Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: December 27th, 2005
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Wind Cruise Review
Hawaii was a destination we chose as an alternative to visiting the Caribbean.
Previously, Hawaii had only been a refuel stop for our flights to Canada and USA from Australia and we had never seen it in daylight.
I am happy to report that our holiday of 14 days included a 10 day cruise on the Norwegian Wind which was a very comfortable and delightful method of exploring the islands of Hawaii. Until this trip ,we had never used the NCL line.
The embarkation was smooth and professional with little time to wait for processing and the issue of cabin keys. Our luggage was taken care of very swiftly to be taken directly to our cabin. We were met on board and escorted to our cabin where its amenities were fully explained before setting off for lunch on the aft deck.
Our first lunch was not wonderful as we had a limited choice available in the Pizzeria due to the odd hour. However, on our return to our cabin, our luggage had arrived and we were agreeably surprised to discover that our starboard cabin midship on the 5th level had excellent storage for all we had brought and plenty of space to move about as well as a comfy sitting area and large picture window. The ensuite also was very well arranged to accommodate all our personal grooming and medical requirements and provided plenty of towels. This is so important when two are sharing a space.
The staff throughout our cruise were simply wonderful. Nothing was ever a trouble to them and they made us feel like we were part of a family. Juliet, one of our two cabin stewards was a warm and huggable lady who smiled and laughed, told funny stories and made a different amazing animal for us every night from bath towels to decorate our bed as part of her turn down procedure.
Jamie, our other steward was equally kind, thoughtful and friendly. The cabin was always immaculate and not once did we get disturbed if we slept in or returned unexpectedly during the day. How these stewards managed to do their work in such an unobtrusive way confounded us. It was as if they had special antennae that told them if a cabin was still occupied and should not be disturbed.
The trip to Fanning Island was not always spoken of well by many of the American guests, since most of them preferred to spend no time on sea days. They explained that they preferred more days spent in ports. However, we found the sea days relaxing and the tonic needed to offset our normally pressured days at work. There were plenty of activities available for those who wanted to be kept busy, but we preferred to use those days for massages, the hot tubs, reading and snoozing. The spa was heavenly. The girls were all well trained and knowledgeable about treatments and made us feel special and unhurried. The gym and weight room were well equipped and had excellent views of the ocean, however we were too lazy to avail ourselves and left it to others who obviously recognized that they were too well appointed to ignore.
The quality of the food on board Norwegian Wind was very high. It was always beautifully presented and menus were changed daily. We chose the French restaurant, Le Bistro for our first evening and dined late so we could enjoy all the razzmatazz of leaving port and to see our first show of the cruise.
It may have been because we were a late booking, but the dinner was not as wonderful as we had anticipated. The seating we had did not contribute much either as despite the restaurant being largely empty at 9.00p.m., we were given a wall bench seat and seated side by side. This made us feel like observers rather than diners.
All meals thereafter throughout the cruise were really of excellent quality.
Being Australians, we don't generally eat as much as the average American and the wide choice of appetizers, soups, salads , entrees and desserts for lunch and dinner, we always find astounding.
When the quality of all these choices is so high for the huge number of diners at each meal, it makes it even more astonishing. We love French bread styles and we were surprised to find that these were available throughout the cruise.
Breakfast in any of the venues on board was well organized and with enormous choices to be had. It didn't matter if you slept in or rose before dawn to pound Deck 7 in a fitness frenzy, we could get breakfast in a casual manner or more formally in a restaurant. We only had to match the venue to the time of morning.
Freestyle dining throughout our cruise was simply wonderful. It left us free to eat whenever we chose in any of the venues we wanted. This meant if we just wanted a gourmet sandwich from the deli while we lounged on deck or ate spare ribs from the BBQ while we watched the swimmers in the pool, we could do that instead of dining in a restaurant or taking a trawl through a buffet. Room service was prompt if you couldn't be bothered stirring from your armchair in your room and wanted to just sit and gaze at the ocean sliding by below while you ate.
The only surprise for us was that there wasn't more fresh tropical fruit available. We didn't see passionfruit, rambutans, lychees or mangoes among the fresh fruit displayed. Bananas too were in short supply. Fresh apples, pears and oranges were limited. Most fruit supplied consisted of melons e.g. rockmelon, watermelon and papaya, pineapple and strawberries. Since we like fresh fruit, and we were in the tropics, we noticed its restriction though this was not a major problem or huge disappointment.
The excursions we took in each port were well organized and comfortable. Each one matched or exceeded our expectations and provided us with a limitless array of photographic opportunities. It would be almost impossible to say if any one of the excursions we chose was any better than another. Each one was so different and spectacular.
The road trip to Hana was hilarious and spellbinding. The wry humor of our driver, Cliff combined with the spectacular hairpin bends around steep cliffs threaded with waterfalls, scenic ocean lookouts, crashing surf and green jungle vegetation was breathtaking .Yet, the helicopter ride over Hawaii which supposedly takes 2 hours and actually lasted for more than 5 from start to finish was exceptionally good value. We took off from Kona and flew up over the gaping caldera and cinder cones of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and onto the district of Puna to see the outfall of lava where it is flowing into the ocean in a pall of steam seen for more than 20 miles away.
We landed in Hilo to stretch our legs while the helicopter refueled and then swung up and over the coastline north of Hilo to see the wild beauty of the cliffs, waterfalls and jungle clad river valleys .We even saw whales breaching beneath us in the turquoise ocean.
Then again the 4x4 trip to Puna across the lava fields and down to the Champagne Pool where we swam with a green turtle in a thermal pool of absolutely crystal clear water and later ,while drying off, sipped champagne as we watched children snorkeling and floating amid happy laughter, was another magical day.
The musical entertainment on the Norwegian Wind was very enjoyable and suited the predominantly 30-60 year age group. There were sufficient time slots to be able to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and presentation by the Melodic Quartet e.g.Tribute to ABBA , Hits of the BEE GEES ,take in a show, go slow dancing , join a disco or simply listen to a piano melody while having an after dinner drink.
For those more active, game shows were available on many evenings. A comedian , juggler and hypnotist provided other forms of entertainment which were all of good or very good standard.
Disembarkation procedures were explained well beforehand and it was the quickest and simplest one we have yet encountered of any ship on which we have traveled. It was almost restful if one can imagine it. No wild rush, short tempers, misunderstandings or long queue.
The Norwegian Wind is not the most luxurious, the largest nor does it have the most amenities of the ships we have been lucky to use. What it does do, it does very well indeed. The manner in which it served us was of such a high standard that we did not miss the greater choice of onboard shopping that larger ships offer nor the grander proportions of their theatres and lounges. This cruise had a far more personal feel about it and we left rested, happy and wishing the cruise could have been extended. We had met a lovely lot of people, both crew and fellow passengers, and it was rather sad to say our farewells. We are recommending the Norwegian Wind to our friends, colleagues and business contacts in Australia for its relaxed yet totally professional organization of a carefree holiday.