Sail Date: June 2004
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on ... Read More
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on 21 prior cruises and my wife and I have been on 5. Most of our cruises have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. This is our first cruise with NCL. We choose this cruise for the timing of its' itinerary through the Panama Canal. Mainly for our boys who are on summer vacation from school. We were a little apprehensive about taking an inaugural cruise, expecting a lot of major problems but to our surprise we experienced minimal issues. We really enjoyed this cruise and felt that the Pride of America crew provided outstanding service. If you are a person who lets little things bother you, you probably would not feel the same way about this cruise. We looked at the bigger picture and didn't let some of the minor things get to us. I would recommend this ship and would not hesitate to sail on NCL in the future. Listed below are some of the positive things we felt about the ship and some areas that needed improvement. POSITIVES: 1. Service provided by the crew was outstanding. From the dining room service, bars ,cabin attendant, the entertainment and ship's officers all went out of their way to provide excellent service. 2. Pride of America is a beautiful and very well appointed. Especially in the dining rooms and in the common areas. 3. All American crew. No language barriers.!!! Who says Americans don't work hard! This is the hardest working crew we've experienced. 4. Teen program was the best we've had on any other ship. 5. The food was not the best we've ever had, but it was above average. 6. Shore excursions were well organized and managed. Very professional guides and very knowledgeable especially in Costa Rica. 7. The 2 Broadway shows were well done. Billy Mullen, WT Greer were excellent performers. Comedians were average. The cruise directors Rich and Shona did a very nice job keeping things organized and flowing. 8. The photographers were excellent, especially Michael who was a real perfectionist took some outstanding pictures of our family. 9. Meeting up with all of our Cruise Critic friends and having a great time. A special thanks to Nancy for organizing our group and going the extra mile to make sure we had special attention. 10. The ship was spotless. There was a major effort by the crew to keep the ship clean and spotless. Some people complained about dirty knives and forks; we personally never encountered any issues regarding silverware. 11. Freestyle dining was our first experience and we enjoyed having the flexibility of eating at our convenience. 12. Good value for the money. Negatives: 1. The 4th of July celebration was weak. Only a 45 minute party late a night out by the pool was very disappointing. This ship was named Pride of America and was the first US flagged ship in 50 years, NCL should have made a bigger splash on 4th of July. 2  Air conditioning in cabins were still being worked on as we cruised. Some rooms were hot while others were cold. Ours was an ice-box and we compensated by opening our cruise cabin sliding door to the balcony. 3. No navigation information on the ship or on TV. This was disappointing because we never knew where we were at any given time. We also didn't hear any of the announcements in our cabins or on TV, this could possibly be a safety issue. We had to step outside our cabins to hear announcements. 4. A little bit of a hole for college age students ages 18 to early 20s. 5. Not much they can do about cabin size, but felt it was the smallest balcony cabin we've had especially since there were three people in ours. 6. Although we really enjoyed Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Cabo San Lucas we Roatan Island could have been skipped or replaced with a better port. 7. Longer stay in Cabo San Lucas, 5 hours was not enough especially with having to tender people in. 8. The specialty restaurants with a cover charge bothered us a little. We know this is the trend in the cruise industry but felt that we were being nicked and dimed on the cover charges. The bottom line is we all had a very nice time and would sail with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard ... Read More
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard from our cabin steward that it was because the boat was having engine problems. I thought that was pretty messed up considering how new the ship is. Our Hertz shuttle driver said that was just an excuse for NCL to save on fuel. Anyway, it was a good cruise. The entertainment on the boat was okay but we tried to spend as much time off the boat as we could. I mean c'mon, it's Hawaii! My biggest complaint about the ship as many other past reviewers have mentioned: wait times for the restaurants. Honestly, it can be quite outrageous. Even for the main restaurants its worthwhile to make reservations just because the waits can be greater than an hour. The specialty restaurants need to be reserved well in advance so don't leave it to the last minute. I'd recommend you rent cars and drive around the islands on your own. You can see so much more. On Maui we went to the Old Lahaina Luau which was great. We also did the Road to Hana but try to do some research before going on the drive. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: ... Read More
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: http://public.fotki.com/eroller/pride_of_america/ When I received my invitation for this 2-night preview cruise for travel industry and media professionals, I wasn't initially excited. I had seen pictures of PRIDE OF AMERICA online and frankly I wasn't very impressed. Her exterior sported a stubby bow and I wasn't sure about the stars & stripes "hull art". The interior pictures unfortunately did nothing to elevate my opinion of the ship. I'm ecstatic to proclaim my initial observations were way off base. I absolutely loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and I think she is probably the most unique new ship to come off the blocks in quite some time. PRIDE OF AMERICA (POA) is in fact a one-off design. She will never have a sister ship like so many newbuilds today that are number 6 or 7 in an ever growing series. This fact alone makes POA something rather special. I also leaned that first impressions are not always correct and not every ship photographs well. I took over 200 photographs of POA (see link above) and I must say they don't do justice to the ship. She is a ship that needs to be experienced in person. Embarkation: Things got off to a rough start at the pier. Computers were down and check-in took 1 ½ hours. NCL America did provide a little entertainment to keep spirits up. There was a comedian on stilts dressed up as Uncle Sam trying to keep us all entertained. The entire pier was dressed up with NCL America flags and banners and it looked great. Were the computers initially working things would have gone much smoother. Check-in itself was the usual process. ID's were checked, credit cards swiped, deck plans and ship information handed out, and a picture taken that is embedded in the magnetic strip of your cruise card. The obligatory embarkation picture was taken, followed by a security screening, then on to the ship. Once onboard your cruise card was swiped and several staff members welcomed you onboard. You were on your own to find your cabin which is fine by me. Cabins: Many cabins were not yet ready, which was surprising considering it was almost 3 p.m. I had heard disembarkation from the previous cruise was delayed, but this was never confirmed. I did go inside my cabin to drop off luggage and have a quick look around. It seemed about half way made-up and I figured the rest would be completed later. There is a nifty dial outside the cabin with a few different settings. You can set the dial to "Welcome," "Make-up Cabin," Do not Disturb," etc. This is a great idea since Freestyle Cruising means you are not on a set schedule. Your cabin steward/stewardess requires a little help to know what your requirements are at any given time, and the dial achieves just that. My category BD standard balcony cabin was small by industry standards, at approximately 178 sq feet according to the NCL brochure and I believe that includes the balcony area. Even so, it was well laid out and attractive with Hawaiian themed carpet, wood veneer on the shelves and closets, and comfy white duvets. Closet space is very limited even for two people, so don't plan on bringing a lot of excess clothes. Formal nights are not required on NCL America and this is a good thing considering the limited closet space. Cabin amenities include a coffee maker with coffee, ice and glasses, an interactive TV (called Freestyle iTV which was not yet operational), safe, and refrigerator. The bathroom was also on the small side including the shower stall. There was an amenity kit that included lotion, a shoe shine, and shower cap. Soap, shower gel, and conditioner are provided in dispensers in the shower and above the sink. One side of the mirror opens for additional shelves, but space is still pretty tight. The perpetual "hugging shower curtain" is eliminated by having a shower curtain with several steel rods in it that keep it hanging straight. Water pressure and temperature were fine. The balcony was average size (which means it's not too large), and included a table and two chairs of good quality. Definitely better than the plastic resin that many mass-market cruise lines use. One thing missing in the cabin were master light switches over the bed, and robes. To turn off the main cabin lights you had to get up and go to the switch by the cabin entrance. Suites were absolutely gorgeous and very well appointed. Be sure to check out the pics! Each one had unique dEcor so they were not cookie cutter in design or shape. If you can afford one, go for it. They were some of the nicest and unusual suites I have seen on any ship. A very pleasant surprise were the inside cabins. I think they were about the nicest inside cabins I have seen on any ship. They actually seemed larger than the balcony cabins because of their layout. I liked the fact there were two desks/dressing tables as opposed to only one in the outside and balcony cabins. POA is one ship I would not mind booking an inside cabin on. Outside cabins had the same setup and layout as the standard balcony cabins. If you can snag one, go for the category CC on Deck 7. These eight cabins have huge floor to ceiling windows and are located directly midship. I would almost prefer one of these over a balcony cabin ... almost! One thing worth mentioning is the cabin corridors. They are probably the widest and most attractive I've seen on any ship (including QM2). The corridors have wonderful indirect lighting, subtle Hawaiian music is played, and the carpet is either flower or stars pattern. There is artwork along all the corridors, and one side is a wood veneer which gives them a very welcoming and soft touch. Bravo to NCL for creating corridors that don't look like they belong in a hospital. Staff/Crew: I was more than a little curious about an all-American crew working on a new cruise ship. American's are generally not used to working 7-day weeks with 12 + hour days. I wasn't sure if the service would suffer, and I think for the most part it didn't. The American crew was generally the friendliest I have come across in some 60 cruises. They were young, very attractive, energetic and eager to please. Each one had a story and they were more than willing to share it if you were willing to listen. Personally I greatly enjoyed hearing about their experiences. I know not everyone will appreciate the informality of the crew, but I found it charming. NCL America had some major difficulties with the initial crews on PRIDE OF ALOHA. As many of you may recall, there were reports of massive crew turnover and walk-outs during the initial inaugural period. The two major issues NCL had to overcome were expectations and training. All crew for NCL America now attend the most extensive crew training program in the entire industry. The facility is located in Piney Point Maryland and every crew/staff member spends several weeks there before joining the ship. Not only do they learn the basics about shipboard life and what is expected of them, they discover if shipboard is something they desire. NCL creates an environment at Piney Point that is very similar to what the crew experience onboard ship. The turnover at Piney Point is high, but those that do graduate are the best in their class and more importantly, truly want to be there. This was certainly apparent on PRIDE OF AMERICA based on my personal experience. Service in some areas was a bit slow, but this could be expected on any new ship regardless of crew nationality. Unfortunately there was one exception, and that is cabin housekeeping. At first I thought the problem was limited to my cabin and section, but after chatting with several passengers the problem seemed to be widespread to all decks and cabin types. I've never had such a filthy cabin. Greasy hand prints on all the mirrors; hair and crumbs in cabin drawers; dirty faucets, dirty countertops and dispensers; and even my toilette was never cleaned. In fact there were left over remnants from the previous occupants. I actually used public toilettes the first night onboard as they were spotless (as was the rest of the ship). My bed was never turned down (and never had a bedspread), carpets never vacuumed, the safe was locked shut, the refrigerator was filthy, and even the glasses didn't look clean. I can only hope the bed sheets were laundered. Tissues in the bathroom were never provided, but toilette paper was. I didn't say anything the first night as when I first entered the cabin after embarking I figured it wasn't finished being cleaned. I enjoyed the evening (way too much to drink!) and when I returned the only thing in the cabin that changed was some towels were supplied in the bathroom. Nothing else! The next morning I got up and went down to the Reception Desk. I advised of the unacceptable cabin condition and that I couldn't even use the toilette. She wrote my cabin number down on a long list and ensured it would be taken care of. A couple hours later I returned to the cabin and it was somewhat serviced. The greasy hand prints were still everywhere but new towels were added and the toilette was cleaned. The sink was still dirty and no tissues were supplied. The bed being made was a joke ... she simply threw the duvet back on the bed and didn't even bother to rearrange the pillows. A bedspread would have been nice. Nothing else was cleaned. Had I been in this cabin for a week I would have had a chat with the Chief Housekeeper and also had all room steward gratuities removed. I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel or cruise ship where the housekeeping service was so poor. Unfortunately others had similar problems, but mine seemed to be the most extreme. I also spoke to other passengers who had wonderful cabin service. Spotless cabins, bedspreads, turn-down service, etc. Basically what you would expect. I hope this is a problem that NCL America gets under control, and soon. Other than the cabin, the rest of the ship was extremely clean and you always saw crew polishing, vacuuming, and keeping things tidy. Dining: The dining choices on POA are numerous. There is really something for everyone. Not all venues are free, but even if you didn't spend an additional dime on food you would have a vast array of choices. I had absolutely no complaints about food. One night I ate with a large group (12 of us I believe) in the Liberty Restaurant, and the second night I had wonderful sushi in "East Meets West" with another large group. So what is free and what isn't? Here's the skinny. Free: Skyline Restaurant; Liberty Restaurant; Aloha Cafe; Key West Grill; Cadillac Diner (except milkshakes); Little Italy. Cover Charge: East Meets West; Jefferson's Bistro; Lazy J Texas Steakhouse Something unique being implemented on all NCL ships and currently onboard POA and NORWEGIAN SPIRIT are flat panel dining availability screens. They are located all over the ship in most public areas. I was initially skeptical of these screens, but they are a great feature. NCL actually modeled them after similar software used for ski lift wait times at major ski resorts. These flat panels list each restaurant (free and cover charge) along with the current wait time at each venue. The color will change from green (empty), to yellow (filling up), to red (full, wait involved). The system is linked to every restaurant onboard so any maitre d' at any restaurant can reserve a time for you at any other restaurant. It's really a cool system and I believe it can also be viewed on your cabin TV once the iTV interactive system is up and running. If your restaurant choice is full and you don't want to switch to another dining venue, you are given a pager so you can enjoy yourself in any one of the lounges until your pager goes off. Lounges / Activities / Entertainment: POA has a wonderful assortment of lounges, entertainment, and activities. Just like the dining arrangements, there was something for everyone. There are whimsical lounges such as the Mardi Gras nightclub. Elegant and eclectic areas like the Lanai Bar, and sophisticated night spots such as the Napa Wine Bar. Pink's Piano Bar and the Gold Rush Saloon are also festive choices. There are plenty of quiet areas as well, with John Adams Coffee Bar and the SS America Library ranking as top choices. The SS America Library deserves special mention. This library is huge and beautifully decorated. It's themed after the liner S/S AMERICA and includes artifacts from this beautiful ship as well as a gorgeous painting of the ship and a very detailed model. The only library that comes close at sea is onboard the QM2 and QE2. Great job NCL! Unfortunately I didn't attend either of the production shows. This is unusual for me as I tend to enjoy them, but I was too busy enjoying myself with new found friends to give them a second thought. Both shows received raves from passengers who saw them and hopefully I'll get a second chance as I plan to book POA for a 7-day cruise later this year. NCL hosted amazing deck parties both nights, and something I've never done before was ride a mechanical bull! Yes, one was set up right on deck. The second night they removed the "bull" and set up a mechanical surf board instead. It was great, but I'm not certain if this is a permanent activity or just something special for these industry cruises? The Santa Fe spa is quite lovely and offers very soothing Southwestern decor. The treatment rooms looked very comfortable and there is a relaxation area as well. There are separate men's and women's changing rooms along with single sex saunas, steam rooms, and showers located inside the changing rooms. A nice touch is the "star lit" ceiling in the steam and sauna that changes colors creating a unique atmosphere. I believe there will be no charge to use the steam rooms and sauna. The workout area is large and well equipped, and there are individual flat screen panels above each cardio machine which is a nice touch. Another unique feature onboard POA is the Diamond Head Auditorium. This is without a doubt the most extensive meeting area onboard any ship. While I would have liked to see an observation lounge in this spot, it does work very well as a circular meeting space. NCL America has high hopes of attracting extensive meeting and incentive groups. There is the added incentive for US corporations to book POA and her running mate in Hawaii for added the tax benefit. As these ships are registered in the United States, US corporations can use the meetings as a tax write-off. This is simply not possible on foreign flagged vessels. I hope the Diamond Head Auditorium becomes a multi-use facility, and as the ship becomes broken in maybe a few of the ship's activities can be scheduled up there. Pools / Decks: Swimming pools are one area that could be improved upon. The pools are not the most attractive (compared to other ships) and are a bit small. The main pool area (South Beach Pool) is simply too cluttered. The Ocean Drive Bar is an excellent and large pool bar, but the rest of the area is lacking. The aft Oasis Pool is one of the smallest pools I've seen on a ship, but it's a very attractive area and I imagine it will be much quieter than the midship pools. Be sure to check out the adorable oversized shower up on Deck 14. It's one of the many whimsical features that make POA a stand-out. There is plenty of open deck space and most of it is covered with a blue plastic surface. I would have rather seen teak but that is rare these days, especially on mainstream ships. There is also a full wrap-around Promenade Deck on Deck 6. It's wide but unfortunately chairs are few and far between. Special mention goes to the Sports Deck on Deck 14. It's huge and will prove very popular to sports fanatics. It's also located out of the way as not to disturb the rest of the passengers. The good and not so good: Good: cabin decor; overall ship decor and detail; Aloha Cafe outdoor buffet stations; Liberty Restaurant; American crew; restaurant choices; inside cabins; the amazing suites; onboard artwork; the dining availability panels; food and overall service; spacious corridors; ship's overall atmosphere. Not so good: cabin housekeeping is poor; small pools, cluttered decks; minimal closet space; slow embarkation; inaccessibility to Santa Fe Spa and gym. Disembarkation: A short note about disembarkation. Since PRIDE OF AMERICA is a US flagged ship and calls at no foreign ports, there is no need for passengers to fill out any forms or clear US Customs and Immigration. This means that very shortly after the ships docks, you are free to go. I saw people disembarking as early as 7:20 a.m., and I disembarked at 8:15 a.m. and easily made a 9:30 a.m. flight out of LAX. NCL America provided each of us with a commemorative inaugural gift that will make a wonderful addition to my ship collection. It's an American flag folded into a triangle and framed in a wood and glass case. There is a plaque that reads "PRIDE OF AMERICA Inaugural Season 2005" on the outside and there are hooks on the back for hanging. It's one of the nicest inaugural gifts I have come across. It was a bit awkward to carry on the plane, but there was no way I was leaving that behind! As we walked off the POA, many of the staff and crew from POA and the NCL Miami office were standing on both sides of the Promenade Deck clapping and cheering as we disembarked. It was a thoughtful and appreciated gesture, not to mention memorable and unique. I think it's something they should do after every cruise as it really left a lasting impression and made you feel valued by NCL. What's next for NCL and some tidbits: * Look for a new NCL website coming in early 2006. It will encompass a new interactive booking engine for both travel agents and consumers. * Freestyle will be taken to the next level. Part of this will be the ability to pre-book all restaurant reservations before you leave home on the new website. Basically you will be able to plan your entire dining week in advance. Also incorporated will be the ability to pre-book all your spa treatments and of course shore excursions. The other aspects of how Freestyle will evolve are in the works, but expect innovation. * Latitudes, the NCL past passenger club is getting revamped. Currently all past passengers receive the same recognition regardless of how many NCL cruise you have taken. Beginning this Fall, Latitudes will have different benefit levels based not only on how many times you sail, but how much you spend as well. Those passengers that consistently book suites will receive higher recognition. * With the addition of NORWEGIAN JEWEL, PRIDE OF HAWAII, and two additional "Star Class" ships, NCL will have the youngest fleet in the industry. In 2006 NCL is actually accounting for half of all new built tonnage in the N. American cruise industry. * A new class of ship is currently in development. It will follow the two unnamed "Star Class" ships already on order. Expect innovation and many surprise features. * All the older NCL tonnage will be phased out of the fleet by 2010 at the latest. This includes DREAM, WIND, MAJESTY, and CROWN. * Keep an eye out for some interesting itineraries for PRIDE OF HAWAII. Prior to her year round 7-day Hawaii cruising, she will embark on a few trans-Pacific itineraries between the West Coast and Hawaii. Some interesting ports will be included (Hawaii and the mainland) and there is no need to stop at a foreign port since she will be US registered. Her fast 25 knot speed will also make the crossing to Hawaii in a shorter time. * None of the NCL America ships are permitted to sail in Alaska or the Caribbean. This was a last minute mandate lobbied by some of NCL competitors. Interesting. * The SS UNITED STATES, currently laid up in Philadelphia and owned by NCL has not been forgotten. I was able to personally question NCL executive Andy Stuart (who BTW is a very dynamic speaker and charming man) about her future. He informed me NCL had created a team to determine the feasibility of bringing the SSUS back to service. Results were very positive and he even spoke of her excellent hull condition. Unfortunately when POA encountered her troubles at the shipyard in Germany, the team switched their objective from the SSUS to getting POA into service. I truly feel the SSUS has a good possibility of being brought back to service after speaking with Mr. Stuart. He seemed to appreciate the value and recognition a ship like the SSUS could bring NCL America. Stay tuned! * Following the 2-night cruise I enjoyed, the crew of POA were getting a short cruise of their own. Andy Stuart and the rest of the NCL management team onboard (including POA Officers) were switching roles and becoming waiters, bartenders and entertainers for the crew onboard POA. Meanwhile the crew becomes passengers and can enjoy the hospitality of their superiors on an overnight cruise up to San Francisco. A massive deck party was planned. What better way to show employee appreciation and sustain excellent morale as well? This gesture really helped earn my respect for NCL as a caring company. * Look for NCL to split from parent company Star Cruises later this year and become public on the NY Stock Exchange. What happens after that is anybody's guess. The Final Word: In a nutshell, I loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and have found a new appreciation for NCL. To be honest, NCL was fairly low on my personal scale up until now. With PRIDE OF AMERICA and the rest of the new ships NCL is building, I've discovered what an innovative company NCL has become. They are not perfect (and no cruise line is), but I think they have a bright future and they certainly have earned my support and new found respect. I wish them great success! Any questions or comments? Please email me at: eroller@msn.com Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts ... Read More
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts here, I was pleasantly surprised. It is nicely done - would've liked a larger balcony. We were on the 10th floor and if I were doing it again, I would not choose that floor because the supports for the pool deck block your panoramic view. It was still very nice to sit out and enjoy the ride. The bed was comfy - I slept like a baby. The service was fine. We don't require a lot of attention. We always had our room done before noon on our sea days, and by the time we returned on port days. Beds were turned down while we were at supper. We always had ice and tp. Only had a towel animal one night, but no biggie. The restaurants were beautiful and the food was fine. Not great, but fine. By the end of 10 days I was ready for some spice. I'm sure they cannot spice it up too much due to restrictive diets and such. We ate in all of the restaurants except Lazy J. Jefferson's Bistro was good and very romantic. The hot spinach salad was very good, and my husband's seabass was excellent. My surfnturf was fair. I didn't eat the steak. The Tappanyaki was good. We really liked the stir fried rice with a little garlic. Skip the Italian. That was the worst meal I had. All of the soups I had on board were very good. I couldn't eat the scrambled eggs at breakfast, they didn't taste fully cooked, but you can get omelettes in the main dining room or there is plenty to choose from on the buffet. If you like David Schwimmer (Ross from friends), you will like the cruise director. My husband found him annoying, but he was fine with me. The Hollywood Theater is nice, but COLD! The Mardis Gras nightclub is HOT. We still had fun. The Tahiti dancers were good. W.T. Greet was good in the piano bar, but I think he is coming back to Dallas. The 1st comic was good, the 2nd we left. We enjoyed massages, but felt the price was misleading. They add a 15% service charge, but it is not a tip. We loved freestyle and freestyle disembarkation. Embarking wasn't bad. We did have a wait in a room without AC, but it wasn't too long. We felt all the employees did a good job overall. We had our worst service the last night. Maybe that was why. We met some homesick kids. A little gal from TX gave me a huge hug when she found out we were from her home state. The ports are awesome. We rented cars on each island and could do what we wanted. On Hilo went to Volcano Nat. Park, Waipaio Valley Lookout, a beach park, and Akaka Falls and hiked around. Be sure to take the Onomea scenic road - about 4miles. Had a great lunch at What's shakin. It rained a lot. At Kona, we went to Place of Refuge (cool) and snorkeled right beside it. Saw turtles and lots of fish and coral. Rocky entry, but fairly calm for fraidy cats like me. Had an awesome lunch at the Coffee Shack - with a great view of Kealakua Bay. We then went to Kahaluu Beach Park to snorkel. It was dirty (couldn't see anything) and rough. Too rough for me. Sailing past the volcano at night was a highlight!On Maui we drove over to Kapalua Beach and snorkeled. Saw a MOOrish Idol (like a angelfish). This was nice. Then we went to Kaanapali Beach and ate at the Hula Grill. Another good choice. Wandered around and headed south to Kihou (SP?) beach park to watch the sunset. Kauai was my absolute favorite!!! We went north, stopped at the Lighthouse and saw spinner dolphins on one side and a seal on the rocks on the other. Not to mention birds and the most incredible view (all of the views on Kauai are). Then we drove to the end of the road to Kee Beach on the Napali coast. We changed to swimsuits (nasty bathroom), but the snorkeling was awesome!! Saw lots of fish, swam in a school with lots of big ones. I never knew there were so many colorful fish. The snorkeling here is great for chickens,, because the reef breaks the waves before they get to you. We stopped at the Princeville Resort on the way back because I have been wanting to go there. I can't wait, the place is gorgeous!! Didn't have lunch, because there was so much to do. I didn't like Honolulu. Dallas by the sea. The East shore was nice. The trip home on the red eye was a pain, but I'd do it again. I loved Hawaii and the ship. My biggest complaint was the food got old after 10 days. I might not have noticed it if I hadn't eaten the great food I did off the ship! I am glad we had 5 days at sea, because I'm Type A and want to see everything and the port days were exhausting. My husband says he drove 500 miles on a 400 mile island (not really). It's a great way to taste the islands to decide where you want to go back and stay. Enjoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the ... Read More
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the islands on our own, and staying in hotels. This is my first quasi-review I have ever written, and I hope the flow works out. Embarkation: At first glance, it has the appearance of a total zoo, but still kind of organized. There was a security line that wrapped out the doors, down to the next pier. People were standing and waiting for a while to get through security. I didn't see anyone complaining though. If you aren't one of those that MUST hit the buffet as soon as you board, do yourself a favor and come later than sooner, as I will from now on. I had booked a 2 night pre-stay, and ended up in the hospital the first day I arrived in HNL, until just before POAM's check in time, so I was wheel-chaired straight past those lines (cleared security, of course) by an NCL rep, to the Latitudes check-in, then directly to my room. What awesome service! Before I got to the room, however, there was an incident. As we were about to pass the photographer, I asked the NCL girl to not stop for a photo, as I did not want to have a picture taken of me while I was being wheeled, and still a little sickly looking. She complied and totally understood, of course, but the photographer YELLED at her for doing this for me. He was furious in front of all the other guests about how "he needs to deal with, and photograph each guest" and "blah blah blah". Not only was I embarrassed, but now ALL ATTENTION WAS UPON US! Well, I got to my room and I was very, very upset over this. I did not find this to be conducive to a "vacation embarkation" at all. Hand Sanitation: Ok, I had an issue here. There are hand sanitizing stations located all around the ship very conveniently. However, it was not enforced at all. I had been on NCL Sun before, and they were always chasing you down with wet naps and gel. Why not here? We used the heck out of them on this boat, but we did not see another single soul use them besides us. I just don't see why people, and NCL America, didn't see the importance of this. Maybe there is a rule that exempts them from this in Hawaii? Room: I had originally planned on booking a suite the next size up from ours, but decided upon having lots of extra money to spend instead. We had room on the 11th floor, a BA Cat. which was convenient for the location, and was on the port side. There was a connecting door to another BA category room next door, which DID turn into a problem later on. The decor was bright and cheery, with a bit of an ultra-contemporary twist. I liked it. It was of course small.....but what do you want? The balcony was a nice size for us, and had two chairs and an end table. The chairs were of the sling variety with arms. Very comfy. We spent a lot of time out there, being we are smokers, and cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke inside a building (none-the-less ruining a brand new ship with the smell). Go figure. All in all, I was quite satisfied with the room, but I would upgrade next time for sure. We spent hardly any time or money shopping. We were into all the nature here. I snuck a peek next door into a penthouse, and envied all the free space. We met our cabin steward, Norma, immediately after we got to the room. She was very friendly, and showed us around our room. I asked her for an egg-crate mattress topper and extra pillows. She installed them within 5 minutes! I found the bed to be firm, but most will love it. Actually, every night before turndown, I left her a note with any requests I had, words of appreciation and thanks, and a tip. Needless to say, I HAD NO ISSUES whatsoever with her, or any other crew member. She was so sweet, and saw to all our needs quickly and efficiently. Our room was consistently spotless, and I am VERY PICKY. If you want a good steward, TIP. These are Americans, money talks. Noise: By the end of the cruise, I had come to the conclusion that there is no place on the ship to enjoy a FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP. You are constantly being woken up by those obnoxious self closing doors to the cabins. They could have made the self closing system a much slower and gentler variety. I swear, people didn't even TRY to be considerate of others. All you hear are these loud thuds all night, and all day long. Kids (AND ADULTS!) running up and down the hallways, having conversation at 100 decibels above normal. We called down to the reception desk and politely asked if they could maybe make a friendly announcement to all the passengers, sometime during the day, asking to pay better attention to noise in the hallways and slamming doors. This was all to no avail. They declined our request. It seemed to be no problem to have a guest paged at any time of day or night though. Also, the people in the room next door (adjoining), were unbelievably loud at times. The adjoining room doors themselves are paper thin, and you can literally hear the person next door speaking (in normal tone) while we were in bed trying to sleep. Food: Well, the Aloha Cafe was neither above nor below our expectations. All the usual for breakfast (confirmed runny eggs) and lunch, with a theme night on occasion for dinner. We particularly liked the Mexican night. The breads were notably fresh and good with a nice selection. Fruits were ripe with a good selection. Plenty of window seats too, we always had one. The decor was better than expected, and we LOVED the separate kids buffet area filled with kids stuff. Even mini tables and chairs. So cute! Great idea. The Cadillac Diner was a pleasant surprise, serving blue plate kind of foods. We ate Cheeseburgers there 3 times. Each time the burgers were thick, juicy and cooked nice. They ALWAYS forgot the pickle though. This place was usually empty during off hours, and service was at least consistent. We ordered breakfast there once while in Kona, the bagel was warmed instead of toasted with no butter, and they served us waffles, which were good, but with no butter as well. That's no big deal at all, but you can't help thinking "hello McFly"! There was NO cover charge for this restaurant, however we did tip according to what the bill should have been had we paid. Only fair. The Lazy J Steakhouse was by far our favorite. The service was PHENOMENAL!!!! The food was PERFECT every time we ate there. We had Lori and Allie as our wait-staff, and they are a truly remarkable, entertaining, and caring team. We ate the Rib-eye steaks and Filet Mignon steaks when we went (on separate occasions). The creamed spinach was delicious. Lori noticed my affection for it and kept it coming! I never once waited for a drink refill. We were always invited to linger, and never felt rushed or pushed. There is so much good to say here.....see for yourself, and make sure you request them in advance. We got lucky and had them twice. I never had so many laughs during dinner. We love the FREESTYLE concept. However, we had LOTS of trouble trying to get into the other specialty restaurants, so these 3 venues are all we could sample. I am pretty disappointed that people run onto the ship the first day, and plan out all their meals right away, not leaving any room for anyone else to FREESTYLE IT. Isn't that the point!? The crew at East Meets West and Shabu Shabu were completely unwavering with the firm NO's we got when trying to come in to eat.....and we only even tried when it was LATE! Like 9:30-10:00! They do indeed warn you that they fill quickly, so it's our fault. Very good food, I guess. The Italian restaurant was just as popular. Jefferson's Bistro looked really nice and cozy, although we avoided it due to the menu items that we don't PRETEND to enjoy, such as Fois Gras and the like on EVERYTHING. Duck liver paste smeared on my steak just doesn't do it for me. To each their own...it looked as if all inside were having a wonderful time and enjoying the food, and that's all that matters. I heard NO complaints. If you love those kind of foods, you should DEFINITELY enjoy it. We heard from other passengers that they waited 2+ hours for their food in Skyline and Liberty. And it wasn't even full. For that reason we didn't bother, although when we questioned the front desk about this, they blamed it on the "experience". I'll have a "starving experience" some other time, thanks. Everyone else who mentioned this agreed, not surprisingly. Restaurant Displays: They had these ingenious plasma displays around the ship giving real-time dining information. These are great! Would be nice to have the info on your stateroom TV as well. I don't think they worked properly for some venues though. They always showed availability in East Meets West/Shabu Shabu. Which is why we ventured down there for a last minute table, only to find out that the monitors don't anticipate, nor take into account, any reservations. So even when it showed availability, there actually wasn't. This will confuse most, I am sure. If they can get the system better, and even install more screens around, NCL will get praise. Spa: We both had massages. They were decent with lava rocks and all. Ernest(?) was particularly good. Regis was right. :) The spa itself featured therapy rooms that had windows overlooking a public deck. This means you can't gaze out onto the water during your treatments, and you see peoples shadows strolling by through the blinds. Not relaxing enough of a setting for me. Pool: Pool area was a bit smaller than what I expected. The Pools and spas were consistently dominated by 6 and 16 year olds. If you wanted to get in, you had to deal. People just let their kids go crazy. I believe the water was actually fresh water. Not brackish, or salty at all. I didn't see diapers on the kids while in the pool, which was nice to know. They opened up the gyroscope and trampoline rides for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes each day. The pool bars closed obnoxiously early every night, which brings me to - Entertainment: The only other places to go was the Pepto-Bismol slathered Pink's Bar, and the Mardi Gras lounge. Both had just ok live entertainment. They were all good at what they do, but maybe not appropriate for a ship as the ONLY thing to see. I compared the crowd (more like group) to a rock concert in communist China. ANYBODY BREATHING IN HERE? The DJ had access to very limited music.....not his fault, NCL's I heard. The comedian was hilarious in the theatre. At least see that. The bartenders and wait-staff were our entertainment. Bring sleeping pills, and get to bed early. LOL. After all, the Islands are what you're here for. Ship Decor/Appearance: Multiple Personalities come to mind. I really don't understand where they were going with it. Don't get me wrong, ALL of the public rooms were VERY nicely appointed for an NCL ship. It is DEFINITELY a step up. I just don't see how the rooms flow at all. You go from Hawaiian tropical to Washington D.C. in 2 steps. Then you go to your room and you get Italian modern. All while walking on patriotic starred carpet that turns into lily pads and water. Weird. But still attractive. Crew: I personally LOVED the crew. There were a few who knew I was ill, and tried at ALL TIMES to make me comfy. Lori, our favorite waitress from the Lazy J, would run into us as she was walking around the promenade on occasion. She always made sure everything was ok, and that we had what we wanted. She saw me getting nauseated, and immediately had a Ginger Ale and Bitters ordered for me. No questions. She wasn't even on duty!!!!! Sometimes you do have to be careful with some, as they LOVE to talk. This is good when you're bored, but other times, you kinda felt like you couldn't get away without being rude. We just kept in mind that some of them are displaced, and lonely. Most are far away from home and family. Some of them were consistently checking their cell phones from their posts, others worked hard and diligently. There were a lot of Hawai'ian's as crew which was great. They smile when you talk about how beautiful the islands are. Especially when you were on their island. Very informative about their home. Ship Stability: Ok, this is important. Every time the ship sailed, I was sick. I am used to the waters of the Caribbean, being mostly smooth sailing. Out here in the middle of the Pacific, there is nothing to break the waves. The first 2 nights were a nightmare for me. Most will have no trouble, but it is not a smooth sail. At least not for us. I don't believe that this is a design problem, although could it have been caused by our slower sailing speed? I feel really bad for those on the Wind heading for Kiribati (Fanning Island). Problems with the engine: Yes there were problems with the main engines. This affected the top speed of the ship. The only interference we had was that instead of cruising the Na Pali coast in the morning upon arrival in Kauai, we saw it by sunset on our sail back to O'ahu the night before departure. This was actually better for us, as we are later to rise than most. Still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my whole life. Kauai was indeed my favorite place with the Big Island in second. TV: I was sick, so I had plenty of time to check it out. I was bothered that there was no Navigation Information displayed. I like knowing the seas, our speed, location....etc. There are 2 channels for NCL that repeated over and over as advertisements, and a movie channel, CNN, TNT, and that's all I remember. There was a channel that showed Discovery-like programs. Could be more, but I do remember 4 blank-screen music channels. Car Rental: The best money I spent was enrolling in the Hertz Gold Club. When you get to the rental place, you don't have to wait in line at all. Just go to the board, check for the spot number next to your name, get into the car, and go! We were out of there in 2 minutes flat EVERY TIME! We LOVED not having to make a mad rush from the shuttle to the line. This could save you hours on the islands. Also, you get a small discount on your rentals that kind of offsets the price for the membership. It was still worth it without the discount though. There are convenient and close places for you to park at all the overnight ports, so you can keep your car 2 days, and we only paid once in Kauai, $5.00 for the whole stay. No biggie. Flights: Booked through NCL. Delta and United the whole way there and back. Yeah, we got a red-eye home, but we slept through it. In summary, I felt that this was a great trip and well worth the money. We had a great time, and we decided that we would do this again. In a heartbeat! Actually, I most likely will be doing this again, being I lost some days on islands because I was ill. Most others we talked to decided the same thing, even though others had more problems than we did. My best advice is to come aboard with lots of tipping cash, and lower your expectations in terms of a more "luxury oriented service". This doesn't mean you get bad service at all. It just means that NCL is different from the rest, my opinion, in that they TRY to be everything to everyone. Have a great time! I can't wait to go again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. When we got to our cabin it was clean and made-up. The only thing was that we never had bedspreads like you see in the website photos. I don't know if they ran out or our room stewardess just didn't put them on the beds. No biggie, just odd. Our cabin was an obscured oceanview, category G. There were four of us sharing the space: mom, dad and two teenagers. Our cabin had two lower beds and two pullmans. It had what NCL called a single French window that was about four feet wide and floor to ceiling. The window was almost half as wide as our cabin. Most of the other cabins I saw had a double French window. Even with the obscured view, we could see plenty and had lots of natural light. The cabin didn't seem any smaller than an inside cabin we had on the Diamond Princess last summer. It had plenty of storage: four drawers,shelves below the tv, above the fridge, above the desk, and in the closet, and shelves behind the mirror in the bathroom for toiletries. The closet had about four feet of hanging space with a flip down bar to hang short stuff above and below. Our luggage fit under the beds. The cabin stayed pretty tidy with all of the places to put stuff. I would suggest making reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you can. We had no problems, but I heard a few people saying that they couldn't get in towards the end of the week. The specialty restaurants we sampled were: Cadillac Diner and Little Italy (no extra charge for either) and East Meets West and Jefferson Bistro ($10/person). The rest of the dinners we ate in both the Liberty and Skyline Restaurants. Some of the meals were great and some were just ok. We had a chicken Caesar wrap in the Cadillac that I would avoid, but the chili was wonderful. The highlight for me was talking with the servers. They all wanted to talk and tell us where they were from and asked where we were from. One guy from Long Beach, CA (we are from Burbank, CA) ask if we could do him a favor. He asked if we would mind eating an In-N-Out Burger for him when we got home! Ah, the things we get homesick for! We went to all of the evening shows in the Hollywood Theater. We like the juggler/comedian, Barry Johns, the best. He was really funny. The singing and dancing productions had wonderful entertainers with pretty bad material. The numbers just didn't flow well. There was a comedian whose name I can't remember that was sort of funny, but not everyone's cup of tea. He got fairly political (not a good idea if you don't know your crowd) and did some audience interaction that really didn't go anywhere. I'd give him a "C". Not to go into too much detail about what we did in port, but to say we didn't do any NCL excursions. We rented cars in each of the ports. The two nights that we spent tied up to the dock, there were places to park a rental overnight. On Maui it was free. On Kauai we paid $10 for a lot that a guy was sitting at all night. Others on Cruise Critic have said they paid $5, but I don't know where that was. It worked out really well with the rental cars. These are some of the drives we took: Hawaii--Volcanoes National Park and the Kona Coast Maui--Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach one day and the Road to Hana and the Seven Sacred Pools the second day. Kauai--Waimea Canyon and Poipu Beach the first day and Wailea River and the Fern Grotto the second day. This cruise was a wonderful way to see so many beautiful places and meet so many friendly people...particularly the crew on the ship. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Check out our photos at: www.kodakgallery.com/gregh Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2005
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a ... Read More
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a wonderful time in paradise. However, our experience was not all we hoped it would be. When we arrived, our suite (a little smaller than anticipated) still had debris (half eaten banana, dirty dishes, etc.). But to the cabin stewards' credit, they jumped right in and cleaned everything quickly, including the "debris" left by seagulls on the deck chairs. We also found storage to be an issue in our family suite (Deck 10, cabin 10178). However, while storage isn't exactly what I expected, the room was very well appointed and easy to get around in -- we just moved the extra chairs, etc., out to the wonderful, incredibly enormous, balcony this suite has. We found the bathroom adequate but the beds (probably because they are so new) were very, very hard. It took a couple of days for our cabin steward Sharon to get everything down -- 5 people need 5 towels, etc. Once she did things were fine except that we never saw a towel animal at any time, even for my 9 year son who truthfully, I don't believe missed it. As to the dinning -- we tried all but Le Bistro (menu didn't appeal) and truthfully this is where we had issue. Service for us was slow -- we never were able to finish any meal under 2 and half hours -- any restaurant, any time of day -- excluding, of course, the Aloha Buffet. However, as time went on, it seemed that this wasn't an issue re waiters/waitresses but rather, servers waiting for the food from the kitchen. I second the opinion on the lack of spice -- overall I found the food in all the dinning rooms we visited to be good but the menu didn't vary enough and by the end of 10 days I was definitely in mood for something else. Kudos to the Aloha Buffet -- the all you could eat lobster night (the night we left Kona) was a wonderful treat, especially as it also offered shrimp, salmon, cat fish and other tasty items. Some disappointing items: our beautiful balcony was never cleaned in any way. This might not have been an issue to others but since our balcony was directly under the outside eating area of the Aloha Buffet (which they washed down every morning) it really became an issue to us. We went through one complete electrical blackout for our area that was a minimum inconvenience. However, our appliances (refrigerator, coffee pot, hair dryers, some lights) experienced many more outages -- it seems the fuses kept going. But with all things during our trip the ship's crew was completely responsive, helpful, incredibly sympathetic or apologetic as needed. We had heard rumors of staffing issues (I heard they lost 100, my husband had heard more like 30 of the crew in San Francisco) but whatever the issues, this crew is incredibly gracious and accommodating, the one acceptation, the whinny pastry girl in Skyline. And although I realize that its not the crew's fault that people flush what they shouldn't, it really is a bit much to have to tolerate three days in a row of your toilet being out of commission, sometimes for hours on end. We took a variety of shore excursions in every port and were pleased with all our choices except for the Body Glove snorkel on Kona (not as beginning as was billed) and the Luau at the Sheraton on Maui (rather a pasteurized version of what I had previous experienced when I had cruised with the SS Independence in 2000). A good tip is to plan all excursions in advance and book as early as you are certain of your plans. The upside of things: first, I cannot state this strong enough -- this is one beautiful ship. The card room, internet cafe, library area was design beautifully not to mention the Reception/Capitol Atrium area. Truthfully, I was truly amazed at the incredible amount of detail and care given to the appointments of all the areas on the ship. Secondly, the staff/crew of the ship were always accommodating -- with one or two very minor exceptions. I was not overly fond of the Cruise Director (he made a couple of comments that bordered on rude rather than funny in my opinion) but you can't fault him and his assistant Shona (sp?) for how hard they worked. I don't think they got more than a handful of hours of sleep the entire cruise. Will I cruise PO America again -- yes, in a heartbeat. Will I sign up for the repositioning cruise with Pride of Hawaii -- don't think so. I loved the five days at sea, but I think I'll wait for any potential kinks to be worked out first. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's ... Read More
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's new ship, The Pride of Hawaii. \I have read all the other reviews here and we seem to have had a much better experience. * Our bags were waiting in our cabin when we arrived. Henry, our steward, was exceptional and anticipated our every need. * We usually ate dinner about 7:30 and had leisurely experiences, but not excessively long waits. The food was what I would expect from a ship carrying 2,000 passengers. We ordered simple dishes and were never disappointed. One evening I asked for coffee ice cream and although they didn't have it on the menu they went to another dining room to get it. * We ate in all the specialty restaurants, except the sushi bar, and were delighted with all. We are used to New York City-quality food and this was just fine. * We had breakfast in our cabin most mornings and it arrived exactly on time and exactly what we ordered. * We loved the public areas and the outdoor areas. The pool had just the right amount of shade and never ran out of towels. And having the "adult" pool was a treat -- although there was no shade. * All the shore excursions we took were conducted by knowledgeable guides and we had no complaints. All in all, no complaints. We found the young American crew to be delightful and eager to please. They were very chatty and we enjoyed hearing their stories. No, these are not career waiters or stewards, but that's okay. Most had signed on for one-year and then they will be gone. We heard that there was a major crew upheaval when the ship entered service but by the time we sailed it seemed to have worked itself out. We had only two complaints: the public spaces were freezing! Everyone walked around hugging themselves. A little less air conditioning would have been fine and the crew manning the reception desk were idiots. We quickly learned not to ask them anything. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Sailed on Aug. 20. I had cabins 10508 and 10509. 10508 is a family suite and 10509 is an inside cabin. The cons: (1) The food was good, but not great. (2) The excursions were $$expensive$$. (3) The Pacific Paradise Luau on Maui. ... Read More
Sailed on Aug. 20. I had cabins 10508 and 10509. 10508 is a family suite and 10509 is an inside cabin. The cons: (1) The food was good, but not great. (2) The excursions were $$expensive$$. (3) The Pacific Paradise Luau on Maui. Entertainment fine. Food not so. (4) They have got to automate booking of excursions. The lines were too long. I suspect that the staff work on commission at that station. (5) I heard that the staff aren't all that happy. They get paid something like $6.75/hr (6) Rumor had it that the engines were still having problems. (7) The boat did not cruise past the south coast of Big Island :-( (8) Constant lateral rocking of boat. I suspect engine problems (9) An unannounced change of itinerary at Kuai. I agree with the change but it really screwed up my sched. COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE! The pros: (1) I think the boat is neat and not ugly. (2) I liked the cabins. (3) My cabin steward was great! I tipped him well for it. (4) The change of itinerary for Kuai is a great change! (5) The "Liberty" main dining room is beautiful. (6) On the whole the staff and crew where friendly and tried hard. In short. The family wished they had an extra few days. We would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Aloha! We returned from Hawaii yesterday and we are still on Hawaii time so I have some awake time to enter this review. Four of us (2 adults and 2 children) cruised on the Pride of America, August 27-September 3). We stayed on the ... Read More
Aloha! We returned from Hawaii yesterday and we are still on Hawaii time so I have some awake time to enter this review. Four of us (2 adults and 2 children) cruised on the Pride of America, August 27-September 3). We stayed on the North Shore at the Turtle Bay Resort pre-cruise and rented a car. These arrangements were made through a travel agent. On the day of embarkation, we returned the car to the rental agency at the airport and the woman at the returns desk called a cab for us. It arrived quickly and we loaded it up with all our luggage. We made the trip to the pier in no time. We arrived there around noon. At the pier a porter materialized out of thin air (this happened a lot since we had so much luggage) and took our bags to the checked luggage area. We continued on to wait in line outside the terminal building. This line moved quickly and we looked around in awe at the beautiful Aloha Tower Marketplace shopping and park area. Once inside our documents were checked and a picture was taken of the four of us against a green screen (image of ship inserted digitally). We then proceeded to the penthouse suite check-in which took a few minutes while they took our pictures and printed our cards. We met Al the concierge who directed us to the escalator and off we went to the ship. We went up to the Aloha Cafe to eat lunch and wait for our cabin to be ready. The buffet was amazing. All the food was delicious. It seemed overwhelming until we realized it was the same selection on both sides. After the buffet we went up on the pool deck and enjoyed the scenery. Our cabin was ready around 2 so we went down to unpack since our luggage showed up just as we were admiring our balcony. The butler showed up shortly after with a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries. There was a complementary bottle of champagne as well and a bowl of fresh fruit. There were only one problem; a dirty bathrobe (which wasn't removed until day 2 even though I mentioned it to two people). Other than that the cabin was huge with plenty of room for the four of us to store our stuff. The kids shared the pull out sofa. As predicted, they were too tired to care that they were sharing a bed. I can't say enough good things about this ship and the staff. I could go into intimate detail about every day but I'll limit it to the following; Dining: We made reservations through the concierge. Al helped us with reservations and shore excursion questions as well as tender tickets (suite's only) and VIP luggage tags. We dined in Lazy J (FANTASTIC), Little Italy (can get real Italian at home), East Meets West, Teppenyaki (lots of fun), and Liberty (good food, order more than you think, small portions). At Lazy J, the portions were small so before my entree came I asked for crabcake appetizer and shrimp cocktail and received both quickly so that I could eat them with my steak. Delicious, Not quite as good as Ruth's Chris but definitely in that category. Worth the extra $$. Server, Paulette, was very kind and attentive. Downside is that if you didn't make reservations, you didn't eat in a timely manner. We made and changed reservations through the concierge which was easy and we could do it even when the restaurant was closed. If we arrived back from a shore excursion late and needed to change it, one call is all it took. We ate breakfast in the Aloha Cafe every day except for once when we decided on room service on the balcony. It was a nice place to eat, but the food wasn't as good. Downside: The ship ran out of butter and could offer only margarine. Upside: If you need more to eat, hit the buffet in the Aloha Cafe for dessert or ice cream (I forgot about this until Friday, it's delicious). Shore Excursions: Be aware that most times changed from the NCL site. Tickets were in our room when we arrived. Volcanoes National Park Rainbow Falls - If I had it to do all over again, I would book the Volcanoes tour without the falls because it spends more time in the Volcanoes national park and does the Chain of Craters road. This would be well worth the price. As it was, the trip was fantastic. It rained but who cares, it was unbelievable. When we go back to the Big Island, we will return for a longer visit to the park. The tour started with lunch at the Volcano House where you were treated to a buffet which you ate in a dining room overlooking the caldera. Then the bus drove up to Jagger Museum, where we experienced some activity on the Seismograph (sp?). After that, the bus took us on a drive across the lava fields to an observation site which we walked to across a lava field full of steam vents. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen. We finished the tour at the Macadamia Nut Factory. I hate them (from home) but I gave them a try and now I'm hooked. You must buy the Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread!!!!! I've eaten half the box already. Historic Kona: This tour stops at the Place of Refuge (our favorite place on Kona), the Painted Church and the Kona Coffee house. I heard you can hook up with a guy on the pier who does this kind of tour and actually takes you through the place of refuge for about $30/person. Waimea Canyon, Wailua River Cruise, Fern Grotto: I booked this through the ship so we could enjoy the scenery and not worry about driving off the road. We were also treated to some amazing history, jokes and stories of Hawaii. The canyon is beautiful, but I would have like more time there. We were treated to a stop at the Spouting Horn at Poipu Beach. I didn't know it was included and was thrilled to see it. Lunch on this excursion is a buffet at the Marriott that served chicken, rice and mixed veggies and some elbow mac, ground beef, cheese and tomato concoction that my kids loved (go figure). This was all served with iced tea and cake out at the luau building on the grounds. The river cruise and fern grotto was very nice. If you take this trip please be respectful of the gentlemen who sing the wedding song by being quiet when they are performing. It is a special moment in the wonderful acoustical environment that is the fern grotto. Many on our excursion did not give them the full respect that they deserved and it nearly ruined it for the rest of us. Scenic Hanalei: I would have preferred a morning at the beach. If I'd known that a shuttle bus to Poipu could have been had at the pier, I wouldn't have booked this. It was nearly a waste of time, but we did see some amazing sites as we drove up to Princeville and spent 10 minutes at our destination (Hanalei Valley). With these two excursions and the cruise past the Napali Coast, we ended up seeing 95% of Kauai. Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial USS Missouri: We booked this the morning we docked in Honolulu at the end of the cruise only because we were tired and couldn't imagine driving around Honolulu and Waikiki. If I could do it all over again, I'd take a day-room at a local hotel with a pool until departure time (9:30pm) from Honolulu. Seeing the Memorial was worth it, but it was very hot that day and the rest we could have done without. Getting our luggage from the terminal building to the line for the tour and then to the bus was tricky considering how much we had and how few hands we had to help. In my opinion, this could have been done more easily. Oh well, it really wasn't that bad and we did get to see the memorial which was well worth it. We continued on to the punch bowl cemetery, Iolani Palace and King Kamehameha statue. honolulu is a very pretty city. Cabin: Very roomy as said before with a large balcony we hardly had a chance to use. Bathroom was adequate with plenty of room for showering, however, the room was already showing signs of usage. It looked like there used to be a sliding door between the toilet area and the sink/bathtub area. A knob was missing from the shower door. There was food debris on the sofa. The bed was very comfortable. It looked like it hadn't been vacuumed even though I often saw cabin stewards with vacs in the hallway. Except for that and the dirty bathrobe, it was clean. No towel animals but a chocolate on pillow every night. Only missed the Freestyle Daily once. There was ample room for storage and a huge walk-in closet with a vanity area with a desk and set of drawers. Another set of drawers lies under the closet rod. There's even drawers in the main part of the cabin for anything you want (clothes, snacks, etc). Entertainment: Never experience it because the kids kept falling asleep during dinner and we always had an early call for shore excursions in the morning. Also, when I planned to attend one, the show type changed to something I wasn't interested in. I did peek in one night on our way somewhere else and it was crowded. Concierge brought us a DVD for the kids to watch the first night, however, we couldn't figure out how to use the remote and we aren't tech dummies. We called the next night and the butler came up to help us. Public rooms: Most were empty when I walked past. They must have been busy later after all the shows let out. The Shuffles card room was popular. We played Big Chess on deck two nights and chess in Shuffles twice. The second time the room smelled overpoweringly of waste. The whole area did. That was gross. Food: On a whole, I was please except for Little Italy. The chocolate Buffet held in the Skyline at 2:30 the day we were in Kona was worth the early return on the tender. However, I had to reschedule our Little Italy reservation because we were still stuffed at 6:30. Service: All the staff that we met were kind, happy, talkative and pleasant. I have no complaints there. NONE whatsoever. Every one of them said Aloha or hello whenever we would walk past them. They looked like they were enjoying themselves. If they didn't know the answer to a question, they were more than happy to find someone who could. Pool: Plenty of deck for sunning and plenty of ways to get wet. two small showers, two pools side by side, 4 hot tubs and a huge shower on deck thirteen (we found it the last day). Staff poolside always made sure we were well watered with cocktails and soda. Best place to view Napali Coast: Deck 13 or 14 forward but it was hot in the blazing sun. Don't worry about finding a spot. Shower and change for dinner and head up on deck around 5. We were there between 5:30 and 6:30. Worst place on the ship: Starboard promenade Deck Midship - ship exhaust smell is overwhelming. Creepiest spot on the ship: Promenade deck aft - narrow deck area and low railing. Creepy especially at night. Coolest spot: Big Chess Coldest spot: dining rooms and Aloha Cafe Stinkiest Spot: Pinks Champagne Bar and anywhere close to the cigar bar. Quietest spot: sun deck on deck 14 or forward on deck 13. My Favorite Spot on the Ship: The balcony of the cabin while the ship is moving or my bed at night while we were cruising. I loved falling asleep to the motion of the ship. I felt like a baby in one of the bouncy seat things that vibrate. Over all, this is the ONLY way to get a great look/see of all the Hawaiian Islands if you have never been there before. It blew us away how different each one is and how they look from the perspective of being on a ship. Starboard Cabin gave us wonderful views of all the islands early in the morning as we arrived and offered great views while in port. However, Napali Coast was viewed from the Port side. We believe that NCL America has a great thing going and needs to stay on top of this. I would recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to get an interesting and unique view of the islands. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Here's pretty much a journal of our experience on the POA on this cruise. I know it's long, but I hope some of it will fill in the corners, so to speak. In regard to buying better service from your room steward, I'm not so ... Read More
Here's pretty much a journal of our experience on the POA on this cruise. I know it's long, but I hope some of it will fill in the corners, so to speak. In regard to buying better service from your room steward, I'm not so sure. It's in their training, personality and inclination. Ours couldn't be stopped; unfortunately, it sounds like others couldn't be started. Saturday, August 27. It was a dark and stormy night in the Old Pueblono, wait a minutethis is, after all, the Old Pueblo and it was only dark. Here in Tucson it was a beautiful predawn morning, warm and clear. On our way to the airport for Le Grande Adventure, on board the Pride of America to travel the islands of Hawaii. We left home at 4:30 am, after waking at 3:30. Had left Maggie (our collie) with friends the day before, then packed our stuff in two suitcases rather than three. Arrived at airport, well through car parking shuttle and security, by 5:20 or so, ready for the plane. Had to shift some stuff from one suitcase to other, 3 pounds worth, to get under 50 pounds each. Plane went wrong wayto Denverso we transferred there to another which took us to Honolulu. LOOOng flight. Landed 2:50 PM at Honolulu airport (12 hours traveling by now), excellent handling by Norwegian Cruise Line, who had people to meet us, direct us, drive us, got to terminal where we had the first of many future security checks! They took our pictures at terminal at the Aloha Tower in Honoluluthen created a shipboard credit and ID card for each of us. Up to room at 4:31 PM. Life boat drill at 4:36. Discovered the coffee makers at the Aloha buffetthe machines will produce regular coffee, cappuccino, latte, or actually grind and make a fresh cup of Kona coffee. This turned out to be excellent, NEARLY as good as the french press but only almost. Ate at the Aloha buffetfound beds turned down with chocolates on pillows. Luggage did not arrive in room until 7:30, which was a tad late but they had over 7000 pieces of luggage to handle!! We were fine. The buffet food was very good. Took too much, of course. And not everything was topnotch, but there were many, many things that were. Certainly enough very good items to satisfy anyone who has ever eaten at a buffet. Their beef dish was excellentchicken fried porkturkeytomato, mozzarella and basil saladmany others as good as any anywhere. Carving station meats were excellent (roast beef, marinated pork baked in pastry) and very poor (pork loin). Pizza wasnt gourmet but not bad. Grilled sirloin steak, however, and the hot dogs, were both really bad. But as I said, there were plenty of really good items on the buffet line, way more than you could sample even over the course of a week. Noritas plate and mine were often quite different, though we both had lots of fresh tropical fruit. Desserts were plentiful, very good, although the wide diverse array did not change much; they brought everything out every day. Each day the ship published and distributed to each cabin the Freestyle Daily, a pamphlet paper telling what was going to happen that day and what to prepare for. Lots of information there. Ship left for Hilo about 8 PMvery interesting departure, turning the ship in the very small basin of Honolulu Harbor, right at the foot of streets crowded with buildings and people. Great weather, very scenic. Our TV shows many onboard channels, including a live bridge cam, information, activities, plus ESPN, CNN, TNT, and two full-time movie feature channels, 24/7. The hurricane Katrina has been terribly disturbing, all that CNN was covering. But that was the only real negative of the entire cruise. All the pre-cruise opinions that weve read, all the negative and positive press that the ship and NCL has received, all havent matched the wonderful positive experience that we have had. Example: The toilet seat was brokencalled and reported itand it was fixed by the next day. We were contacted several times to make sure it had been fixed satisfactorily. Wonderful response by the crew. Also, the entire crew and staff whom we have met to date have been very, very friendly, helpful and forthcoming. They appear to be very courteous and helpful to each other, too, a result of good training. Maybe those who elicited the negative previous comments have left the ship (or just possibly those who expected bad stuff to happen left the ship). Our stateroom was fantastic, for a standard balcony room. What made it good was the fact that it was a handicap-accessible room, which had 50% larger space in both the room and the balcony. Two of these rooms took the space of three regular ones. The bathrooms particularly were great, since they had to be wheelchair-accessible. The shower was large, and there was plenty of space even for two people to maneuver in the room. The only downside of this room was that the shower had a narrow 4" grille (perforated sheet of metal) in the floor on the two open sides, to catch the water that didnt make it down the central drain; at one point I took a shower while under way and water made it across these grilles, washing across the floor to the other wall. I spent a few minutes on my knees using a bath towel as a wide squeegee moving that water back to the drains. That really worked well and quickly; however, I learned to take the shower either in port or with the wind on the port side. Apparently the starboard wind was just enough to give us a couple of degrees heel to port, which we did not detect at the time. Although floor space was larger than normal, there was the same amount of storage and features as other rooms. Storage was more than we could use. The bed had space enough underneath to stow the suitcases, and could have taken twice as many as our two full-size cases. There was a double-door closet with an automatic light when you open the door on the right; there were several drawers in two places, plus several available shelves. Very nice woodwork, too; a warm red cherry. The room had a small refrigerator, a 4-cup coffee maker (which will make two 12-oz cups of either coffee or hot water for tea or a french press), and an electronic safe into which you put a 4-digit password and it will close and open electronically, very easy and quick to use (easy to reset or clear, too). There were a number of nicely shaped wooden hangers in the closet, which would take shirts/jackets, pants, and skirts or shorts. We had a couple of drawers left empty after stowing our stuff from two suitcases plus a carryon. Not many electrical outlets, though. There was a duplex outlet at the desk area/hair dryer next to the TV, and one at the coffee maker; however, in the bathroom there was a strange European outlet that was marked both 110 and 220v, but no one here in the US ever uses anything that will fit it. Sunday, August 28. Awoke 3 am, 6 our time, watched the slow passing of white foam in the bow wave from our warm, slightly breezy balcony. Almost no discernible movement; no roll or pitch, though the sea was slightly ruffled from our viewpoint. The ships navigation channel showed 3-4 seas. We enjoyed the very smooth gliding through the morning, watching the sun start to lighten the sky behind slowly-appearing low clouds on the horizon. Sunrise was spectacular, gold, orange and rose. I made coffee in french press for enjoying on the balcony, and this experience was every bit what we had hoped in anticipation. Ordering the french press, packing it carefully in suitcase within bubble wrap inside its original box, handling the considerable mess of grinding beans, then cleaning press, all was absolutely worth the effort. I enjoyed doing it for my lovely bride anyway. Weve wished once or twice that we had a ceiling fan in the room (were used to them), though the temp control has been very good, and the A/C keeps the air cool and dry. We made a dinner reservation in the Little Italy restaurant for Friday evening, 9 PM, the last night onboard. Decided not to make any others, since the food weve experienced is excellent and probably not worth going to the surcharge restaurants. This is definitely a food cruise, as weve been warned. We actually had three meals before noonbreakfast at Aloha Cafe quite early, then made the mistake of walking through it again in mid-morning and the sights and scents grabbed us again for a second meal, then ate (very lightlya couple eggs for me, fruit for Norita) at the Cadillac Diner. Then, of course, back to the room for a nap. Man, did that feel good! The duvets are much more wonderful than we thought they would bedeep but light comforter, like a thick down pillow, covered in a white cotton slipcase. The first night we had two single duvets on our queen bed, but then our room steward changed them to a large queen size one. I liked the two singles better. Great to cover, wrap up in, generally be coddled and swaddled in. Sucks you right into deep sleep. Got up to walk off the ship and down some waterfront neighborhood streets in Hilo. Interesting houses, streets, green vegetation covering trees, poles, bushes, like an infestation of greenery. Huge leaves on some plants. We had a good view of the ship from those old homes on the waterfront, so took some pictures of the ship and the old neighborhood. We only walked for maybe an hour off the ship, but that was plenty for the day without transportation. Found that the disembarkation drill was one swipe of the cruise card, but embarkation was three separate checks of both picture ID and the cruise card. This is to be the normal routine in every port. When we returned to the ship we stopped for coffee in the Aloha Cafea great spot for this, since they have the super coffee makers, any kind of snack youd like with coffee, and both indoor and outdoor seating. Picked up our embarkation pictures, shown in display racks in the photo gallery (pick them out yourself, pay at the desk). Back to our stateroom. Sometime later, maybe an hour or so, we realized we did not have the camera! Retrace mentallyNorita suggested we ask at Reception instead of trying to actually physically retrace our steps, and sure enough, there it was! Katy, a worker in the Aloha Cafe, had found and turned it in. Since then weve tried to catch up with her at least three times to thank her but havent found her yet. Wanted to both thank her and give her a small reward. Never caught up with her, though we left plenty of word for her. Took a second nap. All that eating is hard work! Actually, walking around the ship gives you plenty of exercise too, since the ship is three laps to a mile, and were quite a way forward on port side with most restaurants entering on starboard way aft. Also they are on decks 5, 6, and 11, and we are on 9. We do use the staircases regularly. Got dressed for dinner at Liberty restaurant. On the way we had pictures taken in Capitol Atrium, since I had made sure to remove all traces of spinach from my teeth, and at this point my pants still fit. Very short wait in line at Liberty, maybe 5 minutes. No reservations, but no wait either. The whole experience here was superb. The food preparation was excellent, as was the service. It is a beautiful restaurant, very colorful, well-decorated, comfortable, plenty of room, and arriving at your table just "feels" good. The wait staff was unbelievable! Each person was polite, helpful, well-trained, attentive and prompt beyond anything I have ever experienced. And when you are finished, you get up and leave without signing a charge card or even waiting for a waitperson to recognize you and bring the bill. We were supposed to cruise in the evening in a loop past Kilauea volcano lava flowing into the ocean; however, a "minor technical glitch" wouldnt allow us to sail fast enough to do that and then make it to Kahului by morning, so we just went direct. Makes you wonder if one of the propellers is about to fall off! Or maybe it was just the cost of the extra fuel, I dont know; however, I was not about to get my nose out of joint over a few minutes worth of glowing lava, as much as Id like to see it. Monday, August 29. Woke at 5 am, clear, calmgreat sunrise. Picked up pilot boat before dawn off Kahului harbor. This was a tiny powerboat that carried a crew of one plus the pilot, who came alongside and had to make a tricky move to jump aboard the ship. We were going slowly, but even at that the bow wave made it interesting for such a small boat. As we came into the harbor, we of course recognized many, many landmarks of our favorite island and could easily orient ourselves. A sight weve never seen before. We were watching bridge cam while entering, too. Haleakala is clearcan see traffic coming downhill from Pukalani; clouds over Hana Highwaygood sunrise pictures. Charging batteries for camera on and off, since I neglected to recharge them last night. We arrived in Kahului at 6:28 am. We wandered the ship in the morning, checking out things that were happening. In one of the spotsI think it was the Mardi Gras Disco, bright purple and gold, a dance class was going on with loud music. We stood and watched it a bit; then as we left, we ran into the ships captain, Captain Kjell Nesheim. He asked us what was going on in there. Very friendly guychatted with him a few minutes. We had seen him once in the library, a beautifully designed and outfitted cherry-wood large complex room with several wings and freestanding cases, each with framed glass doors and full of brand-new books of all kinds. Quite a wide selection. Shuttle to Thrifty about 10 am; rented Chrysler convertible. Really too hot for top down some of the time, but we did go up to Pukalani and Kula, where it was more successful. Drove to Kihei, saw Maui Sunset (our condo), Hilo Hattie, Wailea Beach, many other beaches, down to old church, etc. Parked car overnight in lot close to ship; free, but overcrowded so we had to use an overflow lot a couple hundred yards farther down road. We looked at yet 4 more photographs but decided not to buy them. We ate at Skyline restaurant; quite good, though my strip steak was very rare instead of the medium rare that I ordered; also a bit tough. Service was still good, but nothing like that we had yesterday at the Liberty. Its possible that since we were there earlier, the Liberty staff could handle us better. However, the training of staff was clearly different, plus our two-person table was much better situated in Liberty than those in Skyline. Our cabin steward, Shirley, was back for new towels (twice in one day!) plus turndown and chocolates on pillows later. The maids wear a "formal" outfit for evening work. They are working constantly, it appears. Tuesday, August 30. Took car to Wailuku Heights in early morning to photograph ship. Got gas, then over to the Maui Mall for one of our favorites, Guri-guri (same as everwonderful!). That is a unique sherbet/ice cream concoction made by Mr. Tanaka. The Guri-guri shop is at the west end of the mall, if you are looking for it. Ask for 5-scoop, both flavors. One is a pineapple, the other guava. Five scoops fit in a cup of about 12 ounces, sell for $2. What a treat! We would NEVER think of going to Maui without getting some Guri-guri. The recipe is secret, but it sure seems to be a combination of sherbet and ice cream. He used to have an option for sweet beans as an addition, but discontinued that 15 years ago. Then we returned car to Thrifty lot. Thrifty car shuttle driver, a fat Hawaiian gal, was on phone during entire trip back to ship. Weve seen this before, with salespeople in Sears. Shirley, again, about 10 am, with another helper, to clean. Dressed for Hawaiian formal portraitsfollowed by dinner at Skyline. A late-returning passenger held up departure for an hour; we all watched him running the length of the pier just before we shoved off. Everyone was on board by now, plus dressed for the pictures, so everyone got to the restaurants early too. That meant it took the better part of an hour to get into a restaurant. We had been told at Reception that they did not take reservations at either the Skyline or the Libertyturned out to be false, there was a reservation list. And then, after waiting through a bunch of people, we found they had missed our name on the walkup sign-up list so we got in even later. Dinner and service was down a notch from the last time there. Had lattes on deck at Aloha Cafe afterward., watching the ship leave Kahului. Actually we watched the ship leave the dock and harbor much earlier, but also watched the lights later after dinner with lattes on deck. Route was a bit different from anticipatedwe swung west and south around Lanai rather than between Lanai and Maui. Wednesday, August 31. Arrived early in Konaanchored at 5:31 am. We were already up and drinking coffee on balcony, what a luxury. Tenders left starting at 7 am with up to 107 passengers each; there were four in use. Plenty of tenders at this rate. We went into town, walked around, had shave ice (more like a snowcone, though they used the rotary ice shaver machine), took pix, came back onto ship before noon with only 12 on our boat. Our balcony faces the land, so its quite interesting. Snoozed again in early afternoon. Today there is a chocoholics buffet in the Skyline restaurant at 2:30. All the items were beautifully preparedchocolate mousse, chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate ice cream sundaesdozens of varieties, and lots of it. There were several large ice sculptures done for that event, swans, fish, etc. There were also some chocolate sculptures and structures as decoration. There were several lines of people snaking through the buffet serving area, so it didnt take too long to go through. We survived it, mainly by bringing a plateful back to room instead of trying to pork it all down at once. Porked it down later. Again, when we were ready to leave, the last tender waited for a late passenger for an hour; we had already weighed anchor, turned the ship, an extra tender used for checking on the one waiting at the pier. Then we finally left without the passenger. No ones fault but his own, and I dont feel a bit sorry. We picked up the last tender on the run, leaving harbor. For dinner, we thought about the Liberty restaurant but decided on the Aloha Cafe buffet instead. This is generally more successful, first because of the wide selection of different dishes, second because there is no wait time anywhere during the meal, and third if you are disappointed in a dish you just go get something else. And generally many of the dishes are every bit as good as the other restaurants. We tried pizza, hamburger patty, lighter fare. Lines at the buffet are nearly nonexistent, even for the individual morning omelet or carved meats. There are many buffet stations inside (three main ones with food both sides, one salads and fruits, one desserts, one milks, cereals, yogurts, etc.; plus separate ones for burgers, hot dogs, pizza, several coffee, milk and drink stations, and an ice cream machine). There is a separate well-equipped area for kids, with a buffet counter and furniture sized to small people; this area had hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, mac-n-cheese, milk, and other kids favorites such as big chocolate-chip cookies. Not too separated, though, so families can still eat together. The kids area also is right next to the ice cream machine, for some reason! Then there are many stations outside too, almost as many as those inside, with all the possibilities except that outside the omelet stations replace the ice cream machine inside. So if you are hungry for long at the Aloha Cafe, you are just lost! In the evening we went to the Hollywood Theater for a juggler plus Rebecca Lowe, a singer. Very good, both of them. The theater is really a fine onecomfortable, large seats with plenty of passing room between rows. No bad sight lines, either. As usual on this ship, there is a great amount of ornate decoration. There are a number of 12-foot gold statues similar to the Oscar at the entries and along the walls. Thursday, September 1 The cruise to Kauai is direct from Kona instead of scenic cruising on the way to see the Na Pali Coast. Instead, we will leave Kauai at 2 PM tomorrow, cruising the Na Pali coast in the afternoon on the way to Honolulu. We arrived in Nawiliwili Harbor at 7 am. Decided to go get the Thrifty car early; picked it up at 9 instead of noon. We had decided to change car from convertible to a Jeep Wrangler, but none available so we took a Jeep Grand Cherokee. A good choice, though the V6 was gutless compared to our Hemi. With the rain we encountered, neither a convertible nor a Wrangler would have been the best. Drove north, through Kapaa, through Princeville, down through Hanalei, to end of road at Haena park. It rained off and on, fairly hard going north at first, spotty later. Had espresso and latte at Lapperts in Princeville shopping mall: big on prices, small on flavor and value. But it was coffee, and we needed it; at that time of the day it was getting a bit dozey. By the time we got back to Lihue it was pretty clear, just scattered clouds. Decided not to keep the car overnight, though the ship wasnt to leave port until 2 tomorrow afternoon. Returned car; forgot to get gas first, and they wanted to charge me $43 to fill, at $3.99 a gallon and I assume they estimated an entirely full tank. We drove off to hunt for a hard-to-find station, at $3.06, only about 7 gallons; total $23. Back to ship on shuttle by 1:30-2 PM. That was plenty of land for this trip in both islands, especially Kauai. Nawiliwili Harbor is very tight, even more so than Hilo, Kahului or Honolulu. The ship was required to turn in its own length much of the time, rather than turning as it proceeded. Maneuvering the 920-foot ship in that space was a slow, careful dance between tugboats, ship power, and bow and stern side thrusters. Those thrusters were really the motive force for the maneuvers in all the ports; the tugs were there mostly as insurance. Went to a Polynesian show at Hollywood Theater in the evening to see the Tahiti dance troupe, which performs in luaus in the islands; I recall seeing them advertised on Maui. Friday, September 2 Last night we got letter to have our luggage OUTSIDE the room door by 1:00 AM Saturday morning, with special brown tags attached. This is because our flight from Honolulu is before 2 PM, an apparent cutoff time. We tried to get an appointment for Norita at the Santa Fe Spa for a pedicure (her first professional one) and change of nail color, something she had looked forward to; but there were no openings. She did get on a waiting list in case of a cancellation, but its not likely with the 50% fee for canceling within 24 hours. So it appears she will have to put up with ripped sheets for a while yet. Fairly light breakfast at Aloha Cafe. Fruit, cereal, only small amount of sausage, bacon, three eggs over easy, and oh yeah a blueberry pancake with pineapple/cherry topping. Juice and a latte. Just like home. (Norita: "Oh yeah???") The plates in the buffet, by the way, are not the usual round ones. They are large ovals, which accommodate probably twice as much as a normal dinner plate. Once we saw what must have been a good ole boy from the land o grits, who had one of these buffet plates mounded high and large with just grits and nothing else. A sight to behold. Photographs are taken by the ships photographers constantly, it seems. We had the one taken just before boarding: $12.99 for a 5 x 7. Then each day there have been some photographers in the main atrium from 5 to 10; those are 8 x 10: $19.99. One with blue background. One with a green screen and substituted backgrounds. One with green stripes. One on the white balustrade/red carpet staircase. One on formal night. One for each of the ship-sponsored shore excursions. You could break the bank just on photos. Then the day after each one, the photos are set up in wall display racks, a very large space along the passageway to one of the restaurants, all sorted into sections for each of the photo opportunities; you open the case, pick up your photos, take them to counter to buy them on the ship credit card. We got just two, the first one plus the formal night (Hawaiian formal). Our Cruise Director said that one woman came up to him when he told them where to find their pictures, and said, "How will I know which one is mine?" Ba-da-boom. We left the pier at Nawiliwili at 2 PM. This allowed daytime cruising along the north shore of Kauai and the Na Pali coastline. We swung in fairly close to shore, filling the camera lens without a telephoto. What a spectacle; took lots of pictures, since this is probably the only chance well have to see this. The coast itself is accessible only by air or boat along this wild coastline with heavy seas. It is also possible to hike at least portions of a trail along the coast, but in some places the trail must go across waterfalls and climb high to bypass vertical cliffs with no ledges or beaches at bottom. Its debatable whether one can really hike the full coastline. Late in the day, we could see Niihau island along with its northern island, Lehua; but before we were close enough to see details, it was dark. We ate dinner at Little Italy restaurant. Not very impressed with it, I have to say. The waiters, though enthusiastic, were obviously new at the job. I had chicken on pasta, which was pretty good but not superb; but I ordered a glass of Ulupalakua Red wine--I've had this before from the Maui winery and enjoyed it--which I could have sworn was two-buck-chuck, the two-dollar Merlot from Trader Joe's. And it was fully room temperature, too, rather than slightly cooled. I would have sent it back except that I felt sorry for the obviously over-their-heads young waiters. But if that's all I have to gripe about, the world is a pretty good place. Saturday, September 3 We decided to do the Express Disembarkation. So instead of packing in the evening, leaving luggage outside the door by 1 am, then finding the luggage on the pier in the morning to move onto the bus and take into the airport, we just packed the next morning and carried it with us. The wheeled pull-cases are great; one apiece worked just fine. The Express people were first off, so we didnt have to disembark by groups as designated by our luggage groupings. Took the bags straight to the bus; checked in as usual at airport. Even that check-in was a piece of cake; self-check-in at the United counter gave us all boarding passes for both flights home, plus took our luggage. If possible, I would always choose the Express Disembarkation. Very efficient, just as we found nearly all processes on board. Everything that was purchased on board was charged to ones shipboard account via the ship ID/credit card. Same card was used when we left and returned at each port, so the ship always kept track of who may not have returned to the ship on time. We had some time to wait in the Honolulu airport, which is not too bad. Plenty of open air space, plus shops and seating. We knew United Airlines was not going to provide a meal on this flightwould sell us a meal for $5 eachso we bought a BK Whopper and a BK Chicken sandwich to take onboard later; we shared one sandwich in the airport to stave off hunger. On board the plane, the couple in front of us laid back their seatbacks upon takeoff and did not raise them until we hit LA. They had the right to do this, but it was rude to never ever raise them, since we had no space even to reach down to your shoe or purse. Tight seating, so it was not a comfortable flight. In LA, however, there was no wait; they were waiting for us and we with another couple from the ship were last aboard; and the smaller plane had plenty of room for this shorter flight. One hour flight time to Tucson, arriving 11:41 PM. The airport was very quiet, with few travelers. Immediate bag retrieval, shuttle trip, into car and drove home, arriving there at 12:30 am. It was a beautiful, warm and dry summer night in Tucson, 86 degrees, with saguaros to welcome us home. Maggie came home in the morning, flopped down and rested all day. We had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Geez, from all the negativity you'd think the Pride of America was doomed! I was very skeptical, thank to everyone's reviews, prior to getting on the ship. While some of the concerns were true, I feel some balance needs to be ... Read More
Geez, from all the negativity you'd think the Pride of America was doomed! I was very skeptical, thank to everyone's reviews, prior to getting on the ship. While some of the concerns were true, I feel some balance needs to be voiced. We just arrived home yesterday. We did NOT book our flight through NCL because we decided we'd prefer to travel direct from Chicago. No problems with that. I must say, though, that in anticipation of our trip, the "customer service" that NCL offered was very poor. Mainly because they operate on Hawaii time, which, in the Midwest, is difficult to manage. If there was a 24-hour customer service line, it was kept a secret from us. This was our 5th cruise. We've cruised Carnival 3 times, and Celebrity (truly our favorite) once. What we have learned is that you have to make your own fun, and take certain things in stride. We anticipated a lower service level once we learned it was an all-American crew. Sorry, but Americans are just not as service-oriented as are international crews. The crew here was, for the most part young, and not used to working 7-days a week. Many seemed dour-faced and unhappy. We didn't like the casualness of the "Americanized" experience. Got sick of the "Howdys" and "Hey Guys" greetings. I think it downgraded the ship experience, personally. Though the housekeeping staff in our case was terrific, our complaints were mostly with the bartenders (slow, inattentive) and a couple of wait staff in the main dining rooms. In many cases, they did not know what they were serving, had not tried the food, nor could they offer suggestions at dinner. We asked a deck waiter what the drink of the day was and his response, "Hmmn, good question!" To us, that's just inexplicably bad training on someone's part. The ship is beautifully decorated, especially the restaurants and the Napa Wine Bar. We decided not to get into the reservations game, and ate in the Liberty or Skyline all but one evening, and we were not disappointed! The food was wonderful in all cases, and never did we spend more than an hour dining. It just didn't make sense to us to spend up to $25.00 more per person to eat at a specialty restaurant. As you can tell, we were not at all fans of the Freestyle dining. Our reasons? The expense, the stress of having to wait in line in hopes of getting the time/night you want. Phooey! We can do that at home. No thanks! Besides that, we really missed the camaraderie from past cruises when you're assigned to the same table at the same time every night. That was always the highlight of our day, and we've met the most wonderful people doing so. With freestyle dining, you're on your own, and we never really got to know anyone new. We opted for an inside room on this cruise, only because we knew we wouldn't be in our room much, and we used the savings to spend on shore excursions, etc. Glad we did. We've had balconies in the past, but did not at all regret our decision. Our room was small, but adequate. I just don't understand why people seem to think that rooms should be large on a cruise ship! It's not the Love Boat! Deal with it! This isn't a party ship. Entertainment can't compare with Carnival, there's not a lot to do at night, but that was okay with us, as we were raring to go each morning. Excursions (zipline, hiking, snorkeling)were terrific though expensive, but everything was. Everyone has their opinions, but in our minds, we were in Hawaii for 7 days for goodness sake! How bad could it really be??!! We loved it! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise and I made notes so that I could pass on a few tips that might be of help. Let me first say that we thought it was a very good vacation. It's an excellent way to see the islands. If, however, someone has cruised before, they will be somewhat disappointed with the ship and its service but it won't spoil your vacation. The ship is lovely - not classic or elegant - but still nicely done. We thought it might be gaudy but it wasn't. The cabins are small -- just enough room to walk around the bottom of the bed to get into the smallish bathroom. There is far less storage space, especially the closet which contains twenty hangers in one hanging space plus a couple of shelves. There are four drawers in the room - two medium, two small. We managed however - there were still empty shelves after we unpacked. Each room has a mini-frig that is empty. It would probably hold a six-pack of sodas. Avoid rooms with connecting doors - the walls are thin anyway but the doors make it even easier to hear what's going on in the next cabin. The balcony was great and helped alleviate the small size of the cabin. The food is generally tasty but the choices didn't blow us away. You get the best food in the specialty restaurants but then you pay for it too. Our cabin steward was good but we heard others who had very poor service. If you're not satisfied, complain immediately and keep complaining until something is fixed otherwise you will have no basis for asking that the $10/day/person you are charged for tips be lowered. Some tips: - If you intend to eat in either Jefferson's Bistro (continental cuisine) or East Meets West (Asian) which are two of the specialty restaurants and which charge $10/pp additional, do it on the first night when we heard they have a 2 for 1 special (only charge for one person). We never saw this advertised but were told it was in print somewhere. Make your reservation as soon as you board the ship. We ate in both restaurants and liked them both. The presentation in the Asian one is exceptional. - If you like sushi, make a reservation to eat at the sushi bar in East Meets West - sitting at the sushi counter, you pay $5 for all the sushi you can eat and it's prepared right in front of you. (We're not sushi fans. We ate at a regular table and chose items off the menu.) - There is a nice shore excursion on Maui that goes to an aquarium. The tour also included going to the Iao Valley, the Maui Tropical Plantation where you were served lunch after a tram tour of the various plantings and then to the aquarium. The aquarium was exceptionally well done. If you go, don't get the $2 handheld guide where you punch in numbers for additional info. It's heavy and there are lots of signs to tell you plenty. You don't really have enough time to listen to all that info anyway if you want to see the whole place and some of the best stuff is at the end of the loop you take - the 3/4 million gallon walk-through aquarium. - If you signed up for your shore excursions on the internet and haven't received a confirmation in a week or two, call immediately. It may mean you aren't signed up. We had this happen and when we called, we were told that there was nothing reserved for us. They took our reservations over the phone then. One couple did not realize they hadn't gotten a confirmation and got on the ship only to find they had no shore excursions. - Read the dress requirements for the tours you choose. If it says "closed toe shoes" or something like that, they mean it and will not let you go. This pretty much applies to some of the more athletic tours such as biking down the volcano. - Don't bring a travel iron or alcohol in your suitcase. They will be confiscated until the end of the cruise. They scan all luggage. - There are free shuttles to Hilo Hattie's, Wal-Mart, etc. in many ports. When you dock in Kauai for two days, there is a free shuttle every ten minutes to a shopping mall called Anchor Cove less than a mile away. My husband walked to it. If you're not doing an excursion or have free time, get beach towels and take the shuttle. Walk through the small mall, cross the little bridge to your left and you will find a gorgeous beach behind the Kauai Marriott. The beach is rimmed with white sand and the sand is rimmed with an immaculate lawn. You can park your towels anywhere on the sand or lawn - just don't use the beach lounges set out by the Marriott. There is plenty of shade and it's not crowded. Going farther down near the end is even less crowded. There are beach chair rentals for $3/hour just before you reach the Marriott pool. There is a grill at the Marriott pool if you are hungry, want a drink, etc. It was the most relaxing afternoon we had. And, be sure to take a key from the basket that the shuttle driver holds out. The key may open the treasure chest in the Maui Divers Jewelry store where you get off the shuttle. If so, you get to pick an oyster out of the tub. They contain a pearl or even two. Don't bother to have it mounted there - it's probably more pricey than anything you could get back home. - If you are flying in on your own or arriving a few days early, don't bother to arrive at the port before noon or 12:30 PM. They don't check anyone in before that. - The cabins are not ready until 2 or 3. Lunch is served in several places when you board and you can check your carry-on luggage until your room is ready. Just pack a swimsuit in your carry-on, change in a restroom, get a tropical drink and enjoy the pool until your cabin is ready! The large fire doors to the hallways will be opened on each floor when those cabins are available. - We recommend using the upper dining room (Liberty Restaurant). The service seemed better there. One waiter said the "new" waiters start downstairs and are promoted upstairs to the Liberty. Another said that wasn't true. We're not sure but we did find the service better upstairs. If you find a waiter you like, ask to be seated in their section in the following days. Service does vary a lot. If you want to make the early show in the showroom, be sure to tell the waiter because we missed a couple due to slow service. - Lobster night was Thursday night on our cruise. There was a handout the first night listing what happened on each night. We ate in the buffet that night because they served lobster up there too. In addition, the buffet also had rack of lamb and cold prawns and those were NOT served downstairs in the main restaurants! To be fair, the lobster in the buffet was all claws - huge claws, already cracked, and it was very good. All you could eat, of course. The tails were downstairs but I heard complaints that they were not very good. Someone who claimed to be knowledgeable said the tails were from a different type of lobster than the claws upstairs. I don't really know if that was true or not. - Our schedule was different than advertised. We did not get to see the lava flowing at night. The rumor was that the ship was not operating at full speed so we didn't have time -- just a rumor. Who knows but we didn't get to see it anyway. We did pass the Na Pali Coast in the very late afternoon when the sun was just going down and shining directly on it and that was gorgeous. - There are two breakfast buffets upstairs. One inside as you would expect and a second on the very back of the ship outside but covered by a giant awning - just turn right as you enter the Aloha Cafe. This is a wonderful place to eat breakfast. There are two omelet stations and they will even make egg white omelets, fried eggs, or any eggs to order. - You will be charged $10/day/pp for tips. These tips are not divided between the bartenders and bar waiters so please tip them separately. If you have any problems, complain promptly so that you have justification for "adjusting" your tips at the end of the cruise. - There are several Hawaiian crafts sessions. One is ribbon lei making which was fun and easy, another was Hawaiian money folding and there was also another lei making session where they used shells and nuts. Not very many people attended so it was easy to get instruction. The Hawaiian guy who leads these is very funny. - No casino, no bingo! (But yes, they have those awful art auctions.) I'd be happy to answer questions. Just write. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
My husband, daughter (22), and I left on this cruise on September 17th from San Francisco, CA, full of trepidation because of the reviews we had been reading on this site. We were so pleasantly surprised that our experience was quite the ... Read More
My husband, daughter (22), and I left on this cruise on September 17th from San Francisco, CA, full of trepidation because of the reviews we had been reading on this site. We were so pleasantly surprised that our experience was quite the opposite. The embarkation went very well. The wait was reasonable, only 15 minutes. As we arrived late (4 pm) our cabin was ready. When we walked up to our cabin on deck 10, we were met by our steward, Andrzej. He warmly welcomed us and this set the tone for the entire cruise. Our cabin was clean and we felt very pampered by Andrzej. He worked so hard, cleaned the room every morning, in the evening he made up the sofa bed, turned down our bed (with a chocolate on the pillow) and cleaned again. We were very lucky to have him. We even got the beautiful towel swan for us and an elephant for my daughter. Very creative. The cabin was small but fit us three comfortably with plenty of storage (put your luggage under the bed). We did not get a top sheet either but that did not bother us because the comforter is covered and the covers are changed. Shower water was warm almost immediately after it was turned on. Shower stall was very compact, such that I had to turn off the water to lather up, but hey, maybe that's a good conservation effort! We ate mostly at the Liberty and Skyline restaurants for dinner and a few lunches, the Aloha Buffet for breakfast and other lunches when we were on board. The food was not spectacular but good. The service, at all but the last evening at the Skyline, was very good. There are a few terrific servers and I would suggest that when you find one, book his/her table for the duration. For most dinners, we walked right in, usually at 6 pm. Longest wait at Skyline was one night for 45 mins (they paged us at the planned 35 min mark but we didn't receive the page...pager was supposed to work throughout the ship and we were only up one deck in the John Adams bar. Our only specialty restaurant experience was at the East Meets West Teppanyaki. Our chef was very entertaining and meal was outstanding. The servers were all great, the only unhappy person seemed to be the hostess (she seemed a little flustered). The juggler, comedian, and the Hawaiian show were terrific. The production shows were amateurish, but the main three singers had wonderful voices. The choreography and dancing were mediocre. The main pools were small. Inadequate for a ship this size. We enjoyed the pool at the aft, below the Waikiki Bar. It was never crowded as the main pool area was. One complaint is that there are plenty of servers walking around, you had to either trip them or yell at them to get any service for drinks. This would be in the pool area and theater. They walk so quickly by you and they don't make eye contact. I also found the bartenders at the pool area are not very friendly either. We were so lucky, we saw the lava flow off the Big Island and sunset at Napali Coast. Both were breathtaking and since the ship was in good shape we were able to see all. We also had pineapples at every meal (at the Aloha Buffet). I know this did not happen on every cruise but I feel that NCLA is trying to address issues we bring up. My husband and daughter went on the Capt Zodiac Raft & Snorkeling trip to Kealakekua Bay, 14 mi south of Kona. It was a spectacular marine reserve accessible only by boat. The boat crew was extremely knowledgeable and funny. The captain had the expert ability to snuggle the boat into several sea caves that were only wide and high enough for the boat. Also saw lava tubes and LOTS of spinner dolphins. We went on one other excursion, the Hawaii in Movies tour on Kauai. Again, the driver and guide were extremely knowledgeable and funny. They took us to places we could have never found by car. The debarkation went well. Since we were staying a few extra days in a Waikiki hotel, we took our time and were one of the last ones to leave. The Pride of America is absolutely beautiful! We were proud to be passengers on her. We also met some wonderful cruisers and hope to keep in touch with them. The cruise was not perfect but the most important things went well. The others were minor. We would definitely cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We enjoyed the sail on Pride of America - the ship is beautiful and spotless. The 7 day Hawaii tour is busy because there are NO 'days at sea'; you arrive in a new port every morning. We had no infrastructure problems such as ... Read More
We enjoyed the sail on Pride of America - the ship is beautiful and spotless. The 7 day Hawaii tour is busy because there are NO 'days at sea'; you arrive in a new port every morning. We had no infrastructure problems such as what we've been reading has occurred with engine failures, and plumbing. The specialty restaurants are worth the upcharge and provide excellent service. The food in the main dining rooms, which are beautiful, is good but we preferred Jefferson Bistro, East Meets West and Lazy J. The cruise had no children on board, a few babies, and a mature crowd. It was a 'sleepy' crowd - not much action; no one in the discos; not a lot of 'partiers', but a seasoned crowd of travellers determined to make the most of each port stop. Service was very mixed. We had excellent servers in some areas, and some very inexperienced staff in Napa Wine Bar and Pink's Champagne. Some staff with attitude as well and some I would say were totally depressed. Very mixed - you don't know what you will get with service; It was about 50/50 excellent to below average. Overall great scenic trip and activities - we did helicopter over Circle of Fire in Kilo, Captain Zodiac tour of Kona coastline and snorkeling, and cancelled our horseback riding in Kauai for a car rental after went spent a day in Maui in car rental. We covered both islands in full - if you continue past Road to Hana in Maui and go back side of island instead of turning around - the view is spectacular and will lead you to the island's winery - about a 6 hour drive total to see this half of the island. Loved Kauai - see the Canyon, we skipped Fern Grotto; see the Northshore. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may ... Read More
Picked up by bus from the hotel at 12:30 taken to the pier. Big line up that moved very fast. Flower lei for the ladies shell one for the guys. They gave us a little card asking us to enjoy lunch buffet in the Aloha cafe as our rooms may not be ready yet. We went had a nice lunch lots of selection walked around the ship and shortly an announcement was made that we could go to our rooms. We booked 8208 middle at the very back end of the ship. Our cabin steward Adam was there to greet us. My husband had arranged a birthday celebration package The room was all decorated in balloons and a banner and sign on the door as well as a huge chocolate cake. Our room was spotless. Nice size room for the two of us...the balcony was almost as big as the room. Lots of storage, tons of hangers, baskets, shelves inside the closet. Shower is compact. Some folks have complained about no top sheet on the bed that is true there isn't one however there is a big duvet. Four pillows we found the beds extremely comfy. Note the bed at the hilton didn't have a top sheet either also had the duvet. If you want a top sheet just ask. Lots of towels ice all the time. Good hair dryer. Our steward kept our room spotless all week. We tipped him extra as we thought he deserved it. Room service was fast and friendly. We booked all of our shore excursions thru NCL Our sailing had a different itinerary than previous sailings: Sunday Hilo Big Island took the Lava Hike adventure. Our guide was a local Hawaiian fellow who was fantastic sharing his knowledge of local folklore etc making jokes etc. The Volcano National Park is amazing. Even if you rent a car and just drive around you will be amazed. We didn't get to see red hot flowing lava other than the show you get when it flows into the ocean and you see all the steam etc. As previously mentioned by locals on this board a huge section is roped off due to the concern about the shelf etc. We walked about two and a half miles out and the wind shifted bringing the sulpher gases our way and we had to turn back. That said the lava you walk over was a once in a life time opportunity for us. Worth the trip. We did the sail past the lava at night a must see for lava nuts like us. Monday -- Kahului Maui took the Maui Downhill bike trip Out of this world the highlight of our trip. Our guide Matt was a really cool californian who has made Hawaii his home for the past fifteen years. We were taken to the base center and got our wind suits and helmets (like motor cycle style) The ride up to the top of Haleakala was about and hour and a half up a winding road up to the top of the summit some 10,000 feet above sea. We were up above the clouds at the lookout. I almost chickened out at this point. But I am so glad I didn't this was my 50th birthday and this was my challenge. Maui Downhill is the original bike downhill company. Your safety is their main priority. They out fit you on a bike that has disc brakes like a car. The van follows at the back of the group you can quit any time and ride the rest of the way. The first stop is a mandatory stop at the two mile mark. Once I did the first two miles I felt a lot better about the speed and handling of the bike. They do ask that nervous or less experienced go first behind Matt as your leader. You wind down 20 miles of some pretty amazing views. This was a thrill of a lifetime for us and if we ever get back to Hawaii we will be looking up Maui Downhill for another adventure. Luau at night we went to the NCL Luau they took over 800 people by bus. This moved very well. It was held at a hotel resort with the beach and sun set behind us. The buffet was okay moved quickly Show had dancers and singers etc. Having never been to any other luau hard to say how it compared. I did meet a couple on board who had gone to Germaines on Oahu and said the NCL one was far better. Tuesday Lahaina: Had to be tendered in. Very windy. Town of Lahaina is kind of like Key West lots of shops along the main street. We took the Best of West Maui trip, long day. Did the Iao Valley, Maui Tropical Plantation and the Ocean Center. Ocean center has an amazing viewing area where the tank almost totally surrounds you. If you take kids this is a must see. We had time when we got back to shop in Lahaina. Tender line was huge one of the ships officers was there as was the harbour master. The ships officer said it was due to the high waves. We heard later on the ship that some folks didn't get to go ashore at all due to the tenders being stopped because of the waves. We had no problem and the line took about half an hour. Wednesday Kona Took historic Kona trip only 3 1/2 hours. gave us a look at the other side of the big island. Saw big sea turtles on the beach at the Refuge. Thursday Nawiliwili Kauai Another long day took Waimea canyon, Wailua river and fern grotto. Canyon is a must see even thou we have seen the grand canyon this canyon is worth seeing. I was disappointed in the grotto. It is currently being rejuvenated and there is construction and repair going on. Yellow keep out construction tape, construction garbage and noisy machinery took away from the natural beauty and scenery of the grotto. Friday at sea cruising Sail past the Napali Coast at 10:30 in the morning. Was foggy misty at first but then cleared up it is beautiful and rugged. Later we sailed past the Niihau Coast as well. In the evening we sailed past Honolulu to see the night lights as well. The seas were very rough this evening. Restaurants: Liberty -- Linda was waitress and Larry was helper both very friendly and nice. Hubby had salmon and I had beef both tasty prepared just right and in and out in just over an hour. Lazy J -- terrific service from Danielle waitress Too bad shes was going home she was so much fun helper was Michael and he had just started. Hubby paid extra to have surf and turf he said it was great I had t bone steak cooked perfect and delicious. In and out in less than an hour. Cadillac Diner fun place had pork chops hubby had meat loaf both okay chops a little skinny but shakes were very good. Food reminded me of meals my mom made when I was a kid. Service was friendly and fast. Aloha cafe ate here a lot as we always wanted to be somewhere else food was good lots of selection. Shows Juggler was worth seeing. Cruise director was funny. South Seas Island Spectacular was excellent. Singer who narrates the show was a very good singer. I would have like a cd of him. Cruise director said he didn't have one. Crew in general were friendly and very helpful. We loved this trip it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. Think of the boat as your floating hotel. Go with an open and positive mind. Aloha. Sorry its so long. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. ... Read More
Hubby and I sailed 9/24 on POAm. I have to say, after reading so many negative reviews, I was a little concerned about taking this cruise, but I was so pleasantly surprised! I really thought I had read reviews about a different ship. Embarkation went smoothly, and lots of friendly faces to guide you, lei you, and take your photo. We arrived on the ship about 1:00p, and our bags were held for us until they made the announcement that the cabins were ready, around 2:30p. In the meantime, we headed to the Aloha Cafe for a tasty buffet. Our cabin was very clean. We unpacked and stored our luggage under the bed as recommended by other reviewers. Yes, it's compact but very efficient. Our cabin attendant was Rose, and she was a doll. We did tip her at first meeting and told her there would be more at the end of the cruise. She made up our cabin promptly every day, filled the ice bucket, turned down the beds in the evening with chocolates on our pillows, and quickly replaced towels. I have no complaints about the cleanliness anywhere on the ship. The food was tasty and plentiful. The desserts are wonderful! We ate 3 nights in the Liberty, and our waiters were Oscar and Alex, both very nice and eager to please. We ate in Lazy J's. There is a $15 charge for Lazy J's and an additional $10 (so $25pp) if you add lobster to your dinner. When we arrived at East Meet West for our reservation one evening, we found the hostess there to be rude and abrupt. I had on a dress and cute sandals, and my hubby was wearing pants, a collared shirt, and nice leather sandals. She turned us away and said he must wear closed-in shoes. I asked, what about me? She said, no, ladies can wear sandals. (Sounds like a double standard, if you ask me.) We left there and proceeded to the Aloha, where we enjoyed a nice dinner. On Sun morning, we arrived in Hilo. The view from the ship was spectacular!! I'll remember it for as long as I live. The tops of the green mountains were in the clouds, and a big bright rainbow went from one mountain to the other. It was so beautiful that it actually brought tears to my eyes. It was like looking at heaven on earth. The ship always had Hawaiian music playing, and it just added to the lovely view. In Hilo, we took the Volcanoes Nat'l Park excursion. It's an amazing place. Pack your walking shoes. We arrived in Maui on Monday and took the Atlantis submarine. It was fun but a bit overpriced. I saw a sign posted that said sub rides are $25. We paid $99 through the ship, but it also included our transportation, about a 45-min bus ride, and the driver was very informative and narrated the entire drive. On Mon eve, we went to the Paradise Luau, one of NCL's shore excursions. The luau was wonderful, and the food was good. It's held at a lovely place, on hotel grounds (can't remember the name of the hotel) in Maui, right on the beach as the sun sets. It is exclusively for NCL folks, no one else. You could see some of the people staying at the hotel out on their balconies, sneaking a peek and enjoying the entertainment from afar. In Kauai, on our own, we booked an island tour with Air Ventures Hawaii. It was $99 pp. Hubby is a big guy, and we weren't interested in paying the additional weight fee for a helicopter ride. The nice thing about the plane tour, it was just me, my hubby, and the pilot Jon, who was wonderful and narrated everything through our headsets. We did sail past the volcano at night, as stated in the itinerary. If you have binoculars, take them along. We used them for the viewing, and it helped a lot as it's quite a distance away. We sailed the Napali Coast one afternoon, and it was breathtaking. We had a balcony cabin, so we were able to enjoy it from there. Unfortunately, the cabin next door had smokers. They were out there morning, noon, and night, constantly smoking. That was the worst part of the trip, always smelling cigarettes instead of fresh ocean air from our balcony. The cruise director, Rich, was experienced and very entertaining. The shows were good. Yes, there are lots of young faces working this ship, but I found them all to be incredibly sweet and eager to please. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the wonderful coffee machines. You could chose from coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, all with the push of a button. For those who don't drink alcohol, this was a great alternative. In summary, this trip was absolutely fabulous! I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend it. Put on a smile and have a terrific time! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see ... Read More
Overall Hawaii was beautiful and the cruise was a great way to see all the islands in a week. Compared to other cruises, it was a little hectic waking up in a new port every morning vs. having some time at sea. Because we wanted to see as much as we could of the islands (vs. shopping in the ports), we had to start early. We did manage to see a lot on the islands where we had a rental car (Maui & Kauai) Hotel It was a good call to stay at the Marriott - Waikiki. Cab from the airport (if you don't have a package) was about $50 with tip. The only downside was that there are two towers and most of the action seemed to be in the other tower which is a little bit of a walk to get to. However, the NCL office was right in the lobby of our tower. They let us do the check in process before 8pm the night before or 7am-9am day of cruise and then all you have to do is go to a separate key pickup line at the port terminal because your security picture and paperwork are already taken care of. Lines were not too long at the hotel on Sat morning when I did this. They collected our bags at 8am from the room and took care of getting them to the ship, so we were free to do whatever we wanted during the day and either take the shuttle to the port or a taxi. Suite 10024 The room was great. Quiet area. Large balcony, flat screen TV with DVD/CD player and plenty of room to spread out. Once we figured out who to call for various services, we were all set. We had good service in the room and got to know the staff, including the concierge who gave us some great tips on where to go on the islands and made some reservations in Kauai for us. Although it was not published, we got a lot of special treatment in the suite. We had priority boarding if we didn't use the hotel services. Our Concierge offered to book our shore excursions if we got him the information the night we got on the ship. We got VIP tender and disembarkation tickets so we never had to wait in a line. Shore excursions These are hit or miss - the helicopter ride was great, the zipline on Maui was overpriced and after that experience I canceled what we had planned on Kauai in favor of seeing things ourselves in a rental car. We did book the captain zodiac raft/snorkeling tour in Kona which was one of the better excursions and reasonably priced compared to the others. We found that many of the excursions were still available when we first got on the ship. Rental cars were easy to do in all the ports with free shuttles and most airport pick up locations close by. Dining I heard a lot of complaints before and during the cruise about the freestyle dining and how hard it is to get reservations. We tended to be flexible if we couldn't get a reservation and often were able to get 'squeezed in' with a short wait while we went to a bar and had a drink. Scenic Cruising This was probably the biggest disappointment. The cruise by the volcano was in the evening. It was dark and you really couldn't see anything until the very end when we were just about to turn around. It was on the starboard side, but the boat turned around and went back the same way it came, giving the port side the same view. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but I think every port except one had us arriving with the port side facing shore and docked with the port side looking at the view and the starboard side looking at the containers and storage facilities. The trip past the Napali Coast (Kuaui) was beautiful but it was only available on the port side. We also left early (6am) from Kauai not to do more scenic cruising most of the day, as I thought, but to race back to Honolulu the night before the cruise was over to try and catch an 8pm fireworks show. The show got canceled, so it's hard for me to say if it would have been worth it - my vote would have been to spend more time cruising the coast of Kauai close in to shore. The boat got back to Honolulu sometime around 8pm the night before and actually just kept puttering around until morning before pulling in to port. Ship The ship still looks new and we thought it was very nice and clean, despite the problems we read about on some of the message boards. There were not propulsion problems or sewage smells anywhere we went. We did hear some other people complaining that their toilets were stopped up but we didn't experience any problems. Service from the American crew tended to be either really good or below average (they are clearly still weeding out some of the kids who thought it would be all fund and didn't know what they were getting into). Mostly we found it to be good. Entertainment Not the best cruise to take if you are looking for on-board entertainment. With an early arrival at each port every day and an older crowd, there wasn't much happening at the bars and the shows we did see were very average. Fitness Center They had a great fitness center which I used several mornings. Every treadmill has it's own flat panel TV with a remote control (although be careful because you can end up changing your neighbor's channel along with your own!). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest ... Read More
Booked our own air & hotel. Arrived in Honolulu the day before & stayed at Radisson in lovely 35th floor room w/mountainview. We arrived at pier around 12:45, after a 15-minute cab ride, & were on board shortly after 1. Suggest you join Latitude Club - they have separate check-in for members that moves very fast. Found our cabin, met our cabin steward Musa and his supervisor Marta. Left our carry-on bags and went to Skyline Restaurant for sit down lunch (there is also buffet lunch in Aloha Cafe). After lunch we familiarized ourselves with ship layout and went back to our cabin to find our luggage had been delivered. Unpacked - plenty of storage. Suggest packing all your toiletries in ziploc bags which can then be placed on shelf beneath sink area to keep bathroom neat. A folding multicompartment bag that can be hung on bathroom door hook was also handy for cosmetics, small toiletries, Q-tips, pills, etc. Room safe a must for jewelry, money, wallets, cameras, etc. Our cabin was kept clean in a timely fashion each day, towels left on floor replaced twice a day and bed turned down w/chocolates on pillows each evening (towel animal once). Just remember to use wheel outside cabin to let steward know to make up or turn down room or if you don't want to be disturbed. Musa did a superb job and we tipped him extra at end of the cruise. Also praised him on comment card. Our room was midship & we felt very little movement, but we often felt the ship rock when we were in main restaurants (aft) or theater or lounge (fore). We ate breakfast in both Skyline and Aloha, and used room service once for breakfast and were satisfied with all three. We preferred Skyline over Liberty for dinner - service seemed to be slightly better, but food was the same - average. We ate once in Little Italy, but not impressed with decor or food. No long waits at main restaurants. Production shows not as good as on other NCL cruises - perhaps because they're not produced by Jean Ann Rand. Comedian, singer & juggler were entertaining. Cruise director Rich Cleeson & his assistant Shona tried hard to keep passengers informed & entertained. Rich especially was tireless in his efforts. I'm not sure when or how much he slept. He was on the PA system first thing every morning and at events late each night. There was always something to do onboard even when the ship was in port - trivia, art auctions, demonstrations, lectures, games, etc. Or how about just relaxing by the pool, taking a nap, working out in the gym, or getting a massage (more about that later). Each island is different from the others and you'll have your favorites I'm sure. Our first stop was Hilo, Hawaii where we took a tour off the pier for half of what the ship charged (and we saw twice as much). Went to Volcano National Park, Mauna Loa Nut Factory, Orchid Center, Chocolate Factory & Hilo Hatties. Our guide Hector was fun & informative. Don't miss seeing VNP. Monday we went on ship tour to the Road to Hana in Kahuolui, Maui. Merle, our guide, filled our 9-hour day with lots of stories and made some stops other tour guides don't - great photo ops. Long, tiring but not-to-be-missed day. We tendered in Lahaina, Maui but we, along with about half the ship's passengers, never made it off due to high winds hampering the tenders. We enjoyed a nice relaxing day. On Wednesday we tendered in Kona, Hawaii without problems. I recommend the small sandy beach right near the pier. Most of the other beaches (not within walking distance either) were black sand or salt & pepper and not good for swimming or sunbathing. In Nawilwili, Kuaui we had hoped to go on the Hollywood in Hawaii tour, but it was sold out a month before our cruise so we opted for Waimea Canyon - no tours available at the pier, so you can only book for this port through the ship. We were not disappointed. Our tour guide was not the best, but the scenery was breathtaking. Friday was a sea day and we sailed along the coastline, saw the Forbidden Island, and once again had a relaxing, fun-filled day at sea. As you can see, each day was different. The great thing about cruises is you get to decide how busy you want to be. We got involved in Battle of the Sexes Trivia which met each day and was lots of fun (even if the guys did win in the end). It's a great way to meet other passengers. The Mardi Gras Lounge had various theme nights ('50s, Disco, Big Band) and late night comedy and game shows. We walked through the fitness center one morning and saw several people working out in what appeared to be a well-equipped state-of-the-art-facility. My one big negative is the Spa. In addition to the already high prices, a 15% service charge is tacked on (they made it very clear this was not a gratuity). When I asked what the service charge was for, the receptionist could not give me a reasonable answer, so I decided to skip the massage. Why don't they just raise the prices instead of adding a service charge - aren't you already paying for a service? I'm sure they are losing customers because of this idiotic pricing system. My other negative comment is location of photo gallery in corridor leading to Skyline Restaurant. It's ridiculous to have throngs of people standing about viewing pictures while others are trying to pass through. One suggestion would be to exchange location of Photo Gallery with Art Gallery off the reception area, near the stores. Equally inconvenient is location of Liberty Restaurant - it's only accessible in the evening from stairway area outside Skyline because the only other access is through Lazy J Restaurant. We enjoyed Pink's Champagne Bar even though cigar smoking is allowed because our fellow cigar smoking cruisers were considerate enough to congregate in one corner allowing the rest of us to breathe easier and enjoy the piano singer (who I'm sure also appreciated their consideration). We only frequented John Adams Coffee Bar and Gold Rush Saloon during trivia. It took us until the last night of the cruise to discover a really nice bar on the 13th deck (Lanai Bar) with a fun crowd being entertained by a guitar player who somehow got everyone to sing along with him. Wish we had found it sooner. Never frequented the Napa Wine Bar and never saw anyone there - not sure why. The Waikiki Bar at the rear top deck was also fairly quiet. The bar at the pool and its service could have been better - I sometimes ended up getting my own drink because waiters were too few and far between. And remember to tell your waiter if you don't want your drink in the "special NCL glass" (more expensive) or you'll find yourself paying extra. And don't hesitate to tell them you don't want the special and for them to bring you a "regular" drink. Why pay for something you didn't order? Debarkation was a breeze - you pretty much leave when you want and have a leisurely breakfast and relax until then. THE BOTTOM LINE: This cruise is perfect if you want a 7-day cruise which stops at four beautiful and different Hawaiian Islands, if you're not a food snob (the food was good not great), if you don't need to be entertained every minute of every day, if you're not looking for Broadway productions as entertainment, if you're flexible with your time, if you don't let little things bother you. Regarding the crew - the good news is we found most of them friendly, helpful and trying hard to do a good job; the bad news is many of them were leaving the ship in the next few weeks either for vacation or for good. Do I think it was worth the money? Absolutely. It's a good introduction to Hawaii if you've never been there before, and a great planning tool if you'd like to do an extended land vacation on one or two islands in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Arrived at Honolulu Airport. Rented a one-way car from National at Honolulu Airport on Friday and dropped off the car on Saturday at National at 1778 Ala Moana Blvd. No drop charges. National is located in Discovery Bay condo complex ... Read More
Arrived at Honolulu Airport. Rented a one-way car from National at Honolulu Airport on Friday and dropped off the car on Saturday at National at 1778 Ala Moana Blvd. No drop charges. National is located in Discovery Bay condo complex across the street from the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel (approximately 8 miles from airport). Hotel located close to Waikiki Beach and ship terminal. National's shuttle will take you to the ship terminal free of charge. ABC stores are on almost every corner in Honolulu/Waikiki area. They sell can or bottled sodas, bottled water, and alcohol. NCL scans your luggage for alcohol and searches your carry-ons at Honolulu. NCL confiscates your alcohol and will return it to you Friday night and Saturday morning prior to disembarkation. However on the first day, you have to go down to the 3rd level and open up your suitcase and remove the alcohol. Then, you get your suitcase less the confiscated alcohol. The suitcases that pass the scan are delivered to your room. ***Tip*** 1) buy small mini (50 ml) bottles of alcohol at ABC's that have plastic caps and pack in your suitcase and; 2) buy and carry-on 1.5 liters of wine and pay the $15 corkage to NCL for each bottle. If you buy the 750 ml bottle of wine, NCL charges $15 corkage per each bottle and you would pay $30 for 2 - 750 ml bottles. Wine is $6.00 - $6.50 per glass on the ship. At the other ports when you return to ship, security passes a metal detecting wand over your body. Ate at the Aloha buffet the first afternoon. Also, the buffet on the aft deck outside of the Aloha buffet is good. Beds turned down with chocolates on pillows. Luggage arrived outside room at 3:30pm. Exception noted above. Room, bathroom, linens was cleaned and made up daily and towels were changed as needed once or twice daily depending upon our usage. The room was kept exceptionally clean. We never had to ask or request anything. It was just done. Our room steward was a very pleasant young lady and she was rewarded with an extra gratuity for her outstanding service. When I presented her with this extra gratuity she said she didn't expect it, but really appreciated it. Previous postings on this site are unfounded. After reading the previous reviews about the cleanliness of the rooms I became paranoid. I purchased Lysol anti-bacterial spray and brought it on the ship to disinfect. That was a waste of time and money. Never needed or used it. Never had a problem with the cleanliness of the room or with the daily service of the room. It was done meticulously and promptly. The room was normally made up when we were out on our daily excursions and the bed was turned down nightly. If towels needed to be changed at that time, they were. Ice was always in the ice bucket. 24 hour food room service was available. No charge. The menu was limited; however, the food was good. Each day the ship published and distributed to each cabin the Freestyle Daily, a paper outlining and describing what was going to happen that day. TV onboard channels, included a live bridge cam, information, activities, plus ESPN, CNN, TNT, and two full-time movie feature channels, 24/7. All the pre-cruise opinions that we've read, all the negative press that this ship has received, hasn't matched our positive experience. No sewer or foul smells as previously reported. Occasionally, if you are on the ship's outside decks you might get a slight whiff of diesel fuel from the ship's exhaust stacks. This is common on all ships. Also, the entire crew had been very friendly and polite. They are very courteous and helpful. Left my video camera on the counter at the Aloha buffet and by the time I walked back up from my seat, it was taken to the Capitol Atrium front desk by one of the servers and turned in at the Lost and Found. It was placed in the ships safe until I retrieved it ten minutes after I left it on the counter. Our stateroom was a handicap-accessible room, was approximately 45% - 50% larger space in both the room and the balcony. We asked for this type of room at the time of booking. The bathroom was great, since it had to be wheelchair-accessible. The shower was large, and there was plenty of space even for two people to maneuver in the room. Floor space was larger than normal, there was the same amount of storage and features as other rooms. Storage was more than we could use. The bed had space enough underneath to stow four suitcases. There was a double-door closet with an automatic light when you open the door on the right; there were several drawers in two places, plus several available shelves. The room had a small refrigerator, a 4-cup coffee maker and an electronic safe into which you put a 4-digit password and it will close and open electronically. There were a number of nicely shaped wooden hangers in the closet, which would take shirts/jackets, pants, and skirts or shorts. We had a couple of drawers left empty after stowing our stuff from four suitcases. One evening in a loop we cruised past Kilauea volcano lava flowing into the ocean. It was an awesome sight. Pacific Paradise Luau on Kahului - Disembark ship and were transported by bus for 35 - 40 minutes to and from the Luau at local hotel. Ends at approximately 9:00pm - 9:30pm. Well presented and good food. If you pre-rent a car from Avis, Avis at several ports didn't have a shuttle to take you to the location to get the rental car. Avis expected you to take a cab to their location. Kahului and Kauai Lihue locations did have Avis shuttles. Chocoholics buffet in the Skyline restaurant was in the afternoon. Chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate cheesecake, and chocolate ice cream sundaes. We decided to do the Express Walk-Off at 7:30 am. So instead of packing in the evening, leaving luggage outside the door by 1 am, then finding the luggage on the pier. We packed the next morning and carried it with us. Wheeled pull-cases are great; two each. The express people were first off, so we didn't have to disembark by groups (8:00 am to 10:00 am) as designated by our luggage groupings. Took the bags straight to a cab and the cab fare to airport is approximately $20 w/o gratuity. Aloha cafe starts serving a continental breakfast at 5 am and a buffet breakfast at 6 am. Everything that you purchased on board was charged to your shipboard account via the ship ID/credit card. Same card was used when you left and returned at each port, so the ship always kept track of who may or may not have returned to the ship on time. After you leave ship, you retain your card as a souvenir. Cover charges 1) $15.00 pp Lazy J steakhouse 2) $10.00 pp East meets West 3) $10.00 pp Jefferson Bistro Cadillac Diner - Late night - 11pm to 5am No jeans, shorts, t-shirts, or athletic wear after 5:30 pm in restaurants. Tipping 1) $10.00 pp per day added to your shipboard bill (not for bar service throughout ship) 2) Bar service - gratuity not included. You add gratuity to your check or bill at time of service. Pride Of America - No Gambling Purchase and carry-on your own bottled water, bottled or can sodas from ports daily. Soda card isn't worth it. Tuesday is Formal night - optional Passengers dressed - Approximately 60% - 70% formal attire 30% - 40% casual attire Ports where you have to take tender ashore - obtain tender pass from crew member at 7:00 am at Pink's Champagne Bar. If you are not one of the first 75 - 100 people to get your pass, you will have to wait approximately 1 to 2 hours to get off ship due to amount of people that want to go ashore. Ship's telephone - 1 732 335 3280 Pre or Post JW Marriott Ko Olina Resort and Spa located on the sunny west shore of Oahu overlooks one of the finest white sand beaches in Hawaii located 20 miles (Hwy 1/93) from airport. Polynesian Cultural Center (Polynesia.com) - A must see on North Shore Oahu. Have a great time and don't let previous negative reviews ruin your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
First off, I am in my 40s and single. I cruise with my single gal friends. And we have cruised once before.. I have done 3 Cruises now.. Carnival Sensation 2002, Caribbean Princess 2005 and now NCL Pride of America October 2005... ... Read More
First off, I am in my 40s and single. I cruise with my single gal friends. And we have cruised once before.. I have done 3 Cruises now.. Carnival Sensation 2002, Caribbean Princess 2005 and now NCL Pride of America October 2005... Wonderful to do 2 cruises in 1 year....lol... We flew into Honolulu/Waikiki on the 27th of Sept. giving us 4 days before our cruise.. The best decision we could have made. Did the Pearl Harbor thing and other tours before the cruise.. Wonderful to not have to rush.. October 1st was embarkation day.. We went to the beach in the morning as we couldn't board until 1pm.. Embarkation was smooth... We tagged our luggage, dropped it off and away we went to check in.. Easy... We were told initially our cabin wasn't ready and we went to double check but didn't eat our cheerios that morning apparently as we couldn't get the door open.. We just weren't trying hard enough.. We had lunch @ the Aloha Cafe... Very good... Excellent shrimp.. I must stop to stay the ship is beautiful... the decor awesome.. the pursers desk is simple but nice.. On our second try we got in our cabin.... It was wonderful.. We were on Deck 12 in a Penthouse suite (an upgrade about 4 weeks ahead of time) on the Starboard side... The suite was big... Large king size bed, couch that was a double size bed, living area w/desk, espresso machine, wine glasses, fridge, lot's of cupboard space, large walk in closet w/sitting area, large bathroom with tub.. It was luxurious... Glass doors not curtains and plenty of room to bathe.. the balcony was wonderful.. One could sleep on it if they wanted too... lol.. had 3 lounge chairs and a table with 4/chairs... I loved it.. The highlight was that I could wash my scuba gear in the tub then dry it on the balcony.. I think my roommates thought I'd lost my mind but hey, it worked....lol We had a meet/greet planned from our roll call thread and met up with most of the group around 5:30pm after the 4:30pm muster drill... So glad we remembered.. We loved our group and bumping into them several times throughout the cruise... had breakfast with some, beach break with some and drinks in our cabin with some... it was great... Loved them all.... Now I have to admit, I was nervous with many of the reviews that came back.. I had visions of dirty linens, no towels, unkept room, but we had just the opposite. But I have to say, I think we got excellent service due to our location and that makes me sad. It shouldn't matter if your on the 12th deck in a suite or on deck 4 with an inside cabin.. We all deserve good service, clean room, and clean linens/towels.. Jessica was great.. Face it, 3 women in one room can be torture.. but we did well.... We ate at the Liberty restaurant, Skyline restaurant, Little Italy, the all-you-can-eat sushi and the Cadillac diner.. Liberty and Skyline restaurant had good food but it got somewhat boring.. The same standards, New York strip steak, BBQ'd Salmon or Chicken Breast... They need to change around the standards.. They had different selections with the standards but it was a little too different for me.. loved the desserts... Little Italy had great food.. Cadillac Diner was generic hamburgers/floats/french fries but it was good.. Ask for Cathy from Oregon.. She is a hoot.. And totally loved the Sushi place.. All you can eat for $5... And good sushi.... The excursions were fun... Did Hilo Circle of Fire helicopter tour, wonderful.. The Tropical/Botanical Garden tour awesome.. But do take insect repellent.. I used it but was still eaten alive by mosquitos....It's beautiful and not too aromatic. I dove in Maui with Lahaina Divers... Wonderful... The next day we did the Kaanapali Beach Break.. Awesome and a snorkelers delight. Lots of fish and some saw turtles.... Bring your own snorkel gear if you have it... It's a little pricey.. Then we did the Kona cultural and snorkel tour in Kona.. The snorkeling was even better....Much more fish which surprised me as there were more snorkelers...But also lot's of turtles... we swam with turtles....it was awesome.. then off to the national park where the Hawaiian refugees sought refuge.. Quite cool... And the a kona coffee mini tour.. it was fun.. The next day we did the Waimea Canyon tour... that was awesome... the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.. We stopped in Hanapepe to see the blowholes along the coast.. Very cool.... We didn't see many shows...Too busy...lol... I caught part of one show that looked like 60's music.. Wasn't sure... it looked good.. Then we caught most of the Polynesian show.. it was cool music and dancers but of the 5 girls onstage twirling these balls that looked like "knockers" from the 70's, 3 of them messed up.... I'm sure it was hard but if it's that hard, then take it out.. It was a shame..But the finale was cool.. About 200 of the crew including the Capt. and first officers came up on stage to sing on the finale song.. That was very cool.....loved it.... The internet cafe was fine... the chapel right across, not that I went there...lol.... the library was close too... I loved the Piano singer on deck 6.. Awesome voice..... I have to admit, I didn't see a lot of the ship... Couldn't get enough time to get everywhere.... lol..... But overall I loved the cruise.. Would do it again.. We got our scenic cruising for the Lava flow. It was wonderful... I'm so glad whatever needed to be fixed was fixed to do that....It was a highlight.. Then on the Friday which was our sea day, we got the scenic cruising for the Napali coast... Very awesome... Spent the day at the pool.... There were a lot of kids for the time of year but never felt overrun... I got a kick out of watching them.. Only at one point in the pool did they seem to not mind their manners of splashing or jumping but it was brief.. Mostly they were fun to be around.. Deck chairs could be tough in the main pool area but not so bad in the back areas.. Disembarking was way too easy.... we wanted to be stranded longer...lol .. We had VIP disembarking but left later after breakfast. Our luggage was there no problem. Even for those of us who had 3 pieces of luggage.... That final swipe of the sign/sail card was tough.. The transfer from the pier to airport was fine too.... Now for my complaints or suggestions.... After being on Carnival for my first cruise, I miss the "funness" of the staff..the singing/dancing in the main dining room... I know it's free style and with this cruise and due to excursions, it's a good thing it is...But I still miss the meeting of everyone in the main dining room at a set time....So I guess I like both ways.. Princess was very stuffy to me in regards to the dining room.... Everything else was fine. You can tell the staff is trying so hard to make up for shortcomings.. They are pleasant, polite, nice, friendly but they seem to forget the simple things.. I'd ask for sugar for my ice tea (which I shouldn't have to ask for) but they'd bring the container with no sugar, just equal or sweet/low... Or we'd have to ask for butter for the bread.. And we'd have to ask for more water or tea... that shouldn't be.. Again, it's the small things. The food was always hot though.. In the Sushi place it was top notch.... Unbelievable.. I do however wish they had chocolate ice cream in the buffet.. Only Vanilla... yuck... I have no room complaints.. Our steward was great.... Regarding excursions, my only suggestion/complaint was that the Kaanapali Beach Break and the Kona Cultural/Snorkel Tour weren't long enough... Only 2 hours with each snorkel... They should do a bigger group, earlier and longer..Otherwise, no complaints on excursions... Pursers desk were always friendly and informative... Elevators were much better than on Princess.. We would wait several minutes for them but not on Pride of America... they were fast and empty a lot... Overall the ship seemed big not where you'd get lost.. Never made it to the spa.. They were all booked up.... My advice is: For the Spa and the Specialty restaurants, book them the day you get on the ship....You can always cancel... One of the highlights of the cruise was meeting Capt. Evans Hoyt.. I can't speak highly enough of this man.. My first cruise I only saw the Capt. once, at formal night.. On Princess, never saw him... However this cruise, many times. We met him at a VIP champagne meeting, but then saw him numerous times throughout the cruise. Got nervous when he would recognize us and comment on the "3 musketeers"... But he was always nice/talkative... He was very much out there to meet the passengers.. Very much a gentleman.... I enjoyed that.. Knowing he was available to the passengers.... Overall I enjoyed the cruise... Would do it again.. It's an excellent way to see the Hawaiian islands if you've never been and to discover which island you may want to visit later on a longer basis... Decent amount of time in each port.. Never really felt rushed... I have to say I think it should be longer, like a 10 day cruise to give an overnight in Kona and an additional sea day.. Missed my sea days for relaxation... Let me tell you, we were like the energizer bunnies, just going, and going and going.... lol... It keeps you busy but you do need some down time too.... I think that about covers it.... If anyone has questions, I will try to answer... All I say it book it.... However, for the next 2-3 weeks of cruisers, have patience... There will be new staff as the others are going on vacation so things might be a little crazy.... Go, have a good time...... __________________ Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
IGNORE THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS My Husband and I just got back from our 7-day honeymoon cruise on the Pride of America. We had an AMAZING time! I was honestly very worried at first because I have the read the nasty reviews people have ... Read More
IGNORE THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS My Husband and I just got back from our 7-day honeymoon cruise on the Pride of America. We had an AMAZING time! I was honestly very worried at first because I have the read the nasty reviews people have left. Horrible service, rude employees, sewer smell on board, bad food and my favorite...the unwanted hair on someone's pillow. PLEASE! We experienced NONE of that. CABIN- We had a room with a balcony..it was perfect. I have been on 3 other cruises before so I knew what to expect with room size. You cannot expect a hotel sized room unless you purchase a sweet. They have a nifty dial outside the cabin door where you can request your room to be made...or turned down. It was ALWAYS done as we requested. Room service was always delivered in a timely manner. FOOD- We ate at all of the restaurants except Liberty House. We thought Lazy J. Steakhouse was the best. Cadillac diner is fun when you have had a long day at the beach and you do not feel like dressing up. We always ate breakfast in the Aloha cafe and were not disappointed. Because it is located right off the pool deck, people will grab lunch in their bathing suits...but WHO CARES! The service in all of the restaurants was EXCELLENT. If the food was mediocre, the friendly staff made up for it! They were always asking how our trip was and where we were from. They loved telling us their stories too! I am surprised they were as friendly as they were knowing all the crap they have to put up with from snotty guests. ENTERTAINMENT- We only attending one show...the comedian / juggler. He was OK. Most nights we just enjoyed wandering around the ship and hanging out in the Champagne Bar. The piano player there was always great to listen too. As far as excursions go, we really enjoyed the Molokini / Turtle Arches snorkel. Yeah, you probably save a few bucks booking outside of NCL but for the convenience it is worth the extra money. As others have said, yes it is probably best to book before hand. We did not and I think there were only 2 that were sold out already. There was a long line to book excursions but you do not have to stand in it. We just filled out the form and dropped it in the box. The next day our tickets were at our door. I really could go on and on about how much we enjoyed this cruise. The mistake I made was listening too much to what the others had to say about the cruise and to think that there negative experience is the norm. What it comes down I think is that people generally only like to leave reviews when they have had a bad experience. I am hoping that this positive review, along with others, will balance it out some! Email me with questions ANYTIME: liznics11@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
All precruise hesitation was quickly put to rest! My husband and I (both late 40s) started our cruise with a NCL arranged 2 night stay at the Marriott. We paid for a standard view room but received a room with a great view of the beach. ... Read More
All precruise hesitation was quickly put to rest! My husband and I (both late 40s) started our cruise with a NCL arranged 2 night stay at the Marriott. We paid for a standard view room but received a room with a great view of the beach. Sure glad we did not pay the up-charge for a room with a view. The pre-cruise check-in and transportation to the POAm was great. No lines and no waiting. Great way to enjoy Oahu and adjust to the time difference prior to boarding the ship. We were on the ship at 1:00 and our room 11524 was ready and waiting for us. The room was adequate with plenty of storage. There was definitely a "no passing zone" at the end of the bed but besides that we had plenty of room. (we did put our desk chair and coffee table on the extra large balcony for added space in the room.) After making reservations for the Lazy J and Little Italy, I started putting our clothes in the drawers only to discover the prior room occupants had left a few articles of personal clothing. OMG!!! My first thought was the horror story has started. I immediately called housekeeping -- within less than 60 seconds our cabin girl was in our room to remove the clothing and wipe the drawer with disinfectant. She was extremely apologetic. Bernadette was extremely sweet and accommodating the entire cruise. We did tip her daily and write her notes which we saw that she had posted on her cart. We also had towel animals on two occasions. We rented convertibles on all islands (a Harley in Kona). This worked great for us. I had read the "Revealed Books" and had them in hand. These books offer a great wealth of information and we found them very accurate and helpful. We used Hertz and Thrifty, but all rental car companies had shuttles available at the piers. (whatever company you are with will be the last one to come to the Pier -- Murphy's Law!) Just be patient -- they will make the rotation. We found all the restaurants very good. Especially enjoyed Little Italy. Be sure to check out the outdoor breakfast buffet in the Aloha Cafe. They have an omelet station. Not very busy the first part of the cruise but the secret gets out by the end and there may be a 10-15 minute wait for an omelet. We missed the Chocolate Buffet but they have the very best chocolate dessert in the Cadillac Dinner -- Chocolate Avalanche. Have one more for me!! Yes, we actually did use the fitness facility!! Top notch in every way!! We saw the Lava Flow, the NaPali Coast and also sailed by the Forbidden Island and saw beach fireworks the last night of the cruise. I actually enjoyed the last day at sea -- it was a relaxing way to spend the last day of a way too short vacation. We finished the our vacation with a post-cruise NCL arranged excursion to Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri. No worries with storing luggage and they had us to the airport in plenty of time for our 6:30 pm flight back to reality. Go with a positive attitude and enjoy -- you will have a great time!! e enter your review. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
I was somewhat nervous after reading the negative reviews before taking our cruise. We sailed out on 10/8/05 for a 7 day cruise of Hawaii. We absolutely loved it! Cabin - It was very nice, but small. Our steward, Tony, kept it very clean ... Read More
I was somewhat nervous after reading the negative reviews before taking our cruise. We sailed out on 10/8/05 for a 7 day cruise of Hawaii. We absolutely loved it! Cabin - It was very nice, but small. Our steward, Tony, kept it very clean and stocked with towels. We had a queen bed and it was comfortable. The bathroom was terribly small, but we made it. We were only in our room to sleep, so it wasn't too bad! Entertainment - We went to several shows. The first comedian was pretty boring. We loved Barry the juggler and comedian. He was super!! If we hadn't been so tired, we would have stayed for his second show. We really enjoyed the Pride of America singers/dancers. They put on two amazing shows. We also went to the Not So Newlywed game and it was pretty funny. Dining - We ate the majority of our meals in the Aloha Cafe. Breakfast is great there! Especially the omelets on the outside Aloha Cafe. The Cadillac Diner has awesome buffalo wings. I got spaghetti one night and the meatballs were not done at all. They were kind of slow there. We ate at the Skyline too and it was fine. They really should have more of a variety on their menus. The food was fine, but nothing really to brag about. Our final day, we discovered the outside grill on the 12th deck. They had fabulous shrimp, cheesesticks, burgers, etc. We should have been eating there all week. Excursions - We only booked 2 excursions through the NCL desk. We found it much cheaper and better to book them on our own. In Maui, we rented a car and drove the road to Hana. We continued on past Hana and found BEAUTIFUL waterfalls and pools. That part was worth the terrible roads getting there! It was a long day, but we enjoyed it. We drove on over to Lahaina and had a great night shopping. The best shops are there! Our car rental was about $60 through Enterprise. I actually reserved the car before the cruise. I am so glad I did because there were NO car rentals when we got off the ship that day. So glad we had a reservation! We were with another couple so it was cheaper & we could go at our own pace and go where we wanted to. The second day in Maui we went on the Maui Downhill Bicycle. It was great. We booked through the ship. We couldn't have done this one cheaper by ourselves (or at least we didn't find it). Hilo was kind of boring. We took the free shuttles to Hilo Hatties. My husband went on the Mount Kilauea hike. It was more than $100. If you had someone to split it with you, you could rent a car and do the hike by yourself. We did get to sail past Mount Kilauea that evening and it was super neat! Kona was beautiful!! As soon as we got of the tender boats, we found a local guy offering snorkeling for $30 a couple. He shuttled us 5-6 miles down the road and my husband & I shared the equipment. It was great snorkeling (great big turtles and tons of fish). We spent some time on the beach. His shuttle runs back to the beach on the hour, so we could spend as much time as we wanted snorkeling or on the beach until the last shuttle that afternoon. It was much cheaper than going through the NCL desk. Plus, he shuttled us back and dropped us off at the some of the shops so it worked out nice. The only bad thing about Kona was the Ironman was taking place & there was another ship there so it was very crowded. We REALLY liked Kauai. We took a rental car shuttle to the airport (5 minute drive at most) and checked with a couple of rental places to get the best deal. We got a great deal with Dollar. We rented a car and drove all over the island. First, we drove to the North Shore. We stopped at Wailua Falls. This is wonderful!! We drove past some wonderful beaches and the roads weren't too bad (nothing like Hana). Then we drove to Waimea Canyon. Make sure you do this! We stopped at Jo Jo's on our way back to the ship. It's a great place for shaved ice. We finally stopped at Salt Beach (I think that was it) and it was a very nice place to relax for the rest of the day. We came out much better renting a car and seeing the island on our own - we were able to see MUCH more and it was much cheaper! All the car rental places have shuttles that will bring to back to the ship. We spent our final day at sea and it was great seeing the Napali coast. We needed a day to rest! I cannot stress enough to rent a car on your own, get a map, and do the excursions on your own. It is cheaper, you do what you want, and you go at your own pace. I would suggest calling and making reservations. You can always cancel. They were often booked or only had speciality cars available if more than one ship was at the same port. Staff - We didn't have any bad incidents with staff. They were all nice and helpful. On the final morning of the cruise, the soda cart was not out in the Aloha Cafe. I asked a nice lady if I could get a diet coke and she went down to the 5th floor to get me one. Also, one evening we were lost on the ship. A staff member overheard us in the elevator trying to figure out where we were supposed to be going and she took us right were we needed to go. That's service! Our steward was always very nice and helpful. However, we were with another coule & their room rarely got cleaned. We though Rich did a wonderful job with the entertainment on the ship. He has a super personality for his job. Great job! We also used the laundry service for dry cleaning. They were good! Fitness Room - It was VERY nice! We only used it a couple of times, but it was super nice and loaded with equipment. Embarkation & disembarkation were both very smooth. We found our luggage very fast. We had to wait for too long in Honolulu to shuttle to the airport. It would have been smarter to caught a car rental shuttle at the port, rented a car, and toured Pearl Harbour before flying out. The ship was decorated very nicely and always very clean. We were pleased with our cruise. It is a great way to see the islands. We were exhausted after flying back home though. I would suggest staying a couple days in Honolulu to rest on the beach if possible. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
After reading all the negative reviews, we did not expect a great cruise. Then again, we were going to Hawaii, so how bad could it be? We were very pleased with the cruise in general. Having been on nine previous cruises, we did have a ... Read More
After reading all the negative reviews, we did not expect a great cruise. Then again, we were going to Hawaii, so how bad could it be? We were very pleased with the cruise in general. Having been on nine previous cruises, we did have a good basis for comparison. Staff: Excellent. We did not encounter any crew members with "attitude". Just the opposite. Everyone went out of there way to please. Kudos to Michael, one of the bar waiters in the Madri Gras lounge. Also to the wait staff in The Skyline Room; especially Diedre & Sean. We dined in the steakhouse twice; Ryan & Allie were top shelf. Living in New York City most of my life, and now residing in Las Vegas, I am used to good service in restaurants. I got it on The Pride. Dining: The food in the Skyline was a bit below par with most cruise lines. It always came to table hot. Friends we traveled with ate at the Italian restaurant and told us it was not very good. The food at the Lazy J Steakhouse was exceptional. However, they add a $15.00 PP service charge, and another $10.00PP if you want lobster. Avoid The Cadillac diner! Ugh! I'm not a fan of the freestyle dining. It just creates hassles. If you want to eat at one of the specialty restaurants, you have to plan ahead and make a reservation very early in the cruise. Entertainment: Here is where I was very disappointed. The production shows were absolutely the worst. No real themes, and poorly put together. The dancers worked hard, but were not the most talented group. The piano player/singer in the Champagne Lounge was very good and the combo that played by the pool were also very good. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 8, mid-ship. It was slightly smaller then on other ships, but, hey, how much time do you spend there? I read people complained about the shower. I'm a big guy, 6'1", 270 pounds, and I fit, no problem! The ship was spotless. No odors. Our cabin was made up daily and the beds were also turned down. We always had ice. One minor universal complaint from several people. This only matters if you're a chocoholic. They had the chocolate buffet, in the middle of the afternoon while the boat was docked in Kauai! The itinerary was great. Loved the overnights in Maui & Kauai. If you're planning a Hawaiian cruise, this one is top shelf. Go, enjoy, 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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