I found this site so helpful when we were preparing for our trip so I purposely kept a journal just so that I could write a review to help out the next group! The one thing I found was that most travelers were all adults so I found it hard to decide what to do when you are traveling with kids! Our group of 16 were onboard the Pride of Aloha from Nov 10 - 21, 2007. The ages ranged from grandparents (50th wedding anniversary) to 8 adults in their 40's and 6 kids from 9 - 14 years old. Every one of us would go on this trip again!
The staff were amazing! Kids were recognized by some of the staff and they definitely had their own favorites.
I will start with the negative to get it over with.
The ship was NOT the same as other international ships, but we were aware of this going in, and were never disappointed. We had one not great meal on a VERY busy night which was not impressive, the remaining meals were OUTSTANDING. Also, there was a scent of sewage that I smelled in hallways and sometimes on the deck. Not every time, or every hall, but enough that I hope I never smell that again! The woman who did our housekeeping was not warm and fuzzy and although our room was clean, I would rather have had another staff member. I did get towel animals in the room when we asked (twice), but this seemed to really put her out. This was the only housekeeper that was a problem in our group. The others were delighted with their housekeeping (as a comparison, the grandparents got several towel animals each day, including one day when they had two giants swans on their bed with "Congrats" written in mints!)
And now for the positive...
There were only 24 kids on board between the ages of 6 and 17, 14 in the 6 - 12 category and the other 10 were teens. The staff were incredible. There were a few staff that seemed to seek out the kids and make their experience better. The comedian on board knew all the kids, and never passed without making them smile. There was also a couple amazing dining staff. The kid's club personnel were around a lot as well.
Because the cruise was so port intensive, the kids club ran every evening from 7 - 10 pm and had a few additional hours on our two sea days. The kids had a Survivor Night (my kid's favorite) Spy night, Pirate night, Cookies with the Captain, Extreme Sports night, Pajama Party and party nights. One child in our group was in the Teen club and they saw a lot of the onboard shows, played the Amazing Race, did scavenger hunts and seemed to travel around the ship most of the time. They had a lot of fun and their program was 8 PM to midnight most nights.
Day 1 - travel and board.
We flew from Vancouver to L.A. and then on to Ohau after a four hour stopover, this was cruise air, we could have gotten a much better flight direct from Vancouver, but I didn't know this when I started planning, and liked the guarantee from NCL. We got to the ship about 6:30PM so we had a quick dinner at the buffet and the kids went for a swim. My son and husband went to the ventriloquist show, but I took my daughter to bed instead. They really enjoyed the show and laughed until their sides hurt.
Day 2 - Ohau
We got off the ship and went to take TheBus into Waikiki. On the walk to the bus stop we found machines selling fish food and the kids had a blast feeding the fish. They even saw a spider crab. The bus cost $2 each, a taxi back cost us $20 for six. We went into Waikiki, did a little shopping at the International Marketplace and then played in the waves. We went back to the ship in time for the sail away BBQ and some fun dancing on the deck. The kids all went to the kids club and we went to see Sonny Rose tribute to Neil Diamond. It was good. Picked up the kids and went to the Longboard for a snack, basically a pub menu with a few desserts.
Day 3 - Hilo
Volcano National Park. The plan to visit the park was a given right from the start. Unfortunately I did NO research so we had no idea what to do once we got there. We started at the visitor centre and saw an amazing and educational film about the volcanos. (I totally recommend this 20 minute show which I think they show every hour) We drove around the Crater rim and stopped and climbed around at most of the stops. Had a quick look through the museum. Drove the Chain of Craters road right to the end. Although there was a great place where the ocean had carved out the lava, it was a long drive and really not worth it in my opinion. There was a hike there that you could see where the lava had covered the road, but you could not get anywhere near actual flowing lava and it was VERY hot. Our last stop was the Thurston lava tube. We did bring flashlights per my small amount of research and this was a true highlight. After the first crowded part of the tube, there is a small gate to go thru to the unlit side. We had a blast walking in with weak useless flashlights and turning them off to experience true DARK. This was the kids very favorite part of the day!
Next we went to the Macadamia Nut factory, the factory for some reason was not in operation, but the store was open. Prices were good, but we chose this over the Big Island Candy Company, and I would choose the other way if I had it back.
I think we just ate a quick dinner at the buffet and then went to see the Juggler. He was so much fun we took the kids back for the late show!
BTW, Scott at the buffet (the maitre-d was so nice and a wealth of information)
Day 4 - Lahaina Maui
Tender port, and apparently it is always a bit slow and a hassle. They tell you your entire party mush go to the Stardust Theatre to get tender tickets, but take a chance and send one person while the rest eat breakfast! Worst case you have to start again when you are all there, which is what we did. We had to wait about an hour to get on the tender! We got to the Stardust at 9:30 and were late for an 11:00 surf lesson! The one thing I didn't know was that the ship booked excursions leave from a different part of the ship, but if you book through anyone else, you have to go with the big group and wait for a tender...this could cause problems with early tours. However, the Goofy Foot Surf School took us a few minutes late and we got our own instructor (so being late may not have been a bad thing)! Had a blast. The instructor, Mike, was amazing and seemed to really enjoy his job. All four of us were able to surf with his assistance! After the lesson we spent some time at the beach and then tendered back to the ship. It was very warm and when we got in line for the tender we were given a glass of cold water or lemonade which was a nice touch.
Spent some time at the pool and fed the kids at the buffet before kids club. Then all 10 adults went to the Palace for an amazing dinner with the BEST waiter on the ship, Christopher. Had so much fun, we reserved the same time and place for the next night.
Day 5 - Sea Day
We were glad of the down day, this is something missing on the seven day, and with kids, we all really needed sleep! My daughter had a quick breakfast and headed to craft time at the kids club. The rest of us had a leisurely breakfast and spent the day by the pool. There were lots of onboard activities, and a party pretty much all day long on deck. Only complaint had to be the rude passengers who for some reason felt that if they were on deck early in the morning and put a towel on a deck chair, it was theirs for the rest of the day. Even if they only spent a total of 20 minutes in the chair! If everyone gave their chair up when they were appropriately baked there would have been chairs for all!
Had a quick dinner for the kids at the Crossings where they rushed the meal for the kids so they could make the kids club.
We went back to the Palace and Christopher for another excellent dinner! Finished in time to se e the crew do a Broadway Tribute show which we enjoyed.
Day 6 - Kona - Tender port - much more smooth than Lahaina.
This port was my biggest worry. There were so many things I wanted to do.... But I was sure I wanted to snorkel here. I had heard the Captain Cook monument was the best place on the entire island, but if you don't snorkel on a regular basis...would you know if you were in the second best place???? I can't believe the stress I had over this port!
In the end we rented a car from the King Kam Hotel (thank you cruise critic!) and then drove to a place called Millers Dive shop to rent snorkel gear. For eight bucks a person he outfitted all of us for the day and gave us some tips on where to go. We drove to Kahalu'u Beach Park first. This spot was not too deep so it was great for the kids to get used to snorkel gear. We also saw a bunch of giant turtles! However the water wasn't too calm and the ground was very uneven and I actually found it harder than deep water.
Then on a whim we went to the second place recommended. The boat launch at Place of Refuge. The water here was quite deep, and actually getting back out of the water was a bit of a challenge, but the snorkeling was great! I can't believe that it existed in nature! If I made a place to snorkel for tourists....this was it. There was tons of coral, and so many fish! This was my favorite day of all! Fun for the entire family and a highlight of everyone's trip. I will return to Kona! I will also snorkel at Captain Cook's monument to see if it really is any better.
Back on board the kids had a special dinner at the Zone with a real kids menu at 6:00 so we decided to try the specialty restaurant Pacific Heights. It was very good! Even my meat and potatoes husband, who doesn't eat seafood enjoyed it! Picked the kids up for the Full Impact comedy show, it was okay.
Day 7 - Kahului Maui
Not a beautiful port, but it was nice not having to tender!
We drove first to the Iao Valley State Park. A small, free area which was beautiful! Saw a gecko, watched some crazy locals jump off the bridge into very shallow water and took some photos. Worth the stop.
Next we went to the Maui Tropical Plantation. My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and LOVED it. We happily paid $31.25 for four to do the tour. This was the only disappointment on the island...waste of money! Kids had the most fun feeding the ducks when the tour was over!
Did a little shopping, had lunch and headed for Wailea to do the resort walk I had read about! Parked at Polo beach by the Fairmont Hotel, walked down the hill, saw the most amazing waves...and knew my walk on the beach was over!!! The kids played in the waves for hours and we watched the sun set! We all decided tomorrow would be a beach day!
Went to Crossings for dinner as this was lobster night. We were seated with two other couples (who were fine with sharing with the kids) and this was the one not great dinner. Although my husband who had prime rib LOVED it! Said it was one of the best he ever had! My lobster was cold and the service was extremely slow, it took OVER three hours!
We got back to the ship about 7:00 and despite parking worries we got one at the pier. There were two areas, which were both patrolled all night and we got about the 10th to last spot in the further area. We did however have a back up plan. If we didn't get parking we were going to park at the airport and the car rental company would drive us back to the ship.
Day 8 - Kahului, Maui
Beach day! We found out a bunch of us had the same plan so although we intended to see more of the island we ended up heading back to Polo beach. Great choice. You have to rent beach umbrellas ($10/hour) but the chairs are free! Had a blast with everyone young and old in the waves! Some of the others had gone up to see the sunrise and LOVED it! Left the beach when starvation set in as the hot dogs at the Fairmont were $8.00 each!!!
After lunch and some shopping we returned the car. The kids met up at the pool, had a kids dinner (some buffet, some burgers off the back buffet and some at the pizza place) before heading to the kids club for a Wii tournament.
We had a fantastic dinner at Crossings ('cuz jeans are okay here, and we were running out of clothes) and then went to see a fun magic show with the kids.
Day 9 - Sea Day
Great to have a down day. We let the kids sleep in and went to Crossings for breakfast! Although the oatmeal on the buffet is the BEST, I was ready for something different. This was great.
Spent the day on the deck again, and actually managed to snag a couple poolside chairs! This was the night we sailed by the Napali coast and our sister ship the Pride of Hawaii....beautiful! Had some family photos taken which turned out very nice! We headed to the Palace again for dinner with Christopher and then saw "On the Radio" another production show. The kids were taken to see this one as well with the kids club. Very well done.
Day 10 Nawiliwili, Kauai
We had booked with AirVentures and they were picking us up on the ship at 10:00. It was nice to have a slow start to the day!!! We were picked up right on time and taken to the airport to have an air tour. Our plane held 7 including Joel the pilot! It was about the size of my couch!!! Very cool! This was my husband's favorite thing on the whole trip and he HATES flying! I would have liked the pilot to be more entertaining. Although extremely knowledgeable, I like the entertaining personality. It was raining and it made the most amazing rainbows!!! I never knew that rainbows were a full circle in the air. AirVentures took us back to our car rental agency and then we drove back to the ship to secure $10 parking. The lot held 75 cars and we got #20 at about 12:00 (I guess everyone doesn't read cruise critic).
Had lunch on the ship and headed for Kipu Falls. I had read about this in Kauai Revealed and read that you could swim under the falls and take a rope swing. The photos looked so inviting. This was my REALLY BAD IDEA! First, it was very slippery and there was one steep part where several people, including me, fell (I still have a large black bruise to prove the stupidity). But did we turn back....NO! Carried on...
The rope swing was about 40 feet above water and no one under about 17 or over 25 was crazy enough to try it (my 12 yo son would have but Dad said NO). As we went to leave my mother-in-law slipped and hurt BOTH her feet very badly. Some off duty lifeguard wrapped her foot with a cold pack and another man helped my husband try to carry her out, but in the end it was a couple of guys off the ship (Nick and Silas - Hosts) who not only carried her back up the cliff, but all the way back down the ½ mile path on their backs. These guys were so kind...so amazing! And say something about the staff on the ship!!!
Spent the rest of the afternoon at the hospital where my mother in law saw a doctor within about 10 minutes and had x-rays and was released within about 3 hours!
My husband took the kids and I back to the ship while they were waiting for x-rays so we went to the Crossings for a great dinner. They even made chicken strips for my daughter! The kids went to kids club and we picked them up for the crew talent show. It was very good, although the day was so tough my daughter fell asleep sitting up watching the show! My mother in law returned and the ship loaned her a wheelchair. Very tough day!
Day 11 - Nawiliwili, Kauai
Getting really hard to wake the kids up in the morning! We went to Crossings with the kids for breakfast, it was quick and very good. Walked down the street to the rental car and tried to have a good day even though my mother in law was on the ship in a wheelchair. Fortunately nothing is broken...
We drove north all the way to the end of the road. Despite my best effort to hate Kauai (I was really feeling guilty) it won me over. The further North the more beautiful the island became! We went to the wet and dry cave, Ke'e Beach, another beach where we got soaked by a wave that came out of nowhere, the lighthouse (we chose to just go to the lookout and not pay to actually walk to it). We stopped for lunch and then Lydgate State park for a quick stop at a really neat park! Since this was the one port we couldn't be late (our luggage had to be out) we headed back with plenty of time. We returned the rental car and then went to the beach right next to the port until we HAD to be back onboard (4:30).
Dropped the kids off for a Pajama party at the kids club, bought some photos and enjoyed a final dinner with Christopher in the Palace. Fantastic!
Had to pack tonight....boo hoo!
Day 12 - 14
Since we had booked through NCL, disembarking was very easy and a bus was there to shuttle us to our hotel. We were told our luggage would go direct to the hotel so we could disembark whenever we wanted, but the bus left at 10:00, so don't bother to leave early unless you don't want to take the bus.
We had booked a couple extra days and stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel. It was very clean, nice but nothing "special". The room was big, and very clean. We did have one incident with the elevator, but no other issues. Here we went to the aquarium ($9 for adult and $2 for kids - small but nice, took about an hour to see everything) the zoo ($8 for adults and $1 for kids - took about 3 hours) drove to the North Shore, ate Hula Pie and Dukes (yes, it really is worth the stop), went to the Paradise Cove luau (a great luau for FAMILIES, lots of pre-show activities, but they are very strict about where you take photos) drove to the North Shore, stopped at Hanauma Bay at 11:00 and had NO trouble parking (unfortunately we had not planned this stop so we just took a few photos and left), shopped and spent lots of time at the beach.
I know this is very long, but I am happy to have had so much to read before leaving, so I hope it helps. I would be happy to answer any questions.