I am taking my first cruise in June to Alaska with Holland America. In 2014 I will probably go to Hawaii. Which in your opinion is the best cruise line for this trip? I don't want to go on the largest ships.
What kind of Hawaii cruise are you looking for? just around the Islands, a one way or a westcoast return? They don't run year round so your options might be limited depending on when you want to go. Princess does a good return LA or San Francisco, as does HAL. Celebrity, RCL and Carnival all do one ways of Honolulu to Vancouver or reverse and NCL has a great 7 day around the Islands cruise.
We did the NCL Pride of America 2 years ago before they refurbished the ship. I posted a complete review about it on our website - I can email you the link if you're interested - just send me a PM. I can't post the review on Cruise Mates because it's too long and policy forbids me from posting the link.
We rented a car in each port and that way got to do what we wanted to do, go where we wanted to go, and spent as much time as we wanted without the high cost of excursions, the overcrowded buses, and the time constraints. It was a much better way to see the islands.
And speaking of seeing the islands, there are three ways to do this; one is to fly over, do the 7-night NCL cruise, then fly home. Or you can fly over, cruise around, then cruise back to the West Coast. Or you can cruise over, cruise around, and cruise back. Of course, the last two options involve more time and more sea days, but often not more expense. The first way is more port intensive and allows you to visit more ports.
While the NCL ship is nice and the crew is wonderful, the food left alot to be desired for sure! The last two options have nicer ships and nicer food.
So, it really depends on what type of cruise you're looking for. We really enjoyed our NCL cruise, even though the food wasn't all that good, but it afforded us a great way to see the islands. We spent a week before the cruise in Honolulu, then did the 7-night cruise, then flew over to Maui and spent a fantastic week in Kaanapali.
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