My best friend and I cruised on the Pride of Aloha on the inaugural sailing on July 4, 2004. This was our very first cruise and our first time in Hawaii. We were thrilled to be there and had no expectations, especially since I had been reading not-so-positive reviews about the ship from the sailings from California to Hawaii.
Embarkation was a little chaos, but we didn't care. All of our luggage, except for one, was waiting for us by the time we reached our room. The last one arrived about 3 hours later, well before we went to bed.
We had decided before we even went on this cruise that we were going to DO as much in Hawaii as possible since we were without husbands and our kids. This was going to be an adventurous time and it was.
The first day, we went ziplining in Kauai (which I booked on my own and saved over $50.00 per person over what NCL charged). It was fabulous, and I would highly recommend this excursion to everyone. By the time we got back to the ship, we were tired and starved. We ate at the buffet and the food was adequate. No, it was not 5* food, but we didn't care. We just wanted to eat and get ready for the evening show. We didn't want to waste time in the specialty restaurants. Our time was a commodity in Hawaii, and we wanted to spend as many minutes as we could on the actual islands, not on the ship.
The second day, we had a very early excursion, and I was extremely disappointed that the breakfast buffet did not open until 6:30 a.m. I grabbed a box of Frosted Flakes and my friend had a cup of tea, and took her own granola bar since there was nothing else to eat. The dining room hours really should open early since there are many up early and leaving the ship. Also, you could never find ice tea except for the first day. I ended up making my own every day by putting hot tea in two glasses of ice. Frustrating, but I didn't care.
We went four-wheeling on Kipu Ranch where they filmed Jurassic Park, Hook, Mighty Joe Young, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. My friend actually swung on the same rope Harrison Ford used in Raiders of the Lost Ark at the beginning of the movie. Awesome time. We again came back to the ship, really hungry, and somewhat tired, in just enough time to try the buffet again and get to the show. The buffet items did not change much, but it was okay. I didn't go hungry.
The third day, we went hiking on lava fields for 6 miles in Hilo, Hawaii. It was hot and strenuous, but awesome. I actually saw the lava entering the ocean, and our guide was fabulous and very knowledgeable. He led us on up the volcano some until we actually found lava flowing right under our feet. The sight could not be beat. We were walking on hot lava and actually could smell our shoes burning. A once in a lifetime experience. We arrived back at the ship again, starved and a bit exhausted. As you can see, we did not spend much time eating at the specialty restaurants because we didn't care. The barbecue at the pool and the buffets were fine.
The fourth day, we went kayaking and snorkeling in the middle of the ocean. We saw some great fish and turtles under us and had a great workout paddling through waves.
The fifth day, we took a break and just went on the Atlantis Submarine 150 feet under the ocean in Maui. We saw some different fish, eels, and other predators speeding by our little window. We rented a car on Maui and did some of our own sightseeing. We found a very windy beach and then found a park where we finished the day hiking to the Iao Needle. Very pretty. Our day ended as we found a Crispy Cream Donut shop and stopped and took some donuts back to the ship since we never once found a donut on the ship. We were worried that security would not let us take them on board since they would not let me take a Diet Coke in a Burger King cup on a couple of days earlier, but this nice security officer let us hide them in our back pack and take them on. This was our breakfast the next morning since the ship was not providing much for us early.
The last full day on the ship, we arranged for a 38 mile downhill bicycle ride on Mt. Haleakala. The sight at the top of the volcano was indescribable. We were above the clouds and could see ALL of Maui below us. Awesome!! We then coasted at speeds up to 40 miles per hour down hill, careening over hills and hairpin turns. It was scary and rewarding when we reached the bottom safely. We felt as if we had accomplished something.
Overall, this was everything (plus more) we had expected and dreamed for. It was a dream come true. We were in Hawaii and doing everything we wanted to do. Yes, we did not get fed like we had heard most cruises feed you, but who cares? We didn't gain any weight.
Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely, in a heart beat. The Pride of Aloha was our floating hotel room, and we were able to see the beauty of four Hawaiian islands.