This was my second cruise in 6 months. My first was on Carnival " Victory" in October with a girlfriend. On Pride Of Aloha I went with 10 other family members. We booked the cruise and air from a newspaper ad that gave a great discount for booking within 24 hours. We had 3 couples celebrating wedding anniversaries and 2 birthdays. I had read many reviews and was concerned but I always look on the bright side and felt that this vacation would be what we made of it.
Unfortunately we had some problems with Travel Agency getting names spelled wrong and air schedules together but we still kept saying this is no big deal -we are going to Hawaii!! Checking in was no big deal although employees did seem to be overwhelmed. We had a wheelchair waiting for my Mom and were taken to our inside room to freshen up before going for dinner. I like to unpack so I feel like I have some permanency for a week. There was very little room to put clothes away. Fortunately I brought extra hangars with me. The beds are rock hard which I had been told; but thought would have been improved from other readings of renovations. My comparison is from the Carnival cruise where we had awesome hotel quality beds that I wanted to take home with me. Now I know we spend little time in our rooms but my Mother had to rest quite a bit and had difficulty sleeping. As she does not complain I did not call for the foam mattresses to make the beds more comfortable. The highlight of our room was that we were near an elevator and used room service almost every morning for coffee and snacks. Excellent service on our room steward and cleaning crew. We always had plenty of clean towels, ice, etc. Not sure why we had a refrigerator in the room-did not save leftover food and beverages were available all day. Space would have been better used for drawers.
We tried the buffet the first night and were very disappointed at choices and quality. We decided we would make reservations for the freestyle restaurant 'The Crossings' for the next few nights. Even with reservations we had horrible service. Our reservations were always when the restaurant opened at 5:30 pm. We felt this would give us plenty of time to see the shows at 7PM. 2-1/2 hours was the quickest we could get dinner completed. I do not blame the waiters. The kitchens did not seem to have their act together. They were out of main courses offered when we sat down to order. I do not care for the freestyle dining that everyone raves about. Why are there more specialty restaurants than freestyle? Did everyone know that the 2 freestyle restaurants share the same kitchen and menu? Lots of choices right? I am not a food fanatic but why should we pay extra to get good quality food and service? The food in the Crossings and Palace was good but not exceptional. Not once was a real steak offered- top sirloin is glorified hamburger. Lobster? Rubbery with no taste. What I really found surprising was the fresh fruit offered was either over ripe or not ripe yet. Doesn't Hawaii have fresh pineapples year round? Yes- I know it is not their biggest industry anymore but come on!
Moving on to the excursions that the ship offered- over rated and over priced. If I could have gotten the relatives to rent a car I realize I would have seen more of the islands but a Luau for $100.00?? Our bus driver turned on the radio and most of the guests were sleeping before we got there. A good tour guide can make or break these types of excursions. The employees on ship did not have enough knowledge of these excursions and did not tell you if you were duplicating a tour that was called something else. Yes- I did research private excursions and with a smaller group I would not have taken the ships excursions. My relatives were afraid of liability and very stubborn about using NCL excursions. Lesson learned!! Very expensive and spent extra $500.00 for 5 excursions including Pearl Harbor.
Entertainment on this ship was very poor. Again- to compare to the quality of Carnival -the POA needs to really employ better variety and offer more to the 40-60s crowd. Really missed the piano bar. The entertainer was sick the whole cruise. Also need to move it away from the Cigar bar. The Cigar bar is not closed off from the entertainment area and is really annoying and makes non smokers ill. Scary observation was on the 5th night of the cruise: all of a sudden the buffet was being served to guests by employees wearing plastic gloves. I am all for sterile and clean food environment but why was it not like this all week? I heard of a flu epidemic going around since we boarded; rumors fly quickly when you see things like this. My cousin and Mother did seem to catch a cold but attributed it to weather changes.
We did not notice any special theme nights at the buffet. I do not know if this was due to being in ports every day or not. There were no special midnight buffets either and the pizza offered on this cruise was unappealing and inedible.
I do not recommend this cruise to anyone. I would only go to one island in the future. I have also decided that some cruise lines are making cruising a less enjoyable experience with the freestyle restaurants and scrimping on the quality of buffet choices. I don't go on a cruise to eat, eat, eat but I had always heard how wonderful it was and the variety offered. Things to do when not on excursions is also important. Some people just want to relax and not bother getting on and off the ship every day.