into a pot for the crew, instead of being based on performance. The one evening we did the special dinner at the reservations only restaurant, our waiter disappeared for 30 min - we found out later he was in the early show for staff appreciation. Really bad management there. The meal was fine, but the delay made us late for our show, and we missed all but the crew appreciation portion of that.
The mandatory trip to a foreign port (Kiribati) took 2 days each way. Snorkeling there was terrible. the beach was nice, and prices for trinkets were so unbelieveably low that I didn't have the heart to barter. On the ship, if you don't play bingo or sun yourself all day, there wasn't anything to do. No satellite TV, no pool games, board games were missing pieces, lectures were few, etc. Most of the passengers were older (retirees, so maybe it was OK for them). Neither one of us can take much sun, so we ended up playing cards all day. I did take the hula lessons and hawaiian crafts class, but they were at 9 and 10 am, so that left the whole rest of the day to do nothing.
We hit The big island twice, once before the terrible detour and once after. I'd rather have spent a 2nd day on a different island. Once you've seen extinct lava flows, that's enough. The helicopter flight over the active volcano was nice, but we didn't get to see actual lava, just smoke. S, unless you know it's flowing, I'd skip it.
The second stop on the big island was better. Did the observatory tour. before we left, we had time to reserve a couple of leis for the formal dinner that evening, which we picked up when the tour got back. The observatory tour is NOT for people who are not in good health. It's cold on the mountain (yes, there was snow), and even some of the 30 somethings on the trip overdid it with the lack of oxygen and ended up with a headache. One elderly lady with a cane refused to get out of the van, so I had to climb over her - why take the trip then? The views were great, you get to see inside one of the domes, but can't walk around much - not that you could if they let you. The air's way to thin to do any climbing. Oh, it's a regular van, so somebody has to sit in the middle, and not see much. Recommend one of the window seats trade places on the way back down.
Maui is where our vacation seemed to begin. That's the first time we felt the Aloha spirit, but no thanks to the cruise line. We missed our sunset tour, because the tenders were stopped for 30-40 min. The excursion liasons person blamed us for not being on the pier in time, although we had been in line for the tender in what should have been enough time, and she didn't want to refund our money. Took 30 min of haggling to reach an agreement We ended up taking a party boat in the marina, for less than the cruise-sponsored trip, and it was much better. Live music, free drinks, and lots and lots of whales!
Kaui was also nice. Lovely scenery. The lunch after the canyon view wasn't great, because by then we'd had plenty of hawaiian buffets, but it was ok. The hotel they took us to for lunch was a little old, but it was on the beach.
Because of the age of the rest of the passengers, we got picked by the crew to do a lot of their "games". Not nearly as fun as Carnival though, or as nicely decorated. Small disco.
For souvenier hunters, Hilo Hatties has different decorated mugs on each island, which make a nice set. And the store has a shuttle in every port.
Overall - bad service for a cruise line,esp at meals. Long waits for dinner. Not enough deck chairs, no entertainment while at sea, and we were among a handful of 30-40 somethings on board. For first time cruisers that don't know any better, it probably wouldn't be bad, but compared to Carnival, Costa and Royal Carribbean, The ship and staff were terrible. I will cruise again, but it will never be on NCL.