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About us: We are two semi retired educators in our mid-60's who love to travel. We've logged 70,000+ miles on Amtrak and ViaRail Canada and have traveled the entire length of the Mississippi River on steamboats but had never taken a cruise. This one had been on our bucket list for years, so we decided it was time to go for it! Overall we had a wonderful time! Given some of the reviews we read our expectations were not all that high, so I will say our experience exceeded our expectations (it's Hawaii for pete sake!). Like any experience there are pros and cons, and these are ours based on no prior experience or anything else to compare it to: Pre-Cruise-We stayed at the Waikiki Marriott the night before and it was fantastic! We had an ocean view room with a balcony that faced Diamond Head. There was a great poolside grill where we ate dinner (good food, reasonable drinks). It is literally steps from the beach (simply cross the street and you are there). There is a Norwegian check in desk in the lobby. The hotel staff was super and we got our information from the cruise desk regarding the time our shuttle to the ship would leave. You tag your luggage and leave it in the room and they pick it up for you. I only kept a tote with our travel docs and had them take everythng else. This went great! Had breakfast at the Starbucks in the lobby then hung out until our shuttle left. This process was easy and lots to enjoy. Recommend spending the night before you embark...otherwise you'll be grumpy. That good nights sleep did wonders for our disposition! EMBARKATION: Very smooth! A LOT of people needing to check in but the check in point was well staffed and all went smoothly. We went onto the ship and (against advice from other reviews) went to the Aloha for the buffet. Because we only had the small tote getting around was easy. We did not find the buffet overly chaotic. It was crowded but there was an ample variety of fresh food and choices to suit any taste. (more on food later). We ate our lunch then went to explore the ship. We found a deck outside of the Aloha and hung out until they called that our cabin was ready. We only had to kill about 2 hours and the cabin was ready sooner than we had expected! This process went very smoothly. Our luggage arrived quite soon after we got to our cabin and we unpacked and settled in. More about our cabin (with pictures) later. FOOD: Aloha (the buffet) was great the first day but lost some quality as the week went on. They had good breakfasts and a nice selection for lunch, but the two times we went for dinner it was less than stellar (the "country and western" night the food was awful). Main Dining Room (Skyline & Liberty). Food was fresh and well prepared. Husband thought the entrees were too skimpy (he wasn't entirely wrong). They had 6 or so entrees that stay the same and about 6-8 entrees that rotate. Overall I'd say it was O.K. but not remarkable. We had expected more based on our dining experiece on the steamboats. However, they do offer an afternoon snack and a late night snack which was nice...and there is soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream and it is GOOD! Cadallac Diner (open 24/7). Great place for breakfast, or late night snack. Because I'm an early riser I would go there about 5 a.m. with my travel coffee cup and fill it up then head for my balcony. This place is like a typical hamburger stand and it's good for what it is. We liked the atmosphere, but I would say some of the staff were not overly friendly here. Our overall impression of the food was "OK". We did not try any of the "pay extra" restaurants (we didn't feel we should have to pay extra considering the cost of this cruise) and I will say the food was the "lowpoint" on our experience scale. ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT: We thought it was outstanding! We were super-pleased with the quality and variety. We went to all of the evening shows except the night we were at the Luau. One evening was a presentation with dance depicting Polynesian culture. Very well done and interesting! There was a professional magician and it was on par with what we've seen in Las Vegas. There were two evenings featuring production numbers; one called Lighs, Camera, Music that highlighted musicals and one that featured Las Vegas entertainment that was outstanding! The highlight for us, however, was the comedian Jeff Harms. OMG! This guy is the funniest man on the planet! We loved his show and we saw him again when he performed in the Marti Gras lounge. We also went to the Marti Gras for two "game show" nights and these were very entertaining and so much fun! There were other musical acts performing in various places that we heard as we walked about the ship. There were other activities throughout the day such Lei making (with nuts and with ribbons) and trivia. I did the trivia twice while husband did other things. One nice thing is there was almost always something to do if you didn't have a shore excursion, or you were finished with your shore excursion or if you and the hubby wanted to do different things. I'd give the activities an "A". SHORE EXCURSIONS: The opportunity to experience Hawaii is why a person would want to take this particular cruise so it is "port intensive" as it should be and I'd suggest doing something at every port. We booked all of our shore excursions through the cruise line and though they were slightly more expensive than we perhaps could have done on our own it was worth it to us to know that all would be taken care of. ***NOTE: Our cruise date was one of the ones that didn't dock at the Big Island at all because of the Volcano. This was hugely disappointing to us but certainly not in any way the fault of the cruise line...after all no one could have predicted a volcanic eruption! So, I am going to comment on how Norwegian handled this. I was on the Facebook feed with the Roll Call group for this sailing or I would not have known about the change of itinerary until I got on board. We had to cancel a car we had planned to rent in Kona and had I not known by then it would have been difficult to do. I do feel the cruise line should have sent out an email/text to everyone THE MINUTE the decision was made not to dock. To account for this we stayed in port at Honolulu and extra day, then after two days at the first port on Maui we went to the other side and did a tender port at Lahaina. This cause a lot of people to scramble to re-book their Sun./Mon. Maui excursions. I feel they should have left Honolulu (many folks had been there several days already or were planning to stay there post-cruise), kept the schedule for the Sun/Mon on Maui, then made Tuesday an "at sea" day then went to Lahaina on Wed. As it stood, we set in port and got cheated out of one day of our cruise. With no compensation. This did not sit well with us. However, even so, we made the best of it and did things on the ship. SHORE EXCURSION-PACIFIC WHALE WATCH MOLOKINI TURTLE SNORKEL. I did this one (hubby didn't). It was my favorite! The water was too choppy to go to Turtle Arches so we snorkeled the Molokini Crater for 2 hours. Oh my gosh! It was like swimming in an aquarium! Beautiful blue waters, huge variety of fish and so many! You can clearly see the coral. This is absolutely breathtaking! You get a light breakfast on the boat out, they have wet suit tops (you'll want this) for $10, free reef-safe sunscreen, flotation devices, and optic masks for the nearsighted (like me). That mask made all the difference in my experience. They are super helpful And it is a group dedicated to the conservation and preservation of ocean mammals and turtles. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone. BEST OF MAUI TOUR-We had been to Maui before but this tour gave us a little something different. We went to Iao Needle and our bus driver gave us tons of good information along the way. We then went to a plantation and took a trolly through it. This was OUTSTANDING. They had an unbelievable variety of crops for viewing and we learned about shucking and opening a cocount. Very informative and interesting! We then went to the Ocen Center. We had lunch (included) and then toured the exhibits. Super interesting and well worth the time to view it. I would recommend this tour. PLANTATION TRAIN AND LUAU KALAMAKU: We'd been to a luau before but found this one to have a very well done program. It told an historical story and the actors/performers were super! Really enjoyed the performance. The train ride around the grounds was OK as we saw the wild chickens and boars. The luau food was typical but well prepared and you get two drinks. This was more of a "performance" venue than an authentic venue but for us we really enjoyed it. THE DIRECTOR'S CUT TOUR: My husband's favorite! Get on Sam's bus, he is a wonderful host. You see clips of movies, then visit the location. This is so well done (at leaslt on Sam's bus) and interesting. A wonderful way to see Kauaii and experience a bit of movie history at the same time. I would recommend this. PEARL HARBOR:AND USS MISSOUR: Not what we expected. The tour was adequate but needed more time. We couldn't go onto the memorial and when the boat took us out the park ranger was gone and some young girl filled in, but she didn't know much. A bit disappointed in this one but did get to pay our respects. OVERALL: A wonderful way to explore Hawaii. Enjoyed the ship and all it had to offer. A great way for two people with varied interest to travel as we got to do some things together and also had the option to "do our own thing". A good variety of shore/ship activities and all well organized. The ship never seemed crowded, even at the pool/hot tub/decks. This cruise had an older crowd (it was before school let out) which was what we wanted. We were pleased, and would recommend this to everyone! LOVED IT!

Comprehensive Review from a Couple of First Time Cruisers

Pride of America Cruise Review by cherokee54

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
About us: We are two semi retired educators in our mid-60's who love to travel. We've logged 70,000+ miles on Amtrak and ViaRail Canada and have traveled the entire length of the Mississippi River on steamboats but had never taken a cruise. This one had been on our bucket list for years, so we decided it was time to go for it! Overall we had a wonderful time! Given some of the reviews we read our expectations were not all that high, so I will say our experience exceeded our expectations (it's Hawaii for pete sake!). Like any experience there are pros and cons, and these are ours based on no prior experience or anything else to compare it to:

Pre-Cruise-We stayed at the Waikiki Marriott the night before and it was fantastic! We had an ocean view room with a balcony that faced Diamond Head. There was a great poolside grill where we ate dinner (good food, reasonable drinks). It is literally steps from the beach (simply cross the street and you are there). There is a Norwegian check in desk in the lobby. The hotel staff was super and we got our information from the cruise desk regarding the time our shuttle to the ship would leave. You tag your luggage and leave it in the room and they pick it up for you. I only kept a tote with our travel docs and had them take everythng else. This went great! Had breakfast at the Starbucks in the lobby then hung out until our shuttle left. This process was easy and lots to enjoy. Recommend spending the night before you embark...otherwise you'll be grumpy. That good nights sleep did wonders for our disposition!

EMBARKATION: Very smooth! A LOT of people needing to check in but the check in point was well staffed and all went smoothly. We went onto the ship and (against advice from other reviews) went to the Aloha for the buffet. Because we only had the small tote getting around was easy. We did not find the buffet overly chaotic. It was crowded but there was an ample variety of fresh food and choices to suit any taste. (more on food later). We ate our lunch then went to explore the ship. We found a deck outside of the Aloha and hung out until they called that our cabin was ready. We only had to kill about 2 hours and the cabin was ready sooner than we had expected! This process went very smoothly. Our luggage arrived quite soon after we got to our cabin and we unpacked and settled in. More about our cabin (with pictures) later.

FOOD: Aloha (the buffet) was great the first day but lost some quality as the week went on. They had good breakfasts and a nice selection for lunch, but the two times we went for dinner it was less than stellar (the "country and western" night the food was awful). Main Dining Room (Skyline & Liberty). Food was fresh and well prepared. Husband thought the entrees were too skimpy (he wasn't entirely wrong). They had 6 or so entrees that stay the same and about 6-8 entrees that rotate. Overall I'd say it was O.K. but not remarkable. We had expected more based on our dining experiece on the steamboats. However, they do offer an afternoon snack and a late night snack which was nice...and there is soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream and it is GOOD!

Cadallac Diner (open 24/7). Great place for breakfast, or late night snack. Because I'm an early riser I would go there about 5 a.m. with my travel coffee cup and fill it up then head for my balcony. This place is like a typical hamburger stand and it's good for what it is. We liked the atmosphere, but I would say some of the staff were not overly friendly here. Our overall impression of the food was "OK". We did not try any of the "pay extra" restaurants (we didn't feel we should have to pay extra considering the cost of this cruise) and I will say the food was the "lowpoint" on our experience scale.

ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT: We thought it was outstanding! We were super-pleased with the quality and variety. We went to all of the evening shows except the night we were at the Luau. One evening was a presentation with dance depicting Polynesian culture. Very well done and interesting! There was a professional magician and it was on par with what we've seen in Las Vegas. There were two evenings featuring production numbers; one called Lighs, Camera, Music that highlighted musicals and one that featured Las Vegas entertainment that was outstanding! The highlight for us, however, was the comedian Jeff Harms. OMG! This guy is the funniest man on the planet! We loved his show and we saw him again when he performed in the Marti Gras lounge. We also went to the Marti Gras for two "game show" nights and these were very entertaining and so much fun! There were other musical acts performing in various places that we heard as we walked about the ship. There were other activities throughout the day such Lei making (with nuts and with ribbons) and trivia. I did the trivia twice while husband did other things. One nice thing is there was almost always something to do if you didn't have a shore excursion, or you were finished with your shore excursion or if you and the hubby wanted to do different things. I'd give the activities an "A".

SHORE EXCURSIONS: The opportunity to experience Hawaii is why a person would want to take this particular cruise so it is "port intensive" as it should be and I'd suggest doing something at every port. We booked all of our shore excursions through the cruise line and though they were slightly more expensive than we perhaps could have done on our own it was worth it to us to know that all would be taken care of.

***NOTE: Our cruise date was one of the ones that didn't dock at the Big Island at all because of the Volcano. This was hugely disappointing to us but certainly not in any way the fault of the cruise line...after all no one could have predicted a volcanic eruption! So, I am going to comment on how Norwegian handled this. I was on the Facebook feed with the Roll Call group for this sailing or I would not have known about the change of itinerary until I got on board. We had to cancel a car we had planned to rent in Kona and had I not known by then it would have been difficult to do. I do feel the cruise line should have sent out an email/text to everyone THE MINUTE the decision was made not to dock. To account for this we stayed in port at Honolulu and extra day, then after two days at the first port on Maui we went to the other side and did a tender port at Lahaina. This cause a lot of people to scramble to re-book their Sun./Mon. Maui excursions. I feel they should have left Honolulu (many folks had been there several days already or were planning to stay there post-cruise), kept the schedule for the Sun/Mon on Maui, then made Tuesday an "at sea" day then went to Lahaina on Wed. As it stood, we set in port and got cheated out of one day of our cruise. With no compensation. This did not sit well with us. However, even so, we made the best of it and did things on the ship.

SHORE EXCURSION-PACIFIC WHALE WATCH MOLOKINI TURTLE SNORKEL. I did this one (hubby didn't). It was my favorite! The water was too choppy to go to Turtle Arches so we snorkeled the Molokini Crater for 2 hours. Oh my gosh! It was like swimming in an aquarium! Beautiful blue waters, huge variety of fish and so many! You can clearly see the coral. This is absolutely breathtaking! You get a light breakfast on the boat out, they have wet suit tops (you'll want this) for $10, free reef-safe sunscreen, flotation devices, and optic masks for the nearsighted (like me). That mask made all the difference in my experience. They are super helpful And it is a group dedicated to the conservation and preservation of ocean mammals and turtles. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone.

BEST OF MAUI TOUR-We had been to Maui before but this tour gave us a little something different. We went to Iao Needle and our bus driver gave us tons of good information along the way. We then went to a plantation and took a trolly through it. This was OUTSTANDING. They had an unbelievable variety of crops for viewing and we learned about shucking and opening a cocount. Very informative and interesting! We then went to the Ocen Center. We had lunch (included) and then toured the exhibits. Super interesting and well worth the time to view it. I would recommend this tour.

PLANTATION TRAIN AND LUAU KALAMAKU: We'd been to a luau before but found this one to have a very well done program. It told an historical story and the actors/performers were super! Really enjoyed the performance. The train ride around the grounds was OK as we saw the wild chickens and boars. The luau food was typical but well prepared and you get two drinks. This was more of a "performance" venue than an authentic venue but for us we really enjoyed it.

THE DIRECTOR'S CUT TOUR: My husband's favorite! Get on Sam's bus, he is a wonderful host. You see clips of movies, then visit the location. This is so well done (at leaslt on Sam's bus) and interesting. A wonderful way to see Kauaii and experience a bit of movie history at the same time. I would recommend this.

PEARL HARBOR:AND USS MISSOUR: Not what we expected. The tour was adequate but needed more time. We couldn't go onto the memorial and when the boat took us out the park ranger was gone and some young girl filled in, but she didn't know much. A bit disappointed in this one but did get to pay our respects.

OVERALL: A wonderful way to explore Hawaii. Enjoyed the ship and all it had to offer. A great way for two people with varied interest to travel as we got to do some things together and also had the option to "do our own thing". A good variety of shore/ship activities and all well organized. The ship never seemed crowded, even at the pool/hot tub/decks. This cruise had an older crowd (it was before school let out) which was what we wanted. We were pleased, and would recommend this to everyone! LOVED IT!
cherokee54’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
Cabin
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Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BF 7668
Our cabin was great! Felt really spacious to us (we were used to roomettes on the train) and lots of storage. Our cabin steward was perfect! Kept our cabin supplied with towels and super clean. He came twice a day and we would not have been more pleased. You can call and extension to get him if you need him, but we just left sticky notes. The bed was a king. They provide beach towels and you can take them off the ship so no need to bring your own. The shower is small but it has a french shower head and is designed to be adequate. There is a clothesline in the shower to hang up wet gear. The balcony is super nice with two chairs, two ottomans and a small table. You will want a balcony for this cruise. I have included some pictures and suggestions of things we found helpful.
Deck 7 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Mighty Mo
    Great tour onboard, lots of signage to tell about the history. Wonderful view of the memorial from the top deck.
    View All 25 Mighty Mo Reviews
  • Pearl Harbor
    Couldn't go onto the memorial because of damage to the pier. Not as much to see as I'd imagined. We were taken around the memorial on a small boat but the park ranger had to leave and a girl who didn't know much tried to fill in, so not much good information. Still, very sobering and we were able to pay our respects. On the way to the memorial we got a brief city tour and got to see Punchbowl National Cemetery right before Memorial day.
    View All 181 Pearl Harbor Reviews
  • Kauai
    Wonderful tour where you see movie clips that were filmed on Kauai and then got to go to the locations. Sam (tour guide) was the BEST! So knowledgeable, lots of places to go and scenery to see. An interesting way to see Kauai. I'd highly recommend this! Lunch was included as well.
    View All 12,771 Kauai Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kauai Cruise Port Review
  • Luau
    Great entertainment and wonderful story told in dance and acting. Loved the fire twirlers! Very well done! All seats were good seats even thought this is a big venue. Typical Luau food but tasty and well prepared. We got two alcoholic drinks as well. I'd recommend this!
    View All 81 Luau Reviews