Pride of America Cruise Review by junesebopp
- Sail Date: February 2017
- Destination: Hawaii
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
The organization of any cruise ship just boggles my mind. They definitely have it down to a science. Our embarkation was very easy. The only problem that we had was that we embarked during a torrential rainstorm. Although, we were luckier than many, as it got worse after we made it onboard. We took a shuttle from our hotel in Honolulu, where we had stayed for three previous days. I definitely recommend coming in ahead of time, if possible, just to get acclimated to the time change, and to be able to enjoy the sights of Oahu. We loved Honolulu! We followed the signs at the terminal, and all of the personnel were more than willing to answer any questions you might have. We had the cruise tags already attached to our luggage, and sailed through security. Once on board, we headed for the Skyline Restaurant for lunch.
Upon finishing our lunch, we went exploring on the ship. As it was still raining, the pool area was not really accessible. We were very much impressed with the upgrade that NCL had done to this ship in 2016. Everything was very nice and very comparable to the ship we were on in Alaska. Our cabin seemed a wee bit larger than the one we had on the Alaska cruise. We had chosen a balcony cabin on the port side, midship on the 8th deck. One thing I will say about this...I had read that a port side room was definitely the way to go to see the Napalli coast on the last day of the cruise as you are leaving Kauai. To that point, this is true. However, for the rest of the week, a room on the other side would have been much nicer. When you come into the ports, all you see on the port side are the warehouses where you are docked. If I was doing anything differently, I would choose a room on the starboard side.
Our cabin steward did a TREMENDOUS job keeping our cabin in tip top shape. I had read that the crew on this ship were predominately American, and were not particularly friendly or having a good work ethic. I totally disagree with this statement. We did not find any of the staff who were not friendly, and for the most part, the work ethic was wonderful on this ship. Our cabin always was clean when we returned to our room for the day, and while we were at dinner and the show, it would be turned down for the night. It's easy to get spoiled!
We ate in several of the dining establishments. The Cagney Steakhouse was our definite favorite. We had a specialty dining package as part of our cruise package. We ate at Cagney for two nights, and at the Italian restaurant one evening. We also ate at the Buffet, Cadillac Diner, and the Skyline. The Buffet is not nearly as bad as a lot of people say. The food we had was always very good. Yes, depending on what time it is, you may wait in line. But, they are used to handling masses of people, and they move them through in a timely fashion. A couple of notes that we learned throughout the week. There are two ice cream machines in the buffet that you can use throughout the day and night. There is also a popcorn machine in the lounge next to the buffet. Also, during breakfast, which is a very hectic time of day as so many folks are trying to get off the ship for their excursions, go to the Moderno Steakhouse which is a Brazillian steakhouse at night, but also serves breakfast with extra seating in the morning, and not very many people know about it. Also, we ate breakfast at the Cadillac Diner one morning, as well as lunch another day. The Skyline tended to be slower in serving the food, and you are required to wear business casual clothing to eat there. All men must wear pants and not flip flops or tank tops.
On two different days, there were grills by the pool, and you could have burgers or hotdogs for lunch along with all the fixings. Even, corn on the cob one day!
As far as the entertainment goes, this ship gets an A+ for entertainment. We went to the show each night, and felt like the shows were even better than the Alaska cruise we had been on. There are a variety of acts...from musicals to magicians, to comedians, to singers. There were also various bands that played around the ship, i.e. poolside or in several of the lounges. Most of the shows had a 7 and 9 p.m. showing, so if dinner interfered with one, you could make the other show. Be warned, bring a sweater to the theater as it can get quite chilly.
As far as excursions go, we did not do any of the cruise ship excursions this cruise. We rented a car each day and did our own excursions. We found that if you go to the app store on your phone, you can download various apps for each island (Shaka or Gypsy app), that use GPS to tour you around each island. These apps are very inexpensive, and you can start and stop as you please, and the app will pick back up when you start again. This was great! The other secret we found was to use www.hawaiidiscount.com to rent our rental cars at a pretty significant savings. We rented through Alamo on each island, and were extremely pleased.
Prior to embarkation, we attended the Rock a Hula Show in Honolulu in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. This just happened to be across from our hotel, so it was really convenient and within walking distance. This was a great show, lasting 60-90 minutes. We also did a tour of Pearl Harbor and downtown Honolulu through Polynesian Tours. This was a great tour.
On Maui, we drove to Lanai to see the many quaint shops and port. There were many excursions available from this port if you were interested. We drove to the northernmost point of Maui, where the road ran out, then turned around, and headed for the South coast of Maui. Kehai and Makena were BEAUTIFUL! Full of resorts, beaches, and flowers and foliage. The following day, we had a tour (that we had booked ahead of time) to Maui Gold pineapple plantation. This was a very fun time! They take you out to the pineapple fields to see how the crop is planted and harvested (all by hand!). They also take you through the processing plant and send you home with a box with two, sweet pineapples. Mike was our tour guide, and did a wonderful job!
Oh the Big Island, we ported at Hilo the first day. We again rented a car, and traveled north of town a little ways to see the Botanical Gardens and Akaka Falls. We were supposed to tender in to Kona the following day, but the seas were too rough. So, plans were changed, and all of the excursions were cancelled. We were at sea all day and the captain took the ship past Molokai so we could see a very small Hawaiian island that most people do not get to see. It was a real disappointment to miss Kona, but there was nothing that could be done. We did however, get to see the volcano erupting and lava running into the ocean at night. What a sight!
We docked at Kauai the next morning. This is a much smaller island that is known for having chickens all over the island! When we exited the ship we could hear a rooster crowing, and we saw chickens at the airport, and everywhere else we were the entire day! We drove to the Waimea Canyon, which was a breathtaking sight. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the west. It is much smaller, but very beautiful! We stopped in the town of Waimea for some traditional shrimp from a shrimp truck. You will find these small food trucks throughout all of the island, and the food is very good. It id definitely a part of the culture you should try. On the second day, we took a local trolley tour of the local area since we were leaving port at 1:30 pm.
Disembarkation was very easy the following morning. We did not put our luggage out the night before, instead, choosing to carry it off of the ship ourselves. We had a noon flight leaving Honolulu, so we decided this was our best bet to make sure we had plenty of time. And, we did. We found that you really do not have to be as worried about being at the airports a full two hours ahead of your flight, like in the states. These are smaller airports, with fewer people flying. The Honolulu airport was much busier than the airports on the other islands, but we still had plenty of time.
In closing, we had waited many years for our trip to Hawaii, and we definitely were not disappointed! I don't know if we will ever get to return, but I am very happy with the way our vacation went this time. Do not be discouraged by negative reviews about Pride of America. We found most of them to be unfounded. Do your homework ahead of time, and read reviews and look for bargains, and this will be a trip of a lifetime for you as well!
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