Advice would be appreciated

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Jun 10, 2019
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#1
Trying to be proactive here.

My husband and I booked an 11-day Hawaii tour/cruise on NCN and have until Sept 30 to pay full Cruise amount. Meanwhile I’ve read a lot of consumer reviews on the Pride of America website, and just a few minutes ago, went to the NCL forum on this website.

My question is: what should I do between now and when I fully commit to this trip? Should I purchase shore excursions now (for fear they will be fully booked by September), etc. etc. What questions should I get answers to before I make the decision to go ahead with this reservation.
 

Neil Maley

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#2
Did you use a travel agent? They can help with this. Yes you can book your shore excursions now. If you decide you aren’t going to go on the cruise you can cancel them and get a refund.

What else do you need to know? This is the only ship that does 7 nights in Hawaii so as long as you only have 7 nights- this is your only option.

I’ve done this cruise and it’s NCL. Have you cruised on NCL before? It’s a moderately priced line and the ship is an older ship. It’s a very casual cruise line and you won’t get 5 star service or food but you won’t starve.

It’s a great way to get a feel of the islands in 7 days.
 
Jun 10, 2019
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#3
Did you use a travel agent? They can help with this. Yes you can book your shore excursions now. If you decide you aren’t going to go on the cruise you can cancel them and get a refund.

What else do you need to know? This is the only ship that does 7 nights in Hawaii so as long as you only have 7 nights- this is your only option.

I’ve done this cruise and it’s NCL. Have you cruised on NCL before? It’s a moderately priced line and the ship is an older ship. It’s a very casual cruise line and you won’t get 5 star service or food but you won’t starve.

It’s a great way to get a feel of the islands in 7 days.
I booked directly with NCL, regrettably (deadline to take advantage of promotions). Wish I had done this with a travel agent.

This will be our first NCL cruse.
 

Carrie Livingston

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#4
Please check out Cruise Critic for more information on Pride of America (POA) on NCL's forum there. You can either book excursions through the cruise line or independently. If you've never cruised before I would recommend tons of research on each port so you can decide what you want to do.

If you have cruised before, one thing that will be different on POA is there will be more American staff because this ship is American flagged. This is a cruise I've wanted to do for awhile but haven't had the chance to book it yet.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#5
Please check out Cruise Critic for more information on Pride of America (POA) on NCL's forum there. You can either book excursions through the cruise line or independently. If you've never cruised before I would recommend tons of research on each port so you can decide what you want to do.

If you have cruised before, one thing that will be different on POA is there will be more American staff because this ship is American flagged. This is a cruise I've wanted to do for awhile but haven't had the chance to book it yet.
What Carrie said! A few hours on Cruise Critic will allow you to know if you've booked a cruise you want to take. Once you're committed to the cruise, CC is right there with port reviews. They do a CC overview, then they print reviews from people who have made the trip. I find this kind of insight invaluable. When travelling with extensive research and low expectations, my trip is almost always an assured success.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Apr 9, 2019
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#6
Air BnB has very private excursions you can book. We did that in Bangkok and we're very happy with our experience. In both Bali and Australia we found excellent private tours via Tripadvisor
 

Neil Maley

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#7
Air BnB has very private excursions you can book. We did that in Bangkok and we're very happy with our experience. In both Bali and Australia we found excellent private tours via Tripadvisor
Airbnb excursions on a cruise ship in Hawaii?

We rented cars in every port and drove to whatever we wanted to see. A lot cheaper and you can do in one day two excursions that the cruise line would charge you for.
 
May 28, 2019
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#8
We took the Pride of America NCL cruise two years ago and also booked our own rental cars in each port except Kona. The car rental companies provided convenient free transport from dock to rental agency and provided great booklets with maps, tourist sites and general info on each jsland. There are not that many roads on Maui, Kauai or the Big Island and it was easy to drive and find our way around. In Maui, the ship docked overnight and we located secure parking for the night.
A couple of tips:
*You will take the car rental shuttle back to the ship so be sure to allow enough time to get back. We had no delays or problems with the shuttles.
*There were gas stations to refuel upon return relatively near each rental location but you may want to check and locate your refuel spot when you first get the car.
*Likewise with locating your Maui overnight parking lot
We loved the cruise, will take it again, and will rent cars again to explore the islands. Another general tip - Walmart in Maui and Hilo have inexpensive souvenirs and Hawaii gifts. The ABC stores also have great souvenirs.
 
Likes: jsn55
May 30, 2019
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#11
I'm a Diamond Latitudes member of NCL. Here are some NCL Tips:
- Arrive early, like 5 hours early. Check-in is typically closed 2 hours prior to departure. Be prepared to wait to board.
- When you check-in, confirm and reconfirm all the promotions that were included in your reservation.
- If your promotion included Specialty Dining, try to make your dining reservations now. If the restaurant you want is not available on your preferred day, check again as soon as you get on the ship (because they hold 1/3 - 2/3 of the slots until day of Embarkation.)
- Nearly everything is an upsell. You can have a great time and not spend more than cruise fare, or you can spend on drinks, pictures, specialty restaurants, etc. It's free to have your portrait taken, but it costs to keep your picture.
- The free dining food is ... good. The Fee Dining food is better, and you'll get some nice service.
- If you book excursions through the cruise line, expect to pay a bit more and be herded like cattle. But also expect never to worry about being late to get back on the ship, getting lost, etc. If you don't mind taking a bit of risk of being late to reboard, you can do your own research and find excursions or make plans on your own. There are many small-scale excursions that cater to the cruise crowd (i.e. snorkel off a boat with only 8 people).
- Check out cruisecritic.com for some more detail.
- Relax, and enjoy!
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#12
The Air BnB excursions are on the islands. You search for the island, look at excursions rather than places to stay.
A new cruiser needs to be very careful what they book. If they miss the ship they have to get to the next port by themselves. They should book through the cruise line or a third party that specifically does Shore excursions that guarantee they will make it back to port on time.
 
Likes: jsn55
Apr 8, 2019
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#13
I'm a Diamond Latitudes member of NCL. Here are some NCL Tips:
- Arrive early, like 5 hours early. Check-in is typically closed 2 hours prior to departure. Be prepared to wait to board.
- When you check-in, confirm and reconfirm all the promotions that were included in your reservation.
- If your promotion included Specialty Dining, try to make your dining reservations now. If the restaurant you want is not available on your preferred day, check again as soon as you get on the ship (because they hold 1/3 - 2/3 of the slots until day of Embarkation.)
- Nearly everything is an upsell. You can have a great time and not spend more than cruise fare, or you can spend on drinks, pictures, specialty restaurants, etc. It's free to have your portrait taken, but it costs to keep your picture.
- The free dining food is ... good. The Fee Dining food is better, and you'll get some nice service.
- If you book excursions through the cruise line, expect to pay a bit more and be herded like cattle. But also expect never to worry about being late to get back on the ship, getting lost, etc. If you don't mind taking a bit of risk of being late to reboard, you can do your own research and find excursions or make plans on your own. There are many small-scale excursions that cater to the cruise crowd (i.e. snorkel off a boat with only 8 people).
- Check out cruisecritic.com for some more detail.
- Relax, and enjoy!
Sorry Skippy, there is no such thing as Diamond Latitude on NCL. I am Platinum Plus. The rewards chart is listed below.
Rewards Point Structure
Tier
Rewards Points Bronze 1 - 29 nights Silver 30 - 54 nights Gold 55 - 79 nights Platinum 80 - 174 nights Platinum Plus 175 - 699 nights Ambassador 700+ nights

If you book in advance you can always cancel on the ship excursion desk with proper advance notice. See the rules on the NCL website. Also NCL has a great in house travel department which you can use at no charge. They can make reservations, select rooms, add special services.
 
Jun 10, 2019
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#14
Just a follow-up.

Right now, I’m reading the NCL contract and looking at the shore excursions clause. I’m trying to find out if they will reimburse prepaid excursions if NCL diverts its itinerary. Also wondering when I should book the excursions - now or when I fully commit to the reservation. Also looking to drop travel insurance for another company other than what NCL has included in my bill.

So much to research!!!

Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback here.
 
May 30, 2019
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#16
Just a follow-up.

Right now, I’m reading the NCL contract and looking at the shore excursions clause. I’m trying to find out if they will reimburse prepaid excursions if NCL diverts its itinerary. Also wondering when I should book the excursions - now or when I fully commit to the reservation. Also looking to drop travel insurance for another company other than what NCL has included in my bill.

So much to research!!!

Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback here.
The more research you do, the better prepared you are to relax while on the cruise. Cruisecritic.com is a great site for preparing for and research in a cruise.

Yes, if NCL changes the itinerary, or the excursion is cancelled by NCL for any reason, NCL will refund any excursions you book in advance through NCL. That is one of the upsides of booking through them. Most excursions can be cancelled up to 3 days prior for a full refund (but there are exceptions, especially in regards to scuba, so check each one before you book).

In my experience, excursion availability is pretty good right up through initial Embarkation. But if you see words like "limited availability", they may book early.
 
Likes: jsn55
Feb 12, 2019
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#17
Just a follow-up.

Right now, I’m reading the NCL contract and looking at the shore excursions clause. I’m trying to find out if they will reimburse prepaid excursions if NCL diverts its itinerary. Also wondering when I should book the excursions - now or when I fully commit to the reservation. Also looking to drop travel insurance for another company other than what NCL has included in my bill.

So much to research!!!

Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback here.
Yes they will reimburse you for excursions if you miss a port. Most third party shore excursions groups will too (the ones I use often have a guarantee to get you back to the ship). It is possible for excursions to sell out, so if your heart is set on only this one particular one it might be best to go ahead and book it. The few I've done with NCL I booked on board, but I wanted to talk to someone about the excursions (believe it or not they steered me away from the more expensive one I was looking at). One thing I've noticed with ship excursions is they often don't call out how much of the excursion time is travel time - which is something I want to know.

As for travel insurance not through NCL you should get on that ASAP. Some only give the pre-existing conditions a waiver if you buy soon after you put a deposit down, some use final payment as a cut off. If you need CFAR (cancel for any reason) those policies also have stipulations on when you can buy depending on when you've paid.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,505
15,836
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
Just a follow-up.

Right now, I’m reading the NCL contract and looking at the shore excursions clause. I’m trying to find out if they will reimburse prepaid excursions if NCL diverts its itinerary. Also wondering when I should book the excursions - now or when I fully commit to the reservation. Also looking to drop travel insurance for another company other than what NCL has included in my bill.

So much to research!!!

Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback here.
Yes they will refund if they change the itinerary on excursions if you booked them through NCL. They won’t if you book outside of NCL. Sometimes they give you an onboard credit, sometimes it goes back to the cc.

The reason for booking now is some excursions sell out before you get on the cruise.

If you have already bought insurance through
someone other than NCL it might be too late to cancel. You usually have a short period (up to two weeks) after you buy to cancel.