My husband and I (44 and 33, respectively), along with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend cruised Hawaii on the Pride of Aloha on 10/23/05. Following are the highlights and lowlights of the trip:
Embarkation/Debarkation: The smoothest of any cruise I've ever taken. Absolutely no wait to board, even with the two picture stations. We didn't even bother to utilize the Latitudes line because we didn't need to. Truly a pleasant experience. The same is true with debarkation. We elected self-service debarkation and walked right off the ship....no waiting. Great experience overall.
Cabin: Booked the lowest category inside guarantee and received the highest category inside on deck 10. The location was great and we had the absolute best room steward we have ever had. Unfortunately, I heard from several others that they did not have the same experience, so it may be the luck of the draw. As for us, we couldn't have been more pleased. Found out on the last day that she will be on the Pride of Hawaii and has been promoted to Assistant Housekeeper, which is very smart if she holds people to her standards. The room itself was adequate. Very clean, nicely decorated and with enough room to unpack everything between the drawers, closet and bedside tables. Luggage stored under the bed with no problem.
Food: Hit or miss, really. Had some of the best food of the cruise in the main dining room, but also some of the worst. Only had breakfast at the buffet and it was quite good. Of the three specialty restaurants, our favorite by far was Kahili. The food there was outstanding. The other two were good, too, but Kahili was outstanding. Also, the sail-away barbecue from Kauai on the pool deck was delicious, too.
Drinks: The bartenders on the ship, in my experience, were not stingy with the alcohol in the drinks! Also, there are a few locally brewed beers that were excellent, with Kona Longboard being the standout in my mind. Good stuff.
Entertainment: The shows were fun, except for the two Jean Ann Ryan shows. We did not enjoy them at all, and we do like production numbers. It's not that the performers weren't talented...we just thought the content of the shows themselves were not good. Just our opinion, of course, because others were raving about them later. I think we were disappointed because they tout themselves as Cirque performers and, having seen many of the Cirque du Soleil shows, this just wasn't even in the same hemisphere, we thought. The magician and comedian were very good, and we even really enjoyed the crew show. The rest of the entertainment was rather sparse, which was okay with us because we were in port so often, but it was typical cruise fare.
Excursions: We only did one through the ship and, although we usually avoid ship's excursions, would highly recommend this one. It was the ATV Ranch and Waterfall tour on Kauai. There were only 12 of us and it was just outstanding. Beautiful terrain, top notch guides and really worth the money. Great job on the part of NCL finding this operator. We did a shark dive off the North Shore of Hawaii, snorkeled in Kona, rented a car to tour Volcanoes National Park in Hilo, and did the Old Lahaina Luau and drove the road to Hana in Maui. All good stuff if you're active!
The ship: We thought the ship was very clean and very nicely decorated. The crew were fabulous and service typically very good. There were some slow spots in the dining rooms and they were probably the least friendly on the ship, as a whole. We very much enjoyed the American crew, though.
The bad: Not much, actually. Some wear and tear to some of the furniture was noticeable in places. The floor in the spa was literally buckling, which I thought very odd for a spa in particular. And I never thought I would see this as a bad thing, but we actually didn't think there were enough photo ops! Seriously, we never saw a photographer in even one dining room, although the photo manager later told me that they had taken about 540 dining room photos throughout the cruise. We just thought it was a bit odd.
In the end, we loved this trip. Hawaii is fabulous and the cruise itself was very, very good. I would recommend it in a minute, with the caveat that it is not a typical, traditional cruise experience. If that's what you want, do something else. Otherwise, go and have an excellent time.