Sail Date: December 2005
I have never before been on a cruise and I was very excited to visit the different Hawaiian Islands. I had heard from friends who loved the food, service and wonderful mixture of relaxation and fun-packed activities from their various ... Read More
I have never before been on a cruise and I was very excited to visit the different Hawaiian Islands. I had heard from friends who loved the food, service and wonderful mixture of relaxation and fun-packed activities from their various cruises. I purchased my cruise online based entirely on the itinerary. In the months leading up to the cruise I read very mixed reviews of the NCL Pride of America. It seems that the reviews fell into two distinct categories: Those who had been on cruises before and felt the service and food fell far short of other lines and those who didn't seem to mind the food and service they experienced. They definitely saw the glass as half full. I was determined to be one of those folks. After all, I had already paid and there was no turning back. Why not just enjoy all there was to enjoy and forget the rest? This proved to be harder than I thought. 12:40pm Embarkation: The pier in Honolulu where you embark has almost no parking near the ship. If you are dropping off the rest of your party with the luggage and want check in with them, this will be a problem. There were no signs listing where to bring your luggage. There were just piles of luggage all over the place. After carrying our luggage way out of the way, we noticed, we were the only people in line waiting with luggage. Finally, we asked someone who had checked our Ids where to go. They directed us to an unmarked table somewhere "out there." We had walked right by it. The person working the table quickly tagged our luggage and we were on our way. Unfortunately, they tagged it with the correct cabin number but used the wrong tag, which stated that our cabin was in the forward section of the ship. We were in the rear (or Aft Section). This would result in the luggage not getting to the room until 8pm. Next we went to a cashier of sorts who checked our IDs, swiped our credit card and issued our ship IDs. Some of us were given leis and we were herded before a photographer who snapped our photo. Next, up the escalator and we entered the 5th floor where the main lobby and ship's staff greeted us and informed us that our cabin (and indeed the entire 10th floor) was not yet ready for guests. They suggested we visit the Aloha cafe for a bite and wait. We did and this is where things began to deteriorate. Food -- This cafeteria-style "cafe" features food best described as "Casino buffet meets Hospital Cafeteria." It is as though they took the bland food of a hospital kitchen and combined it with the presentation and the occasional fryerlaytor of a second rate casino buffet. This tasteless mess is then made to sit under hot lights until it expires. And then you are meant to eat it. Having read the online reviews and cruise website, I knew that it would be important to get reservations at the "specialty restaurants". I left my family and began the frantic rush to literally run from restaurant to restaurant to secure dinner reservations so that we would never again have to visit the Aloha Cafe. I thought part of the allure of taking a cruise was that you would not HAVE to rush around. As the cruise progressed, we tried almost every restaurant. I am sorry to report that although none were as dreadful as the Aloha Cafe, they never rose very high above it either. East Meets West is the Asian-inspired eatery just off the main lobby. I live in New York, so I am used to good Chinese food and a bit weary of a place that features, Chinese, Japanese and Indian. To dine here, you will pay $10 per person and you will automatically get edamame, (1/2 cup to share for 3 people) and dim sum dumplings (3 dumplings and 1 small pork bun) for 3 people to share. Even though there is a limited menu, they will still be out of at least 2 items, even if you are there when it opens at 5:30pm. When your main course arrives, it will be approximately one cup of food and one cup of steamed or fried rice. You may also choose a soup or salad and dessert. My family found the food here the best with the chicken salad particularly good. There are constant flashes of light bursting into the East Meets West dining room because the eateries interior windows face the ship's lobby where a photographer's studio is set up. It will surely test the medications of any epileptic in your party as well as your own patience. Lazy J's Steakhouse charges a $15 per person charge and features steaks that taste better when served on airplanes. The dining room is nice and the service was prompt and efficient. Little Italy has no per person charge but does require reservations. We enjoyed our 5 rings of calamari and cup of pasta. Pass on the mozzarella on tomato slices and basil. It was a tasteless affair with colorless tomato and a quarter teaspoon of basil chiffonade. The chocoholic buffet was widely touted by the servers as a wonderful experience. Wonderful is a strong word. Crowds are corralled into the waiters' stations, which have been configured to force you into a long line. Once in this line, you must walk all the way though with escape only at the end. You will be met at the end of the line by a server who politely suggests that you take your plate back to your room. Servers do not want to have to clean and reset tables that are set for dinner. The buffet features many repeating items except chocolate -dipped fruit. Servers will ask you which piece of fruit you would like dipped in white or milk chocolate. Lobster night was even more hyped by the staff. It is served in the Liberty and Skyline restaurants (different levels of basically the same restaurant). You may think "Lobster Night" would feature an all you can eat lobsterfest or even a menu with a few different lobster dishes. You would be wrong. On Thursday night, the menu featured one lobster dish - small warm-water lobster tails. The meal that warranted this hype is 1/2 cup of saffron risotto, 2 spears of asparagus and 1 1/2 half lobster tails (approximately 4 ounces of lobster). My family found the lobster bland and tasteless "a butter delivery system" as they are used to Maine Lobsters. I enjoyed it. Chocolate decadence is a strange dessert that resembles a hostess Ring Ding but it is filled with so many hazelnuts, it has an odd mouth feel, part cake, and part brittle. I can't tell if it was a good idea executed badly or just a bad idea. Drinks -- I do not drink so I purchased the "soda program." It cost $35 plus tip for the week and you will get a sticker on your ship ID. In theory, you just have to flash your ID whenever you want a soda and there is no charge. In the Aloha Cafe, a lonely person stands with an improvised beverage cart of sorts. If you ask that person for a can of soda, they will tell you that you can't have a whole can. You will have to come back for another cup of soda when you want it. The reasons given for this ranged from: "Well, you are supposed to only have fountain soda." To "I'll get in trouble if I give you the whole can." I also do not drink coffee but one of the most disgusting things I saw on the ship were scores of dirty cups presented as clean. Early on, diners at the Aloha cafe knew to look into the coffee cups. Some featured lipstick, coffee rings or general food stains. I would say that 100% of the time, I had to pick up at least 3 cups before I found one to be clean. When I explained that there were tons of dirty cups mixed in with the clean ones, I was met with a staff member displaying what can only be described at the John F. Kennedy autopsy stare. Cabin -- We had 3 people sharing a balcony cabin which we found to be in good condition and pretty new and nice. The pullout sofa was very comfortable. There is a room safe that is easy to use and a fridge and coffee maker in the room. Within the first 5 minutes in our cabin we killed a roach, but never saw another one. Housekeeping was a bit of a challenge. Despite the fact that we had 3 people in the room, the room attendant would only leave 2 towels. The first day, I just called down and someone came up with some. They apologized and mentioned they would leave a note for the housekeeper so she would leave more towels. That day, I left a tip on the bed along with my laundry. When I returned, the tip was on the dresser and there were still only two towels. Day in and out, I would call down and ask for another towel. When I would see the attendant in the hall, I would explain there are 3 people in the room. She would apologize and then the next day it would happen again. You wouldn't think that something like this would be a big deal, but you'd be surprised how something so simple could become so irritating. One day it took 2 hours to get another towel. On the last day of the seven-day cruise, she again left two towels. Laundry -- You will not be allowed to bring an iron on the ship. The ship does offer laundry and dry-cleaning services. I found this to be very bad. I had to go to the front desk to get a laundry bag and ticket as none was left in my room. I left my laundry on my bed at 8am as directed for express service to be back by 6pm that same night. When it was not back at 8pm, I called housekeeping and they explained it was not done and "hopefully", it would be done by noon the next day. The following day at 6pm, it was still not back. I called and 2 hours later a gentleman came to my room with my laundry unironed but on hangers and apologized. As I placed it in the closet, I noticed it contained items that did not belong to me and were even labeled with a different cabin number on it. During my stay I overheard other guest complaining about lost laundry at the front desk. Television -- My room had access to 15 television channels. Three have broadcast programs, the rest are commercials and reruns of old movies. They are: #21 Ship info, explaining what is on each deck, #22: ship travel info: seas, sunrise and sunset, next port, report from bridge, time, date, etc. # 23 commercials for shore excursions, 24: commercials for cruises, port shops, etc. # 25 a live bow cam showing the bow of the ship, # 26: ESPN, #27: CNN International, # 28: Cable Network TNT, # 29 Favorite Show: reruns of series, #30: Reruns of movies (like Sound of Music, Batman Begins) #32: Activity channel, which rebroadcasts whatever the cruise director staff did last night in the "Hollywood Theatre" on the ship, #33: Safety channel, safety information about the ship, #34: reruns of old movies, #35: Commercials for ship's restaurants. My Cabin had wired access to high-speed Internet service using a satellite. It was expensive but worth it. $.75 a minute or packages of 100 minutes for $55 or 250 minutes for $100. The ship also has an Internet lounge that offered the same services you can get in your room and is staffed by a friendly, knowledgeable person. There is an extra charge for printing and an even bigger charge to send an email using an email account they set up for you. This $3.95 charge is per email sent. Sales -- I was the least prepared for all the sales activity that I would be subject to while I was on the ship. It is one thing to get a call from a telemarketer. It is another thing to trapped on a ship with a team of them. Every time you exit the ship, you will be herded into a picture. At the ship's restaurants, you will be accosted by a photographer who asks you to stop eating and gather close together so he can photograph you. In Kauai, my Mom was jostled and pushed down the gangway by someone dressed as Uncle Sam who was frantically trying to beat the crowd off the ship so he could assume his position for the photographer. I had to politely tell a person dressed as an American Eagle that I was not interested which I did by saying: "Sorry, I'm in a relationship." Once your photograph has been taken, it is placed in display cases for your purchase. Ironically, the really bad photos do not get purchased so as the cruise progresses the photo gallery gets filled with more and more hideous photos. It is good for a laugh when you get sick of the 3 TV stations in your room (unless you happened to be in one of the photos I suppose). There are many shore excursions to choose from and I have to admit I did not do any. I found it just as easy to rent a car and drive wherever we wanted. We could go at our own pace and stay longer or shorter as our interests dictated. We always rented from Avis but I would advise anyone except Avis as sometimes they had a shuttle, sometimes they didn't. I noticed Hertz, Thrifty, and Budget all had much better shuttle service to and from the pier. The Road to Hanna was thrilling; Volcano National Park and Wimea Canyon are must-sees. All of these are nearly free and require only a rental car and a map. If going on the Road to Hana bring food and best to drive a small car. The Blue Hawaiian Helicopter ride in Maui was terrific. We rented a car everywhere except Kona where you will not need one. Entertainment -- I enjoyed playing cards with my family in Shuffles Card room and I enjoyed the "Not So Newlywed Game" which features onboard patrons answering embarrassing questions for token prices. The professional entertainment very mixed. We found the juggler and Chris Alpine (the comedian) to be polished and funny. The America-themed review was the most dreadful thing I have seen in a very long time. Take 4 talented singers and 9 reasonably talented dancers and have them sing a mixture of "America-themed" songs. Despite modern stage facilities, picture recorded music, lip-syncing dancers, lights that don't appear to be focused on anything in particular. Most times the person singing is in the dark. One particularly odd number had a background saying "TIMES SQUARE" and company members in church robes singing about love while a haze machine pumped so much smoke, one wondered if the ship was on fire. What any of those things has to do with one another is anyone's guess. In fact, much of the review is like that. It is so badly conceived and directed, it makes one long to be at a high-school band concert. The next night, there was a review featuring native dancers from Kauai. This show made the America-themed review look like Broadway. There was nothing redeeming whatsoever. If STOMP can make banging on trash cans entertaining, surely someone can make the rhythmic moves and chats of Hawaii more fun than this! As I said early in my review of the cruise, my glass is half-full. Whether searching for a clean cup, begging for a towel, enjoying my cup of spaghetti, or running away from the ship photographers, I was determined to keep my sense of humor and enjoy myself. Spa -- My mother and sister enjoyed the La Therapie Hydralift facials at the spa. Each cost $117 plus a $17.55 tip, which was automatically added to the service. They also bought product and came back from the spa like giddy school girls. Evaluation -- You will be given the opportunity to evaluate the cruise. On Wednesday night, you will get an evaluation form. The cruise director asked that we mark everything "excellent." He asked that guests not let any "one thing" effect their overall evaluation of the cruise. This seems to epitomize the overall service on the cruise. Guests should consider "good enough" to be "excellent." And maybe it is in the cruise line business. I have never been on a cruise before. It's disappointing when essentially a floating hotel can't get the simple things right: Towels, food, and laundry. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
I have never before been on a cruise and I was very excited to visit the different Hawaiian Islands. I had heard from friends who loved the food, service and wonderful mixture of relaxation and fun-packed activities from their various ... Read More
I have never before been on a cruise and I was very excited to visit the different Hawaiian Islands. I had heard from friends who loved the food, service and wonderful mixture of relaxation and fun-packed activities from their various cruises. I purchased my cruise online based entirely on the itinerary. In the months leading up to the cruise I read very mixed reviews of the NCL Pride of America. It seems that the reviews fell into two distinct categories: Those who had been on cruises before and felt the service and food fell far short of other lines and those who didnt seem to mind the food and service they experienced. They definitely saw the glass as half full. I was determined to be one of those folks. After all, I had already paid and there was no turning back. Why not just enjoy all there was to enjoy and forget the rest? This proved to be harder than I thought. 12:40pm Embarkation: The pier in Honolulu where you embark has almost no parking near the ship. If you are dropping off the rest of your party with the luggage and want check in with them, this will be a problem. There were no signs listing where to bring your luggage. There were just piles of luggage all over the place. After carrying our luggage way out of the way, we noticed, we were the only people in line waiting with luggage. Finally, we asked someone who had checked our Ids where to go. They directed us to an unmarked table somewhere out there. We had walked right by it. The person working the table quickly tagged our luggage and we were on our way. Unfortunately, they tagged it with the correct cabin number but used the wrong tag, which stated that our cabin was in the forward section of the ship. We were in the rear (or Aft Section). This would result in the luggage not getting to the room until 8pm. Next we went to a cashier of sorts who checked our IDs, swiped our credit card and issued our ship IDs. Some of us were given leis and we were herded before a photographer who snapped our photo. Next, up the escalator and we entered the 5th floor where the main lobby and ships staff greeted us and informed us that our cabin (and indeed the entire 10th floor) was not yet ready for guests. They suggested we visit the Aloha cafe for a bite and wait. We did and this is where things began to deteriorate. Food This cafeteria-style cafe features food best described as Casino buffet meets Hospital Cafeteria. It is as though they took the bland food of a hospital kitchen and combined it with the presentation and the occasional fryerlaytor of a second rate casino buffet. This tasteless mess is then made to sit under hot lights until it expires. And then you are meant to eat it. Having read the online reviews and cruise website, I knew that it would be important to get reservations at the specialty restaurants. I left my family and began the frantic rush to literally run from restaurant to restaurant to secure dinner reservations so that we would never again have to visit the Aloha Cafe. I thought part of the allure of taking a cruise was that you would not HAVE to rush around. As the cruise progressed, we tried almost every restaurant. I am sorry to report that although none were as dreadful as the Aloha Cafe, they never rose very high above it either. East Meets West is the Asian-inspired eatery just off the main lobby. I live in New York, so I am used to good Chinese food and a bit weary of a place that features, Chinese, Japanese and Indian. To dine here, you will pay $10 per person and you will automatically get edamame, (1/2 cup to share for 3 people) and dim sum dumplings (3 dumplings and 1 small pork bun) for 3 people to share. Even though there is a limited menu, they will still be out of at least 2 items, even if you are there when it opens at 5:30pm. When your main course arrives, it will be approximately one cup of food and one cup of steamed or fried rice. You may also choose a soup or salad and dessert. My family found the food here the best with the chicken salad particularly good. There are constant flashes of light bursting into the East Meets West dining room because the eatiers interior windows face the ships lobby where a photographers studio is set up. It will surely test the medications of any epileptic in your party as well as your own patience. Lazy Js Steakhouse charges a $15 per person charge and features steaks that taste better when served on airplanes. The dining room is nice and the service was prompt and efficient. Little Italy has no per person charge but does require reservations. We enjoyed our 5 rings of calamari and cup of pasta. Pass on the mozzarella on tomato slices and basil. It was a tasteless affair with colorless tomato and a quarter teaspoon of basil chiffonade. The chocoholic buffet was widely touted by the servers as a wonderful experience. Wonderful is a strong word. Crowds are corralled into the waiters stations, which have been configured to force you into a long line. Once in this line, you must walk all the way though with escape only at the end. You will be met at the end of the line by a server who politely suggests that you take your plate back to your room. Servers do not want to have to clean and reset tables that are set for dinner. The buffet features many repeating items except chocolate -dipped fruit. Servers will ask you which piece of fruit you would like dipped in white or milk chocolate. Lobster night was even more hyped by the staff. It is served in the Liberty and Skyline restaurants (different levels of basically the same restaurant). You may think Lobster Night would feature an all you can eat lobsterfest or even a menu with a few different lobster dishes. You would be wrong. On Thursday night, the menu featured one lobster dish - small warm-water lobster tails. The meal that warranted this hype is 1/2 cup of saffron risotto, 2 spears of asparagus and 1 1/2 half lobster tails (approximately 4 ounces of lobster). My family found the lobster bland and tasteless a butter delivery system as they are used to Maine Lobsters. I enjoyed it. Chocolate decadence is a strange dessert that resembles a hostess Ring Ding but it is filled with so many hazelnuts, it has an odd mouth feel, part cake, and part brittle. I cant tell if it was a good idea executed badly or just a bad idea. Drinks: I do not drink so I purchased the soda program. It cost $35 plus tip for the week and you will get a sticker on your ship ID. In theory, you just have to flash your ID whenever you want a soda and there is no charge. In the Aloha Cafe, a lonely person stands with an improvised beverage cart of sorts. If you ask that person for a can of soda, they will tell you that you cant have a whole can. You will have to come back for another cup of soda when you want it. The reasons given for this ranged from: Well, you are supposed to only have fountain soda. To Ill get in trouble if I give you the whole can. I also do not drink coffee but one of the most disgusting things I saw on the ship were scores of dirty cups presented as clean. Early on, diners at the Aloha cafe knew to look into the coffee cups. Some featured lipstick, coffee rings or general food stains. I would say that 100% of the time, I had to pick up at least 3 cups before I found one to be clean. When I explained that there were tons of dirty cups mixed in with the clean ones, I was met with a staff member displaying what can only be described at the John F. Kennedy autopsy stare. Cabin: We had 3 people sharing a balcony cabin which we found to be in good condition and pretty new and nice. The pullout sofa was very comfortable. There is a room safe that is easy to use and a fridge and coffeemaker in the room. Within the first 5 minutes in our cabin we killed a roach, but never saw another one. Housekeeping was a bit of a challenge. Despite the fact that we had 3 people in the room, the room attendant would only leave 2 towels. The first day, I just called down and someone came up with some. They apologized and mentioned they would leave a note for the housekeeper so she would leave more towels. That day, I left a tip on the bed along with my laundry. When I returned, the tip was on the dresser and there were still only two towels. Day in and out, I would call down and ask for another towel. When I would see the attendant in the hall, I would explain there are 3 people in the room. She would apologize and then the next day it would happen again. You wouldnt think that something like this would be a big deal, but youd be surprised how something so simple could become so irritating. One day it took 2 hours to get another towel. On the last day of the seven-day cruise, she again left two towels. Laundry: You will not be allowed to bring an iron on the ship. The ship does offer laundry and dry-cleaning services. I found this to be very bad. I had to go to the front desk to get a laundry bag and ticket as none was left in my room. I left my laundry on my bed at 8am as directed for express service to be back by 6pm that same night. When it was not back at 8pm, I called housekeeping and they explained it was not done and hopefully, it would be done by noon the next day. The following day at 6pm, it was still not back. I called and 2 hours later a gentleman came to my room with my laundry unironed but on hangers and apologized. As I placed it in the closet, I noticed it contained items that did not belong to me and were even labeled with a different cabin number on it. During my stay I overheard other guest complaining about lost laundry at the front desk. Television: My room had access to 15 television channels. Three have broadcast programs, the rest are commercials and reruns of old movies. They are: #21 Ship info, explaining what is on each deck, #22: ship travel info: seas, sunrise and sunset, next port, report from bridge, time, date, etc. # 23 commercials for shore excursions, 24: commercials for cruises, port shops, etc. # 25 a live bow cam showing the bow of the ship, # 26: ESPN, #27: CNN International, # 28: Cable Network TNT, # 29 Favorite Show: reruns of series, #30: Reruns of movies (like Sound of Music, Batman Begins) #32: Activity channel, which rebroadcasts whatever the cruise director staff did last night in the Hollywood Theatre on the ship, #33: Safety channel, safety information about the ship, #34: reruns of old movies, #35: Commercials for ships restaurants. My Cabin had wired access to high-speed Internet service using a satellite. It was expensive but worth it. $.75 a minute or packages of 100 minutes for $55 or 250 minutes for $100. The ship also has an Internet lounge that offered the same services you can get in your room and is staffed by a friendly, knowledgeable person. There is an extra charge for printing and an even bigger charge to send an email using an email account they set up for you. This $3.95 charge is per email sent. Sales: I was the least prepared for all the sales activity that I would be subject to while I was on the ship. It is one thing to get a call from a telemarketer. It is another thing to trapped on a ship with a team of them. Every time you exit the ship, you will be herded into a picture. At the ships restaurants, you will be accosted by a photographer who asks you to stop eating and gather close together so he can photograph you. In Kauai, my Mom was jostled and pushed down the gangway by someone dressed as Uncle Sam who was frantically trying to beat the crowd off the ship so he could assume his position for the photographer. I had to politely tell a person dressed as an American Eagle that I was not interested which I did by saying: Sorry, Im in a relationship. Once your photograph has been taken, it is placed in display cases for your purchase. Ironically, the really bad photos do not get purchased so as the cruise progresses the photo gallery gets filled with more and more hideous photos. It is good for a laugh when you get sick of the 3 TV stations in your room (unless you happened to be in one of the photos I suppose). There are many shore excursions to choose from and I have to admit I did not do any. I found it just as easy to rent a car and drive wherever we wanted. We could go at our own pace and stay longer or shorter as our interests dictated. We always rented from Avis but I would advise anyone except Avis as sometimes they had a shuttle, sometimes they didnt. I noticed Hertz, Thrifty, and Budget all had much better shuttle service to and from the pier. The Road to Hanna was thrilling; Volcano National Park and Wimea Canyon are must-sees. All of these are nearly free and require only a rental car and a map. If going on the Road to Hana bring food and best to drive a small car. The Blue Hawaiian Helicopter ride in Maui was terrific. We rented a car everywhere except Kona where you will not need one. Entertainment: I enjoyed playing cards with my family in Shuffles Card room and I enjoyed the Not So Newlywed Game which features onboard patrons answering embarrassing questions for token prices. The professional entertainment very mixed. We found the juggler and Chris Alpine (the comedian) to be polished and funny. The America-themed review was the most dreadful thing I have seen in a very long time. Take 4 talented singers and 9 reasonably talented dancers and have them sing a mixture of America-themed songs. Despite modern stage facilities, picture recorded music, lip-syncing dancers, lights that dont appear to be focused on anything in particular. Most times the person singing is in the dark. One particularly odd number had a background saying TIMES SQUARE and company members in church robes singing about love while a haze machine pumped so much smoke, one wondered if the ship was on fire. What any of those things has to do with one another is anyones guess. In fact, much of the review is like that. It is so badly conceived and directed, it makes one long to be at a high-school band concert. The next night, there was a review featuring native dancers from Kauai. This show made the America-themed review look like Broadway. There was nothing redeeming whatsoever. If STOMP can make banging on trashcans entertaining, surely someone can make the rhythmic moves and chats of Hawaii more fun than this! As I said early in my review of the cruise, my glass is half-full. Whether searching for a clean cup, begging for a towel, enjoying my cup of spaghetti, or running away from the ship photographers, I was determined to keep my sense of humor and enjoy myself. Spa: My mother and sister enjoyed the La Therapie Hydralift facials at the spa. Each cost $117 plus a $17.55 tip, which was automatically added to the service. They also bought product and came back from the spa like giddy school girls. Evaluation: You will be given the opportunity to evaluate the cruise. On Wednesday night, you will get an evaluation form. The cruise director asked that we mark everything excellent. He asked that guests not let any one thing effect their overall evaluation of the cruise. This seems to epitomize the overall service on the cruise. Guests should consider good enough to be excellent. And maybe it is in the cruise line business. I have never been on a cruise before. Its disappointing when essentially a floating hotel cant get the simple things right: Towels, food, and laundry. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We have been on at least six other cruises, including two on NCL and this is the worst by far! The food was far below Hometown Buffet,and the dining room service for the first four days would compare to a three stooges movie. However ... Read More
We have been on at least six other cruises, including two on NCL and this is the worst by far! The food was far below Hometown Buffet,and the dining room service for the first four days would compare to a three stooges movie. However starting Wednesday morning the food service became much better, I think they put on a new crew, and then sat. morning at the last breakfast they had the dumb crew back in service. The entertainment was the worst we have ever encountered on any cruise, they did have a juggler on two or three times that was very good Also on the food service, the freestyle cruising and open dining is a joke. One evening we were told we would have to wait thirty minutes for a table and we waited one hour and fifteen minutes and went to the garbage buffet because my wife is diabetic and had to eat. We were told we should make reservations, so the next day my son went to the dining room and they would not take a reservation and we were told to call reservations in so the next day he called, this was Wednesday, he was told they were all booked up and not taking reservations. One night we tried the special steak house where you pay extra for going there plus extra for certain items, I ordered a 24 oz steak that was about as good as a piece of soft pine lumber but not as flavorable. There were 8 in our family group, four of our group were sick, one of my sons was so sick with apparent food poisoning the nurse came to his cabin to give him a shot and later had to taken by wheelchair to see the doctor. They at first said he was seasick and then the flu and gave him a bill, but later sent a note and cancelled the bill, so you figure it out.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We have just returned to the UK from our first NCL Cruise and wished to provide you with some opinions about the ship and service. We made a decision earlier in the year to go on a cruise somewhere other than Caribbean and we picked the ... Read More
We have just returned to the UK from our first NCL Cruise and wished to provide you with some opinions about the ship and service. We made a decision earlier in the year to go on a cruise somewhere other than Caribbean and we picked the POA as we have always wanted to visit Hawaii and it was a new cruise ship with all ports of call within the Hawaiian Islands. We picked a 7 day cruise with a further 5 nights in Waikiki. For anyone not aware of the regulations in Hawaii. Only cruise ships registered in Hawaii are able to call at all the island without a visit to Fanning Island or Mexico which adds a further 4-5 days at sea. Destinations that most people are not too keen on. In addition those ships registered in Hawaii have to employ an all american crew. I will discuss this in more detail later. The journey to Hawaii is quite daunting and we never really appreciated how far it is! We flew American Airlines from Manchester to Chicago, Chicago to LA and LA to Honolulu. Total time travelling from Manchester Airport to Hotel in Honolulu was 27 hours! It was extremely tiring with the time difference. there is no food included on any AA flights within America. Even on our return flight Honolulu to Chicago 8.5 hours, no food! Embarkation We arrived very early morning and NCL arranged pre cruise stay at the Sheraton Princess Kaliani waikiki. The transfer to the pier was smooth and we waited about 45 minutes before boarding the ship. This was a relatively smooth process considering that the ship was full. We boarded at about 2.30pm. Our room was ready for immediate occupancy. The Ship Our first impression was that of a large modern clean ship. the Pride of America was the first newly built ocean going cruise ship to fly the U.S. flag in over 50 years, and it was designed with its destination in mind. There is a definitive American theme running through the whole of the ship which we thought might be over powering but it was actually quite pleasant. the common areas were always kept clean. The swimming pool area did not seem to be large enough for the size of the ship but I guess they expect that people will be off doing port activities. That said on the last day we departed Kauai early at 6am instead of 2pm and everyone seemed to get sunbeds. Rooms We were in room 11026 forward. We paid for a BA outside cabin with balcony. These cabins are supposed to be the highest category room other than the suites. The room was very small with two single beds. To give you an idea of how small the room was, NCL have designed the beds and mattresses with a rounded angled end on the bed, without which you would be unable to walk around the bed! We did enjoy the use of an empty fridge to keep your own drinks cool. An interactive TV and very small sofa. A very small bathroom, barely enough space to properly shower but nicely appointed and a powerful shower. The Balcony was a reasonable size with two reclining and comfortable chairs. The cleaner Leon, was always friendly and made the bed up at night and left a chocolate. We had clean towels twice daily which was good. On a positive note, these were the most comfortable beds you could ask for. The room was very quiet, you could not hear engines or creaking noises etc as experienced on other ships. We did find that this ship rolled a lot. The waves were never over 1.5-2.5 metre swell yet this boat rocked. We always take Avomine yet still had a "sick feeling" something never experienced crossing the atlantic on a gale force 8! Restaurants NCL is supposed to offer a "Freestyle dine when you want" policy but things went wrong. The POA has four restaurants which are free and I think five where there is a charge. We never eat at the premium restaurants. On arrival at the ship there was a long queue for booking the premium restaurants. We were prepared to pay the 15-20 dollar per person service charge but were unable to book them! We queued for 45 minutes to be told that the lifeboat drill needed to be undertaken but that all the restaurants would be open for bookings after the drill. We waited for 20 minutes at the Jefferson Bistro to be told that they could not take bookings and needed to go back to the main desk. Loads of people were caught out like this. When we returned to the booking desk the queue was as long as before. We were getting agitated by now and decided to go back the following morning to book. When we returned the following day there was a notice saying all the speciality restaurants were fully booked for the week! The free restaurants were the Aloha Cafe (Buffet restaurant) Liberty and Skyline were the main dining dining rooms and offered a five course meal, Cadillac Diner and Little Italy. The Liberty and Skyline were supposed to be "Freestyle", turn up and dine but on the first night we waited two hours to get a seat in the Skyline. The following day NCL abolished "Freestyle" and made people book Liberty and Skyline restaurant. NCL never formally told customers this. Anyone without bookings were given a pager. Day two we waited 1.45 hours to be seated. When the food did arrived we found it to be "above average" with plenty of options. The steaks were always very tender and cooked to perfection. It seemed to me that there was a two tier service on this ship and I was very unhappy. We had seen many screaming, shouting crying Americans and it appeared that the louder you shout the more you get. We nicknamed the service "Free for All" rather than Freestyle. There were extremely large groups, 20-30 family members of Americans which in itself could be quite intimidating. The Maitre D' accepted the problems but could not do anything. NCL did not understand why we were so aggravated, ie no Freestyle program but that is why we chose NCL. Ports of Call Hilo We were very tired from our journey and decided not to leave the ship today. We made friends with a couple of other couples and they told us that there were plenty of people offering excursions on the shore side. The port of Hilo is about two miles from the town. Evening sail by Mount Kilauea This was one of the highlights of the cruise. It is hard to explain the smell, and red/orange colour from this very active volcano. The Lava entering the pacific ocean. We have taken some good pictures of this. Kahului (Maui)(stay in port overnight) This was a great port of call. We took a great tour from the port. For $55 each six of us were given an informative four hour tour to the sights of Kahului including the Maui tropical plantation, Iao valley and the beaches. This tour was taken in a large white Limo . The price included soft drinks and Vodka and rum for those who wanted something stronger. I highly recommend this tour you can contact Sean, Chauffeur free on 1-877 817 5466 or email sean@hawiiansuntravel.com You stay overnight in Maui and the following day we travelled to the other side of the island (Maui town) 45 minutes in a taxi $50 each way. Well worth it, quality shops, restaurants and Art galleries to die for from leading artists. We were here all day but still didn't see everything. If we return to Hawaii this will be the island to which we return. You could easily spend two weeks here. The coral reefs are also spectacular. Kona (Tender) We only visited the port. very pleasant, plenty of arts and crafts shops etc. Easy to obtain excursions from the port side. Nawiliwli (Kauai) Another favourite, plenty of local beaches and free transfers. This island is renowned for the Napoli coastline and used for the filming of South pacific and Jurassic Park. Plenty of waterfalls and dramatic mountains. We arranged our own helicopter tour of the island using Will Sayers Helicopter tours (tel free 888 245 4354) cost $200 each and flight lasted 1 hour 10 minutes. The commentary provided by the pilot was excellent and this was another highlight of the holiday. Honolulu (Wikiki Beach) We stayed five nights at the Sheraton Princess Kaliani which was one block back, about 200 years from the beach. Centrally located for the shopping district and beaches. Personally if we returned we would stay at the Marriott Wikiki with sea view. Lots to do on this Island. Best restaurant - "Top of the World" We thought this would be overpriced and over rated but the food quality and presentation was excellent and not over priced. Great city views. Overall this was a dream holiday. The destination and ports of call out of this world. NCL did not meet our expectations and we will never travel NCL again. NCL have a compulsory $10 service charge per person per day and we believe it means that the staff do not have to go the extra mile to give you excellent service. NCL have had trouble holding quality staff and there is a lot to be said for the hard working Filipinos etc who always seem to work hard on other cruise ships and they really appreciate tips. There were other minor problems not discussed on this site. We recommend Hawaii to anyone, Consider NOT travelling at Christmas and choose your cruise line wisely! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We are a family of 2 adults, 1 fourteen-year old daughter and 1 nine-year old son that sailed on the Pride of America. We have sailed as a family on over 14 cruises, primarily with Princess (Grand, Golden, Diamond), but also one time each ... Read More
We are a family of 2 adults, 1 fourteen-year old daughter and 1 nine-year old son that sailed on the Pride of America. We have sailed as a family on over 14 cruises, primarily with Princess (Grand, Golden, Diamond), but also one time each on Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. This was our first NCL cruise because we are avid fans of Princess. But we selected NCL because (a) it sailed Hawaii and (b) the PofAm was a new ship. Embarkation  On Saturday from Honolulu airport, we caught a taxi directly to Aloha Tower (20 min) and embarked onto the ship at 2:30 PM without any problems. There were plenty of porters to take our bags and we went through security in the ships terminal. You receive the obligatory flower or shell lei, pose for a photo op, and walk onboard the ship. Since the ship was not scheduled to leave until 8:00 PM, there would have been time to shop the adjoining Aloha Tower Marketplace, explore Chinatown a few blocks north, or visit Iolani Palace a few blocks northeast. The dock is too far to visit Waikiki Beach, but it is so full of traffic and full of tourists there, we thought, why bother? So we opted to have buffet lunch in the Deck 11 Aloha Cafe and acquaint ourselves with the various public areas of this beautiful new ship. Unfortunately, our bags did not arrive until after the 4:30 PM safety drill and close to our 6:30 PM dinnertime. So we could not swim in the pools or change into any of our dinner clothes. Stateroom 10118  Our category BA stateroom was expected to be compact and this turned out true. The layout matched the color glossy NCL brochure, but was still one of the smallest staterooms we ever booked. The deck plan in the NCL brochure categorized our room as third person occupancy available, it actually accommodated all 4 of us & a queen size bed, fold out sleeper sofa, and a full size berth folding down out of the ceiling. At night it was very cramped, but fine for sleeping. Balcony Room for 4  A word to anyone who wants to have 4 sharing a stateroom and also want a balcony (rather than just a window or an inside stateroom) & have your TA book a balcony stateroom that has the fold down berth. Before our trip, I even had a 3-way conference call with my TA and a NCL rep to confirm that our balcony room could indeed accommodate 4 (the brochure coding is misleading, balcony staterooms for 4 do exist). The balcony was great and was used a lot as a way to get out of each others way each morning. Since our stateroom was on deck 10, it was one deck below the Aloha Cafe on deck 11 and we ate breakfast on the balcony every morning. The balcony had 1 regular chair, a small table and 1 chair that had an adjustable back to lean back on. Bathroom was very tiny and very large (tall or wide) people should be forewarned, especially when using the tiny shower. It may be better to book a wheelchair accessible room in order for larger persons to shower, as ours was surprisingly small and claustrophobic. There are no bars of soap or bottles of shampoo & so bring your own. The dispensers were fine, but a hassle having to keep pressing the buttons. Closet space was nicely designed and accommodated our clothing for 4 without a problem. We discovered drawers in places that we thought were simply panels and used the shelves to store folded clothes as well. Our 5 large suitcases (and our life vests) were all stored under the bed without a problem. Our room had a coffee maker, small refrigerator, safe, hair dryer and television. Our stateroom was clean and in working order. Our stewardess Monica was fine but we rarely saw her. We missed the personal daily interaction that we received with other cruise line room stewards. Overall Dining  We took our breakfasts in the Aloha Cafe (6x) and Cadillac Cafe (1x) and we had our dinners in the freestyle dining rooms & Skyline (3x), Liberty (2x), Little Italy (2x). We tried unsuccessfully to get a Teppanyaki meal in East West on our first day. As an enticement to try the specialty restaurants, our cruise newsletter advertised (in fine print) a 2-for-1 dinner special in East West and in Jeffersons Bistro on Embarkation Day only. Did not want to pay the surcharge for Lazy J and the menu in Jeffersons Bistro did not interest us. Aloha Cafe breakfasts offered the same breakfast items daily (scrambled eggs, meats, fruit, breads, pancakes), but nothing cooked-to-order. Do not waste your time in Cadillac Cafe as service was extremely slow and the breakfast Belgian waffles were simply regular flat waffles and the rest of the breakfast foods we ordered were those from Aloha Cafe. We never took lunch on board ship since we were in port every day. Soda Cards - Our biggest rip off was the purchase of the Soda Cards & $34 adults over 12 and $16 kids under 12. Unlike other cruises where one may spend lots of time on the ship, those who visit Hawaii and plan to be ashore during most of the day may likely only take advantage of the Soda Card during dinner and late in the evenings. It would have been much cheaper for our family of 4 (3 adults and 1 child) to purchase the sodas individually (at $1.50 a pop) rather than to purchase this overpriced option. An even better option would be to purchase your own soda at any of the ports (Wal-Mart, Costco, ABC Store, 7-11) and store them in your stateroom refrigerator. We did this without any hassles from security. We do not consume wine or alcohol and therefore cannot comment about prices or port security policies. Dinners in Skyline and Liberty were fine & the menus varied every night and the food was nicely presented. I would rate the meals and wait service on par with Disney and Carnival, but definitely below par to Princess IMHO. Appetizers and salads are small, so do not hesitate to try more than one of each category if your heart desires. For those who are adventurous, you will enjoy the offerings, particularly the appetizers. For those who only prefer meat and potatoes you should primarily stick with the items listed under the Always Available section of the dinner menu and play it safe. Our Saturday night prime rib was fine and Thursday nights lobster tails (3 of them) was good, but nothing that you would remember as particularly memorable. Desserts, on the other hand, were great & stick with the soufflEs and crème brulees and sherbets and you will not go wrong. Cappuccinos are complimentary and coffees were especially good (much better than Princess). Little Italy - We ate 2 nights in Little Italy and had great meals and service on both nights because there is no surcharge for this specialty restaurant. Ask for Desiree and you will be well taken care of. If you can ignore the snobbiness of the Hawaiian maitred, you will have a completely enjoyable dinner experience here. The lasagna was particularly good and highly recommended (it is not your mothers lasagna that is for sure). Booths along the windows can easily seat 6 and were especially cozy. We really liked the tiramisu and large pudding, whipped cream concoction called zuppa for dessert. Dining Dress Codes  Every night but Tuesday night was resort casual wear which meant aloha shirts, polo shirts or dress shirts with pants for the guys and dresses or pant suits for the gals. A few female passengers had shorts. At the last minute of packing, I decided to ditch the dress pants, dress shoes and dress shirts and only packed black colored jeans, aloha shirts and solid black sports shoes and was perfectly fine for the entire cruise. My wife and daughter packed a couple of rayon dresses and were fine as well. Our son wore shorts to dinner with sports shoes and aloha shirts and had no problems. The only time we had a dress code violation was the night my daughter elected to wear short shorts to dinner in Skyline & we were seated and then inquired if this was OK and the desk attendant asked that she go back and change. This was not a problem for us since the dress policy is stated clearly at each entrance and so she went back and changed. However, if we did not ask we are not sure if they would have said anything to us (they claim they do turn away guests, but we did not see this happen first hand). The Tuesday formal optional night consisted of coats and ties for men, and dresses for women & for those that opted to dress up. I wore the same resort casual wear and did not feel out of place at all. Shipboard Activities  Unlike most other cruises, onboard ship activities are minimal since most passengers are ashore in Hawaii every day. Therefore dont count on daily bingo, daily dance lessons, culinary kitchen tours, etc. during the day because the schedule was limited to the obligatory daily art auctions and shore talks & and that was pretty much it. We used the pools daily and my kids tried the Rascals Kids Club and the Connections Teen Club. Pools  The swimming pools were a disappointment here. The South Beach Pool consisted of a 15 x 30 pool about 5 feet deep and a separate adjoining pool with stair steps that really served as a wading pool for toddlers (which we did not use). The aft contained the even smaller Oasis Pool which measured about 10 x 10. There were 5 spas that could accommodate 10 persons, and a 6th spa connected to the Rascals Kids Club and served as their wading pool. That was the extent of the pools available for 2,144 passengers. Of course, we were in Hawaii & so the pools would not be the big draw here & still it would have been nice after a hot day of shore excursions to hang out and swim in larger pools like we experienced on the newer Princess ships. Lounges immediately by the South Beach Pool and Oasis Pool (Deck 11) were of course limited because it got very hot lounging out in the Hawaii sun and a water dip in a pool is almost necessary. Lounges on Deck 12 were more plentiful, but required a walk if one wanted a plunge in the pool. NCL Shore Excursions  From Day 1, there was always a line of passengers at the desk. Do it online or call NCL and book ahead of time. I had originally pre-booked NCL excursions for every day of our cruise and the total came to over $2,400! Once onboard, I cancelled every NCL excursion except for Kona Captain Zodiac snorkel to Kealakekua Bay. In all of our cruises, this was hands-down one of the best ship-sponsored excursions our family had ever taken. Of course, you have to enjoy (a) a high speed and very bumpy and windy raft boat ride holding on only to a rope tied alongside the raft; (b) snorkel in pristine Kealakekua Bay (in far better shape than Mauis over visited Molokini Crater); and (c) sailing up close to lava caves, blow holes and ancient Hawaiian holy sites along the Kona coast. The zodiac rafts are right where you tender pier side, so no shuttle bus is necessary. We tried to book Captain Zodiac on our own, but was told the ship bought out all of the available seats & therefore we opted to use NCL. On Our Own Shore Excursions  having done my homework, we booked car rentals and shore excursions before leaving for vacation for the remaining shore days on our own without any problems (with the intent of canceling our NCL bookings): in Hilo rented a Thrifty car and visited Volcanoes National Park and shopped in Hilo; on Maui we rented a National car and drove to Lahaina and also hung by a secluded beach on our first day and then booked the Pacific Whale Foundation snorkel to Molokini Crater and to Lanai ($197 for 4) on our second day; Kaui rented a National car and booked the Kayak Wailua kayak and waterfall hike excursion ($170 for 4) on our first day and drove to Poipu Beach and old Koloa town on our second (early departure) day. Having a car for these locations was easy and allowed our family to see much of the same sites as offered on the NCL sponsored bus tours, but at far greater flexibility and pace. At all 3 ports, rental car shuttles from the very nearby local airports circled the cruise ship docks regularly (although it is helpful to have a cell phone to call the local offices to let them know you are waiting). Hawaii is the USA and the same road rules prevail, road conditions are very good, and overnight pier side parking is walking distance to where the PofAm is moored on Maui (free) and on Kauai ($10). It takes a bit more research, web surfing and reading a map to do things on your own, but at substantial savings. Rascals Kids Club  beautifully appointed room with a TV lounge, crawl through play area, etc. The staff was very nice and encouraging, and my 14-year-old daughter loved it and my 9-year-old son hated it (after trying it out Sunday night and never went back). Due to the limits of their facility, children were separated into the following groups by age: ages 6-9, ages 10-12, and ages 13-17. My 9-year-old son thought the evening activities were too immature and the video game monitors were not made available for his use (the explanation given by the head counselor was that kids could do video games at home and therefore did not make them available in the Kids Club). Although we urged him to try the program again, he opted to either hang out with us in the shows (which he did enjoy) or stayed in our stateroom. As alternatives, there was a decent sized pay-to-use video arcade immediately above the Kids Club, two ping pong tables, two outdoor shuffle boards, board games in the Shuffles Card Room, and basketball hoops on the outdoor Sports Deck. Connections Teen Club  My 14 year old daughter is typically shy and not one of the most popular kids at her school. She nevertheless loved the Teen Club & a richly appointed room with a couple large screen TVs, soda bar and sofas arranged like an adult nightclub lounge. Each evening there were scheduled group activities and then plenty of time to sit and talk to other teens or play games (to midnight on one night and 1 AM on the last night). While she did not make any consistent or long-term friends, she reported having a great time anyway (probably because it gave her a chance to get away from mom and dad and little bro). However, each evening there were a lot of teens that apparently thought it was cooler to hang out in their little cliques on the stairs, in the spas, or by the pools (as is the case on every cruise). We also observed the few teenaged loners who are spotted on every cruise as well (this is a tough age of social adjustment and being locked onto a cruise ship is not for every teen IMHO). Evening Shows - Evenings are primarily limited to one main event. We did the following: Saturday (sail away party at pool deck); Sunday (Dance of Life which I thought was boring and we left early) and Kilauea lava viewing at 10 PM (great experience, but bring binoculars); Wednesday (Americas Beat which was very good and better than Dance of Life); Thursday (Tahiti Polynesian dancers were excellent and you can stay for a photo op afterwards). Most of the shows were offered twice nightly at 7:30 and 9:30 PM. Dancing in the Mardi Gras lounge was themed nightly and started around 10:30 PM. Sunday Lava Viewing  Sunday night out of Hilo offered the lava viewing from the ocean. Without binoculars, the lava looked like a thin line of brush fires as seen on a hillside at night. Up close with binoculars, you could catch glimpses of the lava hitting the ocean and spewing steam. Impressive sight, but the show cannot be guaranteed by Pele for every cruise. Friday Na Pali Coast Viewing  Friday afternoon the ship leaves Nawiliwili (Kauai) at 3:30 PM for a 6:30 PM sunset view of the Na Pali coast of Kauai. This was a confusing change of schedule, but having viewed the coast at sunset, I can understand why NCL decided to make the departure change. The coastline at sunset is spectacular, there is no sign of human civilization and the green cliffs of Na Pali are like nowhere else in Hawaii. Bonus: we booked a 6:00 PM window-side booth in Little Italy on Friday in order to catch the show while we dined. The side of the ship that faces the Na Pali coast is on the same side as Little Italy and really made for a memorable final evening for our family thanks to our server Desiree. Fitness Center  one of the largest and best-equipped facilities of any ship I have sailed. There are Cybex weight machines (about 12 stations), a free weights rack, a number of balance balls, and a large number of treadmills, recumbent bikes, regular cycles and elliptical cross trainers. Most of these cardio machines have their own television screens and headphones (bring your own and plug it in unless you want to inherit the sweat from the previous users). There is a separate room for aerobic exercises. The Santa Fe Spa is nicely appointed and has separate men and women changing rooms, each with their own dry and wet saunas, showers and lockers that were connected to the fitness center by an obscure door and hallway. The changing facilities were usually well maintained on most (but not all) days during my daily visits. Ship Photos  There are the obligatory photo ops at every new port gangway, as well as the portraits offered during Hawaiian and Formal nights. The photo gallery is a long narrow corridor on Deck 5 between Jeffersons Bistro and Skyline Restaurant. Photos for the 5 x 7 pictures cost $13 and included a bonus print of smaller images for key chains, give aways, etc. We opted to have the photo staff create a folder for our cabin so that we could store all of our pictures to the end of the cruise and then decide which we wanted to purchase. There was no end of cruise special or take as many photos for one price special offered on the PofAm & it was simply a set price policy. Disembarkation was very easy and for early risers, NCL offered the option to leave the ship whenever you want on the final morning (starting at 7:30 AM) provided that you tote ALL of your baggage yourselves (they called this option Express Walk Off). We decided to place our bags outside of our room on Friday night and wished we opted for Express Walk Off instead since our color was nearly the last to be called ashore. Next time we will pack lighter and definitely use this convenient option since we never left the USA and therefore no customs procedures to go through like other cruises. Breakfast on disembarkation day was available in the Aloha Cafe, Skyline Restaurant and Cadillac Diner until 9:00 AM. Overall ... a better-than-expected cruise experience and we would do this again. We are still fans of Princess, but for a Hawaii cruise experience, this one was good for our family. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
A quick review so not to bore anyone Arrived in Honolulu after long flight from UK. first saw the ship the following afternoon Christmas Eve, did not like the look of the front of the ship looked more like a ferry BUT how wrong was I. ... Read More
A quick review so not to bore anyone Arrived in Honolulu after long flight from UK. first saw the ship the following afternoon Christmas Eve, did not like the look of the front of the ship looked more like a ferry BUT how wrong was I. The rest of the ship was fantastic. As soon as we boarded the ship you are meet with the Pursers Desk area with the seal of the United States of America inlaid on the floor (very impressive). Our Cabin was an part obstructed View cabin well if they consider a fraction of a lifeboat as obstruction then I'm glad we did not pay the extra for a full view. Ok the showers are a bit small for some as mentioned before but that's only if you are a big build say over 260lbs or 6ft 3ins tall. Housekeeping is one area they still need to tighten up on, our cabin was not Hoovered or dusted once the week we were on board other than that our cabin steward was good, the rest of the decks were tidy but not clean clean, and the sun decks still had glasses, cups and rubbish from the night before on when you went on deck. Food - Well first things first if the ships full, freestyle dining is a waste of time unless you want to eat as soon as they open always make sure you Book your reservations as soon as you board we only made it to two of the restaurants all week, I think they should only take a maximum reservation for two Speciality Restaurant Bookings from each party when you book and than get you to book later for any others thus giving a chance to one and all. Food in Little Italy was fantastic, food elsewhere was good but not Hot only warm, they need to look at this problem. The islands and sites are out of this world, don't bother getting the orgainized trips Hire a Car in each port and find your own way round then you can stop where, when and how long you want or you can follow a coach around and still do it cheaper than passengers on the coach. Saw a couple of the shows the best for us was the crew talent show with a Sketch Called Fountains right at the end, Very Funny, Very well done and well recommended. On Board Shopping Don't Bother with the Jewelry Shop if you don't look like you are loaded we asked the price of a necklace and the assistant took a look at us and said $32.000 but the way it was said was you can't afford it (how wrong)and then walked away. Would we go again most definitely yes not for a year or two but yes we would may be with a different line next time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
After reading so many negative reviews, we were skeptical about the whole journey. Although we have cruised several times before, it was never with NCL nor "Free Style" cruising, so we really did not know what to expect. ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews, we were skeptical about the whole journey. Although we have cruised several times before, it was never with NCL nor "Free Style" cruising, so we really did not know what to expect. Embarkation - We booked the flights through NCL and arrived at HNL about 5 pm and embarked by 6; our luggage was delivered outside the cabin at about 8. Cabin - We booked online early to select a cabin up front with more room in the balcony than same category ones mid-ship. The cabin was small but adequate. For a ship launched only this year, cleanliness was only so-so. Service - We found the crew pleasant, from housekeeping, restaurant, entertainment to administrative staff, we did not notice the attitude problem mentioned by other reviews. Food - Most restaurants, such as the Liberty, Skyline, Little Italy and the Aloha Cafe, were fine. The poolside Key West Bar & Grill and the Cadillac Diner are the kind you might want to try just once. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time for any specialty restaurants, as waiting can take awhile. Free Style with no preset mealtime turned out to be a comfortably flexible arrangement. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Aloha cafe is great if you like their buffet style, and their outdoor section gives you a good ocean view, with shade if you prefer to stay cool. Itinerary - If you have not been to Hawaii and do not know on which island to spend your time, an island-hopping cruise like Pride of America would be perfect. The views of the lava flow off Hilo and the Napali coastline in Kuaui are really the spectacular sights to behold and there is no better way to see them than to see them from the ship. Excursions - We booked excursions through NCL every other day, and they are just fine. Coach drivers typically double up as your tour guides and they are knowledgeable and funny. Entertainment - The onboard crew of about 14 singers and dancers are not bad, though the Hollywood Theater's stage is quite small for a ship of this size. The guest Tahitian troupe of Hula dancers was great. Disembarkation - As we traveled light, we chose the Express walk-off which allowed us to disembark any time we wanted, which was nice. We found that NCL books most return flights in the evening or red-eye for their passengers which is good and bad. Most people who can take advantage of this could rent a car and check out Oahu themselves, but we saw older folks sit around the whole day in the airport, exhausted from the cruise which might have been too much for them. I will have no problem booking NCL America again, now that I have experienced it first hand. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
This is a letter my partner and I wrote to NCL after our return from our Hawaiian cruise on Pride of America, Dec. 3, 2005. My partner Tom Compise and myself, boarded the Pride of America cruise ship on December 3, 2005 for what was ... Read More
This is a letter my partner and I wrote to NCL after our return from our Hawaiian cruise on Pride of America, Dec. 3, 2005. My partner Tom Compise and myself, boarded the Pride of America cruise ship on December 3, 2005 for what was supposed to be a vacation of a lifetime. I had never been to Hawaii and thought what better way to see the Hawaiian Islands than island hop while enjoying the wonderful environment of a luxury cruise ship. What should have been a wonderful week turned into a nightmare. We left the ship on our second day of the cruise to explore Maui. After a beautiful day driving the Road to Hana, we returned to the ship to be greeted by an extremely foul smell that can only be described as sewage. The smell greeted us soon as we got off the elevator and entered the lobby/reception area of Deck 5. We were traveling with another couple, who also observed the foul odor. We commented about the smell, and basically ignored it until we went to our cabin, on Deck 8 cabin #8136. As we were walking towards our room, we observed the same unpleasant odor in the hallway. When we opened the door to our cabin, the noxious smell was stronger than ever. We immediately went back to the Customer Service desk on Deck 5 to report the problem. We were advised by the gentleman at the front desk that he would have someone check into it immediately. He also mentioned this same problem smell was reported on a prior cruise. When no one responded to our complaint, we returned to the Customer Service desk a few hours later to again report the smell in our room. At that time, we were advised there were no other rooms available on the ship and that once again the problem would be reported. Soon afterwards, a young lady name Kopola came to our room, concurred the smell was very strong, and sprayed our room with Fabreze air freshener. Needless to say, it didnt fix the problem and Tom and I slept on our balcony that night. We left the ship early in the morning of the third day to continue exploring Maui. Again, when we returned, the smell was now apparent in many areas of ship, including Decks 5, 8, & 11. Unfortunately when we got to our room, it was as strong as ever. Other travelers on our deck were also experiencing the same problem. At one point, some of the folks joined Tom and tried to get some resolution at the front desk. Patrick, the front desk clerk, advised that he would contact Kara, the Office Manager, of the problem. Patrick told us they believed we were possibly docked on a sewage dump, or that there was a problem with a sewage plant on Maui. Shortly after that conversation, Tom received a call from Kara, the Front Office Manager, who asked to see Tom personally. She apologized for the problem, assured Tom the smell would be gone when we left Maui, and promised Tom a bottle of wine and a $50 credit for the inconvenience. Unfortunately the smell DIDNT leave our room that evening as we were assured. Again, we went to the Customer Service desk and explained the problem. Patrick at the front desk seemed determined to try to help us. He contact Kara again and magically we were given another cabin to sleep in for the night. (Obviously there were empty cabins on the ship!) Low and behold, the smell was gone from our room the next day when we docked in Kona. With much relief we spent the day off ship. Our room was still free of the stench when we returned to the ship; however, we kept smelling the foul odor in other areas of the ship including areas around the elevators, the ship lobby in certain areas, and in the waiting area of the Liberty Dining room. The following day, we docked in Kauai and left the ship early to explore the island. We returned to our room late that afternoon, showered, and again left the ship to attend a Lua at Gaylords. When we returned to the ship that evening, the smell was back. It had a very potent, chemical odor to it, more so than before. Once again, we went to the Customer Service desk, and were advised Kara was sleeping and would be notified later. Some time later that evening, Kara phoned Tom and advised him there were no cabins available to move to. She suggested we contact the NCL Customer Relations Department for further resolution. Apparently there was nothing more she was able to do. Tom was extremely upset and ready to throw up his hands in frustration. Fortunately we met a vendor on the ship, who advised us to contact John OHara, The Hotel Director of the ship. One of the front desk clerks left John a message that we wanted to speak with him. We met with John, who assured us he would find us a cabin for the night. He said this was the first he knew of the problem. He walked us to our room (1:00 am in the morning) while we got a bag together, and in his own words was APPALLED by the stink in our room. He took us to the 10th deck to relocate us in a cabin for the evening (cabin #10114). Unfortunately, that room was also full of the same disgusting smell. John then made a call to advise someone that the smell was on deck 10 also. He then brought us to a room on the 9th floor that was finally satisfactory. The following day we returned to our own cabin, which seemed to finally be free of the stench We met the Fire Chief of the ship one evening while having a drink, who was so disturbed by our problem, that he made calls there on the spot, only to find out that not even the environmental engineer of the ship had been notified of a smell. We spoke with numerous people who were aware of the smell, but were trying to ignore it. Lucky for them, it wasnt in their cabins. We had people show up at our cabin days after the problem was reported, to see if our bathroom toilet was the problem. There was an apparent lack of communication on the ship&One hand didnt seem to know what the other was doing. And it took hours of numerous complaints to get anyone to take the problem seriously. Most importantly we spent HOURS of our holiday time trying to get some resolution to a most DISGUSTING problem that not one person had an answer or resolution to. We still dont know what exactly we were smelling all that time. The air vents were blowing this horrific gaseous smell in many areas of the ship. Coincidentally (?) both Tom and I got sick with bad bronchitis upon returning home. In addition, the food was mediocre at best. The freestyle concept, while sounding like a good idea, did not work. Reservations were needed days in advance and you were lucky if they were honored on time. There wasnt one specialty restaurant worthy of any praise or worth any additional charge. Shame on you! The best meal we had was in the Little Italy restaurant, which was described by two people we met as of Chef Boy R Dee quality. There was nothing and nowhere to eat between the hours of 3-5pm when people were coming back to the ship hungry for a bite. When we tried to get something to eat at the Lets not forget the soggy potato chips too!. When we asked if there was anything else to eat, we were advised by the Cafe Manager that this is only a snack. We tried to go to the Cadillac Diner. However , because it was the ONLY place to get a bite, it was jam packed. When we finally did eat there, we were served a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella cheese as they were OUT of American Cheese. We got an earful from the waitress who explained that when foods are ordered, they need approval from corporate, and often the orders are changed, without alerting the restaurant personnel. The entertainment, what little there was, was like watching amateur hour. The Mardi Gras lounge was run by a group of young adults, barely beyond their teenage years. They were unprofessional, untalented, and could not relate to the people they were entertaining and visa versa. The cocktail lounges throughout the ship were empty most evenings. One evening we observed some elderly people trying to play a quiet game of cards with Guns and Roses playing n the video. They were the only people in the lounge. The staff was well trained in how to say Im sorry&as they seemed to be used to the constant complaints they were hearing, whether it was regarding bad food, bad smells, bad entertainment, etc. etc. Im happy to say weve cruised before, or this would be the last cruise we would ever take. We cruised with Royal Caribbean last year and had the time of our lives. The staff was professional, the food was delicious and bountiful, and we were made to feel spoiled and special. Food was available 24 hours a day. Entertainment consisted of many different live bands and wonderful shows. Lounges were filled with people having fun all hours of the day and night. It was what inspired us to take this cruise. You need to look very closely at what you call the Pride of America. I can assure you, it is nothing to be proud of. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
This was my first cruise using NCL and we picked one of the highest cabins for our honeymoon. But this ship made our honeymoon a disaster! It is the WORST cruise I have ever been on! The host at East Meets West was so extremely rude to ... Read More
This was my first cruise using NCL and we picked one of the highest cabins for our honeymoon. But this ship made our honeymoon a disaster! It is the WORST cruise I have ever been on! The host at East Meets West was so extremely rude to us. This is supposed to be a "Freestyle" cruise where you can pretty much go where you want, how you want. The host would not let me in because I was wearing sandals and his attitude towards others besides me was uncalled for. He was acting like he owned the ship. Also the waiter at the Skyline restaurant was extremely rude to us once he found out that we didn't want any alcoholic drinks (because they get tips on the alcohol) and said that we were ready to order, he walked away and didn't come back for 20 minutes. The only real decent place was the Aloha Cafe. The people there were nice and the food was pretty good. We also went to "THEIR BEST SHOW" so they called it at Hollywood Theater. IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BORING, that half (not exaggerating) of the audience got up and left. It started with one person walking out slowly on stage and sitting down looking at the background. That was about 5 minutes of that. Then they had about another 8 people do the exact same thing ONE AT A TIME! It took them over 40 minutes just to get out on stage and stare at NOTHING on the backscreen!!!! We left soon after that, because all they did was waste our 40 minutes watching them sit there. We booked a shore excursion for surfing lessons, and they put us on the wrong bus so we missed the lessons. When we went and complained to them, they said they would have the manager call us back at 4 pm. Days went by without a call, we did not get a refund for the excursion that we missed, nor any apology! One other thing about their "Freestyle". They charge you $10 dollars per day, per person for tips to their staff. On Saturday, the last day, they charged us the $10 dollars, we left at 7:30 am. There was nothing for them to charge us for! Also, they charge the people coming on board the same day $10 dollars. Hmm? 40 dollars on a day that they don't do anything for their guests? That does not sound right! I will never use NCL for any cruises ever again for the way they ruined our honeymoon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
After reading several negative reviews about Pride of America I was prepared for a lack of service but I wasn't prepared for several things on my New Year's cruise that I found unacceptable. This was my 4th cruise but my first ... Read More
After reading several negative reviews about Pride of America I was prepared for a lack of service but I wasn't prepared for several things on my New Year's cruise that I found unacceptable. This was my 4th cruise but my first with Norwegian Cruise Lines. Let's start with the condition of the stateroom. When we arrived at our room we discovered dirty windows and mirrors. The bed was neatly made but there was no bedspread. Our maid gave the excuse that the previous cruise has a lot of youths onboard and they had trashed the place. One of the most bizarre things about our room was the toilet. Each time it was flushed it made an ear deafening (explosive) sound. I'm really not exaggerating. My wife would literally have to plug her ears when she flushed to avoid hurting her ears. It wasn't just OUR toilet but possibly all toilets on the entire 8th deck. Someone must have reported the problem because a maintenance man knocked at our door and asked if we were having problems with our toilet. I explained that it worked fine but that it was extremely loud when flushed. Upon his inspection he agreed that there was a problem and that he was going to adjust the vacuum and that it should be better in a couple of hours. If it didn't improve he asked us to call the service desk. The toilet continued to sound like a cannon going off for the duration of the cruise in spite of repeated calls to the service desk. Everyone we talked to about it was courteous but nothing was ever done to correct the problem. On the NCL website they really need to more accurately define what they mean by their so called "Freestyle Cruising." Regarding attire the NCL website it says: "Wear what you want. Dress according to your mood. It is your vacation. ... How you dress is up to you." With this in mind my wife and I decided not to bother packing any formal attire at all. We have always brought formal wear on other cruises, but since this was Hawaii and since NCL has this thing called "Freestyle Cruising" we were going to go casual. (We did bring one change of dressy clothes because our first cruise night was New Years Eve.) It was a good thing we did because we were totally misled by the NCL websites definition of "Freestyle." (more on that later) Our New Year's Eve dinner was at the Skyline Restaurant. We didn't have reservations (which on any other cruise line you wouldn't need) so we took a pager which was supposed to notify us (in approximately 45 minutes) that our table was ready. We were assured that the pager would function everywhere on the ship so we went back to our room and waited...and waited...and waited. When we past the 45 minute mark we decided to return to the Skyline Restaurant and check on our table. When I let the restaurant hostess know that we were never notified that our table was ready she looked rather surprised and said she would be right back. (She left and we never saw her again.) A few minutes later a gentleman (I assume the head waiter) finally courteously greeted us and took us to a table. (One of several tables that were empty). To say the service was slow is an understatement. It took us nearly 2 hours to be served. With each course came an apology by our food server for the slowness. No explanation, just an apology. The food was fine but the service was terrible (perhaps because it was New Year's Eve?) The following night we dined with friends. This time, all 4 of us were in casual Hawaiian attire. Shorts and sandals. My wife had read in the daily newsletter that there were dress restrictions in the dining rooms. We returned to the Skyline Restaurant (in spite of the terrible service the night before) and my wife inquired about the dress code. The response given by the staff of the Skyline Restaurant was, to me, extremely rude and humiliating. The hostess proceeded to explain that shorts and sandals were not allowed (as she snootily looked down at what we were wearing.) This information and attitude was echoed by a male counterpart. I relayed to them the bad dining experience we had had the previous night (for which we WERE properly dressed) and that based on their attitude we would not be dining in the Skyline Restaurant for the duration of the cruise, properly dressed or not. Without changing clothes we immediately went upstairs to the Liberty Restaurant where no one seemed to care or even notice that we were wearing shorts and sandals. We were immediately seated and had an excellent dinner served by our singing waiter, Luis Martinez, and the service was excellent. During our week long cruise we ate several more meals in the Liberty Restaurant but each time after that we conformed to the newly discovered dress restrictions and wore the one and only change of dressy clothes that we had packed. Another issue was the public address system on the ship. It was completely worthless. There were frequent announcements that were preceded by a chime. You could hear the chime just fine but trying to understand the garbled message was futile. I consider this a safety issue. If an emergency message were to be announced who would hear it? There is a speaker mounted in the staterooms but they don't seem to be functional. I realize that I have focused only on the negative things about Pride of America and its crew, but in spite of all my complaints and the shortcomings of NCL, we had an excellent sampling of the Hawaiian islands. I will probably never cruise again with Norwegian Cruise Lines, but the cruise did provide a unique way to visit several islands while taking my floating hotel room (with it's exploding toilet) with me. I am bothered by NCL's lack of response to ongoing problems. The complaints you read in the reviews of previous cruises seems to be repeated over and over. It's a nice, new ship with great destinations. It's too bad NCL can't seem to get it right. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Pride America New Years Eve 2005 We sailed with 14 people all of whom had sailed before. Ages ranged from early 20's to late 50's. After reading previous reviews we went with small expectations. Pre Cruise: Flights were ... Read More
Pride America New Years Eve 2005 We sailed with 14 people all of whom had sailed before. Ages ranged from early 20's to late 50's. After reading previous reviews we went with small expectations. Pre Cruise: Flights were delayed and it took 22 hours for us to arrive form east coast so we were all VERY tired to begin with. Stayed at Raddison Prince. Hotel was fine. Location was a short walk to beach and action off the beach. Would stay there again. Ate at Cheeseburger in Paradise on beach for breakfast and was very good. Embark: Arrived at port around 1:45. Embark smooth and easy. On board by 2:30. Cabin: Ocean View Obstructed view. Cabin size was not that bad as previous reviews had stated. Compares to Carnival Imagination. Bathrooms were not the size on an airplane. Yes I have had larger bathrooms on other ships ( this was my 4th cruise) But the bathroom here was not that small. It was large enough for a weeks time. Upon arriving there was something in the sink that I had to clean out. Not sure what it was. Also drink glasses looked like they were left over from last cruise. No top sheet on bed just a heavy comforter. I asked for top sheet and they did bring one. No trouble with safe. DID have trouble with toilet flushing several times. Called front desk and took over 2 hours for someone to come. Had to go to other friends cabins to use bathroom several times. Some of our party had no trouble with toilets flushing. Cabin steward here do the least amount of work possible. Not trying to please you like other ships. Asked for extra towels and got them one time all week without having to ask again and again. Very poor cabin service. No ice most of the week as well. Space for clothing was adequate. We had lots of stuff and found places for all. 26 inch suitcase fit under bed nicely. All in all cabin was ok. Not as large as other cruises but was really ok the the 2 of us. Prepare to awake early on this ship as they have announcements around 6-7 each morning. Never open door to see what they were but they were loud enough to awaken you. This happened every day and was not related to getting off ship to go ashore as that happened later in the morning. On Kona day if you have a life boat outside your window you will be awake at 5:45 am when they lower them to use them for tender ashore. Room has hairdryer and 3 outlets so not bad. FOOD: We ate in liberty 2 times. First time they gave us a beeper and said 1 hour. This was for 4 people only. After the hour passed we went to see why were were not seated. They said they were having trouble with beepers and they did not go off. They seated us half the rest. was EMPTY. They are very understaffed and can not fill the tables they have due to the staff shortage. Service was very slow and prepare to die of thirst before they refill your water. The freestyle cruising sounds great but when you have to wait over 1 and 1/2 hours to eat it is not so good. The wait staff is not working for extra tips since you have different ones each time so they are not nearly as attentive as waiters on other ships who are working for extra money. Food was ok but nothing to get excited about. We ate in Cadillac diner twice and some food good but other food not so good. Aloha cafe was ok and we ate there a lot. But beware that sometimes NONE of the beverage counters are working. One night we could not get anything to drink. They usually have coffee water tea and milk. But that night NOTHING worked. Not even hot water for hot tea. Glasses are very small so get 2-3 if you do not want to have to keep returning to refill. Tea was not very good as I do not care for instant. But some in our group drank it and said it was ok. Food here is mass produced and some better than others. So try different things. Pasta bar was pretty good. Desserts were not so good. I found nothing that tasted very well. Aloha cafe was nice outside deck at back of ship. Eat there to see views while sailing. Very nice for breakfast. Ship: WE had rough seas with 30 foot swells. So some of us were sick some of the time. Thank goodness for 2 nights in port. Lots of motion in the ocean. More than I had ever had on other cruises. Shows: Saw only one. Heard from others that shows were not very good. We saw the local show on Thursday night. THey brought in local people from the island to do show. Was very much like luau show. Was good for what it was. Comedy: Young people with us said comedian was not good. Bars and ACtivities: Young people said they ship was dead with nothing to do at night. They are DC people and like to party. But they said nothing here to do. Pools: Pools ok. Small but ok. Do not plan to have a drink brought to you while you are at pool. They do not have the waiters walking around on this ship. Saw very few of them. You have to go to bar to get your own. Had to go to 3 bars to get ginger ale when daughter was sick. ISlands: Even the negative things above can not ruin HAWAII. Paradise. Hilo: We rented cars and went to the volcano national park. Cost 10.00 per car. That was soooo cool. Drive all around the park right through a volcano. If you go to the end toward the steam vent near the ocean you can walk to the lava flow. But it will be 3 miles there and 3 miles back. We did not have time to do that. Went to black sand beach. That was really different. Maui: Rented a car and went into Lahaina a town on the other side of the island. Cute little town with seaside shopping. Then went to beach for the afternoon. Very nice day. Day 2 Maui: Road to Hana from ship. DO NOT RENT CAR AND DO THIS> First of all the driver will see nothing if you do this. And it will be more interesting if you have a guide telling you things along the way. Yes it is long. We left at 7 am and returned at 5:15pm. WE have 20's and 50's with us. ALL enjoyed very much. Yes there are lots of hairpin turns. But you will see some of the most breath taking scenery that you have every seen. I would not do it again now that I have seen it. But I would suggest that you do it at least once. They stop along the way for bathroom breaks and you have time at different stops to walk around. It was one of the things we will remember the most about our trip. But if you have anyone with any medical problems you may want to think about it. You are out in the middle so NOWHERE a lot of the time with no way to get medical help quickly. Maui: My daughter did the whale watch and said it was great. Saw lots of whales/. Kona: By now were we in need of rest. This is a tender port and we took our time going ashore. It was a great walking town. Lots of shops. There is also a shuttle to Hilo HAtties which is a good place for things to take home. Lots of stuff there. Daughter took snorkel tour. Get off ship go to shrimp rest. There is a guy there that will take you to turtle bay to snorkel for 20.00 pp. They had a great time. Kaua: Rented car. WEnt to canyon and Fern Grotto. Then to other side of island to light house. Drove 150 miles that day. Pretty things to see here. LAst day we had until 2 pm. Wen ashore to shop. Small shops near port with shuttles. Do not miss the coast viewing that afternoon around 5:30. VERY nice. Oh also the lava viewing the beginning of the trip from the ship was really neat as well. Debarkation: We had luggage out the night before and had a tour that left at 7:45 am. for PEarl HArbor. Debarking was easy. Pearl Harbor tour was good as well. All in all this was a good trip. Just go with the attitude if you have sailed before that this will not be the same service and food you have had before. And if you have not sailed PLEASE sail with another cruise line in the future so you can see what real cruising should be. We got a great deal on our cruise so we were not too upset. AFter all were in Hawaii. But we did hear others talking several times about what price they had paid and how upset they were with what they got. I will not say I will never sail NCL again. But I will say it would need to be a GREAT deal to get me back on a NCL ship. Remember you are in PAradise. Hawaii is wonderful. Make sure you get off the ship and go explore the islands. There is nothing at most of the ports to see. And that is not where the beautiful sights will be. Book cars before leaving home. Lots of the car rentals had no cars left if you waited until you get there. If you can not rent a car then be sure to take shore tours from ship so you will see the islands. AS I said off the ship is NOT hawaii. Happy New YEar and have a great trip! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was our fourth cruise experience but our first, and last, on an NCL ship. Our party of 6, all experienced cruisers, were together to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of my wife and I. A celebration impacted in many ways by this ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise experience but our first, and last, on an NCL ship. Our party of 6, all experienced cruisers, were together to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of my wife and I. A celebration impacted in many ways by this negative cruise experience. Instead of pleasant memories of good times, good food and great service, we are left with feelings of being short changed. There is one piece of good news. Hawaii is a beautiful place and whenever we left the ship our experiences were more positive. I only wish there had been more time in each port to explore the natural beauty of Hawaii. I also wish we had done more research before our trip to pick the best excursions and places to tour. Although we saw some beautiful, breathtaking sights, we could have avoided some snoozers. I take full responsibility for this shortcoming of our trip. A Few Positives & Some Suggestions: For most everyone, getting to and from this cruise involves a very long plane ride. I urge you to get to Honolulu at least one day early and I would recommend staying an extra day after the cruise. We arrived in Honolulu on Thursday afternoon for a Saturday afternoon sail and this was just about right. On the return however, we disembarked at about 9:30 AM on Saturday and our flight did not depart Honolulu until after 10:00 PM that evening. We are from the East Coast of the US so, with time zone changes and flight delays, we did not get home until 10:30 PM Sunday evening. If you stay in Honolulu before or after the cruise, I strongly recommend the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Most guests with rooms booked through NCL will stay at the Marriott instead. Luckily, our cruise was booked during a time when NCL and Marriott were in a contract dispute so we were put up at the Hilton. This was truly fortunate for us. The Marriott is clearly an inferior property, at least as compared to the Hilton. The Hilton is a HUGE facility sitting directly on the beach and it has every amenity imaginable. If I return to Honolulu for any reason I would stay at the Hilton. Embarkation and disembarkation were reasonably smooth. We pre-registered at the NCL office located at the Marriott in Honolulu the day after our arrival in Hawaii. We also signed up for most of our shore excursions at this time. I strongly urge anyone going on this cruise to take this step. You can avoid the long lines at the excursion desk onboard and it makes the embarkation process a breeze. Back to the cruise ship and its positives, well, there arent many. I guess that explains why the Cruise Director asked us all to say positive things when completing our cruise evaluation forms. I thought Jesse White in another review you can find on this website put it best; You will be given the opportunity to evaluate the cruise. The cruise director asked that we mark everything excellent. He asked that guests not let any one thing effect their overall evaluation of the cruise. This seems to epitomize the overall service on the cruise. Guests should consider good enough to be excellent.  Perfectly stated Jesse! Well, I never had the chance to fill in that cruise evaluation form because, each of the 3 cabins in our group were left a crew evaluation form (Do you like your job? Is NCL a good company to work for; Do we pay you enough?, etc.). One person in our group even went to the reception desk to ask for a proper evaluation form and they were given one copy. When they asked for three copies to satisfy the needs of the rest of our group they were told, in a terse and derogatory tone, that there were none left. Sorry, I just realized this is supposed to be the positive section of my feedback. Let me get back on track. Of the specialty restaurants, the one with the best food and service is the Lazy J Steakhouse. Our waitress, Tiffany, by far provided the best overall service of anyone on this cruise ship. She was professional yet fun, prompt, efficient and caring, traits severely lacking on this ship. The food at the Lazy J is a 7 on a 10 point scale. Is 7 on a 10 point scale the best this ship had to offer you say? Yes, sad but true. I give NCL kudos for fully refunding two excursions that were cancelled due to weather. One was for a helicopter tour for two members of our group and the other was for a luau that all 6 of us were scheduled to attend. Both events were cancelled due to rain, which of course NCL had no control over, yet they provided full refunds totaling over $600 just for our small group. Refunds were provided to literally hundreds of guests scheduled for the luau. The entertainer in the Champagne Bar was phenomenal. I believe his name was WT Greer. He had a voice I could listen to for hours on end. Unfortunately we did not discover him until two days before our cruise ended. If he is still on board when you cruise on this ship; do NOT miss him! The comedian in the Hollywood Theater is rather funny and the Newlywed Not So Newlywed game was a hoot. We also enjoyed a couples massage in the spa which is a very nicely appointed facility. This 50 minute massage was a pricey though at over $300 with the included tips. Sorry to say that my second visit to the spa was not so pleasant. We returned one afternoon to inquire about getting a broken nail fixed for my sister-in-law and to ask about getting pedicures for my wife and I. We were told, in a terse and condescending tone, that the spa was booked for the rest of the day and there was a clear inference that a broken nail was the least of their worries. Based on the tone of the person behind the desk we simply left without scheduling our pedicure and no one in our group ever returned to the spa for the rest of our cruise. I give the on-board photographers an A for effort and a C for results. Of the two dozen or more shots we had taken during the week, the only photos we fell in love with were shots taken with a flag in the backdrop (the Pride of America logo), which took away from the photo. The remaining positives about this cruise really have nothing to do with NCL; well credit the good Lord. The views of the Na Pali coast are to die for. It is difficult to describe this breathtaking experience as you cruise slowly and closely along this expansive and dramatic coastline. During this portion of the cruise we also saw literally dozens of whales playfully meandering around the ship. I even got to experience a full breech. What an awesome sight! There was one thing that took away from this experience though. While the 2,000 guests were enjoying the magical view and the whales passing ever so closely, you could hear a pin drop. That is, until several crew members decided they wanted to play basketball in the open court on deck 14. Couldnt they have picked a different time? The nighttime cruise past the glowing red lava of the Mount Kilauea Volcano was also a sight I will never forget. Hearing the sounds of steam being created as the lava hit the waters of the coastline was simply awesome. Excursions: We had four excursions planned including the luau that was cancelled due to rain as I mentioned earlier. I only wish we had done more excursions or ventured out on our own in rental cars as there is so much natural beauty to experience in Hawaii and I was left with the feeling that, although we experienced some beautiful sights, much was left to see. My strongest recommendation for an excursion is the Valley Waterfall Hiking Adventure in Kona. This is a MUST DO! You will experience sights and remote beauty unseen by even many of the locals. Do not let the word hike scare you away. It is basically a flat ground walk with only gentle slopes easily walked by people of most abilities. Only if you have a raw fear of heights should you avoid this excursion. Colleen was our tour guide and she was caring, truly knowledgeable of the island, its history and all the vegetation. This tour operation as a whole was extremely professional. They had every detail covered including sufficient bathroom stops (sometimes porta-potties but clean ones), walking sticks, fanny packs, ponchos in case of rain, bug spray if needed, plenty of bottled water and a fresh and tasty boxed lunch. Every detail was covered including offering wet wipes to remove any bug spray from your hands so would not ingest any or get any in your eyes. All of this was included in the price. WOW! I also recommend the Maui Downhill Bike excursion on Mount Haleakala. We did the 22 mile midday tour. There is also a 38 mile morning sunrise tour that I was told on a clear day is an incredible trip. Now, 22 and 38 miles may sound like a looonnngggg bike ride but, these bikes are very comfortable and you are simply sitting and coasting down the mountain. On our ride there was only one spot about ¼ mile long that required some easy pedaling. The rest of the trip was simply coasting. Driving up the mountain in our transport van we experienced some incredible views. Unfortunately, during the rainy season in Hawaii, the weather can change at a moments notice. When we reached the mountain top there was a light snow on the ground  yes, I said snow. It began to rain as we suited up and it rained for our entire ride. In fact, it even hailed for a time. The tour operator I would rate as a C minus. Their base camp operation was run down and tacky, the rain gear was old and less than effective and they provided nothing other than the van ride, bike, guide and rain gear. It is a long day and they do not provide water or lunch. Regardless, I highly recommend this tour but watch the weather closely. Also, there are several operators doing very similar downhill bicycle tours. I suggest you check out some of the others not tied to NCL. Our last excursion was the Waimea Canyon, Wailua River and Fern Grotto trip. This trip is mostly a boring, long, long; did I say long (?), bus ride. The 3 major stops were a must see but, rent a car and do these stops on your own and you will be much better off. This tour lasted nearly 9 hours and cost the 6 of us $500+ in total. We could have accomplished the same trip in 4 hours with a rental car at a total cost of approximately $200. The Negatives: Let me highlight some of the negatives. - None of our documents such as cruise tickets, hotel reservations and flight reservations arrived until a week before our trip. We booked this trip at least 6 months in advance so the late arrival of these documents did not make any sense. These should arrive at least two weeks in advance if not 30 days. - The process at the Honolulu airport was unclear. I am a very experienced traveler having done business travel for 30 years and yet I found the process confusing and harried. - The toilet in our cabin was dirty on arrival; and I mean dirty. - Cleaning supplies had been left in our bathroom on arrival. - Shoes from the prior guest had been left under the bed and were not found by the cabin steward. This happened in two of the three cabins our group was occupying. - The carpets in all of our cabins were dirty and looked as though they had not been fully vacuumed to the corners in weeks. This may be why shoes left behind were not found. - One party in our group needed to ask for towels on more than one occasion. One of our cabins asked about getting face cloths as none had been left  they never arrived. - One cabin in our party was left without toilet paper. - Each cabin is outfitted with coffee and creamer. I am a coffee lover. The problem is that the coffee maker was missing from our cabin. I pointed this out to our cabin steward on the second morning of our trip. A week later  still no coffee maker. - In all of my prior cruise experiences I had been in awe at the efficiency of the cabin stewards. It always seemed as though my room was cleaned or picked up every time I left the cabin, even if only for an hour. Not so, on this cruise line. One cabin in our group actually went two days without being cleaned. We would return from day long excursions to find that at 3:00 pm our cabin was still not made up. In fact, one day someone in our group returned at 4:00 pm and their cabin was not clean so they asked the cabin steward to get it done so they could prepare themselves for dinner. The cabin steward said that it would need to wait as she was going on break and would not return until 6:30 pm. That would NEVER happen on other cruise lines. - We had laundry done and all of the clothes were returned with a stiff starchy feeling. This was not dry cleaning, it was laundry. - My wife needed a zipper replaced on a nice pair of slacks that were part of a suit. We were pleased to learn that they had a tailor on board  great! The next morning the laundry room called to say they could not replace the zipper. I was ok with that as I understand that their supplies and capabilities were probably limited. The issue was when it took two requests to our cabin steward and a trip to the reception desk, and I will admit to not being pleasant about it, in order to get the slacks back. All in all, a three day process. And, when they were returned they were rolled up in a laundry bag. Speaking of laundry bags, there were none in our cabin. I requested that our cabin steward provide some, to no avail. I ended up going to the supply closet later that day to get some myself. - Each cabin has a $4.50 bottle of Evian water and a bottle of Pellegrino. They are tagged with a note indicating the price and suggesting that if you use up the supply to simply fill out a slip to request more. On day three of our trip we used up the water bottle. I was never left a slip to ask for more nor did I ever get anymore. - Each cabin is outfitted with a nicely designed welcome sign that can be rotated to indicate do not disturb, to request turn down service or to request that the cabin be made up. Dont bother using these signs as they are completely disregarded by your cabin steward. They clean cabins in sequence and only in sequence. - The very first person I spoke with upon embarking could not answer any, none, nada of my questions. Now, if I was managing this ship and I assigned four or five greeters to work in the gangway during embarkation, I would be certain they were some of the most knowledgeable crew onboard. Not so, this person told me he had been here only one month! Why was he a greeter? - Smoking is acceptable, or at least condoned, in several public areas on this ship. For example, every public restroom has ash trays in the stalls. - Ahh, the Aloha Cafe. It could best be described as the worst possible hospital food served buffet style. My food quality expectations whenever I go to a buffet are not very high. This buffet could not even come close to my lowest expectations. For example, the eggs are simply not palatable. If you had time you could wait in line and have eggs prepared for you but there was always a line. Each and every day the bacon was like wood paneling. The coffee was terrible and fully half of the latte machines were broken and stayed that way all week. Finding a spoon to stir your coffee was always difficult. They would only put out about 100 spoons at a time and with over 2,000 people feeding themselves every morning they always seemed to be out of spoons. The coffee cups are disgusting. At least every other cup one touched was coffee stained. They saved money by buying plastic coffee cups and the dishwashers will simply not remove the stains. There were never any utensils at the fruit bar. You could pick up a plate and some nicely done fresh fruit but needed to go elsewhere to get utensils. Fruit, salads and desserts were the only edible foods in the Aloha Cafe. Forget trying any of the hot foods. - If you must use the Aloha Cafe, I urge you to use the area at the aft of the ship. It is outdoors and offers some pleasant seating. The outside buffet is not as crowded and has all the offerings as the inside cafe. - To avoid the hospital quality buffet in the Aloha Cafe we took to having breakfast and lunch in the Skyline restaurant. The problem was this. Breakfast took from 1-2 hours and lunch was always well over an hour. In fact, on the last day of our cruise breakfast took over 2 ½ hours. That is simply unacceptable. - Jeffersons Bistro; sounds upscale doesnt it? This is where we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary dinner and a sad evening it was as we were expecting a fine dining experience. It was not to be. Our evening began with an assistant to the Maitre d ignoring our arrival and simply looking down at the computer screen of table assignments. He eventually walked away without ever acknowledging our presence. When the Maitre d arrived sometime later she ignored us and carried on a conversation with a waiter. Whatever he whispered to her was upsetting and she huffed and sighed loudly while looking at the group seated at one of the tables. She eventually acknowledged our presence in a youre bothering me tone. When making our reservation we were told that the ONLY available table for six was 6:00 pm, much earlier than we wanted to eat, yet, more than 50% of the restaurant remained empty throughout our 3.5 hour dining ordeal. Next we met our waiter. I would describe him as arrogant, ornery and condescending. He was frustrated with every question we asked during the ordering process. I could write several paragraphs about this one part of our dining experience however, two events say it all. First, the chefs special that evening was a petite filet mignon and lobster tail (at a $15/person additional surcharge by the way). We asked if the lobster was Maine lobster or something else. He said he didnt know and seemed rather irritated by the question. He stood there looking at us so we asked if he could find out the origin of the lobster. His response, again in an irritated tone was, Why, does it make a difference. When we indicated that it did in fact make a difference he proceeded to tell us it was probably from Indonesia. Again he stood there. We then asked him directly to ask the kitchen. He left in a huff. He returned a few minutes later and announced to the table that it was in fact Maine lobster. Great, five of the six in our party ordered the filet and lobster tail special. When our entrEes arrived it was clear that the lobster was not from Maine. You see, we are all from New Hampshire and we are very familiar with the appearance, taste and texture of Maine lobster and, yes, it does make a difference. So, basically the waiter lied to us to appease the group. There was another issue with this waiter that we were so upset by that we nearly walked out in the middle of the meal. We had entered the restaurant with our drinks from the adjacent John Adams bar. This is an accepted practice when cruising. One member of our party was not consuming alcohol that evening so he had a glass of Coke with him as well as the remainder from the can when we arrived. When he ordered another Coke the waiter said I suppose you want that in a can. He said this in the most condescending tone you could imagine. All of us were both insulted and embarrassed. - One evening we had a 5:00 pm reservation in the East Meets West restaurant, specifically in the Teppanyaki room. This was again the only available seating. Well, the restaurant did not open until 5:10 pm. By now even simple things like a restaurant opening late irritated me. And, as was so often the case on this cruise, only about 50% of the seats in the restaurant were used during our dinner. Why is it we can only get a five oclock reservation but seats go unfilled all evening? This seemed to happen in every specialty restaurant. I will give credit to our Teppanyaki chef. He was funny, flexible and he made the meal enjoyable. These Teppanyaki tables are designed to seat 10 per table. The staff put eight Japanese speaking guests at one table, our English speaking party of six at another table and they seated a young couple with us that was also Japanese speaking. In fact, they knew hardly any English. If the restaurant had customer service in mind, they would have seated those of similar language together. After all, there were only 16 of us in the entire Teppanyaki room and the issue was very obvious. - One night in the Liberty Restaurant, one of the more nicely appointed facilities on this ship, our waitress had a few concerns. She told us how she hated her work, how she had this job only as a way of trying to become one of the entertainers, how she was jealous of the high pay and treatment of the entertainers and how tired she was of working so hard. Now theres good customer service for you. And, it gets better. We asked about the specific preparation of the Osso Bucco veal shank. The waitress proceeded to tell us, in complete disgust, how veal was actually baby lamb. Oh my! - Freestyle dinning simply means you fight for a reservation at some time other than when you want to eat and you pay more. Did you know that the $10-15/person cover charge is just the beginning? Most of these theme restaurants also charge you even more for their better entrees? Supposedly you can dial extension 50 to make dinner reservations. Most times this was a waste as no one would answer the phone. This left you walking from restaurant to restaurant trying to find a reservation that worked for your party. - Lets talk about sewage. This ship either has a design flaw or a system malfunction which causes strong smells of raw sewage to be prevalent at different times and at different locations around the ship. You can be standing on deck 11 aft and suddenly you are met with strong sewage smells. Later you might be on the walking area of deck 6 about midship and the same smell is pervasive. Whenever you tender to shore, the sewage smells in the area of the gangway are particularly strong. The worst was one evening when I was returning to my cabin on deck 4. That evening the sewage smell had permeated the entire cabin area in the ships aft to midship. It was strong enough to make one sick to their stomach. - Pool deck; too small for this sized ship. Im guessing that a maximum of 50 guests could sit in the sun at pool level. That is a pretty small percentage of the 2,000 people on board. I recommend that you go to the small pool at the back of the ship. It was quiet and the bar service was better. Fumes from the engines were a negative back here though. - The John Adams Bar is conveniently located at midship near the main gangway doors. This was a convenient meeting location for our group prior to any events or meals. Sadly though, this bar had the worst customer service of any on the ship. It was nearly impossible to get served if you sat anywhere but at the bar. The waitress was always off roaming the ship and didnt seem to care that people were waiting to be served. Further, with only one bartender, whenever the waitress did wait on tables she became frustrated because the bartender would always wait on bar patron after bar patron before addressing her order needs. Several times during the week she would need to go behind the bar to make her own drinks. Now that is team work for you! - The staff at the reception desk was generally pleasant (not always as noted above) but they lacked knowledge of many things relative to the ship and they lacked a can do attitude. Excuses as opposed to solutions seemed to be the norm. As an example, we needed to check on a possible change to our airport transfers. The reception desk acted as though this was the first time they had ever heard such a question. They eventually gave us an extension number onboard ship of someone who could help us. We called that number, several times, and the phone was never answered. Having gone back to reception, we were given a number to call in Miami. Making that call was a waste of time. They were completely uncaring and unhelpful. Maybe the Miami office at NCL needs customer sensitivity training also. - STOP&.STOP&.the forced or automatic tipping. This degrades customer service at all levels. I believe it is one of the greatest mistakes cruise lines are making today. Forced tipping is an industry wide trend and is not NCLs problem alone. I do propose however, that NCL could dramatically improve its customer service very rapidly if they were to reinstitute the recommended tipping versus forced tipping program. Poor service performers would quickly be weeded out through attrition. - The design of the Hollywood Theater is simply bad. One must remember that the Pride of America is a smaller ship and as such there are many design constraints. One area where design was comprised is in the theater. The elevation change from one row to the next is insufficient to stop the person in the row in front of you from blocking your view. Other than the first few rows, all the seats shared this problem. Ive already bloviated extensively in this review and rest assured I could go on and on, in particular with the negatives. Simply put, most every customer service experience onboard the ship was poor. Only about 20% or less of the crew was caring and professional. It was hard to even get acknowledged when passing a crew member in the hallway  something you would never find on other cruise lines. Most crew members never smiled. I am going to step out on a ledge a little and give my opinion of what is going on with this ship as compared to other cruise lines. What I am about to say may not be politically correct, but it deserves to be said. This is one of the few ships sailing from US ports that has a primarily American crew. Sadly, that fact is a real negative for this ship. Crews on ships have a demanding job working seven days a week for weeks and months on end. Most Americans are simply not accustomed to this schedule and many of the crew seemed to resent their treatment or found the routine too difficult. Generally speaking, foreign crew members on other ships are glad to be there, they appreciate their jobs. That was not true of the crew on the Pride of America. In a mere seven days, I was directly told by three different crew members that they hated their jobs. In a fourth case I overheard two crew members going on and on about their hatred for their work and NCL. I also experienced a supervisor disciplining a bus boy for not cleaning up some dishes brought into the Aloha Cafe by the poolside bar. This was essentially a turf debate about who should clean up after whom. This discussion took place in public. When it was over, the supervisor left and the bus boy sputtered loudly enough for all to hear about how he felt while clearing away the dishes from the poolside bar. Every member of our six person party on multiple occasions during the week heard crew members complaining about their jobs. Just what I am looking for when I vacation! How much of these crew quality issues are the direct fault of NCL due to poor hiring and training and or poor working conditions is not clear to me. I propose, however, that a clean sweep of 80% of this crew must be accomplished and strong consideration should be given to the source of new hires. Overall Summary: This could be such a wonderful cruise as the ports of call are exceptionally beautiful. But, NCLs poor crew selection and training and the overall lack of customer service as well as the freestyle experience ruin an otherwise incredible cruise. Unless a high quality cruise line comes to Hawaii, I strongly urge all comers to avoid NCL and island hop via airplane instead. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My family and I sailed on the Pride of America on 1/21/06. Some of the problems that other cruisers had, we also had, but the ship is beautiful, new and the american crew is friendly and hard working. We had a wonderful cabin steward and ... Read More
My family and I sailed on the Pride of America on 1/21/06. Some of the problems that other cruisers had, we also had, but the ship is beautiful, new and the american crew is friendly and hard working. We had a wonderful cabin steward and plenty of room in our balcony cabin. We did cruise by the volcano at night. We were in our ports on time. Getting off and on the Ship was not problem. We did have rain one night that cancelled the Shore Excursion for the Luau and NCL should have handled this cancellation better. Food flavor, appeal and variation is a problem in the main dining rooms. Freestyle dining has some problems. Our meals took about 2 hours - very slow. Service was slow, but the american crew was busting their buns and were friendly and it was nice understanding them. The whole process in the Skyline and Liberty dining rooms needs to be reworked. There were things like no different breads each night and the same bread served in the main dining rooms, were served in the specialty restaurant. It almost like they have taken their good food and put it in the specialty restaurants and given minimal attention to the main dining rooms. The boards were confusing and misleading. Shows were good. Pools had plenty of towels. Gift shops need some work but were okay. Except for the food, everything was better than we expected, considering the harsh reviews The Pride had been receiving. We would go again, without hesitating. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
We left on the Pride of America (POA) on Saturday, January 14. We had a balcony cabin. Cabins are very small, but adequate for 2. Our cabin had a nice large balcony where we spent many hours in the sun watching the world go by or sitting ... Read More
We left on the Pride of America (POA) on Saturday, January 14. We had a balcony cabin. Cabins are very small, but adequate for 2. Our cabin had a nice large balcony where we spent many hours in the sun watching the world go by or sitting in the evening while sailing. Cabin Service: We were very fortunate to have Ray as our steward. He was efficient, kept the cabin clean and made up, the ice bucket filled twice a day, and he was friendly. I had heard some complaints about cabins not being clean, etc. However, we did not encounter this. Food: Hate to say this, but the food in the mail dinning rooms (Liberty and Skyline) was pretty bad. The first night we had prime rib, Caesar salads, and shrimp cocktails. The prime rib was absolutely tasteless, the salad looked and tasted like it had been made 3 days prior  the lettuce wilted, no cheese on the salad, and tasteless dressing. The shrimp cocktail tasted fishy and the shrimp was limp like it had been thawed for days. We vowed we would not eat in there again& but we did on Lobster night. Lobster night was ok not great, but it was decent. Our biggest complaint was the food. The best breakfast was served outside the Aloha Cafe  there is an omelet bar and the chef will fry or scramble you fresh eggs. The waffles inside the Aloha Cafe were good  but the scrambled eggs tasted like powdered eggs. Breakfast, as a whole, was pretty good, but they constantly ran out of items on the line  like orange juice. Youd ask and they would refill it immediately so that wasnt a big issue for us. I did hear some complaints that the ship ran out of certain food stuff, like ice cream. But we didnt encounter this issue. A word about freestyle cruising: Some may like it, some may not. Its not exactly as you might think reading the brochures. You would think that you could look at the dining boards showing which restaurants were full and which had room for you to show up and eat. That isnt exactly the case. You are far better off to make reservations the first day you board the ship  no matter how long the line. The POA offers several up scale restaurants where the food is very good  outstanding in some cases. You pay extra - $10 to $15 per person to eat there, but its worth every penny as far as we were concerned. Specialty Restaurants: Jefferson Bistro  was fabulous. Had a wonderful filet and lobster (which wasnt on the menu, but offered), flambE desert, great Caesar salad. Tappanyakie (in the East Meets West) is like Benihanas restaurant with the chef preparing your meal in front of you. It was very good and entertaining. Lazy J Steakhouse was good, but I didnt think as good as the Jefferson or Tappanyakie. Finally, we ate in East Meets West and the food was excellent served with dim sum. We couldnt get into Little Italy which everyone raved about! The Bars: Overall the bars were good; we had our favorite in the Gold Rush Saloon. The outside bars were also nice. Depending upon the drink you ordered it was amazing the difference in the taste. I had a Pina Colada from the Key West bar that wasnt very good. I had it again at another bar  it was great. By the way, you cannot get a bar set up in your cabin on the Hawaiian cruises. We tried. Crew: Fortunately we only ran into one problem. However, I heard complaints for other passengers that the crew members were rude. I did observe one incident where the crew member was rude to a passenger. We ran into trouble when we tried to make a reservation for dinner the last day. We called on Thursday to see if we could go to the Jefferson Bistro again. We were told all the specialty restaurants were booked. No offer of a waiting list or anything. We had reservations at East Meets West so, we were ok. Friday, stopped on our way off ship at the reservations desk to see if anything had opened up. The gentleman in line in front of me was told that there was an opening in the Bistro at 8 for two. He selected another restaurant and when I was being helped next, I asked for the Bistro at 8. The girl said fine, and wanted our cabin number. At that point, an older lady came out of the office in time to hear my request and said, No. After asking why it was offered she told me she had a waiting list and they came first. The poor girl at the desk helping me apologized and said she didnt know there was a waiting list and offered to look at restaurants open. She then told me we could eat in the Liberty (main dining room)  we declined that offer. I told them both their communications needed enhancement. I wasnt happy with the treatment they gave me. The older woman wasnt exactly nice about telling me why we couldnt get a reservation and she never asked if we wanted to be added to the waiting list. Overall: I loved the itinerary of this cruise. We had a lot of fun on the islands and the ship stayed in port longer than any other cruise line. I would have liked it if we were anchored in Lihue on Maui, but they offered a bus over to the town. We took a lot of shore excursions  and were happy with them all. A word to the wise, book them early and on line. You can easily rent a car (which we did on several islands) and do the sight seeing itinerary yourself for less. Highlights: Volcano park on the big island (we did this ourselves), Maui whale watch excursion with Pacific Ocean Foundation (fabulous), Halekala downhill bike and Waimea Canyon and Fern Grotto excursions. On the ship we sailed around the volcano at night  that was awesome and so was the Na Pali Coast. Both were breathtaking. How would I rate the Cruise? This isnt a premium cruise line, but all in all, I enjoyed the cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat. It is a different vacation in that the cruise didnt offer a lot of variety in entertainment at night. Clearly, the cruise line believes passengers wont be onboard during the day and dont need entertainment at night. The shows were not bad, just not as professional as on other cruise lines. It would have been nice if they had had bingo or other games organized for passengers in the evenings. Also, they had death by chocolate during the day when most passengers were on shore& they should have those things in the evening. We really didnt run into problems with the crew  they were all (except the one) very polite and service oriented  but it could be better. TIPS: Book your food reservations in advance for the entire trip. Book your excursions in advance on line. Plan out your shore excursions and think about rent cars on the islands like Maui, Kauai and the big island. But most of all enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
The food services that were offered on this cruise was very poor. The food on the buffet lines had a very limited selection and was usually served at lukewarm temperatures. Certain drink machines, such as milk and coffee, and ice cream ... Read More
The food services that were offered on this cruise was very poor. The food on the buffet lines had a very limited selection and was usually served at lukewarm temperatures. Certain drink machines, such as milk and coffee, and ice cream machines would be empty during meal times. It was sometimes difficult to find a service member to refill these containers. The meals on the buffet lines was so awful that the restaurants were the only options and it was difficult to get a reservation. They usually sat with empty tables while people stood in line to get in because they did not have a reservation time. The meals and service provided here was not much better. The wait between courses usually took about 30-45 minutes. An average meal lasted for about two and a half hours. Also, the policy for waiting for late passengers for excursions was not enforced. We were told that the policy was fifteen minutes. However, we waited 45 minutes for a couple that was running late. The bus started to pull away as the tardy couple showed up. Instead of driving off, the bus then waited for them to embark. I think that was inconsiderate of both the couple and the embarkation team. The ship was beautiful and nicely kept up. However, the other services provided made my first cruise experience a disappointing one. The beauty of Hawaii saved the experience from being a complete let down. I would never sail with this cruise line again and I would not recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was our 4th cruise with NCL. It was our vacation of a lifetime and we were ecstatic over it. Embarkation went smoothly and we went directly to our stateroom. It was absolutely beautiful, all shiny wood and chrome. We had a balcony ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with NCL. It was our vacation of a lifetime and we were ecstatic over it. Embarkation went smoothly and we went directly to our stateroom. It was absolutely beautiful, all shiny wood and chrome. We had a balcony that was just heavenly, it made our room feel that much bigger. I agree with the past reviews that the bathroom was small, but no smaller than any others we'd had in the past. The storage space we had for clothing was much better than on past cruises. The ship itself was beautiful and well done. In spite of other reviews I read, it was clean and neat any time we were aboard. Our stateroom was well maintained by our stewards. Our luggage arrived at our room by the time we were returning from the lifeboat drill. When you take this cruise, book any reservations for the specialty restaurants the first night, otherwise you'll be out of luck. We only went to the Bistro and Little Italy b/c the others were all full. the main dining rooms were short staffed and we were told as much by a waiter in Little Italy, which explained a lot. The food in the main dining room and Aloha Cafe was all right, not wonderful by any standard. The Bistro and Little Italy, however, were both fantastic. The chocolate fondue at the Bistro was amazing! We signed up for our excursions the first night as well in fear that the ones we wanted would be full. Thankfully that was not the case. Variety of excursions in Hilo was pretty slim, volcanoes or nothing. There was a shuttle to Hilo Hattie at every port. And many had a shuttle to Wal-Mart. Sorry, I didn't come this far to go to Wally world! On Maui we did the Molokini snorkel trip. It was fantastic! How often do you get the opportunity to snorkel a dormant volcano? We swam w/sea turtles at Turtle town, not a park, but an actual reef where they live. The Pacific Whale Foundation staff were very knowledgeable and made sure that none of the marine life were harassed or bothered in any way. I highly recommend renting a car and going to Lahaina. go the opposite direction of all the tourists, that's where you'll find the best things. We went to the Feast at Lele, on the beach in Lahaina, a luau that was spectacular. the beach day at Ka'anapali was a disappointment. We were shuttled across the island to an area packed w/resorts and taken to the Sheraton resort beach. I know why we were there, the availability of restrooms and calm waters, but we were hoping for something a little more authentic. Kona was the best day by far. If you do anything on the water, you have to do Captain Zodiac. It is not for the faint of heart, we were going really fast over the water on a 22ft rigid hull inflatable raft. But it was definitely the most fun! We were 25 yds from a whale. The snorkeling at Kealakekua was the best we've ever seen. The diversity of coral and fish was incredible. Kauai was the most beautiful island, if that's possible. Just the ruggedness of the mountains and the fact that part of it is untouched is wonderful. The waters were rough most of the time we were sailing, but that is the time of year. Winter is rougher waters I think nearly everywhere. But not so bad that we were seasick or even close. And yes, the lack of nightlife was really bad. We went to find something one evening and it was literally a ghost town. It felt like everyone on the ship was either a family w/very small children or in their 70's/80's, and nothing in between. don't get me wrong, I hope to be cruising when I'm in my 70's, but when you're 30 something and you want to have some fun, that's not the crowd to hang out with. Entertainment, what entertainment? The juggler was good, but it was definitely amateur night the rest of the time. The comedian was trying to be funny, but his routine mainly consisted of asking audience members what their occupation was and making funny jokes about them. He was never derogatory or belittling, but not much of a show. Leaving the ship, theoretically should have been easy. we put our bags out the night before w/a colored tag which was supposed to speed the disembarkation process. When our color was called we went down thinking that since we were called all of our bags should be down there. That was not the case, they didn't have all of them down yet, so we spent another 20 minutes waiting for our bags. An inconvenience, yes. Did it cause any major problems, no. Will we go again? I definitely hope so. Even for all of the downsides of the ship, it was the best value for a visit to the islands and to be able to see as many as we did. If you do go, take a day or two before to get acclimated to the time difference. We were screwed up all week, waking up at 3 and 4 AM b/c of our 4 hr time difference. We wanted to do Pearl Harbor the day we got back in, but the line was 3+ hrs long, so we skipped it. Rent a car and drive around Oahu. We saw kite surfers at Kailua beach, Hanauma bay and the Blowhole. Besides, you can't get too lost! We'll definitely do that when we go back. I hope my input helps. It's not all perfect, but what ever is? Aloha! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was our first cruise on NCL and we were definitely disappointed. Having previous experience cruising with other lines, we wont try NCL again. The ship was beautiful, but the staterooms were very, very small. The balcony was ... Read More
This was our first cruise on NCL and we were definitely disappointed. Having previous experience cruising with other lines, we wont try NCL again. The ship was beautiful, but the staterooms were very, very small. The balcony was wonderful. Freestyle dining does NOT mean that the guest (and I use that term loosely in regard to the way we were treated--) can eat when and where one desires. We were able to eat in the formal dining rooms only two evenings. We had to wait quite a long time for that opportunity. Even in the small town where we live, an area of seats is provided if there is a wait time. Not on the Pride of America. Cool your heels in the hall or sit on the stairway. We later tried making reservations with limited success, and could not get in at all on formal night. It seems strange that there is not enough seating area in the two main dining rooms to accommodate the passengers...... The Cadillac Diner, where we often ate, was more accessible and the food fairly good. The Aloha Buffet was excellent the day of embarkation. After that, at noon we could have a hamburger, hot dog, or sandwich. The menu was very meager and much like a high school cafeteria. When I go on a cruise, I expect to be pampered and be served gourmet meals.... The food on this ship was mediocre at best, which gave me the feeling that I was not being pampered!! The young people who worked on the ship were, generally, very likeable and friendly. As a retired high school teacher, I enjoyed meeting them and hearing their stories. They were fairly well trained as service staff--if a bit forgetful in what they had told you they would get/do for you. The theatre entertainment was excellent. The excursions were very good, but greatly over priced in relation to what is charged visitors who are not on the cruise ship. The golf excursions were exceedingly well managed. In all, we felt that life on the ship was very inferior--and second rate, at best. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
I lived in Hawaii for 4 years and have visited since so I know the islands well. Decided I wanted to do an in-Hawaii cruise to revisit old places and do a few things we had missed. We have cruised about 20 times and have been on NCL ... Read More
I lived in Hawaii for 4 years and have visited since so I know the islands well. Decided I wanted to do an in-Hawaii cruise to revisit old places and do a few things we had missed. We have cruised about 20 times and have been on NCL twice before never, of course, on an American flagged ship. We had read the bad reviews and were somewhat leery. We never had a problem. Since there had been many negative comments about the main dining room, we booked specialty restaurants every night (Little Italy, LJ Steakhouse, and Jefferson Bistro twice each and East meets West once). Of course, we booked as soon as we boarded because they do fill up - we also find restaurants book up at home so we try to make reservations early. We also dined in the buffet several times and in the dining rooms for breakfast and lunch a couple of times. The food was comparable to the last cruise we took on RCL and better than the previous cruise (also RCL). As always, some dishes we liked a lot and some left something to be desired. The staff was uniformly polite and friendly. Service was usually prompt. Our balcony cabin was small but adequate and our cabin steward provided great service. The cruise entails two days on each of the major islands; inexpensive and easy rental car availability (combined with the excellent "blue" travel guides from wizard publications "_____(name of island) Revealed") for super enjoyment of being on-shore, and the spectacular sailings by the volcano and the beautiful Na Pali coast of Kauai; it is a hard cruise to beat. We had no bad smells, bad attitudes, or bad vibes. I understand that some people have unfortunate experiences. Our only minor blip was that the toilet would not flush on Day 2. A maintenance crewman fixed it in a few minutes. I also understand that some people are not satisfied with anything. I cannot understand all of the negative comments on the cruise. If you don't make reservations for dining - adjust your eating schedule. If a crew member is sour, go speak to most of the crew who we found very cheerful. And if freestyle is not for you, sail another ship that spends nine days at sea and five in the islands. One last comment on entertainment. The first production show by the show staff we did not like and the second was not too much to our liking. Both were too experimental - the Best of Broadway is always good for us. However the comedian we loved and the juggler-comedian was very good. The most surprising great entertainment, however, was the crew show. From very talented crew musicians and singers to the hilarious "Fountains", this was a highlight of the cruise. Aloha and Mahalo Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Background information -- My husband and I are avid cruisers. We have been on 7 cruises in 5 years so I consider my review as fair from someone who has traveled on several cruise lines. We selected the Pride of America mainly because of ... Read More
Background information -- My husband and I are avid cruisers. We have been on 7 cruises in 5 years so I consider my review as fair from someone who has traveled on several cruise lines. We selected the Pride of America mainly because of the itinerary. Overall, we were not impressed with the ship, ship activities, and especially the service onboard. Travel To Port of Embarkation -- We arrived in Honolulu and took a taxi cab to the pier. The cab fare was $20 from our hotel (Hilton) in Waikiki. Kind of pricey, but very convenient. The port was quite nice. There were plenty of restaurants and shops to keep us busy until we could board the ship. Stateroom -- Our stateroom was decent. We expected it to be smaller than other cruise lines after reading reviews, and it was. But it was still well-appointed. We had a balcony room and it was nice to leave the doors open to let in some fresh air. The stateroom was not as clean as other cruise ship rooms. There were smudges all over the mirrors behind the bed that were never cleaned. The carpets were not vacuumed, and unlike other ships, the stateroom attendants did not vacuum daily or clean daily for that matter unless you indicated that you wanted your cabin made outside your door. On other lines, it seemed as though our rooms were made every few hours if it needed to be. Dining -- This is by far where the Pride of America ranks quite poorly. Selections at the buffet were limited. A lot of the food served was not very good. Dinners in the main dining room lacked quality presentation and tasted old and dry. I ordered salmon on one night, lobster on another and chicken. My husband ordered steak, lobster, and prime rib. Each time, the dinner did not look appetizing and tasted how it looked. It was apparent that there is definitely a lack of experience in the kitchen. The ship also offers "freestyle dining" which in theory could have been a good idea. But the execution was so unorganized that the wait for dinner would often be around 45 minutes - 1.5 hours. Even with a reservation we (and many other unhappy guests) waited for at least 30 minutes. The sad thing was that there were plenty of tables available, but the staff was not well trained which would cause for a chaotic mess. Activities -- We usually love to go to the casinos onboard. Since this ship did not have a casino, we went to EVERY place available on board. The comedian onboard was great. And they had a gentleman who sang at the piano bar who was fabulous. What we noticed was that many times, venues would be closed. On other ships it did not matter if only one person was at a bar, that bar remained open until it was supposed to. Also, a certain band were scheduled to play 70s music one evening and we decided to go listen to them. There was only a handful of ship guests at the club. The band was scheduled to play for 1 hour. After 10 minutes, the band decided they didn't want to play music anymore and the dj started to play hip hop music. All the off duty crew members got out on the dance floor and started dancing. It turned into the "crew members" dance club. Which would have been fine if the itinerary said it was hip hop night, however, it was supposed to be '70s live band till 11 pm. And it wasn't. The gym was great but not as sanitary as it should be. We went everyday around 7 pm. We saw an employee there once. Many times the machines were wet with sweat, so we had to find the disinfectant and wipe them off ourselves. Shore Excursions -- The luau provided by the ship was nothing like we expected. There were over 300 people seated in a large grassy area at a local hotel. Despite the ocean view, the luau did not feel authentic. We felt like we were at a luau factory. There were only 10 dancers so anyone seated in the back (you did not get to pick your seats, you were seated in the order your tour bus arrived) did not feel as though they were a part of the festivities. We swam with sea turtles in Maui, and that was WONDERFUL. The water was crystal clear and the turtles were curious and abundant. Service -- This has been said repeatedly in reviews. But I can not stress enough how bad the service is onboard. We were told by different waitresses at different times that the ship ran out of certain items (a-1 sauce, vanilla ice cream and tabasco sauce). These items reappeared the following day at the buffet so we had no choice but to come to the conclusion that the dinner waitresses were too lazy to get them. With the exception of the staff that greet you upon embarkation, the majority of the staff do not smile at guests or even acknowledge them. We not only encountered this, but many other guests who we befriended on this cruise did as well. The photographers on the ship also do not know how to take pictures. The quality of photos were poor. Many were overexposed. Also, do NOT fall for the direct tipping charge. When we found this out, we immediately had them refund the balance to us. We only tipped 2 staff members on the ship --- our stateroom attendant and one waitress at the 24 hour diner who was probably the most pleasant lady onboard. During dinner, you do not get the warm greeting from your server as you do on other cruise lines. One evening when we were waiting to get seated for dinner at 9:30 pm, the hostess offered to seat us with another couple. We told her that would be fine as long as the other couple did not mind. She proceeded to seat us with the couple, who, once we approached looked surprised to have dinner guests. The worst part was that there were MANY empty tables around us. I brought this to the hostess' attention and told her that maybe if their staff cleaned some of the tables there would not be a line for dinner at 9:30 pm. Her reply was "well, maybe you should talk to the captain for firing a bunch of employees just cause they got drunk one night." Excuse me? I can not tell you how much I felt like I was on a "Crew Gone Wild" ship. There are too many young, out of high school, taking a "break" from college employees on board who see working on this cruise ship as an opportunity to party in hawaii. While that's perfectly fine, they should maintain a level of professionalism while on duty. For her to say that to me, was baffling. Sadly, the crew of the ship know how bad their service is. The cruise director often made jokes about it and mentioned that it's getting better. If that was better service than before than I feel terrible for anyone on past cruises. Even as they collected the comment cards as we disembarked, the crew members ever so sarcastically said, "Oooh comment cards, we LOVE comment cards." Summary -- We would not recommend this ship to anyone. It was awful. And they (NCL) know it's awful yet they still charge a premium. We have never made so many friends on a ship where the one thing we had in common was how terrible a time we were having on board. The bad service showed no prejudice - old & young, married & single, black, white, asian....it didn't matter. My advice is if you want to go to hawaii, wait for a flight & hotel special and fly to honolulu and maui. (if you're on a budget) if not, throw Kauai into your itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
I'll make this quick and painless (I can't stand to read some of these LONG reviews) This was our first time on NCL. and it was enjoyable. It is an "Old person's cruise".. Very few newly weds or younger people ... Read More
I'll make this quick and painless (I can't stand to read some of these LONG reviews) This was our first time on NCL. and it was enjoyable. It is an "Old person's cruise".. Very few newly weds or younger people under the age of 40 on this cruise. The Food was awful!!!! We ate at Lazy J steak house and ordered the lobster. There is $15 cover per person to eat there and an additional $10 more for the 1.5 lb lobster. The Lobster was so Over cooked it was white. The shrimp cocktail was warm which I ate and paid for the next day (very sick). East meets West was good on the first night. No one was there and the Sushi was Very FRESH. the second time we ate from the asian menu instead of sushi bar not very good at all. Also don't be fooled about Little Italy and how good it is... It is a speciality restaurant that doesn't have a cover. The food was terrible (the salad was brown and the lasagna was cold) The best meal we had was in the Liberty room one of the main dining rooms. Went on two shore excursions. Capt Zodiac in Kona and the ATV adventure in Kauai. Both were excellent a bit pricey but lots of fun. We saw a lot of whales thru out the trip. Our room steward was excellent found for the most part the staff to be friendly a few to be jerks but that's to be expected when you have a crew of 900. The night sailing by the Volcano and the Napali coast were really cool. Overall we had fun. I would recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
After reading the negative reviews of NCLs Pride of America cruise to Hawaii, we four travelers decided to keep a positive attitude and avoid comparisons to our previous Holland America cruises (which were terrific). Our balcony cabin ... Read More
After reading the negative reviews of NCLs Pride of America cruise to Hawaii, we four travelers decided to keep a positive attitude and avoid comparisons to our previous Holland America cruises (which were terrific). Our balcony cabin (portside, midship on the 8th floor) was cozy but comfortable, and was cleaned promptly without fail. Our adjoining-door room to our traveling companions was convenient. We noticed the ships continued sewage odor problems in certain areas (and overheard complaints), but we were lucky to avoid that problem in our rooms. Dining was not a high point in this cruise. To avoid waiting and/or missing the evening shows, make reservations for each dinner. We tried for reservations at the Little Italy restaurant for Friday nights cruise along the NaPali Coast (after reading this suggestion in cruisecritic.com), but a private party had pre-reserved the evening. This was a blessing in disguise, as the view from our balcony was unbeatable, plus we werent confined to a restaurant window during that spectacular evening. We tried three specialty restaurants: Little Italy (fair), Jefferson Bistro (fair), and Lazy J Steakhouse (poor), and ate at the Liberty restaurant thereafter (no extra charges and the food is adequatea bit like Dennys but with better presentation). The Skyline restaurant offers the same menu as Liberty, but is down one floor nearer the engines and very noisy. The service in all the restaurants was fine, two wait staff per table, and they were really hustling (in fact, they may be understaffed). Keep your sense of humor: You thought butter rationing was over when WWII ended?not so on the PofAone pad of butter per person per meal; and plan ahead, they ran out of prunes and prune juice! We were disappointed in the food presentation at the Skyline breakfastsi.e., the eggs/omelets would be served and maybe 10 minutes later the toast would arrive (sometimes raw and always cold). With one exception, we found the all the crew staff friendly and polite. (The young ladies passing out tender tickets needed the refresher course in customer service.) Island exploration is the goal and high point of this cruise. We pre-reserved a Thrifty van in each port and found that registering as a Blue Chip member (no fee) was helpful to avoid lines and get our car promptly. Thriftys detailed map booklet of each island is helpful. The rental shuttle vans (to the airport) were waiting at each port as we docked. Not wanting to be tied down to shore-excursion time constraints, we planned our daily itinerary using Lonely Planets Hawaii guidebook with hints from NCLs excursion booklet. Brief comments on each of our stops: Hilo, Hawaiiour least favorite port. Akaka Falls hike and drive north to overlook at Waipio. Couldnt find decent lunch stop (maybe because it was Sunday?). Hilo is not much of a resort town. Kahului, MauiLoved the Maui Ocean Center (and their beautiful gift shop). Rode the steam train from Lahaina to Kaanapali. Enjoyed the Maui Tropical Plantation tram tour, one of our favorites. Got up at 3 a.m. on the second port day to drive to the top of Mt. Haleakala for sunrise. Very cold, very very cold, but quite a sight. Take warmest clothes and a couple of NCLs towels with you to use as scarves/wraparounds. Later that day we loved swimming (bouncing around in the surf) at Oneloa, a public beach south of Wailea. Kona, HawaiiOur only tender port. First stop was the Place of Refuge at Honaunau, well worth the trip. Enjoyed the sea turtles in the surf. Returning to Kona, we stopped at the St. Benedicts Painted Church and had an excellent free tour at Greenwells Kona Coffee Farm. Loved having lunch at the Kona Brewing Company and did some shopping by the dock while the guys returned the rental car (hint: allow plenty of time for returning car; traffic is bad). Nawiliwili, Kauai: We spent our only rainy day driving north to the Kilauea Lighthouse (dont miss the treats at the Kilauea Bakery). Even in the pouring rain, the view from the lighthouse bluff is not to be missed. Enjoyed watching the pairs of nene (Hawaiis national bird) padding around the property. Continued our drive north/west to Kee Beach (not great). An okay lunch at the Dolphin restaurant at Hanalei, but try ice cream at Beezers in Kapaa. Our second port day was sunny, and an early morning trip to the Waimea Canyon (little Grand Canyon) was well worth it. Only had time to drive to the first lookout, but that view was spectacular enough (and the tour buses dont go any farther anyway). Nice little coffee stop/art gallery (local artists) in Waimea on our way back to the ship (leaving port by 1:30). By far the highlight of this cruise was the final day, sailing counter-clockwise around Kauai, viewing the Na Pali coast in late afternoon/sunset. The coast is jaw-dropping, awesome gorgeous, and the spouting/breaching whales added to our entertainment. A wonderful climax to our Hawaii cruise. Recommend the cruise? Yes, but go with a hang loose attitude. Dont let the ships shortcomings spoil your vacation; speak up if you feel youre being shortchanged. Enjoy the islands. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My wife and I were on the 28th January cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. Firstly I must say Cruise Critic Website is wonderful as I as many before me kept on frequently reading cruise reviews once I had paid my deposit. There were times I ... Read More
My wife and I were on the 28th January cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. Firstly I must say Cruise Critic Website is wonderful as I as many before me kept on frequently reading cruise reviews once I had paid my deposit. There were times I would think I should pull out and not do this cruise and other times when I thought why not just do it and enjoy,so we did! We came from Australia and found the embarkation process very easy, as we alighted from our taxi a porter came over and tagged our bags and we saw the luggage again about 90 minutes later in our room! We have only done one other megaliner cruise and that was the Sapphire Princess in 2005 and yes, megaliners are all really the same thing, just different decor. Having said this Sapphire Princess was way superior in all quarters then this Ship could ever dream of being. On Pride of America we had a room forward of midship and this is important as I am a Mariner and I know this is more comfortable. A balcony is essential so you must ensure you book a cabin with one. Take my tip and hunt down your Cabin Steward and give him a $30 tip up front, he will love it and you will be assured of good service with the promise of things to come. I had the automatic tipping of $10 per person per day removed from my account (you do this at the desk on the Thursday night) as we Australians prefer to tip as we see fit and not leave it up to some large cruise liner to use in some staff incentive scheme? Our Steward even though he wasn't a 'professional' cleaner did what he thought was right. One afternoon we even came back to a poodle fashioned out of hand towels with two pink champagne flutes in his widdle paws for us. And in the fridge was a bottle of American Bubbly!! I asked another couple two doors down if they got a bottle of bubbly and they hadn't, oops!! Hawaii is wonderful,beautiful and pristine. My wife and I loved it all. As for the running of the Ship!! Well you have a bunch of kids signing on to do 5 months work and then 5 weeks off on break. All American as well and want to party of course! The ship has a resort manager and I am of the opinion if there was a Posse travelling the world hanging guys for being Resort Managers, if they got him, they would be hanging an innocent man!! These kids are not taught correctly in the first place. The ship sails 100% full every week. Around the Aloha Cafe it is like a madhouse for the most part!! Supervisors arguing with the young staff, threatening them. I even saw one female supervisor go purple in the face,she was so bowed up over a cleaner not clearing tables quickly enough. She was giving it to him with both barrels in front of us ...... really! Food in Aloha and Cadillacs is crap so soon as you hit your cabin phone reception and start booking the other restaurants as they are all better than Aloha Cafe. Don't do the Steak House as it isn't worth the cover charge and you guys are American and like us can have steak whenever you wish. We laughed our heads off over the chocolate buffet it all seems sooooooo funny! People are so greedy as you will see them taking their stash back to their cabins,some need a wheel barrow! So in summation: For the passenger (who seems to be between 50 and 80), go with an open mind, book all your restaurants on arrival in your room. Take the compulsory tipping off your cabins account. Seek out and tip your Cabin Steward as soon as you arrive on board. Buy lots of really bright, sickly Hawaiian Shirts to wear and have fun! Forget Formal night, cause why lug around a suit just for one night!! Don't become a prisoner of 'onshore activities'. Rent cars ashore as often as possible and make it a convertible!! Think young and be young,get a tan,you're free! Ensure you drink the cocktail and /or martini 'of the day' every day. Never complain,laugh instead as it is good for your head. You will have a ball. For the Management of the Vessel: I am so surprised you can get away with doing so little. I strongly advise that Executive Management contract an Efficiency Expert (Ex-Military,Navy)to audit your ship as you really need outside help as you are sooooo useless at running a 'resort'. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was me and my wife's third cruise (second with NCL, Celebrity in early 2005)and first trip to Hawaii. I must say that I was quite nervous having read all of the cruise critic reviews on POA. I have to say that for the most part, ... Read More
This was me and my wife's third cruise (second with NCL, Celebrity in early 2005)and first trip to Hawaii. I must say that I was quite nervous having read all of the cruise critic reviews on POA. I have to say that for the most part, we enjoyed our time in Hawaii tremendously. Embarkation: A complete breeze. We arrived at the Pier at 12:30 pm and were on the boat by 1:00 pm. Our rooms were ready by the time we boarded and we were able to drop our carry-on luggage off before we had a nice lunch at the Aloha Cafe. Cabin: We were very happy with our cabin. This was our first balcony and it was well worth the money. The bathroom/shower was very small but I made out ok and am 6'4" tall. Our room steward kept the room clean and stocked with all the necessary supplies. The bed was extremely comfortable and we slept well the whole cruise. Ship: This is a beautiful ship. We found it clean and well kept. The common areas are very nice. We have no complaints in this area. Food: This would be one of our disappointments. The main restaurants were average at best. The specialty restaurant that we frequented (Lazy J) was very good - well worth the $15 cover charge. We are not big fans of "freestyle cruising". They just don't seem organized enough to pull it off successfully. The wait times are too long and the amount of staff too small. Service: Again, service was average at best. However, this was not for lack of trying. It looked to me that everyone was trying very hard but again, I don't think they have enough staff on hand in the restaurants at busy times. Entertainment: Hit and miss. The juggler/comedian was good. The regular comedian was also good. The dancers/entertainers were ok. Rich does a good job as cruise director. Shore Excursions: Great! We rented a jeep on Maui for the 2 days and a jeep on Kauai for the first day. We did excursions through the ship in Kona (Captain Zodiak - amazing!), Kauai (Kayak to Hidden Falls - also VERY good!), and Honolulu (North Shore excursion - ok and it got us to the airport with our baggage at the end of the day). Disembarkation - Very smooth as well. Overall: This is a great way to see Hawaii at a very reasonable price. Don't believe all of the negative things you read about the POA on the various websites. The value for money of this cruise is very good. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Be prepared for a very long flight (we were on the plane for 11.5 hours). It would be best to add a few days at the end of the cruise to spend in a resort in order to rest up for the flight home. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We flew to Honolulu 2 days early and stayed at the Marriott on Waikiki Beach. NCL registered us (and took our credit card information and our identification pictures)from their office in the hotel. We attended a NCL orientation breakfast ... Read More
We flew to Honolulu 2 days early and stayed at the Marriott on Waikiki Beach. NCL registered us (and took our credit card information and our identification pictures)from their office in the hotel. We attended a NCL orientation breakfast and finished booking our excursions then. I had outlined where we wanted to eat each night on the cruise and gave that list to the NCL office which they said they could enter for us. (As soon as we got on ship, I went to front desk to confirm the dinner reservations, but they had none, so I gave the lady at the front desk my requests and she entered all of them. For East Meets West, you must indicate which part of the restaurant you want--we choose Teppanyaki (they cook you food in front of you.) Getting to the ship was easy....with NCL transfers. We entered the cruise terminal and were guided to a desk where we picked up our cruise cards. From the time we were off the bus (at 12:45 p.m.) until we were on the ship took 15 minutes! We went and bought our coke stickers from the first bar we saw and we were ready for a great cruise! We loved the aft room. The deck was 10 feet by 12 feet. It had 2 chairs and a lounge plus a little coffee table. We found a new use for the bungee cord! We let it hang straight down after attaching it to one side beam and it showed us how strong the wind was blowing! (Usually use it as a clothes line.) The bathroom was nice. The room was fine. Our room was clean, bed made, ice bucket filled and towels exchanged. We were careful to leave the messages on the turnwheel outside our cabin. Our cabin person would have received a bigger tip from us if he had come and visited with us. He seemed very busy--too busy to talk. Other cabin stewards talked more to us than he did. We enjoyed our cabin! We did shore excursions 4 days out of 7. We rented a car on Maui from Dollar and it cost $35. Captain Zodiak was good. We really enjoyed the final day all day excursion that put us at the airport at 7:30 p.m. for our 11:59 p.m. flight home. NCL owns the Polynesian Tour company on each island, so NCL continued to make money off of us even after we left the ship! We found the crew to be very hard working and really trying to keep things done up to the customer's expectations. We attended the anniversary party. The crew in charge of this party told us before the party about how hard they worked and how they really enjoyed working on the ship. The girl talking to us had her college degree and plans to work until she saves some money. The guy helping her enjoys the ship's opportunities and plans to stay for several contracts. NCL recruits employees through job fairs. There were many older Americans (not just people in their 20's) working on the ship also. Our one suggestion to NCL is to make one of the big dining rooms into a designated dining room with set time to eat and set people to eat with each night. That way, they could accommodate people who wanted the stability of knowing who to eat with and when to eat taken care of. We enjoyed the exercise facilities....very nice. My husband and I exercised every day. The chocolate buffet was wonderful! Lots of good things to eat. We ate at the Cadillac Diner several times. The food was always good. We ate in Jefferson Bistro, East Meets West, Little Italy, Lazy J Steakhouse--our favorite of the speciality restaurants, Liberty, and Key West Grill each one time. We ate at Aloha Cafe many times. I loved the ability to choose where to eat. I heard a lot of frustration from people wanting to eat at a certain restaurant, but couldn't get in. KEY: Make reservations 1st night....you can always change them later....also make reservation for 4 people if you plan to invite guests to eat with you. Reservations for 2 people are easier to get. We enjoyed the night time programs...fun! There were strong winds 3 nights we were on the cruise. The front desk will give you sea sick medicine if you need it. It was a great cruise! Thanks NCL! We did not have time to do everything that the ship had to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the 'Pride of America'. We call ourselves the Sip And Sailors and are from L.A. In real terms for those that don't know where LA is, it is lower Arkansas. This is our 10th ... Read More
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the 'Pride of America'. We call ourselves the Sip And Sailors and are from L.A. In real terms for those that don't know where LA is, it is lower Arkansas. This is our 10th cruise in 9 years aboard many different lines, mostly in the Caribbean. Before we left I made the mistake of reading the reviews and wondered what i had gotten into. I went into this with a positive attitude and was hoping for the best. We as a group have never had a bad cruise but some have been better than others. You only get out of a cruise what you put into one. We arrived into Honolulu on the 4th and & proceeded to the ship at 2:15pm ,the process of boarding the ship was painless and very quick. One thing to remember is do not try get a bottle of whiskey on board as they will find it, IF LEFT IN ORIGINAL BOTTLE, A hint is try a mouthwash or cough syrup bottle. You will get a call just before muster stating your luggage has been confiscated and report to the 3rd floor to claim your luggage, but don't worry you get the whiskey back Fri. evening at 6:30pm. The ship's staff I thought was great, especially Gordan in security & Mark from N.Y. the main bartender at the South Beach bar on the 12th floor. In fact if you run into them tell them Jim from Arkansas said to say hi! As far as excursions I heard their were some good ones, but stay away from the deep sea fishing in Kona unless you like a 175.00 dollar boat ride and the food at the Luau is like going to a political fundraising event with seven hundred guests, but the show was great so eat before you go. On the two night stops we went to the airport and rented a car for two nights (120.00)and saw the island at our own pace, a great way to see the islands at a fraction of the cost. And parking is close to ship. Book early for speciality restaurants onboard ship as they go fast. My only grief is on formal night they had lobster tail and believe me I am still trying to find mine as we got bigger crawfish tails than their lobster tails. Thank god for the Cadillac Diner for a great meal at 1/5 the time of the dining rooms. I can finally say now that I have cruised Hawaii, Been There Done That and now I going back to Carnival and the Caribbean. Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.9
Dining 5.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 5.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 5.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 3.0 3.7

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