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POA November 11
We couldn't have asked for a better cruise! After reading a number of negative reviews on this ship our expectations were fairly low so we were delighted when this cruise proved to be nothing like anything we'd been anticipating.
We found our cabin, although quite small, to be very comfortable with lots of storage. It was spotlessly clean and our cabin steward was eager to please at all times. We were impressed when we were boarding that as he showed us to our cabin he already knew our names - we'd told him our cabin number and he welcomed us on board and used our surname! It is only a little thing....but it is what I expect from 5-star service and not necessarily for passengers located on Deck 4, as we were, and not in an owner's suite. So this was a nice start :)
Bathroom was small also but the ribbed shower curtain was a definite plus - no wet curtain sticking to you as you shower. We've been on other ships where that shower curtain (un-ribbed) is nothing More
but a nuisance.
We'd arranged for a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet which Leonie (Group Service Co-ordinator) organised for us in the Napa Wine Bar. Two Officers came and met with us, Dallas (Hotel Director) and Frank (Food and Beverage Director), and talked about the ship and answered any questions we had. It was lighthearted, very informative and a great way to begin our cruise. It was also a lovely to meet the eight other CC folks and we seemed to bump into them fairly often throughout the cruise and managed to catch up for dinner with some them of them at various times which we enjoyed very much.
As it turned out all of us who attended the M&G were also invited to an Officer's table for dinner on the Tuesday evening after our day in Hilo. What a lovely surprise! We were split up at different tables and at our table was Steve (in charge of staff) and Brian (in charge of fire safety). It was a wonderful evening in the Liberty Main Dining Room. Our table shared good food and lots of laughter. It was lots of fun and very memorable. (Thank you POA!)
The food served in the Dining Rooms was good to very good. Not 5-star fine dining by any means but fresh, attractively served and very enjoyable. We mainly had our meals in the Liberty and somehow we always had good service although I did hear stories of long waiting times. Apparently the first evening in Kauai the service was very slow due to the fact that the one of the main dining rooms was closed as a huge number of people were ashore for a luau. This night we had chosen to have a quick light meal at the Cadillac Cafe as we'd done a sunset cruise on a catamaran sailing past the Na Pali coast and they had served a delicious chicken and salad meal before we docked at 6pm.
We tried the Lazy J Steakhouse one evening and the steak was "to die for" - absolutely melt in your mouth fillet steaks and definitely worth the cover charge. We enjoyed this restaurant as service was exceptional and food mostly great. We did not enjoy the prawn cocktail - prawns tasted very watery and did not have much flavour - probably frozen and thawed.
All, and I do mean ALL, the staff were wonderful. We did not come across one member of staff in any area of the ship who was unhelpful, surly or less than friendly. Without exception they were eager to assist and always smiling.
We had been a little worried about the tendering process at Kona as on various other ships we've been on tendering sometimes proved to be a long drawn out process. Not here! Smooth and quick and no waiting time at either end.
I wish I could say the same for the initial embarkation in Honolulu. Two hours is an awful long time to stand in a queue! Maybe the fact that Apec was starting in Honolulu that morning had something to do with the slowness of being able to board....but maybe not. Maybe its a current occurrence. I would have thought though that since the POA does this week after week that they would have a smooth system in place. Even to have had the rows sign-posted better could have helped. It wasn't until we were finally near the front of the queue that we could see the sign that said "Latitudes".....hmmm, if only that had been at the end of that long row!! That is my one and only complaint otherwise everything was
just perfect. The ports, the cruise, the ship, the passengers, the cabins etc etc was perfect, perfect perfect. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
I love Hilo! We'd been here before many times and all we had planned for this port was to meet up with a friend and have lunch. We visited the farmers' market while we waited for lunch time. Love this market!
Great day .
We'd stayed in Honolulu for a week prior to cruise and we'd managed to do almost all the things on our list
First place of interest on our list was Pearl Harbour and Arizona - There is a new facility here (maybe 2 years old) and the museum is fantastic. We'd visited PH about 7 years ago and at that time had not been able to do the Arizona. So glad to have done the Arizona this time. Lots of oil drops (tears) still drifting up from the wreck - almost 70 years later!!!
We hiked Diamond Head - views at the top are well worth the hike. It really is a relatively easy hike. We caught a taxi there around 6.30am and lots of people were already on the trail. It was easy to pick up a taxi again to take us back to hotel - cost I think $10 each way.
I visited Plantation Village which was fascinating. I caught bus from Waikiki to Downtown and then changed to a bus to Waipahu - was easy enough to get there but took at least an hour (maybe more). The tour guide was very good but this was supposed to be a one hour tour, well it took two hours. He kept "talking story" which was very interesting but as I was travelling by bus I began to lose interest as I was concerned about getting a bus back to Waikiki in good time. Was good to see the type of houses the different nationalities lived in while they worked on the sugar cane plantations. One thing I especially liked was being given different fruits of Hawaii to sample - soursop, breadfruit, starfruit, guava, sugar cane stalk, lilikoi, plus some others I can't remember.
Snorkelling at Hanamau Bay was great. Saw the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaii's state fish), parrotfish and many others. Easy to get to by public transport - #2 bus. Easy.
Standup Paddleboard Lesson - this was one of the highlights of our holiday. We did this with Hawaiian Surf Adventures and thoroughly recommend them. Brandon, our teacher, had us standing up and paddling in no time at all. Great teacher!! And so much fun! He also took 61 (can you believe it - 61???) photos of us with a hi-def underwater camera he had strapped to his wrist. I loved this activity and look forward to taking it up as a sport here in Australia. This was also easy - #2 bus again.
Helicopter tour of the island with Blue Hawaiian. This was great and very glad we did it. However some seats are better than others :( and this is determined by weight.
Contemporary Art Museum - this was a spontaneous choice and not planned. Turned out to be a very lovely day at the CAM. Fascinating art. Great grounds to explore and a great photo opportunity to capture Diamond Head and skyscrapers. Fabulous cafe with delicious food. We had the falafel burgers and they were so good.
Tried, and loved, the usual restaurants - Dukes, Hula Grill, Ono Hawaiian Food Co, etc.
We had booked flights over the island with Wings Over Kauai. This tour was sensational. Ellen picked us up from the Anchor Cove Mall and drove us to the airport. We flew with another couple and every seat was a good seat!! We were all seated on the right side of the plane for the best view. My husband got to be co-pilot which he loved! (What guy wouldn't???).
Bruce, the pilot, showed us all the sights. We could see the helicopters below us buzzing around but I think we had the best view of all! It was a super clear day - just perfect. Got wonderful views of the Na Pali coast.
On our return to the airport we were presented with a dvd, a kukui nut lei and a plumeria flower for me to wear behind my ear. This was a brilliant tour and both Ellen and Bruce made us feel so welcome. Ellen then rushed us to her car as she was driving us back to the Anchor Cove Mall so we could quickly get our taxi to our next tour - sunset catamaran cruising the Na Pali Coast. Ellen was so sweet, she said that if we had missed our taxi she would have driven us herself to Port Allen where we were to board the cruise. Port Allen was an hour's drive away!!! This tour was definitely a highlight!!!
Dolphin Sunset Catamaran Na Pali Coast
Another fabulous tour! Our taxi got us to Port Allen in good time and arranged to meet us again after cruise finished.
We sailed (well motored) up close and personal to the amazing cliffs while Captain Chris named the different peaks and valleys and told us stories about each one. We saw a turtle swimming at "Turtle Beach" (how appropriate!!), could spot turtles up on the beach but in reality they were just dots, saw goats on the cliffs, had a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat and saw a whale or two.
Drinks and a meal were included in the price of the tour so on the way back to port we enjoyed a delicious chicken and salad meal with a couple of glasses of wine (or beer, mai tai, soft drink or water).
Jacob, our taxi driver, was waiting for us at the port to take us back to the Pride of America. This tour, including price of taxi was $150/person! This tour was definitely a highlight also!!
Booked a Historic Kona Tour with Marcus from My Tour Hawaii prior to leaving Australia. Luckily we were to pay for this tour ($25/p) on pickup as they never turned up!! We eventually booked a taxi with a lovely Japanese couple and did this tour together. Taxi was at the pier and cost was $40/person.
Our taxi driver was very good though and he did take us for a drive north first as that is always interesting to see all the black lava. He stopped for us to see a lava tube and took us to a beautiful little beach - this beach has only been recently opened to the public.
We did a tour of a coffee plantation, saw the Captain Cook Memorial, passed by the Place of Refuge and visited the Painted Church. So did all the things we had wished to do plus a couple more.
First day in Maui we did the Road to Hana with Valley Isle Excursions and Pu was our guide. She was so interesting - talked story almost non stop and not once did I wish that she would stop talking for a bit. She explained about different plants and their medicinal properties and on the way she gathered from the side of the road some guavas we could taste and some very huge, very delicious and very creamy avocados to add to our salad at lunch time. She talked at length about life on the private island Niihau which she'd been told about by a friend who lives there - this was fascinating!! She taught us a smattering of Hawaiian - wish I could remember it now :). She was also an excellent driver.
Loved the sights on RtoH. We saw many beautiful waterfalls and gorges. Saw the rainbow eucalypts, saw a sealion up on the beach pretending to be asleep while he waited for an unsuspecting critter to come too close - mmmm lunch.
Unfortunately after all the recent rain the Seven Sacred Pools were too high and not safe for a swim. Besides as soon as we left Kahului the sun disappeared and we had rain for a lot of the time.
We stopped at Hana for our picnic lunch - yummy marinated chicken and salad + our avocados.
Continued around the island until the Tedeschi Winery and the wine tasting. I wasn't particularly taken with the pineapple wine but glad I was able to taste.
Back to the ship by about 6pm. Big Day. Was a great tour.
Maui - Second Day
Sadly this was not a good day for us. Plan was to catch local bus from Queen Ka'ahumanu Centre in Kahului to Pa'ia a cute little 'hippie" town. This we did but while having coffee in Pa'ia I discovered my wallet had been stolen - most probably lifted from my backpack while we waited for the bus! So this was a wasted day for us while we spoke with police in Pa'ia, checked at bus terminal at the shopping centre, checked at the shopping centre itself, walked to police station in Kahului all in the hope of finding my wallet had been handed in. Stressed while we cancelled credit cards etc. So, not a fun day at all.
Pa'ia would have been great to explore.