Pride of Aloha
by Mark Tuttle
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.
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 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.
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
Hilo- Big Island
Kona- Big Island
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.
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)
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.)