My husband and I flew to Honolulu from Sydney with another couple. None of us had been on a cruise before. We stayed at the Prince Kuhio for three days prior to the cruise. It was still undergoing renovations and was very noisy. A little bit sorry we stayed there. Staff were friendly and helpful.
Caught a shuttle bus to port. Embarkation was fast, friendly and very easy. Greeting and information provided once on board was excellent. The ship is absolutely beautiful. Our cabin was laid out perfectly and was spotlessly clean. My husband is 6'3" and was never uncomfortable. Our bed looked like king size by Australian standards.
SERVICE The service was very good and each restaurant had a supervisor walking around asking if everything was to our liking. Cleaning staff were excellent. We tipped our cabin cleaner each day in cash. Only American $1 but she seemed happy to be appreciated. Bar staff were excellent too. Laundry was very well done as well and not too expensive.
DINING After reading reviews on Cruise Critic we decided to book restaurants as soon as we got on board the ship. Since returning home I've read a review from a person on the same cruise who had to eat in the Aloha cafe (buffet) every night because they couldn't get a reservation. We managed to eat in every restaurant on the ship. We booked a restaurant for every night except two. On those nights we at in Skyline and Liberty (non-booking restaurants, also no surcharge). We had breakfast each day in Aloha Cafe. We had twice on the ship, once in Aloha and once in Cadillac Cafe. Aloha Cafe - Food was excellent. Service excellent. Cadillac Cafe - A favourite with kids. Not really my sort of food. Liberty & Skyline - Liberty is directly above Skyline and serve similar meals. Check the menu before going in. Two nights there were lobster tails on the menu in Liberty and Skyline. Meal sizes were a bit small in these 2 restaurants so don't be bashful about ordering 2. The staff don't mind at all. In fact they offered my husband who is quite big 2 servings or pork ribs. Liberty and Skyline can both be a bit busy and service a bit lacking because they are no surcharge restaurants and many elderly on the ship preferred sit down dining rather than buffet set-up. Jefferson - This was one of our favourites. Fantastic service. Great selection of delicious French style food. I ordered 2 desserts which were both scrumptious. Steakhouse - We all loved this one. We went twice. Once we booked and another time walked in at 9.15. The men ordered steak and lobster which was huge. Surcharge $10 or $15 but worth it. Very good menu selection. Little Italy - No surcharge restaurant. Very popular. Food was very good but as with a lot of the restaurants food temperature was a little cool. This being because they carry the food long distances from the kitchens and air conditioning is all over the ship. Service was excellent. East meets West - We found the teppanyaki part of this restaurant was lacking in showmanship. The food quality was good but a little small in portion size. Not really worth the surcharge. The normal part of this restaurant (not the sushi bar or shabu shabu) was better, we ordered many different dishes which were very nice and the waitress was very helpful. Once again encouraging us to order as much as we wanted. Drinks - If you choose to drink alcohol with your meals, you will be waiting. We had the same problem in all of the restaurants. Obviously wine is not kept at each restaurant and it takes a while to retrieve it, so if you want more than one bottle tell your waiter/waitress to get them when you order your first.
EXCURSIONS We went on the volcano helicopter flight in Hilo and enjoyed it very much. We booked it through the Pride of America before we left home. Amazing sight. Our friends had a different helicopter and it didn't get as close as we did so we got lucky. I am a nervous flyer and had not been in a helicopter before but it was quite smooth but we did a fair bit of dipping around the smoke to get a really good look. I felt a bit queasy by the end but nobody else did.
We also did the submarine excursion at Kona. That was good but I was disappointed with the colour. The deeper you go the more colour you lose and it was all sort of reddish brown. We did see the crack in the ocean floor from the earthquake and saw plenty of small to medium fish.
We booked cars in Maui and Kauai through Thrifty (shuttle bus is waiting at each port picking up every 20 minutes for those who have booked already) and saw lots of sights on each island. The Navigator device we hired with the car in Maui was very helpful. The number of sights we saw on each island would have cost a lot multiplied by 4 people if we booked them through the ship and fuel is quite cheap in Hawaii compared to Australia. We loved Waimea Canyon (Kauai). Truly spectacular. Black sand beach on road to Hana (Maui) plus many beautiful waterfalls along the way. Fairly windy roads though and lots of one way bridges. Wouldn't like to do it in the rain.
ENTERTAINMENT We went to many shows on board The Pride of America. Some good, some not so good. One comedian was good. One was dreadful. The singer/pianist in the Pink Champagne Bar was excellent. I could have listened to him every night. The Newly Wed/Not So Newly Wed show was very good for a laugh. The juggler went a bit long but was very talented. Don't think he needed the assistant though. The Crew show was very good. The talent quest was very enjoyable, surprisingly good talent. The Mardi Gras 50/60s 70s dance nights were excellent but most people were very tired from being in port all day. (Bit different I would say on cruises with 2 or 3 days cruising, where you can sleep in next day and not miss out on anything). There was also a guitarist/singer on board who was very talented and some of the entertainment next to the pool was easy to listen to. (Not so the techno beat stuff they played at times but you can't say they didn't try to cater to all tastes and ages).
DISEMBARKING This was a breeze at each port. No problem there. Even in Kona where they use tender boats. Final disembarking was no problem either although we wished we had done the early do it yourself method.
DOCTOR Our friend stood on a sea urchin at beach so he went to the ship's doctor. Doctor was in port for day but nurse was very helpful. Cost $140 or thereabouts but claim on travel insurance anyway.
SUMMARY We found our ship account quite expensive but drinks were fairly pricey. Look out for the 5.00 bar crawls on daily newspapers, 5 drinks of anything at 5 different bars for $25.00. Book restaurant on first night after 8.30 so you can attend Captain's sail off party. We missed it because I booked a restaurant for 7.00 pm. Some drinks are cheaper delivered to your room (there's a list in the room) and we found no problem walking anywhere on the ship with our drinks. We took drinks from a restaurant to the Hollywood theatre which has drink holders in the seats. This is an excellent cruise for a beginner cruiser. I never felt sick because we mainly sailed at night (plus it was quite calm) but I took 2 Kwells (ginger ones) each day before we sailed. I was surprised I was so good as I get motion sickness very easily. I gave these tablets to a lady I met on board who felt ill and had tried other tablets that didn't help and made her sleepy. I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and so did my husband and our friends. We've now got the cruising bug.