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Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

Sydney, Australia
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Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

My daughter, 11, and I have booked a cruise on the Pride of Hawaii in January. Having also booked a 4 night hotel stay in Waikiki, my budget has started spiralling out of control.

The boat stops at the following places:

Hilo,

Kahului, Maui,

Kona, Hawaii

Port Allen (Nawiliwili), Kauai, Hawaii

We would deifinitely like to do a few onshore excursions while on the cruise, but I need to be cautious from a budget point of view. But still, this is a once in a life time trip for us (all the way from Sydney, Australia), so I want to make it the best I can and as much as we can.

I have these questions:

1. Is it better to book the excursions through NCL before hand?

2. Can we see some of the attractions on the different islands ourselves at a cheaper price?

3. Which excursions would you recommend?

4. Were there any that you would advise us against?

5. I believe there are different Volcanos to visit on the different Islands. We want to do one volcano visit. Which would be the best and on which island?

6. Any other tips?

Birmingham, Alabama
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1. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

I'll try and answer a few of your questions, and maybe bump your post back to the top for some more feedback.

First, I hope you have a great time! I am visiting Sydney for the first time early next year, and am looking very forward to it, although it will be mostly work and only a weekend or so of holiday!

Anyway...

1. If you want to do shore excursions, booking beforehand is not a bad idea, because sometimes the most popular trips get booked up (at least in my cruise experiences.)

2. Yes, you can see some of the attractions for a cheap price ... it depends on what sort of "attractions" you want to see. Remember, the "natural beauty" of all the islands is free! If you don't mind driving, you can grab a car in most places and sightsee at your own pace.

If I had one day on each island:

In Hilo, you will want to go to Volcanoes National Park. This is the volcano to visit ... it is also the active one. (Now, if your budget will manage it, a helicopter tour to see the hot lava would be awesome. But if not, a visit to the park is still pretty cool.) There is a lot to see and learn about in the park -- huge craters, lava tubes (you can hike through the Thurston Lava Tube ... it's pretty easy going.) You can hike through some of the craters, too, which is like being on the moon. Drive down chain of craters road -- this is the closest you can get to the flowing lava. You may be able to see steam where the lava meets the ocean -- otherwise, the ocean views are beautiful and you can see where the lava ran right overtop the road back in 1995 or so. The park is easy to drive to ... there are also tours from the ship. There are also many other companies that do tours, but I'm not sure of the logistics of how to get from the dock to the tours.

In Maui -- I would make this my beach/shopping day, if I had an 11 year old ... I would also consider a whale watching tour -- try Pacific Whale Foundation. Kaanapali beach is a great place to go -- also, the town of Lahaina is a fun place to shop and eat -- there are lots of little shops and such to browse and you could easily make a day out of the beach and shopping. Again, I am not sure how to get from the ship to these places, but there must be a way.

In Kona, go snorkeling. Kahaluu Beach Park is a great place to go and the snorkeling is great. It is south of where you will dock on the ship. But you can snorkel from shore for just the cost of snorkel equipment plus getting to the beach park. A snorkel tour would be great fun, too, and there are some that are not too expensive -- check out some of the posts on this forum for recommendations (search snorkeling and Kealakekua Bay or Captain Cook) ... some of them probably leave from Kona, and I think the ship comes into the actual town of Kona, so you may be able to catch a trip there that isn't affiliated with the ship.

In Kauai, I would go check out Waimea Canyon, or maybe kayak up one of the rivers. I've done the Wailua and it's great fun. The canyon is just amazing, though ... you will not believe there is something like that in Hawaii. You'll need either a car or a tour to see it.

3 & 4. I am not too familiar with the ship tours, but I do know they can be expensive. I recently helped a friend of mine choose excursions for his trip, and they all looked okay -- we chose based on level of activity, as his parents were going and were unable to walk long distances.

5. You want to see the volcano on the Big Island -- Kilauea. It's on the Hilo side of the islands.

Have a great trip -- hopefully someone else will jump in here and give you some idea about the possibility of taking tours that are not connected with the ship...

Victoria, Canada
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2. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

Konagirl..

What terrific ideas!!!!

I wonder if she/he could book some excursions online? Most tour company's will come and pick you up I believe...I bet it would be way less $$ booking online, rather than the ship excursions. What about a bike ride down Haleakela when on Maui?It doesn't have to be the sunrise one to be fun.

And of course the zipline seems to be quite popular too. I believe the zipline and Haleakela are in the same area.

And Kona on the Big island is a neat little town to explore on foot too..

Chicagoland
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3. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

Many people arriving on ships rent cars on each island and make their own tours. Only Big Island is huge; the rest are quite manageable by car in a day. (You can't see *everything*, of course!) I'd much prefer to stop and go when I wish instead of being loaded onto a bus; held up by the inevitable pokey person; having to stop at the bus driver's cousin's gifty-nifty shoppe.

The only "tours" I'd be interested in woud be helicopter tours on Big Island and Kauai (if they are flying in January on Kauai). Big Island is just too large to see much of in one day by car. Don't over shedule; it will be HOT.

Unless you are very interested in geology, you may find touring the active volcano park to be dull. I did. Lava is interesting to see, briefly. Most people are looking for typical tropical island beauty, not Hawaii's strong point. (I'd opt for seeing Haleakala, the dormant volcano on Maui, instead.) On Big Island, I'd head past Volcano after a quick stop, and go on to the Place of Refuge -- or drive along the wet side and on to Waimea's ranch country. Your daughter would probably like the Waikoloa hotel below Waimea, with its monorail and cabin cruisers providing transportation around the property. There are captive dolphins there, too. (This may be too far for your time on island.)

Kauai is the quickest tour because a lot of it isn't accessible by road. I'd head north to Princeville -- it may be rainy in January, but has beautiful scenery. I love Waimea canyon, but most of the time you can't SEE it due to clouds and fog. The tunnel of trees leading toward Poipu is lovely. You could do both the north end and Poipu in a day.

Maui's famous sights are: Road to Hana (too long for you to do with only a day on island), Haleakala volcano, the Iao Valley, its many beaches ( most lovely for swimming and snorkeling are along South Maui) and the old whaling town of Lahaina in West Maui, which has morphed into galleries/restaurants along its Front Street.

Don't be concerned about driving around in the islands. It's safe and the roads are good.

Birmingham, Alabama
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4. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

ChiSue, the cruise stops in Kona and Hilo -- driving past the volcano to the place of refuge is a bit out of the way, as they are on opposite sides of the island.

I agree, Volcanoes National Park can be boring for some people. ZSEF, it depends on what you and your daughter enjoy. If you like hiking and such, it can be great fun to explore and you can easily spend a day there. There is a lot more to see at the park than at Haleakala on Maui, in my opinion.

As for driving, I personally don't like to drive in countries where I have to drive on the opposite side of the road -- if you do rent a car, you will definitely be able to get around. If not, tours will be your main option. I do think most ships have tours that spend a few hours at Volcanoes Nat'l Park and then visit other spots like the Mac Nut factory or the botanical gardens. Another neat place to visit (although it won't take too much time) is the black sand beach at Punaluu, which isn't too far if you have a car.

As previous poster mentioned, the zip line tour in Maui gets great reviews -- I have never done it, but I bet an 11-year-old would enjoy it. It is on my list of things to do next time I visit!!

Victoria, Canada
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5. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

more terrific suggestions..and do try to get to the North Shore while you are on Oahu..the surf is absolutlely CRAZY that time of year.

You might also want to hike Diamond Head too...

and of course there is the Ala Moana mall :))

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

Thank You so much guys - very useful stuff!

I am a bit nervous of driving in another country on the other side of the road, but that certainly seems the way to go on the smaller Islands.

Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

you won't need a car on Oahu the bus system is fabulous..but the other islands..not so much..my friends from England felt awkward at first with the driving but they got used to it very quickly. As a matter of fact they liked it better!!!

Birmingham, Alabama
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8. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

You will be grateful to know I will NOT be driving in Sydney -- but I think you will be fine on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island -- you might want to stay off some of the windy roads, but otherwise, it's pretty easy and most of the intersections are straightforward. I would definitely avoid driving on Oahu as the traffic in the main parts of the island can be confusing even to locals who aren't used to it.

Elmhurst, Illinois
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9. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

We did the Pride of America last December. We found the cruise tour prices to be a little higher, but some people like the ease of not having to worry about coordinating the ships arrival and meeting the tour operator, especially if there is a sudden change of schedule.

We absolutely loved the Kona Captain Zodiac tour - it is by far the best cruise tour we have ever taken. The boat can be a little rocky since, but the tour guide was fantastic and the snorkeling was unbelievable (we thought the snorkeling here was so much better than the Molikini Crater on Maui). We did a helicopter tour with Inter-Island Helicopter on Kauai - this was amazing as well but very pricey.

Absolutely visit the north shore while on Oahu - the waves are incredible and you can see some great surfers there in January. I believe you can quite easily book a tour while in Waikiki so you can avoid driving - and you will get to see another side of Oahu that is so different than Waikiki.

On the cruise, if you want to eat at a specialty restaurant, reserve on the first day or the space will not be available. Good luck with your planning and have a great vacation.

Livermore...
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10. Re: Shore excursions - Pride of Hawaii - Jan

BookMark! =)