I want to thank all of my CC friends who have guided me in the past. I saw a lot of mixed reviews here about PofA and approached the cruise with a bit of concern.
We flew out a day early and stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. They were great, but with only 8 hours to spend there I didn't get too attached. We were there with DW and a couple we had met on our first cruise (to Alaska in'04). On Saturday morning we got up fairly early and went out to Pearl Harbor. That was an awe inspiring visit. I only wish we didn't have a time limit on their car rental that made us leave a bit earlier than I would have liked to.
On boarding was easy. We got our bags pretty quickly, but our friends bags didn't arrive for several hours.
Our room was very well laid out, something that I haven't been able to say about a couple of other rooms we have stayed in. Room 7106 had a huge picture window that was the size of a sliding glass door- it just didn't open as it was an Ocean-View room.
The first night we went to Jefferson's Bistro and they had a new deal going on. They had a regular menu, but they also had a buffet set off to the side. I love to eat and I got the regular meal, and then went over and got a huge slice of Prime Rib....it was heavenly. Our Waiter, Chris, was fabulous. He really knows his stuff. I train Customer Service classes and he did a great job. We went back a 2nd time, but had a different server- food was just as good, but we missed Chris.
We tried Little Italy. The rest of my group was impressed with the food, but I wasn't. The server was not attentive at all, but was saved by his assistant.
The Aloha buffet was where we usually had breakfast every day. It was the same food every day. Not terrible, not great, just the same. Nothing stood out.
We went out on shore every day. My favorite excursion was when we went to the Molokini Snorkeling. I was trying to get it without going through NCL, but they provided transportation as well as the excursion. The link was through the Pacific Whale Foundation- so the cost went to a good cause. They were great- enthusiastic well spoken and well versed in what they do. We got to see some humpback whales and they understood that is what people really wanted to see- and then topped it off with a swim with some sea turtles.
We had a great time on Maui just renting a car and going across the island to see Lahaine for lunch (Cheeseburger in Paradise was fun, and a great spot next to the beach)and a walk in the Iao Valley park area.
Hilo was great. We also really enjoyed the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour, and DW fulfilled a bucket list item by seeing the real thing on the lava. We spent the rest of the day at Volcano National Park. Cars are really cheap to rent in Hawaii.
Kona was a quiet day. We just went in to town and got lunch and walked around.
The NCL sponsored Luau on Kauai was good, but not something that I feel that I ever need to do again. It was overpriced, with food that was just OK, and the story line was tough to follow.
The things I didn't like- well, not my call but DW and our friend said the women's bathrooms in the public area were consistently dirty. The service in Little Italy and the fact that I ended up paying $180 to sit in the specialty restaurants that are not as abundant on other cruise lines.
Would I go back again........in a heartbeat. I have been on RCCL twice and Carnival once and NCL outshone them. I preferred Celebrity, but NCL runs a close second. I will be bringing business to them again.