Occupation:Quality Assurance Analyst
Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: October 15th, 2005
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Pride of Aloha
Just got back from this cruise on the Pride of Aloha and contrary to some of the Reviews the ship was clean and the food was delicious and Hawaii was wonderful.
I will not go into details on embarkation etc. Nothing changes much in that area from ship to ship and it was actually quite smooth.
I had a small negative episode early in the cruise when I attempted to bring on my traditional bottle of my favorite liquor for the trip knowing full well that it against the rules. Liquor prices are horrendous on any cruise ship. This was my 6th cruise and putting it in my luggage over the past 5 cruises worked so why not this time. My first clue was when my luggage did not turn up at sail away time. I called reception and they told me that Security had an issue with my luggage. On calling Security they asked me if I had liquor in my suitcase. I knew it was pointless denying it so I turned it over to them.
My second negative experience was with the tipping. Up until our last cruise we had the choice of not paying the obligatory $10.00 per day per person as a gratuity and instead tipping those who provided us with good service directly. This cruise advertised that they did not compel customers to pay that obligatory fee which appealed to me. I don't think we should be supplementing wages for NCL employees and that tipping should be for appreciated services rendered. On arrival at the ship I found that this rule had apparently changed as of this cruise and the fact that it was advertised otherwise did not impact their last minute decision to add the extra $140.00 right up front. Nowe between losing my booze and getting nailed $140.00 right up front I was not a happy cruiser.
The staterooms on the Pride of Aloha were fairly small. Mind you, ours was the basic inside room so I had nothing to compare it to except for previous cruise ships and there was not much difference. Our theory is that we do not spend much time in the room other than to sleep so why worry about the space when your eyes are closed most of the time you are there anyway
On past cruises we have spent a lot of time at sea during which you enjoy the ships amenities. This cruise gave you that option however each day (just about) you are in a different Port. Not anticipating being in Hawaii too often our objective was to experience as much as we could at each location so we didn't spend too much time on the ship. NCL must save a bundle on meals with this particular cruise as most days you at least miss lunch if you take an excursion, which we did each day.
Our first stop was Oahu (Honolulu). We opted for the tour of the USS Missouri and Pearl Harbour. This was an excellent tour and it really felt amazing to actually stand at Pearl Harbour and imagine what actually took place back in 1941. Visiting the Memorial was a really amazing event and looking down on the sunken remains of the USS Arizona and realizing that this was a watery grave for thousands of brave souls was extremely moving and something we will never forget.There are lots of other interesting sights there as well including a tour of the USS Missouri which is now a floating museum a short distance from the Memorial. Our bus driver on this tour was excellent and she even took us on a tour of Honolulu afterwards which was not actually part of the deal. Honolulu is a very pretty city.
The following day we woke up on the Island of Kauai. Here we took a "Backroads Adventure' tour and ended up at the top of our first Volcano. That was about as exciting as it got. We later visited Poipu Beach and had lunch and then went to the Poipu Beach Golf Course where the Hawaiian Grand Slam is held and had my picture taken with Tiger Woods and Mike Weir (no relation). It was actually pictures of Tiger and Mike that I stood beside. What a beautiful golf course though.
The following day we set sail along the Na Pali coastline on the north shore of Kauai where many movies such as Jurassic Park and South Pacific were filmed. This was truly spectacular and from the ship you could see waterfalls coming down cliffs that were thousands of feet high. That night we sailed towards the big Island of Hawaii and the next morning we woke up at Hilo on the big Island.
At Hilo we took a bus trip to the Volcanoes National Park. This too was spectacular to see the crater of the only currently active volcano in the world, Kilauea. It was incredible to walk across lava fields with vents pouring out hot sulphur laden steam and also to walk through a lava tube. on return from this trip we stopped at a Macadamia nut factory and, of course, purchased some nuts.
That night we sailed past the currently active and flowing lava vent from Kilauea and watched molten lava flow done the side of the volcano and enter the ocean after dark. It too was a truly spectacular experience.
Next morning we woke up on Hilo Hawaii. This is a beautiful port and here we just shopped, walked and explored and spent a leisurely afternoon at the beach.
The next stop was back in Maui where we started out from. We decided to take the Downhill Mountain Biking Adventure. This trip took us 10000 feet up to the top of the highest volcano in Hawaii where we were literally above the clouds. Breathing was actually a little difficult after some time at this altitude. Now we know what they meant by "breathtaking views." We were with about 10 other people and two guides and a trailer full of mountain bikes and after some basic instruction and kitting out in biking gear, including helmets, we headed off down the mountain. That was a blast. The total distance downhill (no pedaling) was around 30 miles. Well worth the money.
That night we went to a "genuine" Hawaiian Luau. Probably half of the people on the ship attended this event. We were all shipped out on buses to a resort where the Luau was set up close to a beach in a very scenic Hawaiian location. Once again NCL must have saved a fortune on meals that night. All drinks, food and transportation was included in the ticket prices which was over $100.00 per person. Throughout the week the shows on the ship were excellent and one of the shows included Hula dancers and a big dance spectacular. Once the Luau kicked into gear we found that the same Hula Dancers were performing again. We felt a little cheated on that one.
Overall, a once in a lifetime experience and I truly recommend it to anyone. Be prepared to fork out another $1000 over and above your initial investement though if you want to do the trips. That was without booze!! Aloha and Mahalo. Les and Linda.