Sail Date: July 2005
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: ... Read More
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: http://public.fotki.com/eroller/pride_of_america/ When I received my invitation for this 2-night preview cruise for travel industry and media professionals, I wasn't initially excited. I had seen pictures of PRIDE OF AMERICA online and frankly I wasn't very impressed. Her exterior sported a stubby bow and I wasn't sure about the stars & stripes "hull art". The interior pictures unfortunately did nothing to elevate my opinion of the ship. I'm ecstatic to proclaim my initial observations were way off base. I absolutely loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and I think she is probably the most unique new ship to come off the blocks in quite some time. PRIDE OF AMERICA (POA) is in fact a one-off design. She will never have a sister ship like so many newbuilds today that are number 6 or 7 in an ever growing series. This fact alone makes POA something rather special. I also leaned that first impressions are not always correct and not every ship photographs well. I took over 200 photographs of POA (see link above) and I must say they don't do justice to the ship. She is a ship that needs to be experienced in person. Embarkation: Things got off to a rough start at the pier. Computers were down and check-in took 1 ½ hours. NCL America did provide a little entertainment to keep spirits up. There was a comedian on stilts dressed up as Uncle Sam trying to keep us all entertained. The entire pier was dressed up with NCL America flags and banners and it looked great. Were the computers initially working things would have gone much smoother. Check-in itself was the usual process. ID's were checked, credit cards swiped, deck plans and ship information handed out, and a picture taken that is embedded in the magnetic strip of your cruise card. The obligatory embarkation picture was taken, followed by a security screening, then on to the ship. Once onboard your cruise card was swiped and several staff members welcomed you onboard. You were on your own to find your cabin which is fine by me. Cabins: Many cabins were not yet ready, which was surprising considering it was almost 3 p.m. I had heard disembarkation from the previous cruise was delayed, but this was never confirmed. I did go inside my cabin to drop off luggage and have a quick look around. It seemed about half way made-up and I figured the rest would be completed later. There is a nifty dial outside the cabin with a few different settings. You can set the dial to "Welcome," "Make-up Cabin," Do not Disturb," etc. This is a great idea since Freestyle Cruising means you are not on a set schedule. Your cabin steward/stewardess requires a little help to know what your requirements are at any given time, and the dial achieves just that. My category BD standard balcony cabin was small by industry standards, at approximately 178 sq feet according to the NCL brochure and I believe that includes the balcony area. Even so, it was well laid out and attractive with Hawaiian themed carpet, wood veneer on the shelves and closets, and comfy white duvets. Closet space is very limited even for two people, so don't plan on bringing a lot of excess clothes. Formal nights are not required on NCL America and this is a good thing considering the limited closet space. Cabin amenities include a coffee maker with coffee, ice and glasses, an interactive TV (called Freestyle iTV which was not yet operational), safe, and refrigerator. The bathroom was also on the small side including the shower stall. There was an amenity kit that included lotion, a shoe shine, and shower cap. Soap, shower gel, and conditioner are provided in dispensers in the shower and above the sink. One side of the mirror opens for additional shelves, but space is still pretty tight. The perpetual "hugging shower curtain" is eliminated by having a shower curtain with several steel rods in it that keep it hanging straight. Water pressure and temperature were fine. The balcony was average size (which means it's not too large), and included a table and two chairs of good quality. Definitely better than the plastic resin that many mass-market cruise lines use. One thing missing in the cabin were master light switches over the bed, and robes. To turn off the main cabin lights you had to get up and go to the switch by the cabin entrance. Suites were absolutely gorgeous and very well appointed. Be sure to check out the pics! Each one had unique dEcor so they were not cookie cutter in design or shape. If you can afford one, go for it. They were some of the nicest and unusual suites I have seen on any ship. A very pleasant surprise were the inside cabins. I think they were about the nicest inside cabins I have seen on any ship. They actually seemed larger than the balcony cabins because of their layout. I liked the fact there were two desks/dressing tables as opposed to only one in the outside and balcony cabins. POA is one ship I would not mind booking an inside cabin on. Outside cabins had the same setup and layout as the standard balcony cabins. If you can snag one, go for the category CC on Deck 7. These eight cabins have huge floor to ceiling windows and are located directly midship. I would almost prefer one of these over a balcony cabin ... almost! One thing worth mentioning is the cabin corridors. They are probably the widest and most attractive I've seen on any ship (including QM2). The corridors have wonderful indirect lighting, subtle Hawaiian music is played, and the carpet is either flower or stars pattern. There is artwork along all the corridors, and one side is a wood veneer which gives them a very welcoming and soft touch. Bravo to NCL for creating corridors that don't look like they belong in a hospital. Staff/Crew: I was more than a little curious about an all-American crew working on a new cruise ship. American's are generally not used to working 7-day weeks with 12 + hour days. I wasn't sure if the service would suffer, and I think for the most part it didn't. The American crew was generally the friendliest I have come across in some 60 cruises. They were young, very attractive, energetic and eager to please. Each one had a story and they were more than willing to share it if you were willing to listen. Personally I greatly enjoyed hearing about their experiences. I know not everyone will appreciate the informality of the crew, but I found it charming. NCL America had some major difficulties with the initial crews on PRIDE OF ALOHA. As many of you may recall, there were reports of massive crew turnover and walk-outs during the initial inaugural period. The two major issues NCL had to overcome were expectations and training. All crew for NCL America now attend the most extensive crew training program in the entire industry. The facility is located in Piney Point Maryland and every crew/staff member spends several weeks there before joining the ship. Not only do they learn the basics about shipboard life and what is expected of them, they discover if shipboard is something they desire. NCL creates an environment at Piney Point that is very similar to what the crew experience onboard ship. The turnover at Piney Point is high, but those that do graduate are the best in their class and more importantly, truly want to be there. This was certainly apparent on PRIDE OF AMERICA based on my personal experience. Service in some areas was a bit slow, but this could be expected on any new ship regardless of crew nationality. Unfortunately there was one exception, and that is cabin housekeeping. At first I thought the problem was limited to my cabin and section, but after chatting with several passengers the problem seemed to be widespread to all decks and cabin types. I've never had such a filthy cabin. Greasy hand prints on all the mirrors; hair and crumbs in cabin drawers; dirty faucets, dirty countertops and dispensers; and even my toilette was never cleaned. In fact there were left over remnants from the previous occupants. I actually used public toilettes the first night onboard as they were spotless (as was the rest of the ship). My bed was never turned down (and never had a bedspread), carpets never vacuumed, the safe was locked shut, the refrigerator was filthy, and even the glasses didn't look clean. I can only hope the bed sheets were laundered. Tissues in the bathroom were never provided, but toilette paper was. I didn't say anything the first night as when I first entered the cabin after embarking I figured it wasn't finished being cleaned. I enjoyed the evening (way too much to drink!) and when I returned the only thing in the cabin that changed was some towels were supplied in the bathroom. Nothing else! The next morning I got up and went down to the Reception Desk. I advised of the unacceptable cabin condition and that I couldn't even use the toilette. She wrote my cabin number down on a long list and ensured it would be taken care of. A couple hours later I returned to the cabin and it was somewhat serviced. The greasy hand prints were still everywhere but new towels were added and the toilette was cleaned. The sink was still dirty and no tissues were supplied. The bed being made was a joke ... she simply threw the duvet back on the bed and didn't even bother to rearrange the pillows. A bedspread would have been nice. Nothing else was cleaned. Had I been in this cabin for a week I would have had a chat with the Chief Housekeeper and also had all room steward gratuities removed. I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel or cruise ship where the housekeeping service was so poor. Unfortunately others had similar problems, but mine seemed to be the most extreme. I also spoke to other passengers who had wonderful cabin service. Spotless cabins, bedspreads, turn-down service, etc. Basically what you would expect. I hope this is a problem that NCL America gets under control, and soon. Other than the cabin, the rest of the ship was extremely clean and you always saw crew polishing, vacuuming, and keeping things tidy. Dining: The dining choices on POA are numerous. There is really something for everyone. Not all venues are free, but even if you didn't spend an additional dime on food you would have a vast array of choices. I had absolutely no complaints about food. One night I ate with a large group (12 of us I believe) in the Liberty Restaurant, and the second night I had wonderful sushi in "East Meets West" with another large group. So what is free and what isn't? Here's the skinny. Free: Skyline Restaurant; Liberty Restaurant; Aloha Cafe; Key West Grill; Cadillac Diner (except milkshakes); Little Italy. Cover Charge: East Meets West; Jefferson's Bistro; Lazy J Texas Steakhouse Something unique being implemented on all NCL ships and currently onboard POA and NORWEGIAN SPIRIT are flat panel dining availability screens. They are located all over the ship in most public areas. I was initially skeptical of these screens, but they are a great feature. NCL actually modeled them after similar software used for ski lift wait times at major ski resorts. These flat panels list each restaurant (free and cover charge) along with the current wait time at each venue. The color will change from green (empty), to yellow (filling up), to red (full, wait involved). The system is linked to every restaurant onboard so any maitre d' at any restaurant can reserve a time for you at any other restaurant. It's really a cool system and I believe it can also be viewed on your cabin TV once the iTV interactive system is up and running. If your restaurant choice is full and you don't want to switch to another dining venue, you are given a pager so you can enjoy yourself in any one of the lounges until your pager goes off. Lounges / Activities / Entertainment: POA has a wonderful assortment of lounges, entertainment, and activities. Just like the dining arrangements, there was something for everyone. There are whimsical lounges such as the Mardi Gras nightclub. Elegant and eclectic areas like the Lanai Bar, and sophisticated night spots such as the Napa Wine Bar. Pink's Piano Bar and the Gold Rush Saloon are also festive choices. There are plenty of quiet areas as well, with John Adams Coffee Bar and the SS America Library ranking as top choices. The SS America Library deserves special mention. This library is huge and beautifully decorated. It's themed after the liner S/S AMERICA and includes artifacts from this beautiful ship as well as a gorgeous painting of the ship and a very detailed model. The only library that comes close at sea is onboard the QM2 and QE2. Great job NCL! Unfortunately I didn't attend either of the production shows. This is unusual for me as I tend to enjoy them, but I was too busy enjoying myself with new found friends to give them a second thought. Both shows received raves from passengers who saw them and hopefully I'll get a second chance as I plan to book POA for a 7-day cruise later this year. NCL hosted amazing deck parties both nights, and something I've never done before was ride a mechanical bull! Yes, one was set up right on deck. The second night they removed the "bull" and set up a mechanical surf board instead. It was great, but I'm not certain if this is a permanent activity or just something special for these industry cruises? The Santa Fe spa is quite lovely and offers very soothing Southwestern decor. The treatment rooms looked very comfortable and there is a relaxation area as well. There are separate men's and women's changing rooms along with single sex saunas, steam rooms, and showers located inside the changing rooms. A nice touch is the "star lit" ceiling in the steam and sauna that changes colors creating a unique atmosphere. I believe there will be no charge to use the steam rooms and sauna. The workout area is large and well equipped, and there are individual flat screen panels above each cardio machine which is a nice touch. Another unique feature onboard POA is the Diamond Head Auditorium. This is without a doubt the most extensive meeting area onboard any ship. While I would have liked to see an observation lounge in this spot, it does work very well as a circular meeting space. NCL America has high hopes of attracting extensive meeting and incentive groups. There is the added incentive for US corporations to book POA and her running mate in Hawaii for added the tax benefit. As these ships are registered in the United States, US corporations can use the meetings as a tax write-off. This is simply not possible on foreign flagged vessels. I hope the Diamond Head Auditorium becomes a multi-use facility, and as the ship becomes broken in maybe a few of the ship's activities can be scheduled up there. Pools / Decks: Swimming pools are one area that could be improved upon. The pools are not the most attractive (compared to other ships) and are a bit small. The main pool area (South Beach Pool) is simply too cluttered. The Ocean Drive Bar is an excellent and large pool bar, but the rest of the area is lacking. The aft Oasis Pool is one of the smallest pools I've seen on a ship, but it's a very attractive area and I imagine it will be much quieter than the midship pools. Be sure to check out the adorable oversized shower up on Deck 14. It's one of the many whimsical features that make POA a stand-out. There is plenty of open deck space and most of it is covered with a blue plastic surface. I would have rather seen teak but that is rare these days, especially on mainstream ships. There is also a full wrap-around Promenade Deck on Deck 6. It's wide but unfortunately chairs are few and far between. Special mention goes to the Sports Deck on Deck 14. It's huge and will prove very popular to sports fanatics. It's also located out of the way as not to disturb the rest of the passengers. The good and not so good: Good: cabin decor; overall ship decor and detail; Aloha Cafe outdoor buffet stations; Liberty Restaurant; American crew; restaurant choices; inside cabins; the amazing suites; onboard artwork; the dining availability panels; food and overall service; spacious corridors; ship's overall atmosphere. Not so good: cabin housekeeping is poor; small pools, cluttered decks; minimal closet space; slow embarkation; inaccessibility to Santa Fe Spa and gym. Disembarkation: A short note about disembarkation. Since PRIDE OF AMERICA is a US flagged ship and calls at no foreign ports, there is no need for passengers to fill out any forms or clear US Customs and Immigration. This means that very shortly after the ships docks, you are free to go. I saw people disembarking as early as 7:20 a.m., and I disembarked at 8:15 a.m. and easily made a 9:30 a.m. flight out of LAX. NCL America provided each of us with a commemorative inaugural gift that will make a wonderful addition to my ship collection. It's an American flag folded into a triangle and framed in a wood and glass case. There is a plaque that reads "PRIDE OF AMERICA Inaugural Season 2005" on the outside and there are hooks on the back for hanging. It's one of the nicest inaugural gifts I have come across. It was a bit awkward to carry on the plane, but there was no way I was leaving that behind! As we walked off the POA, many of the staff and crew from POA and the NCL Miami office were standing on both sides of the Promenade Deck clapping and cheering as we disembarked. It was a thoughtful and appreciated gesture, not to mention memorable and unique. I think it's something they should do after every cruise as it really left a lasting impression and made you feel valued by NCL. What's next for NCL and some tidbits: * Look for a new NCL website coming in early 2006. It will encompass a new interactive booking engine for both travel agents and consumers. * Freestyle will be taken to the next level. Part of this will be the ability to pre-book all restaurant reservations before you leave home on the new website. Basically you will be able to plan your entire dining week in advance. Also incorporated will be the ability to pre-book all your spa treatments and of course shore excursions. The other aspects of how Freestyle will evolve are in the works, but expect innovation. * Latitudes, the NCL past passenger club is getting revamped. Currently all past passengers receive the same recognition regardless of how many NCL cruise you have taken. Beginning this Fall, Latitudes will have different benefit levels based not only on how many times you sail, but how much you spend as well. Those passengers that consistently book suites will receive higher recognition. * With the addition of NORWEGIAN JEWEL, PRIDE OF HAWAII, and two additional "Star Class" ships, NCL will have the youngest fleet in the industry. In 2006 NCL is actually accounting for half of all new built tonnage in the N. American cruise industry. * A new class of ship is currently in development. It will follow the two unnamed "Star Class" ships already on order. Expect innovation and many surprise features. * All the older NCL tonnage will be phased out of the fleet by 2010 at the latest. This includes DREAM, WIND, MAJESTY, and CROWN. * Keep an eye out for some interesting itineraries for PRIDE OF HAWAII. Prior to her year round 7-day Hawaii cruising, she will embark on a few trans-Pacific itineraries between the West Coast and Hawaii. Some interesting ports will be included (Hawaii and the mainland) and there is no need to stop at a foreign port since she will be US registered. Her fast 25 knot speed will also make the crossing to Hawaii in a shorter time. * None of the NCL America ships are permitted to sail in Alaska or the Caribbean. This was a last minute mandate lobbied by some of NCL competitors. Interesting. * The SS UNITED STATES, currently laid up in Philadelphia and owned by NCL has not been forgotten. I was able to personally question NCL executive Andy Stuart (who BTW is a very dynamic speaker and charming man) about her future. He informed me NCL had created a team to determine the feasibility of bringing the SSUS back to service. Results were very positive and he even spoke of her excellent hull condition. Unfortunately when POA encountered her troubles at the shipyard in Germany, the team switched their objective from the SSUS to getting POA into service. I truly feel the SSUS has a good possibility of being brought back to service after speaking with Mr. Stuart. He seemed to appreciate the value and recognition a ship like the SSUS could bring NCL America. Stay tuned! * Following the 2-night cruise I enjoyed, the crew of POA were getting a short cruise of their own. Andy Stuart and the rest of the NCL management team onboard (including POA Officers) were switching roles and becoming waiters, bartenders and entertainers for the crew onboard POA. Meanwhile the crew becomes passengers and can enjoy the hospitality of their superiors on an overnight cruise up to San Francisco. A massive deck party was planned. What better way to show employee appreciation and sustain excellent morale as well? This gesture really helped earn my respect for NCL as a caring company. * Look for NCL to split from parent company Star Cruises later this year and become public on the NY Stock Exchange. What happens after that is anybody's guess. The Final Word: In a nutshell, I loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and have found a new appreciation for NCL. To be honest, NCL was fairly low on my personal scale up until now. With PRIDE OF AMERICA and the rest of the new ships NCL is building, I've discovered what an innovative company NCL has become. They are not perfect (and no cruise line is), but I think they have a bright future and they certainly have earned my support and new found respect. I wish them great success! Any questions or comments? Please email me at: eroller@msn.com Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2005
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest ... Read More
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest entertainers, Scott Alexander (magician and comedian) was fantastic. The kids club activities were well thought out, and the employees there won kids heart. Our son was particularly impressed with Queen Jennine and HighFive Heather. We have cruised Princess and Royal Caribbean's before, but this was our first NCL experience. We liked the NCL "FreeStyle cruise" feature. The major disappointment was the choice of vegetarian food. The choices were very limited, and the food was not clearly marked being vegetarian. In the Aloha cafe (buffet), throughout the cruise every single soup had meat in it, and the servers did not always know about it. I was fortunate to have found a great chef Keegun Reynolds at the Aloha Cafe, who cooked meals specifically for me almost everyday. If it was not for his personal attention, the cruise would have been miserable from the food perspective for me. If you are NOT vegetarian, I would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts ... Read More
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts here, I was pleasantly surprised. It is nicely done - would've liked a larger balcony. We were on the 10th floor and if I were doing it again, I would not choose that floor because the supports for the pool deck block your panoramic view. It was still very nice to sit out and enjoy the ride. The bed was comfy - I slept like a baby. The service was fine. We don't require a lot of attention. We always had our room done before noon on our sea days, and by the time we returned on port days. Beds were turned down while we were at supper. We always had ice and tp. Only had a towel animal one night, but no biggie. The restaurants were beautiful and the food was fine. Not great, but fine. By the end of 10 days I was ready for some spice. I'm sure they cannot spice it up too much due to restrictive diets and such. We ate in all of the restaurants except Lazy J. Jefferson's Bistro was good and very romantic. The hot spinach salad was very good, and my husband's seabass was excellent. My surfnturf was fair. I didn't eat the steak. The Tappanyaki was good. We really liked the stir fried rice with a little garlic. Skip the Italian. That was the worst meal I had. All of the soups I had on board were very good. I couldn't eat the scrambled eggs at breakfast, they didn't taste fully cooked, but you can get omelettes in the main dining room or there is plenty to choose from on the buffet. If you like David Schwimmer (Ross from friends), you will like the cruise director. My husband found him annoying, but he was fine with me. The Hollywood Theater is nice, but COLD! The Mardis Gras nightclub is HOT. We still had fun. The Tahiti dancers were good. W.T. Greet was good in the piano bar, but I think he is coming back to Dallas. The 1st comic was good, the 2nd we left. We enjoyed massages, but felt the price was misleading. They add a 15% service charge, but it is not a tip. We loved freestyle and freestyle disembarkation. Embarking wasn't bad. We did have a wait in a room without AC, but it wasn't too long. We felt all the employees did a good job overall. We had our worst service the last night. Maybe that was why. We met some homesick kids. A little gal from TX gave me a huge hug when she found out we were from her home state. The ports are awesome. We rented cars on each island and could do what we wanted. On Hilo went to Volcano Nat. Park, Waipaio Valley Lookout, a beach park, and Akaka Falls and hiked around. Be sure to take the Onomea scenic road - about 4miles. Had a great lunch at What's shakin. It rained a lot. At Kona, we went to Place of Refuge (cool) and snorkeled right beside it. Saw turtles and lots of fish and coral. Rocky entry, but fairly calm for fraidy cats like me. Had an awesome lunch at the Coffee Shack - with a great view of Kealakua Bay. We then went to Kahaluu Beach Park to snorkel. It was dirty (couldn't see anything) and rough. Too rough for me. Sailing past the volcano at night was a highlight!On Maui we drove over to Kapalua Beach and snorkeled. Saw a MOOrish Idol (like a angelfish). This was nice. Then we went to Kaanapali Beach and ate at the Hula Grill. Another good choice. Wandered around and headed south to Kihou (SP?) beach park to watch the sunset. Kauai was my absolute favorite!!! We went north, stopped at the Lighthouse and saw spinner dolphins on one side and a seal on the rocks on the other. Not to mention birds and the most incredible view (all of the views on Kauai are). Then we drove to the end of the road to Kee Beach on the Napali coast. We changed to swimsuits (nasty bathroom), but the snorkeling was awesome!! Saw lots of fish, swam in a school with lots of big ones. I never knew there were so many colorful fish. The snorkeling here is great for chickens,, because the reef breaks the waves before they get to you. We stopped at the Princeville Resort on the way back because I have been wanting to go there. I can't wait, the place is gorgeous!! Didn't have lunch, because there was so much to do. I didn't like Honolulu. Dallas by the sea. The East shore was nice. The trip home on the red eye was a pain, but I'd do it again. I loved Hawaii and the ship. My biggest complaint was the food got old after 10 days. I might not have noticed it if I hadn't eaten the great food I did off the ship! I am glad we had 5 days at sea, because I'm Type A and want to see everything and the port days were exhausting. My husband says he drove 500 miles on a 400 mile island (not really). It's a great way to taste the islands to decide where you want to go back and stay. Enjoy!!! 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2005
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a ... Read More
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a wonderful time in paradise. However, our experience was not all we hoped it would be. When we arrived, our suite (a little smaller than anticipated) still had debris (half eaten banana, dirty dishes, etc.). But to the cabin stewards' credit, they jumped right in and cleaned everything quickly, including the "debris" left by seagulls on the deck chairs. We also found storage to be an issue in our family suite (Deck 10, cabin 10178). However, while storage isn't exactly what I expected, the room was very well appointed and easy to get around in -- we just moved the extra chairs, etc., out to the wonderful, incredibly enormous, balcony this suite has. We found the bathroom adequate but the beds (probably because they are so new) were very, very hard. It took a couple of days for our cabin steward Sharon to get everything down -- 5 people need 5 towels, etc. Once she did things were fine except that we never saw a towel animal at any time, even for my 9 year son who truthfully, I don't believe missed it. As to the dinning -- we tried all but Le Bistro (menu didn't appeal) and truthfully this is where we had issue. Service for us was slow -- we never were able to finish any meal under 2 and half hours -- any restaurant, any time of day -- excluding, of course, the Aloha Buffet. However, as time went on, it seemed that this wasn't an issue re waiters/waitresses but rather, servers waiting for the food from the kitchen. I second the opinion on the lack of spice -- overall I found the food in all the dinning rooms we visited to be good but the menu didn't vary enough and by the end of 10 days I was definitely in mood for something else. Kudos to the Aloha Buffet -- the all you could eat lobster night (the night we left Kona) was a wonderful treat, especially as it also offered shrimp, salmon, cat fish and other tasty items. Some disappointing items: our beautiful balcony was never cleaned in any way. This might not have been an issue to others but since our balcony was directly under the outside eating area of the Aloha Buffet (which they washed down every morning) it really became an issue to us. We went through one complete electrical blackout for our area that was a minimum inconvenience. However, our appliances (refrigerator, coffee pot, hair dryers, some lights) experienced many more outages -- it seems the fuses kept going. But with all things during our trip the ship's crew was completely responsive, helpful, incredibly sympathetic or apologetic as needed. We had heard rumors of staffing issues (I heard they lost 100, my husband had heard more like 30 of the crew in San Francisco) but whatever the issues, this crew is incredibly gracious and accommodating, the one acceptation, the whinny pastry girl in Skyline. And although I realize that its not the crew's fault that people flush what they shouldn't, it really is a bit much to have to tolerate three days in a row of your toilet being out of commission, sometimes for hours on end. We took a variety of shore excursions in every port and were pleased with all our choices except for the Body Glove snorkel on Kona (not as beginning as was billed) and the Luau at the Sheraton on Maui (rather a pasteurized version of what I had previous experienced when I had cruised with the SS Independence in 2000). A good tip is to plan all excursions in advance and book as early as you are certain of your plans. The upside of things: first, I cannot state this strong enough -- this is one beautiful ship. The card room, internet cafe, library area was design beautifully not to mention the Reception/Capitol Atrium area. Truthfully, I was truly amazed at the incredible amount of detail and care given to the appointments of all the areas on the ship. Secondly, the staff/crew of the ship were always accommodating -- with one or two very minor exceptions. I was not overly fond of the Cruise Director (he made a couple of comments that bordered on rude rather than funny in my opinion) but you can't fault him and his assistant Shona (sp?) for how hard they worked. I don't think they got more than a handful of hours of sleep the entire cruise. Will I cruise PO America again -- yes, in a heartbeat. Will I sign up for the repositioning cruise with Pride of Hawaii -- don't think so. I loved the five days at sea, but I think I'll wait for any potential kinks to be worked out first. 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
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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