This is the best way to see Hawaii
Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America, with 2124 passenger berths, is the largest American-flagged cruise ship in the world. That means it can sail solely within the Hawaiian Islands without having to visit a foreign port - an obvious advantage. The ship sails seven-day cruises out of Honolulu and spends each day in port at one of the four islands; Oahu, Maui and including overnight stays in Hawaii and Kawai.
Due to recent changes in Federal government policy; rescinding the Title XI ship financing program for American flag cruise ships, it appears Pride of America could remain the only mainstream-sized American-flagged cruise ship in service for a very long time.
The ship's construction was started within a program called "Project America" introduced in the late 1990s by former Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye. Federal loans were given to "American Classic Voyages," the line that once owned American Hawaii Line, Delta Queen and other American-flagged vessels. The goal was to promote Hawaii tourism and competitiveness with foreign-flagged cruise ships. Unfortunately the company and project foundered in 2001 after the 9/11 travel crisis and the ships under construction were returned to the federal government.
Norwegian Cruise Lines eventually acquired the hull for Pride of America through a complicated agreement with the U.S. Government to finish the ship overseas but flag and operate it as an U.S.-registered vessel. A number of steps followed that together speak volumes on pivotal topics for the cruise industry, but the result is the only mainstream cruise ship of size operating under the U.S.-flag with an all-American crew since 2005, and hence it has the right to service just American ports of call, a solid advantage in the remote Hawaii market. But it also has restrictions against hiring specialists from outside the U.S., higher payroll taxes and different employment unions representing (and requiring contributions from) various crewmembers onboard.
A separate company called "NCL-America" was created by Norwegian to hold Pride of America, and two sister ships sailing under the U.S. flag in the company, but the economics of running a U.S.-flagged cruise line soon showed that only one ship could be sustained and priced competitively enough to keep the company profitable. The other two ships were re-flagged and deployed to other regions.
Dry Dock for Major Enhancements: March 2013
Pride of America will enter a 14-day dry dock on March 23, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Most of the enhancements will be made to the staterooms including the addition of a number of new suites, staterooms and studio staterooms for solo cruisers.
"As the only large US-flagged cruise ship, Pride of America offers a unique and extraordinary vacation to four of Hawai`i's most popular islands," said Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. "We want to ensure that we are continuing to enhance the guest experience on this one-of-a-kind vessel. Therefore, we are making a major investment - over $30 million - in enhancing this ship with beautiful new suites, studios for solo travelers, new restaurants and more."
Brand new carpeting will be placed throughout the ship; in the staterooms and public rooms. All staterooms will receive new flat screen televisions and updated décor.
Wireless Internet connectivity, bow to stern, will be added along with new directional signage. The gift shops will receive new looks as well as the photo and art galleries. Upgrades will also be made to the fitness center.
New dining venues include the Moderno Churrascaria, the line's signature Brazilian steakhouse now present on most of the Norwegian fleet. The ship's buffet restaurant, the Aloha Cafe, will receive a new look, and the Lazy J's Steakhouse will be converted to Norwegian's signature steakhouse; Cagney's.
New Suites and Staterooms
There will be 24 brand new opulent suites - a category where NCL excels. There will be just four Studio Staterooms (built and priced for solo cruisers) and four new inside staterooms; all to be installed on deck 13.
Of the 24 new suites two will be 566 square foot Deluxe Owners Suites which sleep up to four guests and feature a large bedroom, a separate living area and a luxuriously outfitted bathroom. These suites will each connect to one of the new Family Suites which will be 363 to 416 square feet, most sleeping up to six guests.
Two of the Family Balcony Suites will be ADA compliant. All of the suites come with expansive balconies from 245 square feet for Family Suites to 410 square feet for the Deluxe Owners Suites, the largest balconies in the Norwegian fleet.
Suite guests will also receive dedicated butlers and concierge service, plus Tranquility mattresses from the Bliss Collection by Norwegian, Lavazza Espresso Makers, Elemis bath products and private dining for breakfast and lunch.
Pride of America will return to her regular week-long Hawaii itinerary out of Honolulu sailing Saturdays in early April 2013. All of the new suites and staterooms went on sale October 1, 2012.
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