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Pride of America Review, Aug 31-Sept 7, 2019

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We have been home for almost a week now and I figured it was high time I posted my review while I am still dreaming of Hawaii every night. 🙂 


To recap, the boy and I wanted to do something special for our mutual milestone birthday (we turned 40 only ten days apart). A Hawaii cruise it was! We live in Fort Lauderdale and have been on a few Norwegian cruises to the Caribbean. This would be our first time flying (gasp!) to a port city. 


We booked a large balcony stateroom starboard forward (about as forward as you can get—9004). We have enjoyed having the extra space and fabulous views on other cruises and I figured it would still be worth the money even though it is a port-intensive cruise. NCL has the free/reduced airfare promotion at the time. With a deviation fee of $50/person/each way (so total deviation cost of $100/person to fly in Thursday and leave Sunday), our round trip flights to Honolulu were $500/person. 


I tried to book NCL’s hotel (Hilton Hawaiian Village) for our pre- and post-cruise stay, but the NCL agent told me over the phone that the cost would be over $500 per night since the cruise line “had to charge as though we were on the ship.” Ummm no way was I paying that kind of money unless it was for the Ritz-Carlton or equivalent! The agent stated that we would do better finding an Air B&B or something. 


After confirming our cruise and airfare booking, I promptly went on Hotwire dot com and secure two different hotels for our pre- and post-cruise stay. Both were wonderful and I was so glad I did it that way. Baseline booking price for the first was I think $160/night and with the two layers of taxes in Waikiki and the resort fee it ended up costing about $240/night. Eek. Keep this in mind when booking. The second hotel was about $30 more per night. 


I am going to go take a break here and figure out more about attaching photos...hoping it’s easier than the last review I wrote! 🙂 back soon....







Edited by alliecat44

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Okay, looks like the pictures came through directly from my phone. Hooray! Thanks to CC for streamlining the picture-posting process (that is a LOT of alliteration). 


From here on out, I'll be typing the text on my laptop and then adding picture files from my phone. Anyways. 


So, the photos above are pretty self-explanatory. We were at the mercy of NCL for booking our flights. The ship leaves every Saturday and we had asked to arrive on Thursday instead. I was crossing my fingers that they wouldn't get us in at, say, 10pm on Thursday night and make it a total waste, but I knew we didn't have a say. 


About fifty days ahead of time, we received our flight information--flying from FLL to San Francisco and then on to Honolulu--arriving at 1:30pm local time in Hawaii. Perfect!! This was exactly what I had wanted!! Except...on closer inspection...oh no. We had a mere 37 minute layover in SFO. Aack! If even the slightest thing went wrong on our outbound flight, we would MISS our connection! I frantically googled information about the flights and found that a) they tended to arrive at and leave out of gates that were two to four gates apart (so very close together at SFO) and b) the first leg's flight was on time 90%+ of the time and the second leg's flight was only on time about 60% of the time...so I figured we would be fine. 


I went on United's website, joined their frequent flyer program Mileage Plus, and paid for each of us to be upgraded to Economy Plus from Basic Economy. Essentially this means four more inches of legroom and guaranteed power supply in your seat. For the outgoing trip when time was such a concern, this also meant we were sitting much closer to the front of the plane (the faster to disembark). Total cost of upgrading two people on four flight legs (roundtrip) was $644 + the $1000 per person already paid to NCL.


Wouldn't you know it, but on the day of....we are sitting in our outgoing flight scheduled to leave at 7:15am...then it's 7:25....7:35....7:45...the pilot told us that one of the engines had a maintenance issue and they were waiting on the paperwork to be emailed over since they had fixed it...ended up taking off at about 8am. I was FREAKING OUT but nothing I could do. 


When we arrived at SFO, of course there was no gate available for us (since we were late) and we had to actually get off at a DIFFERENT TERMINAL than this flight usually deplanes at (I assume because we were late). We didn't get off the plane until AFTER the other flight was scheduled to LEAVE and had to haul a** to a different terminal. THANK GOD we weren't the only people making this connection--we were literally running to the next terminal, praying that the Honolulu flight had not taken off, but there were other people from our first flight behind us. THANK YOU UNITED for holding the plane...!!!! 


Then we could finally sit back, relax and wait to arrive in Hawaii! 


As you can see from the above pictures, the first glimpses of the islands out the plane windows are spectacular....The walk from the gate to the terminal is open-air and --as you can see--you just look out and see a normal functioning airport with these DRAMATIC gorgeous mountains in the background....we were soooo excited. I couldn't believe we were finally in HAWAII!!! 


After picking up our luggage and catching a Lyft to our first hotel, we were off. 

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Meeting our Lyft driver (and subsequently the hotel staff), one thing was driven home right away--people who live in Hawaii (whether they be native Hawaiians or mainlanders who made the move) are just THE NICEST PEOPLE I have ever encountered. Seriously. I lived in the midwest for graduate school and it reminded me of that Midwestern friendly/kind/genuinely concerned for other people's well-being/laid-back mindset but in an island paradise. I was so so impressed with just how nice and genuine EVERYONE we met was, starting with our Lyft driver. 


Our first hotel was the Queen Kapiolani, right next to Diamondhead at the south end of Waikiki beach. The lobby was open-air with a soft-serve/Dole Whip place, a cool coffee spot/cafe, and other shopping available right in the lobby. Our room was discounted so it wasn't a surprise that we had a city view--but the room itself was clean, recently redone and beautiful. There were plenty of thoughtful touches (including complimentary water bottles!) and a nice-sized bathroom. We were on the same floor as the bar/restaurant, so off we headed....


Below, our first drink in Hawaii! Plus the beautiful view from the open-air hotel bar. 


After having  a few drinks, we took a sunset stroll down Waikiki beach and ended up having a drink at Duke's as the sun set. 


FYI, Wakiki is super similar to South Beach in Miami in terms of shopping, etc...but the beach itself puts South Beach to shame. So so beautiful. The mature Banyan trees and the water that comes SO close to the sidewalks...just stunning. 






Edited by alliecat44

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Soon after, we walked back to the hotel and promptly passed out by 8pm local time (2am on our body clock). This will become a theme! Side note: I had originally booked the Diamondhead Luau (we were so close to Diamondhead, it received good reviews and was the only one on the beach in Waikiki, and I didn't want to spend cruise time doing a luau). I wanted to do it on Friday--a normal day for them--but this date wasn't available online. I called and they said there was a private event that Friday so Thursday it would have to be...but doors open at around 5:40pm. Ultimately we decided to cancel it and I am SO GLAD we did--we would have been way too exhausted to enjoy it. We put the funds towards a nice dinner the following night....more to come on that one. 


The next day, Friday, we woke up early and went to nearby Lulu's for breakfast. We had a table overlooking Diamondhead and the beach. Afterwards, we walked off breakfast by following Waikiki beach the other direction--past the zoo and aquarium--as far as we could go. It was a lovely quiet morning iwht plenty of people doing yoga by the beach, walking their dogs, getting ready for surfing lessons, etc. Back to the hotel to get ready for Pearl Harbor.


We took an Uber to Pearl Harbor because we were on a tight schedule and didn't want to waste time with the bus system, etc. Cost was about $28 each way. Pictures from Pearl Harbor are a bit dark (sorry!) as this was the one day of our trip where we had significant clouds....but NO rain the entire time (whew!). Appropriate for the setting, however. 


We paid $7.50 each for the audio tour/guided headset. DO THIS--it adds SO MUCH to the experience. I repeat--DO NOT GO TO PEARL HARBOR WITHOUT THE AUDIO HEADSET. It is THAT important. Not only do you hear historical context and get more out of the exhibitis but there are many audio recordings of survivor recollections from that day. 


Sadly, the Arizona Memorial re-opened TWO DAYS after our tour there....so we did not get to set foot on the memorial itself. It was still an incredibly moving and fascinating experience. 









Edited by alliecat44

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Here are some pictures of the USS Missouri--so big it had to be captured in multiple photos from our boat--


My grandfather was German and escaped to America on the last boat before Hitler invaded Poland. He joined the US Army and fought against his homeland in WW II in the Pacific theater (thought not in Hawaii). He remembered sailing by the Missouri and wondering why all of the ship's crew were on deck--he found out later that they were signing the Japanese surrender. It occurred under the tented area on the bow of the ship seen below. 







Edited by alliecat44

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I have done this cruise 4 times and want to go again....you are bringing back memories of my very first one and I can't wait for more pictures and review!

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Lucky you, TSUmom!! Talk about #lifegoals! I am super jealous and would definitely consider going again if it is ever in the budget....!!! Very interested to hear if you disagree with anything I noticed or experienced, too. Feel free to jump in! 


So, in lieu of the luau on Thursday (see what I did there...), I made dinner reservations at Iron Chef Morimoto's restaurant in Waikiki for Friday. I figured it would be an appropriate birthday dinner, and I was correct...! Our reservation at Morimoto Asia was for 7pm and it was a short walk down the beach (watching the sunset over Waikiki while we walked) from our hotel. Gorgeous. 


Dinner was absolutely amazing. The boy and I are both kind of foodies and I can honestly say the meal was one of the best I have ever eaten. We shared the Caeser salad with duck and crispy pork belly appetizers (melt-in-your-mouth delicious). He had the "angry lobster" with seriously the most complex and amazing red curry sauce I have ever tasted, and I had the garlic shrimp for dinner. 


My waiter knew it was my 40th, and had his "artist in the kitchen create something special" for dessert....I died laughing (and then died over how deliciously creamy, sweet and bright the mango sorbet was--wow!!). Our service and cocktails were fantastic. Highly recommend. 


Afterwards, we walked around Waikiki yet again before having several more drinks at the hotel bar before passing out....boarding the ship the next day (my actual birthday!). 







Edited by alliecat44

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Okay, okay, all of this just to get to the good part....the cruise!!! 


We had breakfast at the hotel, checked out and waited in the super-comfortable lobby area for about an hour before calling the car to the port. While waiting, I treated myself to a Tokyo-style soft serve in the coffee shop. I kept seeing signs and couldn't resist--the bottom of the cup is an espresso jelly, followed by vanilla soft serve with a sweet espresso-flavored drizzle on top. Delish! Though the texture of the jelly was off-putting (I have never been a fan of jello) so I only ate about half of that part. Anyways. 


Uber from hotel to pier took about 20 minutes, cost about $25 with tip. 


Check it at the port was super easy at around 12:15pm. There was no line to check in. We went straight up the escalator (no photos for us--ever!) and literally walked right on to the ship. There isn't even a waiting area at the top of the escalator--very different from the Port of Miami! We got our lei's and promptly went to Pink's for our first drink! 


Looking around, we saw that we were the youngest people in the room (aside from the bartenders)....which was odd, but fine. 


(Yes, there were some families on the ship--but the average age of this cruise was significantly older than past cruises. With the timing, I kinda figured that would be the case--kids just went back to school--but also as the first mate told the boy at one point, fewer young people can afford this particular cruise.) 


We went up to the pool deck (HOT and sunny) and availed ourselves of lunch--fresh burgers with caramelized onions and fries. Yum. 


Afterwards, were were super hot so went to explore the ship....ended up on deck 5 by guest services (and a bar!!) while we waited for our room to be ready. While there, we met a nice Hawaiian man who was giving everyone tips on how to get around the islands and what to see. It turns out he does this cruise 3 to 4 times per year, and has done for the past eight or nine years...! He is from and lives on Oahu. 








Edited by alliecat44

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Sorry you did not get to tour the Arizona...We stayed at the Marriot each time and I loved the evenings and early morning being right there in Waikiki.  Glad you stopped at Dukes and if you ever go back to Waikiki have an over priced drink at the Royal Hawaiian too....kind of the touristy things to do

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A few notes about the ship overall: 


--Like many of the people reading this, I scoured CC reviews of this ship/itinerary to plan our vacation. I paid special attention to folks who had traveled at around the same time of year to find out what they did, what they enjoyed, how the weather was, etc. 

--Yes, the crew was largely American. One of our servers said that to comport with US Labor Laws since the ship is (the ONLY ONE) registered in the USA, over 50% of the staff have to be American. They audit this every week and sometimes have to shuffle employees around if the percentage goes under 50...and since it is an American -registered ship, all of the employees are actually members of the Merchant Marine (??Not sure I heard this right or how this works??) for safety reasons. Our server is ONLY trained and allowed to work on PofA and cannot be moved to Norwegian's other ships--which I thought was kind of nice, actually. 


--That said, the service was quite good--not quite as OTT friendly as the international crews on other ships, but good. Our steward was an international crew member who informed me on the first night that towel animals are now "by request only"--so I requested them--and she did a GREAT job!!!! Seriously the best I've seen. She was so sweet and friendly. 


--The ship is smaller (like the Sky) so easier to navigate and get around. It is going into dry dock for further updates in April-May 2020. Our room was immaculate and well thought-out. The public areas were a bit dated and kind of hokey with the American history theme--but everything was extremely well-maintained and in pristine condition.


--I was really hoping for an upgrade to an OS (as I posted about on here many times!!!) and was disappointed I didn't get one--until we actually got on the ship and experienced the vacation. I then realized it would have been a COLOSSAL waste of money for us, as we spent the minimum amount of time on board the ship. It truly was that veritable "floating hotel" that many on here talk about. I almost feel silly having paid for a balcony room--but I did enjoy drowsily reading my book on the lounger in the evenings before bed. 


--For the first time, we did not do ANY activities on board or see ANY of the shows--so i can't comment on those aspects of the ship. 


--We stayed in 9004, which was allllll the way at the front...would NOT do this again---had to walk soooo far to get to ANYTHING interesting including any food venues. When we left our room, we had to plan for our next stop after eating to "pack up" and avoid wasting time coming alllll the way back to the room and then allllll the way back to the gangway or whatever. Minor annoyance but wish I had known. I usually like to book away from the elevators for privacy, but this was way too far because a) the closest elevators were much further away; b) the only thing on our deck--9--were cabins, so it wasn't like there was extraneous or noisy elevator traffic anyway; c) since so many fewer people did activities/entertainment on this itinerary anyway the traffic was less. 

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So, we got the page overhead that our room was ready at about 2:30 I think. We went to our room to check it out, laid down for a quick nap and then it was time for the muster drill. We were grateful that our station was in the theater instead of standing in the blazing sun!! 


**LADIES--thinking ahead to the teeny tiny cruise ship shower (yes, the half-size stall with curtain and 1" lip to prevent the whole bathroom from flooding) and acknowledging that shaving my legs on a good day as a plus-size woman is awkward--I did myself a favor and had a leg wax done for the first time ever the week before the cruise.; BEST DECISION I ever made!! I will leave it at that. Highly recommend! It is now two weeks post-cruise and I just made my next appointment, I loved it so much! Definitely decreased the minor vacation stresses!** 


I think we went back to our room after muster to unpack (bags had been delivered right before the drill) and then up on to the pool deck for sailaway. Quite the pool party by the enthusiastic staff! I just wish more cruisers had been able to join them. It was great fun watching the Hawaiian Ambassador give a brief basic Hula lesson--wish I had time for some of her activities such as lei-making. 


After Sailaway, we went to dinner at Jefferson's Bistro. Service was sloooow but that was fine--just could have refilled our wine glasses a bit more frequently. I had the jumbo shrimp, which were cooked perfectly and super delicious--but my potatoes were rock-hard and way undercooked. Since it was halfway through the meal before the water checked on us, I requested mashed potatoes instead to replace them (figuring it would take too long to boil new potatoes correctly). Boy had the steak dinner. Dessert was the chocolate napoleon for me (sooooooo good!) and creme brulee for the boy (delicous!). We had dessert drinks and then left to pretty much pass out by 9pm.....again. 


Up next: first day of Maui!!! 









Edited by alliecat44

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Maui, Day 1: 


Yes, we rented a car for Maui. When exploring what we wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to see sunset or sunrise (ugh getting up at 3am!) on top of Haleakala. There are so many different tours that do either, I scoured review websites (like Trip Advisor) and CC and found a company called Maui Stargazing. This tour got me SO excited--not only was it watching a mountaintop sunset, but also guided stargazing through a 12" diameter telescope and learning about astronomy!! AND she provides winter clothes (so less to pack)!! AND hot beverages and snacks! I was sold and booked us the tour on the first day in Maui. 


Since we had to meet at 4pm for the tour, there was no way we could do the Road to Hana either that day or the following day (and feel comfortable making it back to the ship in time without running into any snafus). Honestly, deciding not to do the Road to Hana was my biggest "question mark" decision of the entire trip--did I make the right one?? I was really truly torn about this. No chance to swim in waterfalls or see the lush rainforest otherwise...but I can confidently say that skipping it in favor of what we did was the right decision for US. We can always do the Road to Hana next time but I feel like we crammed in much more sightseeing this way (and fulfilled a bucket-list item with the mountain sunset stargazing!). 


So, we rented a car. We had breakfast in the Cadillac Diner (thanks, CC, for the suggestion!)--much less crowded and quick service with HOT food instead of dealing with the chaos of the buffet (and cold food by the time you get back to your seat). I think we were there around 7:15am and off the ship by 8:15. We caught the shuttle at the port to the airport rental car station and the shuttle driver pointed out where we could catch a ride back to the pier before 7pm. We walked up to the counter, gave our paperwork, took the escalator downstairs to pick up our little Ford Escape.  We were in the road by 9:15am. 


Using the Gypsy Guide app (I can't say enough good things about it!) we began driving towards south Maui/Kihei. Along the way, we learned many interesting things about local life and ecology from the app. Once we started seeing beaches like five feet from the road, we started stopping and taking pictures. We ended up swimming for about an hour and then moving on to the next gorgeous beach....The sand everywhere was soft as butter and the water temperature was a refreshing 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for cooling off. 


On the other side of the road were little shopping centers. It really reminded me of what a family beach town from, say, MD or NJ would be transplanted to a beautiful lush tropical Hawaiian setting. Great part of Maui for a family with kids to stay, for sure. Unbelievably beautiful. 


Here are some photos, beginning with the view outside our balcony after docking and then some of the beaches we drove by heading to south Maui--














Edited by alliecat44

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After our swim it was time for lunch and we were in Waimea. I saw a spot I remembered from my "Hawaii Revealed" app (would switch back and forth between that and Gypsy Guide--although Gypsy Guide had audio and was constantly playing, the written commentary about the drive in HR was really useful too) and we stopped at had lunch at Monkeypod Cafe. OUTSTANDING food and great service. 


Around this time of the drive, thngs began to become more and more upscale in terms of homes and shopping. 


We continued on south after lunch and found the famous Makena beach ("Breakneck Beach") and learned how it was formed from the Gypsy Guide app. 









Edited by alliecat44

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We continued driving as far south as we could towards the end of the paved road. Along the way, the sandy beaches gave way to black rocky beaches (lava rock....yaaassss!!!). Finally, we drove on the road cut through a field of lava (some of the rocks bigger than our car) with bumpy pavement and a couple of one-lane segments before finally coming to beautiful Le Perouse Bay....the end of the paved road. Pictures do not do this stunning location justice. It was a bit overcast, so the photos aren't that great, but the deep intense blue and turquoise of the sea mixed with the dramatic black lava rock was one of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen. 








Edited by alliecat44

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After that, it was time to turn around and head back towards central Maui to be able to meet with our tourguide for the sungazing tour. 


She had texted us several times about the forecast--iffy for stargazing, as it was super cloudy at the top of Haleakala. We were to meet the group at Kula Lodge at 4pm and then decide what to do. I was so nervous that this tour--a major highlight of our vacation--would be cancelled due to Mother Nature, but what can you do....


We made our way back to central Maui and started towards Haleakala National Park. Along the way, we passed a brushfire (!) and stopped at a Starbucks for coffee (about a mile off the route). We needed a little pick-me-up! 


Proceeding up the mountain, at around 3:30pm, we found the Kula Lodge and changed into our long sleeves/long pants and had a drink. It began POURING RAIN while we were waiting for the group...uh-oh...feelings of dread. The bartender assured us that it could easily be pouring rain down here and be clear as day at the summit. Again, fingers crossed....


We met Jan and the rest of our group (including a couple who was on our cruise!). After a discussion, the group decided to give it a try. Jan said chances of it being too cloudy for stargazing were 50/50, at best and offered to have everyone cancel for a refund OR give a 25% discount if we made it up there and stargazing wasn't possible after sunset. I am so thankful the group decided to go!! 


The 11 of us piled in to Jan's custom, comfortable van and watched an informative video about the mountain's climates (fifteen of them!), ecology and the endangered species in the park while we went up to the summit. I'm so glad we didn't drive this part ourselves--tons of switchbacks on the edge of a cliff with NO guardrails. Can't imagine doing it in the dark. Anyways, we made it to the summit, and it was super cloudy....sunset scheduled at 6:40pm and we were at the summit around 5:30 I think....








Edited by alliecat44

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Jan kept checking the forecast and updating us. We explored around the summit and, when the parking lot began filling up, Jan brought us down one level to the next visitor's station/parking lot/restroom. While we were here, the clouds magically began parting (hooray!!!) and lifted out of the crater!!! The landscape truly looked like another planet--see pictures. So so cool. 











Edited by alliecat44

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When THAT parking lot started filling up, Jan hustled us back into the van for our final stop, the viewing area she chose at the last minute based on forecast and timing based on when it would fill up...she said once the park rangers started closing the two lots we had been, the overflow would go to where we wanted to be for this evening's best chance at stargazing. She was totally right, and we got there just in time. 


She had comfortable camping chairs, snacks and hot beverages for us. See below for photos of our literal front-row view of the clouds (!!!!) and sunset, as well as her taking the telescope out and setting it up. This was so cool. We added the winter gear she brought, too, got hot drinks and settled in. 












Edited by alliecat44

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As you can see, the sunset was MAGICAL. At that elevation, it stayed light for an additional 45 minutes after dipping through the clouds. 


Jan got right to work, though, showing us what she could as early as possible in case the cloud cover came back. 


Below is a picture of the moon through the telescope....astounding detail. 


We also saw Saturn--including the rings!--and Jupiter, with its colored bands and even the big red dot. 



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Here is the full observing list of things we saw (emailed to us all that night)--overall this tour was 100% worth the value and the time. Also, of course, we could see the Milky Way without any aid--truly magical.  


I am so glad we did it: 




Earth’s Moon

Waxing Crescent Phase (Virgo)



Jupiter (Ophiuchus)

Saturn (Sagittarius)








Great Red Spot (Jupiter)



Albireo (Cygnus)



M 31, M 32, M 101 (Andromeda)

M 51 Whirlpool & NGC 5194 (Canes Venatici)



M 57 Ring (Lyra)



Eastern Veil (Cygnus)



M 8 Lagoon (Sagittarius)

M 17 Swan (Scutum)



M 13 (Hercules)



M 6 Butterfly (Scorpius)

M 7 Ptolemy (Scorpius)

M 11 Wild Duck (Scutum)





Big Dipper (Ursa Major)

Butterfly (Hercules)

Circlet (Pisces)

Diamond (Virgo)

Fishhook (Scorpius)

Great Square (Pegasus)

Keystone (Hercules)

Kite / Ice Cream Cone (Bootes)

Little Dipper (Ursa Minor)

Job’s Coffin (Delphinus)

Northern Cross (Cygnus)

Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb, Altair)

Teapot (Sagittarius)

Water Jar (Aquarius)



Aquarius (Water Bearer)

Aquila (Eagle)

Bootes (Herdsman)

Capricornus (Sea Goat)

Cepheus (King of Ethiopia)

Corona Australis (Southern Crown)

Corona Borealis (Northern Crown)

Cygnus (Swan)

Delphinus (Dolphin)

Draco (Dragon)

Hercules (Hero)

Libra (Scales)

Lupus (Wolf)

Lyra (Harp)

Ophiuchus (Serpent Bearer)

Pegasus (Flying Horse) rising

Sagitta (Arrow)

Serpens (Serpent)

Scorpius (Scorpion)

Ursa Major (Big Bear)

Ursa Minor (Little Bear)

Virgo (Maiden)



Alnair (Grus)

Altair (Aquila)

Antares (Scorpius)

Arcturus (Bootes)

Deneb (Cygnus)

Folmahaut (Pisces Austrini)

Spica (Virgo)

Vega (Lyra)


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We packed up the van and headed back down to our vehicles at the Kula Lodge, said our goodbyes, and drove the rest of the way down the mountain and back to the airport to drop off the car in the overnight lot. (This was easy and cost $15--would definitely do this instead of taking the time to re-rent another car the following day. Much faster on day 2.) At this point, our eyes were closing, we were soooo tired. We caught an Uber back to the ship (too late for the shuttles to run) and had a late dinner at Cadillac Diner (the only place open) at 9:45pm. Then--you guessed it--we went back to our room and PASSED OUT. 🙂

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Day 2, Maui.....


So, as previously mentioned, we didn't have enough time to do the Road to Hana. Since all aboard time was 4:30 or 5, and we had to return the rental car and wait for and catch the shuttle to the ship (whew)--all of which would take an unknown period of time--we decided we would try to be back to the airport by 3pm. We again had breakfast in the Cadillac Diner, caught the shuttle to the airport, walked across the road and got back in our trusty Ford Escape by 9am. 


We decided to explore west Maui for the day. Wow, was this ever gorgeous....the Gypsy Guide (and Hawaii Revealed) helped us find scenic overlooks that we would otherwise have, well, overlooked. Driving along the coast was just absolutely stunning. Words and pictures do not do it justice. So rugged, so beautiful, just so stupidly beautiful you could point your camera in any direction and come out with a picture that should be on a calendar somewhere. 


It was fascinating to learn about Hawaiian history through the Gypsy Guide as well as about the iron-rich lava that created the dramatic red color of the cliffs. 


Along the way, we stopped at Lahaina--which is such a cute beach town with tons of history. We walked on Front Street along the water (as you can see, it comes right up to just below the sidewalk) and shops, stopping at Ululani's Shaved Ice for a mid-morning snack. OMG so good! I'm so glad we stopped here. I had read in multiple places that Ululani's is THE best shaved ice in Hawaii and I don't doubt it. I had an orange/mango/pineapple with vanilla ice cream on the bottom and the boy just had straight cherry throughout. They use natural fruit juices for their syrups and man, can you tell....so so delicious and refreshing.l I understand why there was a line before they opened at 10am!! 


Bellies full, we continued on up the coast....










Edited by alliecat44

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After a while, and some more amazing scenery including Kaanapali, we stopped at DT Fleming Beach for some pictures. In the parking lot, we saw a sign for "Burgers--200 ft ahead!" and decided some lunch was in order. 


Lo and behold, we had found Ritz Carlton's Burger Shack! On one of the prettiest beaches in Maui (of course). It was, again, stunningly beautiful and we had a wonderful meal with typical fantastic Ritz service. (We love to go to our local Ritz for Sunday brunch on holidays and special occasions--but have only stayed at one once!) 


What a lovely little surprise. On to the next stop, winding our way around red cliffs....





Edited by alliecat44

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The Gypsy Guide was really key during this entire day. Not only did it help put into context the history of settlement and ancient Hawaii, and the current state of Maui's economy--it really helped us plan for the rest of our drive. We even found a non-marked dirt road that led to some of the most spectacular views of our entire trip--even though I was terrified we were going to slide off the cliff into the ocean while we were going downhill ("For god's sake, if that Nissan Sentry in front of us can do it, this SUV certainly can!"). 


We passed by a swimming spot (freshwater from an unseen waterfall discussed by the app) that the locals love before ascending to our final spot, the famous Nakalele Blowhole. The small parking lot was full so we had to park off the side of the road a couple hundred feet down. However, buying some of Julia's Banana Bread made it alllll worth it.


The Blowhole wasn't doing much while we were watching it and the sun was getting to us, so we made it back to the car. While we were at the lookout, we could see many people who had worn the proper footwear to hike to the actual blowhole, as well as a mysterious Jeep parked in the middle of freaking nowhere. We took multiple pictures of the Jeep, thinking it is the best advertisement for Jeep they could hope for. LOL 













Edited by alliecat44

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After this, the road turned really dicey and so we turned around. (Plus, it was as far as we could go in compliance with the car rental agreement!) There are some fantastic-sounding places described in Hawaii Revealed if you continue on this road--and I kind of wanted to try it--but since I wasn't driving (and we needed to get back to the ship) we turned around. 


We dropped off the rental car--it ended up being easier than expected--caught the shuttle to the ship and were back onboard by 4pm.  Since we hadn't eaten in four hours, we were understandably starving (!!) and stopped by the buffet for some snacks. Then, we either had drinks or took a nap--I can't remember! Regardless, this was the only meal we ended up eating in the Main Dining Room. It was SUPER busy and we had to wait for a table at 7pm but they did a good job getting us seated and taken care of. 


Very unimpressed with our meal. The service was great, but the meal....meh. I had the French Onion Soup (which was incredibly salty as to be almost inedible!) and the Bang Bang Chicken (which I assumed would be breaded, fried and some kind of sweet and hot sauce....but instead was boiled pieces of chicken in an unappetizing-looking tan curry type sauce with rice and vegetables). Boy and the NY strip which was okay. I can't remember the dessert. Then, it was back for another drink at Pink's (I think) and then on to relaxing and bed by 9:30pm. 


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