Everything about this trip was fantastic! I was a little worried reading some of the reviews on all the different cruise/travel websites about the Pride of America (especially the one about finding bed bugs...gross...and how unfriendly the crew is to the guests- NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!). I have no idea what cruise the disappointed cruisers were on but it certainly was not the same trip I just got back from! Super clean ship and super friendly crew/staff!
I booked through the NCL website and arranged the hotel (Marriott Waikiki Beach) through them as well. This was super convenient since the NCL headquarters for the islands is located in this hotel. By arranging the hotel through the cruise line, we were given travel vouchers from the hotel to the cruise ship on embarkation day and we did not have to worry about lugging our luggage anywhere as it went ahead of us to the ship. On other trips this could be a hassle with all the bags and people trying to fit into a van or taxi. Come in a few days early, get on Hawaiian time, and see Ouhu (Pearl Harbor, the Dole Plantation, and Diamond Head).
I will say that the ship is smaller and is not going to have the same feel as the new huge ships jam packed with all the new toys and gadgets, but you will never have a dull moment on this boat! I needed a vacation from the vacation!
The itinerary is very port intensive. There is only one half day at sea when you tour the beautiful Na'Pali Coast.
1. Go to the spa raffle. They give away really great packages and it might just be your lucky day! Cross your fingers for the Lime & Ginger Salt Glow (it comes with half-body massage)!
2. If you are on any of the islands and do not have a planned excursion do not get on the Free Shuttle to Hilo Hatties - unless you want to go shopping at a box store for Hawaiian themed gear - the bus system is really nice and can get you to less touristy beaches etc - but try the amazing excursions offered by NCL, you can not go wrong
3. Recommended excursions: (1) Molokini Crater Snorkel (MAUI) - The tour guides are from the Pacific Whale Foundation so it is educational as well as beautiful snorkeling - they also take you to Turtle Town to see the sea turtles! (2) Kayak/Hike/Zipline (KAUAI) - This was through Outfitters Kauai and their kayak shack is walkable from the port; really great staff and all day fabulous excursions that take you into beautiful country where films such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Descendants were filmed. NCL has tons of stuff to do on Kauai as well so definitely look into those as well!
4. Try the specialty dining! Especially Lazy J's Steakhouse - BEST CRAB CAKES EVER!!!!
5. Go to the Hawaiian culture classes (Hula and Lei making) - these were really fun and really informative about the Hawaiian culture. My Dad also tried the mojito making class and met a lot of fun people. Everyone is super friendly (how can you not be in Hawaii!).
My parents and I had a blast! The best family vacation that we will try to top next year, but this cruise was a huge act to follow!!! Go and be pampered by the amazing staff and crew! I actually thought about jumping ship and becoming a kayak guide in Kauai as a change to my fast paced engineering grad school like - it is that amazing and so much more!