Hawaiian islands cruise: NCL's Pride of America evaluate


The locals are clearly pleased to see us. As we make our method by tender from ship to shore on the Big Island, a pod of untamed dolphins retains tempo with us. The ringleader jumps out of the water to welcome us with a splash, incomes an enthusiastic spherical of applause.

After a two-year pause because of the pandemic, the April return of NCL’s Pride of America cruise across the Hawaiian islands is trigger for celebration. The solely cruise line to supply year-round seven-day inter-island Hawaii voyages, NCL’s itinerary visits 5 ports on 4 islands in a single week, together with two in a single day port stays. With greater than 100 hours of shore time and no sea days, the week-long cruise is ideal for lively travellers desirous to get off the ship to discover Hawaii.

It’s one among my favorite stopover locations, although I hardly ever have time to transcend the acquainted comforts of Honolulu. I’m curious to find if one other island may maintain extra attraction than Oahu. The well-known conveniences of cruising – unpack as soon as, planning and logistics taken care of, meals and drinks included – makes the invention course of simpler than co-ordinating inter-island flights, rental vehicles and inns.

Departing from Honolulu at sundown on Saturday night time, it is Mai Tai o’clock earlier than we have even pulled out of the harbour. Launched in 2005, the ship has a classic vibe, notably in Pink’s Champagne Bar. Wearing a vibrant contemporary flower lei round my neck, it feels proper to order a frozen mango daiquiri. If the 80s name, I’m not giving my cocktail again. It’s scrumptious.

After working my method by way of extra island classics — Pina Colada, Orange Crush, Blue Hawaii — it is excessive time for greater than liquid sustenance. Dinner tonight is in Cagney’s Steakhouse, a surf-and-turf extravaganza adopted by traditional apple pie and ice cream. It’s as American as, effectively, apple pie, identical to the waiters.

As a US-flagged vessel working solely in US waters, 75 per cent of the crew should be American.

Faced with labour scarcity challenges because the cruise trade revs again into full gear, a number of of Pride’s eating places and bars are closed on this voyage. Recruiters are centered on discovering a number of hundred extra employees by Christmas. Until then, the crew-to-guest ratio will likely be restricted to a degree that ensures good service.

Included within the fare is the principle eating room, Skyline, the buffet, an out of doors burger bar and Cadillac Diner, a Nineteen Fifties-themed consolation meals pitstop. For a small charge, upscale dinner choices will be loved at Cagney’s or Jefferson’s Bistro, a French restaurant. Bookings ought to be secured as early as attainable; on our crusing, the for-fee venues had been at capability each night time.

I get up in Maui on Sunday morning, excited to have two full days to discover the second largest island within the Hawaiian archipelago. The Best of Maui shore tour is an efficient place to start, with stops on the excellent Maui Ocean Centre, lush ‘Iao Valley State Park and a plantation tour the place coconuts are husked in report time. The actual prize, although, is the plantation reward store the place I proceed the time-honoured custom of overly enthusiastic procuring whereas on holidays. The pineapple salad dressing, passionfruit taffy and coconut earrings I’ll in all probability by no means put on appear to be such a good suggestion on the time.

On day two, I head straight for the historic, arty Maui neighborhood of Paia. It’s a former hippie city that is been made well-known by celebrities and musicians, together with Willie Nelson, KISS frontman Gene Simmons, Woody Harrelson and Mick Fleetwood, a lot of whom have opened eating places and shops.

For the following two days, we’re on the Island of Hawaii, generally known as the Big Island. The first cease, Hilo, is on the wetter aspect of the island. Sure sufficient, it is drizzling rain as we tour the botanic gardens, waterfall and King Kamehameha Statue. By the time we attain the calm, inviting waters of the seashore park, the solar has come out. More adventurous friends head off to see Volcanoes National Park, the rainforests and effervescent basalt lava rock swimming pools generally known as the Boiling Pots.

The subsequent day in Kona, there are extra choices than hours, with excursions departing for espresso plantations, deep sea fishing expeditions, hikes to see historic petroglyphs and visits to a former royal palace. For the water lovers, there’s snorkelling, swimming and glass backside boat excursions.

Finally, Kauai is our house for the final two days of the cruise. Known because the Garden Island, its quieter tempo and verdant inexperienced inside encourage deep leisure. My final go to right here was nearly 20 years in the past, when a sulky two-word evaluate in my diary notes – “so boring” – mirrored my youthful self’s want for fixed enjoyable and pleasure.

Perhaps the island has modified within the ensuing 20 years or, extra in all probability, I’ve, however in any case this time I recognize the pure magnificence far more. Pride of America is the one ship allowed to remain in a single day on Kauai. Make the a lot of the night with a sundown dinner someplace pretty like The Beach House Restaurant.

As we go away Kauai and head again to Honolulu, we’ve got prime viewing of the gorgeous Napali Coast. Its towering cliffs and mountainous shoreline are extraordinary. If they appear acquainted, it is from all of the blockbuster motion pictures, together with Tropic Thunder and Pirates of the Caribbean, which were filmed there. Raising a Mai Tai to the fantastic Fanta sundown, we toast to a fantastic week, effectively spent.

Avid cruisers who love the ultra-modern facilities on new mega ships will discover Pride of America is from a distinct time, earlier than well-known designers created cabins extra comfy than many individuals’s properties and Michelin-starred cooks designed the menus. You will not see waterslides, rollercoasters or casinos. She was, nonetheless, spruced up throughout her pause in service, with vital enhancements together with new carpeting, furnishing, bedding and scorching tubs. On this ship and this itinerary, it is extra in regards to the vacation spot.

Did I discover an island I like greater than Oahu? Not actually, however I certain had enjoyable wanting. Would I do that cruise once more? Absolutely.



Spend just a few days pre- or post-cruise in Hawaii’s capital metropolis to take pleasure in Waikiki seashore, sundown luaus and loads of procuring temptations. Here you will discover essentially the most attention-grabbing museums and historic websites in Hawaii, together with Pearl Harbor, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, and Iolani Palace.


The former hippie city of Paia is now thought-about the hippest place on the island, with the kale smoothies and hundred-dollar dream-catchers to show it. Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac just lately opened a present and memorabilia retailer, imaginatively referred to as Mick’s House of Fleetwood. For the celeb therapy, dine at Montage Kapalua Bay, a luxurious resort on the north shore.


The Big Island’s quieter aspect is present in and across the city of Hilo. See the highlights on the Hoppa On Hoppa Off trolley tour to a waterfall, botanic backyard, King Kamehameha Statue and Big Island Candies manufacturing unit. Finish with a swim at one of many seashore parks lining the shore. Hikers will wish to go together with the lava circulate at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.


Shore excursions embrace visits to espresso plantations and conventional fishing villages, in addition to deep-sea fishing, snorkelling and a glass-bottom reef tour. The Big Island’s industrial centre has cafes, outlets and breweries to take a look at. An open-air trolley tour alongside the shoreline offers a very good overview of the seashores and resorts. Even higher, it is free to trip.


Go inexperienced on the Garden Isle with an tour to Waimea Canyon and the luxurious Wailua River. Hop on a riverboat to succeed in Fern Grotto, which has held sacred significance to Hawaiians for hundreds of years. If lively discovery is extra your lane, tee off at one among Kauai’s prized golf programs. Book a desk prematurely (ideally at sundown) at The Beach House Restaurant.



A seven-night Hawaiian cruise on NCL Pride of America in November 2023 prices from $3295 an individual, twin share. It departs from and returns to Honolulu, with stops in Maui, the Big Island and Kauai. Wi-Fi, taxes, gratuities, drinks, shore tour credit score and specialty eating bundle are included within the Free at Sea supply.

Phone 1300 255 200, see ncl.com


Shake off the pre-cruise jetlag with a few seashore days in Waikiki. Rooms on the oceanfront Moana Surfrider from US$429 ($600) an evening. 2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu. See marriott.com


Hawaiian Airlines operates common direct flights to Honolulu’s principal Daniel Ok. Inouye International Airport from Sydney. See hawaiianairlines.com.au.

Kristie Kellahan travelled as a visitor of NCL and Hawaiian Airlines.

Source: traveller.com.au