Pride of America Cruise Review by Joanna6: Great Trip
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I read reviews of this cruise on different websites and was worried that I had made a mistake in choosing this one. However, it was a wonderful experience. If this is your first time to Hawaii or even if Hawaii is your home (we met residents of Hawaii taking the cruise) this a a fantastic way to visit more than Oahu and Honolulu. Don't expect the ship to provide you with all your entertainment. The ship was primarily our hotel and transportation.
Food: Food in the Aloha Cafe is quick, of great variety, and of average quality. We chose it for breakfast when we were in a hurry to make an early excursion or for a quick snack on returning from an excursion. The Liberty and Skyline Dining rooms are a quiet and relaxed way to dine with less variety and quality is above average. Jefferson's Bistro had the highest quality food of any of the restaurants that we tried. For sheer fun try the 50s style Cadillac Diner and be sure to have the brownie sundae for dessert. More
Room: We have almost always cruised with a balcony and it is well worth the money. Of the 3 cruise lines we've used, this ship had the largest balcony. A wonderful place to relax and be alone with my honey. Wonderful storage space and an extremely comfortable bed. Bathroom is of good size if your are an averaged sized person. No complaints about the room but then for us it was really just a place to sleep and hangout on the balcony.
Excursions: We hate to ride around in a bus and chose more active excursions:
Road to Hana: we rented a car and drove it ourselves. No problems except that it rained. I would have killed myself if I'd been stuck on a bus doing this excursion in the rain. It is a RAIN forest so expect rain. The drive does require the driver to concentrate so give them breaks.
Whale watching and Lahaina: Saw lots of whales and wished we'd had more time to spend in Lahaina. Cute, if touristy little town.
Kilauea Volcano Biking: Tied as best excursion. Andy and Justin took great care of us. If you can ride a bike, you can do this excursion. It was so much fun! And a great way to see Kilauea. It was an 8 mile trip with numerous stops, lots of nature interpretation, snacks, and FUN!
Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel: Highly rated but the raft trip to the snorkel trip was more endurance than fun for us. Maybe at our age we really don't enjoy being bounced that much. However, the snorkeling is FANTASTIC and the boat ride should be endured just for the snorkeling. I understood that this is supposed to be the best snorkeling in the islands.
Mokihana Helicopter Tour with Blue Hawaiian on Kauai: Tied as best excursion with our bike trip. This was such a gorgeous way to see Kauai and the Nepali Coast. Expensive, but absolutely worth every minute. At the end you have the option to buy the DVD of your actual flight with pictures of the people onboard in the video.
Discover Jungle Falls by Kayak: This was our poorest excursion. The title is a little misleading as you actually hike (in thick slippery mud)not kayak to the Falls. The kayaking was the best part, but the scenery was not impressive. Very few views of the mountains and none of the falls from your kayak. The supplied a good lunch at the end and some of the young people chose to scale the rocks to stand under the falls, but it looked pretty dangerous to us and the water was cold. The bright spot was that it washed off the mud before your trekked back up the hill through the mud again. Was looking for some nature interpretation, but primarily a nice kayak trip (2 1/2 miles) followed by a VERY muddy hike.
Kilohana Manor House Luau: I don't know that I can honestly say that this was worth the extra money. The food was at best average. You did receive sit down service not a buffet, but the food was not hot and of less than average quality. The performance was fantastic. We were given front row seats, but the stage is circular and raised and unless you are in the far back, everyone should have had a great view.
Service: I can honestly say that everyone that we came in contact with on this trip gave us prompt and courteous service. You get as you give. I also understand that by our dining around 7 it is less hectic than earlier and probably provided us with better service.
We did a post trip at Norwegian's partner the Marriott Waikiki. This hotel is an easy 5 min walk to the beach. The rooms we stayed in were large and comfortable. For a view of the beach you want the Kealohilani Tower. There is a very good breakfast buffet here, but not cheap. We found a great breakfast about .4 mi away at a Denny's at less than half the cost of the buffet. Great service and wonderful atmosphere at the Marriott. Very relaxing.
Excursions on Oahu: We rented a car from Hertz that has a branch there at the Marriott Waikiki Resort and drove the 20-30 min to Pearl Harbor ourselves. This was the best way as we could spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each site and not be under pressure from a tour guide. We chose to see the Arizona, Bowfin Submarine, and the Missouri. I had purchased tickets/time in advance online to see the Arizona. No need to stand in line for this anymore. You must pick the tickets up at least an hour before your scheduled time, but that turned out to be a lifesaver for us. The high winds had cancelled the tours out to the Arizona for the 3 days previous to our trip, but they were running on our day. We arrived at 8:30 and the lady at the ticket counter recommended that we hurry and take the 9 AM tour as there was still space. Lucky that we did as our 10:30 reserved time and all times for the rest of that day were again cancelled due to high winds. The Bowfin submarine was a self guided tour, but like on the Arizona, we used the audio tour. You get lots of information (or not) and at your pace. The Missouri was very interesting inside as I've never seen the inside of a military ship. It was 3PM by the time we finished and we just didn't have the energy left to see the new Aviation Museum, but I understand it is great. Since we still had the car, we drove out to Diamond Head and walked up to the top to see a fantastic 360 view. You must start hiking up by 4:30 and the gates close at 6:00. The roundtrip hike is only 1.6 miles. If you are in reasonably good physical condition and take your time, it is not too strenuous and rewards you with one of the best views we saw the whole trip.
On our 2nd day in Honolulu we again rented our car at the Hertz Marriott (we didn't keep it from the day before as parking at the hotel is almost $50/day) and drove to the North Shore by H1 and H2 stopping at the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the way. This is a touristy spot that is worth it for the Pineapple Whipped ice cream. Then we stopped at Waimea and Sunset beaches where there was a lot of wave action and surfing. Driving down King Kamehameha Hwy we stopped at Giovanni's shrimp bus for lunch. Delicious. The view of the ocean is gorgeous as you travel down the west side of Oahu. The Kualoa Regional Park is worth a stop to see Chinaman's Hat. Some folks may enjoy Kualoa Ranch, but we passed it and the Polynesian Cultural Center by. We then crossed the mountain to Honolulu by way of Pali Highway and enjoyed the fantastic view from Pali Overlook. Driving during this trip was much easier than Road to Hana, but still a long day for us--took about 7 hrs with all our stops.
We purchased our own airfare as I don't like to be at the mercy of what the cruise lines choose. Be glad to answer any questions that I can. Less
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Cabin review: BA1124
We stayed in room 11024. Good sized room with what I thought was a HUGE balcony. It is on the starboard side which is best for night viewing of lava at Kilauea, but has the shorter time to view the Pali Coast as the captain cruises longer on the port side for that.