Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Norwegian Cruise Line

Pride of Aloha
by Mark Tuttle
Hawaii
January 21, 2007

My wife and I along with another couple went on this cruise in January and were pleasantly surprised amid all the bad reviews I had read concerning this ship. We went into this vacation with an open mind despite the negative reviews and had a very enjoyable time and would do this cruise again. We did spend a couple extra days in Honolulu prior to our cruise but I would not recommend that unless you like the big city atmosphere.

BOARDING
The boarding process was easy and painless. There were no lines and we were checked in very quickly. All our bags but one were delivered to our staterooms in about an hour from getting on the ship. My one bag was labeled “Suspicious” due to my laptop computer that I stupidly for got to pull out of my main bag before boarding. Later in the day I went looking for the bag and was referred to security where they quickly looked through my bag and released it to me.

STATE ROOMS
We originally had booked an inside stateroom on our trip but were later upgraded at our request, as the cost of the cruise fare dropped on a special and we then were upgraded to a outside stateroom with a large porthole window. Our room was more spacious than on other cruises we had taken and found there to be plenty of room for our stuff. My wife took over the closets and drawers in the closets. I left most of my stuff in my duffel and rolled it under the bed. We had a small desk and chair along with a sitting area and when our traveling companions were in our room we did not feel crowded or cramped at all.

Our room staff was very pleasant and made up our room daily and turned down the sheets each night. We did not have any of the towel creatures that we have had on the other cruises in our rooms each night but we didn’t feel that that distracted from the stay or service at all. Our bathroom was clean and plenty of room for what was needed. I am a tall guy and the adjustable height showerhead was a pleasant surprise.

FOOD and RESTAURANTS
We found the food to be very adequate on our ship. We ate at the buffets and at the sit down dinners in the Palace and Crossings restaurant. We also ate at the Royal Palm Bistro (French) one night. The Bistro charges an additional cover charge and requires reservations and we found the food good but we felt the food was the basically the same in the Palace and Crossings Restaurant. We also noticed that the buffets had the same food as the sit down restaurants as well each night. The buffet on the pool deck was always quite crowded and took several minutes to get to the food. Our only complaint on the buffet was that there was not enough seating around the buffet. (This was mostly due to the passengers sitting at the tables for hours at a time and drinking coffee, which was somewhat out of the staffs’ control.) We mostly ate at the buffets for breakfast and a few lunches and found the buffet on the “lanai” to be less crowded and more peaceful.

We also had a barbeque on the pool deck a couple of times during our cruise and found the food to be very good. The restaurant staff was always pleasant and helpful no matter where we ate.

SHORE EXCURSIONS vs. CAR RENTALS

My wife and I rented cars on all but one day of our cruise and our traveling companions had shore excursions on most of the days.

We determined by comparing notes at the days end over supper that the car rental is the way to go. We paid far less for the car rental, gas and entrance fees (National Parks) than our traveling companions did for their shore excursions and on several days we saw them on their big bus and we cruised around in a convertible and we were able to see more. The shore excursions did have a “tour guide” typically but with a little planning a interpretive walk or program could be found at the destinations.

Each of the car rental companies on each island have shuttles that pick you up at the pier and take you to the car rental location, typically no more than 10 minutes away and get you into your car. They provided us with maps and directions to where ever we need to go. We rented from Thrifty, but also talked to several others who rented with other companies and they all provided the same services.

Several of the islands (not all) provided places to park a rental car near the ship when staying overnight in port. Kaui had several areas that charged $10.00 per night but on Maui they had lots of parking right on the pier for free.

We found that there was always plenty of time to pick up the rental car and see the sights and return the rental car in the time allotted in port.

SHIP’S ENTERTIANMENT
We went to several of the shows on the ship and they were entertaining and on par with what we have seen on other cruises. Each of the bar/lounges typically had some type of musical entertainment in them each night.

Due to the age demographics on our cruise we found the pool and hot tubs to be virtually empty all the time. There were also daily yoga and aerobics classes and a “round the ship” jogging/walking track. Basketball court and golf nets were also onboard.

My wife had a massage on one day and found it to be a bit overpriced but from what we have seen, all cruise ship spas are overpriced. She said the service was good in the spa however. The ship has its own Luau on Maui and we talked to several couples that went to it and they said it was good but a bit crowded and overpriced.(600-900 people) We went to the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui and it was very nice but it was a commercial operation and overpriced. (500 or so People on our night) After talking to several people we determined that may of the different luau’s are very similar.

PORTS

Kauai
We enjoyed Kauai very much and would see this island again. We went up to the Waimea Canyon area and found it to be very beautiful. One word of caution on the roads in and around Waimea Canyon is that they are very narrow and lots of sharp turn so anyone who has a problem with motion sickness in a vehicle needs to take precautions. We also spent some time at the beach near the pier snorkeling at Nawiliwili Park. There was not much to see at this beach except a few fish and such but the water was nice and not to crowded.

Hilo- Big Island
We went to Volcano’s National Park and spent several hours there and will take the entire time at Hilo to see it properly. Our travel mates went on a shore excursion to Volcano’s and they said they were at each stop for a short time and did not see the entire park.

Kona- Big Island
If you like coffee you will be in seventh heaven in Kona. Everywhere you go in Kona are Coffee plantations and most have shops you can stop at and buy coffee and take tours of working coffee plantations.

We also went to a wonderful beach called Kahuluu Beach Park that is about 3-4 miles from the pier and snorkeled. This beach was absolutely wonderful as the fish were spectacular and we also saw several sea turtles. The water is clear and as long as you don’t go out too far the surf was not bad. This is a wonderful beach for kids as the water was not deep in most places and the fish would not try to get away from people. Ship staff told us about this beach and we were glad they did. Kona is the only place where you will be tendered ashore from the ship so plan time for it as it takes a little longer that pier side parking.

Maui
Maui was our favorite place of the cruise and wished we could have been there longer. On the first of two days in Maui, My wife and I went up to Haleakala National Park.

This place was awesome, a little chilly but awesome as the temperature was in the mid to upper 50’s. Plan on sweatshirts and long pants on top of the mountain at about 10,000 feet. Again this road is windy and narrow and may cause motion sickness.

After driving to the summit of Haleakala Crater we went down to the road to Hana.

We traveled about half of the road to Hana and it to was awesome. The different terrain and vegetation you pass through was spectacular as well as the black sand beaches along the way. This road to is narrow and windy so plan accordingly. It also is not a fast drive so plan plenty of time. The road to Hana truly is one of the most spectacular drives I’ve ever experienced. This was also the night of our Luau in Lahaina.

The next day my wife and I went to Big Beach State Park and tried to snorkel but the rough water made it difficult. We did enjoy the beach as it is a very large beach and not very crowded. (a little note of caution—part of the beach is shielded by a bluff and beyond the bluff is a nude beach)

Honolulu
We spent a couple of days in Honolulu prior to our cruise and I would not recommend that. We stayed downtown and it was active all night long. We did go and see Pearl Harbor which was a must see item when there. We also climbed Diamond Head and that was neat, but had lots of steps. (271 to be exact, I think it was!) On our last day of the cruise after disembarking form the ship we just camped out on the pier area and checked out the shops until we caught a cab to the airport for our flight home.

TIPS
Rent cars and save money and see more stuff and operate on your schedule not the buses. Buy a snorkel set for $20 when you get there at any of the ABC stores that are all over, then you don’t have to rent ones that won’t work as well. Make sure you have swim shoes as most of the beaches are not entirely soft sand and the coral and lava rocks are hard on bare feet. Take a large beach towel along. The ship will let you grab towels to take but the sand is fine and the towel you use to sit on is rather abrasive to use to dry off with. (Some people had bamboo type mats)

Remember that Security on the ship and Security on the pier are not the same and their attitude shows it. When you play in the surf, you will get sand everywhere and I mean everywhere. (So don’t take you swim trunks off in the middle of your cabin floor, unless you want your own little beach there- )

Use the checked baggage service the ship offers…costs a little money but I think it would have been well worth it. (We lugged our bags around that last day and were kind of hampered by them.)

SUMMARY
All in all we had a great time and did not experience any of the complaints I had read about. We would do this trip again someday especially if going with someone who has not been to Hawaii before. This was a great way to see several of the islands. If anyone has specific questions please feel free to e-mail me.