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Aloha Y'all !!! We loved Pride of America!
This was my second cruise on Pride of America, but it was a first for my sister and mom. I began planning the trip from east Tennessee to Hawaii in January 2009, and the cruise was in April. I had arranged to fly to Houston, then non-stop to Honolulu, only to discover at 3:00 am (the morning of the flight AND cruise), that our flight had been cancelled due to Houston airport being closed because of bad storms! Fortunately, Continental Airlines made other arrangements for us, using Delta. If there is a next time, I will make plans to arrive a day early to Honolulu. I had called the cruise line and found out that they did not provide a "lei" greeting, so I had made arrangements with "VIP tours" not only for a "lei" greeting, but also for transportation to the port. The lei was $16.00 each, and the transport was $6.00 each. At the port, we were able to check in using the "Lattitudes" line, as I had cruised with NCL before, and had my card. There was no More
wait in this line. We took our bags to our room, and ate at the Aloha cafe. Afterward, we settled into our room, and went to bed promtly at 7:00pm (it was 1:00 am eastern time!). The room was nice and clean. We had a wonderful room steward named Catalina. She always took very good care of us and our rooms. The room had hangers and plently of drawer space for the three of us. There was a safe, and a small fridge full of drinks you can purchase. We took them all out and put our drinks in (much cheaper if you bring or buy your own off of the ship). Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We were wide awake at 4:00am, so we made coffee and enjoyed our balcony. Arriving at port, our room was on the starboard side, so we had great views. I had pre-arranged a tour with Roberts Tours ( gorabbitgo.com) for the "Best of the Big Island" tour. All of their tours are similar to the ships excursions, but about HALF the price!! I highly recommend them! Our personal tour guide was Hank, and he did a wonderful job, as he seemed to really know the island. He picked us up at the port in a small bus, and our first stop was Richardson Beach, and its black sand. We didn't get in the water, but just enjoyed the beauty of the beach as we listened to his narration. Next, we went to Akaka Falls. This did require a short walk to the falls, but my mom is 70 and she did fine. The surrounding natural foliage was spectacular as we walked toward the falls. Our next stop was to Nami Mau Gardens, where we were able to tour the gardens at our leisure. There were many, many orchids, and other plants and trees. It was very beautiful! On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a little place called "Big Ed's" bakery. I bought some coconut jelly there that was SO GOOD!! We also sampled some of his baked goods. The last stop was at a candy factory, where we tasted chocolate, and Kona coffee.
Back on the ship, we ate lunch at the Cadillac Diner. Later we went to a Lei making class, and made our own flower lei from fresh orchids (no charge). We did some shopping on the ship, and prices were ok, except for the pictures that they take and want you to buy. I paid $20.00 for 1 5x7 photo. To me, that was a little much! To bed about 8:00pm (still on EST!)
Back to Honolulu on Saturday. As we were pulling into port, we saw people camping in tents on a penisula! I could stand to stay in a tent if it were in Honolulu!! Debarkation was no big deal. We did ask for a wheel chair for my mom as she had been feeling bad for a day or two. After we got our bags, we were again taken to the airport via VIP tours. At the airport, we left our bags with a service, and he stored them for $5.00 per bag (sorry, I can't remember the name, but I found it on the internet). He was even nice enough to take us to the Aloha stadium, to the "swap meet". We call it a flea market in TN! We bought several items, and they were very reasonable. I recommend going here FIRST, so that you will have the best value for your souvineers!!! It is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Mom, again, began to feel bad, so a nice lady with a golf cart, took us up to the road, where we caught a city bus to the airport. The city bus service schedule is also on the internet, and it was only $2.00 per person to ride. Very clean and nice. Back at the airport, I called the storage service, and our bags were brought to us. We were able to check them at this time, and we got a wheel chair for mom (always a free service), to get her where we needed to catch our flight. We had a wonderful vacation, and I highly recommend the services that I have mentioned using. Can't wait to go again!!!
On Thursday, we arrived at Kauai...my personal favorite! Our room was at the port side this time, so the other side gives much better views of the ocean and island. Once again, there were free shuttles to Kmart, Hilo Hatties, and Walmart. Another nice shopping area here is called Anchor Cove Shops. I enjoyed this area, as there were a variety of shops. There were again, free shuttles to the beach, so no need to pay to go to the beach. We ordered lunch from room service, and it was nice. There was a fair variety, and quite convenient. We did tip the person that brought the food. At about 4:00pm, we caught the bus to take us over to the ships Luau. You get there sooner if you choose the 1st train trip, as they must get you to the plantation 1st! We were greeted with a flower lei. We did take the train tour, and it was pretty scenery. We then went over and found our table at the Luau. There was an open bar available, and also soft drinks. The dinner and show were very organized and pretty good. My mom wasn't crazy about the food, but I enjoyed trying the native things. There were a few vendors set up around the plantation before the show, and there were hand made items available for purchase. This Luau was nice, and included transportation, so we didn't need to rent a car. Back on the ship, my sister participated in a "game show" called "Match maker". She had been asked earlier in the week by a crew member, to join the show. It was fun to watch, but she wasn't chosen. On Friday, we were still on Kauai, and took our second tour with Roberts tours. This is the one that we chose when we changed our plans earlier in the week due to weather. This excursion included the Hanalei valley. We saw places where films had been made such as South Pacific and Blue Hawaii. We went to a pretty beach area, and viewed several places that were considered sacred to the natives. It was a beautiful tour of a beautiful island. This tour is what made me like this island the best. When I was here before, my husband and I took a tour via a fixed wing plane, called "Wings over Kauai". It seems that it was about $100 per person, which was very reasonable compared to the ships expensive air excursions! Check around, and make plans BEFORE you get on the ship, and you will save money!! As we pulled away from port, our balcony was a great place to view the NaPali coast. It can only be viewed from the air or a boat, as it is very rugged land. Again, we saw whales, which was a nice suprise!! Our bags were packed and ready to leave outside the door, as was requested.
On Wednesday April 22, we arrived at Kona, and were "tendered" in using life boats to the island. That was not my favorite thing in the world, but it was tolerable. This was a sunny day, and there was a nice beach/lagoon area right at the drop off place. We were able to rent chairs for $5.00 each for all day. They also had snorkle equipment, umbrellas, small boats, ect for rent. Very reasonable. This little lagoon was a nice place to snorkle and see many pretty fish. Again, there were free shuttles to Hilo Hatties and Walmart. Within easy walking, there is a nice little "general store", if you still need to shop.