First off, let me say that if you've cruised on other lines, and are trying NCL's freestyle persona, then you may be greatly disappointed, but if your open minded enough for a change in venue, the Pride of Aloha gives you just that.
This was my wife's and I second cruise on the POAloha, first time being when this ship was the Norwegian Sky cruising Alaska. We were well aware of freestyle cruising, so for us it was great. Since we were celebrating our 25th anniversary we wanted to really do it right, so through a travel agent we booked first class air through NCL with Aloha airlines and a penthouse suite on the 9th floor Fjord deck room 9075, through the TA our friends had booked an inside cabin, rm 9076 next to us, but for whatever reasons NCL had decided without their input, to upgrade them to an outside balcony on the 10th floor and near the front of the ship, so this caused a major inconvenience for us until contacting NCL and the TA who finally got them on the same floor More
as us but still near the front in room 9020. so my suggestion is know what room you want before booking and let your TA or NCL know not to be upgraded if you've got friends you want close to your cabin.
My suggestions for booking your flight through NCL is not to do it, I think its best and probably a bit cheaper to book flights yourself. We had a direct first class flight through Aloha airlines from Sacramento CA to Kahalui Maui, which put us there at about 2 p.m. Friday, Our friends flew out of Sacto in coach seats at noon with a transfer through John Wayne/burbank airport on United airlines and didn't reach the ship until 9 p.m. that evening, thus doing it yourself or plan for an overnighter on Maui or Honolulu to ease the stresses of flight times. BTW NCL as of February 2007 will only be embarking/Disembarking the Pride of Aloha out of Honolulu, so keep that in mind if you start planning for the coming year.
After arriving in Kahului, Maui we were greeted by NCL plaque carrying airport stewards that helped with our luggage and reach the Hertz rental shuttle, with our prebooked rental car we easily found the ship and the long walk with our baggage through port security and boarded promptly with our security/charge cards in hand, security is what I'd consider tight so be prepared for removal again, "besides the airport screening" of everything attached to you, belts included. we made it to our room and were very impressed with our penthouse, a large living room, and a typically smaller bedroom, with about 12" between walls and sliding doors and the bed, but with more than plenty of closet and shelf space for your clothes and luggage storage. a small fridge ,mini bar, medium large T.V. and a smaller one in the bedroom, the bathroom was spacious with a decent shower,adjustable shower head and a Jacuzzi bath. The outside balcony with 2 chaise lounges and a round table and 2 chairs, with the 2 sliding doors between the living room and bedroom, made for a spectacular view of Kahului, the ocean, and the other ports of call. The penthouse comes with the amenities of a concierge, butlers am/pm, and a house keeper, all of them were very very good at treating us like royalty, cleaning, and room service were prompt, and Robb our concierge was excellent taking care of reservations for the speciality restaurants, and evening treats and champagne, the butlers Darwin & Edward are seasoned professionals, that made this trip extra special for us and all were rewarded for their efforts in making us feel like VIP's, in fact all of the staff including waiters bus persons and other staff members always smiled and made you feel comfortable. So needless to say I strongly suggest spending a few extra dollars for a penthouse, you won't be disappointed. P.S. beds seem to be a bit hard so request "egg crate cushions" as soon as you get on board, they go very fast by the 2nd day.
The speciality restaurants are all worth trying even with the cover charge of $10.00, but if you book your reservations between 5:30-6:30 p.m. the cover is just $5.00 pp. the Le Bistro has a french menu with dinners for 2 ranging from Chateaubriand to rack of Lamb for an additional $10.00 to filet mignon and fish dinners definitely the best restaurant on the ship. Pacific Heights restaurant serves asian food, it was good, but service seemed slower, and the quantity of food is noticeably less than the rest of the restaurants. The Kahili restaurant serves Italian cuisine, it was excellent, and the servers do a wonderful job, its a long and very narrow room for a restaurant, and can only accommodate groups of 4 per party. Monday night while in Kauai the Lobster and prime rib dinner is served in both the Crossings and Palace restaurants, so again I suggest making your reservations early for that night, the lobster is a small spiny pacific breed, but is good with the butter, it took my wife and I 2 of them to get our fill..
The ships entertainment in the Stardust theater was good by my standards, the magician and comic were enjoyable, and the broadway review was excellent with wonderful singers and dancers, and as usual get there early for the best seats
Since we had a rental car on both Maui and Kauai, we only booked 2 shore excursions. we took the waves and waterfalls in Hilo, which features the tsunami museum and a ride through some of the beautiful coastal features of the island, and an inland waterfall viewing, and a final stop at a macadamia nut factory/store..the other excursion in Kona consisted of the Tiki hula cruise with an open bar and excellent hawaiian dancers,singers performing dance rituals from hawaiian and polynesian culture, I strongly suggest this one.
Disembarkation I felt was easy as long as your luggage was outside your cabin by the time specified based on your stateroom and floor, by the time we left the ship at 9:30am friday morning in Kahului our luggage was easy to find amongst all others and there are porters there to help you get to the bus transfers to the airport or car rentals if your leaving later in the day or taxi's available if you've booked a longer stay in maui This was my wife and I's third cruise together and was as far as we're both concerned the best trip of our lives, granted we had a penthouse so the service level of the staff was probably higher than that of an inside/outside stateroom, but we definitely got what we paid for. a top notch room with the level of professional service one would expect to have on any cruise ship, but as others have said, you go on a cruise to enjoy the islands and sites and the rooms may, by some want to be a secondary concern, either way the Pride of Aloha has made a complete turn around to being the ship of choice to see the Hawaiian islands..Aloha and Mahalo Less