This review is in regards to a cruise on NCL "Pride of Aloha". Myself, my wife, and several friends booked a cruise from Blue World Travel to cruise aboard the "Pride of America" NCL's newest ship. This was a chartered occasion to be held from 08/01 to 08/07 2004. Earlier in the year of 2004 I was notified by Blue World Travel that the "Pride of America" had sustained severe damage due to a storm while in dock. Due to the damage the "Pride Of Aloha" (which was the "SKY") built in 1999, was going to be renovated to sail in place of "Pride of America".
This was going to be me and my wife's 24th cruise, and as always we were looking forward to this cruise to Hawaii. We had cruised with NCL in the earlier years on board the "Starward and Southward". And we still have fond memories of those cruises. The "Starward" being our very fist cruise. So you can see by the number of cruises we have been on, we enjoy cruising very much. And since we had not been on and NCL cruise in years we were very excited because of the fun and good time's we had on the "Starward" back in 1983. As far as we were concerned there was no such thing as a bad cruise.
And than we sailed on the "Pride of Aloha", BOY WAS I WRONG!!!!!!!!! This cruise was the worst vacation experience while on broad this ship. First the embarkation process by NCL was a total disaster. People started boarding the ship Sun. at noon, pre-registration was done for hundreds of passengers including myself who arrived two days prior to speed up boarding the ship, at the same time prevent crowd's. It was horrible, the buses were dropping people off faster than you could board the ship. I stood in one of the six line's they had turning into two line's to enter. It was a mob scene.
I was in line waiting to board the ship for 1 1/2hrs. I can't understand how this could happen when the ship was docked until 11:59PM Monday, boarding could have been done in a more organized manner. When I entered my cabin I was surprised how small the room was and limited storage space. We had an outside cabin with a balcony and on other cruise's on different ship's the room's were more accommodating and larger. The room was not very clean and I noticed the toilet was not working properly, there was no water in the bowl.
The toilet had vacuum(suction) but no water would go in the bowl after flushing. I considered this a hygiene and personal health issue. It took 3-day's after eight complaint's before someone replaced the valve (5-min. job). On the 11th deck where food was served buffet style, there were only 2-line access to accommodate people. I was in line for over and hour and than told they ran out of food and I would have to get room service, which took and avg. of 90min. to wait. Also I was shocked when I saw people being served with paper plates, and no one waiting tables.
A muster drill was given and no one even checked to see if everyone was out of the room and at their muster station's. Me and my wife stepped out of our room, no room steward or NCL personal in sight,we took about 25 steps down the hall,life vests on when and announcement was made that the drill was over. We never made it to our muster station. There were people just walking around not knowing what was going on and no NCL personal to assist. On all the cruise's I have been on, this drill is very important and an effort is made by the crew to make sure everyone is involved in the drill and the location of your muster station.
No cruise member on the ship seemed to care. When directions were asked of the ships crew, most of them would look at you confused and had no idea what the answer was. The same trash stayed in our room for 3-days until my wife disposed of it, getting anyone to do anything was impossible. The 1st. night we ate in the dinning room (freestyle)from the time we entered the restaurant to the time we left was 3 1/2hrs. There was just not enough people on board to wait on you which was a service that was paid up front due to freestyle dining and up front tipping.
The dining room was always 15 min. late opening up. You were given the same menu every night. The food was not that good in the dining room, and horrible on the 11th. deck at the buffet. The 3rd. day on the cruise I was in line at the buffet and after waiting in line for an hour, a member of the crew layed two chairs down in front of me and I was told they were out of food. (this was the 2nd time I was told this). We could only stand the restaurant 3-times and after that we ate at restaurants when we were on shore.The food quality was very poor on the ship.
I tried the cod fish on 11th. deck buffet, it was like rubber. The tables in the area were always full of paper plates which was being used to serve people, where passengers had eaten. The tables were never cleaned up due to lack of help on the ship. I remember the 2nd. night in crossing's restaurant on the ship, they brought in temporary help to work in the dining room. After a 5-min. briefing by an NCL employee the 3 temporary worker's were cut loose. It was sad, they were following each other around not having a clue what they were suppose to be doing. In the disco there was no one in the club to serve you if you wanted a drink.
You would have to go up to the bar and wait and average of 20 min. for a drink. I saw 2 bartender's in the club to serve way over a hundred people. I am an avid golfer and was told by NCL after noticing in the brochure, NCL recommended that you not bring your own golf clubs. When talking to the NCL employee on the phone I was told the reason was they didn't want your clubs to take up room in your cabin. There is a 2 bag limit, and in most cases a golf bag is smaller than a suitcase. The real reason was NCL was charging $35 to $55 dollars for club rental, and if you brought your clubs there was and automatic $100.00 fee per bag to store them.
People that brought their clubs were not aware of the policy and complained. There were so many complaints NCL dropped the policy for this cruise. I left my clubs at home because I felt it was petty on NCL's part having a policy like this just to try and squeeze more money out of you. Like I had mentioned, this was our 24th. cruise and we paid a lot of money to go on this cruise. We expected what we normally experience on a cruise, good times, good memories, good food, cleanliness, good service. You should get what you pay for, and if you don't you feel like you were robbed.
We feel like we were ripped off by NCL, due to the fact that money was paid up front including tips and NCL was always aware that they were not going to be able to deliver what they promised. This incident that happen with NCL will not stop me or my wife from cruising, but we probably will never cruse with NCL again. I hope NCL will get their act together and get up to the standards that cruising is all about. I feel sorry for 1st. time cruisers on this cruise, because they didn't get a chance to experience what a cruise is really like.