Sailing from Honolulu, concentrating solely on the islands, and carrying an American crew, this vessel is literally in a class by herself.
Typical Per Diems: $130-$165
Pride of America sails around Hawaii from Honolulu (year-round)
Because Pride of America is U.S.-flagged and U.S.-crewed, she's in compliance with U.S. cabotage laws, and that means she is legally permitted to sail entirely within U.S. waters, visiting only U.S. ports -- and that makes her quite literally unique: There is no other large cruise ship in the world that can claim that distinction. Because of this, she's the only big ship with cruises that operate entirely within Hawaiian waters, sailing round-trip from Honolulu. Because Hawaii's islands are all relatively close together, that means she's able to visit a Hawaiian port every single day, and even do overnights in Kauai and Maui, giving you an opportunity to sample nightlife ashore and get a better feel for both of these beautiful islands. During the week, you get to choose from some 150 excursions, creating a Hawaii itinerary to suit your preferences.
On the downside, because these cruises put so much emphasis on the port experience, with many excursions starting in early morning and taking up most of the day, passengers tend to come back to the ship, eat an early dinner, and crash from exhaustion. Translation: If you want a cruise with lots of onboard activities and a heavy nightlife, this isn't the one for you. Lastly, although prices for the cruises themselves are relatively low, expect lots of extra costs, from the $12-a-day automatic gratuity to expensive drinks, pricey Internet access, and the bundle you're bound to spend on shore excursions or renting cars in port. (Because most of the islands' real attractions aren't near the port facilities, you have to take an excursion or rent a car if you want to see anything worth seeing.)
Cabins on Pride are pretty -- with most sporting wood-grain walls, and carpets, upholstery, and bedspreads done in vibrant, Hawaiian-accented pinks, blues, oranges, purples, and greens -- but they tend to be small, with the vast majority of standard inside (121-147 sq. ft.) and outside cabins (149-243 sq. ft.) being about 20% smaller than similar cabins aboard Carnival. Storage space is fairly limited. All staterooms have a small sitting area or desk, a minifridge, a hair dryer, TVs, coffee- and tea-making equipment, plus a dataport to accommodate laptop users. Bathrooms are adequate size. Balcony cabins particularly come in handy on the nighttime run between Kona and Hilo, since you can watch the lava flowing from Kilauea Volcano without changing out of your pajamas. The captain turns the ship 360 degrees at the optimum viewing point, so cabins on both sides get a view. The majority of outside cabins have balconies, including cabins located almost all the way forward (some to port and starboard, some facing front with recessed balconies).
There are 23 cabins equipped for wheelchairs. The ship has laundry and dry-cleaning service, but does not have self-serve launderettes.
Pride of America's decor matches her name, with public rooms throughout decorated to celebrate aspects of American culture and geography. Giant photographs of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mount Rainier, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Chicago skyline, and other sites adorn the stair towers, and U.S. themes dominate the decor of many restaurants . America, the ship -- that is, the old United States Line's vessel SS America -- is the motif of the SS America Library, which holds memorabilia and artifacts from the vessel as well as a scale model built specifically for the room. Despite her year-round Hawaiian itineraries, America actually employs relatively little Hawaiian imagery beyond some art, some carpeting and upholstery, and the small Hawaiian cultural display in the atrium. If you like, you can enjoy Hawaii's own Kona Beer on tap in the (hmmm . . .) Gold Rush Saloon, with its prospector decor. For a more elegant drinking experience, head to the Napa Wine Bar, with decor of stone-pattern walls, box-shaped light fixtures, and light woods and upholsteries, which straddles the line between Napa Valley casual and hip 1950s lounge. In a nice touch, a door opens to outdoor seating on the Promenade Deck. Nearby, Pink's Champagne and Cigar Bar spans the width of the ship, with bright Hawaii-patterned carpeting and a contrasting 19th-century-casino-style chandelier hovering above its piano-bar piano. Way up on Deck 13, the small, intimate, and beautifully designed Lanai Bar & Lounge is located next to one of the largest dedicated meeting spaces at sea, with auditoriums and facilities for up to 550 participants. For kids, the Rascal's Kids Club has an elaborate indoor jungle gym, a movie room full of beanbag chairs, computer terminals, a large play space, and a protected outdoor splash pool with tube slide. Next door, the teen center is designed like an adult lounge, with a "bar," dance floor, and games.
Because of Hawaiian law, there's no casino or any other gambling on board. If you've got a craving to gamble, head to the card room, where you might find a secret game of Texas Hold 'Em in progress. The password is swordfish.
Pool Fitness & Spa Facilities
America's well-stocked oceanview gym is open 24 hours a day, and the adjacent aerobics room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a great selection of stretching, step, and other traditional classes at no extra charge, plus spinning, kickboxing, and other trendy choices for $10 per class. Nearby, the spa and beauty salon afford ocean views as well, plus the small outdoor Oasis Pool. Pride of America's Pool Deck, its central outdoor space, is a bit underwhelming. Look to the deck above, however, for a couple of fun toys: a trampoline with bungee harness to keep you from flying over the side, and a "spaceball challenger" gyroscope in which passengers, suitably strapped in, can revolve 360 degrees in any direction, like astronauts in outer space.
A wraparound Promenade Deck allows for a great stroll.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.