We actually took our cruise on Pride of Aloha a few months ago, but I am finally getting around to doing a review. Let me first say that we are not really "cruisers", my g/f and I. We are both in our 50s, but this was our first and only cruise to this point. I don't think that I would like a cruise with a lot of sea days because I get very restless very quickly if there is not something "to do". We don't drink, so we would not spend time in the lounges. We don't gamble, so a ship with a casino would hold no fascination for us. Clearly, the reason we decided to take the Hawaii cruise was so that we could spend our days exploring the various islands. As such, we were certainly not disappointed.
Since this was our first time in Hawaii and we had no knowledge of the local landscape, we decided to go ahead and take tours through NCL. Yes, they were more expensive, but that way we had peace of mind that we would be back in time before the ship departure. That said, this was our tour schedule:
Day 1: Kauai. Bus tour to Waimea Canyon. Included stops at the canyon, the Spouting Horn (ocean water creating a "geyser" through lava rocks long the shore), the Opaekaa Falls lookout, and a boat cruise up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto. Driver was very informed and entertaining. Day 2: Kauai. Kayaking on a river and hiking. Kayaked through the historic jungle stream of Huleia, and beyond the Menehune Fishpond, a living archaeological site. Tied up the kayaks and hiked 3/4-mile through a tropical rain forest to a series of 3 waterfalls known as Hidden Falls. Rope swing and swimming. Upon return to the river, a trip back in a double-hulled powered Hawaiian canoe with good local cookies for a snack! This was a very relaxing morning, yet provided some exercise and I highly recommend it. Left port in early afternoon to cruise by the craggy Na Pali coastline of Kauai.
Day 3: Hilo, Hawaii ("The Big Island"). Hawaii Volcano Bus Tour. A tour of Volcanoes National Park. Included stops at the Park Museum and a walk through a "lava tube". Also included stops at the Macadamia nut factory, an orchid garden, and "Rainbow Falls". Again, the driver was very informed and entertaining and even sang us a couple of songs. The "Pride of Aloha" cruised an active lava flow that nite.
Day 4: Kona, Hawaii. Ocean kayaking and snorkeling in the morning. First time we had kayaked in the ocean, but we enjoyed it. Not so much another kayaker who got seasick. That kind of surprised me. I didn't know you would get seasick when you are right on the water. We kayaked to a bay and did some snorkeling and then the guides prepared some fresh pineapple for us before we headed back. Shopping in Kona, famous for coffee, in the afternoon. We had the tour guide drop us off at the south end of the shopping strip (by a little white trailer that sells local coffee) and then we leisurely shopped and toured until we arrived back at the pier a couple of hours later.
Day 5: Maui. Snorkel trip to Molikini Crater and the Turtle Arches. Saw lots of fish and green sea turtles.
Day 6: Maui. Visit to Haleakala Crater and bike ride down the mountain. There was 21 miles of biking, all downhill, starting at the summit of Haleaka and ending at the Sunrise Market and Protea Flower Farm in Kula. This was obviously before the bike trips were stopped due to a couple of problems with people running off the mountain on their bikes. We did not consider it particularly dangerous, but I guess it was. The guide did show us where a previous biker had missed a curve and run off the edge, and a couple of more people followed. Maybe they will gain some new safety guidelines and start up again.
Day 7: Arrived back in Honolulu around 7:00 am. We decided to depart the ship on our own instead of having our bags taken off the ship at a certain time. It allowed for a more leisurely shower and breakfast, and we were off the ship by 9:30. My g/f did some shopping at the little shops by the Pride of Aloha tower. I understand that the NCL ships will begin docking at a different pier in a few months. That's too bad. The little shops there were convenient. Stopped by the airport to check our bags and get boarding passes. That way we didn't have to lug our bags around all afternoon. Took a taxi to a small beach on Hickam AFB (don't try this unless you are retired from the military). Spent the afternoon lounging around under a tree, relaxing and reading and walking on the beach. "Red-eye" flight left at 6:30 that evening.
We ate at the breakfast buffet in the mornings and were very pleased with the selections. We also ate at the buffet most evenings, and again there were usually plenty of choices.
The entertainment that we thought was most interesting was actually the show that allowed various crew members to show off their talents. They were very good for "amateurs"!
If you will notice, quite few people take the Hawaii cruise more than once. I can understand why. It is a superb way to see all of the islands, and each and every person can basically make up their own itinerary while onshore. We liked it so much that we may very well do it again in the future.