Occupation:Small Business Owner
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: November 14th, 2004
My wife and I took this cruise as our honeymoon and had a great time. She is a native of Hawaii and I am a long time resident, so for us the prospect of a “local crew” was a real “plus” to us. As it turns out the number of “locals” on the crew was far less than we expected, but as is the case here, one good local goes a long way.
You can begin boarding the ship at Aloha Tower as early as 1pm, we arrived there a little after 3pm and breezed through security and check in. After posing for the obligatory “welcome aboard” picture (which actually looked good enough for us to buy) we boarded and made our way to our stateroom. Our stateroom was on deck 9 aft and was an interior cabin. On my two previous cruises I had a room with a porthole and a lanai (balcony). So I was a little concerned about not having any natural light…no problem, the bright fabrics in the room and the cleanliness made the room plenty comfortable. Our housekeeper did a great job, our room was always neat and tidy with clean towels every time we returned to the room. OK, now the one not so good thing…the rooms are pretty small. Some smaller than others. Take time to select a preferred cabin by checking the deck plans on ncl . com., you really can see the smaller & larger cabins within a “level”. Since there are so many port calls you spend little time in the room anyway…and if you have to see outside, there’s always the “porthole channel” on the TV with a 24hr view from the bridge.
Our fellow passengers are what I guess you could expect during the school year… ie: not many children. Better than half of the passengers were retirees, with the balance being mostly 30-40 something couples. If you go on this cruise looking for a singles scene, you will be out of luck…bring your significant other for a memorable time.
We paid the extra $15 to dine at the specialty restaurants on several nights and found it to be money well spent. The Kahili restaurant is like a trip to the Bishop Museum with the portraits of Hawaiian monarchs and display cases with half size kahili. Oddly enough, instead of a Pacific fusion restaurant, this is an Italian restaurant. The food and service was excellent…call and make reservation for on the ultra plush booths. We also dined at the Bistro, the “French” restaurant. Again, great food and service. We were able to enjoy long luxurious meals and were never hinted to “wrap it up and get going”. Well, well worth the $15 cover charge. We also dined at The Crossings, and while the food was not quite the same, it was still very good, as was the service. For snacks or a late afternoon cocktail hour, we liked the Longboard Café. Try the chili! Don’t see what you want on the (limited) menu there? You’d be surprised what being nice to one of the “local” crew members will make available (like a large pepperoni pizza at 11:30 in the evening, delivered to our table by the chef).
The excursions I can’t tell much about. We did the Waimea Canyon & Fern Grotto tour on Kauai, and found it to be a fun way to see both sites. The driver had lots of entertaining stories to tell (even to two kama’aina like us). The bus made frequent stops for shopping and ummmmm…”personal needs”. We rented vans in Hilo & Kahului and toured on our own. My wife had lived in Hilo so she gave us the tour (Volcanoes Park, Rainbow Falls, 4 mile road). And we both have been to Maui many time so we knew what we wanted to do (Ulalena Show, Tadeshi Winery, Alii Lavender Farm, Kimo’s for drinks & pupus by the water). For you shopaholics, there are shopping shuttles at each port. If you don’t know now, you will be very familiar with Hilo Hatties by the end of the cruise. In Kona we rented bikes and rode the Ironman course out towards the north show.
For a little over $1100 each we got a 7 day cruise with meals and 4 port calls. You’ll also get to see the Na Pali Coast from the ship, and the lava flow from Kilauea at night (awesome!)…hard to put a price on those kinda things. We thought all this added up to quite a value.
There are lots of negative internet posts regarding this ship and it’s crew out there. We had a great experience, and have already recommended the cruise to friends & family. If you aren’t familiar with “freestyle cruising”, find out before booking to see if it suits you. If you want the pampered “I wanna feel rich” treatment, spend more money and go on a more “posh” cruise. But if you are an average person looking for a fun vacation in paradise without all the extra flights, hotels, & car rentals…this is a great way to go!