Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of America
Sailing Date: December 30th, 2006
My mom and I just returned from a 7-day
cruise in the Hawaiian islands. This was my first cruise and I had a very nice
time. I have read over many of the reviews of the Pride of America on this site
and I think that NCL has made a lot of positive changes to the itinerary, ship
and service since the ship first sailed about a year and a half ago. I liked the
itinerary. We visited three of the islands (Hawaii, Maui, Kauai) and departed
from Honolulu (on the island of Oahu). This is, in my opinion, the very best way
to get a taste for each of the islands--they really are quite unique. My mom and
I approached the cruise in this way--hoping to get a sense for each of the
islands and then, in the future, hopefully we can return to our favorites.
The boarding process was extremely smooth. We took a taxi to the pier at about 1:00 and dropped off our luggage. Instead of immediately boarding, we walked to Chinatown, just about three blocks away, and had lunch and visited some of the outdoor markets. It's really a neat neighborhood to visit if you have some time on the Saturday before you leave Honolulu. By the time we boarded at 4 pm our luggage was outside of our door.
Our cabin was a basic one with two single beds. We were not expecting to have an obstructed view which was a little disappointing. In the end, it didn't make a difference though because we sailed mostly at night and wouldn't have been able to see outside anyway. The cabin was clean and the maid visited our room at least twice a day. She left plenty of towels each day. We had plenty of storage room for our suitcases and clothing. I really liked our room and thought it was colorful, clean and had just the right amount of amenities (a safe, refrigerator, coffeemaker, bedside tables and lamps, desk, etc.)
I would strongly recommend booking shore excursions every day. If you are in Hawaii, you should get off the ship and see the beautiful islands! Our very favorite shore excursion was snorkeling with the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui. It was awesome! We snorkeled at two different spots (Turtle Arches and Molokini Crater) which were calm and beautiful places to snorkel. The crew on the boat was fantastic! They were fun and helpful and had an open bar after we had finished snorkeling for the day. Best of all, the organization is non-profit so you can feel good about supporting them. This was my first time snorkeling and I loved it.
Watch the daily news handout (the Freestyle Daily) for happy hour specials. Every night between 4:30 and 5:30 pm, there are bar specials. My mom and I loved the Lanai Bar up on the very top of the ship. It is a classy bar with a wonderful bartender. They had half-price martinis several nights during our cruise. Take advantage of this--it's a great way to drink inexpensively on the ship.
The food on board the ship was okay. I was disappointed to learn that there were cover charges at more than half of the restaurants (ranging from $10 - $25/person). We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants. We did manage to get into Little Italy on our last night and that was a nice, romantic restaurant. Make reservations there early on in the week. It was full by Tuesday of our cruise. We were lucky to get in at all.
The Liberty and Skyline restaurants are okay. You can certainly eat a lot at both of them. I was reluctant to go to the Aloha Cafe at first for dinner, but mid-week we decided to try it out. I was really happy to find vegetarian sushi there along with some egg rolls. We also ate several mornings in the Aloha Cafe. That can be a little overwhelming because of the crowds. My mom and I played it safe--cereal, yogurt, coffee, juice and pastries. My mom said the eggs were terrible.
The staff was helpful--almost too attentive at times in fact. Everyone said hello to us and offered to help. The shows were a mixed bag. After the crew show, my mom turned to me and said, "Now I know what Simon Cowell means when he says 'That reminds me of a bad cruise ship performance.'" It was pretty bad. The comedian Chris Alpine was hilarious and we really liked the "Newlywed/Not-so-Newlywed Game."
One of the most special things we did all week (and I think this is unadvertised) was sailing by the Napali coastline on the last day before heading back to Honolulu. This is a beautiful coastline and a wonderful way to end your cruise. That was one of my favorite afternoons. The weather was warm and sunny and my mom and I sat on the deck and read and looked at the beautiful island of Kauai.
Our disembarkation process was very smooth. We left when our color was announced and were off the ship and had our luggage within 5 minutes. We rented a car for our last day in Honolulu, hiked to Diamondhead Crater, visited a nice beach and hiked to Manoa Falls (right on the outskirts of Honolulu). It was a great last day in Hawaii and I would recommend buying Frommers' Hawaii 2007 guide to get recommendations for the best things to do on each of the islands. They recommended both of the hikes and the beach and we were not disappointed.
The only thing I would say is DO NOT RENT A CAR FROM ENTERPRISE IN HONOLULU. We almost missed our plane because the agency DOES NOT have a return office at the airport. We went round and round in circles for nearly 45 minutes trying to find their office at the airport. It was only because of the kindness of a shuttle driver at the nearby Best Western hotel and a Delta ticketing agent that we got on our plane. It was absolutely horrible and traumatic. DO NOT RENT FROM ENTERPRISE.
I hope those of you that go on the Pride of America have a nice cruise. I found it helpful to keep in mind that the real attraction on a Hawaiian cruise is Hawaii. Get out and explore it and spend your days on the islands, rather than on the ship.