Pride of America Pointers
A Perfect Ship for Cruising the Hawaiian Islands
I have sailed twice on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America(POA) visiting the largest four Hawaiian islands. I can’t think of a better way to explore the major islands of Hawaii than sailing on Norwegian’s Pride of America. Why? Because cruising eliminates the need of having to pack, fly and change hotels every few days. The ship spends over 100 hours in port leaving plenty of time to experience each island. Because this is a port intensive cruise, Pride of America really is your floating hotel, restaurant and entertainment venue. Being flagged in the USA, the ship follows different regulations that foreign registered ships need not worry about.
So that you have an ultimate cruise on Pride of America and will probably spend a significant part of your days off the ship, I am sharing some tips to help you navigate the Pride of America and also to plan your port days without wasting a lot of time.
Preparing For Your Pride of America Cruise
- Be aware that the UBP (Ultimate Beverage Package) is now offered on POA. For those unfamiliar with the Ultimate Beverage Package, it’s a plan that includes alcoholic beverages. You just pay the gratuities on the plan and get the included beverages without having to worry about signing a slip or worrying about your budget. Of course, if premium alcohol is your choice, you might want to consider the premium beverage package.
- Hawaiian laws disallow a casino and playing bingo for money. There is a no-fee bingo option offered on board, but no casino. If you must gamble, this ship probably isn’t for you. Honestly, you will choose this cruise for the fabulous destination.
- Choose a port side balcony for optimal viewing of the Nā Pali coast.
Boarding the Pride of America
- Although POA doesn’t sail until 7:00 pm, the muster drill takes place at 4:30 pm. That still leaves you plenty of time to explore Honolulu before boarding. Of course, you can get on board around 11:30 and start your vacation right away. I definitely recommend arriving in Honolulu a day prior to your cruise for stress relief and to acclimate to the time change especially if arriving from the East Coast. Who wants to miss even one day of a Hawaii cruise due to airline delays?
- Don’t expect porters outside the terminal to assist you. You will take your luggage to a room at the end of the terminal where it will go through security screening. From there, your luggage will be taken and later delivered to your room.
- If you have carry-on luggage and your stateroom isn’t ready, you can drop those bags at the East West dining room on the ship. That is located right in the Capitol Atrium.
- If you want to take advantage of the pool, be sure to keep your pool wear in a separate bag along with any other essential items.
- Rooms became available later in the afternoon and once ready, the staterooms were announced by deck number. In our case, the rooms became ready around 2:30pm.
Around the Pride of America
- The library contains many volumes and several exhibits showcasing the SS America. It’s a great place for quiet solitude.
- Smokers get prime real estate on the aft upper deck at Waikiki Bar.
- Enjoy the view at the Aloha Lana’i on Deck 11 Aft. It’s a nice place to enjoy your meal from Aloha cafe or sit and have a drink from the bar. Sometimes, there is even live music.
- If you like music with your dinner, grab some food from Aloha Cafe and enjoy it in the Gold Rush, where there is usually nightly entertainment starting during the dinner hour.
- Check out the Sun Deck to see if there are any cabanas available. These are available to all on a first-come, first-served basis.
- While viewing the lava flows, most people go to Deck 6, but Deck 12 has a better view and the Sun Deck has the best view. Best viewing is from the starboard side.
- If you like the thermal spa, be aware that there are only five heated chairs there and there is no view from this very small room.
Exploring the Ports of Hawaii
- This is a port-intensive cruise, so you will spend plenty of time in port. Don’t wear yourself out trying to do everything.
- Do plan in advance. The ship offers many shore excursions, but some pax organize their own or rent a car in each of the ports. Independent tours should be planned far in advance.
- The sun is as intense as the cruise, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat. Drink water and bring insect repellent.
- Wear sturdy shoes when visiting the National Parks, which have some rugged terrain.
- Bring along your National Park Pass or buy a Hawai`i Tri-park Annual Pass. Each National Park requires a $25 per car entry fee.
- If you can handle your own luggage, you can participate in the popular self-assist walk-off.
- Take advantage of the luggage storage at the terminal if you want to see some of Honolulu before heading to the airport.
- The ship offers excursions that will give you a tour of Honolulu and take you and your luggage directly to the airport.
- If you are a shopper and have a late flight, take the free shopping shuttle to Maui Divers Jewelry that takes you around to their stores for the day and brings you back to the port to pick up your luggage. Ask the shopping guide on board for details.
Have you sailed on Norwegian’s Pride of America? Do you have any tips?