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
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
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
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
* 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
Here's pretty much a journal of our experience on the POA on this cruise. I know it's long, but I hope some of it will fill in the corners, so to speak. In regard to buying better service from your room steward, I'm not so ... Read More
Here's pretty much a journal of our experience on the POA on this cruise. I know it's long, but I hope some of it will fill in the corners, so to speak. In regard to buying better service from your room steward, I'm not so sure. It's in their training, personality and inclination. Ours couldn't be stopped; unfortunately, it sounds like others couldn't be started. Saturday, August 27. It was a dark and stormy night in the Old Pueblono, wait a minutethis is, after all, the Old Pueblo and it was only dark. Here in Tucson it was a beautiful predawn morning, warm and clear. On our way to the airport for Le Grande Adventure, on board the Pride of America to travel the islands of Hawaii. We left home at 4:30 am, after waking at 3:30. Had left Maggie (our collie) with friends the day before, then packed our stuff in two suitcases rather than three. Arrived at airport, well through car parking shuttle and security, by 5:20 or so, ready for the plane. Had to shift some stuff from one suitcase to other, 3 pounds worth, to get under 50 pounds each. Plane went wrong wayto Denverso we transferred there to another which took us to Honolulu. LOOOng flight. Landed 2:50 PM at Honolulu airport (12 hours traveling by now), excellent handling by Norwegian Cruise Line, who had people to meet us, direct us, drive us, got to terminal where we had the first of many future security checks! They took our pictures at terminal at the Aloha Tower in Honoluluthen created a shipboard credit and ID card for each of us. Up to room at 4:31 PM. Life boat drill at 4:36. Discovered the coffee makers at the Aloha buffetthe machines will produce regular coffee, cappuccino, latte, or actually grind and make a fresh cup of Kona coffee. This turned out to be excellent, NEARLY as good as the french press but only almost. Ate at the Aloha buffetfound beds turned down with chocolates on pillows. Luggage did not arrive in room until 7:30, which was a tad late but they had over 7000 pieces of luggage to handle!! We were fine. The buffet food was very good. Took too much, of course. And not everything was topnotch, but there were many, many things that were. Certainly enough very good items to satisfy anyone who has ever eaten at a buffet. Their beef dish was excellentchicken fried porkturkeytomato, mozzarella and basil saladmany others as good as any anywhere. Carving station meats were excellent (roast beef, marinated pork baked in pastry) and very poor (pork loin). Pizza wasnt gourmet but not bad. Grilled sirloin steak, however, and the hot dogs, were both really bad. But as I said, there were plenty of really good items on the buffet line, way more than you could sample even over the course of a week. Noritas plate and mine were often quite different, though we both had lots of fresh tropical fruit. Desserts were plentiful, very good, although the wide diverse array did not change much; they brought everything out every day. Each day the ship published and distributed to each cabin the Freestyle Daily, a pamphlet paper telling what was going to happen that day and what to prepare for. Lots of information there. Ship left for Hilo about 8 PMvery interesting departure, turning the ship in the very small basin of Honolulu Harbor, right at the foot of streets crowded with buildings and people. Great weather, very scenic. Our TV shows many onboard channels, including a live bridge cam, information, activities, plus ESPN, CNN, TNT, and two full-time movie feature channels, 24/7. The hurricane Katrina has been terribly disturbing, all that CNN was covering. But that was the only real negative of the entire cruise. All the pre-cruise opinions that weve read, all the negative and positive press that the ship and NCL has received, all havent matched the wonderful positive experience that we have had. Example: The toilet seat was brokencalled and reported itand it was fixed by the next day. We were contacted several times to make sure it had been fixed satisfactorily. Wonderful response by the crew. Also, the entire crew and staff whom we have met to date have been very, very friendly, helpful and forthcoming. They appear to be very courteous and helpful to each other, too, a result of good training. Maybe those who elicited the negative previous comments have left the ship (or just possibly those who expected bad stuff to happen left the ship). Our stateroom was fantastic, for a standard balcony room. What made it good was the fact that it was a handicap-accessible room, which had 50% larger space in both the room and the balcony. Two of these rooms took the space of three regular ones. The bathrooms particularly were great, since they had to be wheelchair-accessible. The shower was large, and there was plenty of space even for two people to maneuver in the room. The only downside of this room was that the shower had a narrow 4" grille (perforated sheet of metal) in the floor on the two open sides, to catch the water that didnt make it down the central drain; at one point I took a shower while under way and water made it across these grilles, washing across the floor to the other wall. I spent a few minutes on my knees using a bath towel as a wide squeegee moving that water back to the drains. That really worked well and quickly; however, I learned to take the shower either in port or with the wind on the port side. Apparently the starboard wind was just enough to give us a couple of degrees heel to port, which we did not detect at the time. Although floor space was larger than normal, there was the same amount of storage and features as other rooms. Storage was more than we could use. The bed had space enough underneath to stow the suitcases, and could have taken twice as many as our two full-size cases. There was a double-door closet with an automatic light when you open the door on the right; there were several drawers in two places, plus several available shelves. Very nice woodwork, too; a warm red cherry. The room had a small refrigerator, a 4-cup coffee maker (which will make two 12-oz cups of either coffee or hot water for tea or a french press), and an electronic safe into which you put a 4-digit password and it will close and open electronically, very easy and quick to use (easy to reset or clear, too). There were a number of nicely shaped wooden hangers in the closet, which would take shirts/jackets, pants, and skirts or shorts. We had a couple of drawers left empty after stowing our stuff from two suitcases plus a carryon. Not many electrical outlets, though. There was a duplex outlet at the desk area/hair dryer next to the TV, and one at the coffee maker; however, in the bathroom there was a strange European outlet that was marked both 110 and 220v, but no one here in the US ever uses anything that will fit it. Sunday, August 28. Awoke 3 am, 6 our time, watched the slow passing of white foam in the bow wave from our warm, slightly breezy balcony. Almost no discernible movement; no roll or pitch, though the sea was slightly ruffled from our viewpoint. The ships navigation channel showed 3-4 seas. We enjoyed the very smooth gliding through the morning, watching the sun start to lighten the sky behind slowly-appearing low clouds on the horizon. Sunrise was spectacular, gold, orange and rose. I made coffee in french press for enjoying on the balcony, and this experience was every bit what we had hoped in anticipation. Ordering the french press, packing it carefully in suitcase within bubble wrap inside its original box, handling the considerable mess of grinding beans, then cleaning press, all was absolutely worth the effort. I enjoyed doing it for my lovely bride anyway. Weve wished once or twice that we had a ceiling fan in the room (were used to them), though the temp control has been very good, and the A/C keeps the air cool and dry. We made a dinner reservation in the Little Italy restaurant for Friday evening, 9 PM, the last night onboard. Decided not to make any others, since the food weve experienced is excellent and probably not worth going to the surcharge restaurants. This is definitely a food cruise, as weve been warned. We actually had three meals before noonbreakfast at Aloha Cafe quite early, then made the mistake of walking through it again in mid-morning and the sights and scents grabbed us again for a second meal, then ate (very lightlya couple eggs for me, fruit for Norita) at the Cadillac Diner. Then, of course, back to the room for a nap. Man, did that feel good! The duvets are much more wonderful than we thought they would bedeep but light comforter, like a thick down pillow, covered in a white cotton slipcase. The first night we had two single duvets on our queen bed, but then our room steward changed them to a large queen size one. I liked the two singles better. Great to cover, wrap up in, generally be coddled and swaddled in. Sucks you right into deep sleep. Got up to walk off the ship and down some waterfront neighborhood streets in Hilo. Interesting houses, streets, green vegetation covering trees, poles, bushes, like an infestation of greenery. Huge leaves on some plants. We had a good view of the ship from those old homes on the waterfront, so took some pictures of the ship and the old neighborhood. We only walked for maybe an hour off the ship, but that was plenty for the day without transportation. Found that the disembarkation drill was one swipe of the cruise card, but embarkation was three separate checks of both picture ID and the cruise card. This is to be the normal routine in every port. When we returned to the ship we stopped for coffee in the Aloha Cafea great spot for this, since they have the super coffee makers, any kind of snack youd like with coffee, and both indoor and outdoor seating. Picked up our embarkation pictures, shown in display racks in the photo gallery (pick them out yourself, pay at the desk). Back to our stateroom. Sometime later, maybe an hour or so, we realized we did not have the camera! Retrace mentallyNorita suggested we ask at Reception instead of trying to actually physically retrace our steps, and sure enough, there it was! Katy, a worker in the Aloha Cafe, had found and turned it in. Since then weve tried to catch up with her at least three times to thank her but havent found her yet. Wanted to both thank her and give her a small reward. Never caught up with her, though we left plenty of word for her. Took a second nap. All that eating is hard work! Actually, walking around the ship gives you plenty of exercise too, since the ship is three laps to a mile, and were quite a way forward on port side with most restaurants entering on starboard way aft. Also they are on decks 5, 6, and 11, and we are on 9. We do use the staircases regularly. Got dressed for dinner at Liberty restaurant. On the way we had pictures taken in Capitol Atrium, since I had made sure to remove all traces of spinach from my teeth, and at this point my pants still fit. Very short wait in line at Liberty, maybe 5 minutes. No reservations, but no wait either. The whole experience here was superb. The food preparation was excellent, as was the service. It is a beautiful restaurant, very colorful, well-decorated, comfortable, plenty of room, and arriving at your table just "feels" good. The wait staff was unbelievable! Each person was polite, helpful, well-trained, attentive and prompt beyond anything I have ever experienced. And when you are finished, you get up and leave without signing a charge card or even waiting for a waitperson to recognize you and bring the bill. We were supposed to cruise in the evening in a loop past Kilauea volcano lava flowing into the ocean; however, a "minor technical glitch" wouldnt allow us to sail fast enough to do that and then make it to Kahului by morning, so we just went direct. Makes you wonder if one of the propellers is about to fall off! Or maybe it was just the cost of the extra fuel, I dont know; however, I was not about to get my nose out of joint over a few minutes worth of glowing lava, as much as Id like to see it. Monday, August 29. Woke at 5 am, clear, calmgreat sunrise. Picked up pilot boat before dawn off Kahului harbor. This was a tiny powerboat that carried a crew of one plus the pilot, who came alongside and had to make a tricky move to jump aboard the ship. We were going slowly, but even at that the bow wave made it interesting for such a small boat. As we came into the harbor, we of course recognized many, many landmarks of our favorite island and could easily orient ourselves. A sight weve never seen before. We were watching bridge cam while entering, too. Haleakala is clearcan see traffic coming downhill from Pukalani; clouds over Hana Highwaygood sunrise pictures. Charging batteries for camera on and off, since I neglected to recharge them last night. We arrived in Kahului at 6:28 am. We wandered the ship in the morning, checking out things that were happening. In one of the spotsI think it was the Mardi Gras Disco, bright purple and gold, a dance class was going on with loud music. We stood and watched it a bit; then as we left, we ran into the ships captain, Captain Kjell Nesheim. He asked us what was going on in there. Very friendly guychatted with him a few minutes. We had seen him once in the library, a beautifully designed and outfitted cherry-wood large complex room with several wings and freestanding cases, each with framed glass doors and full of brand-new books of all kinds. Quite a wide selection. Shuttle to Thrifty about 10 am; rented Chrysler convertible. Really too hot for top down some of the time, but we did go up to Pukalani and Kula, where it was more successful. Drove to Kihei, saw Maui Sunset (our condo), Hilo Hattie, Wailea Beach, many other beaches, down to old church, etc. Parked car overnight in lot close to ship; free, but overcrowded so we had to use an overflow lot a couple hundred yards farther down road. We looked at yet 4 more photographs but decided not to buy them. We ate at Skyline restaurant; quite good, though my strip steak was very rare instead of the medium rare that I ordered; also a bit tough. Service was still good, but nothing like that we had yesterday at the Liberty. Its possible that since we were there earlier, the Liberty staff could handle us better. However, the training of staff was clearly different, plus our two-person table was much better situated in Liberty than those in Skyline. Our cabin steward, Shirley, was back for new towels (twice in one day!) plus turndown and chocolates on pillows later. The maids wear a "formal" outfit for evening work. They are working constantly, it appears. Tuesday, August 30. Took car to Wailuku Heights in early morning to photograph ship. Got gas, then over to the Maui Mall for one of our favorites, Guri-guri (same as everwonderful!). That is a unique sherbet/ice cream concoction made by Mr. Tanaka. The Guri-guri shop is at the west end of the mall, if you are looking for it. Ask for 5-scoop, both flavors. One is a pineapple, the other guava. Five scoops fit in a cup of about 12 ounces, sell for $2. What a treat! We would NEVER think of going to Maui without getting some Guri-guri. The recipe is secret, but it sure seems to be a combination of sherbet and ice cream. He used to have an option for sweet beans as an addition, but discontinued that 15 years ago. Then we returned car to Thrifty lot. Thrifty car shuttle driver, a fat Hawaiian gal, was on phone during entire trip back to ship. Weve seen this before, with salespeople in Sears. Shirley, again, about 10 am, with another helper, to clean. Dressed for Hawaiian formal portraitsfollowed by dinner at Skyline. A late-returning passenger held up departure for an hour; we all watched him running the length of the pier just before we shoved off. Everyone was on board by now, plus dressed for the pictures, so everyone got to the restaurants early too. That meant it took the better part of an hour to get into a restaurant. We had been told at Reception that they did not take reservations at either the Skyline or the Libertyturned out to be false, there was a reservation list. And then, after waiting through a bunch of people, we found they had missed our name on the walkup sign-up list so we got in even later. Dinner and service was down a notch from the last time there. Had lattes on deck at Aloha Cafe afterward., watching the ship leave Kahului. Actually we watched the ship leave the dock and harbor much earlier, but also watched the lights later after dinner with lattes on deck. Route was a bit different from anticipatedwe swung west and south around Lanai rather than between Lanai and Maui. Wednesday, August 31. Arrived early in Konaanchored at 5:31 am. We were already up and drinking coffee on balcony, what a luxury. Tenders left starting at 7 am with up to 107 passengers each; there were four in use. Plenty of tenders at this rate. We went into town, walked around, had shave ice (more like a snowcone, though they used the rotary ice shaver machine), took pix, came back onto ship before noon with only 12 on our boat. Our balcony faces the land, so its quite interesting. Snoozed again in early afternoon. Today there is a chocoholics buffet in the Skyline restaurant at 2:30. All the items were beautifully preparedchocolate mousse, chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate ice cream sundaesdozens of varieties, and lots of it. There were several large ice sculptures done for that event, swans, fish, etc. There were also some chocolate sculptures and structures as decoration. There were several lines of people snaking through the buffet serving area, so it didnt take too long to go through. We survived it, mainly by bringing a plateful back to room instead of trying to pork it all down at once. Porked it down later. Again, when we were ready to leave, the last tender waited for a late passenger for an hour; we had already weighed anchor, turned the ship, an extra tender used for checking on the one waiting at the pier. Then we finally left without the passenger. No ones fault but his own, and I dont feel a bit sorry. We picked up the last tender on the run, leaving harbor. For dinner, we thought about the Liberty restaurant but decided on the Aloha Cafe buffet instead. This is generally more successful, first because of the wide selection of different dishes, second because there is no wait time anywhere during the meal, and third if you are disappointed in a dish you just go get something else. And generally many of the dishes are every bit as good as the other restaurants. We tried pizza, hamburger patty, lighter fare. Lines at the buffet are nearly nonexistent, even for the individual morning omelet or carved meats. There are many buffet stations inside (three main ones with food both sides, one salads and fruits, one desserts, one milks, cereals, yogurts, etc.; plus separate ones for burgers, hot dogs, pizza, several coffee, milk and drink stations, and an ice cream machine). There is a separate well-equipped area for kids, with a buffet counter and furniture sized to small people; this area had hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, mac-n-cheese, milk, and other kids favorites such as big chocolate-chip cookies. Not too separated, though, so families can still eat together. The kids area also is right next to the ice cream machine, for some reason! Then there are many stations outside too, almost as many as those inside, with all the possibilities except that outside the omelet stations replace the ice cream machine inside. So if you are hungry for long at the Aloha Cafe, you are just lost! In the evening we went to the Hollywood Theater for a juggler plus Rebecca Lowe, a singer. Very good, both of them. The theater is really a fine onecomfortable, large seats with plenty of passing room between rows. No bad sight lines, either. As usual on this ship, there is a great amount of ornate decoration. There are a number of 12-foot gold statues similar to the Oscar at the entries and along the walls. Thursday, September 1 The cruise to Kauai is direct from Kona instead of scenic cruising on the way to see the Na Pali Coast. Instead, we will leave Kauai at 2 PM tomorrow, cruising the Na Pali coast in the afternoon on the way to Honolulu. We arrived in Nawiliwili Harbor at 7 am. Decided to go get the Thrifty car early; picked it up at 9 instead of noon. We had decided to change car from convertible to a Jeep Wrangler, but none available so we took a Jeep Grand Cherokee. A good choice, though the V6 was gutless compared to our Hemi. With the rain we encountered, neither a convertible nor a Wrangler would have been the best. Drove north, through Kapaa, through Princeville, down through Hanalei, to end of road at Haena park. It rained off and on, fairly hard going north at first, spotty later. Had espresso and latte at Lapperts in Princeville shopping mall: big on prices, small on flavor and value. But it was coffee, and we needed it; at that time of the day it was getting a bit dozey. By the time we got back to Lihue it was pretty clear, just scattered clouds. Decided not to keep the car overnight, though the ship wasnt to leave port until 2 tomorrow afternoon. Returned car; forgot to get gas first, and they wanted to charge me $43 to fill, at $3.99 a gallon and I assume they estimated an entirely full tank. We drove off to hunt for a hard-to-find station, at $3.06, only about 7 gallons; total $23. Back to ship on shuttle by 1:30-2 PM. That was plenty of land for this trip in both islands, especially Kauai. Nawiliwili Harbor is very tight, even more so than Hilo, Kahului or Honolulu. The ship was required to turn in its own length much of the time, rather than turning as it proceeded. Maneuvering the 920-foot ship in that space was a slow, careful dance between tugboats, ship power, and bow and stern side thrusters. Those thrusters were really the motive force for the maneuvers in all the ports; the tugs were there mostly as insurance. Went to a Polynesian show at Hollywood Theater in the evening to see the Tahiti dance troupe, which performs in luaus in the islands; I recall seeing them advertised on Maui. Friday, September 2 Last night we got letter to have our luggage OUTSIDE the room door by 1:00 AM Saturday morning, with special brown tags attached. This is because our flight from Honolulu is before 2 PM, an apparent cutoff time. We tried to get an appointment for Norita at the Santa Fe Spa for a pedicure (her first professional one) and change of nail color, something she had looked forward to; but there were no openings. She did get on a waiting list in case of a cancellation, but its not likely with the 50% fee for canceling within 24 hours. So it appears she will have to put up with ripped sheets for a while yet. Fairly light breakfast at Aloha Cafe. Fruit, cereal, only small amount of sausage, bacon, three eggs over easy, and oh yeah a blueberry pancake with pineapple/cherry topping. Juice and a latte. Just like home. (Norita: "Oh yeah???") The plates in the buffet, by the way, are not the usual round ones. They are large ovals, which accommodate probably twice as much as a normal dinner plate. Once we saw what must have been a good ole boy from the land o grits, who had one of these buffet plates mounded high and large with just grits and nothing else. A sight to behold. Photographs are taken by the ships photographers constantly, it seems. We had the one taken just before boarding: $12.99 for a 5 x 7. Then each day there have been some photographers in the main atrium from 5 to 10; those are 8 x 10: $19.99. One with blue background. One with a green screen and substituted backgrounds. One with green stripes. One on the white balustrade/red carpet staircase. One on formal night. One for each of the ship-sponsored shore excursions. You could break the bank just on photos. Then the day after each one, the photos are set up in wall display racks, a very large space along the passageway to one of the restaurants, all sorted into sections for each of the photo opportunities; you open the case, pick up your photos, take them to counter to buy them on the ship credit card. We got just two, the first one plus the formal night (Hawaiian formal). Our Cruise Director said that one woman came up to him when he told them where to find their pictures, and said, "How will I know which one is mine?" Ba-da-boom. We left the pier at Nawiliwili at 2 PM. This allowed daytime cruising along the north shore of Kauai and the Na Pali coastline. We swung in fairly close to shore, filling the camera lens without a telephoto. What a spectacle; took lots of pictures, since this is probably the only chance well have to see this. The coast itself is accessible only by air or boat along this wild coastline with heavy seas. It is also possible to hike at least portions of a trail along the coast, but in some places the trail must go across waterfalls and climb high to bypass vertical cliffs with no ledges or beaches at bottom. Its debatable whether one can really hike the full coastline. Late in the day, we could see Niihau island along with its northern island, Lehua; but before we were close enough to see details, it was dark. We ate dinner at Little Italy restaurant. Not very impressed with it, I have to say. The waiters, though enthusiastic, were obviously new at the job. I had chicken on pasta, which was pretty good but not superb; but I ordered a glass of Ulupalakua Red wine--I've had this before from the Maui winery and enjoyed it--which I could have sworn was two-buck-chuck, the two-dollar Merlot from Trader Joe's. And it was fully room temperature, too, rather than slightly cooled. I would have sent it back except that I felt sorry for the obviously over-their-heads young waiters. But if that's all I have to gripe about, the world is a pretty good place. Saturday, September 3 We decided to do the Express Disembarkation. So instead of packing in the evening, leaving luggage outside the door by 1 am, then finding the luggage on the pier in the morning to move onto the bus and take into the airport, we just packed the next morning and carried it with us. The wheeled pull-cases are great; one apiece worked just fine. The Express people were first off, so we didnt have to disembark by groups as designated by our luggage groupings. Took the bags straight to the bus; checked in as usual at airport. Even that check-in was a piece of cake; self-check-in at the United counter gave us all boarding passes for both flights home, plus took our luggage. If possible, I would always choose the Express Disembarkation. Very efficient, just as we found nearly all processes on board. Everything that was purchased on board was charged to ones shipboard account via the ship ID/credit card. Same card was used when we left and returned at each port, so the ship always kept track of who may not have returned to the ship on time. We had some time to wait in the Honolulu airport, which is not too bad. Plenty of open air space, plus shops and seating. We knew United Airlines was not going to provide a meal on this flightwould sell us a meal for $5 eachso we bought a BK Whopper and a BK Chicken sandwich to take onboard later; we shared one sandwich in the airport to stave off hunger. On board the plane, the couple in front of us laid back their seatbacks upon takeoff and did not raise them until we hit LA. They had the right to do this, but it was rude to never ever raise them, since we had no space even to reach down to your shoe or purse. Tight seating, so it was not a comfortable flight. In LA, however, there was no wait; they were waiting for us and we with another couple from the ship were last aboard; and the smaller plane had plenty of room for this shorter flight. One hour flight time to Tucson, arriving 11:41 PM. The airport was very quiet, with few travelers. Immediate bag retrieval, shuttle trip, into car and drove home, arriving there at 12:30 am. It was a beautiful, warm and dry summer night in Tucson, 86 degrees, with saguaros to welcome us home. Maggie came home in the morning, flopped down and rested all day. We had a great time. 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: September 2005
We were met at the airport by a half a dozen NCL representatives. They directed us to a tram to take us to the baggage claim area. After we had our luggage we proceeded out the door where there were more NCL representatives who directed us ... Read More
We were met at the airport by a half a dozen NCL representatives. They directed us to a tram to take us to the baggage claim area. After we had our luggage we proceeded out the door where there were more NCL representatives who directed us to the proper place to put our luggage and which bus to get on to bring us to the ship. From the time we had our luggage got on the bus and went through security to get on the ship we were checked in and up in our cabin in about 45 minutes. The cabin was cozy and the decor was very colorful. We had a balcony cabin at the front of the ship that is three times as big as all of the other balcony cabins. We really enjoyed the extra room out on the balcony. The shower was a bit on the small side. The drains in the shower always seemed to drain real slow. The clothes line in the shower was broken. I contacted the front desk on three different occasions to get it fixed. It was still broken as we got off of the ship. The room was always made up in a timely manner so we did not have any concerns with our cabin steward. She was friendly and always had a smile on her face as we came and went throughout the week. We were not aware that they were serving Prime Rib in the main restaurants on the first night we sailed. They did not offer it any other night that we sailed. The food was average. It could have been served warmer. It always looked like the servers were so busy rushing to and from in the dining room, but the never got anywhere. they really need to work on giving better service to the guests on board. We are once in one of the specialty restaurants on our anniversary night. We had an excellent dinner that night but at an extra price. They should try to run the main dining rooms as well as they did the specialty ones. The entertainment was good, we really enjoyed the singing and dancing shows on board. Service at the bars was always slow. The work ethic of an all American crew leaves a lot to be desired. The shore excursions desk always had long lines. I was glad that we prebooked our shore excursions online. We were a little disappointed that one of our excursions was cancelled supposedly because not enough people signed up. They did swap a more expensive shore excursion in its place. The shore excursions were overpriced in my opinion. Schedule you own on line by yourself. The Pride of America is a very pretty ship. I am glad that we sailed on her while she is still new. I have a feeling that in another year she will be dirty and run down. I hope that NCL can get a handle on training an all American crew and turn them around so this beautiful ship does not suffer. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We enjoyed the sail on Pride of America - the ship is beautiful and spotless. The 7 day Hawaii tour is busy because there are NO 'days at sea'; you arrive in a new port every morning. We had no infrastructure problems such as ... Read More
We enjoyed the sail on Pride of America - the ship is beautiful and spotless. The 7 day Hawaii tour is busy because there are NO 'days at sea'; you arrive in a new port every morning. We had no infrastructure problems such as what we've been reading has occurred with engine failures, and plumbing. The specialty restaurants are worth the upcharge and provide excellent service. The food in the main dining rooms, which are beautiful, is good but we preferred Jefferson Bistro, East Meets West and Lazy J. The cruise had no children on board, a few babies, and a mature crowd. It was a 'sleepy' crowd - not much action; no one in the discos; not a lot of 'partiers', but a seasoned crowd of travellers determined to make the most of each port stop. Service was very mixed. We had excellent servers in some areas, and some very inexperienced staff in Napa Wine Bar and Pink's Champagne. Some staff with attitude as well and some I would say were totally depressed. Very mixed - you don't know what you will get with service; It was about 50/50 excellent to below average. Overall great scenic trip and activities - we did helicopter over Circle of Fire in Kilo, Captain Zodiac tour of Kona coastline and snorkeling, and cancelled our horseback riding in Kauai for a car rental after went spent a day in Maui in car rental. We covered both islands in full - if you continue past Road to Hana in Maui and go back side of island instead of turning around - the view is spectacular and will lead you to the island's winery - about a 6 hour drive total to see this half of the island. Loved Kauai - see the Canyon, we skipped Fern Grotto; see the Northshore. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may ... Read More
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may not be ready yet. We went had a nice lunch lots of selection walked around the ship and shortly an announcement was made that we could go to our rooms. We booked 8208 middle at the very back end of the ship. Our cabin steward Adam was there to greet us. My husband had arranged a birthday celebration package The room was all decorated in balloons and a banner and sign on the door as well as a huge chocolate cake. Our room was spotless. Nice size room for the two of us...the balcony was almost as big as the room. Lots of storage, tons of hangers, baskets, shelves inside the closet. Shower is compact. Some folks have complained about no top sheet on the bed that is true there isn't one however there is a big duvet. Four pillows we found the beds extremely comfy. Note the bed at the hilton didn't have a top sheet either also had the duvet. If you want a top sheet just ask. Lots of towels ice all the time. Good hair dryer. Our steward kept our room spotless all week. We tipped him extra as we thought he deserved it. Room service was fast and friendly. We booked all of our shore excursions thru NCL Our sailing had a different itinerary than previous sailings: Sunday Hilo Big Island took the Lava Hike adventure. Our guide was a local Hawaiian fellow who was fantastic sharing his knowledge of local folklore etc making jokes etc. The Volcano National Park is amazing. Even if you rent a car and just drive around you will be amazed. We didn't get to see red hot flowing lava other than the show you get when it flows into the ocean and you see all the steam etc. As previously mentioned by locals on this board a huge section is roped off due to the concern about the shelf etc. We walked about two and a half miles out and the wind shifted bringing the sulpher gases our way and we had to turn back. That said the lava you walk over was a once in a life time opportunity for us. Worth the trip. We did the sail past the lava at night a must see for lava nuts like us. Monday -- Kahului Maui took the Maui Downhill bike trip Out of this world the highlight of our trip. Our guide Matt was a really cool californian who has made Hawaii his home for the past fifteen years. We were taken to the base center and got our wind suits and helmets (like motor cycle style) The ride up to the top of Haleakala was about and hour and a half up a winding road up to the top of the summit some 10,000 feet above sea. We were up above the clouds at the lookout. I almost chickened out at this point. But I am so glad I didn't this was my 50th birthday and this was my challenge. Maui Downhill is the original bike downhill company. Your safety is their main priority. They out fit you on a bike that has disc brakes like a car. The van follows at the back of the group you can quit any time and ride the rest of the way. The first stop is a mandatory stop at the two mile mark. Once I did the first two miles I felt a lot better about the speed and handling of the bike. They do ask that nervous or less experienced go first behind Matt as your leader. You wind down 20 miles of some pretty amazing views. This was a thrill of a lifetime for us and if we ever get back to Hawaii we will be looking up Maui Downhill for another adventure. Luau at night we went to the NCL Luau they took over 800 people by bus. This moved very well. It was held at a hotel resort with the beach and sun set behind us. The buffet was okay moved quickly Show had dancers and singers etc. Having never been to any other luau hard to say how it compared. I did meet a couple on board who had gone to Germaines on Oahu and said the NCL one was far better. Tuesday Lahaina: Had to be tendered in. Very windy. Town of Lahaina is kind of like Key West lots of shops along the main street. We took the Best of West Maui trip, long day. Did the Iao Valley, Maui Tropical Plantation and the Ocean Center. Ocean center has an amazing viewing area where the tank almost totally surrounds you. If you take kids this is a must see. We had time when we got back to shop in Lahaina. Tender line was huge one of the ships officers was there as was the harbour master. The ships officer said it was due to the high waves. We heard later on the ship that some folks didn't get to go ashore at all due to the tenders being stopped because of the waves. We had no problem and the line took about half an hour. Wednesday Kona Took historic Kona trip only 3 1/2 hours. gave us a look at the other side of the big island. Saw big sea turtles on the beach at the Refuge. Thursday Nawiliwili Kauai Another long day took Waimea canyon, Wailua river and fern grotto. Canyon is a must see even thou we have seen the grand canyon this canyon is worth seeing. I was disappointed in the grotto. It is currently being rejuvenated and there is construction and repair going on. Yellow keep out construction tape, construction garbage and noisy machinery took away from the natural beauty and scenery of the grotto. Friday at sea cruising Sail past the Napali Coast at 10:30 in the morning. Was foggy misty at first but then cleared up it is beautiful and rugged. Later we sailed past the Niihau Coast as well. In the evening we sailed past Honolulu to see the night lights as well. The seas were very rough this evening. Restaurants: Liberty -- Linda was waitress and Larry was helper both very friendly and nice. Hubby had salmon and I had beef both tasty prepared just right and in and out in just over an hour. Lazy J -- terrific service from Danielle waitress Too bad shes was going home she was so much fun helper was Michael and he had just started. Hubby paid extra to have surf and turf he said it was great I had t bone steak cooked perfect and delicious. In and out in less than an hour. Cadillac Diner fun place had pork chops hubby had meat loaf both okay chops a little skinny but shakes were very good. Food reminded me of meals my mom made when I was a kid. Service was friendly and fast. Aloha cafe ate here a lot as we always wanted to be somewhere else food was good lots of selection. Shows Juggler was worth seeing. Cruise director was funny. South Seas Island Spectacular was excellent. Singer who narrates the show was a very good singer. I would have like a cd of him. Cruise director said he didn't have one. Crew in general were friendly and very helpful. We loved this trip it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. Think of the boat as your floating hotel. Go with an open and positive mind. Aloha. Sorry its so long. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Just returned from our seven day cruise and wish I had found this site prior to booking this cruise jem. NCL ~ never again. Freestyle cruising ~ you can't be serious. Cabin size ~ unless you are a midget, get use to bumping around the ... Read More
Just returned from our seven day cruise and wish I had found this site prior to booking this cruise jem. NCL ~ never again. Freestyle cruising ~ you can't be serious. Cabin size ~ unless you are a midget, get use to bumping around the cabin. The waitstaff, and I use that term lightly, is a joke. The food was okay, but not nearly up to the standards of other cruises which we have been on. Plan on being in the dining room for at least one and one half hours. There may be plenty of waitstaff, but they seem to wander around like chickens with their heads cutoff. No offense, but international waitstaff are far superior in trying to please. Room Service ~ ho ho ho!! Ordered room service one evening for a 7 AM breakfast. At 7:15 AM, I called room service and got this message from the guy on the other end, "well, we are extremely busy this morning, it will get there". At 7:20 I left for the 11th floor buffet. The rest of the day came and went, never saw a tray of food. One of the nicest features of a cruise is being seated with fellow cruisers at dinner time. A chance to meet and great fellow passengers for the entire week. By the end of the week, most tables have exchanged photos and email addresses. This was an impossible task on this cruise as there was no designated seating. Another feature of other cruises are waitstaff which preform nightly with a song or dance to those in the dining room. After 9PM, no other foods available other than a small room service menu or the "Cadillac Diner" which serves mediocre food. A highlight of this tour was an evening pass by a volcanic lava flow on the Big Island. This never happened due to "a minor technical difficulty that didn't allow the ship to achieve full speed". Needless to say, we were very disappointed and truly upset when we read other reviews of prior cruises which stated the same thing. I wonder if this ship ever makes this route? False advertising??? There was a very strong smelly odor which was highly noticeable in our cabin hallway daily. What's up with that? We never met our room steward ~ the first person which we have always met on every other cruise we have been on. The shows were good, but we have seen better. The comedian, juggler, and woman singer were very good ~ the other evenings, okay. With no casinos, pretty much that was the end of the evening ~ no partying poolside with midnight buffets. BTW, a chocolate buffet at 2:30 PM?? Not exactly a high brainwave in planning this event ~ why not showcase this in the evening when everyone can see it? Bottom line, I don't think there will be too many NCL re-bookings from those who made this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone has cruised before, they will be somewhat disappointed with the ship and its service but it won't spoil your vacation. The ship is lovely - not classic or elegant - but still nicely done. We thought it might be gaudy but it wasn't. The cabins are small -- just enough room to walk around the bottom of the bed to get into the smallish bathroom. There is far less storage space, especially the closet which contains twenty hangers in one hanging space plus a couple of shelves. There are four drawers in the room - two medium, two small. We managed however - there were still empty shelves after we unpacked. Each room has a mini-frig that is empty. It would probably hold a six-pack of sodas. Avoid rooms with connecting doors - the walls are thin anyway but the doors make it even easier to hear what's going on in the next cabin. The balcony was great and helped alleviate the small size of the cabin. The food is generally tasty but the choices didn't blow us away. You get the best food in the specialty restaurants but then you pay for it too. Our cabin steward was good but we heard others who had very poor service. If you're not satisfied, complain immediately and keep complaining until something is fixed otherwise you will have no basis for asking that the $10/day/person you are charged for tips be lowered. Some tips: - If you intend to eat in either Jefferson's Bistro (continental cuisine) or East Meets West (Asian) which are two of the specialty restaurants and which charge $10/pp additional, do it on the first night when we heard they have a 2 for 1 special (only charge for one person). We never saw this advertised but were told it was in print somewhere. Make your reservation as soon as you board the ship. We ate in both restaurants and liked them both. The presentation in the Asian one is exceptional. - If you like sushi, make a reservation to eat at the sushi bar in East Meets West - sitting at the sushi counter, you pay $5 for all the sushi you can eat and it's prepared right in front of you. (We're not sushi fans. We ate at a regular table and chose items off the menu.) - There is a nice shore excursion on Maui that goes to an aquarium. The tour also included going to the Iao Valley, the Maui Tropical Plantation where you were served lunch after a tram tour of the various plantings and then to the aquarium. The aquarium was exceptionally well done. If you go, don't get the $2 handheld guide where you punch in numbers for additional info. It's heavy and there are lots of signs to tell you plenty. You don't really have enough time to listen to all that info anyway if you want to see the whole place and some of the best stuff is at the end of the loop you take - the 3/4 million gallon walk-through aquarium. - If you signed up for your shore excursions on the internet and haven't received a confirmation in a week or two, call immediately. It may mean you aren't signed up. We had this happen and when we called, we were told that there was nothing reserved for us. They took our reservations over the phone then. One couple did not realize they hadn't gotten a confirmation and got on the ship only to find they had no shore excursions. - Read the dress requirements for the tours you choose. If it says "closed toe shoes" or something like that, they mean it and will not let you go. This pretty much applies to some of the more athletic tours such as biking down the volcano. - Don't bring a travel iron or alcohol in your suitcase. They will be confiscated until the end of the cruise. They scan all luggage. - There are free shuttles to Hilo Hattie's, Wal-Mart, etc. in many ports. When you dock in Kauai for two days, there is a free shuttle every ten minutes to a shopping mall called Anchor Cove less than a mile away. My husband walked to it. If you're not doing an excursion or have free time, get beach towels and take the shuttle. Walk through the small mall, cross the little bridge to your left and you will find a gorgeous beach behind the Kauai Marriott. The beach is rimmed with white sand and the sand is rimmed with an immaculate lawn. You can park your towels anywhere on the sand or lawn - just don't use the beach lounges set out by the Marriott. There is plenty of shade and it's not crowded. Going farther down near the end is even less crowded. There are beach chair rentals for $3/hour just before you reach the Marriott pool. There is a grill at the Marriott pool if you are hungry, want a drink, etc. It was the most relaxing afternoon we had. And, be sure to take a key from the basket that the shuttle driver holds out. The key may open the treasure chest in the Maui Divers Jewelry store where you get off the shuttle. If so, you get to pick an oyster out of the tub. They contain a pearl or even two. Don't bother to have it mounted there - it's probably more pricey than anything you could get back home. - If you are flying in on your own or arriving a few days early, don't bother to arrive at the port before noon or 12:30 PM. They don't check anyone in before that. - The cabins are not ready until 2 or 3. Lunch is served in several places when you board and you can check your carry-on luggage until your room is ready. Just pack a swimsuit in your carry-on, change in a restroom, get a tropical drink and enjoy the pool until your cabin is ready! The large fire doors to the hallways will be opened on each floor when those cabins are available. - We recommend using the upper dining room (Liberty Restaurant). The service seemed better there. One waiter said the "new" waiters start downstairs and are promoted upstairs to the Liberty. Another said that wasn't true. We're not sure but we did find the service better upstairs. If you find a waiter you like, ask to be seated in their section in the following days. Service does vary a lot. If you want to make the early show in the showroom, be sure to tell the waiter because we missed a couple due to slow service. - Lobster night was Thursday night on our cruise. There was a handout the first night listing what happened on each night. We ate in the buffet that night because they served lobster up there too. In addition, the buffet also had rack of lamb and cold prawns and those were NOT served downstairs in the main restaurants! To be fair, the lobster in the buffet was all claws - huge claws, already cracked, and it was very good. All you could eat, of course. The tails were downstairs but I heard complaints that they were not very good. Someone who claimed to be knowledgeable said the tails were from a different type of lobster than the claws upstairs. I don't really know if that was true or not. - Our schedule was different than advertised. We did not get to see the lava flowing at night. The rumor was that the ship was not operating at full speed so we didn't have time -- just a rumor. Who knows but we didn't get to see it anyway. We did pass the Na Pali Coast in the very late afternoon when the sun was just going down and shining directly on it and that was gorgeous. - There are two breakfast buffets upstairs. One inside as you would expect and a second on the very back of the ship outside but covered by a giant awning - just turn right as you enter the Aloha Cafe. This is a wonderful place to eat breakfast. There are two omelet stations and they will even make egg white omelets, fried eggs, or any eggs to order. - You will be charged $10/day/pp for tips. These tips are not divided between the bartenders and bar waiters so please tip them separately. If you have any problems, complain promptly so that you have justification for "adjusting" your tips at the end of the cruise. - There are several Hawaiian crafts sessions. One is ribbon lei making which was fun and easy, another was Hawaiian money folding and there was also another lei making session where they used shells and nuts. Not very many people attended so it was easy to get instruction. The Hawaiian guy who leads these is very funny. - No casino, no bingo! (But yes, they have those awful art auctions.) I'd be happy to answer questions. Just write. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ship. We previously cruised with Celebrity and Holland America and loved both of those lines. Likes -- 1. The "free-style" cruising concept was a plus for this trip. It allowed us time to see more of the islands. The late night departure and the overnight were welcomed. 2. Our veranda cabin on Deck 10 midships was well designed (adequate, but not roomy) and nicely appointed. We found the hanging space just barely adequate for a week of cruising. Plenty of storage space under the bed for our largest piece of luggage. 3. The fresh fruit at every meal was great. 4. The sliding veranda door was wonderful. It does away with the awkwardness of the swinging doors that are standard on most other lines. The tinted glass was also welcome. 5. The embarkation/disembarkation processes were very quick and easy. 6. Breakfast meal with the exception of getting an omelet or eggs cooked as you like. 7. The crew for the greatest part was very nice and very helpful. I did not see anyone having their "attitude adjusted" by a superior in public. 8. Having a coffee maker in the room. 9. Lots of hot tubs available, if you wanted to go in them. 10. Cruising around the Na'Pali coast and the night cruise past Kiluhea (both directions) were awesome. It was noted in previous reviews that this was not done for a couple of cruises. Dislikes -- 1. Lukewarm food and I'm talking every day, every meal. 2. Strong sewage-like smell coming from Deck 5 up to Deck 11. It happened twice. 3. Too few or repetitious food choices for meals, with the exception of breakfast (which is really hard for any cruise line to mess up). For instance, they served Spanish rice and Chicken Fried Rice twice, plus roasted chicken 3 times, etc. 4. Amazingly small shower area. When I thought of some of the larger people on the ship trying to take a shower I wondered if they just stood outside the shower and used the bathroom floor since it had a drain. I am 6' 3" and I had a tough time trying to get my hair washed. Plus they stuck a large soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower which takes up even more space. 5. Housekeeping was hit and miss throughout the ship, specifically cleaning. I went into restroom near the Aloha Cafe and found no paper towels available. I went into the same restroom over 2 hours later and still no towels. Cabin surfaces and tables were not wiped off, mirrors not cleaned, etc. Our cabin steward actually placed a chipped drinking glass in our cabin. 6. Overpriced tours. This we heard from several people. We rented cars for around $30 per day and enjoyed driving over most of the islands. You could cover any island in a day with the exception of the Big Island. Plus you saw more than any one tour. 7. The "tipping" process was the same as some other lines, however, since you never interact with most of the crew during "free-style cruising" (i.e. concierge, maitre d', etc) why should you be required to tip them? I don't mind tipping people who actually do something for you. 8. Value vs. Price. Not enough value for the price of the cruise. 9. Overpriced drinks (this is not just a NCL dislike). If you charged $5 for a MaiTai or similar drink, I think you might sell more of them rather than the $10 "special price". 10. The information from the bridge via CCTV did not always match the daily paper. 11. Too many solicitations for photos and prices for them were too high. 12. Room service menu was very limited and most items you could get in a fast food store without the one hour wait time stated in the guest guide book. 13. The in-cabin guest guide book was really a joke. Not enough information about the things you needed to really know about the ship, it's routine or just operation of items in your cabin. No phone numbers for specific ship functions (such as housekeeping). 14. Chipped and/or dirty plates/cups/utensils. Dirty, threadbare, torn napkins. No extra napkins available without getting another set of utensils. This ship has only been in regular service since July 2005! 15. Crowded deck chairs. So close together it was hard to get into them. They were comfortable, however. 16. Swimming pool walls were dirty. I don't know when they get to clean the pools since another trip was leaving that night after we disembarked. 17. Not having your cabin made up when you needed it to be done. Do not stay in your cabin with the DND sign out past 1:00pm. (That is once you figure out how to get your DND sign out). BTW there is no mention of this handy gadget in the guest guide book, it took 2 days to find it out. 18. The overhang of Deck 11 on the Deck 10 verandas was a minor issue. My wife thought it was great from a privacy and weather-protection aspect, but I thought it had created a tunnel-effect which blocked most views aft and forward. Any veranda cabin below Deck 10 did not have this problem. All of the verandas on Deck 10 facing aft were visible to any guest at the rail of the Aloha Cafe Aft area on Deck 11. Suggestions -- 1. Housekeeping staff needs to know what clean means, not just replace towels, cups, etc. 2. Keeping guests informed of what time the ship would depart or arrive in ports seemed to be a problem. 3. Keeping food interesting and hot. 4. Charging guests $10 per day in tips to people that they don't ever interact with. I like to tip people who have earned it, not just because it's a way of doing business. 5. Several other reviews mentioned malfunctioning toilets or safes. We had both problems happen to us, but both were fixed very quickly. Overall impression -- Our impression of the "free-style" cruising concept is one of a floating 3-star hotel with "fast food" food stopping at different Hawaiian locales. If touring Hawaii without having to pack or unpack your bags just once is your thing, then NCL is for you. We would like to see if other lines would adopt the concept by staying longer in ports thereby allowing you to actually see something. It would be nice if NCL would use a variety of all fresh-made food, not pre-packaged and re-warmed. If you want the "upper class" feel of cruising, then take one of the other "classier" lines. The only real problem we have with NCL is value versus price. We paid too much for what we got in return. This was echoed by several other guests onboard. Having the option of dressing up every night for dinner versus not having reserved dining unless you pay for it, is not enough in our minds to balance the difference between value and price. Flight from Sacramento, CA to Honolulu, HI -- Our flight left Sacramento at 10:30am and the flight went into San Francisco to change airplanes. We left San Francisco on a 767-300 United flight. If you are a Mileage Plus member you can go online and ask for an upgrade to Economy Plus, which gives you 5 more inches of leg room between seats. This cost is an extra $44 per person, but was well worth the money. I did that for the flight back also. United does not provide free food service on these flights, but they do offer a variety of snacks, salads (no salads available on the late night flight back to LA), etc for $5 each. We had the chicken Caesar salad which was so-so. We arrived in Honolulu at 3pm. When we deplaned, there were NCL reps all over the place. It was overkill, but at least we knew exactly where we needed to go. We claimed our luggage and proceeded to the transfer bus just outside of the luggage claim area. Our baggage was placed on a rental truck and we climbed aboard for the trip to our hotel in Waikiki. This transfer took about 45 minutes since we dropped off other guests at the Marriott. Two night stay in Waikiki -- We stayed at the Radisson Prince Kuhio about 2 blocks from the actual beach. Most guests were going to be put in mountain-view rooms, but I requested an ocean-view room and the desk clerk was very nice to give us one on the 37th floor. The room had a very nice view of the beach area, but we also looked down on two other hotels, but it was nice just the same. The bad part about staying on the 37th floor was not the height, but the time invested in using the elevators. Radisson was in the process of upgrading 3 of the five elevators, which severely limited the amount of people able to be moved at one time. When we got to the room, housekeeping had shampooed the carpet earlier in the day so it was still a bit damp. On the second day, the room was not made up by four in the afternoon, so we just asked for clean towels. Other than those things the hotel was adequate and centrally located for the Waikiki area. Of course if you needed anything there was always an ABC store on just about every corner. Plenty of places to eat within easy walking distance of the hotel. We received an informational letter from NCL about our embarkation the next day. However, it did not contain any luggage tags for the transfer to the ship. I walked down to the NCL help desk on the second floor which is open from noon to 6pm to inquire about tags. The NCL rep looked at me as though I stepped off a UFO. Finally, another rep understood what tags I needed of which they had an ample supply sitting on the desk! I gave them my cabin number and they gave me tags for aft cabin area, which turned out to be wrong. The NCL rep was the same one I talked to the night before when I asked about some other embarkation information. Why didn't they give me the luggage tags at that point? If you like to have a very good buffet, try to Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel right on the beach. Very nice atmosphere and good food. Around $37 per person. Embarkation 9/24/05 -- On Saturday, everyone assembled in the hotel lobby at 1pm. Transfer busses were late and this process unfortunately kept many seniors standing in the heat and humidity for almost an hour. Once on the bus, everything went fine and we arrived approximately 30 minutes later at Pier 11. This was about 2:30pm. Here you go through a security check, make sure you have your driver's license handy. Not sure why, but they made some people remove their shoes/sandals and others not. I had sandals on and was told to remove them. Can't imagine what I could have hidden in them. Once thorough the checkpoint, you are offered the first of many photo ops. We passed them up. You are put into a queue to sign for your cruise cards, this process was very quick and easy. Then up the escalator and onto the ship. We were we were informed that our cabins were not ready yet and that we could wait in the Aloha Cafe which was serving lunch. We went up to the Aloha and had our first meal on board. Unfortunately, it was a precursor of the lukewarm food to come. The food had good flavor, but was lukewarm. About 30 minutes later, they informed everyone that the cabins were ready. Ours was nicely positioned just one deck down and about 8 doors from the staircase/elevators. It took about another hour for all of luggage to be delivered. Room had not been vacuumed or surfaces wiped down. The port party started around 7pm and included the ship’s band, which was okay. We departed Honolulu at approximately 8:30pm, 30 minutes later than scheduled. Hilo (Big Island) 9/25/05 -- We arrived in port approximately 8am. Departure from the ship was easy and we decided to rent a car. My advice is plan ahead for a car. Most car rental shuttles will only pick you up if you have reserved a car. Dollar and Budget were the only two that had cars available for walk-ins. We chose Dollar and were taken to the airport about 15 minutes away. Driving in Hawaii is like other parts of the USA, with the exception of speed limits. Because distance between towns is relatively short, you were almost constantly changing speeds from 25 to 50 mph. This is a bit frustrating, if you wish to get anywhere fast. We decided to drive to the Volcano National Park, which is about 45 minutes away. The park fee is $10 per car for a week. We went to the Lava Tube and several other lava areas. However, the most striking drive was the Chain of Craters road where the road ends where lava has crossed the road. Parking here is at a premium, but well worth the walk to the end of the road (lava had flowed across it several years ago). You can see steam erupting from the ocean approximately 3 miles away. You can walk across the lava beds, but be prepared! Use a guide and wear appropriate shoes and clothes. We chose only to walk to an overlook about 1 mile from the ranger offices. Take bottled water! It is very hot in the area and you need to stay hydrated. After looking at several other areas we drove back toward Hilo. We stopped at the Mauna Loa Nut Factory to pickup some candy for everyone back home. If you don’t wish to stop, you can find the same items in several other stores (including Wal-Mart and K mart) in any port you visit. They do serve macadamia nut ice cream at the back of the store, which was very tasty on a hot afternoon. The Rainbow Falls are very close to town and you can visit this area also. We wanted to, but we had done quite a bit of hiking in the Volcano NP and did not feel up to it. Note: Plan on arriving back at the rental agency no later than 5:30 pm. It takes awhile for the shuttle to run back and forth. Some people were late in arriving at the ship, due to this problem. The night cruise past Kilauea was spectacular so get a good seat or railing position. The captain cruised both directions so anyone could get a good viewing. Kahului (Maui) 9/26/05 Here we did not do too much. We took a walk into the area around the port did a bit of shopping, but due to the heat and humidity we went back to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon at poolside reading and relaxing. Departure was 10pm which made it nice for everyone that attended the ship’s onshore luau. However, when we spoke to people the next day about the luau, most comments were so-so about it. It was a very windy night, though. Lahaina (Maui) 9/27/05 Here is your first day of tender service to the port. We had reserved a car as we had in Hilo, but our plans of departing the ship around 9am were thwarted by only having two tenders and high waves. We did not depart until approximately 12:30pm. This was very frustrating for everyone. The cruise director did not keep guests informed of wait times, so everyone sat around waiting for their numbers to come up. Since most of the day was gone, we decided to walk around the port area. Go to the courthouse which was very near to learn about all the things available in the area. Walk outside to the Banyan Tree which is stunning. We did a bit of shopping and decided to return to the ship. This was a very long wait in the sun for everyone. The Akai security guards were not at all friendly or understanding of this fact. Tenders only hold 50 people and there were at least 75+ waiting in line for over an hour waiting for a tender to arrive from the ship. Kona (Big Island) 9/28/05 This is the second day of tender service and it was very much different here. Everyone got off in a very short time period and there were more tenders available for service. Very nice area to walk around in and just relax. This is what we did and had a light lunch and drinks at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. Nawiliwili (Kauai) 9/29/05 This is the place to rent a car. We took the shuttle to the Lihue airport (about a 15 minute ride). Be sure to note the streets leading to the airport! The shuttle runs about every 30 minutes, you could also take a cab, which wouldn’t be that much if you are in a hurry. Get good maps! The ones they give you are not very explicit. Had I known we were going to rent, I would have stopped at AAA and got some good maps. Kauai is very drivable in both directions. Take your time. The rental companies are 24 hour services and you can always take a cab back to the ship. We drove east first toward Hanalei Bay. It’s a very nice drive through awesome scenery. The beaches were great and we enjoyed watching the surfers and the trade winds. Watch for sign pointing to Mango Mama’s Smoothie shop. Just off the main road and worth the money for a great fresh smoothie. The road ends just after Haena at a very nice beach area. A little crowded, but nice. Many trails into higher areas start here. Take a look inside the dry and wet caves, takes only a few minutes. Drive back through Lihue and go west towards the Waimea Canyon. This another beautiful drive. The canyon overlook is awesome. Then be sure to leave enough time to see Kokee State Park further up the mountain. This rain forest area is cooler than the lower altitudes so bring a light sweater or jacket. Great place to hike around in. On our way back, we stopped at the Spouting Horn. This wasn’t a huge thrill due to the low surf conditions. I would imagine it would be something to enjoy when the waves at their highest. Gas was around $3.25 when we were there, but Monday, Oct 3rd the state was going to raise the price cap another $.27 per gallon. Still when you think about how much an overpriced tour can be, renting a car for $30 a day (mid-size) and spending about $30 in gas seems like a great deal. At sea 9/30/05 Nothing much except to relax and enjoy the scenery as the ship sails past the beautiful Na’Poli coastline. Happens around 10am so be ready for some wonderful scenery. They deliver bag tags tonight to attach to your luggage. However, if you wish to get off the ship very quickly you can hand carry everything and just walk off the ship. We decided to have a nice casual breakfast before we departed. Disembarkation was very easy and they kept fairly close to the printed schedule. Our luggage was in our matching colored tag area. Honolulu, Hi 10/1/05 Note: If you are going to rent a car here, I suggest you evaluate the number of people waiting for the rental shuttles. We should have gotten into a taxi long before becoming frustrated with Dollar. The Hertz shuttle came twice before the Dollar van came once. A taxi would not have been that much to any of the rental companies. Another thing, if you rent a car in Waikiki, you can turn it in at the Honolulu airport at no extra charge. We drove up the middle of the island (H2) towards the North Shore. Very pleasant drive once you are clear of Honolulu. We happened upon the Dole pineapple plantation and decided to stop. The pineapple soft-serve ice cream was great. If you have children, the world’s largest maze is here. We then went on to Haleiwa. Drive past to the north shore beaches, the waves and scenery are worth it. The return to Haleiwa and go in to the town. Stop and have a great burger at Kua Aina. A little place in a small strip mall. We then drove back down to Honolulu to see the Arizona Memorial. Note: Do this FIRST! Not last in the day. Most of the sightseeing boats are full very early in the day. We only got to see the museum and the memorial from a distance. They close at 6pm. We turned the rental car in and went to the airport. Our flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles was scheduled for 9pm departure. If you can change this, I would. This makes for a long day and night. The food in the Honolulu airport is expensive! Eat elsewhere before you get on the plane if possible. On this late night flight, United does not have “fresh” food for sale, only snacks. LAX was much more reasonable on food. Bon Voyage. Hope this has been helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We just returned from this cruise ~ what a major disappointment. We have cruised Carnival and Holland America many, many times and have never had such an experience as we had on this ship. Stateroom ~ Closet small; barely able to get two ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise ~ what a major disappointment. We have cruised Carnival and Holland America many, many times and have never had such an experience as we had on this ship. Stateroom ~ Closet small; barely able to get two twin beds in. However, each room is supplied with a coffee maker and small refrigerator. Why would one need either on a cruise ship? There were no top BEDSHEETS, just comforters. One can only wonder how many times theses comforters are used by people before they are replaced ~ what an ugly thought. Hallway ~ An unbelievable sewer stench was noticeable daily in the hallway. From other reviews we have noted, this seems to be par for the ship. Food ~ Unless you enjoy standing in line for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner ~ you're in trouble. People eating up in the Aloha Cafe tend to have on bathing wear or muscle shirts (uck) while reaching for their food. Main Dining Rooms (there are two, serving the same meals). Forget the tables of 8 or 10 where you meet and greet fellow cruisers for the entire week. Here a couple is seated at a table for four and the other two place setting are promptly removed. Plan on being there for a minimum of one and one half hours. The same food is usually available in the Aloha Cafe. So eating in a main dining hall where you have to be properly dressed gives you the same food as those eating in muscle shirts. After 9 PM, the Aloha Cafe is closed and the only other food service available is the Cadillac Diner. Food is mediocre, at best, and service is slower than slow. The other option is room service with its limited menu. Let me take a minute to tell you about room service. I placed an order the night before for a 7 AM breakfast. AT 7:15 AM, food had not arrived. I called room service and the man on the other side of the phone stated, "well we are really busy right now, it will get there". At 7:20 AM I went to the Aloha Cafe for breakfast. Oh, did I miss something, yes, the food never arrived throughout the remainder of the day. Some Room Service. One of the main reasons to cruise Hawaii was to sail by the flowing lava in the evening. We ate early that evening and went to the Purser's office to find out what time we would be sailing by this part of the Big Island so that we could get a good view for photo ops. We were told, "didn't you get the memo from us, due to technical problems they are unable to achieve full speed and therefore can't do the lava pass by." We have read many of the reviews on this cruise since our return only to find out that many past cruises also did not do to lava pass. Is this false advertising at its best on the part of NCL? Do you think we can be reimbursed ~ right! We never saw our cabin steward from day one ~ had to leave him/her notes to get supplies as he/she was like the phantom. Bottom line ~ we will never sail with NCL again. I only hope that others planning this trip will be smart enough to look at the reviews prior to booking this tour. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. ... Read More
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. Embarkation went smoothly, and lots of friendly faces to guide you, lei you, and take your photo. We arrived on the ship about 1:00p, and our bags were held for us until they made the announcement that the cabins were ready, around 2:30p. In the meantime, we headed to the Aloha Cafe for a tasty buffet. Our cabin was very clean. We unpacked and stored our luggage under the bed as recommended by other reviewers. Yes, it's compact but very efficient. Our cabin attendant was Rose, and she was a doll. We did tip her at first meeting and told her there would be more at the end of the cruise. She made up our cabin promptly every day, filled the ice bucket, turned down the beds in the evening with chocolates on our pillows, and quickly replaced towels. I have no complaints about the cleanliness anywhere on the ship. The food was tasty and plentiful. The desserts are wonderful! We ate 3 nights in the Liberty, and our waiters were Oscar and Alex, both very nice and eager to please. We ate in Lazy J's. There is a $15 charge for Lazy J's and an additional $10 (so $25pp) if you add lobster to your dinner. When we arrived at East Meet West for our reservation one evening, we found the hostess there to be rude and abrupt. I had on a dress and cute sandals, and my hubby was wearing pants, a collared shirt, and nice leather sandals. She turned us away and said he must wear closed-in shoes. I asked, what about me? She said, no, ladies can wear sandals. (Sounds like a double standard, if you ask me.) We left there and proceeded to the Aloha, where we enjoyed a nice dinner. On Sun morning, we arrived in Hilo. The view from the ship was spectacular!! I'll remember it for as long as I live. The tops of the green mountains were in the clouds, and a big bright rainbow went from one mountain to the other. It was so beautiful that it actually brought tears to my eyes. It was like looking at heaven on earth. The ship always had Hawaiian music playing, and it just added to the lovely view. In Hilo, we took the Volcanoes Nat'l Park excursion. It's an amazing place. Pack your walking shoes. We arrived in Maui on Monday and took the Atlantis submarine. It was fun but a bit overpriced. I saw a sign posted that said sub rides are $25. We paid $99 through the ship, but it also included our transportation, about a 45-min bus ride, and the driver was very informative and narrated the entire drive. On Mon eve, we went to the Paradise Luau, one of NCL's shore excursions. The luau was wonderful, and the food was good. It's held at a lovely place, on hotel grounds (can't remember the name of the hotel) in Maui, right on the beach as the sun sets. It is exclusively for NCL folks, no one else. You could see some of the people staying at the hotel out on their balconies, sneaking a peek and enjoying the entertainment from afar. In Kauai, on our own, we booked an island tour with Air Ventures Hawaii. It was $99 pp. Hubby is a big guy, and we weren't interested in paying the additional weight fee for a helicopter ride. The nice thing about the plane tour, it was just me, my hubby, and the pilot Jon, who was wonderful and narrated everything through our headsets. We did sail past the volcano at night, as stated in the itinerary. If you have binoculars, take them along. We used them for the viewing, and it helped a lot as it's quite a distance away. We sailed the Napali Coast one afternoon, and it was breathtaking. We had a balcony cabin, so we were able to enjoy it from there. Unfortunately, the cabin next door had smokers. They were out there morning, noon, and night, constantly smoking. That was the worst part of the trip, always smelling cigarettes instead of fresh ocean air from our balcony. The cruise director, Rich, was experienced and very entertaining. The shows were good. Yes, there are lots of young faces working this ship, but I found them all to be incredibly sweet and eager to please. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the wonderful coffee machines. You could chose from coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, all with the push of a button. For those who don't drink alcohol, this was a great alternative. In summary, this trip was absolutely fabulous! I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend it. Put on a smile and have a terrific time! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our 5th cruise to date and our first Norweigian. It will be our LAST Norweigian cruise. I will NEVER sail with them again. What a disappointment. So many things on this cruise were terrible. From the service to the food. The ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise to date and our first Norweigian. It will be our LAST Norweigian cruise. I will NEVER sail with them again. What a disappointment. So many things on this cruise were terrible. From the service to the food. The excursions were the only things that kept us afloat and even those can be disputed. What sums it up is lack of information on everything. They don't tell you things ahead of time and you wind up missing things or regretting choices made. For example: was unaware that you would have to pay extra for dining at 3 of the top notch restaurants on the ship. And trying to get reservations was very difficult. And for the freestyle dining..you have to put your name in and wait 30-45 min for a table to open up so plan ahead early. Day 1: Embarkation. Process went smooth however we were never asked for any of our identification other than our drivers license...so much for the birth certificate or passport?? But the process went smooth. Once on the ship we were off to find some food...the aloha cafe had just closed due to the munster drill and we went hunting for somewhere to eat. The Key West bar and grill was the place. Food was good and they cooked it right there. However, the people working there were complaining about their duties and we hadn't even set sail yet. They were telling us that over 500 people that sailed over from Germany on the maiden voyage quit and that they all had been overworked and many more were planning on leaving after this cruise. Not what you want to hear within the first few minutes of your paradise vacation. After lunch we went to check out our cabin. Barely been vacuumed, our room wasn't much to speak of. To top it all off---the entire cruise we never once met or talked to our steward. The refrigerator in the room was broken and we tried several times to contact someone for it and it never got fixed the whole cruise! Very disappointed in the hotel staff! Their idea of room service is just changing the towels and occasionally vacuuming! Also, on past cruises there always seems to be music and fun going on all the time. This ship really does cater to the OLD crowd. Things shut down at 9pm. Only a few things were open for us younger crowd. The staff even referred to this ship as the Newlywed and Almost Dead cruise. We are in our 30s and found it hard to believe that is was so quiet at 10 at night--NO ONE to be found on the Lido/pool deck on any night! Onto the excursions: After finding our tickets in our room, we noticed that we didn't have all of our tickets that we had been confirmed for (we booked our excursions online). So we had to wait until the excursion desk was open and that would be a hit and miss. Because of our first excursion leaving so early on the first day we had to wait until the second day to inquire about the others. Excursion 1 Hilo: Lava Hike and Viewing. There was no viewing to be had on this 4 mile hike. We felt very misled asto what we had got into. No one ever told us that we would not actually be able to get close to the lava and in the pictures of this tour you were literally standing within feet of hot red lava. NOT THE CASE. We got about 5 miles from a billowing cloud of smoke that was the active volcano. Our guide was fantastic and was surprised to know that the cruise line didn't inform us that we would not be able to get that close. Our question was why would they show pictures of it like that if you were unable to get that close-false advertising. That night we saw more lava onboard the ship than we did on the tour itself. However, they didn't make any announcement that we were there and a lot of people missed one of the best parts of the trip! They had also said that they would turn off the lights on the upper deck for pictures and that never happened either! Excursion 2: Molokini Crater snorkel! It was fun and saw a lot of fish. Even a reef shark! Great tour would recommend it! Excursion 3:The Luau! That was so much fun! We had an amazing time and I would recommend everyone to go! Food was great and the entertainment was awesome! Probably one of my favorite experiences on this cruise. Excursion 4: Haleakala Crater Sunrise tour. On the tickets it had said to bring a sweater, more like bring your parka and gloves. It was so cold half of the tour didn't even get out of the bus to view it. Had we been informed that it was going to be 40 we would have prepared. Other than the weather---great tour. Beautiful scenery and it was worth standing out there for over an hour! There was also a tour where you could bike down the mountain but we were unaware of that one! Those people did get jackets and gloves. But if you just went up to see the sunrise you were on your own! After we returned back from the crater sunrise it was about 9 am and we wanted to go and see more of maui so we stopped at the excursion desk and that is when we were informed that one of our excursions (helicopter tour) had been cancelled. When trying to book another tour similar to that one, they were sold out! I was so bummed! Had we known earlier we would have definitely booked another tour in its place! The excursion desk said that we could take a taxi to a state park called Iao Valley and spend a few hours there and that there would be transportation available. So we hopped in a cab (who didn't speak english) and showed him where were wanted to go. Once there ($20 cab fare) he dropped us off and we ran into a couple of people we met on the ship (they were on their tour) they told us that this would only take about 30 mins to see the park and to hold our cab. The cab had already left and we were stranded there. We asked the Tour guide for help and he said that we should have thought about it before we were dropped off and that he could not take us back to port. He was very unhelpful. Thank God i had my cell phone on me and we were able to call information for another cab company. The kicker is when we went back to the excursion desk the man had said he had never been there and didn't know that there was no cabs waiting and that he was sorry that he told us to go there! Dining that night was an experience too. Not enough staff to cover everyone and staff members were very standoffish. When we asked for some steak sauce, one waiter huffed and said that it would be a while because he had to go all the way to the steakhouse to get it. Excursion 5: Captain Zodiac Snorkel Adventure! If you are adventurous like we are you will LOVE this tour. They take you out on a Navy Seal Raft (seats 10) and fly you thru the ocean at top speeds. This raft can go places the other boats can't and gets you up close and personal with the craters and sea walls! It was great! What a thrill and the snorkeling was good too! However, there was a lady on our excursion that had never been snorkeling before and was not told by the excursion desk that she would be on a raft like this and she was very afraid. She could not swim and did not like this tour at all. I feel like the captain held back a little on the adventurous side because she was very afraid. That night was all you can eat lobster. It wasn't Maine lobster like we have had on other cruises. It was spanish/hawaiian lobster. Very small and chewy. It was ok but again the food on this ship wasn't very good overall. The last excursion we took was the Jungle Mountain Trek, Wagon and Zip Line Adventure. Overall it was a good experience but i wish they would have told us that we were going to destroy our shoes in mud and water. I would have not worn my good shoes and would have opted for a different pair. We did go and see the site of where Jurassic Park was filmed and we did swing from ropes into a lagoon and waterfall so that was a bonus! The last day spent on the ship was relaxing. We just hung out with people whom we had met and enjoyed their company. In the evening we went and saw an outstanding guitar player in the Pink Champagne Lounge. He was great and if he is there, go and see him! A lot of other people had similar experiences and will not be cruising with Norweigian again. It's a shame to spend all of your hard earned money and not get the service or courtesy that we have come to expect from a cruise line. I felt bad for the people whom had never cruised before and were very disappointed. The main reason why we chose this cruise line was the fact that it had the itinerary through Hawaii, stopping at all of the islands. We have filled out several comment cards and sent an email to the company to help them change and grow but for now our cruise experience with NCL's Inaugural Season on the Pride of America was less than par. Hopefully they will take our comments and change some things for cruises to come. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2005
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to ... Read More
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to our cruise. I am happy to say that due to the advanced warnings and helpful hints from other Cruise Critic members, we had a wonderful time on our cruise. However, I would not take this cruise again with a child under 2. For future reference, my husband and I (and 11 month old baby) took this cruise with my parents, so we had 2 cabins on different ends of the ship. EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was one of the worst parts of the trip. We did not purchase NCL transportation vouchers, so this may have been the cause of our problems, but I don't believe buying the pre-paid vouchers would have made any difference. The cab ride is $20 from the airport to the harbor and arrives quicker than the NCL shuttle vans. We purchased travel vouchers at the airport for $8 per person which had people on it who paid $20 for NCL's transfers. The ride is short, about 15 minutes so that's not the issue. The major inconvenience arose when we arrived at the harbor terminal and about 500 people are standing in line in the humid air waiting to go through security so they can register. This was ridiculous! NCL has got to figure out how to do this better. Apparently there are lines from 1:30 pm until 4:00 pm. My parents who arrived at 1:00 pm embarked with no wait. Once we got through security, we were able to register through the Latitudes area which probably saved us an hour. I have taken approx. 15 cruises previously, yet I was pleasantly and constantly surprised at the beauty of the ship. It is decorated wonderfully and the American theme was carried throughout the ship. TRAVELING WITH AN INFANT -- Our baby loved the ship. The carpet is very colorful and each restaurant and room has a different theme, so the baby received a lot of stimulation. Since he wasn't allowed to play in the children's area during "open hours" since there were 75 other children on the ship, we had to let him crawl around the different public rooms so he could get some exercise. Other people and the children's staff recommended the Champagne Bar, however, it seemed that art auctions were always going on there, plus the smoke from the cigar bar drifted up there & there was an overhang which we didn't think was too safe. We had him crawl around the library and game room and other rooms which were unoccupied. Plus, since the cruise was through Hawaii, we were only on the ship in the late afternoons and at night. It was very disappointing not to be able to use the childcare facilities. We were not the only people in this situation, therefore there were often infants at dinner and around the common areas way past their bedtimes. If we (and other parents) wanted to eat somewhere other than a buffet, we had to take the baby to dinner. The room service menu was very limited, so there weren't other options. Our cabin steward was good. We were one of the lucky ones. He made our baby towel animals and did a nice job cleaning our room. After the first night of trying to sterilize the bottles with the hot water dispenser for tea up in the Aloha Cafe, I asked the steward if there was somewhere I could get the bottles washed, and he ran them through the dishwasher sterilizer for me. That was a huge relief and convenience. The crib provided was metal and didn't have any bumpers. The housekeeping supervisor made us "makeshift bumpers," yet after the first night, we decided we wanted our baby to keep his baby teeth (he kept pulling himself up and knocking his head on the rails & side bars) so we went to a Wal-Mart in Hilo & bought a pack-and-play for him to sleep in for the rest of the trip. A bonus was that the pack-and-play took up less room and every square foot of floor space counted! CABIN -- The cabin is tiny. We had trouble fitting 2 of us and a crib in it. I don't know how 4 people could have room to put their clothes away in the limited number of drawers that were provided. The room was designed well, however, with a mini-fridge which was a lifesaver for us, a safe, tv with good reception, & closet with lots of hangers. Our suitcases fit nicely under the bed. We didn't spend much time in our room due to the itinerary and size of the room. Balconies - We deliberately did not choose a balcony (fear of baby crawling off the ship) but our room had a big window which gave us lots of light. We saw a lot of cabins with Balconies and the Balconies didn't look that big, except for the ones on the front and back of the ship. My parents had a balcony off the back of the ship (aft 9702) which was incredible and almost 3/4 the size of their room. All standard rooms seemed to be the same size, so the balcony did provide a little more space. Bathroom - The bathroom was miniscule. Beyond tiny. I'm petite, and I was claustrophobic in the shower. I don't know how a 175 pound male could ever shower there. The counter space was ridiculously small and the bathrooms have 2 trash receptacles under the sink rather than a regular trash can since there is no space for a can in the bathroom. I would advise showering in the spa. There is no fee to use the spa facilities. Treatments are not any more expensive than equivalent hotels charge. All of the bathrooms have soap dispensers, except ours didn't have one when we arrived. Therefore, we didn't have any soap in our cabin until I called housekeeping. I don't know what the previous occupants were thinking. We also had all the accessories to make coffee/tea, and no coffee pot. It took us 4 days of reminders to get an in-room coffee pot. We also had a big problem with our shower not draining. That took 4 days to get that fixed too. It was beyond unpleasant. The light outside our room also was burned out and never got fixed. I felt like a complainer, but whoever is in the room next shouldn't find much wrong with it. CLEANLINESS -- We were extremely worried about cleanliness & bad smells. Yes, Deck 4 did smell of sewage occasionally. I reported this to the pursers desk & saw housekeeping putting a "smelling tree" in a closet almost immediately. Not exactly the ideal solution in my book, but it did work for that instance. At other times, the stench was terrible. Our stateroom was not as clean as I would have liked when we arrived. Plus, some things looked worn more than they should have for a ship that is only 6 months old. We learned, and this may or not be true, that a cleaning crew comes on the ship each Saturday to clean & turn-around the rooms, and on that day, the stewards get a day off. Who knows? We didn't have ice until late the first evening and we didn't ever know at what time our cabin would be cleaned, but I blame all of this on NCL and not having proper staffing ratios, rather than on the stewards. My parents weren't as lucky with their cabin steward as we were. They never saw theirs. I recall reading something about dirty elevator doors, and while this was the case, the dirt is really just streaking since the elevator doors are stainless steel and the cleaning crew probably doesn't have the proper cleaning equipment to keep the doors streak-free. GYM -- I hadn't seen any posts about the gym before embarkation. The gym is AMAZING! Flat panel tv's on every treadmill & bike. They nickel & dime you to take spinning & other classes, which we didn't do, but the gym is of a Four Seasons quality. More equipment was being added too, since we saw it in a "crew only" area when we were escorted with our stroller down a "restricted" area. I never used the gym except for admiring it since I was walking up and down the hallways so often carrying a 20+ pound baby. FOOD -- Service is beyond leisurely...it is slow. However, we never once had a rude server and even though it sometimes took 2 1/2 hrs for dinner, the servers constantly came around to ask if we needed anything. It seemed that the kitchen was very backed up and the staff is running around but doesn't seem to get anywhere. But, and to me, this is more important than the food or the wait to eat, the servers are polite, helpful and trying their best. Therefore, even if the service was slow, the servers really seemed to be doing their best to keep the guests happy. Overall, the food was fair. Other than the shrimp, which was excellent, and the sushi, which was ok, the seafood was terrible. All of the seafood is frozen and is not very good. I had a "special" of swordfish and spinach in Little Italy which was presented beautifully, yet the swordfish was inedible. It was a great presentation though. Much beyond my expectations for presentation. Restaurant-wise, for dinner, we ate at Little Italy three times, East Meets West once, Sushi Bar twice, and the formal dining room once. We also ate at the Cadillac Diner & the Aloha Cafe for breakfast & lunch. We had a reservation at Jefferson's Bistro and decided to cancel it since the other food was not very good, and we figured it wasn't worth the extra cost since it was the same kitchen. I'll give you the highlights of Little Italy (no surcharge) & East Meets West ($10): Little Italy has a Caesar salad mixed table-side, however, it's bottled dressing. That pretty much sums up all the food on the ship. I'd skip the Caesar unless you choose to put Oil & Vinegar on it. All of the salad dressings I tasted seemed to be non-fat and I didn't like most of them. The menu states there are non-fat dressings, so maybe they got the labels mixed up. As I said earlier, don't order the seafood. The pasta is good, and the pizza is delicious. Fresh and hot. We didn't have a temperature problem with any of our meals on board. Also, the veal chop was fantastic. You can ask for crushed garlic for the bread which they heated up and was very tasty. All of the appetizers were ok too. East Meets West was salty, yet it had the best Chicken Satay I've ever tasted. Nothing else on the menu was outstanding, and the miso soup was too salty to drink, however, the green tea, which is only served at this restaurant, is very good. All tea & coffee drinks are included. The coffee was delicious every day. There were machines which brewed the coffee and even though one was often not working, the coffee they produced was delicious, though sometimes even too hot to drink. The espresso was particularly strong. Breakfast was the best meal. I enjoyed eating at the outside area of the Aloha Deck. Omelettes were made to order (with egg whites or egg beaters) and the view couldn't be beat! We ate in the formal dining room twice for breakfast, however, the service was very slow and we wanted to see the sites. I also really liked the Diner. They made me a turkey sandwich to-order and although it wasn't fancy, it was exactly what I wanted. Further, we had purchased the "unlimited sodas" for the week (not really necessary but we were afraid ordering too many diet cokes would break the bank) and servers brought them without batting and eye and they weren't being tipped by us since we paid a flat fee. Wine is very expensive for the quality and we stuck to diet coke after a few bottles that were barely drinkable. EXCURSIONS/SEEING THE ISLANDS -- My husband took the volcano bike ride excursion in Hilo. He enjoyed it. The excursion prices seem high until you realize how much money it is to take a taxi. We tried to take an excursion our last day in Kauai to see the Na Poli coast, however, since our departure was supposed to be earlier than originally scheduled, they didn't have the excursion that day (Friday) and only offered it on Thursday. In retrospect and after doing the excursion on our own, the $175 a person is reasonable since our taxi cost $120 round trip. Most days we rented cars, and ironically, the prices we were quoted off the ship were often less than the price we were quoted when we pre-reserved our cars. It was a hassle to take the rental car shuttles to the airport or nearest car rental place, especially with a baby, and in Kona, the car shuttles stop at 3:30 due to traffic, so we had to get into a cab anyway. We spent a few days seeing sites and a few days lounging at hotels on the beach/by the pool. We found a few hotels where we could pay a "day rate," but this is unnecessary since all of Hawaii's beaches are public beaches and all of the hotels are required to provide access to visitors. The hotel pool areas are restricted to guests only. ENTERTAINMENT -- I only went to one show which was ok. My parents thought the juggler and the acrobats were fantastic. My husband and dad slept through the comedian and apparently were the butt of the jokes there. OVERALL -- In summary, we enjoyed ourselves and the baby had the best time of all. It was exhausting to get off the ship each day with an infant and next time we'll stay at one resort. We loved the Na Poli coast from the ship and the nighttime cruise of the volcano (the first time they'd sailed past it at night in 4 cruises) was really special. I wouldn't take this cruise if your child is under 2 unless you bring a full-time babysitter. It was a wonderful way to see the differences in the islands and Hawaii is gorgeous! HELPFUL HINTS: DINNER RESERVATIONS -- 1. Make dinner reservations for specialty restaurants as early as possible. They fill up very fast. You can now make all of them upon embarkation and don't have to wait until Sunday morning. 2. Specialty restaurants are half price the first evening, so go to the expensive one them. 3. Everyone raved about the Teppanyaki dinner and it filled up quickly with only 45 people seated a night (15 or so per seating). 4. The sushi restaurant was the best bargain. $5 all you can eat. Personalized service and you don't have to pay the $10 cover for East Meets West. Most people don't realize that. Again, seating is limited (15 at a time), so make your reservations early. OTHER -- 1. If you can request a cabin toward the back of the ship, do so, since you'll be closer to the Aloha Cafe and can run upstairs for a quick bite. 2. If you're traveling with a family, you all want to be near each other. The ship is too large to walk back and forth. 3. The fourth floor has limited access so certain stairwells don't go through. If you're on the fourth floor, you want to be in the middle of the ship. 4. The Jacuzzi on Deck 11 or 12 on the back of the ship was empty and the views of the coast were amazing from it. Feel free to email me if you have further questions or would like more information about our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see ... Read More
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see as much as we could of the islands (vs. shopping in the ports), we had to start early. We did manage to see a lot on the islands where we had a rental car (Maui & Kauai) Hotel It was a good call to stay at the Marriott - Waikiki. Cab from the airport (if you don't have a package) was about $50 with tip. The only downside was that there are two towers and most of the action seemed to be in the other tower which is a little bit of a walk to get to. However, the NCL office was right in the lobby of our tower. They let us do the check in process before 8pm the night before or 7am-9am day of cruise and then all you have to do is go to a separate key pickup line at the port terminal because your security picture and paperwork are already taken care of. Lines were not too long at the hotel on Sat morning when I did this. They collected our bags at 8am from the room and took care of getting them to the ship, so we were free to do whatever we wanted during the day and either take the shuttle to the port or a taxi. Suite 10024 The room was great. Quiet area. Large balcony, flat screen TV with DVD/CD player and plenty of room to spread out. Once we figured out who to call for various services, we were all set. We had good service in the room and got to know the staff, including the concierge who gave us some great tips on where to go on the islands and made some reservations in Kauai for us. Although it was not published, we got a lot of special treatment in the suite. We had priority boarding if we didn't use the hotel services. Our Concierge offered to book our shore excursions if we got him the information the night we got on the ship. We got VIP tender and disembarkation tickets so we never had to wait in a line. Shore excursions These are hit or miss - the helicopter ride was great, the zipline on Maui was overpriced and after that experience I canceled what we had planned on Kauai in favor of seeing things ourselves in a rental car. We did book the captain zodiac raft/snorkeling tour in Kona which was one of the better excursions and reasonably priced compared to the others. We found that many of the excursions were still available when we first got on the ship. Rental cars were easy to do in all the ports with free shuttles and most airport pick up locations close by. Dining I heard a lot of complaints before and during the cruise about the freestyle dining and how hard it is to get reservations. We tended to be flexible if we couldn't get a reservation and often were able to get 'squeezed in' with a short wait while we went to a bar and had a drink. Scenic Cruising This was probably the biggest disappointment. The cruise by the volcano was in the evening. It was dark and you really couldn't see anything until the very end when we were just about to turn around. It was on the starboard side, but the boat turned around and went back the same way it came, giving the port side the same view. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but I think every port except one had us arriving with the port side facing shore and docked with the port side looking at the view and the starboard side looking at the containers and storage facilities. The trip past the Napali Coast (Kuaui) was beautiful but it was only available on the port side. We also left early (6am) from Kauai not to do more scenic cruising most of the day, as I thought, but to race back to Honolulu the night before the cruise was over to try and catch an 8pm fireworks show. The show got canceled, so it's hard for me to say if it would have been worth it - my vote would have been to spend more time cruising the coast of Kauai close in to shore. The boat got back to Honolulu sometime around 8pm the night before and actually just kept puttering around until morning before pulling in to port. Ship The ship still looks new and we thought it was very nice and clean, despite the problems we read about on some of the message boards. There were not propulsion problems or sewage smells anywhere we went. We did hear some other people complaining that their toilets were stopped up but we didn't experience any problems. Service from the American crew tended to be either really good or below average (they are clearly still weeding out some of the kids who thought it would be all fund and didn't know what they were getting into). Mostly we found it to be good. Entertainment Not the best cruise to take if you are looking for on-board entertainment. With an early arrival at each port every day and an older crowd, there wasn't much happening at the bars and the shows we did see were very average. Fitness Center They had a great fitness center which I used several mornings. Every treadmill has it's own flat panel TV with a remote control (although be careful because you can end up changing your neighbor's channel along with your own!). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest ... Read More
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest you join Latitude Club - they have separate check-in for members that moves very fast. Found our cabin, met our cabin steward Musa and his supervisor Marta. Left our carry-on bags and went to Skyline Restaurant for sit down lunch (there is also buffet lunch in Aloha Cafe). After lunch we familiarized ourselves with ship layout and went back to our cabin to find our luggage had been delivered. Unpacked - plenty of storage. Suggest packing all your toiletries in ziploc bags which can then be placed on shelf beneath sink area to keep bathroom neat. A folding multicompartment bag that can be hung on bathroom door hook was also handy for cosmetics, small toiletries, Q-tips, pills, etc. Room safe a must for jewelry, money, wallets, cameras, etc. Our cabin was kept clean in a timely fashion each day, towels left on floor replaced twice a day and bed turned down w/chocolates on pillows each evening (towel animal once). Just remember to use wheel outside cabin to let steward know to make up or turn down room or if you don't want to be disturbed. Musa did a superb job and we tipped him extra at end of the cruise. Also praised him on comment card. Our room was midship & we felt very little movement, but we often felt the ship rock when we were in main restaurants (aft) or theater or lounge (fore). We ate breakfast in both Skyline and Aloha, and used room service once for breakfast and were satisfied with all three. We preferred Skyline over Liberty for dinner - service seemed to be slightly better, but food was the same - average. We ate once in Little Italy, but not impressed with decor or food. No long waits at main restaurants. Production shows not as good as on other NCL cruises - perhaps because they're not produced by Jean Ann Rand. Comedian, singer & juggler were entertaining. Cruise director Rich Cleeson & his assistant Shona tried hard to keep passengers informed & entertained. Rich especially was tireless in his efforts. I'm not sure when or how much he slept. He was on the PA system first thing every morning and at events late each night. There was always something to do onboard even when the ship was in port - trivia, art auctions, demonstrations, lectures, games, etc. Or how about just relaxing by the pool, taking a nap, working out in the gym, or getting a massage (more about that later). Each island is different from the others and you'll have your favorites I'm sure. Our first stop was Hilo, Hawaii where we took a tour off the pier for half of what the ship charged (and we saw twice as much). Went to Volcano National Park, Mauna Loa Nut Factory, Orchid Center, Chocolate Factory & Hilo Hatties. Our guide Hector was fun & informative. Don't miss seeing VNP. Monday we went on ship tour to the Road to Hana in Kahuolui, Maui. Merle, our guide, filled our 9-hour day with lots of stories and made some stops other tour guides don't - great photo ops. Long, tiring but not-to-be-missed day. We tendered in Lahaina, Maui but we, along with about half the ship's passengers, never made it off due to high winds hampering the tenders. We enjoyed a nice relaxing day. On Wednesday we tendered in Kona, Hawaii without problems. I recommend the small sandy beach right near the pier. Most of the other beaches (not within walking distance either) were black sand or salt & pepper and not good for swimming or sunbathing. In Nawilwili, Kuaui we had hoped to go on the Hollywood in Hawaii tour, but it was sold out a month before our cruise so we opted for Waimea Canyon - no tours available at the pier, so you can only book for this port through the ship. We were not disappointed. Our tour guide was not the best, but the scenery was breathtaking. Friday was a sea day and we sailed along the coastline, saw the Forbidden Island, and once again had a relaxing, fun-filled day at sea. As you can see, each day was different. The great thing about cruises is you get to decide how busy you want to be. We got involved in Battle of the Sexes Trivia which met each day and was lots of fun (even if the guys did win in the end). It's a great way to meet other passengers. The Mardi Gras Lounge had various theme nights ('50s, Disco, Big Band) and late night comedy and game shows. We walked through the fitness center one morning and saw several people working out in what appeared to be a well-equipped state-of-the-art-facility. My one big negative is the Spa. In addition to the already high prices, a 15% service charge is tacked on (they made it very clear this was not a gratuity). When I asked what the service charge was for, the receptionist could not give me a reasonable answer, so I decided to skip the massage. Why don't they just raise the prices instead of adding a service charge - aren't you already paying for a service? I'm sure they are losing customers because of this idiotic pricing system. My other negative comment is location of photo gallery in corridor leading to Skyline Restaurant. It's ridiculous to have throngs of people standing about viewing pictures while others are trying to pass through. One suggestion would be to exchange location of Photo Gallery with Art Gallery off the reception area, near the stores. Equally inconvenient is location of Liberty Restaurant - it's only accessible in the evening from stairway area outside Skyline because the only other access is through Lazy J Restaurant. We enjoyed Pink's Champagne Bar even though cigar smoking is allowed because our fellow cigar smoking cruisers were considerate enough to congregate in one corner allowing the rest of us to breathe easier and enjoy the piano singer (who I'm sure also appreciated their consideration). We only frequented John Adams Coffee Bar and Gold Rush Saloon during trivia. It took us until the last night of the cruise to discover a really nice bar on the 13th deck (Lanai Bar) with a fun crowd being entertained by a guitar player who somehow got everyone to sing along with him. Wish we had found it sooner. Never frequented the Napa Wine Bar and never saw anyone there - not sure why. The Waikiki Bar at the rear top deck was also fairly quiet. The bar at the pool and its service could have been better - I sometimes ended up getting my own drink because waiters were too few and far between. And remember to tell your waiter if you don't want your drink in the "special NCL glass" (more expensive) or you'll find yourself paying extra. And don't hesitate to tell them you don't want the special and for them to bring you a "regular" drink. Why pay for something you didn't order? Debarkation was a breeze - you pretty much leave when you want and have a leisurely breakfast and relax until then. THE BOTTOM LINE: This cruise is perfect if you want a 7-day cruise which stops at four beautiful and different Hawaiian Islands, if you're not a food snob (the food was good not great), if you don't need to be entertained every minute of every day, if you're not looking for Broadway productions as entertainment, if you're flexible with your time, if you don't let little things bother you. Regarding the crew - the good news is we found most of them friendly, helpful and trying hard to do a good job; the bad news is many of them were leaving the ship in the next few weeks either for vacation or for good. Do I think it was worth the money? Absolutely. It's a good introduction to Hawaii if you've never been there before, and a great planning tool if you'd like to do an extended land vacation on one or two islands in the future. 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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