Cruise Dates: December 24-31, 2005
Like others I was skeptical about spending a week on the Pride of America having read some of the negative reviews. Now home I can look back on the week at sea and say I had a great time. It was my partner's first cruise and my second. My mother, who suggested the trip, and my sister are seasoned cruisers and their experience was much more negative towards NCL.
I will admit when I agreed to go on this cruise I selected it because it allowed me to see more than one island in 7 days. I could unpack once. I knew the ship was NOT a five star. The deck 4 cabin very basic with cot bed, not the most comfortable, but only needed it to sleep in.
Throughout the week I found enjoyment in some of the little things. Breakfast outdoors at the Aloha Cafe. Visiting Hawaii, Maui and Kauai by rented car. Quick dinning in the Aloha Cafe for dinner. Steaks in the Texas J restaurant. One flat fee for all you can drink soda. Sitting in the jacuzzi about 9:30 PM when the crowd is gone. Listening to music late night played through the pool speakers watching the pool water slosh from one side to another. The chocolate buffet is a diabetic coma waiting to happen so I had to watch myself. I appreciated the many "no sugar added" desserts.
The employees on this ship are nothing different than any other business. They are contracted workers who work 5 month blocks and get 5 weeks off. Some are career oriented and been sailing for years. Others are there for one or two blocks to pay off bad debts, school loans, etc. and will move on. One long term employee reported NCL tries hard to make the daily work schedule accommodating to all staff members. Thanks to those who said hello I enjoyed talking with you.
While on board my partner cracked his tooth. On day 2 in Maui we were fortunate enough to find a dentist. He extracted the tooth early afternoon and we made it back to the ship before 5 PM. We laughed when the cab took us to the dentist which was only $1 away from the terminal and just across the main highway nearest the ship.
The only itinerary change came while on Kauai. On day 2 we departed at 7 AM instead of 2 PM. The reason for the early departure, not said by the crew but the rental car employee, was another ship needed our berth. As we exited the other ship was arriving. We did get to the see the lava flows into the sea at night on Hawaii.
The flights were arranged through NCL via Delta. Both flights were on time both ways. A free breakfast was served on the 8:30 AM flight over, nuts and soda on the "red eye" on the way home. I would have preferred Hawaiian Air and a morning or afternoon flight home. No more "red eye" for me.
Here are some suggestions to NCL Corporate " Depart at 5-PM so a daylight Bon Voyage party could be enjoyed around the pool to kick off the week long adventure. " Scrap "Freestyle Dinning" it sucks! " Make specialty restaurants first come first served. Seating is very limited and no way can you accommodate everyone during the week. " Drop the specialty restaurant service charge. Is this a mandatory tip? I think most would tip if promoted correctly. " Add set dinning times in the main dinning room. It would improve on the poor service currently offered. " Hire some decent entertainment. How about Hawaiian locals? The juggler was okay but the comedian wasn't funny.
It will be another 16 months before I am ready to sail again. Probably another line. Seems the ships are all about the same inside only the decor is different. I hope NCL can work out the unstable seas and make changes before the Pride of Hawaii is launched.