Take a cruise around Hawaii and you’ll find that island-hopping offers a unique vantage point for visiting this paradise. By Diane Tierney
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only cruise ship that’s based in Hawaii year-round and has won more than a dozen awards for best itineraries. It sails seven-night voyages from Honolulu, Oahu, and visits four islands – Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai and Maui. What’s unique is that it stops in two places on Hawaii (Hilo and Kona), plus there are two overnight stays (Kauai and Maui). This makes for nearly 100 hours of port time. The Pride of America is the only U.S.flagged cruise ship in the region, so it maintains a strong foothold. The 2,186-passenger Pride of America was built in 2005 and underwent a $50-million renovation in 2016 that completely transformed it. Every public space was updated and some areas, such as the reception, convey strong patriotic flair. The atrium features proud white pillars, a staircase of white colonial spindles, and an enormous image of the U.S. Great Seal featuring a bald eagle on the floor. The ship’s pool deck was completely renovated and features modern style. A conservatory with soaring glass walls is nearby to escape the hot sun. Updates were also made to the 15 restaurants, and 12 bars and lounges. The ship’s specialty restaurants, East Meets West, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Jefferson’s Bistro also received elegant refurbishments. Many venues offer authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Song and dance shows are the mainstay of the ship’s entertainment, along with comedians and musicians. In some ports, Polynesian entertainers come onboard to showcase their unique culture. There’s no casino onboard and the shops are open even in port. Pride of America crew are Americans unlike most of the crew of Norwegian’s other ships. The service is attentive and since their name tags list their home state, it’s easy to find common ground for friendly chats. To savour the natural beauty and Polynesian culture, book shore excursions. Some of the most popular tours are seeing the lava fields of Mauna Loa; helicopter flights to Kilauea volcano and Waimea Canyon; waterfall rappelling; zip lining; parasailing; horseback riding and bicycle tours. A top attraction, Volcanoes National Park, has reopened since Kilauea’s eruption in May 2018 and several more black sand beaches have also been created as a result. Also consider popular pre- or post-cruise stays on Oahu to see Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor and much more. It’s easy to fall for Hawaii and you’ll quickly understand why about two-thirds of annual tourists to the region are repeat visitors.
BLACK SAND BEACH
CYCLING IN HAWAII
PRIDE OF AMERICA POOL DECK ©NCL
Vacations® • Fall 2019 • 67