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December 08, 2004

PRIDE OF ALOHA

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NCL's PRIDE OF ALOHA

The inaugural sailing of Norwegian Cruise Lines' Pride of Aloha made it the first cruise ship to test the parameters of the U.S. Passenger Services Act that passed through Congress last year to let a U.S. ship with an American crew sail U.S. waters without a foreign port of call.

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Freestyle Cruising
And the Pride of Aloha did it with flying colours. "it's an historic event," says Andy Stuart, senior v.p. of marketing and sales. "It's freestyle cruising; it's homeland cruising and it's Hawaii cruising. Hawaii marks three percent of the cruising market. But we're doubling that and by 2007, NCL expects to have three ships in Hawaii and be carrying 500,000 passengers a year to the destination.

Local tourism entities are also enthusiastic about NCL's latest product. "The coming of NCL to Hawaii is going to be big here, and as we are seeing average daily occupancy rates in our hotels going up dramatically statewide, increasing the cruise numbers to the state only adds to what we are able to offer," says Hawaii Convention & Visitors Bureau (HCVB) President and CEO John Monahan.

As an American-flagged operation, the line offers several advantages. First, there is no nedd to waster valuable time cruising to a foreign port to satisfy maritime immigration laws. Secondly, passengers will not need visas or passports or be caught in laborious custom procedures upon returning to home port. Third, with an American flag and crew, national safety and security concerns are less of a problem, and fourth, should a passenger desire to leave the cruise early (even though a full 7-day excursion has been purchased), he or she is free to do so - something not possible with other lines sailing the islands.

"This is all part of our Freestlye Cruising approach," says Stuart. "This is supposed to be a relaxed experience. No seating times, lots of restaurant choices and a free and casual cruise vacation experience all around.

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Onboard Amenities
The 2,002 passenger vessel has been refurbished sinces its days as the Norwegian Sky and now has plenty of entertainment and amenities to keep passengers busy. Cabins - 983 in total, 554 with ocean views and 243 with private balconies - are tight but comfortable with plush towels, firm mattresses, bath amenities, regular ice bucket service, turn-down service, a mini-refrigerator, bottled water and TV with some cable network programming.

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Between stops in Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului and Nawiliwili, passengers can explore the collections in the Mark Twain Library, have an Elemis aroma stone massage or Hawaiian lomi in the body Waves Spa (operated by Mandara Spa), go online with a ship or personal computer at the WiFi-wired Internet Cafe, smoke a stogie in the dark, wood-paneled interiors of Captain Cook's Cigar Club or watch a show in the Stardust Theatre. The ship offers some 11 bars and lounges, including a karaoke bar and a dance club. For kids there's the video arcade and the Kids korner with counselors and programs.

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Two pools and four hot tubs, plus a kiddy pool with waterfall and special toddler's hot tub, help enhance relaxation. Ping pong, a jogging track and fully equipped gym assist the active set. A wedding chapel will seat about 50 guests and the unusualy addition of the Kumu Cultural Center offers a bit of a museum on hawaiian culture and history to the complement the sense of place.

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Dining Options
For dining, Pride of Aloha offers two signature dining experiences: the Palace Restaurant and the Crossing Restaurant. This is where you find your lobster tail entrees and your three-mushroom soup.

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The "freestyle" element means passengers come when they feel like it and wait for a table if one is not readily availanble (reservations can be made in advance). Dining in these venues, and the Hukilau buffet cafe, is included in the cruise fare.

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Three other restaurants give passenger more choice in dishes and atmosphere with the Kahili Restaurant for highend Italian cuisine, Pacific Heights for Pan Asian fare and the Royal Palm Bistri serving nouvelle and classic French cuisine.

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The Pride of Aloha is staffed by Americans so language is never a problem. The quiet, subservient nature of the foreign help found on other cruise lines, however, is replaced by loquacious and, at times, less focused assistance familar in American customer service entities.

Additional information about the Pride of Aloha is available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at December 8, 2004 08:24 PM
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