This review is several months overdue and as a result I don’t remember some of the names of some of the people who made this cruise so wonderful. I hope they forgive me.
As I just mentioned, this was a fantastic cruise. I was getting a little worried after reading several reviews saying the cruise staff were unfriendly or unhappy, the food wasn’t very good and service was not good. I can tell you we didn’t experience any of this! But first things first…
Background: We are a married couple in our early 40s and we travelled with my parents, in their early 70s and celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary while on board.
Embarkation: We got to the port a little after 11am and had to wait in a long line to check our bags since they were doing it manually because of a system problem. But the line went quickly enough and we were soon through the doors and getting our cruise cards, etc. We had about another 30 minutes to wait before they let us on the ship at noon. There was some entertainment while we waited and once we were allowed on board things went very smoothly.
Food: We found the food to be very good. We ate breakfast at the buffet every morning since we’re early risers and liked to sit on the aft deck and watch the sun rise. The coffee was always fresh and the breakfast choices were very good. I had no problem finding a soft poached egg every morning. There was always lovely fresh pineapple, waffles, pancakes, omelette station, bacon (which was really good and crispy) and much more. The lunch buffet was also very good with a wide variety of fresh food and even more pineapple. The desserts were also very good and there was soft-serve ice cream.
The buffets definitely got crowded but we didn’t find it difficult to get what we needed and find a seat. We didn’t feel the need to got to the sit-down meals but my parents did on a few occasions since they got up a little later than we did.
We ate dinner in the Liberty dinning room once and the Skyline dinning room several times and really enjoyed it. We had great service and made sure we had the same waitress when we ate in Skyline.
My husband and I tried Moderno and really enjoyed it. Again, the service was very good and the food was great. We were so full, it was completely worth the surcharge. We also ate at La Cuchina with my parents and again really enjoyed it. My husband was too full to eat dessert so our server took it upon herself and brought him a plate with a small piece of each dessert to take back to the room. Completely unexpected and very much appreciated.
We also went to the Cadillac Diner a few times. I tried the brownie sundae and had to go back a few times to get one. They have indoor and outdoor seating and we sat outside on our last afternoon in Kauai, looking out at the gorgeous scenery while I ate my ice cream treat.
Room: We had a mid-ship balcony room on deck 8, adjoining my parent’s. We enjoyed having the balcony quite a bit. It was very nice to sit out, even at night or in the morning before the sun was up and watch the stars and the lights as we left or entered a port. The room itself was small but had everything we needed and the bed was incredibly comfortable. There is a small safe in the room as well as a little fridge which we asked to have cleaned out.
Our room stewardess was fantastic. She made sure we had everything we needed and then some. She knew it was my parent’s anniversary and made sure their trip was as special as possible. I’m not sure that she did anything differently for them, or us, or if she is just that great but we never wanted for anything, room-wise. She was very pleasant and would chat with us when she saw us but never got in the way or neglected her other guests.
Service: And that provides a perfect segue to the service. We found it very good and with only one or two exceptions we found the staff to be friendly and happy. We had some lovely chats with servers in the buffet and at the Cadillac. I already mentioned the great service we got from our room steward and we had a problem with the safe in our room, the battery was dying but we didn’t know that so we needed it unlocked a couple of times and the maintenance person came quickly. When we finally realized it needed a battery we let them know and it was fixed within 24 hours.
There was a loud noise right outside our room that bothered my mother the first night and she reported it to guest services the following morning. The woman who took the complaint was very apologetic and assured my mother that it would be taken care of. That afternoon there were maintenance people looking into it and fixing it (it was a vent in the hallway).
Ports of call: We didn’t do any of the ship-organized excursions but we were very impressed with how well organized everything was. In fact, this goes for pretty much everything we did in Hawaii. Everything seemed very well organized.
We rented a car for the days we were in Maui and went to Ioa Valley on the first day and did a snorkel trip with Trilogy on the second day. It is an easy drive around the island and there is a parking lot right by the ship or a very short walk, both free of charge.
We also rented a car in Hilo where we did a doors-off helicopter ride through Paradise helicopters and then we went out to Volcanoes National Park.
In Kona, the ship tenders right in town so we just took the tender ashore and wandered around town. There is a very small beach and swimming area right by the tender dock and a nice market with local vendors selling everything from typical tourist “stuff” to fruits and veg to some more unique gifts.
We were going to rent a car for a day in Kauai but were tired by that time so we chose not to. There is a beach very close to the port and they have free shuttles if you don’t want to walk. The beach was gorgeous to swim and play in the water. There isn’t a reef so there aren’t any fish but the water was a great temp and it was nice to just sit and relax.
Disembarkation: We didn’t have anywhere to go once we got back to Honolulu so we stayed on board until almost 10am. The process was almost as painless as boarding except of course our holiday was over.
Other: The one drawback was the music. We were sailing just a week before Christmas and although I expected Christmas music, I did not expect it to be so loud. Especially at 6:30am or when I’m having a romantic meal in a specialty restaurant. I don’t know if they always play the music so loudly but if they do, they might want to turn it down a couple of notches.
All in all, this was a fantastic holiday. If you are a seasoned cruiser, I can see why this might not be the best choice. The ship is more like a floating hotel since you are in a port and able to get off the ship every single day. This might not appeal to everyone but we really liked it. We also liked the freestyle dinning. I think that holidays are always what you make of them but the staff and crew on the Pride of America helped make it very easy to have a great trip in an outstanding location.