In August of 2003, my wife and I booked a 7-day cruise on NCL Pride of Aloha. This would be our first trip to Hawaii and our second cruise. Our first cruise was with another cruise line and could not have been more perfect. For this vacation we researched the islands, planned and scheduled our activities and saved our money for 11 months. To say the least we were excited about our once a year and once in a lifetime vacation. The 11 months of excitement and anticipation would come to a screeching halt at 12:30 pm on July 11, 2004.
My wife and I, along with our friends, boarded the Pride of Aloha and proceeded to our staterooms only to find out that they were not ready. We then proceeded to the swimming pool bar to have a cocktail but the bar was not set-up, so for the next couple of hours we walked around trying to familiarize ourselves with the ship. The one thing that was constant in our walk is that no one on the staff had a clue as to what they were doing. Greeters in the hall by the staircase would ask, "Can I help you find something", but when I asked where the cigar bar was located not one of the four I questioned could tell me. This was a sign of things to come.
After surveying the ship and booking our spa days, we again attempted to get in our rooms only to find that they were still not ready. We then decided to try and eat dinner; this is where things really went to hell in a hand basket! Our first stop was the buffet; the line was at least a 30-minute wait so we went to the Palace, it was a 1-hour wait. Then the Crossings, again another one hour wait. It should be noted that both full service restaurants had more empty tables than full ones. So we consulted our ship newsletter and saw there was a 24-hour pizza bar located on the ship...Hurrah! We asked several staff members where it was located, but again no one knew. When we did locate the pizza bar we stood at it for about 10-minutes before we caught the attention of someone in the back. The young lady that came out then rudely advised us that the pizza bar was not open 24-hours and that if we wanted pizza we could go stand in line with everyone else at the buffet.
The buffet line was a whole new bad experience. After waiting in line for about 20-minutes to get mediocre food and to try and locate a working drink dispenser, our new challenge was to find somewhere to sit. The lack of tables and chairs were a problem but the real problem was the nasty unclean tables where other passengers would pile their dishes to make room to sit. I observed only two people bussing tables for the entire buffet dinning rooms. Oh, and as for the pizza I was instructed to stand in the buffet line for, there was none. When I asked one of the buffet workers, I was told I would have to go to the pizza bar to get it.
At about 7:45 pm we made another attempt to get in our rooms but again, rejected. So we proceeded to the 12th floor to watch the ship sail. This was a great send off; the hula dancers and music were fantastic; the weather was wonderful; everything that was not controlled by NCL was perfect.
At 9:15 we went to our room only find it was still not ready. I called housekeeping and could not get an answer. I then called reception and after being on the phone with them until 9:45, I was finally able to talk to the manager (I believe his name was Blaine). His initial response to me was very rude, I was told that he was in reception and not housekeeping and did not clean rooms. I then let him know that housekeeping would not answer and that there was no one on the floor from housekeeping. The manager then agreed to help get someone up to prepare the room. While waiting in the hall for someone to arrive I observed a cleaning tray with chemicals in it on the floor, a few minutes later a female passenger came out of her stateroom picked-up the tray and stated that she could not get anyone to clean her room so she would just do it herself. At 10:10 pm housekeeping arrived and cleaned our room. My wife and I were finally able to unpack and get some rest.
This was the first day and unfortunately probably the best on ship. Time won't let me detail day by day the fiasco we were subject to, but trust me when I say things did not get better. Service was so unbelievably bad in every area it was inexcusable. With the exception of one waiter in the Palace restaurant, Christian, and his assistant, Sweetie, the staff was rude and unmotivated. The only positive comments I can make about our experience on the ship is that the spa employees and the golf shop manager were very professional and did a great job.
I hold the management and the ownership of NCL responsible for totally destroying our vacation; this ship should never have left port without the proper staff on board. To make matters worse, the management and ownership were on board the week prior to our sailing and should have know of the staffing deficiencies.
My wife and I vacationed with 11 other couples and obtained the personal information of numerous others on the ship that feel the same as I do about NCL Pride of Aloha. NCL needs to step up to the plate and do what ever is necessary to "make it right".