Just returned from our 5 night Pacific Coastal cruise on the Pride of Aloha. This was our first cruise (probably not the best choice for a first cruise). We arrived early and the check in process went fairly well. Once we crossed the gangway and entered the ship we were left to ourselves to try and find our rooms (my wife, two daughters, and my sister all had three adjoining rooms on the Oslo deck, 6a). There was no one to direct us. After about ten minutes of wandering we found our rooms.
Though small, the rooms were okay. We didn't have any problems with storage. There were plenty of wooden hangers in the closet. However, the beds were like folding cots, since this was our first cruise we didn't know if this was the norm.
We hadn't eaten since breakfast and went to look for something to eat. We found the buffet on deck 11. There were no other restaurants open and no place else to get something to eat. So there were several hundred passengers trying to get in to get something to eat. We waited in line for about 30 minutes before we got in. The choices were not great. By the time we got to wanting any desert, we were told they were out of this and out of that. We hadn't started to move yet and we were questioning what the rest of the cruise was going to be like.
Our biggest complaint had to do with all the dining and getting something to eat. There are six restaurants on this ship. You had to pay an additional fee ($12.50 to $15.00 per person) in three of them for dinner. For us that would have been an additional $75.00 each day for dinner. I had already paid enough for the cruise I didn't feel I should have to pay more for a good meal. "Freestyle" dining may have some advantages but not when you have to wait over an hour just to get into a restaurant and then another hour and a half to two hours to eat. That's what happened to us. None of the dinner buffets ever had any carved meat (except for the first lunch before we left port). It was mainly pizza and spaghetti at the buffet. We didn't experience any of these problems with breakfast. The buffet was okay and we never had to wait for breakfast in the Crossing's restaurant. Room Service is another story. The selection is next to none and when we did order room service they were usually out of half of everything we ordered. There were no midnight buffets we had heard so much about in cruising. There were times during the day you had a heck of a time trying to find someplace or something to eat if you wanted it. When we did eat in the Palace & Crossing Restaurants the food was good. We got to try some foods we had never had before The mostly new staff was trying. You could tell they were inexperienced but were trying. We never had anyone be rude with us, slow yes. Misunderstand, yes. But not rude.
My eight year old daughter loved the Kid's Program. She went each night and had a lot of fun. The timing of the start and finish of the evening Kid's Program did interfere with dining and other activities. The program was from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. But we worked around it so she could go. My teenager attended several of the teen programs and she seemed to enjoy them.
We caught two shows, a comedian who was very good and some sort of musical that was a bit unusual. There were only four cocktail waitresses at the first show. By the time one of them took our order and brought it back there was only about 5 minutes left in the show.
All in all, did we enjoy the cruise? Yes. Did our first cruise live up to our expectations? No. We had heard so much about midnight buffets, lots of activities, being pampered and waited on, large public areas and beautiful decorated ships. You get some of this on the Pride of Aloha but not all. NCL still has a way to go with this new venture and ship. I'm not sure we will go back on this ship. I'd like to try another cruise line and see the difference. My sister has been on a Carnival cruise within the last six months and she stated that the Carnival Cruise ship was much more impressive, larger public areas, there was never a delay in dining and always someplace to get something to eat, and the service was much better. I completed the comment card I was given by NCL. I hope they strive to improve there dining and service otherwise I'm sure they will lose passengers.