This is our second cruise, the first one 10 years ago, and thought it would be the last. Had a difficult time trying to decide which island, and what to see for my dream vacation to Hawaii. Really liked the idea of freestyle cruising and the amount of time in port so chose NCL Pride of Aloha after much consideration. Really glad on my decision, even after much apprehension after reading the initial cruise critic reviews. We vacation once a year, usually drive to different locations. Not a fan of traveling in big city traffic, and had a tough time trying to decide what excursions to do. In Kauhi, & Hilo there were different company outside of the ship terminal ready to sell trips to different locations at a much less price than the ship offered, didn't see any in Maui. Decided not to deal with the luggage on our last day so opted for a ship excursion, made life easier.
Let's start with our stay at the Wakiki Beach Marriott. The hotel was beautiful, got there Friday afternoon, and enjoyed the convenience of being able to do all the ship stuff right there. Did not have time to enjoy any of the amenities though. Sat. got up early to do the Dolphin Excursion, booked prior to departure. Saw some dolphins, but never got really close to interact with any. Enjoyed the boat ride to the area where you swam/snorkeled with the dolphins. Didn't see any marine life beside an octopus that the photographer caught. A bit disappointing. Had reservations that evening for the Cabana, but much to my dismay the weather was raining off and on all weekend long, so opted to cancel, there was no problem. Found a wonderful restaurant, Top of Wakiki, a revolving restaurant about a block past the Hilton. The meal, service, and atmosphere was fabulous. Dinner for two, including a bottle of wine, appetizers, dessert, & tip for $120. Sun. morning took a shuttle to Diamond Head before heading for the ship. It was nice asking for a late check-out to relax after the trip. Ohau was much to crowded for my enjoyment, I was glad I hadn't planned on staying there most of the vacation. I enjoy getting up first thing and walking the beach by myself. I didn't feel safe walking outside the hotel, leave alone on the beach. This came as a complete surprise to me. I've done this at many east cost beaches and have never felt uncomfortable going alone.
Now about the ship: The only negative thing I can remark about the cruise, which NCL had nothing to do with, was the rough waters.
Now onto the positive, really enjoyed freestyling. Like the ability to eat at any time, in fact some nights we were so busy never got around to eating. The shows for the most part were great. Enjoyed the games, dancing, magician, comic & Polynesian show. The Cirque show wasn't our thing, and the piano man who did tributes to Billy Joel was a bit obnoxious, but I think he was trying a little to hard to get into character.
The ports of call were fabulous. There were so many options to choose from. We booked our own helicopter ride prior to our sail through an agency and it was a block from the ships terminal. Found out later it's the same agency that the cruise line uses, only $40 less per excursion. The flight was my highlight of the vacation. After the flight we went to the beach near the ship. It was a fantastic beach, thanks to the cruise critics I allowed beach time and it happened to be the nicest day the whole week.
Wed. Hilo we rented a Budget rental, again thanks to CC members I signed up for the Blue Chip prior to sailing which made the whole process quite efficient. It was our first time ever renting a car, all other vacations provided transportation so wasn't sure what to expect. Enjoyed the trip to the Volcano. Debated on doing a ship excursion or going on our own, you probably have a better chance of seeing lava flow if you go with a tour, since Volcano National Park is so huge and you really have to take time to figure out what you want to see. Enjoyed the lava tubes and doing things at our own pace.
Thursday in Kona just kicked back and relaxed, loved that beach that the ship tenders to, the water is unbelievably clear, my pictures from the digital camera above the water came out much clearer than the underwater camera with the dolphin excursion. The shops were great around the beach.
Our last three days we did ship excursions. I contacted ecosky zipline prior to our departure to see about making reservations, they told me that it's better if you book thought NCL. It seems they are the only ones on the internet that offer Ziplining. We both enjoyed Zipping through the woods.
Saturday we did the bike trek 22 miles downhill. It was great.
Sunday we took the Pearl Harbor tour since our flight didn't leave until 7pm. It was a dream vacation. I now want to go back and see more of Maui & Kauhi, my husband said that's where we'll retire some day and he's not a beach person.
The ship in my opinion was remarkable clean. Impressed with the shower water flow and the shelves in the bath. Loved the balcony, worth every penny IMO. My husband still isn't a fan of cruising so this will probably be our last. Just wanted to help someone, as I received much help prior to our sail from CC. Thank to all who submitted info.