Sail Date: September 2003
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous ... Read More
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous Hawaii cruise on the Hawaii American Cruise Line about twelve years ago. (They no longer exist). There were some things I really liked. Getting on and off the ship was a pleasant and quick experience. We (3 couples) booked two nights at the Marriott Wakiki Beach Resort prior to sailing to adjust to the time difference between Hawaii and the east coast of the mainland. Nice hotel and best of all had an NCL office where we could do all our pre-board registration which really made getting on the ship an easy process. There was a fairly long line for those who did not go through that process. It is a small office, however, and if there was a line it sometimes appeared to take a long time to get served. We had a standard balcony cabin. Small but adequate since we spent little time in the cabin. It was obvious they did not take great care in cleaning the cabins during the change over between one group leaving and another coming on board. One of our couples found shoes under the bed and the cabin was not very clean. My cabin was fine except for missing wash cloths which appeared after dinner. We later found out the cabin stewards are not only responsible for cleaning 14 cabins but also have to help move luggage. NCL needs to rethink the whole changeover process. Dining was an interesting experience. Service varied from night to night. We never did the alternate dining experiences since except for one meal (breakfast)in the Cadillac (didn't go back because of slow service). Did not feel we should pay extra for a meal. The main dining rooms were beautifully decorated however the service was inconsistent. Mostly a very young staff who did not appear to be well trained. Sometimes service was quick and efficient and at other times slow and poor. The wait staff was very pleasant and accommodating but NCL needs to train better. Some of the food was great while some was not so good. Usually had four entrees that were different each night and an additional four that stayed the same. The Aloha Cafe (buffet) was OK and offered a good variety. Overall the food was good but not great. I have cruised before and remember telling everyone about the great dining. Not so this time. We are not drinkers so I can't say much about the bars except I ordered on drink and waited 20 minutes to get it and another time they had a drink special but when I ordered it they were out of the mix. Sodas!! I don't personally think you should have to pay for soda when tea, iced tea, lemonade and coffee are included but it seems to be an industry standard. You can buy a sticker to put on you cabin card for which you pay around $35, which we did, but found out we could not drink that much soda in seven days to make up the cost. All of the shore excursions were very good. We did at least one each day and two on one day. Be sure to book in advance. Sometimes sold out and the lines on the ship at the excursion desk were long the first couple of days. I booked on-line and had some difficulties. I found out the excursion staff at NCL in Miami doesn't seem to know what they are talking about since they booked us on a couple of tours that when we got on board the ship found out we could not go on them because they were too close together in timing since you need at least 45 minutes between tours which is something they don't tell you anywhere that I could find. The excursions are somewhat expensive and NCL charges $15 to $25 more than if you booked them on your own but they also eliminate the hassle of booking your own. It was worth the cost to me. We did a helicopter ride ($299 per person- WOW!) which was spectacular. They charge you 1.5 times if you are over 250 pounds and they weigh everyone who says they are over 200 lbs. The only objection is they weigh you in the main lobby next to the excursion desk. Tacky!! One of our party was weighed in at 251 and charged the extra. When he got to the helicopter terminal he was weighed again and weighed 238. He did get a refund. Entertainment was good. I am a musician and I liked all of the musical productions. It beats watching CNN in your cabin. My over all impression was NCL has a corner on the market and knows that most people only do this once in a lifetime so they could perhaps get away with cutting corners. They did a great job in some aspects of the cruise and in others they need to work on training and quality. However, I would recommend doing the cruise since it is, in my opinion, the best way to see Hawaii and hope NCL gets the message that quality,training, and first impressions do matter. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2005
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest ... Read More
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest entertainers, Scott Alexander (magician and comedian) was fantastic. The kids club activities were well thought out, and the employees there won kids heart. Our son was particularly impressed with Queen Jennine and HighFive Heather. We have cruised Princess and Royal Caribbean's before, but this was our first NCL experience. We liked the NCL "FreeStyle cruise" feature. The major disappointment was the choice of vegetarian food. The choices were very limited, and the food was not clearly marked being vegetarian. In the Aloha cafe (buffet), throughout the cruise every single soup had meat in it, and the servers did not always know about it. I was fortunate to have found a great chef Keegun Reynolds at the Aloha Cafe, who cooked meals specifically for me almost everyday. If it was not for his personal attention, the cruise would have been miserable from the food perspective for me. If you are NOT vegetarian, I would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. ... Read More
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. Overall we had a great time. If you think of the ship as a giant hotel with little rooms and restaurants with quality on par with Denny's, Sizzler, and Hometown Buffet, but relocates to a new island everyday then you'll be happy. If you are looking for a "real cruise" experience then you'll be disappointed. When we arrived at the airport in Honolulu they didn't make it very clear that you needed to get on a shuttle, or make a long hike to the other side of the airport to find your luggage. When we finally found the right building we found our NCL representative who told us to get our bags and wait near them, they then seemed very confused about what to do with the Pride of America people, most of the people arriving were going to NCL Wind. We were lead around to a couple places before finally deciding what to do with us. This was the first time I wasn't met by someone from the cruise line that took our luggage and put it on a cart or had a skycap available for us. When we got out of the shuttle at the pier again no one to help with the luggage. Not a big deal, just something I'm not used to. At the pier things seemed very confused and no one giving directions. You just had to get in a line and hope you were where you were supposed to be. We were given Leis before our photos were taken. We were given Passports to help us get familiar with the ship, the ink wasn't dry and got all over my hand, as we went around the different locations to get our stamps, no one at the stations seemed to know what they were, many of the stations were not opened. The idea was to get stamps from the different bars, restaurant, and stores by dinner then you could turn it in for a chance to win a prize. Nice idea, still needs a little work. Dining; the freestyle dining was a great idea, we like to eat early, so we had little problem getting reservations to the specialty restaurants. We tried the Cadillac Diner, the service was very bad both times we ate there, once for breakfast, once for dinner. We also ate at the Lazy J steakhouse, we call it the Lousy J. They charge $15 per person from the regular menu and an additional $10 ($25 total)per person from the special menu (Lobster). My husband had Filet Mignon and it was very tender, no flavor. My son ordered the New York and I needed a saw to cut it. I ordered the Ribeye, it had a good flavor and was tender, but I had a hard time finding the meat with all the fat. We ate twice at Little Italy, and weren't impressed. My son and I ordered the chicken parmesan and it was just not good. My husband ordered the beef tenderloin, it was good. The next time we ordered the beef tenderloin, lasagna and pizza. The lasagna was pretty good. The pizza is the same thing you get upstairs on the buffet. We didn't try East meets West, many people said it was good. We also didn't try the French Bistro. Each of those restaurants charge $10 per person. Be warned, if you miss your reservation they charge you anyway. The main dining rooms were hit or miss with both service and food quality. A little tip on reservations, the first day on board you can only make reservations for that night. You can then call (don't go downstairs and stand in line) the reservation desk and make reservations for the rest of the week. The Cabins: We were on the 8th deck Aft we had a balcony and the room was great. Our room steward was originally from Jamaica and was great, very friendly. We had everything we were supposed to have, but our safe wasn't working and we had to make a dozen calls before we could get anyone to look at it, they never let us know if and when it would get fixed, we gave up. They didn't have anywhere else to store our valuables. I loved having the balcony, but I wouldn't choose the back of the ship again, we usually had a very ugly view while in port. It appears from talking to many other people onboard that the service was better on the upper decks than on the lower decks, I heard many complaints about no toilet paper, towels etc. I was glad I read the prior reviews, I don't think I would have noticed the side mirror opened for storage in the bathroom. Public rooms: The ship is clean and the technology is state of the art. We loved having real internet and the fees were very reasonable. We could hook up in our room or use wireless in many public areas. The dining kiosk was great. They had all the restaurants listed with wait times, and info on which could seat large groups. The layout was a little weird. Most of the restaurants were in what should have been passageways, Little Italy was in the middle of the Aloha cafe. From the aft of the ship when we went ashore we had to go up to deck 7 or higher or go through the maze of restaurants. Finding the kids club and arcade was difficult, on the ship map it appears that the elevator goes up to deck 14, but it doesn't. I was told the ship was completely booked, but the ship didn't feel full. The only places that ever seemed to be crowded or have a line was the Reception desk area with lines at the shore excursion desk and the restaurant reservation desk. Entertainment: We didn't go to any shows. I heard mixed reviews from other passengers. We got the kids club schedule of events for the whole week, not much to do, so we never signed up. The arcade was pretty bad too. The shops are not duty free like on other ships, but they had the typical resort wear and NCL merchandise. They had a shop dedicated to golf, from what I understood they could get you tee times at the various islands. My major complaints: We were 3 hours late getting into Hilo we were due to dock at 8am and at 8:15 they made the announcement that we had engine problems overnight and had to reduce speed, and we would be docking at 11am. Then announced all of the cancelled shore excursions. The NCL Wind was also in port, so there were no rental cars to be found for anyone who just had there excursion cancelled. Fortunately I made reservations months in advance and called my company to make sure they didn't give my car away. We weren't able to see all that we had planned. When we went to Kaua'i we arrived 2 hours early, again the reason was the engines. This was the only port we had an excursion planned and we had 2 hours to kill waiting for it. We were in this port overnight, so Friday we were going to leave 2 hours early the next day again we were saved by having rented a car, but another list of cancelled or adjusted excursions was announced. By leaving 2 hours early we were able to cruise by the Na Pali coast. We dined in Little Italy that night and were able to watch the coast as we ate. My biggest complaint the Chocolate buffet. They announced it the night before that it would be at 2:30pm while we were in Kona, the only port we had to anchor out. I met a couple who tried to make it back to the ship in time to at least get a few nibbles, by the time they tendered back to the ship and found it it was 3:32(it ended at 3:30) and they weren't permitted to go into the room. Disembarkation was nice. We added a couple days onto the end of our trip, so we put our bags out Friday night and they were taken to our hotel the next day. We disembarked at 7:30 with the people who were willing to take their own luggage. The shuttle to our hotel was at 10am, but we rented a car and were able to take the shuttle to the rental office at 8am. We then went to preregister at the hotel, they stored our carryon luggage and put our computer in a safe deposit box. We went to see the Arizona memorial and the mighty mo, where we ran into people from the ship who paid a lot of money for the ships excursion and still had to stand in the line for tickets for over 1 hour. When we got back to the hotel we didn't have to stand in the long check in line, we were able to pick up our keys and about 20 minutes later (around 4:30pm) our luggage arrived at our door. This was a great way to see many islands in a short time, but I would never do it again. I met people who have cruised NCL before and said this ships service and food are not what they have experienced in the past. Still, I doubt I will book NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an ... Read More
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an effort to smile and say hello. We enjoyed our dining experiences in the Skyline, Liberty, and Aloha buffet. We ended up sitting at the same 2 tables in Skyline with the same waiters the last 4 or 5 nights and had excellent service. We never went to the specialty restaurants except Cadillac diner. The Cadillac had very poor service and food was only OK. (it happens to be only place serving waffles for breakfast). Food in main dining room was enjoyable and we were pleasantly surprised. Our biggest area of disappointment was the room cleanliness. Our rooms (we had 8 all together) were rarely cleaned properly and we only received evening turn down service once or twice. Housekeeping is definitely an area that POA needs to concentrate some effort on. It is a subject of discontent on most reviews. The fitness center is beautiful, but lacks adequate weight training equipment. Nice treadmills & offers spinning classes for $10.00. (point of info. for fitness buffs: there are nice 24 Hour Fitness studios next to Marriott on Waikiki and 1 block from the port in Maui!). We would recommend skipping the Luau in Maui. It is very expensive and food & drinks are mediocre. If you choose the luau you must be back on ship by 4:30 and it cuts into the 1st day on Maui. If you only need half a day of touring and want to experience a luau it may be worth it, but we felt it was a rip-off. We also recommend booking excursions in advance. Excursion desk had extremely long lines and had minimal desk hours. We booked ours in advance but ended up having 1 or 2 cancelled and several time changes once aboard the ship. Otherwise, the staff was helpful with excursion issues. The ship is laid out very well and is easy to navigate. One of the best floor plans we've seen on a ship. Overall we didn't feel the quality of the ship was as good as Disney, Royal Caribbean, or Princess. This wasn't too bad since the ship is in port every day and we only experienced the ship during evening hours. The shows were only fair; entertainers were talented but material was nothing great. My favorite show was the Hawaiian themed show. (beautiful costumes). The disembarkation was the best we ever experienced! Could be due to fact there are no customs or emigration lines to deal with. We had Pearl Harbor excursion so left ship early. We loved the idea of free-style disembarkation. Overall Pride of America is a beautiful ship with potential, but needs to iron out several issues to bring it up to par with other cruise ship experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
August 20-27 I came on Cruise Critic and read everything before we went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and tried to remember all of the suggestions people made for the cruise in order to better plan, unfortunately I forgot a lot ... Read More
August 20-27 I came on Cruise Critic and read everything before we went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and tried to remember all of the suggestions people made for the cruise in order to better plan, unfortunately I forgot a lot of it and had wished that I'd written it down. It's cool to come on here after also and reread them, because now you know what people are talking about. Being my first cruise and that it was my honeymoon, I was already amazed at the idea and size of the boat and would often (when sitting in a huge theater or restaurant) have to remind myself that we were on a ship. I booked my excursions before we left since we(husband) had made our own honeymoon excursion registry webpage and included them as our gifts. When we arrived though, we didn't have all of the money for all of them since I had scheduled at least one, sometimes two for each day. Nervous I would not have enough money I cancelled all of my excursions thereafter, for fear of being arrested on our disembarkation for not paying. The shore excursion line did take about 20 minutes, but they gladly took our tickets and must've immediately given them to those on a waiting list, because when we arrived promptly at opening the next day, (after our money came in on paypal), to try and get them back they were already gone. (Haleakala? zipline and catch a wave surfing) The staff were very helpful though and even suggested a "trip to Lahaina on your own" where we could just go straight to one of the surfing schools and pay them. Which I did and was actually cheaper than booking it through NCL. I was surprised to see a lot of our excursions on shore in Lahaina for much cheaper. People were clearly upset around us that many of the excursions were in Lahaina which is a 45 minute bus ride from the ship, and were angry that they couldn't just stay in Lahaina for the Luau, but had to go all the way back to the ship and back again. This woman was outraged when the bus back to the ship from Lahaina became full except for us and them. She cussed out the bus driver and told about how her bus yesterday had a flat tire. There were many incidents like this where other people were heated and complaining (usually to people that could do nothing about it) while my husband and I got the better end of the deal. Like our helicopter excursion in Kauai for example. We got to see everything, the coast, Waimea Canyon, etc, and we were in the two front seats of the heli! but because they had changed the times to leave early in order to see Napali coast, the 2nd heli had to quickly fly back to the airport where our van picked them up, Not to mention the couple that got ousted completely because the guy had gained weight or not reported the correct weight. Wow was his wife heated! THis was the "Heaven and Earth helicopter excursion" which I do NOT recommend. Just get the actual helicopter ride for half the price. I guess we paid $240 for some negative tour guide to drive us around the highway around Kauai and tell us about his carpenter days and which houses he built and how bad the road situation is in Hawaii and where the girl surfer got her arm bit off. We stopped twice to get out, neither time did he let us eat our packed lunch in the sweltering heat, he suggested we eat it on the rush back to the boat. The helicopter ride though.....amazing, it's like a lot of Hawaii is, you feel like you've seen it before, but really only on postcards or on TV. Excursions: Well the first day we were ironing out our $ so we decided to tour the ship. We liked the oversize chess, but the "golf range, shuffleboard, and the video arcade were already worn out looking. The arcade games color was way off and for .50 cents each game when you didn't even know what color you were going for, and machines kept eating your money it was a pure ripoff. I did see in the "freestyle daily" (a mini brochure that they're supposed to put outside your door each morning, but usually forget) that there was a free video game hour. but with most of them broken, who cares. Catch A Wave Surfing: just went to "Lahaina on Your Own" and slipped in with the rest of the ship and paid them. It was cool to actually catch waves, with them assisting, pushing you into the wave so you didn't have to paddle vigorously or guess which one was going to be worth riding. It was a bit confusing though, with so many other beginner groups there and we were supposed to wait on the other side of the buoys but everyone seemed to keep floating over and by the end of the day, you were trying to dodge people alongside even being able to stand up. You also didn't know when it was your turn to go, there was no system or line in place, very random and some people just kept turning around if they fell down and cutting. It was very shallow which was good for fear factor, but bad when you tried to jump off your board, you'd get scraped up or step on a rock. And with most of the excursions and with the ship photos, It's really annoying to have to pay an additional $25 to keep the photo that they already printed out! what are they gonna do with them anyway? So we just had someone take ours with our camera. Luau: I agree that this was very impersonal, very mass-marketed luau but cool for a first one. Saw the pig get dug out and free drinks all night! The food line went remarkably quick considering half the boat was there. Great photo op at sunset, with $25 photos as usual. And newlywed men were supposed to dance for their women, but mine hid out :( He knew I was sad though, since he also opted out of playing the Newlywed Game onboard (very funny), and does the dance for me at home. One thing I couldn't get over is how warm Hawaii is. I never needed a jacket, and I even went outside at night on our balcony when our room was too cold. I agree with a previous member, the ship was entirely too cold! How can you dress in a formal cocktail dress when you're freezing to death. Even when out on the deck, you could feel the cold breeze from inside when you walked past an open door. Atlantis submarine: My mom said when she went a year ago they saw turtles. we didn't see much of anything one reef and some yellow fish. but it was still cool to be under water and the captain and crew tried to be humorous. Body Glove Snorkel and Dolphin??? Sail: very misleading description. We saw no dolphins anywhere or turtles once again and basically I saw the same stuff as I saw in the Atlantis sub, but the snorkeling was very relaxing and enjoyable and you float extra well because of the salt water. (Oh yeah, watch out for your first taste of that water!) Hidden Valley Falls Kayak: Also misleading description. The kayak was a 2 person which was very cool and down a lazy type river which was what I wanted after I heard the horror stories of some people that went on the tumultuous sea kayaks. We heard some good history and arrived at our destination. We hiked through the dense forest, (wear water type shoes: (I forgot my crocs) and streams and then swung off the rope vine that Indiana jones did in Raiders of the lost Ark into the river, which I was happy about because when we passed the other group with our tour, they were jumping into a murky swamp. We even picked fresh ginger (I think it was) which you can squeeze a gel out of which can be used on your hair or as a mosquito repellant, both of which I needed at the time. When we arrived at the "falls" they were more of a drizzle and people were more interested in the big shrimp in the water. I was disappointed that this would be the only water fall I would see in Hawaii. We had a motorized boat trip back, where I thought we would get a lunch, but it was local cookies and juice. It was a good excursion though, great way to cooperate with your new husband. I already told you about the heli, I think next time (if I ever recover from this$ trip, from others recommendations, I would do the Haleakala Zipline, the turtle beach, and the waterfall that you can actually walk behind. I'd probably heli again, but definitely won't pay $480 (nonrefundable) to be vanned through a boring tour. Just do the actual flight. maybe over a volcano this time. O.k. the prices! To use the phone was $7.95 a minute. and the internet which I was ironically using to check my credit card and bank balances cost an initial $3.95 and then .75 a minute! The chord for wireless was $10 deposit (you got back later) but the guy was rarely actually in the lounge if you needed help. There was pay phones on each dock and my cell phone worked until we were just off shore, but still a helpless feeling. Our room was cool, bigger than I thought because of what people said on here. We ran into a woman that was in hotel/resort services for years and she was really mad that her room was so dirty, she made them clean it while she watched. We were happy we didn't have that problem,,,,,so we thought...the second day we found a pair of the previous guests' used underwear under the bed. We were just going to throw it away and leave a note for the floor manager but decided to go tell the reception desk, They didn't care, "oh you'd like it removed?" We wondered if we were the type of people to make a bigger "stink" about it if they'd of compensated us somehow. I mean if I didn't trust my man at all, that could've started a huge fight between us..."whose are these?" The balcony was amazing to watch sunsets from and leave shore, but we also got to see closeup the sewer water that they dump into the ocean from the ship. (they'll explain it no the tv channel) and it makes you not so excited about all those water excursions that you booked. :( The lady at the front desk was very rude right when we got on and you had to search out a few staff who were happy to be there. The aloha cafe was very comfortable knowing that you could eat there anytime in your bikini if you wished, although they could've changed it up a bit. And the omelettes took forever to get made, so I just opted to get scrambled eggs and then go to his omelette bar and dump stuff on. The Mardi Gras bar was cheesy and played pop music that maybe my mom had heard of. We wondered why there was no Jazz or Hip Hop night since these are American born genres of music as well. or Reggae from the islands There is not much nightlife on the islands though and our bartender told us stories of how the locals hate the tourists and drug them and beat them up, so we didn't think that was a good idea. The night shows were also cheesy and the whole ship did not offer much for the 21-35 age group. (Get a bowling alley or something)The luau type show was good, but we quickly found out that a lot of the Hawaiian stuff was only on show for tourists and was not authentic at all. (Why were the hula girls in the cadillac diner Elvis mural all caucasian?) It was really sad to hear the stories on your excursions about how the islanders want to be considered as Native Americans, and about how all of the European settlers came in and started purchasing land, a concept that Hawaiians never contemplated since they viewed it as god's land and didn't feel like anyone could "own" land. I started to feel inauthentic and touristy as well, jumping off our huge American flagged ship out in the middle of the ocean (Kona) with hula shirts on and leis that are only supposed to be worn for special occasions. I also wondered if we were impeding on religious and ceremonial values, are we supposed to say Mahalo and Aloha and we were also told that "tribal" tattoos can be very offensive to Hawaiians who are actually in these tribes. We've come to expect looks and stares from people since we are interracial, but this ship was noticeably overaware of us and seemed to all come from the south or something. I guess we're too used to Californians who expect and respect diversity. I'm sure the gay couple on board would agree with us. Anyway, all in all it was an amazing trip, the rocking of the boat was actually quite relaxing, except when you were trying to walk in your high heels. I still feel like I'm moving. We were amazed to be in an area more expensive than the SF bay area! Burger King meal was $8.00 and they definitely needed to do something about our flight not leaving the airport until 9:30 at night. We were sitting in the airport for 14 hours! and figured this was a lame way to try and get us to purchase another shore excursion in Honolulu. 7 days was just long enough and I agree that the cruise was a great way to see which island you would stay on the next time. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
We sailed on 8/20 on the Pride of America and had a very nice experience. We were 2 adults and 2 teens in 2 rooms with balconies. (split by gender, not age -- maybe not having to put up w hubby's snoring for 6 nites enhanced the ... Read More
We sailed on 8/20 on the Pride of America and had a very nice experience. We were 2 adults and 2 teens in 2 rooms with balconies. (split by gender, not age -- maybe not having to put up w hubby's snoring for 6 nites enhanced the experience for me) The rooms, storage, and even the bathroom were more than fine for 2 people -- perhaps having the balcony gave an illusion of more space. Never any electrical problems, bathroom problems or smell in any part of the ship. We were in the 9600 row of cabins. Our cabin steward, Marylou, was cheerful and courteous. We often left the room late in the morning and she did not seem irritated. (I've seen comments about staff walking in -- we did lock the door at nite so that wouldn't happen. Also put the "wheel" outside the door to do not disturb. There were a couple of times when some prankster along the hall decided to turn all the wheels to DND and the staff needed to double check with everyone and were quite apologetic.) If we were out of the room at turndown time, the room was turned down. If we were in the room at nite, Marylou asked if we needed anything -- when we said no she didn't come in. The room was always clean. When we arrived, the twin beds were pushed together as a double, and she had the room reconfigured as soon as we pointed it out. I did hear people grousing that they never had turndown -- this was on a tour so I don't know what part of the ship they were on. These same people also complained that when they asked the cabin steward at 3pm to have a blouse ironed by 6, she told them it couldn't be done and asked for more notice the next time. I think they were the ones out of line. We were fairly happy with the food (and some of us are non-meat eaters -- also have "new york city" quality expectations). Actually preferred the Aloha Cafe -- liked to take our own portion sizes and sample lots of stuff. Also preferred not to get "dressed" for dinner and to eat at our own pace. Did eat a couple of times in the Skyline, which was pleasant when we wanted to slow down. Wasn't impressed w/ Little Italy, the only "free" specialty restaurant. Didn't try any other specialty restaurants. Bkfst at the Diner was fun once, but too slow if you want to get off the ship and do things. There was something extra appealing about the soft ice cream at the Aloha - especially around 4pm. We flew from NJ to Honolulu same day as the sailing. NCL arranged the air portion, so we had transportation from the airport to the ship. Embarkation was tortuous. Disembarkation was a pleasure. In fact, we wanted to be among the first to get off (so we could make it to Pearl Harbor on our own - read abt the long waits and running out of tkts), and the staff was very accommodating. We left our luggage at the pier ($5 a bag) and took a taxi to Pearl Harbor (abt $30). Found a shuttle for $20 that took us back to the pier. (For those thinking abt renting a car instead, Pearl Harbor is pretty close to the airport) The cab back to the airport cost us less than the cab going to Pearl Harbor. NCL shuttle back to the airport from the ship ended at abt 10:30 -- way earlier than we returned. Enjoyed a couple of the shows and contests; my teens did not take advantage of the activities specifically for teens but I heard good reviews about the teen pgm from others. The staff were all pleasant and tried to be helpful. Most of our anxiety came from shore excursions. We booked scuba trips for my husband, relying on the brochure timetable. It turned out that he'd be gone much longer than advertised (leaving the rest of us waiting). The first time, we at least had some notice -- looked at the tour ticket and saw a very late return time. We found out that he'd have to wait several hours after the dive for transportation back to the ship. I ended up renting a car at the last minute (called Budget 800# from a pay phone at the pier, got good AAA rate -- cell phones work but why use up minutes for an 800 #) and drove to pick him up and do some touring. The second time, on Kona,transportation back was delayed by more than 2 hours for no reason other than disorganization. I finally gave up waiting for him and took the tender (very easy once the first rush is over)and did shopping I could walk to. (Longs Drugs is good for souvenirs like coffee; also did a lot of shopping for macadamias etc., at the ABC stores. Don't buy at the Mauna Loa nut factory if you take the volcano tour - too expensive.) My husband got back in time to go to the chocolate buffet w the kids (and they brought things back for me -- refrig in room is a nice touch) so it worked out for all of us. The other excursions we took were the Volcano in Hilo (shorter trip -- I did hear all the long trips were too long) and the helicopter in Kuai. I had booked the scuba for 1, volcano and helicopter for 4 online. Got confirmation just for husband and self. Called NCL and got kids booked on volcano but told helicopter sold out. Kept calling w/out any luck; told to take care of helicopter on ship. Once on ship, went to join long shore excursion line, but was fortunate enuf to explain my problem to a staff person who was going along the line offering advice, and he pulled me out and took care of it right away. (Selected Kuai for helicopter based on recs from this site -- it was wonderful. Saw a lot that we couldn't have seen w/out hiking and climbing many days. (The ship did change itinerary from what was advertised so that all passengers could enjoy seeing the Na Paali coast of Kuai. Still, I was disappointed that the time in Kuai was cut short. Also, we did not cruise past the volcano at nite after leaving Hilo because the captain wanted to get to Maui early for repairs. There was never an announcement about this - I found out when I asked a crew member for details about time and place to view the volcano.) Once onboard, my kids wanted to go horseback riding in Kuai. The shore excursion desk was 1 spot short. They were very nice, promising to hold the 2 open spots and encouraging us to check late the prior nite and early, early the day of the trip. Unfortunately, the 3d spot didn't open up. When the boat docked, I went down to the pier and got some brochures from horseback companies. We called a few places and a wonderful small operation squeezed my family in - the husband came to the ship to pick the 3 of them up (I don't think he makes a habit of this, it just worked out that he had time that day) and it turned out they were the only ones riding. They were really happy with the intimacy of the ride, getting to know one of the owners and the couple's dreams for their land. The ranch is very near the waterfall in Lihue . Please give them a try: Keapana Horsemanship, Laura Butler, owner, phone 808-823-9303, cell 808-651-2375. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
This was our first cruise. We departed on August 13. Embarkation: Pretty easy. If you pay attention at the airport, you will not have a difficult time finding your escort. I was very disappointed not to receive a lei at the airport like ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We departed on August 13. Embarkation: Pretty easy. If you pay attention at the airport, you will not have a difficult time finding your escort. I was very disappointed not to receive a lei at the airport like some of the other cruise line customers. There were a lot of people who were very put out at having to carry their own luggage. Are you kidding me? How lazy can you be? If you can't carry it, you brought too much! People complained about the Dept. of Agriculture inspection. That is state law in Hawaii, not the cruise line's fault! It's no big deal. Anyway, after arriving at the port we checked in (no line!) and luggage arrived at our room a few hours later. Room: Kind of small, but the balcony helped a lot. Our cabin steward did an amazing job of replacing towels (2-3 times/day!) He called us by name every time we saw him. We were very impressed with his service. One bad thing: our room was under the Aloha Cafe, which made things very noisy when they started serving breakfast! Entertainment: The vocalists that did the shows were fantastic! The stand up comedian, Bud Andersen was very funny, too. W.T. Greer at Pink's was phenomenal... a voice like Brian McKnight. Joey Racheff in the Gold Rush Saloon is really great, too. Activities on board: Lots to do, if you read your "Freestyle Daily" newspaper. I took hula lessons. (The Hawaiian Ambassador, Kamana'o is terrific.) My husband took juggling. They had crafts, dance lessons, various exercise classes, basketball, trivia, movies, etc. Most people DO NOT stay on-board during the day, so activities are not crowded. Shore Excursions: Pricey, but WELL worth it. We snorkeled in Maui, did the luau there too, and the helicopter in Kauai. I never heard a single complaint about ANY excursion experience. My biggest problem with this cruise (and maybe it's my ignorance having never cruised before) is that there was NOTHING to do at any port (the exception being Kona). We ported in industrial areas FAR from shops, restaurants, etc. If you do not have excursions planned and have not PRE-RENTED a car, there is a good chance that you will not be leaving the port. The Norwegian Wind followed our same route almost the entire trip, so rental cars were scarce! We we got on board the first day at 4 PM and all excursions were sold out for the next day. We got off the boat and found out all rental cars were booked, too. We were screwed. We called and booked rental cars for the next day's island immediately. Food: What do you expect? It's food for the masses. It was very similar to dorm food. Alcoholic beverages are ridiculously expensive. Cadillac Diner: our worst meal. Horrible service. East Meets West: terrific food, terrific service. Little Italy: Another great meal, our favorite. Lazy J: AWESOME food and service. Aloha Cafe: great for breakfast, made to order omelettes were great. Lunch/dinner were sort of bland. Great salad bar, though. It does pay to eat at the specialty restaurants. The chocoholic buffet was awesome. I stood in line for 45 minutes for it though. We loved the freestyle dining concept. Pools: Very small! Hot tubs are not hot at all, but who wants that when it's 90 degrees outside anyway? We didn't use the spa. Photos: Cameramen were a little pushy and constantly taking pictures. One thing to note. I get VERY seasick. I was terrified that I would be ill the entire time. This was NOT a smooth sail at all. I took Bonine a few hours before getting on the ship and never let it get out of my system and I was totally fine. We were disappointed to find out that there was a mechanical problem that wouldn't allow us to cruise the Napali Coast on our final night. They "made up for it" by offering us 2 free watered-down cocktails. It was a good time. There are kinks to be worked out. I don't think cruising is for luxury travelers, but if you're willing to roll with the punches, plan ahead as far as excursions go, and have some patience, there is no better way to see ALL of Hawai'i. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We were met at the airport by a half a dozen NCL representatives. They directed us to a tram to take us to the baggage claim area. After we had our luggage we proceeded out the door where there were more NCL representatives who directed us ... Read More
We were met at the airport by a half a dozen NCL representatives. They directed us to a tram to take us to the baggage claim area. After we had our luggage we proceeded out the door where there were more NCL representatives who directed us to the proper place to put our luggage and which bus to get on to bring us to the ship. From the time we had our luggage got on the bus and went through security to get on the ship we were checked in and up in our cabin in about 45 minutes. The cabin was cozy and the decor was very colorful. We had a balcony cabin at the front of the ship that is three times as big as all of the other balcony cabins. We really enjoyed the extra room out on the balcony. The shower was a bit on the small side. The drains in the shower always seemed to drain real slow. The clothes line in the shower was broken. I contacted the front desk on three different occasions to get it fixed. It was still broken as we got off of the ship. The room was always made up in a timely manner so we did not have any concerns with our cabin steward. She was friendly and always had a smile on her face as we came and went throughout the week. We were not aware that they were serving Prime Rib in the main restaurants on the first night we sailed. They did not offer it any other night that we sailed. The food was average. It could have been served warmer. It always looked like the servers were so busy rushing to and from in the dining room, but the never got anywhere. they really need to work on giving better service to the guests on board. We are once in one of the specialty restaurants on our anniversary night. We had an excellent dinner that night but at an extra price. They should try to run the main dining rooms as well as they did the specialty ones. The entertainment was good, we really enjoyed the singing and dancing shows on board. Service at the bars was always slow. The work ethic of an all American crew leaves a lot to be desired. The shore excursions desk always had long lines. I was glad that we prebooked our shore excursions online. We were a little disappointed that one of our excursions was cancelled supposedly because not enough people signed up. They did swap a more expensive shore excursion in its place. The shore excursions were overpriced in my opinion. Schedule you own on line by yourself. The Pride of America is a very pretty ship. I am glad that we sailed on her while she is still new. I have a feeling that in another year she will be dirty and run down. I hope that NCL can get a handle on training an all American crew and turn them around so this beautiful ship does not suffer. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, so we did not know what to expect. I had done some research previous to our trip, but at the time we booked the trip there wasn't very many reviews of the Pride of America because it was such a new ship. We previously cruised with Celebrity and Holland America and loved both of those lines. Likes -- 1. The "free-style" cruising concept was a plus for this trip. It allowed us time to see more of the islands. The late night departure and the overnight were welcomed. 2. Our veranda cabin on Deck 10 midships was well designed (adequate, but not roomy) and nicely appointed. We found the hanging space just barely adequate for a week of cruising. Plenty of storage space under the bed for our largest piece of luggage. 3. The fresh fruit at every meal was great. 4. The sliding veranda door was wonderful. It does away with the awkwardness of the swinging doors that are standard on most other lines. The tinted glass was also welcome. 5. The embarkation/disembarkation processes were very quick and easy. 6. Breakfast meal with the exception of getting an omelet or eggs cooked as you like. 7. The crew for the greatest part was very nice and very helpful. I did not see anyone having their "attitude adjusted" by a superior in public. 8. Having a coffee maker in the room. 9. Lots of hot tubs available, if you wanted to go in them. 10. Cruising around the Na'Pali coast and the night cruise past Kiluhea (both directions) were awesome. It was noted in previous reviews that this was not done for a couple of cruises. Dislikes -- 1. Lukewarm food and I'm talking every day, every meal. 2. Strong sewage-like smell coming from Deck 5 up to Deck 11. It happened twice. 3. Too few or repetitious food choices for meals, with the exception of breakfast (which is really hard for any cruise line to mess up). For instance, they served Spanish rice and Chicken Fried Rice twice, plus roasted chicken 3 times, etc. 4. Amazingly small shower area. When I thought of some of the larger people on the ship trying to take a shower I wondered if they just stood outside the shower and used the bathroom floor since it had a drain. I am 6' 3" and I had a tough time trying to get my hair washed. Plus they stuck a large soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower which takes up even more space. 5. Housekeeping was hit and miss throughout the ship, specifically cleaning. I went into restroom near the Aloha Cafe and found no paper towels available. I went into the same restroom over 2 hours later and still no towels. Cabin surfaces and tables were not wiped off, mirrors not cleaned, etc. Our cabin steward actually placed a chipped drinking glass in our cabin. 6. Overpriced tours. This we heard from several people. We rented cars for around $30 per day and enjoyed driving over most of the islands. You could cover any island in a day with the exception of the Big Island. Plus you saw more than any one tour. 7. The "tipping" process was the same as some other lines, however, since you never interact with most of the crew during "free-style cruising" (i.e. concierge, maitre d', etc) why should you be required to tip them? I don't mind tipping people who actually do something for you. 8. Value vs. Price. Not enough value for the price of the cruise. 9. Overpriced drinks (this is not just a NCL dislike). If you charged $5 for a MaiTai or similar drink, I think you might sell more of them rather than the $10 "special price". 10. The information from the bridge via CCTV did not always match the daily paper. 11. Too many solicitations for photos and prices for them were too high. 12. Room service menu was very limited and most items you could get in a fast food store without the one hour wait time stated in the guest guide book. 13. The in-cabin guest guide book was really a joke. Not enough information about the things you needed to really know about the ship, it's routine or just operation of items in your cabin. No phone numbers for specific ship functions (such as housekeeping). 14. Chipped and/or dirty plates/cups/utensils. Dirty, threadbare, torn napkins. No extra napkins available without getting another set of utensils. This ship has only been in regular service since July 2005! 15. Crowded deck chairs. So close together it was hard to get into them. They were comfortable, however. 16. Swimming pool walls were dirty. I don't know when they get to clean the pools since another trip was leaving that night after we disembarked. 17. Not having your cabin made up when you needed it to be done. Do not stay in your cabin with the DND sign out past 1:00pm. (That is once you figure out how to get your DND sign out). BTW there is no mention of this handy gadget in the guest guide book, it took 2 days to find it out. 18. The overhang of Deck 11 on the Deck 10 verandas was a minor issue. My wife thought it was great from a privacy and weather-protection aspect, but I thought it had created a tunnel-effect which blocked most views aft and forward. Any veranda cabin below Deck 10 did not have this problem. All of the verandas on Deck 10 facing aft were visible to any guest at the rail of the Aloha Cafe Aft area on Deck 11. Suggestions -- 1. Housekeeping staff needs to know what clean means, not just replace towels, cups, etc. 2. Keeping guests informed of what time the ship would depart or arrive in ports seemed to be a problem. 3. Keeping food interesting and hot. 4. Charging guests $10 per day in tips to people that they don't ever interact with. I like to tip people who have earned it, not just because it's a way of doing business. 5. Several other reviews mentioned malfunctioning toilets or safes. We had both problems happen to us, but both were fixed very quickly. Overall impression -- Our impression of the "free-style" cruising concept is one of a floating 3-star hotel with "fast food" food stopping at different Hawaiian locales. If touring Hawaii without having to pack or unpack your bags just once is your thing, then NCL is for you. We would like to see if other lines would adopt the concept by staying longer in ports thereby allowing you to actually see something. It would be nice if NCL would use a variety of all fresh-made food, not pre-packaged and re-warmed. If you want the "upper class" feel of cruising, then take one of the other "classier" lines. The only real problem we have with NCL is value versus price. We paid too much for what we got in return. This was echoed by several other guests onboard. Having the option of dressing up every night for dinner versus not having reserved dining unless you pay for it, is not enough in our minds to balance the difference between value and price. Flight from Sacramento, CA to Honolulu, HI -- Our flight left Sacramento at 10:30am and the flight went into San Francisco to change airplanes. We left San Francisco on a 767-300 United flight. If you are a Mileage Plus member you can go online and ask for an upgrade to Economy Plus, which gives you 5 more inches of leg room between seats. This cost is an extra $44 per person, but was well worth the money. I did that for the flight back also. United does not provide free food service on these flights, but they do offer a variety of snacks, salads (no salads available on the late night flight back to LA), etc for $5 each. We had the chicken Caesar salad which was so-so. We arrived in Honolulu at 3pm. When we deplaned, there were NCL reps all over the place. It was overkill, but at least we knew exactly where we needed to go. We claimed our luggage and proceeded to the transfer bus just outside of the luggage claim area. Our baggage was placed on a rental truck and we climbed aboard for the trip to our hotel in Waikiki. This transfer took about 45 minutes since we dropped off other guests at the Marriott. Two night stay in Waikiki -- We stayed at the Radisson Prince Kuhio about 2 blocks from the actual beach. Most guests were going to be put in mountain-view rooms, but I requested an ocean-view room and the desk clerk was very nice to give us one on the 37th floor. The room had a very nice view of the beach area, but we also looked down on two other hotels, but it was nice just the same. The bad part about staying on the 37th floor was not the height, but the time invested in using the elevators. Radisson was in the process of upgrading 3 of the five elevators, which severely limited the amount of people able to be moved at one time. When we got to the room, housekeeping had shampooed the carpet earlier in the day so it was still a bit damp. On the second day, the room was not made up by four in the afternoon, so we just asked for clean towels. Other than those things the hotel was adequate and centrally located for the Waikiki area. Of course if you needed anything there was always an ABC store on just about every corner. Plenty of places to eat within easy walking distance of the hotel. We received an informational letter from NCL about our embarkation the next day. However, it did not contain any luggage tags for the transfer to the ship. I walked down to the NCL help desk on the second floor which is open from noon to 6pm to inquire about tags. The NCL rep looked at me as though I stepped off a UFO. Finally, another rep understood what tags I needed of which they had an ample supply sitting on the desk! I gave them my cabin number and they gave me tags for aft cabin area, which turned out to be wrong. The NCL rep was the same one I talked to the night before when I asked about some other embarkation information. Why didn't they give me the luggage tags at that point? If you like to have a very good buffet, try to Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel right on the beach. Very nice atmosphere and good food. Around $37 per person. Embarkation 9/24/05 -- On Saturday, everyone assembled in the hotel lobby at 1pm. Transfer busses were late and this process unfortunately kept many seniors standing in the heat and humidity for almost an hour. Once on the bus, everything went fine and we arrived approximately 30 minutes later at Pier 11. This was about 2:30pm. Here you go through a security check, make sure you have your driver's license handy. Not sure why, but they made some people remove their shoes/sandals and others not. I had sandals on and was told to remove them. Can't imagine what I could have hidden in them. Once thorough the checkpoint, you are offered the first of many photo ops. We passed them up. You are put into a queue to sign for your cruise cards, this process was very quick and easy. Then up the escalator and onto the ship. We were we were informed that our cabins were not ready yet and that we could wait in the Aloha Cafe which was serving lunch. We went up to the Aloha and had our first meal on board. Unfortunately, it was a precursor of the lukewarm food to come. The food had good flavor, but was lukewarm. About 30 minutes later, they informed everyone that the cabins were ready. Ours was nicely positioned just one deck down and about 8 doors from the staircase/elevators. It took about another hour for all of luggage to be delivered. Room had not been vacuumed or surfaces wiped down. The port party started around 7pm and included the ship’s band, which was okay. We departed Honolulu at approximately 8:30pm, 30 minutes later than scheduled. Hilo (Big Island) 9/25/05 -- We arrived in port approximately 8am. Departure from the ship was easy and we decided to rent a car. My advice is plan ahead for a car. Most car rental shuttles will only pick you up if you have reserved a car. Dollar and Budget were the only two that had cars available for walk-ins. We chose Dollar and were taken to the airport about 15 minutes away. Driving in Hawaii is like other parts of the USA, with the exception of speed limits. Because distance between towns is relatively short, you were almost constantly changing speeds from 25 to 50 mph. This is a bit frustrating, if you wish to get anywhere fast. We decided to drive to the Volcano National Park, which is about 45 minutes away. The park fee is $10 per car for a week. We went to the Lava Tube and several other lava areas. However, the most striking drive was the Chain of Craters road where the road ends where lava has crossed the road. Parking here is at a premium, but well worth the walk to the end of the road (lava had flowed across it several years ago). You can see steam erupting from the ocean approximately 3 miles away. You can walk across the lava beds, but be prepared! Use a guide and wear appropriate shoes and clothes. We chose only to walk to an overlook about 1 mile from the ranger offices. Take bottled water! It is very hot in the area and you need to stay hydrated. After looking at several other areas we drove back toward Hilo. We stopped at the Mauna Loa Nut Factory to pickup some candy for everyone back home. If you don’t wish to stop, you can find the same items in several other stores (including Wal-Mart and K mart) in any port you visit. They do serve macadamia nut ice cream at the back of the store, which was very tasty on a hot afternoon. The Rainbow Falls are very close to town and you can visit this area also. We wanted to, but we had done quite a bit of hiking in the Volcano NP and did not feel up to it. Note: Plan on arriving back at the rental agency no later than 5:30 pm. It takes awhile for the shuttle to run back and forth. Some people were late in arriving at the ship, due to this problem. The night cruise past Kilauea was spectacular so get a good seat or railing position. The captain cruised both directions so anyone could get a good viewing. Kahului (Maui) 9/26/05 Here we did not do too much. We took a walk into the area around the port did a bit of shopping, but due to the heat and humidity we went back to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon at poolside reading and relaxing. Departure was 10pm which made it nice for everyone that attended the ship’s onshore luau. However, when we spoke to people the next day about the luau, most comments were so-so about it. It was a very windy night, though. Lahaina (Maui) 9/27/05 Here is your first day of tender service to the port. We had reserved a car as we had in Hilo, but our plans of departing the ship around 9am were thwarted by only having two tenders and high waves. We did not depart until approximately 12:30pm. This was very frustrating for everyone. The cruise director did not keep guests informed of wait times, so everyone sat around waiting for their numbers to come up. Since most of the day was gone, we decided to walk around the port area. Go to the courthouse which was very near to learn about all the things available in the area. Walk outside to the Banyan Tree which is stunning. We did a bit of shopping and decided to return to the ship. This was a very long wait in the sun for everyone. The Akai security guards were not at all friendly or understanding of this fact. Tenders only hold 50 people and there were at least 75+ waiting in line for over an hour waiting for a tender to arrive from the ship. Kona (Big Island) 9/28/05 This is the second day of tender service and it was very much different here. Everyone got off in a very short time period and there were more tenders available for service. Very nice area to walk around in and just relax. This is what we did and had a light lunch and drinks at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. Nawiliwili (Kauai) 9/29/05 This is the place to rent a car. We took the shuttle to the Lihue airport (about a 15 minute ride). Be sure to note the streets leading to the airport! The shuttle runs about every 30 minutes, you could also take a cab, which wouldn’t be that much if you are in a hurry. Get good maps! The ones they give you are not very explicit. Had I known we were going to rent, I would have stopped at AAA and got some good maps. Kauai is very drivable in both directions. Take your time. The rental companies are 24 hour services and you can always take a cab back to the ship. We drove east first toward Hanalei Bay. It’s a very nice drive through awesome scenery. The beaches were great and we enjoyed watching the surfers and the trade winds. Watch for sign pointing to Mango Mama’s Smoothie shop. Just off the main road and worth the money for a great fresh smoothie. The road ends just after Haena at a very nice beach area. A little crowded, but nice. Many trails into higher areas start here. Take a look inside the dry and wet caves, takes only a few minutes. Drive back through Lihue and go west towards the Waimea Canyon. This another beautiful drive. The canyon overlook is awesome. Then be sure to leave enough time to see Kokee State Park further up the mountain. This rain forest area is cooler than the lower altitudes so bring a light sweater or jacket. Great place to hike around in. On our way back, we stopped at the Spouting Horn. This wasn’t a huge thrill due to the low surf conditions. I would imagine it would be something to enjoy when the waves at their highest. Gas was around $3.25 when we were there, but Monday, Oct 3rd the state was going to raise the price cap another $.27 per gallon. Still when you think about how much an overpriced tour can be, renting a car for $30 a day (mid-size) and spending about $30 in gas seems like a great deal. At sea 9/30/05 Nothing much except to relax and enjoy the scenery as the ship sails past the beautiful Na’Poli coastline. Happens around 10am so be ready for some wonderful scenery. They deliver bag tags tonight to attach to your luggage. However, if you wish to get off the ship very quickly you can hand carry everything and just walk off the ship. We decided to have a nice casual breakfast before we departed. Disembarkation was very easy and they kept fairly close to the printed schedule. Our luggage was in our matching colored tag area. Honolulu, Hi 10/1/05 Note: If you are going to rent a car here, I suggest you evaluate the number of people waiting for the rental shuttles. We should have gotten into a taxi long before becoming frustrated with Dollar. The Hertz shuttle came twice before the Dollar van came once. A taxi would not have been that much to any of the rental companies. Another thing, if you rent a car in Waikiki, you can turn it in at the Honolulu airport at no extra charge. We drove up the middle of the island (H2) towards the North Shore. Very pleasant drive once you are clear of Honolulu. We happened upon the Dole pineapple plantation and decided to stop. The pineapple soft-serve ice cream was great. If you have children, the world’s largest maze is here. We then went on to Haleiwa. Drive past to the north shore beaches, the waves and scenery are worth it. The return to Haleiwa and go in to the town. Stop and have a great burger at Kua Aina. A little place in a small strip mall. We then drove back down to Honolulu to see the Arizona Memorial. Note: Do this FIRST! Not last in the day. Most of the sightseeing boats are full very early in the day. We only got to see the museum and the memorial from a distance. They close at 6pm. We turned the rental car in and went to the airport. Our flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles was scheduled for 9pm departure. If you can change this, I would. This makes for a long day and night. The food in the Honolulu airport is expensive! Eat elsewhere before you get on the plane if possible. On this late night flight, United does not have “fresh” food for sale, only snacks. LAX was much more reasonable on food. Bon Voyage. Hope this has been helpful. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2005
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to ... Read More
After reading the reviews on this site, I was extremely hesitant about boarding the Pride of America. NCL representatives were extremely unhelpful and I could not get a straight answer about any of the problems I had heard about prior to our cruise. I am happy to say that due to the advanced warnings and helpful hints from other Cruise Critic members, we had a wonderful time on our cruise. However, I would not take this cruise again with a child under 2. For future reference, my husband and I (and 11 month old baby) took this cruise with my parents, so we had 2 cabins on different ends of the ship. EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was one of the worst parts of the trip. We did not purchase NCL transportation vouchers, so this may have been the cause of our problems, but I don't believe buying the pre-paid vouchers would have made any difference. The cab ride is $20 from the airport to the harbor and arrives quicker than the NCL shuttle vans. We purchased travel vouchers at the airport for $8 per person which had people on it who paid $20 for NCL's transfers. The ride is short, about 15 minutes so that's not the issue. The major inconvenience arose when we arrived at the harbor terminal and about 500 people are standing in line in the humid air waiting to go through security so they can register. This was ridiculous! NCL has got to figure out how to do this better. Apparently there are lines from 1:30 pm until 4:00 pm. My parents who arrived at 1:00 pm embarked with no wait. Once we got through security, we were able to register through the Latitudes area which probably saved us an hour. I have taken approx. 15 cruises previously, yet I was pleasantly and constantly surprised at the beauty of the ship. It is decorated wonderfully and the American theme was carried throughout the ship. TRAVELING WITH AN INFANT -- Our baby loved the ship. The carpet is very colorful and each restaurant and room has a different theme, so the baby received a lot of stimulation. Since he wasn't allowed to play in the children's area during "open hours" since there were 75 other children on the ship, we had to let him crawl around the different public rooms so he could get some exercise. Other people and the children's staff recommended the Champagne Bar, however, it seemed that art auctions were always going on there, plus the smoke from the cigar bar drifted up there & there was an overhang which we didn't think was too safe. We had him crawl around the library and game room and other rooms which were unoccupied. Plus, since the cruise was through Hawaii, we were only on the ship in the late afternoons and at night. It was very disappointing not to be able to use the childcare facilities. We were not the only people in this situation, therefore there were often infants at dinner and around the common areas way past their bedtimes. If we (and other parents) wanted to eat somewhere other than a buffet, we had to take the baby to dinner. The room service menu was very limited, so there weren't other options. Our cabin steward was good. We were one of the lucky ones. He made our baby towel animals and did a nice job cleaning our room. After the first night of trying to sterilize the bottles with the hot water dispenser for tea up in the Aloha Cafe, I asked the steward if there was somewhere I could get the bottles washed, and he ran them through the dishwasher sterilizer for me. That was a huge relief and convenience. The crib provided was metal and didn't have any bumpers. The housekeeping supervisor made us "makeshift bumpers," yet after the first night, we decided we wanted our baby to keep his baby teeth (he kept pulling himself up and knocking his head on the rails & side bars) so we went to a Wal-Mart in Hilo & bought a pack-and-play for him to sleep in for the rest of the trip. A bonus was that the pack-and-play took up less room and every square foot of floor space counted! CABIN -- The cabin is tiny. We had trouble fitting 2 of us and a crib in it. I don't know how 4 people could have room to put their clothes away in the limited number of drawers that were provided. The room was designed well, however, with a mini-fridge which was a lifesaver for us, a safe, tv with good reception, & closet with lots of hangers. Our suitcases fit nicely under the bed. We didn't spend much time in our room due to the itinerary and size of the room. Balconies - We deliberately did not choose a balcony (fear of baby crawling off the ship) but our room had a big window which gave us lots of light. We saw a lot of cabins with Balconies and the Balconies didn't look that big, except for the ones on the front and back of the ship. My parents had a balcony off the back of the ship (aft 9702) which was incredible and almost 3/4 the size of their room. All standard rooms seemed to be the same size, so the balcony did provide a little more space. Bathroom - The bathroom was miniscule. Beyond tiny. I'm petite, and I was claustrophobic in the shower. I don't know how a 175 pound male could ever shower there. The counter space was ridiculously small and the bathrooms have 2 trash receptacles under the sink rather than a regular trash can since there is no space for a can in the bathroom. I would advise showering in the spa. There is no fee to use the spa facilities. Treatments are not any more expensive than equivalent hotels charge. All of the bathrooms have soap dispensers, except ours didn't have one when we arrived. Therefore, we didn't have any soap in our cabin until I called housekeeping. I don't know what the previous occupants were thinking. We also had all the accessories to make coffee/tea, and no coffee pot. It took us 4 days of reminders to get an in-room coffee pot. We also had a big problem with our shower not draining. That took 4 days to get that fixed too. It was beyond unpleasant. The light outside our room also was burned out and never got fixed. I felt like a complainer, but whoever is in the room next shouldn't find much wrong with it. CLEANLINESS -- We were extremely worried about cleanliness & bad smells. Yes, Deck 4 did smell of sewage occasionally. I reported this to the pursers desk & saw housekeeping putting a "smelling tree" in a closet almost immediately. Not exactly the ideal solution in my book, but it did work for that instance. At other times, the stench was terrible. Our stateroom was not as clean as I would have liked when we arrived. Plus, some things looked worn more than they should have for a ship that is only 6 months old. We learned, and this may or not be true, that a cleaning crew comes on the ship each Saturday to clean & turn-around the rooms, and on that day, the stewards get a day off. Who knows? We didn't have ice until late the first evening and we didn't ever know at what time our cabin would be cleaned, but I blame all of this on NCL and not having proper staffing ratios, rather than on the stewards. My parents weren't as lucky with their cabin steward as we were. They never saw theirs. I recall reading something about dirty elevator doors, and while this was the case, the dirt is really just streaking since the elevator doors are stainless steel and the cleaning crew probably doesn't have the proper cleaning equipment to keep the doors streak-free. GYM -- I hadn't seen any posts about the gym before embarkation. The gym is AMAZING! Flat panel tv's on every treadmill & bike. They nickel & dime you to take spinning & other classes, which we didn't do, but the gym is of a Four Seasons quality. More equipment was being added too, since we saw it in a "crew only" area when we were escorted with our stroller down a "restricted" area. I never used the gym except for admiring it since I was walking up and down the hallways so often carrying a 20+ pound baby. FOOD -- Service is beyond leisurely...it is slow. However, we never once had a rude server and even though it sometimes took 2 1/2 hrs for dinner, the servers constantly came around to ask if we needed anything. It seemed that the kitchen was very backed up and the staff is running around but doesn't seem to get anywhere. But, and to me, this is more important than the food or the wait to eat, the servers are polite, helpful and trying their best. Therefore, even if the service was slow, the servers really seemed to be doing their best to keep the guests happy. Overall, the food was fair. Other than the shrimp, which was excellent, and the sushi, which was ok, the seafood was terrible. All of the seafood is frozen and is not very good. I had a "special" of swordfish and spinach in Little Italy which was presented beautifully, yet the swordfish was inedible. It was a great presentation though. Much beyond my expectations for presentation. Restaurant-wise, for dinner, we ate at Little Italy three times, East Meets West once, Sushi Bar twice, and the formal dining room once. We also ate at the Cadillac Diner & the Aloha Cafe for breakfast & lunch. We had a reservation at Jefferson's Bistro and decided to cancel it since the other food was not very good, and we figured it wasn't worth the extra cost since it was the same kitchen. I'll give you the highlights of Little Italy (no surcharge) & East Meets West ($10): Little Italy has a Caesar salad mixed table-side, however, it's bottled dressing. That pretty much sums up all the food on the ship. I'd skip the Caesar unless you choose to put Oil & Vinegar on it. All of the salad dressings I tasted seemed to be non-fat and I didn't like most of them. The menu states there are non-fat dressings, so maybe they got the labels mixed up. As I said earlier, don't order the seafood. The pasta is good, and the pizza is delicious. Fresh and hot. We didn't have a temperature problem with any of our meals on board. Also, the veal chop was fantastic. You can ask for crushed garlic for the bread which they heated up and was very tasty. All of the appetizers were ok too. East Meets West was salty, yet it had the best Chicken Satay I've ever tasted. Nothing else on the menu was outstanding, and the miso soup was too salty to drink, however, the green tea, which is only served at this restaurant, is very good. All tea & coffee drinks are included. The coffee was delicious every day. There were machines which brewed the coffee and even though one was often not working, the coffee they produced was delicious, though sometimes even too hot to drink. The espresso was particularly strong. Breakfast was the best meal. I enjoyed eating at the outside area of the Aloha Deck. Omelettes were made to order (with egg whites or egg beaters) and the view couldn't be beat! We ate in the formal dining room twice for breakfast, however, the service was very slow and we wanted to see the sites. I also really liked the Diner. They made me a turkey sandwich to-order and although it wasn't fancy, it was exactly what I wanted. Further, we had purchased the "unlimited sodas" for the week (not really necessary but we were afraid ordering too many diet cokes would break the bank) and servers brought them without batting and eye and they weren't being tipped by us since we paid a flat fee. Wine is very expensive for the quality and we stuck to diet coke after a few bottles that were barely drinkable. EXCURSIONS/SEEING THE ISLANDS -- My husband took the volcano bike ride excursion in Hilo. He enjoyed it. The excursion prices seem high until you realize how much money it is to take a taxi. We tried to take an excursion our last day in Kauai to see the Na Poli coast, however, since our departure was supposed to be earlier than originally scheduled, they didn't have the excursion that day (Friday) and only offered it on Thursday. In retrospect and after doing the excursion on our own, the $175 a person is reasonable since our taxi cost $120 round trip. Most days we rented cars, and ironically, the prices we were quoted off the ship were often less than the price we were quoted when we pre-reserved our cars. It was a hassle to take the rental car shuttles to the airport or nearest car rental place, especially with a baby, and in Kona, the car shuttles stop at 3:30 due to traffic, so we had to get into a cab anyway. We spent a few days seeing sites and a few days lounging at hotels on the beach/by the pool. We found a few hotels where we could pay a "day rate," but this is unnecessary since all of Hawaii's beaches are public beaches and all of the hotels are required to provide access to visitors. The hotel pool areas are restricted to guests only. ENTERTAINMENT -- I only went to one show which was ok. My parents thought the juggler and the acrobats were fantastic. My husband and dad slept through the comedian and apparently were the butt of the jokes there. OVERALL -- In summary, we enjoyed ourselves and the baby had the best time of all. It was exhausting to get off the ship each day with an infant and next time we'll stay at one resort. We loved the Na Poli coast from the ship and the nighttime cruise of the volcano (the first time they'd sailed past it at night in 4 cruises) was really special. I wouldn't take this cruise if your child is under 2 unless you bring a full-time babysitter. It was a wonderful way to see the differences in the islands and Hawaii is gorgeous! HELPFUL HINTS: DINNER RESERVATIONS -- 1. Make dinner reservations for specialty restaurants as early as possible. They fill up very fast. You can now make all of them upon embarkation and don't have to wait until Sunday morning. 2. Specialty restaurants are half price the first evening, so go to the expensive one them. 3. Everyone raved about the Teppanyaki dinner and it filled up quickly with only 45 people seated a night (15 or so per seating). 4. The sushi restaurant was the best bargain. $5 all you can eat. Personalized service and you don't have to pay the $10 cover for East Meets West. Most people don't realize that. Again, seating is limited (15 at a time), so make your reservations early. OTHER -- 1. If you can request a cabin toward the back of the ship, do so, since you'll be closer to the Aloha Cafe and can run upstairs for a quick bite. 2. If you're traveling with a family, you all want to be near each other. The ship is too large to walk back and forth. 3. The fourth floor has limited access so certain stairwells don't go through. If you're on the fourth floor, you want to be in the middle of the ship. 4. The Jacuzzi on Deck 11 or 12 on the back of the ship was empty and the views of the coast were amazing from it. Feel free to email me if you have further questions or would like more information about our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
For our 25th anniversary, my wife and I chose a trip to Hawaii. Two days in Oahu, a cruise on Pride of America, and six days in Maui. We travelled with another couple, who expressed similar views. This was our sixth cruise, first with ... Read More
For our 25th anniversary, my wife and I chose a trip to Hawaii. Two days in Oahu, a cruise on Pride of America, and six days in Maui. We travelled with another couple, who expressed similar views. This was our sixth cruise, first with NCL. Having followed cruisecritic.com closely for months, we were somewhat skeptical of the ability of Pride of America to meet our expectations. However, wanting to see as much of Hawaii as possible in the allotted time, we chose NCL. Overall, ship appearance and maintenance seemed adequate. Salt spray was significant (7-12 foot seas), and the ship's exterior showed rust in spots, and weathered teak. Interior condition was excellent, if a little bit gaudy. Our balcony cabin was similar to other ships, maybe slightly smaller. We are an average sized couple, and had no complaints with space. Can't imagine three or four sharing a cabin. A modest sofa, located next to the balcony, was conveniently placed. Salt spray on balcony doors diminished beautiful vistas, but was understandable given the ship's speed, wind and seas. The room steward introduced herself on the first day. Laurie kept the stateroom clean, orderly, and in fresh towels, without intruding on our privacy. Two shore excursions were a disappointment. Substantial savings can be realized by renting a car and exploring on your own. Large buses, tedious rides can be best enjoyed by less confident or infirm(elderly), passengers. This applies in particular to golf excursions. Car rental on Maui for one day was $31. Rent a car, spend time where you want to, instead of being at the mercy of a tour operator. We didn't like the live entertainment in the Hollywood Theater. It was obviously directed at an older age group. Wow, did the Pride of America rock and roll! I don't know if this is due to winds and currents around the islands of Hawaii, or a problem with the ship. On our one day at sea, upper sunning decks, forward near the bow, were closed due to high winds. I walked the bow before the decks were roped off, and could barely make it. A small child, or elderly person, could have been seriously injured. I'm a hurricane survivor in Florida, and these winds exceeded tropical storm force. Our most enjoyable experience was Freestyle Dining. We sampled all of the specialty restaurants, and loved them all. There is value in the premium charged. Even the Liberty restaurant was acceptable, with service moderately slow at dinner time. Waiting 10-20 minutes for a table at peak hours gave us an opportunity to have a relaxing drink in the Napa Wine bar. Another pleasant surprise was the American crew. Maybe service wasn't stellar, but it was wonderful to be able to have an extended conversation with a fellow countryman, who could share insights and experiences regarding a particular port. NCL and the crew are acutely aware of reviews posted on websites such as cruisecritic.com, and their friendliness reflected a desire to improve service. Overall, we were satisfied with our cruise on the Pride of America. However, now that we've seen some of Hawaii, we would probably fly to a particular island, rather than take another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Simply a couple of comments of our cruise on the POA since we had read lots of critics on this site which had worried us. This was our 12th cruise, first time on NCL. Previous cruises were on Princess (7), RCCL (2), Celebrity (1) AND ... Read More
Simply a couple of comments of our cruise on the POA since we had read lots of critics on this site which had worried us. This was our 12th cruise, first time on NCL. Previous cruises were on Princess (7), RCCL (2), Celebrity (1) AND Costa (1). Embarkation : Fine, little wait (20-25 mins) as we were on the peak period (between 2 and 3pm). Stateroom: We had a obstructed view stateroom (7084). We usually always select an inside stateroom, but had selected this obstructed view stateroom since it was pretty much the same price as an inside stateroom plus it was located right in the middle of the ship. Even if the lifeboat blocked the bottom 2/3 of these big windows, it was still fine, we still had a nice view. We will for sure repeat this kind of room on our next cruises. Yes the stateroom are small (smallest i've seen) but no big deal ! Limited closet space; yes, but we still manage to store all of our clothes Bad smell (sewage) ? didn't smell anything. Our stateroom was clean and kept clean. The only little thing is that we found some used/dirty wine glasses when we first got in on the Saturday....no big deal and that there was an unlocked communicating door....we called, they came an hour later..again, no big deal. Just don't expect your room to be made up by lunch ! Food: We ate in the, Skyline, Liberty, Little Italy, Steakhouse, East meets West. All was fine (I guess the trick is to always ask the waiter what he recommends). We would of like more choices of entrees in the Skyline and Liberty as most of the time there was only one meat, one fish/seafood and one veg (and always available steak, salmon and chicken). Buffet ? a buffet is a buffet i.e. average as on most cruise ship ! Service: Little uneven but most of the time it was ok. As examples, you receive your wine after your appetizer. Almost all of the time, don't expect them to pour your wine (after the first time). One waiter wanted us to order our desert at the same time we ordered our meal because he was too busy !! Elevators: Slow, yeah, but no big deal. Disembarkation: We had the option to disembark on our own (with all of our luggage); great !! We were out by 7h30 and no need to try to find our luggage !!! Overall this was a good to very good cruise with a great destination ! You do this cruise to visit Hawaii not for the boat. I would recommend POA to visit Hawaii but would probably stick with Princess, RCCL or Celebrity for other destinations. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Sailed 10/22/05 for 7 night Hawaii cruise with my wife on deck 8 midship. Embarkation: Went smoothly with minimum wait Cleanliness: This was the 6th cruise I have taken, first with NCL. This ship was by far the least clean of any I have ... Read More
Sailed 10/22/05 for 7 night Hawaii cruise with my wife on deck 8 midship. Embarkation: Went smoothly with minimum wait Cleanliness: This was the 6th cruise I have taken, first with NCL. This ship was by far the least clean of any I have been on. Windows, glass and mirrors always needed to be cleaned. Hallways had debris in it for a few days before being cleaned. Room service trays remained in halls all day. Packets of sugar were on my balcony floor when we checked in and remained there all week. There is a constant smell of sewage on board on many decks and stairways. Aloha cafe never seemed to get a real good cleaning. The tables always seemed to be barely clean. Our Little Italy, Skyline, and Liberty restaurants were exceptionally clean. On other cruise lines, you always see workers vacuuming, cleaning brass, cleaning elevator mirrors, etc. You won't find this on POA. Cabin: -The ship has been sailing for less than a year, yet the balcony rails are already rusting quite a bit. I can't imagine what they will look like in a year -We found that the coffee mugs in our cabin are not replaced after use but just rinsed out. My wife's lipstick was still on the mug. We had to empty out the used coffee grinds because the steward neglected to do it. -The bed is comfortable and the room is quiet. However, NCL has this silly PA system. If you are in your cabin or on the balcony, you can't hear any announcements. You have to open the door into the hallway in order to hear anything. -On other lines, the steward introduces him/herself to you on the first day. You are lucky to see your steward on this ship. -You cannot access your account on the TV since this ship doesn't provide this service. Entertainment: -Comedian was good. We skipped the juggler's act. -The Broadway review type show was so-so. -Thursday night show was entertaining. Native dancers from all the islands did a great job. -Piano singer at the Pink Champagne Bar was good. -Overall entertainment is C+ Bar Service: You will die of thirst if you sit around the pool waiting for a waiter to come by. There was a gap of 1 hour 45 minutes between waiter visits. So you go to the bar yourself and depending who the bartender is you may get served in 10 minutes or served by a surly female bartender at one of the aft bars. Check cleanliness of your glasses before you pour a beer into it. Smudges and greasy stains. . Excursions: -Went to Luau on Maui. Very touristy, but fun. -Volcano excursion from Hilo was cancelled since rough waters prevented ship from tying up to dock. We rented cars on Maui, Kauai and in Kona. Definitely the way to go. You can rent a full size for about $32. (use AAA or other type of coupon when booking). On Kauai, must see the Canyon. On Maui, there is a parking lot directly across from the boat if you want to leave car overnight. Rental cars provide shuttles from ship to rental location Food: Little Italy has great food and service. Must make reservations as soon as you board to lock in a table. The waitress addressed us in French and this seemed a little too much. East Meets West was nice but food was so spicy, you couldn't taste the meal. (Book for Saturday night and it is 2 for 1) Liberty and Skyline restaurants are the main dining halls. Food was good and we were served in reasonable time. Cadillac Diner has typical diner menu. OK for afternoon snack. -The ship has the chocolate buffet at 2:30 pm. Many are off the ship on excursions or travelling around. Why not in the evening??? Overall, I was unhappy with the ship. They seem to be understaffed and this shows in the overall condition of the ship and service provided. Many employees work hard but they are overwhelmed. The turnover rate is very high according to many employees. In the Skyline restaurant one evening, they were 5 waiter teams short. The waiters who did show up were always playing catch up. Scott and Joe did a great job as did Domenick Presto. -Friday night cruise around Na'Pali coast was great. I would not recommend NCL to friends nor will I travel with them again. When I looked at cruisecritic.com before sailing, I hoped that the many negative reviews were wrong. They were right on the money. Part of the problem, I believe, is that the crew is comprised of American workers. They do not work as hard as the foreign crews found on other shipsI have sailed on. Bottom line is that they are the only game in town. But as unhappy as we were with the ship, we were still in Hawaii. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
This time last week I was on the Pride of America. This is my third cruise with NCL. I had read the reviews, both pro and con, and was concerned what I would find once on board. I am a reasonable, objective person so therefore, I will be ... Read More
This time last week I was on the Pride of America. This is my third cruise with NCL. I had read the reviews, both pro and con, and was concerned what I would find once on board. I am a reasonable, objective person so therefore, I will be straightforward with "my" review. This is not a perfect cruise. There are some problems. There seemed to be a lack of communication between everyone and in every department. The ship was filled to capacity but the ship is woefully understaffed, especially in the dining rooms. Most of the staff on board is just simply overwhelmed with workload. My husband and I are fans of Freestyle. However, with that option comes the fact that this is an informal cruise. The cuisine is not gourmet; it is passable at best. The service is adequate at best. All the dining options are always crowded all the time, that's just the way it is with Freestyle. There are always a lot of children, teenagers, handicapped, elderly, informed, and obese passengers with Freestyle. For the most part, it is chaos. If you want more formal and especially more personal attention, choose Crystal or Celebrity. However, if you want the freedom to come and go as you please, choose what you want to eat when you want to eat and in the atmosphere you want, then you will be happier with Freestyle. Our cabin stewardess was wonderful. The first day we sailed, I gave her $10 and told her that we would give her extra tips daily rather than at the end of the cruise. Needless to say, our state room was always clean, always with fresh towels and ice. With an all American crew, money talks. We did the same with our Room Service attendant and we had our order delivered every morning exactly as we requested at the exact time we requested. He was SO good, we tipped him even more when we disembarked. Be warned: State rooms are very compact but beautifully decorated; just leave the drapes open. We were on the port side. If you plan to take this cruise, request a Starboard side state room. Unfortunately, in all the ports (but Kona) we docked in the industrial districts. It was noisy and held NO view on the port side. The exception is Kona where we were tendered to shore. That was a beautiful view of the island and we also had the pleasure of watching a pod of dolphins from our balcony. The Pride of America is a beautiful ship. Each time I saw her from the shore, it made me so proud to be an American. We were fortunate that we had great weather but I understand that the cruise the week before had rain - so take rain gear, just in case. Although the cruise had some issues, they were not enough to ruin our trip to Hawaii. We would do it again in a heart beat, but choose the Starboard side next time around. All of our shore excursions were booked through NCL. In my opinion, it was worth any extra. All the excursions were wonderful. The only disappointment was the Fern Grotto but Waimea Canyon made up for it. Our guide was wonderful and kept all of us in stitches with his "killer chicken" stories. This is a wonderful way to see all the Islands. If you keep an open mind, be a little patient with an overworked crew, and don't sweat the small stuff, you will have a wonderful time and great memories of your cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Sailed the POA on 12/3 with my wife. This was our 4th cruise, 2nd time on NCL. (Princess to Alaska, Renaissance to Tahiti, NCL Norway to Caribbean). Read all the reviews on CruiseCritic.com so my expectations were low to cautious. Taxi ... Read More
Sailed the POA on 12/3 with my wife. This was our 4th cruise, 2nd time on NCL. (Princess to Alaska, Renaissance to Tahiti, NCL Norway to Caribbean). Read all the reviews on CruiseCritic.com so my expectations were low to cautious. Taxi ride to port from Honolulu $30 including tip. Embarkation a breeze since we arrived late, around 6:00 PM. I was able to get liquor on board without issue in our checked baggage during embarkation. I had read on this board that they check. Stayed in a room 10161, which I would NOT recommend. It is right below the Aloha Cafe kitchen, so you hear rolling of food prep carts during Cafe hours. (Starts at 6 AM and ends at 10 PM) We always get cheapest inside stateroom and our room was largest we have been in. Bathroom was huge. Very pleased. Cabin steward was avg. Took me a day to make her understand that we wanted ice each evening. Took us 2 days to get our safe opened up (last passenger did not open before they left). Overall, ship and cabin were acceptable. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants. We heard only bad things from passengers. We did eat at the Liberty and Skyline, each one time. Service was good at both. We ate at the Cadillac dinner twice. All other meals were at Aloha Cafe outside. Overall, food was avg. First night is 2 for 1 at specialty restaurants. Book specialty sites early, because they book up fast and it's hard to get reservations. (We had a reservation at East Meets West but canceled it).We did smell the sewage smell. Kind of like water treatment smell. Usually when at port. Deck 10 and in the back of the ship you will smell it. It's not horrible, but definitely there. We did see lava at night which was cool, and sailed the Napali Coast which was cool. The sailing was smooth the majority of time. Crew service was uneven. Some crew were clearly not enjoying their jobs, while some were polite and helpful. I do not believe the "all American crew" is going to last. We did see several Crew who appeared to be foreign based on language and appearance, so they may be working some in to help even out the service. Almost a 3 to 1 passenger to Crew ratio is a bit too high. We only saw three shows (Comedy and Juggling dudes, plus Newly Wed Game).. All were Very good. The lack of staff was evident because most of the cruise everyone was kind of wandering around trying to find their way and the shows. There was no accented effort by the Cruise Director and staff to get every on the ship motivated and in the shows. Pool area and hot tubs were nice. Plenty of bars and deck space to hang out on. The Hawaii destination and NCL strangle-hold on Hawaii will keep this ship full, and NCL is building the Pride of Hawaii. Overall, cruise would rate 3rd out of 4 cruises (NCL Norway being last). The cruise was good, but not one that I would recommend. We rented Thrifty at all ports except Kona. Besides Hilo, Thrifty was off site or some distance from all other major rental car companies so you couldn't just hop on any Rental Car shuttle. Rental Car shuttles are at every port and do a good job at picking you up and getting you back on board. We did not do any NCL excursion, rather we did the rental car route and did the islands at our own leisure. This is by preference since we are young 30s and like to explore on our own. Getting off of ship and back on was easy. Dock at every port except Kona, but tender process was smooth. Volcano's National Park from Hilo was very cool. Don't expect to see Lava until the sail by from the ship at night. You will see steam vents and lots of Creators. We spent the entire day in the park and enjoyed it. We drove all the way down to the ocean to check out the steam coming off the ocean. Did the Circle of Creator's drive, etc. We had been to Maui before, but would recommend Ka'anapali and Kapalua Beach on the west side. We did the Maui Ocean Center (not worth it) and the Iao Valley, pretty cool. Kona we just walked around town. Kauai was very cool. I would recommend Inter-Island Helicopters ($200 per person for 1 hour), Poipu Beach area, Salt Pond Beach area, and North Shore. Ride all the way to the end and hike a mile or two down the trail. BRING OFF or some kind of mosquito repellent and good shoes. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We are a family of 2 adults, 1 fourteen-year old daughter and 1 nine-year old son that sailed on the Pride of America. We have sailed as a family on over 14 cruises, primarily with Princess (Grand, Golden, Diamond), but also one time each ... Read More
We are a family of 2 adults, 1 fourteen-year old daughter and 1 nine-year old son that sailed on the Pride of America. We have sailed as a family on over 14 cruises, primarily with Princess (Grand, Golden, Diamond), but also one time each on Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. This was our first NCL cruise because we are avid fans of Princess. But we selected NCL because (a) it sailed Hawaii and (b) the PofAm was a new ship. Embarkation  On Saturday from Honolulu airport, we caught a taxi directly to Aloha Tower (20 min) and embarked onto the ship at 2:30 PM without any problems. There were plenty of porters to take our bags and we went through security in the ships terminal. You receive the obligatory flower or shell lei, pose for a photo op, and walk onboard the ship. Since the ship was not scheduled to leave until 8:00 PM, there would have been time to shop the adjoining Aloha Tower Marketplace, explore Chinatown a few blocks north, or visit Iolani Palace a few blocks northeast. The dock is too far to visit Waikiki Beach, but it is so full of traffic and full of tourists there, we thought, why bother? So we opted to have buffet lunch in the Deck 11 Aloha Cafe and acquaint ourselves with the various public areas of this beautiful new ship. Unfortunately, our bags did not arrive until after the 4:30 PM safety drill and close to our 6:30 PM dinnertime. So we could not swim in the pools or change into any of our dinner clothes. Stateroom 10118  Our category BA stateroom was expected to be compact and this turned out true. The layout matched the color glossy NCL brochure, but was still one of the smallest staterooms we ever booked. The deck plan in the NCL brochure categorized our room as third person occupancy available, it actually accommodated all 4 of us & a queen size bed, fold out sleeper sofa, and a full size berth folding down out of the ceiling. At night it was very cramped, but fine for sleeping. Balcony Room for 4  A word to anyone who wants to have 4 sharing a stateroom and also want a balcony (rather than just a window or an inside stateroom) & have your TA book a balcony stateroom that has the fold down berth. Before our trip, I even had a 3-way conference call with my TA and a NCL rep to confirm that our balcony room could indeed accommodate 4 (the brochure coding is misleading, balcony staterooms for 4 do exist). The balcony was great and was used a lot as a way to get out of each others way each morning. Since our stateroom was on deck 10, it was one deck below the Aloha Cafe on deck 11 and we ate breakfast on the balcony every morning. The balcony had 1 regular chair, a small table and 1 chair that had an adjustable back to lean back on. Bathroom was very tiny and very large (tall or wide) people should be forewarned, especially when using the tiny shower. It may be better to book a wheelchair accessible room in order for larger persons to shower, as ours was surprisingly small and claustrophobic. There are no bars of soap or bottles of shampoo & so bring your own. The dispensers were fine, but a hassle having to keep pressing the buttons. Closet space was nicely designed and accommodated our clothing for 4 without a problem. We discovered drawers in places that we thought were simply panels and used the shelves to store folded clothes as well. Our 5 large suitcases (and our life vests) were all stored under the bed without a problem. Our room had a coffee maker, small refrigerator, safe, hair dryer and television. Our stateroom was clean and in working order. Our stewardess Monica was fine but we rarely saw her. We missed the personal daily interaction that we received with other cruise line room stewards. Overall Dining  We took our breakfasts in the Aloha Cafe (6x) and Cadillac Cafe (1x) and we had our dinners in the freestyle dining rooms & Skyline (3x), Liberty (2x), Little Italy (2x). We tried unsuccessfully to get a Teppanyaki meal in East West on our first day. As an enticement to try the specialty restaurants, our cruise newsletter advertised (in fine print) a 2-for-1 dinner special in East West and in Jeffersons Bistro on Embarkation Day only. Did not want to pay the surcharge for Lazy J and the menu in Jeffersons Bistro did not interest us. Aloha Cafe breakfasts offered the same breakfast items daily (scrambled eggs, meats, fruit, breads, pancakes), but nothing cooked-to-order. Do not waste your time in Cadillac Cafe as service was extremely slow and the breakfast Belgian waffles were simply regular flat waffles and the rest of the breakfast foods we ordered were those from Aloha Cafe. We never took lunch on board ship since we were in port every day. Soda Cards - Our biggest rip off was the purchase of the Soda Cards & $34 adults over 12 and $16 kids under 12. Unlike other cruises where one may spend lots of time on the ship, those who visit Hawaii and plan to be ashore during most of the day may likely only take advantage of the Soda Card during dinner and late in the evenings. It would have been much cheaper for our family of 4 (3 adults and 1 child) to purchase the sodas individually (at $1.50 a pop) rather than to purchase this overpriced option. An even better option would be to purchase your own soda at any of the ports (Wal-Mart, Costco, ABC Store, 7-11) and store them in your stateroom refrigerator. We did this without any hassles from security. We do not consume wine or alcohol and therefore cannot comment about prices or port security policies. Dinners in Skyline and Liberty were fine & the menus varied every night and the food was nicely presented. I would rate the meals and wait service on par with Disney and Carnival, but definitely below par to Princess IMHO. Appetizers and salads are small, so do not hesitate to try more than one of each category if your heart desires. For those who are adventurous, you will enjoy the offerings, particularly the appetizers. For those who only prefer meat and potatoes you should primarily stick with the items listed under the Always Available section of the dinner menu and play it safe. Our Saturday night prime rib was fine and Thursday nights lobster tails (3 of them) was good, but nothing that you would remember as particularly memorable. Desserts, on the other hand, were great & stick with the soufflEs and crème brulees and sherbets and you will not go wrong. Cappuccinos are complimentary and coffees were especially good (much better than Princess). Little Italy - We ate 2 nights in Little Italy and had great meals and service on both nights because there is no surcharge for this specialty restaurant. Ask for Desiree and you will be well taken care of. If you can ignore the snobbiness of the Hawaiian maitred, you will have a completely enjoyable dinner experience here. The lasagna was particularly good and highly recommended (it is not your mothers lasagna that is for sure). Booths along the windows can easily seat 6 and were especially cozy. We really liked the tiramisu and large pudding, whipped cream concoction called zuppa for dessert. Dining Dress Codes  Every night but Tuesday night was resort casual wear which meant aloha shirts, polo shirts or dress shirts with pants for the guys and dresses or pant suits for the gals. A few female passengers had shorts. At the last minute of packing, I decided to ditch the dress pants, dress shoes and dress shirts and only packed black colored jeans, aloha shirts and solid black sports shoes and was perfectly fine for the entire cruise. My wife and daughter packed a couple of rayon dresses and were fine as well. Our son wore shorts to dinner with sports shoes and aloha shirts and had no problems. The only time we had a dress code violation was the night my daughter elected to wear short shorts to dinner in Skyline & we were seated and then inquired if this was OK and the desk attendant asked that she go back and change. This was not a problem for us since the dress policy is stated clearly at each entrance and so she went back and changed. However, if we did not ask we are not sure if they would have said anything to us (they claim they do turn away guests, but we did not see this happen first hand). The Tuesday formal optional night consisted of coats and ties for men, and dresses for women & for those that opted to dress up. I wore the same resort casual wear and did not feel out of place at all. Shipboard Activities  Unlike most other cruises, onboard ship activities are minimal since most passengers are ashore in Hawaii every day. Therefore dont count on daily bingo, daily dance lessons, culinary kitchen tours, etc. during the day because the schedule was limited to the obligatory daily art auctions and shore talks & and that was pretty much it. We used the pools daily and my kids tried the Rascals Kids Club and the Connections Teen Club. Pools  The swimming pools were a disappointment here. The South Beach Pool consisted of a 15 x 30 pool about 5 feet deep and a separate adjoining pool with stair steps that really served as a wading pool for toddlers (which we did not use). The aft contained the even smaller Oasis Pool which measured about 10 x 10. There were 5 spas that could accommodate 10 persons, and a 6th spa connected to the Rascals Kids Club and served as their wading pool. That was the extent of the pools available for 2,144 passengers. Of course, we were in Hawaii & so the pools would not be the big draw here & still it would have been nice after a hot day of shore excursions to hang out and swim in larger pools like we experienced on the newer Princess ships. Lounges immediately by the South Beach Pool and Oasis Pool (Deck 11) were of course limited because it got very hot lounging out in the Hawaii sun and a water dip in a pool is almost necessary. Lounges on Deck 12 were more plentiful, but required a walk if one wanted a plunge in the pool. NCL Shore Excursions  From Day 1, there was always a line of passengers at the desk. Do it online or call NCL and book ahead of time. I had originally pre-booked NCL excursions for every day of our cruise and the total came to over $2,400! Once onboard, I cancelled every NCL excursion except for Kona Captain Zodiac snorkel to Kealakekua Bay. In all of our cruises, this was hands-down one of the best ship-sponsored excursions our family had ever taken. Of course, you have to enjoy (a) a high speed and very bumpy and windy raft boat ride holding on only to a rope tied alongside the raft; (b) snorkel in pristine Kealakekua Bay (in far better shape than Mauis over visited Molokini Crater); and (c) sailing up close to lava caves, blow holes and ancient Hawaiian holy sites along the Kona coast. The zodiac rafts are right where you tender pier side, so no shuttle bus is necessary. We tried to book Captain Zodiac on our own, but was told the ship bought out all of the available seats & therefore we opted to use NCL. On Our Own Shore Excursions  having done my homework, we booked car rentals and shore excursions before leaving for vacation for the remaining shore days on our own without any problems (with the intent of canceling our NCL bookings): in Hilo rented a Thrifty car and visited Volcanoes National Park and shopped in Hilo; on Maui we rented a National car and drove to Lahaina and also hung by a secluded beach on our first day and then booked the Pacific Whale Foundation snorkel to Molokini Crater and to Lanai ($197 for 4) on our second day; Kaui rented a National car and booked the Kayak Wailua kayak and waterfall hike excursion ($170 for 4) on our first day and drove to Poipu Beach and old Koloa town on our second (early departure) day. Having a car for these locations was easy and allowed our family to see much of the same sites as offered on the NCL sponsored bus tours, but at far greater flexibility and pace. At all 3 ports, rental car shuttles from the very nearby local airports circled the cruise ship docks regularly (although it is helpful to have a cell phone to call the local offices to let them know you are waiting). Hawaii is the USA and the same road rules prevail, road conditions are very good, and overnight pier side parking is walking distance to where the PofAm is moored on Maui (free) and on Kauai ($10). It takes a bit more research, web surfing and reading a map to do things on your own, but at substantial savings. Rascals Kids Club  beautifully appointed room with a TV lounge, crawl through play area, etc. The staff was very nice and encouraging, and my 14-year-old daughter loved it and my 9-year-old son hated it (after trying it out Sunday night and never went back). Due to the limits of their facility, children were separated into the following groups by age: ages 6-9, ages 10-12, and ages 13-17. My 9-year-old son thought the evening activities were too immature and the video game monitors were not made available for his use (the explanation given by the head counselor was that kids could do video games at home and therefore did not make them available in the Kids Club). Although we urged him to try the program again, he opted to either hang out with us in the shows (which he did enjoy) or stayed in our stateroom. As alternatives, there was a decent sized pay-to-use video arcade immediately above the Kids Club, two ping pong tables, two outdoor shuffle boards, board games in the Shuffles Card Room, and basketball hoops on the outdoor Sports Deck. Connections Teen Club  My 14 year old daughter is typically shy and not one of the most popular kids at her school. She nevertheless loved the Teen Club & a richly appointed room with a couple large screen TVs, soda bar and sofas arranged like an adult nightclub lounge. Each evening there were scheduled group activities and then plenty of time to sit and talk to other teens or play games (to midnight on one night and 1 AM on the last night). While she did not make any consistent or long-term friends, she reported having a great time anyway (probably because it gave her a chance to get away from mom and dad and little bro). However, each evening there were a lot of teens that apparently thought it was cooler to hang out in their little cliques on the stairs, in the spas, or by the pools (as is the case on every cruise). We also observed the few teenaged loners who are spotted on every cruise as well (this is a tough age of social adjustment and being locked onto a cruise ship is not for every teen IMHO). Evening Shows - Evenings are primarily limited to one main event. We did the following: Saturday (sail away party at pool deck); Sunday (Dance of Life which I thought was boring and we left early) and Kilauea lava viewing at 10 PM (great experience, but bring binoculars); Wednesday (Americas Beat which was very good and better than Dance of Life); Thursday (Tahiti Polynesian dancers were excellent and you can stay for a photo op afterwards). Most of the shows were offered twice nightly at 7:30 and 9:30 PM. Dancing in the Mardi Gras lounge was themed nightly and started around 10:30 PM. Sunday Lava Viewing  Sunday night out of Hilo offered the lava viewing from the ocean. Without binoculars, the lava looked like a thin line of brush fires as seen on a hillside at night. Up close with binoculars, you could catch glimpses of the lava hitting the ocean and spewing steam. Impressive sight, but the show cannot be guaranteed by Pele for every cruise. Friday Na Pali Coast Viewing  Friday afternoon the ship leaves Nawiliwili (Kauai) at 3:30 PM for a 6:30 PM sunset view of the Na Pali coast of Kauai. This was a confusing change of schedule, but having viewed the coast at sunset, I can understand why NCL decided to make the departure change. The coastline at sunset is spectacular, there is no sign of human civilization and the green cliffs of Na Pali are like nowhere else in Hawaii. Bonus: we booked a 6:00 PM window-side booth in Little Italy on Friday in order to catch the show while we dined. The side of the ship that faces the Na Pali coast is on the same side as Little Italy and really made for a memorable final evening for our family thanks to our server Desiree. Fitness Center  one of the largest and best-equipped facilities of any ship I have sailed. There are Cybex weight machines (about 12 stations), a free weights rack, a number of balance balls, and a large number of treadmills, recumbent bikes, regular cycles and elliptical cross trainers. Most of these cardio machines have their own television screens and headphones (bring your own and plug it in unless you want to inherit the sweat from the previous users). There is a separate room for aerobic exercises. The Santa Fe Spa is nicely appointed and has separate men and women changing rooms, each with their own dry and wet saunas, showers and lockers that were connected to the fitness center by an obscure door and hallway. The changing facilities were usually well maintained on most (but not all) days during my daily visits. Ship Photos  There are the obligatory photo ops at every new port gangway, as well as the portraits offered during Hawaiian and Formal nights. The photo gallery is a long narrow corridor on Deck 5 between Jeffersons Bistro and Skyline Restaurant. Photos for the 5 x 7 pictures cost $13 and included a bonus print of smaller images for key chains, give aways, etc. We opted to have the photo staff create a folder for our cabin so that we could store all of our pictures to the end of the cruise and then decide which we wanted to purchase. There was no end of cruise special or take as many photos for one price special offered on the PofAm & it was simply a set price policy. Disembarkation was very easy and for early risers, NCL offered the option to leave the ship whenever you want on the final morning (starting at 7:30 AM) provided that you tote ALL of your baggage yourselves (they called this option Express Walk Off). We decided to place our bags outside of our room on Friday night and wished we opted for Express Walk Off instead since our color was nearly the last to be called ashore. Next time we will pack lighter and definitely use this convenient option since we never left the USA and therefore no customs procedures to go through like other cruises. Breakfast on disembarkation day was available in the Aloha Cafe, Skyline Restaurant and Cadillac Diner until 9:00 AM. Overall ... a better-than-expected cruise experience and we would do this again. We are still fans of Princess, but for a Hawaii cruise experience, this one was good for our family. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We have just returned to the UK from our first NCL Cruise and wished to provide you with some opinions about the ship and service. We made a decision earlier in the year to go on a cruise somewhere other than Caribbean and we picked the ... Read More
We have just returned to the UK from our first NCL Cruise and wished to provide you with some opinions about the ship and service. We made a decision earlier in the year to go on a cruise somewhere other than Caribbean and we picked the POA as we have always wanted to visit Hawaii and it was a new cruise ship with all ports of call within the Hawaiian Islands. We picked a 7 day cruise with a further 5 nights in Waikiki. For anyone not aware of the regulations in Hawaii. Only cruise ships registered in Hawaii are able to call at all the island without a visit to Fanning Island or Mexico which adds a further 4-5 days at sea. Destinations that most people are not too keen on. In addition those ships registered in Hawaii have to employ an all american crew. I will discuss this in more detail later. The journey to Hawaii is quite daunting and we never really appreciated how far it is! We flew American Airlines from Manchester to Chicago, Chicago to LA and LA to Honolulu. Total time travelling from Manchester Airport to Hotel in Honolulu was 27 hours! It was extremely tiring with the time difference. there is no food included on any AA flights within America. Even on our return flight Honolulu to Chicago 8.5 hours, no food! Embarkation We arrived very early morning and NCL arranged pre cruise stay at the Sheraton Princess Kaliani waikiki. The transfer to the pier was smooth and we waited about 45 minutes before boarding the ship. This was a relatively smooth process considering that the ship was full. We boarded at about 2.30pm. Our room was ready for immediate occupancy. The Ship Our first impression was that of a large modern clean ship. the Pride of America was the first newly built ocean going cruise ship to fly the U.S. flag in over 50 years, and it was designed with its destination in mind. There is a definitive American theme running through the whole of the ship which we thought might be over powering but it was actually quite pleasant. the common areas were always kept clean. The swimming pool area did not seem to be large enough for the size of the ship but I guess they expect that people will be off doing port activities. That said on the last day we departed Kauai early at 6am instead of 2pm and everyone seemed to get sunbeds. Rooms We were in room 11026 forward. We paid for a BA outside cabin with balcony. These cabins are supposed to be the highest category room other than the suites. The room was very small with two single beds. To give you an idea of how small the room was, NCL have designed the beds and mattresses with a rounded angled end on the bed, without which you would be unable to walk around the bed! We did enjoy the use of an empty fridge to keep your own drinks cool. An interactive TV and very small sofa. A very small bathroom, barely enough space to properly shower but nicely appointed and a powerful shower. The Balcony was a reasonable size with two reclining and comfortable chairs. The cleaner Leon, was always friendly and made the bed up at night and left a chocolate. We had clean towels twice daily which was good. On a positive note, these were the most comfortable beds you could ask for. The room was very quiet, you could not hear engines or creaking noises etc as experienced on other ships. We did find that this ship rolled a lot. The waves were never over 1.5-2.5 metre swell yet this boat rocked. We always take Avomine yet still had a "sick feeling" something never experienced crossing the atlantic on a gale force 8! Restaurants NCL is supposed to offer a "Freestyle dine when you want" policy but things went wrong. The POA has four restaurants which are free and I think five where there is a charge. We never eat at the premium restaurants. On arrival at the ship there was a long queue for booking the premium restaurants. We were prepared to pay the 15-20 dollar per person service charge but were unable to book them! We queued for 45 minutes to be told that the lifeboat drill needed to be undertaken but that all the restaurants would be open for bookings after the drill. We waited for 20 minutes at the Jefferson Bistro to be told that they could not take bookings and needed to go back to the main desk. Loads of people were caught out like this. When we returned to the booking desk the queue was as long as before. We were getting agitated by now and decided to go back the following morning to book. When we returned the following day there was a notice saying all the speciality restaurants were fully booked for the week! The free restaurants were the Aloha Cafe (Buffet restaurant) Liberty and Skyline were the main dining dining rooms and offered a five course meal, Cadillac Diner and Little Italy. The Liberty and Skyline were supposed to be "Freestyle", turn up and dine but on the first night we waited two hours to get a seat in the Skyline. The following day NCL abolished "Freestyle" and made people book Liberty and Skyline restaurant. NCL never formally told customers this. Anyone without bookings were given a pager. Day two we waited 1.45 hours to be seated. When the food did arrived we found it to be "above average" with plenty of options. The steaks were always very tender and cooked to perfection. It seemed to me that there was a two tier service on this ship and I was very unhappy. We had seen many screaming, shouting crying Americans and it appeared that the louder you shout the more you get. We nicknamed the service "Free for All" rather than Freestyle. There were extremely large groups, 20-30 family members of Americans which in itself could be quite intimidating. The Maitre D' accepted the problems but could not do anything. NCL did not understand why we were so aggravated, ie no Freestyle program but that is why we chose NCL. Ports of Call Hilo We were very tired from our journey and decided not to leave the ship today. We made friends with a couple of other couples and they told us that there were plenty of people offering excursions on the shore side. The port of Hilo is about two miles from the town. Evening sail by Mount Kilauea This was one of the highlights of the cruise. It is hard to explain the smell, and red/orange colour from this very active volcano. The Lava entering the pacific ocean. We have taken some good pictures of this. Kahului (Maui)(stay in port overnight) This was a great port of call. We took a great tour from the port. For $55 each six of us were given an informative four hour tour to the sights of Kahului including the Maui tropical plantation, Iao valley and the beaches. This tour was taken in a large white Limo . The price included soft drinks and Vodka and rum for those who wanted something stronger. I highly recommend this tour you can contact Sean, Chauffeur free on 1-877 817 5466 or email sean@hawiiansuntravel.com You stay overnight in Maui and the following day we travelled to the other side of the island (Maui town) 45 minutes in a taxi $50 each way. Well worth it, quality shops, restaurants and Art galleries to die for from leading artists. We were here all day but still didn't see everything. If we return to Hawaii this will be the island to which we return. You could easily spend two weeks here. The coral reefs are also spectacular. Kona (Tender) We only visited the port. very pleasant, plenty of arts and crafts shops etc. Easy to obtain excursions from the port side. Nawiliwli (Kauai) Another favourite, plenty of local beaches and free transfers. This island is renowned for the Napoli coastline and used for the filming of South pacific and Jurassic Park. Plenty of waterfalls and dramatic mountains. We arranged our own helicopter tour of the island using Will Sayers Helicopter tours (tel free 888 245 4354) cost $200 each and flight lasted 1 hour 10 minutes. The commentary provided by the pilot was excellent and this was another highlight of the holiday. Honolulu (Wikiki Beach) We stayed five nights at the Sheraton Princess Kaliani which was one block back, about 200 years from the beach. Centrally located for the shopping district and beaches. Personally if we returned we would stay at the Marriott Wikiki with sea view. Lots to do on this Island. Best restaurant - "Top of the World" We thought this would be overpriced and over rated but the food quality and presentation was excellent and not over priced. Great city views. Overall this was a dream holiday. The destination and ports of call out of this world. NCL did not meet our expectations and we will never travel NCL again. NCL have a compulsory $10 service charge per person per day and we believe it means that the staff do not have to go the extra mile to give you excellent service. NCL have had trouble holding quality staff and there is a lot to be said for the hard working Filipinos etc who always seem to work hard on other cruise ships and they really appreciate tips. There were other minor problems not discussed on this site. We recommend Hawaii to anyone, Consider NOT travelling at Christmas and choose your cruise line wisely! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We booked this cruise despite all the negative reviews we had read as we didn't want to waste 4 of our precious vacation days at sea while in Hawaii. We also didn't want to sail on the Wind as we had heard several reviews about ... Read More
We booked this cruise despite all the negative reviews we had read as we didn't want to waste 4 of our precious vacation days at sea while in Hawaii. We also didn't want to sail on the Wind as we had heard several reviews about her showing her age, etc and decided that a new ship would suit us better. We had a fabulous time and I am still wondering about all the negative reviews we read. I can only assume that your personal expectations and attitude will have a large impact on your vacation. The ship itself was stunning, very well laid out and very clean in all the common areas. We were very impressed with the planning and decor that went into it. We booked 2 shore excursions through the ship and did the rest of the islands/activities on our own. The Mountain Jungle zipline safari tour on Kuaui is not to be missed. Well worth the money. We booked Captain Zodiak snorkeling trip, but unfortunately my husband was sick and we had to cancel. We were able to find someone who desperately wanted the tickets but found out later at the doctor's office that they would have validated them for us for a refund. We missed the lava viewing after Hilo due to stormy weather, though they didn't tell us until about 5 minutes before we were scheduled to see it. We would have appreciated advance notice as we rushed through our dinner at East Meets West and could have enjoyed it a little more had we known. The doctor's office (which we were unfortunate enough to experience) was great. The staff was very friendly, helpful and empathetic. They gave us a whole armful of supplies and my husband a shot (he caught a bug - not sea sickness) and although there was supposed to be a charge of $50 it never appeared. We wonder if perhaps they waive the charge if they feel the visit is justified, or perhaps it was just an error. The main dining rooms we only ate in 2-3 times. I had a difficult time finding anything to eat as the selection was limited to about 4-5 dishes for dinner and I am allergic to cheese and seafood which usually covered 3-4 of the dishes. I ended up having the "always available" chicken and salad and veggies every time I was in the main dining room so I'm glad we made reservations at most of the specialty restaurants. Of the specialty restaurants we enjoyed Little Italy and the Bistro the most. East Meets West and Lazy J's were ok but a little disappointing. If my medium steak had not arrived rare/blue rare in the center I might have had a better opinion. However you could get steak in any of the other specialty restaurants (fabulous in the Bistro) for a smaller surcharge so I don't see the need to visit it. We ate in the Aloha cafe every morning as it was most convenient, and the waffles were fabulous! Their dinners were average buffet fare, but the deserts table and fresh fruit/salad bars were always excellent and provided many a snack for us. Don't be afraid to fill up a plate/bowl and take it back down to the room with you! We only went to one show - the juggling show with Barry John and it was very good, although my husband was chosen to go on stage so that made it a little more memorable. Of course it was likely the only time on the ship we didn't bring our camera. We caught their "fountains" show on the TV later in the week - I believe it was part of their talent show and it was hilarious. The staff were very friendly, always smiling and we're always eager to help with any request and we did have some challenges for them when my husband was sick and was given a list of foods by the doctor he should stick to. They were always able to come through for us. I can't really comment on the size of the rooms as we received a physically handicapped room even though neither of us required one. It was naturally very spacious and the shower was huge so it suited us fine. My only complaint is the quality of the cleaning staff. The first day we actually wondered if the room had been cleaned since the mirrors had not been cleaned, there was no toilet paper in the bathroom and only glass with no cover. We were assured it had been and were finally brought glasses and toilet paper, etc. However throughout the cruise the mirrors were never cleaned, nothing was ever dusted, the glasses weren't replaced nor was the toilet paper. Extra pillows, robes, etc were never a problem though, so it seemed like the basics were suffering. Overall it was a great cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. Go on your vacation with an open mind, a great attitude and be willing to roll with whatever happens and you'll have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Cruise Dates: December 24-31, 2005 Like others I was skeptical about spending a week on the Pride of America having read some of the negative reviews. Now home I can look back on the week at sea and say I had a great time. It was my ... Read More
Cruise Dates: December 24-31, 2005 Like others I was skeptical about spending a week on the Pride of America having read some of the negative reviews. Now home I can look back on the week at sea and say I had a great time. It was my partner's first cruise and my second. My mother, who suggested the trip, and my sister are seasoned cruisers and their experience was much more negative towards NCL. I will admit when I agreed to go on this cruise I selected it because it allowed me to see more than one island in 7 days. I could unpack once. I knew the ship was NOT a five star. The deck 4 cabin very basic with cot bed, not the most comfortable, but only needed it to sleep in. Throughout the week I found enjoyment in some of the little things. Breakfast outdoors at the Aloha Cafe. Visiting Hawaii, Maui and Kauai by rented car. Quick dinning in the Aloha Cafe for dinner. Steaks in the Texas J restaurant. One flat fee for all you can drink soda. Sitting in the jacuzzi about 9:30 PM when the crowd is gone. Listening to music late night played through the pool speakers watching the pool water slosh from one side to another. The chocolate buffet is a diabetic coma waiting to happen so I had to watch myself. I appreciated the many "no sugar added" desserts. The employees on this ship are nothing different than any other business. They are contracted workers who work 5 month blocks and get 5 weeks off. Some are career oriented and been sailing for years. Others are there for one or two blocks to pay off bad debts, school loans, etc. and will move on. One long term employee reported NCL tries hard to make the daily work schedule accommodating to all staff members. Thanks to those who said hello I enjoyed talking with you. While on board my partner cracked his tooth. On day 2 in Maui we were fortunate enough to find a dentist. He extracted the tooth early afternoon and we made it back to the ship before 5 PM. We laughed when the cab took us to the dentist which was only $1 away from the terminal and just across the main highway nearest the ship. The only itinerary change came while on Kauai. On day 2 we departed at 7 AM instead of 2 PM. The reason for the early departure, not said by the crew but the rental car employee, was another ship needed our berth. As we exited the other ship was arriving. We did get to the see the lava flows into the sea at night on Hawaii. The flights were arranged through NCL via Delta. Both flights were on time both ways. A free breakfast was served on the 8:30 AM flight over, nuts and soda on the "red eye" on the way home. I would have preferred Hawaiian Air and a morning or afternoon flight home. No more "red eye" for me. Here are some suggestions to NCL Corporate " Depart at 5-PM so a daylight Bon Voyage party could be enjoyed around the pool to kick off the week long adventure. " Scrap "Freestyle Dinning" it sucks! " Make specialty restaurants first come first served. Seating is very limited and no way can you accommodate everyone during the week. " Drop the specialty restaurant service charge. Is this a mandatory tip? I think most would tip if promoted correctly. " Add set dinning times in the main dinning room. It would improve on the poor service currently offered. " Hire some decent entertainment. How about Hawaiian locals? The juggler was okay but the comedian wasn't funny. It will be another 16 months before I am ready to sail again. Probably another line. Seems the ships are all about the same inside only the decor is different. I hope NCL can work out the unstable seas and make changes before the Pride of Hawaii is launched. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
We left on the Pride of America (POA) on Saturday, January 14. We had a balcony cabin. Cabins are very small, but adequate for 2. Our cabin had a nice large balcony where we spent many hours in the sun watching the world go by or sitting ... Read More
We left on the Pride of America (POA) on Saturday, January 14. We had a balcony cabin. Cabins are very small, but adequate for 2. Our cabin had a nice large balcony where we spent many hours in the sun watching the world go by or sitting in the evening while sailing. Cabin Service: We were very fortunate to have Ray as our steward. He was efficient, kept the cabin clean and made up, the ice bucket filled twice a day, and he was friendly. I had heard some complaints about cabins not being clean, etc. However, we did not encounter this. Food: Hate to say this, but the food in the mail dinning rooms (Liberty and Skyline) was pretty bad. The first night we had prime rib, Caesar salads, and shrimp cocktails. The prime rib was absolutely tasteless, the salad looked and tasted like it had been made 3 days prior  the lettuce wilted, no cheese on the salad, and tasteless dressing. The shrimp cocktail tasted fishy and the shrimp was limp like it had been thawed for days. We vowed we would not eat in there again& but we did on Lobster night. Lobster night was ok not great, but it was decent. Our biggest complaint was the food. The best breakfast was served outside the Aloha Cafe  there is an omelet bar and the chef will fry or scramble you fresh eggs. The waffles inside the Aloha Cafe were good  but the scrambled eggs tasted like powdered eggs. Breakfast, as a whole, was pretty good, but they constantly ran out of items on the line  like orange juice. Youd ask and they would refill it immediately so that wasnt a big issue for us. I did hear some complaints that the ship ran out of certain food stuff, like ice cream. But we didnt encounter this issue. A word about freestyle cruising: Some may like it, some may not. Its not exactly as you might think reading the brochures. You would think that you could look at the dining boards showing which restaurants were full and which had room for you to show up and eat. That isnt exactly the case. You are far better off to make reservations the first day you board the ship  no matter how long the line. The POA offers several up scale restaurants where the food is very good  outstanding in some cases. You pay extra - $10 to $15 per person to eat there, but its worth every penny as far as we were concerned. Specialty Restaurants: Jefferson Bistro  was fabulous. Had a wonderful filet and lobster (which wasnt on the menu, but offered), flambE desert, great Caesar salad. Tappanyakie (in the East Meets West) is like Benihanas restaurant with the chef preparing your meal in front of you. It was very good and entertaining. Lazy J Steakhouse was good, but I didnt think as good as the Jefferson or Tappanyakie. Finally, we ate in East Meets West and the food was excellent served with dim sum. We couldnt get into Little Italy which everyone raved about! The Bars: Overall the bars were good; we had our favorite in the Gold Rush Saloon. The outside bars were also nice. Depending upon the drink you ordered it was amazing the difference in the taste. I had a Pina Colada from the Key West bar that wasnt very good. I had it again at another bar  it was great. By the way, you cannot get a bar set up in your cabin on the Hawaiian cruises. We tried. Crew: Fortunately we only ran into one problem. However, I heard complaints for other passengers that the crew members were rude. I did observe one incident where the crew member was rude to a passenger. We ran into trouble when we tried to make a reservation for dinner the last day. We called on Thursday to see if we could go to the Jefferson Bistro again. We were told all the specialty restaurants were booked. No offer of a waiting list or anything. We had reservations at East Meets West so, we were ok. Friday, stopped on our way off ship at the reservations desk to see if anything had opened up. The gentleman in line in front of me was told that there was an opening in the Bistro at 8 for two. He selected another restaurant and when I was being helped next, I asked for the Bistro at 8. The girl said fine, and wanted our cabin number. At that point, an older lady came out of the office in time to hear my request and said, No. After asking why it was offered she told me she had a waiting list and they came first. The poor girl at the desk helping me apologized and said she didnt know there was a waiting list and offered to look at restaurants open. She then told me we could eat in the Liberty (main dining room)  we declined that offer. I told them both their communications needed enhancement. I wasnt happy with the treatment they gave me. The older woman wasnt exactly nice about telling me why we couldnt get a reservation and she never asked if we wanted to be added to the waiting list. Overall: I loved the itinerary of this cruise. We had a lot of fun on the islands and the ship stayed in port longer than any other cruise line. I would have liked it if we were anchored in Lihue on Maui, but they offered a bus over to the town. We took a lot of shore excursions  and were happy with them all. A word to the wise, book them early and on line. You can easily rent a car (which we did on several islands) and do the sight seeing itinerary yourself for less. Highlights: Volcano park on the big island (we did this ourselves), Maui whale watch excursion with Pacific Ocean Foundation (fabulous), Halekala downhill bike and Waimea Canyon and Fern Grotto excursions. On the ship we sailed around the volcano at night  that was awesome and so was the Na Pali Coast. Both were breathtaking. How would I rate the Cruise? This isnt a premium cruise line, but all in all, I enjoyed the cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat. It is a different vacation in that the cruise didnt offer a lot of variety in entertainment at night. Clearly, the cruise line believes passengers wont be onboard during the day and dont need entertainment at night. The shows were not bad, just not as professional as on other cruise lines. It would have been nice if they had had bingo or other games organized for passengers in the evenings. Also, they had death by chocolate during the day when most passengers were on shore& they should have those things in the evening. We really didnt run into problems with the crew  they were all (except the one) very polite and service oriented  but it could be better. TIPS: Book your food reservations in advance for the entire trip. Book your excursions in advance on line. Plan out your shore excursions and think about rent cars on the islands like Maui, Kauai and the big island. But most of all enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
I'll make this quick and painless (I can't stand to read some of these LONG reviews) This was our first time on NCL. and it was enjoyable. It is an "Old person's cruise".. Very few newly weds or younger people ... Read More
I'll make this quick and painless (I can't stand to read some of these LONG reviews) This was our first time on NCL. and it was enjoyable. It is an "Old person's cruise".. Very few newly weds or younger people under the age of 40 on this cruise. The Food was awful!!!! We ate at Lazy J steak house and ordered the lobster. There is $15 cover per person to eat there and an additional $10 more for the 1.5 lb lobster. The Lobster was so Over cooked it was white. The shrimp cocktail was warm which I ate and paid for the next day (very sick). East meets West was good on the first night. No one was there and the Sushi was Very FRESH. the second time we ate from the asian menu instead of sushi bar not very good at all. Also don't be fooled about Little Italy and how good it is... It is a speciality restaurant that doesn't have a cover. The food was terrible (the salad was brown and the lasagna was cold) The best meal we had was in the Liberty room one of the main dining rooms. Went on two shore excursions. Capt Zodiac in Kona and the ATV adventure in Kauai. Both were excellent a bit pricey but lots of fun. We saw a lot of whales thru out the trip. Our room steward was excellent found for the most part the staff to be friendly a few to be jerks but that's to be expected when you have a crew of 900. The night sailing by the Volcano and the Napali coast were really cool. Overall we had fun. I would recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
After reading the negative reviews of NCLs Pride of America cruise to Hawaii, we four travelers decided to keep a positive attitude and avoid comparisons to our previous Holland America cruises (which were terrific). Our balcony cabin ... Read More
After reading the negative reviews of NCLs Pride of America cruise to Hawaii, we four travelers decided to keep a positive attitude and avoid comparisons to our previous Holland America cruises (which were terrific). Our balcony cabin (portside, midship on the 8th floor) was cozy but comfortable, and was cleaned promptly without fail. Our adjoining-door room to our traveling companions was convenient. We noticed the ships continued sewage odor problems in certain areas (and overheard complaints), but we were lucky to avoid that problem in our rooms. Dining was not a high point in this cruise. To avoid waiting and/or missing the evening shows, make reservations for each dinner. We tried for reservations at the Little Italy restaurant for Friday nights cruise along the NaPali Coast (after reading this suggestion in cruisecritic.com), but a private party had pre-reserved the evening. This was a blessing in disguise, as the view from our balcony was unbeatable, plus we werent confined to a restaurant window during that spectacular evening. We tried three specialty restaurants: Little Italy (fair), Jefferson Bistro (fair), and Lazy J Steakhouse (poor), and ate at the Liberty restaurant thereafter (no extra charges and the food is adequatea bit like Dennys but with better presentation). The Skyline restaurant offers the same menu as Liberty, but is down one floor nearer the engines and very noisy. The service in all the restaurants was fine, two wait staff per table, and they were really hustling (in fact, they may be understaffed). Keep your sense of humor: You thought butter rationing was over when WWII ended?not so on the PofAone pad of butter per person per meal; and plan ahead, they ran out of prunes and prune juice! We were disappointed in the food presentation at the Skyline breakfastsi.e., the eggs/omelets would be served and maybe 10 minutes later the toast would arrive (sometimes raw and always cold). With one exception, we found the all the crew staff friendly and polite. (The young ladies passing out tender tickets needed the refresher course in customer service.) Island exploration is the goal and high point of this cruise. We pre-reserved a Thrifty van in each port and found that registering as a Blue Chip member (no fee) was helpful to avoid lines and get our car promptly. Thriftys detailed map booklet of each island is helpful. The rental shuttle vans (to the airport) were waiting at each port as we docked. Not wanting to be tied down to shore-excursion time constraints, we planned our daily itinerary using Lonely Planets Hawaii guidebook with hints from NCLs excursion booklet. Brief comments on each of our stops: Hilo, Hawaiiour least favorite port. Akaka Falls hike and drive north to overlook at Waipio. Couldnt find decent lunch stop (maybe because it was Sunday?). Hilo is not much of a resort town. Kahului, MauiLoved the Maui Ocean Center (and their beautiful gift shop). Rode the steam train from Lahaina to Kaanapali. Enjoyed the Maui Tropical Plantation tram tour, one of our favorites. Got up at 3 a.m. on the second port day to drive to the top of Mt. Haleakala for sunrise. Very cold, very very cold, but quite a sight. Take warmest clothes and a couple of NCLs towels with you to use as scarves/wraparounds. Later that day we loved swimming (bouncing around in the surf) at Oneloa, a public beach south of Wailea. Kona, HawaiiOur only tender port. First stop was the Place of Refuge at Honaunau, well worth the trip. Enjoyed the sea turtles in the surf. Returning to Kona, we stopped at the St. Benedicts Painted Church and had an excellent free tour at Greenwells Kona Coffee Farm. Loved having lunch at the Kona Brewing Company and did some shopping by the dock while the guys returned the rental car (hint: allow plenty of time for returning car; traffic is bad). Nawiliwili, Kauai: We spent our only rainy day driving north to the Kilauea Lighthouse (dont miss the treats at the Kilauea Bakery). Even in the pouring rain, the view from the lighthouse bluff is not to be missed. Enjoyed watching the pairs of nene (Hawaiis national bird) padding around the property. Continued our drive north/west to Kee Beach (not great). An okay lunch at the Dolphin restaurant at Hanalei, but try ice cream at Beezers in Kapaa. Our second port day was sunny, and an early morning trip to the Waimea Canyon (little Grand Canyon) was well worth it. Only had time to drive to the first lookout, but that view was spectacular enough (and the tour buses dont go any farther anyway). Nice little coffee stop/art gallery (local artists) in Waimea on our way back to the ship (leaving port by 1:30). By far the highlight of this cruise was the final day, sailing counter-clockwise around Kauai, viewing the Na Pali coast in late afternoon/sunset. The coast is jaw-dropping, awesome gorgeous, and the spouting/breaching whales added to our entertainment. A wonderful climax to our Hawaii cruise. Recommend the cruise? Yes, but go with a hang loose attitude. Dont let the ships shortcomings spoil your vacation; speak up if you feel youre being shortchanged. Enjoy the islands. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was me and my wife's third cruise (second with NCL, Celebrity in early 2005)and first trip to Hawaii. I must say that I was quite nervous having read all of the cruise critic reviews on POA. I have to say that for the most part, ... Read More
This was me and my wife's third cruise (second with NCL, Celebrity in early 2005)and first trip to Hawaii. I must say that I was quite nervous having read all of the cruise critic reviews on POA. I have to say that for the most part, we enjoyed our time in Hawaii tremendously. Embarkation: A complete breeze. We arrived at the Pier at 12:30 pm and were on the boat by 1:00 pm. Our rooms were ready by the time we boarded and we were able to drop our carry-on luggage off before we had a nice lunch at the Aloha Cafe. Cabin: We were very happy with our cabin. This was our first balcony and it was well worth the money. The bathroom/shower was very small but I made out ok and am 6'4" tall. Our room steward kept the room clean and stocked with all the necessary supplies. The bed was extremely comfortable and we slept well the whole cruise. Ship: This is a beautiful ship. We found it clean and well kept. The common areas are very nice. We have no complaints in this area. Food: This would be one of our disappointments. The main restaurants were average at best. The specialty restaurant that we frequented (Lazy J) was very good - well worth the $15 cover charge. We are not big fans of "freestyle cruising". They just don't seem organized enough to pull it off successfully. The wait times are too long and the amount of staff too small. Service: Again, service was average at best. However, this was not for lack of trying. It looked to me that everyone was trying very hard but again, I don't think they have enough staff on hand in the restaurants at busy times. Entertainment: Hit and miss. The juggler/comedian was good. The regular comedian was also good. The dancers/entertainers were ok. Rich does a good job as cruise director. Shore Excursions: Great! We rented a jeep on Maui for the 2 days and a jeep on Kauai for the first day. We did excursions through the ship in Kona (Captain Zodiak - amazing!), Kauai (Kayak to Hidden Falls - also VERY good!), and Honolulu (North Shore excursion - ok and it got us to the airport with our baggage at the end of the day). Disembarkation - Very smooth as well. Overall: This is a great way to see Hawaii at a very reasonable price. Don't believe all of the negative things you read about the POA on the various websites. The value for money of this cruise is very good. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Be prepared for a very long flight (we were on the plane for 11.5 hours). It would be best to add a few days at the end of the cruise to spend in a resort in order to rest up for the flight home. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My family and I sailed on the Pride of America on 1/21/06. Some of the problems that other cruisers had, we also had, but the ship is beautiful, new and the american crew is friendly and hard working. We had a wonderful cabin steward and ... Read More
My family and I sailed on the Pride of America on 1/21/06. Some of the problems that other cruisers had, we also had, but the ship is beautiful, new and the american crew is friendly and hard working. We had a wonderful cabin steward and plenty of room in our balcony cabin. We did cruise by the volcano at night. We were in our ports on time. Getting off and on the Ship was not problem. We did have rain one night that cancelled the Shore Excursion for the Luau and NCL should have handled this cancellation better. Food flavor, appeal and variation is a problem in the main dining rooms. Freestyle dining has some problems. Our meals took about 2 hours - very slow. Service was slow, but the american crew was busting their buns and were friendly and it was nice understanding them. The whole process in the Skyline and Liberty dining rooms needs to be reworked. There were things like no different breads each night and the same bread served in the main dining rooms, were served in the specialty restaurant. It almost like they have taken their good food and put it in the specialty restaurants and given minimal attention to the main dining rooms. The boards were confusing and misleading. Shows were good. Pools had plenty of towels. Gift shops need some work but were okay. Except for the food, everything was better than we expected, considering the harsh reviews The Pride had been receiving. We would go again, without hesitating. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the 'Pride of America'. We call ourselves the Sip And Sailors and are from L.A. In real terms for those that don't know where LA is, it is lower Arkansas. This is our 10th ... Read More
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the 'Pride of America'. We call ourselves the Sip And Sailors and are from L.A. In real terms for those that don't know where LA is, it is lower Arkansas. This is our 10th cruise in 9 years aboard many different lines, mostly in the Caribbean. Before we left I made the mistake of reading the reviews and wondered what i had gotten into. I went into this with a positive attitude and was hoping for the best. We as a group have never had a bad cruise but some have been better than others. You only get out of a cruise what you put into one. We arrived into Honolulu on the 4th and & proceeded to the ship at 2:15pm ,the process of boarding the ship was painless and very quick. One thing to remember is do not try get a bottle of whiskey on board as they will find it, IF LEFT IN ORIGINAL BOTTLE, A hint is try a mouthwash or cough syrup bottle. You will get a call just before muster stating your luggage has been confiscated and report to the 3rd floor to claim your luggage, but don't worry you get the whiskey back Fri. evening at 6:30pm. The ship's staff I thought was great, especially Gordan in security & Mark from N.Y. the main bartender at the South Beach bar on the 12th floor. In fact if you run into them tell them Jim from Arkansas said to say hi! As far as excursions I heard their were some good ones, but stay away from the deep sea fishing in Kona unless you like a 175.00 dollar boat ride and the food at the Luau is like going to a political fundraising event with seven hundred guests, but the show was great so eat before you go. On the two night stops we went to the airport and rented a car for two nights (120.00)and saw the island at our own pace, a great way to see the islands at a fraction of the cost. And parking is close to ship. Book early for speciality restaurants onboard ship as they go fast. My only grief is on formal night they had lobster tail and believe me I am still trying to find mine as we got bigger crawfish tails than their lobster tails. Thank god for the Cadillac Diner for a great meal at 1/5 the time of the dining rooms. I can finally say now that I have cruised Hawaii, Been There Done That and now I going back to Carnival and the Caribbean. Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.9
Dining 5.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 5.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 5.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 3.0 3.7

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