Three years ago was our Hawaiian Vacation and since we are experience freezing temps and a brutal winter, it make me wish I was on vacation in a warmer climate. I read over my Hawaiian blog posts and instead of sharing just those again (I shared them last year) I thought I would share with you the three cruises we have been on. I’m anxious for our fourth cruise in September 2017 and our first River Cruise in September 2018.
All three cruises (and our fourth booked cruise) have been with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I have only been on Norwegian but Kenyon has sailed on Carnival too. What we love most about Norwegian is their Freestyle Cruising philosophy in that you can eat when you want and wherever you want. Unlike other cruise lines, Norwegian isn’t an all-inclusive cruise. There is at least two sit down restaurants and one buffet included in the cost of your cruise and also room service. If you want to dine at some of the other restaurants there is a specialty fee associated with it. This doesn’t bother Kenyon and I one bit and we often make do with the free food offered just fine.
2010: Our first cruise was 7-days to Alaska, including the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay. We sailed in/out of Seattle, WA with Ports of Call: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. We booked an inside cabin due to the enormous cost of upgrading to a balcony and I do think this was the best idea. We didn’t have to worry about the daylight/sleeping issues and when we wanted to watch the scenery we just found a place on the community deck somewhere along the ship. Sadly, Kenyon was sick on day two and pretty much miserable the entire cruise/vacation. I wasn’t sure if I would ever cruise again but decided to give it another go. I’m glad I did as I love cruising.
Alaska was the best cruise with the easiest ports to get around at. You pretty much could walk off the ship and either be right in town or for just a little farther walk you could get wherever you needed to go. We booked an excursion to Zipline that did require a van ride. Other than that we either just walked around the port and/or paid four our own tours. I did a lot of trip research and made some calls so it all worked out okay. I had THE BEST homemade black bean veggie burger at a bar off the side of a hotel in Victoria, BC and I am dying to get back there and have another.
2012: Our second cruise was to warmer climate and included an upgrade to a balcony room. We sailed for 4-days in/out of Miami, FL to the Bahamas. Ports of Call: Freeport, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay (the NCL private island).
We booked a fantastic excursion kayaking down a river in a National Park in Freeport. There wasn’t anything to do off the port in Freeport so you did need to book something for entertainment. In Nassau we decided to just get off the ship and walk around. There is plenty to do but it is very crowded and the locals try desperately to get to you take public transportation (included horse drawn carriages). We booked an excursion to swim with the sting rays at NCL’s private island but the recent events of Hurricane Sandy had made them all escape and they didn’t come back. I was sad we had to miss out but we were able to spot some fish while we snorkeled.
2014: Our third cruise was a 7-day cruise in/out of Oahu, HI to all of the Hawaiian Islands. Ports of Call: Maui (overnight), Kona, Hilo, Kauai (overnight). We booked a balcony upgrade and I highly recommend spending the extra money to do so. 1) It is warm and 2) It is fantastic sitting out on the balcony on the overnight stops where you can just watch the scenery and the people out in the water near the port. It was a great investment.
The one thing I didn’t like about Hawaii that I did about Alaska is that there just isn’t much to explore right off the ship. The small areas like Hilo and Kona had stuff right there but you really do have to book an excursion. We booked our excursions with an outside company called Roberts Hawaii that had a guarantee they would get you to the ship on time or they would refund your cost of the cruise. It also turns out that Roberts Hawaii runs the transportation for the NCL booked excursions so we ended up saving a boatload of money. You never know if you should take a risk on an outside company but if you do, you will save money. Just don’t miss the boat!
Our fourth cruise will be in September 2017 for 7-days in/out of New York City, NY and down the New England coast. We had to re-book from September 2016 and push it out a year with our new house purchase. So, I’m even more excited. We are planning a few days ahead of time in NYC and I had wanted to end the cruise with a few days in Boston. But, I don’t think we will try all that. The cost starts to add up really fast.