The Pride of America can best be described as the Titanic without the iceburgs. Opulence really doesn't do justice to this ship. If you want more details, check all about the ship at the NCL website</a"
I forgot to mention that the first thing we did when we actually got on the ship, before we went to the Maritime Museum was book a few shore excursions: Rainbow Falls and Volcanos National Park, the Road to Hana, and "Eruption of Flavor" which takes you to a Kona coffee plantation, a chocolate plantation, and a vanilla plantation (where you are served a gourmet lunch.) We went up to the Aloha Cafe, which had snacks, and hung out until the staterooms were ready. This is the buffet of the ship, not to be confused with the dining rooms. (There are two main dining rooms and about ten "theme restaurants" and bars.) I took the tour of the spa, and ended up booking a facial and head-and-shoulder massage. On the way down, we stopped at the main dining room called the Liberty, which is decorated in Federalist Patriotic mode. We asked about a reservation for when we would be steaming out of Honolulu Harbor, at 8 pm, and got it.
Rooms were ready, then, so we collected our stuff being held and headed for our stateroom. It was small (hey, it's a ship) but quite well laid out. The disconcerting thing was the loud airlock suction noise made by the pneumatic toilet. (Shipboard jokes in the theater sometimes focused on these toilets.)
I headed out to my facial and massage, which was an incredibly decadent self-indulgence. It ran a little overtime, so I headed straight down to dinner, a few floors below, and spent several minutes moving at cross-purposes to Chris, who was looking for me. We finally met up, got seated, and had an incredible gourmet dinner, as Oahu receeded behind the ship and darkness fell over the Pacific. I love when you can have as many appetizers as you want, too! (I was actually restrained, having only the shrimp appetizer, lobster-squash soup, and Hawaiian baby greens salad, followed by Mahimahi in Lemongrass Foam, and lichee ice cream for dessert. I was stuffed!) After dinner, I went up to the bow of the ship, outside on the 13th floor (just below the bridge) and just watched the ocean for a while. This will become one of my regular hangouts on the ship, a quick elevator ride up from our stateroom (which is right around the corner from the front elevator bank).
I sleep badly. Chris is snoring incredibly loudly, only slightly muffled by the ear plugs, and lying on the plugs are hurting my ears. I get up at dawn and go out on the balcony. The sound of lapping water is relaxing, and I watch the north coast of the Big Island slip past. It's still a couple hours until we dock in Hilo, and I take photos of cliffs and hanging valleys. Chris gets up a little later, and we head up to breakfast in the main dining room. I have kippers and bangers for breakfast. Seeing a Japanese breakfast (not listed on the menu) pass by, I resolve to get one at some point on the cruise.
I go up to the bow deck to watch us dock in Hilo harbor. There is a marvelous small reef-island off to one side, that I later find is an old Hawaiian sanctuary/healing island. Then we head down to assemble in the theater (right down the elevator bank from us, on deck 5) to find where we are supposed to go for the Volcanos Nat. Park tours. There are several different ones, so they sort us out by tickets, and different groups troop out at various times. Our group, an all-day including Rainbow Falls, is the last to go. We head to Deck 3, where they badge us out. Apparently, this is how they keep track of whether people are on/off the ship, so they aren't leaving people.
Next: the Big Island and Volcanos Park!