We just returned from a EXTRA GOOD cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. I had read the reports on the Star before leaving and had read so many BAD reports that I was ready to cancel. I want to say here that we have been on MANY cruises and this one and the ship Star was exceptional. In fact, it came close to being our FAVORITE ship, a spot the Holland America Amsterdam holds right now. We got our own air with Hawaiian airlines so can't report on that but upon arriving at the ship, our embarkation was super smooth, there were 4 of us sharing a mini suite with veranda...it was crowded but we had a ball. 2 slept on the twin beds and 2 slept on the made up sofa, which our cabin steward Luis had padded with thick foam pads...he was an extra good steward, just waiting to serve us throughout the trip..he also had an exceptional helper, ARgee (both from the Phillipines Islands)...they both have children & families at home. Our son and my sister, our companions, are early risers so they would get up, go to breakfast and then my wife and myself would arise, eat our breakfast which we had brought to cabin each morning, just what we wanted, and then get ready. The islands worked their magic on all of us.
At Hilo, our only disappointing stop, the weather was misty and cloudy so we didn't try to drive up to the volcanoes. We then headed for the Fanning island but the next day an accident burned 2 of the crew members quite badly so the ship turned around and hurried them back to medical facilities...no one regretted this decision, and later the Norwegian line filled in the itinerary with, to our opinions, was a VERY good itinerary..stopping at Kona and giving us an extra day at Maui.
On Kona we rented a car and spent the day sightseeing, having a lunch at a fabulous spot ending with Macadamia Nut pie...the thoughts make me drool as I write this...on Kauai, we spent the day driving up the Waimea Canyon which was breathtaking (we had seen it before) and it was the most beautiful this time..the valley outlook was fogged in but on the way back we stopped for lunch and enjoyed Passion Fruit Pie...
On Maui we drove to Laihina, got in on a Canoe FEstival and visited Kaanapoli and Kapala, having lunch at the Hula Grill in the Whalers Village at Kaanapoli where we had the best Virgin Pina Coladas we've ever had. All 4 of us thoroughly enjoyed our private veranda, often spending hours out there reading or visiting. We ate at the Hawaiian restaurant which was one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen, located around the atrium...try the shortribs, outstanding and the fish chowder was EXCEPTINAL....another time we tried the Italian restaurant and it was also extra good...would have liked to have tried the Ginza, the Japanese restaurant but we are AGAINST this charging a cover charge so did not try it. We ate all of our lunches on ship and most of the other dinners at the Versailles, again one of the most beautiful restaurants we have eaten in...we finally found a favorite waiter and his helper and asked for them from then on. He was Norbert from Hungary and his helper was also from Hungary...EXTRA GOOD...we heartily recommend them...his station that cruise was clear in the stern which gave a fantastic view during dinner. We always ate at 5:30 when they opened so never had to wait for a table.
We found MOST employees extra cheery and helpful..a very few didn't like their jobs but you find that everywhere...in looking back on the BAD reports I had read, I honestly don't know where they were coming from, they either were very disagreeable people or something to make them write such a report on such a beautiful ship...the ONLY disappointment of the entire cruise was that most of the shows were broadway type shows, VERY GOOD castings, but we had EXPECTED more Polynesians shows, after all this was a Hawaiian cruise ! The cast did do, finally, an imitation of a Polynesian show on the last night but it was pretty well jazzed up. The SHOW LOUNGE is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the seating can't be beat and the state of the art lighting and sound is outstanding ! Wish I could say as much for the cinema theatre but we found the sound very inadequate and the picture and seating poor, in fact we walked out after 20 mins of the show.
The shopping onboard was not something to get excited about but the shopping on the islands was extra exciting. Anyone that can go to the Hawaiian islands and not become involved in their magic is beyond my beliefs...Kauai is absolutely the most beautiful island among beautiful islands, so lush and flowers everywhere. We LIKED the informal eating arrangement...it was nice to NOT have to dress up constantly or on certain nights and yet one could dress for the evening dinner a little (country club casual is a good name for it) and those that didn't want to could eat upstairs at the buffet line, or out by the pool. Since there was 4 of us, we ate by ourselves all the time, but one could easily became involved with other people if you wanted to. We found the FOOD extra good, if not gourmet a few times...the soups were served piping hot which is a pet peeve of mine, the salad dressings were GOOD, the MEATS were TENDER and tasty..I personally am not wild about their fancy desserts but there is plenty to order and eat otherwise or just ice cream. All the food that was supposed to be HOT was! and the foods that were supposed to be COLD were!
I know Norwegian is considered a "price" line but surprisingly it came very close to equalling Holland America which is our favorite line by far...this, by the way, is ONLY on this ship, the Norwegian Star which we found to be an exceptinal ship..our expderience on the Norwegian Sky last year was very mediocure but thats another story....I would recommend the Norwegian Star and the Hawaiian Cruise to anyone!!! We are NOT fans of the GRATUITIES being taken out as we would rather reward our favorite ones but where one is exposed to so many waiters etc, I can see where it could be hard. And one can reward those that are especially favorites. My wife and myself, after the cruise, flew back to Kauai to spend a week which was superb but that too is another story.