My family of four sailed on the inaugural Pride of Aloha sailing from San Francisco to Los Angeles on June 7 through June 11. The ship stopped in Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. My philosophy is that every cruise is a good cruise, but some are better than others. This was the worst cruise I have experienced. I’ve cruised eight times on most of the different cruise lines. It was still better than being at work.
The ship just came out of dry dock where it was refurbished with a Hawaiian atmosphere and now is a United States flagged vessel.
Embarkation was terrible. The ship was supposed to begin boarding at 2:30 PM but didn’t start boarding until after 3:00PM. We stood on the sidewalk in the sun and wind for almost 3 hours until getting inside the pier to register and board. No one at NCL seemed to know what was going on. Passengers were calling out groups so we would know it was our time to register.
The only bright spot was our inside cabin was upgraded to a balcony because the inside cabin was not finished. The carpet was still being laid in many cabins throughout the cruise. Once on ship we headed for the Hukelau Café since we were starving. While we were eating the muster drill went off on time even though there were still hundreds of passengers still on the dock registering. The ship sailed about three hours late. The excuse used for the entire cruise was that the ship had come out of dry dock and things were being worked out.
The main problem with the Pride of Aloha is the service. All of the employees are United States citizens and do not give the excellent service I have experienced on all my other cruises. They have no incentive to provide excellent service because you do not tip them personally. There is a $10 per person resort charge per day. I tried to lower my service charge but was told I could not do this because it is a resort charge not a service charge. The employees will receive the same tip no matter how well they serve the passengers.
Dinner took at least 2 hours each night. The only area that I was pleased was the cabin girl. She kept the small cabin clean and tidy like I’ve experienced on other cruises.
Food was average. Entertainment was good. Tenders were unsafe. The first day in Monterey the employees on the tenders looked like pirates. In Santa Barbara NCL had them wear a uniform but the results were the same. Inexperienced tender employees rammed into a parked boat in the harbor of Santa Barbara. They didn’t know how to tie the tender up to the ship properly so it was dangerous to get on and off the tender.
I hope NCL can get their act together and make this idea work. They have a marketing advantage with the Hawaiian cruise market and a US flagged vessel. I hate to say it but the US employees are not hard workers and do not give the service that one would expect on a cruise. There was a lot of goofing around and talking that I’ve not seen before. I would not cruise again on The Pride of Aloha unless I see that the service has improved.