My wife, Myself, My Son, His Wife and their 12 year old son were passengers on the Christmas Cruise of the Norwegian Wind. Sailing on December 20th RT fron Honolulu. This was cruise #11 for us and #7 for our son's family. It was our first with Norwegian and we all loved it. We'll definately sail NCL again.
We booked the cruise thru our long time travel agent, who handles most of our bookings after my son and I do our own extensive research. We do it this way because we feel that doing the research is part of the enjoyment of travel. It also helps to tell our travel agent what we want to do in detail. This system has never failed us to date.
We left New York's JFK at 7:00am on Friday Dec. 20th and arrived in Honolulu at 3:30 pm. NCL picked us up at the airport and had us aboard ship by 5:00pm. Check in and boarding were routine, maybe a little faster than most as NCL had at least a dozen check in booths in operation for non-repeat passengers and about half that number for repeaters.
Things moved quickly and we were aboard and in our cabins in less than an hour. First surprise, our son's cabin was a handicap cabin and as such was huge by inside cabin standards. We had an outside cabin on deck five. Liked the layout with the sitting area against the window, been on some ships were you have to kneel on the bed to look out the window.
Storage was more limited than we are used to and our bathroom was tight. Don't drop the soap in the shower as you don't have any manuvering room to retrieve it. As I said it was tight but servicable. The cabin size was just enough for four adults in the sitting area. We didn't spend much time there so it wasn't a problem.
This ship had a lively motion, you knew you were at sea at all times, we had three days of 10- 12 foot swells on our way to and from Fanning Island. The motion was up and down from bow to stern and I actually enjoyed it, our daughter-in- law and grandson complained of a little discomfort but there weren't any signs of seasickness and everyone seemed to make all of the meals. Lots of staggering back and forth but everyone seemed to take it in good spirits.
A few complaints, didn't care much for the tendering operation, like most cruise lines NCL caters to those who take their shore excursions, so they had first call on the tenders, we rented cars at each port and I didn't appreciate losing some of our time ashore waiting for NCL to open up the tenders to all. The decorations were a lot less than expected on a Christmas Cruise, we sailed on the "Legend of the Seas" in early December 1998 and found that ship much more festively decorated. I also expected more variety in the food selections. Four Seasons, Terraces and La Bistro each served the same meals for dinner, the preparation might be Italian Theme in one and Hawaiian theme in another but Salmon or Tilipia was on each menu as would be the meat or fowl selection. La Bistro had the additional $10.00 or more sur- charge but served the same ingredients. Never tried it though we intended to do so Christmas Night, changed our minds when we saw the menus. Biggest beef had to do with the ship's photographers. They didn't seem to have a clue, formal photos were the worst we've ever seen, little effort seemed to be made to set up shots. It was more like "stand there, smile, next". The best shot we got was taken by my 12 year old grandson. I included it in the Gallery I posted last night. Title "NCL Christmas 2002"
Now the good stuff, we all thought the entertainment was first rate. The shows where very nicely done, NCL has a quartet of very talented singers in the shows. We also really enjoyed the cultural things, hula lessons, Polynesian History lectures, lei making classes and the native dancers were all great. We did some of the trivia contests, cooking lessons, art auctions etc. Enjoyable all.
Please note: there is no casino activity on Hawaiian cruises, has something to do with local regulations so be prepared. To make up for it this ship has lots of board games, easily 10 times as many as any other cruise we've been on. This stuff was in use constantly too.
Can not offer anything about the quality of the shore excursions since we did everything on our own. I've been to Hawaii four times and was there for a year in the military. I loved playing tour guide for my family and the cost for six days of car rental was only $350.00. About what you'd pay for five people on any one ship shore excursion. These islands are made to be done on your own at your own pace. We had full sized cars or Mini-Vans, prices ranged from $35.00/day on Oahu to $75.00/day on the Big Island.
Once again, hats off to NCL for a wonderful Christmas Vacation.