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Pride of America 7 day Hawaiian inter-island itinerary


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Hi Folks, I just booked this cruise for September. Hope pandemic is fading by then. My wife and I have cruised on Princess and Carnival in the Caribbean and this is a new cruise line and new territory for us. Can any of you old Norwegian cruisers give me any tips on things like embarkation, tipping, extra fees, etc? Looking forward to this cool itinerary. Anybody have any tips on things not to miss or to avoid? Happy New Year everybody!

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43 minutes ago, philv said:

Hi Folks, I just booked this cruise for September. Hope pandemic is fading by then. My wife and I have cruised on Princess and Carnival in the Caribbean and this is a new cruise line and new territory for us. Can any of you old Norwegian cruisers give me any tips on things like embarkation, tipping, extra fees, etc? Looking forward to this cool itinerary. Anybody have any tips on things not to miss or to avoid? Happy New Year everybody!

Aloha,

 

NCL and the Pride of America is the absolute best way to cruise Hawaii. You are in port every day and have two overnight port calls allowing you do some night excursions and early morning excursions (e.g., sunrise from the top of a volcano and a bike ride down). 

 

For this cruise, it is best to fly in a day or two early to help get you synced with the time zone. It's a 7+ hour flight and 4 time zones. (If you are using the NCL free air, you will have to pay a small supplement for arriving a day early). If you are using the NCL hotel and transfer, it use to allow you to check your bags at the hotel for transfer to the ship. 

 

NCL is like any other cruise line. You can get away with a no additional room charges, or you can rack up the charges on your room bill. Eat at the complimentary restaurants, use the drink package promotion/perk to have unlimited booze, and avoid spending money in the specialty restaurants above the promotion. That's what we do. Use your money to go to a luau (cheaper if you do it yourself before/after the cruise). 

 

Embarkation: It is a late departure allowing people to fly in on day of cruise (not recommended). You can spend the day touring Oahu or go to the ship for a noontime embarkation (that's what we do - get the cruise and free food/booze started). 

 

Wifi: Don't waste your money on wifi. You are in a US port every day. Check your email then. 

 

Hawaiian Adult Beverage Package: Highly recommended (you pay the 20% gratuity on the retail price). Enjoy frozen umbrella drinks daily. 

 

NCL Air: You don't get to chose your flights or airlines. NCL will book you a few weeks before your cruise with the cheapest air carrier. They flights are usually not the best times or routing, but flights to Hawaii are expensive and the free air may be worth your time if you can stand being out of control of your flights. 

 

image.png.73e5700213e2b328583d35765bcfbb6c.png

Pride of America waiting to sail the Hawaiian waters again. 12/27/2020.

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We loved this itinerary.  We arrived 4 nights early and enjoyed Oahu before boarding.  We loved the Haleakala at sunset excursion.  Many people actually reserved rental cars in advance and explored independently instead of doing ship excursions.  We did that in Kauai and downloaded a gps enabled self guided tour app like Gypsy.   Waimea Canyon was great.

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Posted (edited)

what is the best time of the year for a Hawai cruise? with calm sea and sunny weather? ( and not too much kids on Board )

 

Edited by Steff79
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3 hours ago, Steff79 said:

what is the best time of the year for a Hawai cruise? with calm sea and sunny weather? ( and not too much kids on Board )

 

To avoid kids, sail while school is in session like May.  We sailed in July and even then there werent a ton of kids and the kids that were there were older and better behaved.  The only rough seas we felt was when we departed an island.

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One hint I picked up on the Hawaii boards was to rent a car in each port if you want to explore on your own. Could see more of the islands that way and weren't part of a group. This worked out well for us. Went from beach to beach at many stops and if we wanted snacks or drinks on shore could stop at a grocery store. Drove up to the volcano and followed the route that a lava flow would take. Could do and see whatever we wanted. On the other hand if there is a port where you want more historical info that is offered by an organized tour or to do a boat trip there is no need for a car. If you are only interested in exploring near the port do not rent a car. Parking and crowds make this a hassle.

 

Our flight home was late in the evening so rented a car that day too and drove around the island as much as we wanted and went to the Dole plantation on our own. Gave us a place for our luggage and had everything with us.

 

 

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We rented cars last trip in each port.  

 

On Kauai went to Waimea Canyon during the day then Smith's Luau at night. They get pretty good reviews.  Alternatively, they also offer bus shuttles and you can buy tickets ahead of time.  

 

The luau at Lahaina also gets positive reviews but I don't recall name.

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This is great stuff. Thank you so much for your replies.

Question: What’s the routine for embarkation? We have sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale where you drop your main baggage with porters and then proceed to terminal with your carry on. Same deal?

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Just FYI for everyone:  Check out "101 Things To Do On (insert island name)" .  This will give you a bit of an idea what is offered on each island so you can go on and research what intrigues you.  Do note that businesses here are still opening and closing due to Covid-19, so check for current status.  Aloha!

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We did this cruise in 2015 and had the time of our lives.  We flew in a few days early to explore Oahu... I'm retired military, so we stayed at the Hale Koa (an Armed Forces Recreation Services Resort) on Waikiki Beach.

 

We rented a car on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, all through Discount Hawaii Car Rental.  In Hilo we booked a van tour; in Kailua-Kona, we booked an excursion through the ship to the seahorse farm... very cool tour.  On the ship, we had an aft balcony which was perfect for viewing the Na Pali coast.

 

It was the prefect cruise to get a "taste" of the four main islands... we've been back to Oahu for a week, and are planning to go back again to spend a week on Maui.

 

The photo below was taken from our balcony, docked in Kauai

Kauai Sunrise.jpg

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So glad you asked about the POA cruise, philv!  We went on NCL’s POA 11-day explorer cruise in July, 2016 and had a fabulous time!  While on Oahu, we really enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), Dole Plantation & seeing Pearl Harbor.  Then, we did “Lahaina on our own” (love Lahaina) & went to the top of Haleakala on Maui (our second time & it was fogged in both times!), Volcanoes National Park in Hilo, and the “Directors’ Cut” tour on Kauai.  (We had been to a luau & taken the road to Hana before, so we didn’t do those again.)  These were all ship tours because my husband would rather relax than have to drive & we don’t mind being part of a tour group.  In Kona, we did a tour that included a coffee plantation, Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park “place of refuge” and St. Benedict’s painted church, which we really enjoyed but, next time, we plan to explore the town as, although you tender in, you're right there in the city.  We were booked on the POA again last March for our 40th anniversary and are re-booked for this May, although pretty sure we’ll reschedule for October, too.  We plan to arrive 3 days prior & stay at one of the Waikiki Beach hotels (we’re booked at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but that may change). Our first full day on Oahu, we’ll re-visit the PCC, taking their shuttle both ways from the hotel & attending dinner & their show, “Ha,” while there (you have to reserve on their website ahead of time).  Next day is reserved for the “Monarch’s Tour” of the Bishop Museum & Iolani Palace, and we'll have tickets for the Waikiki Hop-on Hop-off Trolley for that afternoon & the next day (Leonard’s Bakery for malasadas will be a must, along with the shopping hot-spots for me).  In Maui, we’ll do the Hula Hula HO HO Trolley & stop at Paia town & the Maui Tropical Plantation the first day, and the second day we’ve reserved Lahaina again but with the submarines!  In Hilo, we have a volcano tour booked to see the “new” lava area & in Kauai we will book the NCL Special with Hawaii Soul Tours (they have a great itinerary – you can check it out on their website).  Also, check out 35 Tips for your Cruise on Pride of America from Prof. Cruise: https://profcruise.com/35-tips-for-your-cruise-to-hawaii-on-ncls-pride-of-america/.  She has tips about the ship, cabins, menus & a lot more!  I hope I’ve given you some good ideas.  Have a wonderful cruise, and thank you for letting me talk about our plans!

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1 hour ago, NikiPinkston said:

In Maui, we’ll do the Hula Hula HO HO Trolley & stop at Paia town & the Maui Tropical Plantation the first day, and the second day we’ve reserved Lahaina again but with the submarines! 

You might want to make note that, sad to say,  the Maui Tropical Plantation is out of business now and the submarines are not running at this time.

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1 hour ago, Silver Sweethearts said:

You might want to make note that, sad to say,  the Maui Tropical Plantation is out of business now and the submarines are not running at this time.

Oh, so sad to hear that! Thank you for letting me know, Silver Sweethearts.

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We did the PoA in 2005 so lots has probably changed since then. We did enjoy the whole cruise and did all excursions through the ship. In hindsight and more experience under our belts and we would have done it differently - ie less ship excursions and more local excursions or rental cars. One thing to note is that there is not much parking for rental cars in the overnight ports (both are primary cargo ports and this could have changed since 05). Since you are still in the USA boarding is very simple - no passports and no worry about money exchange. As others have mentioned you travel at night and are in a port every day so no need for the internet onboard. We also flew in early and stayed at the same hotel that NCL used for their headquarters - they even had an office in the lobby. We toured the PCC the day before the cruise and arranged for an island tour that incuded Pearl Harbor the day of the cruise - it ended up at the ship - Best tour we took - Pearl Harbor is awesome.

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9 hours ago, NikiPinkston said:

Also, check out 35 Tips for your Cruise on Pride of America from Prof. Cruise: https://profcruise.com/35-tips-for-your-cruise-to-hawaii-on-ncls-pride-of-america/.  She has tips about the ship, cabins, menus & a lot more! 

 

Thanks @NikiPinkston, I had to "swoop in" and grab this tip. I've bookmarked the web page and will read it over carefully. I'm booked on PoA, Oct 23-30, 2021. Hope it goes. Fingers crossed 🤞...

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4 hours ago, bonvoyagie said:

We did the PoA in 2005 so lots has probably changed since then. We did enjoy the whole cruise and did all excursions through the ship. In hindsight and more experience under our belts and we would have done it differently - ie less ship excursions and more local excursions or rental cars. One thing to note is that there is not much parking for rental cars in the overnight ports (both are primary cargo ports and this could have changed since 05). Since you are still in the USA boarding is very simple - no passports and no worry about money exchange. As others have mentioned you travel at night and are in a port every day so no need for the internet onboard. We also flew in early and stayed at the same hotel that NCL used for their headquarters - they even had an office in the lobby. We toured the PCC the day before the cruise and arranged for an island tour that incuded Pearl Harbor the day of the cruise - it ended up at the ship - Best tour we took - Pearl Harbor is awesome.

A lot has changed since then.  We first went 2006 when they had three ships.  You must have hit POA with the new car smell.

 

Then the service was poor as they could not staff adequately or sufficiently.  Swore off ever again but reviews gradually got better.  Went again 2016 and it was great and almost like any other NCL ship.

 

Staff was great other than the cranky old guy (my age) working buffet bar.

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Thank you everybody for your replies. This is great stuff. Our favorite thing on Caribbean cruises is beach combing. Can anyone recommend beaches for long leisurely strolls. 

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9 minutes ago, philv said:

Thank you everybody for your replies. This is great stuff. Our favorite thing on Caribbean cruises is beach combing. Can anyone recommend beaches for long leisurely strolls. 

 

 

Check out the Hawaii Ports of Call forum.  Lots of good and helpful info.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/37-hawaii/

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We are scheduled for this cruise in February 2022.  With cruising pretty much shut down we decided that we might like to go back to Hawaii.  We've been there 3-4 times, including both cruises and land based.  We were looking at a land based vacation when I thought that if we booked far enough ahead we might also be able to throw in this cruise  as a start, just for fun.  We will likely fly in 3-4 days ahead of the cruise, do the cruise, then do 2 weeks on land.  Looking at one week in Lahina, Maui and one week in Kona on the Big Island.

 

A couple of places that we went to that haven't been mentioned are; climb to the top of Diamond Head (take your time, have lots of water, and don't be afraid to stop and rest or head back down;  strenuous but worth the view) and go to the Punch Bowl National Cemetery.

 

Since we will be there at the height of "whale season" we will likely take several excursions for this.  We once had whales under our tour boat and so close out of the water that if your arms were 6' long you could have touched them.  

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