I must say that I was a bit unsure of this cruise after I read some of the reviews, but those reviews were WRONG. The Pride of America is a wonderful ship, not only is she beautiful, but the staff was awesome. Not one person was rude; just the opposite -- so happy to help in any way.
We tried to do everything we could, not a single moment was boring. We arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday, April 14 and spent 3 nights at the Courtyard by Marriott. Again, some people reviewed that hotel unfavorably, and I can't understand why. The rooms were clean, comfortable and convenient. They were also economical as far as Waikiki prices are concerned. And their "chill out" room felt so good after a day of sightseeing. Massage chairs were so relaxing -- and free to use.
The embarkation process on the Pride of America couldn't have been any easier. We arrived at the pier about 11:30 and by 12:00 we were on board enjoying a fantastic buffet at the Aloha Cafe. Plenty of food and great selection. If you can't find anything to your liking on this buffet, then you are way too hard to please! At about 2:00 our cabin was ready and off we went to settle in. The cabins are not as large as some on other cruise ships, but they are adequate and have plenty of storage - large closet with bins and shelves; drawers in the cabin, and even a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Again, if you can't fit all your belongings in this space, you have brought too much.
We planned shore excursions for each day of the cruise and we booked them through NCL. On Sunday, April 18 we did "the Road to Hana" in Maui and it was a blast. Our driver, Bruce, was not only a capable driver (which you must be on this road!), but he was humorous and kept us laughing. He pointed out all the sights and explained what we were seeing when we stopped. It was a long tour (about 7 hours or so), but worth it. With only 25 passengers allowed on each van, it was more like a family outing.
Monday, April 19, the husbands golfed at the Makena Golf Course. Cory, the golf pro, was super -- offered hints about the course which was helpful to those who had not played there before. The guys loved every minute of it! We wives did "Lahaina on your own" which basically was a shuttle to Lahaina, dropping us off and picking us up later that afternoon. Great time to spend with the girls, shopping, laughing, walking.
Tuesday, April 20, we were in Hilo on the Big Island. We enjoyed the Volcano National Park tour. Never having seen a volcano before, we were all very impressed with just the beauty of it. The lava tube was unbelievable!
Wednesday, April 21, Kona on the Big Island. The Historic Kona tour is a pleasant and informative drive around the area. One of the stops was St. Benedict's Church, the Painted Church. It is beautiful and so peaceful.
Thursday was a big day -- we had 2 shore excursions booked while on Kauai. The morning tour was Journey to Waimea Canyon. The canyon was like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon -- wonderfully colored due to the striations in the rock. There were a couple of stops as well, but the beauty of the canyon was the sight! That evening we went to the Luau Kalamaku. It is located on a beautiful plantation and there was ample time to walk around, check out the little stations where local items were available for sale, and enjoy a drink or two (or three) before the luau. The entertainers were fabulous. It is more like a dinner show than a luau; telling the story of the arrival of the Polynesians to Hawaii. The food was grand, with plenty of options on the buffet table, including local foods as well as "Americanized" food items. It was all good. The only complaint I can find is the manner in which the pineapple and salads were served. We were seated in the middle table of three tables joined together. When the server brought the pineapple, it was placed at each end of these three joined tables, with instructions that one end of the table was to share with 1/2 of the middle table (ours) and the pineapple placed at the opposite end of the joined tables were to share with the other 1/2 of our table. This was also the plan for the salad and salad dressing. Unfortunately for us at the middle table, the other tables did not pass the food items and when we asked, they seemed to be disturbed about it. When we finally got the pineapple, salad and dressings, not much was left. So I would suggest strongly that a pineapple plate be placed in the middle of EACH table so that all guests can enjoy it. The same suggestion would be for the salad/dressing. Other than that, it was a wonderful evening.
On Friday, April 23, we "Tubed the Ditch" and if you have never done something like this, please consider it. We are all in our 60's and enjoyed it immensely.We all agreed we loved it and wished it was a longer "tubing". After we were taken to a nice little park area for snacks, swimming if you wanted, and changing clothes. Great day!!
Like getting on the ship, getting off was just as easy. We opted to take our own luggage off as we were in no hurry; no early flight.
A word about the dining. We ate in both the Skyline and the Liberty dining rooms and found them equally good. Staff was helpful and enjoyable. The "freestyle" dining was so much better then having a set time to eat and a set table to eat at. We had no complaints about the food, and as a matter of fact, one night we could not decide on desserts so our waiter brought us one of each and we all sampled them. Everyone from the host, wine steward, waiter on down the line got a big round of applause from us.
If you are going on a cruise to "just cruise", this is not the itinerary for you. some people prefer "sea" days because they enjoy the ship life. The Pride of America offers plenty to do on the ship, but it is a more port intensive cruise, meaning you spend so much time off ship you don't need to worry about what to do on the ship. With the Pride of America, you have a beautiful ship to enjoy and beautiful ports to enjoy -- best of both worlds. Thank you NCL and Pride of America for a memorable Hawaiian vacation.