Anniversary cruise around Hawaii: Pride of America Cruise Review by askmeanother

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Anniversary cruise around Hawaii

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Honolulu
We had wanted to cruise around Hawaii for some time but did not fancy the 4 days sailing there and back necessary with most cruise lines. For that reason we elected to book on NCL's Pride of America. As it is a very long trip from the UK we decided to break it up by staying in San Francisco for 3 days and had a great time there. We then enjoyed 3 days in the Hilton on Waikiki Beach prior to our cruise. We loved the Waikiki Beach area although it is generally quite expensive. We made good use of the ABC stores and bought sandwiches etc there for our lunches to save on costs. We had a great meal out at the Shore Bird where you order your meal and it is brought to your table raw and you then cook it yourself on the huge BBQ - you can also help yourself to as much salad as you want. Look out for the booklets at the airport and in many public places as these contain lots of money off vouchers and we got a good reduction using these. On our last evening we had booked on line to go to More Germaine's Luau. The coach picked us up outside our hotel and took us to a lovely location on the beach where we watched the unearthing of the pig from the imu. We enjoyed watching the show which was done with lots of humour. We each had 3 free alcoholic drinks and I can vouch for the fact that the Mai Thais were very strong! The food was plentiful and OK. The location on the beach really made this and it was one of the cheaper Luaus I found and well worth it. The coach trip back to our hotel was good fun as the driver had us all singing along with him.

On the Saturday morning we took a taxi to the cruise port and walked through the easiest booking in we have ever had. The ladies were all given a fresh flower lei and the gents received a shell one. Our cabins were not ready so we had lunch in the Aloha buffet. There was plenty of room and in fact we never had a problem finding a table there throughout the cruise. The food in there was very good with a good selection every day. I am a Coeliac so need a gluten free diet. I spoke to one of the chefs who could not do enough to help and told me he would tell me every day what I could or could not eat. He even had packets of cookies ready for me. We then went to find our cabin 7668. This is the first time we had treated ourselves to a balcony and I was so glad we did. The cabin was quite small and it was a little awkward moving around when 2 of us were there. Most afternoons my husband took himself off to the gym and had his shower there to leave me free to use the cabin. There were no little goody bottles in the bathroom but dispensers in the shower provide shampoo and shower gel. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of storage space. We asked for the contents of our mini bar to be removed so that we could make use of the fridge and this was done straight away. There is coffee making facilities in the cabin and fresh supplies are left daily but never very much so we usually had to ask for more.

This ship is not quite the same as the other cruise ships we have been on but I expected that as this cruise is all about the itinerary and very port intensive. There was not quite the same glitz and glamour such as the huge atrium but everything was clean and more than adequate. For dinner we used Skyliners and Liberty which were the 2 main dining rooms. We found that Liberty was slightly better - they do enforce the dress code in there so no shorts etc were allowed and we prefer that in the evenings. We were on freedom dining so just turned up when we wanted to and never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a table. We did have one big problem on the ship and that was with the food. We are not complainers and the food was always delicious but never hot enough. Most nights my husband sent his back to the kitchen to go in the microwave and this is not honestly something that should happen. After completing the comment cards and asking for someone to contact me about the problem with no success we decided to ask to speak to the manager. He did acknowledge the problem and was very apologetic and gave us a complimentary meal in one of the speciality restaurants. We elected to go to Jeffersons Bistro on our last night and did enjoy a lovely meal in there. We also received cookies and strawberries dipped in chocolate delivered to our cabin. This was welcome as an apology but the underlying problem does need to be sorted. We did feel that there was a shortage of staff in general on the ship as the serving staff in the restaurants were very harassed and did not seem to really engage with passengers in the way we have usually seen. We also had problems getting served in the bars and often had to go to the bar ourselves to get drinks.

In terms of entertainment - we did not see a lot of it as to be honest most evenings we were so tired after a busy day that we needed an early night. We did go into the Hollywood theatre a couple of times but thought the shows were OK but not great. However there was a Four Seasons tribute group on and they were brilliant - hilariously funny as well as good singers. There was also a comedian called Tim Kaminski but unfortunately we missed most of his show due to talking to the dining room manager but from what we did see he seemed to have a great act. There was also a very good group who performed by the pool -they were Jimmy Mac and the Kool Cats and they involved everyone and were great fun.

I had taken my iPad with me so wanted to make use of the wifi on board. I elected to use pay as you go which worked out at 0.75 cents per minute plus 3.75 activation fee - it was very easy to use and great to be able to send photos home.

The cabin we had was an aft balcony and this proved well worth the cost if only for the fantastic experience of sailing past the Na Pali coast which is just spectacular. It was so lovely to do this in the comfort of our own balcony and I would definitely recommend this.

I did find the daily paper a little disappointing as it did not seem to give quite as much information as I have usually seen but that is a minor point.

Everyone has their favourite cruise lines and I do still prefer P & O. I think it may be a mistake to judge NCL purely on the basis of the POA because it is a different type of ship used for a specific purpose and it works well for that.

One thing I will recommend is doing research and booking trips independently. I was a little nervous about doing this but both Roberts and Valley Isle are companies you can be confident in using when you visit the Hawaiian islands. You will see from the trips that we did that we are not into water sports which is obviously very popular on cruises like this. Our ages and heart and back problems preclude these for us so we opt for the more sedate activities. Less

Published 10/11/12

Cabin review: BC7668 Balcony

Cabin 7668 was in a great position - no noise and close to lifts. Cabin was small and 2 people struggled to get round it. Very comfortable bed, a sofa and coffee table, small TV. Good storage space, mini bar which could be emptied and used as fridge. Coffee making facilities and hairdryer provided. Balcony small but had 2 chairs and a small table. Perfect position for viewing the sail past the Na Pali coast.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This trip was actually Volcano and Rainbow Falls. It was all day with lunch provided. We went to Rainbow Falls first and this was somewhat disappointing as the fall was very small but we did see the rainbow. We also visited an orchid place which had the most enormous collection of orchids you could imagine and the smell was divine. The visit to the Volcano National Park was fantastic. The landscapes we saw really were amazing and it was weird to think we were standing on the most active volcano in the world. We were very close to the crater and could see the smoke coming from it. The Jagger museum was interesting especially since we had seen it on a recent TV programme.We went to the area where the 1974 eruption had flowed - it went right across the road and it is just great to have the opportunity to actually see such sights. On the way back we called at the Macadamia nut factory where we were able to buy nuts to take home - also had a delicious ice cream here! A packed lunch had been supplied for this trip and was perfectly OK - a turkey sandwich and crisps plus a bottle of water. I was provided with a gluten free version.

This was only a short day as the ship was sailing at 2pm. We got off the ship and caught one of the free shuttles to Anchor Cove where we were told there would be shops. There were some shops but nothing much so we were not there for long. There were shuttles to other places such as K Mart and Wallmart but we wanted to relax on the ship so we did not do anything else here.
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Wailua River

This was the Wailua River and Fern Grotto trip. We had a couple of stops on the way but nothing very exciting and there was no air conditioning on the coach so it was uncomfortably hot. We were taken to the river and boarded our flat bottomed boat. There were Hawaiian singers and dancers to entertain us as we sailed and they were very good and got all the men up to learn some hula dancing. We got off at the grotto and after a short walk through the wooded area arrived at the actual grotto which was very pretty and used a lot for weddings. This was only a half day trip which was enough.

City Tour

This was a fabulous trip. We were taken to a Kona shop where we could taste lots of different flavoured coffees and buy if we wished. We then called at the Puuhonua Honaunau National Historical Park which has been a religious and political sanctuary since ancient times. It really was a little piece of paradise with soft sand, palm trees and the lapping ocean - beautiful. We then got on our catamaran. It was a double decker and we sat upstairs where a lovely breeze kept us comfortable. We were lucky enough to see a lot of spinner dolphins who put on fantastic display for us - we also saw a lot of flying fish. Lunch was provided - sandwiches and crisps although I got a gluten free box of salad which was delicious. We could have as much soft drinks and coffee as we wanted free and alcoholic drinks could be purchased. We were given a narration of interesting points as we sailed and saw the Captain Cook monument. There was a chap playing the guitar and singing as we sailed back and it was quite magical. Great day.

Road to Hana

This was a fantastic day and a great way to celebrate our anniversary. I had booked with Valley Isle after researching on the Internet and was a bit nervous it would all work out OK. I need not have worried - the bus was waiting for us exactly where they said it would be. It was a small van for only 12 people and very comfortable. The driver, Barry, was amazing and talked to us all day with lots of really interesting information. The scenery we saw that day was amazing - the road is very twisty and narrow in places and it was quite hair raising at times but great fun. Lunch was provided and was lovely. We went to a flower farm all the ladies were given a flower and Barry set out proper tables for us and served BBQ chicken and salad which was delicious. He also had a cool box of drinks on the van and we could just help ourselves to these whenever we wanted to all day. All in all a fabulous trip and I do recommend Valley Isle - the price worked out at £75 each.

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Member Since 2011
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