December 2011 - Review from a 1st Time Cruiser: Pride of America Cruise Review by thefenderbender

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December 2011 - Review from a 1st Time Cruiser

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Honolulu
We took our first cruise with NCL Pride of America December 2011 as a belated (3 yrs) honeymoon.

Embarkation went smoothly. We were right on, had lunch in the main dinning area and was able to get to our cabin shortly after finishing dinner. We found the cabin to be small thought we have nothing to compare it to. Being large it was not fun to navigate the foot of the bed and the wall, shower wasn't very room, but found the rest of the bathroom to be sufficient.

We enjoyed the ship and found it clean and expansive and our room steward was very nice. We had a family balcony and enjoyed it when our chain smoking neighbors weren't out.

The main dining food was okay, but nothing to rave about. We did enjoy the 50s dinner theme - my husband and I enjoyed the food and it was usually quiet. We loved the steakhouse - ate there twice and requested the same girl the second night.

We booked excursions every day except the very last day - a 1/2 day in Kauai. First More day we sat in the pool and hot tub. Found it to be enjoyable while everyone was ashore and then became crowded as folks came back from shore. Next time we'll do less excursions and more sleeping in and lounging by the pool drinking wonderful things from a pineapple.

We would take another cruise from NCL. While it wasn't the perfect thing we've heard from other cruisers, we were happy and the prices are very competitive. Less

Published 12/02/12

Cabin review:

Port and Shore Excursions

Another long day. The tour starts on a motorcoach with stops at a coffee house with lots of local coffee and other goodies - they even have a huge selection to try, then we stopped at St. Benedict's historic Painted Church. FYI - bathrooms at both places aren't that great, seen much worse, but not terrific. After morning on the motorcoach we come back to the marina and get on a catamaran for a ride along the shore. Lunch was served on the ride out - sandwiches and you could buy adult beverages at the bar if you wished. Eating was a bit of a challenge, the light wind and rain made it not fun eating on the deck and all the booths/tables were packed - probably because they were under cover from wind and rain. I don't remember if soda was free or not. We glimpsed a spinner dolphin and the narrator told us about Kona's history pointing out temples and other places of interest along the way. We didn't see humpback wales, but that was okay with us as we've seen them before and it just wasn't exciting to us like seeing the dauphin was. If you're into coffee or history this is for you. If you've never been on a catamaran or felt the wind and water on your face sitting on the bow of the boat, it's an awesome experience. It's just a long day and you a pooped by the time you get back. I don't think we'll do it again, but are happy we did it once.
Read 445 Hilo Reviews

Atlantis Submarine

Booked directly from their kiosk at our hotel in combination with the dinner cruise - bit of a savings if you do it that way. We did the premium dive - it has bigger port holes and I assumed bigger seats. My husband and I aren't tiny so we wanted room to breath. It was an amazing experience! We dove to just bellow 100 feet and had fun looking at the man-made reefs, fish, and even saw a turtle resting on a sunken ship. If you want to see the bright colors this is not the way to do it. As you dive down you loose color and it's mostly shades of gray and dull blue. Photos were also hard to take due to the thick glass, I found turning off the flash worked best. In all it was a great experience. Next time we'll probably opt for a glass bottom boat to see the color, but it was defiantly an experience we loved and are very glad we did!

Dinner Cruise

The food on the cruise was good, staff friendly, and girls dancing and singing were fun. Food was pork and other goodies you'd find at a luau. Ship was amazingly steady! Lesson learned the hard way - "casual" attire really means business casual. Most ladies were in dresses or skirts of some sort and men in slacks and button up shirt. I'm not sure we'd do it again, and that isn't a reflection on the dinner cruise, just that now we've done it we don't need to do it twice. I defiantly say if you can only do this or a luau, I'd find a good luau and do that.

Mighty Mo

We took a shuttle from our hotel to the Arizona Memorial where we were able to gets tickets for the Mighty Mo including transportation from the Arizona Memorial to the Mighty Mo. We wandered the ship for a good hour maybe two before we decided to pay extra for the special guided tour. I don't recall the price, but it must of been reasonable because I was happy to do it for my husband - he wanted to see what powered the massive ship. It was a small group and awesome in general. Only downside was we took the last guided tour and it ran long so we missed the souvenir shop on the way out. A must do at least once for families!

Kauai Plantation Railway

We did the plantation tour before the Kalamaku luau - it was booked as one excursion. The railway was enjoyable and not crowded when we were there. They had a nice shop with shirts and other goodies along with another gift shop and a place to try liquor - I don't recall what type it was (wine maybe?) we didn't do the tasting. In all it was a nice add on to the luau.


After the plantation tour we joined the Kalamaku luau. It was great! They took a few photos (like they do everywhere on the cruise) and it turned out well so we actually bought it, our embarkation day photo and NCL album. Before the luau there was lots of little shops and things to try all around the area. Then you move inside - where we found drinks, even alcohol ones, to be free! Yep, all you wanted with the caveat that if you got routey you would be sent back to the ship by cab on your dime. The food was great - pig, chicken, rice, salad and deserts - all you could ever want to eat! Then the show. The seating aspect was a little disappointing. We paid for the best sets you could and just before the show started the moved the ADA folks to the very front. Now before you call me a horrid person, I have an aunt who is disabled and it wasn't that they moved them, it was that the woman who was placed in-front of us has this I'm miss rich attitude and basically she looked perfectly fine to us, just elderly. We had gone on another shore excursion with us and she constantly looked down at us and moved around okay, better than us sometimes - so I may have just been annoyed in general. Exiting was a bit chaotic too - they didn't dismiss by table like they said they wood and it was a mob for the busses. Not sure how long we waited our turn, but was a fair bit. They eventually got us all back to the ship. Aside from that annoyance, the show itself was amazing, sound was well heard, fire on stage, and then side stages were set all through the dinning area. My hubby was not so impressed, but he's not a live performance person - he was really there for the food and because I wanted to go. Defiantly recommend and would do again.
Read 46 Luau Reviews

Wailua River

Combo tour of Wailua River and Fern Grotto. Another long day for us. It was a beautiful boat ride and history along the way. Little disappointed that you can't get to the waterfall in the grotto, but it was for safety reasons. Overall probably won't do it again, but was good to do once.

I can't remember the name of our tour in Hilo for the life of me, and it must not be offered anymore because I can't find it on NCL's website. It was a 4x4 passenger vehicle that took us to the Puna coast to Mackenzie State Park for an amazing view of the cliffs that meet the Pacific Ocean, we had lunch BBQ style, and then went on to a hot spring - where yes, we had time to go swimming. The tour was suppose to end there, but we were ahead of time so they took us to Lava Tree State Park. The guide also had snacks on him, including cokes, and offered them at every stop. We actually really liked tour, I suspect it's not offered because folks found the 4x4 ride not plush enough or because the guide did talk a bit about about the local economy and how it was bad, but I found him to be very personable and friendly. And the 4x4 ride didn't bother us.
Read 295 Kona Reviews

Out of all the excursions we took, and we did a lot, this was by far our favorite! We were suppose to go on the late morning trip, but I was nervous it was too close to our evening dinner cruise so we asked to go on the earlier trip. I'm glad we did - the later was cancelled due to rain (which I know isn't NCLs fault). We got to Wailea Beach - absolutely gorgeous and soft sand - and it soon started to rain. I went to rent an umbrella (we already had chairs as part of the excursion) and it was normally $60 (yikes!) but because of the weather they gave it to us for free! So we set it up, stripped down to our swim suites and headed into the water. Who cares if it was raining - we're going to be wet in the water anyway. So I can't swim so I waded out and let the waves pick me up and set me down. The water was warm and just so much fun. We played in the water until we were beyond prunes and then hit the nearby hotel for shopping and lunch. Shopping was supper high end and not for us, we also got a bit lost in the big hotel - it was under construction so we kept running into closed paths. We had lunch at a bar by the pool. Good nachos, good drinks, and very prompt and friendly service. We would do this again in a heartbeat - the beach was amazing and we just plan old had fun and played in the water as if we were little kids again. In fact we're planning a trip back to Maui (ended up being our favorite island) for our wedding anniversary, and we plan to spend lots of time on on this beach!
Read 480 Maui Reviews

Iao Valley

We actually took the "Best of Maui - Plantation, Iao Valley & Ocean Center" offered through NCL. It made for a very long day, but was enjoyable. This was our first stop on the tour. Very pretty and they gave us more than enough time to walk up to the place and observation stop at the top - and we're no quick walkers. There was also some side tracks to see flowers and plants - all very neat!

Maui Ocean Center

We actually took the "Best of Maui - Plantation, Iao Valley & Ocean Center" offered through NCL. It made for a very long day, but was enjoyable. The Ocean Center, was not what I expected, but I'm probably a bit jaded coming from Alaska. We have an amazing Sea Life Center a few hours from us that does research and educational tours - something I highly recommend, especially if you have young children, if you ever come through Seward on a trip. In general we found the center needs a little bit of TLC, nothing major but their main display - the dolphins - are broken. While small there was still plenty to see swimming in tanks. The best part was probably the view of the ocean and small boat harbor - I took several photos. Souvenir shops were fun, snack places were okay. It was nice and low key - good way to end the excursion.

Maui Tropical Plantation

We actually took the "Best of Maui - Plantation, Iao Valley & Ocean Center" offered through NCL. It made for a very long day, but was enjoyable. The Maui Tropical Plantation had a big shopping opportunity - I found some tea, coffee, and sugar cane stirs. They also had ice cream made in Hawaii with many different tropical flavors - we tried several flavors and I crave it now just thinking about it! The tour of the plantation itself was fun, but it was a bit uncomfortable. They filled the tram completely full - even if a row had large folks who really didn't fit well with the count they wanted in the row. My hubby and I are heavy and basically I ended up having my thigh wedged against the side of the tram and it wasn't very comfortable. They did stop at one point along the way and a girl showed husking a coconut. Be careful clamoring for the front row when you watch - my husband complained the rest of the day that he got something in his eyes when she was cracking the shell. If that was it or dust I can't say, but he was grumpy for a bit after that. We did have a lunch there and that was good. Nothing amazing, but good and more than enough to fill someone up.

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