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
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2005
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a ... Read More
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a wonderful time in paradise. However, our experience was not all we hoped it would be. When we arrived, our suite (a little smaller than anticipated) still had debris (half eaten banana, dirty dishes, etc.). But to the cabin stewards' credit, they jumped right in and cleaned everything quickly, including the "debris" left by seagulls on the deck chairs. We also found storage to be an issue in our family suite (Deck 10, cabin 10178). However, while storage isn't exactly what I expected, the room was very well appointed and easy to get around in -- we just moved the extra chairs, etc., out to the wonderful, incredibly enormous, balcony this suite has. We found the bathroom adequate but the beds (probably because they are so new) were very, very hard. It took a couple of days for our cabin steward Sharon to get everything down -- 5 people need 5 towels, etc. Once she did things were fine except that we never saw a towel animal at any time, even for my 9 year son who truthfully, I don't believe missed it. As to the dinning -- we tried all but Le Bistro (menu didn't appeal) and truthfully this is where we had issue. Service for us was slow -- we never were able to finish any meal under 2 and half hours -- any restaurant, any time of day -- excluding, of course, the Aloha Buffet. However, as time went on, it seemed that this wasn't an issue re waiters/waitresses but rather, servers waiting for the food from the kitchen. I second the opinion on the lack of spice -- overall I found the food in all the dinning rooms we visited to be good but the menu didn't vary enough and by the end of 10 days I was definitely in mood for something else. Kudos to the Aloha Buffet -- the all you could eat lobster night (the night we left Kona) was a wonderful treat, especially as it also offered shrimp, salmon, cat fish and other tasty items. Some disappointing items: our beautiful balcony was never cleaned in any way. This might not have been an issue to others but since our balcony was directly under the outside eating area of the Aloha Buffet (which they washed down every morning) it really became an issue to us. We went through one complete electrical blackout for our area that was a minimum inconvenience. However, our appliances (refrigerator, coffee pot, hair dryers, some lights) experienced many more outages -- it seems the fuses kept going. But with all things during our trip the ship's crew was completely responsive, helpful, incredibly sympathetic or apologetic as needed. We had heard rumors of staffing issues (I heard they lost 100, my husband had heard more like 30 of the crew in San Francisco) but whatever the issues, this crew is incredibly gracious and accommodating, the one acceptation, the whinny pastry girl in Skyline. And although I realize that its not the crew's fault that people flush what they shouldn't, it really is a bit much to have to tolerate three days in a row of your toilet being out of commission, sometimes for hours on end. We took a variety of shore excursions in every port and were pleased with all our choices except for the Body Glove snorkel on Kona (not as beginning as was billed) and the Luau at the Sheraton on Maui (rather a pasteurized version of what I had previous experienced when I had cruised with the SS Independence in 2000). A good tip is to plan all excursions in advance and book as early as you are certain of your plans. The upside of things: first, I cannot state this strong enough -- this is one beautiful ship. The card room, internet cafe, library area was design beautifully not to mention the Reception/Capitol Atrium area. Truthfully, I was truly amazed at the incredible amount of detail and care given to the appointments of all the areas on the ship. Secondly, the staff/crew of the ship were always accommodating -- with one or two very minor exceptions. I was not overly fond of the Cruise Director (he made a couple of comments that bordered on rude rather than funny in my opinion) but you can't fault him and his assistant Shona (sp?) for how hard they worked. I don't think they got more than a handful of hours of sleep the entire cruise. Will I cruise PO America again -- yes, in a heartbeat. Will I sign up for the repositioning cruise with Pride of Hawaii -- don't think so. I loved the five days at sea, but I think I'll wait for any potential kinks to be worked out first. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts ... Read More
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts here, I was pleasantly surprised. It is nicely done - would've liked a larger balcony. We were on the 10th floor and if I were doing it again, I would not choose that floor because the supports for the pool deck block your panoramic view. It was still very nice to sit out and enjoy the ride. The bed was comfy - I slept like a baby. The service was fine. We don't require a lot of attention. We always had our room done before noon on our sea days, and by the time we returned on port days. Beds were turned down while we were at supper. We always had ice and tp. Only had a towel animal one night, but no biggie. The restaurants were beautiful and the food was fine. Not great, but fine. By the end of 10 days I was ready for some spice. I'm sure they cannot spice it up too much due to restrictive diets and such. We ate in all of the restaurants except Lazy J. Jefferson's Bistro was good and very romantic. The hot spinach salad was very good, and my husband's seabass was excellent. My surfnturf was fair. I didn't eat the steak. The Tappanyaki was good. We really liked the stir fried rice with a little garlic. Skip the Italian. That was the worst meal I had. All of the soups I had on board were very good. I couldn't eat the scrambled eggs at breakfast, they didn't taste fully cooked, but you can get omelettes in the main dining room or there is plenty to choose from on the buffet. If you like David Schwimmer (Ross from friends), you will like the cruise director. My husband found him annoying, but he was fine with me. The Hollywood Theater is nice, but COLD! The Mardis Gras nightclub is HOT. We still had fun. The Tahiti dancers were good. W.T. Greet was good in the piano bar, but I think he is coming back to Dallas. The 1st comic was good, the 2nd we left. We enjoyed massages, but felt the price was misleading. They add a 15% service charge, but it is not a tip. We loved freestyle and freestyle disembarkation. Embarking wasn't bad. We did have a wait in a room without AC, but it wasn't too long. We felt all the employees did a good job overall. We had our worst service the last night. Maybe that was why. We met some homesick kids. A little gal from TX gave me a huge hug when she found out we were from her home state. The ports are awesome. We rented cars on each island and could do what we wanted. On Hilo went to Volcano Nat. Park, Waipaio Valley Lookout, a beach park, and Akaka Falls and hiked around. Be sure to take the Onomea scenic road - about 4miles. Had a great lunch at What's shakin. It rained a lot. At Kona, we went to Place of Refuge (cool) and snorkeled right beside it. Saw turtles and lots of fish and coral. Rocky entry, but fairly calm for fraidy cats like me. Had an awesome lunch at the Coffee Shack - with a great view of Kealakua Bay. We then went to Kahaluu Beach Park to snorkel. It was dirty (couldn't see anything) and rough. Too rough for me. Sailing past the volcano at night was a highlight!On Maui we drove over to Kapalua Beach and snorkeled. Saw a MOOrish Idol (like a angelfish). This was nice. Then we went to Kaanapali Beach and ate at the Hula Grill. Another good choice. Wandered around and headed south to Kihou (SP?) beach park to watch the sunset. Kauai was my absolute favorite!!! We went north, stopped at the Lighthouse and saw spinner dolphins on one side and a seal on the rocks on the other. Not to mention birds and the most incredible view (all of the views on Kauai are). Then we drove to the end of the road to Kee Beach on the Napali coast. We changed to swimsuits (nasty bathroom), but the snorkeling was awesome!! Saw lots of fish, swam in a school with lots of big ones. I never knew there were so many colorful fish. The snorkeling here is great for chickens,, because the reef breaks the waves before they get to you. We stopped at the Princeville Resort on the way back because I have been wanting to go there. I can't wait, the place is gorgeous!! Didn't have lunch, because there was so much to do. I didn't like Honolulu. Dallas by the sea. The East shore was nice. The trip home on the red eye was a pain, but I'd do it again. I loved Hawaii and the ship. My biggest complaint was the food got old after 10 days. I might not have noticed it if I hadn't eaten the great food I did off the ship! I am glad we had 5 days at sea, because I'm Type A and want to see everything and the port days were exhausting. My husband says he drove 500 miles on a 400 mile island (not really). It's a great way to taste the islands to decide where you want to go back and stay. Enjoy!!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Have taken this cruise 3 times now. Usually from HNL to HNL. Last time from San Francisco as POA was in dry dock for refurbishment. Gave us 5 sea days which I badly needed. (4 with a small delay because rain hampered NCL from finishing ... Read More
Have taken this cruise 3 times now. Usually from HNL to HNL. Last time from San Francisco as POA was in dry dock for refurbishment. Gave us 5 sea days which I badly needed. (4 with a small delay because rain hampered NCL from finishing work) BUT they made good for the small delay with credit for the 1 day delay, 50% credit back what we paid for Hawaii cruise toward future cruise, and hotel in SF paid for. I'm hearing complaints, but come on people, NCL had no control over weather and I'm sure would have rather not given us back all that money. Some people will complain no matter what. First of all, if you have or have not been to Hawaii, this is a simple, easy way to see the islands without having to pack and unpack, hop inter- island airplanes. Hate to waste time on something like packing, getting another plane, checking in a new hotel etc. Use this ship as a floating hotel with free food and perks like activities and you will love it. Evening entertainment was always abundant and fun. Only tip I would say is bring a jacket, blanket, towel- anything as all three trips we took, the theaters were freezing. I mean REALLY cold and I am not the only one who thought so. I always brought my airplane blanket and jacket each night. The ship has been renovated and is a fine mid size at around 2,000 pax. I actually like this rather than 4K plus passengers mega ships. Book yourself a balcony if you can afford it. More room and good scenery. Entertainment is always fine and abundant. Cruise Director Malu, is really nice and tries to make everyone welcome as is her staff. We have not eaten at any specialty restaurants, as we save our bucks for the islands. The buffet and complimentary restaurants are plenty. 5# on me and more on hubby can attest to that. Diet time now. As for the islands, we've always rented from Thrifty before we cruise. Sign up for Blue Chip and avoid any lines. You could probably do without a car if you don't want to drive on Kona and Hilo. There are always plenty of small little vans when you depart the ship that can take you around and cheaper. There is a Hapu and Hapu bus(sp?) basically a hop on and hop off bus that ran around $20 and we found that easy and not stuck on a huge Roberts type bus with many people. Do your own thing if possible, read before you go,look at reviews etc. Everyone is different from wants and needs to physical abilities. Only you know what you require. Stay a day or so before or after your cruise in HNL/Waikiki. Rent a car if you are able to go around island. Plenty of hotels, nightlife or lounging. We prefer the end closest to Diamondhead. Lots of shopping up and down the Kalakaua Ave. Have stayed at Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Holiday Beachcomber and Aston Waikiki Beach. Can't complain as they all had great deals. I never book 3rd party. Always direct. If I have a problem, I can take it up with them easier. Most mentioned above have breakfast included so you can leave with a full tummy and grab some fruit or bagels etc. for your beach lunch and only pay for nice dinner. Mai Kai Catamaran coupons on groupon have always worked well for us in Waikiki. A great catamaran ride 1 1/2 hour trip that is relaxing and fun. Much cheaper on Groupon. We also like Tiki's Bar & Grill, again at the Diamondhead end before the HNL zoo. Sign up for their birthday/anniversary club and they will send you great coupons. Happy hour specials every day and live music every day. Never went to the zoo, but usually most Sunday's there is an art/craft exhibit at the near by park. Free hula show at Kuhio beach park. Google it for days/ hours. City busses are fine way to get by in HNL cheap. Parking at most hotels is impossible and expensive. Aston Banyon has the cheapest parking if you are at that end of Waikiki. But back to the ship as this is a NCL review. Love this cruise, would do it again in a heartbeat. No complaints. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our second time on the POA as Hawaii is a favorite destination for us. It offers the best itinerary and is the most relaxing way to see all the islands, offering overnights in Maui and Kauai, two ports on Hawaii, and an hours ... Read More
This was our second time on the POA as Hawaii is a favorite destination for us. It offers the best itinerary and is the most relaxing way to see all the islands, offering overnights in Maui and Kauai, two ports on Hawaii, and an hours long sail by of the Na Pali coast which I don't believe anyone else offers. POA is the only cruise ship which sails strictly inter island and weekly, year round. Other lines offer only seasonal, trans Pacific cruises. However, this cruise the POA was returning from an extended dry dock in San Francisco and offered a unique 11 night return to Hawaii combined with the nearly normal inter island itinerary ( we lost the overnight in Maui ). Because it was a last minute change in dry dock location from Hawaii to San Francisco, we were able to book a suite for about what we had booked a balcony on our previous POA cruise. Too good to pass up. I have seen in other reviews that posters referred to this as a "luxury" cruise and it did not meet their expectation for a "luxury" cruise. Perhaps they were basing this on the cabin prices? When in paradise, there is a premium to pay. Hawaii is expensive and the POA is the only game in town. But Norwegian is not a luxury line, but very comparable to other mainstream lines like Royal Caribbean. If you go in with the right expectations, there is no better way to see Hawaii. In port daily, with overnights, it allows maximum time to explore the islands. This was our 9th cruise with Norwegian. We generally avoid the main dining rooms, preferring the specialty restaurants or the buffet. New menus were recently introduced. Three of the specialties are now "a la carte". Buying a 3 to 7 night dining package highly recommended. An a la carte meal including lobster which might otherwise cost $50 on an can be had for @$20 with a package, which has no restriction on items ordered. We had no problem with food temperature which others have noted, but we did notice a distinct decline in specialty food quality, particularly the meats, compared to other recent NCL sailings. We had a few less than stellar experiences with totally inept service in the specialties as well, something we had not run across previously. In general, the staff were pleasant, attentive and helpful, and appeared to be hard working. This cruise was delayed by 1 day, notifications going out only a couple days before sail date, with some people already in the port city or in transit, leaving some scrambling for hotel rooms. NCL did make good with a 1 day credit, reimbursement for 1days hotel and expenses and a credit of 50% of cruise fare paid toward a future cruise. I rated the embarkation process as poor, but in fairness, it was a 'one of' complicated by a new embarkation port and the surrounding confusion re the delay. We did not see any shows, but comments I heard were complimentry. Two theatre shows nightly, other shows in the cabaret and live music in various bars. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We had two balcony cabins for the PoA cruise in March 2016 to bring her from dry dock in San Francisco back to Honolulu for her usual year-round island hopping. Departure was delayed by one day as the bad weather in SFO impacted some of ... Read More
We had two balcony cabins for the PoA cruise in March 2016 to bring her from dry dock in San Francisco back to Honolulu for her usual year-round island hopping. Departure was delayed by one day as the bad weather in SFO impacted some of the renovations. Boarding at Pier 27 was the most chaotic and unprofessional procedure that I ever had to witness, it took us 3,5 hours to get on the ship! Onboard we had to learn that significant areas of the ship would be inaccessible for the whole cruise: Spa, open deck space on decks 12 and 13, many of the public toilets. While we have understanding for the weather issues in dry dock which led to delays in remodeling the outdoor spaces, there is no excuse for not even having indoor stuff like toilets and Spa operational. Due to the uncompleted renovations we had extensive loud and dirty work being continued during the whole cruise (and they still weren’t finished when we disembarked in Honolulu). On top, in the midship area on decks 5 and 6 there was a constant smell of toilet waste - supposedly there were some issue with the AirCon. Speaking of the AirCon: It was running way too high in public areas (mostly in the forward section), half of the passengers left the ship ship sneezing and coughing - come on, we're sailling Hawaii! This brings me to the most disturbing topic which continued throughout the whole cruise: The level of service by the crew is significantly lower compared to the international ships. I never had to witness so many slow / sloppy / incompetent crew members on any ship (NCL or other cruise lines). I simply don't want staff who just hop on due to a cheap advertisement on Craig's List or CandyCrush (that's what the staff told me!) - I'm used to a professionally trained crew. But let's be fair: There were also several positive things. The "beautification" (as NCL calls it) brought many of the current standards on this somewhat aged ship. The specialty dining venues as well as the bars and fitness centre now look similar to the newer ships. And while only the suites got a full renovation, the other staterooms are still in quite a good shape. The Aloha Café is still too small, therefore suite guests are lucky to have Cagneys as their dedicated restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The food itself was NCL standard, which -personally- we like even if it lacks on this small ships a bit of the variety that you'll find on the bigger ships. The food quality and service in the specialty dining were great (obviously it helped that the corporate chef from NCL headquarters was onboard to brief the kitchen crew). One thing that we weren't aware of before the cruise: As this is the only NCL ship registered in the US, the laws of Hawaii prohibit an onboard Casino. And as the ship is usually only acting as a floating hotel on the Hawaiian islands, there are also no duty free shops (just "trashy" holiday items which you can get cheaper and nicer in every port of call). For domestic US travellers without real international experiences all of this might be sufficient - but compared to real international itineraries / ships / ships, the downsides are inacceptable for us. But then again: Should you do the standard island itinerary, you probably wouldn’t notice some of these flaws as you simply don’t have the time to experience them… And once all of the renovations are completed, the PoA is a nice ship. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We took the cruise out of San Francisco where the ship had been in dry dock for 5 weeks. We expected everything to be refreshed and new. Unfortunately, the dry dock repairs were not completed. This created a one-day delay in the sail ... Read More
We took the cruise out of San Francisco where the ship had been in dry dock for 5 weeks. We expected everything to be refreshed and new. Unfortunately, the dry dock repairs were not completed. This created a one-day delay in the sail date. We didn't mind that so much since NCL provided hotel accommodations for an additional day in San Francisco. It gave us an opportunity to visit the Academy of Sciences which was the best "excursion" of the trip. But because the repairs were not finished, there was much of the ship we could not access (one of the pools, the front of the ship closed so we could not use the jogging trail). Also, there were no spa services (something I look forward to with every cruise), as the Spa refurbishing was not completed. The check in process was just awful. Keep in mind we've done this many times. It's never a breeze, but this was the worst. Late, long lines, no special NCL Latitudes Member line, and very poor organization. It took about 3 hours or more to check in. Very poorly organized. And no consistency in directions from check in staff resulting in some people walking straight up to the check in counter while the rest of us took our turn in the various lines (one just to get into the building and another for our "check in group". About the dining: There were new menus in the dining rooms, but apparently insufficient training on how to prepare some of the items. The meal quality was very inconsistent. Sometimes great, but about half the time just awful. Frequently, the meals were not as described (if it said there would be shrimp, scallops and mahi, the scallops were missing). At one point, when asked if we were enjoying the food, we told the officer about the inconsistency. This resulted in getting a personal letter from the a Manager that was full of problems: it was addressed to Ms. and Mrs.... (we are Mr. and Ms.), said he was providing "Chocolate covered strawberries" (we received a box of chocolates) and asked us to call him. When we did, he told us that because we "complained" he got "written up." We told him we did not mean to cause any trouble and that we only responded truthfully to a question. After discussing the issues with the restaurant, I asked him for a recommendation for dinner that night. He said we should try "the garlic sirloin". We went to the dining room and there wasn't any such thing on the menu. Bottom line, this guy didn't know what he was talking about and seemed to be more interested in his own job. One great thing about this ship is the mostly American staff. They were very professional and seemed happy to work for NCL. Most of the dining room staff were very engaging. It always amazes me that staff can do that with each new set of passengers. We especially enjoyed Shay and Daniel in the Skyline dining room. The shore excursions were good. We really enjoyed the Luau and the Kona Land and Sea excursion. We booked a helicopter tour of Kawai via "Safari Tours" (not NCL sponsored shore excursion) and were very pleased. They picked us up at the dock and provided about 50 minute excursion for less than half the price NCL was charging ($125 ea). The entertainment was very good. The cruise director is native Hawaiian and she provided excellent lectures. The cruise director staff was a lot of fun. We made Kukui nut leis and other things. We really enjoyed the Pink's Champagne Bar entertainment by pianist Kevin Brandon and the "Oh What a Night" cover of the Four Seasons. Finally, the cabin size on this ship is very small. We usually get mini-suites, but there are none on this ship apparently. We got a balcony cabin and were horrified at the size of the bathroom and closet. A large person would have difficulty showering. The toilet did not always flush. But our room steward, Chris, was wonderful. Because there were so many problems with this cruise (apparently we were not the only ones complaining), NCL offered everyone a 50% off of our next cruise. We were happy to receive that, although we are not yet sure if that is 50% off any NCL cruise, or if it is only applicable to another Hawaiian cruise. If I want to go back to Hawaii, I might try Pride of America again. I suspect most of the problems were connected to the 5 weeks of uncompleted drydock and lack of staff training for new menu items. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Flew to San Francisco 2 days before our scheduled cruise departure, to see the sights around the area. Wanted to be there because too many things can go wrong flying in the same day as the cruise. This way we are rested rested and ready to ... Read More
Flew to San Francisco 2 days before our scheduled cruise departure, to see the sights around the area. Wanted to be there because too many things can go wrong flying in the same day as the cruise. This way we are rested rested and ready to board at our scheduled time. The problem was NCL gave us the notice of delaying departure by 1 day, less than 24 hours of our scheduled boarding time. We were on a tour of Alcatraz Island, with limited cell phone service, trying to find a room for an extra night. No such luck! Our hotel was already booked up because of a convention and spring break. No room for us there! Staying at Fisherman's Wharf, we were just blocks from the cruise terminal. We were desperate in a unfamiliar city! Holiday Inn finally found us a room about an hour north of SF, across the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley. So, the next day we check out, get in a taxi, and head to another hotel. Then have to come right back the next day to board the ship. Of course there were no restaurants, or anything else near our hotel. My main complaint is NCL should have given us more of a notice! Hopefully NCL will pay our the extra night for a hotel room like they said. I asked for the round trip cab fare we had to pay, and for the meal at a restaurant we had to walk about 3/4 of a mile to and from, (along a highway and feeder roads) because of no restaurants close by. I will be happy then! The way NCL sent out notice of the 1 day delay was a disaster! I got 3 texts and 3 recorded phone messages that afternoon and evening. Telling me to call a toll free number for more information. Also, there were 2 messages left on our home phone, and with our son, who was our emergency contact while cruising. NCL even called the agent we had booked our cruise with. (She was no help.) When calling the toll free number to find out more information, there was a long wait to try and speak to someone. Some of them didn't know what was going on. Not one person with NCL could tell you what time to show up. Arrived by taxi at the cruise terminal around 1:00 pm and got in the long line with everyone else. Once we made it into the building and through security, we had it made. We were in a suite and went to a special line to check in. Then a butler took us to Cagney's for a glass of champagne and lunch. Only took 1 hour. After lunch we were escorted to our room. Disembarking was also an easy process. We were given priority tags for our luggage, told breakfast would be served in Cagney's, and we could leave whenever we wanted. Our room was on the 11th floor at the front of the ship. Lucia Colon was our room steward. She was very friendly and helpful, and took good care of us and our room. Chris was the butler. He said not to bother with the concierge - "he would handle everything." Chris showed us how to use the tv order room service, book shore excursions, check account, book restaurants, etc. Everything to make his job easier. Not really impressed with Chris. Thomas was our concierge and we really liked him. He was always around visiting at breakfast and lunch at Cagney's. He answered all our questions and made recommendations when we asked. Thomas got us off early in Kona on the tender for our excursion. We did have a small electrical problem in our room. Told Chris the coffee machine didn't work, and he said we didn't know how to use it. (He didn't give us a chance to tell him, we had the same Lavazza machine exactly a year before on another NCL cruise.) Chris tries and can't get it to work, either. So, he hauls it off and will bring another to replace it. Trouble is they don't have any extras on the ship. Later on we noticed the refrigerator wasn't cooling, the plug in portable lighted mirror wasn't working, and some of the other plugs weren't working in the desk and makeup area. Told Chris about all the electrical problems the next morning, and he would check on it. That morning at the Cruise Critic Party we talked to Vanroy Roberts, Executive Housekeeper, and he said it was probably just a breaker not flipped back on. He took care of our problem ASAP! My wife still had to use an extension for her hot iron, because it wouldn't fit the plug on the vanity. Everything else was fine and Chris brought the coffee machine back. We had all our tours planned out and paid for before boarding the ship. Had four booked with Robert's of Hawaii - who are about half the price for the same big bus as NCL, The two others were booked through Marylou's on the big island. These were small groups 5 people in Hilo and 7 people in Kona, and they were in a/c comfortable vans. These were a welcome break from the large buses. We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants in the evening. Our last cruise we had the free specialty dining, and were not really impressed. The prices have really went up the past year, and NCL has added a service charge, too. We did enjoy the breakfast and lunches at Cagney's. Tried the buffet once at lunch, but it was crowed and hard to find a table. Had breakfast twice in Skyline dining room, and it was good. Had all our evening meals in the Skyline dining room. (Like being able to wear shorts to dinner - you are on vacation.) We liked to go to the early shows, and went to eat at 5:30 pm. Only one time our meal ran late and had to leave without dessert. That's the only time the service was bad, and the waiter kept blaming everyone else. The Cadillac Diner was ok for a quick snack. (Really missed O'Sheeans.) There was the ice cream machine at the buffet. Enjoyed all the shows. Toby Beau was my favorite entertainer, though. They had several different shows on this cruise. "Fellow Texans" from the South Texas area. Balde and Rennetta Silva even knew where our little town (Cuero) of almost 7,000 was located. "Thank you all" for saluting the Veterans on our cruise That meant a lot to me and all the others! I would like to say that we did have some problems on this cruise. The one day delay. The trip across the Pacific Ocean was rough at times. The new waiters learning the new menus. Not having all the new facilities ready on time to cruise. Etc. All is forgiven! The personnel very friendly and helpful starting at the top with Kaj Turunen, the Hotel Director who was all over the ship, making sure everything was going fine. Malu Punohu the Cruise Director was also a busy lady, going above and beyond what is expected of her. Like to say "Thank you Malu" for recognizing all the Veterans, the evening of the last show in the theatre. We were on board the Pride Of America with a great crew to look after us. NCL first offered off 25% off a future cruise for the problems they were having. NCL also refunded the cruise fare for the one day missed, on to your account that you could use or be refunded. I thought that was a great deal. After all you were cruising to paradise and being well taken care of. Then right before we embarked, NCL increased the amount to 50% off a future cruise, for the price you paid on the Pride Of America. "A BIG THANK YOU" to Klaus Lugmaier, Regional Vice President Fleet Hotel Operations who was on the cruise with us. He was there to greet us we came onboard, and I shook Klaus's hand the morning when we disembarked. I told him thanks for everything. Also, saw Klaus several times during our cruise, too. It was great to have a top management team member along. That shows NCL really does care about you! 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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