Sail Date: September 2005
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may ... Read More
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may not be ready yet. We went had a nice lunch lots of selection walked around the ship and shortly an announcement was made that we could go to our rooms. We booked 8208 middle at the very back end of the ship. Our cabin steward Adam was there to greet us. My husband had arranged a birthday celebration package The room was all decorated in balloons and a banner and sign on the door as well as a huge chocolate cake. Our room was spotless. Nice size room for the two of us...the balcony was almost as big as the room. Lots of storage, tons of hangers, baskets, shelves inside the closet. Shower is compact. Some folks have complained about no top sheet on the bed that is true there isn't one however there is a big duvet. Four pillows we found the beds extremely comfy. Note the bed at the hilton didn't have a top sheet either also had the duvet. If you want a top sheet just ask. Lots of towels ice all the time. Good hair dryer. Our steward kept our room spotless all week. We tipped him extra as we thought he deserved it. Room service was fast and friendly. We booked all of our shore excursions thru NCL Our sailing had a different itinerary than previous sailings: Sunday Hilo Big Island took the Lava Hike adventure. Our guide was a local Hawaiian fellow who was fantastic sharing his knowledge of local folklore etc making jokes etc. The Volcano National Park is amazing. Even if you rent a car and just drive around you will be amazed. We didn't get to see red hot flowing lava other than the show you get when it flows into the ocean and you see all the steam etc. As previously mentioned by locals on this board a huge section is roped off due to the concern about the shelf etc. We walked about two and a half miles out and the wind shifted bringing the sulpher gases our way and we had to turn back. That said the lava you walk over was a once in a life time opportunity for us. Worth the trip. We did the sail past the lava at night a must see for lava nuts like us. Monday -- Kahului Maui took the Maui Downhill bike trip Out of this world the highlight of our trip. Our guide Matt was a really cool californian who has made Hawaii his home for the past fifteen years. We were taken to the base center and got our wind suits and helmets (like motor cycle style) The ride up to the top of Haleakala was about and hour and a half up a winding road up to the top of the summit some 10,000 feet above sea. We were up above the clouds at the lookout. I almost chickened out at this point. But I am so glad I didn't this was my 50th birthday and this was my challenge. Maui Downhill is the original bike downhill company. Your safety is their main priority. They out fit you on a bike that has disc brakes like a car. The van follows at the back of the group you can quit any time and ride the rest of the way. The first stop is a mandatory stop at the two mile mark. Once I did the first two miles I felt a lot better about the speed and handling of the bike. They do ask that nervous or less experienced go first behind Matt as your leader. You wind down 20 miles of some pretty amazing views. This was a thrill of a lifetime for us and if we ever get back to Hawaii we will be looking up Maui Downhill for another adventure. Luau at night we went to the NCL Luau they took over 800 people by bus. This moved very well. It was held at a hotel resort with the beach and sun set behind us. The buffet was okay moved quickly Show had dancers and singers etc. Having never been to any other luau hard to say how it compared. I did meet a couple on board who had gone to Germaines on Oahu and said the NCL one was far better. Tuesday Lahaina: Had to be tendered in. Very windy. Town of Lahaina is kind of like Key West lots of shops along the main street. We took the Best of West Maui trip, long day. Did the Iao Valley, Maui Tropical Plantation and the Ocean Center. Ocean center has an amazing viewing area where the tank almost totally surrounds you. If you take kids this is a must see. We had time when we got back to shop in Lahaina. Tender line was huge one of the ships officers was there as was the harbour master. The ships officer said it was due to the high waves. We heard later on the ship that some folks didn't get to go ashore at all due to the tenders being stopped because of the waves. We had no problem and the line took about half an hour. Wednesday Kona Took historic Kona trip only 3 1/2 hours. gave us a look at the other side of the big island. Saw big sea turtles on the beach at the Refuge. Thursday Nawiliwili Kauai Another long day took Waimea canyon, Wailua river and fern grotto. Canyon is a must see even thou we have seen the grand canyon this canyon is worth seeing. I was disappointed in the grotto. It is currently being rejuvenated and there is construction and repair going on. Yellow keep out construction tape, construction garbage and noisy machinery took away from the natural beauty and scenery of the grotto. Friday at sea cruising Sail past the Napali Coast at 10:30 in the morning. Was foggy misty at first but then cleared up it is beautiful and rugged. Later we sailed past the Niihau Coast as well. In the evening we sailed past Honolulu to see the night lights as well. The seas were very rough this evening. Restaurants: Liberty -- Linda was waitress and Larry was helper both very friendly and nice. Hubby had salmon and I had beef both tasty prepared just right and in and out in just over an hour. Lazy J -- terrific service from Danielle waitress Too bad shes was going home she was so much fun helper was Michael and he had just started. Hubby paid extra to have surf and turf he said it was great I had t bone steak cooked perfect and delicious. In and out in less than an hour. Cadillac Diner fun place had pork chops hubby had meat loaf both okay chops a little skinny but shakes were very good. Food reminded me of meals my mom made when I was a kid. Service was friendly and fast. Aloha cafe ate here a lot as we always wanted to be somewhere else food was good lots of selection. Shows Juggler was worth seeing. Cruise director was funny. South Seas Island Spectacular was excellent. Singer who narrates the show was a very good singer. I would have like a cd of him. Cruise director said he didn't have one. Crew in general were friendly and very helpful. We loved this trip it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. Think of the boat as your floating hotel. Go with an open and positive mind. Aloha. Sorry its so long. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Just returned from our seven day cruise and wish I had found this site prior to booking this cruise jem. NCL ~ never again. Freestyle cruising ~ you can't be serious. Cabin size ~ unless you are a midget, get use to bumping around the ... Read More
Just returned from our seven day cruise and wish I had found this site prior to booking this cruise jem. NCL ~ never again. Freestyle cruising ~ you can't be serious. Cabin size ~ unless you are a midget, get use to bumping around the cabin. The waitstaff, and I use that term lightly, is a joke. The food was okay, but not nearly up to the standards of other cruises which we have been on. Plan on being in the dining room for at least one and one half hours. There may be plenty of waitstaff, but they seem to wander around like chickens with their heads cutoff. No offense, but international waitstaff are far superior in trying to please. Room Service ~ ho ho ho!! Ordered room service one evening for a 7 AM breakfast. At 7:15 AM, I called room service and got this message from the guy on the other end, "well, we are extremely busy this morning, it will get there". At 7:20 I left for the 11th floor buffet. The rest of the day came and went, never saw a tray of food. One of the nicest features of a cruise is being seated with fellow cruisers at dinner time. A chance to meet and great fellow passengers for the entire week. By the end of the week, most tables have exchanged photos and email addresses. This was an impossible task on this cruise as there was no designated seating. Another feature of other cruises are waitstaff which preform nightly with a song or dance to those in the dining room. After 9PM, no other foods available other than a small room service menu or the "Cadillac Diner" which serves mediocre food. A highlight of this tour was an evening pass by a volcanic lava flow on the Big Island. This never happened due to "a minor technical difficulty that didn't allow the ship to achieve full speed". Needless to say, we were very disappointed and truly upset when we read other reviews of prior cruises which stated the same thing. I wonder if this ship ever makes this route? False advertising??? There was a very strong smelly odor which was highly noticeable in our cabin hallway daily. What's up with that? We never met our room steward ~ the first person which we have always met on every other cruise we have been on. The shows were good, but we have seen better. The comedian, juggler, and woman singer were very good ~ the other evenings, okay. With no casinos, pretty much that was the end of the evening ~ no partying poolside with midnight buffets. BTW, a chocolate buffet at 2:30 PM?? Not exactly a high brainwave in planning this event ~ why not showcase this in the evening when everyone can see it? Bottom line, I don't think there will be too many NCL re-bookings from those who made this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone has cruised before, they will be somewhat disappointed with the ship and its service but it won't spoil your vacation. The ship is lovely - not classic or elegant - but still nicely done. We thought it might be gaudy but it wasn't. The cabins are small -- just enough room to walk around the bottom of the bed to get into the smallish bathroom. There is far less storage space, especially the closet which contains twenty hangers in one hanging space plus a couple of shelves. There are four drawers in the room - two medium, two small. We managed however - there were still empty shelves after we unpacked. Each room has a mini-frig that is empty. It would probably hold a six-pack of sodas. Avoid rooms with connecting doors - the walls are thin anyway but the doors make it even easier to hear what's going on in the next cabin. The balcony was great and helped alleviate the small size of the cabin. The food is generally tasty but the choices didn't blow us away. You get the best food in the specialty restaurants but then you pay for it too. Our cabin steward was good but we heard others who had very poor service. If you're not satisfied, complain immediately and keep complaining until something is fixed otherwise you will have no basis for asking that the $10/day/person you are charged for tips be lowered. Some tips: - If you intend to eat in either Jefferson's Bistro (continental cuisine) or East Meets West (Asian) which are two of the specialty restaurants and which charge $10/pp additional, do it on the first night when we heard they have a 2 for 1 special (only charge for one person). We never saw this advertised but were told it was in print somewhere. Make your reservation as soon as you board the ship. We ate in both restaurants and liked them both. The presentation in the Asian one is exceptional. - If you like sushi, make a reservation to eat at the sushi bar in East Meets West - sitting at the sushi counter, you pay $5 for all the sushi you can eat and it's prepared right in front of you. (We're not sushi fans. We ate at a regular table and chose items off the menu.) - There is a nice shore excursion on Maui that goes to an aquarium. The tour also included going to the Iao Valley, the Maui Tropical Plantation where you were served lunch after a tram tour of the various plantings and then to the aquarium. The aquarium was exceptionally well done. If you go, don't get the $2 handheld guide where you punch in numbers for additional info. It's heavy and there are lots of signs to tell you plenty. You don't really have enough time to listen to all that info anyway if you want to see the whole place and some of the best stuff is at the end of the loop you take - the 3/4 million gallon walk-through aquarium. - If you signed up for your shore excursions on the internet and haven't received a confirmation in a week or two, call immediately. It may mean you aren't signed up. We had this happen and when we called, we were told that there was nothing reserved for us. They took our reservations over the phone then. One couple did not realize they hadn't gotten a confirmation and got on the ship only to find they had no shore excursions. - Read the dress requirements for the tours you choose. If it says "closed toe shoes" or something like that, they mean it and will not let you go. This pretty much applies to some of the more athletic tours such as biking down the volcano. - Don't bring a travel iron or alcohol in your suitcase. They will be confiscated until the end of the cruise. They scan all luggage. - There are free shuttles to Hilo Hattie's, Wal-Mart, etc. in many ports. When you dock in Kauai for two days, there is a free shuttle every ten minutes to a shopping mall called Anchor Cove less than a mile away. My husband walked to it. If you're not doing an excursion or have free time, get beach towels and take the shuttle. Walk through the small mall, cross the little bridge to your left and you will find a gorgeous beach behind the Kauai Marriott. The beach is rimmed with white sand and the sand is rimmed with an immaculate lawn. You can park your towels anywhere on the sand or lawn - just don't use the beach lounges set out by the Marriott. There is plenty of shade and it's not crowded. Going farther down near the end is even less crowded. There are beach chair rentals for $3/hour just before you reach the Marriott pool. There is a grill at the Marriott pool if you are hungry, want a drink, etc. It was the most relaxing afternoon we had. And, be sure to take a key from the basket that the shuttle driver holds out. The key may open the treasure chest in the Maui Divers Jewelry store where you get off the shuttle. If so, you get to pick an oyster out of the tub. They contain a pearl or even two. Don't bother to have it mounted there - it's probably more pricey than anything you could get back home. - If you are flying in on your own or arriving a few days early, don't bother to arrive at the port before noon or 12:30 PM. They don't check anyone in before that. - The cabins are not ready until 2 or 3. Lunch is served in several places when you board and you can check your carry-on luggage until your room is ready. Just pack a swimsuit in your carry-on, change in a restroom, get a tropical drink and enjoy the pool until your cabin is ready! The large fire doors to the hallways will be opened on each floor when those cabins are available. - We recommend using the upper dining room (Liberty Restaurant). The service seemed better there. One waiter said the "new" waiters start downstairs and are promoted upstairs to the Liberty. Another said that wasn't true. We're not sure but we did find the service better upstairs. If you find a waiter you like, ask to be seated in their section in the following days. Service does vary a lot. If you want to make the early show in the showroom, be sure to tell the waiter because we missed a couple due to slow service. - Lobster night was Thursday night on our cruise. There was a handout the first night listing what happened on each night. We ate in the buffet that night because they served lobster up there too. In addition, the buffet also had rack of lamb and cold prawns and those were NOT served downstairs in the main restaurants! To be fair, the lobster in the buffet was all claws - huge claws, already cracked, and it was very good. All you could eat, of course. The tails were downstairs but I heard complaints that they were not very good. Someone who claimed to be knowledgeable said the tails were from a different type of lobster than the claws upstairs. I don't really know if that was true or not. - Our schedule was different than advertised. We did not get to see the lava flowing at night. The rumor was that the ship was not operating at full speed so we didn't have time -- just a rumor. Who knows but we didn't get to see it anyway. We did pass the Na Pali Coast in the very late afternoon when the sun was just going down and shining directly on it and that was gorgeous. - There are two breakfast buffets upstairs. One inside as you would expect and a second on the very back of the ship outside but covered by a giant awning - just turn right as you enter the Aloha Cafe. This is a wonderful place to eat breakfast. There are two omelet stations and they will even make egg white omelets, fried eggs, or any eggs to order. - You will be charged $10/day/pp for tips. These tips are not divided between the bartenders and bar waiters so please tip them separately. If you have any problems, complain promptly so that you have justification for "adjusting" your tips at the end of the cruise. - There are several Hawaiian crafts sessions. One is ribbon lei making which was fun and easy, another was Hawaiian money folding and there was also another lei making session where they used shells and nuts. Not very many people attended so it was easy to get instruction. The Hawaiian guy who leads these is very funny. - No casino, no bingo! (But yes, they have those awful art auctions.) I'd be happy to answer questions. Just write. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ship. We previously cruised with Celebrity and Holland America and loved both of those lines. Likes -- 1. The "free-style" cruising concept was a plus for this trip. It allowed us time to see more of the islands. The late night departure and the overnight were welcomed. 2. Our veranda cabin on Deck 10 midships was well designed (adequate, but not roomy) and nicely appointed. We found the hanging space just barely adequate for a week of cruising. Plenty of storage space under the bed for our largest piece of luggage. 3. The fresh fruit at every meal was great. 4. The sliding veranda door was wonderful. It does away with the awkwardness of the swinging doors that are standard on most other lines. The tinted glass was also welcome. 5. The embarkation/disembarkation processes were very quick and easy. 6. Breakfast meal with the exception of getting an omelet or eggs cooked as you like. 7. The crew for the greatest part was very nice and very helpful. I did not see anyone having their "attitude adjusted" by a superior in public. 8. Having a coffee maker in the room. 9. Lots of hot tubs available, if you wanted to go in them. 10. Cruising around the Na'Pali coast and the night cruise past Kiluhea (both directions) were awesome. It was noted in previous reviews that this was not done for a couple of cruises. Dislikes -- 1. Lukewarm food and I'm talking every day, every meal. 2. Strong sewage-like smell coming from Deck 5 up to Deck 11. It happened twice. 3. Too few or repetitious food choices for meals, with the exception of breakfast (which is really hard for any cruise line to mess up). For instance, they served Spanish rice and Chicken Fried Rice twice, plus roasted chicken 3 times, etc. 4. Amazingly small shower area. When I thought of some of the larger people on the ship trying to take a shower I wondered if they just stood outside the shower and used the bathroom floor since it had a drain. I am 6' 3" and I had a tough time trying to get my hair washed. Plus they stuck a large soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower which takes up even more space. 5. Housekeeping was hit and miss throughout the ship, specifically cleaning. I went into restroom near the Aloha Cafe and found no paper towels available. I went into the same restroom over 2 hours later and still no towels. Cabin surfaces and tables were not wiped off, mirrors not cleaned, etc. Our cabin steward actually placed a chipped drinking glass in our cabin. 6. Overpriced tours. This we heard from several people. We rented cars for around $30 per day and enjoyed driving over most of the islands. You could cover any island in a day with the exception of the Big Island. Plus you saw more than any one tour. 7. The "tipping" process was the same as some other lines, however, since you never interact with most of the crew during "free-style cruising" (i.e. concierge, maitre d', etc) why should you be required to tip them? I don't mind tipping people who actually do something for you. 8. Value vs. Price. Not enough value for the price of the cruise. 9. Overpriced drinks (this is not just a NCL dislike). If you charged $5 for a MaiTai or similar drink, I think you might sell more of them rather than the $10 "special price". 10. The information from the bridge via CCTV did not always match the daily paper. 11. Too many solicitations for photos and prices for them were too high. 12. Room service menu was very limited and most items you could get in a fast food store without the one hour wait time stated in the guest guide book. 13. The in-cabin guest guide book was really a joke. Not enough information about the things you needed to really know about the ship, it's routine or just operation of items in your cabin. No phone numbers for specific ship functions (such as housekeeping). 14. Chipped and/or dirty plates/cups/utensils. Dirty, threadbare, torn napkins. No extra napkins available without getting another set of utensils. This ship has only been in regular service since July 2005! 15. Crowded deck chairs. So close together it was hard to get into them. They were comfortable, however. 16. Swimming pool walls were dirty. I don't know when they get to clean the pools since another trip was leaving that night after we disembarked. 17. Not having your cabin made up when you needed it to be done. Do not stay in your cabin with the DND sign out past 1:00pm. (That is once you figure out how to get your DND sign out). BTW there is no mention of this handy gadget in the guest guide book, it took 2 days to find it out. 18. The overhang of Deck 11 on the Deck 10 verandas was a minor issue. My wife thought it was great from a privacy and weather-protection aspect, but I thought it had created a tunnel-effect which blocked most views aft and forward. Any veranda cabin below Deck 10 did not have this problem. All of the verandas on Deck 10 facing aft were visible to any guest at the rail of the Aloha Cafe Aft area on Deck 11. Suggestions -- 1. Housekeeping staff needs to know what clean means, not just replace towels, cups, etc. 2. Keeping guests informed of what time the ship would depart or arrive in ports seemed to be a problem. 3. Keeping food interesting and hot. 4. Charging guests $10 per day in tips to people that they don't ever interact with. I like to tip people who have earned it, not just because it's a way of doing business. 5. Several other reviews mentioned malfunctioning toilets or safes. We had both problems happen to us, but both were fixed very quickly. Overall impression -- Our impression of the "free-style" cruising concept is one of a floating 3-star hotel with "fast food" food stopping at different Hawaiian locales. If touring Hawaii without having to pack or unpack your bags just once is your thing, then NCL is for you. We would like to see if other lines would adopt the concept by staying longer in ports thereby allowing you to actually see something. It would be nice if NCL would use a variety of all fresh-made food, not pre-packaged and re-warmed. If you want the "upper class" feel of cruising, then take one of the other "classier" lines. The only real problem we have with NCL is value versus price. We paid too much for what we got in return. This was echoed by several other guests onboard. Having the option of dressing up every night for dinner versus not having reserved dining unless you pay for it, is not enough in our minds to balance the difference between value and price. Flight from Sacramento, CA to Honolulu, HI -- Our flight left Sacramento at 10:30am and the flight went into San Francisco to change airplanes. We left San Francisco on a 767-300 United flight. If you are a Mileage Plus member you can go online and ask for an upgrade to Economy Plus, which gives you 5 more inches of leg room between seats. This cost is an extra $44 per person, but was well worth the money. I did that for the flight back also. United does not provide free food service on these flights, but they do offer a variety of snacks, salads (no salads available on the late night flight back to LA), etc for $5 each. We had the chicken Caesar salad which was so-so. We arrived in Honolulu at 3pm. When we deplaned, there were NCL reps all over the place. It was overkill, but at least we knew exactly where we needed to go. We claimed our luggage and proceeded to the transfer bus just outside of the luggage claim area. Our baggage was placed on a rental truck and we climbed aboard for the trip to our hotel in Waikiki. This transfer took about 45 minutes since we dropped off other guests at the Marriott. Two night stay in Waikiki -- We stayed at the Radisson Prince Kuhio about 2 blocks from the actual beach. Most guests were going to be put in mountain-view rooms, but I requested an ocean-view room and the desk clerk was very nice to give us one on the 37th floor. The room had a very nice view of the beach area, but we also looked down on two other hotels, but it was nice just the same. The bad part about staying on the 37th floor was not the height, but the time invested in using the elevators. Radisson was in the process of upgrading 3 of the five elevators, which severely limited the amount of people able to be moved at one time. When we got to the room, housekeeping had shampooed the carpet earlier in the day so it was still a bit damp. On the second day, the room was not made up by four in the afternoon, so we just asked for clean towels. Other than those things the hotel was adequate and centrally located for the Waikiki area. Of course if you needed anything there was always an ABC store on just about every corner. Plenty of places to eat within easy walking distance of the hotel. We received an informational letter from NCL about our embarkation the next day. However, it did not contain any luggage tags for the transfer to the ship. I walked down to the NCL help desk on the second floor which is open from noon to 6pm to inquire about tags. The NCL rep looked at me as though I stepped off a UFO. Finally, another rep understood what tags I needed of which they had an ample supply sitting on the desk! I gave them my cabin number and they gave me tags for aft cabin area, which turned out to be wrong. The NCL rep was the same one I talked to the night before when I asked about some other embarkation information. Why didn't they give me the luggage tags at that point? If you like to have a very good buffet, try to Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel right on the beach. Very nice atmosphere and good food. Around $37 per person. Embarkation 9/24/05 -- On Saturday, everyone assembled in the hotel lobby at 1pm. Transfer busses were late and this process unfortunately kept many seniors standing in the heat and humidity for almost an hour. Once on the bus, everything went fine and we arrived approximately 30 minutes later at Pier 11. This was about 2:30pm. Here you go through a security check, make sure you have your driver's license handy. Not sure why, but they made some people remove their shoes/sandals and others not. I had sandals on and was told to remove them. Can't imagine what I could have hidden in them. Once thorough the checkpoint, you are offered the first of many photo ops. We passed them up. You are put into a queue to sign for your cruise cards, this process was very quick and easy. Then up the escalator and onto the ship. We were we were informed that our cabins were not ready yet and that we could wait in the Aloha Cafe which was serving lunch. We went up to the Aloha and had our first meal on board. Unfortunately, it was a precursor of the lukewarm food to come. The food had good flavor, but was lukewarm. About 30 minutes later, they informed everyone that the cabins were ready. Ours was nicely positioned just one deck down and about 8 doors from the staircase/elevators. It took about another hour for all of luggage to be delivered. Room had not been vacuumed or surfaces wiped down. The port party started around 7pm and included the ship’s band, which was okay. We departed Honolulu at approximately 8:30pm, 30 minutes later than scheduled. Hilo (Big Island) 9/25/05 -- We arrived in port approximately 8am. Departure from the ship was easy and we decided to rent a car. My advice is plan ahead for a car. Most car rental shuttles will only pick you up if you have reserved a car. Dollar and Budget were the only two that had cars available for walk-ins. We chose Dollar and were taken to the airport about 15 minutes away. Driving in Hawaii is like other parts of the USA, with the exception of speed limits. Because distance between towns is relatively short, you were almost constantly changing speeds from 25 to 50 mph. This is a bit frustrating, if you wish to get anywhere fast. We decided to drive to the Volcano National Park, which is about 45 minutes away. The park fee is $10 per car for a week. We went to the Lava Tube and several other lava areas. However, the most striking drive was the Chain of Craters road where the road ends where lava has crossed the road. Parking here is at a premium, but well worth the walk to the end of the road (lava had flowed across it several years ago). You can see steam erupting from the ocean approximately 3 miles away. You can walk across the lava beds, but be prepared! Use a guide and wear appropriate shoes and clothes. We chose only to walk to an overlook about 1 mile from the ranger offices. Take bottled water! It is very hot in the area and you need to stay hydrated. After looking at several other areas we drove back toward Hilo. We stopped at the Mauna Loa Nut Factory to pickup some candy for everyone back home. If you don’t wish to stop, you can find the same items in several other stores (including Wal-Mart and K mart) in any port you visit. They do serve macadamia nut ice cream at the back of the store, which was very tasty on a hot afternoon. The Rainbow Falls are very close to town and you can visit this area also. We wanted to, but we had done quite a bit of hiking in the Volcano NP and did not feel up to it. Note: Plan on arriving back at the rental agency no later than 5:30 pm. It takes awhile for the shuttle to run back and forth. Some people were late in arriving at the ship, due to this problem. The night cruise past Kilauea was spectacular so get a good seat or railing position. The captain cruised both directions so anyone could get a good viewing. Kahului (Maui) 9/26/05 Here we did not do too much. We took a walk into the area around the port did a bit of shopping, but due to the heat and humidity we went back to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon at poolside reading and relaxing. Departure was 10pm which made it nice for everyone that attended the ship’s onshore luau. However, when we spoke to people the next day about the luau, most comments were so-so about it. It was a very windy night, though. Lahaina (Maui) 9/27/05 Here is your first day of tender service to the port. We had reserved a car as we had in Hilo, but our plans of departing the ship around 9am were thwarted by only having two tenders and high waves. We did not depart until approximately 12:30pm. This was very frustrating for everyone. The cruise director did not keep guests informed of wait times, so everyone sat around waiting for their numbers to come up. Since most of the day was gone, we decided to walk around the port area. Go to the courthouse which was very near to learn about all the things available in the area. Walk outside to the Banyan Tree which is stunning. We did a bit of shopping and decided to return to the ship. This was a very long wait in the sun for everyone. The Akai security guards were not at all friendly or understanding of this fact. Tenders only hold 50 people and there were at least 75+ waiting in line for over an hour waiting for a tender to arrive from the ship. Kona (Big Island) 9/28/05 This is the second day of tender service and it was very much different here. Everyone got off in a very short time period and there were more tenders available for service. Very nice area to walk around in and just relax. This is what we did and had a light lunch and drinks at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. Nawiliwili (Kauai) 9/29/05 This is the place to rent a car. We took the shuttle to the Lihue airport (about a 15 minute ride). Be sure to note the streets leading to the airport! The shuttle runs about every 30 minutes, you could also take a cab, which wouldn’t be that much if you are in a hurry. Get good maps! The ones they give you are not very explicit. Had I known we were going to rent, I would have stopped at AAA and got some good maps. Kauai is very drivable in both directions. Take your time. The rental companies are 24 hour services and you can always take a cab back to the ship. We drove east first toward Hanalei Bay. It’s a very nice drive through awesome scenery. The beaches were great and we enjoyed watching the surfers and the trade winds. Watch for sign pointing to Mango Mama’s Smoothie shop. Just off the main road and worth the money for a great fresh smoothie. The road ends just after Haena at a very nice beach area. A little crowded, but nice. Many trails into higher areas start here. Take a look inside the dry and wet caves, takes only a few minutes. Drive back through Lihue and go west towards the Waimea Canyon. This another beautiful drive. The canyon overlook is awesome. Then be sure to leave enough time to see Kokee State Park further up the mountain. This rain forest area is cooler than the lower altitudes so bring a light sweater or jacket. Great place to hike around in. On our way back, we stopped at the Spouting Horn. This wasn’t a huge thrill due to the low surf conditions. I would imagine it would be something to enjoy when the waves at their highest. Gas was around $3.25 when we were there, but Monday, Oct 3rd the state was going to raise the price cap another $.27 per gallon. Still when you think about how much an overpriced tour can be, renting a car for $30 a day (mid-size) and spending about $30 in gas seems like a great deal. At sea 9/30/05 Nothing much except to relax and enjoy the scenery as the ship sails past the beautiful Na’Poli coastline. Happens around 10am so be ready for some wonderful scenery. They deliver bag tags tonight to attach to your luggage. However, if you wish to get off the ship very quickly you can hand carry everything and just walk off the ship. We decided to have a nice casual breakfast before we departed. Disembarkation was very easy and they kept fairly close to the printed schedule. Our luggage was in our matching colored tag area. Honolulu, Hi 10/1/05 Note: If you are going to rent a car here, I suggest you evaluate the number of people waiting for the rental shuttles. We should have gotten into a taxi long before becoming frustrated with Dollar. The Hertz shuttle came twice before the Dollar van came once. A taxi would not have been that much to any of the rental companies. Another thing, if you rent a car in Waikiki, you can turn it in at the Honolulu airport at no extra charge. We drove up the middle of the island (H2) towards the North Shore. Very pleasant drive once you are clear of Honolulu. We happened upon the Dole pineapple plantation and decided to stop. The pineapple soft-serve ice cream was great. If you have children, the world’s largest maze is here. We then went on to Haleiwa. Drive past to the north shore beaches, the waves and scenery are worth it. The return to Haleiwa and go in to the town. Stop and have a great burger at Kua Aina. A little place in a small strip mall. We then drove back down to Honolulu to see the Arizona Memorial. Note: Do this FIRST! Not last in the day. Most of the sightseeing boats are full very early in the day. We only got to see the museum and the memorial from a distance. They close at 6pm. We turned the rental car in and went to the airport. Our flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles was scheduled for 9pm departure. If you can change this, I would. This makes for a long day and night. The food in the Honolulu airport is expensive! Eat elsewhere before you get on the plane if possible. On this late night flight, United does not have “fresh” food for sale, only snacks. LAX was much more reasonable on food. Bon Voyage. Hope this has been helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We just returned from this cruise ~ what a major disappointment. We have cruised Carnival and Holland America many, many times and have never had such an experience as we had on this ship. Stateroom ~ Closet small; barely able to get two ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise ~ what a major disappointment. We have cruised Carnival and Holland America many, many times and have never had such an experience as we had on this ship. Stateroom ~ Closet small; barely able to get two twin beds in. However, each room is supplied with a coffee maker and small refrigerator. Why would one need either on a cruise ship? There were no top BEDSHEETS, just comforters. One can only wonder how many times theses comforters are used by people before they are replaced ~ what an ugly thought. Hallway ~ An unbelievable sewer stench was noticeable daily in the hallway. From other reviews we have noted, this seems to be par for the ship. Food ~ Unless you enjoy standing in line for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner ~ you're in trouble. People eating up in the Aloha Cafe tend to have on bathing wear or muscle shirts (uck) while reaching for their food. Main Dining Rooms (there are two, serving the same meals). Forget the tables of 8 or 10 where you meet and greet fellow cruisers for the entire week. Here a couple is seated at a table for four and the other two place setting are promptly removed. Plan on being there for a minimum of one and one half hours. The same food is usually available in the Aloha Cafe. So eating in a main dining hall where you have to be properly dressed gives you the same food as those eating in muscle shirts. After 9 PM, the Aloha Cafe is closed and the only other food service available is the Cadillac Diner. Food is mediocre, at best, and service is slower than slow. The other option is room service with its limited menu. Let me take a minute to tell you about room service. I placed an order the night before for a 7 AM breakfast. AT 7:15 AM, food had not arrived. I called room service and the man on the other side of the phone stated, "well we are really busy right now, it will get there". At 7:20 AM I went to the Aloha Cafe for breakfast. Oh, did I miss something, yes, the food never arrived throughout the remainder of the day. Some Room Service. One of the main reasons to cruise Hawaii was to sail by the flowing lava in the evening. We ate early that evening and went to the Purser's office to find out what time we would be sailing by this part of the Big Island so that we could get a good view for photo ops. We were told, "didn't you get the memo from us, due to technical problems they are unable to achieve full speed and therefore can't do the lava pass by." We have read many of the reviews on this cruise since our return only to find out that many past cruises also did not do to lava pass. Is this false advertising at its best on the part of NCL? Do you think we can be reimbursed ~ right! We never saw our cabin steward from day one ~ had to leave him/her notes to get supplies as he/she was like the phantom. Bottom line ~ we will never sail with NCL again. I only hope that others planning this trip will be smart enough to look at the reviews prior to booking this tour. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. ... Read More
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. Embarkation went smoothly, and lots of friendly faces to guide you, lei you, and take your photo. We arrived on the ship about 1:00p, and our bags were held for us until they made the announcement that the cabins were ready, around 2:30p. In the meantime, we headed to the Aloha Cafe for a tasty buffet. Our cabin was very clean. We unpacked and stored our luggage under the bed as recommended by other reviewers. Yes, it's compact but very efficient. Our cabin attendant was Rose, and she was a doll. We did tip her at first meeting and told her there would be more at the end of the cruise. She made up our cabin promptly every day, filled the ice bucket, turned down the beds in the evening with chocolates on our pillows, and quickly replaced towels. I have no complaints about the cleanliness anywhere on the ship. The food was tasty and plentiful. The desserts are wonderful! We ate 3 nights in the Liberty, and our waiters were Oscar and Alex, both very nice and eager to please. We ate in Lazy J's. There is a $15 charge for Lazy J's and an additional $10 (so $25pp) if you add lobster to your dinner. When we arrived at East Meet West for our reservation one evening, we found the hostess there to be rude and abrupt. I had on a dress and cute sandals, and my hubby was wearing pants, a collared shirt, and nice leather sandals. She turned us away and said he must wear closed-in shoes. I asked, what about me? She said, no, ladies can wear sandals. (Sounds like a double standard, if you ask me.) We left there and proceeded to the Aloha, where we enjoyed a nice dinner. On Sun morning, we arrived in Hilo. The view from the ship was spectacular!! I'll remember it for as long as I live. The tops of the green mountains were in the clouds, and a big bright rainbow went from one mountain to the other. It was so beautiful that it actually brought tears to my eyes. It was like looking at heaven on earth. The ship always had Hawaiian music playing, and it just added to the lovely view. In Hilo, we took the Volcanoes Nat'l Park excursion. It's an amazing place. Pack your walking shoes. We arrived in Maui on Monday and took the Atlantis submarine. It was fun but a bit overpriced. I saw a sign posted that said sub rides are $25. We paid $99 through the ship, but it also included our transportation, about a 45-min bus ride, and the driver was very informative and narrated the entire drive. On Mon eve, we went to the Paradise Luau, one of NCL's shore excursions. The luau was wonderful, and the food was good. It's held at a lovely place, on hotel grounds (can't remember the name of the hotel) in Maui, right on the beach as the sun sets. It is exclusively for NCL folks, no one else. You could see some of the people staying at the hotel out on their balconies, sneaking a peek and enjoying the entertainment from afar. In Kauai, on our own, we booked an island tour with Air Ventures Hawaii. It was $99 pp. Hubby is a big guy, and we weren't interested in paying the additional weight fee for a helicopter ride. The nice thing about the plane tour, it was just me, my hubby, and the pilot Jon, who was wonderful and narrated everything through our headsets. We did sail past the volcano at night, as stated in the itinerary. If you have binoculars, take them along. We used them for the viewing, and it helped a lot as it's quite a distance away. We sailed the Napali Coast one afternoon, and it was breathtaking. We had a balcony cabin, so we were able to enjoy it from there. Unfortunately, the cabin next door had smokers. They were out there morning, noon, and night, constantly smoking. That was the worst part of the trip, always smelling cigarettes instead of fresh ocean air from our balcony. The cruise director, Rich, was experienced and very entertaining. The shows were good. Yes, there are lots of young faces working this ship, but I found them all to be incredibly sweet and eager to please. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the wonderful coffee machines. You could chose from coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, all with the push of a button. For those who don't drink alcohol, this was a great alternative. In summary, this trip was absolutely fabulous! I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend it. Put on a smile and have a terrific time! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our 5th cruise to date and our first Norweigian. It will be our LAST Norweigian cruise. I will NEVER sail with them again. What a disappointment. So many things on this cruise were terrible. From the service to the food. The ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise to date and our first Norweigian. It will be our LAST Norweigian cruise. I will NEVER sail with them again. What a disappointment. So many things on this cruise were terrible. From the service to the food. The excursions were the only things that kept us afloat and even those can be disputed. What sums it up is lack of information on everything. They don't tell you things ahead of time and you wind up missing things or regretting choices made. For example: was unaware that you would have to pay extra for dining at 3 of the top notch restaurants on the ship. And trying to get reservations was very difficult. And for the freestyle have to put your name in and wait 30-45 min for a table to open up so plan ahead early. Day 1: Embarkation. Process went smooth however we were never asked for any of our identification other than our drivers much for the birth certificate or passport?? But the process went smooth. Once on the ship we were off to find some food...the aloha cafe had just closed due to the munster drill and we went hunting for somewhere to eat. The Key West bar and grill was the place. Food was good and they cooked it right there. However, the people working there were complaining about their duties and we hadn't even set sail yet. They were telling us that over 500 people that sailed over from Germany on the maiden voyage quit and that they all had been overworked and many more were planning on leaving after this cruise. Not what you want to hear within the first few minutes of your paradise vacation. After lunch we went to check out our cabin. Barely been vacuumed, our room wasn't much to speak of. To top it all off---the entire cruise we never once met or talked to our steward. The refrigerator in the room was broken and we tried several times to contact someone for it and it never got fixed the whole cruise! Very disappointed in the hotel staff! Their idea of room service is just changing the towels and occasionally vacuuming! Also, on past cruises there always seems to be music and fun going on all the time. This ship really does cater to the OLD crowd. Things shut down at 9pm. Only a few things were open for us younger crowd. The staff even referred to this ship as the Newlywed and Almost Dead cruise. We are in our 30s and found it hard to believe that is was so quiet at 10 at night--NO ONE to be found on the Lido/pool deck on any night! Onto the excursions: After finding our tickets in our room, we noticed that we didn't have all of our tickets that we had been confirmed for (we booked our excursions online). So we had to wait until the excursion desk was open and that would be a hit and miss. Because of our first excursion leaving so early on the first day we had to wait until the second day to inquire about the others. Excursion 1 Hilo: Lava Hike and Viewing. There was no viewing to be had on this 4 mile hike. We felt very misled asto what we had got into. No one ever told us that we would not actually be able to get close to the lava and in the pictures of this tour you were literally standing within feet of hot red lava. NOT THE CASE. We got about 5 miles from a billowing cloud of smoke that was the active volcano. Our guide was fantastic and was surprised to know that the cruise line didn't inform us that we would not be able to get that close. Our question was why would they show pictures of it like that if you were unable to get that close-false advertising. That night we saw more lava onboard the ship than we did on the tour itself. However, they didn't make any announcement that we were there and a lot of people missed one of the best parts of the trip! They had also said that they would turn off the lights on the upper deck for pictures and that never happened either! Excursion 2: Molokini Crater snorkel! It was fun and saw a lot of fish. Even a reef shark! Great tour would recommend it! Excursion 3:The Luau! That was so much fun! We had an amazing time and I would recommend everyone to go! Food was great and the entertainment was awesome! Probably one of my favorite experiences on this cruise. Excursion 4: Haleakala Crater Sunrise tour. On the tickets it had said to bring a sweater, more like bring your parka and gloves. It was so cold half of the tour didn't even get out of the bus to view it. Had we been informed that it was going to be 40 we would have prepared. Other than the weather---great tour. Beautiful scenery and it was worth standing out there for over an hour! There was also a tour where you could bike down the mountain but we were unaware of that one! Those people did get jackets and gloves. But if you just went up to see the sunrise you were on your own! After we returned back from the crater sunrise it was about 9 am and we wanted to go and see more of maui so we stopped at the excursion desk and that is when we were informed that one of our excursions (helicopter tour) had been cancelled. When trying to book another tour similar to that one, they were sold out! I was so bummed! Had we known earlier we would have definitely booked another tour in its place! The excursion desk said that we could take a taxi to a state park called Iao Valley and spend a few hours there and that there would be transportation available. So we hopped in a cab (who didn't speak english) and showed him where were wanted to go. Once there ($20 cab fare) he dropped us off and we ran into a couple of people we met on the ship (they were on their tour) they told us that this would only take about 30 mins to see the park and to hold our cab. The cab had already left and we were stranded there. We asked the Tour guide for help and he said that we should have thought about it before we were dropped off and that he could not take us back to port. He was very unhelpful. Thank God i had my cell phone on me and we were able to call information for another cab company. The kicker is when we went back to the excursion desk the man had said he had never been there and didn't know that there was no cabs waiting and that he was sorry that he told us to go there! Dining that night was an experience too. Not enough staff to cover everyone and staff members were very standoffish. When we asked for some steak sauce, one waiter huffed and said that it would be a while because he had to go all the way to the steakhouse to get it. Excursion 5: Captain Zodiac Snorkel Adventure! If you are adventurous like we are you will LOVE this tour. They take you out on a Navy Seal Raft (seats 10) and fly you thru the ocean at top speeds. This raft can go places the other boats can't and gets you up close and personal with the craters and sea walls! It was great! What a thrill and the snorkeling was good too! However, there was a lady on our excursion that had never been snorkeling before and was not told by the excursion desk that she would be on a raft like this and she was very afraid. She could not swim and did not like this tour at all. I feel like the captain held back a little on the adventurous side because she was very afraid. That night was all you can eat lobster. It wasn't Maine lobster like we have had on other cruises. It was spanish/hawaiian lobster. Very small and chewy. It was ok but again the food on this ship wasn't very good overall. The last excursion we took was the Jungle Mountain Trek, Wagon and Zip Line Adventure. Overall it was a good experience but i wish they would have told us that we were going to destroy our shoes in mud and water. I would have not worn my good shoes and would have opted for a different pair. We did go and see the site of where Jurassic Park was filmed and we did swing from ropes into a lagoon and waterfall so that was a bonus! The last day spent on the ship was relaxing. We just hung out with people whom we had met and enjoyed their company. In the evening we went and saw an outstanding guitar player in the Pink Champagne Lounge. He was great and if he is there, go and see him! A lot of other people had similar experiences and will not be cruising with Norweigian again. It's a shame to spend all of your hard earned money and not get the service or courtesy that we have come to expect from a cruise line. I felt bad for the people whom had never cruised before and were very disappointed. The main reason why we chose this cruise line was the fact that it had the itinerary through Hawaii, stopping at all of the islands. We have filled out several comment cards and sent an email to the company to help them change and grow but for now our cruise experience with NCL's Inaugural Season on the Pride of America was less than par. Hopefully they will take our comments and change some things for cruises to come. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2005
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to ... Read More
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to our cruise. I am happy to say that due to the advanced warnings and helpful hints from other Cruise Critic members, we had a wonderful time on our cruise. However, I would not take this cruise again with a child under 2. For future reference, my husband and I (and 11 month old baby) took this cruise with my parents, so we had 2 cabins on different ends of the ship. EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was one of the worst parts of the trip. We did not purchase NCL transportation vouchers, so this may have been the cause of our problems, but I don't believe buying the pre-paid vouchers would have made any difference. The cab ride is $20 from the airport to the harbor and arrives quicker than the NCL shuttle vans. We purchased travel vouchers at the airport for $8 per person which had people on it who paid $20 for NCL's transfers. The ride is short, about 15 minutes so that's not the issue. The major inconvenience arose when we arrived at the harbor terminal and about 500 people are standing in line in the humid air waiting to go through security so they can register. This was ridiculous! NCL has got to figure out how to do this better. Apparently there are lines from 1:30 pm until 4:00 pm. My parents who arrived at 1:00 pm embarked with no wait. Once we got through security, we were able to register through the Latitudes area which probably saved us an hour. I have taken approx. 15 cruises previously, yet I was pleasantly and constantly surprised at the beauty of the ship. It is decorated wonderfully and the American theme was carried throughout the ship. TRAVELING WITH AN INFANT -- Our baby loved the ship. The carpet is very colorful and each restaurant and room has a different theme, so the baby received a lot of stimulation. Since he wasn't allowed to play in the children's area during "open hours" since there were 75 other children on the ship, we had to let him crawl around the different public rooms so he could get some exercise. Other people and the children's staff recommended the Champagne Bar, however, it seemed that art auctions were always going on there, plus the smoke from the cigar bar drifted up there & there was an overhang which we didn't think was too safe. We had him crawl around the library and game room and other rooms which were unoccupied. Plus, since the cruise was through Hawaii, we were only on the ship in the late afternoons and at night. It was very disappointing not to be able to use the childcare facilities. We were not the only people in this situation, therefore there were often infants at dinner and around the common areas way past their bedtimes. If we (and other parents) wanted to eat somewhere other than a buffet, we had to take the baby to dinner. The room service menu was very limited, so there weren't other options. Our cabin steward was good. We were one of the lucky ones. He made our baby towel animals and did a nice job cleaning our room. After the first night of trying to sterilize the bottles with the hot water dispenser for tea up in the Aloha Cafe, I asked the steward if there was somewhere I could get the bottles washed, and he ran them through the dishwasher sterilizer for me. That was a huge relief and convenience. The crib provided was metal and didn't have any bumpers. The housekeeping supervisor made us "makeshift bumpers," yet after the first night, we decided we wanted our baby to keep his baby teeth (he kept pulling himself up and knocking his head on the rails & side bars) so we went to a Wal-Mart in Hilo & bought a pack-and-play for him to sleep in for the rest of the trip. A bonus was that the pack-and-play took up less room and every square foot of floor space counted! CABIN -- The cabin is tiny. We had trouble fitting 2 of us and a crib in it. I don't know how 4 people could have room to put their clothes away in the limited number of drawers that were provided. The room was designed well, however, with a mini-fridge which was a lifesaver for us, a safe, tv with good reception, & closet with lots of hangers. Our suitcases fit nicely under the bed. We didn't spend much time in our room due to the itinerary and size of the room. Balconies - We deliberately did not choose a balcony (fear of baby crawling off the ship) but our room had a big window which gave us lots of light. We saw a lot of cabins with Balconies and the Balconies didn't look that big, except for the ones on the front and back of the ship. My parents had a balcony off the back of the ship (aft 9702) which was incredible and almost 3/4 the size of their room. All standard rooms seemed to be the same size, so the balcony did provide a little more space. Bathroom - The bathroom was miniscule. Beyond tiny. I'm petite, and I was claustrophobic in the shower. I don't know how a 175 pound male could ever shower there. The counter space was ridiculously small and the bathrooms have 2 trash receptacles under the sink rather than a regular trash can since there is no space for a can in the bathroom. I would advise showering in the spa. There is no fee to use the spa facilities. Treatments are not any more expensive than equivalent hotels charge. All of the bathrooms have soap dispensers, except ours didn't have one when we arrived. Therefore, we didn't have any soap in our cabin until I called housekeeping. I don't know what the previous occupants were thinking. We also had all the accessories to make coffee/tea, and no coffee pot. It took us 4 days of reminders to get an in-room coffee pot. We also had a big problem with our shower not draining. That took 4 days to get that fixed too. It was beyond unpleasant. The light outside our room also was burned out and never got fixed. I felt like a complainer, but whoever is in the room next shouldn't find much wrong with it. CLEANLINESS -- We were extremely worried about cleanliness & bad smells. Yes, Deck 4 did smell of sewage occasionally. I reported this to the pursers desk & saw housekeeping putting a "smelling tree" in a closet almost immediately. Not exactly the ideal solution in my book, but it did work for that instance. At other times, the stench was terrible. Our stateroom was not as clean as I would have liked when we arrived. Plus, some things looked worn more than they should have for a ship that is only 6 months old. We learned, and this may or not be true, that a cleaning crew comes on the ship each Saturday to clean & turn-around the rooms, and on that day, the stewards get a day off. Who knows? We didn't have ice until late the first evening and we didn't ever know at what time our cabin would be cleaned, but I blame all of this on NCL and not having proper staffing ratios, rather than on the stewards. My parents weren't as lucky with their cabin steward as we were. They never saw theirs. I recall reading something about dirty elevator doors, and while this was the case, the dirt is really just streaking since the elevator doors are stainless steel and the cleaning crew probably doesn't have the proper cleaning equipment to keep the doors streak-free. GYM -- I hadn't seen any posts about the gym before embarkation. The gym is AMAZING! Flat panel tv's on every treadmill & bike. They nickel & dime you to take spinning & other classes, which we didn't do, but the gym is of a Four Seasons quality. More equipment was being added too, since we saw it in a "crew only" area when we were escorted with our stroller down a "restricted" area. I never used the gym except for admiring it since I was walking up and down the hallways so often carrying a 20+ pound baby. FOOD -- Service is beyond is slow. However, we never once had a rude server and even though it sometimes took 2 1/2 hrs for dinner, the servers constantly came around to ask if we needed anything. It seemed that the kitchen was very backed up and the staff is running around but doesn't seem to get anywhere. But, and to me, this is more important than the food or the wait to eat, the servers are polite, helpful and trying their best. Therefore, even if the service was slow, the servers really seemed to be doing their best to keep the guests happy. Overall, the food was fair. Other than the shrimp, which was excellent, and the sushi, which was ok, the seafood was terrible. All of the seafood is frozen and is not very good. I had a "special" of swordfish and spinach in Little Italy which was presented beautifully, yet the swordfish was inedible. It was a great presentation though. Much beyond my expectations for presentation. Restaurant-wise, for dinner, we ate at Little Italy three times, East Meets West once, Sushi Bar twice, and the formal dining room once. We also ate at the Cadillac Diner & the Aloha Cafe for breakfast & lunch. We had a reservation at Jefferson's Bistro and decided to cancel it since the other food was not very good, and we figured it wasn't worth the extra cost since it was the same kitchen. I'll give you the highlights of Little Italy (no surcharge) & East Meets West ($10): Little Italy has a Caesar salad mixed table-side, however, it's bottled dressing. That pretty much sums up all the food on the ship. I'd skip the Caesar unless you choose to put Oil & Vinegar on it. All of the salad dressings I tasted seemed to be non-fat and I didn't like most of them. The menu states there are non-fat dressings, so maybe they got the labels mixed up. As I said earlier, don't order the seafood. The pasta is good, and the pizza is delicious. Fresh and hot. We didn't have a temperature problem with any of our meals on board. Also, the veal chop was fantastic. You can ask for crushed garlic for the bread which they heated up and was very tasty. All of the appetizers were ok too. East Meets West was salty, yet it had the best Chicken Satay I've ever tasted. Nothing else on the menu was outstanding, and the miso soup was too salty to drink, however, the green tea, which is only served at this restaurant, is very good. All tea & coffee drinks are included. The coffee was delicious every day. There were machines which brewed the coffee and even though one was often not working, the coffee they produced was delicious, though sometimes even too hot to drink. The espresso was particularly strong. Breakfast was the best meal. I enjoyed eating at the outside area of the Aloha Deck. Omelettes were made to order (with egg whites or egg beaters) and the view couldn't be beat! We ate in the formal dining room twice for breakfast, however, the service was very slow and we wanted to see the sites. I also really liked the Diner. They made me a turkey sandwich to-order and although it wasn't fancy, it was exactly what I wanted. Further, we had purchased the "unlimited sodas" for the week (not really necessary but we were afraid ordering too many diet cokes would break the bank) and servers brought them without batting and eye and they weren't being tipped by us since we paid a flat fee. Wine is very expensive for the quality and we stuck to diet coke after a few bottles that were barely drinkable. EXCURSIONS/SEEING THE ISLANDS -- My husband took the volcano bike ride excursion in Hilo. He enjoyed it. The excursion prices seem high until you realize how much money it is to take a taxi. We tried to take an excursion our last day in Kauai to see the Na Poli coast, however, since our departure was supposed to be earlier than originally scheduled, they didn't have the excursion that day (Friday) and only offered it on Thursday. In retrospect and after doing the excursion on our own, the $175 a person is reasonable since our taxi cost $120 round trip. Most days we rented cars, and ironically, the prices we were quoted off the ship were often less than the price we were quoted when we pre-reserved our cars. It was a hassle to take the rental car shuttles to the airport or nearest car rental place, especially with a baby, and in Kona, the car shuttles stop at 3:30 due to traffic, so we had to get into a cab anyway. We spent a few days seeing sites and a few days lounging at hotels on the beach/by the pool. We found a few hotels where we could pay a "day rate," but this is unnecessary since all of Hawaii's beaches are public beaches and all of the hotels are required to provide access to visitors. The hotel pool areas are restricted to guests only. ENTERTAINMENT -- I only went to one show which was ok. My parents thought the juggler and the acrobats were fantastic. My husband and dad slept through the comedian and apparently were the butt of the jokes there. OVERALL -- In summary, we enjoyed ourselves and the baby had the best time of all. It was exhausting to get off the ship each day with an infant and next time we'll stay at one resort. We loved the Na Poli coast from the ship and the nighttime cruise of the volcano (the first time they'd sailed past it at night in 4 cruises) was really special. I wouldn't take this cruise if your child is under 2 unless you bring a full-time babysitter. It was a wonderful way to see the differences in the islands and Hawaii is gorgeous! HELPFUL HINTS: DINNER RESERVATIONS -- 1. Make dinner reservations for specialty restaurants as early as possible. They fill up very fast. You can now make all of them upon embarkation and don't have to wait until Sunday morning. 2. Specialty restaurants are half price the first evening, so go to the expensive one them. 3. Everyone raved about the Teppanyaki dinner and it filled up quickly with only 45 people seated a night (15 or so per seating). 4. The sushi restaurant was the best bargain. $5 all you can eat. Personalized service and you don't have to pay the $10 cover for East Meets West. Most people don't realize that. Again, seating is limited (15 at a time), so make your reservations early. OTHER -- 1. If you can request a cabin toward the back of the ship, do so, since you'll be closer to the Aloha Cafe and can run upstairs for a quick bite. 2. If you're traveling with a family, you all want to be near each other. The ship is too large to walk back and forth. 3. The fourth floor has limited access so certain stairwells don't go through. If you're on the fourth floor, you want to be in the middle of the ship. 4. The Jacuzzi on Deck 11 or 12 on the back of the ship was empty and the views of the coast were amazing from it. Feel free to email me if you have further questions or would like more information about our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see ... Read More
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see as much as we could of the islands (vs. shopping in the ports), we had to start early. We did manage to see a lot on the islands where we had a rental car (Maui & Kauai) Hotel It was a good call to stay at the Marriott - Waikiki. Cab from the airport (if you don't have a package) was about $50 with tip. The only downside was that there are two towers and most of the action seemed to be in the other tower which is a little bit of a walk to get to. However, the NCL office was right in the lobby of our tower. They let us do the check in process before 8pm the night before or 7am-9am day of cruise and then all you have to do is go to a separate key pickup line at the port terminal because your security picture and paperwork are already taken care of. Lines were not too long at the hotel on Sat morning when I did this. They collected our bags at 8am from the room and took care of getting them to the ship, so we were free to do whatever we wanted during the day and either take the shuttle to the port or a taxi. Suite 10024 The room was great. Quiet area. Large balcony, flat screen TV with DVD/CD player and plenty of room to spread out. Once we figured out who to call for various services, we were all set. We had good service in the room and got to know the staff, including the concierge who gave us some great tips on where to go on the islands and made some reservations in Kauai for us. Although it was not published, we got a lot of special treatment in the suite. We had priority boarding if we didn't use the hotel services. Our Concierge offered to book our shore excursions if we got him the information the night we got on the ship. We got VIP tender and disembarkation tickets so we never had to wait in a line. Shore excursions These are hit or miss - the helicopter ride was great, the zipline on Maui was overpriced and after that experience I canceled what we had planned on Kauai in favor of seeing things ourselves in a rental car. We did book the captain zodiac raft/snorkeling tour in Kona which was one of the better excursions and reasonably priced compared to the others. We found that many of the excursions were still available when we first got on the ship. Rental cars were easy to do in all the ports with free shuttles and most airport pick up locations close by. Dining I heard a lot of complaints before and during the cruise about the freestyle dining and how hard it is to get reservations. We tended to be flexible if we couldn't get a reservation and often were able to get 'squeezed in' with a short wait while we went to a bar and had a drink. Scenic Cruising This was probably the biggest disappointment. The cruise by the volcano was in the evening. It was dark and you really couldn't see anything until the very end when we were just about to turn around. It was on the starboard side, but the boat turned around and went back the same way it came, giving the port side the same view. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but I think every port except one had us arriving with the port side facing shore and docked with the port side looking at the view and the starboard side looking at the containers and storage facilities. The trip past the Napali Coast (Kuaui) was beautiful but it was only available on the port side. We also left early (6am) from Kauai not to do more scenic cruising most of the day, as I thought, but to race back to Honolulu the night before the cruise was over to try and catch an 8pm fireworks show. The show got canceled, so it's hard for me to say if it would have been worth it - my vote would have been to spend more time cruising the coast of Kauai close in to shore. The boat got back to Honolulu sometime around 8pm the night before and actually just kept puttering around until morning before pulling in to port. Ship The ship still looks new and we thought it was very nice and clean, despite the problems we read about on some of the message boards. There were not propulsion problems or sewage smells anywhere we went. We did hear some other people complaining that their toilets were stopped up but we didn't experience any problems. Service from the American crew tended to be either really good or below average (they are clearly still weeding out some of the kids who thought it would be all fund and didn't know what they were getting into). Mostly we found it to be good. Entertainment Not the best cruise to take if you are looking for on-board entertainment. With an early arrival at each port every day and an older crowd, there wasn't much happening at the bars and the shows we did see were very average. Fitness Center They had a great fitness center which I used several mornings. Every treadmill has it's own flat panel TV with a remote control (although be careful because you can end up changing your neighbor's channel along with your own!). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest ... Read More
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest you join Latitude Club - they have separate check-in for members that moves very fast. Found our cabin, met our cabin steward Musa and his supervisor Marta. Left our carry-on bags and went to Skyline Restaurant for sit down lunch (there is also buffet lunch in Aloha Cafe). After lunch we familiarized ourselves with ship layout and went back to our cabin to find our luggage had been delivered. Unpacked - plenty of storage. Suggest packing all your toiletries in ziploc bags which can then be placed on shelf beneath sink area to keep bathroom neat. A folding multicompartment bag that can be hung on bathroom door hook was also handy for cosmetics, small toiletries, Q-tips, pills, etc. Room safe a must for jewelry, money, wallets, cameras, etc. Our cabin was kept clean in a timely fashion each day, towels left on floor replaced twice a day and bed turned down w/chocolates on pillows each evening (towel animal once). Just remember to use wheel outside cabin to let steward know to make up or turn down room or if you don't want to be disturbed. Musa did a superb job and we tipped him extra at end of the cruise. Also praised him on comment card. Our room was midship & we felt very little movement, but we often felt the ship rock when we were in main restaurants (aft) or theater or lounge (fore). We ate breakfast in both Skyline and Aloha, and used room service once for breakfast and were satisfied with all three. We preferred Skyline over Liberty for dinner - service seemed to be slightly better, but food was the same - average. We ate once in Little Italy, but not impressed with decor or food. No long waits at main restaurants. Production shows not as good as on other NCL cruises - perhaps because they're not produced by Jean Ann Rand. Comedian, singer & juggler were entertaining. Cruise director Rich Cleeson & his assistant Shona tried hard to keep passengers informed & entertained. Rich especially was tireless in his efforts. I'm not sure when or how much he slept. He was on the PA system first thing every morning and at events late each night. There was always something to do onboard even when the ship was in port - trivia, art auctions, demonstrations, lectures, games, etc. Or how about just relaxing by the pool, taking a nap, working out in the gym, or getting a massage (more about that later). Each island is different from the others and you'll have your favorites I'm sure. Our first stop was Hilo, Hawaii where we took a tour off the pier for half of what the ship charged (and we saw twice as much). Went to Volcano National Park, Mauna Loa Nut Factory, Orchid Center, Chocolate Factory & Hilo Hatties. Our guide Hector was fun & informative. Don't miss seeing VNP. Monday we went on ship tour to the Road to Hana in Kahuolui, Maui. Merle, our guide, filled our 9-hour day with lots of stories and made some stops other tour guides don't - great photo ops. Long, tiring but not-to-be-missed day. We tendered in Lahaina, Maui but we, along with about half the ship's passengers, never made it off due to high winds hampering the tenders. We enjoyed a nice relaxing day. On Wednesday we tendered in Kona, Hawaii without problems. I recommend the small sandy beach right near the pier. Most of the other beaches (not within walking distance either) were black sand or salt & pepper and not good for swimming or sunbathing. In Nawilwili, Kuaui we had hoped to go on the Hollywood in Hawaii tour, but it was sold out a month before our cruise so we opted for Waimea Canyon - no tours available at the pier, so you can only book for this port through the ship. We were not disappointed. Our tour guide was not the best, but the scenery was breathtaking. Friday was a sea day and we sailed along the coastline, saw the Forbidden Island, and once again had a relaxing, fun-filled day at sea. As you can see, each day was different. The great thing about cruises is you get to decide how busy you want to be. We got involved in Battle of the Sexes Trivia which met each day and was lots of fun (even if the guys did win in the end). It's a great way to meet other passengers. The Mardi Gras Lounge had various theme nights ('50s, Disco, Big Band) and late night comedy and game shows. We walked through the fitness center one morning and saw several people working out in what appeared to be a well-equipped state-of-the-art-facility. My one big negative is the Spa. In addition to the already high prices, a 15% service charge is tacked on (they made it very clear this was not a gratuity). When I asked what the service charge was for, the receptionist could not give me a reasonable answer, so I decided to skip the massage. Why don't they just raise the prices instead of adding a service charge - aren't you already paying for a service? I'm sure they are losing customers because of this idiotic pricing system. My other negative comment is location of photo gallery in corridor leading to Skyline Restaurant. It's ridiculous to have throngs of people standing about viewing pictures while others are trying to pass through. One suggestion would be to exchange location of Photo Gallery with Art Gallery off the reception area, near the stores. Equally inconvenient is location of Liberty Restaurant - it's only accessible in the evening from stairway area outside Skyline because the only other access is through Lazy J Restaurant. We enjoyed Pink's Champagne Bar even though cigar smoking is allowed because our fellow cigar smoking cruisers were considerate enough to congregate in one corner allowing the rest of us to breathe easier and enjoy the piano singer (who I'm sure also appreciated their consideration). We only frequented John Adams Coffee Bar and Gold Rush Saloon during trivia. It took us until the last night of the cruise to discover a really nice bar on the 13th deck (Lanai Bar) with a fun crowd being entertained by a guitar player who somehow got everyone to sing along with him. Wish we had found it sooner. Never frequented the Napa Wine Bar and never saw anyone there - not sure why. The Waikiki Bar at the rear top deck was also fairly quiet. The bar at the pool and its service could have been better - I sometimes ended up getting my own drink because waiters were too few and far between. And remember to tell your waiter if you don't want your drink in the "special NCL glass" (more expensive) or you'll find yourself paying extra. And don't hesitate to tell them you don't want the special and for them to bring you a "regular" drink. Why pay for something you didn't order? Debarkation was a breeze - you pretty much leave when you want and have a leisurely breakfast and relax until then. THE BOTTOM LINE: This cruise is perfect if you want a 7-day cruise which stops at four beautiful and different Hawaiian Islands, if you're not a food snob (the food was good not great), if you don't need to be entertained every minute of every day, if you're not looking for Broadway productions as entertainment, if you're flexible with your time, if you don't let little things bother you. Regarding the crew - the good news is we found most of them friendly, helpful and trying hard to do a good job; the bad news is many of them were leaving the ship in the next few weeks either for vacation or for good. Do I think it was worth the money? Absolutely. It's a good introduction to Hawaii if you've never been there before, and a great planning tool if you'd like to do an extended land vacation on one or two islands in the future. Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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