Being avid golfers, my wife and I decided to book our 20th wedding anniversary trip through GolfAhoy.com
After reading a number of online reviews, we realized that the ‘10 Day GolfAhoy VIP Deluxe Circle Hawaii Islands Golf Cruise’ package was most likely for us. And, in hindsight, this trip was more than what we could have asked for. Anthony Webber and Lori Henderson at GolfAhoy Cruise Planners American Express Travel Services were true ambassadors for their company. Not only did they arrange for everything on our itinerary, but called us frequently to remind us of items we might have forgotten, and to alert us to upgrades that were available. We have never experienced such personal attention from any travel agency we have ever worked with. They also sent us a detailed itinerary explaining every facet of the trip. They arranged for a private SUV limo and driver for our pick up at the airport when we arrived in Honolulu. We were given the chauffeur’s name and cell number, and he was given our contact information as well.
We were impressed that as soon as we stepped off of the plane in Hawaii our GolfAhoy chauffeur Kevin, (GolfAhoy contracts with Hawaii Car Service), had already sent us a text and was waiting with a luxury SUV just outside baggage claim. Kevin helped us claim our baggage and greeted us with fresh lei’s. Kevin’s knowledge of the island and his friendly personality kept us entertained as we drove to the Turtle Bay Golf & Spa Resort on the North Shore. Having been at Turtle Bay for a portion of our honeymoon 20 years before, we were familiar with the area. However, Kevin was able to give us the scoop on what was happening locally and how things had changed. A real thank you to Kevin – we would strongly recommend Kevin, GolfAhoy and Hawaii Car Service, to anyone traveling to Oahu. Turns out GolfAhoy has been working with Kevin and his company for many years.
Kevin also picked us up at Turtle Bay on Saturday morning after three days staying in a delightful ‘Beach Cottage’ accommodation right on the Pacific Ocean, to take us to the Honolulu port for embarkation on our seven day circle the Hawaii islands golf cruise. He was able to go around the other side of the island for the return to Honolulu, so we were able to see the entire coast. We were also able to stop along the way to buy a few items we figured we might need on board, and then arrived at the port.
Boarding the NCL Pride of America was a simple process, although our Priority VIP Boarding did not mean being able to go through a separate security check. We did have to wait through a long line at security, but this was only a minor inconvenience. Once through security, we were led to a VIP check-in lounge where our fellow Suite mates were being treated to individualized service. From here, we were led in small groups by several of the Butlers to the Wine Bar just outside of Cagney’s specialty restaurant. We were given perfectly chilled champagne and received a short greeting from the Manager of Cagney’s who explained that we were being treated to a special luncheon, and that, as soon as our Suite was ready, our personal Butler would retrieve us and lead us to the cabin. The food was superb at Cagney’s, and, we learned from the Manager that the restaurant was set aside for both breakfast and lunch daily for only those passengers occupying Suites. We took advantage of Cagney’s breakfast every morning, and it was spectacular. Being away from the buffet crowd was a real treat! The a la carte menu was outstanding, and, on those mornings when we were golfing and wanted a quick meal, there was a small, but varied buffet of fresh fruit, cereal, bagels, and more. We loved Cagney’s and also took advantage of dinner there. Our waitress, Krystal, was a very personable and friendly professional. By the end of the week we were friends and had learned much about her, while she learned about us and quickly knew what we preferred. We can’t say enough about the quality of food and the personal service received here. There were several other specialty restaurants, and we certainly recommend the Italian restaurant, La Cucina, and the French inspired Jefferson Bistro.
The ship itself was recently refurbished, modern and clean. The entire staff were very friendly, and always willing to help. We were surprised by other online reviews that stated the crew was rude or unhelpful. Those people must be very demanding. Did everything go perfect? No, but when things weren’t, the crew went out of their way to make it right. We encountered a very strong rain storm at sea one night, and awoke at 5:00 am to the sound of water dripping through our bedroom ceiling. A call to our Suite Concierge, and a maintenance supervisor was in the Suite within 5 minutes. He was able to find the problem with a stopped up deck drain that ran along the edge of our Suite. It had been overwhelmed by the volume of water from the storm. We went to breakfast early, and when we returned, the problem was fixed, and the cabin steward had cleaned up the minor damage. Kudos to all involved, especially our Butler, who made sure all of this was taken care of.
Which brings us to the Butler service! We highly recommend upgrading to a Suite level with a Butler. While we were in an Owner’s Suite, which was extremely large and spacious, we saw several smaller Suites along our deck that were less expensive, and received the same level of service.
Our Butler advised us right away that we were entitled to several wines from a limited list that came included with our Suite. While we had purchased some of our favorite wine in Honolulu when we stopped to shop with our driver, we also ordered form this list. We were able to put our wine in our checked baggage and then store in the refrigerator/mini-bar provided. Our understanding is that if we had carried this alcohol in our carry-on luggage, it would have been taken away and stored during the trip. However, we also talked with some guests who brought wine and paid a corkage fee. The wine list onboard is not extensive, so we would recommend bringing your favorites but pack your wine in your ‘checked in’ luggage. Do not attempt to bring it onboard in your carry-on luggage – the security scanners will see it in your carry-on bag when you go aboard.
For us, as a 20th anniversary treat, the Owner’s Suite was outstanding with a separate guest half-bath, bar, living room, king size master bedroom, and a master bath that would rival a lot of custom homes, with a tub (Jacuzzi), separate tiled shower, private toilet area, and double sinks – it was an amazing space. The walk-in closet, with seated dressing table and makeup mirror was my wife’s favorite space! All of this led to a huge veranda with 2 chaise lounges, a dining table with 4 chairs, and last, but not least, a large jetted hot tub (Jacuzzi) with Plexiglas screen on the ocean side to block the wind. My wife and I took full advantage of this while we were at sea and enjoyed relaxing in it while sailing.
As part of the GolfAhoy package, we were able to store our golf clubs with the GolfAhoy onboard golf pro, who was extremely helpful in getting us to the right location and arranging for our clubs to be ready when we departed each morning for our golf destinations.
Golf Ahoy had made arrangements for a private driver to pick us up at each port o’ call and give us real VIP treatment to and from. We can’t say enough about Helen Lee, our driver at Kona, who took us to the Mauna Kea Golf Club. She kept us entertained, and made stops for us on the way back to the ship to let us shop for items we had mentioned to her. Her vehicle was a brand new BMW sport utility that was first class comfort. She had also arranged for personalized engraved bag tags for us that were waiting at Mauna Kea when we arrived. What a great experience and a beautiful golf course. We were fortunate to be able to play each day by ourselves, with very few golfers around us on the upgraded executive championship courses that GolfAhoy recommended and arranged for us. Mauna Kea, Kapalua Plantation Course, and Princeville are all destination courses that every golfer should play at least once.
Sadly, all of our fun did have to come to an end, but disembarkation was very smooth when we arrived back in Honolulu. We went to our last breakfast at Cagney’s and, around 9:00 am, they announced that we could disembark. Our bags had been taken down for us late the night before we arrived, and were easily located by our porter, who got us through the crowd quickly to find our favorite driver Kevin waiting as promised.
Since our flight was not until late afternoon, Kevin then drove us on a tour of the city historical areas, including the Palace, and then dropped us at the Moana Surf Rider Hotel, one of the earliest hotels on Waikiki Beach. Here we were able to stroll along Waikiki beach, sit on the huge veranda in rocking chairs and enjoy the view from Moana Surf Rider – and then eat lunch in the Surf Rider beach- front bar/restaurant in the shade of a huge Banyan tree. Highly recommended! Kevin then returned to pick us up after lunch and we said our goodbye’s at the airport terminal.
All sounds perfect doesn’t it? Well, it was! This was by far the best golf trip we have taken, and we have traveled for the last 20 years for golf and pleasure to some wonderful destinations. The serenity of the islands and the beauty of the courses produced some wonderful moments we will always remember. We can’t say enough about how well we were treated, and how well organized the GolfAhoy package was arranged. A big ‘thank you’ again to Anthony and Lori at GolfAhoy for all of their efforts to make this such a memorable 20th Wedding Anniversary experience. Here’s hoping we can do more of these types of golf cruises soon!