Pride of America Cruise Review by CactusFlower527: Pride of America is beautiful and Hawaii is the Star of this Cruise!
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Pride of America is beautiful and Hawaii is the Star of this Cruise!
This cruise was to celebrate my 50th Birthday at the end of May 2014, it was in the planning stages for over 18 months. We stayed 2 days pre-cruise at the Pacific Beach Hotel right on Waikiki beach - booked it ourselves.
Embarkation went swiftly for us because we were suite guests and did not have to stand in the monster of a check-in line.. otherwise, it would have been quite a wait.
This is a great cruise for someone who wants to see the Hawaiian Islands - because it is not your typical cruise. There are no sea days; there no casinos on board; everyone goes to bed early because they get up early to go play on shore. The staff is very friendly and warm. Loved our cabin steward Jonathan, we were never without tons and tons of fresh, clean towels and a squeaky clean cabin/suite. He was very polite and friendly and we felt like we made a new friend at the end of the cruise.
We stayed in a Deluxe Penthouse suite with large balcony, cabin 13502: Suite was nice More size at 500' square feet, with another 490' for the balcony; but be aware that this room doesn't have 2 bedrooms, just a curtain that pulls around the king size bed. The double murphy bed, when down, blocked dresser drawers making it difficult to use them for much of anything. Not sure what size the sofa-bed was, we did not use it, but the murphy was just a double, making it questionable for "sleeping 6" (unless 3-4 of them are small children). The bathroom was huge.. with a double vanity, shower stall, toilet stall and fancy spa tub. All of the glass, however is clear and not frosted so get past any modesty, in a hurry, if 2 people need to be in the bathroom at the same time. 2 closets for clothes, but 1 is mostly filled with life vests... bath robes, slippers and other things we did not use. With that said.. it has a big, big deck with lots of patio furniture which was great, as this suite is port-side and you get a fabulous view of the Na'Pali coastline on Friday evening.
The only specialty dining we did is the Teppenyaki - which is a lot like the Benihana restaurants that folks are familiar with. The entertainment was 5 stars, but the food, while good, was 'too much' and if you like your meat well done, expect to eat it right before dessert is dropped in front of you. Still, at $25 + tax and tip, it was worth it just for the entertainment and to feel like you got to do something special.
We only attempted one show, Rock a hula, and walked out 1/4 of the way into it, as it was too much like "Glee" .. something no one in our party was interested in. There were things we were interested in doing, but were typically either eating dinner during them, or too tire. Generally, we were coming back to the ship in the afternoon, showering, having dinner, relaxing in our cabin while reading the next day's "FREESTYLE DAILY" ... and we'd go to bed early to start another fun filled day on the Islands.
The only shore excursion we did (through NCL) was the Seahorse Tour in Kona; we hired outside or private guides for Hilo and Kauai - and rented cars/jeeps in Honolulu and Maui... and self toured with Google Maps and a GPS. I am not sure if we'd change anything if we had it to do over again.
Disembarking in Honolulu...is a bit of a mess....and that is an understatement.. especially after you claim your luggage, as the area is just too small for the HUNDREDS of people waiting for taxis/cabs, airport and hotel shuttles, rental car shuttles etc etc. There's a 2 word description for it, but I can't use it here on a public forum. It's the worst kind of white hot mess I've ever seen. From the time we grabbed our luggage at the Pier/terminal, until we were sitting at the airport gate it was FOUR HOURS! So plan well ahead if you catching a flight home and make sure you leave yourself ample time. VIP Transport is very reasonable, but they run charter buses - like Robert's and they try to fill them. You sit & sit.. so if you are in a hurry, grab a cab back to the airport...don't rely on those shuttles from VIP or Roberts.
Overall a great. great vacation ! Can't wait to go back in a few years! Less
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Cabin review: Pride of America 13502
Suite was nice size at 500' square feet, with another 490' for the balcony; but be aware that this room doesn't have 2 bedrooms, just a curtain that pulls around the king size bed. The double murphy bed, when down, blocked dresser drawers making it difficult to use them for much of anything. Not sure what size the sofa-bed was, we did not use it, but the murphy was just a double, making it questionable for "sleeping 6" (unless 3-4 of them are small children). The bathroom was huge.. with a double vanity, shower stall, toilet stall and fancy spa tub. All of the glass, however is clear and not frosted so get past any modesty in a hurry if 2 people need to be in the bathroom at the same time. 2 closets for clothes, but 1 is mostly filled with life vests... bath robes, slippers and other things we did not use. Big, big deck with lots of patio furniture which was great, as this suite is port-side and you get a fabulous view of the Na'Pali coastline on Friday evening.
Port and Shore Excursions
We used a Private Guide for Hilo - Ricky's Tours. Ran $65 (+ tip for all day). Ricky picked us up at the Pier in his small tour van. He took us to Rainbow Falls, several stops at Volcanoes National Park, Lua Manu lava flow, "Mauna Loa",......then a quick stop at an Orchid Museum, a Black Sand Beach, and finally ending at the Mauna Loa Macadamia nut farm/factory before getting us back to the Pier. He also went out of his way to re-route the tour if he noticed a Robert's bus there with 200 other tourists, he'd take us elsewhere and bring us back later. He has lived in Hilo a long time and knows the history so lots of anecdotes along the way. He under-prices his tour in my opinion.
Lots to do in Honolulu pre-cruise, so be sure to come in a day or two early. We came in 2 days pre-cruise, rented a car - free shuttles from the Honolulu airport to all rental car agencies. Thursday afternoon we shopped, went down the beach and ate lunch before checking into our hotel. We opted to stay at the Pacific Beach Hotel right on Waikiki - it was an excellent choice, but ran $225/night after all of the taxes/surcharges. On Friday, we drove to the North Shore, went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, drove some of the coastline...and on Saturday morning to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There is so much to see on the island of Oahu - but the traffic is horrendous in Honolulu, some of the worst in the USA. If you don't like heavy traffic ~ consider tour guides/buses.
KAUAI –gets 5.5 stars from me because I think the most beautiful of the Islands.
We used a private tour guide for this Island also. Tread Lightly Kauai is operated by Jay Dorrance and he is a private 1 man show. He also meets right outside the security gates of the pier – short walking distance. We expressed interest in seeing movie locales, beaches, waterfalls and other photo ops and BOY did he ever deliver! We saw so much in that day.. the Wailua River, Opaeka’a Falls, the Hindu Monastery, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (where I got some of my greatest photos). We were even taken to Gilligan’s Island beach. Our day with Jay, left us knowing we’d made a new lifelong friend! His knowledge and passion for the island of Kauai was evident. I stayed on the ship for the 2nd day in Kauai – but the others in my part left for shore and said there were free shuttles “to all over”, there as well. There has to be a lot to see on this island and I look forward to going back one day.
Kona is a quaint little town. This is a tender port, which means you ride a tender (life boat) from the ship to the shore with about 100 other passengers. There are all sorts of shops and restaurants walking distance from the shore - no need to make special plans if that's all you want to do. Everything from the ABC Store to the Kona Brewery and restaurant are all walking distance, and not too much past those is a Hilo Hatties. All sorts of free shuttles from the Pier .. even saw one going to/from Target and K-Mart... and even to Hilo Hatties. So you can walk or take a free shuttle.
We decided to rent a car for the 2 days (Sunday/Monday) that we were on Maui.. and so that’s what we did. There are a couple of free parking lots close to the port to park rental cars in, but one is definitely closer than the other one. A drive to Haleakala National park was a full day for us. (TIP:Seniors can get a pretty cheap National Parks Pass that gets them into all National parks free for life). The second day we did some souvenir shopping at a local Mall and drove to Lahaina to do some souvenir shopping. Monday was a lot of spotty on & off rain. We stopped often for photos and drove along a lot of the beautiful coastline.