I must admit, that prior to our leaving on this cruise (our 1st), I was a bit leery after having read a lot of the prior critics concerning POA and all of the problems that were encountered. But to our surprise the cruise was not at all like the previous critics.
We found the staff & crew very friendly and helpful in all aspects. We boarded the POA on Sunday and it took approximately 1/2 hour from the time we checked our bags at security until we were opening our room door. Our porter came over and introduced herself to us. She was very friendly and welcomed us aboard!! I had arranged for a flower bouquet to be in our room for my fiance, and to my surprise it was in our room waiting for us. We were unpacking our clothes when we heard a knock on our door. It was someone from the wait staff with a bottle of wine and shrimp platter (I ordered that at the same time with the flowers). So my fiance and I sat on our patio drinking wine and eating shrimp watching life go by.
We ate our dinners at the "crossings" and "palace main" restaurants. Food was very good, wait staff superior and friendly. We arrived at the restaurants @ 5:30 pm each day, and waited no more than 10 minutes to be seated. Only one little "hiccup"...in all of the brochures it stated that no blue jeans and bathing suits would be allowed, but it seemed that at every seating this rule was not enforced by the hostess. No big deal, but if you make this rule....at least enforce it!!
The land excursions that we booked thru NCL were very good, albeit a bit pricey. Next time we go, will book all tours "on-line". Only one little issue. We booked a buggy ride thru the Waipio valley, nice scenery but the tour was to be approximately 5 1/2 hours. Got the impression that the tour guide was a bit under pressure, because it seemed like it barely lasted 2 hours from the time we went into the valley until we were delivered back @ our bus. I understand that the rain slowed things down a bit, but @ $95.00/each (thru NCL) could of been a bit more accommodating!! Overall the drivers were very informative regarding life in Hawaii. Our favorite was our driver for the Botanical garden tour in Kauai. He holds a PHD in Botany, but you could never tell it by his demeanor. He was very friendly,informative & a real hoot to be around!!
Even though this was our first cruise, we are already planning our next cruise for 2007. Not sure if we'll go out of Honolulu or Maui!! But we will definitely go again!! This was a learning experience for both of us!! We will probably rent a car at all of the islands. We did this on Oahu and on Maui (used to live there), made sight-seeing easier and at our own pace.
While the ship was cruising from island to island, we would sit on our patio and just gaze into the night sky and talk about the days activities, It got a bit windy one night, so we did not keep the door open. But that was such a pacifier to get a good nights sleep!! We actually slept better cruising than in port!! All in all this was a wonderful experience we still talk about it!! Every chance I get I look at the web-cam from POA, just to see where she is. She recently was in San Francisco for a few days, got to see her up close. Memories are the best!!