NCL’s Norwegian Star is the largest floating
resort to ever cruise the islands of Hawai‘i, accommodating
2,200 passengers and 1,100 crewmembers. This $400 million ship
has 10 distinctive restaurants and 14 separate lounges and
bars. In addition, the Norwegian Star has more private balconies
and ocean-view staterooms than any other ship in Hawaii, according
to NCL’s website.
The Norwegian Star begins its seven-day cruise on Sunday
in Honolulu, from which it departs at 8 p.m. enroute overnight
to Hilo on the Big Island, where it docks at 6 a.m. on Monday
for a seven hour stay . Passengers usually book shore excursions
on-board prior to arrival, which can be expensive. The cheapest
way to enjoy your time ashore in Hilo is to either rent a
on your own, or hire a taxi for a sightseeing tour. Taxi
tours are very reasonable, and drivers are waiting at the
disembarking passengers. With a local driver as your guide,
you will get to visit places ship-arranged tours don’t
offer, such as stops at local fruit stands or historic points
of interest, as part of your personalized adventure.
A trip to Hilo should include visits to ‘Akaka Falls,
Rainbow Falls, and the most popular destination, Volcanoes
National Park. Since Kilauea currently has an active lava flow,
visitors have a great opportunity to see molten lava up close.
The flow has covered much of the road on its way to the ocean,
creating a landscape of hardened lava that you can walk across
to see the new lava slowly bubbling and sliding toward the
ocean. The Norwegian Wind, which also cruises the Hawaiian
Islands but on a different schedule, passes by the park in
the middle of the night, so guests can watch the glowing lava
flow into the ocean against the night’s sky.
The ship leaves Hilo at 1 p.m., and the next day is spent
at sea as the Norwegian Star cruises towards the equator
next destination at Fanning Island. In order to comply with
US law, which states that cruise ships in America have to
visit a foreign port between American ports, NCL sails to
Island, the closest foreign port to Hawai‘i. Located
in the Republic of Kiribati, this coral atoll lies 3.5 degrees
above the equator and 153 miles from Christmas Island. NCL
is the only cruise line that visits Fanning Island, and it
is basically the only contact the 1,500 inhabitants have with
the modern world, besides a supply ship that stops by from
Australia two or three times per year. With no electricity
and no running water on the island, this is probably what Hawai‘i
would have looked like before the modern world discovered
The ship arrives in Fanning Island for a four hour visit.
Passengers are tendered ashore from the ship to English Harbor.
native men and women sing and dance to greet them. The entire
village comes out on ship days, and the school built by NCL
is closed. Just beyond the pier, women and children sell
handmade wares, such as baskets and jewelry, for about $5.
The natives speak Gilbertese, but most have learned basic
English in order to communicate with the tourists. They are
and love to pose for pictures. Many passengers have started
bringing candy for the children, but NCL discourages this
gesture to help prevent tooth decay. Since there is no dentist
on the island, any health problem here is difficult to treat.
Instead, articles of clothing, bottled water and sunglasses
are welcomed, and the natives are very grateful for the donation.
There are several inexpensive options for shore excursions
in Fanning Island, such as wandering around the village,
which is also where NCL sets up bathroom facilities, a barbeque
and beach supplies; renting a bike for a ride around the
island to meet the locals or visit the school; a walking
tour of the
island, guided by one of the locals; or, paying $20 to tender
over to Napali Beach, which is a separate island, for a few
hours of sunning, swimming, and perhaps, a beachside massage.
This beach is truly paradise, complete with white sand, coconut
trees, and crystal clear water. NCL provides mats to float
on, and kayaks are also available to rent at Napali Beach.
There are refreshments available, but there are no bathroom
facilities here. Be prepared to walk about a half-mile from
the pier to Napali beach and back to catch the tender to
The next day is spent at sea, as the ship cruises toward
Lahaina, Maui. Again, passengers are tendered ashore, since
is not big enough to accommodate the ship. The ship docks
all day in Maui, which allows passengers the opportunity
in shore excursions, as well the chance to shop in Lahaina.
The most popular activity in Maui is whale watching, and
it is not necessary to book this type of tour onboard. It
like every boat in the harbor has some variation of a whale-watching/snorkeling
tour available for reasonable rates. However, bike excursions
down Haleaukila, golf excursions, snorkeling at Molokini,
and visits to Maui Ocean Center should be bought on-board
to docking in Maui, since transportation back to the pier
The ship cruises overnight to Kauai, where passengers wake
up to a beautiful view of Nawiliwili. Since most of the shore
excursions are located on the other side of the island, it
is recommended that you plan in advance for this destination
to ensure transportation. The most popular tours are Waimea
Canyon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,
and the Napali Coast, which offer some of the tallest sea
cliffs in the world. Since the Napali Coast is most accessible
water, snorkeling excursions are very popular. In addition
to the stunning scenery along the coast, boaters often enjoy
watching spinner dolphins that love to jump and swim in close
proximity to the boat.
The ship leaves Kauai at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, heading to its
final destination, Honolulu. The ship arrives early Sunday
morning and passengers may disembark at 8 a.m. and must be
off the ship by11 a.m., since it sets sail later that day
with another 2,200 passengers onboard. For more information
NCL, its ships, and itineraries, visit www.ncl.com. For great
rates on cruises, visit www.vacation2go.com
Note: Kona may be substituted for Hilo or Kahului for Lahaina;
these and other changes are at NCL’s discretion. (www.NCL.com).