I'm doing my review in pieces since I don't know how to copy and paste the entire file (please let me know if anyone has done this before).
We just returned from our 15th trip to Hawaii in as many years. This year we decided to do NCL Pride of America. Despite reading some unfavorable reviews, we were honestly impressed with the ship. This is, by far, the best way to see the main Hawaiian Islands. We booked a cruise/land package with 3 days in Oahu prior to the cruise. The total price ended up costing about $100/night pp but we booked it several months ago & got a great deal. The land portion included airport to hotel pickup and delivery to cruise ship, two nights at Waikiki Resort Hotel, plus daily breakfast and a Honolulu sightseeing tour with Pearl Harbor. Quite a bargain, in my opinion, considering the cruise includes your hotel, all food & entertainment. I used airline miles for the roundtrip to Hawaii.
The last time we cruised NCL was on Pride of Aloha in 2008 when it offered the 10-day cruise. I wish they would bring it back, as it offered a couple of sea days to relax and catch your breath. We also tried Princess and Holland America 15-day trans-Pacific cruises from mainland, but we don’t like having 10 ocean days and only 4 days in Hawaii. Plus you have to make a stop at Encenada and bring a passport. Flying directly to Oahu and Island hopping is expensive and requires packing and repacking, hours in the airport, and having to arrange rental cars and hotels on each Island. With NCL Pride of America, you fly directly to Oahu and catch your floating hotel for the next 7 nights and have more days in Hawaii.
In this review I will mention what we did for shore excursions on this trip, but also include some of the other favorite tours we did in the past. Hopefully this way you can get an idea what you may want to do if this is your first time in Hawaii. I will also include tips that I think might be helpful.
WARNING ABOUT READING THE REVIEWS:
Whatever you read about NCL remember this: everyone is responsible for creating their own fun, as we were reminded of this by the comedian Bud Anderson on the first night of our cruise. He joked, “we are all animals. Do you want to be a zoo animal or a wild animal? Not the type that kills other animals, maybe somewhere in between. Here’s what a zoo animal looks like,” then he laid down on stage as if asleep and scratched his rear. He explained that you can either WAIT for fun to appear to you, or you can create your own fun. I choose the later. In the same light, if you look for something bad, I’m pretty sure you’re going to find it. I honestly could not find any fault with Pride of America, but then again, I was busy having fun, meeting people, and allowing the magic of Hawaii to overtake me. My advice is not to read the reviews, or read them but keep an open mind. I found everyone friendly & helpful, the food abundant and delicious, and the entertainment (the few shows we attended) enjoyable.
This cruise had the most polite, patient and friendly people on any cruise ship we sailed. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the reviews that mention the rude, pushy, and impossible to please people and we were all on our best behavior.
The ship itself was well maintained, polished and had a fresh coat of paint in many areas. It was immaculate and clean. Never was there congestion, except when we embarked and disembarked, but this took only a few minutes. There was only one public bathroom on the ship that was closed that I noticed. Other than this, everything was in good working order.
AIRLINE RIDE FROM MAINLAND: For the plane ride from the mainland, I recommend booking a 767. The leg room is better and overhead storage more ample than the smaller aircraft. Some reviews will tell you to sit on one side or the other to get the first views of Hawaii, but it depends on the flight pattern & can change at any time.
Here’s a pic of Diamond Head Crater from the left side of a 767 on Continental: