My wife and I were very lucky to be invited and hosted by Norwegian Cruise Line on this trip. Most of the itinerary and meals on and off the ship were arranged and paid for by NCL. This is what our partners do from time to time so that we can experience their product and share that experience with our valued clients. We did enhance the experience with a few activities that we paid for ourselves.
Hawaii is a long way from Toronto. But it’s definitely worth the flight.
After a full day of travel, we arrived in Honolulu and spent the evening walking the beach and grabbing a bite to eat. A nice start to the trip.
The next morning, we woke up extremely early due to the time difference and decided to go hike Diamondhead which we could see from our hotel. It was a quick Uber ride away and just under an hour to go up and down. The views were spectacular, and the hike was quite rewarding.
Back to the hotel, we packed up and headed to the ship.
A Hawaiian cruise onboard the NCL Pride of America is not about the ship. It’s about the islands and the people. Don’t get me wrong, the ship does its job well. It is 13 years old but had a refurbishment most recently in 2016. The staterooms are comfortable, the restaurants nice and the staff were amazing.
Our first port was in Maui and when I woke up that morning and went up to the top deck to get a coffee I was greeted by the sunrise, a rainbow and a beautiful island. Should it be any other way, I am in Hawai’i after all. Apparently, that is typical!
First day in Maui featured a shore excursion that took us throughout the island. We toured the Ocean Vodka distillery (nothing quite like sampling vodka and rum at 10 AM) and then the Maui Gold pineapple plantation. The highlight for me was the lesson on how to choose a good pineapple in the store. Sorry, if you want to find out the secrets you just have to make your way to Hawai’i.
We then made our way to Paia town for some free time and finished our tour and at Iao Valley. This was a truly spectacular experience. A must see.
Since we were overnight in Maui, the next day we had to ourselves and took a zodiac to Malikani Crater – this was unreal. A mostly sunken crater poking out of the ocean with reefs on one side. We went snorkeling and then off to another coastal area to see some turtles. Now if you have been to the Caribbean to swim with turtles you will know that your hosts typically bring lettuce to attract the turtles. Not so in Hawai’i. Our hosts told us it was hit or miss with seeing these turtles as they now where they like to hang out but that’s it. Lucky for us, we saw two turtles by swimming around an area where a fresh water stream enters the ocean floor. Took about 15 minutes for them to reveal themselves amongst the coral formations 30 feet down. I found one heading to the surface for a breath of air and had a 30 second stare down with him (or her). Wow!
You will hear over and over again, Hawai’i is about the experiences and this was certainly holding true for us.
The next day we were off to Hilo Town in the Big Island for a media event and to visit the university and an expo on the amazing astronomical capabilities (fact check) they have.
Unfortunately, due to a nearby hurricane we were unable to port in Kona as we needed to tender in from the ship and it was too dangerous. Definitely disappointing as I am a coffee person and wanted to visit the home of Kona Coffee. However, my spirits were lifted when the captain of the ship announced that early that afternoon he would slowly sail by the Na Pali coast so we can see it up close and personal. What a site! For those of you who are not familiar, it is the setting for Jurassic Park, this movie and that movie (fact check). Unbelievable – the photos don’t do it justice.
Our next port was Kauai and we started our day off with a round of golf along the ocean at Kauai Ocean Course. A great way to spend a morning.
That night we were off to a Luau – a very spiritual ceremony with dancing and storytelling. I must admit the setting was not the best as we joined 800 other people but you can’t go to Hawai’i and not experience a Luau – the story is amazing and the dancing was captivating.
The ship stayed overnight in Kauai and we decided to spend our last day with some friends we had met on board. They had a great idea of renting a jeep, grabbing some food and refreshments and driving down the coast to find a beach for the day. We had an amazing time. We drove for about 45 minutes to a dirt road, headed along that for 2 miles, then hiked through a bit of vegetation to walk onto a beach that had only 10 other people on it!
We spent the day eating, drinking, swimming and soaking up the beautiful Hawai’ian weather. What more could you ask for?
That night we had a great dinner with our group of new friends and sadly packed our bags to fly home the next day.
Hawai’i was a destination I had yet to experience and had high expectations that were not only met, but definitely surpassed.
For a first time to Hawai’i, a cruise aboard the Pride of America is a great way to see these beautiful islands because you get to see them all. With the two overnights in Maui and Kauai, you don’t feel like you are rushing your way around the islands – you get to truly experience this tropical paradise.