Our cruise group was 8 friends who have travelled extesnivly over the years. The ship, as many previous reviewers have mentioned, is a floating hotel. We had an outside stateroom with a balcony, and the room was average in size. We liked having the balcony to sit and watch the islands.
The food was good. The buffet was better then average, and the night they had prime ride was as good as some of the food I've eaten here in Kansas City! Many good choices, and the breakfast was wonderful.We had breakfast in the 50' diner, and it was fun and not crowded at all. Evening dinner at the dress up dinner(men are requested to wear slacks), the service was OK and the food was average.
The staff was mostly American, and were polite and friendly. Our cabin steward was just OK, and we missed a few turn downs for our bed after having dinner.
The evening's events were good. Second City was on board, and had some very funny skits, and were on stage 3 nights during the week. A group singing the 4 Seasons's songs were very good. The cruise directorwas just OK, and was informative in terms of events going on daily.
As far as the 4 islands, I think that the packages that NCL offered were OK, but we decided to do our own arrangements, since there was a large group involved. Renting cars proved to be worthwhile, as we could come and go at our own pace. The trip we took through the cruise was the helicopter tour, as well as the luau which was very good and entertaining. There were several local artists and venders selling their wares when we arrived, and for those who wee looking for unusual souvenirs,this was the place to find them. The dinner and dancing were much better then what I had imagined, and considering they do this evemt three times a week, I don't know how they keep up the enegy.
Having taken this same trip 4 years ago, I had concerns, but I was pleasantly surprised how smooth it all went. I was expecting the 'Griswald Hawaii vaction' but I'm glad to say it was a whole lot better! It was a fun and relaxing vacation.
Pride of America nothing for NCL to be proud about.
We were warned to look at the PofA as only a hotel to sleep and eat. Good advice. The staff was not rude but they were uncaring and more interested in their own party as a crew then in passengers. There were a few exceptions (Rashid in the Skyline restaurant!) but overall no commitment to quality or customer satisfaction that we've had on other trips. Itinerary at end. Other suggestions:
Onboard food. Eat dinners in the specialty restaurants. $10-$25 per person but worth it, especially for the filet mignon in the Jefferson bistro. The free Aloha Café buffet is average (think MCL), chaotic and one of your group will have to stay at the table to keep it from being taken. But we never had a long wait for a table at Aloha. My youngest liked the free Cadillac Diner for milkshakes (great). The free Skyline was ok when we wanted peace but food was poor. The free Liberty serves the same menu as the Skyline but is dressy. The extra cost Teppanyaki Japanese steakhouse was fun and great food.
Excursions. Organizeyour own to save over 50%. NCL would have charged $4,200+ for all the shore excursions the 5 of us wanted. We did them on our own for $1,800 even with rental car and parking expenses. Plus we had freedom to leave the ship when we wanted and go where we wanted - missing a lot of the lines. Rental car shuttles (we used Avis) were convenient, picking us up right at the dock. (Note: I can see where you might want to do excursions through NCL if you don't have time to plan or only have 1 or 2 people.)
Parking. On Maui and Kauai there is limited overnight parking. But we found a space on the road to the ship in Maui with no problem - just had to leave it by 8:00 am the next morning which fit our schedule. On Kauai quickly go to the market you see when you leave the dock area right away and buy an overnight space for $20 from Kauai Scooter. If you get in a jam Avis will let you park overnight at their facility but shuttle times are limited at night.
Rooms. Make sure you know the EXACT layout of the room/balcony you are getting, especially if you are on the deck 10. We paid the highest price to get 2 rooms with "full balcony views", but got rooms with "partially obstructed views" (balcony walls on deck 10 extend out beyond the balcony on both sides to meet the wider deck 11). When we asked about it we got multiple excuses like blaming it on the booking, etc. We had to take our own time to call the original cruise coordinator to prove them false. Eventually PofA literally told us there was nothing they would do, including any onboard credit which is the norm. They even gave us bogus numbers to call at NCL. When we did get through to NCL they told us the ship desk would have to take care of it. A complete runaround while we stared at nothing but shipping containers in every port. A several thousand dollar mistake - but they didn't care. Our AVC cruise coordinator was fantastic and said she would follow-up with NCL but I have low expectations and will most likely not use NCL again.
Onboard entertainment. Campy - picture Don Knotts doing an impression of Bill Murray's Saturday Night Live skit as the lounge singer at the Airport Sheraton. But for mellow adults the piano player in Pink's champagne lounge was very good. Only 2 people showed up for ballroom dancing. The Second City comedy troop was great, and thankfully rated their later acts as PG-13 to protect kids. The Pub Crawl crowd was fun but too many desperate women, beer belly drunks and obnoxious hosts. One host even led the crowd through a version of the lord's prayer recast as a drinking oath. Kinda funny but questionable taste. The Farewell Show was laughable - really, people were laughing when the crew sang up the PofA as our "home away from home". Magician and comic on board were ok.
So, was it bad? No, but only because our expectations were set ahead of time. Don't expect much and the PofA will deliver just that. Not much. Hawaii takes care of what's really important.
Itineray (Get reservations online for everything you can before you go and make sure you can get back to the ship on time. All the companies know the PofA's schedule so just ask):Friday. Arrived in Honolulu and had dinner at Dukes at Wakiki. Good prices, great food and beach view. Stayed at Marriott but would choose Westin next time. Saturday. Sea Life Park for pool swim with Dolphins before boarding the ship. SLP is small so don't expect Sea World. The Dolphin swim was great and they pick you up at the hotel and bring you back. Then cab to ship. Sunday (Maui). Whale watching with Maui Adventure Cruises (BEST!) Experts with smaller, faster boats so your time is all spent with the whales. Then walk/shop old Lahaina before best sunset dinner at the Plantation House restaurant (country club - beautiful and they even let us use the club to change when we ran out of time to get back to the ship before dinner. Monday (Maui). Snorkel at Molokini and Turtle Bay on the Pride of Maui. Then beach time before boarding ship. Tuesday (Hilo). Rental car to Akaka Falls, Volcano National Park, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Plantation and Candy Factory. Hilo is rainy side of island so no beach time planned. Wednesday (Kona). Beach and shopping time all right next to the dock in old Kona. Relax day. Great lunch at the FishHopper. Thursday (Kauai). Kayak and hike to Secret Falls with Kauai Kayak (Great). Bring own lunches. Then clean up right there at the marina shower house (rustic) in time for the Luau at Smith's Tropical Paradise which is next door. Smith's is MUCH better than PofA's excursion Luau. Friday (Kauai). Drive or helicopter to Waimea Canyon. Beautiful. Lunch at Shrimp Station and shaved ice at Jo-Jo's (both at base of Canyon) before boarding ship to get back to Honolulu to fly out Saturday.
Hope this is helpful. Aloha (couldn't resist).
Just returned from a seven day island-hopping cruise and it was fantastic. Despite what previous reviewers have said, the service of the crew was impeccable. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone who wants a 'sample' tour of the islands. The food was great and the nightly entertainment was wonderful. This was my first cruise and I am definitely hooked on the whole concept. The only complaint and I'm sure this is true of all cruise lines, is that they wanted to 'nickel and dime' you for just about everything beyond the very basics. This got a little burdensome over the course of the cruise. All of the shore excursions went off without a hitch and were the real highlights of the trip.
My husband and I traveled to Hawaii this June to set sail on Pride of America. It was our first time in the islands and our first cruise. I had read many reviews of the ship ahead of time, and posted some questions on the message board here, which helped me to get ready for the experience. It was the trip of a lifetime!
We flew from Ohio on June 6 with Delta Airlines (with our second leg, a 9 1/2 hour flight from Atlanta to Honolulu). We arrived in Hawaii after 2 p.m. The flight wasn't too bad. I learned that the perfect seats on a 747 are the first row of two seats behind the threes, in the tail section. I had space beside my window seat that nearly equaled a seat width. We had extra storage under the seat in front of us and I was short enough (5'3) to be able to stand and stretch in the space beside our seat. I needed that, as my legs tend to swell when I fly. It was great.
When we got our luggage, we headed out to wherethe shuttles were. I had read that Roberts Hawaii offers $6 transfers to the pier. We couldn't see their bus, but saw another shuttle marked Waikiki and the driver said they were headed to the pier too. He said it would be $8 apiece. We took it.
Embarkation was smooth and easy. We were on the ship in no time (around 3 p.m.). Our room was ready when we got there. It seemed a little small to me, but my husband exclaimed, "It's huge!" when he saw it. I had been warning him that cabins were small on ships. The bed was two twins put together to form a king. There was a loveseat in the room and a small TV. There was ample storage. We unloaded our suitcases and had a couple of drawers in the closet we left empty. The suitcases easily fit under the bed.
The balcony was heavenly. If I had known better when I booked, I would have tried to get one without a lifeboat under it. We were on the 8th deck and the lifeboats were on the 7th. Actually our balcony was over a metal walkway between two lifeboats, which stuck out even further. It wasn't bad, and didn't obstruct our view, but it was in it, if that makes sense. My husband looked on the bright side of things and said if anything happened, at least we'd have an easy way down!
The bathroom was sufficient in size. The toilet and shower both worked well. There was shower gel and shampoo you could use at the push of a button. Soap was the same way at the sink. I took along my own shampoo in little containers, but my husband used the ship one and liked it. I had read there was no storage space by the sink, but there was enough for all of our little bottles of products. I have a travel bag that I hung on a hook on the door for my makeup, etc., which worked well.
The room had no alarm clock, but we just called for a wakeup call each day and they were always prompt with that. We left the balcony door open all night long, which was a wonderful way to listen to the sound of the waves when we were sailing, and to get some fresh air. One added bonus -- the sea air cleared my sinuses completely that week. Now that I am back home, I sure miss it!
We ran into our cabin steward several times in the hall during the week. She did a great job. She looked tired; they work such long days. But she kept the room clean and turned down our bed for us every night. She made four lovely towel animals for us during the week -- a dog, rabbit, elephant and snake. We delighted in them and tried to keep them as long as we could!
The ship was beautiful. We enjoyed the bright decor. The Mardi Gras Lounge was such a cozy place to be for a show and the Hollywood Theatre was elegant and seated so many. We saw many of the shows. We couldn't get enough of Second City, they were great. We went to their large show and both of their Mardi Gras improv shows and even attended a class to learn about improv with one of the comedians, Jeff Griggs. The magician, John Shyrock, was great too, as was the comedian, Chris Alpine. We went to a special show where the magician showed us how to perform some tricks, which was neat. We also went to the crew farewell show, which was really funny, especially their closing "Fountains" act. And we saw a local Maui band perform poolside one afternoon as well.
The food on the ship was good. We ate dinner two nights at the Aloha Cafe, and once each at the Skyline Main Dining Room, Liberty Main Dining Room, Jefferson's Bistro, Lazy J Steakhouse, and Cadillac Diner. We would have eaten at Little Italy instead of the steakhouse, due to the cover charge, but it was closed the night we planned on going (the night most of the ship was at the luau on Kuaui). Service was awesome at the Bisto, especially, but we had really friendly service at the Lazy J and Skyline as well. The food was delicious at the specialty restaurants, and good in the main dining rooms and buffets. I had read where the main dining rooms could take forever. We had two different experiences there. We were in and out of the Skyline in an hour, with good service, but the Liberty took about two hours and didn't impress us as much, service wise. But I know that can depend on the waiter/waitress at the time. The Cadillac Diner was a quiet, fun little place. I discovered I loved their macaroni and cheese. It's on the children's menu there, but I asked for it as a side with my sandwich. It was delicious! The best desserts I had all week were the chocolate chip cookies and the marshmallows we'd have dipped in chocolate for us from the fountains at the buffet. Yum! The buffet had a lot of food, and although it was packed, we never had too much trouble finding a place to sit. I like that they had antibacterial dispensers as you walked in.
We ate in the buffet for most of our breakfasts, but on the two days we had slightly later excursions, we went to the Skyline restaurant. Service was fast there for breakfast. They have an express menu. The fresh squeezed juice is free there too, but there is a charge at the buffet. However, there is regular OJ at the buffet that is no extra charge, in a dispenser. My favorite buffet breakfast dish was the Belgian waffle quarters. One day I tried to wait for an omelet, but it seemed to be taking too long so I just got other stuff. There was so much good food at the buffet that I didn't need to wait.
The pool was a cool place to hang out. It was a little hard finding some chairs together the one day we laid out, but we managed to on the deck overlooking the pool. We swam in the small adults only pool at the back of the ship one time (at least I thought it was an adults only pool), but another couple was in there with an infant and toddler at the same time. It didn't bother us, but I had read where no one in diapers was supposed to be in the pools. We tried out the hot tub at the back of the ship and it was nice and hot. We took walks on the Promenade deck a few times, and my husband jogged on it one morning. One night we played chess in the almost deserted card room. The room was stocked with lots of games. It was a neat place to get away for awhile. The library was such a cozy place too.
One of the two sailing highlights was the night we sailed by the lava flow on the starboard side. We watched on deck. It was amazing! No pictures turned out for me, though. Then, we got to see the Na Pali Coast from our portside balcony. Breathtaking, is all I can say about it. Pictures can't do it justice.
We took a shore excursion each day. The first day, we went on the Road to Hana tour. It was beautiful and we had ample stops to take pictures. I loved the black sand (lava rock) beach. Gorgeous! Lunch was pretty good, but just like the ship, it seemed all we had to drink on all our excursion lunches was tea and water. The road to the other half of the tour was closed, so we went back the way we had come, which was a little disappointing. I heard those who took the same excursion the next day went all the way around. One lady on our bus got sick, so be warned that if you get motion sickness, do not go on this tour.
The second day in Maui we did the Rainforest and Waterfall Hike. I learned I am not cut out for true hiking, but it wasn't too bad. Just be warned there's some climbing involved on steep and rough terrain, including climbing up tree roots on the side of a steep hill and using a rope to help lower yourself down an embankment. My husband took my backpack a couple of times to help me balance myself better. We loved swinging on the rope into one of the waterfalls we saw that day -- that was worth the hike for me.
In Hilo we took the Volcano and Rainbow Falls Deluxe tour, but the water from Rainbow Falls was diverted to the hydroelectric power plant due to a drought, so we went to a non-profit zoo instead. The zoo was neat, and the botanical gardens were gorgeous. The volcano was neat to see, all the steam coming out. And the walk through Thurston Lava Tube was great as well. The buffet lunch was good, as was the trip to the Macademia Nut Factory, where we bought some nuts for gifts.
We took the Captain Zodiac Rafting, Snorkeling and Dolphin Adventure in Kona. That was a lot of fun. We went really fast on the raft. We saw a lot of spinner dolphins jumping and spinning to entertain us. It was neat getting some good shots of the cruise ship in the background too. The snorkeling was good. The reef was in good shape there. There weren't a lot of fish, but the ones there were pretty colorful. Our favorite was the parrotfish. After the tour we walked around Kona. It's a charming town. We ate fish and chips at Quinn's Restaurant, and we found a neat little Internet place -- Beach Dog Internet Cafe -- where we could surf at a rate of $5 for 30 minutes. We stayed for an hour so I could get caught up on news from home. Crystal, who runs it with her husband, was so sweet. She gave us free ice cream samples while we were there. We bought some coffee in a shop near there as well as to take home. The line for tendering was a little long on the way back to the ship, and the rain didn't help, but there were awnings to cover most of the line.
Kauai was the most majestic of the islands. We went on the Waimea Canyon, Wailua River and Fern Grotto tour the first day there. The canyon was gorgeous. My husband didn't like that we stayed at a tourist trap for as long as we did at the canyon though! But some people like to shop. The riverboat ride was cool. I enjoyed seeing the Fern Grotto, but wish you could still go inside it. (You can't since it was damaged in a storm). There is a partially blind cat that lives at the Fern Grotto; it was resting under a large umbrella there. On the way back, they sang and entertained us on the riverboat and taught us how to do the hula. The buffet lunch that day was our best lunch of the entire trip.
Our second day in Kauai we went on the Heaven and Earth tour. We went on a helicopter ride over most of Kauai. It was fabulous! They seat you in the helicopter based on your weight. When it was over, they offer a DVD of your trip for sale. We bought one. The rest of the trip was by land. We saw a lot of beautiful coastline and ate lunch at a beach. The beaches were nearly deserted. They were gorgeous.
You have to put your suitcases out by midnight the night before the cruise ends. They give you color tags to put on them -- ours was black because we were taking an excursion. If you are leaving on your own, you can choose your time of departure the day before in increments of 15 minutes, and you are assigned a color accordingly. Disembarkation was as easy as going on our regular excursions.
We took the Best of Oahu Grand Finale tour. I loved getting the chance to see Pearl Harbor and visit the Arizona Memorial. It was such a moving experience. We then went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. On the way there, we stopped for lunch (on us) and somewhere to sample nuts. Everytime we went around a curve we saw a beautiful beach view, and I so wish we could have stopped for a picture. When I go back someday, I will definitely spend more time on Oahu. I felt like I didn't see enough. The Polynesian Cultural Center was really neat. The canoe pageant and Samoan shows were great, as was the luau, which was included in our cost. The food was delicious and everyone got a free fresh orchid lei. My husband and I went to all the villages in the time we had there, and tried to play all the games we could find. We threw spears at a target, swung poi balls, tossed sticks, balanced poles, learned to play a tune on the ukelele, and sampled poi. We also got some fake tattoos. We had a blast.
We got to the airport around 7:30. Our flight was at 9:50. We took a change of clothes and our toothbrushes in our carry-ons. The clean clothes were welcome after a hot day of touring in the sun. We slept little on our red eye flight back.
I loved every minute of our trip. Cruising was so much fun! We were pretty tired by the end of it, but I wouldn't have changed a thing because we wanted to see all we could of the islands while we were there. When we go back someday, we will know what we want to hit again, this way, and what else we'd like to see. I definitely want to return to Hawaii someday, and I'd love to sail on the Pride of America again. It was a terrific experience!
This is my review of the Pride of America from May 30th through June 6th.
Prior to boarding the POA we stayed at the Hyatt in Maui for three days. The hotel was beautiful. We rented a car through Thrifty. The first night we attended the "Drums of the Pacific" Luau at the Hyatt. We had a great time watching all the different performances.
The next day we drove to the top of Haleakala which was amazing. The view from the top is breathtaking. The following day we drove the road to Hana. We stopped at the Garden of Eden, black sand beach and other points along the road. Not recommended if you get carsick easily. The sights along the road were beautiful. We flew back to Honolulu the next morning and rented a car from Thrifty. We went to Pearl Harbor and took a behind the scenes tour on the Battleship Missouri. The ship was awesome. We returned the car and took the Thrifty shuttle to the pier.
We arrived around 1pm and had to wait in line for a bit to go through security and check-in, but we were onthe ship by 2pm.
The ship is beautiful. We tried to put all the negative comments we have read about the ship aside since we were celebrating our honeymoon. While exploring the ship we encountered our first negative experience. We were in the saloon bar and we were approached by a waiter named Garrett. We wanted to order two beers and he proceeded to offer the bucket of beer. I declined, but he continued to push it on us. We reiterated we didn't want a bucket, only two. He was very pushy and then with an attitude he said he needed our ID's. I was surprised because in all my cruises I never needed to carry ID with me, because my ship card was enough. I had my ID on me but my wife didn't and then he said he couldn't serve us. I bet if we had bought the bucket of beer he wouldn't have given us an issue. My wife asked him don't the under 21 people have some sort of indicator on the card showing they are under 21 and he said yes they have a corner clipped out or cut. He then proceeded to say well they don't always clip the card. I told him that wasn't our problem and all he needs to do is scan our cards and he can check our ages, and he didn't know what to say and stormed off with our cards. He finally brought back our two beers and proceeded to lecture us how everyone isn't as nice as him and we should always have our ID with us and how there are over 1400 cameras watching us. We left and never came back to that bar. We didn't let this ruin our vacation though; we just filled out the comment card with a lengthy comment and returned it to the purser's desk.
So after we left the Saloon Bar we made our way to the Lahaina Lounge for a meet and greet with fellow cruise critics. It was great to meet everyone and then we had a surprise appearance and meeting with Captain Buz and the cruise hotel manager.
We ate at the Skyline restaurant the first night and the food was very good. Our waitress Delia was very nice. The first day we just hung out and walked to a beach that was nearby, we should have taken a taxi, but now we learned our lesson. The next day we stopped in Maui and took the Molokini snorkel tour through the ship. It is run through the Pacific Whale Foundation. The tour was very informative and fun. We were able to see the green sea turtles (Honu) and many beautiful fish.
The next day we were in Hilo on the Big Island. We took an excursion through NCL for the Volcanoes National Park tour to see the active volcanoes. The tour was run by Polynesian Adventures and our tour guide, Captain Rob, was terrific. He was funny, knowledgeable and entertaining throughout the entire tour ride. The ride to the park was beautiful. The flowers and plants on all the islands are all breath taking. Volcanoes National Park is like being on a different planet. We made several stops at different vista points and picture spots. Our first stop was at the Caldera. This part of the volcano constantly emits steam and sometimes even toxic gases. Our favorite stop was when we were able to walk on the cooled lava from the 1974 eruption. It was amazing that trees and flowers have started to bloom and grow amongst the destruction of the lava. Our final stop in the park was the lava tube which was pretty cool too. We walked down a path and walked into and through the lava tube to the other side. On the way back to the cruise ship we had extra time so Captain Rob gave us a bonus stop at an orchard farm. There were some beautiful flowers in there. There was even an orchard worth $20,000!!! We didn't even think it was that nice, but apparently it only blooms like once a year or something crazy like that.
That next day we were in Kona on the Big Island. We had to tender there and NCL did a good job organizing the tender process. They gave out numbers in Pink's Champagne Lounge and then called you by numbers to go down and get on the tender. They had several tenders in service and it was quite efficient. Kona was beautiful as well. We did a lot of shopping and went to the little beach next to where the tender docked. It was extremely hot but the water was nice and refreshing. Kona was a good day to relax and get some shopping done.
From Kona we went to Kauai. Kauai is absolutely gorgeous. We rented a car through Thrifty and we had privately booked an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Tours (www.kiputours.com). We had some time to kill before we had to check in at the ranch so we drove to Poipu. There was a little shopping center so we walked around looking at the shops and we grabbed a drink at Starbucks. We came across Puka Dog (which was featured on the travel channel) they opened at 11am so we waited ten minutes until they opened because we had to try one. We got the Kauai mustard sauce dog and split it. It was pretty big so both of us were satisfied. It was a good hot dog but kind of pricey at almost $7.00, but we figured when else are we going to be able to try this? The ATV tour on Kipu Ranch was amazing. This ranch has been used for several movie scenes such as Indiana Jones, Mighty Joe Young and of course Jurassic Park just to name a few. This is an active cattle ranch owned and operated by the Rice family. Our tour guide Mike and Justin were amazing. They gave a history lesson about the ranch and the island of Kauai and showed us a fantastic four-hour tour. We got to swim in the river that Indiana Jones swung into as well as ending the tour at the beautiful waterfall with this amazing, huge bamboo. Our second day in Kauai we spent at the beach between the Marriott hotel and Duke's beachside bar and grille. The water was a little rough and brisk but all the same great.
The Sushi bar was phenomenal -- $15 a person for all you can eat sushi. And the Asian Fusion restaurant had great food and terrific service. The shows we saw were also fantastic. The shows on the POA aren't Vegas Style shows; however the Hawaiian dances and comedy acts were great. Second City performed three times and we went each time and laughed hysterically each and every time. Also, Chris Alpine performed several times and he too was fantastic and also very, very funny.
Overall we had a great time on the cruise. The service was a bit lacking, most likely because of the crew being all American. It was hit or miss with the waiters and although we had a decent room steward, we heard nightmares about some other stewards. However, we didn't let that get to us. We were there to see Hawaii and that's what we got. That being said, we would probably not take the same Hawaiian cruise on NCL's POA. We had a great time, Hawaii was more beautiful than words could describe, but NCL needs to give more training or something to teach the crew to be more personable and courteous as a whole.
The ship was fine, equal to my experience with Carnival and Celebrity.
The rooms are a little smaller and the buffet is not as clean or good.
NCL advertises that smoking is allowed in an indoor cigar bar, an outdoor bar, and on the pool decks except for dining areas and the children's pool. This is not the case. There is nowhere to smoke on the entire ship except in your room or on the very top deck, at the very back of the ship. I like to have a couple of martinis before dinner, and, of course, a cigarette.
Drinking in an open air bar is great when you are swimming or goofing off, but not when you are dressed for dinner. Sweat and wind-blown hair will really ruin your dinner.
And how about those martinis? $17.00 each. That's for two measured shots and an olive. Then they add another 15% to pay the bartender, and then tax at 7% on top of that. Then they want a tip as well. Use the mini-bar in your room. It's the same price without the glass, olive or service.
And please book your ownair arrangements. We were booked on a red eye express to the islands. We arrived at 8 am and could not check into the hotel until 3 pm. That was seven miserable hours homeless and guarding our luggage. When the cruise was over, NCL booked us on a 9pm flight. We had to check out by 11 am. That was ten miserable hours more. NCL had representatives at the hotel, and while they apologized, they really couldn't do anything about it. They were just there to make sure everybody got their rooms and made their transfers.
We actualy sailed on the Pride of America in 2005 for our honeymoon, but I have not gotten around to posting this review yet. We had some issues but they were addressed and we love Hawaii and plan on retiring there so you can imagine the impression we were left with.
We were in Hawaii for two weeks. The first six days in Oahu and then the cruise and then a final day in Oahu. We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and The Marriot Wakiki. The Hilton is the only hotel to stay at if you ask me. It was private at the end of the strip and on a peninusula so you felt like you were all alone and not in the middle of a major city. The Marriot is nice but across the street from the beach and in the middle of things.
All hotels charge a parking fee but if you do a pre-stay, which is what you must do, you will need a car.
The Ship Embarkation was smooth and we were onboard rather quick. We were not Latitudes members yet but we were stayingin a penthouse so we used the penthouse line. Our cabin was 10520. It is huge and the balcony has room for a full size lunch table with four chairs and two loungers and a side table. I posted photos in the gallery. The decor fits the islands and is pleasent. We had some issues with our cabin steward and butler. I spoke with our butler since the cruise (he is a member of CruiseMates) and he explained what he dealt with. Basically our cabin steward bad mouthed him and said he stole tips, which he did not. Our cabin was not made up till 8 PM some days so he just was not good. This was surprising since we were in the high rent district (we got a great deal). The deck crew had to use our bathroom to run a hose out to the cleaning apparatus, which was not working. The hose ran across our bed, etc. Needless to say we were not happy, but it was all worked out and we were compensated. The buffet was great and seating may be limited, but we always got our plates and went into the gold rush saloon because we loved the view and played battle of the sexes trivia everyday, which the men won!
We would recomend this cruise to anyone, with some recomendations. Rent cars in the overnight ports and research what you wish to do. Golfers pick a seaside course you want to play. We played Pukea (spelling?) and it was the same as ones here in NJ!
We like to take concierge level cabins (NCL is less expensive then other lines, so for a little more than you would spend on another line for a balcony we can get a suite), but do not take minisuites as they do not offer full amenities of other concierge level cabins and are not much larger than other balcony cabins.
With no casino, the cruise director's staff plans more events and there is no bingo (Hawaii does not allow gambling) so you can have more trivia events, etc.
The shows were good when we were there but the trend now for entertainers to sell their cd's, etc. during their shows bothers me (although we have purchased Jose and Patti's cds as they are the best entertainers that NCL has bar none!), but I understand this happens on all lines.
The food was nice and there were some interesting local additions to typical cruise fare (blue potatos from Hawaii).
ALL IN ALL I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS CRUISE TO ANYONE, except for someone who is looking for a luxury cruise experience. Hawaii cruising is about laid back enjoyment and Pride of America does not disappoint. Any questions post a thread or email me.
I just returned from a cruise on NCLA's the PRIDE OF AMERICA. NCL sent me an email to fill out a survey form about the cruise. When I tried to do the survey, I got this response from NCL: "Deadline for survey is over!"
Of my almost 30 cruises this was the worst. It took up to three hours to be seated in the main dining rooms. The lobster was like rubber and the steak was poor also. It would take to long to tell all about the buffet -- no plates, no seating, food that was not very good.
The ship is laid out poorly also.
Forget about the entertainment. Most people did.
After waiting in line for over one hour to let the staff know my thoughts, I could see that they did not care!
My wife and I just returned from our cruise on Pride Of America. We celebrated our 30th anniversary as well as my wife's birthday and we both admit we were pleasantly surprised! It was our 7th cruise and we have sailed on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, as well as one previous NCL cruise before this.
The crew was very friendly and professional. The food was okay, though not great. The islands are BEAUTIFUL! The ship was clean overall unless you were looking to find things wrong, which after reading reviews before we left I feel many people do.
The entertainment is only fair except for the Broadway show featuring Phantom of The Opera, etc. The comedian and magician were not too impressive.
We only ate at one specialty restaurant, The Lazy J Steakhouse, and it was fantastic from the food to the service. We also had great service in the Liberty dining room as well as the Skyline dining room. The buffet in the Aloha Cafe was typical, and unlike some reviews I had read, it was kept full when we were there. The Cadillac Diner was also nice and itstays open the longest of any restaurant on the ship.
Our cabin steward was fantastic! Her name was Carmen and we were in cabin 8604, which was a balcony cabin. That's the only way to go in Hawaii. The port side is best for cruising the Na Pali coast even though the ship does turn around for the starboard side also.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this cruise a 7. Norwegian seems to be getting its act together in Hawaii since they have gone from 3 ships to 1.
My family and I recently returned from our cruise on the Pride of America. I traveled with my wife and two children ages 13 and 10. We also went with our neighbors who have two kids of the same age (cool how that works out). I urge you to ignore the negative reviews you may have seen in researching the NCL option. First of all you're going to Hawaii. Second, the cruise option is by far the best way to see the islands. Third, NCL, and the Pride of America, is the only option if you want to sail out of Hawaii.
Our group began planning this vacation well over a year in advance as it was a celebration of our 20th anniversary (yep is was our neighbors' 20th also, weird huh?) We read all the reviews and began to get nervous. Albeit, some were over the top, like the lady who complained the butter was not positioned correctly at the buffet (do you really take butter that seriously?) However, we did notice a common thread concerning terrible food, a discourteous staff, and a poorly maintained ship. So, we reluctantlybooked the Pride of America, kept telling ourselves we are going to Hawaii, and set our expectations low. Across our group we had taken 8 cruises on Carnival, Princess and Celebrity, so we had an idea as to what to expect from a cruise.
Let me tell you, the NCL Pride of America does not deserve the bad press it has received. The ship is great (especially if you appreciate an American theme) and the crew is awesome. Patrick, from Indiana (sorry don't remember his last name), is a waiter in the Liberty Dinning room and he was phenomenal -- all the kids loved him. If you happen to run across Patrick be sure and ask him to sing the free credit report.com song -- he won't disappoint. Having an American crew is a plus, not a negative. My theory on the bad reviews written concerning the crew stems from the old adage, treat others the way you want to be treated (the Golden Rule baby). If you are friendly and courteous to them, they will return it to you ten-fold. On the other hand, if you choose to be discourteous and rude, you get what you deserve.
I won't go as far as to say the food was great. The food at the Liberty Dinning Room was actually sub-par in my opinion, but Patrick made it fun when we ate there. Most of the time we ate at the buffet, and it was great, especially for breakfast. Since we spent most of our time exploring the Islands, it was nice to return to the ship at our leisure and drop into the buffet to get some great food without the wait. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants, but I only heard positive comments from other shipmates who had eaten there. I would have liked to have tried the Lazy J, but the one night we decided to give it a shot it was full. We did try the Cadillac Diner and that was a good experience. I just could not understand why they would charge for a milkshake? Very confusing since you can get their brownie ice cream desert (and you should) for no additional charge.
As for the cabins, definitely spring for the balcony. Not only for the view, but also the added space (you will need it if you are traveling with two kids). The cabins are small, but we just needed a place to sleep and clean up. In this area the cabins did not disappoint. The beds are surprisingly comfortable and better than on any other ship I have been on.
The one demerit the Pride of America rightly deserves is the lack of a laundry facility. This was a disappointment since we packed light (especially with the airline restrictions) knowing that other ships we had been on offered a place to do laundry. Don't be fooled, there is no laundry on the Pride of America.
Finally, I must commend NCL on the tremendously efficient embarking and dis-embarking experience. This is the one area of consistently good reviews you will find on NCL, and it is well deserved. Getting on and off the ship was by far the most enjoyable and smoothest process I have ever experienced on any cruise ship (way to go American crew!!!)
So go ahead, book your cruise on Pride of America, go to Hawaii with the right attitude (you're in Hawaii after all), don't be a cruise snob (you know who you are, butter lady), and enjoy a wonderful ship, with a wonderful crew -- have fun and appreciate everything Hawaii has to offer.
If you are not going there to have fun, then stay home, save your money, harass your own family, and position your butter wherever you see fit.