Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Hawaii by pilotguy71 Hawaii October 8, 2007
Background Info My wife and I cruise yearly and try to select new ports of call each time. We live in Bluffton, SC (near Hilton Head) and planned this cruise since May of this year. After deciding that we really wanted to see Hawaii this year, I did some research and found a great deal. I booked through Hawaii Aloha Travel and Abby was my agent. Talk about service! She was great and I would recommend her to everyone!
Hotel Info We decided to go a couple of days early to see Honolulu. We purchased a hotel package through NCL. We stayed 2 nights at the Marriott Waikiki. Check in was a breeze and they had our room keys waiting for us at the special NCL counter upon arrival at the hotel. The hotel even has a NCL pre-cruise registration office so we checked in for our cruise 2 days early. All we did at the port was go to the Marriott/Latitudes check in counter and we were given our stateroom key. The accommodations were grand! We would definitely stay there again in the future.
Ship Info All I can say is wow! Huge ship. We didn't even get a chance to see it all. Very clean and it is decorated nicely. Bring your walking shoes!
Activities Since we were in port everyday, we didn't get a chance to check out all the activities on the ship. We did see a show one night which was okay, but not up to par with some of the other ships we have been on.
Service (A) I have read a few people say the service on board the ship was awful since it was an all American crew. Not so! The crew went out of their way to provide the best service possible. I even remember one gentleman named Jan that went out of his way to chat with various passengers as they sat down at the buffet area.
Shore Excursions Basically, the only hiccup we had on our cruise was in this department. We had booked our excursions online 5 months prior to sailing. We received our tickets upon entering our stateroom on Day 1. The morning of Day 3, we received a letter that our Day 4 excursion was cancelled due to lack of participation. After going through the brochure we received when we first got on the boat, the excursion in question WAS NEVER OFFERED. My gripe to NCL is why didn't they notify us on Day 1 (or sooner) if they knew the excursion was not offered?; plus, we had a ticket for it that was delivered to our stateroom! I thought that was poor service.
The excursions we did were as follows:
Circle of Fire Helicopter -- Hilo (A+): Outstanding! Highly recommend this. The view was incredible and seeing the lava flow from Kilauea was a treat. The tour operator was Sunshine Helicopters and our pilot was as smooth with the controls as they come. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to fly with Blue Hawaii. Our group was split between the two and we had no choice. I wanted to buy the DVD of the flight but Sunshine charged double of what Blue Hawaiian did so I opted not to get it.
Volcanoes National Park -- Hilo (A+): Fantastic! The tour included a stop at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.
Tubing the Ditch -- Kauai (A+): An amazing 2 mile long journey floating on an inner tube. The highlight was that 70% of the trip was underground.
Journey to Waimea Canyon -- (C-): Had high hopes for this excursion and was let down. Our driver had the most monotone voice ever! He provided lots of information but the trip to Waimea took forever with several stops at local shopping establishments. When we got to Waimea, it was gorgeous, but we only had 25 minutes.
Molokini Crater Snorkel -- Maui (B): Okay, the excursion waiting area in Maui is the pits! Most unorganized port of them all. 2 boatloads of folks onto two buses. Problem was, 1 excursion was 7 hours, the other only 5. Needless to say, NCL did a horrible job of separating the 2 groups. That was done on the snorkeling boats. Half had to get off the boat, causing the other half of us to be late. Once everything was sorted out, the excursion was good.
Haleakala Crater and Sunset -- Maui (A+): Amazing! Highly recommend and bring a jacket. It's chilly up there!
Rented a Car -- Maui (A): Since our excursion was cancelled, we rented a car. Got a chance to see the west coast of Maui! Simply beautiful. If you get a chance to dine at the Rusty Harpoon, I highly recommend it. Whalers Village 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy. Lahaina, Maui, HI, 96761
Transfers (A) Highly recommend purchasing them. The airport to hotel, the hotel to port, as well as the port to airport transfers went very smoothly. My only complaint is this. We purchased our air arrangements thru NCL and they booked us on an early departure (1230pm local time). We were one of the first ones off the ship and were transported promptly to the airport. We were dropped off outside the Delta Airlines ticket counter at 830am. Agriculture as well as the Delta check in counter does not open until 930am. Basically, we had to wait outside of the airport with all of our bags for an hour.
Stateroom (A) We had a great balcony on the port side of the ship. Our cabin steward did a great job. The room was always clean and fresh towels were provided as needed. Even got those towel animals we all enjoy. The bathroom area was larger than I remember from previous ships so our stateroom experience was above average.
Dining (C) I am a huge fan of freestyle dining, however, it is my opinion that it does not work well on this boat. To me, freestyle dining is eating WHEN you want, WHERE you want to. Nope! If you do not make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, you will be waiting for over an hour. Yes, the buffet is available, but when you pay a pretty penny for a cruise like this, you don't want to dine in the buffet every night. The buffet does not offer the foods that the other places do, plus the food is luke warm.
Summary (B) Overall, a great experience. Hawaii was beautiful. The price of the cruise did not match the value, however.