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alliecat44

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

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On our way back down, we took the other road (starts with a K? it's the alternate route up to the Canyon) and learned more about the "forbidden island" thanks to our trusty GG. So cool. Anyways, we then began making our way back. We drove through Hanapepe Town but didn't have time to stop and explore any of the galleries. 

 

I decided we had JUST enough time--barring any traffic jams!!--to see a bit of Poipu,  so off we went to the south while we were heading back towards the port. I'm so glad we did--we ended up being able to see the famous Blowhorn (and it was gorgeous! Much bigger show--and much closer--than Nakalele) and some of the beautiful resort area. If we ever plan a Kauai vacation (here's hoping....), I would love to stay in that area. Sigh.  **Editrd to add—whoops! Photos of this part of the trip (and a few short videos) were uploaded to the previous post. Apologies. I think you can tell which are which, though.**

 

After that, we raced back to return the rental car and get back on the ship by 12:30. 

Edited by alliecat44

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Sigh. We ended up eating at the buffet, having drinks, then taking a nap until it was time to see the Napali Coast. We went to the Waikiki Bar at the back of the ship and had great views on the port side, then retired to our starboard balcony when the ship turned around. People on here say the views aren't as good on the starboard side because you're "so much further away"--honestly, I thought they were just as great. Please don't let this prevent you from booking a starboard room. We had a view of all of the ports we were in (except Kona, I think?) so it was definitely much better, in my opinion. 

 

The coast was beautiful...stunning...didn't even look REAL. Wow. Magnificent. The bartender said he had seen it 34 times and it never gets old. 

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Edited by alliecat44

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Okay, I realized a BIG omission in the chronology here!! 

 

On my personal bucket list was seeing the red dirt waterfall on our way up to Waimea Canyon. I was THRILLED that it was super easy to find on our way up. We pulled over, walked across the road and climbed over the guardrail, and voila!!! 

 

This is one of those natural phenomena that is so unique and beautiful you will never forget it. I was so so happy. 🙂

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Edited by alliecat44

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Friday night. Leaving the ship the next day. Boo-hoo. All good things must come to an end, right? I was looking forward to a normal-sized shower but very sad to be leaving the ship. 

 

We had dinner reservations for Cagney's at 7:30pm. For those of you keeping count, this was our fourth specialty dining meal, which meant that we were paying a la carte. (Drinks $15 and under were still tax-only with the beverage package, though.) Although I had read on here that prices for the specialty dining restaurants had been increasing, I was a bit surprised seeing the actual menu. 

 

However, our waiter was FANTASTIC and the food was excellent as always. Would I have paid $200 for the same meal at a south Florida restaurant? That would still have been a bit steep for the meal quality...but we did have two appetizers, two entrees, two sides and two desserts.... it was worth it to close the cruise out with a great meal, but man NCL has gotten even worse with the nickel-and-diming. Sheesh. 

 

After packing up, we explored the ship one last time and returned to our room for our last night on the water. 

 

Speaking of packing, I bought excellent compression bags that worked fabulously. I will never travel for longer than a weekend without them! Super easy to use, saved tons of luggage space, and just as importantly--made it super easy to sort dirty laundry from clean as we went. I also had bought a set of shoe bags, thinking they would be handy when we needed multiple pairs of shoes for days in the car (like for Maui, we needed beach shoes and close-toed shoes for our beach/mountain day) and I was right! We used them and they kept our luggage, room and rental car clean and organized. 

 

 

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Wow, I am LOVING this so much!! We plan to do west Maui on day 1 and stay closer to the ship day 2 but in your opinion, how much time would you say to allow to gas up and drop off the car on day 2? And was it a far walk to the shuttle at the airport after you dropped off the car day 1? I am having so much trouble visualizing how this part works. 

 

We walk to the Ritz from Kapalua Beach every land vacation and split a burger and a milkshake! 🙂 it’s one of our favorite days and we can’t wait to do it again in the cruise! 

 

Your pictures are gorgeous! I’m getting so excited for our cruise now! You did a great job planning! 

Edited by Beachiekeen

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Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the buffet (and so did everyone else, apparently--it was insane!!!!!) before debarking. We were so very glad that we did not leave the ship and have to go right to the airport. Saturday morning, we were sooo exhausted from our incredibly busy and exciting week that the thought of twelve hours of plane rides would have been absolute torture. 

 

We had used hotwire dot com to book another hotel--this one was the super cool Modern Honolulu. We loved this hotel, even though it was technically overlooking the marina instead of the ocean (at the opposite side of Waikiki as our first hotel). However, there was a convenient walkway from the pool deck over to the beach and an outdoor freshwater shower to use when you came back. The only negative is that they try to sell you a timeshare opportunity--but the "concierge" took "no thank you" for an answer. 

 

Not that we went to the beach that day. Wayy too tired. Arrived at 10:30am and they held our bags while we relaxed by the pool with a drink or two. As the sun moved, we were able to move to two shaded loungers (with towels). Changed into our bathing suits in the very nice bathrooms and hopped in for a dip. Once our room was ready--beautiful! With a chaise lounge!--we went upstairs for, you guessed it, a nap!!! 

 

We ended up being so tired that all we did was go out to dinner--but this involved what ended up being about a two-mile walk around Waikiki after dark. Great and wonderful, but man did my feet hurt at this point! We ended up at a fabulous restaurant (right near our previous hotel!!!) called Arancino and the food was A-MAZ-ING oh good lord it was so so good. 

 

The next day, we headed to the airport, got something to eat, and....fifteen hours of travel later.....were back home in Fort Lauderdale. 

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Edited by alliecat44

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4 minutes ago, Beachiekeen said:

Wow, I am LOVING this so much!! We plan to do west Maui on day 1 and stay closer to the ship day 2 but in your opinion, how much time would you say to allow to gas up and drop off the car on day 2? And was it a far walk to the shuttle at the airport after you dropped off the car day 1? I am having so much trouble visualizing how this part works. 

 

We walk to the Ritz from Kapalua Beach every land vacation and split a burger and a milkshake! 🙂 it’s one of our favorite days and we can’t wait to do it again in the cruise! 

 

Your pictures are gorgeous! I’m getting so excited for our cruise now! You did a great job planning! 

Beachiekeen, it was YOUR post I was thinking of about having a burger at the Ritz when we wound up there!! LOL Too funny!! 

 

So on Maui Day 1, we arrived back at the airport long after the last shuttle went back. We crossed the street (still on airport grounds) to the Uber pickup point (it shows you where to wait in the app). On day 2, we DID take the shuttle--which left from right across where you pick up the rental car. Your shuttle driver will point out where to wait. 🙂 (and it is covered!) We waited about fifteen minutes for the shuttle--roundtrip for them is 20 minutes, so we had just missed one. 

 

Gassing up and dropping off the car on day 2 was super easy--the only uncertainty is traffic since there is only one way in and one way out to most places. Dropping the car off took two minutes--literally drive up and walk out! (On Kauai it took about fifteen minutes.) 

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Okay, some final thoughts, just to kind of wrap my head around things....

 

About the cruise: 

 

This was our first time ever to Hawaii (hopefully not the last!) and we both agree this was the BEST introduction we could have asked for. Thanks to the itinerary being overnight on multiple islands, we had so much more time ashore and flexibility in activities than we would have otherwise. The only other way to see all the islands would be to waste time waiting in airports to island-hop--and it really would be such a waste!! I'm very glad we took two days ahead of the cruise--on purpose--to get over the jet lag and be ready to go for the main event (the cruise). Same with the additional night afterwards--we really needed it. 

 

That said, this ship is NOT the best introduction for a cruiser new to NCL. It doesn't give off a very good impression compared to their other ships--not as many activities, big shows, etc--but honestly it doesn't HAVE to. I think most people don't do any of that stuff on this cruise anyways--they are too busy being out exploring. All in all, the star of the cruise is not the cruise facilities, shopping, entertainment, dining, etc--it is the destination. Period. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. 

 

I did notice, however, that NCL has gotten more expensive and includes less and less in their cruise fare--even compared to 2016, when we first cruised with them. We still have two Cruise Next certificates to use up, but after that, we will likely be trying a competitor. 

 

 

About Hawaii: 

 

Wow. Truly paradise on earth. Not only is the climate ideal (average high year-round is 85F, average water temp 80F) and the scenery dramatic and gorgeous. Not only are there tons of different and varied outdoor activities. Not only are there so many different climates, ecological niches, flora and fauna. But...the CULTURE. I was surprised by how much Asian influence there was (though I probably shouldn't have been!). The buses in Waikiki,, for example, had both English and Japanese translations on their displays. Restaurant menus have English/Japanese/Chinese/Korean. If you like sushi, ramen, Korean barbecue, Chinese food you will be in HEAVEN here.

 

As previously touched on, Hawaiians are SO NICE. Truly. It is a pleasure to be around them and learn from them. The "Aloha spirit" isn't just a marketing slogan--it is a real thing. No wonder violent crime is almost non-existent. 

 

They say that each island has its own personality, and whoever "they" are, they are right! Oahu is the most populated and the most similar to urban/suburban mainland cities. Lots of culture and never-ending activities. The Big Island is more rural and agricultural, with less expensive housing prices and in the shadows of active volcanoes. Kauai is kind of like wilderness except for the coastlines--even more sparsely populated, wild and wonderful. Maui...oh Maui...I think Maui is my love. 🙂 So many different types of geography on the island (mountain, volcanic rock, lush rainforest, dramatic seacliffs) with tremendous beauty and still....so many things to do that we didn't even begin to touch on. However, Maui is also the most expensive...

 

I really finally get why people say Hawaii gets in their blood, or that once they have been, they dream of going back. I considered that people might say those things because they wanted to sound cool, or worldly, or brag about their travels. I was incorrect! Hawaii is far and away the most beautiful place I have ever been--visually and spiritually. I will be dreaming of returning until I do....! 

 

What's in store for next time in Hawaii? Hmmm. If we can afford it, I would love to go back for a week on Maui or Kauai. Or both! Explore Oahu's north shore (a big miss this trip). Maybe even....do this cruise again! 🙂 

 

Okay, time for me to end this review....aloha and mahalo for making it this far. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Thank you for your trip report. I had read so many bad reports about POA that I was starting to worry that everything about the ship would be awful. Maybe because it's two or three times as expensive as some other cruises, people expect the ship to be 2-3 times nicer than all the others, and when it's not, they are unhappy. This will be our first cruise in about 17 yrs. (first was Disney) so we really have nothing to compare. Based on your report, the ship sounds nice, and what's not to like about Hawaii?

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3 hours ago, alliecat44 said:

Speaking of packing, I bought excellent compression bags that worked fabulously. I will never travel for longer than a weekend without them! Super easy to use, saved tons of luggage space, and just as importantly--made it super easy to sort dirty laundry from clean as we went. I also had bought a set of shoe bags, thinking they would be handy when we needed multiple pairs of shoes for days in the car (like for Maui, we needed beach shoes and close-toed shoes for our beach/mountain day) and I was right! We used them and they kept our luggage, room and rental car clean and organized. 

 

 

 

Loved your review! Can you post a link to the compression bag? 

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Excellent review and pictures.  Glad you had a great time and if you do go back there will be so much more to see.  As you said each island has so much to offer it is hard to se it all in such a short time.  Thank you for sharing and I have decided I am going back for certain after your review and pictures.  

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5 hours ago, Victorious8 said:

 

Loved your review! Can you post a link to the compression bag? 

 

 

Thank you!!!! 

 

I don’t think Cruise Critic will let me post a link, but they are available on Amazon and called Acrodo Space Saver Travel Bags. Sooooo worth it! Watch the video on how they work. 🙂 

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8 hours ago, Firepath said:

Thank you for your trip report. I had read so many bad reports about POA that I was starting to worry that everything about the ship would be awful. Maybe because it's two or three times as expensive as some other cruises, people expect the ship to be 2-3 times nicer than all the others, and when it's not, they are unhappy. This will be our first cruise in about 17 yrs. (first was Disney) so we really have nothing to compare. Based on your report, the ship sounds nice, and what's not to like about Hawaii?

 

 

You will LOVE IT and not even notice any slight deficiencies. It is a life-changing experience!!! Very excited for you!!! 🙂 

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I know I said it already but thank you so much for this report! I have been scouring the boards hoping for one! We are staying 3 nights on Oahu pre-cruise and I tried to get the fam to stay Saturday night and leave Sunday but I failed. We do have about 8 hours to spend on Oahu on Saturday (and thankfully have Monday off!)

 

We honeymooned on Maui in 2009 and have been back 4 times since. We also have a land vacay to Kauai booked for May. Hawaii is definitely in our blood (and Maui definitely has my heart—so far!) We are doing this cruise with my in-laws because they want to be one and done with Hawaii. Or so they think! But I am looking forward to it and for us it will just be one of hopefully many more trips.

 

This cruise is very expensive and I have to admit I am slightly bummed we are going before a drydock. But like you said, we are going for Hawaii not the ship. We booked early and the cruise went down $5k total for us after final payment of course (and not a single OS shows booked so far six weeks out). I think from now on we will be less picky about cabins and not book so far out.

 

You covered everything so well! Thanks again! 

Edited by Beachiekeen

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Oh and a question, what time do you think you made it to Waimea canyon? I am so hoping we don’t have clouds by the time we are up there!

 

Oh and you were in Wailea on Maui not Waimea. 🙂 I love that you went all the way to La Perouse Bay! 

 

Great tip on the brewery too. I wanted to take my hubby to Kona Brewing but we might try to make it to this place instead. Hubby can get a lot of Kona Brewing beers here in Dallas!

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Thanks for this great review and so many beautiful pictures! I agree Hawaii is gorgeous and definitely gets in your blood. I've only done land vacations to Oahu and the Big Island, but I think I'd like to do this cruise someday.

Heather

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Thank you so much for your review.  I had never thought of Stargazer but it is now something I will definitely do while in Maui.

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4 hours ago, Beachiekeen said:

Oh and a question, what time do you think you made it to Waimea canyon? I am so hoping we don’t have clouds by the time we are up there!

 

Oh and you were in Wailea on Maui not Waimea. 🙂 I love that you went all the way to La Perouse Bay! 

 

Great tip on the brewery too. I wanted to take my hubby to Kona Brewing but we might try to make it to this place instead. Hubby can get a lot of Kona Brewing beers here in Dallas!

 

 

Beachiekeem, 

 

thanks for the correction. I noticed my Wailea mistake after the time had expired to edit the post and then I forgot about adding a post later—so thank you!! Yes, WAILEA on Maui when going south for other folks looking. 🙂 

 

Let’s see....I think we left the ship around 7:30 and made it to the canyon by 9 or 9:30. We were lucky in that there was no significant cloud cover. 🙂 

 

Oh, and definitely do Zola—Kona Brewery beers are everywhere these days and I heard the brewery is a madhouse with crowds. With Ola, the brews are unique (and delicious! My favorite cider was the Gold—made with Maui Gold pineapple), the food menu is awesome, not crowded and super laid back. 

 

I can’t wait to hear about YOUR trip, especially having already seen so much of Maui and Kauai!! 🙂 

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28 minutes ago, rwest898 said:

Thank you so much for your review.  I had never thought of Stargazer but it is now something I will definitely do while in Maui.

 

Definitely do it if it fits with your schedule There are some reviews on Trip Advisor for it, too. 🙂 since there are only 11 spots on any given day, my advice is to book early! 🙂 

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7 minutes ago, alliecat44 said:

 

Definitely do it if it fits with your schedule There are some reviews on Trip Advisor for it, too. 🙂 since there are only 11 spots on any given day, my advice is to book early! 🙂 

Thanks so much for all the detail in your review. I want to do the Haleakala stargazer Trip when we go in December.  I’m interested in knowing more about the decision process of “Go - No Go”.  Sound like a roll of the dice.  Glad it worked out for you.

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4 hours ago, EmeraldBay said:

Thanks so much for all the detail in your review. I want to do the Haleakala stargazer Trip when we go in December.  I’m interested in knowing more about the decision process of “Go - No Go”.  Sound like a roll of the dice.  Glad it worked out for you.

 

 

Okay, so the meeting time was 3:45 at the Kula Lodge. Jan (the tour guide) texted us at noon saying the forecast didn’t look great for stargazing but that she would keep us posted. There is a webcam at the top of the mountain that she monitors, as well as radar and real-time weather. At 2pm, she said that it looked like it might start to clear but let’s meet at the assigned time, evaluate the latest info and go from there. 

 

When we met up with her and the other members of the group, she gave us the scoop and a fifth fifty chance of decent stargazing. She said that we needed to decide as a group—all decide to go and roll the dice, or all decide to cancel. My group was awesome and they all decided to go! 

 

Jan times everything just right. Another group there for stargazing started with the stargazing as we were LEAVING—and clouds were rolling in. You could see the guy’s laser pointer getting blurry and fuzzy—and they had just started! Jan got us done just in time. (And the other group was nowhere close enough to bother us or make us notice them.) 

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47 minutes ago, alliecat44 said:

 

 

Okay, so the meeting time was 3:45 at the Kula Lodge. Jan (the tour guide) texted us at noon saying the forecast didn’t look great for stargazing but that she would keep us posted. There is a webcam at the top of the mountain that she monitors, as well as radar and real-time weather. At 2pm, she said that it looked like it might start to clear but let’s meet at the assigned time, evaluate the latest info and go from there. 

 

When we met up with her and the other members of the group, she gave us the scoop and a fifth fifty chance of decent stargazing. She said that we needed to decide as a group—all decide to go and roll the dice, or all decide to cancel. My group was awesome and they all decided to go! 

 

Jan times everything just right. Another group there for stargazing started with the stargazing as we were LEAVING—and clouds were rolling in. You could see the guy’s laser pointer getting blurry and fuzzy—and they had just started! Jan got us done just in time. (And the other group was nowhere close enough to bother us or make us notice them.) 

I’ve been watching those webcams!  Some evenings are crystal clear.  Others pretty hazy.  Was the other group from the same  company?  Or same company, just a different guide.  I want Jan😄

Edited by EmeraldBay

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Jan is the owner and I think sole employee. Lol. “Group” means everyone who booked the tour that day—it wasn’t through NCL. 

 

And yes, Mother Nature definitely does her own thing and it can be nail-biting at times. I hope it all works out!! 

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It sounds like Cadillac Diner was a winner. Do they start serving breakfast at 7am? We were wondering where we could get something to eat besides the buffet early enough to get to our 8am tours on time. Also, did you notice if the buffet had theme nights? There has been talk around here that it's been discontinued on some of the NCL ships. 

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