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NCL Cancels Kauai Napali Coast Sailing From Its Itinerary

by Staff

The NCL Pride of America is about to undergo a significant itinerary change following the nearly twenty-year run of its weekly Hawaii cruise. And, unfortunately, it isn’t for the better. This was previously decided, for reasons unknown, and the final two regular Napali coast cruises, which are sold out, will depart soon.

The company will no longer cruise the famed Napali Coast along Kauai on its itineraries. That was arguably one of the most anticipated and best parts of the week-long all-Hawaii voyage. Read on for what that most incredible part of the journey was actually like.

Hawaii Cruises Remove Maui From Itineraries For Now

Na Pali Coastline was the chicken-skin moment of this Hawaii cruise.

It’s hard for us to describe the anticipation and excitement that more than three thousand passengers and crew experienced when pulling out of Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor and making the famous left turn to cruise up one of the world’s most spectacular and secluded coastlines. After about an hour’s time, the Pride of America ship started its approach towards the magical cliffs, lush valleys, and the famous beaches along the coastline. This is an area that is only accessible by boat, helicopter, or hiking.

When the Na Pali Coast was reached, a Native Hawaiian interpreter on board talked about the significance of the Na Pali and also offered sacred chant. It was beyond mesmerizing. If you’ve ever done this, you know it is an unforgettable experience and please share it with others in comments.

Hat tip to Cayla, who pointed out the itinerary change to us. Cayla said,

“After years of wanting to take NCL’s circle Hawaii cruise, I was finally in a position to book- and they’ve dropped the Na Pali Coast from the route. I don’t think alternatives like a helicopter or small boat would be accessible for our travel party, so almost instantly, NCL has de-prioritized Hawaii as a destination for us.”

The new NCL itinerary without Napali Coast extends time on Kauai.

NCL first leaves Honolulu on Saturday nights at 7 pm, then is docked Sundays and Mondays on Maui, Hilo on Tuesdays, followed by Wednesdays at Kona, and then Kauai on Thursdays at 8 am. Instead of leaving Kauai on Friday around 1 pm for the Napali Coast extravaganza, it will now remain docked until 5 pm, then sail directly back to Honolulu from Nawilidwili prior to disembarkation on Saturday morning.

Depending on any future activity at Kilauea Volcano, the ship may include a sail-by on Tuesday night after Hilo. That too was a mind-blowing experience of sight, sound, and smell. On that occasion as well, a Native Hawaiian interpreter was present on deck to help guide and inform the experience. It was awesome! Having that experience and the Napali Coast together in the same week made this sailing a complete stand out on an otherwise regular cruise.

Special act allows NCL to offer these interisland cruises without foreign ports.

Pride of America is a ship specifically tailored for all Hawaii itineraries. It is the only sizeable U.S.-flagged ship to sail within the Hawaiian Islands without visiting foreign ports. To do this, it had to qualify under the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which is the passenger equivalent of the cargo-related Jones Act.

The ship started as built here, and NCL bought the “remains” and finished the ship outside the USA. They could get the vessel qualified as American-built because of its history. This allows NCL to do its all-Hawaii itinerary to Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai without including a stop outside the country.

Why we like Pride of America.

BOH editors watched NCL Pride of America sail around our Hawaiian islands for years and wondered from afar what it would be like on board. We can recall being in the water at Hanalei Bay, watching the ship up there on Friday afternoons, and wondering what the view must be like.

You may recall that in 2005, upon its initial launch, the ship garnered less-than-favorable reviews. Following numerous inquiries by BOH readers asking about the cruise, we embarked on a week-long BOH-paid journey aboard to investigate. Initially, our expectations were relatively modest. We were, however, pleasantly surprised by the excellent service, good food, and the professionalism of the staff.

We liked it so well that we returned after the ship went through a dry-dock refurbishment.

NCL provides what we referred to before as a “Hawaii In A Nutshell” experience. For those who want to visit four islands in just one week, without airports, flights, or unpacking, this has been a great way to get introduced to Hawaii for two decades. For those who sometimes get seasick, as editor Jeff does, he found both sailings to be smooth even when traversing the notoriously turbulent Kauai channel and the Alenuihaha channel between Maui and the Big Island.

Is dropping the Napali Coast a dealbreaker for you when considering NCL Pride of America? If you’ve taken the cruise, what was it like for you?

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