Norwegian Sky Cruise Review by RenieRaider: Pride of Aloha - Hawaii
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Pride of Aloha - Hawaii
We have been on many cruises and we are Latitudes Members as well. Our cruise on the Pride of Aloha was Just what we wanted. We wanted to get a Taste of as many of the Hawaiian Islands as we could, in one week ,without packing - flying - unpacking - flying etc. We decided on NCL because of the intensive 96 hours of port time. We did A LOT in one week (almost too much)but achieved what we set out to do...... find out which island we would go back to for a land visit. I can say this...... there is NO WAY you could see everything we saw in one week unless you were on a ship.
This board gave me great insight for planning our days events while we were on our cruise. Thank you all. I'll try to do as good a job for others by sharing our cruise events as well.
We did not have the 'time' to go a day early but I wish we had. We were tired 2 days into our cruise because there are no days at sea ... and every day you are up and out.
We did the NCL Air Program witch More included the transfers to pier etc. We flew United from Boston to Chicago changed planes then on to Honolulu. HUGE plane, 5 across the middle BUT at the back of the plane it tapers down to only 4 across. The 4 of us sat there so we didn't have to climb over people. Good spot if you can't get a window. We collected our luggage and was greeted by an NCL Rep who directed us to a bus that brought us to the pier at Aloha Tower. No one offered us a lei. :-( That was disappointing.
Embarkation was a breeze! We walked up to the Latitudes Check-In desk and we were on our way! This is where you give them your Credit card and they take your photo. Smile! Then a lovely lady put a lei on us. Oooooo. :-) Now I'm happy. We're in HAWAII!
I had ordered the NCL Happy Birthday Decorations for our friend. So the four of us went by their stateroom to watch her reaction. It was great! Sign on her stateroom door, streamers in the room and a very impressive Birthday cake. $30.00. Well worth it! Better than I have seen on other lines. She loved it. The room stayed decorated all week.
We knew we would not be in our stateroom that much and we like to cruise as often as we can so we elected to take an inside stateroom #8244 close to elevators and stairs. Our stateroom was THE smallest stateroom we have EVER had! The whole room was mostly the bed. No moving around room. There was a refridge and a small desk. We decided we could sleep apart and asked them to separate the bed. Perfect! It almost doubled our space. Worked out great. Put luggage under the bed. The beds were not too hard for us. They were very comfortable. The room was bright VERY CLEAN .... very important. Not much drawer space but we expected that. Other cruisers had left hangers and we brought some too so we just hung mostly everything. Yes, bring your own travel size shampoo and conditioner.
We found a note in our paper work in the stateroom stating that 'they will NOT be applying the $10 per person per day "service fee" leaving it to us to leave gratuities as we went along. We sent my Hubby's Tux shirt down (with rush orders) to be cleaned and pressed as soon as we got in... It did get to us the next night in time for formal dinner. On the second night we left a note for our Cabin Steward with a $20 Tip saying thank you for pulling the beds apart, getting me extra paper etc etc ... and that we look forward to our cruise. Didn't see her much, didn't need to....everything we needed was there. We tipped again later in the week. Tipped the Bar waiters too. They pool their tips and they Prefer cash ... otherwise it gets taxed.
Usually when we first get on board I go to book my Spa appointments, but didn't bother this time as we were off the ship every day. I made an appointment to have my hair put up thou for formal night. I also make reservations for the 2 of us at Kahili Restaurant for formal night. And my friend made res for all 4 of us for the last night at Pacific Heights.
We checked out the ship making sure to get to Longboards as we were told t was a good spot. Did the mandatory Muster Drill about 4PM and the Sail Away Party BBQ was from 6-9. Made it to the Welcome Aboard Jet Lag Bash at 10PM then had to go crash ... tomorrow we will be in Kauai.
We pre booked the Wailua River & Fern Grotto Tour for 8:15 AM. On the way up the River to the Grotto we had the Hula Dancer and the Musicians with us. (that's how they get to work) That was an added bonus so book the early one. It was nice. Peaceful. We renewed our vows at the Grotto... along with 50 other people. LOL Well .... we did that, done that ... next time we'll do something else. There is another tour that would incorporate the River, Grotto and Canyon BUT it would have taken up the whole day. When we came back from the tour we had lunch on board and them took the Free Shuttle to Hilo Hatties. KEEP THIS IN MIND! They will give you one of the Hilo Hatties Collector's cup (there are 4, one for each Island) if you spend $25 with a coupon. I'm not a shopper but it is a great store! Problem is you can get something for EVERYONE in this one store! So instead of doing it ALL in one shot ... save it for the NEXT time you End Up at another Hilo Hatties. LOL
Tonight is Formal Night. I had an appointment at 5PM to have my hair done. There was NO one in there! Usually the salon on a ship is Bustling on Captain's night. It may have been because we were overnight in port and people were out and about?? We enjoy getting dressed up and meeting the Captain. Formal portraits were from 6-9 at two different spots. Photo with Captain from 6:45 - 7:30pm in the Atrium. So we met the Captain then went to the Plantation Club on Deck 12 for a before dinner cocktail. We had Dinner Res for 8:00PM at Kahili. Italian. Intimate. We requested one of the 1/2 moon booths. Lovely. Service and food was excellent! After dinner we went to the 10:00 Show. South Seas Island Spectacular. It was very good lots of different Hula Dancers. LOL we kept nodding off. Tired and Full. Dark and Cozy. There was a New Years Eve Party going on at the Blue Hawaii Night Club. (I heard it was good.) We headed to our stateroom. Tonight we are in port overnight.
Day Two In Kauai - This morning we had breakfast out on the stern at the Hukilau Lanai Not many people know about it. Instead of staying inside at the buffet and table area ... keep walking through the doors to the back deck THEN there is a small buffet area (same food) but no lines! It is so nice to sit out there. One side of the ship is the buffet the other side is Longboards. Very Convenient spot. Then we decided to walk over to the Marriott and check out the beach. Pretty. You can lie on their grass or on the beach but you can NOT use the chairs or pool. Then we walked around back to the Harley Davidson Store. A friend wanted us to pick him up a shirt. FYI- they rent Motorcycles 2 hours $60.00 24 hours $170.00.....Mopeds 0-8 hours $35.00. We headed back to the ship for the BBQ Lunch. It was windy so we headed into Longboards and watched as we sailed by the Napali Coast. very pretty. Stayed at Longboards for the Sports Trivia. Longboards and the Stern are a great area to be. Not many people know about this place so it tends to be not crowded. You can order food there too. Tuna Melts, Hot Dogs, Pizza (ask for it) etc. A Casual evening. Jet Lag is setting in and we have been busy! We went to see Hey Mr. Producer. It was very good. Then had a cocktail and headed up to bed as tomorrow we will be in Hilo!
One of the BEST things I did was bring my back pack. It would hold water, folding umbrella, jacket, tissues etc. We booked the Volcano National Park Tour. It was great! WINDY up there! Bring a jacket! It was cold! We highly suggest this tour. You COULD rent a car too!? But the guide was very informative all along the way. Hung around the ship in the afternoon. We went to the Comedy Show that evening... Always good to laugh. Then back to Longboards (and the stern) to view the Volcano at 10PM. The Captain gave us all plenty of time to see her from all angles. AWESOME! :-( None of our photos came out thou. Nor did my friends'. Night photography? Of course we had to have some pizza as long as we were there at Longboards. LOL It's was a full and wonderful day. We headed to bed. The guys are going to play golf tomorrow in Kona!
In Kona you have to Tender over. The plan was that the guys go on the Golf Tour and Diane and I flounder around and we'd meet the guys at Quinn's as I heard it was a good locals spot. The guys golfed at the Big Island Country Club. They booked it yesterday on the ship. 18 holes. They said the clubs were excellent! Diane and I did a walking tour around Kona. There's a hotel right across the street from the Tender port... I can't remember the name but it's part of the walk. There are rest rooms there. Shops etc. Just a relaxing morning. Did some shopping. Went by Quinn's and decided to go to Cassandra's instead as it had a better view. It was also recommended by some of the staff onboard. We requested a table overlooking the street and harbor so we could keep an eye out for the guys. Nice menu. Casual. We ate and drank and enjoyed the comings and goings. Then we saw the guys return from golf. We were able to flag them down no problem. They were happy to see us and looked like they were glad to come and have a Cold Beer! LOL. Nice view. They ate too. I understand the hamburgers were the best! Took the tender back to the ship. Nice day. We had reservations to go to the Ship's Luau tomorrow when in Maui but we'd have to be ready to go by 4PM so we decided to cancel the luau. By this time we've seen so many hula dancers and heard so much Hawaiian music we did not feel like we 'needed' to see anymore island shows. We went to the Crossings for dinner tonight. There was a 15 minute wait. They ask if the 4 of us were willing to share a table with others? Sure! Sure. Whatever. We're hungry (LOL)whatever's going to get us seated sooner. We met some very nice people at the table. Then we went to the show that evening Sea Legs Cirque as we know those dancers give a great performance. Went to Longboards for a night cap and headed to bed. Tomorrow we'll be in Maui!
As we had canceled the Luau we now had a full free day. After breakfast we decided to rent a car as we had nothing planned. I am SO glad we did! We got a list of 800 numbers form Guest Services. I only wish we kept it overnight as we had 2 FULL days in Maui. It was only $17.95 for the day. Budget had a shuttle bus that picked us up at 9:00 AM and brought us to the airport to get the car. It was just a short ride. We had a great day! You can't do everything in one day and we definitely wanted to get to Kaanapali Beach area so we choose to drive to Iao Valley State Park. Really nice. There is some walking to do and lots of stairs. At the very top I found a carved wooden sculpture and fell in love with it and BOUGHT it! We continued driving just enjoying the sights until we got to the Maui Tropical Plantation. They offer an educational Tram Ride through the fruit crops. You'll even learn how to 'husk' coconut. That was very informative. I would recommend this. I think it was $12.00??? Then we headed to Lahaina. So fun! THE palace to shop. Prices better that Hilo Hatties for sure! We parked in the parking lot near Bumba Gumps. Our friends had never been to Bubba's so we went there for lunch. Got a table overlooking the water. LOT'S of food. You could share. Shrimp Shrimp and more shrimp! I got the baked stuffed shrimp. AWESOME! Then we drove up to Kaanapali to check out the area. Beautiful. NOW we know WHERE we would come back to if we ever get back to Hawaii. Kaanapali Beach. Returned the car to the airport, shuttle took us right back to the ship. Once back to the ship I headed up to the Sauna. The ship was quite as many had gone to the Luau. We went to the Maui-Ritaville Island Deck party. Day two in Maui. I WISH we had rented a car! My honey wanted to RELAX today and said he was going to stay on the ship and just get sun and do nothing. LOL Diane and I took the shuttle to Hilo Hatties and came back and hung out with the guys in the sun. It WAS relaxing. 5:00 PM was Sail Away BBQ. lol We were BBQ'd out and we have dinner reservations later anyway. Sure Smelt good thou! I hate the final night onboard. (boo hoo) We have to pack! So we did. Making sure to leave out what we would need for the mornings shore excursion to Pearl Harbour and what we'd need for our flight home. Again... I am SO glad I took my backpack. 7:00 Reservations at Pacific Heights. It was MUCH MORE than any of us expected. Highly suggest you go. excellent! Because it was the last night ... the singers came by and played hawaiian music for all to enjoy. Very Nice.
There was SO much going on onboard the ship every night. There is NO way you could be board. From Karaoke to Trivia to Dancing to Shows to Films etc etc. We are taking the Pearl Harbor & USS Missouri Tour in the Morning so we received special tags for our luggage. Our luggage will go ON the Bus with us on the tour. Then we will be dropped off at the airport.
Back to Honolulu. We went up for our last breakfast out on the stern, extended some gratuities and headed down to one of the lounges to get ready for our tour. With our Carry-ons in hand we disembarked. We collected our luggage, got in line for the bus and headed over to Pearl Harbor. Our driver was very informative and friendly. Tickets are free but you have to go through security and get one. Your ticket has a number and you are told WHEN you will be able to take the ferry over to the Arizona Memorial. Our tickets said 12:30. Our driver said..."Instead of waiting around here .. why don't you go to the Rest Rooms and check out the store then we'll go do a City Tour." AWESOME!!!! THAT was a surprise! So we went to the Punchbowl, downtown, etc 'saw' Diamondhead then returned to Pearl Harbor. They call your number. You get in line for the ferry over. Very Moving. Not to be missed. When our ferry returned our driver was waiting for us and we headed over to a tent where you could get a bite to eat and then board a trolley over to the Missouri. HINT! HINT! HINT! Do not eat at the Tent! It is not wonderful. It is expensive. And busy. Unfortunately we did. We did not KNOW (now YOU do) that on the Missouri...... the Mess Hall Is Open!!! You can eat there! Food looks great. Varied. and Not as expensive. That would have been so neat! If Only we knew.
After the tour we were dropped off at the airport about 4PM. Our flight was not until 10PM so we were trying to decide what to do for 6 hours with our luggage. Well, as it tuned out there was a Blizzard in Denver and flights were being cancelled so we went to check it out and see what was going on. Denver airport was CLOSED! Oh boy. Now what? Kudos to NCL! As we had gone with NCL's Air Program they had ALREADY reconfirmed flights and seats for us! There was nothing available for us thou til the next day at 1PM. It was an act of God so there would be no compensation from the Cruise line OR airline. At LEAST we had CONFIRMED SEATS! Thank you NCL. We were all tired and just wanted to Get Something so we called the Best Western from the phone kiosk at the airport. They had rooms. $99.00 The shuttle came to get us in minutes. It was only minutes away. Check in was a breeze. Room was clean and comfortable. We had dinner in their restaurant and again surprised. The service was great and the food was delicious. We sent compliments to the chef. Would I stay there again? Yes I would if I had to be stuck at the airport.
The flight was LONGGGG. We left Honolulu at 1PM changed plans in L.A. then back to Boston. Don't EVER think about doing this without a stop over somewhere. This left an awful taste to a wonderful vacation in Hawaii. We swore we would never go back again as its so easy to go to the Caribbean. We will thou, but we'll go early and stay longer and stop in San Fran on the way back for a day or two.
I almost forgot. The American staff ... not like the service you may have become accustomed to if you are an avid cruiser. I like being pampered on vacation... cruises have always offered that. We are used to walking up to the bar and being greeted and served as if No One Else was there. Complete attention and service. I am NOT complaining I am just giving a heads up ... you will find it more like going to a neighborhood restaurant..... good service ... but chattie to each other, hanging out, playing 'stunts' with each other. Not the professional Non-American style you may be used to.
Have a good Cruise. Bon Voyage and Aloha! Less
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Cabin review: IC8344