I woke up predictably early…after all, it was cruising day! Jim was still sound asleep and snug in the bed, so I went out on the balcony and started looking for signs of life.
OK, what I was really looking for was a ship! Between binoculars and a zoom lens, I was soon rewarded!
The hours before we left for the ship were pretty unremarkable. We ate breakfast in the club lounge, finished packing up, and actually had time to relax before it was time to leave for the ship. Confession — I felt guilty leaving without purchasing anything at the hotel, so I went down to the art gallery in the lobby and found some sea glass jewelry that I thought needed to leave Hawaii and go back to Houston.😂
I never said much about our hotel room. It was newly renovated and nicely furnished, but the real attraction was the view. The entire hotel was finishing up a major renovation, so things still had that new car smell. They had taken out the bathtubs and replaced them with walk-in showers which I thought was great! One thing I thought was strange was there was only one mirror in the room. It was over the vanity, but there was no electricity anywhere in the vicinity! Thank goodness I have a lighted travel mirror, or I’m not sure how I would have dried my hair. First World problems, right?
One disappointment was the hotel laundromat had been taken out during the renovations. I was counting on using the laundromat to get our sweaty stuff washed before the cruise. As it was I ended up having to do a sink load on the ship.
Something I wasn’t expecting was the open air/non-air conditioned corridors. I wasn’t surprised that most of the hotel lobbies were open air, but I had expected hallways in high-rise hotels to be enclosed with A/C and they weren’t. I think that contributed a little to the room always feeling a bit humid and sticky. Still, we liked the hotel, the location was perfect for us, and we would definitely stay there again.
Our ride to the ship with Go808 Express was a few minutes late, but that was OK…it was a beautiful morning and our ship check-in time wasn’t until 11:30. Our driver was chatty and personable, and the ride to the terminal only took about 10 minutes.
Check-in and boarding were a breeze. We had a suite, so we never stood in a line of any kind. We were taken to a side room where there were snacks and drinks, and each suite was seated at a desk for check-in. Right about 11:30 the concierge spoke to the group then we were escorted onto the ship. It’s funny, after waiting so long I thought I’d be giddy with excitement when we boarded, but it really just felt normal.
We changed some of our dinner reservations, then had a leisurely lunch in Cagney’s. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit…I decided at that very first lunch on board that the Chicken Milanese was excellent and I ended up having it every time we ate lunch there!
We had to have dessert, because we were on a cruise ship which for us equals having to have dessert! We split a piece of carrot cake, which was delicious.
I’m going to put all the ship stuff here, because to be honest for us the ship was really just our hotel with several restaurants that sailed from place to place. We never made it to a show, there wasn’t a casino, and although we sat down in a bar a couple times for the most part our daily routine was get up, eat, tour all day, return to the ship, clean up, eat again, and sleep.
Many said the buffet was great. I couldn’t tell you, because we only stopped in once for a quick snack after an evening tour. I never even located the main dining room, because we ate all our dinners in the specialty restaurants. I went to the Shore Excursion desk once and Guest Services once. Both were reasonably quick and provided good service. Our room steward seemed efficient…we never formally met him and only saw him once. I guess that’s what happens when you have a butler to take care of you!
I’m not sure I would take the beverage package again. I really don’t think we were on the ship enough to get good value for our money. At most, we each had 2, maybe 3 drinks a day, and it would have been much less expensive to decline the package and just pay for our drinks.
Don’t bother upgrading your internet unless you plan to spend your days sitting on the ship working! We had cell service almost the entire trip save a few hours overnight when we were between islands. For the times we didn’t have service, the included internet was more than enough to cover it.
Our cabin was great! We were in 13518, a Penthouse on a small, quiet deck. We had tons of storage, a huge balcony, and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. All the soft furnishings were in really good shape, and the cabin was immaculate.
What didn’t I like? The lighting at the vanity was awful (Once again I was thankful for my lighted travel mirror!), the railing for the balcony was way too high, and the bathtub was a lethal weapon. Seriously, I could have used a step ladder to get in that thing, showering while the ship was moving was an adventure, and I said many prayers before I got out. There was just no way to bathe and feel safe at the same time! Definitely not for the elderly, klutzes, or anyone else who values their life and limbs! The tub alone would cause me to choose a different cabin next time…one with a shower that doesn’t require gymnastic feats to enter and exit. I would choose a cabin with a walk-in shower!
We sailed at only 50% of capacity, so the ship never felt crowded. There was never a wait for an elevator, and I never saw any long lines for anything. I thought the staff was warm, friendly, and did everything they could to be helpful and provide great service. There were times we could tell someone was in training, but it in no way impacted our trip or our enjoyment.
I had been a little worried that after such a long wait and so many disappointments the cruise would be a let down, but it wasn’t at all. I will say if someone books this cruise expecting it to be like cruising in the Caribbean with lots of sea days and fun in the sun they need to find a different cruise. If people do their homework and understand what the ship is and what it isn’t they will have a great time. For us, the opportunity to see four islands without having to mess with airports, TSA, rental cars, and schlepping luggage around Hawaii was better than any casino or water slide!
My only gripes (and they’re pretty minor) were disappointment with the wine list and the open hours of the coffee bar. I had expected the specialty restaurants and the wine bar to carry a much wider choice of wine by the glass, but the list was the same (and very limited) in all the restaurants and at the Napa Wine Bar. As for the coffee bar, a 6:30 opening time is simply not early enough for this early riser!
Our muster drill location was out on deck (how did we get so lucky?🙄), and right after that we had a meet and greet with about 25 people from our FaceBook group page. It’s always nice to see some familiar and friendly faces around the ship!
Dinner was at Jefferson’s. I had the veal chop and Jim had the salmon. Both were great, and dinner was pretty much the end of the day for us. That night we started the habit of getting everything ready for the next day before we went to sleep, because we were off the ship early every morning.
As soon as I stretched out on the bed the motion of the ship rocked me to sleep. Next stop, Maui!