Photo by Mark Leppert

There is just something so special about waking up at the Kauai Marriott Resort and looking out your sliding glass doors to see a cruise ship docked in the Nawiliwili Harbor. We had the pleasure of seeing three different ships in the week we stayed at the hotel: Holland America Line‘s Noordam, Princess Cruises‘ Grand Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Pride of America. The latter makes weekly trips to the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui and Kauai, spending an overnight in Maui and Kauai. The Noordam and the Grand Princess were making only one of a few cruises to and from Hawaii while repositioning on their way to Alaska and their four-month-long season there.

The nice benefit of the Pride of America staying in Nawiliwili overnight is the chance it gives the passengers to enjoy more time ashore enjoying the sights such as Waimea Canyon or the famed Fern Grotto. Special tours of locations used for the filming of movies such as Six Days, Seven Nights and Jurassic Park are also available for the enjoyment of movie buffs. Just taking a leisurely drive around the part of the island that has paved roads will lead to many sights of beautiful and lush, green scenery on this the Garden Isle, which gets over 600 inches of rainfall in a year.

On the backside of Kauai is the Napali Coast, one of the most spectacular sights in all of the islands but which can only be seen by air, boat or cruise ship. As cruise ships leave Kauai, they travel out along the Napali Coast giving their passengers a view of God’s handiwork at usually the perfect time of day, sunset or just before. We have been fortunate enough to have sailed into Kauai at Lihue twice, once on Princess’ Island Princess on a 15-day roundtrip from Los Angeles to four of the islands and the second time on Pride of America.

It was during our cruise on the Island that we first discovered the Kauai Marriott Resort with its breathtaking grounds and unique swimming pool. It is finding the hidden gems like this hotel that make cruising so much fun! Since our discovery in 2007, we have stayed there seven times, usually for a birthday or anniversary. It is a place so worth our many return visits.

In addition to the lovely grounds, there is a restaurant we have also grown to thoroughly love: Duke’s, named after the famed Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku. The eatery actually consists of two separate dining venues, one more casual downstairs for lunch and less extensive meals and the upper part where they serve steaks and fresh, local seafood dinners alongside an added salad bar. While the food is delicious, it is the view that makes this spot the place to dine. The views of the harbor and beach make this dining experience one to remember.

Also, the interior of Duke’s is beautiful as well, with its flowing waterfalls dropping into koi ponds surrounded by lush, tropical plants and flowers. The sound is so soothing and really gets you in the island mood. Duke’s tends to be quite a bit busier than usual on Thursday nights when the Pride of America docks overnight. The cruise ship guests get a chance to eat ashore if they choose, and as the restaurant is within walking distance of the ship, it has become a true favorite. (Thursday evening was the night we chose to eat at Duke’s to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary, and we were very surprised to see the place almost full by 5:30.)

I would bet that other passengers will return to enjoy their favorite island for a longer stay than the day or two offered on the cruise ships. This truly is the biggest benefit of cruising the Hawaiian islands in that you are able to get a sampling of each and then decide for yourself which you want to return to for a longer stay. Honeymooners and first-time cruisers to the islands agree, as do we. Hawaii is always a favorite destination of ours as we live on the west coast of California, and Hawaii is only a short five-hour flight away. So, aloha for now!

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