We sat down with Simone Ryan from Phil Hoffman Travel to find out all about her Hawaiian adventure on board Pride of America.
When did you find out you were going on the NCL Legends famil and what were your expectations?
I found out I was going on the NCL Legends famil a couple of days after I got back from South Africa, which was already a big highlight for the year. I had no idea what to expect, and a colleague who had been on Pride of America previously would only tell me that I was going to love it and everything it had to offer.
Did you enjoy the onboard experience on Pride of America, and if so, what was the highlight?
The onboard experience was fantastic. There was always so much going on with activities and plenty of places to eat. I was very lucky to experience a few of the speciality restaurants such as Moderno Churrascaria, Jefferson’s Bistro and Cagney’s Steakhouse. The staff on board were all so great and always had a smile on their face; they were often very funny interacting with the other passengers.
The onboard shows in the Hollywood Theater were great also. I enjoyed both shows thoroughly.
What was your favourite Hawaiian island?
My favourite island would have to be the Big Island. The cruise stops on both sides of the island in Hilo and Kona, so it’s great to get an idea of how different each side is. We were lucky enough to have great weather both days we were there.
When we were in Hilo, we got to check out a local market, the chocolate factory and, probably my highlight of the day, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. To see the aftermath on the island and how it has been affected is something that I still keep talking about.
In Kona, we went on a snorkel adventure with Seaquest Snorkel Tours and were able to snorkel with the turtles, make friends with some dolphins and see some spectacular marine life. The scenery was simply spectacular on the coastline and just a relaxing day.
If you could go back and do an activity again, what would it be?
It would have to be the whole day we had in Kauai. We were lucky enough to go on a helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters around the island. The scenery was amazing! Seeing all the waterfalls and the Waimea Canyon was fantastic. Then we headed to Gaylord’s at Kilohana for lunch, which was also fantastic, and then we went on a rum safari around the farm. It was great way to relax, learn all about the Kilohana Plantation and what is grown there, plus we got to try the delicious rum. Such a fantastic day.
How did you find travelling with a large group?
I found travelling in a large group great, as I got to meet so many people. You will always find someone with similar interests to you if you are wanting to go and do something but don’t want to by yourself. For example, a couple of us were keen to hike up Diamond Head before we left for the cruise terminal, so we were able to do so. It is also great in regards to dining, as you will find yourself sitting near someone different each time which will make the experience memorable.
What would be your key selling point for Pride of America?
My key selling point for Pride of America would have to be to sell the destination of Hawaii, and that the ship is great way to get a taste of all the islands. There are so many options on board too in terms of activities, restaurants and entertainment – it really is a floating hotel taking you to the heart of the destinations.
Do you have any selling tips for agents with clients looking to travel to Hawaii?
If your clients are doing the cruise, definitely recommend some pre- and post- nights to enjoy Honolulu. There is so much to do there – having two nights pre and two nights post is a great amount of time to explore Waikiki and Honolulu.
Both hotels we stayed at, the Alohilani Resort and Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger, were fantastic properties. The Alohilani was at the end of everything and out of the way from the main hustle and bustle and across the road from Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger was right in the centre of all the action and above a great venue, Maui Brewing Co, which offers fantastic food, atmosphere and bar games, plus some delicious ales.
Book a tour out to Kualoa Ranch for the day to see the beauty and some of the sets of where some of your favourite movies and TV shows are. There are a wide range of tours to choose from and you can even have a visit to Secret Beach – a fantastic spot to get away from the hustle and bustle and just take in the beauty.
If your clients are unsure on doing a helicopter tour, tell them to do it. The tour was such a highlight and they won’t stop talking about it once they are back.
If they are looking for something special to do in Maui on the overnight stay, dinner at Fleetwood’s on Front St. is a must. Fantastic atmosphere, scenery and a special surprise.