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
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
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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