We are Latitude Members and have always enjoyed cruising with NCL.
Twenty of us were originally booked on the Pride of America for a family wedding. Our rooms were all together. We were transferred to the Pride of Aloha to cabins with smaller balconies and we were all over the ship. Our TA tried to get us together but NCL could not accommodate her request.
Six of us purchased our air through NCL. We live in Vancouver, Canada a 6-hour flight to Honolulu. Our TA called NCL Air Reservations every day for two weeks and they never had any information for her. 29 days before the cruise they finally gave her the flight information. From the time we docked it would be 30 hours before we got home. The flights were already booked and it was too late to make arrangements to stay another day to avoid the midnight flight through SFO. If we wanted to stay an extra day we had to pay $200.00 penalty each.
Every other cruise line gives you your itinerary well in advance of the cruise and lets you have the choice of accepting or declining. Our TA asked about a day room and they said they didn’t have any information on day rooms. On the cruise the shore excursion department had day rooms available at the Ala Moana Hotel for $89.00 and an extra $40.00 for early check in. We cancelled the hotel our TA arranged and opted for the Ala Moana. It proved to be a very good choice and 10AM check in time worked just fine. Of course airport transfers were useless. Why doesn’t the NCL Air Reservations Department have this information?
When we purchased the pre-cruise hotel it included transfers. Our TA advised NCL of our early embarkation for the wedding. On our hotel/pier transfer it showed the name and phone number of the tour operator. I called early Sunday morning to ensure we were picked up at 10:00 AM and they had no information about the early pickup. They transferred me to an Lisa an NCL representative who knew nothing of our early pick up and did not know a wedding was taking place on board. Lisa told me to contact my travel agent. It was Sunday morning and of course the travel agency was closed. Our prepaid transfers were useless.
When we embarked we were told because we purchased the pre-cruise package they had our credit card information on file. On the third night of the cruise when we tried to purchase drinks for friends we were told our credit was no good. How embarrassing! A trip to the Pursers Office with a credit card cleared it up. Why didn’t they call us or give us a letter before cutting off our charges? When we got up the next morning we had a letter on our door stating we were being put on a cash only basis. Of course we had been reinstated 12 hours earlier.
Our shore excursion tickets and luggage were delivered to our cabin by 3:30 PM.
The wedding was arranged through the Wedding Experience and the people in Honolulu did an excellent job. The wedding was held on Sunday at noon. A month before we sailed the father of the groom arranged through our TA dinner in Le Bistro for all 20 people on the cruise. NCL asked for the $15.00 charge upon booking the dinner. On the day of the wedding when he went to make sure everything was okay Le Bistro had never received the information from their corporate office and did not have our table ready.
On subsequent evenings we tried to get a dinner reservation in one of the two dining rooms. The only reservation they would take was 5:30 or 9:00. We all wanted to eat together at 7 or 8 but they would not accommodate us. We saw people waiting for tables and the dining room was never more than 2/3 full. Coffee and water was spilled all over the plates, cutlery and tablecloths. They never made any attempt to apologize or wipe it up. Appetizers, salads and desserts were the same every night. The only change was one main entrée and chef’s featured special.
The food was good with a few exceptions. Sometimes it arrived cold but I think that was due to inexperienced staff. They had no idea how to serve meals and often reached across your plate to pick something up. Room Service took from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. The buffet often ran out of things like coffee and entrees. Nothing was refilled promptly. The fruit on the buffet was very disappointing. The pineapple was tasteless. At lunch one day, two people from our group waited an hour and half for a table in Crossings Dining Room. When they finally got seated they were told it was a vegetarian buffet. Breakfast in Crossing Dining Room was also a buffet. You could order from a very limited menu but they tried to discourage you from doing so and pushed the buffet. On the first night at dinner in Le Bistro we ordered a bottle of wine and they were already out of stock. I heard another couple order four different wines until they found one they actually stocked.
The room cleanliness depended on your room steward. If you tipped on the first day of the cruise your service and cleanliness was awesome. Those who didn’t seemed to have problem. The room lacked drawer space. It is the smallest amount of storage I have ever seen on a cruise ship. An intermittent odor came from the toilet. The floor area was clean and the odor was coming from below. Another cabin had the same foul odor from their toilet. The beds were very hard. When I asked for a foam mattress cover I was told they were out. The first day we had two bath towels only, one had red lipstick on it. There were no hand towels, face cloths or bath mat. When I complained it was corrected immediately.
The ports were wonderful! We rented a car in Kauai, Maui and Hilo. All the car rental companies shuttle buses were at the dock ready to take you to the airport to get your car. Leaving the car at the port was never a problem. Parking was close and readily available. Cars were always available but I would suggest you reserve before you leave.
We never had a Captains Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party or Farewell Party. We never had a formal night. All nights were “resort casual”. When we asked a waiter why no formal night we were told, “There are so many new people none of the tuxes fit”. The toilets stopped working five times. The only movie shown was “50 First Dates” that has been out in DVD/Video for quite some time. The live entertainment was excellent. The magician was also very good. The show lounge had poles so you had to make sure you got there early so you could see the stage. The balcony had an ornamental railing that blocked your view. There were very few organized shipboard activities. The art auctioneer had an auction that was planned during a scenic viewing of the island. All the auction participants left the auction to see the sights and didn’t return to the auction.
The staff were really trying hard to please everyone. When you asked them for something they bent over backwards to help. The Cruise Director Patti had a super personality and an excellent singing voice.
NCL did offer us 20% future cruise credit but as a passenger pointed out they are saving more than that on wages of jobs not currently filled. If NCL wants repeat cruisers they are going to have to make some major improvements. They shouldn’t blame all the problems on the “American” crew, as you can see some of our problems are with the corporate office in Miami.