Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
willowvacay

Pride of America (is that even an NCL ship??) Review with PICS!

Recommended Posts

Hi all! My husband and I just returned from a cruise aboard the Pride of America. Ok maybe it was like 3 weeks ago but we were tired when we got back so its still pretty recent. There aren't a ton of pictorial reviews of POA out there so even though its not that new of a ship I decided to do one. I'm sure many of you have heard of the Pride of America, but if you haven't, it is a ship based in Hawaii. It mainly does a round trip cruise from Honolulu visiting the 4 main islands of Hawaii (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii--aka the big island, and Kauai). It is booked through NCL and has some of the NCL mainstays, but also a few changes that make it different from most NCL cruises. Stay tuned.

 

How did we choose this cruise? Well I'll tell you!

 

Once upon a time two avid cruisers planned and booked a cruise to Bermuda on the Breakaway. This cruise was in October of 2016 and we booked a Haven suite. We LOVE NCL, we love the Haven, and we loved the Getaway so what could be bad about a Bermuda cruise? We traveled to NYC where the Breakaway home ports and were ready to go!

 

Wait a minute...I thought this was a review of a cruise to Hawaii?? Why is this crazy girl talking about Bermuda and Breakaway?

 

Sorry, I'll get there eventually.

 

So anyway we were in NYC and there was a hurricane coming for the east coast. We will call that Hurricane Matthew. Little to no communication happened between NCL and their customers about alternative plans (as per usual) so our plans continued on as if we were going to Bermuda. We get to the port and head to the check-in. No signs regarding a delayed departure or a change in itinerary, so we boarded as usual. The check-in agents also didn't know or say anything when asked about a change so we planned on continuing on. If you're a weather junkie or a good historian you also may remember that about that same time as Hurricane Matthew there was another storm headed straight for Bermuda. We'll call that storm "Nicole". We were pretty sure the ship wouldn't be heading to Bermuda but with no word from NCL we proceeded on. We had lunch in the Haven restaurant and walked around the ship for a couple of hours, and then as we were about to head to Muster drill the captain made the announcement that the ship would be headed on an alternative itinerary to the Bahamas.

 

Normally, this would be disappointing to someone planning to spend 3 days in Bermuda but one who cruises understands that is the nature of the game. However, we had chosen the Bermuda itinerary for one specific purpose and that is because it is Zika free. Changing the itinerary from a zika-free zone to one with zika exposure is a no-no for us. If you can't put two and two together that means that there is going to be a third cruiser with the willowvacay crew coming this MAY!!! Good news for our little family, bad news for this Breakaway cruise. Long story short, we got off the cruise. We met with the concierge and he cancelled all our reservations and our room and we took our bags and left the Breakaway :( We booked a rental car and a hotel for that night and started our journey home from that cruise that never was.

 

After filing a request with NCL for a future cruise credit for the Breakaway cruise we were granted the full cost of our Breakaway itinerary as a credit. This is per the NCL zika policy. We had to prove we were pregnant (i.e. a letter from my physician) and NCL gave us the money as a credit. Although the experience of getting the cruise cancelled this credit made NCL a hero in my book!

 

So fast forward to this POA cruise! Sorry for the delay. The long explanation is because we probably would not have booked this POA cruise had we not had the credit from NCL and the zika aversion. For those who do not know, Hawaii is also Zika-free. We have been to Hawaii before on a non-cruise vacation and due to travel distance we hadn't been planning to go back. However, the credit was burning a hole in our pockets and after baby willowvacay arrives who knows when our next cruise will be. SO, on to Hawaii!!!

 

We booked the cruise using a personal cruise consultant due to the credit. Although at the time of booking there were two "free at sea" promotions offered for a balcony cabin apparently on POA only 1 free at sea is possible. PCC and I went round and round about why this is, and ended the discussion on: POA has different (read--less) perks than other NCL ships. Also, FWIW this cruise was a very high price relative to other cruises we have taken with NCL. Our Haven suite price from Breakaway got us a "large balcony" cabin on POA. Taking into consideration the cost of travel to Honolulu this makes for a pretty expensive cruise vacation.

 

The POA leaves on Saturday so we headed to Hawaii on Friday. It was a long travel day but we finally made it!

 

enhance

 

We stayed overnight in the Courtyard Marriott Waikiki Beach. It was just for one night and it was ok for a pre-cruise stay. If you are going to Waikiki on vacation IMHO there are much better places to stay. It is a few blocks walk to the beach but not right on the beach. The room sizes are small but adequate.

 

When we woke up in the morning we went for a walk and did a little shopping in Waikiki. Note: if you have not been to Hawaii and are planning on POA cruise you should definitely plan on a day or two early or after the cruise so you can see Honolulu. Some must-see sights from our last trip included hiking diamond head, Waikiki beach, and pearl harbor. There are post cruise tours that allow you to do most of those things but you may wish to spend more time than that there.

 

This is from a pier in Waikiki beach. Diamond head is in the background.

 

enhance

 

enhance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are normally "first to the port" kind of cruisers because we like to get our cruise started ASAP. Since this cruise leaves later in the day we spent more time hanging around the beach area and shopping and also had lunch on land instead of on the cruise. One of our favorite restaurants in Hawaii is Duke's. There is one in Waikiki, Maui, and Kauai. We walked there from our hotel as it is just a few blocks. The one in Waikiki has a view of the beach and it has our favorite dessert...Hula Pie.

 

enhance

 

Ben had to hold down the vacation drinking for both of us this cruise!

 

enhance

 

enhance

 

After lunch we headed back to our hotel, gathered our belongings and caught a cab to the port. The port is a short taxi ride away from the Waikiki area. Once there, we had to walk our bags to the check in area. We did not encounter any porters. It was probably around 145pm when we arrived. We took our bags to the check in and then proceeded to security. At this time of day the line for security was very long so we stood in line for quite some time. For those of you familiar with NCL you can no longer take water or drinks on board the ship so they have plenty of places to discard any liquids you brought with.

 

The check-in line was long at security but the latitudes line was short! We were Gold turning platinum on this cruise...did I mention we love NCL? At check in there were people handing out leis. That was a nice Hawaiian welcome to our cruise adventure! We proceeded up the escalator and we got on board!

 

enhance

 

It was after 2 pm but the rooms were not ready. We headed to the guest services desk to see if we could get our latitudes pin. For those that remember these used to be placed in your room by the steward but now you must make the effort to collect them yourself. Guest services stated that now the pins are at Future Cruises desk, so we couldn't get them until that desk opened. Next we headed to the restaurant reservations desk. Luckily the line was short at this time, so we got right in and were able to get a reservation we wanted for almost every night. We had the 3 dining plan package for our "free at sea" and so we booked those plus specialties for the other evenings we planned on eating on board.

 

The rooms still weren't ready so we headed up to check out the pool area. Ben got a tropical drink and I had a fake one and we posted up in some chairs until they made the rooms-ready announcement. The way they get the rooms ready on this ship is not an "all in one" announcement. They announced them by floors, as in "the rooms on floors 12 and 10 are ready". It felt like it took longer than other cruises we had been on but I didn't time it so I cant say for sure. Once our room was ready we headed down. Once we got there our luggage was there too, so time to unpack!

 

getting ready to head to the room:

 

enhance

 

I promise this review won't be all selfies...but my camera was packed in my carry on and I didn't get it out until we started unpacking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We planned this cruise in a matter of 3 weeks so we didn't have as much research time to plan what to do in each port. There is a large amount of port time on this cruise with two days and an overnight in Maui, two days on the Big Island with one in Hilo and one in Kona, and then two days and an overnight in Kauai. We ended up planning to do more cruise ship based excursions than we normally do due to the short time frame. Before leaving for Hawaii we booked a beach day excursion in Maui and a beach day in Kona. We also planned to book a tour of Volcanoes national park on the Hilo day but we decided to wait until we got to the ship to plan that one. We went to the shore excursions desk and a relatively unfriendly gentleman "helped" us pick an excursion for the park. The one we chose had only the tour of the park and no other stops supposedly. Then for some reason he told us to cancel our beach day in Kona. Per him, the trip to that beach was a little far and would take up much of the day. He insisted that a great beach was walking distance to the port and we would enjoy that just as much and be able to see more of Kona. For some reason we gave in to that...more on that on the Kona day.

 

Our plans were as follows:

day 1: embarkation in Honolulu. Shopping and lunch on land as mentioned above.

day 2: relaxing morning on board, maybe pool or fitness center, head to port for the afternoon. Old lahina luau that evening. This was booked in advance not through the cruise line.

day 3: Maui beach day through NCL

day 4: Hawaii volcanoes national park tour through NCL

day 5: Kona. Beach near the port per shore excursions guy

day 6: Resort for a day in Kauai

day 7: TBD...somehow gonna see waimea canyon, either through NCL or on our own

day 8: disembarkation and day in Waikiki before 10pm flight

 

our room. So so small relative to our last several cruises.

enhance

 

from the other direction

enhance

 

our large balcony

enhance

 

view of the bridge from our balcony

enhance

 

the main lobby. Where you walk on to the ship. Guest services, restaurant reservations, and shore excursions desk

enhance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Muster drill was later in the day (maybe 445 or so) and sail away was planned for 7ish. After muster we had early dinner plans at our favorite NCL locale...CAGNEYS.

 

Muster:

 

 

Cagneys:

enhance

 

crab cake

enhance

 

Bone in ribeye

enhance

 

ribeye

enhance

 

truffle fries

enhance

 

Our waiter brought us the dessert menus and I didn't see my favorite on there. They don't have oreo cheesecake any more. I am so disappointed.

 

After dinner we went to the welcome aboard show. It featured the NCL crew singing some cheesy songs, a comedian who was very funny, a comedic-magician who was pretty good, and a group of singers performing Frankie Valli. The Frankie Valli people were amazing. We enjoyed the show but it was in no way similar to other NCL performances we have seen. We have seen Blue man group on Epic and Burn the Floor and Legally blonde on Getaway. I love those style of performances!

 

One other major difference entertainment-wise was the lack of casino and Bingo. These are not allowed to be on this ship for whatever reason (Hawaii rules vs American flagship rules or whatever) but we did miss the gambling a small amount. It was nice that there was no inside smoking area. For the smokers who may want to take this cruise they do allow smoking on the outdoor bar aft on level 13.

 

After the show we headed to sleep! End of Day 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Muster drill was later in the day (maybe 445 or so) and sail away was planned for 7ish. After muster we had early dinner plans at our favorite NCL locale...CAGNEYS.

 

Muster:

enhance

 

 

Cagneys:

enhance

 

crab cake

enhance

 

Bone in ribeye

enhance

 

ribeye

enhance

 

truffle fries

enhance

 

Our waiter brought us the dessert menus and I didn't see my favorite on there. They don't have oreo cheesecake any more. I am so disappointed.

 

After dinner we went to the welcome aboard show. It featured the NCL crew singing some cheesy songs, a comedian who was very funny, a comedic-magician who was pretty good, and a group of singers performing Frankie Valli. The Frankie Valli people were amazing. We enjoyed the show but it was in no way similar to other NCL performances we have seen. We have seen Blue man group on Epic and Burn the Floor and Legally blonde on Getaway. I love those style of performances!

 

One other major difference entertainment-wise was the lack of casino and Bingo. These are not allowed to be on this ship for whatever reason (Hawaii rules vs American flagship rules or whatever) but we did miss the gambling a small amount. It was nice that there was no inside smoking area. For the smokers who may want to take this cruise they do allow smoking on the outdoor bar aft on level 13.

 

After the show we headed to sleep! End of Day 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoy your review so far and looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love the review so far! It brings back such good memories of our trip on the POA in 2015.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi all! My husband and I just returned from a cruise aboard the Pride of America. Ok maybe it was like 3 weeks ago but we were tired when we got back so its still pretty recent. There aren't a ton of pictorial reviews of POA out there so even though its not that new of a ship I decided to do one. I'm sure many of you have heard of the Pride of America, but if you haven't, it is a ship based in Hawaii. It mainly does a round trip cruise from Honolulu visiting the 4 main islands of Hawaii (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii--aka the big island, and Kauai). It is booked through NCL and has some of the NCL mainstays, but also a few changes that make it different from most NCL cruises. Stay tuned.

 

 

One thing to think about. The Pride is the only cruise liner registered in the USA which means that its staff rules and regulations are USA rules and regulation not those of the Bahamas where all other NCL ships are registered.

 

Also remember that it only cruises, basically, in Hawai'ian waters which means it is regulated by Hawai'ian rules and regulations with regard to alcohol and the lack of a casino.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh wow I'm so excited to read this. I won a travel voucher at work and I so wanted to do this cruise! But hubby said it was too expensive and we have future land vacations to Hawaii planned so we are going to Bermuda on the Dawn instead. But I haven't ruled this cruise out for the future. Can't wait to hear about it. Congrats on your new arrival! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are bringing back great memories of our recently completed POA cruise. (got off the ship 1/1/17). We also ate at Duke's in Honolulu - soooo relaxing sitting on their deck watching the surfers! Keep it coming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Enjoy your review so far and looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!

 

Thank you so much for following along!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Love the review so far! It brings back such good memories of our trip on the POA in 2015.

 

Reliving a vacation is so much fun! Glad you enjoyed your trip on POA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing to think about. The Pride is the only cruise liner registered in the USA which means that its staff rules and regulations are USA rules and regulation not those of the Bahamas where all other NCL ships are registered.

 

Also remember that it only cruises, basically, in Hawai'ian waters which means it is regulated by Hawai'ian rules and regulations with regard to alcohol and the lack of a casino.

 

Thank you. We read all about this information before going on this cruise and it certainly makes it a little different cruising experience!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh wow I'm so excited to read this. I won a travel voucher at work and I so wanted to do this cruise! But hubby said it was too expensive and we have future land vacations to Hawaii planned so we are going to Bermuda on the Dawn instead. But I haven't ruled this cruise out for the future. Can't wait to hear about it. Congrats on your new arrival! :)

 

Oh wow! Winning a travel voucher sounds amazing! I hope to get to hear about your trip to Bermuda because we are hoping to eventually make it back on that itinerary someday :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are bringing back great memories of our recently completed POA cruise. (got off the ship 1/1/17). We also ate at Duke's in Honolulu - soooo relaxing sitting on their deck watching the surfers! Keep it coming.

 

Thanks for following along!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I woke up in the morning we were pulling into the port of Maui bright and early. This cruise has amazing port times...you get there early, stay overnight and stay late the following day!

 

enhance

 

As I stated before we have spent a lot of time in Maui and we were still tired from our travels so we planned a relaxing morning on board. First we headed to the gym. I am gonna say something about this fitness center that I would rarely say about a cruise gym...Its actually a great size for for the ship! It may have something to do with the amount of port time and the overall makeup of the travelers but this gym had plenty of space and never seemed crowded. We went several times throughout the trip. It seemed to be similar in size to the gyms on the breakway and getaway which are waaaay too small for their passenger size.

 

This gym has two entrances outdoors and one in the stairwell indoors near mandara spa. It is not inside mandara. It also does not have locker room with a bathroom and showers that are accessible for non-spa using passengers.

 

enhance

 

enhance

 

One of the entrances is in an awkward location near the free weights and if you are standing close to the door lifting weights people walk in right near you. I tried to get a picture of it but it was hard doing it justice.

In this picture you can kind of see the picture and how close the weights were in the mirror.

 

enhance

 

 

After gym time we headed to the buffet for breakfast. There is seating inside near the stations, seating and stations in Moderno, and seating on the aft of the ship. Some ships call this area "the great outdoors". The view sitting out here in every port was beautiful. This is the best place to have breakfast IMHO.

 

The view from breakfast

enhance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After breakfast we headed to the room, showered, and got ready to go to the pool. We sat at the pool until lunch time and then headed to the buffet again for lunch. We forgot to check the daily for the times the buffet was open, so when we got there we saw this:

enhance

 

Oopsie. We checked the times from then on to make sure we didn't think we would be eating at a time the buffet was closed!

 

After lunch we changed out of our swim gear and got ready to head to Lahaina. On a previous trip to Maui we wanted to go to the Old Lahaina Luau because it had amazing reviews. We did not know on that trip that the luau must be booked in advance. Instead on that trip (2012) we ended up at the luau at the Hyatt in Lahaina. That luau was also a good one! This trip I booked Old Lahaina as soon as we booked the cruise. It is easy to book online.

 

Here is where you will see my poor planning come into play. I'm not complaining, just advising anyone else who thinks they may do the same that maybe my plan wasn't the best. We took a taxi to Lahaina. The driver was great, the cab-van was clean and its only about 25 miles from the port. The cost was 75$. haha. That's a little more than I planned to spend on a one way taxi. Obviously it cost 75$ to get back too. Needless to say if we did it again, we would just rent a car in Maui because the cost would be similar and we would have more freedom to get around.

 

Our taxi friend dropped us off at the beginning of Lahaina and we walked around in the shops for a while. We went to my favorite shave ice place: Ululani.

 

enhance

 

enhance

 

enhance

 

Then we started walking to the luau. It was probably a mile from Ululani.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing. It brought back great memories from when we sailed POA years ago. We had the same large balcony, and it was a great way to see the NaPali Coastline.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for sharing. It brought back great memories from when we sailed POA years ago. We had the same large balcony, and it was a great way to see the NaPali Coastline.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

 

Thanks! We picked the large balcony port side for that same reason. It was great to see the Napali coast line!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are leaving cold country in a little more than 2 weeks and can hardly wait for some sunshine!!! Thanks for the review. I'm enjoying all your photos. We have a balcony cabin on the port side and are looking forward to seeing the Napali coast too. 2 off topic sort of questions. What is in that hula Pie it looks amazing, Dukes is in our game plan for our pre cruise stay. Also your Shave Ice looks good too. Ice cream in the bottom and the shaved ice on top with the syrup flavoring? Sounds Yummy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great review and awesome pics!!

I am so looking forward to our 1st trip to Hawaii. We are from NY so are stopping at Disneyland for 3 days on the way. I hope this helps with jet lag.

5 nights at Aulani, 1 night in Waikiki before our POA cruise:D

We choose the free night in Waikiki for the NCL promotion. It does stink that their is no drink promo!

Thanks

Kerri

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...