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Age: 62


Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of America

Sailing Date: 2010-09-4

Itinerary: Hawaii

Our first trip to Hawaii and first time with NCL (your only choice really unless you want to sail from the mainland). We weren't on the ship much as we chose to rent a car in each port and just take off to explore. Booked our own excursions based on recommendations from guidebooks and friends. Found some places other cruisers hadn't even heard about.

Marginal. Pretty much the same stuff every day in the buffet but we weren't there for lunch much so just caught breakfast early, left the ship and ate where the locals did for lunch. Once we discovered the shrimp trucks and shave ice, we were set. Dining room food and selection was very limited in comparison to other cruise lines I've been on (Holland, Royal Caribbean and Princess). Servings were small and quality was not that great. Service depended upon your waiter but on the plus side, you could request the same one once you found one you really liked.

Went through a cruise agent and somehow snagged a room usually reserved for handicapped folks. It was great! Much larger than the average room and the bathroom was equally large. We were fairly far forward on the 10th deck, had a great balcony with unobstructed view so no complaints there.

On board activities were okay but, again, we weren't there much. If you really want to see a lot at each stop, you need to get off the ship, rent a car and drive so we were out the door by 7:30 and came back as late as possible. There wasn't much "down time" unlike other 7 days cruises where you usually have a day or to "at sea". Some folks stayed on the ship the whole time (what's the point?) and others just walked to wherever they could or took an excursion booked on board. Not for us but I'm glad they have them for the less adventurous.

We didn't have a bad experience on NCL and while I know we'll definitely cruise again, we probably won't book with them again. The quality of service and food were not up to the other lines and while that wasn't a big factor on this cruise, it would have been had we been on board more.

Embarkation was not difficult. If you want to board early, you can. We packed on small bag with our swimsuits, etc. and took it on with us about 2 pm. We had the ship to ourselves 'til the others started piling on for the 7 pm departure. They want everyone on by 5 but had the lifeboat drill about 4:30???? Although we were told we might not get our luggage 'til 8 pm or later, it actually arrived really quickly

Oahu - Went in a day prior to the cruise and stayed in Waikiki. It was heck finding the hotel (Ohana Beachcomber) but once we got there (it's a quick turn into their garage off the main street) everything was great. Not the Ritz but close to the beach and shopping so it was fine. Waikiki is pretty much an ant farm all day long but we're glad we went. The day of our departure, we took the car and headed out of town --East then North and West. Went to Diamond Head, along the E. coast, etc. There's a lot to see and do along the coast and as noted above, the shrimp trucks are a great place to eat. We happened onto Romy's on Saturday before boarding the ship. We were there about 10:30 and had to wait about 20 minutes for our shrimp to be cooked to order. While we were waiting, the place filled up and the wait was more like an hour or more when we left. This place is the only one that has prawns and shrimp so if you like prawns, go there and get there early as when they're out of prawns, that's it for that day. While on Oahu, check out the Punchbowl National Cemetery. They were filming "Battleship" when we stopped so we couldn't see parts of it but we hiked to the top and the views of the city below were spectacular. Elected to stay two days following our cruise and did Germaine's luau which is on Oahu. It was good but, honestly, the cruise ship evening shows had done such a good job showing us all the dances, etc. from the Polynesian and Hawaiian islands, a lot of it was repetition for us. Food was good and you have to do a luau and we were told this was one of the best so...

Maui - Despite having a GPS, we found it hard to navigate on Maui. The sights we were trying to locate weren't very clearly marked so we just had to wander 'til we found them. We decided to get an early start on the Road to Hana- 6 a.m. It's beautiful but slow going. We got a little over half way and decide to head back. Unfortunately, it was Labor Day and by then all the "natives" were heading up as we were trying to get back down. They are obviously more used to the twisting, turning roads and would come flying up scaring us half to death. It was worth the trip - ONCE. I'd never do it again. If you want a drive that's almost as scenic but less traveled, take the winding road along the north shore past the Nakelele Blowhole. Did an afternoon snorkel trip from Makenna Beach. Due to the wind, we didn't get to Molokini as planned (which we expected because we'd read that they only get there about 50% of the time in the afternoon). So if you really want to go there, do the early morning (7 a.m.) trip - brrrrr. We went to some cove which was disappointing as a snorkel spot. There are more fish in my dentist's aquarium than we saw there!

Hilo - Went to Volcano National Park which was interesting. Worth the trip. Be sure to walk through the lava tube and follow the road to the coast if it's open. We then drove down to Pahoa and walked out on the old lava to try to get down to see it pouring into the ocean. We were blocked from doing that and were disappointed but that night the ship was sailing past the lava flows en route to Kona and the captain held the boat in one position and then turned it 360 so everyone could view the lava for about an h our. Spectacular!

Kona - Drove to the old coffee plantation across from the 110 mile marker on the main highway going east. It was very interesting. Don't know why it's not offered as a shore excursion. Had the place to ourselves and received a guided tour of the plantation along with an explanation of how the Japanese coffee farms invented the machinery and types of buildings they needed to process the coffee. There is also the original family home where a second guide was cooking a typical Japanese lunch and offered us a tour so we could see how the family lived. Went from there to the Oceanrider Seahorse Farm near the airport. It was very interesting and everyone got to "hold" (they really just latch onto your fingers so they hold you rather than vice versa) a seahorse. If you're really smitten, you can purchase a pair of seahorses for about $200 BUT you have to take and pass a "seahorse care course" before they'll let you have them.

If you're planning to rent a car at Kona read this: Not all the rental car companies have shuttles from the cruise port to the airport where you pick up the cars. I didn't pay attention to that so we had booked on one that didn't and the cab ride to the airport cost us $29 (that's one happy driver!). When we arrived, I asked if they would have a shuttle back? When they said they didn't, we canceled with them, walked down the way and booked with National or Dollar which did have a shuttle to the cruise port. Be sure to check that so you don't waste $29!

Kauai - our favorite. We did the helicopter ride here. Booked with Blue Hawaiian. They video your flight and you can purchase it for $15 or something. The weather was clear and we were able to fly way into a volcano and up over the mountains to see some amazing waterfalls as well as the Na Pali coast. Booked a catamaran sunset sail back to the Na Pali coast that evening. It was fine 'til we turned to come back and then I got sick. Didn't ever actually toss my cookies but I wasn't having fun. That never happens to me so I was surprised but be warned that when they tell you it's a rough ride, it's a rough ride. We didn't realize that the ship would sail past the Na Pali coast the next night or we would have skipped the catamaran trip. NCL takes the ship to the Coast arriving about sunset before returning to Oahu on the last day of the cruise and had a narrator tell us more about how the coast was formed, etc. Got some great pictures from the ship as well.

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