Sail Date: June 2005
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We ... Read More
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We had our share: sometimes hot water, sometimes cold, no air conditioning for a day, cold food, poor service in the dining room and with cabin maintenance. Noise and laughter in the hall by cleaning crew and one morning music started playing over the speaker at 6:30 a.m. Cabins are small. Ship is plain and not many activities. Cruise director kept asking everyone to be patient, but they never offered any solutions to problems. Most of the entertainment was great, except for the lady impersonator, as many people walked out on her. We chose to take the express check out, because we had an early flight, but we waited in the hall for almost three hours before we could start getting off. Many people we talked to were going to miss their flights simply because Norwegian was so unorganized. This ship was clearly not ready to be put into service. The ice cream machine broke down and they could not fix it until we got to LA. The restaurant computer system had problems. On the first morning at breakfast we were told they were out of hash browns. We bought time on the internet and that was a mistake, as they did not keep correct track of the time. They never did open the hot tub on deck 12 aft. As most people do, I waited for a much deserved enjoyable vacation, but Norwegian created a big disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin and it was the smallest we have ever encountered. The bedroom area was sufficient, but the bathroom looked like something out of a travel trailer. Really tiny. It was obvious by all of the complaints we heard that NCL has a real problem with cabin service on Pride of America. Cleaning was nonexistent and the cabin stewards did not seem to care. It was the worst we have ever had on a cruise. On other cruise lines, the cabin steward depends on tips, so they give good service. NCL levies a $10 per day per person charge to cover tips and supposedly distributes it to the crew. This is a bad policy since the crew has no incentive to do a good job. The dining options are varied with 2 main restaurants, a buffet, and several restaurants with surcharges. The main dining was good, but we have had better on other ships. The buffet was mediocre at best, although breakfast and lunch were good. We did not try the other restaurants. There were many shore excursion choices, but if you plan to go, book in advance. The lines at the shore excursion desk were long and slow. NCL overcharges for them and you can save a lot by booking directly with the tour companies. Example: Helicopter tour in Kauai with NCL is 199.00. Book it directly with HeliUSA for 150.00. We went to 2 shows and they were OK. Probably about on par with most cruises. The itinerary was very good. We especially enjoyed the sunset cruise along the Napali coast. If NCL can get their act straightened out with regard to cabin service, the ship will be great. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2005
Just returned from our Hawaiian cruise. I had done extensive research before so I thought I knew what to expect. However experiencing it was another story. I was expecting an extremely small cabin w/ limited storage. We had an outside w/ ... Read More
Just returned from our Hawaiian cruise. I had done extensive research before so I thought I knew what to expect. However experiencing it was another story. I was expecting an extremely small cabin w/ limited storage. We had an outside w/ balcony and were pleasantly surprised that it was more than adequate for 2 adults. The bed was extremely comfortable. Lots of pillows. We had a great cabin stewardess. Our room was always clean, made up by noon and always turned down in the evening. No complaints there. We ordered room service breakfast every day. There was very limited selection especially regarding fruit (and we were in Hawaii!!). Everything was tasty but limited. We chose not to spend extra for dinner except for one night (my birthday). We spent that in Jefferson's Bistro and thought it was quite good with excellent service. The rest of the nights we ate in either the Liberty or Skyline. No problem getting seated as we like to eat late (9). The choices were limited but what they had very tasty. Service was hit or miss. Definitely need more training! The staff on the whole was very friendly but not efficient or well-trained as far as I was concerned. Luggage service was awful. We spent 2 days in Honolulu prior and our luggage was picked up at 8:30am. from hotel. We arrived on ship about 3 and did not get out luggage until 8 in the evening. Our cabin was across from where the luggage arrived and I kept checking. The people were totally disorganized and furthermore did not seen to care at all!! Totally unacceptable. One day leaving the ship around 10 am they ran out of beach towels. Same day there were no towels at the pool. Jacuzzi was lukewarm. Loved the piano player at Pinks but smoking was allowed there. Why they would choose that area is a mystery as it is totally open to the main atrium of 2 floors. Makes no sense. Should be in an enclosed bar area. Ship is quite lovely and unique. However they definitely need to spiff up a lot of service issues. I told them I would rather they increase my bill by $50 and NOT CHARGE EXTRA FOR THE RESTAURANTS. Maybe have one for special but not 3 or 4. Diamond Princess has freestyle dining with 4 free specialty restaurants and only one that charges. This was my first NCL experience and I doubt I would try another. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
PRIDE OF AMERICA - August 20-27, 2005 Cabin 9536 Deck 9: Category BD Background: My wife and I are in our mid fifties, have cruised before on Carnival, have never been to Hawaii, and we are quite open minded. I think my review will be ... Read More
PRIDE OF AMERICA - August 20-27, 2005 Cabin 9536 Deck 9: Category BD Background: My wife and I are in our mid fifties, have cruised before on Carnival, have never been to Hawaii, and we are quite open minded. I think my review will be shared by many other passengers who I had the opportunity to meet on the cruise. Pre-Cruise Planning: I allowed NCL to plan this vacation including Air connections from Tucson to Hawaii and return. Making the reservation was easy; however the NCL lady talked me out of a suite and into a category BD Ocean View Balcony Room. I think she thought that I was on a budget or looking for a cheap cruise deal which was not the case. I would regret letting her plan my trip as time went on. She neglected to complete the air connections part of the reservation. I had heard nothing about the reservation until about 14 days prior to the cruise. I called NCL, being concerned with the lack of communication and found that the air connections had not been assigned. The end result of this was that by this time, all the flights from Hawaii to Tucson were pretty full. My wife and I were forced to do a flight from hell on United Airlines leaving Honolulu at 10:30 PM for a 7 hour flight to Denver Colorado (5 hours out of our way including a 3 hour layover in Denver)....I will NEVER LET NCL PLAN MY TRIP AGAIN! If you are planning such a cruise, be sure to book your own flights at least 1 month out, to insure availability of flights and the connections you want. Honolulu is very short on flights to the mainland departing on Saturdays and Sundays. Because of the delay in getting the air set up, NCL was unable to get me the Pre-Cruise Documents package by mail. My wife and I were unsure of our reservations up until the day before departure when NCl finally emailed us some pre-cruise info, after a frantic call from me. On the actual flight to Hawaii, I was able to book a 1st class upgrade for us out of LA. NCL had previously told me that this was impossible and that I would have to fly economy. This was not true. NCL refused to assign us to any other airline as the original reservation was on some sort of discount deal, even though I specifically told them that money was not an issue and that I would gladly pay any difference for good connections and the 1st class upgrades. The NCL Air reservations staff was completely useless, and couldn't care less. They partner with United Airlines and are hesitant to let you book with anyone else, which in my case would have saved me at least 5 hours on the return flight. There was no upgrade available from Honolulu to the mainland so we suffered through the worst flight I have ever had. We were forced to be awake from 8AM Saturday until we arrived home at 2PM the following day! What a horrible way to end our "Dream Vacation". Your pre-cruise planning should include booking all of your shore excursions IN ADVANCE on the internet, or by phone/fax. This MUST BE DONE NO LATER THAN 14 DAYS PRIOR TO THE CRUISE or you will find many of the excursions fully booked when you get onboard. My grade for NCL's pre-planning of flights and shore excursions is D- to F. They just don't seem to care. Pre-Cruise Package: We opted to fly from Tucson to Honolulu on Thursday the 18th so we would have Thursday, Friday and ½ of Saturday in Waikiki Beach, Oahu, to settle in and do some sightseeing. NCL booked us at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort which turned out to be a lovely hotel. The room was immaculate and the service was great. There are many shops in the hotel proper. It is located 2 blocks from the International Market and right across the street from the famous Beach. NCL did manage to meet us at the plane and it was only a short wait for the bus to the hotel. The Bus ride was another matter however. NCL advertises that it is about 10 minutes from the airport to the hotel, however the bus stops at about 5-6 hotels on the way and it took us almost 90 minutes in the bus to finally arrive at the Marriott. Upon arrival we immediately went to the NCL desk at the hotel and did our Pre-Cruise Check In. They took our pictures and checked our reservations and ID. This proved to be a real timesaver when we went to the dock on Saturday. There were several hundred people on the normal check in lines and only 3 or 4 in the Marriott Pre-Check in line. We were on the boat in less than 10 minutes! BE SURE TO DO THE MARRIOTT PRE CRUISE CHECK IN! Another benefit to the pre cruise check in was that we had previously booked for 7 shore excursions and had received confirmation by email for only 5 of them. We were told by email that the other two excursions were full. However, at the Marriott check in office, we were able to book the remaining 2 excursions in advance. This saved us from having to deal with the several hour wait in line at the Shore Excursion desk on the ship. An interesting note here. If you are told by the NCL Staff on the phone or by email that a certain Excursion if full. Try to book the same tour at the NCL Desk at the Marriott. If it is still full, try again at the Shore Excursion desk onboard at deck 5, the day before the tour. There are cancellations and seats do become available a lot of the time. Be persistent. The NCL Staff at the Marriott checked us into the hotel and got our keys for us in about 10 minutes....They were organized and very helpful. They also issued us a tag with our departure times to the port. My grade of the NCL Desk process at the Marriott is B+ My Grade for NCL's choice of Hotels is B+ Pre-Cruise Shore Activities: I set up several activities on my own without NCL help. Upon arrival at the Marriott, we were able to relax for a few hours until we met the bus at 4:30 at the hotel across the street where we were bused to "Germaines Luao", north of Honolulu. This was a backyard type Luao, held on the beach. The food was fair. The Emu roasted pig was delicious. The Polynesian dancing was incredible. I had heard that the Luao offered by NCL on Maui was not very good so I had planned this one instead in advance. Our driver "AKA" was amazing. He was from the Forbidden Island and was also a Kahuna. He sang prayers for us and told amazing stories. We returned to the hotel about 10 PM. This Luao can be arranged online at http://www.hawaii.com/. We had been previously told that Friday was a state holiday, and that Hanauma Bay would be closed. This turned out to be untrue and we were able to book a trip out to beautiful Hanauma Bay! This is a lovely place. It is a snorkeling adventure in an old volcanic crater which has been filled in by the sea. There were hundreds of people at the beach but the sea life didn't seem to mind. If you are a scuba diver, or very familiar with the sea, this location will prove to be a middle of the road type snorkel. If you are new to snorkeling or diving, this is the place for you. Nice coral and protected waters. Admission is $5 and $1.50 for a tram ride up and down to the beach. Food and restrooms are available. Bring a camera. Snorkeling gear can be rented at the beach also. Friday night we went to the famous Honolulu Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I love this chain. Probably the best steaks I have ever tasted however quite pricey! Dinner with a bottle of wine came to $225.00. WARNING! The state of Hawaii has a liquor law which is pretty dumb. If you order wine by the bottle in Hawaii, you ARE NOT ALLOWED to take the wine with you when you leave. You must either leave the unused wine, or drink all of it at the restaurant, unless the restaurant has a liquor distribution license. Few of them do. My wife was forced to drink down all of the bottle and got quite sick later that night as a result. I imagine that this law will cause quite a few traffic accidents in the future. This is a newer law. Dining opportunities in Waikiki Beach are plentiful however you will need reservations if you plan to go to the more famous places to eat. Saturday arrived and we were just too tired to do much except walk up and down the shopping areas of town and take in the sights. Embarkation: At 1:30 PM we met the Shuttle to the pier for our adventure on the Pride of America! The shuttle ride was easy and short. Our baggage was handled quickly. Arrival at the Pier is beautiful. The famous ALOHA Tower is right next to the Pride of America dock. We got Laied upon arrival with lovely flowers for the ladies, and shells for the men. We went straight to the Marriott Pre-Cruise Booking desk bypassing a long wait in line for those who did not pre-book at the Marriott. We were given our Cruise cards / room keys and were on board in less than 10 minutes. ½ of our luggage was waiting at our room when we arrived and the other ½ arrived about 1 ½ hours later. We entered the ship on deck 5 which is where the reservations desk, and shore excursion desk are, along with one of the main restaurants. The first view inside the ship is of the Great Seal of the United States of America, and a replica of the Capitol building rotunda ceiling which is awe inspiring. The ship was spotlessly clean upon first impression. This is a beautiful ship and like none other I have ever seen. My grade for Embarkation is A (Provided that you do the Marriott check-in) My Grade for Luggage handling is B+ Ships Condition: The Pride of America is a lovely ship. Everything is new. Our Ocean View Balcony Cabin was as advertised. Small for more than 2 people, however, enough room for my wife and me. The room was clean upon arrival with the exception of our bedspread which was balled up in a corner. We unfolded it and found a really gross stain on it. The couple who had the room before us were probably on their honeymoon is all I can say about that here. We turned in the bedspread and asked for another……7 days later, we still had not received one. When you unpack, place the empty suitcases under the beds. There is no room elsewhere. We had 4 suitcases and 2 carryons and were able to manage okay. Housekeeping is Horrible. If you want coffee in your room for the coffee maker, you probably better ask for it. We placed written requests on the door each day. When we forgot to do this, we had no coffee. They were also skimpy on sugar and creamer. Our room was made up each night however we never found towel animals and seldom saw chocolate. The housekeeping staff seems to ignore the signs next to the front door which say "Welcome" or "Make Up Room", "Turn Down Room" and "Do Not Disturb". They pretty much bang and come in no matter which sign is posted. Our maid did not speak good English and communication was difficult with her. The housekeeping staff argued a lot and could be heard from the hallways yelling at each other. We also had to ask for garbage to be taken, and ashtrays to be emptied. I am a smoker however I only smoke on the balcony or on open decks. We ran out of tissue, toilet paper and shower gel during the cruise and had to ask for more. We never did receive the Freestyle Magazine each evening as promised. The magazine with the daily schedule would occasionally appear at our front door the next morning when we were hurrying out the door for a tour. I would grab the magazine, throw it on the bed and we'd leave. By the time we would return in the afternoon from our tour, the room would have been made up and the magazine would have disappeared. We never once got to read the darn thing! We also had no idea when the shows, formal nights, or other onboard activities would occur as a result. This kind of stuff should be automatic for the housekeeping staff. I doubt they have a checklist of what to clean in each room, each day. Terrible service. My grade for Housekeeping is D-. SHIP CLEANLINESS: With the exception of Decks 5 and 6, where many of the public rooms are located, the ship seemed clean. However on deck 5 and 6, after the first day, there was an unbelievable smell of methane gas from sewer problems. The caustic smell of human waste pervaded these decks amidships. Everyone complained about this, however the ships crew was unable to remedy the problem for days! This is simply unforgivable for a modern ship. NCL should dock this ship until the problem is fixed. Period. This is certainly a public health risk. Any boat named "Pride of America" should reflect that pride, and NOT smell of waste. The company should be ashamed if itself for this. My Grade for Ships Cleanliness overall is C. My Grade for Odor Control and Plumbing is a solid F for failure. SHIPS CLIMATE: I am aware that Norwegian Cruise Lines owns and operates this ship, however someone needs to tell them that THIS IS NOT NORWAY! This ship is COLD, VERY VERY COLD! All of the public rooms are almost unbearable because of the cold. Everyone complains and it finally seemed a bit warmer on the very last day of the cruise! On formal Night, my wife and I opted to leave the dress clothing behind in favor of comfort. She wore a sweat suit over pants and a sweater, and I wore 2 sweaters. We had our formal picture taken in these clothes and I will be posting this as my opinion of NCL's uncaring attitude regarding climate. By the 4th night of the cruise I had developed a horrible cold. I blame NCL and its air conditioning for this. I pity the next occupant of our cabin, as I am certain I left many germs behind and that the housekeeping staff did a poor job, if any, of sanitizing the cabin. There is a control for the AC in each cabin however it takes a long time to kick in. My wife and I usually had the Balcony door open to warm up our cabin, and the AC OFF all the time onboard. My Grade for NCL's Climate control through the ship is F for Failure. Restaurants & Food: Our first night on board found us dining at "East Meets West". This is an attempt at fusion cooking and each dish was wonderful. My complaint here is that the dishes names barely resemble the food actually served. I ordered Green Thai Curry but was served a Brown concoction with little if any actual Green Curry in it. It was delicious, but it was not what I had thought I had ordered. The Sushi on the first night was fresh and very tasty. 4 nights later when we dined here again, the Sushi seemed discolored. I was told that they vacuum pack their fish for the voyage. I recommend this restaurant however it does get booked fast. BE SURE to do phone reservations for this specialty restaurant. There is a $10 dollar cover charge here. Night 2 found us in the Liberty Restaurant. This is one of the main dining rooms. There are usually 3 nightly entrees to choose from, with one vegetarian choice as well. There are also 3 items that can be had each night. The service at the Liberty and Skyline restaurants is very slow. The food is below average for a cruise ship and the staff is frantically trying to meet the needs of 2,000 passengers. There is an obvious lack of staff and nowhere on the ship to put new staff. If you eat after 7PM, expect to wait an hour or so for a seat if you didn't phone in a reservation. The end result of this short staffing is that you have very slow service, very long waits for a seat if you didn't phone in a reservation early, and the main restaurants are only ½ full at any given time because there is simply not enough staff to meet the demand. Night 3 was the best eating experience on the ship at "Jefferson's Bistro". A high cover charge but the food was worth it. This place books out early so do the reservations well in advance. The waiters seem to swish about in an obvious way but I found this entertaining. The Filet Mignon was prepared in a fabulous manner that I won't bore you with here. Night 5 we tried the "Lazy J Steakhouse". I was just getting sick that night and I don't remember a lot about the place. I think the food was quite good. One night in the Liberty restaurant, we had a young waitress who loved using terms such as "Was your meal prepared impeccably Madame?" , which it of course, was not….and "Masseur this" and "Madame that" each chance she found. I finally asked her "Parlais vous Francais?" and she sheepishly said No….I found this a bit pretentious and definitely phony bologna for an "American" ship. Someone should tell the staff to not fake it, and to just be themselves. Americans don't need to put on plastic to make a good impression. Breakfast was another interesting adventure. Nobody told us that the main restaurants close at 9AM, so we had to eat at the "Aloha Cafe" which is a buffet affair. On the first morning they ran out of eggs by 9Am so we found other options. There is almost no tropical fruit on this cruise. No Papaya, No Guava, No Mangos, all of which are in abundance in Hawaii! The Pineapple is always available. Bar service is quick and costly! $5 for a beer and $7 for a shot of anything cheap. I called for room service on two occasions. Each time I was told that it would be at least an hour before any of the menu items could be delivered. I ordered anyway and the drinks arrived in about 10 minutes and the food about 30 minutes later. It seems that staff tried to dissuade the passengers from using room service. The Smoked Salmon platter is huge and wonderful! The Cadillac Cafe is a waste of time. If I wanted to eat at Denny's, I would have stayed ashore! Breakfast is the only time I saw anyone here and even then the choices are few. There is one waitress here named Poly who is a delight. She found me in the foulest mood, and just smiled and tried to find ways to serve me….she was great! My Grade for Onboard Food Service is D for Below Average. Shore Excursions: My wife and I opted to let NCL provide us with shore excursions for each day. We were aware that this was the costly route but it was less hassle for us to plan. You can book excursions at each pier when you dock at about ½ to 2/3rds of the price that NCL charges for the same experience. Hilo: Secrets of Puna Tour" This tour was simply great! We boarded large Vans and were given an all day tour of the Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii. The first stop was Lava Tree State Park. Here are found huge lava columns and tropical rain forest. The place is amazing to say the least. Next, out to the Champagne Pools for snorkeling. The pools are ponds which have been separated from the ocean and are volcanically heated. Located amongst the Lava flows the beach is course black sand. This was a nice bath and a below average snorkel if you want to see fish or sea life. A very beautiful place however overall and definitely worth the trip. Next, to Mackenzie Park for Lunch, and a great view of waves smashing into walls of Lava. Then on to a tour of the huge lava flows that come down almost 15 miles from the top of a distant mountain to the sea. The sight is incredible with Mount Kilauea erupting smoke in the distance. Then back to Hilo for shopping at Hilo Hatties. I think that most of the tours offered by NCL end in a shopping stop. Secrets of Puna Tour, my grade is B for above average. SCENIC CRUISE OF MOUNT KILAUEA: The Captain for some undisclosed reason decided to change our itinerary and we did not go by the Volcano. This was a major disappointment for me and all the passengers. I plan to ask for a refund however I don't expect to see much satisfaction from NCL. MAUI Day One: Molokini Crater and Turtle Arches Snorkel Tour. This tour begins wit a bus ride to the small harbor on the West side of Maui. We boarded a small vessel with about 90 other people and rode for about 20 mins out to Molokini Crater off the coast of Maui. The snorkel here was absolutely beautiful with a great abundance of fish and coral. Bring your underwater camera. Next, on to the Turtle Arches. This site is about 20 mins from the crater and is nowhere as interesting. We did see Turtles in the water from the boat however I doubt anyone saw them while in the water. This is a deep site and really should be explored with scuba. The bottom is just too deep to provide good snorkeling. A current came in with the afternoon winds and snorkeling back to the boat was a very difficult affair. The return ride to the harbor took about 45 mins and was simply beautiful. My grade for Turtle Arches is D for below average. My Grade for Snorkeling Molokini Crater is B for Above Average. Maui Day 2. Rainforest and Waterfall Hiking Tour It's nice to be able to write about how wonderful a tour is! We departed the ship and boarded a van for our Rainforest and Waterfall hike. A 45 minute drive up the road to Hana brought us to "Garden of Eden Park" which is lovely beyond description. Our guide warned us that this was not just a walk in the park. He wasn't kidding either. If you are over 50 years old, you might reconsider this hike unless you are in good shape. We started down the rainforest covered hill for what turned out to be an 800 foot descent in less than a mile. Pretty steep. The hike as almost all on stairs, over 350 of them, down to the waterfalls and pools. Very tropical and lush. We were shown how to pick fresh Awapuhee to use as a shampoo. We ate fresh Guava right off the trees. At the bottom everyone had the opportunity to swim in cool pools formed by the waterfalls. The braver souls climbed up the waterfalls for diving. A 30 foot, and 40 foot dive was offered. The climb back up the hill was quite difficult for me and my wife but we did manage to make it. After this hike we went to the site of the 200 foot waterfall that was filmed at the very beginning of Jurassic Park where the helicopter descends straight down next to this beautiful waterfall. My Grade for the Rainforest and Waterfall Hike is an A for Excellent. KONA: Kona Cultural and Snorkel Tour This tour was fun. The tour began with a 45 minute snorkel at one of the beaches right in town. This is a beginner site and children are all over the place. Our guide gave us masks but did not offer fins or booties. Call me overly cautious, but I think that when you snorkel in an area with coral and spiny sea urchins, that it's a good idea to wear booties or fins. The fish at this beach are tame as can be. They almost posed for the pictures I was taking. Unfortunately, my wife fell on the slippery rocks as she exited the water and hurt her knee. We were quite upset about this. The guide did help her clean the wounds and she was okay. After snorkeling, we proceeded to a fabulous location named "Pu'uhonua o Honaunau" , a sacred site that once housed the Ali'I (royalty) and a place of refuge for those who violated Kapu, the sacred laws. The village has been rebuilt and is simply fascinating as well as unbelievably beautiful. Next it was on to a coffee plantation for shopping, tasting coffees, macadamia nuts, fruits etc. My Grade for the Kona Cultural and Snorkel Tour is B for above average. KAUAI DAY 1. Wiamea Canyon, Wiluea River & Fern Grotto Tour Perhaps I'm getting a little picky here but I like touring with small groups in small vehicles. It's more personal and usually more interesting. This tour is in a large bus. The drive from the ship to Waimea Canyon is about 1 ½ hours and we had a very knowledgeable tour guide and driver. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no tonal inflections in his voice and used no humor at all. The result was that most of us on the bus fell asleep during his non-stop monolog of who owned what piece of land 200 years ago. This guy needs someone to tickle him or a shot of caffeine or something. Waimea Canyon is fantastic. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It does resemble the Grand Canyon. The drive out here is long and you might do better to take a helicopter tour of this area if time is a concern. We only visited one lookout on this tour and it was over 3 hours round trip. After the canyon we returned to the East side of Kauai to the Wailua River. We boarded flat bottom boats and cruised for about 3 miles up the river to the site of the famous Fern Grotto. BRING A CAMERA if you go to Fern Grotto. This is one of the loveliest places on Earth in my opinion. No wonder that Hawaiian royalty kept this place reserved for their own uses for centuries. My Grade for the Waimea Canyon, Wailua River & Fern Grotto Tour is a B for above average, however I would recommend that you simply do the Wailua River, Fern Grotto tour instead, and see Waimea Canyon by air to avoid the 3 hour drive. KAUAI DAY 2. Heaven and Earth Tour This tour leaves at 7AM so get that good Kona Coffee brewing early. We traveled by Van to the North Shore of Kauai which is probably one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. A new beach lurks beyond every curve in the road. Quaint villages dot the coastline. You will see the famous “Bali Hi” coast from the road. We stopped at several beaches and drank in the wonderful tropical trade winds. One stop was at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge where Birds by the thousands make their homes. The lighthouse here is really photogenic. After the drive, we were dropped at the local Heliport. There were 10 of us in the Van plus the driver. We were shown a safety video before the Helicopter ride. My wife and I were very fortunate to be given seats on the first helicopter to leave. The helicopter ride was about 30 mins long and was simply beyond description. The Volcano craters, The Rainforest views, the Na-Pali coastline and waterfalls are simply not to be believed. Unfortunately, NCL had arranged with the helicopter company a late morning departure time for our air tours. We needed to be back at the Ship by 1:30 PM. The second group of people who boarded the second helicopter had to cut their tour short only ½ was through and flew back to Lihue instead of being able to complete the air tour. One gentleman who was traveling with us weighed differently than was planned for by the Helicopter Company and as a result, he was not allowed to board the flight at all. Both he and his wife were completely deprived of the air tour. All because NCL and the Helicopter company did shabby scheduling and did not allow enough time for the tour. My Grade for the Heaven and Earth Tour is a B+ for content, however the scheduling is certainly an F for failure. Debarkation: Honolulu As is usual for cruise ships, you place your baggage outside your cabin the night before debarkation. Luggage tags are issued to each cabin. In the morning you are called by tag color to debark. You can stay on board for breakfast or whatever if you choose. Debarkation went smoothly. Our Final Tour: Oahu Deluxe Grand Circle Island Tour This Bus tour is as advertised. A 7 hour bus ride with brief stops at the Dole Pineapple plantation, views of Oahu’s North Shore, Wiamea bay, Bonsai Pipeline, etc. We drove by the Polynesian cultural center and down the East coast of Oahu. Lunch was served at the famous Turtle Bay Resort. Great food and a beach to die for. We had enough time to stroll out on the beach and to sit under a palm tree for a while. After Lunch, the drive down the East Coast of Oahu is breathtaking. The East coast of Oahu is completely different from the atmosphere of Honolulu and Waikiki. It seems much more laid back and tropical. We stopped at Hanauma Bay to enjoy the views but did not go down to snorkel. The tour also stops for almost an hour in Waikiki Beach for shopping. The tour ended at Honolulu Airport. Honolulu Airport: All I can say here is What a MESS! The check in procedure for United Airlines is a haphazard affair at best. We went through 3 separate security checkpoints. Be sure not to have a cigarette lighter with you here as it will be confiscated. Return Flights: Our return flight was not until 10:30 PM and took us 5 hours out of our way. NCL will never plan for me again. In closing, I’d like to say that this is the cruise of a lifetime…It wasn’t. However, this is Hawaii and if you can’t have fun in Hawaii, you must be dead! The Islands were far in excess of all my expectations. The cruise was not that great and at times very disappointing. The ship's problems seem to be due to under staffing and under training. They are curable. I do feel that each passenger is entitled to a partial refund for the change in itinerary and the many foibles of the crew. Another thorn in my spine is that Dining on the Pride of America can be a costly affair. Unless you limit yourself to the main dining rooms, you will pay cover charges and sometimes a la carte charges, along with your wine and bar tab. My wife and I probably spent an additional $500 dollars on these charges during our cruise. On any other cruise line, these restaurant charges would not occur. Of course, there is always a charge for alcohol. Our voyage was a very expensive experience and although both of us feel that this was a dream vacation, I will not go with NCL again. I do feel taken advantage of. The next time I do Hawaii, and I certainly will, it will be in Resorts on land, with more personal time on each island. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me at Cruise@VantagePointRealty.com. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Just returned from 7 day Hawaiian Island cruise. Have travelled with NCL in the past and found service on previous cruises to be far superior than that delivered on the Pride of America. Had this been my first experience with NCL it ... Read More
Just returned from 7 day Hawaiian Island cruise. Have travelled with NCL in the past and found service on previous cruises to be far superior than that delivered on the Pride of America. Had this been my first experience with NCL it definitely would have been my last with this cruise line. As noted in other reviews the staff was for the most part all young college type seeing the world or paying off college debts. This was a big variance from the many foreign crew members on the other ships who would continually go out of their way to please the guests. Crew were for the most part were friendly, however, seemed to lack direction and training. Cleanliness of their uniforms was one of the items we noted in all restaurants as all wore stained and wrinkled clothing further portraying their lack luster service attitude. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants for the quality of the food but could not get over the slow service and lack of training. You would have to ask for everything - can we have butter, can we have milk for the coffee, do you have ketchup, do you have?? They did not anticipate the needs of the guests and you typically had to wait while they ran around trying to find what you asked for. Lazy J Steakhouse was the funniest episode as when the steaks were presented waitress states "cut into it and see if it's cooked to your liking". Number one, this is not what I would expect at the premium/pay restaurants and I would assume if I ordered it medium that it would be cooked this way without question. To top it off the wait staff must have gone off for a break, as they never returned to see if it was cooked to our liking/order. The break lasted for 10 minutes before any of the wait staff reappeared. Even then we had to flag down a supervisor to ask for the bearnaise sauce. When speaking with the supervisor we indicated our displeasure with the slow mediocre service and the fact that by the time we get the sauce the steak was cold. This supervisor did nothing to apologize for the poor service. A supervisor of any strength should have at least offered to waive the $20 fee for a cold steak or offered to re-order the steak. Our cabin stewardess was also in the mediocre range at best. On other cruises they would make an effort to say "hello" and introduce themselves. This gal basically ignored us in the hallways. On 2 of the 7 days when we didn't leave for dinner until 8 and she would merely knock of the door and offer towels. Other cruise stewards would wait until you left the room regardless of the time to refresh it. For a new ship the cabins were also not kept very clean. Food quality was fine, room was as expected, ship is nice. Biggest irritant was service. Also, don't try to bring any bottles in your suitcase. We checked in at 1 pm and didn't get one of our bags until 8pm when a voice mail was left to come to security who quickly confiscated our half empty bottle. Staff wouldn't hold until end of cruise or pour out in front of us. My guess is the staff have a great party with the bottles as ours was one of many many others who had their bottles confiscated. My experience has been that NCL have established a good reputation for quality/service for the price. This was not the case with this cruise. I will have to think long and hard and do a lot of investigation if I ever opt for NCL in the future. If you are planning this cruise read all of the reviews as by the time I had done my investigation we had already been booked. The reviews all indicate the same experience we had with service and were all very accurate. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
I have to say what a difference it was from my past cruise with NCL. First of all the service was not great at all. It seemed as if the staff was very unhappy at all times. Many of them even gave you dirty looks. Oh god forbid if you get ... Read More
I have to say what a difference it was from my past cruise with NCL. First of all the service was not great at all. It seemed as if the staff was very unhappy at all times. Many of them even gave you dirty looks. Oh god forbid if you get in their way during your travel around the boat, I got some real nasty looks. Also many of times I saw the employees fighting with each other this includes the upper level ship leaders in the white outfits. Its a real shame that this is quite vivid all around the ship. I also have to say if you take this cruise bring some nose plugs it smells like the boat is a large un flushed toilet that has been sitting since last year! It is really bad even in the hall ways it smells this way. I spoke to some employees and they informed me that the design of the sewer system needs to be re done but NCL has not taken any steps to repair the stink. NCL and the employees spray all day with Febreeze but it is a real unpleasant smell it takes your enjoyment away its that bad. Also as far as the 10.00 charge per day per cabin guest that is charged to your on board account one employee from the EAST MEETS WEST dinning she informed me that they never see a bit of that money that is charge for tips. So I asked several other and they informed me of the same they never get any of the money and if they do its like 22.00 for a full pay period. All in all this was a cruise ship that had no idea what service should be. Also the cruise director did not plan events good at all. As far as that he even have very few events on board and many were bad and were a waste of time. They really need to see how the other NCL ships do it in style! I think this ship needs to really look at what they are doing wrong and correct it quick. Bottom line I have many more stories but it would take a week to share them with you. Also the latitudes member ship director was very un helpful. She was in fact a real disappointment. I wanted to inquire about a NCL cruise for the following year and she gave me some info sent to my room but she never followed up nor did she really seem to care about my desire to book the cruise and put a deposit down. In fact I went to her office to make a deposit on the cruise and someone was in the office with her and her new trainee so I waited and that client came out and I went to step in the office and she slammed the door shut right in my face. She never answered my knock on the door to enter as if they were not in the office what poor treatment for a customer. Also I heard that she could not wait to the end of the week's cruise so she can go on a break now that she has a replacement in place. I guess my advance booking was not important to her at all. She never even called to see if I wanted to place a booking or even ask if I received the information to my cabin. All in All it was a so so cruise. I suggest if you want to do a Island hop cruise stick with the NCL WIND that does the Island hop. Also the staff is not American staffed like The Pride is and you will get the best service from no American service staff. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our second cruise to Hawaii, the first being on the Patriot 4 years ago. The 2 ships had basically the same itineraries. First of all we thought the POA was a very beautiful ship. I could find many small problems with this ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Hawaii, the first being on the Patriot 4 years ago. The 2 ships had basically the same itineraries. First of all we thought the POA was a very beautiful ship. I could find many small problems with this ship,but first of all we kind of expected this to begin with. This is an American flagged ship with an American crew. Most of the workers appear to be college students, either there to pay off student loans, or attempt to see the world. However the ones we dealt with were very nice and courteous, except for one young lady in the Lazy J steakhouse,who was obviously an expert on steak cooking and tried to explain to my wife, why she did not need to have her bloody, medium well, ordered, steak sent back and re cooked. We ate in a different restaurant every evening. The Liberty and Skyline dining rooms have the same menu so it is just a matter of which one you prefer. No reservations are required, if you are a party of 2. The specialty restaurants, a reservation is needed, although we did just walk up to Little Italy one evening and were seated. I would rate the food on this ship mediocre at best,I am not that hard to please, but I do like my food hot, and that never happened on this ship. The Aloha cafe,tried to change every evening, with a different theme every night, the only one we had was Asian food and it was probably, the best meal had on the ship. We thought room service was pretty good, although it was limited. Had breakfast one morning, and one afternoon snack of a turkey sandwich, chips, and personal pizza that was actually hot. About he cabins, very small but efficient. The shower is tiny, if you weigh over 250 lbs you will have some difficulty I am sure. Our steward had to be the best one on the ship, room was always made up, ice was there every day,he even folded the towels into animals. He also took care of the laundry we wanted done, making a special trip, to get it in so we would have it back the next day. We did have a drain overflow during the second night while we were asleep, called desk at 5 A.M.,maintenance showed up about 530 A.M., after a second call, and took care of the problem. They made 2 follow up calls the next day, to see if it was ok, I liked this. No more problems. Our balcony always had salt on it, but a used bath towel and pool towels on the chairs took care of that very well. We took only 4 excursions,having done most of it 4 years prior. Liked the dolphin adventure in Kona the best, it is basically a boat ride that attracts dolphins, with a lady that entertains, that it is quite a lot of fun really. All in all this cruise was a lot of fun, the passengers were a real diverse crowd, this is what makes cruising fun for me, meeting a few people, watching a whole lot of people, and relaxing. Use the ship to see Hawaii, that is the idea. Talk to the locals and learn a few things. My biggest complaint, and another poster brought this up, was the change in itinerary where you do not sail by the volcano out of Hilo. This is a highlight of this cruise, a once in a lifetime sight, and NCL should not advertise this if they do not deliver. We saw this on our first Hawaiian cruise and it was spectacular. I would have thought of canceling this cruise also, had I known in advance, it was our biggest disappointment. Now for the 3 night post cruise stay. Stayed at the Moana Surfrider, the only hotel provided by NCL that is ON Waikiki. You walk out the back door and you are on the beach. This is the thing I really liked best about the hotel. It is historic which means old to me. Our room was city view in the diamond wing. Requested upgrade when checking in, was told it would be $300 per night additional. Needless to say that did not happen. So when booking your pre or post hotel stay SPECIFY what you want. I didn't and was a little disappointed. To sum things up, if you want and expect gourmet food, impeccable service, do not go on this cruise. If you want to see Hawaii, 4 islands in 7 days, go on this cruise definitely, because it is the best way to do it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2005
Booked a two night pre cruise stay and a seven night cruise with airfare on Pride of America our first NCL cruise for Sept. 17-24. We flew direct from Houston, TX to Honolulu on Continental and were met by the NCL rep at the gate. After ... Read More
Booked a two night pre cruise stay and a seven night cruise with airfare on Pride of America our first NCL cruise for Sept. 17-24. We flew direct from Houston, TX to Honolulu on Continental and were met by the NCL rep at the gate. After getting our baggage we were taken by van to our hotel, The Radisson Prince Kuhio on Waikiki Beach. We did have a great view of the beach, since our room had been upgraded to an oceanview. The only negative with the hotel was the fact that several of the elevators were being worked on which made the other elevators very slow. Tip- Use the garage elevator for faster service. We rented a car and took in Pearl Harbor, USS Missouri, Punchbowl Cemetery, Diamond Head, North Shore, Hanauma Bay and several other sites. Beware traffic is equal to Houston or any other big city. The day of our cruise we were picked up at 1 pm and taken to the ship. The line was long for check-in but moved pretty fast and soon we were onboard. I immediately booked reservations for Little Italy for the first night and Friday night (NaPali Coast sailing) for 6pm-this was a tip I received on Cruise Critic. Our balcony cabin (8690) was ready and we dropped off our carry-on luggage before heading to the Aloha Cafe for lunch. Great boiled shrimp on the buffet. Unpacked after lunch, our bags were waiting for us. Dinner and service at Little Italy was very good! Attended the show, juggler was good! Arrived in Hilo at 8am and had booked a tour- (Hilo Volcano Tour and Akaka Falls) independent of the ship. We used Tony Patao with Green Travel and Tours (www.greentours.com), he did a fantastic job. He picked us up at the dock in a small van and we enjoyed the whole day with another couple. He is a wealth of knowledge and took us to many off the beaten tourist path places. I highly recommend Tony and Green Tours. That evening we sailed by Mt. Kilauea and saw the lava flowing into the ocean, a memorable site. The first day in Maui we had booked the Molokini and Turtle Arches Snorkel Trip excursion. We arrived at Molokini crater a prime snorkel spot to find the water was very rough and not good for snorkeling, so we went on to Turtle Arches. We did see lots of turtles. The second day we had booked independently with Bike it Maui (www.bikeit@maui.net)for the Sunrise Bike Tour down Mt. Haleakala. Rob picked us up at 2:30 am and we made our way to the top of the crater. Coffee, hot chocolate, and muffins were served as we waited for sunrise. Sunrise was spectacular and worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night. Dave gave us our equipment-bike, coat, gloves, helmet, pants, and safety instructions. It was cold, even with the jackets, dress warm. We took off down the mountain, 38 miles behind our fearless leader, Dave. Wow what a ride!! After the ride they took us to Charley's in Paia for breakfast which they had ordered earlier. Great food! Highly recommend Bike it Maui- Petra, Rob, and Dave-first class tour! They are cheaper than the ship excursion and include a great breakfast. In Kona we booked the ship excursion-Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel. Great snorkeling and a fun raft ride. Saw lot of spinner dolphins. We walked around Kona, shopped and had lunch at Bubba Gumps Shrimp. In Kauai we had booked th Napali Snorkel, Dinner, and Sunset Sail which was canedlled and the Journey to Waimea Canyon. We decided to rent a car, canceled our tour, and did the island on our own. We caught a Budget shuttle at the dock and went to the airport to get a car. We rented a convertible ($77.00 for full day) and drove almost 200 miles. Waimea Canyon was fantastic! Traffic was easy but we needed a better map to get around. Heard from shipmates that took the Waimea Canyon tour by tour bus and said it was too long. The second day in Kaui we had an early departure at 3pm, onboard at 2:30pm so we just did some shopping. Shuttles take you in to town. We had booked Little Italy for 6pm and had requested a table by the window for the NaPali coast cruise. Great dinner and breathtaking scenery! Disembarkation went pretty smoothly, we got up had breakfast in the Aloha and waited for our color tag to be called. Transportation to the airport was provided at the dock. We had a long wait for our direct flight home to Houston, If you are looking to be pampered this is NOT the cruise for you, but it is a good economical way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were lucky, our cabin attendant was very good, but heard many horror stories from other passengers. Our room was cleaned, a top sheet was placed on the bed as per our request, ice bucket full, clean towels, etc........... The bad news is our cabin attendant is the leaving the ship soon. The cabin (8690) was small and storage was tight, but okay for the two of us. Food was best in the Aloha Cafe, boiled shrimp fantastic! Service in the Liberty and Skyline really hit or miss. One night we had a woman that must have worked in a Texas truck stop, she was serving like she was slinging hash! Service was not even close to service received on other cruise lines-Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Radisson. We opted for the Aloha Cafe several nights. We did not enjoy the freestyle dined, missed meeting new people and interesting conversation at dinner. We skipped formal night, seemed a joke with the service given in the restaurants. High points of ship-Gym the best I have ever seen and not crowded, Coffeemaker in room convenient, good hairdryer in cabin, cold, cold milk in machines, comfortable bed-request a top sheet. Low points- SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE! Poor food quality and selection, lack of dance music and place to dance, cabin small, fireproof door extremely heavy, lots of chemical in hot tubs-will fade swimsuit, pools small, lack of fresh tropical fruit on tropical cruise. Lobster night was a big disappointment, not very good! Photos placed to low and hard to view in photo shop with passing traffic, Layout of ship is confusing at times The ship is new, but my fear is that it won't be long before it gets run down because of lack of good maintenance and cleaning. Carpet in elevators was stained and dirty looking. We had a good time and saw the beauty of the Hawaiian Island, but would NOT cruise with NCL again. They need to take a long hard look at their Customer Service before they can compete with other cruise lines. I was concerned before our cruise with the bad reviews I had read, but I went with an open mind, a cruise is what you make it. We did have a great time and spent very little time on the ship. A few last minute tips to bring - Power strip-only two plugs in cabin, extra hangers, only half the clothes you have already packed! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Due to previous reviews, my husband & I were a bit concerned with booking this cruise. Well, the reviews were pretty much on target. To start on a positive note, NCL has the most organized embarkation process. Since we booked our ... Read More
Due to previous reviews, my husband & I were a bit concerned with booking this cruise. Well, the reviews were pretty much on target. To start on a positive note, NCL has the most organized embarkation process. Since we booked our hotel stay in Honolulu as part of our cruise package, our luggage was picked up in our hotel room & we did not touch it until it arrived in our room. Upon arriving at the pier, we were checked in and on board the ship in under 30 minutes. Our tour vouchers were in our cabins but we were missing a few of the tickets. We stopped by the excursion desk and they immediately printed the missing vouchers. Unfortunately, from that point on there was one error after another. Since it was raining the day of embarkation, some one obviously left our luggage in the rain & the clothes in 1 of our suitcases was wet. I called the front desk & they said I could dry it. When I suggested that NCL should pay for that service I was told they would get back to me. I never received a call back. I mentioned this to the manager of the front desk 3 days later & he said he would check into it & get back to me - he never got back with us. The dining service was pitiful. We ate late in the main dining room one night & had to deal with the ringing of senior cruise staff cell phone during our meal. They did comp our meal at one of the specialty restaurants when they realized that ringing cell phones was a distraction. The wait staff in the restaurants had trouble with the freestyle seating. They were constantly running and could not provide simple things like refilling water glasses. We had read about a smell in the halls. We did not notice anything until about 5 days into the cruise. The odor was found in certain areas in the cabin area of the ship. The cleanliness of the bathrooms was pretty bad. I would not use the one that was located outside the theatre. It was always dirty & smelled awful. The ship is a nice ship with a great itinerary. We did find the cabins to be on the small size compared to other cruise ships. The tour excursions we took were excellent. We went to one dance show & it was awful. The juggler was excellent - don't miss the show. If you only have 1 week to visit Hawaii - take this cruise but expect below par service. If you go with that attitude, you won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This was far better than previous reviews would have led us to believe. We had owners suite #8000 with wonderful butlerette, Jessica, and room steward, Franklin. Concierge Al was wonderful. I would recommend anyone taking POA to go for ... Read More
This was far better than previous reviews would have led us to believe. We had owners suite #8000 with wonderful butlerette, Jessica, and room steward, Franklin. Concierge Al was wonderful. I would recommend anyone taking POA to go for Penthouse Suite at very least. Most cabins are ultra-small. Our Owner's Suite was huge, albeit garishly furnished. Even so, it was most comfortable and amenities made it all worthwhile. Food was more than adequate. We had only one meal in main dining room and it was fair banquet. Jefferson Bistro was excellent as was Teppanyaki in East-West and steakhouse was not bad. Italian only fair. Aloha Buffet was always good for lunch (did not try dinner). We had breakfast in suite most mornings and it was prompt, hot, and delicious. Skip Cadillac as it does not offer much. We did not see any shows nor did we visit any bars. Drinks in the suite with friends were wonderful. Shops had nothing to offer. Communications were not great. Embark and debark were very smooth. We never had feeling of crowds even though ship was full. Staff and personnel were wonderful - all very friendly and delightful to visit with. We have cruised may times with Silversea, Radisson and Seabourn and this is not competition for them,. However, the price is right, even though you are charged for every little Coca-Cola you might drink. All in all - quite a pleasant trip. But do get minimum of penthouse suite.  Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
I regret to report submit a mostly negative review, but I appreciated being forewarned by others, so maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so. CABIN. Because the Pride of America mostly cruises from island to island after dark, and ... Read More
I regret to report submit a mostly negative review, but I appreciated being forewarned by others, so maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so. CABIN. Because the Pride of America mostly cruises from island to island after dark, and we were off the ship during daylight hours, we decided to skip the balcony and got an inside cabin. Good decision, and it saved us about $1000. Cabin was small, but adequate. Good service from our steward, but he did seem overworked. Drinking glasses not changed all week. No refill of soap dispensers, etc. Room was pretty quiet from outside noises. Bed cover was a thick duvet wrapped in a sheet - so at night, it's lots of covering or none! I couldn't quite get used to that. As others have reported, our cabin's safe also malfunctioned one day, necessitating a late night visit by a security guy. Our friends in a nearby cabin had numerous problems with their room key ... the steward said that it was a recurring problem with that particular room. Couldn't hear announcements in the cabin. DINING RESERVATIONS: The restaurant reservation system needs a serious overhaul. There was a lot of confusion about the reservation process, particularly on the day of arrival. We had read that dining reservations should be made as soon as you board ship because the popular restaurants fill up early, especially at certain times. So when we got on board mid-afternoon, we tried repeatedly to call the dining reservation number but never got through the whole afternoon. We decided to try Little Italy, so we showed up just before they opened (7:30 PM) figuring it must be on a first come, first served basis on the first day. The greeter was frazzled and not helpful, but we left our names with her. Two groups, who had somehow gotten reservations (how, I wonder?) were called in ahead of us. Then we were called in to be seated. Some friends of ours showed up 15 minutes later (7:45 PM) and were told that Little Italy was "full". Being on the inside of the restaurant at that time, we knew that definitely wasn't the case - it was at least half empty until we left about 9:00. The next morning, I called to make our reservation for the second evening (at Jefferson's Bistro), and had no trouble getting through or making the reservation. Our very nice maitre d' (Merrill) at Little Italy said that there was a new policy, not made public, that the ship would take reservations for only 24 hours in advance. Our experiences later in the week proved that wasn't true - if there were openings at the time we wanted, we could make reservations for any time in the future. And, we discovered at the Jefferson Bistro, they would take reservations right at the entry way - and were delighted to do so (obviously we like that restaurant a lot, but more about that later). However that proved a fiasco because they made the reservation at the wrong restaurant! But the biggest problem was that neither the main restaurants (Skyline and Liberty) nor specialty restaurants could accommodate the demand at dinnertime, especially for seating for any time before 8 PM. Too many people had to wait or were turned away. It should not be such a hassle to get to eat at all of the sit down restaurants. We frequently resorted to the buffet - which was good - at the Aloha Cafe. BREAKFAST. Thankfully someone in this forum recommended the Aloha Bar which is located outdoors aft of the Aloha Cafe. It's on the back deck, about half covered if it rains or it's too sunny. Typically, the inside Aloha Cafe was mobbed with people around the buffet tables and trying to find good seating. But just a few steps away and through a back door was the Aloha Bar with almost everything you could want (made-to-order omelets, etc.) and there were very few people. Such a nice way to enjoy the early morning in the out of doors! LUNCH. Great hamburgers at Cadillac Diner. Again, the Aloha Cafe and its companion Aloha Bar were good at lunchtime. DINNER. - Little Italy - Service. We were the third party seated on the first evening (see Reservations above). The good news is we were seated next to a window. The bad news is that we were also right next to the door going into the very noisy kitchen. We put up with the distraction of the kitchen noise the entire meal. But finally at the end of the meal, when the maitre d asked, we suggested to him that, when they have plenty of tables available, this one should not be used. He apologized and explained that he was trying to spread the diners to all of of his servers' stations, and we had just drawn that spot (I thought maybe it was because we didn't have one of those impossible-to-get reservations!). The moral of the story ... if you don't like your table, ask to me moved! We did the next night (see Jefferson Bistro), and it was great that we did. At Little Italy, we got our first taste of what some critics have pointed out as the lack of professionalism of an all-American crew. Both the waiter and his assistant were much more into themselves than giving attention to us as diners. Several inappropriate quips were made that should never have been said at a fine restaurant. We could see one of them preening himself in the back, etc. Yuck. - Little Italy - Food. My wife and I both had the veal specialty, and we disagreed on our rating - she liked it, I didn't. We both agreed that the salad and desserts were unimpressive. Nice tip ... At Little Italy we learned, if you buy a bottle of wine and don't finish it, you may take it with you. OR, they will re-cork it and store in their wine cellar, and you may ask for it at any other restaurant later in the week. We took advantage of this and had our half consumed bottle saved, and we used it the next night! Cool! Jefferson's Bistro - Service - On our second night we went to Jefferson's Bistro. What a great restaurant! It was truly a fine dining experience. As mentioned before, we asked if we could be moved from our initially assigned table (near the door), and she graciously moved us to the "Library" which was a smaller area, very quiet and lovely. Our waiter (Daniel) was terrific as was his assistant. We never felt hurried and spent a very pleasant 2 1/2 hours there! And immediately made reservations to return later in the week. We again had Daniel on the second visit, and he charmed our larger group that night the way he had the 2 of us on the first visit. Jefferson Bistro - Food - After the dining experience the previous evening, I wondered whether our expectations were just unreasonably high. No, no, mon ami! This time we both had fabulous meals. We were both gently encouraged by the waiter to choose something from every course (appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert), so we did. Our favorites before the main course were the escargot for me, and onion soup for her - both wonderfully prepared and presented. She had filet mignon for main entree and I had a sea bass -- both were excellent. It was all so good, we immediately made a reservation for later in the week - Thursday, when everyone else would be gorging on some all-you-can-eat pretend lobster at the main restaurants, we planned on having another intimate dinner (perhaps even Maine lobster) at Jefferson's. Liberty and Skyline Restaurants. These were the main dining rooms. As mentioned before, the reservation system is a mystery. The food was mediocre at best. The service was uneven. "Free Style" dining is supposed to mean that you can eat when you want, but if you can't get in, so what? And every meal there is luck-of-the-draw if you agree to share your table, which the greeter strongly pushes if you want to eat on your schedule rather than theirs. SHORE EXCURSIONS RESERVATIONS. As suggested by other reviewers, make your shore excursion reservations weeks in advance, if possible. And, if you haven't gotten a confirmation within a day or 2, start calling NCL. The hassles we had trying to get confirmed shore excursion reservations in advance are too much to detail here; suffice it to say, I spent hours on the phone (mostly on hold), and never had clear confirmation of our excursions. But the bright side of this is that there was little hassle once on the ship, we finally had confirmations, etc. ... I don't think I heard of anyone who could not get the excursions they wanted either added or cancelled at the Shore Excursion desk. Our excursion experiences were ... SUNDAY (Hilo, Hawaii): Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls (ITO-03). The Park is a must see. Next time we would choose (ITO-01) which (a) skips a big buffet lunch which was not very good, wastes time, and is unnecessary with all the food on the ship, (b) skips Rainbow Falls which, while nice, lasted only 15 minutes and not that spectacular, and (c) is $35 less expensive. MONDAY (Kahului, Maui): Maui Ocean Center; Iao Valley (IGG-04). Good tour - glad we did it. The aquarium is very well done, a real treat. We heard that the luau shore excursion is the most popular - 800 people signed up! We went to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center back in Honolulu (which we highly recommend), so we passed on this luau in Maui. A great resource for Maui is Jon Blum's internet site: http://www.mauihawaii.org/ TUESDAY (Kahului, Maui): Haleakala Crater at Sunrise (OGG-48) This was a great tour. The ride up and back could be an issue if you're prone to motion sickness due to the many switchbacks on the mountain. Do take warm clothing! WEDNESDAY (Kona, Hawaii): Valley Waterfall Hiking Adventure This was another good choice, though a bit pricey. The trail out to the waterfall is private, so there are no crowds. It's a good way to see the western and northern coast of the Big Island, and the hike out (not too strenuous) to the waterfall is through beautiful scenery. THURSDAY (Nawiliwili, Kauai) Again thanks to an earlier reviewer, we rented a car. If you are sure you're going to do this, rent the car ahead of time. Without a reservation, the shuttles to the airport were reluctant to take us. But we did finally get there and had no trouble renting a mid-size car from Dollar. On Thursday, we drove up the east side all the way to the end of the road, where the scenery on the North Coast at Haena State Park is fabulous. The Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge at Princeville is a must-see. Overnight we parked our car in a $10 lot near the ship, but could have parked for free at the Anchor Cove shopping center. FRIDAY (Nawiliwili, Kauai) The next day, we took our rental all the way to the other end west. Drove up to the Waimea Canyon. If possible, recommend seeing the Canyon in the afternoon when the sun is overhead or in the west so it shines on the eastern canyon walls - the road is on the west side of the canyon so in the morning, the sun is shining on on the wrong side. But still spectacular at any time. ENTERTAINMENT The cruise director is very good - humorous and knows how to work the audience. The juggler was terrific - we saw him every opportunity. The dancers were not - well, they were VERY good dancers and singers, but their show just didn't "work", as indicated by the very lukewarm applause. Who ever designed their show didn't understand what this audience would like. We've seen much better on other cruises. GENERAL LITTLE THINGS. No "behind the scenes" tours as on other ships (the bridge, the galley, backstage in the theater, etc.). Never saw or heard from the ship's captain - the ship could have been on auto-pilot for all we know. No "baked Alaska" or "tower of champagne" on the last night. Photographers were annoying, blocking the path every time we got off the ship. BIG THING. The ship's employees are over worked. Most were very pleasant, but we could tell that they were tired, and many admitted it to us. We heard from one of the them that 50-60 employees quit the weekend we embarked because they couldn't take the demands. That might account for seeing the same crew members working different shifts and positions throughout the day, the specialty restaurants not using all their tables, etc. We understand that there is only one doctor for the 2000 passengers and 900 employees, which is a telling indicator of the short staff. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We booked our cruise for Thanksgiving of 2004, however the ship had an incident in its shipyard and our cruise was delayed by a year. After reading the reviews of the ship, I had very serious concerns about our voyage. Though it was not ... Read More
We booked our cruise for Thanksgiving of 2004, however the ship had an incident in its shipyard and our cruise was delayed by a year. After reading the reviews of the ship, I had very serious concerns about our voyage. Though it was not a luxurious experience, it was reasonable considering its purpose. I took this cruise first and foremost to see Hawaii (I would have gone to Hawaii with or without the cruise) and second to try a cruise (I had never taken one before). We (2 adults and 2 children) were traveling with another family of 4, and we originally took a deluxe family penthouse suite. When our trip was rebooked, we were forced to take 2 regular family suites, which really wasn't the end of the world. The room had 2 separate bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The rooms were small but bearable, the bathrooms, however, were TINY. Think of the size of the bathroom on the plane you will take to get to Hawaii, and you will begin to see the size of these bathrooms. The cabins were decently furnished, with small color TVs and an abundance of good, but fake, wood cabinetry. The bed spreads and overall decor color were not what I would have preferred, but they were reasonable (fruity, tropical / 70's era feel). Closet space was extremely small- pack lightly. The maid service worked well- we had a problem with our shower, but it was fixed promptly by maintenance (it did take two tries, however). The room blossoms in comparison to the food on the cruise. We ate in the main restaurants (both the Liberty and the Skyline), as well as the Italian restaurant (no cover charge), and at the aloha cafe on the first day. The food in the Aloha was decent cafeteria style food, with a good selection. The main restaurants had mediocre food, though one day there were excellent entrees. The soups/salads/appetizers were usually quite good. The Italian restaurants were way below expectations- we do not recommend it. Service was spotty. On the first day in the Liberty, we had very good service from two waiters. On the next day, we had terrible service from two junior waiters, who failed to refill our water glasses and took 30 minutes to bring our drinks. We also encountered a very rude bartender in the Gold Rush Saloon. The Lanai bar was very good- be sure to say hi to David and Kim. We enjoyed are trip- just not because of the cruise. The excursions were great- especially the down hill bicycling and the lava hike on Hawaii. Beware- the lava hike was strenuous. Overall, if you are taking this cruise because you wanted to take a cruise and Hawaii sounded nice, you will be disappointed. If, like me, you are going on it because it is a convenient way to visit Hawaii, then as long as you go in not expecting great food or service, you will have a reasonable trip. PS- the fitness room was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We loved the ports. It was an excellent way to visit four Hawaiian Islands. We loved the new ship. Pool area was nice. Plenty of room on decks. The service in our cabin was very good. We hated Freestyle Dining. To us, their slogan ... Read More
We loved the ports. It was an excellent way to visit four Hawaiian Islands. We loved the new ship. Pool area was nice. Plenty of room on decks. The service in our cabin was very good. We hated Freestyle Dining. To us, their slogan "Eat Where You Want, When you Want" is false advertising. The only place we could eat when we wanted was in the Aloha Buffet. Even in there, they were challenged to keep certain items always available...like silverware and bowls. The soft ice cream was the best thing on the ship, but even though they had two machines they only kept one going...and the area was never stocked. The menus in the main dining rooms were boring and limited. To get the good stuff like Filet Mignon you had to pay extra in the 'specialty restaurants'...however we couldn't get a reservation even once the entire week!!! I had salmon four nights in a row because it was the only dish appealing on the menu. The seating was crazy for the main dining rooms. There were always long lines and waits. You could only make a reservation for 5:30 or 8:30 (normal cruising seating times)...even then there was always confusion or a crisis at the hostess desk. Then when you were finally seated...there was always a sea of empty tables!!! It was very hard to understand why they were making so many people wait. They even handed out beepers! Too much like dining on land...I want less hassle and no errands on my cruise. Very frustrating...we tried to make reservations but our plans would change as the week progressed...so we would have to wait in line to change them or get charged $10. It was just too much of a hassle. One night they didn't even have the reservation we made. Never again! Plus by not having your normal seating you miss out on meeting people...and sharing your cruising experience. Dinner was not an event. We missed getting to know the same service people every night..and the waiters didn't entertain like they do on a normal cruise. The entertainment on ship was sad. The juggler could juggle but he wasn't funny and he performed for two nights!!! The singers and dancers were terrible. Voices didn't match. The theme for their first performance was "Working, Working Working". That turned me off completely because I came on the ship to escape thinking about work! (Plus the audience was full of retirees...I'm sure they were thrilled) The local Polynesian group which performed was excellent but their show was way too short. There was not enough Hawaiian cultural activities or music on board. I would have like Hawaiian entertainment every night. One of the best events was the newly and not so newly wed game. They should have done this every night with different couples. It was the funniest entertainment. The whole ship was designed to make them money. The only way to walk from the theatre to the dining room was through the shops and the photo gallery. Every announcement on board was about booking excursions...spending time in the spa or sales in the boutiques. And what is up with the art auction? Waste of time and space. We were surprised that in the teen center...you had to pay money to use the video games! There was also no place on the ship where you could sit inside and watch the water and watch people go by...all of the action was in out of the way places. We did like being able to disembark when we wanted..you just have to carry your own luggage. We also thought embarking went smoothly...we stayed at the Marriott Wakiki the night before and were transported over to the ship and sailed through the sign in process. So in conclusion, we loved the places we went, we loved the modernness and cleanliness of the new ship...however FreeStyle Seating was frustrating; the menus were blah, we were bored by most of the on board entertainment and we got sick of the constant pitches to spend more money. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We had an EXCELLENT vacation !!! I am going to give you lots of facts about the ship/crew (some good, some not so good_, but please read them and keep in mind that we had a wonderful time on this vacation - after all it is Hawaii !! For ... Read More
We had an EXCELLENT vacation !!! I am going to give you lots of facts about the ship/crew (some good, some not so good_, but please read them and keep in mind that we had a wonderful time on this vacation - after all it is Hawaii !! For the most part, we LOVED the American crew. It was great being able to talk to everyone and hear their stories, where they are from, etc. We found most of the crew was extremely friendly and helpful. Yes we came across a few with attitudes, but honestly we enjoyed the american crew sooo much (and we thought we wouldn't so that was pleasant surprise). That said there definitely is a shortage in crew (we spoke to many officials on board and were told the ship is having a hard time keeping staff). So, in some places, it is clear that the service is simply not there. Example: main restaurants. We waited over an hour to get seated one night and then it took almost 3 hours to eat. The waiter was nice and was working very hard, but he was one guy doing the work of 3 people (waiter, bus buy, and bar staff). He was bringing the food, clearing the plates, trying to refill drinks and water glasses- and it was SLOW!!! We decided to go to specialty restaurants after that and we had wonderful experiences in those. We had 3 cabins on the ship (8 people), and 2 of them had one room steward and the other had a different one. Needless to say service was night and day. My cabin steward never cleaned - literally. He would always leave dirty glasses in the room, dirt on the flow, toothpaste in the sink. It did not matter that much to me as it didn't take away from my trip, but it was obvious he wasn't doing a very good job. Not one towel animal the entire week in our cabin (and my 7 yr old twins look so forward to getting those in their room). Oh well! Yes, there is a definite sewage smell on board the ship in certain locations. I don't know why? It is not a huge big deal- just unpleasant when you walk by an area that has it, but it is definitely 100% there (all of us smelt it). Food was OK - not bad not great. We are not picky eaters by any means (I can eat a can of soup for dinner and be happy). I did see rotten bananas sitting out for 3 days in a row (you know black on the outside). My kids also opened 2 rotten milks one morning. Weird?? Also, the bread was clearly a bit old. You know when you get bread at your dinner table and it is warm and soft- we only had that one night in Little Italy- otherwise bread was cold, and in the buffet the hamburger rolls would crumble the way they do when they are getting old. Again- no big deal- just wanting to point out the facts. Kids camp now has morning hours and evening hours (9 am - noon, 7pm-10pm). On Thursday night they offer kids eat with the staff in the cadillac diner. Usually the ships only offer camp when the ship is at sea (free camp that is), but since this ship is docked so much they realized they needed more camp hours and they added them which was nice. You can pay for group babysitting during other hours. There are no chicken fingers/nuggets or mac n ' cheese on this ship. THis was my 7 yr olds 9th cruise and they have never been on a ship that didn't offer some sort of chicken nuggets/ mac n cheese - standard kid food. They offered hot dogs and burgers at the kids buffet, and pizza. Let your kids eat the same foods from the regular buffet because it moves quicker - I noticed the kids buffet would just sit there for a long time untouched. I'll also ass that the pizza was pretty good on board the ship. The entertainment was definitely lacking on this cruise- BUT with this ship being so port intensive, the expectation is that you are out and busy all day long and tired in the evening. We went to 2 shows and after that we gave up- and stopped going. We didn't miss not going because we were so tired (from the time difference and the business of our days) - so we didn't care. Internet is expensive on board. There is no option for unlimited usage. We just skipped the internet and went with some in town Internet places here or there to catch our email when we needed to. No big deal. 1st night has 50% off dining at east Meets west (not hibachi though), and Jefferson's Bistro. Thursday night is Lobster night. There was FREE video arcade game playing when we boarded in the afternoon (my kids loved that). We had lava flowing the night we saw it- wonderful experience !!! We left Kauai late and didn't really get the full experience of the Napoli Coast. We were suppose to leave at 2 pm and left more like 4:30 pm- the captained joked around 3:30 pm about finding the keys and starting the engine ??? Who knows why we left late? Free car parking in maui right at the cruise pier - making it so easy to just rent a car there and do your own thing. All ports had free shuttle buses to shopping (especially Wal-Mart). In Kauai I believe we paid $10. to park overnight in front of a store near the pier (walking distance)- also very easy and made it simple to rent a car and do your own thing. Don't be fooled by Freestyle Dining - Make reservations when you board the ship for the week. You'll be happy you did !!! Hawaii is beautiful without a doubt. We LOVED our vacation - truly no complaints. I am just stating the facts as we saw them (6 adults all seasoned cruisers - well over 120 cruises between us). We loved our vacation - but it was definitely clear that NCL has a few issues to work on with the everyday workings of this beautiful ship !!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This is certainly the best and most economical way to sample all the major islands in a short time. as far as a "cruise experience" however it has many shortcomings. The "Free Style" concept of dining which Norwegian ... Read More
This is certainly the best and most economical way to sample all the major islands in a short time. as far as a "cruise experience" however it has many shortcomings. The "Free Style" concept of dining which Norwegian seems to pride itself on is in my personal opinion a disaster. Very long waits to dine (up to one hour) closed dining room (without notice) for a "corporate event", many items on the menu that we are "out of ", slow service and generally uninspiring food. On two occasions the writer missed the evening show after waiting 45 minutes to be seated for dinner because we could not get in and out on time. Our stateroom was small but quite pleasant; the major problem being that except in the late evening no one made up the room and we were required to personally remove our breakfast trays upon arriving back on the ship in the late afternoon. This in all fairness was not a policy of the ship but more of a lack of efficient oversight of the steward staff who we hardly ever saw. The ship has no gambling , which in this writers perspective is a blessing and given the current competitive nature of the cruise industry the ship must make up for its shortfall by charging for all kinds of "extras" You don't want to wait in long lines for dinner..try one of the other "extra fee"...alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be brought aboard ship (baggage is searched and they are confiscated and held in special storage if found). The confirmed reason...so they can sell you expensive drinks while you are aboard. Excursions are also expensive with a high markup..one can do better by arranging your own itineraries through the web beforehand or make your own arrangements when you disembark...only suggestion here is make rental car reservations ahead of time in Kauai..they are occasionally sold out. Now for the positive...the staff overall was VERY friendly and did go out of their way to be accommodating. Never had a problem here and this aspect offset a lot of the other problems..I fault the management of the cruise company for the problems in their policies and planning and not the cruise staff. If you want to see Hawaii in the most economical and efficient way this is the way to do it But for a cruise experience , I would go elsewhere Read Less
Sail Date: 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
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: February 2006
Like many others, we were very concerned about the number of negatives reviews concerning this cruise line and this particular ship. If we had read these prior to our booking we may not have purchased this cruise at all. Luckily our ... Read More
Like many others, we were very concerned about the number of negatives reviews concerning this cruise line and this particular ship. If we had read these prior to our booking we may not have purchased this cruise at all. Luckily our experience was much better than expected. We noticed no problems at all with cleanliness or with bad service. In fact, with only one or two exceptions, every shipboard employee we talked to was very friendly. Overall, we are not sorry we took this cruise. This is not to say that this cruise line does not have problems. They do, and some of them are inexcusable. The first problem was that we never received our initial package of documents and luggage tags. When we called them they said they sent our package to the dock because there wasnt enough time to send it directly to us. This was in spite of the fact that we had booked this cruise about a month in advance. They also claimed that the one week remaining was not enough time to Fed Ex this material to us. Because of this we had to spend time on the phone trying to find out about loading procedures, luggage, excursions and dining arrangements. The fact that different people gave different answers to our questions didnt help. Not surprisingly, their staff at the dock and on the ship had no idea where our packages ended up. Luckily things got better. The food was acceptable. Some dishes were better than others but that is to be expected. One exception was the Cadillac Grill. Their food was almost always well below average. We never did eat at any of the premium restaurants because I didnt want to encourage this trend of charging extra for meals, especially since one of the restaurants wanted $30 extra per couple. Other irritations were the charge of $3.95 a day if you wanted a newspaper. Simple laundry service was also over priced in that they wanted dry cleaning prices for simple laundry services. Also we learned that because we no longer had our membership number from a prior cruise years ago they would not treat us as returning customers. Apparently they cannot search their past records without this number! We also had some problems with their excursion desk losing one of our requests and also once failing to call us back about our standby status on a sold out excursion. All of this probably sounds quite bad but the bottom line was that it was a clean, safe ship with friendly staff and most of all it was Hawaii. I would do it again but if there was a competing cruise line I would first at least consider them. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
NCL-America has a monopoly on 7 day island hopping cruises in Hawaii. This is unfortunate because their ships are far from the best. Hawaii is awesome and what I saw on land in 7 days will provide many wonderful memories. The same cannot ... Read More
NCL-America has a monopoly on 7 day island hopping cruises in Hawaii. This is unfortunate because their ships are far from the best. Hawaii is awesome and what I saw on land in 7 days will provide many wonderful memories. The same cannot be said for the ship itself. For a ship that launched in 2005, I was expecting more. I didn't realize that this ship should have launched one year previously, but that it sunk during its launching in harbour in 2004 (perhaps they should have sunk it at Pearl Harbour)...however, that does not explain all the deficiencies. I won't go into an overly long diatribe, but will explain the good and the bad. Freestyle dining: I've read many criticisms, but overall, I liked the idea. I made reservations in three of the specialty restaurants: Lazy J's Steakhouse, East Meets West, and Jefferson's Bistro. These were all premium charged restaurants, and the food and service was very good in all. These restaurants and the main dining rooms (Skyline and Liberty) are all attractive enough. The food in the main dining rooms was adequate overall. If you don't have reservations even at the main dining rooms, be prepared for long waits on some nights unless you dine late (which I do...you can start dining no later than 10 PM). If it is crowded, they will give you a pager to alert you when it's time to come back. The food in the main dining rooms was adequate overall. Deserts I felt were below average in general. How they could run out of vanilla ice cream on the first day, but then somehow find some more was odd. Don't get excited about lobster (tail) night. You can have as many as you like. But you probably won't want to eat more than one. Bland, tough. Not particularly good quality. The coffee: NCL actually has better coffee than the other cruise lines I've travelled with (Royal Caribbean and Princess). Plus they have self service machines for cappuccino, espresso, and lattes, which is good (when they were working). Other cruise lines charge extra for specialty coffees. They use Kona coffee beans (however, they apparently ran out of the good stuff towards the end of the seven days and were substituting Folgers, I believe). Up at the Aloha Cafe, be prepared to see the tackiest decor possible (really quite ugly in fact). I got sick of breakfast by the end of the week. I don't know how many cartons of eggs I must have eaten. There were no assorted cheeses at breakfast and lacking other interesting choices. Menus were better for other meals at Aloha. Lunch over by 3 pm so if you return to the ship late, you must be prepared for burgers, hot dogs and pizza (they taste ok when you are hungry). Entertainment: Better than I was expecting. Guest comedians/jugglers were very good. They don't have a band/orchestra unlike the other lines. NCL singers and dancers do two shows. I fell asleep during the first one but enjoyed the second. There isn't much activity going on at night. I didn't really mind since I was usually exhausted after a long day and usually had to wake up fairly early. Staterooms: Be prepared to be cramped. I was in a category BD balcony stateroom on deck 9 forward. This was the smallest stateroom I have ever been in (this was cruise number 7). You essentially have to crawl around the end of the bed when you walk in. Decor is rather tacky. Televisions are equally tiny and there are no interactive services like booking shore excursions or checking your balances. The good news is the beds were extremely comfortable, to help compensate for the claustrophobia. Our stateroom was also not adequately cleaned upon our arrival. It's not a pleasant feeling to see dirt on the bathroom counter, and previous occupants' hairs on the toilet rim. I didn't meet our stateroom attendant until half way into the cruise. He was pleasant enough, but I suppose doesn't tend to the fine details that one would expect. Fitness Centre: Top notch, with large facility, excellent equipment. All aerobic machines come with flat screen TV's with headphones. This was a good plus. Too bad there weren't more channels to watch while exercising. Other ship areas: Below average. The upper deck areas are really quite unattractive for a ship this new. (I compare this to the gorgeous RCI Jewel of the Seas). I also noted plenty of rust and worn wood railings that need re-varnishing. I'm not sure where they were hiding their maintenance crews. Other indoor areas range from lovely to neutral. Excursions: I didn't book a single NCL shore excursion, though I must admit, they have the most comprehensive I have ever seen. Be prepared to spend lots of money to have a good time on the organized shore excursions. I instead booked car rentals in Hilo, Kahului, Kauai and Honolulu (for my post cruise stay). Car rental companies provide shuttles to the pier (except for Avis at Hilo for some reason...so much for their motto, "We try harder".) Since my rental was with Avis in Hilo, I would say they didn't try hard enough. However, that was a minor inconvenience. Pre-book your cars. Often there were none available if you didn't. Once we got the cars, it was great exploring on our own. I recommend National Geographic's Hawaii travel book. In Maui, if you are brave, you will take the road to Hana. More twists and turns and single lane bridges than probably anywhere else you will travel to in your lifetime. It is unrelenting for 30 miles, but you will stop along the way and explore beautiful waterfalls, parks and other scenery that makes it worth the trip. We drove past Hana for another 10 or 15 miles or more twists and turns to the National Park. Just make sure you aren't sleepy and that you have good road skills. Overall, I loved Hawaii. NCL could have done a better job with the Pride of America. It looks like the forthcoming Pride of Hawaii might be a better choice when it launches soon (as long as it gets a good crew). I wouldn't run back to NCL anytime soon, at least not on this ship. My experiences were better with RCI and Princess overall. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Sailed on P of A Feb 18. Coming from Massachusetts very glad we came early and stayed in Honolulu overnight. Believe it or not, we never met or laid eyes on our steward. Since we had no special requirements I guess that was okay. Room ... Read More
Sailed on P of A Feb 18. Coming from Massachusetts very glad we came early and stayed in Honolulu overnight. Believe it or not, we never met or laid eyes on our steward. Since we had no special requirements I guess that was okay. Room was doable and we had 4 people packed in. Also, was clean. Boarding at 5 pm was a snap. Room ready. The main dining rooms do have awful food. If you've had Maine lobster, do not go to lobster night! Awful. We ate at East Meets West 3 times. We felt it was criminal that the food you paid for in the cruise rate was as bad as it was. Breakfast at Aloha made everyone happy, you could see what you were going to eat before committing. We never ate lunch on board. Nights it is as if no one is on the ship. Lots of older people and this was a school vacation week for a lot of states. We did not go to any ship entertainment. Thankfully we were tired after renting a car and exploring each island and didn't care about the entertainment factor. The Napa Wine bar was our salvation. Sailing by the active volcano and the NaPali coast were unforgettable life experiences! The only rude staff member was someone at the tour booking desk who would not look on his computer for tomorrow's forecast because "it would take too long". (no one else in line) He was arrogant. We did have 3 days of rain, so bad on Thursday we didn't get off the boat. Many of the tours booked through the ship went on regardless. Sure glad I wasn't on any of them. We booked a scenic bus tour for the second day on Kahuaii just to see some of the island. It just isn't the same in the rain. Many of the hikes are very slippery. Snorkeling was good on Paragon in Maui ($75 each and we were 4) but the next day on Kona we grabbed a $10 shuttle to a beach we read about in Revealed and saw snorkeling just as good. Another family of 4 saved even more in a cab. Overall, my advice is to book cars and do your thing or you will be on a bus with many people who move slowly. Traffic on the to Lahaina was bumper to bumper starting at around 2 pm. If you go, make sure you leave before that time or you'll panic that you're not going to be able to return the car and get back to the ship in time. Thrifty car rental had the best rates and the worst shuttles. Some people were told the type of car they had reserved (a van) was not available and they should sit and wait until someone returns one. Several other agencies did not have any cars, so you really do need to book ahead. You can always cancel. Our family saved a lot of money by foregoing a balcony. We didn't think we'd miss it since the ship sails at night and we'd seldom be in our room. We used this money to upgrade our dining. No regrets. Would I go on Norwegian again? Probably not, but they're the best way to see the Hawaiian Islands. No regrets but also no returns. I think the staff are overworked by people thinking they should get service like on Celebrity. Go for a less expensive room so you aren't bitter. If I'd paid $10k for a suite I'd be writing a very different review. Partly because of the rain, and who can control the weather? Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
The Pride of America is a beautiful ship from the outside. The cabins were very small and decorated in pink and orange which was offensive. The buffet dining room had terrible lime green chairs with pink and blue flowers all over them. The ... Read More
The Pride of America is a beautiful ship from the outside. The cabins were very small and decorated in pink and orange which was offensive. The buffet dining room had terrible lime green chairs with pink and blue flowers all over them. The dining rooms were tastefully decorated. My luggage was among the missing until the next day. We lost the power to flush the toilets 3 different times which was inconvenient. We found the coffee cups to have lipstick on them or coffee stains. Most all the restaurants charged a cover charge and it took 21/2 hours to finish your meal so most nights we weren't able to go to the entertainment slated for 7:30. You had to wait 10 min. at least between each course. Wednesday they ran out of decaf coffee and regular coffee the last day of the trip. One of the coffee makers in the buffet dining room was always down or they were in the process of cleaning one of them so there were always lines to get coffee. The food choices for dinner weren't very good. Most of the food selections was Asian. The buffet was only open at selected times. No midnight buffet. Some days the food was good other days it wasn't. We lost our 2nd day on one of the islands because they decided to sail at 1:30 instead of 6:00 o'clock as advertised. The entertainment could have been better. We had a juggler and the crew did a night of entertainment which was funny. My previous cruise was with the Princess line which was must better. NCL would only give information on their authorized on shore excursions. They would not answers questions about renting cars or snorkeling, helicopter rides etc. Theirs being booked up. Loud speaker ads constantly being announced. Very loud music being played in all dining rooms while eating made it very hard to have conversations. We had to request they be turned down. From talking to the crew we got the impression that they were over worked and under staffed. Some were working 80 hours a week and getting 7 or 8 hours an hour. Some had only 2 or 3 hours sleep. They work 5 months then go home for 5 weeks. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
The other reviews were quite accurate so I won't repeat everything. The ship is beautiful, but the crew and service is about what you'd expect from people who might work in fast food. Young, silly, tired,...I actually lost weight ... Read More
The other reviews were quite accurate so I won't repeat everything. The ship is beautiful, but the crew and service is about what you'd expect from people who might work in fast food. Young, silly, tired,...I actually lost weight on this cruise, partly due to how active we were and partly due to the not so great food. The room was unbelievably small and they couldn't figure out how to make up the sofa bed so they didn't bother. When I complained they ignored me until 4 times with 2 in person complaints...and if you must be the third person on the couch prepare to buy a mattress as the bed is as hard a rock. The Volcanos were amazing, the Whales were incredible, the Napali coast was breath-taking. All experiences you can't have with a typical trip to Hawaii. We grabbed a car at each Port and away we went!! Plan to eat out and eat at the specialty restaurants and then you won't be frustrated. Don't lock yourself into staying on the ship at ports as they tend to be in ugly industrial areas...especially if you are on the Port side. Buy a cheap chair at Wal-Mart so you have a place to sit when you find a beach (if you need one) The revealed books were our Bible's and it was amazing. HAVE FUN Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
I and my family have just returned from a 7-day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on the Pride of America. Before we went on this trip, I thought it would be a good idea to get some background information on the ship and its crew. Imagine ... Read More
I and my family have just returned from a 7-day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on the Pride of America. Before we went on this trip, I thought it would be a good idea to get some background information on the ship and its crew. Imagine my horror when I found so many bad reviews. Good God, I've spent a ton of money on this vacation, and people are not going to even clean my stateroom - and I have to automatically tip them for bad service? I shared the reviews on this website with my family. After they found some reviews that were better than the earlier ones I read, I found that we would have to just approach this optimistically, and be prepared for anything. Now that it's over, I've found that I agree with some of the comments, and others are just not so. FLIGHTS -- Service at the Honolulu airport was perfect. Some of the critics on this site have massacred this process, but we didn't see any evidence of that. A representative met us right at the gate, collected our gate-to-hotel tickets, took us to baggage claim, and loaded our suitcases into the bus. We easily checked into the hotel, received a gorgeous orchid lei, and our suitcases were taken to our room by the hotel staff. Simply impeccable, and very welcome after the long flight. Speaking about the flights, though, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) books some crazy flights in order to save you money, so I would suggest making your own flight plans, if you can. Our outgoing flight left Washington Dulles Airport at 6:30am, which meant we had to be at the airport at 4:30am. . .so our tour group left our hometown at 3:30am, making us get up at 2:30am. The choice was either go to bed at 7:00pm or not at all. If you can't sleep on a plane - like me - this made for a very long day. The plus of the outbound flight was that it was divided up perfectly - 5 hours to Los Angeles, and then 5 hours to Honolulu. However, the return flight was hideous: Honolulu to ATLANTA, and then to Washington Dulles. That's a 9.5 hour flight. I know there's people out there who have been on a plane for 24 hours, and I don't know how you do it. But several people in our tour group had back problems, arthritis, etc. - I think something better could have been arranged. HOTEL PACKAGE -- I agree with some of the folks on this website that you should book a hotel on Oahu for a couple of days before the cruise. The Waikiki Marriott is a gorgeous hotel, and the beds are gloriously squashy, with nice thick featherbeds and four pillows per bed. I wallowed in the luxury, and then slept like a baby. I suggest flying to Honolulu on a Thursday, staying there on Friday, and heading to the ship on Saturday morning. There is an NCL representative desk in the hotel, and you should sign up for pre-registration on Thursday right after you arrive. It is very, very slow. There's only one person in there - maybe two if you're lucky - and the lines start to get really, really long starting Friday morning. My parents got in in about five minutes for a 30-second consultation. I and the rest of my immediate family went there about 8:00 that night, and we waited in line for ONE HOUR for the same 30-second consultation. Bottom line: Go early. EMBARKATION -- No negatives here. This was absolutely flawless. My family and I have been on several cruise ships, and this was the best embarkation I've ever seen. We were given times to be in the lobby of the hotel, and an NCL representative got us on our bus within 10 minutes of that time. Our luggage was picked up from our hotel room in the morning and delivered quickly and efficiently to our staterooms. Best of all, we were on the ship in record time - probably about 30 minutes tops from the moment we got to the pier to the moment we got to our stateroom. Marvelous. STATEROOMS -- Our cabin steward, Rey, received one of our S.T.Y.L.E. nominations and we all gave him extra tip money. He called us all by name, catered to our every whim, and met us every morning and afternoon with a big smile and a "How was your day?" I loved the colorful dial on the stateroom room number sign. The blue "Make Up Room," green "Turn Down Room," red "Do Not Disturb," and yellow "Welcome" certainly is a plus over the old over-the-handle signs that could easily fall off and get lost. We always knew when Rey had cleaned the room because he would put the sign back to "Welcome." After reading the critics' reviews on the Pride of America's staterooms, I actually came armed with my own sheets (someone said the sheets were never changed from the last cruise) and a package of Clorox wipes to clean the "filthy bathroom." I was pleasantly surprised to find a clean stateroom that smelled faintly of orange furniture polish and carpet cleaner. The "filthy bathroom" was clean enough to eat off the floor. The bed was two twin-size beds put together to form a queen/king size bed. We separated it into two beds and folded up the bedspread and duvet cover so Rey would replace them with twin-size replicas (which he did). I remember one critic indicating that there were no sheets on the bed, just a duvet, which "was dirty and hadn't been changed from the previous user." While it's true that there is no sheet, the rest was just not true. I actually pulled back the cover and put my nose to the fitted sheet, the pillows, and the duvet. It all smelled bleachy and clean, and everything was downy soft. My mother did request a sheet to be put between the fitted sheet and the duvet, and Rey cheerfully complied. As for my own sheets and my Clorox wipes. . .well, I happily stowed them in the large closet. They weren't needed. Another critic complained that the stewards only left two towels. My daughter and sister were also provided with only two towels, but left a note for the steward for two additional towels (4 total) and received them without incident. I followed directions and hung my towel up every night - things like the floor towel and the washcloths were dropped in the shower, where they were picked up and replaced. When we left our stateroom on Saturday, our room had six clean, folded towels. There were only two things that I found wrong, but they were almost an afterthought. When we separated the bed, we found a couple of unshelled pistachio nuts on the floor under the bed. I left them there just to see if Rey would get them, and sure enough, he vacuumed them up later during turn-down service. Our refrigerator had a bottle of wine and a half-drunk bottle of white grapefruit juice in it. We simply threw away the grapefruit juice and left the wine, which hadn't been opened. Maybe someone else will enjoy it. EXCURSIONS -- Do your excursions online EARLY, because they fill up quick. However, note that the excursions are expensive as hell. Who wants to pay $400 for a one-hour helicopter tour? You might do better searching for tours on your own, but beware that NCL does not guarantee them, nor will they wait for you if the tour is still going on when you're supposed to be back aboard ship. Maybe look into one on one of the islands where you stay two days (Maui and Kauai). Research your options before making a decision. On past trips, I've found some wonderful and less expensive parasailing options with UFO Parasail that were not available by the cruise line. We didn't do any excursions on this trip, since it was our fourth trip to the islands. We rented cars instead. However, the weather didn't cooperate for us, as it rained the entire trip, and was a real wash-out in Kauai; all excursions got canceled. From what I heard from others, refunds went as well as expected. There were free shuttles to the different shopping centers (including K mart and Wal-Mart!!), which at least gave you something to do. The Pride of America staff did their best to provide additional entertainment on board ship to give the passengers something to do other than sit in their staterooms and twiddle their thumbs. The weather could not be predicted and they did try to accommodate everyone. However, perhaps NCL should consider having alternate itinerary plans should events (such as the torrential rain and flooding) prevent the planned itinerary to be followed. Rather than waste 1½ days docked at Kauai in the pouring rain trying to entertain a ship full of passengers, maybe the ship could have returned to Maui, the Big Island, or even Oahu? Something to think about. NCL promised two scenic promotions - nighttime cruising by the lava flows on the Big Island, and daytime cruising past the Na Pali Coastline on Kauai. I've read several reviews where each of these were canceled due to "engine trouble," making it sound like NCL made up the engine trouble. This wasn't the case during our trip, thank goodness. We visited both locations during our cruise, and all I can say is WOW. The rain cooperated long enough for us to see the Na Pali Coastline, and the tour was complete with a pod of humpback whales, some of which spy-hopped and semi-breached for our entertainment. Couldn't have been better. As for the lava flows - My family and I have cruised Hawaii three times before on the old American Hawaii line (which I miss terribly) and they also cruised by the lava flows at night. But they didn't get as close to the action as NCL did. What a great view! My daughter got some great pictures. The only thing that we found a bit disappointing was the time listed for the event. NCL said they would be passing the lava flows at 10:15pm, when they actually passed them at 9:45pm. There was no shipboard announcement, and most of my family missed it. I happened to catch it because I had my stateroom TV on the "bow camera" channel and saw it coming up, so I ran up to the deck. I think NCL could have handled that a bit better. FOOD -- Okay, this is the part that I found quite a bit disappointing. After several cruises, I have found that Freestyle Dining is definitely not my style. It's very disorganized and very contradictory. NCL prides itself on allowing their guests to eat at any restaurant you want on the ship, at any time, and dress however you want. But then they don't tell you that you'll wait forever if you don't make reservations at the specialty restaurants (or the main restaurants, either, as a matter of fact). They tell you in tiny print that you must wear "resort casual" attire. That means no tank tops - and what else would you bring to a tropical climate but tank tops? They suggest a "blouse and skirt" for women. Do you wear a skirt and blouse when you're being "casual?" I wore solid t-shirts with capri pants and sandals, and I didn't get the boot, so I guess this fit the description of "resort casual." The speciality restaurants have a cover charge (ranging from $5 to $20 a person), which I found surprising, as I've already put out several thousand for a cruise, so we decided not to visit them at all. I've heard from others in our group that they ranged from so-so to fabulous, so I'll leave that to you to decide. I had been warned by this website that waiting at the main restaurants could sometimes reach hours, so I decided to make reservations for the week, since there were six people in our immediate party. I was told that there would be no problem getting a seat, but I persisted, indicating that getting a table for six is harder than getting a table for two. The lady who took my reservation politely ceded, and we were given 7:00 reservations every night, going back and forth between both restaurants. Am I ever glad those reservations were in place. The lines stretched way back into the elevator lobby some nights, and we were able to walk right up and indicate we had reservations, and they took us immediately. So even though everyone else has indicated that you only need reservations for the specialty restaurants, make sure you make reservations for the main restaurants, too! Of course this defeats the purpose of "freestyle" dining, but better to be safe than sorry. Besides, I'd already decided on Day One of this trip that "freestyle" wasn't my style, anyhow. Overall, the menus were just not exciting. Then again, I think Celebrity Cruise Line has the best food in the world, and maybe I did too much comparison - but everyone else in our group agreed with me, so I have to say it was mediocre, at best. We ate most of our meals in the Skyline and Liberty Restaurants, with one visit to the Cadillac Diner and two unwilling visits to the Aloha Cafe. I'll cover them separately. The Skyline and Liberty Restaurants had cuisine that was okay - only one or two things to brag about, but the rest was surprisingly blase. Lobster Night was exactly what everyone else has said about it - very disappointing. When everyone thinks lobster, everyone sees big Maine lobster tails like you see in Red Lobster commercials. The lobster tails served were probably four inches long and about one inch wide, and had no taste at all. We were served two apiece, and I dutifully ate both of mine (with lots of butter), but other members of our party just let theirs go. Our waiter brought them steaks instead. Incidentally, there are some meals that are served every night in both restaurants, and I must be thankful for the steak. I must admit that I've never eaten so much steak in my life as I did on this trip. The only vegetable that was served EVERY night with the main meal was crisp string beans! Every night! While good, a nice variety would have been very welcomed. In addition, while it is refreshing to know that all dinnerware (dishes, cups, saucers, tableware, etc.) are thoroughly cleaned in hot water, it would be so ever nice if they chilled the dishes that are used for ice cream. By the time you received your dessert, the ice cream has turned to semi-cold liquid with a small marble size blob at the bottom of the dish that once resembled the scoop of ice cream! Not quite the dessert one looks for. We visited the Cadillac Diner for breakfast one morning, and found the food palatable, if lukewarm. The waiter was pleasant, albeit red-eyed and tired (I'll cover that later), and responded admirably to our requests for HOT hot chocolate, butter, and toast. Although we were relatively satisfied with the service here, and we enjoyed the decor, we only visited it once. I've saved the worst for last, and I heartily concur with everyone that the thoroughly unpalatable Aloha Cafe has some of the worst food I've ever had in any buffet on any cruise ship. Someone on this website said that the food was similar to that of TGI Friday's. Since I love Friday's, I thought, "Well, that doesn't sound so bad." Uh, well, that would be the BIGGEST mistaken comparison in the known universe. I'm sorry, but this sludge would make airline or hospital food seem like Wolfgang Puck's or something from the Rainbow Room. Most of the selections were unlabeled and unidentifiable, all presented under the orange-yellow glare of light-bulbs meant to keep the food warm (which it didn't). I found a couple of fish and chicken selections that were a little tasty, but I can't tell you exactly what they are because they were not identified. When I asked what a certain dish was, the server either couldn't tell me or just stated flatly, "It's fish." (Well, that was certainly helpful.) The only foods that could be identified were the hamburgers (which, surprisingly, WERE hot), pizza (which was cold and greasy), and fruit at the fruit bar (which was always practically empty). The only tasty dessert was vanilla ice cream, and while palatable, got old quickly and, again, often melted in the hot dish before you could start to eat it. There were no cookies, and the other desserts, while looking delicious, had no taste whatsoever. Better yet, unlike other ships I've been on, there was no snack times where you could pick up some cookies, granola, or something light to hold you over until dinner time. That was quite disappointing. Some people have commented on how messy the Cafe was. I went prepared for stained plastic cups and badly washed utensils. I'm happy to report that both were spotless. However, I do agree that there just wasn't enough of either of them, and not enough of the iced-tea glasses, either. It was hard to find a large glass, and I would end up getting two or three teeny-weeny juice glasses instead. Although I didn't get any of the specialty coffees, I noticed several people having problems with the machines, and giving up in disgust, so I take it they still haven't fixed that problem. Speaking of drinkables, by the way, these folks need to take lessons from down south on how to make good iced tea - it's WAY too strong and looked like cola rather than tea, and even several packets of sugar or artificial sweetener doesn't quell the bitterness. However, the Kona coffee was absolutely excellent, and I lost count of how many cups I drank during our trip. On another note, whoever decorated this place should be kicked hard in the ass and thrown overboard. Meant to be colorful and cheerful, it's a flaming painter-designer truck-wreck mess. There's an orange-gold-black caveman-stone pattern on the floor, cartoon clouds on the ceiling, hot pink and orange finger-painted flower patterns on the neon lime chairs, and tiki-carved columns painted fifteen different colors. It looked like a 1970's hippie play house gone bad. Your brain will not be able to accept this and you'll end with an uncontrollable twitch in your lower eyelids that will plague you for the rest of the trip. The rest of the ship is relatively beautiful, but this place. . .darn. THE CHOCOHOLIC BUFFET -- This was touted as something that we shouldn't miss. To tell you the truth, you wouldn't really miss anything if you missed it! You are corralled into a single line from a big group (think of rush-hour traffic being condensed into a single lane) and fed into a long buffet station with trays of chocolate temptables on either side. There were probably about 10 different selections that were repeated all the way down the station - again, everything was unlabeled, so you would just have to guess. (I selected one squashy, shifty ball of something that reminded me of a marshmallow rolled in mud, but to this day, I have no idea what it was.) The chocolate-dipped strawberries, one of the only recognizable treats, disappear quick (probably because everyone recognized them!), so grab what you can while you can. There is a waiter who offers to dip bananas, pineapple, and other fruit into dark or white chocolate fondue for you somewhere in the middle of the line. There's rather tasteless chocolate ice cream - and, once again, it would be helpful if the dishes were cold, not hot. At the end, two bartenders offer chocolate martinis or champagne with chocolate-flavored sugar around the top. Be warned that they aren't free - I was stupid and thought they were, and ordered a martini. It's Godiva chocolate liqueur and straight vodka, which lit my sinuses on fire and nearly lifted my scalp from my head with one little sip, and cost $7.95. I immediately exchanged it for the champagne, which was more palatable, but if I'd used my head, I would have ordered neither. You have been warned. WAITER SERVICE -- Many on this website has talked about the service of the waiters in the restaurants as being some of the worst in the industry. I am sorry to say that they are absolutely correct. What in the blazing bloody hell gives here? While I will disagree with the fact that the waiters are sullen and nasty to guests - each one of our waiters were surprisingly cheerful, personable, and eager to serve - I must admit that they have a long, long way to go to match the impeccable service available on other cruise lines. I really would like to be a fly on the wall to observe how these people are trained at Piney Point, Maryland. What on God's green earth do they do for those three weeks of training? We were on this ship for a week, and not one waiter - NOT ONE - got our orders right. Here's an example of what we ordered one morning for breakfast, and what we got instead. (Also keep in mind that each plate was delivered to someone else at the table, and we handed them around to each other like musical plates, while the waiter stood there looking confused.) 1. I ordered an omelet (well done), some crisp bacon, and orange juice. I got a runny omelet, pineapple juice, and wheat toast. No bacon. I requested it several times, and finally got some half-cooked, fatty bacon at the end of the meal, which I refused to eat. 2. My husband ordered an omelet with no mushrooms, hash browns, and four pieces of wheat toast. He got an omelet complete with mushrooms, two pieces of wheat toast, and sausage. He shrugged and ate it all anyhow. 3. My sister ordered some hot chocolate, an omelet, corned beef hash, and tomato juice. She got the omelet and corned beef hash, but she also got some toast, which she didn't order (she gave it to my husband instead), and her hot chocolate tasted like lukewarm water with a brown crayon dipped in it. She sent it back to get it heated up, and never got it back. 4. My mother ordered an extra glass of ice for her apple juice, two eggs, and some bacon. She got the apple juice, some squiggly eggs, some toast (whose, we never found out), and the same fatty bacon. She never got her extra glass of ice, though she asked THREE different waiters for some. 5. My father ordered four eggs over medium (count em, four eggs), crisp bacon, wheat toast, and apple juice. He got my sister's tomato juice, two eggs that were disgustingly runny, and fatty bacon. (He did get his wheat toast, though.) He told the waiter to bring him more eggs. Never got them. Just FYI, the next day, we had the same waiter, who did remember he wanted four eggs, but he still got two eggs. The day after that, he got SIX eggs. Is there something wrong with the number four? We're still trying to figure that out. Despite their confusion, some of our waiters were so friendly that we forgave them their mistakes. Actually, we had four waiters that were probably at the tops of the training list. If you eat at the Liberty Restaurant, make sure you request Justin or Travis. If you're in the Skyline Restaurant, ask for Christopher or Corey. They were the best that the ship had to offer, in our opinion, and although not perfect as compared to my beloved Celebrity, they were certainly better than others that we had. One thing that all the waiters had in common was that they were all exhausted. Many had bloodshot eyes or dark circles under their eyes. When we asked them if they had enough sleep, we were disturbed to hear that they kept awake by drinking several cans of Red Bull. I'm not kidding - every last one of them contributed their energy to Red Bull. Some of them admitted to maybe two or three hours of sleep. This made us wonder about the number of servers on board. It was, of course, obvious that they weren't up to snuff, but we're pretty sure this is one of the reasons why. We never did find out the exact ratio of waiters per table, but we were reasonably sure that one waiter had more than five tables to handle at a time. It was rather unsettling to us that NCL would allow this method of labor. ENTERTAINMENT -- I am not a big fan of ship-board entertainment. I always feel rather embarrassed for these people in mediocre shows, and opt for visiting the stores or walking around outside, enjoying the view. However, I will say that I enjoyed the juggler, Barry John - he was really terrific - and the "Not-So-Newlywed Game," which was pretty funny. My parents, who like to attend the evening shows, said that the crew-based "Fountain" show was absolutely hysterical. The other shows, however, were rather humdrum. I found the Cruise Director to be both funny and annoying at turns - like Jim Carrey, he tries way too hard to be funny. He is amusing if he calms down a hair. Maybe it's those endless cans of Red Bull that make him so spastic. THE SHIP OVERALL -- With the exception of the visually hideous Aloha Café, the rest of the ship was relatively beautiful. My father was very pleased with the Capital Atrium and the Liberty Restaurant, and commented on them both often. I found the different carpet designs intriguing enough to actually take pictures of them all for my scrapbook. Where the Aloha Café was loud and tasteless, the different carpets were colorful and fun. The Gold Rush Saloon gets my vote for the most fun decor. I loved the pick-axe and gold nugget carpet design, the old barrel tables, and the mining lanterns used as lamps. There's also lots of mining equipment, a couple of dart boards, and an overall dimness that made you feel like you really were in a mining town. Too bad so many people smoked there, or my family would have probably chosen this location the most! My daughter got a massage in the Sante Fe Spa, and enjoyed it thoroughly. While I have opted for spa treatments on other ships, I declined this time. The Santa Fe was just as pricey as the other ships. Wait for later in the cruise, when they drop the prices in desperation! Many people have complained that it's impossible to hear the announcements without opening your stateroom door. Think about this, now. Do you really want the overly cheerful Cruise Director yelling "Alooooooooo-ha!" in your ear at seven o'clock in the morning? Thought not. Just open the door and listen, for crying out loud. The Captain's safety announcements were audible in the stateroom, and that was enough for me. Overall, I enjoyed our trip. Hawaii is a beautiful place, and I'm glad there's once more a cruise line that is American-registered with an American crew. However, this ship has a long way to go to match the class of the old American Hawaii line. Perhaps they'll get their act together enough to be remembered in that class. Until then, I think I'll stick with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
Our experience with this ship and NCL was less than satisfactory. The ship itself was well decorated and clean from what we observed. Our cabin did not have a bed spread for two days despite several requests. The oceanview stateroom we had ... Read More
Our experience with this ship and NCL was less than satisfactory. The ship itself was well decorated and clean from what we observed. Our cabin did not have a bed spread for two days despite several requests. The oceanview stateroom we had was very small - could barely walk around the bed when it was pushed together to make one bed. The steward maintained our room very well and it was always clean and well supplied. The Free style dining poses many problems - it is necessary to make reservations as soon as you board the ship to eat in any of the restaurants that have a surcharge. The service in Jefferson's Bistro was terrible, the service in Steakhouse was good as was the service in Little Italy. The food was OK - below par compared to what we have had on other ships in their main dining rooms. The food in the main dining room was fair and the service varied from night to night - the major problem is short staffing everywhere. Several of the wait staff told us people just quit on the spot or never return to the ship - they work 12 hours a day 7 days a week and then a five week trip "home" paid for by NCL. The whole atmosphere and service of the ship was not the elegant type we are used to on other cruise lines. We did not participate in any of the shore excursions but rented our own car at each port. The weather was terrible - major rain and flooding and mud slides on Kauaii - so bad we returned to the ship with in two hours. Embarking and disembarking was smooth but no one to greet us when we arrived on the ship to show us to our rooms. On the last day our toilet would not flush and over flowed - the same situation in many of the public area toilets on many floors. A very disgusting way to end a trip. The entertainment was OK - not the quality we have seen on other ships. Not interested in a crew show which we heard was terrible. The itinerary was excellent and the ship stayed in each port a nice amount of time and sailed at night. NaPali coast and volcano flow into the ocean were awesome. Rough water on two of the nights but not enough for anyone in our group to get sick. We would never book at NCL cruise again based on this experience. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
We cruised on 4/15/06. We arrived in Honolulu on the 13th and stayed at the Holiday Inn for 2 nights. We rented a car and only used it to go to Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl. We also did the Polynesian Cultural Village but used their bus ... Read More
We cruised on 4/15/06. We arrived in Honolulu on the 13th and stayed at the Holiday Inn for 2 nights. We rented a car and only used it to go to Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl. We also did the Polynesian Cultural Village but used their bus service. It was okay, however the luau was lousy but the show afterwards was great. On Saturday we boarded the ship and it took 45 min from the time we got there till we reached our cabin. We were very pleasantly surprised to find we had been upgraded from an inside cabin 4555 to a balcony 8654. However, they sent our luggage to the original cabin and we had to wind up going to fetch it ourselves. In Hilo we took the tour to the Volcano National Park. Lousy part about it was it was the rain as it ruined the tour. We rented a car in Maui and did the Road to Hana. Don't miss it and expect to be gone the whole day. We did it going the whole way thru on the unpaved road and over the mountain. I didn't speak the whole time going over the mountain as it's one lane for 2 way traffic and you have to honk as you go around. I just sat quiet and wouldn't look as Jim drove. The second day in Maui we found a private beach for a while but the wind kept kicking up the sand so we left. In Kona we took the land and sea tour-don't waste your money as it was terrible. You are better off renting a car but do them all in advance because they are much cheaper. In Kauai we also rented a car and went to the canyon and then to the boat ride at Fern Grotto. After the cruise we had a 1 pm flight back. Going from NY it took 13 hours and coming back it took 11 hours. As for the ship- We ate in the specialty restaurants every night except Tuesday which was lobster night. We also ate in the Aloha buffet for breakfast but on Monday I said to Jim lets eat in the dining room and get served. BIG MISTAKE- We ate in the Skyline and the scrambled eggs are powdered. He asked for regular real scrambled eggs to be told they don't make them. I asked for milk for my coffee and that took 1/2 hour yes 1/2 hour. I needed sour cream for my blintzes and they gave me cream cheese, then came with whipped cream before I got the sour cream another half hour. They then bought Jim's toast over. What a horrible breakfast- We tried it again on Tuesday and it was just as bad. I finally said something to the maitre d' and they invited us to eat at Lazy J steakhouse. Tuesday dinner we ate in Skyline and my lobster tail was okay but I saw Jim who had ordered a steak hardly eating. He wouldn't tell me why but afterward said his food was ice cold. He knows I have a mouth and didn't want me to say anything so he waited to tell me. He didn't eat dinner that night. So many people ate breakfast in the buffet that for 3 days they ran out of cream cheese, low fat milk, frosted flakes, silverware and clean plates. Most of the time you had to clean the table off because dirty dishes were lying there from the people before you. I go on a cruise for service and I want to be pampered. This was my 12th cruise and Jim's first. Four of my cruises (including this one) have been on NCL. My last one in 2000 on the Sun had similar problems and that's why I stayed away from NCL. I thought I would try again as they have a great concept with freestyle dining but need to work on it running smoothly and with good service. WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE TO RESORT TO BUFFET'S AND SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS TO GET YOUR MEALS? I will tell you this- Little Italy, we ate at twice (there is no charge) and we had a wonderful waitress named Desiree. Lazy J steakhouse we ate at twice also and one time was on them and the other night worked out to be a night where it was half price so it was $7.50 each. We also ate at East meets West Teppanyake and for me it was ok not great but ok and that cost $12.00 each We saw a couple of shows and didn't spend any time in the bars but did enjoy the balcony. We took about 300 pictures on our digital camera. Overall, we had a great time and it was the perfect way to see Hawaii and get from island to island. It made the vacation very affordable and what was even better was we flew using our frequent flyer miles. NCL has a new ship coming out in June- The Pride of Hawaii. I hope they rectify the problems in their dining rooms because as they say its an American ship with American workers but they need to realize that their AMERICAN passengers want SERVICE. I would hate to see 3 American ships run out of passengers. Also the automatic tipping does not motivate workers to provide the same type of service they would give when working for their tips. On Thursday you can request that the automatic tips be removed. We did and tipped as we went along based on the service we received. Have a wonderful vacation and ALOHA! 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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