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Suzie Baylis

Age: 55

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of America

Sailing Date: 2013-04-28

Itinerary: Hawaiian Islands

This was our third cruise ship experience, prior to this we did a Carnival cruise to Alaska and then a Med cruise on Royal Caribbean. We recently moved to Oahu and have been here 18 months. Our friends from Florida wanted to go on this cruise and we decided to join them, they have been on about 30 cruises. We both agreed that Pride of America was an extraordinary cruise and easily competes with others.

Even though we live in Hawaii, we thought this cruise was an excellent value. With all the hassles of airline travel from one island to another, variety of food, hotels, service and entertainment taking all this in consideration, this was just perfect for us. Now having hit all the major tourist sites, the next time we decide to visit an island for a long weekend, we can enjoy it and the locals.

My wife is on a gluten free diet and cannot have certain spices (garlic). The first night Paige, the assistant restaurant manager and special diet manager, came by to introduce her to us. She talked to my wife about her diet needs; she gave her the menus for the week and her cell phone number. Paige told my wife she would make sure the chef had her meal prepared ahead of time, separate from the rest of the dinners and cooked when we arrived. It didn’t matter which restaurant we went to, the meal was there. Each meal was different and unique, so my wife had the same variety we all had. Best of all, she had no dietary problems the entire cruise and was healthy the entire time.

Stateroom was roomy, clean and comfortable. We had no problems with bathroom or showers and the pillows and mattress was very nice. The TV was hit and miss with the programing, but we didn't really care about sitting in the room and watching TV, we can do that at home. The room steward was very helpful and very anxious to provide us excellent service.

All the shows were of high caliber. Hawaiian star Daniel K is known as a excellent musician and singer but he was funny and excellent in his one show, I wish there was more of him. We loved the Mojito tastings, at least from what we remember LOL. Lots to do on board, but we spent most of our time on shore during the day.

We rented a car on Maui for two days (free parking at the port) and for a day on Hilo and Kaua'i. We also brought along our Costco card and topped off the gas there before turning in the cars. Search for Hawaiian discount cars in google and you can book with them in advance without leaving a credit card. The cheapest we had was with Budget and Alamo. If traveling with more than two people, renting a car and driving to all the tourist sites is much cheaper that buying the land excursions tickets. You also get to fit more in than the tour bus does. Helicopter tours are always popular if you can afford it and we heard excellent reviews on the boat tour to the grotto in Kuau'i.

We departed April 20, 2013 and we had great weather. We really enjoyed Norwegian Cruise Lines free style cruising. I was at first skeptical about the no tipping but daily service charge ($12 per day). I was thinking that because of that service might not be as high as when employees work for your tips. However, this was not the case. The service on the ship was very high quality. Everyone was friendly and treated you like royalty.

The food was excellent. Although some of the steak cuts weren't as lean as I would like, it is a picky point. There are specialty restaurants on board, but we were so satisfied with the non-cover charge Skyline and Liberty, that we didn't feel the desire to try them. The past cruises we did at least one.

The cruise takes you to see two things you couldn't see by land, the lava flow into the ocean when departing Hilo (big island) and the awesome coast of Kaua'I which you can only reach by boat or helo, we even saw humpback whales breaching, which was rare for this late in the whale season.

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