Sail Date: September 2003
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous ... Read More
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous Hawaii cruise on the Hawaii American Cruise Line about twelve years ago. (They no longer exist). There were some things I really liked. Getting on and off the ship was a pleasant and quick experience. We (3 couples) booked two nights at the Marriott Wakiki Beach Resort prior to sailing to adjust to the time difference between Hawaii and the east coast of the mainland. Nice hotel and best of all had an NCL office where we could do all our pre-board registration which really made getting on the ship an easy process. There was a fairly long line for those who did not go through that process. It is a small office, however, and if there was a line it sometimes appeared to take a long time to get served. We had a standard balcony cabin. Small but adequate since we spent little time in the cabin. It was obvious they did not take great care in cleaning the cabins during the change over between one group leaving and another coming on board. One of our couples found shoes under the bed and the cabin was not very clean. My cabin was fine except for missing wash cloths which appeared after dinner. We later found out the cabin stewards are not only responsible for cleaning 14 cabins but also have to help move luggage. NCL needs to rethink the whole changeover process. Dining was an interesting experience. Service varied from night to night. We never did the alternate dining experiences since except for one meal (breakfast)in the Cadillac (didn't go back because of slow service). Did not feel we should pay extra for a meal. The main dining rooms were beautifully decorated however the service was inconsistent. Mostly a very young staff who did not appear to be well trained. Sometimes service was quick and efficient and at other times slow and poor. The wait staff was very pleasant and accommodating but NCL needs to train better. Some of the food was great while some was not so good. Usually had four entrees that were different each night and an additional four that stayed the same. The Aloha Cafe (buffet) was OK and offered a good variety. Overall the food was good but not great. I have cruised before and remember telling everyone about the great dining. Not so this time. We are not drinkers so I can't say much about the bars except I ordered on drink and waited 20 minutes to get it and another time they had a drink special but when I ordered it they were out of the mix. Sodas!! I don't personally think you should have to pay for soda when tea, iced tea, lemonade and coffee are included but it seems to be an industry standard. You can buy a sticker to put on you cabin card for which you pay around $35, which we did, but found out we could not drink that much soda in seven days to make up the cost. All of the shore excursions were very good. We did at least one each day and two on one day. Be sure to book in advance. Sometimes sold out and the lines on the ship at the excursion desk were long the first couple of days. I booked on-line and had some difficulties. I found out the excursion staff at NCL in Miami doesn't seem to know what they are talking about since they booked us on a couple of tours that when we got on board the ship found out we could not go on them because they were too close together in timing since you need at least 45 minutes between tours which is something they don't tell you anywhere that I could find. The excursions are somewhat expensive and NCL charges $15 to $25 more than if you booked them on your own but they also eliminate the hassle of booking your own. It was worth the cost to me. We did a helicopter ride ($299 per person- WOW!) which was spectacular. They charge you 1.5 times if you are over 250 pounds and they weigh everyone who says they are over 200 lbs. The only objection is they weigh you in the main lobby next to the excursion desk. Tacky!! One of our party was weighed in at 251 and charged the extra. When he got to the helicopter terminal he was weighed again and weighed 238. He did get a refund. Entertainment was good. I am a musician and I liked all of the musical productions. It beats watching CNN in your cabin. My over all impression was NCL has a corner on the market and knows that most people only do this once in a lifetime so they could perhaps get away with cutting corners. They did a great job in some aspects of the cruise and in others they need to work on training and quality. However, I would recommend doing the cruise since it is, in my opinion, the best way to see Hawaii and hope NCL gets the message that quality,training, and first impressions do matter. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard ... Read More
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard from our cabin steward that it was because the boat was having engine problems. I thought that was pretty messed up considering how new the ship is. Our Hertz shuttle driver said that was just an excuse for NCL to save on fuel. Anyway, it was a good cruise. The entertainment on the boat was okay but we tried to spend as much time off the boat as we could. I mean c'mon, it's Hawaii! My biggest complaint about the ship as many other past reviewers have mentioned: wait times for the restaurants. Honestly, it can be quite outrageous. Even for the main restaurants its worthwhile to make reservations just because the waits can be greater than an hour. The specialty restaurants need to be reserved well in advance so don't leave it to the last minute. I'd recommend you rent cars and drive around the islands on your own. You can see so much more. On Maui we went to the Old Lahaina Luau which was great. We also did the Road to Hana but try to do some research before going on the drive. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the ... Read More
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the islands on our own, and staying in hotels. This is my first quasi-review I have ever written, and I hope the flow works out. Embarkation: At first glance, it has the appearance of a total zoo, but still kind of organized. There was a security line that wrapped out the doors, down to the next pier. People were standing and waiting for a while to get through security. I didn't see anyone complaining though. If you aren't one of those that MUST hit the buffet as soon as you board, do yourself a favor and come later than sooner, as I will from now on. I had booked a 2 night pre-stay, and ended up in the hospital the first day I arrived in HNL, until just before POAM's check in time, so I was wheel-chaired straight past those lines (cleared security, of course) by an NCL rep, to the Latitudes check-in, then directly to my room. What awesome service! Before I got to the room, however, there was an incident. As we were about to pass the photographer, I asked the NCL girl to not stop for a photo, as I did not want to have a picture taken of me while I was being wheeled, and still a little sickly looking. She complied and totally understood, of course, but the photographer YELLED at her for doing this for me. He was furious in front of all the other guests about how "he needs to deal with, and photograph each guest" and "blah blah blah". Not only was I embarrassed, but now ALL ATTENTION WAS UPON US! Well, I got to my room and I was very, very upset over this. I did not find this to be conducive to a "vacation embarkation" at all. Hand Sanitation: Ok, I had an issue here. There are hand sanitizing stations located all around the ship very conveniently. However, it was not enforced at all. I had been on NCL Sun before, and they were always chasing you down with wet naps and gel. Why not here? We used the heck out of them on this boat, but we did not see another single soul use them besides us. I just don't see why people, and NCL America, didn't see the importance of this. Maybe there is a rule that exempts them from this in Hawaii? Room: I had originally planned on booking a suite the next size up from ours, but decided upon having lots of extra money to spend instead. We had room on the 11th floor, a BA Cat. which was convenient for the location, and was on the port side. There was a connecting door to another BA category room next door, which DID turn into a problem later on. The decor was bright and cheery, with a bit of an ultra-contemporary twist. I liked it. It was of course small.....but what do you want? The balcony was a nice size for us, and had two chairs and an end table. The chairs were of the sling variety with arms. Very comfy. We spent a lot of time out there, being we are smokers, and cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke inside a building (none-the-less ruining a brand new ship with the smell). Go figure. All in all, I was quite satisfied with the room, but I would upgrade next time for sure. We spent hardly any time or money shopping. We were into all the nature here. I snuck a peek next door into a penthouse, and envied all the free space. We met our cabin steward, Norma, immediately after we got to the room. She was very friendly, and showed us around our room. I asked her for an egg-crate mattress topper and extra pillows. She installed them within 5 minutes! I found the bed to be firm, but most will love it. Actually, every night before turndown, I left her a note with any requests I had, words of appreciation and thanks, and a tip. Needless to say, I HAD NO ISSUES whatsoever with her, or any other crew member. She was so sweet, and saw to all our needs quickly and efficiently. Our room was consistently spotless, and I am VERY PICKY. If you want a good steward, TIP. These are Americans, money talks. Noise: By the end of the cruise, I had come to the conclusion that there is no place on the ship to enjoy a FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP. You are constantly being woken up by those obnoxious self closing doors to the cabins. They could have made the self closing system a much slower and gentler variety. I swear, people didn't even TRY to be considerate of others. All you hear are these loud thuds all night, and all day long. Kids (AND ADULTS!) running up and down the hallways, having conversation at 100 decibels above normal. We called down to the reception desk and politely asked if they could maybe make a friendly announcement to all the passengers, sometime during the day, asking to pay better attention to noise in the hallways and slamming doors. This was all to no avail. They declined our request. It seemed to be no problem to have a guest paged at any time of day or night though. Also, the people in the room next door (adjoining), were unbelievably loud at times. The adjoining room doors themselves are paper thin, and you can literally hear the person next door speaking (in normal tone) while we were in bed trying to sleep. Food: Well, the Aloha Cafe was neither above nor below our expectations. All the usual for breakfast (confirmed runny eggs) and lunch, with a theme night on occasion for dinner. We particularly liked the Mexican night. The breads were notably fresh and good with a nice selection. Fruits were ripe with a good selection. Plenty of window seats too, we always had one. The decor was better than expected, and we LOVED the separate kids buffet area filled with kids stuff. Even mini tables and chairs. So cute! Great idea. The Cadillac Diner was a pleasant surprise, serving blue plate kind of foods. We ate Cheeseburgers there 3 times. Each time the burgers were thick, juicy and cooked nice. They ALWAYS forgot the pickle though. This place was usually empty during off hours, and service was at least consistent. We ordered breakfast there once while in Kona, the bagel was warmed instead of toasted with no butter, and they served us waffles, which were good, but with no butter as well. That's no big deal at all, but you can't help thinking "hello McFly"! There was NO cover charge for this restaurant, however we did tip according to what the bill should have been had we paid. Only fair. The Lazy J Steakhouse was by far our favorite. The service was PHENOMENAL!!!! The food was PERFECT every time we ate there. We had Lori and Allie as our wait-staff, and they are a truly remarkable, entertaining, and caring team. We ate the Rib-eye steaks and Filet Mignon steaks when we went (on separate occasions). The creamed spinach was delicious. Lori noticed my affection for it and kept it coming! I never once waited for a drink refill. We were always invited to linger, and never felt rushed or pushed. There is so much good to say here.....see for yourself, and make sure you request them in advance. We got lucky and had them twice. I never had so many laughs during dinner. We love the FREESTYLE concept. However, we had LOTS of trouble trying to get into the other specialty restaurants, so these 3 venues are all we could sample. I am pretty disappointed that people run onto the ship the first day, and plan out all their meals right away, not leaving any room for anyone else to FREESTYLE IT. Isn't that the point!? The crew at East Meets West and Shabu Shabu were completely unwavering with the firm NO's we got when trying to come in to eat.....and we only even tried when it was LATE! Like 9:30-10:00! They do indeed warn you that they fill quickly, so it's our fault. Very good food, I guess. The Italian restaurant was just as popular. Jefferson's Bistro looked really nice and cozy, although we avoided it due to the menu items that we don't PRETEND to enjoy, such as Fois Gras and the like on EVERYTHING. Duck liver paste smeared on my steak just doesn't do it for me. To each their own...it looked as if all inside were having a wonderful time and enjoying the food, and that's all that matters. I heard NO complaints. If you love those kind of foods, you should DEFINITELY enjoy it. We heard from other passengers that they waited 2+ hours for their food in Skyline and Liberty. And it wasn't even full. For that reason we didn't bother, although when we questioned the front desk about this, they blamed it on the "experience". I'll have a "starving experience" some other time, thanks. Everyone else who mentioned this agreed, not surprisingly. Restaurant Displays: They had these ingenious plasma displays around the ship giving real-time dining information. These are great! Would be nice to have the info on your stateroom TV as well. I don't think they worked properly for some venues though. They always showed availability in East Meets West/Shabu Shabu. Which is why we ventured down there for a last minute table, only to find out that the monitors don't anticipate, nor take into account, any reservations. So even when it showed availability, there actually wasn't. This will confuse most, I am sure. If they can get the system better, and even install more screens around, NCL will get praise. Spa: We both had massages. They were decent with lava rocks and all. Ernest(?) was particularly good. Regis was right. :) The spa itself featured therapy rooms that had windows overlooking a public deck. This means you can't gaze out onto the water during your treatments, and you see peoples shadows strolling by through the blinds. Not relaxing enough of a setting for me. Pool: Pool area was a bit smaller than what I expected. The Pools and spas were consistently dominated by 6 and 16 year olds. If you wanted to get in, you had to deal. People just let their kids go crazy. I believe the water was actually fresh water. Not brackish, or salty at all. I didn't see diapers on the kids while in the pool, which was nice to know. They opened up the gyroscope and trampoline rides for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes each day. The pool bars closed obnoxiously early every night, which brings me to - Entertainment: The only other places to go was the Pepto-Bismol slathered Pink's Bar, and the Mardi Gras lounge. Both had just ok live entertainment. They were all good at what they do, but maybe not appropriate for a ship as the ONLY thing to see. I compared the crowd (more like group) to a rock concert in communist China. ANYBODY BREATHING IN HERE? The DJ had access to very limited music.....not his fault, NCL's I heard. The comedian was hilarious in the theatre. At least see that. The bartenders and wait-staff were our entertainment. Bring sleeping pills, and get to bed early. LOL. After all, the Islands are what you're here for. Ship Decor/Appearance: Multiple Personalities come to mind. I really don't understand where they were going with it. Don't get me wrong, ALL of the public rooms were VERY nicely appointed for an NCL ship. It is DEFINITELY a step up. I just don't see how the rooms flow at all. You go from Hawaiian tropical to Washington D.C. in 2 steps. Then you go to your room and you get Italian modern. All while walking on patriotic starred carpet that turns into lily pads and water. Weird. But still attractive. Crew: I personally LOVED the crew. There were a few who knew I was ill, and tried at ALL TIMES to make me comfy. Lori, our favorite waitress from the Lazy J, would run into us as she was walking around the promenade on occasion. She always made sure everything was ok, and that we had what we wanted. She saw me getting nauseated, and immediately had a Ginger Ale and Bitters ordered for me. No questions. She wasn't even on duty!!!!! Sometimes you do have to be careful with some, as they LOVE to talk. This is good when you're bored, but other times, you kinda felt like you couldn't get away without being rude. We just kept in mind that some of them are displaced, and lonely. Most are far away from home and family. Some of them were consistently checking their cell phones from their posts, others worked hard and diligently. There were a lot of Hawai'ian's as crew which was great. They smile when you talk about how beautiful the islands are. Especially when you were on their island. Very informative about their home. Ship Stability: Ok, this is important. Every time the ship sailed, I was sick. I am used to the waters of the Caribbean, being mostly smooth sailing. Out here in the middle of the Pacific, there is nothing to break the waves. The first 2 nights were a nightmare for me. Most will have no trouble, but it is not a smooth sail. At least not for us. I don't believe that this is a design problem, although could it have been caused by our slower sailing speed? I feel really bad for those on the Wind heading for Kiribati (Fanning Island). Problems with the engine: Yes there were problems with the main engines. This affected the top speed of the ship. The only interference we had was that instead of cruising the Na Pali coast in the morning upon arrival in Kauai, we saw it by sunset on our sail back to O'ahu the night before departure. This was actually better for us, as we are later to rise than most. Still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my whole life. Kauai was indeed my favorite place with the Big Island in second. TV: I was sick, so I had plenty of time to check it out. I was bothered that there was no Navigation Information displayed. I like knowing the seas, our speed, location....etc. There are 2 channels for NCL that repeated over and over as advertisements, and a movie channel, CNN, TNT, and that's all I remember. There was a channel that showed Discovery-like programs. Could be more, but I do remember 4 blank-screen music channels. Car Rental: The best money I spent was enrolling in the Hertz Gold Club. When you get to the rental place, you don't have to wait in line at all. Just go to the board, check for the spot number next to your name, get into the car, and go! We were out of there in 2 minutes flat EVERY TIME! We LOVED not having to make a mad rush from the shuttle to the line. This could save you hours on the islands. Also, you get a small discount on your rentals that kind of offsets the price for the membership. It was still worth it without the discount though. There are convenient and close places for you to park at all the overnight ports, so you can keep your car 2 days, and we only paid once in Kauai, $5.00 for the whole stay. No biggie. Flights: Booked through NCL. Delta and United the whole way there and back. Yeah, we got a red-eye home, but we slept through it. In summary, I felt that this was a great trip and well worth the money. We had a great time, and we decided that we would do this again. In a heartbeat! Actually, I most likely will be doing this again, being I lost some days on islands because I was ill. Most others we talked to decided the same thing, even though others had more problems than we did. My best advice is to come aboard with lots of tipping cash, and lower your expectations in terms of a more "luxury oriented service". This doesn't mean you get bad service at all. It just means that NCL is different from the rest, my opinion, in that they TRY to be everything to everyone. Have a great time! I can't wait to go again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. ... Read More
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. Overall we had a great time. If you think of the ship as a giant hotel with little rooms and restaurants with quality on par with Denny's, Sizzler, and Hometown Buffet, but relocates to a new island everyday then you'll be happy. If you are looking for a "real cruise" experience then you'll be disappointed. When we arrived at the airport in Honolulu they didn't make it very clear that you needed to get on a shuttle, or make a long hike to the other side of the airport to find your luggage. When we finally found the right building we found our NCL representative who told us to get our bags and wait near them, they then seemed very confused about what to do with the Pride of America people, most of the people arriving were going to NCL Wind. We were lead around to a couple places before finally deciding what to do with us. This was the first time I wasn't met by someone from the cruise line that took our luggage and put it on a cart or had a skycap available for us. When we got out of the shuttle at the pier again no one to help with the luggage. Not a big deal, just something I'm not used to. At the pier things seemed very confused and no one giving directions. You just had to get in a line and hope you were where you were supposed to be. We were given Leis before our photos were taken. We were given Passports to help us get familiar with the ship, the ink wasn't dry and got all over my hand, as we went around the different locations to get our stamps, no one at the stations seemed to know what they were, many of the stations were not opened. The idea was to get stamps from the different bars, restaurant, and stores by dinner then you could turn it in for a chance to win a prize. Nice idea, still needs a little work. Dining; the freestyle dining was a great idea, we like to eat early, so we had little problem getting reservations to the specialty restaurants. We tried the Cadillac Diner, the service was very bad both times we ate there, once for breakfast, once for dinner. We also ate at the Lazy J steakhouse, we call it the Lousy J. They charge $15 per person from the regular menu and an additional $10 ($25 total)per person from the special menu (Lobster). My husband had Filet Mignon and it was very tender, no flavor. My son ordered the New York and I needed a saw to cut it. I ordered the Ribeye, it had a good flavor and was tender, but I had a hard time finding the meat with all the fat. We ate twice at Little Italy, and weren't impressed. My son and I ordered the chicken parmesan and it was just not good. My husband ordered the beef tenderloin, it was good. The next time we ordered the beef tenderloin, lasagna and pizza. The lasagna was pretty good. The pizza is the same thing you get upstairs on the buffet. We didn't try East meets West, many people said it was good. We also didn't try the French Bistro. Each of those restaurants charge $10 per person. Be warned, if you miss your reservation they charge you anyway. The main dining rooms were hit or miss with both service and food quality. A little tip on reservations, the first day on board you can only make reservations for that night. You can then call (don't go downstairs and stand in line) the reservation desk and make reservations for the rest of the week. The Cabins: We were on the 8th deck Aft we had a balcony and the room was great. Our room steward was originally from Jamaica and was great, very friendly. We had everything we were supposed to have, but our safe wasn't working and we had to make a dozen calls before we could get anyone to look at it, they never let us know if and when it would get fixed, we gave up. They didn't have anywhere else to store our valuables. I loved having the balcony, but I wouldn't choose the back of the ship again, we usually had a very ugly view while in port. It appears from talking to many other people onboard that the service was better on the upper decks than on the lower decks, I heard many complaints about no toilet paper, towels etc. I was glad I read the prior reviews, I don't think I would have noticed the side mirror opened for storage in the bathroom. Public rooms: The ship is clean and the technology is state of the art. We loved having real internet and the fees were very reasonable. We could hook up in our room or use wireless in many public areas. The dining kiosk was great. They had all the restaurants listed with wait times, and info on which could seat large groups. The layout was a little weird. Most of the restaurants were in what should have been passageways, Little Italy was in the middle of the Aloha cafe. From the aft of the ship when we went ashore we had to go up to deck 7 or higher or go through the maze of restaurants. Finding the kids club and arcade was difficult, on the ship map it appears that the elevator goes up to deck 14, but it doesn't. I was told the ship was completely booked, but the ship didn't feel full. The only places that ever seemed to be crowded or have a line was the Reception desk area with lines at the shore excursion desk and the restaurant reservation desk. Entertainment: We didn't go to any shows. I heard mixed reviews from other passengers. We got the kids club schedule of events for the whole week, not much to do, so we never signed up. The arcade was pretty bad too. The shops are not duty free like on other ships, but they had the typical resort wear and NCL merchandise. They had a shop dedicated to golf, from what I understood they could get you tee times at the various islands. My major complaints: We were 3 hours late getting into Hilo we were due to dock at 8am and at 8:15 they made the announcement that we had engine problems overnight and had to reduce speed, and we would be docking at 11am. Then announced all of the cancelled shore excursions. The NCL Wind was also in port, so there were no rental cars to be found for anyone who just had there excursion cancelled. Fortunately I made reservations months in advance and called my company to make sure they didn't give my car away. We weren't able to see all that we had planned. When we went to Kaua'i we arrived 2 hours early, again the reason was the engines. This was the only port we had an excursion planned and we had 2 hours to kill waiting for it. We were in this port overnight, so Friday we were going to leave 2 hours early the next day again we were saved by having rented a car, but another list of cancelled or adjusted excursions was announced. By leaving 2 hours early we were able to cruise by the Na Pali coast. We dined in Little Italy that night and were able to watch the coast as we ate. My biggest complaint the Chocolate buffet. They announced it the night before that it would be at 2:30pm while we were in Kona, the only port we had to anchor out. I met a couple who tried to make it back to the ship in time to at least get a few nibbles, by the time they tendered back to the ship and found it it was 3:32(it ended at 3:30) and they weren't permitted to go into the room. Disembarkation was nice. We added a couple days onto the end of our trip, so we put our bags out Friday night and they were taken to our hotel the next day. We disembarked at 7:30 with the people who were willing to take their own luggage. The shuttle to our hotel was at 10am, but we rented a car and were able to take the shuttle to the rental office at 8am. We then went to preregister at the hotel, they stored our carryon luggage and put our computer in a safe deposit box. We went to see the Arizona memorial and the mighty mo, where we ran into people from the ship who paid a lot of money for the ships excursion and still had to stand in the line for tickets for over 1 hour. When we got back to the hotel we didn't have to stand in the long check in line, we were able to pick up our keys and about 20 minutes later (around 4:30pm) our luggage arrived at our door. This was a great way to see many islands in a short time, but I would never do it again. I met people who have cruised NCL before and said this ships service and food are not what they have experienced in the past. Still, I doubt I will book NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. When we got to our cabin it was clean and made-up. The only thing was that we never had bedspreads like you see in the website photos. I don't know if they ran out or our room stewardess just didn't put them on the beds. No biggie, just odd. Our cabin was an obscured oceanview, category G. There were four of us sharing the space: mom, dad and two teenagers. Our cabin had two lower beds and two pullmans. It had what NCL called a single French window that was about four feet wide and floor to ceiling. The window was almost half as wide as our cabin. Most of the other cabins I saw had a double French window. Even with the obscured view, we could see plenty and had lots of natural light. The cabin didn't seem any smaller than an inside cabin we had on the Diamond Princess last summer. It had plenty of storage: four drawers,shelves below the tv, above the fridge, above the desk, and in the closet, and shelves behind the mirror in the bathroom for toiletries. The closet had about four feet of hanging space with a flip down bar to hang short stuff above and below. Our luggage fit under the beds. The cabin stayed pretty tidy with all of the places to put stuff. I would suggest making reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you can. We had no problems, but I heard a few people saying that they couldn't get in towards the end of the week. The specialty restaurants we sampled were: Cadillac Diner and Little Italy (no extra charge for either) and East Meets West and Jefferson Bistro ($10/person). The rest of the dinners we ate in both the Liberty and Skyline Restaurants. Some of the meals were great and some were just ok. We had a chicken Caesar wrap in the Cadillac that I would avoid, but the chili was wonderful. The highlight for me was talking with the servers. They all wanted to talk and tell us where they were from and asked where we were from. One guy from Long Beach, CA (we are from Burbank, CA) ask if we could do him a favor. He asked if we would mind eating an In-N-Out Burger for him when we got home! Ah, the things we get homesick for! We went to all of the evening shows in the Hollywood Theater. We like the juggler/comedian, Barry Johns, the best. He was really funny. The singing and dancing productions had wonderful entertainers with pretty bad material. The numbers just didn't flow well. There was a comedian whose name I can't remember that was sort of funny, but not everyone's cup of tea. He got fairly political (not a good idea if you don't know your crowd) and did some audience interaction that really didn't go anywhere. I'd give him a "C". Not to go into too much detail about what we did in port, but to say we didn't do any NCL excursions. We rented cars in each of the ports. The two nights that we spent tied up to the dock, there were places to park a rental overnight. On Maui it was free. On Kauai we paid $10 for a lot that a guy was sitting at all night. Others on Cruise Critic have said they paid $5, but I don't know where that was. It worked out really well with the rental cars. These are some of the drives we took: Hawaii--Volcanoes National Park and the Kona Coast Maui--Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach one day and the Road to Hana and the Seven Sacred Pools the second day. Kauai--Waimea Canyon and Poipu Beach the first day and Wailea River and the Fern Grotto the second day. This cruise was a wonderful way to see so many beautiful places and meet so many friendly people...particularly the crew on the ship. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Check out our photos at: www.kodakgallery.com/gregh Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Been on a number of cruises in recent years... Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and have got to say the Pride of America was, in a word, unique. Service ranged from first class to rude... overall rating at best could be categorized as ... Read More
Been on a number of cruises in recent years... Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and have got to say the Pride of America was, in a word, unique. Service ranged from first class to rude... overall rating at best could be categorized as spotty. The photographers were pushy and always had a "comment" if you declined an offer to be held up and photographed at every port. The Italian specialty restaurant should be avoided at all costs... the food was dismal (small portions of frozen TV dinner quality and the young man from Guam who greeted and seated us was a boorish snob. Most obnoxious crew member I have ever encountered on any cruise. There were some high points... The Texas Steakhouse and East Meets West exceeded my expectations. The Cadillac Diner was almost as bad as the Italian eatery. The Aloha Buffet was OK... Couldn't seem to get over the fact that most of the crew we encountered almost seemed overwhelmed by their appointed tasks at hand. Our room host was pleasant but always seemed short on towels and bed linens... I especially enjoyed the little yellow sticky note on our bathroom mirror stating there would be no towels available until later that night... just want you want to see after a long day of volcano hiking... a quick trip to the pool towel stash resolved that issue. I think the most amazing thing about this particular ride was you could never count on the toilet flushing after you used it. Ours remained out of commission for nearly 10 hours one day... the highlight of which was when it started pumping out raw sewerage into the bathroom floor. It took several calls and a trip to the customer what service? desk to resolve that issue. Also, the boat always smelled nasty, especially during peak flush periods. A vacuum pump responsible for sucking the waste out of the respective commodes was the apparent culprit (not the company line that someone had put a no no in the potty). So.... did all of this ruin our trip to paradise. Absolutely not... the NCL hosted excursions were top drawer in every respect (Road to Hanna, Crater and Turtle Arches Snorkel, and Volcano Hiking Adventure should not be missed)... the boat sponsored Luau wasn't really worth the money but still entertaining. Consider Island Helicopters in Kuai for your chopper ride... lots of air time over a bigger portion of the Island. The islands were out of this world... sadly you had to take the Greyhound Bus of the Seven Seas to enjoy them. Not sorry we went but the boat and the quality of service it offers is in need of serious improvement. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We went on this cruise for our honeymoon. When we walked in for embarkation, a friendly woman asked if we were celebrating anything special and we told her. Immediately, we were whisked to the VIP line and waited at most 5 minutes to check ... Read More
We went on this cruise for our honeymoon. When we walked in for embarkation, a friendly woman asked if we were celebrating anything special and we told her. Immediately, we were whisked to the VIP line and waited at most 5 minutes to check in and get set up. We were in our room maybe 20 minutes after we arrived at the ship. We walked into our room to find two twin beds. Great for any honeymooners... We asked our room steward to make one bed and he said sure, in a minute. We went to explore and came back before the lifeboat drill and they still weren't done. We told him we were on our honeymoon and he asked why we didn't tell him sooner!?!? He fixed it pretty soon after that. The room was small, but laid out as well as possible. However, if one of us was getting in the closet, the other could not come in or out of the bathroom. Our room steward was consistently slow getting our room made up and turned down. Some nights, we never got it turned down no matter how long we seemed to wander around. Our first night in the dining room was pitiful. We spent almost 2 hours having dinner, which made us miss the leaving of the ship from Honolulu. The service was slow and the food was poor! Almost everything had allspice in it from eggdrop soup to fettuccini alfredo! Both of us have been on many cruises before and were very disappointed with this experience. The food was bad, unless you paid extra, and the service was slow and poor. It just seems like we didn't get what we bargained for. The ship itself is incredible. It's new and clean, but a great ship will only impress for so long. Most of the crew was around our age and had obviously taken a semester off to see Hawaii. It was very different from a crew who is working hard to support a family at home in a foreign country. We would both suggest an international cruise over this one any day. Not only would the service be better, it would also be cheaper. We both agreed that the redeeming point of this cruise was that we were with each other and on our honeymoon. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an ... Read More
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an effort to smile and say hello. We enjoyed our dining experiences in the Skyline, Liberty, and Aloha buffet. We ended up sitting at the same 2 tables in Skyline with the same waiters the last 4 or 5 nights and had excellent service. We never went to the specialty restaurants except Cadillac diner. The Cadillac had very poor service and food was only OK. (it happens to be only place serving waffles for breakfast). Food in main dining room was enjoyable and we were pleasantly surprised. Our biggest area of disappointment was the room cleanliness. Our rooms (we had 8 all together) were rarely cleaned properly and we only received evening turn down service once or twice. Housekeeping is definitely an area that POA needs to concentrate some effort on. It is a subject of discontent on most reviews. The fitness center is beautiful, but lacks adequate weight training equipment. Nice treadmills & offers spinning classes for $10.00. (point of info. for fitness buffs: there are nice 24 Hour Fitness studios next to Marriott on Waikiki and 1 block from the port in Maui!). We would recommend skipping the Luau in Maui. It is very expensive and food & drinks are mediocre. If you choose the luau you must be back on ship by 4:30 and it cuts into the 1st day on Maui. If you only need half a day of touring and want to experience a luau it may be worth it, but we felt it was a rip-off. We also recommend booking excursions in advance. Excursion desk had extremely long lines and had minimal desk hours. We booked ours in advance but ended up having 1 or 2 cancelled and several time changes once aboard the ship. Otherwise, the staff was helpful with excursion issues. The ship is laid out very well and is easy to navigate. One of the best floor plans we've seen on a ship. Overall we didn't feel the quality of the ship was as good as Disney, Royal Caribbean, or Princess. This wasn't too bad since the ship is in port every day and we only experienced the ship during evening hours. The shows were only fair; entertainers were talented but material was nothing great. My favorite show was the Hawaiian themed show. (beautiful costumes). The disembarkation was the best we ever experienced! Could be due to fact there are no customs or emigration lines to deal with. We had Pearl Harbor excursion so left ship early. We loved the idea of free-style disembarkation. Overall Pride of America is a beautiful ship with potential, but needs to iron out several issues to bring it up to par with other cruise ship experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed on 7/23/05. Ship is brand new but housekeeping was a problem and service was not to a standard I would have expected for the price paid. We left Honolulu 4 hours late due to a 27 passengers late out of Denver. Obviously NCL felt ... Read More
We sailed on 7/23/05. Ship is brand new but housekeeping was a problem and service was not to a standard I would have expected for the price paid. We left Honolulu 4 hours late due to a 27 passengers late out of Denver. Obviously NCL felt these people were more important than the other 2000+ waiting to sail. We were 4 hours late into Hilo which caused a large number of excursions to be cancelled or rebooked. We left Kauai 3 hours early so NCL could get to Honolulu to work on the ships engines (one of the reasons given for late arrival into Hilo.) Embarkation: We had pre-boarding because of a 2 night pre-cruise add on at the Marriott. The only long line we dealt with was the lei greeting and photo. Dining: Food was adequate but not exceptional. Because NCL has a warehouse in Honolulu, we were told by several crew members that they could only take on provisions there. By Thursday, the dining rooms were out of fresh pineapple, pineapple juice and grapefruit juice. By Friday, the bananas on the Aloha Buffet were over ripe (BLACK). Service was substandard. While you could get an occasional good server, it was a rarity. The two young men who were host at Little Italy were one of the exceptions. Both were polite and helpful. We waited more than 45 minutes for breakfast in the Skyline two separate mornings. The LED screens for finding where to dine without a wait were a great idea when they were actually working. Standing in front of the Skyline we looked at the board which said the Cadillac Diner was open with no wait, we took stairs and arrived at the Diner within 3 minutes and found ourselves in a line and told it would be a 20 minute wait. The Host told us he had been just to busy to worry about updating the info on the LED screen. Public rooms: Most of the Public areas were okay. The biggest complaint I had was the automatic doors to the pool area were heavy and with the ship moving were really difficult to open and about 75% of the time the automatic assist was broken. Also, they had real problems with the elevators and toilets although not affected by the latter only the smell on level 4 when walking through. Entertainment: Didn't really attend. Cabin: Cabin is small even for two people. Closet space is VERY limited. The lanai was the best part of the cabin. Had a problem with the shower drain which took 2 days and 2 trips from maintenance to fix. Our cabin attendant was good, but not great. Soap dispenser in shower not filled upon arrival. Cabin made up as a double when requested a single (we rearranged the beds, but housekeeping never did provide a King bedspread). Service: Cranky crew members with "not my job" attitudes through out the ship. Ordering a Diet Coke in a specialty restaurant requires the crew member to go to the nearest bar and get it. There are no fountain dispensers set up in any specialty restaurant. The hours may not be the hours the bar was actually open. John Adams Coffee Bar was to open at 7AM and was NEVER open before 8AM. Although we left Kauai 3 hours early no attempt was made to open any additional facilities. Only the two pool bars and the Gold Rush were open. Unfortunately, there were incredibly long lines at the two pool bars and the Gold Rush was low on inventory. When we questioned this we were told that the "guy with the store room key would be on duty at 5PMand we should try then". Fitness Center: Equipment was nice, several machines were already out of order however. Shore Excursions: Extremely long lines due to the fact that the desk was only open 5 hours a day. Book on-line as soon as you can. Several times NCL only had one computer available (we were told several times that the other computer was not working) to scan ID cards for those leaving and returning to the ship. This caused long lines which could have been avoided by having leaving and returning guests use separate gangways like other cruise lines do. If you want to snorkel Molokini, book it independently for the morning of the second day of Maui. Ours was spoiled do to the fact that NCL offered only an afternoon snorkel on a 200+ passenger boat. We could not get close enough to any spot because of the winds and the size of the boat. The Na Pali Explorer Snorkel and Coastline viewing on Kauai was outstanding!!!! Disembarkation: One of the few thing NCL excelled at...getting off the ship even earlier than your tags said. NCL directs passengers to a specific location for cab service. These cabbies have paid a permit fee to NCL and we never did see a cab where we were sent. However, there were many cabs across the street so just look around after getting your luggage and head toward the cabs. Value: Overall the experience was not what I had expected for the amount of money. NCL is a Denny's/Motel 6 experience. Next time we will skip the cruise and enjoy Hawaii on our own. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin and it was the smallest we have ever encountered. The bedroom area was sufficient, but the bathroom looked like something out of a travel trailer. Really tiny. It was obvious by all of the complaints we heard that NCL has a real problem with cabin service on Pride of America. Cleaning was nonexistent and the cabin stewards did not seem to care. It was the worst we have ever had on a cruise. On other cruise lines, the cabin steward depends on tips, so they give good service. NCL levies a $10 per day per person charge to cover tips and supposedly distributes it to the crew. This is a bad policy since the crew has no incentive to do a good job. The dining options are varied with 2 main restaurants, a buffet, and several restaurants with surcharges. The main dining was good, but we have had better on other ships. The buffet was mediocre at best, although breakfast and lunch were good. We did not try the other restaurants. There were many shore excursion choices, but if you plan to go, book in advance. The lines at the shore excursion desk were long and slow. NCL overcharges for them and you can save a lot by booking directly with the tour companies. Example: Helicopter tour in Kauai with NCL is 199.00. Book it directly with HeliUSA for 150.00. We went to 2 shows and they were OK. Probably about on par with most cruises. The itinerary was very good. We especially enjoyed the sunset cruise along the Napali coast. If NCL can get their act straightened out with regard to cabin service, the ship will be great. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was our first cruise and our first time in Hawaii. We booked via the internet for our 20th wedding anniversary. We took the 7 day circle around the Hawaiian islands. The Trip We booked the airfare via NCL, had no issues with ... Read More
This was our first cruise and our first time in Hawaii. We booked via the internet for our 20th wedding anniversary. We took the 7 day circle around the Hawaiian islands. The Trip We booked the airfare via NCL, had no issues with luggage, the flight times and experienced no delays. Not a bad trip. The itinerary was perfect. Just enough time in port, traveling almost always at night. The Ship The ship is brand new so nearly everything is spotless and unused. We upgraded to a balcony cabin. We got lucky because nearly all the travel near the islands was on our side of the ship. The room and balcony was larger than I expected. I'm 6'4" and slept comfortably and was able to use the bathroom/shower without bumping into everything. Entertainment/Shore Excursions We booked all our excursions via the ship. I noticed many were much cheaper from the shore but we traded cash for convenience. We arrived late to our 1st destination where we booked a lava hike. Normally, the 6+ mile hike takes over half a day but due to the late arrival, it was more of a death march. We received 25% off and were very disappointed not to make it all the way to the lava in the time allotted. I loved the mountain bike ride in Maui. Apx 22 miles from the top of a volcano 10,487ft to the beach. Very beautiful, fast, scary and exciting. They should have warned us about the temperature (40 degrees F) or provided something warm to wear as I caught a cold which side-lined me for 2 days. The doctor was very helpful and explained everything well, gave me a series of drugs at a cost of apx 80$. The luau sucked. Basically a bus ride to a field at a hotel. There must have been 5000 people. I guess we should have known it was impersonal. The meal was ok but I tire of buffets. The desk staff was very lacking. Since we went for our anniversary, I pre-ordered champagne/fruit for embarkation. It was a no show. I visited the desk and scheduled it twice more, both no-shows. When trying to cancel it altogether, a manager near the desk said she would get to the bottom of it and call me. No call. Luckily, our neighbors had a bottle they had place in our room. We are in their debt. I had to visit the desk for one or two other minor issues with similar non-results. I have worked for 5 star hotels (Boca Raton Resort and Spa) and I hoped to see similar service. Dinners The dinner staff was numerous but inept. 3 people hovering over you both uncoordinated and unsure. Asking a junior member of the staff for wine nearly caused her to faint. The maitre d' had to serve it to us. On more than one occasion we got the wrong food. One particularly annoying time, we order a chocolate desert and they substituted strawberry not telling us until serving it. Very tacky, as If I'm an animal that will be happy with whatever they throw down? I guess they put the dregs in the freestyle areas. As a result, we spent a lot of time/money in the specialty restaurants. Not bad at all. Especially the hibachi and steak restaurant. I'm not sure if I will ever cruise again. I think you can probably get better service/experience on land or at least not be stuck with bad service for 7 days. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's ... Read More
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's new ship, The Pride of Hawaii. \I have read all the other reviews here and we seem to have had a much better experience. * Our bags were waiting in our cabin when we arrived. Henry, our steward, was exceptional and anticipated our every need. * We usually ate dinner about 7:30 and had leisurely experiences, but not excessively long waits. The food was what I would expect from a ship carrying 2,000 passengers. We ordered simple dishes and were never disappointed. One evening I asked for coffee ice cream and although they didn't have it on the menu they went to another dining room to get it. * We ate in all the specialty restaurants, except the sushi bar, and were delighted with all. We are used to New York City-quality food and this was just fine. * We had breakfast in our cabin most mornings and it arrived exactly on time and exactly what we ordered. * We loved the public areas and the outdoor areas. The pool had just the right amount of shade and never ran out of towels. And having the "adult" pool was a treat -- although there was no shade. * All the shore excursions we took were conducted by knowledgeable guides and we had no complaints. All in all, no complaints. We found the young American crew to be delightful and eager to please. They were very chatty and we enjoyed hearing their stories. No, these are not career waiters or stewards, but that's okay. Most had signed on for one-year and then they will be gone. We heard that there was a major crew upheaval when the ship entered service but by the time we sailed it seemed to have worked itself out. We had only two complaints: the public spaces were freezing! Everyone walked around hugging themselves. A little less air conditioning would have been fine and the crew manning the reception desk were idiots. We quickly learned not to ask them anything. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Embarkation: A dream, no lines and we got on immediately. Short wait for our cabins but no more than 10 minutes. Food: Dismal at best, not what one would expect from a Major cruise line. I had read many reviews on how poor the quality of ... Read More
Embarkation: A dream, no lines and we got on immediately. Short wait for our cabins but no more than 10 minutes. Food: Dismal at best, not what one would expect from a Major cruise line. I had read many reviews on how poor the quality of the food was, however, I was not prepared by how little things had improved by the time I sailed. It took 3 hours for each meal in the Skyline Restaurant (we ate there 3 times). Although we had one of the better waiters and assistants, it takes to long for the food from the kitchen. It could well be Freestyle cruising, but, I belive it is just inexperienced kitchen staff. We ate one night in the Lazy J and one night in Little Italy. Both meals were exceptional, service was fantastic. However, if I had not read on these boards about the need to book on Sunday am at 7, I would not have gotten a reservation. If you do not you will NOT get a reservation. The line forms well before 7am and it books quickly, (my first 2 time choices were not available and I was 20th in line). So my advice is get up and get in line if your interested in eating there. The menu changes very slightly in the main dining rooms and my 17 year old niece ate chicken and beef every night but once when we ate in Little Italy. Ate one night in the Cadillac Diner, food was ok, service slow. Bread is delicious. Never saw a grape or strawberry, and every morning watermelon or pineapple were in the buffet. Don't miss the chocolate buffet, it was GREAT. The wait staff is working very hard on its customer service and everyone we met was terrific. I have not one complaint about the American crew. Although my suggestion to NCL is to train the American crew on a NCL ship for at least 3 months prior to placing them on the Hawaii ships. This way they can work their tails off and decide if it is for them. I saw 3 different crew members leaving at ports saying they had had enough. The cabin is so small you can not turn around, I mean this LITERALLY..............We had 3 people in the room and it was beyond cramped. Couldn't open the balcony door at night unless we climbed over the pull out sleeper chair. Not enough storage for our clothes,or personal items. I packed everything in the 2 1/2 gallon Ziplock bags and so our clothes were bagged the entire week. (Not bad as the clean stuff never left the bag and I can just put it away). But keep in mind how close the quarters are and do not expect a lot of room. I gave the room steward a $20 bill when we got on and so I had great service and always what I needed, the rest of the people in our group (traveled with a group of 22), never had clean towels or their beds turned down. One couple had the service charges removed because they felt they had such dismal service all week. You will need to ask for a egg carton as the beds are like rocks. Also NCL does not put a top sheet on the bed just a duvet cover, so if you want a top sheet you better ask for it before you go to bed so that your not looking for it at night. The ship lost electrical power on the 19th (Friday) in the middle of the night so we all woke up to no air conditioning or hot water. No explanation was given. It sure was HOT. The room was never cold enough for me. No sailing by the Na'Paoli coastline either, due to a propulsion problem. I never felt any problem and we sure made great time getting back to Honolulu. They offered you a rum punch drink for the missing of the coastline viewing. I thought the ship was rockier when we left Honolulu. But, I am not an engineer so what do I know? We didn't make it into Hilo until after 10 am either. The hot tubs were so loaded with chlorine that on the first day they ruined my husband and nieces bathing suit. I was given a ship board credit and the matter was handled to my satisfaction immediately. The comedian Bud Andersen was the BEST I have ever seen anywhere. The juggler was phenomenal. The other shows were not to my liking. The singer in Pinks is wonderful (I couldn't stay to enjoy him as it is loaded with cigar smoke). No casino, (my husband really missed this, but, we came home with money) I must admit that after a full day on the Islands I was tired and in bed by 10. At each port they go thru all your bags (ok with me). But, they carry it to the extreme when they shake up your soda and sniff your water to make sure your not sneaking any alcohol on board. I don't drink so this is not a problem for me. But it sure is ridiculous. How many drinks do they think you can make with a 16 oz bottle of rum? Most people do not care to carry on booze and you can drink as much as you want on the Islands. A bit excessive. Debarkation: Was smooth and great that you could wait in your cabins, instead of 3000 people all over the place with their luggage. But,it takes way to long for your luggage and they need a new system for this. Porters were fast and efficient at helping you once you found your luggage. I used a new service I found at the Marriott for our precruise stay called Baggagedirect. For a fee they printed our boarding passes and picked up and transported all of the luggage from the pier to the Airport. We didn't see it again until we picked it up in Philadelphia. Well worth the money. I can honestly say this was the first cruise I was ever delighted to get off of. All in all this was not the cruise I dreamed it would be. But, it could have been far worse. After reading these boards I was certainly prepared for everything. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
This was our 11th cruise, first with NCL, and we expected a first class cruise. We were in for many surprises. NCL arranged airport transportation but they were difficult to find once we arrived. They were very disorganized and mixed ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise, first with NCL, and we expected a first class cruise. We were in for many surprises. NCL arranged airport transportation but they were difficult to find once we arrived. They were very disorganized and mixed people going on the Norwegian Wind and the Pride of America. The adventure had begun. Embarkation at the pier was good and fairly fast. Luggage delivery to your stateroom was a different story. The first of four bags arrived within three hours, the next two 4 hours later, and the last one arrived three hours later. Balcony Cabin:Tiny is an over-statement. Room service - expect your room to be made up once late in the day and turned down sometime between 10 and midnight. If you retire early you'll need to call Housekeeping BUT you can only reach them by dialing the Reception Desk. It seemed like there was one cabin steward per 40 staterooms so don't expect much especially if you've cruised before, prepare to be disappointed. Bathroom - One of the florescent bulbs was burned out and you needed to wait 3-5 minutes for the flickering to stop before you went inside. The bathroom drain in shower clogged. 4th day mechanical problems no one could flush toilets for 4-5 hours. 6th day there was a power outage during the night so no hot water in morning. Elevators: Like the cabins, small and usually crowded so expect to use the stairs a lot. Ship overall: Made in the old style, cramped and retro - no comparison to modern Grand class ships. Freestyle dining - Great if you don't mind spending 2-3 hours for a meal with long waiting for food and drinks. Hot food is usually cold or lukewarm. Food rating: poor. The waiters and servers are all rushing but they are seriously understaffed. Optional restaurants - Nice to have a guaranteed seat but again service was very slow. Food rating: below average. Entertainment: After 9pm it's only the Mardi Gras room with 60-80's music or one of the smaller smoking lounges. Overall rating: Poor Activities on board - limited SPA: Excellent. Excursions: All excursions were great, food was excellent and the crew went out of their way to make sure everyone was having a great time. Speakers inside cabins not working so you had to open cabin door to hear them. Transportation from pier to Airport: There are no carts or porters inside the terminal so you have to move your own bags outside to the buses (but security won't let you back in the same door for you other bags). At the Airport: No one tells you you must go through Agricultural inspection, then ticket counter, then x-ray inspection while moving through crowds, with your baggage. Flights home (arranged by NCL): Wife and I were given two different seats (not even close together) on a full flight. Overall: NCL needs to understand service by sailing on other cruise lines and offer "freestyle dining" as an option to regular early or late seating. General comments from everyone we talked to on this cruise was the same: they were disappointed and complaining about service and waiting a long time for everything. If you want to see Hawaii and have a great time try Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland or Pleasant Hawaiian or SunTrips but do not cruise with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Save your money! This trip was a total disappointment. Our family of 8 just returned from week long cruise (8/13 - 8/20/05). Pro: New ship, a few staff members who tried very hard to "make things work." Cons: Lackluster food, ... Read More
Save your money! This trip was a total disappointment. Our family of 8 just returned from week long cruise (8/13 - 8/20/05). Pro: New ship, a few staff members who tried very hard to "make things work." Cons: Lackluster food, mostly bored staff, poor quality entertainment, nothing for 18-21 yr olds, and not much for others to do but drink at bars. (10 on ship.) Freestyle meant slow service in main dining rooms due to people coming to dine at all hours with not enough staff to effectively handle them. One meal took 3 hours to complete service! Be forewarned re Smoking: the Cigar "bar" is just an open space to the side of a main public space which means smoke goes everywhere. On our cruise the air conditioning, generators, and 4 engines went out at differing times causing various types of inconvenience including no hot water for showers, a shortened day on Kauai and a cancelled sail past the Napali coast because the ship had to "limp" straight back to Honolulu port. Jokes about "getting off and pushing" abounded. 3 hot tubs were cold. "Swimming pools" are extremely small, should be labeled "dipping" pools. With so many things not up to speed, this ship definitely was not ready to be put into service and should not have been. Try for some other line or visit these beautiful islands on your own. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2005
Just returned from our Hawaiian cruise. I had done extensive research before so I thought I knew what to expect. However experiencing it was another story. I was expecting an extremely small cabin w/ limited storage. We had an outside w/ ... Read More
Just returned from our Hawaiian cruise. I had done extensive research before so I thought I knew what to expect. However experiencing it was another story. I was expecting an extremely small cabin w/ limited storage. We had an outside w/ balcony and were pleasantly surprised that it was more than adequate for 2 adults. The bed was extremely comfortable. Lots of pillows. We had a great cabin stewardess. Our room was always clean, made up by noon and always turned down in the evening. No complaints there. We ordered room service breakfast every day. There was very limited selection especially regarding fruit (and we were in Hawaii!!). Everything was tasty but limited. We chose not to spend extra for dinner except for one night (my birthday). We spent that in Jefferson's Bistro and thought it was quite good with excellent service. The rest of the nights we ate in either the Liberty or Skyline. No problem getting seated as we like to eat late (9). The choices were limited but what they had very tasty. Service was hit or miss. Definitely need more training! The staff on the whole was very friendly but not efficient or well-trained as far as I was concerned. Luggage service was awful. We spent 2 days in Honolulu prior and our luggage was picked up at 8:30am. from hotel. We arrived on ship about 3 and did not get out luggage until 8 in the evening. Our cabin was across from where the luggage arrived and I kept checking. The people were totally disorganized and furthermore did not seen to care at all!! Totally unacceptable. One day leaving the ship around 10 am they ran out of beach towels. Same day there were no towels at the pool. Jacuzzi was lukewarm. Loved the piano player at Pinks but smoking was allowed there. Why they would choose that area is a mystery as it is totally open to the main atrium of 2 floors. Makes no sense. Should be in an enclosed bar area. Ship is quite lovely and unique. However they definitely need to spiff up a lot of service issues. I told them I would rather they increase my bill by $50 and NOT CHARGE EXTRA FOR THE RESTAURANTS. Maybe have one for special but not 3 or 4. Diamond Princess has freestyle dining with 4 free specialty restaurants and only one that charges. This was my first NCL experience and I doubt I would try another. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Sailed on Aug. 20. I had cabins 10508 and 10509. 10508 is a family suite and 10509 is an inside cabin. The cons: (1) The food was good, but not great. (2) The excursions were $$expensive$$. (3) The Pacific Paradise Luau on Maui. ... Read More
Sailed on Aug. 20. I had cabins 10508 and 10509. 10508 is a family suite and 10509 is an inside cabin. The cons: (1) The food was good, but not great. (2) The excursions were $$expensive$$. (3) The Pacific Paradise Luau on Maui. Entertainment fine. Food not so. (4) They have got to automate booking of excursions. The lines were too long. I suspect that the staff work on commission at that station. (5) I heard that the staff aren't all that happy. They get paid something like $6.75/hr (6) Rumor had it that the engines were still having problems. (7) The boat did not cruise past the south coast of Big Island :-( (8) Constant lateral rocking of boat. I suspect engine problems (9) An unannounced change of itinerary at Kuai. I agree with the change but it really screwed up my sched. COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE! The pros: (1) I think the boat is neat and not ugly. (2) I liked the cabins. (3) My cabin steward was great! I tipped him well for it. (4) The change of itinerary for Kuai is a great change! (5) The "Liberty" main dining room is beautiful. (6) On the whole the staff and crew where friendly and tried hard. In short. The family wished they had an extra few days. We would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
August 20-27 I came on Cruise Critic and read everything before we went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and tried to remember all of the suggestions people made for the cruise in order to better plan, unfortunately I forgot a lot ... Read More
August 20-27 I came on Cruise Critic and read everything before we went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and tried to remember all of the suggestions people made for the cruise in order to better plan, unfortunately I forgot a lot of it and had wished that I'd written it down. It's cool to come on here after also and reread them, because now you know what people are talking about. Being my first cruise and that it was my honeymoon, I was already amazed at the idea and size of the boat and would often (when sitting in a huge theater or restaurant) have to remind myself that we were on a ship. I booked my excursions before we left since we(husband) had made our own honeymoon excursion registry webpage and included them as our gifts. When we arrived though, we didn't have all of the money for all of them since I had scheduled at least one, sometimes two for each day. Nervous I would not have enough money I cancelled all of my excursions thereafter, for fear of being arrested on our disembarkation for not paying. The shore excursion line did take about 20 minutes, but they gladly took our tickets and must've immediately given them to those on a waiting list, because when we arrived promptly at opening the next day, (after our money came in on paypal), to try and get them back they were already gone. (Haleakala? zipline and catch a wave surfing) The staff were very helpful though and even suggested a "trip to Lahaina on your own" where we could just go straight to one of the surfing schools and pay them. Which I did and was actually cheaper than booking it through NCL. I was surprised to see a lot of our excursions on shore in Lahaina for much cheaper. People were clearly upset around us that many of the excursions were in Lahaina which is a 45 minute bus ride from the ship, and were angry that they couldn't just stay in Lahaina for the Luau, but had to go all the way back to the ship and back again. This woman was outraged when the bus back to the ship from Lahaina became full except for us and them. She cussed out the bus driver and told about how her bus yesterday had a flat tire. There were many incidents like this where other people were heated and complaining (usually to people that could do nothing about it) while my husband and I got the better end of the deal. Like our helicopter excursion in Kauai for example. We got to see everything, the coast, Waimea Canyon, etc, and we were in the two front seats of the heli! but because they had changed the times to leave early in order to see Napali coast, the 2nd heli had to quickly fly back to the airport where our van picked them up, Not to mention the couple that got ousted completely because the guy had gained weight or not reported the correct weight. Wow was his wife heated! THis was the "Heaven and Earth helicopter excursion" which I do NOT recommend. Just get the actual helicopter ride for half the price. I guess we paid $240 for some negative tour guide to drive us around the highway around Kauai and tell us about his carpenter days and which houses he built and how bad the road situation is in Hawaii and where the girl surfer got her arm bit off. We stopped twice to get out, neither time did he let us eat our packed lunch in the sweltering heat, he suggested we eat it on the rush back to the boat. The helicopter ride though.....amazing, it's like a lot of Hawaii is, you feel like you've seen it before, but really only on postcards or on TV. Excursions: Well the first day we were ironing out our $ so we decided to tour the ship. We liked the oversize chess, but the "golf range, shuffleboard, and the video arcade were already worn out looking. The arcade games color was way off and for .50 cents each game when you didn't even know what color you were going for, and machines kept eating your money it was a pure ripoff. I did see in the "freestyle daily" (a mini brochure that they're supposed to put outside your door each morning, but usually forget) that there was a free video game hour. but with most of them broken, who cares. Catch A Wave Surfing: just went to "Lahaina on Your Own" and slipped in with the rest of the ship and paid them. It was cool to actually catch waves, with them assisting, pushing you into the wave so you didn't have to paddle vigorously or guess which one was going to be worth riding. It was a bit confusing though, with so many other beginner groups there and we were supposed to wait on the other side of the buoys but everyone seemed to keep floating over and by the end of the day, you were trying to dodge people alongside even being able to stand up. You also didn't know when it was your turn to go, there was no system or line in place, very random and some people just kept turning around if they fell down and cutting. It was very shallow which was good for fear factor, but bad when you tried to jump off your board, you'd get scraped up or step on a rock. And with most of the excursions and with the ship photos, It's really annoying to have to pay an additional $25 to keep the photo that they already printed out! what are they gonna do with them anyway? So we just had someone take ours with our camera. Luau: I agree that this was very impersonal, very mass-marketed luau but cool for a first one. Saw the pig get dug out and free drinks all night! The food line went remarkably quick considering half the boat was there. Great photo op at sunset, with $25 photos as usual. And newlywed men were supposed to dance for their women, but mine hid out :( He knew I was sad though, since he also opted out of playing the Newlywed Game onboard (very funny), and does the dance for me at home. One thing I couldn't get over is how warm Hawaii is. I never needed a jacket, and I even went outside at night on our balcony when our room was too cold. I agree with a previous member, the ship was entirely too cold! How can you dress in a formal cocktail dress when you're freezing to death. Even when out on the deck, you could feel the cold breeze from inside when you walked past an open door. Atlantis submarine: My mom said when she went a year ago they saw turtles. we didn't see much of anything one reef and some yellow fish. but it was still cool to be under water and the captain and crew tried to be humorous. Body Glove Snorkel and Dolphin??? Sail: very misleading description. We saw no dolphins anywhere or turtles once again and basically I saw the same stuff as I saw in the Atlantis sub, but the snorkeling was very relaxing and enjoyable and you float extra well because of the salt water. (Oh yeah, watch out for your first taste of that water!) Hidden Valley Falls Kayak: Also misleading description. The kayak was a 2 person which was very cool and down a lazy type river which was what I wanted after I heard the horror stories of some people that went on the tumultuous sea kayaks. We heard some good history and arrived at our destination. We hiked through the dense forest, (wear water type shoes: (I forgot my crocs) and streams and then swung off the rope vine that Indiana jones did in Raiders of the lost Ark into the river, which I was happy about because when we passed the other group with our tour, they were jumping into a murky swamp. We even picked fresh ginger (I think it was) which you can squeeze a gel out of which can be used on your hair or as a mosquito repellant, both of which I needed at the time. When we arrived at the "falls" they were more of a drizzle and people were more interested in the big shrimp in the water. I was disappointed that this would be the only water fall I would see in Hawaii. We had a motorized boat trip back, where I thought we would get a lunch, but it was local cookies and juice. It was a good excursion though, great way to cooperate with your new husband. I already told you about the heli, I think next time (if I ever recover from this$ trip, from others recommendations, I would do the Haleakala Zipline, the turtle beach, and the waterfall that you can actually walk behind. I'd probably heli again, but definitely won't pay $480 (nonrefundable) to be vanned through a boring tour. Just do the actual flight. maybe over a volcano this time. O.k. the prices! To use the phone was $7.95 a minute. and the internet which I was ironically using to check my credit card and bank balances cost an initial $3.95 and then .75 a minute! The chord for wireless was $10 deposit (you got back later) but the guy was rarely actually in the lounge if you needed help. There was pay phones on each dock and my cell phone worked until we were just off shore, but still a helpless feeling. Our room was cool, bigger than I thought because of what people said on here. We ran into a woman that was in hotel/resort services for years and she was really mad that her room was so dirty, she made them clean it while she watched. We were happy we didn't have that problem,,,,,so we thought...the second day we found a pair of the previous guests' used underwear under the bed. We were just going to throw it away and leave a note for the floor manager but decided to go tell the reception desk, They didn't care, "oh you'd like it removed?" We wondered if we were the type of people to make a bigger "stink" about it if they'd of compensated us somehow. I mean if I didn't trust my man at all, that could've started a huge fight between us..."whose are these?" The balcony was amazing to watch sunsets from and leave shore, but we also got to see closeup the sewer water that they dump into the ocean from the ship. (they'll explain it no the tv channel) and it makes you not so excited about all those water excursions that you booked. :( The lady at the front desk was very rude right when we got on and you had to search out a few staff who were happy to be there. The aloha cafe was very comfortable knowing that you could eat there anytime in your bikini if you wished, although they could've changed it up a bit. And the omelettes took forever to get made, so I just opted to get scrambled eggs and then go to his omelette bar and dump stuff on. The Mardi Gras bar was cheesy and played pop music that maybe my mom had heard of. We wondered why there was no Jazz or Hip Hop night since these are American born genres of music as well. or Reggae from the islands There is not much nightlife on the islands though and our bartender told us stories of how the locals hate the tourists and drug them and beat them up, so we didn't think that was a good idea. The night shows were also cheesy and the whole ship did not offer much for the 21-35 age group. (Get a bowling alley or something)The luau type show was good, but we quickly found out that a lot of the Hawaiian stuff was only on show for tourists and was not authentic at all. (Why were the hula girls in the cadillac diner Elvis mural all caucasian?) It was really sad to hear the stories on your excursions about how the islanders want to be considered as Native Americans, and about how all of the European settlers came in and started purchasing land, a concept that Hawaiians never contemplated since they viewed it as god's land and didn't feel like anyone could "own" land. I started to feel inauthentic and touristy as well, jumping off our huge American flagged ship out in the middle of the ocean (Kona) with hula shirts on and leis that are only supposed to be worn for special occasions. I also wondered if we were impeding on religious and ceremonial values, are we supposed to say Mahalo and Aloha and we were also told that "tribal" tattoos can be very offensive to Hawaiians who are actually in these tribes. We've come to expect looks and stares from people since we are interracial, but this ship was noticeably overaware of us and seemed to all come from the south or something. I guess we're too used to Californians who expect and respect diversity. I'm sure the gay couple on board would agree with us. Anyway, all in all it was an amazing trip, the rocking of the boat was actually quite relaxing, except when you were trying to walk in your high heels. I still feel like I'm moving. We were amazed to be in an area more expensive than the SF bay area! Burger King meal was $8.00 and they definitely needed to do something about our flight not leaving the airport until 9:30 at night. We were sitting in the airport for 14 hours! and figured this was a lame way to try and get us to purchase another shore excursion in Honolulu. 7 days was just long enough and I agree that the cruise was a great way to see which island you would stay on the next time. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
PRIDE OF AMERICA - August 20-27, 2005 Cabin 9536 Deck 9: Category BD Background: My wife and I are in our mid fifties, have cruised before on Carnival, have never been to Hawaii, and we are quite open minded. I think my review will be ... Read More
PRIDE OF AMERICA - August 20-27, 2005 Cabin 9536 Deck 9: Category BD Background: My wife and I are in our mid fifties, have cruised before on Carnival, have never been to Hawaii, and we are quite open minded. I think my review will be shared by many other passengers who I had the opportunity to meet on the cruise. Pre-Cruise Planning: I allowed NCL to plan this vacation including Air connections from Tucson to Hawaii and return. Making the reservation was easy; however the NCL lady talked me out of a suite and into a category BD Ocean View Balcony Room. I think she thought that I was on a budget or looking for a cheap cruise deal which was not the case. I would regret letting her plan my trip as time went on. She neglected to complete the air connections part of the reservation. I had heard nothing about the reservation until about 14 days prior to the cruise. I called NCL, being concerned with the lack of communication and found that the air connections had not been assigned. The end result of this was that by this time, all the flights from Hawaii to Tucson were pretty full. My wife and I were forced to do a flight from hell on United Airlines leaving Honolulu at 10:30 PM for a 7 hour flight to Denver Colorado (5 hours out of our way including a 3 hour layover in Denver)....I will NEVER LET NCL PLAN MY TRIP AGAIN! If you are planning such a cruise, be sure to book your own flights at least 1 month out, to insure availability of flights and the connections you want. Honolulu is very short on flights to the mainland departing on Saturdays and Sundays. Because of the delay in getting the air set up, NCL was unable to get me the Pre-Cruise Documents package by mail. My wife and I were unsure of our reservations up until the day before departure when NCl finally emailed us some pre-cruise info, after a frantic call from me. On the actual flight to Hawaii, I was able to book a 1st class upgrade for us out of LA. NCL had previously told me that this was impossible and that I would have to fly economy. This was not true. NCL refused to assign us to any other airline as the original reservation was on some sort of discount deal, even though I specifically told them that money was not an issue and that I would gladly pay any difference for good connections and the 1st class upgrades. The NCL Air reservations staff was completely useless, and couldn't care less. They partner with United Airlines and are hesitant to let you book with anyone else, which in my case would have saved me at least 5 hours on the return flight. There was no upgrade available from Honolulu to the mainland so we suffered through the worst flight I have ever had. We were forced to be awake from 8AM Saturday until we arrived home at 2PM the following day! What a horrible way to end our "Dream Vacation". Your pre-cruise planning should include booking all of your shore excursions IN ADVANCE on the internet, or by phone/fax. This MUST BE DONE NO LATER THAN 14 DAYS PRIOR TO THE CRUISE or you will find many of the excursions fully booked when you get onboard. My grade for NCL's pre-planning of flights and shore excursions is D- to F. They just don't seem to care. Pre-Cruise Package: We opted to fly from Tucson to Honolulu on Thursday the 18th so we would have Thursday, Friday and ½ of Saturday in Waikiki Beach, Oahu, to settle in and do some sightseeing. NCL booked us at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort which turned out to be a lovely hotel. The room was immaculate and the service was great. There are many shops in the hotel proper. It is located 2 blocks from the International Market and right across the street from the famous Beach. NCL did manage to meet us at the plane and it was only a short wait for the bus to the hotel. The Bus ride was another matter however. NCL advertises that it is about 10 minutes from the airport to the hotel, however the bus stops at about 5-6 hotels on the way and it took us almost 90 minutes in the bus to finally arrive at the Marriott. Upon arrival we immediately went to the NCL desk at the hotel and did our Pre-Cruise Check In. They took our pictures and checked our reservations and ID. This proved to be a real timesaver when we went to the dock on Saturday. There were several hundred people on the normal check in lines and only 3 or 4 in the Marriott Pre-Check in line. We were on the boat in less than 10 minutes! BE SURE TO DO THE MARRIOTT PRE CRUISE CHECK IN! Another benefit to the pre cruise check in was that we had previously booked for 7 shore excursions and had received confirmation by email for only 5 of them. We were told by email that the other two excursions were full. However, at the Marriott check in office, we were able to book the remaining 2 excursions in advance. This saved us from having to deal with the several hour wait in line at the Shore Excursion desk on the ship. An interesting note here. If you are told by the NCL Staff on the phone or by email that a certain Excursion if full. Try to book the same tour at the NCL Desk at the Marriott. If it is still full, try again at the Shore Excursion desk onboard at deck 5, the day before the tour. There are cancellations and seats do become available a lot of the time. Be persistent. The NCL Staff at the Marriott checked us into the hotel and got our keys for us in about 10 minutes....They were organized and very helpful. They also issued us a tag with our departure times to the port. My grade of the NCL Desk process at the Marriott is B+ My Grade for NCL's choice of Hotels is B+ Pre-Cruise Shore Activities: I set up several activities on my own without NCL help. Upon arrival at the Marriott, we were able to relax for a few hours until we met the bus at 4:30 at the hotel across the street where we were bused to "Germaines Luao", north of Honolulu. This was a backyard type Luao, held on the beach. The food was fair. The Emu roasted pig was delicious. The Polynesian dancing was incredible. I had heard that the Luao offered by NCL on Maui was not very good so I had planned this one instead in advance. Our driver "AKA" was amazing. He was from the Forbidden Island and was also a Kahuna. He sang prayers for us and told amazing stories. We returned to the hotel about 10 PM. This Luao can be arranged online at http://www.hawaii.com/. We had been previously told that Friday was a state holiday, and that Hanauma Bay would be closed. This turned out to be untrue and we were able to book a trip out to beautiful Hanauma Bay! This is a lovely place. It is a snorkeling adventure in an old volcanic crater which has been filled in by the sea. There were hundreds of people at the beach but the sea life didn't seem to mind. If you are a scuba diver, or very familiar with the sea, this location will prove to be a middle of the road type snorkel. If you are new to snorkeling or diving, this is the place for you. Nice coral and protected waters. Admission is $5 and $1.50 for a tram ride up and down to the beach. Food and restrooms are available. Bring a camera. Snorkeling gear can be rented at the beach also. Friday night we went to the famous Honolulu Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I love this chain. Probably the best steaks I have ever tasted however quite pricey! Dinner with a bottle of wine came to $225.00. WARNING! The state of Hawaii has a liquor law which is pretty dumb. If you order wine by the bottle in Hawaii, you ARE NOT ALLOWED to take the wine with you when you leave. You must either leave the unused wine, or drink all of it at the restaurant, unless the restaurant has a liquor distribution license. Few of them do. My wife was forced to drink down all of the bottle and got quite sick later that night as a result. I imagine that this law will cause quite a few traffic accidents in the future. This is a newer law. Dining opportunities in Waikiki Beach are plentiful however you will need reservations if you plan to go to the more famous places to eat. Saturday arrived and we were just too tired to do much except walk up and down the shopping areas of town and take in the sights. Embarkation: At 1:30 PM we met the Shuttle to the pier for our adventure on the Pride of America! The shuttle ride was easy and short. Our baggage was handled quickly. Arrival at the Pier is beautiful. The famous ALOHA Tower is right next to the Pride of America dock. We got Laied upon arrival with lovely flowers for the ladies, and shells for the men. We went straight to the Marriott Pre-Cruise Booking desk bypassing a long wait in line for those who did not pre-book at the Marriott. We were given our Cruise cards / room keys and were on board in less than 10 minutes. ½ of our luggage was waiting at our room when we arrived and the other ½ arrived about 1 ½ hours later. We entered the ship on deck 5 which is where the reservations desk, and shore excursion desk are, along with one of the main restaurants. The first view inside the ship is of the Great Seal of the United States of America, and a replica of the Capitol building rotunda ceiling which is awe inspiring. The ship was spotlessly clean upon first impression. This is a beautiful ship and like none other I have ever seen. My grade for Embarkation is A (Provided that you do the Marriott check-in) My Grade for Luggage handling is B+ Ships Condition: The Pride of America is a lovely ship. Everything is new. Our Ocean View Balcony Cabin was as advertised. Small for more than 2 people, however, enough room for my wife and me. The room was clean upon arrival with the exception of our bedspread which was balled up in a corner. We unfolded it and found a really gross stain on it. The couple who had the room before us were probably on their honeymoon is all I can say about that here. We turned in the bedspread and asked for another……7 days later, we still had not received one. When you unpack, place the empty suitcases under the beds. There is no room elsewhere. We had 4 suitcases and 2 carryons and were able to manage okay. Housekeeping is Horrible. If you want coffee in your room for the coffee maker, you probably better ask for it. We placed written requests on the door each day. When we forgot to do this, we had no coffee. They were also skimpy on sugar and creamer. Our room was made up each night however we never found towel animals and seldom saw chocolate. The housekeeping staff seems to ignore the signs next to the front door which say "Welcome" or "Make Up Room", "Turn Down Room" and "Do Not Disturb". They pretty much bang and come in no matter which sign is posted. Our maid did not speak good English and communication was difficult with her. The housekeeping staff argued a lot and could be heard from the hallways yelling at each other. We also had to ask for garbage to be taken, and ashtrays to be emptied. I am a smoker however I only smoke on the balcony or on open decks. We ran out of tissue, toilet paper and shower gel during the cruise and had to ask for more. We never did receive the Freestyle Magazine each evening as promised. The magazine with the daily schedule would occasionally appear at our front door the next morning when we were hurrying out the door for a tour. I would grab the magazine, throw it on the bed and we'd leave. By the time we would return in the afternoon from our tour, the room would have been made up and the magazine would have disappeared. We never once got to read the darn thing! We also had no idea when the shows, formal nights, or other onboard activities would occur as a result. This kind of stuff should be automatic for the housekeeping staff. I doubt they have a checklist of what to clean in each room, each day. Terrible service. My grade for Housekeeping is D-. SHIP CLEANLINESS: With the exception of Decks 5 and 6, where many of the public rooms are located, the ship seemed clean. However on deck 5 and 6, after the first day, there was an unbelievable smell of methane gas from sewer problems. The caustic smell of human waste pervaded these decks amidships. Everyone complained about this, however the ships crew was unable to remedy the problem for days! This is simply unforgivable for a modern ship. NCL should dock this ship until the problem is fixed. Period. This is certainly a public health risk. Any boat named "Pride of America" should reflect that pride, and NOT smell of waste. The company should be ashamed if itself for this. My Grade for Ships Cleanliness overall is C. My Grade for Odor Control and Plumbing is a solid F for failure. SHIPS CLIMATE: I am aware that Norwegian Cruise Lines owns and operates this ship, however someone needs to tell them that THIS IS NOT NORWAY! This ship is COLD, VERY VERY COLD! All of the public rooms are almost unbearable because of the cold. Everyone complains and it finally seemed a bit warmer on the very last day of the cruise! On formal Night, my wife and I opted to leave the dress clothing behind in favor of comfort. She wore a sweat suit over pants and a sweater, and I wore 2 sweaters. We had our formal picture taken in these clothes and I will be posting this as my opinion of NCL's uncaring attitude regarding climate. By the 4th night of the cruise I had developed a horrible cold. I blame NCL and its air conditioning for this. I pity the next occupant of our cabin, as I am certain I left many germs behind and that the housekeeping staff did a poor job, if any, of sanitizing the cabin. There is a control for the AC in each cabin however it takes a long time to kick in. My wife and I usually had the Balcony door open to warm up our cabin, and the AC OFF all the time onboard. My Grade for NCL's Climate control through the ship is F for Failure. Restaurants & Food: Our first night on board found us dining at "East Meets West". This is an attempt at fusion cooking and each dish was wonderful. My complaint here is that the dishes names barely resemble the food actually served. I ordered Green Thai Curry but was served a Brown concoction with little if any actual Green Curry in it. It was delicious, but it was not what I had thought I had ordered. The Sushi on the first night was fresh and very tasty. 4 nights later when we dined here again, the Sushi seemed discolored. I was told that they vacuum pack their fish for the voyage. I recommend this restaurant however it does get booked fast. BE SURE to do phone reservations for this specialty restaurant. There is a $10 dollar cover charge here. Night 2 found us in the Liberty Restaurant. This is one of the main dining rooms. There are usually 3 nightly entrees to choose from, with one vegetarian choice as well. There are also 3 items that can be had each night. The service at the Liberty and Skyline restaurants is very slow. The food is below average for a cruise ship and the staff is frantically trying to meet the needs of 2,000 passengers. There is an obvious lack of staff and nowhere on the ship to put new staff. If you eat after 7PM, expect to wait an hour or so for a seat if you didn't phone in a reservation. The end result of this short staffing is that you have very slow service, very long waits for a seat if you didn't phone in a reservation early, and the main restaurants are only ½ full at any given time because there is simply not enough staff to meet the demand. Night 3 was the best eating experience on the ship at "Jefferson's Bistro". A high cover charge but the food was worth it. This place books out early so do the reservations well in advance. The waiters seem to swish about in an obvious way but I found this entertaining. The Filet Mignon was prepared in a fabulous manner that I won't bore you with here. Night 5 we tried the "Lazy J Steakhouse". I was just getting sick that night and I don't remember a lot about the place. I think the food was quite good. One night in the Liberty restaurant, we had a young waitress who loved using terms such as "Was your meal prepared impeccably Madame?" , which it of course, was not….and "Masseur this" and "Madame that" each chance she found. I finally asked her "Parlais vous Francais?" and she sheepishly said No….I found this a bit pretentious and definitely phony bologna for an "American" ship. Someone should tell the staff to not fake it, and to just be themselves. Americans don't need to put on plastic to make a good impression. Breakfast was another interesting adventure. Nobody told us that the main restaurants close at 9AM, so we had to eat at the "Aloha Cafe" which is a buffet affair. On the first morning they ran out of eggs by 9Am so we found other options. There is almost no tropical fruit on this cruise. No Papaya, No Guava, No Mangos, all of which are in abundance in Hawaii! The Pineapple is always available. Bar service is quick and costly! $5 for a beer and $7 for a shot of anything cheap. I called for room service on two occasions. Each time I was told that it would be at least an hour before any of the menu items could be delivered. I ordered anyway and the drinks arrived in about 10 minutes and the food about 30 minutes later. It seems that staff tried to dissuade the passengers from using room service. The Smoked Salmon platter is huge and wonderful! The Cadillac Cafe is a waste of time. If I wanted to eat at Denny's, I would have stayed ashore! Breakfast is the only time I saw anyone here and even then the choices are few. There is one waitress here named Poly who is a delight. She found me in the foulest mood, and just smiled and tried to find ways to serve me….she was great! My Grade for Onboard Food Service is D for Below Average. Shore Excursions: My wife and I opted to let NCL provide us with shore excursions for each day. We were aware that this was the costly route but it was less hassle for us to plan. You can book excursions at each pier when you dock at about ½ to 2/3rds of the price that NCL charges for the same experience. Hilo: Secrets of Puna Tour" This tour was simply great! We boarded large Vans and were given an all day tour of the Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii. The first stop was Lava Tree State Park. Here are found huge lava columns and tropical rain forest. The place is amazing to say the least. Next, out to the Champagne Pools for snorkeling. The pools are ponds which have been separated from the ocean and are volcanically heated. Located amongst the Lava flows the beach is course black sand. This was a nice bath and a below average snorkel if you want to see fish or sea life. A very beautiful place however overall and definitely worth the trip. Next, to Mackenzie Park for Lunch, and a great view of waves smashing into walls of Lava. Then on to a tour of the huge lava flows that come down almost 15 miles from the top of a distant mountain to the sea. The sight is incredible with Mount Kilauea erupting smoke in the distance. Then back to Hilo for shopping at Hilo Hatties. I think that most of the tours offered by NCL end in a shopping stop. Secrets of Puna Tour, my grade is B for above average. SCENIC CRUISE OF MOUNT KILAUEA: The Captain for some undisclosed reason decided to change our itinerary and we did not go by the Volcano. This was a major disappointment for me and all the passengers. I plan to ask for a refund however I don't expect to see much satisfaction from NCL. MAUI Day One: Molokini Crater and Turtle Arches Snorkel Tour. This tour begins wit a bus ride to the small harbor on the West side of Maui. We boarded a small vessel with about 90 other people and rode for about 20 mins out to Molokini Crater off the coast of Maui. The snorkel here was absolutely beautiful with a great abundance of fish and coral. Bring your underwater camera. Next, on to the Turtle Arches. This site is about 20 mins from the crater and is nowhere as interesting. We did see Turtles in the water from the boat however I doubt anyone saw them while in the water. This is a deep site and really should be explored with scuba. The bottom is just too deep to provide good snorkeling. A current came in with the afternoon winds and snorkeling back to the boat was a very difficult affair. The return ride to the harbor took about 45 mins and was simply beautiful. My grade for Turtle Arches is D for below average. My Grade for Snorkeling Molokini Crater is B for Above Average. Maui Day 2. Rainforest and Waterfall Hiking Tour It's nice to be able to write about how wonderful a tour is! We departed the ship and boarded a van for our Rainforest and Waterfall hike. A 45 minute drive up the road to Hana brought us to "Garden of Eden Park" which is lovely beyond description. Our guide warned us that this was not just a walk in the park. He wasn't kidding either. If you are over 50 years old, you might reconsider this hike unless you are in good shape. We started down the rainforest covered hill for what turned out to be an 800 foot descent in less than a mile. Pretty steep. The hike as almost all on stairs, over 350 of them, down to the waterfalls and pools. Very tropical and lush. We were shown how to pick fresh Awapuhee to use as a shampoo. We ate fresh Guava right off the trees. At the bottom everyone had the opportunity to swim in cool pools formed by the waterfalls. The braver souls climbed up the waterfalls for diving. A 30 foot, and 40 foot dive was offered. The climb back up the hill was quite difficult for me and my wife but we did manage to make it. After this hike we went to the site of the 200 foot waterfall that was filmed at the very beginning of Jurassic Park where the helicopter descends straight down next to this beautiful waterfall. My Grade for the Rainforest and Waterfall Hike is an A for Excellent. KONA: Kona Cultural and Snorkel Tour This tour was fun. The tour began with a 45 minute snorkel at one of the beaches right in town. This is a beginner site and children are all over the place. Our guide gave us masks but did not offer fins or booties. Call me overly cautious, but I think that when you snorkel in an area with coral and spiny sea urchins, that it's a good idea to wear booties or fins. The fish at this beach are tame as can be. They almost posed for the pictures I was taking. Unfortunately, my wife fell on the slippery rocks as she exited the water and hurt her knee. We were quite upset about this. The guide did help her clean the wounds and she was okay. After snorkeling, we proceeded to a fabulous location named "Pu'uhonua o Honaunau" , a sacred site that once housed the Ali'I (royalty) and a place of refuge for those who violated Kapu, the sacred laws. The village has been rebuilt and is simply fascinating as well as unbelievably beautiful. Next it was on to a coffee plantation for shopping, tasting coffees, macadamia nuts, fruits etc. My Grade for the Kona Cultural and Snorkel Tour is B for above average. KAUAI DAY 1. Wiamea Canyon, Wiluea River & Fern Grotto Tour Perhaps I'm getting a little picky here but I like touring with small groups in small vehicles. It's more personal and usually more interesting. This tour is in a large bus. The drive from the ship to Waimea Canyon is about 1 ½ hours and we had a very knowledgeable tour guide and driver. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no tonal inflections in his voice and used no humor at all. The result was that most of us on the bus fell asleep during his non-stop monolog of who owned what piece of land 200 years ago. This guy needs someone to tickle him or a shot of caffeine or something. Waimea Canyon is fantastic. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It does resemble the Grand Canyon. The drive out here is long and you might do better to take a helicopter tour of this area if time is a concern. We only visited one lookout on this tour and it was over 3 hours round trip. After the canyon we returned to the East side of Kauai to the Wailua River. We boarded flat bottom boats and cruised for about 3 miles up the river to the site of the famous Fern Grotto. BRING A CAMERA if you go to Fern Grotto. This is one of the loveliest places on Earth in my opinion. No wonder that Hawaiian royalty kept this place reserved for their own uses for centuries. My Grade for the Waimea Canyon, Wailua River & Fern Grotto Tour is a B for above average, however I would recommend that you simply do the Wailua River, Fern Grotto tour instead, and see Waimea Canyon by air to avoid the 3 hour drive. KAUAI DAY 2. Heaven and Earth Tour This tour leaves at 7AM so get that good Kona Coffee brewing early. We traveled by Van to the North Shore of Kauai which is probably one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. A new beach lurks beyond every curve in the road. Quaint villages dot the coastline. You will see the famous “Bali Hi” coast from the road. We stopped at several beaches and drank in the wonderful tropical trade winds. One stop was at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge where Birds by the thousands make their homes. The lighthouse here is really photogenic. After the drive, we were dropped at the local Heliport. There were 10 of us in the Van plus the driver. We were shown a safety video before the Helicopter ride. My wife and I were very fortunate to be given seats on the first helicopter to leave. The helicopter ride was about 30 mins long and was simply beyond description. The Volcano craters, The Rainforest views, the Na-Pali coastline and waterfalls are simply not to be believed. Unfortunately, NCL had arranged with the helicopter company a late morning departure time for our air tours. We needed to be back at the Ship by 1:30 PM. The second group of people who boarded the second helicopter had to cut their tour short only ½ was through and flew back to Lihue instead of being able to complete the air tour. One gentleman who was traveling with us weighed differently than was planned for by the Helicopter Company and as a result, he was not allowed to board the flight at all. Both he and his wife were completely deprived of the air tour. All because NCL and the Helicopter company did shabby scheduling and did not allow enough time for the tour. My Grade for the Heaven and Earth Tour is a B+ for content, however the scheduling is certainly an F for failure. Debarkation: Honolulu As is usual for cruise ships, you place your baggage outside your cabin the night before debarkation. Luggage tags are issued to each cabin. In the morning you are called by tag color to debark. You can stay on board for breakfast or whatever if you choose. Debarkation went smoothly. Our Final Tour: Oahu Deluxe Grand Circle Island Tour This Bus tour is as advertised. A 7 hour bus ride with brief stops at the Dole Pineapple plantation, views of Oahu’s North Shore, Wiamea bay, Bonsai Pipeline, etc. We drove by the Polynesian cultural center and down the East coast of Oahu. Lunch was served at the famous Turtle Bay Resort. Great food and a beach to die for. We had enough time to stroll out on the beach and to sit under a palm tree for a while. After Lunch, the drive down the East Coast of Oahu is breathtaking. The East coast of Oahu is completely different from the atmosphere of Honolulu and Waikiki. It seems much more laid back and tropical. We stopped at Hanauma Bay to enjoy the views but did not go down to snorkel. The tour also stops for almost an hour in Waikiki Beach for shopping. The tour ended at Honolulu Airport. Honolulu Airport: All I can say here is What a MESS! The check in procedure for United Airlines is a haphazard affair at best. We went through 3 separate security checkpoints. Be sure not to have a cigarette lighter with you here as it will be confiscated. Return Flights: Our return flight was not until 10:30 PM and took us 5 hours out of our way. NCL will never plan for me again. In closing, I’d like to say that this is the cruise of a lifetime…It wasn’t. However, this is Hawaii and if you can’t have fun in Hawaii, you must be dead! The Islands were far in excess of all my expectations. The cruise was not that great and at times very disappointing. The ship's problems seem to be due to under staffing and under training. They are curable. I do feel that each passenger is entitled to a partial refund for the change in itinerary and the many foibles of the crew. Another thorn in my spine is that Dining on the Pride of America can be a costly affair. Unless you limit yourself to the main dining rooms, you will pay cover charges and sometimes a la carte charges, along with your wine and bar tab. My wife and I probably spent an additional $500 dollars on these charges during our cruise. On any other cruise line, these restaurant charges would not occur. Of course, there is always a charge for alcohol. Our voyage was a very expensive experience and although both of us feel that this was a dream vacation, I will not go with NCL again. I do feel taken advantage of. The next time I do Hawaii, and I certainly will, it will be in Resorts on land, with more personal time on each island. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me at Cruise@VantagePointRealty.com. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Aloha! We returned from Hawaii yesterday and we are still on Hawaii time so I have some awake time to enter this review. Four of us (2 adults and 2 children) cruised on the Pride of America, August 27-September 3). We stayed on the ... Read More
Aloha! We returned from Hawaii yesterday and we are still on Hawaii time so I have some awake time to enter this review. Four of us (2 adults and 2 children) cruised on the Pride of America, August 27-September 3). We stayed on the North Shore at the Turtle Bay Resort pre-cruise and rented a car. These arrangements were made through a travel agent. On the day of embarkation, we returned the car to the rental agency at the airport and the woman at the returns desk called a cab for us. It arrived quickly and we loaded it up with all our luggage. We made the trip to the pier in no time. We arrived there around noon. At the pier a porter materialized out of thin air (this happened a lot since we had so much luggage) and took our bags to the checked luggage area. We continued on to wait in line outside the terminal building. This line moved quickly and we looked around in awe at the beautiful Aloha Tower Marketplace shopping and park area. Once inside our documents were checked and a picture was taken of the four of us against a green screen (image of ship inserted digitally). We then proceeded to the penthouse suite check-in which took a few minutes while they took our pictures and printed our cards. We met Al the concierge who directed us to the escalator and off we went to the ship. We went up to the Aloha Cafe to eat lunch and wait for our cabin to be ready. The buffet was amazing. All the food was delicious. It seemed overwhelming until we realized it was the same selection on both sides. After the buffet we went up on the pool deck and enjoyed the scenery. Our cabin was ready around 2 so we went down to unpack since our luggage showed up just as we were admiring our balcony. The butler showed up shortly after with a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries. There was a complementary bottle of champagne as well and a bowl of fresh fruit. There were only one problem; a dirty bathrobe (which wasn't removed until day 2 even though I mentioned it to two people). Other than that the cabin was huge with plenty of room for the four of us to store our stuff. The kids shared the pull out sofa. As predicted, they were too tired to care that they were sharing a bed. I can't say enough good things about this ship and the staff. I could go into intimate detail about every day but I'll limit it to the following; Dining: We made reservations through the concierge. Al helped us with reservations and shore excursion questions as well as tender tickets (suite's only) and VIP luggage tags. We dined in Lazy J (FANTASTIC), Little Italy (can get real Italian at home), East Meets West, Teppenyaki (lots of fun), and Liberty (good food, order more than you think, small portions). At Lazy J, the portions were small so before my entree came I asked for crabcake appetizer and shrimp cocktail and received both quickly so that I could eat them with my steak. Delicious, Not quite as good as Ruth's Chris but definitely in that category. Worth the extra $$. Server, Paulette, was very kind and attentive. Downside is that if you didn't make reservations, you didn't eat in a timely manner. We made and changed reservations through the concierge which was easy and we could do it even when the restaurant was closed. If we arrived back from a shore excursion late and needed to change it, one call is all it took. We ate breakfast in the Aloha Cafe every day except for once when we decided on room service on the balcony. It was a nice place to eat, but the food wasn't as good. Downside: The ship ran out of butter and could offer only margarine. Upside: If you need more to eat, hit the buffet in the Aloha Cafe for dessert or ice cream (I forgot about this until Friday, it's delicious). Shore Excursions: Be aware that most times changed from the NCL site. Tickets were in our room when we arrived. Volcanoes National Park Rainbow Falls - If I had it to do all over again, I would book the Volcanoes tour without the falls because it spends more time in the Volcanoes national park and does the Chain of Craters road. This would be well worth the price. As it was, the trip was fantastic. It rained but who cares, it was unbelievable. When we go back to the Big Island, we will return for a longer visit to the park. The tour started with lunch at the Volcano House where you were treated to a buffet which you ate in a dining room overlooking the caldera. Then the bus drove up to Jagger Museum, where we experienced some activity on the Seismograph (sp?). After that, the bus took us on a drive across the lava fields to an observation site which we walked to across a lava field full of steam vents. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen. We finished the tour at the Macadamia Nut Factory. I hate them (from home) but I gave them a try and now I'm hooked. You must buy the Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread!!!!! I've eaten half the box already. Historic Kona: This tour stops at the Place of Refuge (our favorite place on Kona), the Painted Church and the Kona Coffee house. I heard you can hook up with a guy on the pier who does this kind of tour and actually takes you through the place of refuge for about $30/person. Waimea Canyon, Wailua River Cruise, Fern Grotto: I booked this through the ship so we could enjoy the scenery and not worry about driving off the road. We were also treated to some amazing history, jokes and stories of Hawaii. The canyon is beautiful, but I would have like more time there. We were treated to a stop at the Spouting Horn at Poipu Beach. I didn't know it was included and was thrilled to see it. Lunch on this excursion is a buffet at the Marriott that served chicken, rice and mixed veggies and some elbow mac, ground beef, cheese and tomato concoction that my kids loved (go figure). This was all served with iced tea and cake out at the luau building on the grounds. The river cruise and fern grotto was very nice. If you take this trip please be respectful of the gentlemen who sing the wedding song by being quiet when they are performing. It is a special moment in the wonderful acoustical environment that is the fern grotto. Many on our excursion did not give them the full respect that they deserved and it nearly ruined it for the rest of us. Scenic Hanalei: I would have preferred a morning at the beach. If I'd known that a shuttle bus to Poipu could have been had at the pier, I wouldn't have booked this. It was nearly a waste of time, but we did see some amazing sites as we drove up to Princeville and spent 10 minutes at our destination (Hanalei Valley). With these two excursions and the cruise past the Napali Coast, we ended up seeing 95% of Kauai. Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial USS Missouri: We booked this the morning we docked in Honolulu at the end of the cruise only because we were tired and couldn't imagine driving around Honolulu and Waikiki. If I could do it all over again, I'd take a day-room at a local hotel with a pool until departure time (9:30pm) from Honolulu. Seeing the Memorial was worth it, but it was very hot that day and the rest we could have done without. Getting our luggage from the terminal building to the line for the tour and then to the bus was tricky considering how much we had and how few hands we had to help. In my opinion, this could have been done more easily. Oh well, it really wasn't that bad and we did get to see the memorial which was well worth it. We continued on to the punch bowl cemetery, Iolani Palace and King Kamehameha statue. honolulu is a very pretty city. Cabin: Very roomy as said before with a large balcony we hardly had a chance to use. Bathroom was adequate with plenty of room for showering, however, the room was already showing signs of usage. It looked like there used to be a sliding door between the toilet area and the sink/bathtub area. A knob was missing from the shower door. There was food debris on the sofa. The bed was very comfortable. It looked like it hadn't been vacuumed even though I often saw cabin stewards with vacs in the hallway. Except for that and the dirty bathrobe, it was clean. No towel animals but a chocolate on pillow every night. Only missed the Freestyle Daily once. There was ample room for storage and a huge walk-in closet with a vanity area with a desk and set of drawers. Another set of drawers lies under the closet rod. There's even drawers in the main part of the cabin for anything you want (clothes, snacks, etc). Entertainment: Never experience it because the kids kept falling asleep during dinner and we always had an early call for shore excursions in the morning. Also, when I planned to attend one, the show type changed to something I wasn't interested in. I did peek in one night on our way somewhere else and it was crowded. Concierge brought us a DVD for the kids to watch the first night, however, we couldn't figure out how to use the remote and we aren't tech dummies. We called the next night and the butler came up to help us. Public rooms: Most were empty when I walked past. They must have been busy later after all the shows let out. The Shuffles card room was popular. We played Big Chess on deck two nights and chess in Shuffles twice. The second time the room smelled overpoweringly of waste. The whole area did. That was gross. Food: On a whole, I was please except for Little Italy. The chocolate Buffet held in the Skyline at 2:30 the day we were in Kona was worth the early return on the tender. However, I had to reschedule our Little Italy reservation because we were still stuffed at 6:30. Service: All the staff that we met were kind, happy, talkative and pleasant. I have no complaints there. NONE whatsoever. Every one of them said Aloha or hello whenever we would walk past them. They looked like they were enjoying themselves. If they didn't know the answer to a question, they were more than happy to find someone who could. Pool: Plenty of deck for sunning and plenty of ways to get wet. two small showers, two pools side by side, 4 hot tubs and a huge shower on deck thirteen (we found it the last day). Staff poolside always made sure we were well watered with cocktails and soda. Best place to view Napali Coast: Deck 13 or 14 forward but it was hot in the blazing sun. Don't worry about finding a spot. Shower and change for dinner and head up on deck around 5. We were there between 5:30 and 6:30. Worst place on the ship: Starboard promenade Deck Midship - ship exhaust smell is overwhelming. Creepiest spot on the ship: Promenade deck aft - narrow deck area and low railing. Creepy especially at night. Coolest spot: Big Chess Coldest spot: dining rooms and Aloha Cafe Stinkiest Spot: Pinks Champagne Bar and anywhere close to the cigar bar. Quietest spot: sun deck on deck 14 or forward on deck 13. My Favorite Spot on the Ship: The balcony of the cabin while the ship is moving or my bed at night while we were cruising. I loved falling asleep to the motion of the ship. I felt like a baby in one of the bouncy seat things that vibrate. Over all, this is the ONLY way to get a great look/see of all the Hawaiian Islands if you have never been there before. It blew us away how different each one is and how they look from the perspective of being on a ship. Starboard Cabin gave us wonderful views of all the islands early in the morning as we arrived and offered great views while in port. However, Napali Coast was viewed from the Port side. We believe that NCL America has a great thing going and needs to stay on top of this. I would recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to get an interesting and unique view of the islands. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
* NCL customer service = Abysmal * Sewage smell = Everywhere * NCL adhering to the itinerary sold = Not even close! * Food = Mediocre at best * Cabin = Closet sized with a bathroom out of a travel trailer * Staff = Undertrained, ... Read More
* NCL customer service = Abysmal * Sewage smell = Everywhere * NCL adhering to the itinerary sold = Not even close! * Food = Mediocre at best * Cabin = Closet sized with a bathroom out of a travel trailer * Staff = Undertrained, overworked and treated horribly. *Security = A joke, as long as you're not trying to smuggle in booze you _ should be able to bring just about anything on board. *Value = We'll see if I get a refund, then it might have been a value. *Recommend to others = Not even to my worst enemy! Precruise stay at Waikiki Marriott was great. NCL transfer from airport to hotel was not. Very lengthy ride with several stops at other hotels along the way. NCL transfer to the ship was great considering there were only 8 of us on the bus. When we boarded the ship the first thing we did was head to the front desk to make dinner reservations. This was around 2:30 and was a long and tedious process. There were only two very confused people handling this and the line moved very slow. When we finally reached the desk, reservations were limited to very late hours if at all. Next we headed to our cabin and were treated to the lovely aroma of sewage in several areas. Not a great first impression of our home for the next 7 days. Our itinerary was changed without notice porting late and cutting our day in Hilo short by 2 hours. We didn't do the evening sail around the lava, one of the only reasons we booked this cruise in the first place, and the only reason we booked a balcony. We arrived 2 hours early in Kauai, we would have been able to schedule things much differently had we known in advance. We left Kauai 4 hours early the second day forcing us to cancel a whole days plans and reservations. Food was hit and miss, you better get on the ship early the first day and book your whole week's meals in "specialty" restaurants if you want decent meals. Main dining rooms constantly had wait times well over an hour leaving you with the Aloha Cafe. Aloha Cafe is like playing the lottery. You might get lucky and have a decent meal, you may get lucky and have said meal actually found on the buffet hot, you may get lucky and be fed at all! Never saw a trash receptacle anywhere. This forced passengers to just leave things on tables. Dirty plates, food, spilled drinks and trash everywhere. Saw things blowing into the sea on numerous occasions. Dress code was not being enforced. First nite at Little Italy was far from quiet due to the obnoxious drunks dressed for a ballgame. For those concerned about eating too much at the buffet, shirtless sweaty guys at the Aloha Cafe will help you shed pounds while onboard. Nothing like a intoxicated, sweaty, shirtless man near a buffet to ruin an appetite. I know a snack poolside is a nice idea but PLEASE put a shirt on before going to get it! There are touchless hand sanitizers throughout the ship but were usually empty. I'm sure everyone washes there hands thoroughly before hitting the buffet. I know you'll enjoy watching a young crew member being yelled at and ridiculed in a very public area by an officer in front of everyone. Theres nothing like watching a young girl forced to tears because they're understaffed and she can't keep up. We witnessed this no less that 5 times during our cruise. Nothing encourages pride and loyalty amongst crew like a good public beating! Maybe they could give them 20 lashes or make them walk the plank like the good 'ole days. Security at ports without x-ray equipment was horrible. They seemed to only be concerned with finding booze. They would shake water bottles, rifle through and make a mess of our things and send us through. Not once was my backpack thoroughly searched. Had a passenger been a crazed lunatic, or god forbid, a terrorist wishing to do harm they would easily been able to bring something onboard to do so. Obviously I'm a little bitter over the ship. I feel that Pride of America was rushed into service and is not ready for passengers. I have requested a refund from NCL for the cruise portion of our trip. I believe that it was bait & switch and NCL didn't come close to delivering the services we paid close to $4000.00 for. Did we let it ruin our vacation, nope. We were in Hawaii and had a great time OFF the ship! We booked rental cars on each island and did everything on our own. We swam with dolphins on Oahu before the cruise. Saw most of Volcanoes National Park at our own pace, we did have to cut our hike on the flows short due to our late arrival in port. We drove the road to Hana and saw some incredible scenery and waterfall's. We did an amazing helicopter tour of Kauai, they flew without doors! We found several small uncrowded beaches and met some really nice locals throughout our vacation. Best of all, we were married on Maui at a great little beach! Island hopping sounds like a great idea, but you really need at least a week on each island to experience all they have to offer. Even with a week you'll still only be scratching the surface. Next time we'll pick and island, find a condo and stay on land. We could have done so on any island for around the cost of just the cabin alone! This would be my advice to anyone even considering booking through NCL. Whatever you decide, we found Hawaii to be a magical place and are already trying to figure out when we'll be able to return. Feel free to email me. Questions, comments, complaints are all equally accepted ;)   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
We sailed on 8/20 on the Pride of America and had a very nice experience. We were 2 adults and 2 teens in 2 rooms with balconies. (split by gender, not age -- maybe not having to put up w hubby's snoring for 6 nites enhanced the ... Read More
We sailed on 8/20 on the Pride of America and had a very nice experience. We were 2 adults and 2 teens in 2 rooms with balconies. (split by gender, not age -- maybe not having to put up w hubby's snoring for 6 nites enhanced the experience for me) The rooms, storage, and even the bathroom were more than fine for 2 people -- perhaps having the balcony gave an illusion of more space. Never any electrical problems, bathroom problems or smell in any part of the ship. We were in the 9600 row of cabins. Our cabin steward, Marylou, was cheerful and courteous. We often left the room late in the morning and she did not seem irritated. (I've seen comments about staff walking in -- we did lock the door at nite so that wouldn't happen. Also put the "wheel" outside the door to do not disturb. There were a couple of times when some prankster along the hall decided to turn all the wheels to DND and the staff needed to double check with everyone and were quite apologetic.) If we were out of the room at turndown time, the room was turned down. If we were in the room at nite, Marylou asked if we needed anything -- when we said no she didn't come in. The room was always clean. When we arrived, the twin beds were pushed together as a double, and she had the room reconfigured as soon as we pointed it out. I did hear people grousing that they never had turndown -- this was on a tour so I don't know what part of the ship they were on. These same people also complained that when they asked the cabin steward at 3pm to have a blouse ironed by 6, she told them it couldn't be done and asked for more notice the next time. I think they were the ones out of line. We were fairly happy with the food (and some of us are non-meat eaters -- also have "new york city" quality expectations). Actually preferred the Aloha Cafe -- liked to take our own portion sizes and sample lots of stuff. Also preferred not to get "dressed" for dinner and to eat at our own pace. Did eat a couple of times in the Skyline, which was pleasant when we wanted to slow down. Wasn't impressed w/ Little Italy, the only "free" specialty restaurant. Didn't try any other specialty restaurants. Bkfst at the Diner was fun once, but too slow if you want to get off the ship and do things. There was something extra appealing about the soft ice cream at the Aloha - especially around 4pm. We flew from NJ to Honolulu same day as the sailing. NCL arranged the air portion, so we had transportation from the airport to the ship. Embarkation was tortuous. Disembarkation was a pleasure. In fact, we wanted to be among the first to get off (so we could make it to Pearl Harbor on our own - read abt the long waits and running out of tkts), and the staff was very accommodating. We left our luggage at the pier ($5 a bag) and took a taxi to Pearl Harbor (abt $30). Found a shuttle for $20 that took us back to the pier. (For those thinking abt renting a car instead, Pearl Harbor is pretty close to the airport) The cab back to the airport cost us less than the cab going to Pearl Harbor. NCL shuttle back to the airport from the ship ended at abt 10:30 -- way earlier than we returned. Enjoyed a couple of the shows and contests; my teens did not take advantage of the activities specifically for teens but I heard good reviews about the teen pgm from others. The staff were all pleasant and tried to be helpful. Most of our anxiety came from shore excursions. We booked scuba trips for my husband, relying on the brochure timetable. It turned out that he'd be gone much longer than advertised (leaving the rest of us waiting). The first time, we at least had some notice -- looked at the tour ticket and saw a very late return time. We found out that he'd have to wait several hours after the dive for transportation back to the ship. I ended up renting a car at the last minute (called Budget 800# from a pay phone at the pier, got good AAA rate -- cell phones work but why use up minutes for an 800 #) and drove to pick him up and do some touring. The second time, on Kona,transportation back was delayed by more than 2 hours for no reason other than disorganization. I finally gave up waiting for him and took the tender (very easy once the first rush is over)and did shopping I could walk to. (Longs Drugs is good for souvenirs like coffee; also did a lot of shopping for macadamias etc., at the ABC stores. Don't buy at the Mauna Loa nut factory if you take the volcano tour - too expensive.) My husband got back in time to go to the chocolate buffet w the kids (and they brought things back for me -- refrig in room is a nice touch) so it worked out for all of us. The other excursions we took were the Volcano in Hilo (shorter trip -- I did hear all the long trips were too long) and the helicopter in Kuai. I had booked the scuba for 1, volcano and helicopter for 4 online. Got confirmation just for husband and self. Called NCL and got kids booked on volcano but told helicopter sold out. Kept calling w/out any luck; told to take care of helicopter on ship. Once on ship, went to join long shore excursion line, but was fortunate enuf to explain my problem to a staff person who was going along the line offering advice, and he pulled me out and took care of it right away. (Selected Kuai for helicopter based on recs from this site -- it was wonderful. Saw a lot that we couldn't have seen w/out hiking and climbing many days. (The ship did change itinerary from what was advertised so that all passengers could enjoy seeing the Na Paali coast of Kuai. Still, I was disappointed that the time in Kuai was cut short. Also, we did not cruise past the volcano at nite after leaving Hilo because the captain wanted to get to Maui early for repairs. There was never an announcement about this - I found out when I asked a crew member for details about time and place to view the volcano.) Once onboard, my kids wanted to go horseback riding in Kuai. The shore excursion desk was 1 spot short. They were very nice, promising to hold the 2 open spots and encouraging us to check late the prior nite and early, early the day of the trip. Unfortunately, the 3d spot didn't open up. When the boat docked, I went down to the pier and got some brochures from horseback companies. We called a few places and a wonderful small operation squeezed my family in - the husband came to the ship to pick the 3 of them up (I don't think he makes a habit of this, it just worked out that he had time that day) and it turned out they were the only ones riding. They were really happy with the intimacy of the ride, getting to know one of the owners and the couple's dreams for their land. The ranch is very near the waterfall in Lihue . Please give them a try: Keapana Horsemanship, Laura Butler, owner, phone 808-823-9303, cell 808-651-2375. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
This was our first cruise. We departed on August 13. Embarkation: Pretty easy. If you pay attention at the airport, you will not have a difficult time finding your escort. I was very disappointed not to receive a lei at the airport like ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We departed on August 13. Embarkation: Pretty easy. If you pay attention at the airport, you will not have a difficult time finding your escort. I was very disappointed not to receive a lei at the airport like some of the other cruise line customers. There were a lot of people who were very put out at having to carry their own luggage. Are you kidding me? How lazy can you be? If you can't carry it, you brought too much! People complained about the Dept. of Agriculture inspection. That is state law in Hawaii, not the cruise line's fault! It's no big deal. Anyway, after arriving at the port we checked in (no line!) and luggage arrived at our room a few hours later. Room: Kind of small, but the balcony helped a lot. Our cabin steward did an amazing job of replacing towels (2-3 times/day!) He called us by name every time we saw him. We were very impressed with his service. One bad thing: our room was under the Aloha Cafe, which made things very noisy when they started serving breakfast! Entertainment: The vocalists that did the shows were fantastic! The stand up comedian, Bud Andersen was very funny, too. W.T. Greer at Pink's was phenomenal... a voice like Brian McKnight. Joey Racheff in the Gold Rush Saloon is really great, too. Activities on board: Lots to do, if you read your "Freestyle Daily" newspaper. I took hula lessons. (The Hawaiian Ambassador, Kamana'o is terrific.) My husband took juggling. They had crafts, dance lessons, various exercise classes, basketball, trivia, movies, etc. Most people DO NOT stay on-board during the day, so activities are not crowded. Shore Excursions: Pricey, but WELL worth it. We snorkeled in Maui, did the luau there too, and the helicopter in Kauai. I never heard a single complaint about ANY excursion experience. My biggest problem with this cruise (and maybe it's my ignorance having never cruised before) is that there was NOTHING to do at any port (the exception being Kona). We ported in industrial areas FAR from shops, restaurants, etc. If you do not have excursions planned and have not PRE-RENTED a car, there is a good chance that you will not be leaving the port. The Norwegian Wind followed our same route almost the entire trip, so rental cars were scarce! We we got on board the first day at 4 PM and all excursions were sold out for the next day. We got off the boat and found out all rental cars were booked, too. We were screwed. We called and booked rental cars for the next day's island immediately. Food: What do you expect? It's food for the masses. It was very similar to dorm food. Alcoholic beverages are ridiculously expensive. Cadillac Diner: our worst meal. Horrible service. East Meets West: terrific food, terrific service. Little Italy: Another great meal, our favorite. Lazy J: AWESOME food and service. Aloha Cafe: great for breakfast, made to order omelettes were great. Lunch/dinner were sort of bland. Great salad bar, though. It does pay to eat at the specialty restaurants. The chocoholic buffet was awesome. I stood in line for 45 minutes for it though. We loved the freestyle dining concept. Pools: Very small! Hot tubs are not hot at all, but who wants that when it's 90 degrees outside anyway? We didn't use the spa. Photos: Cameramen were a little pushy and constantly taking pictures. One thing to note. I get VERY seasick. I was terrified that I would be ill the entire time. This was NOT a smooth sail at all. I took Bonine a few hours before getting on the ship and never let it get out of my system and I was totally fine. We were disappointed to find out that there was a mechanical problem that wouldn't allow us to cruise the Napali Coast on our final night. They "made up for it" by offering us 2 free watered-down cocktails. It was a good time. There are kinks to be worked out. I don't think cruising is for luxury travelers, but if you're willing to roll with the punches, plan ahead as far as excursions go, and have some patience, there is no better way to see ALL of Hawai'i. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Just returned from 7 day Hawaiian Island cruise. Have travelled with NCL in the past and found service on previous cruises to be far superior than that delivered on the Pride of America. Had this been my first experience with NCL it ... Read More
Just returned from 7 day Hawaiian Island cruise. Have travelled with NCL in the past and found service on previous cruises to be far superior than that delivered on the Pride of America. Had this been my first experience with NCL it definitely would have been my last with this cruise line. As noted in other reviews the staff was for the most part all young college type seeing the world or paying off college debts. This was a big variance from the many foreign crew members on the other ships who would continually go out of their way to please the guests. Crew were for the most part were friendly, however, seemed to lack direction and training. Cleanliness of their uniforms was one of the items we noted in all restaurants as all wore stained and wrinkled clothing further portraying their lack luster service attitude. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants for the quality of the food but could not get over the slow service and lack of training. You would have to ask for everything - can we have butter, can we have milk for the coffee, do you have ketchup, do you have?? They did not anticipate the needs of the guests and you typically had to wait while they ran around trying to find what you asked for. Lazy J Steakhouse was the funniest episode as when the steaks were presented waitress states "cut into it and see if it's cooked to your liking". Number one, this is not what I would expect at the premium/pay restaurants and I would assume if I ordered it medium that it would be cooked this way without question. To top it off the wait staff must have gone off for a break, as they never returned to see if it was cooked to our liking/order. The break lasted for 10 minutes before any of the wait staff reappeared. Even then we had to flag down a supervisor to ask for the bearnaise sauce. When speaking with the supervisor we indicated our displeasure with the slow mediocre service and the fact that by the time we get the sauce the steak was cold. This supervisor did nothing to apologize for the poor service. A supervisor of any strength should have at least offered to waive the $20 fee for a cold steak or offered to re-order the steak. Our cabin stewardess was also in the mediocre range at best. On other cruises they would make an effort to say "hello" and introduce themselves. This gal basically ignored us in the hallways. On 2 of the 7 days when we didn't leave for dinner until 8 and she would merely knock of the door and offer towels. Other cruise stewards would wait until you left the room regardless of the time to refresh it. For a new ship the cabins were also not kept very clean. Food quality was fine, room was as expected, ship is nice. Biggest irritant was service. Also, don't try to bring any bottles in your suitcase. We checked in at 1 pm and didn't get one of our bags until 8pm when a voice mail was left to come to security who quickly confiscated our half empty bottle. Staff wouldn't hold until end of cruise or pour out in front of us. My guess is the staff have a great party with the bottles as ours was one of many many others who had their bottles confiscated. My experience has been that NCL have established a good reputation for quality/service for the price. This was not the case with this cruise. I will have to think long and hard and do a lot of investigation if I ever opt for NCL in the future. If you are planning this cruise read all of the reviews as by the time I had done my investigation we had already been booked. The reviews all indicate the same experience we had with service and were all very accurate. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
NCL Pride of America. Traveled in August 2005 with 10 family members. Since ours was one of the first cruises after newly being launched, we chalked our bad experiences up to that fact. Alas, I'm disheartened to read reviews that seem ... Read More
NCL Pride of America. Traveled in August 2005 with 10 family members. Since ours was one of the first cruises after newly being launched, we chalked our bad experiences up to that fact. Alas, I'm disheartened to read reviews that seem to show not much has changed for the better with this ship. All of us found our cabins to be dirty much of the time. We also found dirty "stuff" from the prior occupants. No clean towels on regular basis. Extremely poor service in the main dining room, we were never able to book any of the specialty restaurants, (did not know that you should book as soon as possibly after boarding!). Found the night entertainment in the main theater very hokey and amateurish. The ship had constant mechanical problems, 2 days of hot tubs that were NOT hot, and no hot water for showers. One morning; no coffee(!) available in dining areas due to electrical problems. Shore excursions were okay, just pricey as with most cruise lines. Despite what others write, we found not much to do onboard. The cabins are the smallest I've seen on any ship (we've been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival). Every place was over crowded and yes, smoke did drift out from the "smoke area" making that upper space uncomfortable for non smokers. Please visit Hawaii, but book land trips to several islands. We found this was such a waste of money. Boarding and embarkation was one bright spot - fast & easy. Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.9
Dining 5.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 5.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 5.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 3.0 3.7

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