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This was our second time on the POA as Hawaii is a favorite destination for us. It offers the best itinerary and is the most relaxing way to see all the islands, offering overnights in Maui and Kauai, two ports on Hawaii, and an hours long sail by of the Na Pali coast which I don't believe anyone else offers. POA is the only cruise ship which sails strictly inter island and weekly, year round. Other lines offer only seasonal, trans Pacific cruises. However, this cruise the POA was returning from an extended dry dock in San Francisco and offered a unique 11 night return to Hawaii combined with the nearly normal inter island itinerary ( we lost the overnight in Maui ). Because it was a last minute change in dry dock location from Hawaii to San Francisco, we were able to book a suite for about what we had booked a balcony on our previous POA cruise. Too good to pass up. I have seen in other reviews that posters referred to this as a "luxury" cruise and it did not meet their expectation for a "luxury" cruise. Perhaps they were basing this on the cabin prices? When in paradise, there is a premium to pay. Hawaii is expensive and the POA is the only game in town. But Norwegian is not a luxury line, but very comparable to other mainstream lines like Royal Caribbean. If you go in with the right expectations, there is no better way to see Hawaii. In port daily, with overnights, it allows maximum time to explore the islands. This was our 9th cruise with Norwegian. We generally avoid the main dining rooms, preferring the specialty restaurants or the buffet. New menus were recently introduced. Three of the specialties are now "a la carte". Buying a 3 to 7 night dining package highly recommended. An a la carte meal including lobster which might otherwise cost $50 on an can be had for @$20 with a package, which has no restriction on items ordered. We had no problem with food temperature which others have noted, but we did notice a distinct decline in specialty food quality, particularly the meats, compared to other recent NCL sailings. We had a few less than stellar experiences with totally inept service in the specialties as well, something we had not run across previously. In general, the staff were pleasant, attentive and helpful, and appeared to be hard working. This cruise was delayed by 1 day, notifications going out only a couple days before sail date, with some people already in the port city or in transit, leaving some scrambling for hotel rooms. NCL did make good with a 1 day credit, reimbursement for 1days hotel and expenses and a credit of 50% of cruise fare paid toward a future cruise. I rated the embarkation process as poor, but in fairness, it was a 'one of' complicated by a new embarkation port and the surrounding confusion re the delay. We did not see any shows, but comments I heard were complimentry. Two theatre shows nightly, other shows in the cabaret and live music in various bars.

POA Post Dry Dock 3-15-2016

Pride of America Cruise Review by punkincc

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2016
  • Destination: Transpacific
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse with Large Balcony
This was our second time on the POA as Hawaii is a favorite destination for us. It offers the best itinerary and is the most relaxing way to see all the islands, offering overnights in Maui and Kauai, two ports on Hawaii, and an hours long sail by of the Na Pali coast which I don't believe anyone else offers. POA is the only cruise ship which sails strictly inter island and weekly, year round. Other lines offer only seasonal, trans Pacific cruises. However, this cruise the POA was returning from an extended dry dock in San Francisco and offered a unique 11 night return to Hawaii combined with the nearly normal inter island itinerary ( we lost the overnight in Maui ). Because it was a last minute change in dry dock location from Hawaii to San Francisco, we were able to book a suite for about what we had booked a balcony on our previous POA cruise. Too good to pass up.

I have seen in other reviews that posters referred to this as a "luxury" cruise and it did not meet their expectation for a "luxury" cruise. Perhaps they were basing this on the cabin prices? When in paradise, there is a premium to pay. Hawaii is expensive and the POA is the only game in town. But Norwegian is not a luxury line, but very comparable to other mainstream lines like Royal Caribbean. If you go in with the right expectations, there is no better way to see Hawaii. In port daily, with overnights, it allows maximum time to explore the islands.

This was our 9th cruise with Norwegian. We generally avoid the main dining rooms, preferring the specialty restaurants or the buffet. New menus were recently introduced. Three of the specialties are now "a la carte". Buying a 3 to 7 night dining package highly recommended. An a la carte meal including lobster which might otherwise cost $50 on an can be had for @$20 with a package, which has no restriction on items ordered.

We had no problem with food temperature which others have noted, but we did notice a distinct decline in specialty food quality, particularly the meats, compared to other recent NCL sailings. We had a few less than stellar experiences with totally inept service in the specialties as well, something we had not run across previously. In general, the staff were pleasant, attentive and helpful, and appeared to be hard working.

This cruise was delayed by 1 day, notifications going out only a couple days before sail date, with some people already in the port city or in transit, leaving some scrambling for hotel rooms. NCL did make good with a 1 day credit, reimbursement for 1days hotel and expenses and a credit of 50% of cruise fare paid toward a future cruise. I rated the embarkation process as poor, but in fairness, it was a 'one of' complicated by a new embarkation port and the surrounding confusion re the delay.

We did not see any shows, but comments I heard were complimentry. Two theatre shows nightly, other shows in the cabaret and live music in various bars.
punkincc’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SG 11518
We were the first to stay in this newly refurbished cabin located port side forward on deck 11. One large room. New furniture, carpet, tv, bedding, mattress, and deck furniture. Neutral colors with pops of color from the wall decor and accents. The mattress was heaven, wall mounted tv perfectly placed for viewing from anywhere in the room. Tub with glassed shower. Water was HOT. Loved the walk through closet/dressing area accessed either from the hall or from the bedroom area with Vanity table. Lots of drawers in the open closet space and vanity. Lots of space there for luggage storage, no shoving under the bed. Fixed pane floor to ceiling window next to the bed, sliding door next to the couch. Huge balcony. 2 padded lounge chairs and round table with chairs.
Deck 12 Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Botanical Garden
    We had already seen Volcanoes NP, so we booked with the ship, Hilo Coast & Botanical Garden. 2.5 hours. If you take the earliest one, you have time for other things when you return. Scenic drive there. This is not a formal garden, but a stroll down a meandering paved walkway from a high elevation all the way down to a beautiful bay. Lush tropical rainforest chock full of one gorgeous flower or tree after another. I took a million pictures. Beautiful high waterfall and some smaller ones as well. The walk back up can be taxing. A shuttle offers a quick ride back up if it is too much. After our return we went to downtown Hilo and walked through the Farmers Market and about a block back from there is Pineapples, an open air restaurant with good drinks and food. Fantastic Pineapple Jalepeno Margarita.
    View All 21 Botanical Garden Reviews
  • Kauai
    We again rented a car on day 1 in Kauai and headed out for the Poipu area which we had never stopped at. The drive was very scenic along the coast. We had lunch at Brenneckes Beach Bar across from Poipu beach. Afterward we took a drive into Waimea Canyon, but did not go all the way to the top lookout as it was hazy and began to sprinkle. We have done the canyon on past trips by car, and also a helicopter tour which included a flight over the canyon.
    View All 512 Kauai Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kauai Cruise Port Review
  • Maui
    We rented a car through Discount Hawaii Car rental and drove to Lahaina for shopping and lunch. Shuttles for the rental companies run continuously from the pier, but have a reservation made in advance. No advance payment, cancel without penalty. You can do a two day rental for the overnight ports allowing for a quick getaway the morning of the 2nd day. There is not much that can't be accessed easily from your own car, making expensive tours unnecessary. We had not been to Lahaina for years, scenic drive, Kaanapali Beach is just down the road, good shopping and lots of water front restaurants.
    View All 586 Maui Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Maui Cruise Port Review