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This is a review for two weeks, so I'm splitting the review up in days.
First of all, here are some things that I was told incorrectly by Norwegian before the cruise. As of the 3/6 cruise, they are NOT automatically adding the $10/day tip. Also, on Lahaina, Maui on your own, you CAN choose the times to come and go to Lahaina. As soon as you get your tickets (they will have assigned you times to go and come back), go to the excursion desk and get them changed to whatever times you want. Latest coming back is 4:00.
Day 1, 3/5: Flew from Charleston, WV to Cincinnati, OH to Honolulu. After checking www.seatguru.com, I had chosen all aisle seats near the front of the plane. Luckily, I had no one in the seat next to me the whole flight so had a little extra room. The aisle seats allowed me to get up and walk around or go to the bathroom without bothering folks and exit the plane quickly once it landed. I flew on Delta and was very pleased during the whole trip. We were served dinner, snack and another sandwich with chips, cookies and drink during flight from OH to Honolulu and were shown three movies, along with other TV shows. The pilot made an announcement that there were two flight attendants that were getting ready to retire after 25 and 30 years on our flight, and the other attendants were giving them a little party. I got to Honolulu with no problems, luggage claim was quick, and I was out the door to wait for a taxi to Waikiki to check into my hotel. I was in a group of 7 who were going on the Norwegian Pride of Aloha cruise, and I booked 4 rooms for us through Priceline at the Radisson Prince Kuhio for $68 per room. I couldn’t find it for less than $159 on any other internet site, so we were happy with this rate. I even had an ocean view from my room. I checked in and called my friends to let them know I was there. I met Teri in the lobby, and we walked a few blocks to Kuhio Beach Park, which was beautiful, and I stepped in the Pacific Ocean for the first time! They were setting up for a hula show, which we stayed and watched. I stopped at Haagan Dazs and got some macadamia nut ice cream and went back to the hotel to sleep!
Day 2, 3/6 in Waikiki: I woke up about 4 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. I ordered room service and walked back to Kuhio Beach Park to watch the surfers and walked to International Marketplace to see what items they had – great souvenir items, especially T-shirts. I went back to the hotel and met Teri & Janice, requested late check-out, and we all headed back to International Marketplace to shop. My friends got shaved ice and I got a Dole pineapple whip. We walked back to the hotel, checked out and asked the bellhop to call us a taxi. We luckily got a big white limo to drive us to the Honolulu pier; that was a treat! We checked our luggage at Pier 10 and walked over to Pier 11 to check in the ship. We went through security and walked up to the Latitudes line with no wait and checked in. We received our orchid lei and were off to find out rooms. We had lunch at the buffet on ship, and walked over to Aloha Marketplace and walked around the shops and then headed back to the ship. Muster drill was 5:00 p.m., and when I got back from that, my suitcases had arrived, so I began to unpack. Teri and I went to the Sailaway BBQ by the pool—excellent pork! We had the fruit bowl drink of the day and listened to the band play. One of the dancers stopped to chat with us, and said she’d been on the ship for 11 weeks with no break and didn’t get any time off until June, but was enjoying the job with the dance company. The inside cabins are small, even for two people. I had my own room, and there were plenty of drawers and shelves in the closet, over the refrigerator and in the night stands. There’s only one outlet in the bathroom for an electric shaver. There’s another outlet in the room, and I had taken a plug-in that gives you three outlets, so that was good for recharging the battery, cell phone, hairdryer, etc. We sailed away from Honolulu at 8 p.m. Honolulu was beautiful all lit up. I finished unpacking and looked at my itinerary for my first day in Kauai, and put my room service request on the door and went to sleep.
Day 3, in Kauai, 3/7: I had signed up for a helicopter ride over the island through Island Helicopter. There were free shuttles to Hilo Hattie, Kmart and Wal-Mart running all day. The Island Helicopter van picked me up, along with three others from the ship. They drove us to the Lihue Airport, where we met the helicopter. The flight was for an hour. There were six in each helicopter. I got the front seat next to the window, which was good for taking pictures. I get motion sickness but many people had assured me this wouldn’t bother me. I had taken my Bonine the night before to help. I was pretty queasy during the whole ride! I’m glad I did it because it’s the only way to see a lot of Kauai, which is not accessible by road. The pilot flew us over and down in Waimea Canyon and Honopu, Kalalau and Hanakapiai Valleys and over Mt. Waialeale, the wettest spot in the world, which receives 400 to 600 inches of rain each year, and over Wailua Falls, where some of Fantasy Island was filmed, and flew all along the NaPali Coast. He said we had a perfect day with no clouds. We all had headphones on so we could talk to each other, and he played beautiful music in the background as we flew. It was awesome to see from the air and well worth the queasiness I had to deal with. They took a photo of us in front of the helicopter as we left, and we were given a free video of what we saw, so that will be fun to watch! Met Teri and Janice back at the ship, and we walked into Nawiliwili and had lunch at JJ’s Broiler, an outside café. I had a cobb salad with guava dressing—YUM! We walked around the shops and headed back to the ship.
Our group of 7 all went on a Kalapaki Sunset Sail on the Rainbow Runner sailboat, which holds only 18 passengers. They provided pupu appetizers and mai tai's as they sailed along Kalapaki and Kipu Kai regions of Kauai. We saw spinner dolphins and our first breaching whales, which jumped way up out of the water—what an AWESOME sight!! Julie had found out that it was lobster night at one of the restaurants on ship and made reservations for us for dinner, so we all met at the Palace at 8:30. Service was slow, but the food was good. Lynne and I went to see the show, and we both almost fell asleep, so it was back to the room and to bed. Ship stayed overnight in Kauai.
Day 4, 3/8 in Kauai: Had breakfast in Crossings Restaurant with Kim and Lynne, and Lynne and I went on our excursion, Scenic Hanalei. The van drove us through Lihue Town, and north to the coastline passing over the Wailua River. We stopped at Opaekaa Falls, by Kealia Lookout and Princeville and stopped at the Guava Kai Plantation, where I got a pina colada shaved ice. We stopped at the Hanalei Valley Lookout, where Donovan’s Reef was filmed and headed back to the ship and had lunch in Crossings Restaurant. The ship left about 1:00 p.m. It was raining when we sailed by NaPali Coast, but it was still beautiful. Had dinner with Teri and Janice and had a lava flow, combination of pina colada and strawberry daiquiri—great drink! I had the salmon that night, which was delicious. Teri, Janice and I decided we wanted to try the specialty restaurants, which charge a cover fee, and we went to make reservations for them. I called home and learned that WV had gotten 4 inches of snow the night before! Teri and I went to the Newlywed Game, which is always hysterical. The newlyweds of one day won the game! Off to bed and get ready for the next day on the Big Island.
Day 5, 3/9 in Hilo, Big Island: Lynne had also signed up for the Volcanoes Deluxe Nature Adventure at Volcanoes National Park, and we had a fun day. I had breakfast at the café (fresh waffle made at the waffle station) and met our Hawaii Forest & Trail van for the excursion at 9:30. They provided bottled water, and our guide, Danny Almonte, was excellent. He drove us from sea level up the slope to the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa, to an elevation of 4,000 feet and the summit of Kilauea Crater and walked on the active volcano! There were steam vents all over the crater. We followed Crater Rim Drive, and our guide pointed out where different lava eruptions had been. We stopped at a picnic shelter with a beautiful overlook of the ocean, where we were provided a box lunch. We stopped at the Hoki sea arch and drove to the end of the road. You can get out and walk about 2 miles to where the live lava is flowing. We stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube and walked through it. We got back to the ship about 4:30 and I met Teri and Janice at Kahili, the Italian specialty restaurant. The food and service were excellent! The Caesar salad is made right at the table, had shrimp scampi and Blue Hawaii drink (Bacardi light rum, Blue Curacao, coconut cream and pineapple juice). Teri and I went to the piano bar for a while and waited until 10 p.m., when we would be cruising by the flowing lava. That was amazing to see! The ship did a 360 degree turn so everyone on each side could see the lava. I went to the disco after that and ran into Lynne, and we talked and enjoyed the music for a while and then off to bed.
Day 6, 3/10, Kona, Big Island: We had to tender to Kona. We went to the café to get breakfast. I had an omelet made fresh at the omelet station. We then went to stand in line to tender. There was a huge line by 8:00, and Teri and I needed to meet Body Glove at the pier by 8:45 to check in. We had made a reservation and used the Entertainment coupon, buy 1, get 1 free, so we saved $94. It’s the same excursion through the ship, and Janice arrived after we did on the Body Glove catamaran. They provided fresh fruit, juice and water when we boarded. We sailed to Pawai Bay, which wasn’t far from the ship and were there for about 2.5 hours. It was a beautiful site, but I was very disappointed in the snorkeling. The water was not nearly as clear as in the Caribbean and not many fish to see. I came back to the boat after about an hour and changed clothes. They had lunch ready below deck, so I made a sandwich with some chips, fresh fruit and Diet Coke and went back up to enjoy the sun and beautiful scenery while I ate lunch. They took us for a 45-minute ride before going back to the pier. We walked a few blocks to Hilo Hattie’s and did some shopping and took their shuttle back to town. I did some shopping and walked around the town and got some coconut pineapple ice cream and took the tender back to the ship. I had made reservations to snorkel on Sat. in Maui at the Molokini Crater and decided to cancel it after being disappointed today. Janice, Teri and I had dinner at Pacific Heights specialty restaurant. Again, we had excellent food and service.
Day 7, 3/11, Kahului, Maui. Had breakfast in the café and met Polynesian Adventure Tour van for Haleakala Crater & Maui Ocean Center tours. We drove through lots of sugar cane and stopped at the visitors center inside Haleaka National Park, where we saw the silversword plant, which grows only in elevations above 6,000 feet. We next stopped at the summit of Haleakala Crater, the world’s largest dormant volcano. The crater measures over 7 miles long and over 2 miles wide. The views from the top, at 10,032 feet above sea level, were magnificent. It was a very winding road all the way up to the top. The “crater” was actually made by erosion, not a volcano. This is the point where people are brought to bike ride down from the crater and also horseback ride. There’s a trail to the Haleakala Observatory of the astronomical telescopes, but it’s not open to the public. It was windy and chilly walking around, but a beautiful view! We drove back down and on to the Maui Ocean Center, where we spent 2.5 hours. We had lunch on our own. You could spend much more time here, but I went through and saw all of the aquarium displays. There’s one big aquarium that you can walk through and see fish on both sides and overhead swimming around. They have seats so you can just sit and watch, and a guide will point out all the different kinds of fish and answer questions.
I headed back to the ship, changed and our group of 7 went to the ship-sponsored luau, which is held at the Maui Prince Hotel, which had beautiful grounds along the ocean. The sound of the Pu, the conch, signaled the start of the luau with live Hawaiian music. After the pig was brought from the imu, the underground oven, we enjoyed a buffet, which included green salad, macaroni salad, fresh pineapple and papaya, purple sweet potatoes, poi, white fish with salsa, pork, beef, stir-fry chicken and rice and rolls. Yes, I tried the poi even though it did not look very appetizing. I dipped my roll in some and I didn’t find it to have much of a taste at all. Free drinks include Mai Tai’s and Blue Hawaii’s, beer, wine, water and coffee, as much as you wanted. Desserts included chocolate cream pie with macadamia nuts and sponge cakes. The show included the hula dancers and a Samoan fire knife dancer, who was great—swallowing fire and throwing the fiery knives around! We got back to the ship about 8:30. Ship stayed overnight in Maui.
Day 8, 3/12, Kahului, Maui: I had been told by Norwegian before the cruise that for Lahaina on Your Own, you could not choose when to go and come from Lahaina, so we had rented a car in case we needed it. I had heard from other cruisers that they had gotten their vouchers for the ride to Lahaina with set times and were able to change them at the shore excursion desk, so when I got back to the ship, I asked if they still had openings for us to ride the van to Lahaina and pick our times. They had open spots for going at 9:00 and coming back at 4:00. I called Teri & Janice when I got back to the room to tell them we could still do this and not rent the car. We decided it would be easier, so we got up and went to the shore excursion desk at 7:00 a.m., when it opened and got our vouchers to go to Lahaina. The one change I would like to have seen on the cruise was the ship docking in Lahaina instead of Kahului. There’s nothing around Kahului and no real public transportation, and the taxi/shuttle rates are very expensive. We really didn’t want to rent a car and find our way around the island.
We had breakfast in the café and met the van to take us to Lahaina. It rained hard all day, but with a hooded jacket and umbrella, I was fine to walk around town and shop. Lahaina is a very cute harbor town with lots of nice shops. I met Janice and Teri at Bubba Gump’s for lunch, where we ran into Julie, Kim and Lynne having lunch. I had steamed spiced shrimp, which was delicious and we split an order of onion rings. After lunch, I shopped some more and walked down to Banyan Tree Park and along the harbor and back to Hilo Hattie’s where the van would pick us up to go back to the ship. I changed and met Teri and Janice for dinner at Bistro, a French specialty restaurant. I had Caesar salad made at the table, filet mignon which melted in my mouth and chocolate fondue with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple—YUM! Again, we had great service.
Day 9, 3/13, Honolulu, cruise ended: I ran into Lynne and Kim in the café when I went up to get coffee so got to say goodbye to them. Teri, Janice and I were walking off the ship with our luggage, so we didn’t have to leave until 10 a.m. We went to the café for breakfast, got our luggage, got off the ship, and then I called Alamo rental car to come pick us up to get the car. They came and could only take the main driver, so I went to pick up the Buick LeSabre, and drove back to pick up Janice and Teri and their luggage. We had an Entertainment coupon for a free day for the car rental. We drove Janice to the airport, and Teri and I drove to Kailua Beach to find our beach rental for the next week. We found a one bedroom apartment in a beach house through www.vrbo.com at a very reasonable rate. It was spotless and had a complete kitchen, bath, living room with futon and bedroom with king-size bed and lots of closet and storage space. It also had a washer and dryer, beach chairs, umbrella, buggie boards, and a lanai with table and chairs and nice privacy fence. It was a great location and very quiet. We unpacked and went to Buzz’s for a nice lunch and then to the grocery store to pick up a few things for breakfast and snacks and stopped at a cute shop, Under a Hula Moon. Then back to the house to do laundry! We walked down to the beach, which was pretty isolated. It’s a beautiful white sand beach. Some people were out in canoes and kayaks and going to a little island out in the ocean, where you could walk around. We walked back to the house to finish laundry, and I read the Sunday paper out on the lanai and cut up the fresh pineapple I bought at the grocery store. Nina and Jim, the owners, came out to say hello and to call if we needed anything. We went to Lucy’s for dinner, and they had the torches lit outside. Had a lava flow, fresh ahi with macadamia nuts, cream sauce with shrimp and tomatoes and bok choy cabbage and mashed potatoes with the skins—great meal! We headed back home. I got my information out to read about Pearl Harbor and map out how to get there for tomorrow and off to bed.
Day 10, 3/14, Oahu-Pearl Harbor:
We drove to Pearl Harbor and got there about 8:30, parked, put our bag in the locker and went in to pick up our ticket to view the film and go to the Arizona. Our time was for 10:15, so we did the Bowfin tour and back to watch the 25-minute movie and onto the boat and out to the Arizona memorial. When we got back, we took a trolley to the U.S.S. Missouri (“Mighty Mo”), toured the ship, came back and had lunch and drove back to Kailua. We stopped at the visitors center in Kailua and picked up some maps and information. We stopped at the Kalapawai Market, which was close to us, where I purchased a few items and used their ATM machine. Then back to the house, changed into bathing suit, loaded up car with beach chairs and umbrella and off to enjoy the beach for a while. Then back to the house and I was putting together tomorrow’s itinerary, when we noticed a pink sky and went out to enjoy the sunset. Jim was home and told us to come upstairs, where we got an even better view of the sunset. We went to Pinky’s Pupu Bar & Grill for huge portions of fish & starches. Back home to finish planning for tomorrow.
Day 11, 3/15, Oahu-Windward Shore:
Took a walk on the beach, then headed to Lanakai Beach and took some photos of the Moku Lia islands (larger is Moku Nui; smaller is Moku Iki). We then drove north along 83 (Kam Highway) and stopped at Chinaman’s Hat and Kualoa Roach, then to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we went to several of the villages, viewed the canoe festival and took canoe ride and had the fruit cup with watermelon sherbet. We left around 5:00 and went to Crouching Lion for dinner, with an awesome view of the ocean. Had their specialty drink, Kaaawa Sunset, which is ½ banana, shot of Malibu coconut run, 1 creamer of Half & Half, 2 shots passion fruit juice and a splash of coconut syrup. Dinner was salad, rolls, grilled shrimp & veggies on skewers with wild rice—another great meal! We had an Entertainment coupon for this. Drove back to Kailua and planned for tomorrow.
Day 12, 3/16, Oahu-Honolulu/Waikiki:
I woke up at 6 a.m. so decided to go to Lanakai and watch the sunrise and got some great photos. We drove to Honolulu, through Chinatown, and checked in for the Star of Honolulu whale watch (another Entertainment coupon). We were there early so walked around the Aloha Marketplace shops, then boarded the ship. We wanted to be able to take good photos, so we went to the back of the ship. We cruised by Diamond Head and the lighthouse. We didn’t see any dolphins or whales, but anytime on a boat is fun for me! They handed out vouchers for another trip out for anyone that wanted them. We headed to the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki to eat at the outside café, House Without a Key, which overlooks the ocean. I had Joy’s Special, crabmeat salad with avocado and bacon on whole wheat. They offer free valet parking, so we walked back to International Marketplace so I could pick up some souvenirs, then back to pick up car. We drove along Diamond Head and Circle Drive, stopped at Hanauma Bay, a beautiful park where lots go snorkeling. The water looked very clear here, but we didn’t get a chance to go back to snorkel. We stopped at Halona Blowhole, where we saw sea turtles and whales, stopped at Sandy Beach, Makapuu lighthouse and stopped to get subs to take home for dinner, and I planned for tomorrow.
Day 13, 3/17, Oahu-North Shore:
We drove back north on Kam Highway and made several stops by Turtle Bay Resort, Sunset Beach, Bonzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay Beach Park, where there were large waves and lots of people surfing. It’s a beautiful, rocky coast and reminded me a lot of Acadia National Park in Maine. We went to Waimea Falls Park, which is $8 admission and $2 to park. Many beautiful peacocks greeted us right inside the park. We walked the ¾ mile paved path to the falls and saw many specimens of plants that you would otherwise have to hike through mud and brush to see. Take some insect repellant. I had some individual insect repellant towelettes, which I had to stop and apply after I felt several bug bites! We headed south and stopped at the Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. I’m glad people had recommended this; otherwise, I would never have stopped just by looking at the truck! We got shrimp to take home for dinner later. We stopped briefly at Polynesian Cultural Center to pick up some photos, and went back to Crouching Lion for lunch—had another Kaaawa Sunset and mahi mahi sandwich and got a piece of their mile high coconut cream pie to take home for dinner. Went back to the beach and swam in the ocean and ate our huge shrimp from Giovanni’s and shared the coconut cream pie for dinner.
Day 14, 3/18, Oahu-Leeward Shore:
We got up at 4:45 a.m.(!) and drove to Waianae, stopped at McDonalds for coffee and changed into our bathing suits and checked in with Wild Side Tours at Waianae Harbor. We boarded the Island Spirit catamaran. They provided muffins, bottled water, canned juice, soft drinks. We started sailing and saw several breaching whales, which were awesome! Then we ran into lots of spinner dolphins. Their pods can contain as many as 150. They were jumping way up out of the water. We stopped and were able to go snorkeling and swimming with the wild dolphins. I swam over top of a pod of about 12. You have to swim very fast to keep up with them, and I swam with them for about 10 minutes. That was so awesome!! Then got back on the boat, and we made another stop at a reef to go snorkeling, but there weren’t many fish and didn’t see any turtles. After I got back on the boat and we started back to shore, saw 2 turtles swimming in the water! We got back to shore around 11 a.m., changed clothes, and stopped at McDonald’s to have a salad. We drove back to Kailua and did some shopping. One very cute shop was Island Treasures with handmade items made in Hawaii. We had dinner at Buzz’s, lava flow, salad bar, mongcong with sweet Chilean sauce, potato & rolls, and home to start packing.
Days 15 & 16, Oahu back to West Va.:
Slept late and finished packing. We stopped at local Kalapawai Market and picked up a few souvenirs. There were two local girls selling handmade jewelry in front of the market. Teri bought earrings, and I bought a pendant. We drove to Pali Lookout and along Nuuanu Pali Road. We browsed through some Kailua shops and ate lunch at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, had teriyaki burger and pineapple milkshake. We headed back to the house. I went to Lanakai Beach for last day beach time, and a Hawaiian wedding took place on the public beach right where I was sitting! That was a nice treat! Went back to the house to shower, pack the car and head to the airport. We followed an Alamo shuttle to drop off the car, and the shuttle brought us back to the airport and dropped Teri off at American and me at Delta. Check-in took about two minutes. Browsed through some shops and then Teri and I spotted each other and had a sandwich together. When I boarded flight at LAX, they gave us bag with sandwich, chips, cookies and bottled water, which I ate sometime during the flight when they came around and gave us drinks. Got to LAX about 6 a.m. Planes were all overbooked at LAX and were giving $400 vouchers to people giving up their seats. I was really tired but went to the desk to check to see how quickly they could get me home if I gave up seat, but the guy in front of me got the last one. That was fine because I just wanted to get home. We left LAX about 7:30 a.m. and got to Cincinnati about 2:15 p.m. I thought I had read monitor that my flight to Charleston WV was at Gate 64, but when I got there, it said Charleston, SC, so I called the 800 Delta number and found out it was Gate 42, so ran to make the flight. I was the last one on the plane, which left at 2:55 and got to WV at 3:45. I was glad to see Vince, and we went to luggage claim to pick up my suitcases and he drove us home. The two pups were glad to see me! Vince walked me down to the pond, where he showed me two new residents, a male and female mallard duck. Hopefully, we see some babies soon! Also nice to get home on the first day of Spring and see daffodils blooming in the yard!
I took hundreds of photos and will try to post some later. I have a dial-up ISP and it takes forever. I've been fighting a horrible sinus infection since I returned (UGH!) and trying to get some work done when I can stay awake during the day. Hope you enjoyed the review. I'll be glad to answer any questions you have!!
Just thought I should let readers know that from Hilo, you would've taken the drive up the slope of Kilauea. Mauna Loa is the largest but the road up to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park would be on Kilauea. Kilauea is known as the most active volcano on our planet and it is a separte volcao from Mauna Loa. Also, the crater would be Halemaumau in the Kilauea Caldera. Enjoy your trip folks.
Thanks for making the corrections to my report. I was taking a lot of notes. I knew I would get some of it wrong! Anyway, if you have any questions, I'll check back at least every few days, and I'll be glad to answer whatever I can about the cruise or Oahu!!
Sorry, no animal towels on the POA. The American crew is trying to get up to speed on just keeping the rooms clean at this point. Maybe that will come eventually! I had no problems with my cabin steward. She brought ice only in the a.m. and I wanted some in the p.m. when she turned bed down, so gave her part of her tip and asked her to bring ice twice a day; no problems after that.
I can highly recommend the place we stayed. We had decided we didn't want to stay in Honolulu/Waikiki where it was so crowded, so we chose a rental in a beach house in Kailua Beach on the east side of the island, and we were thrilled with the place! We rented a car for the week, so we toured the whole island. Kailua is beautiful and not crowded at all. Our rental was 2 blocks from the beach. Lanakai Beach is even more beautiful and very private. There are a few "public access" walkways so you can go down and enjoy the gorgeous beach. Jim & Nina, our landlords, were very nice and left us alone. They told us to call if we needed anything, but we didn't. The place was spotless and very well equipped with kitchen, bath, living room with double-size futon and king-side bedroom. There was plenty of closet space and drawers for clothes. There's a very nice lanai with privacy fence with grill, washer/dryer and beach towels, chairs, umbrella and buggie boards. It was very convenient for us, and we had absolutely no complaints. If you decide to stay in this area, I can give you more info. on restaurants, shops, etc. Their listing is: http://vrbo.com/32298 - this is efficiency http://vrbo.com/41544 - this was ours
If anyone else has questions, I'll check back in a few days. I don't mind answering if I can!
Just wondering if the tour you did.... Hawaii Forest & Trail van for the excursion at 9:30. was on your own or through the ship? I wouls love to do that in Hilo and want to know the best way to go. Thanks