This was the perfect trip to celebrate my birthday, and our 25th wedding anniversary. Since this was our 20th cruise, we have a lot of cruise ships to compare the Pride of America to! I recently published a book “20 Cruise Tips From a Platinum Cruiser, The Cruise Contessa”. My tip about this cruise is take it and have fun Hawaiian style!
I recommend arriving at least a day early before the cruise. We stayed near the beach, had dinner at Duke’s and went to Germaine’s luau. I like to go to the ship early, so we arrived at 11:15, and the check-in was quick and effortless. The Cruise Director, Malu, and the Hotel Director Kaj, greeted the passengers. We went to the Excursion Desk, no one was in line, and we selected 3 excursions.
The pool area was open, and we enjoyed the buffet, drinks and music.
We met the Cruise Critic group and some of the officers in the Shuffles card room. I had never done this before, but I encourage you to arrange or attend a Cruise Critic meeting, and sign in.
Life boat drill is mandatory, but this is the only ship I’ve been on that had a “make-up life boat drill”, if you missed the first one.
The sail away party at the pool was great fun; we danced to the band “Toby Beau”, who played the music of Jimmy Buffet. We drank Margaritaville margaritas at a discounted price, which were tasty and refreshing.
We knew about free style cruising, but just a warning about food on the first night. We went to the Welcome Aboard Show, and missed the dining room time. Later on we headed to the buffet, and there was no food. The diner had a long line. On other ships, we were used to 24 hour pizza, but it was only available through room service for a $5 fee. There was a 45 minute delivery time, then we were called and informed that it would be another 30 minutes, because our pizza stuck to the pan, and they had to make a new one, or we could have this one. I told them to deliver it anyway, and they waived the fee. The pizza was fine, we enjoyed it, but I’m not sure what happened to the concept of free style cruising.
The ship’s Captain arrived on stage in a puff of smoke, wearing a “Captain America” shirt on under his dress whites. The officers were friendly and mingled with the passengers throughout the entire cruise.
The Charles Bach magic show, the Aloha Polynesian show and Toby Beau were all very entertaining. I did not care for the “Rock a Hula” show. It was an amateur version of Glee.
The staff was stationed with hand sanitizer at various points leading into the eating areas. There were also hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the ship.
The Liberty dining room turned us away because my husband was not wearing a collared shirt. He changed shirts and we made it through the scrutiny of the Maître di’. We were never introduced to the maître di, as we were accustomed on other ships. We have always liked to sit with other people and get to know our tablemates, so when we were given this choice, we accepted. The main server’s assistant had never waited tables before. He kept bringing the wrong food, wrong silverware to our table. Basically he did not help her at all. We were not impressed with free style cruising.
We tried the Skyline dining room another night, and we received better service than in the Liberty.
The Shuttle bus driver to Wailea Beach never said a word the whole way. This was a level 1 excursion, yet we walked down a very steep hill to the beach area, and we were given chairs, but the umbrella was $20 extra. There is no shade, unless you walk back up the hill. The restrooms are back up the hill. You can use the restrooms at the resorts, eat lunch, and have drink there too. Drinks at the Four Seasons Resort pool bar were $17 each + tip. The restroom however, was very nice! I think the charge for the bus, without any description by the driver, was overpriced, however, we did get the 2 chairs to use. We did not tip this driver, as we normally would. We felt we were lucky we made it back in one piece!
On “Elegant night” on the cruise we dressed up and attended the Latitudes past cruisers party. The Captain and officers were there, and he walked around the room and said he wanted to talk with passengers. He walked directly over and asked my husband why we were there. My husband told him we were celebrating his wife’s birthday, our anniversary, and we loved cruising. The Captain promptly turned to me, asked my name and sang Happy Birthday to me.
We went to take pictures with the ship’s photographer, then opted for the Skyline dining room, where we met some other couples at dinner. The dress code isn’t as strict, so we felt more comfortable going there. The food was good, but not as good as we’ve had on other cruises.
After an excursion, back on the ship, we went to the pool, and it was very hot. We went in the pool, drank a couple of beers, and just relaxed. It didn’t seem like we were out there for very long, but don’t let the hot sun fool you! We went to dinner in the Skyline again, but nothing tasted right. It turns out I dehydrated from our short time at the pool, and 2 beers. I drank a lot of water, and had some fruit and ice cream delivered. I felt better in a few hours.
On Wednesday, we took the tender to Kona, and had a delightful time walking through shops along the beach boardwalk; buying coffee and trinkets, going to art galleries, and talking with local artists. I forgot to tell you that my husband is an artist, so we like to visit and review other galleries on our trips. We were waiting in line to get back on a tender, the boat broke down, we had to wait for a while, until they fixed it.
We had dinner reservations for my birthday at Moderno, the Brazilian restaurant. The food was very good, and the Passadore, Dwight, kept serving meat until I turned my card over to “red”. My husband never did turn his card from green to red, but finally stopped eating the meat! They brought a cake and macadamia nut ice cream for dessert. The officers were eating at the next table, Kaj, the Hotel Director came over after they sang Happy Birthday to me. I thanked him for my bottle of wine!
The White Hot Party was at 10:00, so we donned our white attire, and headed to the lounge. It was fun, and most everyone was dressed in white! Don’t forget to pack a white outfit, but if you forget, they have t-shirts for sale there.
After a 5 hour round trip ride to Waimea Canyon, we wanted to just chill out, so we ate at the buffet, and attended the Rock a Hula Show in the Hollywood lounge. We were accustomed to Broadway or Las Vegas style shows on other ships, and this one was not anywhere near the caliber of other shows we’ve seen.
It was already the last day on the ship; we didn’t have any plans at all, except to go by the pool and relax. We ate at the American BBQ lunch by the pool, and we had margaritas at the Key West Bar and Grill. We enjoyed the sail away activities, and magician’s escape from the pool, where my husband volunteered to check the magician’s chains before the magician jumped in the pool.
The “sail by” the Na Pali coast, was wonderful. The view from our balcony was spectacular, and an excellent way to end an enjoyable week.
We ate dinner at the buffet, before going to the Toby Beau show. They were excellent, and I highly recommending seeing their show.
As far as the night life, everyone looks for something different. There is no casino on this ship, and the age of the passengers is well over 40. The Club Waikiki is outdoors, but is the only place people can smoke cigarettes, so we did not to the Club to dance as we have on prior cruises. Because we went into every port for sight-seeing adventures, we opted to enjoy our balcony a bit more than on past cruises, and chose to relax in the evenings. There are a lot of activities that we did not attend, and looking back, I would have liked to have gotten my picture taken with the Captain, and attended a couple more activities. All-in-all we had a wonderful time, despite the lack of food the first night, we learned to adapt, and all of the other days and nights, we had plenty of food! I encourage people to meet other guests, and get involved in activities. The officers are available to meet with the guests, and made it a fun experience.
Saturday morning we awoke early and ate breakfast, since it was going to be a long day ahead! We literally walked off the ship at 7:30 a.m. and got in a cab, and arrived at the airport by 8:00. If I’d known it would be that easy, I might have booked an earlier flight. Some passengers were staying in Waikiki an extra day or two after the cruise. We had a blast! Aloha Ohana!