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LONG Review: 2/1/2020 Pride of American cruise of Hawaii

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Mahalo for the excellent review!  I'm glad you liked the Big Island.  You're spot on that it's less touristy and cheaper than the other islands.  That's why we live in Kona!  We're on the POA in March for spring break for the second time and can't wait.  It's always fun to visit the other islands.

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Great review! We are on this cruise in September and never having been to Hawaii, I am confused when reading my guide books.
We do not like to do ship excursions, preferring our own itinerary, so I plan to take detailed notes from your review.

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41 minutes ago, finest14 said:

Mahalo for the excellent review!  I'm glad you liked the Big Island.  You're spot on that it's less touristy and cheaper than the other islands.  That's why we live in Kona!  We're on the POA in March for spring break for the second time and can't wait.  It's always fun to visit the other islands.

Lucky you! The Big Island was my favorite, and the one where I felt we only scratched the surface of all the things to see and do. I can't wait to go back!

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34 minutes ago, trivia addict said:

Great review! We are on this cruise in September and never having been to Hawaii, I am confused when reading my guide books.
We do not like to do ship excursions, preferring our own itinerary, so I plan to take detailed notes from your review.

For decades we figured why go to Hawaii when Florida and the Caribbean are so much closer? But we love it--it's really different and really nice! Whatever you decide to do, you'll have a great time! 🙂

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Wonderful review!  We cruise on 3/7,  and after reading your review I'm more excited then ever!  Being from the east coast, we are breaking up the flights as well, staying in San Francisco for a couple of days with our son and his family.

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That's a great idea! We talked about staying on the west coast a bit, but it would have turned a 2-week vacation into a 3-week vacation, and we didn't want to be gone that long. That's the main problem for East Coasters visiting Hawaii--it really is far away. 😣 It's like going to Europe, only in reverse.

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Thank you for a great review and helpful hints.   We are taking the cruise on POA on June 1.  We had originally scheduled it for thanksgiving week, but things happened and our son is getting married in Hawaii in June.  So we moved our cruise as well, only have to pay the airfare one time!

I'm excited about it and love your pictures. 

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Great review and pictures, thank you for sharing!   We will be on the POA in early March and I have started packing this weekend. 

 

Two questions for you: I know the dress code for this cruise is more relaxed, but am I correct in assuming that for the main dining room, polo shirts and khaki pants are acceptable but jeans and/or nice khaki shorts (not cargos) are not?  (For our first cruise on RCI I made my husband wear a jacket and tie to the main dining room because I thought he had to and he was not happy!) Whoops.  Also, how close to sailing did you bid for your cabin upgrade?  We never received any offer to bid but we are first time NCL customers so perhaps that is why.

 

We are in the northern Philly suburbs and are flying out of Newark, NJ (ugh, I know), but just wanted to let you know United has a non stop flight to Honolulu from Newark that you may want to check out if you travel to Hawaii again.  It's about 9 hours there and 11 hours back--long but much better than one with connections.  

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8 minutes ago, CleverEuphemism said:

Great review and pictures, thank you for sharing!   We will be on the POA in early March and I have started packing this weekend. 

 

Two questions for you: I know the dress code for this cruise is more relaxed, but am I correct in assuming that for the main dining room, polo shirts and khaki pants are acceptable but jeans and/or nice khaki shorts (not cargos) are not?  (For our first cruise on RCI I made my husband wear a jacket and tie to the main dining room because I thought he had to and he was not happy!) Whoops.  Also, how close to sailing did you bid for your cabin upgrade?  We never received any offer to bid but we are first time NCL customers so perhaps that is why.

 

We are in the northern Philly suburbs and are flying out of Newark, NJ (ugh, I know), but just wanted to let you know United has a non stop flight to Honolulu from Newark that you may want to check out if you travel to Hawaii again.  It's about 9 hours there and 11 hours back--long but much better than one with connections.  

Thanks for the info on Newark! We've sometimes flown out of there if the schedule and fare work. The nonstop to Honolulu is good to know.

 

We got an email from NCL inviting us to submit a bid about 2 1/2 months before our sail date. We submit our bid the next day. We were notified we got our upgrade a month later. I would guess that the upgrade invitation process depends on supply and demand. If your cruise is already close to sold out, NCL might not invite upgrades. You're going in prime spring break season, so maybe that's what happened.

 

The dress code for men in the Liberty (and the specialized restaurants) is jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toe shoes. DSIL wore shorts the second night and was turned away--he went back to his cabin to change into jeans, which he wore the remaining nights. The dining room host said they bend the rules on the first and last nights and allow shorts, but not on the nights in between.

 

For what it's worth, the Liberty dress code for women is jeans, slacks, dress, or skirt. I wore capris several nights and had no problem.

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Thanks for your review!

Question. Did u go through customs when boarding on the ship?

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9 hours ago, Plombir said:

Thanks for your review!

Question. Did u go through customs when boarding on the ship?

No, we are US citizens and arrived from the US, so we didn't go through customs or even bring our passports. We only needed our drivers licenses. We went through security, then completed a health form, then went straight to the check-in line.

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Thank you for your fantastic review. We are on board in October and I have just started looking at stuff to see and do, so I’ve made heaps of notes from your review 😃

Don’t like taking ship excursions and I’ve realised NCL charge top dollar for these island especially! 
So again 👍👍👍for top tips for places to see and saving some $$ too😀

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13 hours ago, suech1970 said:

Thank you for your fantastic review. We are on board in October and I have just started looking at stuff to see and do, so I’ve made heaps of notes from your review 😃

Don’t like taking ship excursions and I’ve realised NCL charge top dollar for these island especially! 
So again 👍👍👍for top tips for places to see and saving some $$ too😀

Thank you! The Gypsy self-guided tour app was fantastic. That plus a rented car were a bargain compared to a shore excursion. We learned so much, plus we had the option of turning him off when we wanted a break. Can't do that with a real tour operator!😁

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Thanks for your review. We booked our cruise in the black Friday sale and have got ourselves a really good deal. Seeing the price now, it will cost us double for our aft facing balcony. First time trying an aft facing? Will we like it?

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8 minutes ago, Yinster said:

Thanks for your review. We booked our cruise in the black Friday sale and have got ourselves a really good deal. Seeing the price now, it will cost us double for our aft facing balcony. First time trying an aft facing? Will we like it?

We love aft balconies because they're larger than side balconies. Some people (on all cruise lines) complain about wind or soot, but we've never experienced that. Watching those waves churn behind the ship is hypnotizing (but of course noisy).

 

Note that the POA aft slopes outward. That means the aft decks will be in the sun more. We only book aft balconies when the aft of the ship slope inward, giving the aft balconies lots of shade. That's a matter of personal preference.

 

Also keep in mind that with this port-intensive schedule, you're not going to be spending tons of time on your balcony. We sat there in the morning before getting breakfast and disembarking. We also sat there sometimes in late afternoon, when the ship was departing a port, but that depended on how the ship was positioned--sometimes the balcony was too sunny and hot to enjoy. (We were on the port side, which seemed to get more afternoon sun throughout the cruise than the starboard side.)

 

You could sit in an aft balcony to watch the Napali Coast, but you'll miss the narration, which is very good.

 

Hope this helps!

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11 minutes ago, Suskies said:

We love aft balconies because they're larger than side balconies. Some people (on all cruise lines) complain about wind or soot, but we've never experienced that. Watching those waves churn behind the ship is hypnotizing (but of course noisy).

 

Note that the POA aft slopes outward. That means the aft decks will be in the sun more. We only book aft balconies when the aft of the ship slope inward, giving the aft balconies lots of shade. That's a matter of personal preference.

 

Also keep in mind that with this port-intensive schedule, you're not going to be spending tons of time on your balcony. We sat there in the morning before getting breakfast and disembarking. We also sat there sometimes in late afternoon, when the ship was departing a port, but that depended on how the ship was positioned--sometimes the balcony was too sunny and hot to enjoy. (We were on the port side, which seemed to get more afternoon sun throughout the cruise than the starboard side.)

 

You could sit in an aft balcony to watch the Napali Coast, but you'll miss the narration, which is very good.

 

Hope this helps!

That's awesome. Thanks for that. Like I said we got a great deal. £2600 for the two of us with drinks and one other thing included plus gratitudes. Looking at prices, it will cost one of us now for that amount for just the cabin. I'm sure costs may go down again

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51 minutes ago, Yinster said:

That's awesome. Thanks for that. Like I said we got a great deal. £2600 for the two of us with drinks and one other thing included plus gratitudes. Looking at prices, it will cost one of us now for that amount for just the cabin. I'm sure costs may go down again

That **IS** a great deal! For what it's worth, we've cruised exclusively in balconies for the last 10-15 years, but on this cruise they were SO much more expensive than oceanviews that we decided to get an oceanview, again because the itinerary is so port-intensive that we figured we wouldn't use the balcony much. It ended up that we bid on a balcony and got one, but we were happy with our initial decision.

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Thank you for taking the time to submit such a thorough review.   We cruise on the POA 03.14.2020.  I believe there will be 9 cabins in our group so any information to help prepare for this journey is greatly appreciated.  

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1 hour ago, Jlgreen8 said:

Thank you for taking the time to submit such a thorough review.   We cruise on the POA 03.14.2020.  I believe there will be 9 cabins in our group so any information to help prepare for this journey is greatly appreciated.  

Wow... that's a big group! I planned a Caribbean cruise for about 11 people a few years ago.

 

One of the things I love about cruises is they're great for families and other large groups because you're not together 24/7 like you would be on, say, a car trip. So you don't get on each others' nerves as much. 😁

 

But you probably want to spend SOME time together, and it would be easy for everyone to vanish, doing their own thing, and never see each other. So one thing we've worked out in advance is an understanding of when we WOULD spend time together. We agreed to eat dinner together every night, and I made reservations. It was fun--we spent most of our time talking about what we did that day and what we'd be doing the next day. 

 

A challenge on most cruises is staying in touch ("We're going to the 9 PM show. Want to join us?"), because phones don't work when you're at sea. Fortunately, the POA is in a US port most of the time so you can keep in touch by texting except in the evenings when the POA is at sea.

 

I've also packed post-it notes and pens and put them in the slot by our cabin door where flyers are delivered. That lets people leave messages for us ("We're playing Scrabble in the game room. Join us if you like.") when there's no cell phone service.

 

I think the other thing we talked about in advance was evening dress code. Some members of the group wanted everyone to pack dress-up clothes for a group photo; other members of the group wanted to pack only casual clothes. That took some negotiation!

 

But otherwise, everybody did their own thing, and we made clear that no one would be offended if someone else didn't join them for something. On the rare moment anything got unpleasant, we were able to walk away and do something else. And we've had wonderful, memorable cruises.

 

Hope this helps!

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On 2/15/2020 at 12:58 PM, Suskies said:

Cabins

 

Our cabin (9170) was clean and in good condition. The closet was relatively small, but we found places to store everything. The sofa—which folds out into a single bed—had no arms and wasn’t really comfortable for sitting. Our balcony had two chairs and ottomans, but it wasn’t big enough for us to use the ottomans, so we kept them tucked under the chairs. The cabin had a coffeemaker, something I’ve never seen on a cruise ship before. Every cabin has a little color-coded dial outside the door that can be set to Welcome, Do Not Disturb, Please Make up Room, and Turn Down Service Requested. That’s a lot nicer than dealing with a doorknob hangtag.

 

We are on the opposite of the ship almost exactly your cabin 9674.  Should be the good side for seeing Napali coast.  Is port the best side for this cruise?  Looking at the route port looks to be the best side.

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I wish our cabin had been on the opposite side of the ship, like yours is. It almost always faced away from port--we never saw our cabin from land. To be specific:

  • In Honolulu, our cabin faced downtown Honolulu, so we had something of a view, although a good bit of it was obstructed by the large port terminal building we faced.
  • The morning we docked in Maui, we did see the coast during sunrise as we approached the dock, which is great if you're an early riser. But once we docked, we had no view.
  • The morning we docked in Hilo, again we did see the coast including Mauna Kea during the sunrise, but once we docked we had minimal view. When the ship left port in the evening, we faced out to sea.
  • At Kailua-Kona our side of the ship faced to sea, so we had no particular view. During sailaway we did see a bit of Maui off in the distance.
  • The morning we docked in Kauai, again we did see the coast as we approached the pier. Once we docked our balcony faced south with a view of some mountains along the coast.
  • And of course we missed the Napali coast completely, as I explained in my original post.

Keep in mind, though, that on this port-intensive itinerary, the cabin view isn't as important as on other cruises (except for the Napali coast). The ship generally docked shortly after sunrise and left shortly before sunset, so there wasn't much to see. All the ports except Kailua-Kona are industrial ports, so the view isn't exactly spectacular, especially if you're on one of the lower decks.

 

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for this review.  We were on the POA back in 2016 in early September.  We will be on this cruise at the end of January 2021.  Can you tell me what you thought about the weather in the winter?  It was beautiful and hot in September, but I'm actually wondering if I'll be chilly in January?

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19 hours ago, Dale's gal said:

Thanks for this review.  We were on the POA back in 2016 in early September.  We will be on this cruise at the end of January 2021.  Can you tell me what you thought about the weather in the winter?  It was beautiful and hot in September, but I'm actually wondering if I'll be chilly in January?

We thought the weather was perfect. Generally highs in the upper 70s to maybe low 80s during the day, and lows in the upper 60s or maybe low 70s at night. Kauai was cooler--highs in the low 70s. We thought it was ideal weather for walking, which is what we like to do best. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and water ashore--just because it isn't hot doesn't mean you can't get sunburned or dehydrated.

 

It can be very cold and windy on higher elevations, including the top of Waimea Canyon on Kauai. Sometimes it was not cold but very windy, such as at the Nakalele Blow Hole on Maui. Definitely pack a sweatshirt and windbreaker.

 

I don't know whether our weather was typical, however. We were told it rained two weeks solid just before we arrived.

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On 2/15/2020 at 1:02 PM, Suskies said:

 

Thank you for the super review. Just read it again. Our April 18, 2020 cruise is cancelled. We rebooked for December. We plan to celebrate the holiday season with the Aloha Spirit. Anyone cruised these islands in December?

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My guess is that this cruise is not going to happen. If so, we will rebook for the following Fall.

If life  returns to semi normal, I may rent a villa in Hawaii for the holidays for my family. 
Fingers crossed, life will get better for all of us. Stay inside and stay safe!

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