I found this review website after booking our cruise on Pride of America last June. The reviews I read made me think I might have made a very expensive mistake. Not so, but I am glad I read many of these reviews because the writers gave many helpful tips that made the cruise so much more enjoyable. First, we went on the cruise to see Hawaii, as a sampler of the 4 islands. I have been on 3 other cruises, Alaska and the Western Caribbean, Holland America and Carnival. We did not have the same expectations for this cruise, only because the plan was to grab breakfast and get off the ship as quickly as possible, and then get back on in time for dinner. With the 5 hour time change and busy schedule, we did not attend any of the cruise activities, not even the shows. So I can not comment on that. We used the ship as a floating hotel and restaurant. Boarding was a breeze. We were never given any paperwork when we booked, which was a little worrisome, but our names and IDs were enough to register and get our ship cards. It took less than 15 minutes. Our first impression was that the ship was beautiful and appeared new. No complaints about the dEcor or themes. We immediately went to deck 5 to make our dinner reservations (learned that here). Many passengers were disappointed to find they could not walk in or even call in for reservations during the week for the upscale restaurants. A crew member sat down with us and helped us make a reservation for each night. You should have some idea of which restaurants you are interested in. She did have menus to look over, but there is so much to think about. One little tidbit she might have added If you make reservations for BEFORE 6:30 the cover price (usually $10 per person) is 2 for 1. We found that out on our last night after having 6:30 reservations almost every night. Oh well. We moved on to check out our cabin on the 7th deck. It was nautically snug, but plenty of room for all of our stuff. No wasted space here. Each nook and cranny was put to use. The cabin was neat and clean. We did not meet our cabin steward until the 4th day, but perhaps that was because we were up and out pretty quickly each day. He maintained the room, but really did not go the extra mile. We needed ice for our drinks upon our return in the afternoon, but usually found a small puddle at the bottom of the ice bucket. Fortunately, room service was quick to deliver for us. When we met Manuel, the room steward, and told him everything was great, but we would like a lot of ice every day, he responded that he wasn't available until after 6 and to call room service. Then he gave us cards to fill out indicating excellent service. We continued to use room service, and tipped THEM. We did use the small dial located beside the door to indicate that the room needed making up. We noticed that some passengers did not use the dial. The restaurants were great, both the food and the service. We enjoyed the Japanese restaurant (twice), Little Italy (no up charge, and it was great) we would have gone back, but couldn't get reservations, Lazy J steakhouse (but neither of us had steak), and really enjoyed the Bistro (we were able to talk the hostess into giving us a table on the last night even without reservations). I think it might be important to point out we dressed appropriately for the Bistro. It appears that they do have a dress code. We only ate in one of the main restaurants once (Liberty). The service there was also very good. Most of the waiters pointed out that we could have as much as we wanted. One in the Japanese restaurant told me the main course I ordered wasn't very filling and to order another one on the side. We had appetizers made into main courses and sides. No wish was denied. I gained 4 pounds, even thought we were active every day. We only ate in the Lido deck on our first day for lunch, and then breakfast on our last day. We did go up and grab coffee and baked goods before we went out for the day. It is VERY CHAOTIC. Many choices and many, many passengers. We walked thru a few evenings after we had dinner. The buffet seemed to mirror some of the choices from the restaurants. The dessert bar was delicious, especially with a side of soft serve ice cream; did I mention the 4 lbs? We did not book any excursions thru NCL. After reading reviews here, I rented thru Thrifty as a Blue Chip member. This should have allowed us to sign and drive in each port. We ran into trouble in the very 1st port, Hilo. The ship docked about an hour late due to rough seas (yup, if you have a squeamish stomach, pack ginger or something to help). We didn't give the Thrifty shuttle line a second glance when we saw the number of people lined up for it. We paid $2 per person for a taxi to take us to the airport to beat the rush. We were glad we did. The line was AWFUL. They had 2 agents, one for the blue Chip line and one for the other. However, no one enforced the blue line so many customers did not have advance reservations and held up that line. We probably lost 45 minutes there, but those that waited for the shuttle must have been there over an hour. Some people left Thrifty and paid the asking price at one of the other rentals. Time is precious when you are only in port 7 or 8 hours. Renting thru Thrifty in all the other ports worked out well. We were upgraded to jeeps in Maui and Kona, instead of our economy model. We used the series of guide books Hawaii Revealed to help us around the islands. They were well worth it. The only organized activities we paid for were; snorkeling Molokini on Maui, Ziplines on Kauai, and whales, dolphins, and turtles on Oahu. If you snorkel at TWO STEPS, near the PLACE OF REFUGE, south of Kona, BIG Island, skip Molokini. Two steps is free, just bring your own equipment, step in and enjoy right from shore. It puts Molokini to shame. Unfortunately we did Molokini first. Princeville Ranch Zipline was awesome, 8 zips and a rope bridge. Bring your video camera, but have a Ziploc or dry bag in case of rain. Also wear closed toe shoes that you can wash or throw away. I left mine there. My personal favorite was Wild Side Specialty Tours on Oahu. We saw whales up close, then moved on to swimming with the dolphins. I have eye-to-eye pictures of them. Go to their website and read carefully. After the dolphins moved on we snorkeled at a reef. The reef was not impressive, but the sea turtles like to swim there, so more eye-to eye pics.
I would recommend this cruise to anyone who wanted to visit 4 of the larger islands. The ship, crew and itinerary exceeded my expectations.