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Karen

Age: 57

Occupation:Education

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of America

Sailing Date: 2009-07-7

Itinerary: Hawaiian Islands

Once you get out of the cement jungle of Honolulu you really appreciate what Hawaii really is.

Cruising is a very beautiful and effective way to sample the true life, culture and beauty of many ports, cities, villages, and people. These Islands offer a different pace, calmness and beauty. Each island offers a different vast assortment of tourist sites, but most of all I go away with the sense that everyone is very proud of their heritage and their culture and the true wonders of the many many years past.

On the whole the food was quite good.

In the Skyline Main and Liberty Main Restaurants their are two lobster nights, but this was the worst lobster (both nights) I have ever had on any of the cruises I have been on. I believe they were served on the first night in Maui and the first night in Kauai. The first lobster night came with a white fish, but no buttered garlic, and we found both the fish and very small lobster very dry. The second lobster night it was served with mussels, scallops, a white fish on a bed of noodles, again it was rather dry.

We ate breakfast and lunch in the Aloha Cafe. Every day at breakfast I had a omelet, they had 3 omelet stations and the lines were never very long. They also had a great assortment of breakfast items, lots of fresh fruit, buns and pastries, cereals, yogurts, eggs, etc.

Lunch we choose a salad with the works, but just about everything you would every want for lunch was served. For dinner we preferred the Main Restaurants, sometimes the Skyline, sometimes the Liberty. I have had better and worse on other cruise lines, but overall it was good, except for the lobster and fish.

Services was always excellent and the staff very friendly.

Our stateroom was nice and very clean, and we didn't find it too small, we had a outside cabin on the 4th floor. I didn't find the shower or the bathroom too small, but I am not a large person. Again I have been in smaller and larger on other cruise lines.

We only did two activities. We made real fresh orchid lei's, they were very easy and beautiful. Our second was a Canada Day Trivia, thought we had a good chance at this one, but still didn't win. We found that a lot of the activities were during the day, when we were ashore.

It is not necessary to book shore excursions through NCL. We found looking from what past passengers had to say and the internet we could do it better on our own.

Our first port was Kahului, Maui, you stay over night in this port. When we got off the ship were took a free trolley waiting for us and it also runs through the day to the "Queen Ka'ahumanu Center". We walked thur the mall to the other side where we caught a local bus for $1.00 each way to Lahaina (booking on the ships is $29.95). The bus also stops at the Ocean Center on the way to Lahaina. Lahaina is very beautiful, make sure you see the Banyan tree. Your will find many different tour operators will take you snorkeling, fishing etc.

Second port was Hilo on the big island. We used J&W Tours,(we got this company from a previous review) a family run taxi and tour company true Hawaiians. Kemo was the owner's son who took us around and his trainee (sorry I can't remember the other fellow from the Phillippines). These fellows were knowledgeable and funny, we had a great time with them. We had almost a 6 hr. tour for $50.00 each. We went to water falls, Valcano National Park, Black Sand Beach and could have touched the turtles,volcano tube, macadamia nut plant and many other sites.

Third port was Kona Kemo from J&W Tours and his friend drove up and met us again just outside the ship and took us around Kona. This was also $50.00 and we had about a 5 hour tour. We went to Kona coffee plantation, painted church, Kealakekua Bay the site where Captain Cook was killed, Pu'uhonuao Honaunau Place of Refuge National Park, and a beach where you can snorkel and swim with the turtles. As well as many other beautiful sites and places.

Forth Port was Nawiliwili Kauai (you will also spend the night at this port)
When we got off the ship we walked outside and was met by different tour companies and taxis again. We picked the Alex Taxi and Tours. Our driver was Lisa a third generation Hawaiian. She was witty and friendly and was very proud of her heritage and was the perfect person to answer any of your questions and explain about the past and the future of this magnificent area. This tour was only $45.00 and lasted over 5 hrs. We saw many things including Waimea Canyon, the waterfall that was the scene of Fantasy Island, area where Jurassic Park were shot, a Orchid worth $20,000, a coffee plantation, the beautiful beach and coast line etc. etc.

Make sure you see the Kilauea volcano at night (starboard side of the ship), and the Na Pali Coast. I believe you will see it on both sides of the ship (up and back)

Do a little research you can have the adventure of your life for just a few dollars, or you can spend a lot of money buying excursions off the ship. Don't worry about being back late and missing your ship in the ports that you spend the night in, take advantage of the local tour companies.

On other cruises that I have been on, I have used the ship's excursions and will probably use them in the future, when we are only in port for a few hours, or the attraction is very far away, or I haven't found any advice and recommendation from previous cruisers.

Norwegian Cruise Line America NCL's Pride of America is a very beautiful vessel. My only big complaint is that this is the first cruise line that does not have full participation of guests and crew for lifeboat drills. Sure their letter tells you it is a mandatory lifeboat drill in accordance with United States Coast Guard regulations and International Maritime Law, but both drills are during the day while the ship is in port and most people are not on board. We missed them both. All the other cruises that I have been on have been really mandatory and state room numbers have been called out to make sure that everyone was present during the lifeboat drill.

Ask the waiter, bar employees, etc. where there are things to see or go without spending a lot of money. Usually they know because they are in the same ports week after week. For example in Maui we were told about the turtles bobbing in the water. Just outside the port ID check booth to the left thur the parking lot is a path to the beach in front of a factory. You have to go around the chain fence, walk down a few yard where the water comes out of the rocks, this is where the turtles should be. They like the water from the outfall. The beach is just down a few more yards. You can see the beach from the ship (not port side).

Also most ports have a small beach just out side the ship's terminal.

You have to tender on Kona and can walk to the shops and tiny beach area.

In just about at all ports there will be shuttles or trolleys to take you to K Mart, Walmart, shopping centers, Hilo Hatti store. Take advantage of these free rides to see the country side, the homes, the stores, the people. If you just like sitting on the ship and reading a book or laying on a lounge chair and soaking up the sun that's great too. But if you want to walk off some of those pounds you think you put on eating all the buffet food, try hopping on one of these buses or the local buses and experience the true Hawaiian day to day life and sites.

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