Year Started: 1966
Ships in Fleet: 13
Summary: With the recent introduction of new ships the third biggest cruise company in the world. Free-style cruising, elaborate dining options and surprisingly good entertainment.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, Bermuda
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Disabled Travelers.
This was the 3rd time that we sailed on this ship; the last time was to the Panama Canal in 2005. This was about the 4th time that we've been to the Mexican Riviera. Overall, it was a good cruise and we had a nice time.
However, with the advent of Freestyle cruising, this cruise was significantly more casual than any we have been on. Hubby took a suit for "formal night" but did not wear it because he felt that he would be seriously overdressed. I didn't wear the cocktail dress that I brought.
We previously liked Freestyle because it meant that we could share a dinner table with different people every night. That only happened once in 11 nights because so many passengers skipped the dining room in favor of the Garden Cafe (buffet). The dining room was never more than half full.
The ship was spotless and the staff were attentive to all of our requests. The entertainment as usual was good.
If you want a casual experience, this is the cruise line for you.
NCL Sky, Miami, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay 09/11/09
Ship NCL advertises this ship as the newest in the Miami / Bahamas market. I agree..
This ship is more of the super ship design like the destiny class. If your not looking to go on a 90's era ship this is your cruise to the Bahamas.
Now I need to be critical of NCL. While this is a newer ship, NCL is in third place when it comes to attention to detail. Let me give you some examples.
The stateroom was clean and functional, and you did feel very clean and comfortable.
However.. the bathroom floor was not spotless as you will ALWAYS find it spotless on Carnival and RCCL.
There also were signs of wear and tear, like a scratched up table in the stateroom, oxidation on door locks, cracking in the bathroom sink basin where the water stopper is located, and oversized light bulbs stuffed in the ceiling light pins.
The wear is not major in most cases, but its also a sign that NCL has been ignoring these things.
Bottom line NCL, little things leave big impressions, if the other guys can getit done right so can you.
NCL will need to take her offline at some point to get these things fixed or they will become old ship issues quickly, tainting her newness image.
Especially since this ship has two cruises in every seven day stretch, which is allott of people using and breaking things in short periods of time.
Activities NCL offers a behind the scenes (how a cruise ship works) tour for anyone who wants to go, you don't need to be a frequent cruiser, HOWEVER, NCL charges $55 per person for the pleasure. Come on NCL, are you serious?? I paid my cruise fair, I spent $300 in your casino and $600 more in the spa and on drinks, maybe you could throw this in possibly?
I found this just absolutely chinsy NCL..
The Sky has all your usual ship fun, shuffle board, ping pong, spa, shows, music, comedy, photography, and dance lessons.
Ok so here NCL is exactly the same as its competition and its quality is no better or worse. SO don't base your decision on the activities.
To the good, and there is a lot of good here.
Food Let me be clear, NCL has the BEST food at sea when comparing the value cruise lines in my humble opinion.
I have been on all the major players many times and the food was great!
It was Fresh, different, and had well thought out menus.
I tasted the buffet, room service, and the main dining room and there were dishes I had never had before. Everything was full of flavor, the portions were great, and the service was excellent.
To add to this, what other cruise line has Wonton Soup at midnight? NCL has it. That's right! Wonton Soup. Check it out at the "Great Outdoors" bar. They actually have a full menu available until the very early hours of the night.
A+++++ NCL well done.
Sky, the concept.
I think NCL wants to be different, you can tell in just about everything they do.
The colors in the rooms and the public areas are different and not boring. The bars are set out in new and exciting ways, and the ship in general was thought out in a much different and exciting way then your usual mega ship way.
If you're bored with nornal, NCL is the way to go. I will say the ship is so different I got totally lost at first, not to fear though, they have clear, intelligible signs everywhere and by day two I was fine.
One great difference is this ship has an open terrace area aft called the "Great Outdoors", with a buffet and bar overlooking the water and sky, its a really nice place to eat or drink and have fun.
Costs There is value here, you can sail for as little as $199 per person in an inside cabin, or around $299 for a balcony, of course depending on the date the price will go up. Add $45 per person for port charges.
Premium Food This ship has three premium restaurants, of which I visited none, you see, I still think all food should be included, so I don't go for this gimmick.
However in fairness, you may want to try these out if your into French, Italian or a Steak House. There is a flat cover fee which includes all the food you can eat.
The Drinks As far as alcohol, drinks cost between $4 and $18, depending on what you like.
I ordered two red bull and Grey Goose drinks and it cost me $32. I almost fell out of my chair, so be warned, ask first before you order. NCL you think maybe that's a little too much??
Port Parking This ship is home ported in Miami.
Get ready to pay $20 per day to park your car at the port, so if you live in the area get a friend to drop you off or pick you up, or take a taxi because its outrageous. We can thank Dade County for this, as usual; they soak you when you have no alternatives.
Getting on and off Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth, we chose to carry our luggage out and we were off in 10 Minutes, 20 minutes if you count going thru customs.
Summary All in all, for a 3 or 4 day Bahamas cruise, this is a better deal than what RCCL and Carnival offer by a mile, for now anyways.
I sincerely hope the other carriers get a little more competitive with each other, a nice price war would be great for us cruisers ;-)
I will will be posting some pictures soon.
My husband and I booked this cruise for our 30th wedding anniversay. When we got to our room I checked the mini bar, it was missing half of the contents although it had been checked off as complete. We reported this and halfway through the cruise it was topped up. We checked our statement when we left the ship and everything was OK. One week after leaving the ship a $77 dollar amount was taken from my credit card. No paperwork was every sent to justify this amount being deducted. When we contacted NCL we were told that this was for the mini bar - we took nothing from this bar as it was horrendously expensive. Two months later we have now received a refund (slightly less because of the difference in exchange rate)
The cruise went to amazing ports and great scenery. The excursions were pricey at some ports but for the most part worth it. The St Petersburg excursions were fabulous but you were rushed through most of the exhibits because it takes so long to get through customs and we were running an hour behind.
The one of the problem we had is that we were booked in a Mini Suite on Deck 11 and the Kid Zone was directly above our room and all we heard from 8am to 11pm were the kids screaming, jumping and dropping things on the ceiling. It was so annoying that we complained but nothing was done - this was so not worth the extra money we spent. My suggestion is to double check the room you are booked in and make sure you are not below restaurants, pools and Kid Zones.
Another issue we had was the food was mediocre at best - the desserts were bland and the meals were that great.
The NCL Spirit is rated a 4 star but my experience puts it closer to a 3 star (this was my 4th cruise experience...first with NCL). Cruises are about services and food (primarily). What this cruise lacked was quality of food in their dining rooms. For example, the appetizers were barely a single mouthful and pre-cooked food (unfrozen). For the entrees, the quality simply was not there. Some items were so laden with butter and cream that you almost felt it went straight to your arteries. On lobster night they served half a tail in the entree. The added 1 shrimp a 2 mussels. Ridiculous. The dining service was slow and in one room (the Windows) the lady in charge "Jenny" didn't bother to greet you.
NCL promotes "freestyle" cruising. A great concept but totally mismanaged for dinner service. On three occasions we had to wait 45 minutes for a seating. They would not take any reservations in their dining rooms. It felt as if NCL made it somewhat uncomfortable to wait and hoped many would chose their specialty restos for added cost. Bar service seemed very pushy on selling you drinks. Theyjust did not stop asking you.
Sorry, I did not get my money's worth. I have been on other cruises and for the same money (and family vacation) thus far the Royal Caribbean is the best. Thank you.
Hi my name is Alki and this year I went on my first cruise to Bermuda with NCL Spirit. I am very satisfied from all my time on the ship. Crew memberes made sure for me to have a great time partying and they were very helpful. Definetely I will do it again in a couple of years. I like that Spirit leaves from Boston MA during the summer because I live in Boston.
My husband (75) and myself (65) just returned from the cruise to Alaska. Our cruise was terrible. The entertainment was a disaster. Not approriate for family oriented cruise. The service was not good. Our room attendent Sherton was very good and helpful and kept our room perfect. He is the only one that I can say was very attentive.
Children were running in the hall and I spoke to the personnel about this because they bumped into me three different times.
I have an artificial hip and if they had knocked me down I would be in a wheel chair because I cannot have any more surgery on my hip. The personnel told me they could not do anything about the running in the halls and in the resturant. We have travel with Norwegian before and had excellent service. We had planned to make this a yearly anniversary trip on their ships. Now we will never travel with Norwegian again and I will advise anyone else not to.Also too many hidden fees and having to buy our cokes all the time. This is rediculous.
We just returned from our cruise. Overall it was great.
First a bit about the ship. The food was great. We put out the extra bucks and went to dinner in Cagney's Steak House and Il Adiago and they were both worth the extra money. The service was super and the food wonderful. The buffets were good also. When the inside buffet was busy, we just went outside without a wait.
We had a balcony cabin, as well as a handicapped room for a friend of ours. NCL took very good care of our friend. The room was huge, especially the bath. Perfect for a wheelchair. Our balcony room was perfect. I will never stay in an inside cabin again.
The shows were okay. We cruised Royal Caribbean five years ago and the adult games were similar. I would think by now things would change. The comedian was very funny. The broadway type shows were cheesy and a waste of time. The partying at the pool at night was fun. We always found something to do if we didn't care for the shows. There are so many things to doon the ship that if we didn't like what we saw in one place, we would just go someplace else.
Surprisingly we did well in the Casino. The machines go from $.01 on up. There were plenty of tables to choose from.
Our overall ship experience was good and we would cruise on the Sky again.
My only suggestion would be to do something about the entertainment. The cruise director as Austin Powers was a bit much. I think a dueling piano bar for adults would be great fun.
As for the ports, Freeport was pathetic. Where we docked was all industrial. Cargo containers, sand piles -- it was just awful. Nothing pretty about it at all.
We took the $39.00 NCL shore tour. Driving around was sad. They had lots of devastation from past hurricanes, and the homes are in very poor condition. These people are very poor. The first market was dirty and there was no paper in the toilets. Bring you own, I guess. It wasn't worth the stop as far as we were concerned. The second place was better. There were 86 shops and a casino across the street. Much nicer. The last stop was the beach. 20 minutes for picture taking and a drink.
The next day we went to Nassau. The port was much better. We decided to take a taxi on our own and went over to the Atlantis Resort. We shared a taxi and paid $4.00 per person. We were there in five minutes. It's a beautiful place. We walked around for about an hour. I'm sure we didn't see even half the place. We took a taxi back for $4.00 each again. Right across from the place where we docked there was a straw market. Lots and lots of stores. Something for everyone. We really enjoyed that.
The last day we went to NCL's island. It was very nice, although you need to get there early to get a lounge chair. Otherwise you'll have to sit on a sand chair. They had bar service, a BBQ, music, volleyball and you could also rent floats, snorkel equipment or take a parasail ride. The food is free, but of course everything else has a charge. We paid $18.99 for two foam floats for the day. The beach is nice and the water was crystal clear.
On the last day getting off the ship couldn't have gone more smoothly. We opted for the easy walk off. We took our own luggage, and went through Customs in about two seconds. It was perfect.
So overall, we had a blast. We would have hoped the ports would have been better, but didn't think about the hurricane damage. Shame on us being from SW Florida.
We are planning another cruise and will go with NCL again. But next time we'll do more research into the ports.
My husband and I traveled to Hawaii this June to set sail on Pride of America. It was our first time in the islands and our first cruise. I had read many reviews of the ship ahead of time, and posted some questions on the message board here, which helped me to get ready for the experience. It was the trip of a lifetime!
We flew from Ohio on June 6 with Delta Airlines (with our second leg, a 9 1/2 hour flight from Atlanta to Honolulu). We arrived in Hawaii after 2 p.m. The flight wasn't too bad. I learned that the perfect seats on a 747 are the first row of two seats behind the threes, in the tail section. I had space beside my window seat that nearly equaled a seat width. We had extra storage under the seat in front of us and I was short enough (5'3) to be able to stand and stretch in the space beside our seat. I needed that, as my legs tend to swell when I fly. It was great.
When we got our luggage, we headed out to wherethe shuttles were. I had read that Roberts Hawaii offers $6 transfers to the pier. We couldn't see their bus, but saw another shuttle marked Waikiki and the driver said they were headed to the pier too. He said it would be $8 apiece. We took it.
Embarkation was smooth and easy. We were on the ship in no time (around 3 p.m.). Our room was ready when we got there. It seemed a little small to me, but my husband exclaimed, "It's huge!" when he saw it. I had been warning him that cabins were small on ships. The bed was two twins put together to form a king. There was a loveseat in the room and a small TV. There was ample storage. We unloaded our suitcases and had a couple of drawers in the closet we left empty. The suitcases easily fit under the bed.
The balcony was heavenly. If I had known better when I booked, I would have tried to get one without a lifeboat under it. We were on the 8th deck and the lifeboats were on the 7th. Actually our balcony was over a metal walkway between two lifeboats, which stuck out even further. It wasn't bad, and didn't obstruct our view, but it was in it, if that makes sense. My husband looked on the bright side of things and said if anything happened, at least we'd have an easy way down!
The bathroom was sufficient in size. The toilet and shower both worked well. There was shower gel and shampoo you could use at the push of a button. Soap was the same way at the sink. I took along my own shampoo in little containers, but my husband used the ship one and liked it. I had read there was no storage space by the sink, but there was enough for all of our little bottles of products. I have a travel bag that I hung on a hook on the door for my makeup, etc., which worked well.
The room had no alarm clock, but we just called for a wakeup call each day and they were always prompt with that. We left the balcony door open all night long, which was a wonderful way to listen to the sound of the waves when we were sailing, and to get some fresh air. One added bonus -- the sea air cleared my sinuses completely that week. Now that I am back home, I sure miss it!
We ran into our cabin steward several times in the hall during the week. She did a great job. She looked tired; they work such long days. But she kept the room clean and turned down our bed for us every night. She made four lovely towel animals for us during the week -- a dog, rabbit, elephant and snake. We delighted in them and tried to keep them as long as we could!
The ship was beautiful. We enjoyed the bright decor. The Mardi Gras Lounge was such a cozy place to be for a show and the Hollywood Theatre was elegant and seated so many. We saw many of the shows. We couldn't get enough of Second City, they were great. We went to their large show and both of their Mardi Gras improv shows and even attended a class to learn about improv with one of the comedians, Jeff Griggs. The magician, John Shyrock, was great too, as was the comedian, Chris Alpine. We went to a special show where the magician showed us how to perform some tricks, which was neat. We also went to the crew farewell show, which was really funny, especially their closing "Fountains" act. And we saw a local Maui band perform poolside one afternoon as well.
The food on the ship was good. We ate dinner two nights at the Aloha Cafe, and once each at the Skyline Main Dining Room, Liberty Main Dining Room, Jefferson's Bistro, Lazy J Steakhouse, and Cadillac Diner. We would have eaten at Little Italy instead of the steakhouse, due to the cover charge, but it was closed the night we planned on going (the night most of the ship was at the luau on Kuaui). Service was awesome at the Bisto, especially, but we had really friendly service at the Lazy J and Skyline as well. The food was delicious at the specialty restaurants, and good in the main dining rooms and buffets. I had read where the main dining rooms could take forever. We had two different experiences there. We were in and out of the Skyline in an hour, with good service, but the Liberty took about two hours and didn't impress us as much, service wise. But I know that can depend on the waiter/waitress at the time. The Cadillac Diner was a quiet, fun little place. I discovered I loved their macaroni and cheese. It's on the children's menu there, but I asked for it as a side with my sandwich. It was delicious! The best desserts I had all week were the chocolate chip cookies and the marshmallows we'd have dipped in chocolate for us from the fountains at the buffet. Yum! The buffet had a lot of food, and although it was packed, we never had too much trouble finding a place to sit. I like that they had antibacterial dispensers as you walked in.
We ate in the buffet for most of our breakfasts, but on the two days we had slightly later excursions, we went to the Skyline restaurant. Service was fast there for breakfast. They have an express menu. The fresh squeezed juice is free there too, but there is a charge at the buffet. However, there is regular OJ at the buffet that is no extra charge, in a dispenser. My favorite buffet breakfast dish was the Belgian waffle quarters. One day I tried to wait for an omelet, but it seemed to be taking too long so I just got other stuff. There was so much good food at the buffet that I didn't need to wait.
The pool was a cool place to hang out. It was a little hard finding some chairs together the one day we laid out, but we managed to on the deck overlooking the pool. We swam in the small adults only pool at the back of the ship one time (at least I thought it was an adults only pool), but another couple was in there with an infant and toddler at the same time. It didn't bother us, but I had read where no one in diapers was supposed to be in the pools. We tried out the hot tub at the back of the ship and it was nice and hot. We took walks on the Promenade deck a few times, and my husband jogged on it one morning. One night we played chess in the almost deserted card room. The room was stocked with lots of games. It was a neat place to get away for awhile. The library was such a cozy place too.
One of the two sailing highlights was the night we sailed by the lava flow on the starboard side. We watched on deck. It was amazing! No pictures turned out for me, though. Then, we got to see the Na Pali Coast from our portside balcony. Breathtaking, is all I can say about it. Pictures can't do it justice.
We took a shore excursion each day. The first day, we went on the Road to Hana tour. It was beautiful and we had ample stops to take pictures. I loved the black sand (lava rock) beach. Gorgeous! Lunch was pretty good, but just like the ship, it seemed all we had to drink on all our excursion lunches was tea and water. The road to the other half of the tour was closed, so we went back the way we had come, which was a little disappointing. I heard those who took the same excursion the next day went all the way around. One lady on our bus got sick, so be warned that if you get motion sickness, do not go on this tour.
The second day in Maui we did the Rainforest and Waterfall Hike. I learned I am not cut out for true hiking, but it wasn't too bad. Just be warned there's some climbing involved on steep and rough terrain, including climbing up tree roots on the side of a steep hill and using a rope to help lower yourself down an embankment. My husband took my backpack a couple of times to help me balance myself better. We loved swinging on the rope into one of the waterfalls we saw that day -- that was worth the hike for me.
In Hilo we took the Volcano and Rainbow Falls Deluxe tour, but the water from Rainbow Falls was diverted to the hydroelectric power plant due to a drought, so we went to a non-profit zoo instead. The zoo was neat, and the botanical gardens were gorgeous. The volcano was neat to see, all the steam coming out. And the walk through Thurston Lava Tube was great as well. The buffet lunch was good, as was the trip to the Macademia Nut Factory, where we bought some nuts for gifts.
We took the Captain Zodiac Rafting, Snorkeling and Dolphin Adventure in Kona. That was a lot of fun. We went really fast on the raft. We saw a lot of spinner dolphins jumping and spinning to entertain us. It was neat getting some good shots of the cruise ship in the background too. The snorkeling was good. The reef was in good shape there. There weren't a lot of fish, but the ones there were pretty colorful. Our favorite was the parrotfish. After the tour we walked around Kona. It's a charming town. We ate fish and chips at Quinn's Restaurant, and we found a neat little Internet place -- Beach Dog Internet Cafe -- where we could surf at a rate of $5 for 30 minutes. We stayed for an hour so I could get caught up on news from home. Crystal, who runs it with her husband, was so sweet. She gave us free ice cream samples while we were there. We bought some coffee in a shop near there as well as to take home. The line for tendering was a little long on the way back to the ship, and the rain didn't help, but there were awnings to cover most of the line.
Kauai was the most majestic of the islands. We went on the Waimea Canyon, Wailua River and Fern Grotto tour the first day there. The canyon was gorgeous. My husband didn't like that we stayed at a tourist trap for as long as we did at the canyon though! But some people like to shop. The riverboat ride was cool. I enjoyed seeing the Fern Grotto, but wish you could still go inside it. (You can't since it was damaged in a storm). There is a partially blind cat that lives at the Fern Grotto; it was resting under a large umbrella there. On the way back, they sang and entertained us on the riverboat and taught us how to do the hula. The buffet lunch that day was our best lunch of the entire trip.
Our second day in Kauai we went on the Heaven and Earth tour. We went on a helicopter ride over most of Kauai. It was fabulous! They seat you in the helicopter based on your weight. When it was over, they offer a DVD of your trip for sale. We bought one. The rest of the trip was by land. We saw a lot of beautiful coastline and ate lunch at a beach. The beaches were nearly deserted. They were gorgeous.
You have to put your suitcases out by midnight the night before the cruise ends. They give you color tags to put on them -- ours was black because we were taking an excursion. If you are leaving on your own, you can choose your time of departure the day before in increments of 15 minutes, and you are assigned a color accordingly. Disembarkation was as easy as going on our regular excursions.
We took the Best of Oahu Grand Finale tour. I loved getting the chance to see Pearl Harbor and visit the Arizona Memorial. It was such a moving experience. We then went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. On the way there, we stopped for lunch (on us) and somewhere to sample nuts. Everytime we went around a curve we saw a beautiful beach view, and I so wish we could have stopped for a picture. When I go back someday, I will definitely spend more time on Oahu. I felt like I didn't see enough. The Polynesian Cultural Center was really neat. The canoe pageant and Samoan shows were great, as was the luau, which was included in our cost. The food was delicious and everyone got a free fresh orchid lei. My husband and I went to all the villages in the time we had there, and tried to play all the games we could find. We threw spears at a target, swung poi balls, tossed sticks, balanced poles, learned to play a tune on the ukelele, and sampled poi. We also got some fake tattoos. We had a blast.
We got to the airport around 7:30. Our flight was at 9:50. We took a change of clothes and our toothbrushes in our carry-ons. The clean clothes were welcome after a hot day of touring in the sun. We slept little on our red eye flight back.
I loved every minute of our trip. Cruising was so much fun! We were pretty tired by the end of it, but I wouldn't have changed a thing because we wanted to see all we could of the islands while we were there. When we go back someday, we will know what we want to hit again, this way, and what else we'd like to see. I definitely want to return to Hawaii someday, and I'd love to sail on the Pride of America again. It was a terrific experience!
This is my review of the Pride of America from May 30th through June 6th.
Prior to boarding the POA we stayed at the Hyatt in Maui for three days. The hotel was beautiful. We rented a car through Thrifty. The first night we attended the "Drums of the Pacific" Luau at the Hyatt. We had a great time watching all the different performances.
The next day we drove to the top of Haleakala which was amazing. The view from the top is breathtaking. The following day we drove the road to Hana. We stopped at the Garden of Eden, black sand beach and other points along the road. Not recommended if you get carsick easily. The sights along the road were beautiful. We flew back to Honolulu the next morning and rented a car from Thrifty. We went to Pearl Harbor and took a behind the scenes tour on the Battleship Missouri. The ship was awesome. We returned the car and took the Thrifty shuttle to the pier.
We arrived around 1pm and had to wait in line for a bit to go through security and check-in, but we were onthe ship by 2pm.
The ship is beautiful. We tried to put all the negative comments we have read about the ship aside since we were celebrating our honeymoon. While exploring the ship we encountered our first negative experience. We were in the saloon bar and we were approached by a waiter named Garrett. We wanted to order two beers and he proceeded to offer the bucket of beer. I declined, but he continued to push it on us. We reiterated we didn't want a bucket, only two. He was very pushy and then with an attitude he said he needed our ID's. I was surprised because in all my cruises I never needed to carry ID with me, because my ship card was enough. I had my ID on me but my wife didn't and then he said he couldn't serve us. I bet if we had bought the bucket of beer he wouldn't have given us an issue. My wife asked him don't the under 21 people have some sort of indicator on the card showing they are under 21 and he said yes they have a corner clipped out or cut. He then proceeded to say well they don't always clip the card. I told him that wasn't our problem and all he needs to do is scan our cards and he can check our ages, and he didn't know what to say and stormed off with our cards. He finally brought back our two beers and proceeded to lecture us how everyone isn't as nice as him and we should always have our ID with us and how there are over 1400 cameras watching us. We left and never came back to that bar. We didn't let this ruin our vacation though; we just filled out the comment card with a lengthy comment and returned it to the purser's desk.
So after we left the Saloon Bar we made our way to the Lahaina Lounge for a meet and greet with fellow cruise critics. It was great to meet everyone and then we had a surprise appearance and meeting with Captain Buz and the cruise hotel manager.
We ate at the Skyline restaurant the first night and the food was very good. Our waitress Delia was very nice. The first day we just hung out and walked to a beach that was nearby, we should have taken a taxi, but now we learned our lesson. The next day we stopped in Maui and took the Molokini snorkel tour through the ship. It is run through the Pacific Whale Foundation. The tour was very informative and fun. We were able to see the green sea turtles (Honu) and many beautiful fish.
The next day we were in Hilo on the Big Island. We took an excursion through NCL for the Volcanoes National Park tour to see the active volcanoes. The tour was run by Polynesian Adventures and our tour guide, Captain Rob, was terrific. He was funny, knowledgeable and entertaining throughout the entire tour ride. The ride to the park was beautiful. The flowers and plants on all the islands are all breath taking. Volcanoes National Park is like being on a different planet. We made several stops at different vista points and picture spots. Our first stop was at the Caldera. This part of the volcano constantly emits steam and sometimes even toxic gases. Our favorite stop was when we were able to walk on the cooled lava from the 1974 eruption. It was amazing that trees and flowers have started to bloom and grow amongst the destruction of the lava. Our final stop in the park was the lava tube which was pretty cool too. We walked down a path and walked into and through the lava tube to the other side. On the way back to the cruise ship we had extra time so Captain Rob gave us a bonus stop at an orchard farm. There were some beautiful flowers in there. There was even an orchard worth $20,000!!! We didn't even think it was that nice, but apparently it only blooms like once a year or something crazy like that.
That next day we were in Kona on the Big Island. We had to tender there and NCL did a good job organizing the tender process. They gave out numbers in Pink's Champagne Lounge and then called you by numbers to go down and get on the tender. They had several tenders in service and it was quite efficient. Kona was beautiful as well. We did a lot of shopping and went to the little beach next to where the tender docked. It was extremely hot but the water was nice and refreshing. Kona was a good day to relax and get some shopping done.
From Kona we went to Kauai. Kauai is absolutely gorgeous. We rented a car through Thrifty and we had privately booked an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Tours (www.kiputours.com). We had some time to kill before we had to check in at the ranch so we drove to Poipu. There was a little shopping center so we walked around looking at the shops and we grabbed a drink at Starbucks. We came across Puka Dog (which was featured on the travel channel) they opened at 11am so we waited ten minutes until they opened because we had to try one. We got the Kauai mustard sauce dog and split it. It was pretty big so both of us were satisfied. It was a good hot dog but kind of pricey at almost $7.00, but we figured when else are we going to be able to try this? The ATV tour on Kipu Ranch was amazing. This ranch has been used for several movie scenes such as Indiana Jones, Mighty Joe Young and of course Jurassic Park just to name a few. This is an active cattle ranch owned and operated by the Rice family. Our tour guide Mike and Justin were amazing. They gave a history lesson about the ranch and the island of Kauai and showed us a fantastic four-hour tour. We got to swim in the river that Indiana Jones swung into as well as ending the tour at the beautiful waterfall with this amazing, huge bamboo. Our second day in Kauai we spent at the beach between the Marriott hotel and Duke's beachside bar and grille. The water was a little rough and brisk but all the same great.
The Sushi bar was phenomenal -- $15 a person for all you can eat sushi. And the Asian Fusion restaurant had great food and terrific service. The shows we saw were also fantastic. The shows on the POA aren't Vegas Style shows; however the Hawaiian dances and comedy acts were great. Second City performed three times and we went each time and laughed hysterically each and every time. Also, Chris Alpine performed several times and he too was fantastic and also very, very funny.
Overall we had a great time on the cruise. The service was a bit lacking, most likely because of the crew being all American. It was hit or miss with the waiters and although we had a decent room steward, we heard nightmares about some other stewards. However, we didn't let that get to us. We were there to see Hawaii and that's what we got. That being said, we would probably not take the same Hawaiian cruise on NCL's POA. We had a great time, Hawaii was more beautiful than words could describe, but NCL needs to give more training or something to teach the crew to be more personable and courteous as a whole.