I will keep this short as others have written so much about cruising on The Pride of America. Their reviews helped me so much as I planned our cruise for about a year. I will mention a few things that helped our family to be economical as well as enabled us to see the islands and to enjoy the ship as well.
1.First of all,the ship does provide leis as we boarded the ship and then took a group picture. So, I gave matching shirts to all in our family which made us unified in the picture. We wore them also one night to dinner for photos which the ship photographer takes a few day later.
2.We decided to take our own snorkeling equipment (masks and snorkels) rather than rent them after arriving and this served us well as they fit each person,there was no chance of infection and we didn't have to take the time at each beach to rent them,which also would have been expensive for 12.
3. We rented 2 minivans in each port except for Kona. This way,some went one way,others another in some sites. In Kona,one part of the family rented a van,while the others simply walked around the town and then went to the beach by the pier.
4.We took lanyards with us and a plastic pocket so each person could take their key card and i.d. with them at all times. This was inexpensive and turned out to be a great idea.
5.We took zip-loc bags in several sizes and took food from breakfast for lunch. We bought a cheap styrofoam cooler from Walmart in Maui and filled it with ice from there,filled it with water bottles and our sandwiches. After that day, our steward filled it with ice for us each morning to take with us.
6. On Maui the first day, we drove to Lahaina,but the family didn't stay very long as we wanted to get to the beach. So we kept going and ended up at Kaanapali which was perfect. 1/2 of us stayed all afternoon,while some came back to the ship earlier.
7.The next day we went to Haleakala National Park as some of our family are real National Park junkies! We returned and went to IO valley where it was chilly and misty,but still beautiful.
8.In Hilo, we drove to VNP,stopped at a family fruit stand for terrific pineapple, and then drove to Rainbow falls.
9. In Kona,we split up to the town and beach,or more National Parks (4)
10.Kauai is always a delight when you walk out on deck and see it the first day there.We all drove up to Waimea Canyon first, then went to the beach at Brennecke where we rented some chairs and a board for the kids to use. A great place with picnic tables,great snorkeling and not too crowded.
11. the next day on Kauai one van went to the coffee plantation near El'ele and then to Hilo Hattie. The other went to the beach at Hanamaulu and had a ball after the rain stopped that morning.
12. A couple of other tips for comfort on the ship:We had inside rooms which everyone said were "cozy" and adequate for our needs. If you don't like to use shower gel,bring your own soap as they don't provide it. Some of us ordered room service each morning to have coffee before breakfast and also ordered fruit and rolls at times. Others ordered sandwiches from room service each morning to use at lunch. This ship encourages guests to do this and it sure saves money. However if you use the water bottles left by the ice,you will be charged 4.69/bottle.
Each day we needed to rent a car,2 of our group left about 8am,brought the vans back to the ship and the rest of us were waiting for them at 9am. Worked like a charm.
The last saturday we wanted to go to Pearl Harbor before the airport,so we again got 2 vans. No rental company brings shuttles to the pier,so you have to catch a cab,go to the airport and then come back which added 35.00 to our cost that day.
Hopefully these tips will help everyone to enjoy this wonderful ship and have a great experience as economically as possible. We figured we spend 20% of what we would have had we booked excursions and tours.