Sail Date: October 2005
This was my 11th cruise, 4th in Hawaii. I've done most every mainstream line. I'm writing this as a concise mini-review. We had 3 people in an AD suite, in room 10008. One able to walk only short distances unsteadily, using a ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise, 4th in Hawaii. I've done most every mainstream line. I'm writing this as a concise mini-review. We had 3 people in an AD suite, in room 10008. One able to walk only short distances unsteadily, using a wheelchair otherwise. Was told they don't allow more than 2 in a handicap room, so we paid for a penthouse "AD" suite to all 3 of us together. Suites are 3 times the size of a regular room, two times the size of a regular handicap room. Suite upgrade cost was surprisingly reasonable, because there was almost no charge for 3rd person in the room. Would not have upgraded if it cost more. What I liked: * The itinerary cannot be beat! The pure-hawaii itinerary of the American flagged ships gives much more time at each port, so you can take your time and still see more -- this is such a huge advantage. I much prefer this itinerary to anything in Mexico or the Caribbean. On a previous cruise, I did a Norwegian Star in Hawaii which included Kiribati(Fanning Island), I really recommend choosing a cruise that skips this, as does the one in this review. Fanning island is poor compared to the Hawaiian ports, and the considerable time consumed going there and back leaves you much less time at each Hawaiian port. * Surprisingly fast embark/debark of ship. * Specialty restaurants yummy and worth it. Reserve right after boarding, many were later disappointed to find reservations all filled. Jefferson's is beautifully decorated, try the chocolate cake. View from Little Italy at 5:30p friday was amazing (Napali Coast). Tasty Barramundi@east/west. Did not try Lazy J's steakhouse. * Breakfasts were quite good, better than described in other reviews of this ship I had read. Omelettes to order, good quality fruit, salmon, bacon... * Butler service in the Suite was a treat. Having breakfast at a table on the balcony was great, left more time/energy for active days. Can bring lunch/dinner in room from any restaurant. * The two lounge chairs on the suite balcony were put to good use. Very nice having an espresso machine, though it broke twice. Suite has DVD player, and butler brings movies to borrow. * Cadillac grill open 24 hours, pretty good entrees, awesome chocolate shakes (worth the $3.50). Limited menu after 11pm, but still good. * Yummy soft serve ice cream in cafeteria 24 hours. * Captain Zodiak shore tour at Kona was a mind-blowing "10". Saw 20-25 pilot whales right up to the boat, unforgettable. Perfect snorkeling. * Some reviews described frequent long waits for dining rooms, we luckily didn't have this except a 15 minute wait one night. * Very good size dance floor. * Ship well lit and windowed, wide corridors. Very nice public lounge areas. A beautiful ship, nicely painted. * Clean room. * Very friendly helpful crew, made the whole cruise experience more cheerful. * Chocolate buffet had some dark chocolate items, big bonus points from me * No annoying perpetual blaring announcements in the room * Comfy duvet and pillows on bed * I liked watching movies in the theatre, should have had more showings for those skipping going ashore that day. * Was never a problem having a wheelchair bound person in our party. What I didn't like (or could be improved): * Celebrity has much better quality pizza, I don't know why this is so important to me, but it is. Great pizza is a human right! * Pools too small, pathetic and really disappointing on a ship of such size. Nice to see a volleyball court, but didn't try it. * Carpet pattern in Skyline a bit much * Room poorly ventilated/very stuffy at times, occasionally had to open balcony door Overall our family really enjoyed this cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
After 40 cruises, this was the worst. The ship is too big and I have a hard time walking. From the main dining room to the theatre is a long, long way. They have a number of ideas that were new to me. 1) Pick your own time and place to ... Read More
After 40 cruises, this was the worst. The ship is too big and I have a hard time walking. From the main dining room to the theatre is a long, long way. They have a number of ideas that were new to me. 1) Pick your own time and place to eat. 6 Dining rooms, four of which have extra admission fees. The fun of cruising was always to be assigned to a table of strangers who before it was over became your friends. I have cruised over and over again with many people I had met on cruises and am still in touch with quite a few. On this trip I met no one. The idea of eating when you feel like it is good theoretically but since the shows are on a regular time schedule, everybody still eats at the same time, like first and second sitting. But you lose the fun of having the same waiters, often from different countries, with whom you become very friendly and who know if you want coffee or iced tea etc. The "no tipping" program is also not effective. The waiters don't care as much for you as when they expect and receive large tips. And there is a daily surcharge of $10 for"service" and you are still suggested to give something to the cabin steward. The stores were expensive and usually displayed no price tags. There were no daily news pamphlets like on other ships and unless you watched CNN in your state room you know nothing at all of what happened in the world and you don't even know whether your home teams won or lost. The service at the central desk was very poor and even sometimes offensive. I wanted to reconfirm my return flight and they told me I had to call the airline myself. In the comments questionnaire I answered the question: "Will you come back for another cruise with us" I answered "Never!" Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This was far better than previous reviews would have led us to believe. We had owners suite #8000 with wonderful butlerette, Jessica, and room steward, Franklin. Concierge Al was wonderful. I would recommend anyone taking POA to go for ... Read More
This was far better than previous reviews would have led us to believe. We had owners suite #8000 with wonderful butlerette, Jessica, and room steward, Franklin. Concierge Al was wonderful. I would recommend anyone taking POA to go for Penthouse Suite at very least. Most cabins are ultra-small. Our Owner's Suite was huge, albeit garishly furnished. Even so, it was most comfortable and amenities made it all worthwhile. Food was more than adequate. We had only one meal in main dining room and it was fair banquet. Jefferson Bistro was excellent as was Teppanyaki in East-West and steakhouse was not bad. Italian only fair. Aloha Buffet was always good for lunch (did not try dinner). We had breakfast in suite most mornings and it was prompt, hot, and delicious. Skip Cadillac as it does not offer much. We did not see any shows nor did we visit any bars. Drinks in the suite with friends were wonderful. Shops had nothing to offer. Communications were not great. Embark and debark were very smooth. We never had feeling of crowds even though ship was full. Staff and personnel were wonderful - all very friendly and delightful to visit with. We have cruised may times with Silversea, Radisson and Seabourn and this is not competition for them,. However, the price is right, even though you are charged for every little Coca-Cola you might drink. All in all - quite a pleasant trip. But do get minimum of penthouse suite.  Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We had a family group of 14 and all had a great time. Here are the basics: Embarkation: piece of cake. We arrived in late afternoon and everyone was on board in a few minutes, luggage soon to follow. Public rooms: Excellent. All the ... Read More
We had a family group of 14 and all had a great time. Here are the basics: Embarkation: piece of cake. We arrived in late afternoon and everyone was on board in a few minutes, luggage soon to follow. Public rooms: Excellent. All the rooms were very well done. Cabin: Excellent. Well kept and a good choice. I looked at the deck layouts in the brochure and then sat with our agent while we booked our cabin. it appeared on the layout that the balconies towards the front of the boat were larger and that is the case. It made our cabin seem much larger. book these if you can. Cabin service was also excellent. our steward, Xavier, took care of us through the week. I tipped him $20 the first day, another $20 midweek and $20 upon departure. He seemed genuinely surprised each time but I just don't think the daily service charge gives these guys enough. Dining: My only complaint. I'm not a freestyle dining fan. We arrived later than most passengers Saturday after flying from the East Coast and I was in no mood to stand in line or continue to call to get dining reservations and as a result we had to wing it most nights. Having a large group there however, we had determined ahead of time to insist on eating together only twice - Thanksgiving night and at our luau (Old Lahaina). We wound up giving up Lazy J reservations Thanksgiving night because we were having such a good time on the island we would be rushing to get back. We all ate in the Aloha buffet and had a wonderful time. We pushed 14 seats together and enjoyed all the turkey, ham and fixings we wanted and took as long as we wanted. During the week we ate at the Liberty, Skyline, Lazy J, Cadillac diner and Aloha buffet and really never had a bad meal. The Aloha suited us just fine for breakfast. go all the way out back and sit in the open - there's also two omelet stations back there. the buffet had tons of fresh fruit, eggs, biscuits & gravy, sausage, ham, bacon, cereal, etc., etc. Entertainment: really enjoyed the two production shows. Juggler/comedian was very good, comedian wasn't. Guitar player Mark in the Lanai Lounge is very good as is the piano player in Pink's champagne lounge. Service: Excellent. Great staff, friendly, efficient, absolutely no complaints. Excursions: didn't take them...rented cars and did our own thing. Highly recommend it. Do Hana Highway, Waimea Canyon, local beaches, Volcanoes National Park, Old Lahaina Luau. Overall: two big thumbs up. this is not gourmet food and luxury cruising - it is what it is. A chance to see four Hawaiian islands and have a great experience each night and morning onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We must be the luckiest people on earth! We did not encounter any of the problems we had read about in the reviews of this ship. From embarkation to disembarkation, every thing was perfect. We had an inside state room, very clean at all ... Read More
We must be the luckiest people on earth! We did not encounter any of the problems we had read about in the reviews of this ship. From embarkation to disembarkation, every thing was perfect. We had an inside state room, very clean at all times, couldn't have asked for any thing more. Our steward was always right there to anticipate our every need, and then some. Dining- we never make a reservation, and never needed one, walked into Liberty and Skyline every time we wanted to. They were both wonderful, service as well as food. We ate several times at the Aloha Cafe, and found the food there great as well. Entertainment- We went to the theater every night. Loved all the shows. The cruise director, and his assistant were great. We loved the juggler! The nightly happenings in the Mardi Gras Lounge were also great, loved the '50s night. Crew- We never met any member of the crew that did not smile and speak to us. Most asking how we were doing, and if they could help us in any way. Photographer- we did not find them to be any problem. We only had our picture made once, and now wish we had done more! To sum this review up- we've never felt more pampered than we were on this shop. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We just returned from our Hawaiian cruise and enjoyed ourselves. After reading so many negative reviews on this board - I was super-sensitive to my surroundings, service, etc. We found the crew to be very friendly, helpful and positive. ... Read More
We just returned from our Hawaiian cruise and enjoyed ourselves. After reading so many negative reviews on this board - I was super-sensitive to my surroundings, service, etc. We found the crew to be very friendly, helpful and positive. They have a lot of younger crew members on this ship who seem to be just trying something new for a year or so - and I think that is why some people believe the service to be of lower quality. On most cruise lines I would consider the service to be more "polished" because the crew are experienced and most of them support families by their job. Most of the crew we encountered were younger (in their 20s) who just wanted to see how they liked this new and different job. They were always very, very helpful and friendly though. I think after a few years the crew would be "weeded" out to those who really want to make a career out of this. I felt this was the biggest difference with this cruise line than any other we have sailed on. what they lacked in experienced, they more than made up for in friendliness. Our cabin was small, smaller than most, but adequate. We didn't spend a lot of time in our cabin. The food at East/West was outstanding - our chef at the tappan table, Noel, and our waiter, Dominick were incredible. We ate there two times and enjoyed the food each time. Our cabin was always clean, made up when requested, and all in all our cabin steward, Darwin, was good at his job. We didn't take any shore excursions, our daughter and husband took the Secrets of ??? excursion and said it was well worth the money. The food at the buffet was fine during breakfast and lunch, but I did not care for the dinner and the choices offered during dinner. We were able to see the lava flow and the Napalii coast was beautiful. The ship did seem to have a "smell" somewhat like a sewer in certain areas, but did not affect our cabin or any of the main areas we stayed in. All in all, it was a great cruise and loved every minute of it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
The only way to describe this ship: Big and Beautiful. My three friends and I took this cruise on a whim and Im glad we did. The service we received was A+. One of my friends and I shared an inside room on deck 11 and the service we ... Read More
The only way to describe this ship: Big and Beautiful. My three friends and I took this cruise on a whim and Im glad we did. The service we received was A+. One of my friends and I shared an inside room on deck 11 and the service we received from our cabin maid was outstanding. When we arrived on board we went right to our rooms and the beds were made into a queen size, when we asked if she could make the beds twins she replied with a smile and said it would be done by the time we returned from the Emergency lifeboat drill, it was! She had also put a top sheet on each of our beds per our request. We mainly ate in the Aloha Cafe due to the excursions we had planned. We also ate in three other restaurants: Liberty Restaurant, which we did not care for due to bad service and lukewarm food. East Meets West specialty restaurant which we had to pay an extra price ($10.00) to eat at but was well worth the price, the food was wonderful, hot and the service was great. On one morning we decided to give the Cadillac diner a try and after that morning we decided not to go back, the service was so-so and the food was cold. The bar that had the best service was Key West bar on deck 11. The Aloha Cafe bar had the best drinks also on deck 11. The Mardi Gras Nightclub was not a favorite due to it being crowed you couldnt get service and it was smoked filled all the time. I would recommend booking the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui on your own, we had a car rented and drove to this Luau and loved it, we received fresh flower leis and a Mai Tais when we arrived and any drink on the menu after that. The show was wonderful and no seat was a bad seat. The cruises Luau I was told was not that good. The hot tubs were not crowded or the pools for that matter. An over all review for this ship was a 5 out of 5+. The staff was well informed and always pleasant to talk too. I would take this cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
The Norwegian Cruise Lines "Pride of America" has nothing to be proud of. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on. As soon as we got to our cabin we discovered the toilet was plugged with someone else's waste. A call ... Read More
The Norwegian Cruise Lines "Pride of America" has nothing to be proud of. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on. As soon as we got to our cabin we discovered the toilet was plugged with someone else's waste. A call was made to housekeeping and they told us someone would be up immediately but, after half an hour no one showed and another call was made. They told us someone would be up later but, we needed to use the restroom (luckily my sister had a cabin next door and I could run over there), and told them that was unacceptable and they needed to come immediately. A few minutes later someone came and fixed it. For the rest of the week we had calls asking if our toilet had been fixed yet. It seems the plumber never let anyone know when the job had been done. We ran into our housekeeper in the hall after boarding and discovering our beds were separated, we asked her to put our beds together she made a face and said pointing, "I have to do that cabin and that cabin and that cabin, and now I have to do you too?" Isn't that her job? Throughout the whole week the food was awful in the main dining room with almost half hour waits in between courses while we had to look at dirty dishes on the next table that were never removed during our whole meal. We were lucky to get our cocktails after waiting for half an hour. On Lobster night the lobster was inedible, tough as shoe leather and so salty you couldn't swallow. The menu always had something that wasn't available and the wait staff would tell us there was a substitution, which no one would want. If you weren't savvy enough to know to make reservations at the other restaurants on the day you arrive you were out of luck when it came to getting into any of them for the entire week. A pair of expensive Chanel sunglasses were stolen from our cabin and it took from 7:00am to 12:00pm to get any help from security. We missed breakfast while waiting for help because every time we called downstairs they would give us information that was incorrect about the procedure for reporting a theft. They were going to send housekeeping to check it out which was ridiculous because we thought it was probably housekeeping that took them. Finally a report was taken but nothing was every remedied. The bathroom had dirt and hair on the floor as well as on the shelves above the wash basin that was never cleaned the entire week and the desk had dirty glass rings on it the entire time as well. One evening the housekeeper came to our room as we were dressing for dinner and said she'd like to turn the beds down. It was only 6:00pm and I wasn't even dressed and told her that we couldn't let her in at that time. She said she wanted to go downstairs now because she was off and so our bed never did get turned down that night. I brought a travelling iron which I used and left unplugged on the counter when I went to dinner. When I came back from dinner I found a note on the bed saying it had been taken away because it's against Coast Guard rules to have a travel iron onboard. They told me I would be able to pick it up on the last day when we picked up our luggage in port. There would be a table near the luggage for guests to pick up their belongings. After getting off the ship and collecting our luggage I looked for the table and not finding it I asked someone at an information desk who said "Oh they've been giving everyone the wrong information. You're supposed to pick that up on the ship before you depart." Already being off the ship and not able to get back on again, I now had lost my travel iron for good. Disembarkation was fine until you try to find the shuttle to the airport and then it's chaos. Nobody is around to tell you where to go and there are shuttles of all kinds for excursions and the airport with everyone running amok trying to find where they should be going and fighting the onslaught of passengers getting on the ship for the next cruise. When we did get on the shuttle the driver, speaking on the microphone, asked all of us how we enjoyed our cruise and everyone groaned. He answered back, "I guess I shouldn't have asked." I must say the bed was very comfortable although I'm not sure the sheets were changed very often. The shower was so small you could barely turn around and it never looked clean and the shower curtain was stained and old looking which is amazing for a ship that was less than 6 months old at the time. The windows on the ship never looked clean and the wood railings alongside the ship were already peeling from the salty air. Service was practically non existent. Anytime you asked someone for something it wasn't their job and we heard many of the staff complaining to the passengers about other staff members. During our days off the ship we would meet with other passengers on the way back in the shuttles and ask them how they were enjoying the cruise and we didn't meet a single person who was having a good time. Everyone had some complaint of some kind or other. All in all I would NEVER recommend this cruise to anyone unless they want to waste a lot of money. I'm sorry to say it but, Americans don't want to work and this being an American run ship you are pretty sure of having rotten service. The tips are included in the price of the cruise and I believe that is why the staff feels they don't have to work because they know they're getting their tips so why bother to go the extra mile or inch for that matter. I give this cruise a grade of F. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This was the 7th cruise that I've taken and I have to say if it were the first I probably wouldn't have gone on any others. My first 6 were great, this one just okay. I had read many of the reviews before my cruise so I thought I ... Read More
This was the 7th cruise that I've taken and I have to say if it were the first I probably wouldn't have gone on any others. My first 6 were great, this one just okay. I had read many of the reviews before my cruise so I thought I would be prepared, but I wasn't! Food on this cruise was terrible and the service slow (meals generally took 2-3 hours). I can't really blame the staff but I do blame management. Not enough help! Another thing, when I go to a "speciality" restaurant, I don't expect it to cost me $92.00! Give me a break, I guess NCL figures that if the food in the main dining area's stinks, they can make more money! Room's were tiny with little room to put clothes away. Even the balcony was small. On our fourth day out, the shower water wouldn't drain, couldn't get back in the room for 4 hours. The next we had the same issue! Entertainment, what entertainment??? This was the worst collection of "shows" and I put it mildly, that I've ever seen. NCL should be ashamed of what they call entertainment. My observation is that NCL should not have a "lock" on Hawaii ports, not if Hawaii is looking for tourist dollars. I will not take another NCL cruise but will cruise with other lines. Believe the reviews or be prepared for disappointment! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
I regret to report submit a mostly negative review, but I appreciated being forewarned by others, so maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so. CABIN. Because the Pride of America mostly cruises from island to island after dark, and ... Read More
I regret to report submit a mostly negative review, but I appreciated being forewarned by others, so maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so. CABIN. Because the Pride of America mostly cruises from island to island after dark, and we were off the ship during daylight hours, we decided to skip the balcony and got an inside cabin. Good decision, and it saved us about $1000. Cabin was small, but adequate. Good service from our steward, but he did seem overworked. Drinking glasses not changed all week. No refill of soap dispensers, etc. Room was pretty quiet from outside noises. Bed cover was a thick duvet wrapped in a sheet - so at night, it's lots of covering or none! I couldn't quite get used to that. As others have reported, our cabin's safe also malfunctioned one day, necessitating a late night visit by a security guy. Our friends in a nearby cabin had numerous problems with their room key ... the steward said that it was a recurring problem with that particular room. Couldn't hear announcements in the cabin. DINING RESERVATIONS: The restaurant reservation system needs a serious overhaul. There was a lot of confusion about the reservation process, particularly on the day of arrival. We had read that dining reservations should be made as soon as you board ship because the popular restaurants fill up early, especially at certain times. So when we got on board mid-afternoon, we tried repeatedly to call the dining reservation number but never got through the whole afternoon. We decided to try Little Italy, so we showed up just before they opened (7:30 PM) figuring it must be on a first come, first served basis on the first day. The greeter was frazzled and not helpful, but we left our names with her. Two groups, who had somehow gotten reservations (how, I wonder?) were called in ahead of us. Then we were called in to be seated. Some friends of ours showed up 15 minutes later (7:45 PM) and were told that Little Italy was "full". Being on the inside of the restaurant at that time, we knew that definitely wasn't the case - it was at least half empty until we left about 9:00. The next morning, I called to make our reservation for the second evening (at Jefferson's Bistro), and had no trouble getting through or making the reservation. Our very nice maitre d' (Merrill) at Little Italy said that there was a new policy, not made public, that the ship would take reservations for only 24 hours in advance. Our experiences later in the week proved that wasn't true - if there were openings at the time we wanted, we could make reservations for any time in the future. And, we discovered at the Jefferson Bistro, they would take reservations right at the entry way - and were delighted to do so (obviously we like that restaurant a lot, but more about that later). However that proved a fiasco because they made the reservation at the wrong restaurant! But the biggest problem was that neither the main restaurants (Skyline and Liberty) nor specialty restaurants could accommodate the demand at dinnertime, especially for seating for any time before 8 PM. Too many people had to wait or were turned away. It should not be such a hassle to get to eat at all of the sit down restaurants. We frequently resorted to the buffet - which was good - at the Aloha Cafe. BREAKFAST. Thankfully someone in this forum recommended the Aloha Bar which is located outdoors aft of the Aloha Cafe. It's on the back deck, about half covered if it rains or it's too sunny. Typically, the inside Aloha Cafe was mobbed with people around the buffet tables and trying to find good seating. But just a few steps away and through a back door was the Aloha Bar with almost everything you could want (made-to-order omelets, etc.) and there were very few people. Such a nice way to enjoy the early morning in the out of doors! LUNCH. Great hamburgers at Cadillac Diner. Again, the Aloha Cafe and its companion Aloha Bar were good at lunchtime. DINNER. - Little Italy - Service. We were the third party seated on the first evening (see Reservations above). The good news is we were seated next to a window. The bad news is that we were also right next to the door going into the very noisy kitchen. We put up with the distraction of the kitchen noise the entire meal. But finally at the end of the meal, when the maitre d asked, we suggested to him that, when they have plenty of tables available, this one should not be used. He apologized and explained that he was trying to spread the diners to all of of his servers' stations, and we had just drawn that spot (I thought maybe it was because we didn't have one of those impossible-to-get reservations!). The moral of the story ... if you don't like your table, ask to me moved! We did the next night (see Jefferson Bistro), and it was great that we did. At Little Italy, we got our first taste of what some critics have pointed out as the lack of professionalism of an all-American crew. Both the waiter and his assistant were much more into themselves than giving attention to us as diners. Several inappropriate quips were made that should never have been said at a fine restaurant. We could see one of them preening himself in the back, etc. Yuck. - Little Italy - Food. My wife and I both had the veal specialty, and we disagreed on our rating - she liked it, I didn't. We both agreed that the salad and desserts were unimpressive. Nice tip ... At Little Italy we learned, if you buy a bottle of wine and don't finish it, you may take it with you. OR, they will re-cork it and store in their wine cellar, and you may ask for it at any other restaurant later in the week. We took advantage of this and had our half consumed bottle saved, and we used it the next night! Cool! Jefferson's Bistro - Service - On our second night we went to Jefferson's Bistro. What a great restaurant! It was truly a fine dining experience. As mentioned before, we asked if we could be moved from our initially assigned table (near the door), and she graciously moved us to the "Library" which was a smaller area, very quiet and lovely. Our waiter (Daniel) was terrific as was his assistant. We never felt hurried and spent a very pleasant 2 1/2 hours there! And immediately made reservations to return later in the week. We again had Daniel on the second visit, and he charmed our larger group that night the way he had the 2 of us on the first visit. Jefferson Bistro - Food - After the dining experience the previous evening, I wondered whether our expectations were just unreasonably high. No, no, mon ami! This time we both had fabulous meals. We were both gently encouraged by the waiter to choose something from every course (appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert), so we did. Our favorites before the main course were the escargot for me, and onion soup for her - both wonderfully prepared and presented. She had filet mignon for main entree and I had a sea bass -- both were excellent. It was all so good, we immediately made a reservation for later in the week - Thursday, when everyone else would be gorging on some all-you-can-eat pretend lobster at the main restaurants, we planned on having another intimate dinner (perhaps even Maine lobster) at Jefferson's. Liberty and Skyline Restaurants. These were the main dining rooms. As mentioned before, the reservation system is a mystery. The food was mediocre at best. The service was uneven. "Free Style" dining is supposed to mean that you can eat when you want, but if you can't get in, so what? And every meal there is luck-of-the-draw if you agree to share your table, which the greeter strongly pushes if you want to eat on your schedule rather than theirs. SHORE EXCURSIONS RESERVATIONS. As suggested by other reviewers, make your shore excursion reservations weeks in advance, if possible. And, if you haven't gotten a confirmation within a day or 2, start calling NCL. The hassles we had trying to get confirmed shore excursion reservations in advance are too much to detail here; suffice it to say, I spent hours on the phone (mostly on hold), and never had clear confirmation of our excursions. But the bright side of this is that there was little hassle once on the ship, we finally had confirmations, etc. ... I don't think I heard of anyone who could not get the excursions they wanted either added or cancelled at the Shore Excursion desk. Our excursion experiences were ... SUNDAY (Hilo, Hawaii): Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls (ITO-03). The Park is a must see. Next time we would choose (ITO-01) which (a) skips a big buffet lunch which was not very good, wastes time, and is unnecessary with all the food on the ship, (b) skips Rainbow Falls which, while nice, lasted only 15 minutes and not that spectacular, and (c) is $35 less expensive. MONDAY (Kahului, Maui): Maui Ocean Center; Iao Valley (IGG-04). Good tour - glad we did it. The aquarium is very well done, a real treat. We heard that the luau shore excursion is the most popular - 800 people signed up! We went to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center back in Honolulu (which we highly recommend), so we passed on this luau in Maui. A great resource for Maui is Jon Blum's internet site: http://www.mauihawaii.org/ TUESDAY (Kahului, Maui): Haleakala Crater at Sunrise (OGG-48) This was a great tour. The ride up and back could be an issue if you're prone to motion sickness due to the many switchbacks on the mountain. Do take warm clothing! WEDNESDAY (Kona, Hawaii): Valley Waterfall Hiking Adventure This was another good choice, though a bit pricey. The trail out to the waterfall is private, so there are no crowds. It's a good way to see the western and northern coast of the Big Island, and the hike out (not too strenuous) to the waterfall is through beautiful scenery. THURSDAY (Nawiliwili, Kauai) Again thanks to an earlier reviewer, we rented a car. If you are sure you're going to do this, rent the car ahead of time. Without a reservation, the shuttles to the airport were reluctant to take us. But we did finally get there and had no trouble renting a mid-size car from Dollar. On Thursday, we drove up the east side all the way to the end of the road, where the scenery on the North Coast at Haena State Park is fabulous. The Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge at Princeville is a must-see. Overnight we parked our car in a $10 lot near the ship, but could have parked for free at the Anchor Cove shopping center. FRIDAY (Nawiliwili, Kauai) The next day, we took our rental all the way to the other end west. Drove up to the Waimea Canyon. If possible, recommend seeing the Canyon in the afternoon when the sun is overhead or in the west so it shines on the eastern canyon walls - the road is on the west side of the canyon so in the morning, the sun is shining on on the wrong side. But still spectacular at any time. ENTERTAINMENT The cruise director is very good - humorous and knows how to work the audience. The juggler was terrific - we saw him every opportunity. The dancers were not - well, they were VERY good dancers and singers, but their show just didn't "work", as indicated by the very lukewarm applause. Who ever designed their show didn't understand what this audience would like. We've seen much better on other cruises. GENERAL LITTLE THINGS. No "behind the scenes" tours as on other ships (the bridge, the galley, backstage in the theater, etc.). Never saw or heard from the ship's captain - the ship could have been on auto-pilot for all we know. No "baked Alaska" or "tower of champagne" on the last night. Photographers were annoying, blocking the path every time we got off the ship. BIG THING. The ship's employees are over worked. Most were very pleasant, but we could tell that they were tired, and many admitted it to us. We heard from one of the them that 50-60 employees quit the weekend we embarked because they couldn't take the demands. That might account for seeing the same crew members working different shifts and positions throughout the day, the specialty restaurants not using all their tables, etc. We understand that there is only one doctor for the 2000 passengers and 900 employees, which is a telling indicator of the short staff. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This time last week I was on the Pride of America. This is my third cruise with NCL. I had read the reviews, both pro and con, and was concerned what I would find once on board. I am a reasonable, objective person so therefore, I will be ... Read More
This time last week I was on the Pride of America. This is my third cruise with NCL. I had read the reviews, both pro and con, and was concerned what I would find once on board. I am a reasonable, objective person so therefore, I will be straightforward with "my" review. This is not a perfect cruise. There are some problems. There seemed to be a lack of communication between everyone and in every department. The ship was filled to capacity but the ship is woefully understaffed, especially in the dining rooms. Most of the staff on board is just simply overwhelmed with workload. My husband and I are fans of Freestyle. However, with that option comes the fact that this is an informal cruise. The cuisine is not gourmet; it is passable at best. The service is adequate at best. All the dining options are always crowded all the time, that's just the way it is with Freestyle. There are always a lot of children, teenagers, handicapped, elderly, informed, and obese passengers with Freestyle. For the most part, it is chaos. If you want more formal and especially more personal attention, choose Crystal or Celebrity. However, if you want the freedom to come and go as you please, choose what you want to eat when you want to eat and in the atmosphere you want, then you will be happier with Freestyle. Our cabin stewardess was wonderful. The first day we sailed, I gave her $10 and told her that we would give her extra tips daily rather than at the end of the cruise. Needless to say, our state room was always clean, always with fresh towels and ice. With an all American crew, money talks. We did the same with our Room Service attendant and we had our order delivered every morning exactly as we requested at the exact time we requested. He was SO good, we tipped him even more when we disembarked. Be warned: State rooms are very compact but beautifully decorated; just leave the drapes open. We were on the port side. If you plan to take this cruise, request a Starboard side state room. Unfortunately, in all the ports (but Kona) we docked in the industrial districts. It was noisy and held NO view on the port side. The exception is Kona where we were tendered to shore. That was a beautiful view of the island and we also had the pleasure of watching a pod of dolphins from our balcony. The Pride of America is a beautiful ship. Each time I saw her from the shore, it made me so proud to be an American. We were fortunate that we had great weather but I understand that the cruise the week before had rain - so take rain gear, just in case. Although the cruise had some issues, they were not enough to ruin our trip to Hawaii. We would do it again in a heart beat, but choose the Starboard side next time around. All of our shore excursions were booked through NCL. In my opinion, it was worth any extra. All the excursions were wonderful. The only disappointment was the Fern Grotto but Waimea Canyon made up for it. Our guide was wonderful and kept all of us in stitches with his "killer chicken" stories. This is a wonderful way to see all the Islands. If you keep an open mind, be a little patient with an overworked crew, and don't sweat the small stuff, you will have a wonderful time and great memories of your cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This is certainly the best and most economical way to sample all the major islands in a short time. as far as a "cruise experience" however it has many shortcomings. The "Free Style" concept of dining which Norwegian ... Read More
This is certainly the best and most economical way to sample all the major islands in a short time. as far as a "cruise experience" however it has many shortcomings. The "Free Style" concept of dining which Norwegian seems to pride itself on is in my personal opinion a disaster. Very long waits to dine (up to one hour) closed dining room (without notice) for a "corporate event", many items on the menu that we are "out of ", slow service and generally uninspiring food. On two occasions the writer missed the evening show after waiting 45 minutes to be seated for dinner because we could not get in and out on time. Our stateroom was small but quite pleasant; the major problem being that except in the late evening no one made up the room and we were required to personally remove our breakfast trays upon arriving back on the ship in the late afternoon. This in all fairness was not a policy of the ship but more of a lack of efficient oversight of the steward staff who we hardly ever saw. The ship has no gambling , which in this writers perspective is a blessing and given the current competitive nature of the cruise industry the ship must make up for its shortfall by charging for all kinds of "extras" You don't want to wait in long lines for dinner..try one of the other "extra fee"...alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be brought aboard ship (baggage is searched and they are confiscated and held in special storage if found). The confirmed reason...so they can sell you expensive drinks while you are aboard. Excursions are also expensive with a high markup..one can do better by arranging your own itineraries through the web beforehand or make your own arrangements when you disembark...only suggestion here is make rental car reservations ahead of time in Kauai..they are occasionally sold out. Now for the positive...the staff overall was VERY friendly and did go out of their way to be accommodating. Never had a problem here and this aspect offset a lot of the other problems..I fault the management of the cruise company for the problems in their policies and planning and not the cruise staff. If you want to see Hawaii in the most economical and efficient way this is the way to do it But for a cruise experience , I would go elsewhere Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We loved the ports. It was an excellent way to visit four Hawaiian Islands. We loved the new ship. Pool area was nice. Plenty of room on decks. The service in our cabin was very good. We hated Freestyle Dining. To us, their slogan ... Read More
We loved the ports. It was an excellent way to visit four Hawaiian Islands. We loved the new ship. Pool area was nice. Plenty of room on decks. The service in our cabin was very good. We hated Freestyle Dining. To us, their slogan "Eat Where You Want, When you Want" is false advertising. The only place we could eat when we wanted was in the Aloha Buffet. Even in there, they were challenged to keep certain items always available...like silverware and bowls. The soft ice cream was the best thing on the ship, but even though they had two machines they only kept one going...and the area was never stocked. The menus in the main dining rooms were boring and limited. To get the good stuff like Filet Mignon you had to pay extra in the 'specialty restaurants'...however we couldn't get a reservation even once the entire week!!! I had salmon four nights in a row because it was the only dish appealing on the menu. The seating was crazy for the main dining rooms. There were always long lines and waits. You could only make a reservation for 5:30 or 8:30 (normal cruising seating times)...even then there was always confusion or a crisis at the hostess desk. Then when you were finally seated...there was always a sea of empty tables!!! It was very hard to understand why they were making so many people wait. They even handed out beepers! Too much like dining on land...I want less hassle and no errands on my cruise. Very frustrating...we tried to make reservations but our plans would change as the week progressed...so we would have to wait in line to change them or get charged $10. It was just too much of a hassle. One night they didn't even have the reservation we made. Never again! Plus by not having your normal seating you miss out on meeting people...and sharing your cruising experience. Dinner was not an event. We missed getting to know the same service people every night..and the waiters didn't entertain like they do on a normal cruise. The entertainment on ship was sad. The juggler could juggle but he wasn't funny and he performed for two nights!!! The singers and dancers were terrible. Voices didn't match. The theme for their first performance was "Working, Working Working". That turned me off completely because I came on the ship to escape thinking about work! (Plus the audience was full of retirees...I'm sure they were thrilled) The local Polynesian group which performed was excellent but their show was way too short. There was not enough Hawaiian cultural activities or music on board. I would have like Hawaiian entertainment every night. One of the best events was the newly and not so newly wed game. They should have done this every night with different couples. It was the funniest entertainment. The whole ship was designed to make them money. The only way to walk from the theatre to the dining room was through the shops and the photo gallery. Every announcement on board was about booking excursions...spending time in the spa or sales in the boutiques. And what is up with the art auction? Waste of time and space. We were surprised that in the teen center...you had to pay money to use the video games! There was also no place on the ship where you could sit inside and watch the water and watch people go by...all of the action was in out of the way places. We did like being able to disembark when we wanted..you just have to carry your own luggage. We also thought embarking went smoothly...we stayed at the Marriott Wakiki the night before and were transported over to the ship and sailed through the sign in process. So in conclusion, we loved the places we went, we loved the modernness and cleanliness of the new ship...however FreeStyle Seating was frustrating; the menus were blah, we were bored by most of the on board entertainment and we got sick of the constant pitches to spend more money. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
Hi Kids - This review is long, but hopefully informative and entertaining - We just came back from our first cruise on Pride of America and it was one of the best vacations I've ever had! I say first cruise because we'll ... Read More
Hi Kids - This review is long, but hopefully informative and entertaining - We just came back from our first cruise on Pride of America and it was one of the best vacations I've ever had! I say first cruise because we'll surely do it again. It was also our first cruise, ever! I can't compare NCLA to another cruise line and I can only compare PoAm to RCI Vision of the Seas, toured when docked in L.A. But, look at my location, I know fine restaurants and hotels, we're very well heeled travelers. So, from my cruise-virgin eyes..... We took Hawaiian Airlines from L.A., arriving at noon. We used ABC Limo for pickup and had a nice white new stretch, with cold refreshments waiting. We had originally booked Star Limo, but read a bad review here, and they were not good about returning calls or emails about confirmation, etc. ABC was great, highly recommended. We made a stop at Cindy's Lei Shop on Maunakea St for leis, beautiful orchid $4 up to intricate designs at an incredibly reasonable $15. And a head lei (haku) as well as a bag of loose orchid flowers, more on that later. It was a strange sight to see driving through the city, coming around a corner upon a huge white ship poking into downtown. Our too many bags were given over to the friendly stevadore and we hit the first snag. DH's wheelchair was there, but no one to push it. Oh no! Things were going wrong! No problem, along came JJ, a server from Cadillac Diner, just took the chair and escorted us in. We bypassed the long line to get into the terminal and there was one couple in front of us in the suite check in. Paperwork was done in three minutes, we got lei'd posed for photos and were onboard in a flash. 1:15 pm. JJ took us up to 12500 and Josh, butler extrordinaire and Jose were waiting at the decorated door. We had ordered the Anniversary Package and there were balloons, streamers, confetti, chocolate strawberries and a cake as well as an additional bottle of champagne, all in the cabin. (The deal also included a dinner in Jefferson's with wine, a photo, and a party that we passed on) The room was in perfect order, a plethora of fluffy towels, clean glasses and barware, full ice bucket (which Jose replenished constantly) ready for us to mess up. Since the Champagne was on ice, we asked Josh for OJ for mimosas and he ran..... 12500 is a fabulous suite. First behind the bridge and officers cabins on the port side, it's the largest AD on the ship and the only on on 12. 410 sf and a huge 189 sf balcony with padded wicker furniture - two chaise with table, chair with ottoman, dining table with three chairs. The room had a king bed, and sofabed, which we just used to throw things on. A sheer curtain and a solid curtain could be pulled across the room to separate the bed and the easy chair from the rest of the room. There were also two funky but comfortable chairs and a glass cocktail table by the sofa. Nice writing desk,with drawers, full bar setup (no liquor) nice sized refrigerator, more shelves and drawers underneath. Walk through closet has plenty of hanging area, drawers, makeup table, absolutely no lack of space here. Glossy wood cabinetry everywhere. The bathroom was nice sized, tub with glass doors and toilet with glass door. If you are used to higher end products, bring your own toiletries, L'Occitaine is ...lacking. I wanted to book the Captain Zodiac excursion for DH, but decided too late to do it online, so I went to see our concierge, Al. Amazing Al served me a beverage, we chatted and the ticket was delivered that afternoon, even before the luggage got there. The bags did come about 5 PM. I put my head lei on and we went up to the bow on 13 for our first ever sailaway . We met a delightful Australian couple, also in an AD on 10. They commented on the excellent service they had been experiencing and the general friendliness of the crew. We agreed, as we watched the city lights recede. Wow, cruising is great so far, and we've just left the dock in Honolulu!!!! We were too tired to search for food, so we went back to just sleep. We found that Jose had made up the the room with chocolates on the pillows (including the four feather I had asked for) and two HUGE towel swans with their necks in a heart. It was truly a work of art! He had also sprinkled the bed (at my request) with some of the loose orchid flowers that I had picked up in Honolulu. While we were gone, Al had sent up a plate of canapes, a fruit and cheese plate came from the Captain, we had a bowl of fruit, chocolate strawberries and champagne. We took it out to the balcony for dinner, stars above, sea below. I think it was at this point we realized that cruising was about to become an addictive and very expensive sport. Rocked to sleep, we woke up in ..... HILO -- Breakfast on the balcony (hence referred to as BOB) served by Josh, exactly on time. Food is okay, coffee good, real cream. Josh was an insurance salesman in Kansas City when he saw an ad on the internet and joined NCL, starting as a jr. waiter. I loved talking to the crew, and they like to chat back, This could be a factor in the slow service in the restaurants, lotsa talking. Anyway, back to Hilo.... We rented a car from Thrifty, shuttle never came, took taxi there. We'd stayed on BI for 8 days in '91 for the eclipse and the only area we didn't visit was Puna, so that's the way we went. We drove Hwy 11 to 130 stopping in Pahoa, a very cool town. It seems stuck in a time warp, it reminds me of Malibu in 1971. We ate at an excellent place, Pahoa Village Cafe, on the left side, in the middle of town. Burgers, salads, fresh fish. veggie, reasonable. There's also a flea market. There's an even better flea market, on 130, just north of this town. We went to the end of the road, drove into the lava a little bit, took some pictures and came back. Went to the Captain's Reception, ran into our Australian friends from the bow. We explained how tipping works as they don't tip in Oz. The bartender in the Lanai Bar makes an excellent Pina colada. No umbrellas, no foofoo. The lava viewing was amazing. Lots of red lava and plumes of steam. See it on starboard first and again when the ship turns. Deck 6 is best for unobstructed view, it has no plexiglas panels, nor does tiny deck 14 forward. We saw it from deck first , then from the balcony, where Josh had left even more treats. MAUI -- BOB was delightful. We had arranged for the rental of a Mercedes convertible for the two days. We called upon arrival only to find that the car had been in an accident two days before (thanks for calling us) and they had a nice Chevy Tahoe for us instead. Since we had never dreamed of driving the road to Hana in a SUV we thankfully declined. Luckily Thrifty had a Sebring convertible. It was a beautiful ride, we enjoyed every minute of it. There was nothing scary about it at all. We made it about 3/4 of the way before we had to turn around or lose our lunch reservation at Mama's Fish House. Also highly recommended, pricey, but the location, ambience, food, drink, service are all well worth it. Second day we went to Lahaina and the Maui Ocean Center in Makeaa. Lahaina is a cute beach town, something for everyone to buy or eat, a little too commercial. The aquarium was outstanding. They have a plexiglas tunnel you walk through to view. Wow! Josh brought more treats in the afternoon and Jose made us a towel puppy. KONA -- Enjoyed BOB. DH thoroughly enjoyed Captain Zodiac's Snorkel tour. I went shopping. Chocolate Buffet - don't worry if you miss it. Spent most of a lazy afternoon watching the tenders go back and forth. Midway through the tip, gave Josh and Al "Party Favors" for all the help "so far". KAUAI -- Started out with BOB. Another car from Thrifty, another shuttle that never came. Taxi! We were going on the Kauai Backcountry Adventures tubing adventure. It's on an old sugar plantation's irrigation canals an you tube down for about an hour then have lunch by a pool. Luckily we left early, as usual, we got lost and ended up on the north side when the place was 5 miles from the ship. It was a lovely drive. We got fitted out with gloves and aqua booties and helmets with flashlights and they drove us in six wheeled Pinzgauers through some phenomenal landscapes and wildlife viewing for about 30 minutes to the top, where they put us in tubes and we floated off. Sometimes the flow was slow, sometimes faster, we'd spin, hit wall, go into a grotto like tunnel, a little eddy, all in all it was a blast. We got out and they drove us to a lovey grassy area next to a "swimming' hole" with picnic tables and we had a lovely lunch. Recommended for everyone. We had dinner at Duke's that night, as usual, perfect. We have a Duke's here in Malibu and Huntington Beach, so it was our mission to eat at all the Duke's in Hawaii. We had planned to go out the second day, but we lounged too long with BOB and the morning got away. I return the rental car and away we sailed. The viewing of the Na Pali was dramatic in the afternoon sun, all green and gold, looking like a cross between Jurassic Park and Superman's Fortress of Solitude Al sent a fruit plate and a bottle of champagne. Started packing after dinner, aaah is this Pre Post Cruise Depression? Gave Jose his end of cruise "Thank You". ------------------ We ate at Jefferson's Bistro twice, both times requesting Matt & Nick, in Lazy J, delighted with Steve and Joe, in Little Italy, Xiomara was lovely. We found all of the crew to be upbeat, cheerful and helpful. We spoke to many of them and each has a different motivation for being there. Paying off student loan, travel, room for advancement, never saw the ocean, wants to surf, girlfriend moved to Hawaii, etc. I saw them ashore, in shuttle vans, all over. A slice of Americana. We were not thrilled with the food. We grabbed a snack in Aloha the first afternoon and were underwhelmed. The food in JB and Lazy J was good but not excellent, we found Little Italy to be the best of the specialties. We didn't try East Meets West or Cadillac Diner. No meal took less than two hours. We thought room service was available from the specialty restaurants too(only to AA), so we didn't ask Al to make reservations, except for two nights. He was like a magician pulling asseverations for us at the last minute for additional nights. We ate ashore a bit, too. Once I told Al we were unhappy with the food, he offered to extend the same room service as AA to us, but we already had it covered with reservations and reservations ashore. Whatta guy! We had planned to eat at the Skyline one night, but it was an hour wait, as we left, we saw Al on our way back and told him we were going to order room service instead. Josh was waiting at our door to take our dinner order. That hotline again! I ordered steak and DH ordered teriyaki chicken and we tried the evening's special, Hawaiian ribs. My steak was of very poor quality and the chicken tasted like a frozen dinner, the ribs were bad mall Chinese food. The Caesar salad was dripping wet and droopy. Baked potato half done. If this is the main dining room food, it really needs improvement. Dessert wonderful, coffee great, as usual. HONOLULU -- Suite debarkation at 7:45, hugs and kisses to Josh and AL, Al escorted us off before everyone else, our bags are waiting, our limo is there, off to two days at Waikiki Outrigger on the Beach. We had planned on the rental car around the island thing....again. Well, we canceled the car and hung around, ate at Duke's (3 times), relaxed..cruising is hard work. All in all, we had a marvelous time and will definitely take this cruise again when we can book the owners cabin on 12. (Jose let me peek and it's actually tasteful, not psychedelic purple and turquoise! I also peeked at the one BA on 12 as well as the AEs and the officers quarters. (I "accidentally" wander behind doors marked restricted)) We have booked the AA on the Dawn for an 11 day Western Caribbean on March 26 as well as Mexico on the Star on 1/28. Are we hooked or what? Okay, that's it for now, any questions, feel free. Mahalo and Aloha, Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
Very poor overall service, even Captain and several other "ranking" persons, on several different occasions did not even stop to inquire about our cruise experience while we were the only ones on the deck in the evenings. Our ... Read More
Very poor overall service, even Captain and several other "ranking" persons, on several different occasions did not even stop to inquire about our cruise experience while we were the only ones on the deck in the evenings. Our group of six were the only ones on the Lido deck after say 8:00p.m. it seemed, no crowds, no service, no drinks, no food, no live music, you can get the jest......thank god we brought our own poker chips to play poker. Food service was horrendous, surcharges to dine were outrageous, no seafood at all on a Pacific Ocean cruise is unbelievable in my opinion. All surcharge dining areas we were told were booked by day three, even if we had wanted to pay the surcharges each time in. No midnight buffet at all like Carnival, very disappointing cruise all the way around. Hot Tubs shut down in the evenings at approximately 10:00p.m. not to be re-opened until ported at approximately 8:00a.m. each morning, no bar service at tubs or on exterior decks after approx. 8:00p.m. each evening. Over chlorinated (maybe a good thing), 2 pair of shorts completely bleached from blue to brown in 7 days. Very unenjoyable cruise, a complete waste of a $3500.00 vacation, with exception of getting to and on the islands. Thank god we had an opportunity to disembark each day to get something good to eat, and also to find something interesting to do!! Unbelievable lack of service, options, dining. I would not recommend this cruise to anyone under the age of say 65 yrs old. I am almost 40 by the way.... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We had an EXCELLENT vacation !!! I am going to give you lots of facts about the ship/crew (some good, some not so good_, but please read them and keep in mind that we had a wonderful time on this vacation - after all it is Hawaii !! For ... Read More
We had an EXCELLENT vacation !!! I am going to give you lots of facts about the ship/crew (some good, some not so good_, but please read them and keep in mind that we had a wonderful time on this vacation - after all it is Hawaii !! For the most part, we LOVED the American crew. It was great being able to talk to everyone and hear their stories, where they are from, etc. We found most of the crew was extremely friendly and helpful. Yes we came across a few with attitudes, but honestly we enjoyed the american crew sooo much (and we thought we wouldn't so that was pleasant surprise). That said there definitely is a shortage in crew (we spoke to many officials on board and were told the ship is having a hard time keeping staff). So, in some places, it is clear that the service is simply not there. Example: main restaurants. We waited over an hour to get seated one night and then it took almost 3 hours to eat. The waiter was nice and was working very hard, but he was one guy doing the work of 3 people (waiter, bus buy, and bar staff). He was bringing the food, clearing the plates, trying to refill drinks and water glasses- and it was SLOW!!! We decided to go to specialty restaurants after that and we had wonderful experiences in those. We had 3 cabins on the ship (8 people), and 2 of them had one room steward and the other had a different one. Needless to say service was night and day. My cabin steward never cleaned - literally. He would always leave dirty glasses in the room, dirt on the flow, toothpaste in the sink. It did not matter that much to me as it didn't take away from my trip, but it was obvious he wasn't doing a very good job. Not one towel animal the entire week in our cabin (and my 7 yr old twins look so forward to getting those in their room). Oh well! Yes, there is a definite sewage smell on board the ship in certain locations. I don't know why? It is not a huge big deal- just unpleasant when you walk by an area that has it, but it is definitely 100% there (all of us smelt it). Food was OK - not bad not great. We are not picky eaters by any means (I can eat a can of soup for dinner and be happy). I did see rotten bananas sitting out for 3 days in a row (you know black on the outside). My kids also opened 2 rotten milks one morning. Weird?? Also, the bread was clearly a bit old. You know when you get bread at your dinner table and it is warm and soft- we only had that one night in Little Italy- otherwise bread was cold, and in the buffet the hamburger rolls would crumble the way they do when they are getting old. Again- no big deal- just wanting to point out the facts. Kids camp now has morning hours and evening hours (9 am - noon, 7pm-10pm). On Thursday night they offer kids eat with the staff in the cadillac diner. Usually the ships only offer camp when the ship is at sea (free camp that is), but since this ship is docked so much they realized they needed more camp hours and they added them which was nice. You can pay for group babysitting during other hours. There are no chicken fingers/nuggets or mac n ' cheese on this ship. THis was my 7 yr olds 9th cruise and they have never been on a ship that didn't offer some sort of chicken nuggets/ mac n cheese - standard kid food. They offered hot dogs and burgers at the kids buffet, and pizza. Let your kids eat the same foods from the regular buffet because it moves quicker - I noticed the kids buffet would just sit there for a long time untouched. I'll also ass that the pizza was pretty good on board the ship. The entertainment was definitely lacking on this cruise- BUT with this ship being so port intensive, the expectation is that you are out and busy all day long and tired in the evening. We went to 2 shows and after that we gave up- and stopped going. We didn't miss not going because we were so tired (from the time difference and the business of our days) - so we didn't care. Internet is expensive on board. There is no option for unlimited usage. We just skipped the internet and went with some in town Internet places here or there to catch our email when we needed to. No big deal. 1st night has 50% off dining at east Meets west (not hibachi though), and Jefferson's Bistro. Thursday night is Lobster night. There was FREE video arcade game playing when we boarded in the afternoon (my kids loved that). We had lava flowing the night we saw it- wonderful experience !!! We left Kauai late and didn't really get the full experience of the Napoli Coast. We were suppose to leave at 2 pm and left more like 4:30 pm- the captained joked around 3:30 pm about finding the keys and starting the engine ??? Who knows why we left late? Free car parking in maui right at the cruise pier - making it so easy to just rent a car there and do your own thing. All ports had free shuttle buses to shopping (especially Wal-Mart). In Kauai I believe we paid $10. to park overnight in front of a store near the pier (walking distance)- also very easy and made it simple to rent a car and do your own thing. Don't be fooled by Freestyle Dining - Make reservations when you board the ship for the week. You'll be happy you did !!! Hawaii is beautiful without a doubt. We LOVED our vacation - truly no complaints. I am just stating the facts as we saw them (6 adults all seasoned cruisers - well over 120 cruises between us). We loved our vacation - but it was definitely clear that NCL has a few issues to work on with the everyday workings of this beautiful ship !!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We traveled with a family group of 14 and everyone had a great time. Many more positives than negatives. We loved the itinerary, allowing time on Maui, Kauai and the big island. We rented cars in all three places and did our own touring, ... Read More
We traveled with a family group of 14 and everyone had a great time. Many more positives than negatives. We loved the itinerary, allowing time on Maui, Kauai and the big island. We rented cars in all three places and did our own touring, rather than do the boat excursions. Some of our favorites were Waimea Canyon, the road to Hana, the port town of Kona (only place we didn't have a car), Volcanoes national Park, and the Old Lahaina Luau. On board, our group had two balcony cabins and four inside cabins. We really loved our balcony units - we purposely chose the units on the port side with the larger balconies (89 square feet) which allowed room for the rest of the group to view the Napali coast and lava flows with us. We had an excellent room steward, Xavier. Zero complaints in this department. sure, the cabins are small but on this cruise we spent little time there and used the balcony to our advantage to stay out of each other's way. Public spaces on the ship were very nice and always well kept. Again, no complaints. The lounges each have their own atmosphere and theme and we tried them all. A well-kept secret is the Lanai Lounge on 13 - great guitar player, nice leather chairs and banquettes and rarely occupied. Also enjoyed Pink's Champagne Lounge, Napa wine bar and Gold Coast Saloon. Lots of champagnes on Pink's list and dozens of beers at the gold coast. Restaurant experiences were good to great. I'm not a fan of the freestyle concept. we were probably in the last 5-10% of people to board and after a long day of travel didn't want to deal with restaurant reservations so as a result we had to wing it most nights. We did have an excellent meal at the Lazy J Steakhouse ($15 upcharge +$10 for the two that added lobster to their steaks). Our meals in the main dining rooms were good as were our experiences in the Cadillac Diner. For breakfast every day we headed to the Aloha buffet, all the way to the back of the boat where they had two omelet stations. Usually a short wait for omelets but no problem getting a great scenic table and plenty of food lines available. Lunches were in port. Service across the board was excellent. I have to admit a bias when dealing with the entertainment. Our son is in production shows and we thought they were both terrific - the dance of life on Sunday and America's beat on Wednesday - but what parent wouldn't? We did not see the juggler/comedian but others in our group did and thought he was excellent. They also saw the comedian on another night and were not impressed. The piano player in Pink's was excellent as was Mark, the guitar player usually found in the Lanai. Embarkation and disembarking were a breeze - no customs to deal with of course but I love the freestyle part of disembarking. If you want to carry your bags you can get off any time. In short, an excellent vacation, good value. Absolutely terrific service from all the workers - never a problem. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We just returned from the PoAm 11/5/05-11/12/05. My DH and I are both 34 and have traveled NCL before. We've also sailed Carnival, Disney and Holland America. We live in Vail, Colorado, and I mention this because living in a resort ... Read More
We just returned from the PoAm 11/5/05-11/12/05. My DH and I are both 34 and have traveled NCL before. We've also sailed Carnival, Disney and Holland America. We live in Vail, Colorado, and I mention this because living in a resort area, we have the opportunity to dine and enjoy many high end places in our "back yard." With that said, we don't consider ourselves high maintenance, but we do expect nice things. With that said, PoAm did NOT disappoint. We flew in the day of the cruise and had booked our own air. We landed at 3pm and could see the ship from the sky. We used Star limo to transfer us to the pier. There was no waiting in the Suite check-in and we were walking onboard in less than 10 minutes. Flawless. We went straight to our Owner's Suite, located on deck 12. It was immaculate. I had heard about the housekeeping issues and had my expectations low, but my worrying was for nothing. The suite is amazing. We stayed in an AB on the Dawn in 2003 (we took our two DDs with us then) and this suite was even better. We used the Jacuzzi on our deck daily. For those cruisers who say they book the low category as they don't spend a lot of time in their cabin, need to book the owner's suite once to change their mind. There just wasn't a better place onboard then on our gigantic deck (table for 4, two chairs w/ ottomans and two chaise lounges, along w/ a 6 person Jacuzzi tub). Everything was in place (excursion tickets, champagne, etc.). Our butler came by within moments and was incredible. If you have the fortunate luck of landing Josh as your butler, you're in for a treat. As we'd traveled w/ a butler before with NCL, our expectations were high. Josh exceeded those. We had breakfast every morning (except once) delivered to our balcony. As crazy as the requests got toward the end of the cruise (I admit we even tried to throw them a bit w/ our breakfast order), absolutely everything arrived in perfect quantity, on time and hot. The other crew members: For the life of me, I cannot figure out what crew members have instigated the poor reviews. Each and every crew member we encountered was amazing. This crew out delivered both the Dawn and the Holland America trip we took in the spring, actually every other cruise. Just great! Funny, accommodating, helpful -- everyone. Except for the hostess at the Little Italy, which we found out has a habit of being rude, the staff is incredible. To give you just a couple examples; one night we decided we would order dinner on our deck for Friday night's sailing of the NaPali Coast. We hadn't eaten in the main restaurants, so we decided to walk down and look at the menu. The sweet hostess (granted, she hadn't seen us and we had no desire to dine in her restaurant) asked us for help, we told her we were thinking of ordering from Skyline to our balcony for the next night. She was extremely helpful and said that they weren't posted as of yet, but she could run up to the office and grab a menu so that we could see what was planned. Very thoughtful. The only time we ate in the Aloha buffet was for a breakfast one morning. We went to the aft section and I was browsing around and a cook asked if I needed anything, I told him I was looking for French toast. He told me that the buffet was only serving pancakes that morning, but if I wanted to wait, he would run down to the main restaurants for French toast. I decided against it, but thought it was incredible for him to seek me out and ask what I needed. These are just two examples (there were several) of the kindness I received. I have to tell you, I was prepared for the worst with all of the negative reviews and I saw none of it. From the towel people, to the maintenance staff - not one crew member didn't smile and acknowledge me. Again, we aren't first time cruisers or naïve travelers and we can be pretty picky, and this crew exceeded my expectations. Excursions: As we were traveling w/o the kids, we went all out on the excursions. Hilo: We booked through the ship the Hilo Bay Waterfall kayak. It was incredible! A short van ride took us to the bay where we went in two person kayaks across the bay. A nice paddle. We went to the waterfall and were able to either kayak down it, or swim the rapids, which is what my DH and I did! Maybe not the safest thing (attempting the rapids), but it was terrific. Maui: We rented a car for these two days. We had the Maui Revealed book and had a set plan outlined before we got going. We saw Dragon's Teeth in Kapulua, snorkeled black rock on Kanapali, saw the blowhole (which drenched our camcorder and we had to buy another!), we snorkeled Honolua Bay -- basically did the entire West Maui on our own the first day. That night we did the luxury luau, Feast at LeLe. We had great seats and the show was amazing. The food was, well, adventurous and not to our liking, but it was great to do one time. We drove back and had a hard time finding parking that night, but managed to do so and went to bed early. Second day of Maui we did the Southwest side of Maui and snorkeled Makena Beach (our favorite, saw a dozen turtles) and saw the lava fields up North of that a bit (amazing). We had lunch at the Grand Wailea (wished we would've chosen Four Seasons next door afterward) and hung out a bit at the beach there. We were going to take the boat out to Molokini, but heard from a couple the night before that the snorkeling was uneventful, so we scratched it. We returned the car and were onboard in plenty of time. Kona: We did a dive through an independent tour. We didn't choose the ship scuba diving as we like to dive in smaller groups. I read about Big Island Divers on the Hawaii boards here and they didn't disappoint. There was one other couple onboard. Nice, local outfit and the two tank dive was some of the best diving we've done. In Kona, the PoAm docks right at the entry point for the Ironman swim, so we saw a ton of athletes swimming the bay route; they say many train there year round and also some swim it for the experience of saying they did. Kauai: Our favorite island. We planned the ATV Waterfall adventure through the ship. It was awesome. It's done through Kipu Ranch, also mentioned in the revealed books and it was great. We did ride powerful 4-wheelers and they don't mess around with the riders. If they didn't think you could do the trail, you rode on a guide-driven ATV. Some parts were "risky", but it was incredible. At the end, you can swim in a swimming hole under the waterfall. My DH and I (and a crew member who participated in the excursion) were the only ones to swim as it was a bit "refreshing." It was great and we learned a lot about the history of that ranch. Second day on Kauai, we did a ship excursion helicopter tour. This was great also. I would've preferred less talking from the pilot during the flight and just took in the island with the music, but other than that minor complaint - it was phenomenal. Honolulu: We had scheduled the red eye out that evening (11:59pm), so I booked a room at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, based on recommendations from this board. Another great decision as the resort is amazing. It's about an hour ride from the airport (we had Star limo take us to the Thrifty car pick up, which is NOT at the airport, btw) and it was a great ride. The North Shore is incredible and I'm glad we decided to get out of Honolulu and see a more undeveloped portion of the island. Turtle Bay is incredible and my only regret is that we had to leave it at 9pm! I have to admit that based on the negative reviews from this board, we decided to not eat at any of the main restaurants. In hindsight, I suppose once I realized how incredible the staff was, we would've been okay. But, with that said, we ate at East Meets West the 1st night (servers Ross and Brandon were hilarious and very good). Sunday and Thursday we ate at Jefferson Bistro (great food and great service by Richard and Matthew). Tuesday we ate at Little Italy (the hostess was awful and that didn't start the evening out well and the actual meal and service weren't extraordinary, but pleasant). Wednesday we ate at Lazy J (another incredible meal and great service by Stacy and Arthur). Friday we ordered dinner on our balcony and decided to again order from Lazy J (which was delivered perfectly by Josh). I cannot comment on one particular food item that I didn't find enjoyable. Even the pizza that I had read was substandard, I found to be quite delicious. The ice cream wasn't going all of the time and the "premium" toppings I'd read about were missing during our cruise. Bar service was fast and fun. Waitresses were pleasant and efficient and at no time pushy. If you have the opportunity to travel with a butler and a concierge -- you must. It really and truly adds to the cruise experience. Our butler Josh took care of each and every favor we asked of him. Al, the concierge is truly dynamite. I'm not kidding, that guy must never change from his uniform or ever sleep. He was ultra professional and takes his job very seriously and does a tremendous job. We traveled in the highest suite on Holland America and we had the use of TWO concierges this past spring and Al put them both to shame. Our room steward Jose was incredible. He was kind, efficient and did an amazing job. I experienced no disappointments. The room itself is available via online tours, so I won't elaborate, but I can tell you that it was heavenly. We spent a LOT of time enjoying the amenities of our cabin and we loved it. I cannot even start on how terrific we found Josh, our butler. He was just outstanding. He and Al truly enhanced our cruise. In closing, I can assure you that we are fairly picky travelers and found the Pride of America and its crew to exceed our expectations. It was an absolutely amazing vacation. We have never sailed the same ship twice, but we may make an exception with this ship and take the kids next spring. Everything was great; the layout of the ship, its cleanliness (and yes, we found people polishing the brass handrails, vacuuming common areas and washing windows all of the time), its staff and the itinerary is just incredible. Do not hesitate to sail this ship and enjoy the amazing Hawaiian Islands. If you have questions, just post! You were all quite instrumental in my cruise planning and I hope to return the favor! Mahalo! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We booked our cruise for Thanksgiving of 2004, however the ship had an incident in its shipyard and our cruise was delayed by a year. After reading the reviews of the ship, I had very serious concerns about our voyage. Though it was not ... Read More
We booked our cruise for Thanksgiving of 2004, however the ship had an incident in its shipyard and our cruise was delayed by a year. After reading the reviews of the ship, I had very serious concerns about our voyage. Though it was not a luxurious experience, it was reasonable considering its purpose. I took this cruise first and foremost to see Hawaii (I would have gone to Hawaii with or without the cruise) and second to try a cruise (I had never taken one before). We (2 adults and 2 children) were traveling with another family of 4, and we originally took a deluxe family penthouse suite. When our trip was rebooked, we were forced to take 2 regular family suites, which really wasn't the end of the world. The room had 2 separate bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The rooms were small but bearable, the bathrooms, however, were TINY. Think of the size of the bathroom on the plane you will take to get to Hawaii, and you will begin to see the size of these bathrooms. The cabins were decently furnished, with small color TVs and an abundance of good, but fake, wood cabinetry. The bed spreads and overall decor color were not what I would have preferred, but they were reasonable (fruity, tropical / 70's era feel). Closet space was extremely small- pack lightly. The maid service worked well- we had a problem with our shower, but it was fixed promptly by maintenance (it did take two tries, however). The room blossoms in comparison to the food on the cruise. We ate in the main restaurants (both the Liberty and the Skyline), as well as the Italian restaurant (no cover charge), and at the aloha cafe on the first day. The food in the Aloha was decent cafeteria style food, with a good selection. The main restaurants had mediocre food, though one day there were excellent entrees. The soups/salads/appetizers were usually quite good. The Italian restaurants were way below expectations- we do not recommend it. Service was spotty. On the first day in the Liberty, we had very good service from two waiters. On the next day, we had terrible service from two junior waiters, who failed to refill our water glasses and took 30 minutes to bring our drinks. We also encountered a very rude bartender in the Gold Rush Saloon. The Lanai bar was very good- be sure to say hi to David and Kim. We enjoyed are trip- just not because of the cruise. The excursions were great- especially the down hill bicycling and the lava hike on Hawaii. Beware- the lava hike was strenuous. Overall, if you are taking this cruise because you wanted to take a cruise and Hawaii sounded nice, you will be disappointed. If, like me, you are going on it because it is a convenient way to visit Hawaii, then as long as you go in not expecting great food or service, you will have a reasonable trip. PS- the fitness room was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
This was our (my wife and I) 23rd cruise. Though I study the Cruise Critic reviews before selecting each cruise we take, I have never written a review before. This time I felt I must do my part to set the record straight. NCL America is ... Read More
This was our (my wife and I) 23rd cruise. Though I study the Cruise Critic reviews before selecting each cruise we take, I have never written a review before. This time I felt I must do my part to set the record straight. NCL America is the only major cruise line that offers a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands without 4 days of crossing the Pacific Ocean. Since I wanted to spend any available vacation time in Hawaii as opposed to crossing the Pacific, I decided to take this cruise despite the huge amount of bad reviews, many of which were absolutely terrible. I therefore looked upon this cruise as transportation, with no expectations of enjoying the ship, service, food etc. What a surprise! The ship was so pleasing to the eye with bright beautiful tropical colors but lacking the neon glitz we have seen on some other ships. It appeared that no expense was spared with the decoration and furnishings. And the ship was perfectly clean and fresh. The balance of this review will address some of the negatives from past reviews and, additionally, offer some hints. There will be no "Our waiter Johnny was funny and did tricks with napkins." 1. Food - We found the food in the traditional restaurants, buffets and grills to be equivalent with that of our other cruises, neither better nor worse. We did eat in the specialty restaurants 4 times. There was an extra charge of $10 to $15, but in my mind the charges were elective as with shore excursions and certainly worth it. We ate in the ""East Meets West" restaurant twice and if there was such a restaurant here in Miami, I would gladly pay $100 to dine there. The food was that good. 2. Staterooms - There were many complaints that the staterooms and the showers were uncomfortably small. As to the shower, yes it was small even by cruise ship standards. So the 10 minutes a day I was in the shower was not the highlight of the cruise. As for the stateroom, I found the size to be very similar to that of other ships, but due to its design, it felt much larger. Example - the bed was high enough off the floor for all luggage to fit under it rather than using the couch in the sitting area for that purpose. 3. Entertainment - The ship was in port every day but one and most excursions took up the whole day. By the time we ate dinner each evening we were exhausted and happy to relax and turn in early. Therefore I can't judge the quality of the entertainment. 4. Service - One of the most frequent negatives was that the American staff had an attitude and acted like they didn't want to be there. I learned from talking to some of the wait staff that the ship started from scratch in June and it took awhile to smooth out the rough edges and for the cruise line to round out its staff with those who did want to be there. Two of the waiters I spoke to said almost exactly the same thing - that this was the only way they could ever hope to experience Hawaii, and even though they worked hard, it was more than worth it. The smiles of the entire crew made me believe that many must have felt the same way. Summary - In my opinion, NCL America offers an incredible cruise experience.I will end this with a few hints. 1. A few hours after leaving Hilo the ship will pass an active volcano and the resultant lava flow can be seen. Don't miss it. 2. At the rear of the ship on the buffet deck are additional food stations and outside seating. Most passengers don't seem to discover this. 3. The ship will tell you that the special;ty restaurants will get filled up fast and therefore, reservations should be made early. They are telling the truth. Reservations can be made from your cabin by calling 503. Do it right away. 4. The ship is in Maui overnight. We took advantage of the fact that there is no bedcheck and stayed at the Hyatt Regency on the beach in Lahaina. This would not be recommended for those who do enjoy having tropical birds, flamingos, warm weather penguins and swans sharing the grounds. 5. Do not miss the Warren and Annibell magic show in Lahaina. It is a clean version of the "Amazing Jonathon" show in Las Vegas (more laughs that magic but who cares). Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Not having taken a cruise ship before, I was unsure what to expect with the Pride of America. However, because we wanted to explore several of the Hawaiian islands, using the ship as a floating hotel was quite piratical and IMO less ... Read More
Not having taken a cruise ship before, I was unsure what to expect with the Pride of America. However, because we wanted to explore several of the Hawaiian islands, using the ship as a floating hotel was quite piratical and IMO less expensive and a hassle than flying between the islands. So, on to the ship - Embarkation (and Disembarkation) were both a breeze. We might have had it easier as we got there an hour early - they still let us board the ship. Be aware that the ship disembarks the old passengers by 10 AM and embarks the new ones starting around noon, so you'll need a little patience with the staff to get the rooms ready. Still, we were only on the ship for a quick lunch before our room was ready. The cabin was quite nice and well designed. Yes, the bathroom was small but what are you expecting on a cruise ship? There were plenty of shelves and cupboards for all our clothes, toiletries and other items. All the luggage stores under the bed (which was quite comfortable despite being a glorified cot). We had a balcony room on the port side and it was terrific for when the ship cruised past the lava flow on Hawaii and the Na Pali coastline on Kauai. Cabin service was prompt and the room was clean. The only negative I can think of is that the bed has looks like a queen but is really two twins in disguise. The support for these meant there was a metal bar running right up the middle of the bed that was uncomfortable. Also, I would shudder to think of having more than 2 people in the room even though they say it can fit up to 4. For us it was just about perfect. The room also has internet connectivity and a small refrigerator which were useful. On to the dining - breakfast was pretty much the same every day (we got up quite early most days) and we found that eating outside on the rear deck of the ship (just behind the Aloha Cafe) was the best spot. We were touring the islands during the day and never had lunch on the ship. However, we did try out all the specialty restaurants plus the main dining rooms. Tops on the list were the Lazy J Steakhouse and the Teppanyaki. Our chef Noel (from Japan) provided much information on the way Teppanyaki is prepared in Japan - it's similar to US style but with much less circus act stuff and much more focus on precisely cooking the food. Jefferson's Bistro was nicely decorated, and the food was good but not outstanding. Of all the restaurants, this one seemed to attract the fewest people, so your chance of getting a reservation later in the cruise should be pretty high. I wouldn't wait too long for the other specialty dining rooms though. As for Little Italy, both of us were not impressed. Maybe it's because we come from an area with many excellent Italian restaurants and the food here didn't really stack up. Plus the decor was just so-so. If you don't get to eat Italian food often you may want to try it, otherwise I'd skip it. The main dining rooms are in the same part of the ship - The Skyline on deck 5 and the Liberty right above it on deck 6. The menu is the same at both but I'd recommend the Liberty if only because it's one additional floor between you and the engines. We were rattling around in the Skyline as we must have been sitting directly over the starboard propeller(s). The food was still fine but not as good as in the specialty rooms, plus the main rooms are *much* larger which can lead to the occasional logjam getting in. Not a real problem though, and IMO the food was as good or better than anything we would have found on the islands except in Honolulu or one of the resorts. We used the shore excursions extensively and two in particular stood out for both of us - The lava viewing adventure hike in Hawaii and the Sunrise bike ride in Maui. Two extremes there - the hike was long and hot. For the bike ride, it was *freezing* at the top of Mt. Haleakala. The bike tour leaves at 3AM and you get to the top of the mountain around 4:45AM. You can wander around in the freezing cold until the sunrise or just catch some more zzzzz in the van until about 15 minutes before the sun comes up. Guess which one we did? The bike ride itself was tremendous and I would definitely do it again if I ever find myself in Maui. The one excursion we were most disappointed in was the Turtle Arches and Molokini Crater snorkel. Yes, I saw a whale and several turtles. The water was amazingly clear and the snorkeling was fun. But we only ended up at Turtle Arches and never got to Molokini. Worst of all, we were inflicted with a 15 minute lecture on the Pacific Whale Foundation on the boat ride back (they run the tour) and then they had the bus stop at their store in a local mall on the way back. There was much displeasure on our bus as you might imagine. One last word on the excursions - we found that they typically ran at least an hour longer than listed in the guide. Trying to do more than one excursion a day is not recommended unless there is least a 3 hour gap between them. ***Now for the wife's opinions: I loved the cruise. This is my 2nd cruise---I had been on one prior with Carnival. When looking through the member reviews on this site, ignore the complainers and see what those who enjoyed their experience did....If you are able to come without children, try to. It is a wonderful cruise to do with just you and your spouse! There are many fabulous excursions that are not appropriate to do with young children. Also, the restaurants are fabulous---very fancy, not the kind of place I would normally take my young children. I felt bad for the parents I saw every night eating in the Aloha cafe instead of getting their money's worth out of the cruise and eating at the fancier restaurants. Try to arrive a few days before the cruise embarks. If you are able to do the itinerary that begins in Maui, this may be the better option. I was not impressed with Waikiki. Many of the precruise hotels were in Waikiki---the North Shore was much nicer. We stayed 2 nights in Waikiki precruise. Our room on the cruise ship was actually bigger and nicer than what we had in Waikiki (Outrigger on the Beach). Pre-cruise we were able to check out Pearl Harbor, the North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center and Waikiki before we even boarded the ship. If I had my choice, I would have preferred spending this time in Maui, a much prettier island---there was so much more I would have liked to do in Maui, that 2 days was not enough! Of course, 2 days in Oahu would have been plenty! We were able to board the ship at noon, even though the pass states that you can start boarding at 1 pm. As soon as we boarded the ship, we made our restaurant and spa reservations for the entire week. We had no problems making our reservations and got the restaurants/times we requested. When eating at the restaurants we had the most attentive service and absolutely no wait. Our food was served promptly at ALL of the restaurants, and it was delicious, no matter where we ate. Of course I have my favorites. Lazy J Steakhouse was delicious---do not miss this one, unless you are a vegetarian! The extra fee at the specialty restaurants is more than worth the cost. I also enjoyed the ambiance of the Liberty Main Restaurant. We did have a very loud seat at Skyline. I suppose we were directly over the propeller. Tuesday was our formal night and Thursday we had lobster night, both of which we ate at Liberty. Wednesday was the chocolate buffet in the afternoon. I actually found the chocolate buffet overwhelming---I guess too much of a good thing~! We ended up just testing each of our desserts and looking very guilty about eating so many calories in one sitting. We booked our excursions months in advance. The excursions we chose were: Hilo (Lava Viewing Adventure Hike). I highly recommend this excursion for those who ARE PHYSICALLY FIT. Do not bring your young children or tweens on this excursion. I believe they recommended it for those 15 and older. There were a few younger children on this excursion, but they did seem to have problems completing the hike without injury. One young girl kept falling and cutting herself. Lava is like glass and you WILL BLEED A LOT if you fall. Another young child looked like he was going to pass out from heat exhaustion. I drank 7 bottles of water climbing to and from the lava. It is a physically demanding hike. We went when there was a good cloud cover, so it could have been even more demanding. This is not a hike you could do on your own. The company uses global positioning to find the sites of lava breakout, also they were great at helping those who fell. The guides carry extra water, granola bars and the much needed medical bag to help those who fell. In Maui Day 1 we went on the Molokini Crater Turtle Arches tour. I know others raved about this tour, but I was disappointed that we never got to even see the Molokini Crater, let alone snorkel in it. They took us to Turtle Town. The first reef had a good portion that was dead (I found this very depressing). The second reef, which seemed only a few feet away, was in better shape, with more colors and more life. We did see some turtles and beautiful fish. They feed you a nice deli lunch and offer cocktails, juice and soda. After the tour commences and you are expecting them to take you back to the ship, the bus stops at a mall for a forced 45 minute shopping trip! Okay, who wants to shop when you just finished snorkeling? Since most of the ship departed in the evening for the luau, we had the whole place to ourselves. We decided to forgo the luau, since we did one precruise at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu (definitely worth checking out if you have time pre or post cruise) We prebooked a romance package which included 2 massages, a manicure & pedicure, chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine on embarkation, tea in our room. We took advantage of our spa services that night. Day 2 Maui we did the Sunrise Downhill Volcano bike ride. I loved this excursion. It was cold, so dress appropriately! We wore sweatshirts, but a coat would have been welcome! After we completed this excursion, we walked to the Maui Mall to see a movie (yes, walked---there are 2 malls in walking distance from the ship, the Maui Mall and the Queen something or other mall. Both malls have a movie theater. The Maui mall is straight in front of you when you walk out of the terminal towards the street light. To get to the other mall, just make a right at the light and walk a few blocks. You will be charged $6 to take a cab this short distance. It is maybe a 10 minute walk). In Kona we did the Valley Waterfall Hiking Adventure. This was not a very strenuous hike. I felt like we walked too slow. The waterfalls were beautiful, but I do not feel that we got our money's worth out of this tour. Since this is a rainforest, it rains and rains and rains. We were soaked to the bone. We did get to see a beautiful Hawaiian rainbow, though! Kauai Day 1 we went on the Wagon Zipline Adventure. This was a fun tour, but I would probably choose a different zipline adventure, since you only got to zip one time. They took us to several spots where we could swim in secluded pools. One area had a beautiful waterfall that ended in the pool where we swam. There were rope swings at both pools for those who wanted to use them. Be certain that you are within the weight limits before choosing this tour. If you are over or under the allowed weight, you will not be allowed to zip. Wouldn't that be a waste of your money? So pay attention to the recommendations listed in the guide book. Take bug repellent along on this tour, many were eaten alive by the mosquitos. Kauai Day 2 we went on Discover Jungle Falls by Kayak. I loved this tour. We Kayaked a few miles then hiked up a hill to see a secluded waterfall/pool. You could once again go swimming in the secluded pool. This tour offered us our best lunch. You got to choose your sandwich pretour and it was prepared to your liking for lunch. Once again, bring your bug repellent! Oahu, we rented a car (Budget--$25/day). We spent the day on the North Shore eating at a shrimp truck (Macky's---yummm). We went body lifting (indoor skydiving) at Dillingers Airforce base on the North Shore ($65/person to ride in the wind tunnel). Later we spent time at the Dole Plantation, checking out the world's largest maze and the beautiful gardens. We had a late flight, so we had plenty of time to bum around the island. Some things you should consider packing before coming on this cruise: Binoculars (wonderful for viewing Kilauea when the ship passes by at night. It is a beautiful sight seeing the lava flow into the ocean) Also the binoculars come in handy when you pass the Na Pali coast during the scenic cruising off of Kauai. Pack your bug repellent for Kauai (didn't seem to have any pests on the other islands). You will need lots of dress clothes for dinner at night. Also, you may want some dressier clothes for formal pictures. The cost of the pictures are pricey, but admit it---you want some nice pictures to remember the cruise. This is a great vacation, so enjoy it and ignore the complainers in some of the other reviews! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Sailed the POA on 12/3 with my wife. This was our 4th cruise, 2nd time on NCL. (Princess to Alaska, Renaissance to Tahiti, NCL Norway to Caribbean). Read all the reviews on CruiseCritic.com so my expectations were low to cautious. Taxi ... Read More
Sailed the POA on 12/3 with my wife. This was our 4th cruise, 2nd time on NCL. (Princess to Alaska, Renaissance to Tahiti, NCL Norway to Caribbean). Read all the reviews on CruiseCritic.com so my expectations were low to cautious. Taxi ride to port from Honolulu $30 including tip. Embarkation a breeze since we arrived late, around 6:00 PM. I was able to get liquor on board without issue in our checked baggage during embarkation. I had read on this board that they check. Stayed in a room 10161, which I would NOT recommend. It is right below the Aloha Cafe kitchen, so you hear rolling of food prep carts during Cafe hours. (Starts at 6 AM and ends at 10 PM) We always get cheapest inside stateroom and our room was largest we have been in. Bathroom was huge. Very pleased. Cabin steward was avg. Took me a day to make her understand that we wanted ice each evening. Took us 2 days to get our safe opened up (last passenger did not open before they left). Overall, ship and cabin were acceptable. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants. We heard only bad things from passengers. We did eat at the Liberty and Skyline, each one time. Service was good at both. We ate at the Cadillac dinner twice. All other meals were at Aloha Cafe outside. Overall, food was avg. First night is 2 for 1 at specialty restaurants. Book specialty sites early, because they book up fast and it's hard to get reservations. (We had a reservation at East Meets West but canceled it).We did smell the sewage smell. Kind of like water treatment smell. Usually when at port. Deck 10 and in the back of the ship you will smell it. It's not horrible, but definitely there. We did see lava at night which was cool, and sailed the Napali Coast which was cool. The sailing was smooth the majority of time. Crew service was uneven. Some crew were clearly not enjoying their jobs, while some were polite and helpful. I do not believe the "all American crew" is going to last. We did see several Crew who appeared to be foreign based on language and appearance, so they may be working some in to help even out the service. Almost a 3 to 1 passenger to Crew ratio is a bit too high. We only saw three shows (Comedy and Juggling dudes, plus Newly Wed Game).. All were Very good. The lack of staff was evident because most of the cruise everyone was kind of wandering around trying to find their way and the shows. There was no accented effort by the Cruise Director and staff to get every on the ship motivated and in the shows. Pool area and hot tubs were nice. Plenty of bars and deck space to hang out on. The Hawaii destination and NCL strangle-hold on Hawaii will keep this ship full, and NCL is building the Pride of Hawaii. Overall, cruise would rate 3rd out of 4 cruises (NCL Norway being last). The cruise was good, but not one that I would recommend. We rented Thrifty at all ports except Kona. Besides Hilo, Thrifty was off site or some distance from all other major rental car companies so you couldn't just hop on any Rental Car shuttle. Rental Car shuttles are at every port and do a good job at picking you up and getting you back on board. We did not do any NCL excursion, rather we did the rental car route and did the islands at our own leisure. This is by preference since we are young 30s and like to explore on our own. Getting off of ship and back on was easy. Dock at every port except Kona, but tender process was smooth. Volcano's National Park from Hilo was very cool. Don't expect to see Lava until the sail by from the ship at night. You will see steam vents and lots of Creators. We spent the entire day in the park and enjoyed it. We drove all the way down to the ocean to check out the steam coming off the ocean. Did the Circle of Creator's drive, etc. We had been to Maui before, but would recommend Ka'anapali and Kapalua Beach on the west side. We did the Maui Ocean Center (not worth it) and the Iao Valley, pretty cool. Kona we just walked around town. Kauai was very cool. I would recommend Inter-Island Helicopters ($200 per person for 1 hour), Poipu Beach area, Salt Pond Beach area, and North Shore. Ride all the way to the end and hike a mile or two down the trail. BRING OFF or some kind of mosquito repellent and good shoes. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Cruise Dates: December 24-31, 2005 Like others I was skeptical about spending a week on the Pride of America having read some of the negative reviews. Now home I can look back on the week at sea and say I had a great time. It was my ... Read More
Cruise Dates: December 24-31, 2005 Like others I was skeptical about spending a week on the Pride of America having read some of the negative reviews. Now home I can look back on the week at sea and say I had a great time. It was my partner's first cruise and my second. My mother, who suggested the trip, and my sister are seasoned cruisers and their experience was much more negative towards NCL. I will admit when I agreed to go on this cruise I selected it because it allowed me to see more than one island in 7 days. I could unpack once. I knew the ship was NOT a five star. The deck 4 cabin very basic with cot bed, not the most comfortable, but only needed it to sleep in. Throughout the week I found enjoyment in some of the little things. Breakfast outdoors at the Aloha Cafe. Visiting Hawaii, Maui and Kauai by rented car. Quick dinning in the Aloha Cafe for dinner. Steaks in the Texas J restaurant. One flat fee for all you can drink soda. Sitting in the jacuzzi about 9:30 PM when the crowd is gone. Listening to music late night played through the pool speakers watching the pool water slosh from one side to another. The chocolate buffet is a diabetic coma waiting to happen so I had to watch myself. I appreciated the many "no sugar added" desserts. The employees on this ship are nothing different than any other business. They are contracted workers who work 5 month blocks and get 5 weeks off. Some are career oriented and been sailing for years. Others are there for one or two blocks to pay off bad debts, school loans, etc. and will move on. One long term employee reported NCL tries hard to make the daily work schedule accommodating to all staff members. Thanks to those who said hello I enjoyed talking with you. While on board my partner cracked his tooth. On day 2 in Maui we were fortunate enough to find a dentist. He extracted the tooth early afternoon and we made it back to the ship before 5 PM. We laughed when the cab took us to the dentist which was only $1 away from the terminal and just across the main highway nearest the ship. The only itinerary change came while on Kauai. On day 2 we departed at 7 AM instead of 2 PM. The reason for the early departure, not said by the crew but the rental car employee, was another ship needed our berth. As we exited the other ship was arriving. We did get to the see the lava flows into the sea at night on Hawaii. The flights were arranged through NCL via Delta. Both flights were on time both ways. A free breakfast was served on the 8:30 AM flight over, nuts and soda on the "red eye" on the way home. I would have preferred Hawaiian Air and a morning or afternoon flight home. No more "red eye" for me. Here are some suggestions to NCL Corporate " Depart at 5-PM so a daylight Bon Voyage party could be enjoyed around the pool to kick off the week long adventure. " Scrap "Freestyle Dinning" it sucks! " Make specialty restaurants first come first served. Seating is very limited and no way can you accommodate everyone during the week. " Drop the specialty restaurant service charge. Is this a mandatory tip? I think most would tip if promoted correctly. " Add set dinning times in the main dinning room. It would improve on the poor service currently offered. " Hire some decent entertainment. How about Hawaiian locals? The juggler was okay but the comedian wasn't funny. It will be another 16 months before I am ready to sail again. Probably another line. Seems the ships are all about the same inside only the decor is different. I hope NCL can work out the unstable seas and make changes before the Pride of Hawaii is launched. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We booked everything through NCL. Flight from NY to Honolulu from JFK with transfer at San Francisco. 2 Nights at the Waikiki Marriott. Very nice hotel with pre-check in for embarkation. Enjoyed the cruise and a great way to see a little ... Read More
We booked everything through NCL. Flight from NY to Honolulu from JFK with transfer at San Francisco. 2 Nights at the Waikiki Marriott. Very nice hotel with pre-check in for embarkation. Enjoyed the cruise and a great way to see a little of each of the islands. Went on Volcano National park and rainbow falls--really enjoyed this. Ka'anapali beach break. (went snorkeling here. You can rent your equipment) Waimia Canyon and Fern Grotto. Waimia canyon is beautiful. Sea Beach fun snorkel was very good also. Snorkel equipment and wet suits are included with the tour. The tour people were great and encouraged all people. They had boards with ropes to help those who don't swim that well. Wet suits are included which help keep you afloat. Deluxe Grand tour of Oahu. This was a good tour and since we had a 10:30pm flight out of Honolulu it beat sitting at the airport. The Ship: Our cabin was kept clean and we were happy with our steward "Rey". The dining was another story. For they freestyle dining...they are understaffed. We had to make reservations at the freestyle dining restaurants or be put on a waiting list (given a beeper) One night we waited 45 minutes to be seated. After being seated it took 20 minutes just to get a glass of water and another 10 minutes before our order was taken. The waiter just took our dinner order and never asked us if we wanted drinks. Needless to say...not a great dinner. Another night we went went friends. I had ordered a baked potato instead of their special mashed potatoes. The baked potato never came and I reminded them. Our friends got their second round of lobster tails before I got my baked potato. So I was very disappointed with their wait staff in free style. By the way the freestyle restaurants were always half empty.(even though people were waiting 45 minutes to be seated.) With the mandatory fee of $10 a day per person for gratuities I guess they don't have to work too hard, they get the gratuity whether they do a good job or not. The odors on the ship are still there from time to time. The fuel smell on the top deck was nauseating. Needless to say we didn't go on the top deck too often. At night no one in the pool area. From prior cruises on other cruise lines that area is usually always hopping. The excursions were great and the tour guides gave a lot of information about the islands. All in all a great way to see the islands. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We booked this cruise despite all the negative reviews we had read as we didn't want to waste 4 of our precious vacation days at sea while in Hawaii. We also didn't want to sail on the Wind as we had heard several reviews about ... Read More
We booked this cruise despite all the negative reviews we had read as we didn't want to waste 4 of our precious vacation days at sea while in Hawaii. We also didn't want to sail on the Wind as we had heard several reviews about her showing her age, etc and decided that a new ship would suit us better. We had a fabulous time and I am still wondering about all the negative reviews we read. I can only assume that your personal expectations and attitude will have a large impact on your vacation. The ship itself was stunning, very well laid out and very clean in all the common areas. We were very impressed with the planning and decor that went into it. We booked 2 shore excursions through the ship and did the rest of the islands/activities on our own. The Mountain Jungle zipline safari tour on Kuaui is not to be missed. Well worth the money. We booked Captain Zodiak snorkeling trip, but unfortunately my husband was sick and we had to cancel. We were able to find someone who desperately wanted the tickets but found out later at the doctor's office that they would have validated them for us for a refund. We missed the lava viewing after Hilo due to stormy weather, though they didn't tell us until about 5 minutes before we were scheduled to see it. We would have appreciated advance notice as we rushed through our dinner at East Meets West and could have enjoyed it a little more had we known. The doctor's office (which we were unfortunate enough to experience) was great. The staff was very friendly, helpful and empathetic. They gave us a whole armful of supplies and my husband a shot (he caught a bug - not sea sickness) and although there was supposed to be a charge of $50 it never appeared. We wonder if perhaps they waive the charge if they feel the visit is justified, or perhaps it was just an error. The main dining rooms we only ate in 2-3 times. I had a difficult time finding anything to eat as the selection was limited to about 4-5 dishes for dinner and I am allergic to cheese and seafood which usually covered 3-4 of the dishes. I ended up having the "always available" chicken and salad and veggies every time I was in the main dining room so I'm glad we made reservations at most of the specialty restaurants. Of the specialty restaurants we enjoyed Little Italy and the Bistro the most. East Meets West and Lazy J's were ok but a little disappointing. If my medium steak had not arrived rare/blue rare in the center I might have had a better opinion. However you could get steak in any of the other specialty restaurants (fabulous in the Bistro) for a smaller surcharge so I don't see the need to visit it. We ate in the Aloha cafe every morning as it was most convenient, and the waffles were fabulous! Their dinners were average buffet fare, but the deserts table and fresh fruit/salad bars were always excellent and provided many a snack for us. Don't be afraid to fill up a plate/bowl and take it back down to the room with you! We only went to one show - the juggling show with Barry John and it was very good, although my husband was chosen to go on stage so that made it a little more memorable. Of course it was likely the only time on the ship we didn't bring our camera. We caught their "fountains" show on the TV later in the week - I believe it was part of their talent show and it was hilarious. The staff were very friendly, always smiling and we're always eager to help with any request and we did have some challenges for them when my husband was sick and was given a list of foods by the doctor he should stick to. They were always able to come through for us. I can't really comment on the size of the rooms as we received a physically handicapped room even though neither of us required one. It was naturally very spacious and the shower was huge so it suited us fine. My only complaint is the quality of the cleaning staff. The first day we actually wondered if the room had been cleaned since the mirrors had not been cleaned, there was no toilet paper in the bathroom and only glass with no cover. We were assured it had been and were finally brought glasses and toilet paper, etc. However throughout the cruise the mirrors were never cleaned, nothing was ever dusted, the glasses weren't replaced nor was the toilet paper. Extra pillows, robes, etc were never a problem though, so it seemed like the basics were suffering. Overall it was a great cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. Go on your vacation with an open mind, a great attitude and be willing to roll with whatever happens and you'll have a great time. 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

Find a Pride of America Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise