This is my review of the Pride of America from May 30th through June 6th.
Prior to boarding the POA we stayed at the Hyatt in Maui for three days. The hotel was beautiful. We rented a car through Thrifty. The first night we attended the "Drums of the Pacific" Luau at the Hyatt. We had a great time watching all the different performances.
The next day we drove to the top of Haleakala which was amazing. The view from the top is breathtaking. The following day we drove the road to Hana. We stopped at the Garden of Eden, black sand beach and other points along the road. Not recommended if you get carsick easily. The sights along the road were beautiful. We flew back to Honolulu the next morning and rented a car from Thrifty. We went to Pearl Harbor and took a behind the scenes tour on the Battleship Missouri. The ship was awesome. We returned the car and took the Thrifty shuttle to the pier.
We arrived around 1pm and had to wait in line for a bit to go through security and check-in, but we were on the ship by 2pm.
The ship is beautiful. We tried to put all the negative comments we have read about the ship aside since we were celebrating our honeymoon. While exploring the ship we encountered our first negative experience. We were in the saloon bar and we were approached by a waiter named Garrett. We wanted to order two beers and he proceeded to offer the bucket of beer. I declined, but he continued to push it on us. We reiterated we didn't want a bucket, only two. He was very pushy and then with an attitude he said he needed our ID's. I was surprised because in all my cruises I never needed to carry ID with me, because my ship card was enough. I had my ID on me but my wife didn't and then he said he couldn't serve us. I bet if we had bought the bucket of beer he wouldn't have given us an issue. My wife asked him don't the under 21 people have some sort of indicator on the card showing they are under 21 and he said yes they have a corner clipped out or cut. He then proceeded to say well they don't always clip the card. I told him that wasn't our problem and all he needs to do is scan our cards and he can check our ages, and he didn't know what to say and stormed off with our cards. He finally brought back our two beers and proceeded to lecture us how everyone isn't as nice as him and we should always have our ID with us and how there are over 1400 cameras watching us. We left and never came back to that bar. We didn't let this ruin our vacation though; we just filled out the comment card with a lengthy comment and returned it to the purser's desk.
So after we left the Saloon Bar we made our way to the Lahaina Lounge for a meet and greet with fellow cruise critics. It was great to meet everyone and then we had a surprise appearance and meeting with Captain Buz and the cruise hotel manager.
We ate at the Skyline restaurant the first night and the food was very good. Our waitress Delia was very nice. The first day we just hung out and walked to a beach that was nearby, we should have taken a taxi, but now we learned our lesson. The next day we stopped in Maui and took the Molokini snorkel tour through the ship. It is run through the Pacific Whale Foundation. The tour was very informative and fun. We were able to see the green sea turtles (Honu) and many beautiful fish.
The next day we were in Hilo on the Big Island. We took an excursion through NCL for the Volcanoes National Park tour to see the active volcanoes. The tour was run by Polynesian Adventures and our tour guide, Captain Rob, was terrific. He was funny, knowledgeable and entertaining throughout the entire tour ride. The ride to the park was beautiful. The flowers and plants on all the islands are all breath taking. Volcanoes National Park is like being on a different planet. We made several stops at different vista points and picture spots. Our first stop was at the Caldera. This part of the volcano constantly emits steam and sometimes even toxic gases. Our favorite stop was when we were able to walk on the cooled lava from the 1974 eruption. It was amazing that trees and flowers have started to bloom and grow amongst the destruction of the lava. Our final stop in the park was the lava tube which was pretty cool too. We walked down a path and walked into and through the lava tube to the other side. On the way back to the cruise ship we had extra time so Captain Rob gave us a bonus stop at an orchard farm. There were some beautiful flowers in there. There was even an orchard worth $20,000!!! We didn't even think it was that nice, but apparently it only blooms like once a year or something crazy like that.
That next day we were in Kona on the Big Island. We had to tender there and NCL did a good job organizing the tender process. They gave out numbers in Pink's Champagne Lounge and then called you by numbers to go down and get on the tender. They had several tenders in service and it was quite efficient. Kona was beautiful as well. We did a lot of shopping and went to the little beach next to where the tender docked. It was extremely hot but the water was nice and refreshing. Kona was a good day to relax and get some shopping done.
From Kona we went to Kauai. Kauai is absolutely gorgeous. We rented a car through Thrifty and we had privately booked an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Tours (www.kiputours.com). We had some time to kill before we had to check in at the ranch so we drove to Poipu. There was a little shopping center so we walked around looking at the shops and we grabbed a drink at Starbucks. We came across Puka Dog (which was featured on the travel channel) they opened at 11am so we waited ten minutes until they opened because we had to try one. We got the Kauai mustard sauce dog and split it. It was pretty big so both of us were satisfied. It was a good hot dog but kind of pricey at almost $7.00, but we figured when else are we going to be able to try this? The ATV tour on Kipu Ranch was amazing. This ranch has been used for several movie scenes such as Indiana Jones, Mighty Joe Young and of course Jurassic Park just to name a few. This is an active cattle ranch owned and operated by the Rice family. Our tour guide Mike and Justin were amazing. They gave a history lesson about the ranch and the island of Kauai and showed us a fantastic four-hour tour. We got to swim in the river that Indiana Jones swung into as well as ending the tour at the beautiful waterfall with this amazing, huge bamboo. Our second day in Kauai we spent at the beach between the Marriott hotel and Duke's beachside bar and grille. The water was a little rough and brisk but all the same great.
The Sushi bar was phenomenal -- $15 a person for all you can eat sushi. And the Asian Fusion restaurant had great food and terrific service. The shows we saw were also fantastic. The shows on the POA aren't Vegas Style shows; however the Hawaiian dances and comedy acts were great. Second City performed three times and we went each time and laughed hysterically each and every time. Also, Chris Alpine performed several times and he too was fantastic and also very, very funny.
Overall we had a great time on the cruise. The service was a bit lacking, most likely because of the crew being all American. It was hit or miss with the waiters and although we had a decent room steward, we heard nightmares about some other stewards. However, we didn't let that get to us. We were there to see Hawaii and that's what we got. That being said, we would probably not take the same Hawaiian cruise on NCL's POA. We had a great time, Hawaii was more beautiful than words could describe, but NCL needs to give more training or something to teach the crew to be more personable and courteous as a whole.