Family Group on the POA: Pride of America Cruise Review by rocklinmom

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Family Group on the POA

Sail Date: July 2013
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Honolulu
We are a family group of eleven (ranging in age from 5 to 65) from California. I wanted my kids to see Hawaii, and a cruise is really the best way. The POA was a no-brainer since it is the only one that cruises Hawaii in seven days over the summer, and Honolulu is a direct five-hour flight away for us. Overall, we really enjoyed the POA, and especially the crew. The ship is charming and easy to navigate. Never had a problem finding a spot by the pool, and the live bands playing out there are great. Food in the main dining rooms were hit or miss; and always good in the buffet. Our kids loved the variety in the buffet, and with pizza, hot dogs, and fries available there every day you can't go wrong with picky eaters. We splurged on dinner in Cagney's (well worth the money), La Cucina (good food but served family style, so no choice on the appetizers or dessert - tough with the kiddos - although they did go get them cheese pizza and buttered Penne from the main dining room for us), and More Jefferson's Bistro (great service and beautiful dining room, but I only liked the desserts there).

As for our cabins, my family of five had one SF penthouse connected to a B6 balcony cabin, and the rest of the group had a B6 and a family balcony room for four. For those interested, the family balcony room had the fourth (child) on a bunk bed that came down from the ceiling. I loved our penthouse, and who wouldn't - we had a huge balcony, walkin closet, lighted vanity area, fancy coffee machine, a tub (part of a tub/shower combo), and a butler who brought us treats in the evening and whatever else we needed during the cruise. I requested just sweet treats, and the kids were thrilled with cookies, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, or candy each day. We swapped our sparkling wine for bottled waters, which we bought more of as needed. Luckily we don't like soda because those were two dollars a can. The adjoining B6 large balcony cabin was plenty of space for two people. You can't connect your balconies, so we just leaned over the side to chat. No problem anyway since the rooms connected with a door in the middle.

We did use the Cagney's breakfast each day for penthouse passengers, and this was one of the best experiences on the ship. We had the same waiter each morning, the charming Samuel, and he bent over backwards to get anything we wanted - for example, my youngest wanted chocolate chip pancakes, and he found chocolate chips to add the regular pancakes for her.

The concierge, James, was there each morning also and always had answers to our questions about the ports, along with helpful tips. He set up our restaurant reservations for us there too - including main dining room reservations for our whole group of 11.

Another great perk of the penthouse was the quick boarding process at the beginning of the cruise (we bypassed the lines and were escorted to our cabins, and they let the whole group come along with us) and at the end - again skipping the lines and walking right off the ship. You can also get priority tender tickets in Kona, but we had a shore excursion booked at each port so that got you right off the ship anyway.

Our shore excursions were all fun and well-organized (all booked with NCL) and worth the cost. We did Lahaina on your Own and Maui Plantation/Iao Valley in Maui, Volcanoes National Park in Hilo, Kona Mocha in Kona, and Journey to Waimea Canyon in Kauai. My favorite was the chocolate factory and coffee plantation in Kona - beautiful scenery, a great tour guide (they all were), free chocolate tasting, and of course free coffee with banana muffins. I would recommend all of these excursions.

The only negatives on our cruise were in Honolulu, when we checked into the Waikiki Marriott hotel (booked through NCL as a pre-cruise package) and they had my family of five's two rooms six floors apart from each other - and they weren't too friendly about changing us to rooms on the same floor (nowhere near each other but at least on the same floor, for Pete's sake). The advantage of using this hotel is that you can pre-check in for the cruise in the NCL service center in the hotel lobby. That also helped save time at the cruise terminal when you board the ship. The rooms were fine, but I also didn't appreciate the loud live music at the hotel across from us until 11pm. And there were a lot of homeless people around the hotel, which was depressing and not at all what you want to see on your vacation.

The other negative was the really rough seas that we experienced, and didn't know about - and that made two of my kids really seasick. Thank goodness I had brought Bonine tablets and even prescription Scopolamine ear patches - which were a godsend when my youngest couldn't keep anything down and those were the only thing what made her feel better. Cruises are no fun when you are stumbling around the halls from the ship rocking and throwing up from it. I hadn't realized that the ship sails on open ocean with such rocking motion (thinking it would stay close to the shore somewhat). So if you go on the POA, even in summertime, take meds with you just in case. Less

Published 07/31/13

Cabin review: SG11028 Penthouse with Large Balcony

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