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

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