This all American beauty from Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruises Hawaii all year round. The cruise ship is registered to the USA, meaning it is the only cruise to offer Hawaii to Hawaii cruises. Every other cruise must visit another international port, as they are an internationally registered boat. The Pride of America is considered a domestic boat. As it is registered to the USA, the crew are mostly all American, are prompt and are mostly just as happy to be there, as you are.
With 2,186 guest capacity, and 917 crew, there’s a lot of people onboard. BUT, the ship provides so many entertainment and dining options, that you hardly feel it! The Pride of America welcomes their guests onboard with Lei’s for the ladies, and shell necklaces for the gents. A welcome onboard Hawaiian dance on Pool deck 11 entertained us, and of course, the massive exploration of what the cruise ship has to offer. There are life size chess & checkers, a full size basketball court, 6 jacuzzis (4 surrounding the main pool), spa, fitness centre, video game arcade, and an adults only pool at the Aft (back). There was a huge shower and rubber ducky on deck 13, and plenty of sun-loungers surrounding the pool.
There are 19 different places to eat onboard. 19!!! That’s a LOT of food! There are several complimentary options;
The Pride of America’s buffet dining option on Deck 11, which has a wide variety of food like pizza, pasta, Asian (stir-fry, curry), American (think hot dogs and burgers) and vegetarian options available. The bread selection for breakfast was rather good, with several types of sourdough, white, as well as bagels. The dessert offerings here were ample, with made to order crepes, a wide variety of cakes, jelly, and soft serve machines. Overall, not a bad buffet!
the all American, 24 hour diner on Deck 6. We indulged on almost the entire menu (throughout the week, not all at once), and were always sold on the Chocolate Brownie Sundae, which was every bit as good as it sounds!
casual dining on Deck 5, which we dined at most nights. Never a queue, the wait staff were great, always had a good laugh, and the food was good too. We found a lot of similarities between Skyline and Liberty, and preferred the service of Skyline, hence, continued to come back! Think steak, lamb shanks, and pasta for the nightly menu. There were also nightly specials, the fish, trout, salmon, mahi mahi is ALWAYS good!
Tip: Come here for Starter & Entree, and then go to the Aloha Cafe for dessert. The desserts on the menu here don’t change, and for someone who loves dessert, were a little disappointing!
Fancy dining on Deck 6, which we dined at once. We just preferred Skyline!
Is free. Yes. Free. Between the late hours of the night, a delivery fee will apply, but apart from that, the world is your oyster! They also offered a 24hour pizza option at charge for $5.
Key West Bar & Grill
Was open for lunch, and does hot dogs and burgers everyday. On Deck 12, just above the main pool, nice and convenient spot for a quick bite to eat!
There were plenty of other restaurants onboard that required bookings as they were specialty restaurants with an additional surcharge. We chose not dine at these restaurants, as the complimentary dining is really good enough on its own.
We had a Balcony cabin on Deck 9 towards the Aft (back of the boat). There room was a decent size, with two single beds pushed together (arg!), small couch, coffee table, TV, two chairs and a small table on the balcony, and of course a ship size bathroom (don’t expect anything too glamorous!). The room was always perfectly clean, and the cabins attendant was always prompt. The shower has a built in soap & shampoo dispenser, which was nice to not have to deal with tiny bottles on a moving ship (let alone the waste!). The balcony was definitely a nice treat, especially for the scenic cruise around the Na Pali coast! Expect towel animals daily 🙂
Tip: Get a cabin on the port side (left side). This will mean you can stay in your cabin for the Na Pali coast scenic cruise, and watch from your balcony. The ship does turn around, but it had started to get dark by the time the starboard side could view from their cabin.
There were various places to go every night, with large scale (almost) broadway productions on 3-4 nights a week. The ship also had a magician, who performed 3 times throughout the week, a comedian, as well a themed night like the White Hot Party, and a toga party at Club Waikiki. Our nightly favourite was the Pinks Champagne Bar. Call me old fashioned, but there was something about this place that so entertaining, more so than just the music! The piano player, David Pellegrene, was absolutely fabulous, with a brilliant interaction with the audience, getting to personally known (perhaps interrogate is the better word hah!) most guests. We were ‘picked on’ by this New Yorker on our first night, when we stumbled across this gem by accident. Night after night, we found ourselves longing to return to these comfy wicker chairs, and extremely friendly wait staff who always made awesome drinks and lots of bar snacks (always a win with me!). Come the end of the week, we were actually sad to have to say our goodbyes!
Tip: NCL does Buckets of beer, where you can choose 6 beers, and they only charge for 5. Even if you won’t drink 6 in one go, the crew will replace your warm un-opened beer for a fresh cold one later on!
Coming from Australia, tipping is something that we struggle with. Whenever I’m in America, I do my best to tip, as it is customary to do so. Please know, the ship does several things differently to other cruise lines.
Firstly, there is an auto-gratuity of 20% placed on every drink order. This means the sum that is listed can absolutely be the sum you pay, as it includes the tip. You are given the option to tip additionally should you think the service was exemplary, but you are not required to do so.
Secondly, your cabin attendant receives an automatic tip. This is charged to your individual cruise card, and is payable upon leaving. This was $15 USD per day, per person. So for the week long cruise, expect to have an extra $105 USD per person waiting on the final bill. Again, you are not required to tip your room attendant additionally, but you may choose to do so.