Although we are seasoned travelers and know Oahu pretty well, (this is dad's 69th cruise and husband use to make pogs for the islands) we wanted to go on a cruise for relaxation . We thought it would be more lesiurely paced for visits and we not want to deal with flying all over to each island and renting a car each time. What a mixed bag experience on the Norweian Cruise Line's Pride of Aloha. Here is the happenings so far:
Day One- Honolulu.Flew in from San Francisco in the morning. The group went to Ward Centre for lunch and strolled around Ala Moana Shopping Center and Waikiki Beach for the afternnon. We checked in and went into our rooms around 5:00 PM. First thing I always review when cruising is the daily newsletter to get information. There wasn't any to look at as our steward did not put one in our room No big deal, went down to the reception desk to obtain one and also booked reservations for dinner for the entire week. The system was down on their computers and ended up spending more than 30 minutes to complete reservations for dinner for 6 nights. Dinner at the Crossings Restaurant was horrendous. Service was extremely lax and ended up finishing 2 hrs and 40 minutes later. Missed the show.
Day Two- Kaui
I went to the buffet line upstairs and it was packed already at 7:20 AM. My children went to check out the lines outside and it was shorter, so we joined them there. However, the outside made to order selections are different then inside. Waffles are created inside whereas omelettes are made outside. Good luck if you want both as you will need to wait both places in order to get them.
We booked tours through Roberts Hawaii thru the web site at www.gorabbitgo.com. Roberts Hawaii bascially offer the same tours as NCL but much cheaper. It was very conveninent for us. There was staff waiting to pick us up at port and return was plenty of time before sailing. What an informative operator we had! Her name is Nani and she took us to Waimea Canyon. Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, it was spectacular. During the enire trip, Nani informed us with many of the sites and landmarks we saw and kept us entertained with personal funny stories. The tour commenced at 8:30 AM-and we came back at 1:30 PM...and it was only $19 per person, a stupendous deal! Dinner was at the Palace Restaurant. We were lucky to have two wonderful wait staff "Kay-Kye" the head waiter and Daniel (fromColumbia University )who serves as bus boy to make his tuition. Great guys, we had!
Day Three-Kaui. The family went directly up to the deck/pool level for breakfast buffet. Again, the line inside was horrendous, we went right outside to get our food. Many of the serving platters for entree were out of food.
Cousin Rocky was our tour guide today from Roberts Hawaii. This tour again left at 8:30 AM and returnded around 1:45PM. For $22 per person, Cousin Rocky took us to Wailua River for a boat ride with live Hawaiian music and 2 native dancers. It was nice and relaxing. Our three girls, ages 16, 19, and 21, liked the slow pace as we cruised down the river and took in the stories. Due to the last huricane, Fern Grotto just opened up again two months ago. Although it is not as lush and full as I've seen it in previous years, it was still very nice and romantic. If one expects alot on this tour, you will be disappointed. It was perfect for us after a long day yesterday, just to "hang loose" and go with the flow.
Upon our return, we went to the deck for food. What a nightmare! The buffet ran out of entrees and we had to wait. Being impatient, we went outside for the grill, thinking to get a quick hamburger or hotdog as we were starved. No patties, just hot dogs. Everything was out and we had to wait. Many people were grumbling in line about the lack of food and service. One elder gentleman, who came from Austrailia was especially mad. He was disgruntled from the previous night where he conveyed that it took 1 1/2 hours of waiting at a specialty restaurant for his reservations.
Day Four- Hilo Big Island
Same food each morning. We weren't picky, but I have been wanting a waffle or omlette for days but haven't the patience to stand in line for them. Just had fruits with a couple of sausages and scrambled eggs. Long lines inside the dining area again. Went outside to obtain breakfast.
Our family was really looking forward to this particular day. We all wanted to visit the Volcanoes National Park to view the steam ventsa and crater. Through Roberts Hawaii, we booked the deluxe package with Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls. We had a fantastic time, but a long day....9:30 AM- 4:30 PM for $30! First stop was at Hilo Hattie, because it was mandatory. However, we journeyed on to Mauna Loa Mac Nut Factory thereafter. The kids had a ball tasting the free samples. At VNP, we were amazed at all the wonders of nature, especially when we walked through the dark, damp lava tube. Rainbow Falls was pretty awesome. Take a look up close by going up the side stairs and walking to the pools of water which cascades down to form the falls. We finished up our day at the Akatsuka Orchid Nursery, where they gave each lady/girl an orchid for your hair. Nice.
Dinner ordeal was another long 2 1/2 hours, missed all the events. I forgot to mention that each day, our steward did not provide the daily newsletter, which would give us a schedule of ship activities. Also every day, our steward did not come to make our beds. In fact, I have not met him yet, which is odd since stewards on other cruises always introduce themselves the first day of the cruise. On this particular evening ,I called at 5PM for housekeeping to come. Left for dinner and came in the room at 8:45 PM, still not made. Went out again and returned around 11PM and the room was still not made. Gave up thinking about a shower.
Day Five-Kona Big Island
This day, I woke up early to go to the deck for pool towels for myself and my husband to take our showers. Afterwards, we went for breakfast on deck .Thanks to our daughters went early for breakfast to obtain a large table for us. After all this time, I still had not a chance to get a waffle or omlette, as the lines for these choices are humongous. Coffee iwas non exisitent at three stations and I had to ask the service staff to replenish. No mugs in two of the stations. I ended up just getting fruits and scrambled eggs outside deck to expedite.
The Historic Kona tour with Cousin Lincoln from Roberts Hawaii was nice. On this day, we explored Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park – an ancient Hawaiian village of refuge for kapu (forbidden law) breakers. Cousin Lincoln also took up to sample complimentary Mac Nut Coffee Cakes and 100& Kona Coffee at a Coffee Factory. It was a relaxing day, which finished at the local Farmers Market where we purchased red, juicy lichee nuts, mangoes and other fruits to enjoy along our ocean front walk back to the ship. Tour cost $19 for 3 1/2 hours.
Dinner was at L&L Hawaiian BBQ for the girls. WE had short ribs, on the ship which was pretty good.
Still no daily newsletter last night or this morning. I went down to reception center again to retreive one for our day's activities. The girls wanted to "veg out" today. After breakfast, we got off the ship to port and caught a free shuttle to Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center, which comes to port every 20 minutes. It was a wonderful mall with numerous brand stores, American Eagle, Macy's, Forever 21, and so forth. There is also a Starbucks and Jamba Juice to rejuvenate.
Returned to the ship for a day out by the pool for summer reading. At the mall, the girls ate Kobe Beef and rice for lunch. They loved it. My husband and I decided to have lunch on the ship. Selection was limited and tasted terrible. Husband had curry lamb stew which awful and fried chicken that was dry & bland. Knowing this, I took tuna and egg salad with fruits for my lunch. We should have eaten outside with the girls.
Does anyone have disembarkation information for this ship? Any tips on luggage tag colors or what to do to expedite? I have a feeling it will be chaotic. Thanks!