For people who have never been to Hawaii, NCL's Pride of America cruise is the way to get a great overview of Hawaii and the fact that you have two days on Maui, two days on the the Big Island (one each in Hilo and Kona), and almost two days on Kauai along with time on Oahu (if you so choose) is a great way to see Hawaii. The ship is beautiful and is filled with patriotic and Hawaiian themes and the staff were very friendly and hard working. I especially enjoyed "the burger king" Calvin in the Aloha Cafe who made the best cheeseburgers, pizzas and calzones. I also enjoyed the comedian onboard and I thought the entertainment was good though I thought the "Not so Newlywed" game was a disappointment because they rigged the winners in which it was obvious that they knew the answers ahead of time. The only other negatives that I saw was that our room steward forgot to clean the refrigerator and I wasn't impressed with the turkey sausage. Other than that, I thought the food was very good and my overall experience was very good.
Now for the details: Prior to the cruise we spent four days in Honolulu/Oahu which I highly recommend. It gave us time to do extra touring and to deal with jet lag. We stayed at a nice hotel for the money, the Ambassador Hotel. It was not a luxury hotel, but it was spacious, 10 minutes from Waikiki beach and had an efficiency. We also rented a car though traffic is a nightmare. But it did give us flexibility and we enjoyed our time in Oahu and we walked up Diamond Head, Makapuu point, sampled Giovani's shrimp and did some of the sites downtown Honolulu. If you go to the Aloha tower, there is inexpensive parking $3 for 3 hours) and you can get in the down sites within 3 blocks. If you eat at the Aloha Tower the parking is free for three hours.
EMBARKATION DAY: Embarkation went well and it was beautiful sailing out of Honolulu harbor. As we waited in line to embark (which took only about 20 minutes), we were given leis and entertained.
DAYS 1 & 2: MAUI: On the first day, we rented a car and went up the Haleakala highway, the Iao Needle and drove in the western part of Maui. On the second day we took the ship's excursion, The Road to Hana. It was a long but beautiful trip with many wonderful sites. A recommendation: Bing Baggies and pack your own lunch from the ship's ample food supply. We did this a number of days. Food onshore is expensive. In Hana, a cheeseburger is from $9-$13. I loved the Road to Hana trip though leg room on the mini-bus was somewhat cramped and the corduroy seats left my knees red, but it was a great excursion.
DAY 3: HILO: Port wise, Hilo is not much to write home about but it is the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park which was a great excursion. If I had more time, I might have rented a car instead of the excursion in order to explore more of the National Park.
DAY FOUR:KONA: This is the best place for souvenir shopping. We went on the Glass bottom boat which was informative but I wish I had spent more money and gone on the submarine. We really did not see anything on the glass bottom boat that we had not already seen snorkeling in Oahu a few days earlier. This was the only somewhat disappointing excursion we took.
DAY 5 & 6 KAUAI: My favorite part of the trip.On the first day in Kauai, we rented a car and went to Waimea canyon and the north shore. The canyon was spectacular and is a must see on Kauai. On the north shore I liked the Kailua lighthouse and the sea caves. On the second day, we took a tour with Wings Over Kauai which was the highlight of our trip. Though not an excursion through the cruise ship, this 65 minute tour is a less expensive option of seeing Kauai from the air. For $120 per person you get a great view of the island. I also like the fact that this is a family owned business and you feel more like friends than tourists with the husband/wife team that runs the tour. We ended our time in Kauai as the hip cruised past the Na Pali coastline so we got to see Kauai by land, air and sea. Definitely my favorite place in Hawaii.
DISEMBARKATION: I have taken three cruises and this was the most organized, smoothly run disembarkation of the three I have taken. We were let off the ship at around 8:15 a.m., boarded our bus through Roberts ($7 trip to airport) by 8:30 a.m. and were at the airport by 9 a.m. in plenty of time for our 12:35 p.m. flight home.