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  #1  
Old January 14th, 2012, 02:53 PM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Default POA Dec. 31-Jan. 7 Trip Report

Hi, guys! This is my first time posting, but Cruise Critic reviewers have helped me so much in the past (and especially with this last cruise), I thought it was time to give back. I'm still a newbie to this phone posting/adding pics thing, though, so I'm actually doing the review through my regular blog and I will be posting the links here.

Some background: DH and I have taken several cruises to the Caribbean and Panama before, but this was our first time in Hawaii. This trip was actually our honeymoon (we were married mid-December), and we spent a couple of days in Honolulu at the Marriott Waikiki before boarding POA. My review actually starts with those first couple of days, so if you are only interested in the cruise, you might want to wait until I get those reviews up.

I'm a writer and teacher by profession, so my travel reviews tend to get...long-winded. If I miss anything or if you have any specific questions about things we did, though, I will be happy to answer or fill in the gaps here.

For now, here are the first two installments of my review:

Preview of trip

Oahu Days 1 & 2
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  #2  
Old January 14th, 2012, 09:10 PM
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Laki, thanks for posting this awesome review and can't wait for more.
We are not going until April 2014, but enjoy planning well in advance.
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Old January 14th, 2012, 09:24 PM
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Nice review so far. Congrats on the wedding.
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Old January 14th, 2012, 10:58 PM
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Love your writing style and reading your review and can't wait for the next installment.
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  #5  
Old January 15th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Default Great review!

Laki (love your Hawaiian name), this is probably the best review I have ever read! Your writing style and humor are both entertaining and honest. I also appreciate your pictures and video.

Did you get to sit in the large rocking chairs on the porch of the Moana Surfrider? We try to do this every year. Last Dec 2011 we sat and rocked while watching two women across the street demonstrate the 30+ different ways to tie a sarong dress. I sat mesmerized for about an hour until my DH awakened me out of my trance.

Too bad you didn't get to try the fish tacos at Duke's, but now you have another reason to come back to Hawaii. I've never tried the shark cage, but was thinking about doing it. Since we'll be there Nov 2012, I'll pass since it can be a stomach turner in rough surf and Nov swells can be high at this time on the north shore. Thanks for the tip.

Your review gives an accurate idea of how long it takes to get from one point to another because of the traffic in Oahu. For such a small island, with its population of a million (not to mention the tourists) it can make getting around during rush hour a buggah.

Can't wait for the rest of your review!
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Old January 15th, 2012, 11:46 AM
Zeno Zeno is offline
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Love your review - awaiting the rest with anticipation.
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  #7  
Old January 16th, 2012, 11:16 AM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Thanks, everyone! I'm so happy you're enjoying the review. The next installment should be up tonight.

Just4You: I wish I'd seen those giant rockers! Will definitely check them out next time we are there. Also, I'm pretty sure it was your review that convinced me that we had to go to Duke's so I could try the fish tacos! I'm still sad that we didn't have them, but super happy we went to Duke's, so thanks for the recommendation!
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  #8  
Old January 16th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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Can't wait for more! We go in April
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  #9  
Old January 16th, 2012, 08:03 PM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Sorry for the delay! It was a busy day at work and these things are turning out to be quite time-consuming to write, but here's the review of day three. It was our least exciting day, but hey, the worst day in Hawaii is still better than the best day in wintry PA! Hope you guys enjoy!

Day 3 Oahu and Embarkation
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Dec. 2009 - Panama (Miami to Labadee, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Key West) - Royal Caribbean
Dec. 2008 - Southern Caribbean (San Juan to St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts) - Carnival Victory
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  #10  
Old January 21st, 2012, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacyspring View Post
Sorry for the delay! It was a busy day at work and these things are turning out to be quite time-consuming to write, but here's the review of day three. It was our least exciting day, but hey, the worst day in Hawaii is still better than the best day in wintry PA! Hope you guys enjoy!

Day 3 Oahu and Embarkation
It was hilarious until you you got to the part where you boarded the ship, then it got sad. What a horrible experience, especially since you were on your honeymoon. I wonder if part of the problem was because the New Year's cruise is always crowded?

As far as the room size, the cabins are small but we never had any problem fitting our stuff. But then again, we pack light and only have 1 suitcase each with an empty duffle bag for souvenirs. From the goodies you brought back, it looks like you brought a couple of suitcases just for that!

Can't wait to read more.
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  #11  
Old January 22nd, 2012, 09:53 AM
ctnecruisers ctnecruisers is offline
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Thanks for the review. We will on this cruise for our 20th anniversary in June. Our cabin is also just across the ship from yours.(8104) I am looking forward to reading more.
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  #12  
Old January 23rd, 2012, 09:32 PM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Originally Posted by Just4You View Post
It was hilarious until you you got to the part where you boarded the ship, then it got sad. What a horrible experience, especially since you were on your honeymoon. I wonder if part of the problem was because the New Year's cruise is always crowded?

As far as the room size, the cabins are small but we never had any problem fitting our stuff. But then again, we pack light and only have 1 suitcase each with an empty duffle bag for souvenirs. From the goodies you brought back, it looks like you brought a couple of suitcases just for that!

Can't wait to read more.
Trust me--it was sad for us, too. Thankfully, we weren't on the ship that much, so it wasn't such a big deal, just more of an annoyance than anything. The ship was full, I think, but it sure didn't seem like it. Very easy to find quiet places, and other than mornings at Aloha Cafe, we never had to wait for a table at meals.

Do you have much experience with NCL? We really loved the ship itself, but since we had such issues with housekeeping, it really made us not want to go with NCL again if we have the option of going with Royal Caribbean or someone else instead. Do you know if these issues are kind of standard to NCL, or is this just a Pride of America thing?

We did bring a lot of suitcases--they nest inside one another when unpacked, though, and they all fit under the bed, thankfully.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctnecruisers View Post
Thanks for the review. We will on this cruise for our 20th anniversary in June. Our cabin is also just across the ship from yours.(8104) I am looking forward to reading more.
Happy you are enjoying the review! Next part will be up as soon as the video in it finishes loading. The eighth floor is in a pretty good location as far as getting to the all the other areas of the ship; just hoping for your sake you have a different cabin steward!
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  #13  
Old January 23rd, 2012, 09:53 PM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Here's the next installment:

First day in Maui

Up next is sunrise at Haleakula, bike riding to the ocean, and whale watching, so stay tuned!
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Dec. 2009 - Panama (Miami to Labadee, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Key West) - Royal Caribbean
Dec. 2008 - Southern Caribbean (San Juan to St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts) - Carnival Victory
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  #14  
Old January 24th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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I am enjoying your review! Can't wait for the next day!
Monica
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  #15  
Old January 24th, 2012, 07:33 PM
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[quote=lacyspring;32106827] Do you have much experience with NCL? We really loved the ship itself, but since we had such issues with housekeeping, it really made us not want to go with NCL again if we have the option of going with Royal Caribbean or someone else instead. Do you know if these issues are kind of standard to NCL, or is this just a Pride of America thing?[quote]

We've never had a problem with housekeeping and have been on NCL before. I have found top shelves dusty, however, but I've found this on other cruise lines, not just NCL. Regarding the tiny size of the cabins, most of the NCL cruises to other than Hawaii have bigger rooms and service is noticably better (except the older retrofitted Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii that are now renamed, they still have small cabins).

I always bring packs of Wet Ones and wipe down the entire room/bathroom, phone, & TV remote, even if it looks clean. I'm a doctor so naturally am germ-phobic, especially on a cruise ship (which makes me feel like everyone on the ship is a little bacteria in a petri dish).

I travel alot, so I immediately find the cabin steward and give them an easy job, like having them take the stuff out of refrigerator & out of the room while digging out a $5 bill from my stack of cash (mostly ones but big bills on top). I tell them there are lots more of these if they keep the room in tip-top shape. It never fails to make a steward remember me and my room number. Every cruise I always get extra towels & glasses, towel animals, turn down service, etc.

When you found the glass with water and lip marks, you should have immediately found your steward (they are usually in the hallway) and pointed it out. Leaving a note without making direct eye contact is not as effective at making a statement about his/her job skills. Once I found a cigarette butt and pointed it out to the steward and he immediately vaccumed the room and wiped it down with a clean towel and disinfectant. (I've seen housekeepers cleaning 4-star hotel rooms with the same dirty towel...yuck.)
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Old January 24th, 2012, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacyspring View Post
Here's the next installment:

First day in Maui

Up next is sunrise at Haleakula, bike riding to the ocean, and whale watching, so stay tuned!
Ohhhh, the banana bread.... best eaten warm, right out of the oven. To be honest with you, I've tried it from several different vendors and it all tastes the same to me. It's melt-in-your-mouth good if you get it warm. When you get yours in the mail, microwave it on low 5 seconds.

The Aloha Mixed Plate has the BEST plate lunch special, if you like the high-carbs/heart attack on a plate that the locals crave. My DH has to get this every time we go to Lahaina.

The luau looked like fun and your view of the ocean and stage was breathtaking. How bizarre the fire dancer's torch flew right at you and you were able to capture the momemt on video. I can see you now, showing friends & family your vacation pictures: "Here's the dirty glass in the bathroom with the little paper top on it to make it look like it's clean, oh, and here's the flying flame torch projectile that barely missed my husband's leg."

Your review is so good. I can't wait for more.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 10:28 PM
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Regarding the tiny size of the cabins, most of the NCL cruises to other than Hawaii have bigger rooms and service is noticably better (except the older retrofitted Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii that are now renamed, they still have small cabins).
We also haven't had any cabin cleanliness issues in NCL cabins, but we do usually do try to get cabins on higher decks.

The Pride of America balcony cabins are smaller than the other ships. We were on the Jade in 2010 and the balcony cabin was a bit wider than POA and the bathroom was 100 times better in layout and space. The Jade was first Pride of Hawaii and hasn't been totally retrofitted as it is sailing around Europe with Hawaiian decor all over the ship. I believe the Pride of America is one of a kind bought from a failed cruise line before it was out of dry dock vs. commissioned by NCL like the Jewel class ships the Jade is part of. I think the Pride of Aloha was another NCL ship pressed into service when the Pride of America wasn't ready yet and then went back to it's old name when Pride of America was available. Was it the Star?
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Old January 24th, 2012, 10:52 PM
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I think the Pride of Aloha was another NCL ship pressed into service when the Pride of America wasn't ready yet and then went back to it's old name when Pride of America was available. Was it the Star?
I just found the info. The Pride of Aloha was the Sky and is now the Sky again.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 10:55 AM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TATAR63 View Post
I am enjoying your review! Can't wait for the next day!
Monica
Thanks, Monica! Next installment should be up tomorrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just4You View Post

We've never had a problem with housekeeping and have been on NCL before. I have found top shelves dusty, however, but I've found this on other cruise lines, not just NCL. Regarding the tiny size of the cabins, most of the NCL cruises to other than Hawaii have bigger rooms and service is noticably better (except the older retrofitted Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii that are now renamed, they still have small cabins).

I always bring packs of Wet Ones and wipe down the entire room/bathroom, phone, & TV remote, even if it looks clean. I'm a doctor so naturally am germ-phobic, especially on a cruise ship (which makes me feel like everyone on the ship is a little bacteria in a petri dish).

I travel alot, so I immediately find the cabin steward and give them an easy job, like having them take the stuff out of refrigerator & out of the room while digging out a $5 bill from my stack of cash (mostly ones but big bills on top). I tell them there are lots more of these if they keep the room in tip-top shape. It never fails to make a steward remember me and my room number. Every cruise I always get extra towels & glasses, towel animals, turn down service, etc.

When you found the glass with water and lip marks, you should have immediately found your steward (they are usually in the hallway) and pointed it out. Leaving a note without making direct eye contact is not as effective at making a statement about his/her job skills. Once I found a cigarette butt and pointed it out to the steward and he immediately vaccumed the room and wiped it down with a clean towel and disinfectant. (I've seen housekeepers cleaning 4-star hotel rooms with the same dirty towel...yuck.)
Unfortunately in this case our steward was nowhere to be found when we needed him! He was always hanging out in the hallway when we entered the room, but by the time we found a problem and came back out, he was gone. Calling him rarely did any good either, as he didn't answer the phone half the time. That's why we went to the front desk about turn down service the first night, because "Aloha" (DH's nickname for the steward) had disappeared once again! I'm guessing this is more of an individual steward problem than an NCL thing since the rest of you seemed to have positive housekeeping experiences. Thankfully, we spent so little time on the ship that we had little time or reason to worry about the condition of our room.

A little dust I can handle; but it was the hair thing that thoroughly grossed me out! I'm not sure what it is about seeing other people's hair on things (especially in the bathroom) that bothers me so, but it's a good thing I went for a PhD instead of an MD! ;-) I'm already a little germaphobic, so can't imagine how bad I would be if I'd gone to med school!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just4You View Post

The Aloha Mixed Plate has the BEST plate lunch special, if you like the high-carbs/heart attack on a plate that the locals crave. My DH has to get this every time we go to Lahaina.

The luau looked like fun and your view of the ocean and stage was breathtaking. How bizarre the fire dancer's torch flew right at you and you were able to capture the momemt on video. I can see you now, showing friends & family your vacation pictures: "Here's the dirty glass in the bathroom with the little paper top on it to make it look like it's clean, oh, and here's the flying flame torch projectile that barely missed my husband's leg."

Your review is so good. I can't wait for more.
Thanks! I probably didn't pick the best plate lunch (I had the teriyaki beef, which was extremely dry and bland), so I'm sure they have better options. At any rate, at least the drinks were great!

I'm still not sure how my DH kept filming all through the flying torch incident. I was shocked when I watched the video later! The dancer actually came up to apologize to us afterward and was so kind about the whole thing, but we just thought it was hilarious (after I realized that my purse wasn't on fire, of course).
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Dec. 2009 - Panama (Miami to Labadee, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Key West) - Royal Caribbean
Dec. 2008 - Southern Caribbean (San Juan to St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts) - Carnival Victory
May 2008 - Western Caribbean (Port Canaveral to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Freeport) - Carnival Glory
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Old January 25th, 2012, 10:58 AM
lacyspring lacyspring is offline
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Originally Posted by herdingdogmom View Post
We also haven't had any cabin cleanliness issues in NCL cabins, but we do usually do try to get cabins on higher decks.

The Pride of America balcony cabins are smaller than the other ships. We were on the Jade in 2010 and the balcony cabin was a bit wider than POA and the bathroom was 100 times better in layout and space. The Jade was first Pride of Hawaii and hasn't been totally retrofitted as it is sailing around Europe with Hawaiian decor all over the ship. I believe the Pride of America is one of a kind bought from a failed cruise line before it was out of dry dock vs. commissioned by NCL like the Jewel class ships the Jade is part of. I think the Pride of Aloha was another NCL ship pressed into service when the Pride of America wasn't ready yet and then went back to it's old name when Pride of America was available. Was it the Star?
Thanks for the info! Good to know that Pride of America is an anomaly and other ships are more "comfortable." If the itinerary is right, we will certainly try NCL again. Next on our list is a European cruise, though, so would you recommend sailing on Jade (if it's still in Europe)?
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Dec. 2009 - Panama (Miami to Labadee, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Key West) - Royal Caribbean
Dec. 2008 - Southern Caribbean (San Juan to St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts) - Carnival Victory
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