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After researching Hotels and Rental Houses and inter-island airfares, we opted to sail on the Pride of America so we could get a taste of many different places. The cruise was also recommended by a friend who had done it twice over the last 7 years or so.We travelled with friends and in total there were 7 of us - 4 adults and 3 kids 10, 12 and 14. I spent lots of time reading reviews on different occasions between January and our August departure - they definitely helped me get the most out of my trip, so I thought I'd give something back in the hope that it helps you too. I'm a bargain hunter holiday maker and whilst our airfares were cheap, Hawaii is definitely not cheap and the Aussie dollar was very poor by the time we travelled, so we were happy that our meals were included, especially as it wasn’t difficult to be paying over $100USD for 3 dinners in Waikiki. The cruise did become cheaper closer to departure and offer bonuses such as the Ultimate Dining Package and on board credit, but I do like to plan ahead and was happy to have everything finalised earlier in the year. We booked transfers through our travel agent and pre and post-cruise accommodation at the Sheraton Waikiki and were very happy with that, especially being right on the beach. On departure day, we arrived at the pier a little after 12 and embarkation was very quick and easy with only short queues. I was surprised as we checked in to learn that we had the Ultimate Dining Package - I'm still not sure how or why. However, I did know from having read these cruise reviews, that the restaurants book out quickly, so we headed straight to the Bookings desk and booked all our dinners. It would have been about 12.40 pm when we were doing this, but we were disappointed to find that they could only fit us in at 5.30 or 7.45 on most days and there was no day or restaurant that could fit a group of 7 at any tween-age-friendly, semi-normal hour (6-7pm). Maybe this was due to having the ultimate dining package??? Or maybe a smaller group would have been easier to accommodate?? We booked earlier on the first couple of days whilst we were getting over our jetlag and later toward the end of the week. We attended the Moderno - Brazillian at 5.45pm to find we were only one of 3 tables seated, even by the time we left at 7ish, there were only 6-7 tables seated. Crazy system, but better to try and cope, than to change it. Food good - very plentiful, very meat-orientated - as Brazillian Restaurants are Cagney’s Steakhouse – the Dad’s declared that the bone-in rib fillet might just be the best steak they’d ever had (I think the beers and a good appetite might have had a hand in that). It was delicious though and I was glad that I’d read such good reviews and we actually booked and ate here twice and everyone loved it. We ate the same thing both times. Teppanyaki – Quite good, not the best Teppanyaki I’ve ever eaten, but the 10 year old’s favourite meal of the cruise and the first Teppanyaki for the 12 and 14 year olds who are traditionally fussy eaters, and they loved it too. Way too much food – don’t eat all of it unless you want to roll back to your room. La Cucina – Italian – very tasty with a wide menu variety that we would have loved to try twice so we could try different things. Jefferson’s Bistro – French – Probably the most disappointing of the specialty restaurants, the food was OK, but I think you might have been a little disappointed if you had paid. The 12 and 14 year olds headed to the buffet afterward as they weren’t too impressed by the selection at all and didn’t eat much of their ordered dinner. We also ate at the Buffet one night, just to try it. It was a Chinese theme that night and the food was nice enough. I had pasta cooked in front of me and it was very delicious. I’d read that the desserts were a disappointment and I’ll admit that I’m not a big dessert eater, but they were nice enough too. We often got one to share between 2-4 of us as we were so full from the other courses. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice finish. We ate at the Aloha café (buffet style) every morning for breakfast and found the food tasty. I ate too much the first couple of mornings (as is easy to do with so much variety) then started thinking like I was eating breakfast at home and just selected the same amount as I would have eaten on a normal morning – only it was much better than I would have made. We never had any issues with seating. The only comment was that it was a bit crazy to only open at 6.30am on the Kona morning when disembarkation was from 7am and we needed to be on the early tender for our day’s excursion. We took zip-lock bags (another hint from cruise critic reviews) and packed some pastries, fruit and bread rolls with either butter or peanut butter (jam was available) for our days on shore. This kept the kids from grumbling although we ended up buying some form of lunch on shore each day to keep them happy. Adults probably could have made it through until we were back on board. Special mention goes to the Chicken Wings at the Cadillac Diner – we loved them and would go and get them to eat with our drinks around the pool. After the first few days, we had later dinner bookings so the adults would get a few drinks and nibbles (readily available from several sources) and sit by the pool between getting on board and our later dinners. The kids would gets some chips and icecream from the buffet or the bistro. The kids enjoyed the library playing chess and the 10 and 12 year old really enjoyed kids club and the activities. Being that bit older, they had the freedom to check themselves in. The 14 year old couldn’t be talked into the older kids club and was happy with some “cave-time” with his ipad in the cabin by himself. All 3 roamed very happily about the ship, returning periodically to tell us what they were up to. We bought them the drinks package and it was well worth the money, breaking even after only a couple of drinks – and they felt pretty special being able to go to the bar, or be in the restaurant and order their own drinks whenever they wanted (time to sugar detox now they are home though). They liked the soft serve in the Aloha café for the same reason. We did take a few soft drinks on board and had a cooler bag to pack them in for our day excursions. We also took on 3 bottles of wine bought in the ABC stores in Waikiki and happily paid the corkage of $15 per bottle as it was still cheaper than onboard. Although if you drink a lot of wine, the 20% off for a 6 bottle purchase would have saved you carrying it onboard. (PS ABC stores are plentiful – especially in Waikiki, packed full of nearly everything you could want and cheap – save your receipts and you can get a free gift before you go home) I must say every staff member we came across was very friendly and very helpful. If one or two seemed a little down, giving them a friendly smile soon put the smile back on their face. You can’t tell me that you don’t get a little tired at your work from time to time and how nice is it when you receive a thank you or a friendly smile to make your day so much better. Give a little get a lot. Having said that Hawaii is one of the friendliest places I’ve been in recent years. Virtually everyone was there to help and give advice. Kudos to the Aloha spirit. The Norwegian App on the iphone is great – it gave us connection to what’s on on our mobile phones at all times for free. And it gave you a running total of your account – easy to keep track of how much you spent. There was also the option of paying $8USD or so and having the ability to text and phone everyone in your party whilst on board for free. Reception was a bit hit and miss, but it was good to keep track of and message the kids. The cocktail special of the day was also a bit hit and miss – I tried it most days but only once would I have chosen it again – but it was about $4 cheaper than regular cocktails. The Dad’s did the bucket of beers – 6 for the price of 5 – The 18% tipping is mandatory but a bit steep for putting 6 beers in a bucket of ice. Still you if you know it before you go, then you know what you are up for. Being Australians our mandatory daily tipping was included in our fare (at least this is what my travel agent on my first Norwegian cruise told me). Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to have this confirmed when I checked at guest services – and meant that I had nearly another $500 of holiday funds than I’d mentally allocated to the tips. I don’t care how much I pay (except I like to keep it as low as possible), but I want to know how much BEFORE I cruise. I don’t see why they don’ t do this for everyone and it would save the bad taste at the end of the cruise. If it’s mandatory, it’s not a tip and it’s not for service but part of their wages. Crazy system, don’t get me started. Our room 7070 was an obstructed view – it had a lifeboat infront, but you could see if you stood up. It was plenty big enough for the 3 of us as we only had one bunk folded down and pushed the bed right against the wall under the bunk giving us access down the side of the bed. The family of 4 found it a bit of a squeeze but the rooms were bigger than I expected and much bigger than the Norwegian Sky Balcony room. It was clean, tidy and in good repair. Infact the whole ship seemed to be in good condition, I wouldn’t complain about anything. Now my favourite part: the ports!! Travelling on the Australian dollar (0.69 cents at the time of travel), the ship board tours were quite expensive especially when multiplied by 3 or 4. I booked a 7 seater van in every port except Kona. I booked this through rental cars.com – a fantastic website I’ve used before – they quote in your own currency and include insurance. Somehow in Maui – our first stop with Dad’s in-charge, we ended up having heaps of expensive extras added, but once educated, we only elected to pay the roadside assistance at $6-8 extra a day on top of what we’d booked online. Remember when you travel with travel insurance – a lot of those extras are already included in your travel insurance and you don’t have to pay them again. After a long wait in Maui for a shuttle bus and then for the rental car (nearly 2 hours in total after disembarking at 8.20am – not helped by a computer meltdown at the agency), we learnt to be first off the ship and the process took no more than ½ an hour or so. Maui: We heard that Haleakala at sunrise was well worth it, but there was no way we would have gotten the kids up early enough for that, so we headed up just before lunch. It was very interesting, we actually drove up through the clouds (had to stop as the 10 year old wanted to touch the clouds!). Might have been nice to have a bit of a hike around but the altitude knocked the kids and we headed to town. We then went to the Iao Needle, took some photos and swam in the stream that flowed nearby. The water was refreshing, but I love swimming in freshwater streams. Still a bit jet-lagged, we were back at the car park not long after 4 pm and easily got one of the free parks a short walk back to the ship. Day 2 we headed to Lahaina – a gorgeous little town with lots of shopping – including factory outlets and more shave ice for the kids. After that we went to Kaanapali – only 5 minutes drive down the road. We parked at the shopping centre and ate lunch – get your parking validated so long as you spend $20 or so (can’t remember the exact amount) and you have 2-3 hours free. Then walk up to the beach infront of the Sheraton – it’s gorgeous, protected, great for snorkelling – we even saw a large turtle and there’s the chance to go cliff jumping off Black Rock. Take care though, the locals say a lot of the Mum’s ban their kids from doing it. We did it and it was fun – even though I did bruise my butt by doing a butt-slap on the water when I landed – not deliberately mind! This was a highlight for the 12 year old. The Dad’s dropped us at the ship and returned the car and took the shuttle back to the ship. Hilo – whooo hoo – it’s real Volcano time. Having learnt our lesson, we were in the first wave from the ship to the rental car shuttles and were on the road and early at Volcanos National Park. We called in at the Visitor Centre and were told to head down to the Thurston Lava Tube before the cruise ship passengers arrived as it would get very busy. Good advice. We didn’t need the torches we had brought and part of the tube was closed for repair, but neat anyway. Next we decided to hike across the crater. We were advised from 2 sources to hike from the left hand side of the car park – (in reverse order from the guide book sign posts) as the ascent was doing to be easier. Wish one of those sources had have told us that there was a guide book and sign posts so we could have read each relevant point. It was rocky and hot – bring plenty of water and snacks if you are travelling with kids, but a fantastic experience. It took about 2 hours. They don’t have food in the park (lucky for the peanut butter rolls), only a few snacks and sweet drinks – no water can you believe? Next went up to the Jagger Museum and looked over Kilauea which was neat. We couldn’t see the lava and the ranger we spoke to said that apart from a helicopter, there was no current place to see. Not sure if this is right, but we headed back to town to feed the troops. I wanted to go to Rainbow Falls but we decided that that might make our time a bit tight to get back to the ship, so we grabbed a few souvenirs at Walmart (not much cheaper than anywhere else) and dropped the rental car back. A overnight stay might have allowed some lava viewing, but there are only so many days in the week. We ran out of time to drive the Crater rim road anticlockwise and it was closed clockwise at the Jagger Centre without being able to see the lava across the road as I’d read you could. Kona – on a friend’s advice, we elected not to get a car in Kona as everything is close to port. I did some research and ended up deciding to do a Wild Dolphin Swim with Jack’s Diving Locker. Their website says they only do this on Tuesday and Thursday but they didn’t know we can disembark form the Pride of America at 7am, so hopefully they will open to more POA cruisers – or just ask them. Most companies would only take 6, so with 7 of us we were limited for choice, but Jack’s Diving Locker was also about $50 per person cheaper than most of the other smaller groups. I’m not sure of their maximum numbers, but there were only 9 of us in total which was fantastic. Snorkelling with the wild dolphins was the highlight of nearly everyone’s holiday. It was fantastic. We saw more than 100 dolphins. Jeff and his son, who was our skipper, would take us ahead of the dolphins and drop us in the water, the dolphins varied from about 20m away to 3-4 m away. The visibility was particularly great this day and we got to swim with them 3 or 4 times – the dolphins were on a mission and just swam by us but that was magnificent. Apparently sometimes they are just hanging about and they get a little closer then. We then went snorkelling at other 2 locations which was great. They fed us sandwiches and chips for lunch and took us back to their shop (or they would have dropped us at the pier) and we wandered back through town having a bit of a shop and we would have time for a swim at one of the neighbouring beaches but the kids were keen to get back to the ship. The cocktails were much cheaper in town and quite a few places with great decks and that would have made a great option too. Kauai – Quick disembark and rental car collection again – although we only dock 10 am here. We went to Waimea canyon – only as far as the first main lookout. Pretty neat, but nothing like the Grand Canyon that I’d read it was. It might have gotten better further on, I can’t comment. Next was Spouting Horn – a natural rock formation where the waves blow up in the air like a whale. Lunch at Puka Dogs in Poipu – really good hot dogs. Then we had a 2 pm booking at Ziplining with Eco Adventures. Great guides, good fun and the 10 year old’s holiday highlight – even though he’s scared of heights and still holds my hand going down an escalator. They had an online special where kids were half price – that helped. The Dad’s dropped us off again and parked the car at the nearby shops for $20 – the Dad’s were happy for the security, it was only a 5 minute walk back to the ship although I believe there is also a shuttle. On the last morning we had booked Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing the ditch. I booked this though Discount Hawaii and it was a fraction cheaper than booking direct. We did the 9am trip and it gave us plenty of time to drop the car and get back on board. I really enjoyed this, floating on rubber tubes down irrigation ditches carved through clay in the fields and hundreds of meters of solid rock tunnels, so a lot is in the dark. The other family are adrenaline junkies and found this a bit tame. Friday afternoon cruising by the coast was great. There were plenty of announcements if you listen and plenty of places to see. Disembarkation was quick and easy. We carried our own bags to give us freedom and as I had stuff stolen out of an unlocked bag when leaving it out on another cruise a few years back. So I hope that helps you get the most out of your Pride of America trip. We loved it and would do it again and just do different things in each port. There is so much to do.

Fantastic way to see a lot of Hawaii

Pride of America Cruise Review by paulsie3

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2015
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Obstructed Oceanview
After researching Hotels and Rental Houses and inter-island airfares, we opted to sail on the Pride of America so we could get a taste of many different places. The cruise was also recommended by a friend who had done it twice over the last 7 years or so.We travelled with friends and in total there were 7 of us - 4 adults and 3 kids 10, 12 and 14.

I spent lots of time reading reviews on different occasions between January and our August departure - they definitely helped me get the most out of my trip, so I thought I'd give something back in the hope that it helps you too.

I'm a bargain hunter holiday maker and whilst our airfares were cheap, Hawaii is definitely not cheap and the Aussie dollar was very poor by the time we travelled, so we were happy that our meals were included, especially as it wasn’t difficult to be paying over $100USD for 3 dinners in Waikiki.

The cruise did become cheaper closer to departure and offer bonuses such as the Ultimate Dining Package and on board credit, but I do like to plan ahead and was happy to have everything finalised earlier in the year. We booked transfers through our travel agent and pre and post-cruise accommodation at the Sheraton Waikiki and were very happy with that, especially being right on the beach.

On departure day, we arrived at the pier a little after 12 and embarkation was very quick and easy with only short queues. I was surprised as we checked in to learn that we had the Ultimate Dining Package - I'm still not sure how or why. However, I did know from having read these cruise reviews, that the restaurants book out quickly, so we headed straight to the Bookings desk and booked all our dinners. It would have been about 12.40 pm when we were doing this, but we were disappointed to find that they could only fit us in at 5.30 or 7.45 on most days and there was no day or restaurant that could fit a group of 7 at any tween-age-friendly, semi-normal hour (6-7pm). Maybe this was due to having the ultimate dining package??? Or maybe a smaller group would have been easier to accommodate?? We booked earlier on the first couple of days whilst we were getting over our jetlag and later toward the end of the week.

We attended the Moderno - Brazillian at 5.45pm to find we were only one of 3 tables seated, even by the time we left at 7ish, there were only 6-7 tables seated. Crazy system, but better to try and cope, than to change it. Food good - very plentiful, very meat-orientated - as Brazillian Restaurants are

Cagney’s Steakhouse – the Dad’s declared that the bone-in rib fillet might just be the best steak they’d ever had (I think the beers and a good appetite might have had a hand in that). It was delicious though and I was glad that I’d read such good reviews and we actually booked and ate here twice and everyone loved it. We ate the same thing both times.

Teppanyaki – Quite good, not the best Teppanyaki I’ve ever eaten, but the 10 year old’s favourite meal of the cruise and the first Teppanyaki for the 12 and 14 year olds who are traditionally fussy eaters, and they loved it too. Way too much food – don’t eat all of it unless you want to roll back to your room.

La Cucina – Italian – very tasty with a wide menu variety that we would have loved to try twice so we could try different things.

Jefferson’s Bistro – French – Probably the most disappointing of the specialty restaurants, the food was OK, but I think you might have been a little disappointed if you had paid. The 12 and 14 year olds headed to the buffet afterward as they weren’t too impressed by the selection at all and didn’t eat much of their ordered dinner.

We also ate at the Buffet one night, just to try it. It was a Chinese theme that night and the food was nice enough. I had pasta cooked in front of me and it was very delicious.

I’d read that the desserts were a disappointment and I’ll admit that I’m not a big dessert eater, but they were nice enough too. We often got one to share between 2-4 of us as we were so full from the other courses. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice finish.

We ate at the Aloha café (buffet style) every morning for breakfast and found the food tasty. I ate too much the first couple of mornings (as is easy to do with so much variety) then started thinking like I was eating breakfast at home and just selected the same amount as I would have eaten on a normal morning – only it was much better than I would have made.

We never had any issues with seating. The only comment was that it was a bit crazy to only open at 6.30am on the Kona morning when disembarkation was from 7am and we needed to be on the early tender for our day’s excursion.

We took zip-lock bags (another hint from cruise critic reviews) and packed some pastries, fruit and bread rolls with either butter or peanut butter (jam was available) for our days on shore. This kept the kids from grumbling although we ended up buying some form of lunch on shore each day to keep them happy. Adults probably could have made it through until we were back on board.

Special mention goes to the Chicken Wings at the Cadillac Diner – we loved them and would go and get them to eat with our drinks around the pool. After the first few days, we had later dinner bookings so the adults would get a few drinks and nibbles (readily available from several sources) and sit by the pool between getting on board and our later dinners. The kids would gets some chips and icecream from the buffet or the bistro.

The kids enjoyed the library playing chess and the 10 and 12 year old really enjoyed kids club and the activities. Being that bit older, they had the freedom to check themselves in. The 14 year old couldn’t be talked into the older kids club and was happy with some “cave-time” with his ipad in the cabin by himself. All 3 roamed very happily about the ship, returning periodically to tell us what they were up to. We bought them the drinks package and it was well worth the money, breaking even after only a couple of drinks – and they felt pretty special being able to go to the bar, or be in the restaurant and order their own drinks whenever they wanted (time to sugar detox now they are home though). They liked the soft serve in the Aloha café for the same reason.

We did take a few soft drinks on board and had a cooler bag to pack them in for our day excursions. We also took on 3 bottles of wine bought in the ABC stores in Waikiki and happily paid the corkage of $15 per bottle as it was still cheaper than onboard. Although if you drink a lot of wine, the 20% off for a 6 bottle purchase would have saved you carrying it onboard. (PS ABC stores are plentiful – especially in Waikiki, packed full of nearly everything you could want and cheap – save your receipts and you can get a free gift before you go home)

I must say every staff member we came across was very friendly and very helpful. If one or two seemed a little down, giving them a friendly smile soon put the smile back on their face. You can’t tell me that you don’t get a little tired at your work from time to time and how nice is it when you receive a thank you or a friendly smile to make your day so much better. Give a little get a lot.

Having said that Hawaii is one of the friendliest places I’ve been in recent years. Virtually everyone was there to help and give advice. Kudos to the Aloha spirit.

The Norwegian App on the iphone is great – it gave us connection to what’s on on our mobile phones at all times for free. And it gave you a running total of your account – easy to keep track of how much you spent. There was also the option of paying $8USD or so and having the ability to text and phone everyone in your party whilst on board for free. Reception was a bit hit and miss, but it was good to keep track of and message the kids.

The cocktail special of the day was also a bit hit and miss – I tried it most days but only once would I have chosen it again – but it was about $4 cheaper than regular cocktails.

The Dad’s did the bucket of beers – 6 for the price of 5 – The 18% tipping is mandatory but a bit steep for putting 6 beers in a bucket of ice. Still you if you know it before you go, then you know what you are up for.

Being Australians our mandatory daily tipping was included in our fare (at least this is what my travel agent on my first Norwegian cruise told me). Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to have this confirmed when I checked at guest services – and meant that I had nearly another $500 of holiday funds than I’d mentally allocated to the tips. I don’t care how much I pay (except I like to keep it as low as possible), but I want to know how much BEFORE I cruise. I don’t see why they don’ t do this for everyone and it would save the bad taste at the end of the cruise. If it’s mandatory, it’s not a tip and it’s not for service but part of their wages. Crazy system, don’t get me started.

Our room 7070 was an obstructed view – it had a lifeboat infront, but you could see if you stood up. It was plenty big enough for the 3 of us as we only had one bunk folded down and pushed the bed right against the wall under the bunk giving us access down the side of the bed. The family of 4 found it a bit of a squeeze but the rooms were bigger than I expected and much bigger than the Norwegian Sky Balcony room. It was clean, tidy and in good repair.

Infact the whole ship seemed to be in good condition, I wouldn’t complain about anything.

Now my favourite part: the ports!!

Travelling on the Australian dollar (0.69 cents at the time of travel), the ship board tours were quite expensive especially when multiplied by 3 or 4. I booked a 7 seater van in every port except Kona. I booked this through rental cars.com – a fantastic website I’ve used before – they quote in your own currency and include insurance. Somehow in Maui – our first stop with Dad’s in-charge, we ended up having heaps of expensive extras added, but once educated, we only elected to pay the roadside assistance at $6-8 extra a day on top of what we’d booked online. Remember when you travel with travel insurance – a lot of those extras are already included in your travel insurance and you don’t have to pay them again.

After a long wait in Maui for a shuttle bus and then for the rental car (nearly 2 hours in total after disembarking at 8.20am – not helped by a computer meltdown at the agency), we learnt to be first off the ship and the process took no more than ½ an hour or so.

Maui: We heard that Haleakala at sunrise was well worth it, but there was no way we would have gotten the kids up early enough for that, so we headed up just before lunch. It was very interesting, we actually drove up through the clouds (had to stop as the 10 year old wanted to touch the clouds!). Might have been nice to have a bit of a hike around but the altitude knocked the kids and we headed to town.

We then went to the Iao Needle, took some photos and swam in the stream that flowed nearby. The water was refreshing, but I love swimming in freshwater streams. Still a bit jet-lagged, we were back at the car park not long after 4 pm and easily got one of the free parks a short walk back to the ship.

Day 2 we headed to Lahaina – a gorgeous little town with lots of shopping – including factory outlets and more shave ice for the kids. After that we went to Kaanapali – only 5 minutes drive down the road. We parked at the shopping centre and ate lunch – get your parking validated so long as you spend $20 or so (can’t remember the exact amount) and you have 2-3 hours free. Then walk up to the beach infront of the Sheraton – it’s gorgeous, protected, great for snorkelling – we even saw a large turtle and there’s the chance to go cliff jumping off Black Rock. Take care though, the locals say a lot of the Mum’s ban their kids from doing it. We did it and it was fun – even though I did bruise my butt by doing a butt-slap on the water when I landed – not deliberately mind! This was a highlight for the 12 year old. The Dad’s dropped us at the ship and returned the car and took the shuttle back to the ship.

Hilo – whooo hoo – it’s real Volcano time. Having learnt our lesson, we were in the first wave from the ship to the rental car shuttles and were on the road and early at Volcanos National Park. We called in at the Visitor Centre and were told to head down to the Thurston Lava Tube before the cruise ship passengers arrived as it would get very busy. Good advice. We didn’t need the torches we had brought and part of the tube was closed for repair, but neat anyway. Next we decided to hike across the crater. We were advised from 2 sources to hike from the left hand side of the car park – (in reverse order from the guide book sign posts) as the ascent was doing to be easier. Wish one of those sources had have told us that there was a guide book and sign posts so we could have read each relevant point. It was rocky and hot – bring plenty of water and snacks if you are travelling with kids, but a fantastic experience. It took about 2 hours. They don’t have food in the park (lucky for the peanut butter rolls), only a few snacks and sweet drinks – no water can you believe? Next went up to the Jagger Museum and looked over Kilauea which was neat. We couldn’t see the lava and the ranger we spoke to said that apart from a helicopter, there was no current place to see. Not sure if this is right, but we headed back to town to feed the troops. I wanted to go to Rainbow Falls but we decided that that might make our time a bit tight to get back to the ship, so we grabbed a few souvenirs at Walmart (not much cheaper than anywhere else) and dropped the rental car back. A overnight stay might have allowed some lava viewing, but there are only so many days in the week.

We ran out of time to drive the Crater rim road anticlockwise and it was closed clockwise at the Jagger Centre without being able to see the lava across the road as I’d read you could.

Kona – on a friend’s advice, we elected not to get a car in Kona as everything is close to port. I did some research and ended up deciding to do a Wild Dolphin Swim with Jack’s Diving Locker. Their website says they only do this on Tuesday and Thursday but they didn’t know we can disembark form the Pride of America at 7am, so hopefully they will open to more POA cruisers – or just ask them. Most companies would only take 6, so with 7 of us we were limited for choice, but Jack’s Diving Locker was also about $50 per person cheaper than most of the other smaller groups. I’m not sure of their maximum numbers, but there were only 9 of us in total which was fantastic. Snorkelling with the wild dolphins was the highlight of nearly everyone’s holiday. It was fantastic. We saw more than 100 dolphins. Jeff and his son, who was our skipper, would take us ahead of the dolphins and drop us in the water, the dolphins varied from about 20m away to 3-4 m away. The visibility was particularly great this day and we got to swim with them 3 or 4 times – the dolphins were on a mission and just swam by us but that was magnificent. Apparently sometimes they are just hanging about and they get a little closer then. We then went snorkelling at other 2 locations which was great. They fed us sandwiches and chips for lunch and took us back to their shop (or they would have dropped us at the pier) and we wandered back through town having a bit of a shop and we would have time for a swim at one of the neighbouring beaches but the kids were keen to get back to the ship.

The cocktails were much cheaper in town and quite a few places with great decks and that would have made a great option too.

Kauai – Quick disembark and rental car collection again – although we only dock 10 am here. We went to Waimea canyon – only as far as the first main lookout. Pretty neat, but nothing like the Grand Canyon that I’d read it was. It might have gotten better further on, I can’t comment.

Next was Spouting Horn – a natural rock formation where the waves blow up in the air like a whale. Lunch at Puka Dogs in Poipu – really good hot dogs.

Then we had a 2 pm booking at Ziplining with Eco Adventures. Great guides, good fun and the 10 year old’s holiday highlight – even though he’s scared of heights and still holds my hand going down an escalator. They had an online special where kids were half price – that helped.

The Dad’s dropped us off again and parked the car at the nearby shops for $20 – the Dad’s were happy for the security, it was only a 5 minute walk back to the ship although I believe there is also a shuttle.

On the last morning we had booked Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing the ditch. I booked this though Discount Hawaii and it was a fraction cheaper than booking direct. We did the 9am trip and it gave us plenty of time to drop the car and get back on board.

I really enjoyed this, floating on rubber tubes down irrigation ditches carved through clay in the fields and hundreds of meters of solid rock tunnels, so a lot is in the dark. The other family are adrenaline junkies and found this a bit tame.

Friday afternoon cruising by the coast was great. There were plenty of announcements if you listen and plenty of places to see.

Disembarkation was quick and easy. We carried our own bags to give us freedom and as I had stuff stolen out of an unlocked bag when leaving it out on another cruise a few years back.

So I hope that helps you get the most out of your Pride of America trip. We loved it and would do it again and just do different things in each port. There is so much to do.
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Cabin Review

Obstructed Oceanview
Cabin OK 7070
Our room 7070 was an obstructed view – it had a lifeboat infront, but you could see if you stood up. It was plenty big enough for the 3 of us as we only had one bunk folded down and pushed the bed right against the wall under the bunk giving us access down the side of the bed. The family of 4 found it a bit of a squeeze but the rooms were bigger than I expected and much bigger than the Norwegian Sky Balcony room. It was clean, tidy and in good repair.
Deck 7 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Hilo
    Hilo – whooo hoo – it’s real Volcano time. Having learnt our lesson, we were in the first wave from the ship to the rental car shuttles and were on the road and early at Volcanos National Park. We called in at the Visitor Centre and were told to head down to the Thurston Lava Tube before the cruise ship passengers arrived as it would get very busy. Good advice. We didn’t need the torches we had brought and part of the tube was closed for repair, but neat anyway. Next we decided to hike across the crater. We were advised from 2 sources to hike from the left hand side of the car park – (in reverse order from the guide book sign posts) as the ascent was doing to be easier. Wish one of those sources had have told us that there was a guide book and sign posts so we could have read each relevant point. It was rocky and hot – bring plenty of water and snacks if you are travelling with kids, but a fantastic experience. It took about 2 hours. They don’t have food in the park (lucky for the peanut butter rolls), only a few snacks and sweet drinks – no water can you believe? Next went up to the Jagger Museum and looked over Kilauea which was neat. We couldn’t see the lava and the ranger we spoke to said that apart from a helicopter, there was no current place to see. Not sure if this is right, but we headed back to town to feed the troops. I wanted to go to Rainbow Falls but we decided that that might make our time a bit tight to get back to the ship, so we grabbed a few souvenirs at Walmart (not much cheaper than anywhere else) and dropped the rental car back. A overnight stay might have allowed some lava viewing, but there are only so many days in the week.
    We ran out of time to drive the Crater rim road anticlockwise and it was closed clockwise at the Jagger Centre without being able to see the lava across the road as I’d read you could.
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  • Kauai
    Kauai – Quick disembark and rental car collection again – although we only dock 10 am here. We went to Waimea canyon – only as far as the first main lookout. Pretty neat, but nothing like the Grand Canyon that I’d read it was. It might have gotten better further on, I can’t comment.
    Next was Spouting Horn – a natural rock formation where the waves blow up in the air like a whale. Lunch at Puka Dogs in Poipu – really good hot dogs.
    Then we had a 2 pm booking at Ziplining with Eco Adventures. Great guides, good fun and the 10 year old’s holiday highlight – even though he’s scared of heights and still holds my hand going down an escalator. They had an online special where kids were half price – that helped.
    The Dad’s dropped us off again and parked the car at the nearby shops for $20 – the Dad’s were happy for the security, it was only a 5 minute walk back to the ship although I believe there is also a shuttle.
    On the last morning we had booked Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing the ditch. I booked this though Discount Hawaii and it was a fraction cheaper than booking direct. We did the 9am trip and it gave us plenty of time to drop the car and get back on board.
    I really enjoyed this, floating on rubber tubes down irrigation ditches carved through clay in the fields and hundreds of meters of solid rock tunnels, so a lot is in the dark. The other family are adrenaline junkies and found this a bit tame.
    View All 538 Kauai Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Kona (Kailua Bay)
    Kona – on a friend’s advice, we elected not to get a car in Kona as everything is close to port. I did some research and ended up deciding to do a Wild Dolphin Swim with Jack’s Diving Locker. Their website says they only do this on Tuesday and Thursday but they didn’t know we can disembark form the Pride of America at 7am, so hopefully they will open to more POA cruisers – or just ask them. Most companies would only take 6, so with 7 of us we were limited for choice, but Jack’s Diving Locker was also about $50 per person cheaper than most of the other smaller groups. I’m not sure of their maximum numbers, but there were only 9 of us in total which was fantastic. Snorkelling with the wild dolphins was the highlight of nearly everyone’s holiday. It was fantastic. We saw more than 100 dolphins. Jeff and his son, who was our skipper, would take us ahead of the dolphins and drop us in the water, the dolphins varied from about 20m away to 3-4 m away. The visibility was particularly great this day and we got to swim with them 3 or 4 times – the dolphins were on a mission and just swam by us but that was magnificent. Apparently sometimes they are just hanging about and they get a little closer then. We then went snorkelling at other 2 locations which was great. They fed us sandwiches and chips for lunch and took us back to their shop (or they would have dropped us at the pier) and we wandered back through town having a bit of a shop and we would have time for a swim at one of the neighbouring beaches but the kids were keen to get back to the ship.
    The cocktails were much cheaper in town and quite a few places with great decks and that would have made a great option too.
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  • Maui
    Maui: We heard that Haleakala at sunrise was well worth it, but there was no way we would have gotten the kids up early enough for that, so we headed up just before lunch. It was very interesting, we actually drove up through the clouds (had to stop as the 10 year old wanted to touch the clouds!). Might have been nice to have a bit of a hike around but the altitude knocked the kids and we headed to town.
    We then went to the Iao Needle, took some photos and swam in the stream that flowed nearby. The water was refreshing, but I love swimming in freshwater streams. Still a bit jet-lagged, we were back at the car park not long after 4 pm and easily got one of the free parks a short walk back to the ship.
    Day 2 we headed to Lahaina – a gorgeous little town with lots of shopping – including factory outlets and more shave ice for the kids. After that we went to Kaanapali – only 5 minutes drive down the road. We parked at the shopping centre and ate lunch – get your parking validated so long as you spend $20 or so (can’t remember the exact amount) and you have 2-3 hours free. Then walk up to the beach infront of the Sheraton – it’s gorgeous, protected, great for snorkelling – we even saw a large turtle and there’s the chance to go cliff jumping off Black Rock. Take care though, the locals say a lot of the Mum’s ban their kids from doing it. We did it and it was fun – even though I did bruise my butt by doing a butt-slap on the water when I landed – not deliberately mind! This was a highlight for the 12 year old. The Dad’s dropped us at the ship and returned the car and took the shuttle back to the ship.
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