We were scheduled to sail the Celebrity Infinity March 27th out of Ensenada for Hawaii. After this was cancelled because of mechanical problems our agent managed to get us a short notice booking on the Pride of Aloha. We new things would be different as the both vessels offer a different cruise experience. We wanted to see the different islands and had a hotel booked for 7 days post cruise in Waikiki so we increased the post cruise to 10 days and booked the Pride of Aloha with 4 days notice.
Being short notice we had very little choice of cabins and that was to be expected. Although we always book an inside as we are in the cabin very little this one was extremely small at least 25% smaller than anything we had before, so much so we couldn't unpack completely but had to put full bags under the bed to be brought out when necessary for items. We would get a chuckle when dressing for dinner as there was not enough floor space for both to dress at once. Our room attendant did a good job which made things easier and the room was quiet. We had no complaints with the washroom, never had a problem with water temperature or pressure.
With regard to the deck activities we are on a 7 day cruise and have no main pool from Sunday to Thursday with 472 kids on board. This is not the time for the maintenance department to paint the pool. we understood it was shut down the cruise before as well. Around the deck there was a very good number of lounge chairs but the crew could not keep ahead of the demand for towels at any time and the ones available looked well worn. The vessel did have lots of deck space around the pool areas with tables as well as loungers.
One huge problem this vessel has is getting from the pool area to your cabin if you are aft. There is no elevator or stairs when you enter from the deck so you must go through the buffet area to get to your cabin something we have never had to do and don't like to do.
With regard to the dining we found the Freestyle didn't work too well on this vessel. It was a new experience for us and when we arrived at the Crossings the first evening we could see there was going to be some interesting dinners. There were quite a few people waiting but the dining room didn't appear near full. We went in and were asked if we wanted a table for two which we replied no we would rather share. We usually ended up getting seated and waiting as few people wanted to share so you had many tables with couples or two couples at and a lot of empty seats. With the exception of a few waiters the service was not very good, you would end up with the wrong choices sometimes with things ordered for another table and courses coming in the wrong order. The wait times were very long sometimes this again probably attributed to the number of seatings per table per evening by not having the larger tables near full. When we did get a good waiter we would try and get the same team on other evenings but the other people had the same idea. We found the menu items often repeated in all courses with little imagination for change, even the Palms Bistro seemed to have a similar menu to the main dining rooms although I would hope the presentation and service would be much better. We wanted to try the Bistro but every time we tried to make a reservation the only times available were at 6 PM which we find too early.
The vessel did have some bright spots, the Captain Cook's Bar with W.T. Greer entertaining was a nice touch after dinner. We attended a couple of the shows and they were fine and we did quite a few shore excursions which we found very good. The vessel had a very large veranda deck aft of the Buffet with quite a few tables for outside dining for lunch or breakfast and we did enjoy it. The buffet itself was very congested having only one side for the buffet as the other side of the vessel was dedicated to a bar and part of the spa. Ad this congestion to the traffic I mentioned earlier because of the lack of stairs and elevator at the forward end of the buffet area as you enter the pool area. We found you didn't get the friendly feeling you expected in all the venues and at times it was as if you were a nuisance by maybe being the last customers before closing certain venues and being advised of the same.
The embarkation and disembarkation procedures went very well and I must say was very good. We had only a voucher and no ticket upon arrival because of the short notice and everything went very smooth. I could make this longer but as you can see we were not happy with the product offered by the Pride of Aloha, many of the crew need much more training but really in the hospitality business personality is a large part of the product and you need that before the training commences. Being a Captain myself some things around a vessel are more evident and I think taking two days to get a second life jacket in your cabin is inadequate as is attending a drill without having one and not being shown where the ones on deck are but being told to get the cabin attendant to get you one. I would expect that to attended to then and there.
To be fair the Pride of Aloha (ex Norwegian Sky) was not built for this trade and it is hard to retrofit a vessel to make it something it isn't so in my opinion the vessel gave what it could with what it had. The crew need more attention and work to get up to speed and I hope the introduction of The Pride of America will be a different experience for Norwegian's customers, delivering the product they are promoting. For now from this experience I could not recommend this particular cruise to anyone positively but will with reservations because of the paragraph above. Thank you.