My Kids LOVED NCL

Posted By : cruising/ 0 0

I just took my kids on their first cruise and it was fantastic. NCL is perfect for families. There was a ton to do for every age group and the food options are limitless. We had a balcony stateroom, and there was enough room for the four of us. I loved sitting out on the balcony – it meant I could see the sunset even if we were back in our room getting changed for dinner.  The staff on board were excellent.

We sailed from NY to Bermuda – the experience of sailing out of NY harbor past the Statue of Liberty is something everyone should experience.

My kids are already planning their next cruise. 

NCL Japan Cruises

Cruising to Japan: 11 Incredible Ports to Explore

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 95 0

When you journey to Japan you will experience a land of culture, history and sites beyond your imagination. To ensure you see all you are meant to, read on to discover 11 incredible ports to explore when you sail Japan with Norwegian Cruise Lines

If you’re looking through Norwegian’s Asia cruises, you’ll find no shortage of beautiful and exotic ports, many of which are in Japan. In fact, you can even book a cruise that primarily explores some of Japan’s most iconic destinations. One option is a 13-day cruise from Yokohama. If you’re planning a cruise to Japan, here’s a look at 11 incredible ports in Japan you can’t miss.

1. Shimizu (Mount Fuji)
Shimizu is a popular port because it’s the gateway to Mount Fuji (pictured above), but it’s also one of Japan’s most beautiful ports. Here, you can visit Japan’s first sushi museum, check out the archeological site of Toro that dates back to 200 BC, or wander through a 650-year-old black pine forest. If you’re interested in regional specialties, you’ll find traditional wooden handicrafts, fabrics, and local eats like a sweet jellied confection known as yokan.

2. Kobe
Kobe, Japan, is famous for its iconic beef, but it’s also the gateway to the popular city of Osaka. Here you can visit Ikuta Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest shrines, and spend the rest of the day eating and drinking your way through one of Japan’s most beloved food destinations. Enjoy an endless amount of street foods, and don’t miss Kobe’s Nada District, which is the top sake-producing region in the county.

3. Kanazawa
Travelers who want to learn more about Japan’s Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1886, should book a cruise that stops in Kanazawa. This is the second-largest city to survive World War II intact. You can explore the old castle town, the Nagamachi samurai district, and teahouses in the geisha district. You’ll find no shortage of temples and museums, plus a historic market that dates back to 1721.

4. Sapporo
Sapporo is one of Japan’s youngest cities and was the host city for the 1972 Winter Olympics. World class skiing and the annual ice festival are two reasons people flock to Sapporo, especially in the winter months. From Sapporo, you can also visit other iconic destinations, such as Hokkaido, or mineral-rich hot springs like Noboribetsu.

5. Beppu
Beppu is famous for its countless hot springs. The most famous of these is Jigoku, or Hell Circuit, but you won’t be taking a dip here, as it’s only for admiring. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may be able to view thousands of cherry blossoms in the spring or the stunning leaves of autumn. For local food specialties, don’t miss stopping by the historic Tomonaga Panya. This bakery dates back to 1916, and its signature specialty is the wanchan (doggie) bun.

6. Sasebo
Sasebo was once an old fishing village, but it transitioned into a large naval port in the 19th century. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the wide range of outdoor activities here. Visit the zoological and tropical botanical gardens with over 1,200 plant species and 80 animal species. Love Dutch tulips? Huis Ten Bosch is a recreation of a 17th-century Dutch village, complete with its own tulip fields. For traditional Japanese fare, explore the Yorozu-cho District where you can find a fun market with fresh seafood, produce, and plenty of handmade pottery and clothing.

7. Hakodate
The best views in Hakodate are seen from atop Hakodate Mountain. You can take a scenic ride up the gondola to the observation deck and marvel at the views below. Don’t miss interesting Hakodate attractions like Fort Goryokaku, built in the shape of a star, or the Hakodate market. Be sure to eat local specialties like kaisen-don, a seafood rice bowl.

8. Sakaiminato
The western part of Japan is seafood heaven, and Sakaiminato is the main fishing port for this part of the country. If you’ve eaten succulent snow crab in Japan, it comes from the Sakai Port. Beautiful sculptures from local artist Shigeru Mizuki line Kitaro Road, and the city is famed for its “Yokai” bronze sculptures of Japanese folklore spirit monsters.

9. Kochi
Kochi is another fun Japanese port, especially if you want to experience a Japanese beach. Katsurahama Beach is beautiful and is home to the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial that honors the famous Japanese peace negotiator. Settlement in this area started in 1601, and you can visit the area surrounding the historic Kochi Castle. Don’t miss trying Katsuo no tataki, which is a type of tuna tataki.

10. Miyako-Jima
Okinawa is renowned for its natural beauty, and Miyako-Jima is a beautiful port in the Okinawa Prefecture. Visitors are blown away by the turquoise water and world-class snorkeling. After you’ve worked up an appetite in the water, be sure to try Okinawa soba, a local specialty.

11. Hiroshima
Hiroshima is an emotional port for many travelers. It’s a historically rich region, but also a solemn reminder of World War II. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, where you’ll find numerous monuments to honor those who perished during the war. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Hiroshima is renowned for its local cuisine, including okonomiyaki, a crepe-like dish that some people refer to as Japanese pizza. It has vegetables, cabbage, and usually seafood. If you like oysters, don’t miss trying grilled oysters in Hiroshima either.

If your budget and vacation time allows, consider an East Asia cruise that primarily explores some of these ports in Japan. Many itineraries start or end in Tokyo, so you can add extra days to explore one of the world’s most dynamic cities on your own.

 

 

 

 

Original Blog Post can be found here

Free At Sea – Choose Up To 5 Free offers

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 1514 0

Norwegian’s Free at Sea promotion now lets you choose up to 5 fantastic, FREE offers!

Book a Studio or Inside stateroom and choose 1 free offer

Choose 2 free offers when you book an Oceanview, Balcony or Mini-Suite.

Best of all, cruise in Norwegian’s Concierge accommodations, a Suite or The Haven and enjoy all five free offers.

Choose from a FREE Unlimited Open Bar, FREE shore excursion credits, FREE specialty dining, FREE WiFi and Friends & Family Sail FREE (on select sailings).

 

PLUS take advantage of our exclusive Onboard Credit offer where you can receive up to $300 Onboard Credit per stateroom compliments of us! 

Category 3 – 7 day Sailings 8+ day Sailings  Europe Sailings
Oceanview $25 per stateroom $50 per stateroom $75 per stateroom
Balcony $50 per stateroom $100 per stateroom $150 per stateroom
Mini-Suite $75 per stateroom $150 per stateroom $200 per stateroom
Suites & Haven $100 per stateroom $200 per stateroom $300 per stateroom

 

With a value of up to $2,800, don’t miss out and book today with Norwegian’s Free at Sea and make unforgettable memories you’ll talk about for years to come.

 

RECOMMENDED SAILINGS

7 day Western Caribbean | Norwegian Dawn
December 15 2019 from Tampa to Tampa

Balcony fares starting at CA $1,619 per person inc. taxes
BONUS: Up to $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom + Free or Reduced Airfare

 

7 Day Western Caribbean | Norwegian Getaway
January 17 2020 from New Orleans to New Orleans

Balcony fares starting at CA $2,049 per person inc. taxes
BONUS: Up to $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom + Free or Reduced Airfare

 

7 Day Western Caribbean | Norwegian Escape
February 08 2020 from Miami to Miami

Balcony fares starting at CA $1,925 per person inc. taxes
BONUS: Up to $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom + Free or Reduced Airfare

 

7 Day Hawaiian Islands Cruise | Pride of America
February 1, 2020 from Honolulu to Honolulu

Balcony fares starting at CA $4,210 per person inc. taxes
BONUS: Up to $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom + Free or Reduced Airfare

 

CHOOSE FROM THESE SPECIAL OFFERS based on stateroom category.

FREE Unlimited Open Bar
Enjoy a poolside mojito, highballs in the casino, and a glass of pinot at dinner, all included with the Ultimate Beverage Package. Savings of up to $1,400

FREE Specialty Dining
With Free Specialty Dining, Guests 1 & 2 receive a Dining Package with up to 5 free meals at our Specialty Dining venues. You save up to $160.

FREE Shore Excursions
Explore more of the shore with a Free $50 Shore Excursion Credit per port. You save up to $200.

FREE Wi-Fi
Stay connected with friends and family back home while you’re at sea with an Internet Package Time Plan—post, update, tweet, pin and more with WiFi you can use anywhere on the ship. You save up to $130.

Family & Friends Sail FREE
Invite your friends and family along for the cruise of a lifetime. With Free Extra Guests, Guests 3 & 4 enjoy complimentary cruise fares on select cruises with the Free Extra Guests OfferYou save up to $1,000.

 

Connect with a Cruise Specialist to start planning a Norwegian cruise

NCL Cruise Line, Pride of America, Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii

Free at Sea to Hawaii with Norwegian

Posted By : Alka Subin/ 752 0

Experience Hawaii and take advantage of Norwegian Cruise Lines Free at Sea Hawaii promotion. Only Norwegian Cruise Line allows you to see four islands with two overnight stays in seven days. Their award winning itinerary gives you the most time in port – nearly 100 hours – so you can capture the spirit and soul of Hawaii as you visit Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. And since Norwegian sails round trip from Honolulu year-round, they offer Hawaii vacations on your schedule. So whether you’re pounding the surf, exploring the Kualoa Mountain Ridge, or learning an authentic hula dance, this will be the vacation where you discover what paradise means to you.

 

Norwegian’s Free At Sea Hawaii for 7 Day Hawaii Cruises offers up to $2,800 in Savings 

Choose from 5 Free Offers*

  1. FREE Unlimited Beverage Package
  2. FREE Shore Excursions
  3. FREE Specialty Dining
  4. FREE WiFi
  5. Friends & Family Sail Free

PLUS Ask about FREE or Reduced Airfare on select sailings 

 

Book a Studio or Inside stateroom and you can choose 1 free offer
Book an Oceanview, Balcony or Mini-Suite and choose 3 free offers
Book a Suite and enjoy ALL 5 Free Offers 

 

7-Day Hawaii, Round-trip Honolulu
With unique 7-day Hawaii cruise itineraries, you get overnights in both Maui and Kauai as well as visits to Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. You’ll be on island time as you discover cascading waterfalls, active volcanos, black, green and white sand beaches, historic sites and unspoiled nature.

SHIP: Pride of America
Ports of call: Embark: Honolulu (Oahu);Kahului (Maui); Hilo (Hawaii); Kona (Hawaii); Nawiliwili (Kauai);
Disembark: Honolulu (Oahu);

 


ilovecruising recommended Shore Excursions

CIRCLE OF FIRE HELICOPTER
Activity level: 1
Approx. Duration: 2 ½ hours
Shore Excursion Cost: starting at CA $400 per person

Port: Hilo, Hawaii
Join this thrilling helicopter ride for a bird’s eye view of Earth’s most geologically active environment – the Kilauea volcano. This 45-minute flight-seeing adventure allows you to view current volcanic activity that can’t be seen from the ground.

Hover over Kilauea’s most recent eruption sites, where streams of hot lava may glow red against an otherwise blackened landscape. Follow the surface activity down to the devastated village of Kalapana and the black sand beaches formed as lava was cooled by the sea. You’ll receive an informative commentary from your tour guide/pilot over an individual headset.

 

CAPTAIN ZODIAC RAFT, SNORKEL & DOLPHIN ADVENTURE
Activity level: 2
Approx. Duration: 3 ½ hours
Shore Excursion Cost: Adult starting at CA $199 per person, Child starting at CA$145

Port: Kona, Hawaii
Head out on a fast-paced adventure tour aboard a 24-foot Zodiac raft for an exciting shore-hugging ride along the Kona coast. Keep your eyes open for the spinner dolphins, pilot whales, sea turtles, and manta rays that frequent these waters year-round and the humpback whales that visit from December to April.

Your destination is scenic Kealakekua Bay, the only marine sanctuary on the island of Hawaii. Here you can swim and snorkel in protected waters. On the return ride, you’ll explore sea caves, lava tubes and learn more about the geology of the island.

Note: Participants must be at least 4 years of age and weigh no more than 320 lbs. wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. This tour is not for guests who are pregnant, who have chronic back or neck problems, or who have had previous back or neck surgery.

 

HISTORIC KONA
Activity level: 1
Approx. Duration: 3 ½ hours
Shore Excursion Cost: Adult starting at CA $119 per person, Child starting at CA$84

Port: Kona, Hawaii
Embark on a journey of discovery as you explore the historic city of Kona and the sun-drenched Gold Coast. Travel past ancient temples, fields of coffee and macadamia nuts, and breathtaking coastal scenery. The big island is world-famous for its rich blends of Kona coffee, and a stop at a Kona coffee house gives you a chance to sip the flavorful brew while browsing through the shop and exhibits.

Enjoy views of beautiful Kealakekua Bay, and make a stop at St. Benedict’s historic painted church, noted for its colorful murals depicting biblical scenes. You’ll discover old Hawaii at Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. This place of refuge has served as a political and religious sanctuary for the breakers of sacred law, or kapu, since ancient times. Here you will find a temple that once housed the bones of deceased chiefs, and wooden images of the fierce gods that protect it.

 

ROAD TO HANA
Activity level: 1
Approx. Duration: 9 ½ hours
Shore Excursion Cost: starting at CA $239 per person

Port: Kahului, Maui
Sit back and enjoy the sights along the famed Hana Highway without having to navigate the twisting, curving road yourself. With an expert driver at the wheel, you won’t miss any of the incredible scenery of lava cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, the rugged northern coastline, lush hillsides of feathery ferns and trees laden with tropical fruits. You’ll stop to explore various sites along the way to “Heavenly Hana,” in this wonderfully natural and pristine landscape.

A box lunch is included before you continue beyond Hana to the Kipahulu District, inhabited by native Hawaiians for hundreds of years. Here you’ll have the chance to see and photograph the glistening pools formed by several waterfalls cascading down the side of the Haleakala volcano.

Note: Participants must be at least 6 years of age. This tour is not recommended for those guests who are prone to motion sickness or suffer from back problems, as part of the road traveled is unpaved

 

Connect with an ilovecruising.com Cruise Specialist today and start planning your Norwegian Cruises voyage!

Top 5 Tips for Making the Most of Norwegian’s Free at Sea

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 122 0

With Norwegian’s Free at Sea offer you have a lot of choices, which one will you choose? Well, you will want to take advantage of the ones that fit best with what you want to get out of your cruise vacation. If you prefer to enjoy the sights when getting off in port then the Shore Excursion credit is perfect for you. Prefer to keep in touch with family and friends and share all your experiences, Free WiFi will keep you connected! Here are some tips from Norwegian Cruise Line to help you make the right choice!

Top 5 Tips for Making the Most of Norwegian’s Free at Sea

Feel like making a good time five times more awesome? Feel Free. With Norwegian’s Free at Sea, you can enjoy Unlimited Open Bar, Shore Excursions, Specialty Dining, WiFi or Friends & Family Sail Free. Choose one, pick two or take all five! Whether you’re looking forward to toasting each day at one of our unique bars and lounges, tasting your way through our specialty restaurants or Instagramming every perfect moment to friends and family back home, Norwegian’s Free at Sea will help you vacation your way.

1. Find Your Happy Place
If you pick Shore Excursions, you’ll receive a $50 per port credit to use for the land-based adventure of your choosing. Dog sledding in Alaska. A snorkeling and champagne catamaran tour in The Caribbean. Touring the world-famous ruins of Pompeii. The possibilities for the spectacular are seemingly endless.

Plus, once you apply your port credit, you’ll also receive the Shore Excursion discount commensurate with your Latitudes Rewards tier level on the remaining cost: 10% for Silver, Gold and Platinum, 15% for Platinum Plus and 20% for Ambassador members.

PRO TIP:
Make the most of the last shore excursion of your vacation. Put your $50 credit toward an excursion that will drop you off at the airport at the end of the tour.

 

2. Savor Every Moment
When you choose Free Specialty Dining, you and a guest will receive a dining package with up to 3 free meals on a 7-day sailing at our Specialty Dining restaurants. Kick off a romantic night with bouillabaisse and côte de boeuf at our signature French restaurant, Le Bistro or dine under the stars along our oceanfront promenade, The Waterfront, while enjoying your favorite Italian foods at La Cucina.

PRO TIP:
Wherever you decide to dine, consider reserving your table for the first night when restaurants are less crowded and it’s easier to get a reservation.

 

3. Stay Connected
With Free WiFi, you can stay connected while at sea. From posting awe-inspiring photos of Glacier Bay in Alaska to sending friends back home photos of your newfound happy place in The Caribbean, you can do it all with the Free WiFi package-a value of up to $130.

PRO TIP:
Need to tweet, post, update and email a lot? Get the best deal by selecting this package where you can then upgrade to Unlimited or Unlimited Premium WiFi for a discount.

 

4. Raise a Glass to the Good Life
Morning mimosa? Poolside margarita? Wine with your filet mignon? Coming right up. Whether you like your beverages shaken, stirred or chilled, toast the good life with Unlimited Open Bar-a savings of up to $1,400. You and a guest can enjoy all the cocktails, spirits, wine, draft beer, juice and soda you like. With multiple bars and lounges on board to choose from, no two drinks will be the same, unless of course you’d like another round.

PRO TIP:
If you savor the finer things in life, then upgrade to the Premium Plus Beverage package and only pay the difference while enjoying top shelf brands.

 

5. The More, The Merrier
Whether you’re daydreaming of planning a get together for your group of old friends or where to hold the next extended family reunion, look no further than a cruise with Norwegian. With Friends & Family Sail Free, cruising with a large group will not only save money, but our diverse selection of onboard dining, activities, entertainment and amenities ensure that everyone will have an incredible vacation. When you choose Friends & Family Sail Free, guests 3 and 4 enjoy complimentary cruise fares on select cruises-a savings of up to $1,000! So go on and start calling/texting/emailing your crew about your brilliant vacation idea.

PRO TIP:
Stretch out and relax by booking in a Suite or The Haven where the first two guests receive ALL 5 Free at Sea offers and friends and family sail free.

 

 

 

Originally shared here on Norwegian’s Official Travel Blog

Eat Around the World Aboard Norwegian!

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 159 0

Get ready for a culinary exploration at Food Republic on Norwegian Cruise Line

Savor a fusion of foods and cultures from around the globe without ever leaving the ship. Travel to Peru to scoop up some ceviche. Jet away to Japan and try a new kind of sushi roll. Or have a hearty helping of noodles from China. Whichever delicious food guests choose, they will enjoy exotic dishes made with the freshest ingredients – and made fresh daily. Food Republic is not a food court, but rather a chef-inspired marketplace where guests order by using a tablet at their table or at the counter.

Travel somewhere new with every delicious bite.  Food Republic can be chosen as one of the specialty dining restaurants as part of the FREE AT SEA promotion or dine a la carte for a per person charge.

Food Republic is currently available on the following Norwegian Cruise Line ships

Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Encore

 

Travelling with a little one

Posted By : Sydney Hodgins/ 0 0

Before going back to work after my maternity leave we decided to take a cruise. We had been on several cruises in the past but always opted for the more economical cabin because really how much time do you spend in it?  But travelling with a baby we knew we would need to be in our cabin more for nap times and bed time so we splurged and got a balcony.  Best decision ever!

We were still able to have our daughter nap without feeling “stuck” in the cabin.  We could grab some lunch and bring it to our room and eat it on the balcony while she slept.  And in the evenings after she went to bed we were able to unwind on that balcony without feeling like we were missing out on too much.  Surprisingly, that was one of our most relaxing trips.

Cruising Alone

4 Tips on Cruising Hawaii Alone

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 465 0

Many people have the misconception that cruising alone is a lonely or scary activity. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Travelling alone can be an epic way to rejuvenate, to gain confidence in yourself and experience the destination in all its glory-all while setting your own agenda! On a Hawaiian cruise, there are many opportunities for single travellers to explore and push the limits, and perhaps learn something new about themselves. The Hawaiian islands accept the lone traveller with open arms, and cruising solo* onboard Pride of America is a blast in itself. So, hey, don’t be afraid to get out there and do your thing! Here are four tips for embracing Hawaii all by yourself.

SAY YES TO ADVENTURE:
So if I’m still not convincing you that travelling alone is fantastic idea (which it is), try easing into it by taking advantage of Norwegian’s Hawaii cruise excursions such as Captain Zodiac Raft, Snorkel & Dolphin Adventure; it’s a guaranteed way to be surrounded by like-minded adventurers! Not to mention, when you’re surrounded by the beautiful features, flora and fauna of Kealakekua Bay off of the coast of Kona, you won’t even be thinking about who is or isn’t standing next to you.

 

DO SOMETHING NEW:
Wait, so you’ve always wanted to try surfing? Then what are you waiting for?! When in Rome…or, should I say, Hawaii…you get the idea. Maui cruises, in particular, have a wide array of surfing programs to choose from for beginner and intermediate surfers. If surfing is something you’re already quite familiar with, why not try kiteboarding? Or windsurfing? Who knows, you might have a hidden talent for extreme sports, and the exhilaration you’ll get from trying is definitely worth falling a couple of times!

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO DINE ALONE:
Good news: it means more food for you! Hawaii has famously unique food, often with Asian or Hispanic influence. Arguably the most ‘Hawaiian’ delicacy you’ll encounter, poke (pronounced poke-ay), is a must eat. And for those of you who are too shy to sit down by yourself at a table, poke is often grabbed on the go, so munch it down somewhere picturesque! And since you’re indulging yourself with a solo vacation, you definitely have room for the ultimate indulgence: loco moco. Gravy, meat, rice, fried egg—are you drooling yet? Cafe 100 in Hilo is the perfect place to find the loco moco that suits you, with more than 30 different varieties available.

When you’re not out exploring the local delicacies, you’ll still have 19 cruise dining options to choose from onboard Pride of America.

 

TREAT YOURSELF TO LUXURY:
Guess what? You deserve it. After all of the excitement of exploring and adventuring in and around the islands, take a moment to reflect on your vacation with one of Norwegian’s brilliant cruise spa treatments. Loosen up, unwind and meditate on the fact that you’re at one of the most beautiful destinations on Earth. After a good massage, the sunsets will seem even more vibrant, trust me. So park yourself down on a beach, sip on something sweet (and maybe boozy), take a deep breath, and enjoy the time you get to yourself, while you still can!

 

*Pride of America offers award winning Studio Staterooms, specifically designed and priced for the solo traveller.
C/O Norwegian Cruise Lines Offical Travel Blog
Read original article here – https://www.ncl.com/ca/en/travel-blog/hawaii-singles

Hawaii Cruise cruise stories

7 night Hawai’ian Cruise

Posted By : Stephen Smith/ 0 0

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.

A New Twist On Great Ships

Posted By : Stephen Smith/ 0 0

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days on Norwegian Bliss and wanted to share 5 thoughts.

Food/Restaurants

I did not have a chance to eat in all the restaurants but overall enjoyed the food experience. I am always a big fan of a pub on a ship.  The Local did not disappoint.  Good beer selection and some tasty pub grub. Food Republic was very cool – always a fan of shareables! We also ate at Tappenyaki one night and it was a lot of fun as was to be expected with a great show.

 

Go Carts

The Go Cart experience was far superior to my expectations.  The process to get started was smooth and the track was longer and more adventurous than I anticipated.  Most impressive was the speed and handling of the go carts themselves.  I was able to move at a good pace and take corners hard.  I really thought that it would be a very basic experience and it was truly thrilling.

 

Décor

The décor of the ship was great.  Modern and crisp with soothing palettes. One thing I am impressed with is that NCL seems to improve their decor with every ship – they don’t just keep it the same.

 

Entertainment

I am always impressed with a professional production of Jersey Boys – the story is great; the music is fantastic – and it was no different on the Bliss. We took in a comedy routine at the Social Comedy and Night Club and both the host and the comedian were very entertaining – a nice way to laugh off feeling full after dinner!

 

Observation Lounge

This may have been the most impressive space on the ship. Primarily because it was a major upgrade from previous Escape class ships.  It was well designed, extremely inviting and I was very impressed with the small food stations they had that allowed you to grab a snack or light lunch during the day.