Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Sara Thomas Hawaii May 22, 2005
My husband and I went on this cruise to celebrate our first anniversary and his 37th birthday. The following is what we experienced with NCL:
We had little trouble checking in because this is a US flagged ship, and therefore no proof of citizenship is required for US citizens. We went through the usual wait for security and getting on board, and then the ubiquitous photograph taken with the plastic life ring and hokey background. Getting into our cabin was not a problem. We had originally booked a Cat. N but when we got our docs we got a Cat. K. Initially, I was not disappointed with the cabin, but when I noticed that our steward was not cleaning our bathroom or giving us adequate turndown service, I began to get concerned. We came back after dinner the first night to find no amenities in the bathroom, no schedule for the following day, and no mints on the pillow. Minor things I know, but it's all a part of what we paid for.
I really have no complaints about thefood quality or timeliness of service. We were seated immediately for every meal. The menus are limited and this is probably because of the Freestyle Dining Concept. In order to serve quality food they have to cut down on the entrees and selections to avoid contamination and waste, which I totally understand. I feel that for what it was worth, the food was adequate. The Hukilau Café Buffet was always a madhouse though. Many passengers cut ahead of each other and shoved their way through all the lines and this made for a poor dining experience. A lot of them didn't observe any kind of dress code, and after we saw one man in line without a shirt on and enough hair on his back to braid a lei, we never ate in there again.
We had 2 specialty dining experiences, one in the Royal Palm Bistro and the Kahili Restaurant. Both were very nice facilities with friendly staff. The best entrees I had were the Spinach Salad with goat cheese croutons, and the chocolate fondue course, both served at the Bistro. The best breakfast I had was in the Palace Restaurant, one of the main dining rooms. It was the Cheese Blintzes with cinnamon pears, and it was delicious. For the best intimate dining experiences, avoid the buffets and eat in the Palace or Crossings Restaurant and the specialty establishments. You cannot go wrong there.
On the second morning of the cruise, our shower flooded because of a clogged drain, and our steward did nothing to correct the problem after it saturated the hallway carpet. We let him know immediately and by the time we returned for dinner that evening, the mildew smell hit us as soon as we opened the door. I brought it to the attention of the guest services and housekeeping manager. All the steward had done was remake the beds and sop up a little of the water with towels. They finally moved us by day 3 to a cleaner cabin, and this one actually had bathroom amenities. Unfortunately, the ship was completely full and some of the cabins on another deck flooded and they had to be recarpeted at sea, and then we were moved into one of those. This concerns me because it means that NCL is struggling for inventory to meet the demand. Hopefully this will be remedied when the newer ships, Pride of America and Pride of Hawaii are delivered within the next 2 years. For the price NCL charges for a Cat. K stateroom, the cabin service was simply inexcusable. I felt like we were staying in a cheap and filthy motel.
The Shore Excursion Desk was exceptionally crowded every day, and therefore I recommend that cruisers book their excursions beforehand online, or do them on their own when they get to port. It takes a lot out of the time and money spent to come and enjoy Hawaii, only to stand in line after line to do this and that. The golf excursions are really a hit with passengers though. I would recommend going with NCL's pre-arranged tee packages. You can golf on each island and the pro shop on board carries everything you need, including all the essential logo items.
The regular shopping on board was terrible however. Most of the merchandise selection was marked up Tommy Bahama products, and the clerks were rude to boot. I would recommend shopping in port instead. There are free shuttles to Hilo Hattie's, and even Wal-Mart and Kmart if you so desire, although I have a hard time understanding why anyone would come all the way to Hawaii and then go shop for souvenirs at Wal-Mart and Kmart.
The cruise was probably a little more active than I like, with much more port time and less time at sea. Of course, this is Hawaii, and people go on this cruise to sample the islands. It would be nice if they could add Lanai and Molokai to the ports of call down the road, even if it means more days and more expense for the passenger. Those were places I really wanted to see, but will have to experience later when I have more time.
On the day we sailed by the Napali Coast on Kauai, they closed the decks due to high winds, so we got a table at the Longboard Bar with a window view. Unfortunately, while the Hawaiian Ambassador was explaining the history of the island over the PA system, the staff never bothered to turn off the music videos playing in the back, so we heard nothing of the historical aspects of Kauai. That was disappointing, and made the experience feel much more "mass-market" than it should have. Many of the windows were filthy and some were very difficult to see through. A great reason to book a balcony stateroom, although I'm sure NCL is aware of this "problem" with the windows and might be trying to cash in on it by forcing people to book the more expensive cabins.
Instead of a casino, NCL has placed a cultural center in the space occupied by the Monte Carlo establishment on the former Norwegian Sky. It is very nice and adds a certain uniqueness to the cruise. Unfortunately, on some decks they still had signs pointing to the casino, so I think they need to go back to the drawing board on that one.
On the night we sailed by Mount Kilauea, the captain turned the ship 360 degrees so that everyone could get a good view. We were close enough to see some fantastic lava flows. Photography is a bit difficult though, so I would recommend videotaping in addition to photography. Again, another reason to book a balcony cabin and take a tripod.
We never really experienced any rough sailing, but it is summer and the tides tend to be lower during that time. I have read reviews where passengers ha a difficult time keeping their food down during winter sailings.
The public areas on the ship were very nice and unique. I thought the décor was fun and appropriate for the experience they are trying to promote. Elevators are small however, so this will increase your wait time to get from one part of the ship to another. We enjoyed the "Runnin' Wild" show performed in the Stardust Lounge on our last night. I would not recommend this performance for small children, as it was a bit risqué. But I understand that the Polynesian show is very family oriented. We missed that due to extra excursions in Kauai.
Disembarkation was easy. We waited until the last possible moment to get off the ship, enjoyed a late breakfast, and our bags were already in the terminal and we had no wait. I would say that for the money spent, it is a great way to see the islands without having to pack and unpack every three days. But for the product offered, I would give serious consideration to waiting and booking a balcony cabin on the next 2 ships slated to sail in Hawaii, because NCL is really overwhelmed with demand and with only one ship to deliver, that's not enough in my opinion to be really competitive. Of course, they do have the monopoly on the inter-island market but that is still no excuse to take shortcuts on service. I noticed that they were understaffed in many areas. I learned that many of the so-called "veterans" of the Aloha were recently transferred to the America for its inaugural sailing this summer, so this left a lot of newbies to try and pull the load. Most of them did their best to be helpful and courteous however. The journalism staff on board needs to take another course in basic English, because when we finally did receive our "Freestyle Daily" schedules, many words were misspelled and the layout was sloppy. Out of a rating of one to five stars, I give the Aloha a 3.5.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Penny Hawaii March 27, 2005
Just arrived home from our 7 day cruise on the Pride of Aloha around the Hawaiin Islands from March 27 to Apr 3, 2005. The food was excellent, our stateroom was clean and after dinner our bed was always turned down with chocolates on the pillows. We found the crew friendly, helpful and upbeat.
The entertainment each evening was a nice way to wind up the day. We read a lot of bad reviews prior to going on this cruise and were a bit worried but we absolutely have no complaints at all.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Lori Hawaii January 9, 2005
We arrived in Hawaii late Friday night and spent the next two nights at the Miramar in Waikiki. You will need some time to adjust to the time change. We took a three hour nap on Saturday afternoon to catch up. The Miramar was clean and comfortable and our lobby led you right into the International Marketplace. It had about 150 shops with the best prices in Hawaii to do your souvenir shopping. You could get 8 t-shirts for $19.95. We went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and it was outstanding. Look for the little books in the hotel lobbies for discount prices on tours and transportation, you can save a lot of money. They had limo rides for $23.00 to and from the airport and snorkeling with ride and equipment provided for $7.50 each. We went to the ship about 12:45 and were in our room by 1:30pm. Our luggage arrived before 2pm.
The service on the ship was excellent both in the restaurants and the staterooms. They have certainly ironed out any earlier problems. Our stateroom had twenty hangersin the closet and lots of room to store suitcases and souvenirs under the bed. The shower was excellent with lots of hot water and good pressure. We had no problem with it's size or water getting on the floor. The beds are quite hard so don't forget to ask for the eggcrate foam. The bathroom has 8 shelves beside the mirror that gives you lots of room for your toiletries. We traveled with another couple and rented minivans from alamo ahead of time for a great price. The only shore excursions we rented through the boat were in Kona. A horseback riding trip for me(that the cruiseline canceled the night before) and a fishing trip for my husband that had very rough seas and no fish. Every thing else we did on our own from the minivan. There was no problem finding your way around and you never had to pay to park. On Kauai we saw the Waimea Canyon, Macadamia Nut Factory, and the Fern Grotto. All worth the trip.
On Hilo we drove thru the Vocanoe National Park and the Thurston Lava Tube and Rainbow Falls. On Maui we saw the Ocean Center and Tropical Plantation and the second day drove to Lahaina and beyond. I did my horseback riding and we ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. On the ship we enjoyed the Blue Hawaii Lounge with the game shows and karioke. The magician was great and the singers and dancers were very talented but their material left a lot to be desired. If you like scanty costumes and dirty dancing, you will be thrilled. The food was good and there were lots of choices. We all loved the fresh fruit bar and the cold fruit soup in the cafe. The pizza in the sportsbar was great and they even had an alfredo sauce for people with heartburn. You will need a powerstrip if you have camera batteries to recharge and a cell phone recharger. We had a great time and would do it all again. Aloha, Lori
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Matthew Hawaii January 9, 2005
Our Hawaiian cruise holiday began with a two day stay at the Miramar hotel in Waikiki.Buffet breakfast included as well as a Hawaiian Luau at Paradise Cove,a guided bus tour of Honolulu and Waikiki and of course a tour of Pearl Harbor.We still had plenty of time on our own to do the beach scene at Waikiki and do some shopping and haggling at the International Market Place.Two full days well enjoyed. Boarding the ALOHA was a fifteen minute breeze and within twenty five minutes we were settling in our inside stateroom minus our luggage which was delivered in about an hour.
By 2:30pm we were having a buffet lunch on deck 11.Ample choices and very satisfying.After exploring the ship and checking the shore excursions we had dinner at 6pm at the Palace restaurant.Both food and service exceded our expectations.Although the main menu did not change for the next 7 days,they did have the Chef's special every day.We decided to dine at the Palace restaurant every day and requested the services of the same attendants each day at the same time andtable.Our menu choices each day were quite tasteful and well presented.The dishes were served hot and in a quick timely manner.
We had all our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet on deck 11 and there was no shortage of anything.Watered down orange and cranberry juice were the order of the day and the problem could not be fixed at all. The Island of Kauai was beautiful,the weather great and our tour of the island fantastic. Next,the Big Island.We did a tour in Hilo and in Kona, also sailed by the active volcano at 10pm and were awed by the fires and lava flows.Here also the weather was perfect. Next to Maui for 2 days.The morning started out with light rain,but by the time we boarded our tour bus it had cleared up and the remainder of our stay on Maui was sunny an hot.We did the" Best of Maui" tour one day and a local shopping tour on our own.
Be aware Maui is a very windy place. Back on Oahu the next day.The disembarkation was swift and only then it struck us how quickly 7 days aboard the ALOHA had gone by....Jan.9 to 16 I was not specific about our tours and visits because everybody has their own preferences and being a bit elderly we prefered easy and casual rather than sports etc.I must say we were blessed with great weather,calm seas,fine food and exceptional service by the staff of ALOHA After reading all the reports on the ALOHA problems I hope all those who cruise after us, experience a great time like we had. This was our 4th cruise..... the others being to the Caribbean and Alaska with Princess,Celebrity, and Carnival.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Liz Ciardi Hawaii December 26, 2004
First let me say we had a wonderful time. The ship's crew members were all kind and thoughtful. They seemed to truly care and it showed. That is not to say that all was perfect.
We left a few days before the cruise, which I advise since the time change can be a killer. We departed on a 6 a.m. Delta flight from Charlotte N.C. to Hawaii via Atlanta. I do not normally fly Delta, and was disappointed to find that the weight limit is 50 lbs. per bag. You may check two bags of no more than 50 lbs. each, and for any bag over that limit, there's a charge: If your bag is 51-69 lbs., it's $25. If the bag is 70-100 lbs., it's $80. This may be the norm on other airlines also, but we travel a good bit to Europe, which is closer in distance but considered international; hence higher weight limits may apply. Hawaii is much further, but is in the U.S.; hence domestic rules apply (seems like they should make an exceptionfor Alaska and Hawaii).
We did a pre-cruise package through NCL; our travel agent wanted us to stay at the Marriott, but I insisted on the Sheraton Moana Surf Rider. What a wonderful hotel on the beach; it is one of the two oldest in Hawaii. (Sheraton Royal Hawaiian is the other, but it was not offered by NCL.) The Surf Rider has a wonderful bar with great Mai Tais. We ate several times on the Veranda out by the water -- beautiful and relaxing. The Sunday brunch is excellent.
The day of departure we had an excursion planned on our own through Dolphin Excursions (808-239-5579 or www.dolphinexcursions.com). I heard of it here on the message boards; take this excursion if you can, they do book up in advance. The morning excursion is the best time to see dolphins. They pick you up at 5:30 a.m. at your hotel. Their vessel is a zodiac-style boat with hand rails. There are only 14-25 people; you ride out with a captain and two marine biologists. They locate a pod of spinner dolphins, which travel in groups of 50-100. You enter the water and the dolphins will swim all around you -- but at a distance; do not expect to touch them. After this incredible encounter you go to a different site to snorkel; there we saw two large sea turtles and many fish that had no fear of people. We arrived back at our hotel at 12:30 p.m. We had already checked out, and NCL had picked up our bags, but the Surf Rider gave us a courtesy room to shower and change before heading to the boat.
Check-in was a breeze, except the schedule had been changed again (I'll explain later).
Our room was clean, though we did find someone else's dirty socks stuffed in a cubbyhole. The ship is older, and parts of it show the age. The windows on Deck 11 really need a good cleaning. Some rails really need to be stained; they look worn. On the positive side, they did a nice job decorating the ship in Hawaiian style.
As soon as we checked in, we had to go to the excursion desk to make changes due to the revised port schedule. The wait was very long, but we got the excursions we wanted. Hundreds of people were trying to make changes, and tempers flared among the guests. Many people were clueless as to what they wanted because they had not done their homework; several families in front of us were arguing about what to do. I blame NCL, because on this cruise you were unable to choose much beforehand.
At 5:30 p.m. on Deck 11 they opened the BBQ buffet. The food on board was mostly fair; some things were good, but it needs improvement. Even the specialty restaurant we tried was just OK.
1. Bring an electrical strip. There is only one plug in the cabin, and you may need to recharge cell phones, cameras or video cameras.
2. Bring hangers. There is very limited drawer and closet space, and they only give you a few hangers.
4. If you are going to snorkel, get ear plugs. I never get ear infections but this time I got a terrible one.
5. Illness on board: There is a very good doctor who has medicine to dispense.
6. Go to the shows. They are very nice, but we were too tired to see all of them.
7. Room service was wonderful and always arrived early.
8. Bring binoculars for whale watching.
9. Get a balcony cabin if you can; they're great for whale and dolphin watching.
10. Get the ‘Revealed' books about Hawaii. You can find them at most bookstores. They include Maui Revealed, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, Hawaii the Big Island Revealed and Oahu Revealed.
Day Two - Kona
Avoid the Body Glove excursion; the snorkel site is terrible. The boat is very nice, and it may be a good way to learn to scuba although they charge you $65 additional. But the snorkeling site is near the pier you tender to and the fish were very limited, there was no pretty coral, etc. Then you take a sail and we did see a humpback whale but overall, the excursion is not worth it.
Day Three – Hilo
We were going to rent a car here, but instead we took a tour with a company at the pier. Don't do that. Get a car or take the excursion from NCL. The craters were very interesting, as was Rainbow Falls.
Day Four – Maui/Lahaina
This was my favorite port. We woke up, ordered a pot of coffee and whale-watched from our balcony; they are all over this port. Watch for a puff of water that looks a bit like smoke; then a whale hump or a tail may appear. Bring binoculars.
Take an excursion with Pacific Whale Watching Tours (808-879-8811). We booked this on our own and were able to change the date when the ship's schedule changed. The guidebook Maui Revealed says not to take the Explorer (they felt it was small and tight), but it was wonderful. The whales seem to know the boat; they were everywhere around it just a few feet away. We were able to move from side to side easily and see the whales for over an hour. We then walked around this wonderful seaside town, which is called the Key West of the Pacific. If the ship does not tender in Lahaina, take a cab or rent a car, but go there.
That night we took the luau excursion. It was very nice, out near the water at a lovely hotel a good hour's drive from the ship. The luau food was good, not great, but the show was excellent.
When the ship was sailing, we saw dolphins right next to it twice – bottle-nose dolphins, which we hear are rare in Hawaii. One night we saw a mother and calf so close to the ship that the lights of the boat shining in the water showed them clear as day.
Day Five – Maui/Kahului
This is a bit of the boring side of Maui, but still not far from Lahaina. This is where NCL offers the Molokini Carter Excursion. This was very good, with beautiful coral and fish; some people saw eels and reef sharks (the kind that won't hurt snorkelers). It was worth the cost (about $97). They do not offer lunch but give you snacks, chips, fruit and drinks. They have the best Mai Tais I've tasted. The problem is that the only excursion offered by NCL is the afternoon sail, which can be canceled due to rough waters. You will miss the famous Chocoholic Buffet, but Molokini is worth it.
We were still in Maui due to rough water. A large storm is hitting Hawaii, and Kauai - where we are to head next - has closed its ports, so the captain is keeping us in Maui at Kahului an extra day. We rented a car from Budget with no reservation; it was a breeze -- they picked us up at the port. We rented a jeep and in about five minutes we were on the road. We drove part of the Hana Highway, which has lots of beautiful sights. The ‘Reveal' books tell you where to get off the road; waterfalls and beaches are only marked by the number of cars stopped. It was a lovely drive. On the way back, we stumbled onto a famous restaurant called Mama's Fish House (808-579-8488). It had great food and great views on the beach, although it is very expensive. We spent about $115 including drinks, but this restaurant is worth it. We departed and although Kauai's ports were still closed, they had a wonderful party on Deck 11 when the seas calmed. The water was very rough even in Maui from the storm.
Kauai was not an option as its ports remained closed. It was New Years Day, and we spent it cruising. It was very beautiful to see the Molokai Cliffs, some of the highest in the world. The crew had a number of activities scheduled, but it was a real disappointment not to see Kauai. I hear it is the Garden of Eden on earth. Well, this gives us a reason to return. Would we take NCL? Yes; it was a great cruise and nothing is every perfect.
Our flight didn't leave until 6 p.m., so we took the Historic Cultural Tour. We wanted to see Pearl Harbor, and we did. We stopped there first, then toured the city by bus. What they don't tell you in advance is that you won't get off the bus except for Pearl Harbor -- Hilo Hattie's Gift Store if you have time. Do not wait to buy gifts for friends until you get to the airport – they are five times more expensive there than at Hilo Hattie's. The night before you leave, you place your bags outside your cabin, and you are given tour labels for them. You get off the ship at 8 a.m. and your luggage is waiting for you at the port. A porter will take the bags to your bus, so your luggage follows you as you tour.
We really enjoyed Hawaii, and NCL has honestly made big improvements, compared to the posts we've seen from earlier cruises.
If any one has questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Tom Simonsen Hawaii December 12, 2004
Summery: A pretty ship, a good crew (please tip your fellow Americans if you get O K service), very good entertainment (better than Holland America), O K to good food, O K cabin with balcony, Hawaii very lovely, and rent a car! A group of seven of us have returned from a seven day Pride of Aloha cruise starting December 12, 2004. We had NO complaints regarding the NCL crew, the food or the ship. We live in Florida and most of us have cruised many, many times, especially on Holland America. Originally, we were scheduled to cruise on the Pride of America and when that ship was damaged, we were transferred to the Pride of Aloha. Because of the very bad online reviews and newspaper reviews (St. Petersburg Times, etc.), I almost cancelled this trip. So, this good opinion of the ship and crew is not the result of a Pollyanna type of reviewer. One other point, I spent my life as a professional and I expect a ship to be run in a professional manner. Onceagain, I am not being overly gracious with this review.
First let's deal with the crew: as you may know, they are all from the American 50 states or America's possessions (Guam). The crew that I talked with said . . . "they worked 10 hour days so that after four days, they are on overtime and were paid accordingly and received benefits. . . and they were O K with this" The opinion of the seven of us was that the crew was very motivated to give good service and we all certainly did receive good service at our evening dinners (5:30 p. m. in the Palace Main restaurant) and by our cabin steward. Which brings up the matter of tipping. On boarding the ship, we were notified that NCL would NOT charge any extra money for the crew service. I was very happy then to tip our steward and evening waitress and her assistant. As we had the same crew and table for seven nights, we did our tipping at the end of our cruise. If we had had good service and a different table with a different crew every night, then, in retrospect, I would have tipped every night. Plan your tipping accordingly. 5:30 p m was a good time to have dinner, eat leisurely pace and then go to the evening's entertainment (the evening entertainment was much, much better than on my ten previous Holland America cruises.). I do not know what the service was like if one ate in the Place at a later evening time. On the two formal nights, our ladies dress up a little and we fellows wore sport coats, no tie! I guess that this is Resort Formal? I would have like to tried the reservation only Kahili or the Pacific Heights or the Royal Palm Bistro restaurants, but our group was happy with the Palace restaurant. . I generally ate the lido restaurant (cafeteria) for breakfast while others in our group ate at the Palace. This caused an occasional problem as apparently the Palace breakfast service could be slow and some of our group were late for the morning off ship activities that we all were going to take part in . . . more later.
Second, the ship and the cabin: The Pride of Aloha refurbishment has given this ship a beautiful interior with lovely public rooms. It is a very nice ship. The shops are also pretty, but way over priced (example: I had just purchased at Walmart in Tampa a 128 MB card [digital camera] for $15.00 and I notice a similar 128 MB card in the Aloha's shop for $80.00 at four times the price I had just paid). While we usually come back with various items from the Holland America shops, none of us were very interested in the Pride of Aloha shops and therefore purchased nothing. Our cabins were all the same with small balconies. The cabins are very, very small, but sufficient for two persons. . . very crowed for three persons. The shower is nice. I followed a previous passenger's suggestion and brought seven plastic hangers (for tee shirts, etc) . . . as there are only three or four small drawers in which to put things. . . but O K closet space. While our travel agent had requested by phone and fax an egg-crate mattress under our cabin's mattress, they were not present when we got into our rooms. However, our room steward took care of that for all three of our cabins by 6 p. m. of our first night. Otherwise, the mattresses are really hard (there is plenty of room under the double bed to put your suitcases). Because of the known smallness of the room, we had all just taken just one carry-on suitcase per person and one medium sized suitcase for each couple. That limitation was probably not necessary. I put the little table (found in the room) out on the balcony to give us more in cabin room. Actually, sitting out on the small balcony was nice.
Lastly, the tours: at Kauai and Maui I rented a minivan for the seven of us and at Hilo and Kona I rented a smaller for just my wife and me. Even though my wife and I had been to Hilo and Kona we once again wanted to drive around the island. We used Hertz, but there are other rentals like Dollar, Avis, etc. These companies meet you near where the ship docks and drives you to the airport to get your car and then drives you back after you return your rental car. For us, it was much cheaper and nicer than getting on a tour bus. Our next cruise is a repeat cruise on Holland America, the Rotterdam in this February. So, we like cruising. Hope this helps. Bye and God Bless. Tom.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Karen Hawaii December 5, 2004
We sailed on the Pride of Aloha on December 5th. We were concerned, as we read reviews before sailing that were so negative. We also made note of the helpful tips that people were kind enough to suggest.
We booked our own air and hotel and arrived in Oahu three days before the cruise. We stayed at the Waikiki Parc Hotel - reasonable and quiet and one block from the beach-right behind the Halekulani Hotel. We rented a car for the three days and explored the island. Pearl Harbor is a must and Kaanapali and Lahaina beaches are magnificent!
Embarkation was a breeze - we took the suggestion to board at about 3:00pm. We had absolutely no wait--boarded the ship in minutes. Cabin was small, but adequate. Had enough hangers--used night stands and love seat for extra storage. Cabin was clean and our steward was attentive and courteous at all times.
Food was very good at all the restaurants. They could have changed the appetizer, soup and salad selection (they were the same every night, but they were good) They also addeda new entree or two every night along with the standard items such as steak and grilled chicken. Desserts were always spectacular, especially up in the cafe. Deck barbeques were great with plenty of food. The specialty restaurants are incredible -- yes, they cost extra, but if you want a special night, its worth it! We found the service to be very good in all the restaurants. There were some slow times, but we came on the cruise to relax, so not a problem. Some of the overcrowding in the dining rooms was because everyone on excursions went to breakfast at the same time and came back hungry at the same time (you are talking about 1500 people or so). Because we were not on the excursions we were able to eat at different times. If you could go earlier or later you should have no problem.
The shows were very good. They did music from all the top broadway shows, a authentic hawaiin show, which was spectacular, a very good magician. The art auctions were very fair priced--bought a couple of signed lithographs at prices I couldn't get at home.
The islands are great. I would suggest renting a car in the different ports. We rented a car in all ports except Kona. We were able to see all of the sights that the excursions covered at our own pace and for a fraction of the price. We used Alamo and booked in advance. Cars ranged from $24-$35 depending on island. Maps are supplied and driving is easy. Be very careful in Maui--We thought that we would take the road all the way around the Island and we ended up way up at the top of the mountain with no shoulder or protective rail and room only for one car at time (Route 340). The views were spectacular but we were very nervous. It took over 2 hours to travel 10 miles. Scary!!! When we left Hilo, the ship rounded the volcano area and you could see the lave still burning--Incredible!!!
I read in one of the reviews that the ship was moving and that people were walking sideways in the halls. This was not the case. Perhaps they had bad weather or a storm. We had a very smooth sail.
We met some people who would not have been happy no matter what. In our opinion they ruined their vacations by complaining about everything and in some cases they tried to recruit other people as well, by complaining to anyone who would listen. It was very sad to watch as there was so much that was wonderful, after all we were in paradise, what could be so bad!
Tipping -- Unfortunately they told us on the third day that they would be waiving the mandatory tipping of $10 per person, per day. We chose at that time to tip as we went along in all the restaurants. I wish that they had told us earlier, as we didn't tip the first two nights.
All in all we had a great time. The Islands are beautiful and we would sail with NCL again. They tried their best to give us a great experience and they did!!!!
Make sure that you go to the Chocaholic buffet--held about 3:00pm on the day we were in Kona---WOW!!!!
Disembarkation was a little chaotic--some people were already trying to get on the next cruise with their luggage. Taxis were easily available. We stayed one extra night in Oahu at the Waikiki Beachcomber--very nice--good location near all shopping (Macy's right downstairs) and a beack walk- through across the street. All in all a great vacation. Hope yours is great as well -- Happy Sailing!!!
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by Steve Swenson Hawaii November 21, 2004
If I had only known then what I know now. My family just returned from a 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on NCL America's Pride of Aloha. This was our 5th cruise and the second with NCL. What a huge disappointment. I read some of the other posted reviews. I only wish I had done so before booking this cruise. All of the comments about poor service, mediocre food, long waits, out of service signs and lack of attention to detail listed in previous comments all are still present on this ship and line.
Our fist clue was the guy selling us the soda pop cards. He couldn't add the sales tax on 28.00 x 4 people. The guy next to me at the bar asked for a Budweiser and was told they were out. This is before the ship left the dock on day one. Bar service was very slow. The crew was both inexperienced and few in numbers.
The menu in the dinner restaurants only changed by two entrees each day. The food in thebuffet was hohum at best, and when it ran out, most of the time it was not replenished.
Evening dinner service was slow and poor except for one night.
The only saving grace was the teen program. Morgan the teen director had a great program that kept our two teenagers and about 20 others engaged throughout the cruise.
I won't bore you with the rest. While previous cruises weeks have flown by with around the clock fun, this week dragged by. I was actually ready to go home by Thursday. This was on a trip that our family had anticipated for months. The Hawaiian Islands are a great itinerary, but not on this ship.
What everyone else previously wrote is true to this day. The concept of an all American crewed and registered ship was very appealing, however they just don't have it together, nor do they appear to heed the endless and repetitive comments of their passengers. It is impossible to imagine that NCL will be able to fill one Hawaiian cruise ship once the word gets around. They plan to add additional ships to their Hawaiian fleet.
The trip pulled a premium price for a C- grade experieince. This will be our last NCL trip. I'm going back to Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in the future.
Aloha and good luck in your next trip planning.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by willysgrandma Hawaii October 24, 2004
We sailed the Pride of America on the 10/24 sailing. We did not book air or hotel through NCL. We arrived the day before, rented a car and stayed at the Ohana Maile Sky Court Hotel in Waikiki. We paid $58 for the room; it was small but very clean. We weren't looking for anything directly on the beach, as we did not have the time to enjoy it, so this hotel fit us just fine. My nephew is stationed in Oahu in the Marines so he met us and we all went to dinner and then to Pearl Harbor the next day.
We arrived at the ship pier at 1:40 PM. We dropped our bags, got on the security line and were on the ship and in our room by 2:10 PM. We were on deck 4 and we loved the deck - it was VERY quiet. When we arrived, though, there was a flood in the hallway to our room - apparently a pipe had broken. There were engineer's running back and forth trying to getit fixed. None of our rooms got wet, only the carpeting and the leak was fixed within an hour of our arrival and a fan was run to dry up the carpet. The crew moved quickly to get the repair finished.
Our room was clean when we arrived, but apparently, someone further down the halls was not - he found used condoms on the floor. My husband heard a supervisor later on loudly admonishing the cabin attendant who didn't notice this. But it was cleaned right away. (Of course, the bigger issue is what kind of slob leaves things like that in the room - and we were betting it might have been ship employees, as how could this not have been noticed if the beds had been made?). We had a different cabin attendant for our room and she was great. The beds were made and the room cleaned by 9:30 AM every morning and the bed turned down at night before we came into the room.
The air conditioning in my brother-in-laws room didn't seem to be working properly. He called the front desk and by the time we came back after exploring the ship, it was fixed. A work order was placed and left in his room to be signed off on and a follow up call was made by NCL later to ensure the problem was corrected.
The rooms are very small, which didn't bother us too much since we were there to sleep only. However, there was a noticeable lack of drawer space - there were four small ones in the closet and that was it. We placed clothing in the bookcase "nightstands". We also had read to bring hangers and we did, but I wasn't about to hang t-shirts and bathing suits on hangers.
The mattress was rock hard. We also read on this review site to call and ask for those foam "egg crates" to be placed on top of the mattress and we did as soon as we arrived. Both of our rooms were able to get them placed on the bed while they supply lasted. I would urge everyone to do this as soon as they get on the ship.
Each room had a refrigerator. On the first island we went to, we bought plastic travel cups and filled them with iced tea at the Café and left them in the refrigerator so we had a cold drink available at all times. We later found out that they would allow us to bring bottled water or soda back onto the ship when we were in port, which made the fridge handy. There is a small couch and table, which we felt were wasted - you could not sit more than 1 person on the couch and the table ended up being in the way.
The bathroom was very small. Make sure you pull the shower curtain all the way closed or you will end up with water on the floor, as the lip around the shower is not deep enough. There was plenty of room for our toiletries in the bathroom and our attendant kept it clean. There were some small cracks in the plastic in some spots, but nothing that affected our view of the room. We could not imagine how anyone who is large would fit in the stall to shower. But the water pressure was great and there was plenty of hot water.
We then began to explore the ship. We were impressed with the renovations done in the public areas - it was elegant with beautiful wood. We particularly liked the Outrigger Lounge as it had a full glass view of the front of the ship with an outside deck. We spent our time there at night and the day the ship passed the Napali Coast. The Blue Hawaii Lounge, where a lot of the karaoke and games were played, was colorful, with almost full sized statues of Elvis, and some others.
We were not impressed with the stores - they were mostly high end stores and impossible for most to afford. At no time were these shops crowded as I have seen on other cruise lines. I would have liked more POA branded items at reasonable prices to have taken home as souvenirs.
There were two pools on deck 11 and 5 hot tubs. The pools can not be accessed by those who are handicapped. There is a deck around the entire pool (to prevent water from splashing outside the area in severe weather, I assume) that you had to either step up on or sit on and swing your legs around to the other side to get to the pool area. My sister-in-law, who recently had back surgery, could not get into the pool either of those two ways. There should be a step up with a railing and a step down somewhere around the pool to allow people who have some form if physical disability to use the pool also.
There was also another small wading pool with a waterfall in the front of the ship for children. We found that there were not many children on this cruise (which was exactly what we were looking for) due to the time of year so if was a fairly quiet cruise the entire time. Children that were on board were well behaved - we did not see one child fighting with another, screaming, or running wild. The teens on the ship were all well behaved and polite - it was a pleasure. There were some newlyweds, but I would say the majority of cruisers on this ship were over the age of 50. Both my sister-in-law and I walk with canes and we did not feel out of place at all - there were more canes, walkers and wheelchairs than I have ever seen on this ship.
We ate frequently in the Hukilau Café on deck 11, where the buffet food was. The food was true buffet food - nothing to write home about. We found the service to be the poorest in that area. Any other cruise ship I have been on has had the buffet located on both the starboard and port sides of the ship, so there was plenty of room on both sides for people lining up for food. Not here. The buffet was located on the starboard side, with the only inside tables on the starboard side also. There were more tables around the pool area and on the back deck, but it was not enough to adequately seat everyone who wanted to eat at the Café. There was another buffet on the stern, but no one to direct people there, so if you didn't find this hidden treasure, the lines for food were very long. People in large groups also stayed at these tables well after they finished eating to socialize as there were not a lot of convenient places for large groups to sit together and shoot the breeze.
The port side of the ship housed another restaurant and two bars and would have been better served to use it for more of the buffet. We never found that restaurant to be crowded; the space could have been better used.
There was plenty of fresh fruit at a carving station daily (yes, fresh pineapple too). The only problem was the server who was cutting the fruit couldn't always keep up with the customers, so many times the selection of fruit was limited until more was prepared.
The eggs at breakfast were not runny as previously reported my many, they were cooked just fine. Outside around the pool in the mornings were stations where omelets and waffles were freshly made. The breakfast meal was the best served. Be very careful of the stem at the hot stations - I burned my hand trying to reach a serving spoon.
Arriving at the buffet, a server handed you a plate, fork, knife and napkin. No spoons, which were hard to find. There were spots to hold spoons near the coffee machines, but they were mostly empty. There were also 2 juice machines that never worked - a server came around with pitchers of juice to be served. They were finally fixed on the last day of the cruise, when the entire buffet was closed from 3:00 PM until 3:00 AM to service and repair machines.
At times we found no milk in containers for breakfast cereal, no brown sugar for oatmeal, and several times they ran out of ice cream. There was an Ice Cream Bar that was open daily from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Since we were never on the ship at those times, we never had ice cream there.
The bigger problem with this Café was the lack of staff to clean the used dishes from the table. Cruisers were either emptying their own dishes or putting them on empty tables to make room. There were also no trays , so you could not get your meal, a drink and fruit at once and carry it to the table - you had to do one at a time because there was no way to carry it all.
One thing we did love at the buffet was the soup station. Every day there was a hot and cold soup, and the cold ones were all fruit soups. They were all delicious - it was like having dessert for dinner! And one morning there were crepes, which were terrific too. If you need a spoon, that was the one spot you could almost always find them.
Each night there was a different theme in the Café - one night it was Asian food, one night fish, etc. And none of the problems were cruise wreckers either - most of us simply found a work around.
There was also a vegetarian selection at the back of the Café near the pool. However, there were no plates or silverware to put the food on, so you had to go to the long buffet line to get a plate to put the food on.
We ate one night in the Crossings Main Restaurant and two nights in the Palace. Both served the same menu. There were three main dishes that changed at these restaurants daily, and then a few others that remained the same throughout the cruise. It was the same with appetizers and soups. The only appetizer that all in our party enjoyed were the crab cakes. All of the soups each night were good, as were the salads. But the main dishes, and the chef's special, were almost always bland. What was good each night was the steak - I'd recommend that, all of us enjoyed it. The desserts were also very good.
We arrived at dinner in these restaurants at 5:30 and there were no lines at all, we were seated immediately. Our server in the Palace, Sam, was excellent - dinner was finished in under an hour. Our server in the Crossings was fairly new - he was only on the ship for three weeks was a little slower, so the next night we went back to the Palace and requested Sam. The waiters on this ship have to bus their own tables, which takes up a lot of time for them. If they had enough staff to bus the tables, service would be quicker. When we left the restaurant only one night was there a line of people waiting to be seated and the estimated wait time was 15 - 20 minutes.
We also ordered room service to have coffee delivered in the morning. On the first cruise day, a menu was left to hang on the door to order. We used that, the order was delivered on time and the coffee was nice and hot. However, when we tried the next night to call the number listed in our room for room service to do the same, the phone number didn't work. So, when we knew the night before we would like coffee delivered, we went to the front desk and got the cards to hang on the door.
If you any formal portraits taken, I would suggest getting your pictures taken on the staircase and not use the backgrounds. Many of the backgrounds had large scratches on them, particularly the tropical background and one of the formal backgrounds. The scratched backgrounds ruined the pictures and were absolutely noticeable. We had several conversations with others who were really annoyed when we pointed out the scratches in the pictures to them and had to have pictures retaken. It is beyond me how the photographer even uses the backgrounds, they should be replaced. Also, some of the pictures were blurry and out of focus.
We did not book any excursions through the ship - we rented cars at every port except Kona and we were happy we did. It saved a LOT of money and time. For instance, in Maui, we did the Road to Hana in 3-1/2 hours. The trip through the ship was 8 hours. After awhile, all those bridges and overlooks start looking the same - we were so thankful we didn't have to stop at every one to save time. In Hilo, we did the same when we visited the Volcanoes National Park - did it in 3 hours vs. 7 hours on the ship excursion. Reserve your car in advance and a shuttle will be waiting to take you to pick up the car when you get off the ship. We used Alamo, they had the best rates.
In Kauai, we visited the Waimea Canyon and Rainbow Falls. We also drove to the southern part of the island and visited a blow hole that had some little shops, an excursion not offered by the ship. The ship also cruised along the Napali Coast when going to Kona and it was a magnificent view!
In Kona, we did not rent a car. When we got to shore, a tour operator we found outside the pier gave us a tour 2 -1/2 hour driving tour of Kona for $25 per person. He took us to a coffee plantation, some churches, and gave us a lot of insight into the people living on the island. We then went back to the pier, and took a trolley to the Kona Inn Shops. Beware of this - the trolley took us there but never came back to pick anyone up! We walked back to the ship, a 10 minute walk, but with a cane it was a little tedious. We ate at a great restaurant in the shopping village and met up with some ship employees who showed us a video they taped that morning of another broken water pipe flooding deck 5 that happened that morning.
In Hilo, we visited the Volcanoes National Park, which was spectacular. At night as the ship cruised from Kona to Hilo, at 1:00 AM you could get up and see the active volcano pouring lava into the ocean as the shipped passed. We also explored some of the island before returning the car.
In Maui, we did the Road To Hana and found some surfers on the way back at a beach windsurfing, which was cool to watch. That evening, we had booked our own luau at the Old Lahaina Luau, which was fabulous and about $15 less per person than the ship's luau. It was beautiful, right on a beach and the dancers were great - I would highly recommend that luau. It featured a pig roast, large buffet and all you could drink - not just one drink as some of the other luaus did. We also loved Lahaina, which is a funky town similar to Key West that we went back to the next day and hung out. In Lahaina, you can book a fishing boat, submarine ride, glass bottom boat ride all on your own at savings over the ship. We also explored the entire island - we went to southwest Maui and saw the exclusive hotels and we went to the beach outside of Lahaina - you simply pull over and go swimming wherever you wanted.
The evening we stayed overnight in Maui, at 4:30 in the morning we were awakened by the smell of smoke. We were out in the hallway ready to run off the ship in our underwear and p.j.'s (forget about muster stations!!) when I called the front desk and we were told that they were burning sugar cane on the island. When we went to breakfast, the smell was still going strong and we found that we weren't the only ones in hallways in pajamas - most people on the ship were ready to flee also. But that did lead us to visit a Sugar Mill nearby and take a tour of their museum, where we learned all about how sugar is processed and that we did indeed smell the sugar cane burning and not the ship.
The shows at night on the ship were great. The first night was a Polynesian Review, the second night a Magician, Scott Alexander, who was great. At that show, we were sitting next to a woman from San Diego who was a cruise reviewer and was writing a review of the ship. She had been reviewing several NCL cruises within the month. She was not happy with the room- she said her beds were not made up until late in the day and she felt that the crew did not have enough training, which caused some of the problems in the restaurants that we noticed.
We talked to many of the employees about the previous reviews passengers had given and those who worked the ship from the beginning acknowledged them and stated that many of the problems have been resolved, which we felt was true. Not one of them bad mouthed the line, even the ones who showed us the video. We did ask the waiter who had been with the ship for 3 weeks how long it took to obtain his Coast Card certification - from his reply, it was our impression that certifications are now being rushed through and as long as the employee didn't have a criminal record, the process was expedited.
All crew were as attentive as possible and polite and did as much as possible to satisfy us. At a poolside BBQ buffet held the second day the ship was in Kauai, we saw a passenger walk by the buffet and grab a hot dog off a tray with his bare hands. He was admonished, rightly so, by the cook never to pick up food with his bare hands as it could contaminate all the food on the tray. We cheered for the NCL employee on that one.
Disembarkation was also smooth. We liked the fact that you could leave your luggage in your room until your tag colors were called to disembark. Once our color was called, we were out and had our luggage within 20 minutes.
Upon disembarkation, there is a place on the pier you can store your luggage for $5 per bag so you can do other excursions if you have a late flight home. We didn't have that luxury and had booked the Oahu Airport Shuttle two weeks before we left for the cruise. It cost only $25 for four of us and our luggage - the cheapest rate around. We did not book our air through the ship, and if we wanted the ship to book a shuttle for us to the airport they would have charged us $20 each ($80) for the service. I called the shuttle once we had our bags; they were there within 10 minutes and had us to the airport quickly.
All in all, for the price and the value we felt we got by being able to visit four islands and not having to stay on hotels on each of the islands and constantly packing and unpacking, we were pleased with the cruise. If you are a person who is ultra picky about a cruise and like white glove service and the best food - this may not be the one for you. But for the majority of cruisers who can make the most out of a great opportunity to see as much of Hawaii as possible and not get upset if things aren't perfect, this was a great deal.
Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha by George & Sharon Wood Hawaii September 5, 2004
We were on the Pride of Aloha cruise for the week of Sept. 5th. Let us start by saying that this cruise around the Hawaiian islands COULD be one of the most outstanding cruises available, IF NCL "gets their act together". The 96 hours of shore time is great & all the excursions we took were excellent, especially the luau. (We should say that NONE of the prebooked excursions we made online were made though - we had to wait in line to rebook them on the ship.) The evening entertainment / shows were absolutely fantastic, with a great group of singers & dancers, but get there early. All the staff were very friendly, but many were somewhat unable to answer many questions being asked & many seemed less than prepared to do their jobs efficiently. (Compared to other cruises, many of the Pride of Aloha employees seemed as if they had never been of a cruise themselves to realize what was expected of them.)
Now for the ship review - not really that good. Our stateroom wassmall, but nice. (We were able to get our two single beds put together, but the single sheets & bedspreads were just 'overlapped' - not covered with full-sized coverings.) The biggest disappointment was that the outside of our large porthole window was NEVER cleaned, even though I requested it 3 times. (There we are in one of the most beautiful areas of the world and we have a window we could barely see through - I was told they would be cleaned while in the various ports - they were not!) The ship itself was not maintained overly well - some trash here & there often left for days & lots of cigarette butts in corners & other places. This brings up a REAL complaint - smoking is permitted almos everywhere, except in the restaurants & the theater. On other ships, there are usually designated areas or one side (say the starbord side) for smoking; it's very frustrating to be relaxing on deck only to have someome come & sit upwind & light up a cigarette ... or even a cigar! Now to the food & food service; basically, most of the food in the buffets was average to poor - runny eggs, watery orange juice, frest but mostly unripe fruit (pineapples, mangos, etc., IN HAWAII!), overcooked vegetables & meats, etc. Another major frustration was that the coffee machines were frequently 'out' in the mornings - several times, of 6 dispensers, two on each end of the two buffets & one between them, only one was working! The same thing frequently happened with the tea & 'watery' orange juice, as occasionally with the ice dispensers, as well. Who is supposed to maintain / oversee this!? (Another side note about logistics - the buffet beverage areas are about 25' long & the aisle between the counter & the wall is about 6' wide.
Against the wall is the line for the buffet, so there is about 4' left for access. The coffee cups at the far left, coffee is in the middle, the creamer / milk is about 8' to the right of the coffee on the other side of the water & juice diepensers, & the sugar is at the far right end of the counter. Did I mention that the spoons (when available) were back with the cups at the left end? Who designed this arrangement!? And all the maintainance, restocking (when finally done) is from the front, where everyone is crowded in trying to get beverages. Food service, in general, was slow, unplanned as to where some thing were - butter out by the craemer, not by the rolls - etc., and the cleanup afterwards at the buffet areas seating areas , as everywhere, was slow. The food, while a little better in the 'free' dining rooms, was still very slow to arrive, and the wait for a table is terrible, unless you eat very early. The 'premium' dining was better quality, still very slow service, but not worth the extra $15 each for the 'experience', especially since this type food (actually better) is the normal fare on most other cruises, with MUCH better & faster service. NCL's 'Free-Style Dining' leave much to be desired. (Another point about the buffets, we saw and spoke to a number of older people who should not be forced to be standing in line to get their own food, some with walking difficulties. Their only other option would have been to accept a long wait for a table at the dining rooms. Oh, and in case you wanted to get a snack later - pizza, hamburger, etc. - forget it. There are no 24 hour food service areas open - only room service. We didn't even try that, as we had heard stories about that, too.
And a comment about the 'change' in the tipping policy AFTER boarding - we came aboard begrudgingly expecting to be charged $10 per day toward 'tips' or whatever NCL called the charge, only to be told that it had changed & to just tip waiters as we would elsewhere. Well, switching after the fact meant that we had not really planned for the extra cash for this. I'm sure many other people did NOT understand this; and, consequently, I'm sure tips were NOT received as the staff expected. Again, poor planning by NCL.
As a 'final' comment, NCL truly has a 'Gold Mine' and a monopoly with this cruise itinerary! I think they better not 'blow it' though. The Hawaiian Islands are beautiful, the excursions were great, the nightly shows were outstanding, and we enjoyed those & most other aspects of our cruise, but NCL need to rethink MANY aspects of the ship's personnel, logistics, cleanliness, services, etc., before the negatives overwhelm the reviews. Maybe NCL needs to alternate weeks of 'types of service'; maybe to serve the 'cruise-knowledgeable' / 'pampering-expected' customers every other week, & the younger / let-demanding passengers the next week. Maybe this is what NCL plans when both 'Aloha' & 'America' are in service? It's a thought though to serve two separate passenger types maybe. Would we do it again? Possibly 'yes', but with more 'open' eyes.