Let me preface this review by saying we were concerned with some of the reviews we read on Cruise Critic prior to sailing on the Pride of America (POA). This was our 10th cruise mostly sailing on Carnival in the past. Our expectations were neutral towards the POA based on some reviews. We couldn't have been more pleased with our cruise. Our group of four didn't take this trip for a 5 star dining experience, casino action, or to be pampered by a conceige. We booked to see four islands of Hawaii. We got what we wanted with a very nice cruise experience.
Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom, deck 7. Although the cabin is small compared to Carnival we had ample room, and a very comfotable bed. The balcony was perfect for watching cruise past the Na'Pali coast. The bathroom is small. The shower is small. At 6' 200lbs. I had enough room to manuever. Our room was always clean and well tended to.
Dining: We never found a need to use any up charge restaurant. After long days touring the islands the last thing we wanted to do was get dressed up for dinner. We did use the Skyline one evening but were disappointed that the food at the Aloha Buffet offerd us more choices. With that we ate most of our meals at the Aloha. The food was always good, the choices plentiful. Don't miss the crepes and the bread pudding with some ice cream for dessert! We also used the Cadillac Diner often. An appetizer of hot wings, the best fish and chips I've ever had on a cruise ship, and a dessert that was a rich chocolate, brownie, ice cream thing was wonderful after a long day. " Sam I Am" the manager was great as was the service of Monica our server.
Staff: I was concerned about some comments about the mostly American staff. Absolutely the most friendly, courteous, and helpful staff of ANY cruise that we have taken. No language barriers! Everyone was willing to chat and share their experiences. It's easy to kid around with Americans because they "get it". Restaurant managers, especially Dave Lillis, went out their way to make sure we had what we wanted. One evening we mentioned we were disappointed that there was no clam chowder that evening on the buffet. Within minutes Dave had clam chowder on our table. That's never happened to us before. Usually managers don't have the time for you.
The Ship: We all thought the POA was well appointed. The USA theme was tastefully done. The decks were laid out well. The pools are FRESH water, which we found very nice. The decks were always clean. The waiters are not constantly hounding you to buy the "drink of the day", but were always near when you did want a drink. Although the shops were small we found the prices to be much more reasonable than previous cruises. Sweatshirts at $22 compared to $42 on other ships.
Conclusion; Don't hesitate to book NCL and the POA as a way to see Hawaii. We rented cars at every stop and toured the islands at our pace seeing what we we wanted to see. If you're looking for a 5-Star cruise, and want to be pampered, then look somewhere else. If you want a comfortable ship, with a great staff and good food, and a great way to see four islands in seven days then NCL's Pride of America is a great way to do it! Any questions regarding this cruise send me an e-mail and I'd be more than happy to try and answer any questions you might have.
Mike C. firstname.lastname@example.org