Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: May 8th, 2004
Itinerary: Vancouver - Honolulu Repositioning Cruise
We took a repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Wind, from Vancouver to Honolulu. With a family of five, it's tough to find any cruise ship which can accommodate all of us in one room. As it turned out, the owner's suites on the Norwegian Wind sleep five people, and it was actually cheaper than getting two ocean view cabins! If you have 5 people in your party, consider that before requesting two tiny ocean-view rooms! Our room was spacious with a balcony living room, bedroom, and a little clubhouse-type room with a bunk for my son to set up camp in. The balcony offered amazing views during the whole trip. Norwegian gave us free champagne, three complimentary bottles of liquor, and the kids were able to check out DVD movies during the entire trip free of charge. Every day we had some different type of food platter waiting for us in the room... canapes, chocolate covered strawberries, shrimp cocktail, fruit and cheese... Room service was decent as well and the 24 hour menu is a little more robust than you find on other cruise lines (Royal!)
We were a little paranoid, as Norwegian insisted on flying us to Seattle, rather than Vancouver, then bussing us into Canada -- it's a 4 hour drive to the port, and we barely got on board before the ship was scheduled to leave. Other than that, everything was just wonderful.
During our six days at sea, there were a ton of activities going on onboard the ship. I'll admit to losing a volleyball in the Pacific Ocean, but hey, we lost 9 of them in three days... sorry NCL! :) Until the ship arrived in Hawaii, the casino was open, and there was daily bingo as well, though I can't see spending $60+ to play against hundreds of passengers for the chance to win $100. The Internet Cafe was a lot more reasonable than using the phone in our stateroom... I'll take 55 cents a minute over $5.95 a minute anyday.
With Freestyle dining, we had a choice of four restaurants, and we adults spent the extra cash one evening to try out Le Bistro -- the chocolate fondue alone was worth the expense. The food at the other restaurants was good-to-very-good. Don't expect 5-star dining (except at Le Bistro) when the waiters aren't serving the same people day after day. Our concierge did his best to get us a great table each evening; we never waited more than 5 minutes and usually had a nice oceanside view during dinner. The chocoholic buffet was a little lacking... where were the raspberries, NCL??! And that line...Oh well...
The Stardust theatre featured some terrific entertainment. The Jean Ann Ryan company performed three shows and was outstanding. I talked to one dancer, Karen, who was just amazing in the first show, but got injured and couldn't perform in the finale. The comedian, Elliott Maxx, was terrific, and came up with some goofy songs about Hawaiians and Spam that my daughter still sings at the top of her lungs... she's 6. The Stardust also hosts movies after the shows; we stayed up late for Big Fish and The Cat in the Hat.
Up on deck there's a subpar pizza parlor and an ice cream parlor that serves the best banana ice cream I've ever had. My son got into the act and defeated several adults at NCL's versions of The Weakest Link and Family Feud, and soon every passenger on the ship recognized him.
I will say that the NCL Kids Crew program on the Wind needs work. The room is tiny, there wasn't much to offer older kids, they required us to pick our daughter up before the shows at Stardust ended, and the video arcade was awful. My six year old had a blast and met several new friends in the Kids Crew, but my 12-year old wisely steered clear of it.
We actually had to turn around twice, after one passenger broke his shoulder and other had pneumonia symptoms... luckily the Coast Guard came and scooped them up, and we still made it to Hilo right on time.
Once we hit the Hawaiian Islands, we had a blast in the ports. We should have taken the helicopter tour of Kilauea volcano in Hilo, but we still had fun swimming in a natural hot spring and visiting a rainforest zoo. At Kona we took the Atlantis submarine ride and went 100 feet down to view coral reef beds. Pretty amazing stuff. In Maui and Kauai we decided to do some swimming, and coming from Arizona, it was sure nice to hit the beach! We tendered at Lahaina (Maui) and Kona -- the tenders can get REALLY hot and stuffy after a few minutes, but we caught a glimpse of dolphins swimming alongside the tenders!
Disembarkation in Honolulu was a snap, and since we were staying a couple extra days in Waikiki Beach, we were among the last ones off the boat (we got to sleep late!)... After the cruise we enjoyed the charm of Waikiki Beach on NCL's post-cruise program and got a very nice hotel room with a balcony facing the ocean. All in all a great vacation. If we can get a room like that again, we'll be back!