My family and I cruised on the NCL Pride of America cruise Jan. 3 - 10 thru the islands of Hawaii. This was the first cruise for my wife and me.
We boarded the ship in the afternoon around 4pm and embarkation wasn't a problem at all. We reserved an ocean view suite and it was ready for us when we arrived (room 4598), we had 3 rooms all together for our party of 6 people. The room itself was small and the bathroom smaller but it was clean and sufficient for our needs. Throughout the week we had excellent cleaning service provided by Nora.
We tried some of the restaurants (Skyline - twice and Lazy J's) but mostly ate at the Aloha buffet. The food was ok, the Aloha buffet had a great selection of food for breakfast but there were only slight menu changes done for the dinner and lunch offerings. Lazy J's had decent steak and seafood, we ended up paying $30 per person which would have been a great deal if it was on it's own but the steak wasn't up to par with other mid-level steak places (like a Keg Restaurant).
Our main issue with the ship was the restaurant service. Just to clarify we went into the cruise without any high expectations about the service. We don't expect a server to anticipate our every whim before we ask it but we do expect basic customer service for reasonable requests.
On our second night we ate at the Skyline restaurant. We were served by Tamara and had a party of 5 adults and 1 infant. Throughout the meal we were given signals and comments that Tamara was irritated with us. We would ask for things such as water, salad with the meal, an additional appetizer that resulted in Tamara becoming more ruder with her responses and body language (sighing and rolling her eyes). When she cleared the appetizers she commented that we made a mess with the cutlery (we asked ourselves why is she scolding us). After hearing her snap another irritated response about us making a request for ketchup for our child's fries, the whole party said together that we need to see a manager since her terrible service was ruining our meal. The maitre d' that came to our table was named Sonny. I asked Tamara to also come over and let Sonny and Tamara know that the service was not what we were expecting which was simply to have our requests during dinner done without any negative comments, sighing or rolling of the eyes. After the meal, I spoke with Sonny and the Director who happened to be standing there: Alan Munn. Sonny assured me that we would be taken care of when we dine there but in the end nothing was done and the incident wasn't even acknowledged. I don't know what was worse: the terrible service we had from Tamara on our second night of the cruise or the lack of follow-up from the maitre d' Sonny. Other little things we observed throughout the trip that just weren't right with the restaurant service: we had to ask for a high chair and were sometimes greeted with a "it should be over in the kids section"...implied get it yourself type of response.
We had one great server in the Aloha Lounge named: Aton. He was very friendly and recognized us whenever we ate there in his area. But outstanding service was very limited besides that one server.
We also experienced a black hole for calls to the front desk. We made a call for our room to receive beach towels which were supposed to be there but weren't and also for an iron, both of these things never arrived even though the front desk person said they would have someone bring it up. These were things that we could live without so we didn't follow up but we found it strange that they completely ignored or forgot about the request.
There is a mandatory gratuity of $12 per person per day which adds up over the course of the cruise but more importantly I don't see whether the service level we experienced was worth that amount. When I read other reviews online I also question whether this mandatory gratuity amount contributed to the lack of motivation for the crew to not go the extra mile. Thanks to Nora from house cleaning and Anton from the Aloha Lounge for great service, besides that I would give customer service a failing grade for all the little examples of poor service that add up to an overall bad experience.
We brought our 1 year old son and this was definitely not the cruise for small children. There only appeared to be activities geared more for teenagers and above ages.
The cruise was a great way to see the Hawaiian islands and we still love Hawaii and the people we had the chance to interact with. I'm sorry to say that the Hawaiian hospitality did not make it's way among the cruise staff. In summary, I think that we may try cruising again, we probably wouldn't go with NCL if we do go and we would definitely not recommend going on the same Pride of America cruise again.