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Rob Morton

Age: 49

Occupation:Systems Administrator

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Wind

Sailing Date: May 11th, 2005

Itinerary: Hawaii

Went on my very first cruise and I have to say that I had the time of my life onboard the Norwegian Wind. The ten-day cruise started in Honolulu, where we were met by NCL greeters who took care of gathering our luggage and transporting it – and us – to the ship. Once we arrived at the ship, more NCL folks appeared to whisk our luggage off to the ship while we completed the check-in, which wasn’t as bad as going through airport security – but it was pretty thorough.

After having our pictures taken for our embarkation cards, we were off to board the Wind, stopping twice to have our pictures taken; I later learned that this is one of the guest “services” they provide – pictures of you in every port.

To this end, while it’s nice to have some photographic memories of your voyage, it’s cheaper to have, say, a fellow cruiser take pictures of you, even though on the whole the NCL charges weren’t excessive.

Once we were “carded” aboard the Wind, we were pretty much left to our own devices in finding our stateroom, which was found easily enough despite not yet having learned the layout of the ship – we were on deck eight (Norway Deck), starboard side – more about this shortly.

One of the first things we had to do was participate in a mandatory drill that included putting on a life jacket and reporting to a pre-assigned mustering point; after that, we were free to do whatever we liked.

Back in our stateroom, we learned the meaning of what “partially obscured view” meant when we picked our cabin – one of the lifeboats were stowed right in our stateroom window, not only obscuring our view but making things interesting whenever the crew went onboard to prepare the boats for launch – the lifeboats also doubled as passenger tenders in three ports of call. So, whenever we were in our stateroom, we usually had to either close the curtain or make sure no crew was aboard that particular craft before undressing!

Eating aboard the Wind, in my opinion, was better than I could have expected. I had read other reviews about this particular cruise and they were pretty scary but none of the bad things I read about before the fact came to life during the cruise. Yeah, there were a couple of days when there were lines to get seated in the Four Seasons and some of the other shipboard eateries – but they moved quickly.

The food was great and the service was pretty much okay, except for a couple of times our server got our orders crossed – annoying, even a little amusing, but non-fatal. The one annoying thing about my dining experience aboard the ship were the wine stewards; those folks would appear as if by magic before you even got settled in your seat, asking for your drink order. If you didn’t want a drink at that time, trying to get the supposedly assigned steward back to your table took a little doing.

The other thing that annoyed me was whenever you ordered a drink, alcoholic or otherwise, they were snatching your card like you were going to take the drink without paying for it. However, when I found out that I was paying $1.50 for a Coke and that to have unlimited Cokes it would cost me $50.00, well, that was a bit of a bummer – but unless you brought a stash with you, you’re pretty much at their mercy if you want to drink something other than water.

The food onboard was pretty good, better than a lot of land-based places I’ve eaten in my travels, some with some interesting interpretations by the ship’s executive chef, all of which I found delightful.

We arrived at Hilo on day 2 of the cruise and while the passengers were allowed off the ship, I opted to stay onboard; to me, this was so new and exciting that I spent most of my second day just roaming and exploring the ship. The Wind was there for eight hours but by the time we left to begin our two-day cruise to the Fanning Islands (Republic of Kiribati), it felt like we had just gotten there!

The evening was made special by the Wind sailing past the active Hawaiian volcanoes; at night, it was a spectacular and awesome view that seeing it on the Discovery Channel just can’t compare with!

We did have to reverse course and go back to Hilo because one of the passengers became very ill and had to be taken off the ship after we passed the volcanoes – we were two hours out of Hilo at that point and had to turn around and although this set us back in our itinerary, the captain not only made up the time as best he could but NCL didn’t cut the cruise short by missing any ports of call, even though some shore excursions were cancelled.

For my sensibilities, better to make sure the sick passenger got taken care of quickly than worry about missing a helicopter ride – and we did learn later that the passenger was in good hands and doing okay.

Two days later, we arrived at Fanning Island and I got treated to my first ride in one of the lifeboats-turned-passenger-tender. It wasn’t the smoothest of rides but it allowed some nice pictures of the Wind to be taken – the only way to really see all of the ship is to not be on it!

Fanning Island didn’t impress me although the native singers and dancers we saw were cool; one did get the impression that despite what they had told us about Fanning Island and their way of life, NCL was putting on a dog-and-pony show for the tourists… but that’s just my opinion.

It was still fun, though…

Two more days at sea and we arrived at Nawiliwili, followed by calls at Lahaina and Kona before finally returning to Honolulu. Preparing to leave the ship, while nicely orchestrated by the NCL staff, put a little pressure on the passengers to have their baggage outside their staterooms by 3AM so it could be offloaded by the NCL handlers but, all in all, it wasn’t as bad of a process as it could have been.

I would recommend this cruise to anyone who’s never been cruising before and for anyone curious about freestyle cruising. I loved it and can’t wait to do it again!

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