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trixietg

NCL Pride of America May 5, 2018 TRIP REPORT

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Sailed May 5-12, 2018. We are family of four including 23yr old daughter (celebrating college graduation!) and our 20yr old son. It was our first time to Hawaii and second time cruising as a family. (First cruise was on NCL Epic cruising the Mediterranean). We did all excursions on our own.

Arrived in Honolulu in late afternoon, picked up rental car and drove to Nu’uanu Pali Overlook on our way to our North Shore AirBnb. From there, came across the Haliewa Joe's in Haiku Gardens. This is a beautiful restaurant with its own botanical gardens that you can walk around. Picked up a few grocery items and located the condo at the Turtle Bay Resort.

Explored the resort in the morning and snorkeled off the shore there. Lunch at the food trucks across from Shark’s Cove, then our first Shave Ice at Matsamotos and looked in a few shops. Hiked trails at the resort. Supper at the resort.

Next day went to hunt for sea glass at a nearby beach, then grabbed breakfast sandwiches at Ted’s. Spent the rest of the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center which was a bit of a letdown after reading so many 5-star reviews. (We only toured the park, …no luau, meal, or night show since we were attending Chief's Luau the next night). Left there and found a neat sea-glass store along the way. It was high-tide, so we then headed to Shark’s Cove (actually the lagoon just west of the cove – extremely protected but shallow area…Cove was too choppy) to snorkel until it was too dark to see anything. We were very beachy so just got slices of pizza at Spaghettini in Haleiwa where we could sit outside to eat it.

The following morning we walked the beaches of the resort again and then checked out. From there we stopped to eat in Haliewa again and look in a few shops, and got a photo by the sign. Stopped at the Dole Plantation and with a bogo coupon, did the hedge maze, boys against the girls. Checked out the gardens and got a dole whip to share. We planned to drive to our hotel in Waikiki to check in and freshen up for Chief’s Luau. Traffic was terrible! We finally had to turn around and head directly to the Luau. We changed in the parking lot and weren’t as picture-perfect as we would have liked. The luau was very entertaining, but there was some repetition, oddly even some of the same jokes, as the PCC. Good food and drinks. Full review on will be on TA but I will say once you are escorted to your seats, leave a jacket or sweater on your chair, AND tip it forward to “reserve” it. I watched an ugly scene unfold where an older foreign couple tried to first take two of our four seats, then the two next to us which already had jackets on. (They just moved them down). The young couple returned to the table and sent the older couple on their way. They raised a stink and thankfully, the “ushers” at Chief’s had the good sense to find them seats they were happy with way on the other side.

The next day we attempted to climb Diamond Head but there was no parking to be had. We decided to go to the Bishop Museum and did two guided tours and really enjoyed it. From there we stopped at McDonald’s, returned the rental car and headed to the ship, boarding around 3:30.

Day 1 - EMBARK 3:30pm

We were in Suite 13502 so embarkation included snacks (could have skipped McDonald’s) and went very smoothly. Took video of the room before we trashed it and attended muster drill in the theater around 4:45pm. We met our butler Susana, who was helpful when we needed her throughout the week. She made a reservation for us for Cagney’s following sail-away and we enjoyed our meal and awesome 7-layer chocolate cake.

In Suite 13502, you could feel a lot of movement…Maui and Hilo, it was a lot. This was our first time having a balcony and it is a huge one. We learned that the wind rushes through the balcony making quite a roar. I am a light sleeper and didn’t enjoy this. Canapes and other treats were delivered and enjoyed in the afternoon each day. Ship had a lot of 60-somethings and some a lot older than that. Our kids saw very few people their age and I think there were less than a dozen little kids.

Day 2 – MAUI

Breakfast at Cagneys with Suite’s people. I was hesitant about the Road to Hana but the car rental guy talked us into it haha. We had downloaded the Shaka Guide which was very good. The guy is a little over the top at times but it adds humor. We actually did not make any of his suggested stops because we were headed all the way to the end to hike the Pipiwai Trail. We wanted to see the bamboo forest! My daughter was just a little queasy from the curvy drive. Pipiwai Trail is rated as moderate and I would say that was accurate. It is 4 miles total and has great scenery including 2.5 waterfalls and the bamboo – fantastic. We stopped at a beach front snack bar for some food and there was a community canoe regatta wrapping up. This was interesting because they were making poi. Several huge wooden troughs with a seat at each end. A girl gave me a lei they had made. (Hawaiians doing Hawaiian stuff :D). We stopped at the black sand beach at Waianapanapa Park which was fabulous even though it was raining! Drove back again with the Shaka Guide. (He has a reverse guide available (different purchase) so if you’re interested in the Pipiwai Trail, I would suggest downloading that one instead. So take Road to Hana with no stops, hike Pipiwai, then his guide will tell you all the interesting stops on the return route and you can decide if you have the energy to stop for them.) Road to Hana was not as bad as I expected.

Return to ship, shower.

Liberty Dining Room

Karoake -- Gold Rush Saloon

 

to be continued...

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Day 3 – MAUI

Breakfast in Aloha. Packed sandwiches for lunch using zip lock bags I brought. We used Shaka Guide for Haleakala. It is a fascinating drive and place to see. We had some clouds and could not see the bottom of the crater. Hiked a bit of the trail but the clouds didn’t clear so we returned to the visitor center and made the descent with the Shaka Guide. We were planning to snorkel Makena but it was pretty windy and time was a little tight so we chose the Maui Ocean Center aquarium instead. It is very nice and we really enjoyed our less than two hours there. Return car and back to the ship. Side note…At the port in Maui there are big rocks along the shore if you are walking the passenger walk (which is very industrial and smelly actually). There are cool tropical fish RIGHT THERE that are fun to spot.

 

Skyline Dining Room.

"Lights, Camera, Music" Show in the theater.

 

Ship was really moving. Our daughter was not feeling well and maybe it was a touch of seasickness but I think it may have been something she ate. Susana our butler provided her some green apples and ginger ale which was very thoughtful and helpful.

 

Day 4 – HILO

The ship was all the way in the port but could not dock, due to high waves. We were just headed to breakfast with all our gear for hopefully being able to hike at VNP and our butler called to let us know we would be having a sea day. (At this point, the lava had just appeared at Leilani Estates. The park was open including visitor center and Jaggar museum. I wasn’t sure what we’d be able to do there, but we were going. The park was open the next day as well but by Friday it was shut down for safety reasons. As I write this, the saga continues. The next sailing after ours did not go to Hilo or Kona due to the volcano…a real bummer).

So sea day. We were disappointed but looked forward to serious napping. Ate breakfast at Cagney's since we had time. Scattegories was on the schedule and our family loves that game but a new schedule was delivered to us just as we walked out the door for that and Scattegories had been cancelled. Booo. Lunch at outdoor buffet by the pool. We did some trivia games that day and kept it casual and did Aloha for supper.

Comedy & Magic with Fred Becker, “The Strongest Link Game Show,” Ray Bautista in Gold Rush.

No lava sail-by…I don’t think any was visible but there may have been reasons associated with the volcano activity as well.

 

to be continued...

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Day 5 KONA

First truly nice weather in the morning. Tendered off and headed to King Kam Marriott to try to rent a car. I hadn’t reserved for a couple of reasons, one being that 5 rental cars just seemed like too many! Anyway – no cars were available. We got a Lyft Driver to take us to Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (also called Place of Refuge) which is next to Two Step for snorkeling. Two Step was great! There was a small sea turtle in one of the tidepools…so fun to watch it feeding. No facilities except port-a-potties here. Then we went over to the Place of Refuge. We had our Tri-Park pass. This is a neat place; it would be nice to have a guided tour but our timing was off for that.

 

Tried to get a driver to return to Kona, but could not find one anywhere close, so luckily our Lyft driver had left us his number to call him if that happened. We lost over an hour trying to find a driver and then waiting for him, so that should have been planned better. He took us to the farmer’s market in Kona which had the typical but also some unique stands. Unfortunately we were starved so we rushed through in pursuit of food. Ended up just buying some Maui chips and then getting Scandinavian Shave Ice. Boys returned to ship while we looked in galleries and shops a bit before getting one of the last tenders back. Kona is the nicest port for getting off and just shopping or eating. Though not well-planned, we loved this day. Our driver is on the Chamber of Commerce, teaches scuba at one of the hotels, and raises cacao. He was very personable and is happy to drive ship passengers if you can use his services [Adam Berman (808)208-5504].

 

We had reservations for Teppenyaki and it was a fun time with good food, except dessert which was green tea cake & ice cream.

 

Day 6 – KAUAI

Another good weather day. We walked to the Marriott there (12-15 minute walk) to pick up our rental car. The gardens inside are fantastic and there are huge koi which I noticed are fed at 9am. That might be something to see. Once again downloaded the Shaka Guide for the drive to Waimea Canyon. It was that or drive to the North Shore but we had a special stop to make so the Canyon drive made more sense. We were headed to Glass Beach. I am a beach glass fan and also make mosaics with beach glass. I knew from reviews that large lovely pieces were unlikely to be found, but in my work I use very tiny pieces, less than 1/8” and these are not fun to find or pick up on the beaches of Lake Erie. We found the beach with no problem and it was fantastic. The surface is close to 50% glass, tiny pieces up to ½”, some bigger. Fun to look! Got a few baggies of the size I wanted and headed off using the Shaka Guide. One stop on the left is the waterfall through the red dirt landscape. I thought we’d be hiking this day but we were just not up for it. One of the stops had a fruit stand…we got some pineapple and a brownie. We stopped at the museum and finally the Na Pali coast lookout at the end, and it was a wall of white cloud…you couldn’t see anything. It was quite funny, but secretly I was kind of glad as it would be a surprise then for our helicopter ride the next day. Headed back and stopped in Waimea at the “Booze Shop” for a late lunch. We recommend their wraps. Then another stop in Hanapepe. Walked the swinging bridge and looked in some shops there. Then a final stop at the blow hole which was fun to watch. There is a group of souvenir stands there but they were closing up at 5pm. We returned the car and enjoyed the gardens again. Walked back to ship.

 

We ate in the Cadillac Diner which was pretty empty I think due to many on the ship being at the luaus on Kauai. Such a silly restaurant. Many menu items not like diner food, waiters wearing Aloha shirts, and music was not retro. I ordered fish and chips and it was like grocery store frozen fish. Shake was good, but $4.95 I believe.

 

Comedy show was pretty good and we enjoyed Shout it Out Trivia, but it was not well attended, again probably due to the luaus.

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I forgot to mention that I have posted a video of Pride of America Suite 13502 on YouTube :)

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Sounds like you had a good time! We are still a while out from our cruise in October, but am following closely to see what is happening with the volcano. Hopefully, Madam Pele is done with her outburst soon! We did a land trip to the Big Island 2 years ago, I absolutely love it there! I could see myself packing everything up, saying adios kids! and moving there.

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Enjoying reading your review. We did the cruise in October last year and loved it. And I'm doing the NCL Epic med cruise on 3 June! Looking forward to that and the rest of your review. :)

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Enjoying reading your review. We did the cruise in October last year and loved it. And I'm doing the NCL Epic med cruise on 3 June! Looking forward to that and the rest of your review. :)

 

That is the same time frame we went in 2012. We did all DIY excursions that time too. Have you been to Europe or any of those ports before?

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Day 7 - Kauai

We requested room service and it was delivered by Susana since we had an early pick-up (7:45am) for our tour with Jack Harter Helicopters. We were taken to the office, then shuttled from there to the airport, which we then rode a tram to a tent near the helicopters (that’s a lot of shuttling haha.) All went as expected there and at exactly 8:44 we lifted off on our no-doors flight. It was extremely windy in the chopper and chilly but it is exciting and great for photos. I made the mistake of pointing at the cruise ship as we went over and my arm flew back due to the wind force and I still have the bruise to prove it. Our flight was just over an hour and a great experience. I might try doors on next time just for a more relaxing experience.

 

Following our flight we did the reverse shuttling and were dropped off back at the ship. We were going to have him drop us at the beach but realized it would be a lot nicer to get out of our jeans etc in our suite. So we walked to the beach at the Marriott to spend the rest of the short day. You can rent all kinds of equipment at this beach and we didn’t make the best choices. My daughter had surfed once so we got a surfboard and a boogie board. Neither did great with these and in retrospect a stand-up paddleboard may have been a better choice. I saw a woman with an inflatable lounge and she seemed to be having a nice time on that…not sure you can rent that but they are prob less than $10 to buy. Despite sunscreen, I got quite burned in less than 2 hours. I realize now the overcast conditions during almost our first whole week in Hawaii probably was for the best.

 

We packed and relaxed until the narrated NaPali sail-by at 5:15. It was a little cloudy but we were close enough to see how magnificent it is, but also glad we had seen it by helicopter that morning. Had our final reservation at LaCucina and enjoyed that. The desserts were not that tempting but our server was nice enough to get us Lava cake from Liberty/Skyline instead.

 

We had no interest in having our luggage removed for us. For breakfast, we went to Aloha one last time which is especially crazy on disembarkation day. (Should have allowed extra time for Cagney’s). Stuffed everything in our luggage and left the ship without any difficulty.

 

Our overall impressions were that the ship and our suite were lovely and we had no issues with any staff. The passengers definitely skewed older which didn’t really bother my husband and I but our young 20-somethings didn’t care for that. Our food was good and sometimes really good; occasionally too salty. The ports are industrial (except Kona) which is a shame but that’s what exists in Hawaii apparently. We attended a few shows and activities and all were good to very good. I think this is an excellent way to see all 4 islands IF you are a planner. (We never do ship excursions due to expense for four people, and reviews for them are rarely good). It seemed more complicated to plan than our Mediterranen trip and one factor was the Hawaiian name places...so many are spelled similarly (due to only 13 letters in the alphabet) and I didn't have any idea how to pronounce most...so it was hard for me to keep things straight in my head. The weather in Hawaii is very changeable which can make daily planning tricky. It tends to be a better day than forecast usually :)

...to be continued with final day on Oahu (Pearl Harbor)

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Day 3 – MAUI

Side note…At the port in Maui there are big rocks along the shore if you are walking the passenger walk (which is very industrial and smelly actually). There are cool tropical fish RIGHT THERE that are fun to spot.

 

We are familiar with the area, but cannot figure out where the "passenger walk" you mention is located. There is the shoreline road that trucks use to go to and from the Matson yard, but that is not a passenger area. Can you give us a clue?

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We are familiar with the area, but cannot figure out where the "passenger walk" you mention is located. There is the shoreline road that trucks use to go to and from the Matson yard, but that is not a passenger area. Can you give us a clue?

 

Attempting to show photo I marked up :)

maui.jpg.0492c8f7456c742c32af035d949ddb1d.jpg

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BACK IN OAHU Saturday, May 12

We took an Uber to Pearl Harbor and stored our luggage there ($5 each). We had reserved tickets for the earliest you can get them online --11:00am. I stepped up to ask for earlier tickets at about 9:27am and we were granted these and in the film by 9:30. The bad news is that there is some type of damage (crack in the dock) that is causing the boats not to be able to dock at the Memorial. Ugh but what can you do. The boats do go out and circle for pictures. We got the audioguides ($7.50 each) which are okay, not essential, but we always like to use them when available. Around lunchtime, we asked if we could return our audioguides and get them back later. The lady wrote up a note for us to do so. We walked to nearby Restaurant 604 which we enjoyed a lot. They do a call ahead wait list, fyi. From there, we attempted to walk to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and got frustrated as we kept encountering tall chain-link fences. We were wasting time, so we called an Uber. We finally got there at 2pm and went around very quickly since it closes at 3:00pm; made a few purchases --good prices. We were able to find the way to walk back to PH and finished our audio tour in the museum. We wrapped up in time for closing and retrieved our luggage. (Luggage storage is open until 5:30 fyi).

Uber to airport and was curious to see if beach glass would make it through agriculture screening and then TSA. (I had divided it into two groups…one for carry-on, one for checked baggage). It did…but the checked suitcase it was in had a TSA notice inside that it had been opened and inspected. That suitcase also had our palm frond weavings from the PCC and luau.

Ate at food court at airport.

It may have been nice to have a rental car that day but some of our luggage would have been visible in the back seat and there were so many warnings about car break-ins at PH, which I think are unfounded currently since there were bicycle security guards riding around. (But it may have been unsafe at the stadium.) Anyway we were able to keep entertained in the PH area, and the restaurant was a nice break for lunch. It would have been nice not to eat at the airport for supper before our flight.

Hope you enjoyed the review of our DIY trip. I am happy to answer any questions.

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I just wanted to clarify that if we go straight to Pearl Harbor from the ship we can store our luggage at PH for $5 a bag?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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I just wanted to clarify that if we go straight to Pearl Harbor from the ship we can store our luggage at PH for $5 a bag?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Yes! Ours included 49lb full size bags. I don't recall what time they open but it is quite early I believe and is definitely open until 5:30pm.

Also, as I mentioned, we left the PH area and went to Restaurant 604 and the swap meet and were able to leave the luggage there. I would go as far as to say that you could store luggage there even if you weren't going into PH, as it is outside the gates.

 

I had good luck getting specific answers I needed by Private Messaging through their FB page.

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Thanks for posting your review! How long is the NaPali sail by? I just realized I made early dinner reservations that night for 5:30.

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Can I ask, how was being on the port side of the ship for the cruise by the volcano and the napali coast? Can you see from your room these sights or do you need to go up on deck?

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Thanks for posting your review! How long is the NaPali sail by? I just realized I made early dinner reservations that night for 5:30.

The ship goes by it VERY, almost excruciatingly slowly. I think the whole narration was 45 minutes. I would try to change your dinner reservation.

I think I mentioned it started at 5:15, at least on our cruise.

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Can I ask, how was being on the port side of the ship for the cruise by the volcano and the napali coast? Can you see from your room these sights or do you need to go up on deck?

 

If you are on the port side, the ship will go by the coast for that side first with the narration. We were able to hear it from wherever the speakers are, on our own balcony. It also plays on the TV, but it was lagging behind the speakers so we turned it off. My daughter and i stood on chairs to view it because the railing is not at a comfortable viewing height for us (I suppose the sides have to be quite high to prevent falls overboard.) We had sitting chairs on our balcony that we could stand on. My understanding is that the ship then turned and the other side sees it but I don't think it is with the narration.

 

We did not go by the volcano on our sailing but I believe that is on the starboard side when it does go.

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Thank you for this. Can you check out towels on the way off the ship?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Striped beach towels will be provided in your stateroom. Your steward can bring you more or there is a place to get more near the pool. You can take them off the ship with you :)

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Thank you for this review, we are considering the POA later this month. We have air travel benefits so we tend to travel last second and by the seat of our pants.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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