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rsangiovanni

Pride of America/O’ahu or 3 Islands?

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My wife, 7 year old daughter and I are planning our first trip to Hawaii in 2020 and will be flying from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re having a hard time deciding what would be the better option:

  1. 7 nights in O’ahu , followed by Pride of America cruise, and one more night in O’ahu. 
  2. 6 nights in O’ahu, 4 nights in Big Island (split between Kona/Hilo), and 5 nights in Kauai.
  3. 6 nights in O’ahu, 4 nights in Maui, and 5 nights in Kauai.

 

We got a good deal with POA Cruise ($5400 for a balcony, all free offers, WiFi, and $100 credit per port). If we decide to do the no cruise option, we can use Hilton Honors points for the stay at Big Island and Kauai so the only cost would be our flights, food and car rental when needed; it also helps that we are Hilton Honors Diamond status and that will give us free breakfast, WiFi, no resort fees, and a possible upgrade in those resorts.

 

While it will probably be more expensive to go with the cruise option, we like having food/drinks included while on the cruise, the ability to see more islands, and not having to waste time boarding airports and checking in... but are a little afraid of it being too rushed since the cruise does not spend too much time on each island. 

 

We would appreciate any help and insight. Thanks!!

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I would never spend that amount of time on Oahu.  Why not also what I’ve done.  A couple days on Oahu. Cruise.  Then several days elsewhere??       I just spent 3 weeks in Hawaii- with  2 cruises     I’m in Hawaii every year.   

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Posted (edited)

We have been to Hawaii - on a cruise and then 2 nights post cruise in HNL.

 

If we are to go back to Hawaii it'd be a land vacation and we will choose the Big Island.

 

BUT the cruise we went on was a real taster for us as we got to experience each of the islands - Maui, Big Island and Kauai. We hired a car on each of the ports and found driving very easy. Less traffic than Oahu.

 

So …… if you decide to skip the cruise I would suggest more time on the Big Island - equal days in Hilo and in Kona. Just fly to either Hilo (I would think this is better) OR Kona, and hire a 4WD SUV or Jeep for the whole time, and divide your hotel stay in both Hilo and Kona. Not long to drive between Hilo and Kona.

 

We hired a 4WD from Harper Car Rental in Hilo (the other car hires don't have 4WD) and drove up to the top of Mauna Kea. Unfortunately we were on a cruise that stopped during the day, so if we are to return to Big Island we'd go up there again at sunset and view the clear sky show at night. In Kona, whip out your snorkel gear - fantastic snorkeling there!

 

The 2 other islands - Maui and Kauai are also great, but 2-3 days in each will be enough. On Maui we drove up to the top of Haleakala and were able to see across to Mauna Kea (that we drove up the next day!). In Kauai we drove to Waimea Canyon.

 

Oahu - we did drive the circle (coastal) and visited the Dole Plantation - it was good but many many cars and people on this island and traffic got heavy.

 

I just reread your post - difficult decision for you but like Budget Queen, I would suggest you reduce the # days on Oahu. Too populated, commercialized and too many tourists!! And too many cars.

 

One more thing, check out the airlines (AA is one) that do fly directly to Kona/Hilo from mainland USA. Better than the HNL zoo.

 

 

Edited by bluesea777

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43 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

I would never spend that amount of time on Oahu.  Why not also what I’ve done.  A couple days on Oahu. Cruise.  Then several days elsewhere??       I just spent 3 weeks in Hawaii- with  2 cruises     I’m in Hawaii every year.   

 

I figured we would spend more days there thinking there is more to do. We are also flying from east Florida and will probably not do much on our first day since we will likely be tired from jet lag when we first arrive in O’ahu. 

 

We could scale it back to 5 nights and do 5 nights in Big Island. But you definitely think it’s better than doing the cruise?

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I’m not sure how many times the above has been there-  but I completely disagree  with renting a suv,  4wd.  Etc.   simply a waste of money and not needed.   Add to the factor gas is about $1 more per gallon.    If it does not matter then by all means enjoy.      I’ve driven all over Hawaii. 

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18 minutes ago, bluesea777 said:

We have been to Hawaii - on a cruise and then 2 nights post cruise in HNL.

 

If we are to go back to Hawaii it'd be a land vacation and we will choose the Big Island.

 

BUT the cruise we went on was a real taster for us as we got to experience each of the islands - Maui, Big Island and Kauai. We hired a car on each of the ports and found driving very easy. Less traffic than Oahu.

 

So …… if you decide to skip the cruise I would suggest more time on the Big Island - equal days in Hilo and in Kona. Just fly to either Hilo (I would think this is better) OR Kona, and hire a 4WD SUV or Jeep for the whole time, and divide your hotel stay in both Hilo and Kona. Not long to drive between Hilo and Kona.

 

We hired a 4WD from Harper Car Rental in Hilo (the other car hires don't have 4WD) and drove up to the top of Mauna Kea. Unfortunately we were on a cruise that stopped during the day, so if we are to return to Big Island we'd go up there again at sunset and view the clear sky show at night. In Kona, whip out your snorkel gear - fantastic snorkeling there!

 

The 2 other islands - Maui and Kauai are also great, but 2-3 days in each will be enough. On Maui we drove up to the top of Haleakala and were able to see across to Mauna Kea (that we drove up the next day!). In Kauai we drove to Waimea Canyon.

 

Oahu - we did drive the circle (coastal) and visited the Dole Plantation - it was good but many many cars and people on this island and traffic got heavy.

 

I just reread your post - difficult decision for you but like Budget Queen, I would suggest you reduce the # days on Oahu. Too populated, commercialized and too many tourists!! And too many cars.

 

One more thing, check out the airlines (AA is one) that do fly directly to Kona/Hilo from mainland USA. Better than the HNL zoo.

 

 

Thanks! That’s helpful. I think I may follow your advise and add more days to Big Island. But I’m gathering that you feel it’s a better option to do the land option instead of the cruise based on your experience, right?

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2 minutes ago, rsangiovanni said:

 

I figured we would spend more days there thinking there is more to do. We are also flying from east Florida and will probably not do much on our first day since we will likely be tired from jet lag when we first arrive in O’ahu. 

 

We could scale it back to 5 nights and do 5 nights in Big Island. But you definitely think it’s better than doing the cruise?

First figure out what you want to see and do.      But no there is no best and the cruise is certainly excellent.  I’ve taken them over a dozen times.    Again think carefully why YOU are going to Hawaii.  Once that’s honestly answered go from there.   

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Just now, Budget Queen said:

I’m not sure how many times the above has been there-  but I completely disagree agree with renting a suv,  4wd.  Etc.   simply a waste of money and not needed.   Add to the factor gas is about $1 more per gallon.    If it does not matter then by all means enjoy.      I’ve driven all over Hawaii. 

 

But you must have a 4WD to go up Mauna Kea (almost 14,000 ft). Non 4WD vehicles are not allowed past the Visitor Information Center (at 9,000 ft) where you should spend at least 30 mins there to get acclimated to the altitude.  

 

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6 minutes ago, bluesea777 said:

 

But you must have a 4WD to go up Mauna Kea (almost 14,000 ft). Non 4WD vehicles are not allowed past the Visitor Information Center (at 9,000 ft) where you should spend at least 30 mins there to get acclimated to the altitude.  

 

You claim for the whole trip.  Of course you need it or a tour for Mauna Kea.    

 

It sounds like you are making recommendations you haven’t done -with staying on Hawaii?   

 

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5 minutes ago, rsangiovanni said:

Thanks! That’s helpful. I think I may follow your advise and add more days to Big Island. But I’m gathering that you feel it’s a better option to do the land option instead of the cruise based on your experience, right?

 

Well, the Hawaiian cruises on POA are very expensive and there was no way we could afford it, and prior to the cruise we had no knowledge of what to do or expect on each island. Also hotels were expensive. 

 

In March 2016 POA had to go to San Francisco for dry-dock. I happened to explore NCL.com about a year before and found the repositioning cruise on POA from SFO to Hawaiian Islands, ending up in HNL and the prices were a bargain - less than 1/2 the price of normal Hawaiian cruise, so we booked it.

 

As I said in my post, it was a great taster cruise for us to get to know and experience each of the 4 main islands.

 

So, if you think the POA is so expensive and you have the hotel points, it's up to you! 

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2 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

You claim for the whole trip.  Of course you need it or a tour for Mauna Kea.    

 

It sounds like you are making recommendations you haven’t done -with staying on Hawaii?   

 

 

Well, it's up to the OP. Some people like to hire nice cars when they are on vacation, some prefer to hire cheapo cars. It's up to the OP if he wishes to hire the 4WD for 2 trips to Mauna Kea, and hire a cheaper car for the rest of time.

 

😁😎😉

 

P.S. OP,  there are sunset tours to Mauna Kea …..

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With a 7 year old, I would do the cruise and  spend most of the hotel/land vacation in Maui. Waikiki is very busy - I love it but am not sure I would if I were 7.   It is very easy to get around in Maui and lots to see and do.  You will get a good taste of Kauai and the big island in the cruise.

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Posted (edited)

We lived on Oahu for 4 years, and took an island cruise to move there (long story), so have seen all the islands from both sides. Each island is incredibly unique so of course everyone will have different opinions for the best island, and it really does come to what you want out of the trip. The rules of thumb I usually share:

- Oahu for history (Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum),  and big city amenities like nightlife, fine dining and high end shopping (by the way, Oahu tends to get a bad rap--just avoid rush hour traffic and you'll be fine) 

- Kauai for natural beauty (Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast) and laid back 'old school' Hawaii (Our personal favorite) 

- Maui for outdoor activities and water sports (diving, etc) 

- Big Island for Volcanoes (will say though, if you have Hilton points, The Waikoloa Village is an INCREDIBLE resort for kids with fun pools, dolphins, and fun boat/monorail transports throughout the resort) 

So one question I would ask is will this be your only trip? If yes, then I would include the cruise because is really is a great sampler of what the islands have to offer (caveat: ours was on Royal Caribbean, so can't comment on POA specifically). If you plan on more trips, then I would pick 2 islands, spend 7 days on each (All of the islands have more than enough to keep you busy for 7 days if you have a rental car) and then do the other 2 the next trip. No matter what you pick though, you can't go wrong. 

Edited by RussNJodi
spelling and clarity

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We were on POA in June with our 16yo DD and had a great experience. DH and I had been to Maui for our honeymoon 20 years before, but never managed to get back to Hawaii. We loved getting to see 4 of the islands and docking overnight at Maui and Kauai. DH wants to return to Hawaii for his 50th in late 2020 and we’re debating between doing the cruise again (with different activities in each port) and doing a land trip. 

 

The prices I’m finding for hotels in our desired locations are pricey, and we know now that the cost for meals, beverages, activities, etc. would add up quickly. Another factor in our decision is convenience. We don’t want to have to pack up and travel 2 or 3 times during the trip — especially since we’re only planning on 8-9 days total. If we do a land trip, we’ll only go to 2 islands. Choosing the 2 is tough for us. Based on our experience on the cruise, we are most interested in returning to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. 

 

I dont think you can go too wrong with any of your options, but since you’re going for the first time, I think incorporating the cruise would allow you to see and do a lot without having to pack & unpack multiple times and worry about travel logistics. 

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Hello,

 

I've been to Hawaii 4 times: The first was 3 nights on Oahu and 3 nights on the Big Island, the second was on a 10 day trip - 4 nights Oahu, 1 night Kauai, 3 nights Big Island (1 Hilo, 2 Kona), and 2 nights Maui. The third was 3 nights in Oahu and the 7 night cruise, and the fourth was 8 nights on Oahu. We love all of the 4 main islands, but our favorites are Oahu and the Big Island. There is so much to do on Oahu, we still haven't seen everything! In my opinion, if you are doing a land vacation you should try to stay 5-7 nights on any one island. My reason is that driving to and from the airports and checking in and out of hotels eats up valuable time, and can be stressful. My second trip was on a land tour. We saw and did a lot, but it was a blur! My husband and I loved the cruise so much that we want to go again. We have it booked for next summer, with a 4 night pre-stay on Oahu at a hotel. The Pride of America is a beautiful ship. We can't wait to go again. As others have said, you need to decide what is important to you on your vacation. If Hawaiian culture and history are important, there is a lot on Oahu, and some good things on the other 3 islands as well. Oahu also has Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, great scenery, beaches, and more. Maui has great scenery, beaches, and Haleakala. The Big Island has the volcanos, the Place of Refuge, and the Hilton Waikoloa Resort is really nice. Kauai has great scenery, beaches, and three (at least) botanical gardens. 

Personally, I recommend the option of spending several days on Oahu, taking the cruise, and then the day at the end after you get back. Whatever you decide, I hope you have a great vacation!

 

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On 10/5/2019 at 1:17 PM, rsangiovanni said:

My wife, 7 year old daughter and I are planning our first trip to Hawaii in 2020 and will be flying from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re having a hard time deciding what would be the better option:

  1. 7 nights in O’ahu , followed by Pride of America cruise, and one more night in O’ahu. 
  2. 6 nights in O’ahu, 4 nights in Big Island (split between Kona/Hilo), and 5 nights in Kauai.
  3. 6 nights in O’ahu, 4 nights in Maui, and 5 nights in Kauai.

 

We got a good deal with POA Cruise ($5400 for a balcony, all free offers, WiFi, and $100 credit per port). If we decide to do the no cruise option, we can use Hilton Honors points for the stay at Big Island and Kauai so the only cost would be our flights, food and car rental when needed; it also helps that we are Hilton Honors Diamond status and that will give us free breakfast, WiFi, no resort fees, and a possible upgrade in those resorts.

 

While it will probably be more expensive to go with the cruise option, we like having food/drinks included while on the cruise, the ability to see more islands, and not having to waste time boarding airports and checking in... but are a little afraid of it being too rushed since the cruise does not spend too much time on each island. 

 

We would appreciate any help and insight. Thanks!!

I've been to Hawaii over 20 time.  Sometimes just land,  somtimes on cruises.  

I highly recommend option number 1.  You need 7 nights in Oahu.  There is so much to do and see there.  The cruise at the end will give you the chance to taste each island.  

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We have been to Hawaii four times. Each time we concentrated on just one island. Maui one time for 9 days and another for 7 days. Kauai for 10 days and Oahu for 7 days. If you think you will be back again this is the most relaxing way to go. Cruises are relaxing too though.

 

Edited by Peachypooh

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I agree. We decided to not do the cruise. We will end up doing just two islands (Oahu 7 days and Kauai 10 days). After looking up the things we wanted to do, we realized that we would miss a lot of the things we wanted to do if we took a cruise. I still feel like 7 nights in Oahu are not sufficient. Would have liked to stay 1-2 more nights so we can enjoy more of the north shore and the rest of the island. 

 

Thank you everyone for all of your input and suggestions. It helped a lot.

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You are fortunate to have so much time to plan with. My wife and I got married in Hawaii, during a week long trip to Oahu where we had a condo on the North Shore for a week.

 

It was so magical we returned to do the POA cruise. We have a relative who works for Westin, so we did a day pre and post cruise there in the heart of Waikiki. It was OK but I would not have paid the going rate for it but for what we got it for (75 bucks) I cannot complain.

 

You sure don't need a car if staying in Waikiki but we did rent one in every port of call during the cruise. Saw so much of Hawaii. No better way to tour the islands. Highly recommend.

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