My mum and 9 month old daughter sailed Pride of America in October, 2013. After spending quite a bit of time researching the best way to see Hawaii with a baby we decided on taking a cruise. My mother had sailed on a number of cruises around the world and was a good influencer for us to take a cruise to see the islands.
The POA is a great way to see the islands, it really is a floating hotel. We spent most of our days off the ship either on shore excursions, exploring the local town or on the beach. Each island is beautiful and different in its own way. I highly recommend this cruise to get a taste of the Hawaiian islands.
All the shore excursions we booked with Roberts Hawaii. After reading reviews about the NCL shore excursions having large groups, long waiting times and pricier tours we decided on Roberts. The Roberts tours were similar to NCL tours we know this because we always saw the Gray Line tour bus stop at the same attractions. The tour buses were only half or three quarters full so passengers could spread out a bit. This was great with a 9 month old, we usually went towards the back where we had more room for my baby to sleep or be entertained.
We booked an Oceanview Picture Window state room as my baby was at the crawling & exploring stage. The room was sufficient for 2 adults and a baby.
We reorganised the bed when we settled in and put the two single beds together to make a double so the baby could sleep in the middle. Our room steward had opened the sofa bed for us as an extra bed on the first day but once the sofa bed was opened up there was no room to move so we just resembled the sofa bed. With storage you just need to be a bit imaginative about where you store things. We unpacked everything we needed for the week and then put our luggage under the beds. There is enough storage in the cupboard, drawers and shelves.
There is a light in the closet you need to move the hangers to see it, handy when you need to look for things especially at night. Extra storage shelves also available in the bathroom behind the right glass mirror. We also ended up storing the baby stroller under the bed when not in use.
Overall food was good. We tried all the complementary dining available which suited us well with a baby in tow. There was always a high chair available for us and extra attention given to the baby.
The Aloha Café is good, we mainly ate breakfast there. We would be on board for a late lunch so we never really saw what the full lunch serve was until the last day. For breakfast we discovered Moderno they serve the same food as Aloha Cafe, it is a bit quieter and you can sit outside, better option than being in the rush of it at Aloha Café.
Dinner was always in the Skyline or Liberty restaurant. We tended to sit at the aft to get great views of the water, it was quieter and we had really good waiters serving us.
I’m a bit of a foodie so I wouldn't say cruise ship dining is the best dining in the world. It’s all mass produced for the cruise passengers and they did a descent job of it. Of course if you do want to have fresh made to order food then specialty dining is the way to go or shore dining.
On-board staff were absolutely great. I had my worries about the staff after reading the reviews here but it was the complete opposite when we were on-board. We had very good service, a lot of attention and the baby had even more. Staff would approach us to say hello and my daughter was on a first name basis with the waiters, photographers, room steward and security. They were really friendly, informative and helpful and even went out of their way to help us.
I only saw two night shows as it was a bit difficult with the baby as she went to bed around the time the shows were on. They weren't really to my interest either more catered for the older crowd. My mum on the other hand went to the shows and entertainment every night. Feedback from her was that it was hit and miss.
• Beach at Maui and Kauaui are a short walk from the port, you are looking at 10 minutes each way. Ask the staff at the port for directions, they are very helpful. There’s also a beach at Kona (the tender port).
• Moderno for breakfast outside on deck 11 aft, open till 10:30am.
• Waikiki bar deck 13 aft, really nice bar. It’s quiet and not many people around. It’s a smokers bar but you can manage to find a nice corner if you aren't a smoker to have a drink and chill.
• Call room service when you get up to get your morning coffee or tea. Room service usually arrived within 10 minutes.
• Buy a few bottles of water before you board or during the cruise at the ABC stores, always handy having bottles of water in the room.