Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: October 5th, 2005
NCL, Norwegian Cruise line
10 day Hawaii
I was very leery about this cruise as I was concerned about many of the reviews posted. I decided to take a chance as the price of $65 per person per day for food and lodging was too low to pass up. 10 days also fit our 2-week holiday schedule perfectly. NCL also provided airfare from Vancouver at about a 35% savings.
This was my 2nd cruise and first without my teenagers. For us the “Freestyle” cruising was perfect. It allowed us to set our own dining schedule on the ship as well as the opportunity to eat late when returning from shore. You can choose to sit at a sharing table or just with your spouse. We had an opportunity to meet many people this way. While you did not have to dress-up for dinner you were not allowed shorts or beach type wear either. Some dressed-up but most wore what you would wear to work on “Casual Friday”.
The food was plentiful and adequate. We did have 2 memorable dinner meals of Beef Wellington and Lobster tails. We also had a great Italian dinner at LaTratorria. Our favorite restaurant for breakfast was the Terraces as it had ala Carte breakfast. The Sports Bar had made to order omelets and waffles while the 4 seasons buffet at mid ship was the easiest to get to. Lunch at the Sports Bar was okay but we preferred to eat lunch out on deck at the BBQ buffet. The pizzeria was convenient but not of high quality. We chose not to eat at LeBistro because the menu did not appeal to us and there were enough choices without paying an extra $10 cover. It is important to read the back page of the “Freestyle Daily” as it lists what type of food each of the restaurants will be serving for dinner. Not all restaurants are open for breakfast and lunch.
The wait staff was outstanding. It is obvious that NCL reacted to the reviews and everyone received some kind of formal training. Rumor has it that they are all on contract and one bad comment card is enough to have it terminated.
We had an inside stateroom of deck 9 which I chose based on the floor plan on the NCL website. I believe this is the best deck without having to pay upgrades. We were on the same deck as the 4 seasons and Terraces restaurants. There’s also a 5’ deep pool at the rear of deck 9. As well, we were just 1 deck below the showroom, lounges and Galleria. This floor allowed us to get to activities quickly without having to use the small 5 person elevators. On deck 11 and 12 were the pools, fitness center, SPA, and lounges. The only decks we used below us were deck 7 and deck 4. Deck 7 for the front desk, shore excursion info, or to audit room charges. Deck 4 Mid and Aft was the deck used to get off the ship. We found that the forward and mid ship rooms were the easiest to get to on port days. On port days the Mid and Aft stairways and elevators was always being used. We discovered that the Mid and Forward passengers could just walk to the front of the ship on deck 4 and use the elevators while everyone else was lining up in the back.
The rooms were as large as our previous cruise and the housekeeping staff kept it spotless. I was very impressed with the attention to detail by them. Nightly turndown, chocolates, and towel sculptures were the norm.
There is as much and as little to do as you want. Hula and Lei making lessons were provided June. My wife said she was informative as well as fun. They were her on-ship highlights during the day.
I had fun with the Ping Pong, Putting, and “cashless” Hold-em tournaments in the afternoon. (We decided a $20 buy-in was cheaper than playing Bingo) :^)
They had day-care facilities and staff for families that brought their young.
We did not take part in any of the excursions offered by NCL other than Fanning as they ranged from $50-$250 per person. We chose to rent a car at each of our ports and visit sites on our own. The cars cost us as low as $40 to a high of $55 depending on how much gas we used. We book an “economy” car and were given free upgrades on each occasion from “Dollar”. Pre-booking on the Internet saved us tons of cash. Quotes at the counter were almost double the “ economy” price.
If you do nothing else, take the NAPALI BEACH excursion on Fanning Island. Yes, they don’t have washrooms or provide lunch there but you’ll regret it when you see the smiling faces of the people who spent the $25. The excursion is limited to about 200 people.
What you get for $25 is:
*The opportunity to go on shore at 7:45am before the other 1000 people. After 2 days at sea everyone that’s capable will be wanting off the ship.
*200 yards of unspoiled beach. Think Gilligan’s Island not Waikiki.
*You can go 150 yards from shore and it will only be slightly higher than waist deep. Crystal clear waters with some fishes that you can see from the surface.
*More beach chairs and lounge chairs than guests.
*A couple of locals selling their wares.
*For another $15 you can get unlimited use of bikes, floaties, paddleboats, kayaks, or Hobie cats. The Hobie cat is a small catamaran sailboat. I have never sailed before but once I got the hang off it we were whizzing back and forth across the lagoon. It was the highlight of our trip.
Most of the people left Napali for Fanning at 11am. We shared the beach with the remaining 50 and very few tendered over from Fanning. We stayed on Napali Beach till 1:15 and tendered over to Fanning for lunch. What a disappointment after being on Napali! It had 150 yards of beach that was crowded with guests and ship staff. Water was pretty deep at 50 yards out. There was volleyball and soccer but most participants were ship staff. There were also lots of locals selling wares in a flea market type area. Definitely a more commercialized atmosphere than Napali. Lunch reminded me of the Sports Bar lunch buffet and only the dreads were left when we arrived. There were flies everywhere because of the food. In hindsight I would of packed some bagel or croissant sandwiches from breakfast and stayed on Napali till 3pm.
Kona was our first stop. Tendering was slow because another ship was in port. We walked around the village by the docks and it was full of tourist type shops. ABC stores are the 7-11’s of Hawaii and we stocked up on sodas, bottled water, and snacks for our days at sea. We were ready to return to the ship after 3 hours. We had no problems bringing our purchases on board.
We had a car and visited Waimea Canyon, Kauai Coffee company, and Wailua Falls. Wal-Mart or Kmart is available for supplies.
Being a golf fan, I visited Kaanapali and Wailea golf courses. We spent some time in Lahaina visiting the galleries and shops. The ship is docked in port till 9pm to accommodate the luau that NCL holds in partnership with Marriott Resorts. If it’s your first visit to Hawaii a luau is a must sometime during your stay.
We drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a few hours there. The visitor’s center is a must before you head out on your own. Being of higher altitude it can be up to 20* colder than the dock area. It was rainy and windy or it would have been nice to take a hike with the park volunteers. With the car, we managed to stay ahead of the tour buses and the crowds during the drive around the crater. The lava tube/tunnel was kind of a neat walk.
Honolulu has all your famous and notable attractions. Having been here before we chose to visit for the first time, the Aloha stadium flea market. Holy bargains Batman! 8 Hanes t-shirts for$20, 2 hoodies for $25, 8 puka necklaces for$5, and much, much, more. You can try your skills at bargaining All the same stuff that they sold at the souvenir shops in the ports for 2-4 times as much.
*$50 soda card (equivalent of 28 sodas)
*$30-$50+ to play a session of 4 games of Bingo for only $100-$250 pots. Just a money grab on the seniors
*Internet at $.75 a minute at sea, with specials in port. $100 for 55 minutes.
*$6 a minute for long distance aboard ship. Use your cell phones when you’re close enough to shore.
Overall it was a great trip and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. The value of this trip was tremendous. It was not “Waldorf Astoria” but by no means was it “Motel 6” either. I would certainly choose this 10-day over the price of a 7-day on a newer ship. The service was great and the amenities acceptable.