Monday, August 8, 2011

Hawaiian Cruise on the Pride of America Ship: Touring Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai in One Week

Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of America Ship
Photos by Dianne Smith

Pride of America Entrance
NCL Pride of America Ship Library

Cruise Ship Cabin Interior

Sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line's Hawaiian cruise is a fabulous way to sample four islands for a relatively reasonable cost.

The Pride of America is a luxurious floating hotel with efficiency honed to a science, and a pretty good value for a Hawaiian vacation. The crew and their systems of operation seem to effortlessly feed and entertain 2,138 passengers without making them feeling like sardines. The ship cruises through the nights, docking at new ports in the mornings, so that passengers can spend their days exploring Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai.

NCL Cruise on the Pride of America

The smallest cabins consist of two twin beds that can be joined into a king-size with an overlay mattress, a bathroom, storage compartments and a small safe. Like typical hotel rooms, they include a coffee pot, television set and hair blow dryer. They store much for a small space and do not feel claustrophobic. Of course, travelers spend minimal time in their rooms. Passengers control the thermostats to their private cabins, but the rest of the ship can get chilly from the air conditioning. Bringing warm clothes and even a light jacket is highly recommended.

The Aloha Cafe offers generous buffets to please most tastes, and is the most patronized of the ship's restaurants. The Cadillac Diner is a 50's type burger joint that is much less attended, and two restaurants, Liberty and Skyline Dining Rooms, are fancier places with waiters. All four provide food that is paid for in the price of the cruise, except for alcoholic drinks and sodas. There are several more restaurants on the ship, but they charge passengers to eat there.

Hawaii Travel on the Pride of America

Many shore excursions are offered to passengers, and reviews from previous travelers can be viewed on NCL's website. The buses have the advantage of being sanctioned by NCL so if they ever return late, the ship will not leave port until the passengers are back on the ship.

Those going on their own need to keep their eyes on the clock, but that is a small price to pay for the freedom and cost savings. They will generally see and do more in less time than the official excursions. Free shuttles await at each port in the morning to whisk people to car rental agencies, and people can drive to sights and activities they've reserved directly beforehand, which is a better deal than NCL's shore excursions. Renting a car allows a passenger to efficiently see what he wants on an island without the limitations of the often packed excursion buses.

Cruise Hawaiian Islands Starting From Honolulu

The cruise lasts from Saturday to Saturday, so staying a few nights on Oahu before or afterwards adds to the trip's enjoyment. Oahu, known as the "gathering place" and home to Honolulu, is the busiest island that offers more of everything, from activities, restaurants, shopping and great sites to see.

Maui is the "valley isle," geographically composed of two mountains and the valley between them. The Road to Hana is one of the most scenic coastal highways in the United States, and driving its sixty mile length is a favorite attraction to visitors.

Hawaii is the "Big Island," the youngest but largest of all the Hawaiian islands, and still adding real estate from Mt. Kilauea's eruptions. The ship leaves the port at Hilo for Kona while slowly cruising past Volcano National Park. When the volcano is erupting, bright red lava spews up and into the ocean, truly a sight to behold.
Sunset Over the Bow

Kauai is the "garden isle," and widely considered one of the world's most beautiful islands. On Friday afternoon, the Pride of America cruise ship leaves the Nawiliwili pier to slowly pass the breathtaking, remote Napili coast of Kauai. Most passengers enjoy the view from the deck, and the atmosphere is festive.

Cruise Norwegian Back to Oahu

Tourists to Hawaii who fly mid-vacation to visit more than one island lose precious time traveling. Each island has its own flavor, and spending two days on each one via a cruise ship will whet the appetite of visitors to move on to the next or return later to fully explore a favorite. For a reasonable price, it is a week that packs a wallop.

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