Flew non-stop from ORD United Airlines to HNL day before (Friday, June 6)POA cruise. Arrived 2:30 PM Honolulu time.
My group (17 cruisers) planned this cruise over a year in advance. Some of our group left several days early but the majority of us were on the same round trip air schedule. Since we had very early tickets (8 AM Arizona) to Pearl Harbor, we did not want to stay far from our first excursion. Note: we reserved our tickets to Arizona online 6 months prior to trip We stayed at the Outrigger Honolulu Airport Hotel which had a free shuttle from airport. Did not want to cab to Waikiki for dinner as it would have added another $100. After check-in at hotel, we got cabs to eat dinner at Nico's Pier 38. This restaurant got good reviews from previous CC members. . Saw a large signed picture of Guy Fieri from Food Network. Dinner was great and we enjoyed sitting outside watching the tour buses go by and looking out over the pier area. There was entertainment inside the restaurant with a live band that we could hear outside. Went back to hotel 3 hours later. Easy to get cabs from restaurant. Caught a cab back to hotel to get some rest for busy embarkation day. Note: we spent a great deal of time and money in cabs on this island. Be prepared to spend more money on cabs in Honolulu
Saturday June 7: we had pre ordered tickets to Arizona 6 months prior online for Pearl Harbor 8 AM . Early check out from hotel and had bellman lock our luggage in storage. Took cab to Pearl Harbor and arrived by 7 AM. Walked around till time to line up for short movie presentation and then took shuttle to Arizona. Pearl Harbor brings out many emotions and we were so thrilled that we were able to see this remarkable historic place. Stayed at Pearl Harbor for 3.5 hours and then took another cab back to hotel. Freshened up in lobby bathroom and then got luggage and cabs to Pier #2.
Embarkation: When we arrived before 11 AM we saw no Porters at the pier so we wheeled our own luggage to the place where everyone was dropping off luggage for X-Ray. Then we got into line with carry-on luggage, passports and e-Doc’s. Went through security and then into line for boarding passes. Got Group A. Had our Lei Greeting and Embarkation Photo’s taken with family and group. While waiting to board ship, we were entertained with Hawaiian group that sang and danced for the passengers. It was before 11:30 AM that Group A was called and we were on our way to the POA. Our group went straight to the Aloha Buffet but you could go to the Skyline for lunch. We just liked the variety of food at the buffet. After eating we lounged outside on Deck 11 until they called our Deck 10.
Cabin 10062 Family Stateroom Category B2.
This is a very tight fit for 4 adults – Mom, Dad, Son (24), & Daughter (19). We were able to put our clothes away in all the drawers and closet. We always bring extra hangers and also 2 hanger tree’s that has eight clips each. Luggage came after Muster drill. Bed arrangement: 1 pull-out couch (single), 1 bunk bed that comes down from ceiling which extends over pull-out couch and part way over double bed. There really was not any room for the ladder to go up on bunk, so if you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night the double bed people had to make room so they could get down. I just could not justify getting a suite when I knew we would not be spending much time in the stateroom and really no Sea Day’s. We have traveled on other cruiselines with 4 in the room, but this arrangement was extra tight. If we wanted to get to the Balcony we had to step on the beds. We knew this upfront but experiencing it was extra special. LOL
Room Steward(ess) name was Nicole. At Embarkation we found our room clean, no dust on shelves and flat surfaces, ice bucket filled, enough towels for 4. We did ask for 2 more bathrobes which were promptly put in our room. She did a fine job all week which we showed her our appreciation at the end of the week.
Room Service: Almost every morning we ordered room service. They were always on time. Twice we ordered room service at peak hours for late lunch/late night snack and they quoted a 45 min. wait. That was what we expected because of prime times that we ordered. Food was always on time and good. I must comment that the people who brought our food got a chuckle when they saw how crammed it was in our room. The trays had to be left on the double bed because there was no way they could get to any surface to put down. Our small table had to be put on the balcony otherwise they could not open single couch.
Dining: We did not have time to try specialty dinning. Dinners were mostly in the Skyline Dining Room after our exhausting shore trips. Service was generally acceptable, once it was very slow, but conversations about our activities during the day made the time go by. Our meals were enjoyable. We did not expect fine dinning so we were not disappointed.
Excursions: We planned our own excursions from tips learned on CC. We rented cars from Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Shuttles were there to pick us up to take us to the Car Rental Terminals at Airport locations. Exceptions to Shuttle service was in Kona. After tendering from POA, our pick-up was at King Kam Hotel located near the pier. We rented 2 days in Maui and parked overnight at pier parking lot (free). Next day it was very easy getting off the ship, walk to lot, and drive to our next adventure. In Kauai we rented only 1 day since the following day is short in Kauai and parking has a $30 charge.
Maui Day #1: Started our day with visit to Hookipa Beach and watched the surfers. Got some welcome sun (we had an awful winter in Chicago and no Spring season) then drove south to the Tedeschi Vineyards for the wine tasting from a selection of pineapple wines made from locally grown Maui Pineapples and their grape and sparkling wines. The grounds were very nice and we all purchased some bottles to enjoy later. Then we backtracked north to the Alli Kula Lavender Farm near Kula. $3.00 per person entrance fee. The grounds are carpeted in lavender and we toured ourselves around the beautiful grounds. Bought several souvenirs of lavender products. Next we drove to Haleakala to experience the summit. Words just cannot describe the view. Spectacular does not even come close.
We spent several hours in the park and decided not to do the sunset. Just was hesitant to drive down on pitch black roads with the sharp turns and going downhill very slowly.
Maui Day #2: Iao Valley and Iao Needle. Kaanapali, and Lahaina.
Hilo: Volcano National Park ( weather was cool and rainy), Akaka Falls
Kona: Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, Painted Church, Southernmost Point of the US, and almost to Green Sand Beach (long story, but you have to hike 1.5 mi each way or have vehicle that can drive on any surface. We went part way but road too treacherous).
Kauai Day #1: Helicopter Tour with Safari. Book online and save. Excellent Tour of Island and everyone we met from Safari company were wonderful. Drove to Poipu Beach and stayed several hours, then to nearby Blowhole.
Kauai Day #2: No rental car. Took shuttle to Anchor Cove and went to beach at the Marriott. We toured the grounds and shopped.
From all our daytime activities, we were exhausted by 9 pm. We did see the Frankie Vallie show but we strained to stay awake. Did not miss the casino. The live bands that played near pool area were very good and enjoyed listening to music and having a cocktail as we left ports. One area that I usually spend money is the gift shops, but I did not purchase anything. What is wrong with me??!!
Disembarkation: we had an extra day in Oahu, so when they put out the luggage tags a few days before Saturday, I took the purple tags which were for later times (9 AM). By Thursday night no more purple tags were available so get them as soon as they put them out.
We took our time getting off the ship and the lines went quickly. Found our luggage right away and waited in line for shuttle to get rental car. Big mistake to rent car. The traffic that weekend was even worse because of Parade honoring King Kamehameha and festivities. We ended up paying extra to drop off car near our hotel as we were not going anywhere with blocked streets and congestion. Our group had originally planned to drop off luggage and tour Oahu. We stayed at the Outrigger on the Reef and enjoyed our time there. My group really did not want to leave as it was very comfortable and lovely at the hotel. They had entertainment at night near lobby/pool area. We walked to restaurants and shops. Enjoyed hanging out in open lobby area.
Sunday: Took cabs to Diamond Head. Made it to the top though a struggle for me. I had gotten a bad cold and was running a fever by Saturday night. Glad I made the effort. It was fun to finish the climb! Check out of hotel at 12 Noon, and enjoyed pool area for the afternoon. Used complimentary hospitality room to get ready for trip back to airport. Had to leave early for 7:25 PM flight because more streets blocked off. Luckily the cab driver to Diamond Head gave us the "heads up" of the situation. Outrigger staff were outstanding and went out of their way to get us information and made our stay with them very enjoyable.
Summary: Loved seeing Hawaii for the first time on the ship. We saw so much on the islands but little of our POA. If you are able to get time off of work, stay several days before and after the cruise. We so so many sites in 10 days. I am so glad we choose to cruise on POA for our first trip to Hawaii and would do it again.