Have you been on a cruise?
Last week I spent seven nights at sea on the Norwegian Cruise Line– Pride of America. I always figured I would get on a cruise someday, but never made much of an effort. As my time living in Hawaii is undetermined, I wanted a quick snapshot of the other islands while I’m here. Enter cruise!!
As current pseudo-residents of HI, we were eligible for the local rate of $700/person. That’s right. Now be aware- that’s before the $15/day gratuity/person, taxes, bottles of water, glasses of wine, cocktails… It simply pays for an inside cabin and unlimited cafeteria-quality food. I should probably add there were a few great meals: lamb shank, prime rib, a few yummy salads… But choose wisely, or else that food may just stay with you for the next couple of months. (They told us getting on that the average weight gain on a cruise is 7-15 pounds!) I’m happy to report we each only gained 1- but not without restraint.
Day 1- Oahu, onboarding
We got on as soon as we could and headed to Skyline Restaurant for a lamb and steak lunch. Then we dropped our stuff in our rooms, lounged, hit the gym, took a tour and ate again. Yep….
Day 2- Maui
We left from Oahu on a Saturday evening and arrived in Maui the next morning. I rented a car from Budget- who sent a shuttle to the port to get us. We had Fast Track- so we didn’t have to wait in line for the car rental- which I HIGHLY recommend. (It would have added maybe an hour to our wait time.)
And then there was coffee…
Well- it was there; but I got so distracted by all of the plants and the serene atmosphere, I forgot to take a pic of the coffee. This pretty much encapsulates the morning island routine: off the boat and then coffee.
The Road to Hana takes a couple hours each way (assuming you turn around.)
Day 3- Maui Continued
We grabbed coffee afterwards, at Maui Coffee Roasters near the airport and then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the ship, relaxing. Tip: go to dinner at 5 or 5:30 and beat the rush. Even better- make reservations (they’re free) and don’t ever wait. Every evening we went to one of their cheesy shows (seriously cheesy.) Tonight, I wobbled straight back to the room and curled up from seasick queasiness.
Day 4- Hilo
This is a great day to stay on the ship. You have limited time to rent a car and actually drive to Volcano National Park. We cancelled our rental car and opted to stay around the ship. There was NOTHING THERE. The highlight of Hilo was a shop that sold locally made t-shirts and hats. Terri was really sweet and she told us a little about Hilo- which is where the majority of locals on the island live. Aloha Grown supports local schools and non-profits around the island.
Day 5- Kona
This was probably my favorite port. We tendered from the ship and landed right in the middle of downtown and all of the 40th Ironman action. The buzz in the air was full of anticipation and I’ve never seen so many fit people in one place. We walked around town, grabbed french-press Kona coffee at Bongo Ben’s, which surprisingly served great breakfast food as well. We clocked in a few more miles and landed at a happy hour Mai Tai bar and drank a couple- all before 11am (because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere?)
Day 6- Nawiliwili- Kauai
Operation coffee and another gorgeous hike. I 100% recommend Dark Roost Coffee on the way to Waimea Canyon. We went straight to the top of Koke’e State Park and followed the ridge trail to Waipoo Falls. The hike took 2 hours? A beautiful, branchy, muddy trek that was completely worth it! The view of the falls at the end was probably one of the most beautiful hikes/view I’ve been on.
We headed from the canyon for a superfood smoothie at G’s Juice Bar in Waimea and then landed at Salt Pond for a little dip. Much of the water around Kauai was rough and full of currents- but this little oasis provides a rock ledge and a pool of sorts. After that- we checked out the Spouting Horn blowhole in Poipu, turned in the car and had some dinner.
Day 7- Kauai take 2
We only had the morning, so after the gym, we hit Duke’s- which was a 1/2 mile walk. Duke’s is on the beach, so it was nice to just stare at the ocean and eat a great burger.
Day 8- Oahu- home sweet home
We docked around 7:30 am. After a quick bite, we grabbed our stuff and were off the ship. And there you have it!
Would I do it again?
Maybe. I could see maybe bringing my parents.
Pros: It’s a great way to get a snapshot of the islands- but that’s all it is, a snapshot. You can’t begin to tap into the beauty of each place in just a day or two. That being said- it had everything I love in a vacation: coffee, hiking, relaxing, reading and a good dinner.
Also- the service was wonderful aboard. All of the staff were so friendly and accommodating. And it was really interesting learning about the cruise-staff underworld. A whole sub-culture I never thought about. Did you know there are often generations working onboard together- father/son/grandson! They work 7 days, 12 hours/day. Wow!
- The food, while plentiful, was low quality. I, myself, prefer quality over quantity. They didn’t even serve local fish?! Hello- where was the ahí or the opah?
- The coffee on the ship was awful. Not sure why they didn’t serve any Kona coffee on a Hawaiian cruise?
- The shows were cheesy.
- Onboarding/off-boarding could be a pain. In Maui- we had to leave our car overnight at a local hotel and walk a mile back to the ship. You had to stand in line to tender into Kona. I’m really not a line person- hate them. Seriously hate standing in lines.
Overall- a great time. I don’t know if I’m a “cruiser”- I usually prefer to be in one place, find the coffee and the beauty and enjoy, but who knows- I’m not opposed. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Or, if you want to see what I packed- refer to my What To Pack: Hawaiian Cruise Edition blog.