We just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Pride of Aloha which stood out as one of best cruises we have ever taken. We travelled with a group of 17 friends aging from 50 - 60. This was our 7th cruise and first with NCL. We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary and the 3 overnight stops in Honolulu, Kauai and Maui. We arrived 2 days early which I would recommend if you are travelling any distance to give you a chance to get rested before getting on the ship. We stayed at the Resort Quest Waikiki beach which is a nice hotel and good location at the far end of Waikiki beach near Diamond Head.
2 days before we boarded the ship for our vacation the crew were told this ship was leaving Hawaii and they were given layoff notices so whether or not that had something to do with the service I am not sure but the ship seemed to be under staffed and a lot of them seemed to be doing jobs they had not done before.
DINING EXPERIENCE I am going to start with the not so great about the ship. The dining on board definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Service was very inconsistent and dependant upon the server. A couple of nights we had great service and it felt like we were on a typical cruise ship. The other nights unfortunately were not good. Most nights the dinner experience was very slow, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. There were typically 8 of us dining together.Other than being slow our frustrations came from silly mistakes that would typically not happen in any restaurant like tea but no hot water, drinks that were ordered before dinner would arrive just before dessert, salt and pepper shakers not filled, butter for the lobster arrived after we had eaten. Incorrect orders. We ate in both the Palace and Crossings and had 1 good experience in each.(Coincidence or not both those nights the wait staff were not American) We ate one evening in Pacific Heights to celebrate one of the girls birthdays and service there was excellent. We ate in Longboards. They serve roadhouse style food and it was good. Might want to go get your own drink at the bar outside though if you are thirsty. I must say we didn't have any complaints about food quality in the restaurants. It was always good. Food at the Buffet was good but nothing special. On the pool deck if you can find Danielle she gave us great service.
SHORE EXCURSIONS Shore excursions were amazing. We booked a combination of tours through NCL and Roberts. Did 4 tours with NCL - we booked all these excursions ahead of time on line and all our tickets were in the room the day of arrival. Kauai - helicopter tour through NCL (beautiful scenery - experience of a lifetime) Kauai - kayak and jungle falls tours NCL (fairly easy paddling, more strenuous hike to the falls) Kona - Captain Zodiac raft and snorkel NCL(great snorkeling and a fun ride, saw whales and dolphins)not recommended if you have a bad back. Maui - Molokini snorkel NCL (great snorkeling, lots of fish and turtles, more whales again) We toured Volcanoes National Park with Roberts Hawaii and friends did Haleakela crater and some other tours with them all of which they enjoyed. While in Kauai we took a taxi to Poipu beach. ( a $50 cab ride each way but we had 6 to share so not too bad) There is a deli there which sells reasonably priced munchies, washroom facilities and we shared the beach with 2 Monk seals which was pretty cool.
ENTERTAINMENT Production team was good but not great. The shows on board were entertaining. Comedian (Bud Anderson)was funny. Saw all 3 of his shows.
There seemed to be a good selection of evening activities although the ship seemed pretty empty later in the evening.
The assistant cruise director Mike and his team do a good job of entertaining people around the pool during the day. If you are young or young at heart you will enjoy them in the Blue Hawaii in the evenings as they get people involved in the typical cruise games and dancing. We went there every night it was a fun way to end the day.
Lots of lounges to choose from but we didn't get to all of them.
This was one of our best cruises we have taken and a perfect way to see the beautiful Hawaiian islands, but not for you if you expect service like you would get on an international cruise. We would go back in a heartbeat. We did not have a drop of rain the entire time and saw more humpback whales than we could have imagined. Wish we were still there.