My wife and I arrived in HNL Friday, Jan. 24, 2003. We had to build in a couple of weather days - it's been a tough winter back East!
We left our hotel about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan.26, and were in our balcony cabin on deck 10 forward on the port side, at 12:10 p.m. After lunch in the Market Cafe I went ashore about 2 p.m. There was a long line of anxious cruisers by then.
Dinner at the Versailles Restaurant featured prime rib and salmon - a great way to start a cruise - both were delicious. We have cruised with HAL, Celebrity, Costa, RCCL, Cunard and a couple of other lines that are no longer around. We were pleasantly surprised that the food was as good if not better than our previous cruises. The staff and crew were all friendly and we did not notice a decline in service because of the automatic ally-deducted tips.
My wife and I really appreciated the vegetarian line in the Market Cafe. Although not vegetarians, we try to limit meat to no more than once a day - and that usually is at dinner. A plus was that it was never too busy and you could almost always find a table quickly.
Also, AS others have mentioned, the shower is super. The bathroom area is compact but very efficient ("supersized" people may have a problem, however.}
Thirty minutes after our departure from HNL, the power went out except for emergency hall lights. It was restored in about a half hour and the captain said a "transformer on the propeller" failed. I presumed he meant the Azipod propulsion system.
Because of the problem, we had to skip Fanning Island (Kiribati). We would not have time to get there and back without full power, the captain announced. As a result we spent all-day Monday in Hilo and all-day Tuesday in Kona - both on the Big Island. Wednesday was our only day at sea. Thursday and Friday we anchored off Lahaina, Maui. Saturday we resumed the original schedule and docked at Nawiliwili, Kauai. At 7 a.m. Sunday we were back in HNL. It was a very quick but enjoyable and relaxing week!
We were disappointed we missed Kiribati and were looking forward to a day on a remote Pacific island. Perhaps we will be able to deliver the boxes of pens and pencils we bought for the school on Fanning Island another time. However there there is a bill in Congress that would allow NCL to be able to skip the foreign port and remain in Hawaii all week.
Many passengers were happy to have more time in Hawaii. We made the best of it and did our own shore excusions. The highlights for us were two whale-watching trips on Maui with the Pacific Whale Foundation. The foundation has a booth (slip 10) as you turn right from the tender dock. It cost us less for two trips than one with the ship's excursion. (We did get a 10 percent senior discount the first day and then joined the foundation the second day and got a 15 percent discount and a free t-shirt!)
Bring a pair of binoculars - it helps while whale-watching.
We thank previous reviewers for several good tips.