1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2005
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing ...my apologies in advance! First let me preclude ... Read More
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing ...my apologies in advance! First let me preclude any other thoughts and say, we love cruising. Let me also state that the reason we love cruising is because of the choice you have. For us, a great cruise is the opportunity to do nothing and to eat well. The itinerary on this cruise meant we had 5 days at sea to start and 5 ports of call ending in Honolulu at the end, therefore it seemed absolutely perfect! As a result of our likes and dislikes, we always tend to book the best cabin available, whether that be a Garden Villa, owners suite or penthouse, it doesn't matter. What does matter is enjoying our space and keeping away from other people if we choose to do so. Now that may sound odd but we work in the tourism trade and on vacation we prefer to keep away from tourists! Cruising for us, meets all our needs. We can do what we want, when we want and with whom we want. So, with that said, our experience on POAm has been very indifferent. Firstly the all American crew.... it simply doesn't work IMO. Very few smiling faces, few people enjoying their jobs and restaurant staff that would be best suited to McDonalds, Burger King or Ponderosa at the best. Further, the amount of gay staff is unbelievable. I've no problem with gay people in general if they are good at their jobs but frankly, they weren't on POAm...with one notable exception....our butler, who was great once he got to know our likes and dislikes. One thing that we have found hard to take is the staff pretty much accusing us of contributing to our problems. For example, in the Spa on the second day at sea, on the first we had spent $500 - $600 with them, the gum-chewing receptionist called us at 3.20pm and asked my wife if she had an appointment today? Yes, my wife responded at 4pm. The receptionist then accused my wife of missing her appointment, as it was 4.20pm on her watch! My wife informed her the ship's clock was showing 3.20pm on our TV and that she must have made a mistake. My wife then called the concierge after hanging up with the dumb receptionist and he confirmed the ships time at 3.20pm. He said he'd call back and confirm the appointment was still on. At 3.55pm we hadn't received a call so my wife went to the spa for her appointment. 10 minutes later she was back as the half-baked gum-chewing receptionist was now making out the appointment was for 3pm! My wife showed her the appointment card she had with a time of 4pm. The manager was duly called and it was explained there was a mix up. My wife then asked who was going to do her spa treatment and when told that it was to be the gum-chewing receptionist she duly cancelled that appointment and the subsequent appointments we had made for the duration of the cruise. That's another $600 plus saved through bungling POA inefficiency. Then we have our useless cabin steward. On embarkation day we are used to being greeted by our stateroom steward within the first couple of hours but not this time. This sole didn't turn up until evening time and frankly, we could easily have missed the lifeboat drill if we were so minded. Then he repeatedly forgot to bring us the newssheet for the following day and we didn't see a chocolate until day 3! Capping this off, he then didn't make up our cabin for 3+hours in the morning. We usually had it available and marked up "make up cabin" by 8.30am but if it was done by mid-day it was an achievement. We complained to management on day 4 and he came and tried to blame us for not saying anything to him! He was then good the following day but then he probably had had his card marked by the Hotel Director after we complained. So ...there we were expecting him to improve...fat chance. The following day at Hilo we got off the ship at 8.30am. We returned at 1.30pm and the room still wasn't done....he was still "detailing" it! Fortunately one of the senior hotel staff was walking our corridor and seemed pretty horrified by what she saw. We don't know what she said to him as she took him out on the balcony but it didn't seem to make any difference as when we returned in an evening we found he'd moved the sofa bed away from the wall about 8-12 inches and there was a right mess behind it comprising of swarf shavings and toe nails from previous guests. Again we called the Hotel Director and again he came out, took a look and said it wasn't good enough. He did offer to change room steward for us but wanted to give him another chance. So his chance came and he blew it big time. We got off the ship in Nawiliwili, Kauai at approximately 8.30am and had a thoroughly enjoyable tour to Waimea Canyon. We got back to the ship around 2.15pm and went to our stateroom where to our utter dismay our cabin hadn't been made up yet again. We reported this to the hotel director once again and within an hour the cabin had been done by our guy who had apparently been feeling ill that morning. Funny that, because at 8.30am when we saw him he was very chirpy and didn't at all seem ill. So....let's move onto the food. Day one we went to the French. On previous NCL ships this has been a highlight and we wanted to start our vacation in the best manner possible. Overall this ranked as a 5/10 and was something of a let down from a food quality point of view. The staff were OK and the manager was a guy who didn't know the itinerary of the ship...we found that amusing ! Day two saw us try out the Steakhouse. We were eventually greeted by a hostess who decided she needed to walk round the restaurant to see there was space for our reserved reservation. Again, quite comical as we could clearly see many open tables ! After what seemed like an eternity we ordered. The waitress was pleasant enough but hadn't a clue what to do with the wine. We ordered Pouilly Fume and also a nice red zinfandel. When it came, she opened the white wine without showing us the bottle and we discovered she had delivered Pouilly Fuisse...a $ 50 bottle. $ 12 more expensive than our order. Further, amazing how the prices of Fuisse has risen from the mid 30's to $50 these days...last November we were on the Sun and it was $ 32 ! Oh well, c'est la vie. It didn't matter, crab cakes were due any second. So we waited and waited and when they did arrive we noticed they were burnt on the one side (facing down of course) and cold in the middle ! We both left them and waited for the steaks we had ordered. They were just about acceptable but we were disappointed with the veg and the potato. Live and learn....we won't be visiting the Steakhouse again. On 3rd night we opted for East meets West and this was nothing short of a disaster. We arrived promptly, were shown our table efficiently and from there things got worse. We ordered our wine...it arrived and we ordered our meal. Starters arrived after 15 minutes and we're very very poor. We then had another 35-45 mins before our next food arrived and when it did, it was nothing short of disgusting. The duck, in particular, was awful and I would think twice about giving it to a dog. My eldest daughter had pork and that was inedible. By the time I'd tried the alleged Chicken Tikka Masala I had had enough....we left. Another restaurant we won't be revisiting. Shame really, we had made further reservations for a couple of nights time and we had also booked the Teriyaki room...we cancelled both reservations, particularly after remembering our Teriyaki experience on the Star ! This could only be worse ! We then proceeded to the main dining room to get something to eat. Our evening was rescued by Kevin and Amanda who were truly excellent. Exactly what the specialty restaurants are calling out for. People with a sense of humor, people who know their job and people who can actually perform their task with a smile on their face. We stuck with them from that point on except for one night where the hotel director comped us in at the French as some sort of an apology for the problems we had so far faced. This time the French was much better but the quality of the steak I had still wasn't as good as I've had on other Norwegian ships. Day 4 saw us at Little Italy and whilst the wait at the table was a little longer than one may have hoped for, the food was OK and the service attentive. It was the best specialty restaurant we came across but again nothing to be excited about and nothing to tempt us back. Other frustrations with dining were seen at the Cadillac Diner. The reception staff here are utterly brain dead. I watched in bewilderment that a party of three couldn't be accommodated at a table that needed a chair from a nearby table bringing over. Instead, the brain dead who operate this room seated a young couple at this table and left the elderly party of three standing for 20 mins. Seemed to me they were unwilling to exercise both their brains and their brawn. And I'll not talk about the food.....or drink except to say a chocolate milk for my daughter was also beyond them ! In conclusion, the food has been very poor and dear Amanda was horrified by the "chocolate decadence" served up one evening.....it actually tasted like washing up liquid and she regretted trying a piece of mine immediately she took a bite. The buffet service is inadequate and although not great pasta lovers we would have appreciated a better choice away from the burgers/hot dogs and general meats on offer. The buffet really wasn't organized well and the food on offer was generally unappealing. As for the lunch time offerings in the main restaurant, again, all we can say is that the food was uninspiring and the staff bordering on ignorant. Very often it seemed to blend into much of a muchness and the choices we made were based more on hunger rather than "I've got to have that". Let's now talk of the ship layout for a minute. At first glance everything looks great. Lots of deck space and a feel of spaciousness. However, as you explore the ship you become aware of decks with only one entrance/exit and they just feel odd. What bewildered me was the space allocated at the front of the ship for the business area. A huge auditorium takes center stage and another 3-4 rooms capable of taking 30-75 people each could be found. Now if NCL believe that they have an audience for this space in Hawaii, then good luck to them, but personally I just can't see this space being used unless the ship operates from New York. Something I guess it won't do as the ship has no casino. The casino is no big deal to me but for business people, I rather think they like this sort of thing....go figure! The other thing that surprised me was the size of the spa. It was small. About 8 treatment rooms and a small sauna / steam room in each of the male and female changing rooms. What happened here? Where are the indoor pools, jacuzzi's, etc? A very big disappointment. Moving on from that, everyone's pet hate...security. I don't know if "Pride of America" has got everyone wound up and extra vigilant, for that read stupid, but this cruise really did take the biscuit. For those that don't know it, it's an English expression...look it up one day ;). Anyway, security.....in San Francisco it was fine, everything ran properly and everyone was on the ship in decent time even allowing for the 2 hour delay whilst waiting for latecomers from the airport. However, upon reaching Hilo, Hawaii it became clear we were entering another world. There was one Coast guard cruiser and two or three other boats equipped with guns coasting around the ship. Coast guard security was crawling all over the place including on the ship. As if this wasn't bad enough the security in the ports of Hilo, Kona, Kahului (Maui) and Nawiliwili (Kauai) were out right ridiculous. On most mornings we were woken by a Coast Guard helicopter circling the ship for hours on end, so those that wanted a lie in practically had no chance. Upon returning to the ship, the security staff excelled themselves and it seemed that passengers were practically being strip-searched at times...and I'm not joking. On one occasion I witnessed several passengers who were very angry when asked to take their hats off and then proceed behind a white line which already housed an overcrowded area whilst we were waiting for the tender to take us back to the ship from Kona. This wouldn't have been so bad if the guy had asked nicely but he was downright rude and arrogant...enough to annoy the mildest of people. All I can say is thank heavens it wasn't raining or that it wasn't exceptionally hot because if it had of been, Norwegian may well have seen their first riot as the one 20 foot covered area was totally inadequate. At all ports we had the privilege of having our bags searched by hand. Now forgive me here but aren't we in 2005 and X-ray machines have been around long enough for either the port authority or the cruise line to use? Naturally this ridiculous state of affairs caused long lines and many fed up guests of the ship who have paid decent money to have a vacation. Everyone is in favor of security but please let's keep it sensible and to the point. Opening and sniffing people's drinks is taking it too far IMO and I couldn't believe it when it happened to my daughters (aged 11 and 15)...maybe they thought they were smuggling a swig of alcohol on board in their lemon and lime drinks...who knows? Capping this all off, we had security at Maui to contend with. Getting back to the ship and through security was comical. These bunch of cretins (I know no other word) decided to stop the coaches at the entrance to the port and one security guard got on board the bus and inspected all our credentials! Of course, this caused traffic to backlog and much inconvenience to all concerned. Why on earth they didn't have someone stationed as you entered the terminal is beyond me or why they couldn't park the coaches and then let people off after they had been inspected was beyond me but no, we all had to sit there until they cleared the bus completely. The security guard came on board took 5-8 mins inspecting photo id's and ship board cards and then allowed us to drive another 50 feet where everyone got off to go to the ship through the main security. You really couldn't make this up could you..anyone heard of common sense? So to round all this off, we were tailed everywhere in Hawaii by the Coast Guard cruiser. I can bet this cost a pretty penny and I'd love to know which way we are picking up the tab for this, is it through our cruise fare or through yet more tax that the wonderful Mr. Bush has imposed on us through his ridiculous ill thought out war? So, overall, a very disappointing cruise and probably our last with NCL. My report probably seems to be very negative but we did actually enjoy ourselves. Our balcony was one of the best we have had at sea and thus, we spent a lot of time there. Our butler was fabulous and managed all our requests in reasonable time but best of all was the other passengers we mixed with at meal times. From speaking to them, most had similar comments in regard to the food so most of us pitched up with Kevin and Amanda and we got to know each other reasonably well enough to have some great fun in a slapstick sort of way. We've now experienced 4 NCL ships in the last 18 - 24 months and the time has come to go elsewhere. I'll be interested to see how POA copes in the next two years but I think the policy of employing Americans only has to be reviewed. Forgive me here, but a lot of the staff we saw and met, clearly weren't enjoying their time on Board and as such, it made the whole experience poor. Maybe they are accustomed to better paying jobs & better working conditions than people from other cultures? Maybe it's also that they're just damn lazy and want to take the easy way instead of going the extra mile to please guests on the ship? Who knows? All in all we still enjoyed our cruise. The ports of call were great and the days at sea were wonderfully relaxing. Just a shame so many things didn't come together to make a great cruise but we only have to wait until November for our next...Princess here we come. 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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