Let me just start by saying we absolutely loved our time on the Pride of Aloha. I think it is a fantastic way to get a little bit of each island in during a short time. I have been researching our trip for about 7 months and was worried after reading the up and down reviews on this board. I do understand some of the complaints that I have read after experiencing them firsthand. Let me start off with my own review and I'll mention where I thought NCL could have been better.
The flight: It was long!! We flew out of Philadelphia, and into San Fran, then in Honolulu. Of course there is nothing NCL can do about that, you just have to suck it up and get there. I had no problems with our flight. The first flight we were seated ABC, the second were GHJ, my mother and I sat in the two by the window, and my stepdad was across the aisle in the row of 5, no biggie. The flight home we were all seated together the whole time, no window to LAX, but window to PHILA. More
Arrival: We arrived in Honolulu and were greeted with a representative from the Marriott, we purchased the Pre cruise package which included transfer and 1 night at the Marriott. The Marriott in Waikiki was fantastic. Service was top notch, and the room was beautiful, we even had a balcony, which we were not expecting. Our luggage was taken care much faster then we expected. They were very very organized. I did expect to get the traditional Lei right off the plane, but we did not get that until we reached the hotel.
Embarkation: Sunday went straight to the NCL service office in the Marriott upon their opening to get our ID's setup and do an express check in. I highly recommend the pre cruise package mainly for this purpose. We had that all taken care of in a matter of minutes and were off to explore Honolulu.
At 130 we had to be back for our transfer to the ship, it was a very simple process. We left our luggage in the room, tagged, and they took it to the bus. When we arrived at the ship, there was a bit of a line, but we only had to wait thru security we did not have to do any check in, there is a separate line for the people who stayed at Marriott and you basically just pick up ur room keys. The whole process took maybe 25 minutes. We found our room with no problem, we were very happy with it. We went with an outside stateroom, picture window. Very nice, very clean. I had read horror stories about odors and bugs, there was nothing of the sort in our stateroom. There were 3 of us, and we only had 2 life jackets. When we had the drill, we had to request the 3rd one, which took about 2 hrs to get there, we were sailing by the time it arrived. So that brings me to one of my few complaints.
The service was a bit slow. We found the bartenders to be rather slow, room requests were rather slow (the life jacket, extra pillow, ashtray) the officer of the floor said that the reason it was slow that day was b/c it was embarkation day, and he was somewhat right, thru out the week it improved as everyone was settled in.
Service: We ordered room service once, and it came right up. As I said the bar was slow. We never ate in one of the main dining rooms, so i can not comment on the service there. We did eat in the specialty restaurant, The Royal Palm Bistro, and the service was great there. Our servers were a married couple and they were so cute. Scott and Kaitlyn. The buffet, we ate breakfast and lunch most days in the Hukilah Cafe, and Lanai it is self serve, so u can't complain about the service. They cleared your plates immediately. It was sometimes hard to find someone if u wanted a drink, so I usually just went to the bar and got it myself.
Food: As i said, Royal Palm Bistro was fantastic. Make a reservation. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Hukilah Cafe most days, breakfast was fine, the Omelet and waffle stations are good. You might was it in a bit of a line for a omelet. Lunch was "ok" it was usually burgers and hot dogs, but there was one day that i found a wrap station and it was delicious, but I never saw it again. Usually I was so full from late lunch, that dinner really didn't matter to me. They had an Italian buffet one night that was pretty good, the next night was Mexican but I was feeling kind of seasick so I did not eat, but it looked good. The next night we ate at the Palm. The following night was Mardi Gras Buffet, I didn't eat much that night. I can't recall what was served the next night, but Saturday was what i would call leftovers, it was an international buffet, but I ate fruit. The desserts were good, the fruit was always fresh, the soups were awful. All and all I'm not picky, and if I was hungry, I found something good. I would suggest the specialty restaurant at least one night tho, it is worth the cover charge.
Shore excursions: We ziplined in Kauai, we took a 3 mile hike in Kona to waterfalls, my stepdad snorkeled in Kona, we took a whale watch in Maui. All booked thru the cruise line. I would suggest this if ur not comfortable navigating your way around unfamiliar places, they arrange everything, they take you and pick you up. It is more money but not a great deal more, it worked for us. Now someone with a big family might feel differently. We did arrange our own events our first day in Maui. We rented a car, and drove from Kahuli to Lahaina. We spent the day on Ka'Nappalli beach, shopped the shops in Lahaina, and then went to the Old Lahaina Luau. If you can get back to the rent a car place at the airport before 10pm, they will shuttle you back to the ship, we did fine. They also picked us up at the ship. We used Thrifty. I would strongly recommend the Old Lahaina Luau. Even locals on the streets told us it was best in Maui, if not the best in all of hawaii.
The cruise: The weather absolutely sucked the first few days. It rained and had a cold breeze in Kauai. I wore the one pair of jeans I brought for 2 days, and a hoodie. We had to skip Hilo because of strong swells. They said it was too dangerous to dock. Something about snapping lines. I was a disappointed b/c this canceled one of our shore excursions. So we had a day at sea instead. That night was the Volcano viewing, and that is a sight to see. I cannot explain it. You have to see it. All I can say is it is flowing. Kona brought about the good weather, the first sun we saw almost that whole week so far. I liked Kona. I wish we had more time there. Next came Maui, and I fell in love with Maui, 2 days was not enough, now after experiencing each island, I know that when I go back it will be for a longer stay in Maui.
Entertainment: Some of it was a little tacky, I chose to go to bed early so I could get up and start my day on the island. The had a magic show which I heard was good, but skipped to get a shower and get to bed. They had a comedian that was great. They had a type of Cirque du Soleil, called Sea Legs Cirque, it was pretty good. Jimmy the cruise director was very organized and really seemed to enjoy his job. He tried his best to make every part of the cruise fun.
By the way, the Humpback whales were there, and they were everywhere, it was hard not to see one.
Complaints: Bar service was a lil slow. Now I don't drink alcohol. I had a soda card, and this soda card was ridiculous. For 35 dollars you get unlimited soda for the week. However, they will not give you the can, they pour about half the can into these little juice cups, and just tell you to come back for refills. This frustrated me, b/c I'm 21 years old and that was like 2 sips for me, and I was back up there in a matter of minutes. After I got to know one of the bartenders a lil, he started giving me a bigger glass, but every time there was a new guy, back to the juice glass. This frustrated me and I think the bartenders too.
Anyway, all and all I think this was a great way too see Hawaii. Especially for my first time there. Now I know which island I'll want to go back to and spend most of my time at. I would recommend The Pride Of Aloha for anyone who is there not for a luxury cruise, but to get out there and see the Islands. Less