9 Honolulu Spring Break Cruise Reviews

We went to Hawaii for Easter week. The cruise was excellent from the butler to the steward and wait staff. If you want to experience Hawaii this is the way to do it. Shore excursions were fairly expensive but worth the price. I would go on ... Read More
We went to Hawaii for Easter week. The cruise was excellent from the butler to the steward and wait staff. If you want to experience Hawaii this is the way to do it. Shore excursions were fairly expensive but worth the price. I would go on this cruise again in a heart beat..The pen house suite for a good size, reminded me of a suite at the Hilton. Bed was extremely comfortable. My 12 year old loved the children's programs. The cruise director Jamie was awesome. I asked to meet the captain and our concierge made it happen. The captain showed up one night when we were out to dinner and introduced himself to us. The ship was in good shape to be 13 years old. This was our favorite trip, our trip of a lifetime and I would recommend this trip to my friends and family.I have to say I was rather leary because most of the ship employees are American workers-(because we tend to have less of a work ethic than some other countries) that is just my opinion but I must say the American workers did just as well. Loved this trip,. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was our best cruise ever. We cruised multiple times with Norwegian and always stay in Haven. This time we wanted to try out the Pride of America and the ship itself wasn't that great it's an old ship but, our butler was the ... Read More
This was our best cruise ever. We cruised multiple times with Norwegian and always stay in Haven. This time we wanted to try out the Pride of America and the ship itself wasn't that great it's an old ship but, our butler was the only reason why my whole family didn't miss the Haven! She was amazing throughout our entire trip. No words can explain this girl! Our reservations was done by day 1, anything you ask her it's like she sleep outside the door she's super fast the kids loved her very polite and beautiful! Thank you Susana. You are truly the best and will definitely ask for you next time we visit. Also, lots of American on this ship. Still no surprises, all the shows were amazings and restaurants staff provide great services excursions little over priced but worth it. Nepali coast helicopter and the luau kalamaku was my favorite .. We were all happy. Experience of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We did a lot of research prior to our trip. We traveled with our family, total of 7 people. 5 adults and 2 children. I will continue this review and add pictures over the next couple of days. Overall, we had a great experience and would ... Read More
We did a lot of research prior to our trip. We traveled with our family, total of 7 people. 5 adults and 2 children. I will continue this review and add pictures over the next couple of days. Overall, we had a great experience and would highly recommend the Pride Of America to anyone wanting to visit Hawaii. This is the perfect way to visit the islands of Hawaii. The ship was very clean. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food, which continually gets a bad reputation, was good. We ate one night in the Aloha Cafe and was disgusted by the food, but we ate the rest of our meals at the Skyline. Skyline was a great alternative to the chaotic buffet. We booked all of our excursions with private tours (not with NCL). I hope to add reviews in the future. Some of our excursions were: the Fairwinds, Ricky's Tours, Kauai backcountry adventures and Chief's luau. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Eight of us (in 4 cabins) planned this trip and it was totally enjoyed by all (ages 40 - 70) There were activities on board ship, shore excursions, things to do on our own. Hawaii is beautiful and being on the ship to be able to make ... Read More
Eight of us (in 4 cabins) planned this trip and it was totally enjoyed by all (ages 40 - 70) There were activities on board ship, shore excursions, things to do on our own. Hawaii is beautiful and being on the ship to be able to make port at all the islands is the only way to go! Our 2nd week was spent in a condo on Kauai which was fantastic. I definitely recommend the cruise for first time visitors to Hawaii. Each island is unique and you get to see them all without the hassle of flights and hotels (to say nothing of packing and unpacking on a daily basis!!!) I have been on several other cruises and I wouldn't rate the food on Pride of America as being the best I've ever had but it was very good, beautifully prepared and the employees on the ship couldn't have been any nicer. I had read reviews that the service wasn't up to par compared to other ships but we did not find that to be true at all. It was a fun, relaxing and totally enjoyable week. Some did miss not having a casino on board but not being a gambler that didn't bother me. There was a pool, music and a spa! We booked directly with NCL receiving top service, even getting upgrades to balcony rooms when we had booked inside cabins. Now I am spoiled and will always want a balcony!!! A great time was had by all and we can't wait to return to Hawaii Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Our family of four decided to take this cruise from Honolulu to three neighboring islands over Spring Break. The Pride of America is a large ship, although not super-sized and we had a bit over 2,000 guests on our cruise. The ship is well ... Read More
Our family of four decided to take this cruise from Honolulu to three neighboring islands over Spring Break. The Pride of America is a large ship, although not super-sized and we had a bit over 2,000 guests on our cruise. The ship is well maintained and clean throughout. Most of the employees take pride in their work and seemed happy to be on board. The price of the cruise was a bit higher than anticipated, but overall the cruise was great and we had a fun time. We purchased our tickets using the ticket office on base as I am active duty military. We saved about $50 off the NCL price. Cabins We opted for two cabins instead of one so four adults (kids: 14, 23 yrs) wouldn’t be stuffed into one room with only one bathroom. Suite options were a bit expensive, and not all suites have multiple bathrooms, so we decided on one balcony and one ocean view room. As we made reservations late, our rooms were not near each other. The balcony was room 7648 and the ocean view was 4588. Cabin 7648: This seems to be a standard balcony cabin and was sold as such. However, once we got to the room, we found it had a partially obstructed view. There was nothing in front of the window, but the life boats were only two cabins forward of our room blocking any forward looking view. Also, a life saving equipment crane on deck 6 would be in any photo from the balcony as it rose up towards deck 7. I tried to change rooms once on board, but the cruise was sold out. Otherwise, this cabin was OK. Walking space was tight as the king sized bed was only 12 or 18 inches from the wall. The small shelves and cabinets did help with stowing gear, and the space under the bed was perfect for storing suitcases. The bathroom was sufficient and had a medicine cabinet behind one mirror. Before we embarked, I called NCL to inquire if the room had bathrobes…they told me it did not. Once we were in the room, I did not see any robes, but after dinner we had robes. I don’t know if this is because I complained about the view or because I called NCL. See cabin section of review for more. Cabin 4588: This is a ADA compliant room which was a bonus for us. We only requested a standard ocean view cabin, but this is the cabin we were assigned. This cabin had two single beds, a nice desk area, two sitting chairs with a table, good storage, and a huge bathroom. There was plenty of room to walk as the space between the foot of the bed and the wall was an easy 8 feet. This cabin is located on the port side in the middle of the ship. It was directly port of the mid-ship elevators which made accessing any area on the ship super easy. Most disembarkation took place on the 3rd deck below this cabin, making shore trips that much easier. Food and Dining Overall, food on this cruise ranged from delicious to unremarkable. Aside from the buffet and lunch lines, dinner service took a long time but could be sped up if the guest is in a hurry. We ate breakfast at the Aloha Café or Moderno every day. I liked the selection of main and side dishes, and the bacon was fresh and crispy all the time. My wife was disappointed by the pastry selection as they did not have the fruit pastry she liked. Although some of the selections changed daily, most breakfast foods, including pastries, were the same every day. We have to comment on the service at this buffet…it was good. Everyone was friendly and helpful. My wife likes plain French toast, but the buffet had thick bread with cinnamon and raisins. We asked Yessi, the cook behind the line, if they could make plain French toast and they did. It took a few minutes, but 4 out of 6 days we had fresh French toast made to order. On the third day, Yessi actually made it without us requesting it, but that day we tried the buffet selection, so Yessi waited for our request before making the special order. During our cruise, sunrise happened just past 0630. I normally woke at 0600 and had enough time to find a spot on the aft deck and then get coffee and breakfast in plenty of time to witness a beautiful sunrise. The buffet and the tables were not crowded at this time, but everything got busy at 0700. Of note, coffee is available on the Aloha line, but there is also a coffee/drink station near the aft deck on the starboard side…it is much closer to the aft dining area. We hardly ate lunch on the ship, but the few times we did, we had BBQ dishes (burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs) or main dish items in the buffet. Nothing special to report, but nothing bad either. We ate dinner at the buffet once and enjoyed a few dinner-time snacks as well. The menu changed a little every day and each meal had a carving station with a different meat each night. The crepe station made a good, fresh dessert, and soft serve ice cream was available too. For dinner, our rooms had been booked while NCL was running a special that included OBC and the Ultimate Dining Package (UDP). We ate at Cagney’s twice, Skyline MDR, East Meets West, La Cucina, and the Teppanyaki. Reservations for the first two nights were easy to secure, but after that it was tough to get in when we wanted. We ended up eating teppanyaki at 2130 and Cagney’s at 2100 later in the cruise. Teppanyaki only sits 32 customers at each of three sittings, so it is the toughest to get into. I strongly recommend advance reservations for all UDP choices. Cagney’s had the best food. The arugula salad was quite tasty and is recommended. The chicken drumsticks are sweet and sour, but quite tasty. The prime rib confit is a small appetizer but packed with flavor and is served with tast pita bread. I liked the bread and garlic butter served early in the meal. The bison was unremarkable but the filet mignion (5 and 8 oz), leg of lamb, and rib eye steaks (12 or 16 oz, I forget) were delicious. My favorite was the sea bass which fell apart with the slightest touch of my fork. All meat dishes were cooked exactly as ordered. Service was good, but it did take at least 90 minutes for each meal. La Cucina also pleased our palates. The restaurant was breezy which made it cool throughout dinner. I feel as if the staff closed the front door this problem would have disappeared. The lasagna and pizza (served as appetizer, but full size pizza) was tasty but the lobster pasta was just so-so…maybe I am not a good judge though as I don’t eat much lobster. Of note, the chocolate raspberry tart for dessert was delicious. East Meets West is also home to the Teppanyaki. Our first night at EMW, we only had 60 minutes before the magic show. We let our team (Kwan and Austin) know we had a timeline and they made sure we met it. Orders were placed in an expedite status and we never had to wait for the next dish. The chicken kung pao and orange beef was OK, the sweet and sour pork was so-so, and the dessert was all delicious. Teppanyaki was disappointing. The show during the meal prep was great, but the food was not that good. We started with a salad which was OK. Once the chef came out, we had fried rice and then the main dish prepared in front of us. The shrimp was good, but the steak did not have much flavor. The dessert was highlighted by the ginger cake served with green tea ice cream. Finally, the Skyline MDR was disappointing. I don’t remember what we had. The food was not bad, but it wasn’t very remarkable either. The service seemed all over the place and there was no organized entertainment aside from the live music in the center. Our server brought us our food but never made a connection with us. She also never used the word YES. Everywhere else on the ship, people said yes or yes sir, but this particular server’s reply was yeah. Not that I care what people say, but her words were not up to par with other staff on the POA. Finally, the mai tai served at the Waikiki Bar on the 13th deck was well prepared and taasted good. The drink was served with a mint leave, an orange, and a stick of cinnamon. I had never had cinnamon in a mai tai before, but will be trying this one at home in the future. The dress code for all UDP and the Skyline is casual, but not swimwear or flip flops, although we did see a few dinners in flip flops. NCL seems to try to keep the restaurants looking classy but doesn’t refuse service to the few customers who don’t meet the dress code. Liberty MDR and the Jefferson Bistro both require a bit more though, collared shirts for men and dresses for women. Of note, once on the ship, we received a note offering us $100 credit towards excursions in each port if we didn’t use the UDP. This was a per cabin credit. I think you could have used one, maybe two nights, of the specialty dining, and then turned it in for credit. As we were booking our own excursions, we kept the UDP. Itinerary Disclaimer up front…you will not be relaxed or refreshed after this cruise. As the POA docks in a new port every day and there are no days at sea, you feel rushed to do as much as you can in a short amount of time. The cruise is a good cruise, but you will stay busy or have to choose to skip a port if you want to simply relax. We stopped in Maui, Hilo, Kona, and Kauai. We over nighted in Maui and Kauai. This ship will sail by any active lava flows on the big island, but as none are active now, the POA simply sailed from Hilo to Kona. We took our cruise in March, which is in the winter whale season. Whales were seen while sailing into and out of port in Maui, Hilo, and Kona. Dolphins and a whale were seen near the ship while anchored off the coast of Kona. With a family of four and a budget, we did not use any of NCL’s excursions. Instead we rented cars and planned our own trip. One thing to keep in mind if you do this is the time required to get and drop off your car. If you have reservations, you can take the rental companies’ shuttles from the pier, but you will have to wait in line at the pier and again at the airport. In Maui, this process took over an hour, in Hilo and Kauai, about 45 minutes. Entertainment We did not see any of the musical and dance acts. We did enjoy the magic show and the comedy show. The ship’s magician is Charles Bach. He pulls off some cool parlor tricks in a smaller show in the Mardi Gras lounge and then some bigger tricks in the main showroom. On the sail to the Napali Coast, he escapes from chains and locks while underwater in the ship’s pool. He was under water for nearly 3 minutes! The comedian was Michael Sommerville. His act had me in tears, but it seems to be much the same as the act he performed last year on Letterman. I think this was his last cruise, so expect a new comedian in the future. In summary, we had a good time on POA. The staff was attentive and friendly. The pricing was a little high, but POA does have a monopoly on this specific market. We would do this cruise again in the future, but would adjust our shore activities based on personal preferences. Mike Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My husband and I took this trip with our 2 girls, ages 7 and 11. We do a big trip each Spring Break, and this has to be one of our favorites. We loved the ship, all of the crew was very nice and helpful. We booked an inside cabin for ... Read More
My husband and I took this trip with our 2 girls, ages 7 and 11. We do a big trip each Spring Break, and this has to be one of our favorites. We loved the ship, all of the crew was very nice and helpful. We booked an inside cabin for all 4 of us because we aren't ever in the room very much. It was really small, but what we expected on a cruise ship. We loved the food in the Aloha Cafe. The girls really liked the Cadillac Diner. When we went to the nicer restaurants, I thought the food was just OK. We didn't eat in any of the restaurants you had to pay extra for. The girls went to the Kids Club every night and loved it. They wanted to get back from activities on the islands as soon as possible so they could go. All of the counselors were great. In each port we rented a car from Budget. They, along with others, had a shuttle that would pick you up at each port and take you to the airport to get your car. The only place this wasn't true was in Kona. They don't have a shuttle there, so I would rent from somone else. In Maui you can park your car outside the boat - there is very limited parking. We kind of had to make our own space. In Kauai we parked in a shopping center for $20. They had a shuttle that would take you to the ship and back to the car that ran every 15 minutes. I planned all of our own excursions. Most of my ideas came from Frommers Hawaii 2012. I would definitely recommend buying it before the cruise. This is what we did in each port: Oahu - Our favorite thing to do in Oahu is go to the North Shore. We went and swam at Waimea Bay. It is fun for the kids to play in the waves. My husband and 11 year old also had fun jumping off a rock into the ocean. You definitely have to try the Shrimp Trucks. We like Giovanni's. Get the shrimp scampi - lots of garlic and butter - so good!!! They also let you write on the truck with a sharpie - our girls loved that. Matsumoto's Shave Ice is also in the North Shore - you don't want to miss that either. We didn't have a chance to do this before the cruise, but we love Hanauma Bay. They have the best snorkeling there, and it is a beautiful beach. Maui - First we drove to Lahaina and walked around. There is a really old banyan tree there that is neat to see. After that we went to Kaanapali Beach. The waves are great for boogie boarding or body surfing. Then we went to Kapalua Beach. It is a beautiful beach lined with palm trees. It is a little hard to find - kind of behind the Ritz Carlton. The second day in Maui we went on a snorkeling trip to Molokini crater with Trilogy. I would highly recommend the trip and using Trilogy. The crew was wonderful, and they gave you breakfast and a catered lunch. We saw tons of fish around the crater, then they took us to another location where we saw sea turtles. Lots of fun!!! Hilo - We went to Hawaiian National Volcanoes Park. Hilo is one of the few places with an active volcano. When we went up to view it, it was smoking from the crater. Very cool! We then went and walked through Thurston Lava Tube. The kids loves it. This took most of the day. On the way back we drove to see Akaka Falls which was beautiful. Kona - First we went to the Sea Horse Farm. It was very informative, and at the end you get to hold a sea horse - it will wrap it's tail around your finger. After that we went to Kahaluu Beach Park. There are beautiful views as you drive down to it. The beach is made from lava rocks, and there are large black lava rocks in the water you can snorkel around. It was not my girls favorite snorkel spot because it is kind of shallow around the rocks (plus I think they were spoiled from the trip to Molokini). There are lots of sea turtles in the area, and 2 came up on the rocks while we were there. It was neat to see them that close. After the beach we returned our car, and walked around the town of Kona - it is very near where you get on the ship. Be sure you get some Kona Coffee to take home. :) Kauai - This, along with Oahu, was one of our favorite stops. The island is so green and beautiful! We drove to the North Shore to go to Kee Beach. Be warned - it takes at least an hour to get there - but it was worth it. It is beautiful beach surrounded by huge green cliffs. It was also a good place to snorkel. On the way to Kee Beach we stopped at Tunnels Beach. We didn't swim, because the waves were pretty big. Across from Tunnels is a dry cave you can walk through - very cool! Go up the road toward Kee Beach and there is a wet cave you can see. The girls were going to take surfing lessons in Poipu, but we missed them because of how long it took us to get back from Kee Beach. We had booked it through Margo Oberg, that Frommers recommended. I called them when we realized we were going to be late to see about rescheduling, but no one answered the phone. I left a message, but no one called back. When we got to Poipu, there was another surf company there, and they said they had never even showed up. They don't even have a shop they just meet in the parking lot. Not sure I would recommend. My girls went into the water at Poipu and had a good time boogie boarding in the waves. On the 2nd day in Kauai we splurged and went on a helicopter tour to see Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast. We used Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. I would highly recommend them, and our pilot Jimmy. We saw so much we would have never seen otherwise. Kauai is so beautiful, and even more so when you are seeing it in a helicopter. One of the highlights was at the beginning of the trip when we were flying toward Waimea Canyon, and there was a full rainbow right in front of us. We had a great trip and were sad to get off the cruise today. It is a trip our family will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Let me preface this review by saying we were concerned with some of the reviews we read on Cruise Critic prior to sailing on the Pride of America (POA). This was our 10th cruise mostly sailing on Carnival in the past. Our expectations were ... Read More
Let me preface this review by saying we were concerned with some of the reviews we read on Cruise Critic prior to sailing on the Pride of America (POA). This was our 10th cruise mostly sailing on Carnival in the past. Our expectations were neutral towards the POA based on some reviews. We couldn't have been more pleased with our cruise. Our group of four didn't take this trip for a 5 star dining experience, casino action, or to be pampered by a conceige. We booked to see four islands of Hawaii. We got what we wanted with a very nice cruise experience.Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom, deck 7. Although the cabin is small compared to Carnival we had ample room, and a very comfotable bed. The balcony was perfect for watching cruise past the Na'Pali coast. The bathroom is small. The shower is small. At 6' 200lbs. I had enough room to manuever. Our room was always clean and well tended to.Dining: We never found a need to use any up charge restaurant. After long days touring the islands the last thing we wanted to do was get dressed up for dinner. We did use the Skyline one evening but were disappointed that the food at the Aloha Buffet offerd us more choices. With that we ate most of our meals at the Aloha. The food was always good, the choices plentiful. Don't miss the crepes and the bread pudding with some ice cream for dessert! We also used the Cadillac Diner often. An appetizer of hot wings, the best fish and chips I've ever had on a cruise ship, and a dessert that was a rich chocolate, brownie, ice cream thing was wonderful after a long day. " Sam I Am" the manager was great as was the service of Monica our server.Staff: I was concerned about some comments about the mostly American staff. Absolutely the most friendly, courteous, and helpful staff of ANY cruise that we have taken. No language barriers! Everyone was willing to chat and share their experiences. It's easy to kid around with Americans because they "get it". Restaurant managers, especially Dave Lillis, went out their way to make sure we had what we wanted. One evening we mentioned we were disappointed that there was no clam chowder that evening on the buffet. Within minutes Dave had clam chowder on our table. That's never happened to us before. Usually managers don't have the time for you.The Ship: We all thought the POA was well appointed. The USA theme was tastefully done. The decks were laid out well. The pools are FRESH water, which we found very nice. The decks were always clean. The waiters are not constantly hounding you to buy the "drink of the day", but were always near when you did want a drink. Although the shops were small we found the prices to be much more reasonable than previous cruises. Sweatshirts at $22 compared to $42 on other ships.Conclusion; Don't hesitate to book NCL and the POA as a way to see Hawaii. We rented cars at every stop and toured the islands at our pace seeing what we we wanted to see. If you're looking for a 5-Star cruise, and want to be pampered, then look somewhere else. If you want a comfortable ship, with a great staff and good food, and a great way to see four islands in seven days then NCL's Pride of America is a great way to do it! Any questions regarding this cruise send me an e-mail and I'd be more than happy to try and answer any questions you might have.Mike C. mecling@ameritech.net Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
It was great to find out first hand that most of the negative stuff I had read about the NCL Pride of America was, in my personal opinion, not true. First of all let me say that this review is based on my 14-yr. old son's, my ... Read More
It was great to find out first hand that most of the negative stuff I had read about the NCL Pride of America was, in my personal opinion, not true. First of all let me say that this review is based on my 14-yr. old son's, my husband's and my experiences aboard the NCL Pride Of America cruise to Hawaii we took from 10/3-10/10. Secondly, we are not loyal to any one cruise line and we are experienced travelers. So, having said that, here is my very LONG and thorough review. We were met at the airport in Honolulu by a representative from NCL to help us transfer to the bus that would take us to the POA. The NCL representative was very friendly and helpful. We had landed in Honolulu (arriving from Los Angeles) at about 11:00a. This was the first time we had made travel arrangements through NCL. The airline times NCL arranged for us were excellent. This was one of the first nice surprises as on Cruise Critics' NCL Boards we had read all kinds of negative stuff about arranging your airline tickets through your cruise line. Our airline arrangements through NCL couldn't have been better for our personal time-constraint needs. Embarkation: Fast and friendly. We are Latitudes members (Bronze Level) and have cruised on NCL 4 times now. Our membership allowed us to get into the line that is for Latitudes members only. This was a really nice perk as the line for non-members was pretty long. We had arrived in Honolulu by air at 11a and by 12:25p we were sitting in the Gold Rush Saloon eating lunch! That's how fast we got through transferring from the airport to the cruise port,embarkation, ship security, and having our pictures taken with two lovely Hawaiians. The embarkation person we signed in with was very nice and helpful. No complaints at all about embarkation for us! Our next really nice surprise, after boarding the POA, was that every staff and crew member we met was incredibly friendly and helpful (unlike all the negative reviews we had read on CC about the American NCL staff). We followed a tip I had read on CC and got our lunch from the Aloha Cafe (the buffet), which was delicious (our next good surprise and again opposed to all the negative CC reviews about the Aloha Cafe's food)and took it to eat in the Gold Rush Saloon. The Gold Rush Saloon staff, especially "Valerie", were super friendly and helpful in getting us our unlimited Soda card and Teen card for our son. We spent a lot of time in the Gold Rush Saloon and Valerie was always there with a smile and an offer of whatever service we needed. Gold Rush Saloon: This section of the ship was a great find! When the Aloha Cafe is crowded you can take your food here and always find a table to eat on. We found the service in the Gold Rush Saloon to be fast and courteous. Also, we were able to watch the College basketball finals, the Masters golf tournament, and American Idol on a big screen TV. You also can get free, hot, delicious popcorn in there. This was one of my favorite places on the POA. One of the first things we did on embarkation day, besides eat lunch in the Gold Rush Saloon, was to go to a Meet and Greet that was set up by one of our lovely co-passengers on the CC NCL Roll Call Board. We were totally blown away by the reception we were given. At the meeting, which was held at the Diamonhead Auditorium, there was a very nice setup of food and drink but the most outstanding surprise was that we were greeted by just about every head of staff on the ship, including the Captain himself! The staff of the POA is unique to any other ship we've sailed on in that they really care very much about making your cruise the best it can be. We were asked what our needs were, what we expected from the cruise, and were given business cards from each head of staff so that if we needed or wanted anything we just had to call them and ask. This kind of greeting had never happened on any other ship I've been on. The Staff: I'm sorry to say that at the moment I can't find my stack of business cards that would allow me to mention each and every person that we met at the Meet and Greet but when I do find them I will post them on the CC NCL Board. This is without a doubt the friendliest staff and crew we have ever met on any cruise ship that we have sailed, and we have sailed for many years on many different cruise lines. The POA staff is superior and I can't for the life of me understand why there are so many negative complaints about the POA's staff and crew on the CC NCL Board. These people really care about your enjoyment of the ship they work on. Not only were greeted by most of the heads of staff at our Roll Call's Meet and Greet, they asked us to come back on the last day of the cruise and give them our feedback about our experiences on the POA so that they could correct any problems that we found and make things better for the next cruisers. Again, I have never been so greatly impressed with any cruise ship's staff or crew as I was with the POA's. Every time we passed a crew member on the ship, whether it was the Captain himself or one of the service staff, we were greeted with a smile and asked if we were enjoying our cruise and if there was anything they could do for us. I've just never experienced this level of service on any ship we've ever been on and my husband and son feel the same way. We have no complaints about the POA staff and crew. Hands down they are the best ever! Food: This is a very subjective subject, but here goes. Again, what's up with all the criticism about NCL's and especially the POA's food?!! I am a very picky eater and my husband rarely dislikes anything he eats. We are totally at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to our tastes in foods and yet we both, including our very picky 14 yr. old, found the food to be very good in every venue on the ship we ate at. I can't speak to any other pay-to-dine restaurant, other than the steakhouse, but at every other place on the ship we ate, includeing the Aloha Cafe (buffet). We were more than satisfied with the food on the POA. We were especially amazed at the quality and variety of the food served in the Aloha Cafe, especially after reading such negative things about it. I was also very impressed with the wonderful variety of fresh breads served everyday in the Aloha Cafe and elsewhere on the ship. And no, the hot dog buns were not stale (and I ate lots of them, at all different times and days of the week)as described on the CC NCL Boards. All and all we have nothing, absolutely nothing negative to say about the food on the POA. Cabin: We stayed in cabin 4071, an inside cabin that slept all three of us. It was located on the 4th level of the ship and was in a great location. It was near elevators and on port days it was only one floor down to exit the ship. The two main levels of the ship were the two floors above us. We were very happy with our cabin's location on the ship. Our son slept in an upper bunk and my husband and I slept in two single beds that were separated by two small night stands that were placed between them. There was plenty of drawer and closet space for the three of us. There was a small TV that we watched CNN on (we like to keep up with the world news)that also had various other channels which we didn't watch much. The bathroom was small, but there was plenty of room for all three of our various personal toiletries. There is a nice large shelf under the sink for storing stuff. There was both a full-length mirror and a huge mirror over the small desk. The seating in the room consisted of a chair for the desk and a small leather stool. There were lots of shelves for storing stuff both in the room and closet. Also in the room was a safe for storing valuables and a small fridge (it was locked, but we didn't ask for the key because we didn't need to use it). Yes, the inside cabin is small, however, even with three of us in it we never felt crowded. I would describe it as cozy. One thing we really liked is that there is a thermostat so that you can control the temperature in the room. We were only in the room to sleep, rest, or shower so the size of the room was not a problem for us at all. With the exception of last year when my sister-in-law cruised with us, we have only ever cruised in inside cabins. Last year, for her first cruise, my sister-in-law requested that she and I book a balcony room because she wasn't sure she would like cruising and wanted a place to escape to if she felt bothered by the crowds. She loved her first cruise and I loved being in a balcony room for the first time. I won't lie about that, the balcony room was a treat. However, inside cabins have always met our family's needs and in order to be able to afford to cruise more we will continue to book them. Room Steward: I have to mention our room stewardess on the POA. Her name is Erica and she is from Guam. She is absolutely delightful! We had fresh ice put in our ice bucket twice a day and our room was always clean and neat. Erica met our every request (not that we had many) with a smile and fast service. On one of our port days in Maui I was coming back from a short trip on one of the free Wal-Mart shuttles when I saw someone walking fast towards me and calling my name. It turned out to be Erica who greeted me with a big hug and a smile. Now that's sweet! Hawaiian Excursions: Wow! What can I say but awesome, awesome, awesome! We have been to Hawaii several times before on land trips, but this trip was still very special as we had never been to the big island of Hawaii before. Hilo and Kona were beautiful places to visit and we hope to go back and spend more time in both places again sometime. We chose our excursions based on the fact that we did not want to rent a car in each port and spend time driving around as we have done that on many of our other trips to Hawaii. Maui: On the first day the DH and DS went on the Maui Downhill Bicycle Adventure which we booked through NCL. It cost $109 for each of them and they felt it was worth every penny. They said their tour guide was friendly, funny, and very informative. They had a blast! I slept in late and had a late and delicious breakfast in the Cadillac Diner where the wait staff was friendly and fast. I also took a short trip on the free shuttle to Wal-Mart where I stocked up on some gifts to take back home to friends and family. The Macadamian nuts and candy items are really inexpensive at the local Wal-Mart as are many other Hawaii-related gift items. I shuttled back to the ship and spent some time in the conservatory reading a mindless, but fun romantic novel that I got from the ship's library. Here's a tip. In the ship's library they have a whole section of books that you can have for free that have been given or left to the library by past passengers. When you finish with your books, if you don't want to cart them home, just take them to the library and leave them there for others to enjoy. I finished my book by the time the guys got back (I'm a fast reader) and returned it to the library. On the second day in Maui we went on the Molokini Crater Snorkel which we booked through NCL. It cost us $119 ea. and was worth every single penny! I can't remember the name of the foundation that it was run by (I will mention it as soon as I find my paperwork on the CC NCL Board). This foundation does an awesome job of making sure you have a great time. They serve a continental breakfast of muffins and several kinds of juices and coffee. Bagels and cream cheese where also served. They also provided a barbecue lunch of grilled chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers. Several different kinds of pasta and salads were served with the meat entrees so vegetarians would have something to eat. There were several kinds of soft drinks and alcoholic drinks offered (only after the snorkeling was done though). We were very lucky to experience a rare sighting of a Monk Seal and the snorkeling was very good. We were given a presentation of information about the area we were in and about the fish we were seeing. Very informative. There was also a presentation for the kids and stickers for them to keep. At the end of the snorkel cruise we were dropped off at a small shopping area for about 1/2 hour. There were a few nice inexpensive shops (I got a long-sleeved t-shirt and a couple of shell bracelets) where you could buy gifts and there were inexpensive places to eat. We had some delicious Macadamian Nut ice cream and shave ice. One other thing, I'm blind as a bat and this was the first time ever that I've been on a snorkel excursion that offered prescription masks. I was able to see so clearly that I plan to buy one for myself to use on future excursions. All the necessary equipment for snorkeling such as masks, snorkels, fins, etc. were made available for your use if you didn't bring your own. Also, I'm not the best swimmer and was happy that they also offered waist belts to keep you afloat and "noodles" to float on top of the water with. The boat also had a slide which made it fun to slide down and get into the water quickly. They also offered wet suit tops for rent ($10) which I highly recommend as the water can be really chilly. The crew is wonderful and very knowledgeable about safety and preservation of the ocean and its inhabitants. It was a wonderful excursion and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I would have to add the caveat that this excursion takes place on some very choppy water so if you're seasick-prone be sure to prepare yourself with seasick meds before you go on this excursion. We had a wonderful time and would do this excursion again in a heartbeat. Maui is extraordinarily beautiful. Hilo: This is one of the ports where we had never been to before on our previous land trips to Hawaii. We had booked the "Big Island - Helicopter Deluxe Volcano Coast" excursion through Safari Aviation. We booked it online and paid $537 for the three of us and saved $201 by booking online. My son and I had never been on a helicopter before and we were very excited to try it. We were supposed to view the Kilauea Volcanic System, but because of some bad weather we only got to go up for about 10 mins. We were at first disappointed, but were soon excited to find out that we had the choice to have our money refunded or they would exchange our excursion for one of their other ones in Kauai. We found the Hilo staff of Safari Aviation to be really friendly and helpful. We were given safety instructions and felt confident in their pilots expertise. There is a weight limit for this excursion but it escapes me what exactly it was as it didn't matter to us because we were all way under the weight limit. I would recommend Safari Aviation in Hilo to anyone wanting to try a helicopter ride. Even though we were only up in the air for 10 mins., it was very very exciting. After the helicopter ride our guide was kind enough to drop us off in downtown Hilo where we did a little shopping and ate some delicious shave ice. There was a free shuttle to and from the ship for the downtown area. It was fun to be a part of the local area for awhile and mingle with the local people. Kona: This was a port where you have to take a tender from the ship to the dock. That is why we booked the Captain Zodiac Raft, Snorkel & Dolphin Adventure through NCL. We were able to be the first ones off the ship. It is a short tender ride to the dock and we did not have to wait long at all to catch a tender back to the ship when we were ready to go back to it. This was probably my favorite excursion. Not only were our guides very friendly and informative, the captain went out of his way to be sure we saw all the wonderful creatures that inhabit the area. We saw wild, tropical parrots, lots of spinner dolphins that jumped right out of the water and spun in the air right in front of us, we saw lots of fish at the snorkel sight right in front of the Captain Cook Monument, we saw lava tubes and small caves, but most of all the captain went out of his way to take us to see a huge pod of shark-finned, black backed whales. It was an incredible sight to behold! They were coming up really near to the raft and were as curious about us as we were about them. We were served fresh fruit, cookies, a nut/cracker snack mix, juice, water and a variety of sodas. It was a wonderful, beautiful day. This excursion is probably one of the best I've ever been on. I would very highly recommend it to anyone. It cost us $119 each and was worth way more than that as far as I'm concerned! After the excursion we went to visit downtown Kona and went to see the first Christian church ever erected in Hawaii where I sail some prayers for my family and friends. We also went to a local museum across from the church. Using a tip I got off the CC NCL Hawaii Board we had some super-delicious hamburgers, fries, and onion rings at "Splashers" a local ocean-front restaurant right in downtown Kona. We loved Kona. It was my favorite port of the cruise. Kauai: The DH and DS played golf on their own at a golf course near the Marriott Hotel. They said it was one of the most beautiful courses they had ever played at. I took one of the free shuttles to the local K-Mart, to buy some more inexpensive Hawaiian-related gifts and did some shopping at the mall right next door to it. The DS was happy to learn that there was a "Lids" (hat store) at the mall and we went back later in the afternoon after their golf game to get him a new baseball hat. He was thrilled! On our second day in Kauai we finally got to go on our helicopter ride and it was amazing! Kauai is one of the most beautiful places you could ever hope to see and seeing it from the air in a helicopter was such an unbelievable, exciting adventure! We saw so many beautiful waterfalls, the area where Jurassic Park was filmed, and the incredibly beautiful Kauai coastline. I just don't have enough words to describe the beauty of Kauai. The staff at Safari Aviation in Kauai couldn't be nicer. We really enjoyed doing business with them and would highly recommend them to anyone that wants to experience an amazing helicopter adventure. It was, for lack of a better word, "awesome", or as my DS would say it was "Beast!" (which I believe is adult for "awesome")LOL. Entertainment: We are not really big fans of cruise ship Vegas-style shows and so were not upset that there weren't many, if any of those on the POA. We did enjoy the magician, the three Second City shows we saw, and the "White Hot Dance Party" was also a lot of fun. The cruise director was a riot with his angel wings! There were several other shows and musicians playing around the ship, but unfortunately, because this cruise was so port-intensive we didn't have enough time to get around to seeing every show or performer. What we did see and participate in we thoroughly enjoyed. Teen Club: The DS is not a kid-club type guy. However, on this cruise, on my advice, he did sign up for the Teen Club and though he didn't participate in many of their actual activities, he did meet lots of nice kids between 14 and 18 in the club. This was a spring break cruise and he got to meet a lot of kids both guys and girls. Several of his new friends are from Australia and he is now in touch with some of them via Facebook. He and his new friends would meet in the Teen Club and then they would hang out together all over the ship and they would go to dinner, shows, and get late night snacks in the Cadillac Diner. According to my DS this cruise was "Beast!" The POA: We can't say enough good things about the POA and its ultra-friendly staff and crew. On a scale of 1 through 10, 10 being the best, we'd rate them an 11! We have absolutely nothing negative to say about this, our 4th NCL cruise. As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, we are not loyal to any one cruise line. We book our cruises based on itinerary and price and nothing else. Last year we cruised Carnival's Triumph to the Eastern Caribbean and had a wonderful time. Having said that, I do want to say that all of our four NCL cruises, one to the Western Caribbean and Central America on the Dream, one to the Mexican Riviera on the Star, on the Star again to Alaska, and now on the Pride of America to Hawaii, have all been really great, fun cruises. We really enjoy "Freestyle" cruising. We are really glad that NCL offers a laid-back style for cruisers who don't want to be dressed up "fancy" all the time. We were able to dress up or down as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted. The DS and DH on the POA were able to wear jeans and dress shorts with collared golf shirts to all of the restaurants on the ship. I wore nice blouses and tops and capri pants with heels to every restaurant we ate at. As I've mentioned above, we only ate at one pay-to-eat restaurant (the steakhouse) so I can't say what the dress code is for all the other pay-to-eat restaurants, but for the steakhouse and all the other eating venues on the ship we were able to dress as nicely or as casually as our family wanted. On "Dress Up or Not Night" I wore a nice dress with heels and the DH and DS wore dress pants and dress shirts, otherwise it was jeans and nice shorts with collared golf shirts for the guys and nice blouses, tops, capri pants and heels for me. Our family has been on many cruises (usually during spring break because of the DS except for Alaska which we did in Aug. of '08) and we would gladly sail on NCL anytime. They offer a wonderful experience for a really decent price and have some great itineraries. They, regardless of whatever negative stuff you may read on cruise boards, really care about you having the best time possible on their ships. This is especially true of the crew and staff on the NCL Pride of America. There is no question that I would choose to sail on NCL in the future and I would recommend them to anyone anytime. Our family loves to cruise and what we experienced on the Pride of America is exactly the kind of cruise experience we love and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This turned out to be a longer review than anticipated. Hopefully someone reading this will get an idea or two for their trip. Most of the things that we did we learned from reading reviews and posts on Cruise Critic. BACKGROUND INFO My ... Read More
This turned out to be a longer review than anticipated. Hopefully someone reading this will get an idea or two for their trip. Most of the things that we did we learned from reading reviews and posts on Cruise Critic. BACKGROUND INFO My wife and I, from Queens, New York, were on the POA the week of April 3, 2010. This was a vacation in celebration of our 15th Wedding Anniversary and (although my wife didn't know it until we got there - 'see pre-cruise review') a second honeymoon. This is our 7th cruise but first one on NCL (previous were RCI and Carnival). PRE-CRUISE I booked the cruise myself via NCL.com and looked online for the best airfare available. The Delta flight from Laguardia Airport to Honolulu via Atlanta went smoothly. We arrived on Thursday at 1:30 PM and proceeded to the Thrifty car rental shuttle area. A few months back I researched and found Thrifty to have the best rental car prices. I also signed up for their free Blue Chip Membership for ease and speed at check-in. Once on the packed shuttle in Oahu the driver asked if anyone was Blue Chip, I was the only one so he took my name. When we arrived at the car location there were huge lines at the counters. I was told to go to the special Blue Chip line - no wait as I was the only one. Once there, they had the car and paperwork all ready prepared based on my reservation and member profile info. Literally within 10 min of walking in the door I was sitting in my rental car while the first person in that long line was still signing forms. This was the same exact case at each Thrifty location in Hawaii. GO BLUE CHIP! We had rented a beautiful cottage on the beach along the northeast shore in Ka'a'Awa from http://www.vrbo.com/47077. It was called Paradise and I have to say that is an understatement. The fully furnished house with French doors overlooking the ocean and our own semi-private beach was romantic to say the least. On the way to the beach cottage we had stopped off K-Mart and a supermarket for groceries. After cooking up some steaks in the fully furnished kitchen we relaxed listening to the water and enjoying the view. We awoke at 5:30 am each morning just to watch the sun rise over the ocean horizon. It was like we had stepped inside a postcard. That first morning, as we were laying on the beach chairs soaking up the sun, my wife learned of the little surprise that I had for her. Since it was our 15th Wedding Anniversary I had arranged for a Hawaiian style Vow Renewal Ceremony at our beach paradise http://www.sweethawaiiwedding.com/ . She was totally surprised and engulfed in tears. The package included a minister who announced the wedding by facing the sea and blowing the conch followed by the recital of a Hawaiian wedding chant. We exchanged Hawaiian style vows and participated in a lei exchange ceremony (both flowered and beaded). There was also a photographer who took 125 pictures (and burned us a CD on the spot) and toasted us with champagne. VERY ROMANTIC and a great way to start off our SECOND Honeymoon. After the ceremony we headed over to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which was only 20 min away. We spent the afternoon visiting the different "islands" and seeing the various shows. We had the Ambassador package which included a personal tour guide, shell lei greeting, Luau dinner buffet and great seats to the evening show -HA Breath of life. A very nice way to get a taste of not only the Hawaiian culture but of the other Polynesian islands as well. I suggest that you get there no later than 1 to see all the shows and demos. The next morning, after watching another beautiful sunset and enjoying our deck and beach, we headed to Pearl Harbor but unfortunately by the time we got there we couldn't fit the tour into our schedule so we will make it a priority on our next. I heard that unless you get there real early, they open at 730 am, to get a timed ticket, you will have a long wait, or worse be shut out. We headed instead to the Dole Plantation for a pineapple tour on their Pineapple Express train through the plantation. We enjoyed it but it's something you would only do once. After visiting the gift shop we turned our car in and rode the free shuttle to the pier. EMBARKATION We arrived at the pier just after 5:00pm to NO LINES. We were told that most of the passengers had already checked in. This was the fastest embarkation that I have ever done. We walked in, dropped off our luggage, picked up our ship cards and a few minutes later were in our cabin (7618). We had an "obstructed view" - but it was only $10 more than an inside cabin. Having a huge lifeboat outside our window WAS our view on all but the tender day. But that is fine since the only time we spent inside the cabin was to sleep. We had large suitcases but they still fit under the bed. The room had a stocked mini-fridge (which we unstocked and filled with our stuff) and a small couch that I believe might have turned into a small bed -not sure. Our steward, Josephine, immediately greeted us. She was constantly very polite and sweet. She forgot a couple small things over the week but when I mentioned it to her she would immediately stop what she was doing and see to our needs. Some comments on here mentioned that the crew wasn't as friendly but I didn't find that to be the case at all. But of course, I am not demanding and don't "look down" on people in the service industry. I smile and greet the crew members I encounter and actually talk to them. There was an organized Meet and Greet for the Cruise Critic members but unfortunately I missed it. I heard the captain and the department heads, including the cruise director and Executive Chef were there along with some food and drink. I was told that they seemed concerned about our opinions and assured us that they DO read the comments on Cruise Critic. They handed out their They even invited us to an evaluation meeting on Friday to get our feedback (which I did attend). We missed the muster drill but there was a make-up one on Sunday - unfortunately we were planning to still be ashore in Maui. A crew member confidentially told me that I don't have to go but I should make sure that I know where my muster station was. MEALS We ate all of our breakfasts in the Aloha Cafe. It was crowded each morning so when we entered we looked for seats and I sat down as my wife went to the buffet first. When she returned, I then went (she is a slow eater so it worked out). There was a wide variety of food. Some complaints online were that "it's the same food every morning". That is true HOWEVER they have anything and everything that you could want. I don't know what else they could have served. I thought the variety and flavor was better than RCI and Carnival. My only complaint was the amount of oil in the home fries and hashbrowns. They did have multiple stations with the same food which resulted in faster service. We were recently on Carnival Victory and the lines at the buffet were always so long. The only lunch we had on board was during the last day of the cruise. Again the selection and flavor was better than expected. We did take some fruit and other small items ashore with us for snacks. We split our dinners between the Aloha Cafe, Liberty and Skyline Dining Rooms. We would check the dining room menus first and if nothing caught our fancy we went to the cafe which had different main selections each night along with some standard items (like shrimp cocktails, salad bar, burgers, pasta station, etc.) There was a carving station with two choices each night. We really had no complaints with the food. I did like the dessert choices on RCI and Carnival much more though. But since I am watching my weight it is a good thing I wasn't tempted to have multiple desserts each night. I do love Carnival's chocolate lava cakes though. The menu in the Liberty and Skyline are identical however the Liberty is supposed to be a bit dressier as no shorts are allowed. However I did see people in shorts and t-shirts and nobody said anything. The dining room did take a little longer but the servers were friendly. We had a table for two each time without having to ask. If we wanted to share, we could have requested it. SHIP ACTIVITIES/SHOWS Most nights the main theatre show was at 7pm and again at 930 pm. We usually had dinner at 6pm-ish and caught the early show. The cruise director used to be an opera singer and does perform a few nights in one of the lounges singing Broadway tunes. The main entertainment was all VERY GOOD. The Polynesian Show was a lot of fun. If you are not planning on going to a luau in Hawaii (and shame on you if you don't) then don't miss this show. The Second City improv comedy troup was hilarious as well as the comedian. I find most lesser known magicians lame however Matt Marcy who performed was very good and funny as well (I even bought his DVD after the show). I do suggest a light sweater as it did get a bit chilly in the theater. We were exhausted each night on this port intensive cruise so we didn't do anything else much in the late evening other than relax since we were waking up early each morning. The Hawaiian cultural ambassador hosted a number of classes on board for hula dancing, lei making, etc. We attended the Kahului nut lei making class. Each person received a free kit with the option to buy additional kits of different varieties. We did attend the sailby's of the Napali Coast and the Kilauea lava flow. It is almost impossible to get a good photo of the lava flow but it was fun to watch. Bring a sweater and binoculars. The ship will sell 4x6 photos the next day. Unfortunately we didn't spend much time on the pool deck but there did seem to be lots of live music whenever we passed by. The gym is also very well equipped for those trying to negate all that food. SHORE EXCURSIONS We only booked one of the ship excursions. Trust me that it is much cheaper and you have more freedom to do excursions on your own. I rented a car in every port except for Kona and still saved money rather than using the ship excursions. Plus I got to do multiple excursions on the same day which you can't always do with the ship. The freedom to go when you want as well as being able to pull off to take a pic or stop at a local store is great. If you don't drive or really don't want to rent then I highly suggest Robert's of Hawaii tours. Great selection of tours with many the same as the ship's but cheaper. They have a special site for cruise passengers for excursions to make sure you are back on time: www.gorabbitgo.com MAUI DAY ONE: Caught the Thrifty shuttle at the pier and once again had no wait at the Blue Chip counter. I even got upgraded to a bigger car and it was only $30 a day. We drove to Lahaina with a short stop at the lookout just pass mile marker 8 to view a whale in the distance. We made a stop at Boss Frog's to pick up our tickets for tomorrow's Molokini Snorkel excursion www.bossfrog.com. Our next stop was our 2-hr whale and dolphin watch catamaran cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation www.pacificwhale.org ($28 per person). Even though it was the end of the season we saw LOTS of whales including behaviors that surprised the marine biologist tour guide we had. One female whale even passed by under our boat. Many others were very close as well. Afterwards we walked along Front street visiting the many interesting shops. There was also an outdoor craft market in the park around the large Banyan tree. DAY TWO: We booked the Molokini Crater snorkel with www.bossfrog.com for $85 pp/ We had to be at Lahaina at 7:15 am to check in. The tour, on their Quicksilver catamaran, included a continental breakfast, BBQ lunch, a snorkel stop at Molokini crater (includes gear and instruction but an additional charge if wetsuits are desired, which I recommend) and a second stop at Turtle Town to swim with the sea turtles. We saw lots of fish and turtles and really had a good time. For an additional charge of $69 they can videotape you underwater and mail you an edited, custom DVD with music. On the way back to shore we had multiple whale spottings and were also treated to a pod of dolphins swimming and leaping alongside the boat. A truly majestic experience. We returned to the dock just after 1 pm. HILO Today was the only day that we had bad weather. It was cloudy and rainy which made our trip to Volcano National Park not the greatest. After a quick stop at Thrifty to pick up our car, we drove to the Visitor Center and watched the short movie and spoke to the park ranger for suggestions on what to do. Crater Rim Drive was closed between Jaggar Museum and the Chain of Craters Road junction due to volcanic activity in Halema'uma'u crater. We received a park map and drove Crater Rim Road to Kilauea's summit caldera and craters and made a few stops to view steam vents. We then continued on to the Jaggar Museum and the Thurston Lava tubes. The first part is lit but if you want to explore the second part you need to bring your own flashlight. Was hoping to do some hiking and see more but the conditions and the rainy weather prevented that. It was still interesting and I will definitely return on my next visit to Hilo. On the way back we stopped off the Mauna Loa factory (I love macadamia nuts). They have a short self guided tour and a nice gift shop which offers samples and sells various products including amazing mac ice cream. After a quick stop at Hilo Hatties we returned our car and took the shuttle back to the ship. KONA This was the only island where we booked a ship excursion. We did the one-hour glass bottom boat tour which was nice. Since this is the only time we had to tender (using POA's lifeboats), everyone (except people with ship excursions) had to get a sticker. We just met in the theater and were escorted onto a boat. Overall it went rather smoothly. Afterwards, we booked a guided tour (from the Surf Shack on the pier). We were the only people signed up for 11:30 am so we had our own private tour with a great guide. We stopped off the Greenwell Coffee farm, which grows the coffee beans that are sold to other companies to roast and sell as Kona coffee. Their tour was very interesting and quite enjoyable. We were able to sample numerous types of coffees (and honey too) before seeing the process first hand. They also grow bananas and oranges in which we were able to "help ourselves" and pick some free samples from the trees. Our next stop was a quick tour of the famed Painted Church before heading to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. We saw many archeological sites including temple sites (heiau), some sledding tracks (holua), and old house sites. There is also an open lava tube that ends at the face of a sea cliff. We also spotted green sea turtles in Keone'ele Cove sunning themselves on the beach. We had a very good tour and were happy that we booked it. Upon return we spent some time at the beach near the pier before taking the last tender back to the ship. The line was long but the boats came quickly. KAUAI Once again we took the shuttle to Thrifty and experienced the benefit of Blue Chip Service. Close by was the viewing area for Wailua Falls, made famous as being in the opening sequence of TV's Fantasy Island. There was a lot of rain during the previous week so the water was running quite heavy but unfortunately was also very muddy looking because of it. Our next stop was Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours in Lihue. My wife wasn't quite up to a helicopter ride so I did this one alone. Our pilot Kevin was great and the experience was amazing (I even got to sit in the co-pilot seat). We flew in the new eco-star with great viewing areas. The views of Kalalau Valley, Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast, not to mention the many waterfalls, etc. were just amazing. They also have a 4 camera video recording of your flight (including an inside camera) that they sell after the trip for $25. It includes music in the background as well as the pilot's commentary on what you are seeing. A must buy!! After a quick lunch at a Mexican place in the shopping center where the Blue Hawaiian office is we headed to nearby Poipu. We had reserved a 2 hour beach and valley horseback ride with CJM Country Stables. The horses were well cared for and the trail guide was great. It was a very scenic and relaxing "walking ride". Overnight parking at the pier is limited but at nearby Anchor Cove shopping center they offer parking for Cruise passengers but they charge $20. It is a short walk to the ship or you can take their shuttle. The next day we headed out to go "Tubing the Ditch" booked from www.kauai-tubing.com. This 3 hr water tubing ride down a ditch of a former sugar plantation was a lot of fun. They issue you gloves and a helmet with a miner's light because along the trip there are 5 tunnels that you tube through. A picnic lunch is provided and swimming can be done at the end of the ride. After some last minute shopping, we returned our car and headed back to the ship to hit the buffet and relax on deck. DISEMBARKATION We spent the extra money and took part in the "Easy Fly" program in which you place your luggage outside your cabin at bedtime and don't see it again until your home airport. Since we had a lot of carry-ons, including souvenirs and pineapples, this made things so much easier. We relaxed on board until 9:15 am and had a short line to leave the ship ?. There were plenty of taxi's at the pier as we headed to the airport for our trip home. We didn't get jetlagged on the way to Hawaii but coming home we were messed up for a few days. IN CONCLUSION My wife put it best when she told me that - "this was our BEST vacation ever!". In eight years we are planning on selling our house in New York and were going to move somewhere in Virginia or North Carolina. After this trip we are seriously considering a move to Hawaii. We met so many people who came to visit years ago, fell in love with the land, the people and Hawaii's "Spirit of Aloha" that they just packed up and moved there. I can totally understand why. If you reached this point in this long review, Congratulations and Mahalo! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010

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