Exhausting but Amazing!!!: Pride of America Cruise Review by Pepper's Daddy 01

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Pepper's Daddy 01
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

Exhausting but Amazing!!!

Sail Date: May 2010
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Honolulu
After 9 months of preparation, reading countless cruise critic reviews, I was prepared for anything on this cruise. I cautioned my family to expect "Ryan's-type" food and we were pleasantly surprised by the good quality we received. Based on reviews, I was concerned about poor service from the staff and found the complete opposite. Maybe the key is going into it with low expectations and coming away pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed our vacation and got a LOT out of our week on the POA.

After a long flight from Charlotte, NC to Chicago O'Hare to Honolulu, we were met by Bob Alfred, the owner of Star Taxi at the airport. For a family of four, he was the best deal to get from the airport to Waikiki hotels ($28 each way) - expect low frills, but efficient and nice guy to talk to. He is from New York state and you can ask him Hawaii questions without worrying about offending him. He is mentioned in Frommer's guide and has a web site (search Star Discount Taxi Honolulu) - cheaper More than catching a cab at the airport and don't have to make a bunch of other stops with Roberts shuttle.

Took Roberts shuttle ($6/per)from Waikiki hotel to pier 2 and boarded at 1:00 p.m.. Pretty crowded at that time, but not bad. Ate lunch at Aloha cafe and was busiest time to do so (next busiest was bkfst on last day in Aloha). Not much to do after muster drill. Access to cabin after 2:30-3:00.

Other details as follows: -- Food: Ate one "premium" dinner in Little Italy and our party was underwhelmed. Did not try the Bistro or Asian or Steakhouse so can't comment here. Most dinners were in Liberty (slightly more formal - no shorts) and a couple in Skyline - both have identical menus and Liberty is just one floor above Skyline. Our waiters were great and we made reservations for the same waiter and the same table each night. The meals did drag longer each night - at least 2 hours in either restaurant for a 6:00 or 6:30 time. They will ask first if you have plans to make a show - so they may be able to speed that up a bit. The matre d' in Liberty (Samuel Day) was very friendly and helpful. Our waiter Ryan in the back, right corner of the Liberty was very professional and courteous. Cadillac Diner was great for free brownie sundaes (at any time). Their appetizers were lacking and we did not try the $3.50 milkshake, but it looked good. You can also get food/dessert "to go" from Cadillac if you want something late (they have the longest hours of anyplace. Aloha was excellent for breakfast and lunch. Pretty much the same thing every day. Everything you need and although busy, easy to get to the food (multiple pods of same foods), ice cream machine in back near desserts. GREAT fruit (especially the pineapple - picked when ripe unlike at the mainland). Take your food into the Gold Rush Saloon if too busy in dining room.

--Entertainment - based on review recommendations, we attended Second City, Magician and Comedian. They were all good and I would rank them in order listed. On the last full day of cruise, you can attend a "class" and learn tricks from magician (and buy his book), and one of the Second City players will do some improv activities with you. Fun stuff. The bands that play by the pool in the afternoon are pretty good - especially the one from Maui.

--Facilities/Staff - Great Fitness center with lots of machines, free weights and tons of treadmills. Never all that busy. Three laps around ship make a mile for the joggers. Basketball court (never busy), putting and driving areas as well. Most staff people will greet you as you pass them, but not all - and that is okay. Remember, they get not days off, just a few hours a day and they work a normal "tour" of 5 months. Based on that fact, I thought they were "appropriately" friendly.

--Debarkation - If you can carry your bags, don't tag them to be picked up the night before. Just leave whenever you want on Sat. Just be prepared for a busy breakfast (not too bad, but busy) in a.m.. See port reviews below: Less

Published 06/03/10

Cabin review:

Port and Shore Excursions

Rented car from Thrifty again and drove to Volcanoes Nat'l Pk. Got there early and got on trails before the tour buses arrived. Thurston Tube is quick - both a lighted and dark one (bring flashlight). Get recommendations from guides at Visitor center about which hikes to take. Ate lunch at Lava Rock Cafe in Volcanoes Village - good burgers (slightly $$). Back into park to drive to "end of road" (about 15-18 miles from TUBE) - worth the hike to dry lava edge to ocean - great pics. Wished I had made arrangements to go to the area of fresh flow.

Read 444 Hilo Reviews

Rented car here and saw water falls near Lihue, then up to Ke'e beach and the trail into NaPali coast. Since trail is UPHILL, we went about .5 miles and got a great view of NaPali coast. Saw lighthouse on the way. Great views on the way as well. Parked near ship at Anchor Cove shops, but paid $20 - at least it secured a spot for the night. Nice beach behind these shops if want to hang out at beach and not do car rental/excursions. Good shopping in the area as well.

Day two, drove the hour plus trip to Kokee lookout past Waimea Canyon. Beautiful view (lots of potholes on the last leg) and worth it. Great canyon views, especially between mile marker 10 and 11. Watch for traffic issues on the route to and from ship.

Read 407 Kauai Reviews

Booked our only NCL excursion here - Captain Zodiac Snorkel, Dolphin adventure. Great trip - about 4 hrs - great snorkel spot, saw pilot whales on the way, spinner dolphins near the snorkel spot. Great trip - worth the $$. Do the 8:15 trip - better snorkel opportunity. Get lunch on ship (via tenders - very efficient) then clean up and go into town and shop.

Read 292 Kona Reviews

Rented a car in Maui and drove to the south west shore to a beautiful beach called Makena Landing. Saw a sea turtle right away munching near a rock on the right side of the reef. Good view of Molokini from this beach. Had pizza at Shaka's nearby (good). Then up to Kanapali beach at Sheraton (Black Rock) - a definite for snorkelers - saw 3 turtles and they practically came out too us. Good fish. Parking not bad ($2 for every 20 min - $20 per day)in Sheraton's garage. Remember - all beaches are open to public, even in front of fancy hotels. Back to boat by 4:30 - 5:00 and easy to find free parking for cruise folks near ship. May fill up later in day/night.

Next day, thought about driving for sunrise on volcano, but too tired to do so. Drove up around 8:00 instead - family was happier with me - figured no time (no "day at sea") to recover from lost sleep - takes at least 2 -2 1/2 hrs to get to summit - very cold even around 10:00 am (windy on our day) - definitely needed jeans and sweatshirt mid morning. After volcano, we drove down to Pa'ia for lunch and shopping - interesting (not cheap) shopping boutiques with a definite "WOODSTOCK" flair (not talking PEANUTS, either).

Turned car into Thrifty - got keys wet in my "dry pocket" in swim trunks while snorkeling on day one. Buttons didn't work to unlock car - found hidden key. Fortunately followed my insurance agent's advice and got the damage waiver - covered the electric keys.

Read 477 Maui Reviews

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Pepper's Daddy 01
Member Since 2010
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
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