The best thing about this cruise, is NOT the ship... but I think that is the whole point. If you view the ship as a hotel which transports you around the islands while you are sleeping, you will do just fine.
For me, this was certainly a better way than flying from island to island and staying in a hotel - having to pack and unpack each time. Now that we have seen some of the ports, we can look at staying 3-4 days at a couple of the ports we liked best, next time.
I had read some reviews that noted the distinctly lower level of service on this ship. I have only sailed on a Royal Caribbean cruise before, but will confirm, there is definitely a lower standard on Pride of America. It really felt like the staff were only doing the least possible on most occasions instead of trying to make an exceptional experience for the passengers. I know it is hard to be happy and pleasant the time, but how about 50% of the time? There were exceptions of course, notably Henry in the Liberty dining room, who was "attentive" rather than just a food order/delivery person.
The food in the complementary dining rooms was actually pretty good, and if I took another Freestyle cruise, I would only eat at these and would avoid any upcharges for the "specialty" restaurants, which didn't impress any of my group of 4 at all.
We ate at Little Italy ($10/person upcharge + water + coffee), which we thought was simply a themed restaurant with the same quality food from the other dining rooms.
We also tried the Teppanyaki ($25/person upcharge + water + coffee. Food was average but the Chef Skills Show was pretty good around the hot plate - much like any Benihana. After waiting 20 minutes for our dessert to arrive and no coffee, we decided to skip it and just leave.
Lazy J Steakhouse had a wider selection of steaks than the complementary restaurants, but again the results were not worth the ($25/person upcharge + water+coffee)
Wine is extra no matter where you dine and the prices were not too over the top.
There were quite a number of little elements that seemed to indicate that the ship was running on a tight budget. When we ordered martini's at the bar, they appeared with the olives, but the pimento was missing. At every turn there appeared to be a charge for this that or the other... you even got an offer to sign up for an NCL Credit Card.
Now for the good stuff:
The food was actually pretty decent in the complementary dining rooms - stick to those. Breakfast was quite good, head to the Aloha Cafe, grab your food and head to the very back (Aft) where there is an outdoor seating area - very nice.
Getting on and off the ship was a breeze in any port and there was always plenty of transport available at the dock for rental car shuttles, free bus or trolley to nearby WalMart, K-mart, shopping areas and even beaches.
We rented a car in each of the overnight ports and had a lot of fun by ourselves.
There are hand sanitizer stations located throughout the ship and sharp shooter staff with squirt bottles of the stuff as you walk into any dining area.
There is a wide array of excursions available, Helicopter is a bit spendy but worth the trip in Hilo. Captain Zodiac was another which should not be missed.
While the ship is getting a little dated, most of your time is really spent on land or sleeping.
If we hadn't gone to the specialty restaurants I would give this cruise a 7 out of 10, but it only gets a 6.