After months of researching vacation options for my spouse and I, we decided to try cruising with NCL's Pride of America.
First off I should state that this was the first cruise we have ever been on and that our ages are between 25-38. I feel it is important to mention this because we had high expectations of night life on this cruise which is few and far in between. Night life consists of magic shows and comedians; not parties and bar life. This was disappointing for us.
When we arrived, check in was somewhat annoying. The lines seemed to go on forever and we waited until 8:00 for our luggage to arrive at our stateroom. The first evening we ate at East Meets West. This is deemed a specialty restaurant, but I must warn you, I did not find anything special about it. The temperature in the restaurant was so cold that people were wearing sweatshirts over their dresses. The food was average at best. It was a disappointing way to begin our vacation. I had been to Hawaii before with Perillo tours ( this is a land tour). My experience with Perillo was professional and top notch all the way.
I am not going to sit here and complain about the size of the stateroom (I was expecting small). The room was cleaned throughout our trip and I found the staff on the ship to be professional and courteous. Not the same can be said for the guests who were on the cruise. The second day we ate breakfast ate the Aloha Cafe (the buffet). While the food was tasty and plentiful, the guests on the ship were rude. People were bumping into each other rushing to get their food. It was not relaxing and more stressful than anything. This was not something I was used to dealing with while on vacation.
We booked 3 excursions with NCL. My advice is to do your research. In most cases it is cheaper and more enjoyable to rent a car and see things on your own. We did this twice and loved every minute of it. During the day there is not much to do on the ship. The live music is almost nonexistent. Before I went on this cruise I was told that there is food available at all times. This is NOT the case with NCL POA. In fact after 9:30 at night nothing is available to eat besides room service. Between 4:00 and 5:30 there is also nothing available to eat. We did zip lining in Maui (cheaper if you booked on your own), Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel in Kona (worth going with NCL) and the Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu. The Pearl Harbor tour was awful and a waste of time and money. They ended up taking us to McDonald's for part of the excursion time as they ran out of things to do. We payed $55 a person and the tour of Pearl Harbor was free so it was a real waste of time and money doing this tour when we hardly saw any of Honolulu. Save the money, rent a car and do this yourself.
As for the rest of the cruise experience. Little Italy, Jefferson's Bistro, and Lazy J's Steakhouse were all excellent and worth the money. We ate in the Liberty Dining Hall one night and that was so/so. Although they tell you reservation is not necessary, my advice is to make a reservation if you don't want to end up eating after 9 every night. I loved Hawaii, but rent a car if you decide to go on this cruise and do it yourself. If you are on the fence about going on this cruise, I would say look into other ways to see Hawaii that will leave you with the experience I had with Perillo. Vacationing should be relaxing and I did not find this cruise to be relaxing at all. This was our first and last cruise vacation. Hopefully if you do decide to go on this cruise you will have a better experience than we did.