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papa B me

Pride of America Live Feb 23-March 2 with Waikiki precruise

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After booking this cruise over 2 years ago, it's hard to believe the time is almost here to leave for our first trip to Hawaii.  It will be our first cruise with NCL as well.  We will fly out tomorrow morning(20th) from Knoxville TN to Dallas then on to Honolulu.  We are flying business class with American.  We have a 3 night pre cruise stay on Waikiki in a condo at Waikiki Shores that we booked through VRBO.  We are told this is the only condo building that sits right on the Ocean vs across the street from the Ocean.  I will post about our stay and our planned excursions to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, etc...

 

I plan on posting daily(I wake up a lot earlier then my wife-ha) as internet allows.  My reviews tend to be detail heavy as I've found that others have helped me so much in the planning process that I like to provide as much information as possible for others in the planning process.  I'm going to try for the first time to post pictures.  

 

We will be in the Deluxe Owners Suite so I will try to post tips about suite perks, butler, etc...

 

For perspective on how I view things:  My wife and I are 55 years old with 4 grown married children and 4 grandchildren(and 2 more on the way). We started traveling solo about 6 years ago twice a year with either some type of cruise or all inclusive resort.   We have found we love river cruises(been on 3 with Uniworld) and found we love small ship sailing(was on Silversea last August). Have been on Royal Caribbean(200 ton ship) and sailed with Carnival a number of times 20+ years ago.  We chose NCL for the fact that the POA is the only ship that sails in Hawaii only.  The reviews of the POA have been mixed at best but it is the only game in town if you don't want the long sailing from the West Coast.  I tend to be a glass half full reviewer when it comes to travel as I feel so blessed to do the trips we get to do in the way we get to do them so I really focus on the positives realizing there is nothing perfect.  But I will try to give a balanced review.

 

I'll be happy to answer any questions for those considering the POA or those who are already booked on the POA for a future cruise.  I look forward to sharing our journey with those who are interested.  Time for last minute preparations and then let the games begin!!

 

Brian

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Looking forward to your review, papa B. We'll be on POA in June and I'll be grateful for any and all details you care to share!

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Will be following every minute!  Can't wait to hear about it all, have a wonderful time!  

Edited by Beachiekeen

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We just came off of the Pride of America on Feb 17 (Sailed from Feb 9 - 16).

Bad weather had the itinerary flipped from the time of boarding.  So, Kauai was first

which was cold and rainy.  Hilo was next - same.  Then Wednesday was Kona where

started to warm up and we got a round of golf in then beaches.  Thursday and Friday

were supposed to be the overnight in Maui, but rough weather prevented us from docking,

so were were awarded a sea day.  Friday morning proved much the same, so another sea

day.  Back to Honolulu Saturday morning.

 

Disappointed?  Many in our party of 16 were VERY, however me, my family, took the other

approach in that it was a week away and it was better than being here (Toronto).  I'd

go back, but not on NCL.  Second cruise with NCL and probably the last.

We've cruised numerous times on Princess, Carnival and Royal. 

 

The service was lacking from the Guest Services desk, to the store staff.  The food was bland

and very little variety.

 

On the positive, the bar staff were very attentive - especially Lauren "Laz" at the John Adams bar on

deck 5.  The waitstaff in the MDR were very good, as was the staff in Cagney's.  The quality of food

served in Cagney's were top notch.  MUCH better than the striploin serviced in the MDR. 

 

Small ship means there aren't many venues or activities, but we made the most of our earned sea days.

 

Ovation of the Seas is sailing out of Vancouver if anyone's looking for a ship twice as large as the POA.

 

Overall a decent vacation, and yes, I'd go back to Hawaii, but I'm more of a Caribbean cruiser.

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1 hour ago, dssking said:

We just came off of the Pride of America on Feb 17 (Sailed from Feb 9 - 16).

Bad weather had the itinerary flipped from the time of boarding.  So, Kauai was first

which was cold and rainy.  Hilo was next - same.  Then Wednesday was Kona where

started to warm up and we got a round of golf in then beaches.  Thursday and Friday

were supposed to be the overnight in Maui, but rough weather prevented us from docking,

so were were awarded a sea day.  Friday morning proved much the same, so another sea

day.  Back to Honolulu Saturday morning.

 

Disappointed?  Many in our party of 16 were VERY, however me, my family, took the other

approach in that it was a week away and it was better than being here (Toronto).  I'd

go back, but not on NCL.  Second cruise with NCL and probably the last.

We've cruised numerous times on Princess, Carnival and Royal. 

 

The service was lacking from the Guest Services desk, to the store staff.  The food was bland

and very little variety.

 

On the positive, the bar staff were very attentive - especially Lauren "Laz" at the John Adams bar on

deck 5.  The waitstaff in the MDR were very good, as was the staff in Cagney's.  The quality of food

served in Cagney's were top notch.  MUCH better than the striploin serviced in the MDR. 

 

Small ship means there aren't many venues or activities, but we made the most of our earned sea days.

 

Ovation of the Seas is sailing out of Vancouver if anyone's looking for a ship twice as large as the POA.

 

Overall a decent vacation, and yes, I'd go back to Hawaii, but I'm more of a Caribbean cruiser.

 

Yeah you really just had bad luck.  I am on a couple of NCL groups and feel bad for those that cruised during this recent storm.  I'm glad you made the best of it.  We go on our cruise in November.  I have told my family the ship will be a place to sleep and have breakfast.  But when you have unexpected sea days, I can see where the problems/disappointment would arise. POA is more about the ports so when you don't have them, it would definitely be a letdown.

 

Papa B here's hoping the weather improves for you!

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Agreed.  Whining and complaining like I heard a lot of people doing won't get them anywhere. 

Be positive and make the most of it......   Already planning the next outing!

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I haven’t booked this yet...  but hope to soon! I appreciate any information and reviews that you share! Wishing you and your wife a wonderful cruise!

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Following!  We are on the March 23rd trip for our 25th Anniversary!  I have been to Maui before but no where else in HI.  My husband has never been.  

We have a large balcony room.  Getting so excited and look forward to your reviews!

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Thanks for doing this! We will be in the same DOS July 2020. Please take lots of pics and report back. Mostly, though, ENJOY your CRUISE!🚢🍾🎉

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Thank you all for following along.  We arrived in Honolulu about 4 pm local time.  The flights went smoothly. We were blessed to be able to fly business class.  It was a little over 8 hours from Dallas to Honolulu.  So after a nice lunch, a movie, a 2 hour nap, and then another movie, I only had about another hour to keep myself occupied.  Below is a picture of my seat on American's 777-200 airplane.

IMG_0092.JPG

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We rented a car from Alamo for the three days we are here before boarding the Pride of America.  A tip to remember is that there are I believe 5 rental companies that are on site at the airport.  The rest shuttle you to their lots.  We chose Alamo and of course it wasn't one that was on site.  So you may want to check and it will save you lugging all your luggage onto the shuttle bus.  It was about 10 minutes in traffic to get to their lot.  Other then that it was really smooth.  We are traveling with another company so we rented a mini van which has plenty of room for the 4 of us and 6 or 7 pieces of luggage. The rental lot was about 7 miles from the condo we have but it took about 40 minutes in traffic at 5 in the afternoon.  

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When we decided to have a 3 night precruise stay we decided to do what we have done in places like Prague, Switzerland, and all over the US and see if we could find a place to stay on VRBO.  I really wanted to try and be right on the water and I found a condo in a building called "Waikiki Shore".  It is right on Waikiki Beach next to the Outrigger Reef hotel.  It is an older building but I'm told it is the only condo building directly on the beach instead of across the street.  It is a 15 story narrow building.  We are on the 9th floor.  The unit is the width of the building so we have views from 3 sides of the unit.  Below are a few photos I took from one of the balconys as soon as we arrived

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It was about 6:30 or so by the time we were fully settled into the condo and wanted something quick for dinner.  We walked next door to the Outrigger hotel and ate at their outside grill with a Hawaiian band playing.  It was easy and fast and the food wasn't bad either.

 

Another benefit of the condo we are in is that it has access to all the amenities of the Outrigger.  

 

Well I've come to the end of my first day.  We've been up about 22 hours.  It's 9 pm local time so I've reached my goal of not going to bed too early to hopefully battle the jet lag tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow's agenda is hiking Diamond Head in the morning, exploring Waikiki and then Duke's for dinner tomorrow night.  

 

More to come...

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This was our first morning in Hawaii.  Started the day doing one of my favorite things to do while on vacation.  Sitting on the balcony of a condo/hotel/ship with coffee in hand before the craziness of the day starts looking at something like this:

 

IMG_0093.JPG

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Practical tips/information on Diamond Head:

 

Tip #1:  Get there early!

Diamond head now opens the gates at 6:00 am.  Some reason I thought I had read they open at 8 am and I read a number of reviews that if you get there by 9 you have no problem getting into the parking lot.  That wasn't the case.  We got there at 8:30 and drove up to the gate and they said it was full.  We dropped our wives off and drove back down the mile or so back to the main road and saw no where to park.  So we drove back to the main gate to see if people had left.  This time I noticed a spot with about 5 cars that said waiting area.  The gate attendant said they were still full.  But I asked if we could get in the waiting lane.  He said oh if you want to wait you have to go ahead and pay the $5 to get in.  So we did.  It was about 15 minutes waiting then we go a spot.

 

Tip #2:  Know your limitations:

The "trail" starts with a sidewalk then goes to dirt then to broken up lava rock then through a tunnel(not good if you are claustrophobic) then to a number of flights of stairs.  If you are mobility impaired I don't know that it is doable.  However, you don't have to be a hiker or in great shape.  We saw people from very small children to people in their 70's plus.  We saw body types from marathon runners to refrigerator runners(I resemble that remark).  You can take as long as you want and there are a number of places to stop and rest along the way.

 

Tip #3:  Have proper expectations:

We are from an area close to the Smoky Mountains.  So we are use to hiking.  However this resembles nothing of true hiking from the type of path you are on to the single file market of hundreds/thousands of people "hiking" up at the same time.  I was shocked at the number of people and as always some not overly considerate of others.  Just know in advance that it is like this so you aren't too disappointed

 

Tip #4:  It's worth the payoff

 

IMG_0095.JPG

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I forgot one last tip:  Reward yourself when you get back to the bottom:

 

IMG_0096.JPG

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After Diamond Head we headed up the coast toward the North Shore stopping at scenery along the way.  We didn't make it to North Shore since we are headed there today for the Polynesian Cultural Center but Made it to the next nice size town(can't remember the name of it) and stopped for a great Hawaiian Pork lunch.  The scenery was terrific:

 

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IMG_0098.JPG

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We drove back through the interior of the island which took about 45 minutes and enjoyed the mountain scenery

 

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IMG_0100.JPG

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