Hawaiian Cruising on the Pride of America
(January 19 to January 29, 2006)
We had tried once before to take a cruise around the Hawaiian islands, only to have the cruise line go bankrupt, so we decided to try again during the week of our twentieth wedding anniversary.
The following is the day-by-day itinerary of the trip: pictures are available at the italicized areas.
At each page, you can scroll down to see more photos.
- January 19: Flew from Newark, NJ, to Honolulu. Stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott and admired the view.
- January 20: Spent the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Ate at a lu'au. and watched the evening show, called Horizons.
- January 21: We boarded the Pride of America.
- January 22: Visited the Big Island, Hawaii, but got rained out of a helicopter tour of the volcano. The ship cruised past lava flows after dark.
- January 23: We sailed from Maui to the island of Lana'i on the Trilogy.
- January 24: Goof-off day. No photos.
- January 25: Kona, Hawaii: We went whale-watching, and saw some other interesting sights. In the afternoon, we took a bus tour, including Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and the Painted Church.
- January 26: Kaua'i, Hawaii: We went on a boat tour on the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
- January 27: Kaua'i, Hawaii: We went on a movie tour, and also saw Puff the Magic Dragon.
- January 27: Kaua'i, Hawaii: We went on a rental-car tour of Oahu.
- January 28-29: Fly home from Honolulu to Newark. Collapse.
Would we recommend this cruise?
Not on this cruise line, not unless there was overwhelming evidence that they care enough to improve dramatically.
We described most of what's below on the Comment Card at the end of the cruise, and challenged anyone reading our comments to reply by e-mail — if they do, we'll reprint whatever they say…
- Lovely, new ship.
- Location, location, location: we had wanted to see as many of the islands as possible, and we did.
- A wide variety of shore excursions.
- The joking juggler (who performed at several of the evening shows) was awesome. Imagine juggling three clubs — while balancing a moving toy hula-dancer, on a tray, balanced on 3 half-full wine glasses, on a tray, balanced on 4 half-full wine glasses, on a tray, on a pole about 3 feet long, on his chin — while riding a unicycle on a moving ship. And making bad jokes about it as he did it. Yes, we saw it; it can be done.
Other websites of possible interest:
- Service was not in the vocabulary of most of the crew. Perhaps having well-fed young Americans with guaranteed tips rather than hungry eastern Europeans and Philippinos as we'd become used to made the difference, or perhaps it's simply terrible management, as often seemed the case.
- The food occasionally rose to the level of ordinary.
- The claim that there are seven restaurants on board faded rapidly. Most required advance reservations and a cover charge. Steph noticed that two (Skyline and Liberty) turned out to have the same menu. They were physically connected by a staircase (they were on the 5th and 6th levels) and did have differing decor. And menus at the specialty restaurants didn't change from day-to-day.
- The air conditioning in the common areas was overdone, and felt like refrigeration. The staff in the Italian restaurant said they had complained every day that it was too cold. (Fortunately, there were thermostats in the cabins, so we could self-adjust our cabin's temperature.)
- No captain's welcome-aboard reception.
- No bridge tour.
- Alcohol was not permitted to be brought on board from the ports.
- Evening shows at varying times left everyone confused: is there one show or two tonight? Is it at 7:15 or 7:30 tonight? And when should I set dinner reservations to catch the show. Oops, sorry, the restaurants are now filled, so can't get to the specialty restaurant anyway.
- The second big show was apparently designed to insult everyone. It opened with an overly-long display of naked skin (two piece swimsuits) and feathers, on the young women dancers who were pretending to be Native Americans. Sooner or later, all the dancers pretended to be Nazi storm troopers, marching in front of a huge eagle. Then it turned out we weren't watching "Springtime for Hitler" from the Producers but a misguided effort to honor American troops, as the storm troopers burst into singing the US military services' theme songs. And to honor America's diversity, they sang Christian gospel songs. And to insult the families of those who died at the Twin Towers on 9/11, several videos of the towers, including one that duplicated the path of one plane flying in from the south past the Statue of Liberty towards the towers.
- The shows had singers and dancers but canned music.
- No umbrellas to use from the gangway to the terminal buildings. The tours did have them available.
- Although we had notified the staff that we had an anniversary while on board, they never sent us any congratulations. (Other couples got a certificate good for an extra helping of cake in a plastic container.)
- Did I mention that the ship was very well refrigerated?
Pride of America (at the company's website)
Waikiki Beach Marriott (our hotel at Waikiki)
The Polynesian Cultural Center (a very worthwhile way to see seven island groups in one day)
Trilogy Excursions (Our excellent sail from Maui to Lena'i)
Coco Palms (the resort where Elvis stayed, and filmed Blue Hawaii)
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. . . as of January 29, 2006