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Cruising Hawaii – NCL

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Ever thought about taking a cruise to Hawaii, but you didn’t want to spend basically 8 days at sea or go to a foreign port?

Norwegian’s Pride of America (POA) may be a good choice. Now, I know there are many skeptics out there that believe a cruise ship with an “American” crew is the worst thing ever. And anyone who has read the cruise forums may not even think it is worth giving a try, but I however, quite enjoyed my 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on NCL’s POA.

You get to see the best of 4 islands and only have to unpack once. So, perhaps it is best to think of the POA as more a floating hotel, than a cruise ship. For me this cruise was a no-brainer. I had spent numerous vacations in Hawaii before, on Oahu, Maui and Kauai and loved each island for everything they had to offer. One of hubby’s desires was to see a volcano on the big island of Hawaii. This cruise gives you all four islands and enough time on each to really get a feel for what they have to offer.

I would suggest you plan on a day or two before or after the cruise to really enjoy Oahu and take in the sights there. A must see would be Pearl Harbor and USS Missouri. Other excursions to consider would be strolling on Waikiki Beach, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and the Hawaiian Plantation Village.

This last trip I didn’t schedule any time on Oahu, we just flew over, got off the plane and boarded the ship. Embarkation was a very smooth process for us. We had booked a penthouse suite so we were in a separate line for check-in. Once we checked in, we were escorted onto the ship, where we received a glass of sparkling wine, and taken to a private bar where we had additional drinks and Hors d’Oeuvres. After a very short wait we were able to go to our cabin, where our luggage was already waiting inside. The cabin had bright colors and dark woods. There was a very large walk-in closet/dressing area complete with a make-up table and mirrors.

On the other side of the closet were cabinets that held a mini fridge, a coffee maker, glasses and additional shelving.

There was a couch, separate table adorned with a flower bouquet and two chairs, a desk, flat screen television, and a king size bed. The balcony was large with a table and four chairs and two lounge chairs. While ported at Oahu, we had a beautiful view of Diamond Head.

We unpacked, and after the required muster drill, which was very organized, we ventured off to get some food. Not too difficult because we were just steps away from a grill and a bar.

The first port on the cruise was Kahului, Maui. This would be were we spent the next two days. Hubby stayed on the ship as I ventured off to go to the familiar places I have been on Maui. I was fortunate enough to find a taxi that for $100 took me to Lahaina, The Whaler, the Maui Aquarium, and a brief stop at Walmart. Must sees on Maui – the Luau in Lahaina is one of the best I have ever seen. The Maui Aquarium, and the Road to Hana (this is an all day trip though). Also nice to see is the Haleakala Crater , the Molokini Crater Snorkel. If you can swing it Hilo Hattie’s in Lahaina has some decent shopping. There is also the Atlantis Submarine adventure, where you go about 150 feet under water and get to see so much wildlife it will amaze you.

After Maui, we go off to Hilo, Hawaii (Big Island) and enjoy the Circle of Fire Helicopter tour. There are also tours of Volcanoes National Park and beach excursions where you can swim with the wildlife.

Next is Kona, where we took the Historic Kona tour. We had a very informative tour guide and saw a lot of old Kona and stopped at a coffee plantation. Kona also offers snorkeling, and a beach day blast. In Kona you take a tender off the ship, but this process was very smooth and went quickly.

Days 6 and 7 are spent in Kauai. This is one of my favorite islands. Rich and lush foliage and abundant rainfall have earned this island the nickname of The Garden Island. Kauai, is slower paced than Maui and Oahu, but has so much natural beauty you get lost in just going to the different falls or touring Waimea Canyon. You can’t drive completely around this island, but you can travel it all in less than a day. You can see areas that were used in many movies, including Jurassic Park. There are wet and dry caves to explore, and zodiac rides around the Na Pali Coast. In addition there is also a wonderful Kalamaku Luau offered here.

When the ship departs, they sail around to the Na Pali Coast and they turn the ship so the view is first on the Port than on the Starboard side, so no one misses out. There were plenty of Humpback Whales as we cruised slowly past the scenic coast.

On board the ship we didn’t go to the dining rooms for our meals as the Steakhouse was included in our cabin price. We went there a few times for our meals, but were very happy with the grill area, the 50’s diner, and the Lido deck food. There was an excellent bar with a pub style feel to it, where they had daily drink specials along with Beer, Wine and Margarita tasting that were reasonably priced.

I found the crew to be very friendly both in the service areas and in the shops. Most that I talked to had been on this ship for three to twelve years and seemed happy to be there. I know that many people say the turn-over of crew is higher because of the Americanized crew members, but if it was, it was not over apparent. Just for those that may not know, many of the service industries and hotels in Hawaii, have a high turn-over of people too. Seems most people don’t want to work when they live in Paradise (especially when surf’s up!)

I would probably do this cruise again just because you can see so much and not waste a week on the water to do it.
~~Aloha~~

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