Sail Date: February 2015
This cruise turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, after reading so many negative reviews I was rather dubious about doing it. from the moment we arrived at the ship everything ran like clockwork. In no time we were in our stateroom ... Read More
This cruise turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, after reading so many negative reviews I was rather dubious about doing it. from the moment we arrived at the ship everything ran like clockwork. In no time we were in our stateroom and it was not even 1pm. The stateroom though the smallest we have experience on any cruise ship, had everything we needed. A bonus was the coffee maker which we have never had before, and it was great to be able to make coffee to our taste - strong. Though there was the odd staff member who had forgotten how to smile the majority were very welcoming and made us at feel at home. The ship was clean and staff were always keeping it that way. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants as we found Aurora in the Liberty Dining Room and she made our cruise one we will always remember. She was a font of knowledge and so much fun helping us with whatever we asked for. Her customer service skills were top class. Breakfast was enjoyed each morning on the back deck - Aloha Cafe - sitting in the fresh air and watching the sun rise over our latest port. Most of the ports can be enjoyed by simply walking off the ship and catching local transport or finding a nearby beach and enjoying the crystal clear water. When we did do a shore excursion I had booked them with a local company and they were good. The entertainment was very good about the same on most of the cruises we have done. The Frankie Valli Tribute group was excellent. Would have liked to have seen more of the ship entertainers as the one show they did was very good. Other performers were very entertaining too. Over all it was a great way to experience the islands of Hawaii - my favourite being Kauai. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
Before my wife and I went on this cruise we read all of the reviews on this site and boy was I nervous about what to expect. We have cruised a lot and mainly with Azamara, Oceania, Uniworld and AMA. These cruise lines are smaller and ... Read More
Before my wife and I went on this cruise we read all of the reviews on this site and boy was I nervous about what to expect. We have cruised a lot and mainly with Azamara, Oceania, Uniworld and AMA. These cruise lines are smaller and service is first class so we were wondering if we made a mistake signing on with NCL after reading all of the negative comments. Well now that we are home all I can say to the negative reviewers is "What are you talking about?"! If you go on a cruise ship that is really just a 3-star and expect to be treated like you are on a 5-star ship then what do you expect? You pay for what you get. And honestly the Pride of America is not that bad. People complained about the food. Is it equal to Azamara or Oceania? Of course not! But it's OK. We went to 2 of the specialty restaurants and my recommendation would be don't waste your money. The 2 dining rooms and the buffet are just fine. In fact we never found the buffet to be all that crowded except for the last morning. People complained about the staff being lazy and rude. I don't think we have been on a cruise were someone wasn't nice. They are human after all. And if you say hi with a smile then we found that most of the time it was returned. We were in cabin 9088 and the lady who took care of the room was great! Waiting staff in the restaurants were friendly and helpful. And in the buffet they were very efficient. We have been on Celebrity before where the buffet staff stood around talking while dishes piled up on the tables. This never occurred on POA. People complained about the ship being old and tired. I didn't see that. In fact the carpets looked new to me. And as I said before, they do a great job of keeping the ship clean. And anyway who goes to one of the most beautiful places on Earth to sit on a ship??? The ship is just a moving hotel so you don't have to pack and unpack many times and you get to see many of the islands. OK off my soapbox. Before the cruise: We went 3 days early mainly because Air Canada flies direct to Honolulu but only on Wednesday and Sunday. If you are Canadian be careful of this Rouge thing. We stayed at Coconut Waikiki, a small hotel about a 10 minute walk from the beach. This hotel served the purpose. Not too expensive - included a small buffet breakfast - wasn't far from the beach and downtown Waikiki. But for us Waikiki is too busy, too crowded and too commercial. If we went back we would just skip this area and go to another island. Excursions: 1. On Oahu before the cruise we took a Circle Island Tour through E Noa Tours. It was good - long with a lot of talking but you sure get to see the island. And it rained on and off that day so it was a perfect thing to do since you spend much of your time in the van. And we only had 6 people so you get personal attention. 2. In Maui on the first day we did a Road to Hana tour through Temptation Tours. If you think that you will rent a car to save some money then good luck to you. The road is exactly as described - dangerous with many one-way bridges and passing points. I guarantee that the driver will see nothing of the beautiful country. The trip we took was the Ultimate trip and was great! Excellent breakfast and lunch also. On day 2 in Maui we just took the NCL trip to the beach. Swim, snorkel on Wailea Beach - it was relaxing. 3. In Hilo we took a Volcano National Park tour through Big Island Aina Tours. Again it was very interesting. A long day but lots to see if that kind of thing interests you. I was a geography teacher so I loved it. 4. In Kona we took the NCL Big Island Snorkel trip which is through a company called Body Glove. I only did it through NCL because you tender at that port and I wanted to make sure that we got to shore on time although as it turned out you could do it by yourself with no problem. They hand out tickets for tender boats. Just make sure you get an early one. This trip was also fun. The bay and reef they take you to is quite pretty and isolated ie. no other boats there. You get a lunch onboard and the boat has a washroom. Saw lots of dolphins and whales. 5 On our first day in Kauai we took a photography trip that I found on site. As a side note this site is excellent. The owner gives you Tips at the bottom of each page and they were very helpful. But this trip was not very good. The young man that ran the trip that day was nice but not very helpful with the photography part. And the company charges you to pick you up at the port. Not worth it although he did take you to some beautiful locations which were very isolated and I'm sure the regular trips would never go there. On day two we just walked to the beach which is about a 10 minute walk (if you don't want to walk they have a shuttle bus that takes you to the Anchor Cove plaza that is right in front of the beach). Beautiful beach for the last day. 6. After the cruise we went back to Maui and stayed at the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach. It is a condo/hotel run by Aston Hotels. You are in someone's condo so there is a full service kitchen if you want to cook breakfast and lunch for yourself. It is right beside Whalers Village were there are various shops and an ABC store for convenience items. Mostly we just relaxed and used the beach and pool. We did take the Sunrise at Haleakala. It was with Temptation Tours again which is the same company that NCL uses. But if you wait and book it directly through Temptation then you save a bundle. This trip was spectacular! When you arrive the sky is just filled with stars - no lights to interfere. And the sunrise is so pretty. You are actually above the clouds. But take heed and dress warmly. It was about 40 degrees F on our trip and that was with little wind. Our tour guide Scott said that we were lucky - it is usually windy which of course makes it feel cooler. We also did the touristy Luau at the Westin Hotel. It is located just down the beach from our hotel so we could walk. It was OK - food not bad and the show was what you would expect. Don't get the Premium seats - not that much different from the Traditional seats. And it started to shower so the people in the cheaper Traditional seats were under cover while the more expensive Premium seats got rained on. They gave us a towel - big deal??? Most of the Premium people got up and moved under cover behind the Traditional seated people. Great! In fact unless you really feel an urge to see this kind of show I would suggest that you save your money. All in all it was a great trip to a beautiful place. Would we go with NCL somewhere else? Probably not. It's just that they are the only choice in Hawaii if you don't want to waste time on a cruise ship getting from the mainland to the islands. Would we go back to Hawaii. Of course but this time we would probably just pick an island and stay there. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
January is a good month to warm up. My wife and I enjoyed our seven day tour of the Hawaiian Islands on Pride of America. For comparison purposes our previous cruise was a family affair in Mar 2014 aboard the Disney Line. I compliment both ... Read More
January is a good month to warm up. My wife and I enjoyed our seven day tour of the Hawaiian Islands on Pride of America. For comparison purposes our previous cruise was a family affair in Mar 2014 aboard the Disney Line. I compliment both lines for their attentiveness to cleanliness and hand sanitation during buffet dining as well as specialty dining. The buffet and food was ok on the Pride but whereas the soft drinks were included on Disney; they were not on the Pride. One thing we did discover on the Pride at breakfast was a separate, less crowded single buffet/cook omelet line that opened slightly later than the main buffet. It provided more direct access to the Aloha outdoor deck. Only critique was that it did not have muesli on its buffet line and was a little walk to the main buffet line. On board evening shows on the Pride were ok. Magician was good; exceptional on Disney. Hawaiian culture/history/dance show on Pride was colorful, entertaining and enjoyable; definitely got us in the mood for Hawaiian cruise early part of week. We were going to plan on excursions every day but thought the costs were high. We did participate in two; one was horseback trail, part of which was along the shore; SPECTACULAR part of our whole trip. We elected to rent car in Kauai on day one of two day port call. Loved the freedom of seeing the island on our own; included a drive to the Canyon; much cheaper. Access from port to airport car rental was free and very convenient. Looking back I think I would have tried renting cars more often on longer stays and saving a few bucks and giving us more freedom to see things at our own pace. I will mention we discovered local bus service in Maui at the mall and went to the acquarium at half the excursion cost; ask for AAA and military discounts at the acquarium! Would have been nice the night before if a notice was given as to the noise the anchor makes early in the morning in the Kona tender port. If you're toward the front of the ship it will definitely wake you! Took the Pearl Harbor tour at the end of the cruise. Good way to have transportation included to your hotel if you plan to stay a couple extra days at the end of the cruise. Bad point; closure of harbor on our day prevented us from going to the Arizona site. Missouri battleship tour was awesome. Finally, we found this a good way to visit several islands if new to Hawaii. Inclusion of room and board made it a little cheaper overall than staying at a nice resort and not having to decide which resort. My wife and I both agree that Kauai was our favorite then Maui and the big island. We left plenty to do next trip back.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This is my 2nd cruise sailing with Norwegian in a suite; still my favorite line but I can concur with what I've read about the Pride of America Hawaii cruise. Others said that this ship isn't as nice as most in the NCL lines, the ... Read More
This is my 2nd cruise sailing with Norwegian in a suite; still my favorite line but I can concur with what I've read about the Pride of America Hawaii cruise. Others said that this ship isn't as nice as most in the NCL lines, the food in specialty restaurants is substandard to other ships and the service is totally different. It was still fun, the food was not great but acceptable in the Liberty and the wait staff were rushed and hurried at times and while others went out of their way to be friendly and helpful in both the Liberty and the Skyline. We only dined there twice and that was enough for us. SAILORS BEWARE, NCL DOESN'T HAVE LOBSTER NIGHT ANY LONGER. That was the first I'd heard of that when we boarded and asked which night is was to take place. That was a huge disappointment. On the Dawn our concierge service was totally different than on the Pride. We were not even given our concierge's phone number and all requests we were told were to be sent through our butler. That was different than what I had seen on the Dawn. On embarkation we had to stand in line with the passengers for security check point, and there was no help for bags unless you rounded up a steward with a cart yourself, after security we were escorted to the lounge area for suite passengers. From then on it went pretty smoothly. I wouldn't recommend La Cucina. It was so wonderful on the Dawn and the Pride was so inferior to it. I had the pork scallopini with creamy polenta which I liked but no one else cared for their pasta dishes and they ordered a variety of different things. The suppa was very good as were the salads and bread. They served a gluten free roll and had gluten free pasta choices as well. We dined 1.5 hours and never got dessert because of another appt. we had to be at.. We loved La Bistro as always, the filet of beef tenderloin was about the best I've every had. Don't spend the extra on lobster, it wasn't worth it. Cagney's steak house was great as well. Their fillet Mignon was amazing with their roasted mushrooms.. My least favorite was East Meets West. I would have asked for my money back if I hadn't already prepaid. It was tasteless and what I ordered dry. The people behind us in Tepkeneky seemed to be having a good time. I didn't care for the food on the Dawn so I didn't go there on the Pride. It was very overcooked, dry and seafood was way to done. I imagine it's hard to cook for a crowd like they must do and it be great food. One area that I'd read about being good was the Aloha Cafe. I totally disagreed with the positive comments. We only eat there once because it was so over cooked, over warmed, and just mediocre. We took all our meals in Cagney's and it had a great breakfast and lunch whenever we were able to go. Be sure to try the banana cream pie and carrot cake, both to die for. I was disappointing in the crab cake Benedict though. I would get the regular Benedict. The wait staff in the ALoha were not knowledgeable about any area of the ship but what was right in front of them to serve or slice. I found that very frustrating. When you first board a new ship it's hard the first couple days to get used to which direction to go and not one of these guys could answer a simple question for us. I would question also if half of them were actually American citizens as NCL states. The ship itself had a nice laid back feeling. Everything seemed less rushed, maybe the aloha spirit was present because we all took it a little easy and felt no need to hurry off the ship or back on. I did feel the stewards were a little stingy with bath products. We had to ask for more several times. We were given daily treats, the typical dipped strawberries but we got chocolate dipped pineapple one time that was so tasty. Their crudities were just so so. Room service was on time, pizza not near the quality of what I had on the Dawn. I couldn't believe the difference but the kids will eat just about any cheese pizza. If you need gluten free things be sure to let them know. We got chocolate chip cookies one time, gluten free bagels for sandwiches, and mayo and mustard to take off ship a few times. They will even wrap to go up at Cagney's so don't be afraid to ask. I won't tell about our adventures but will say plan well. We were riding back to the ship with folks who spent their whole first day on Kauai just riding around in their rental, lost. I will tell you know which I didn't know ahead of time, there is NO LAVA flowing on the Big Island. We booked the copter ride there and saw a lot of black rock; HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT!!!!!!!!! It does rain in Hawaii but don't get discouraged. I couldn't get our son to believe that the sky would clear up in a matter of minutes and they all went back to the ship instead of great snorkeling because of rain. Hope this helps anyone looking at the Pride of America.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
The main attraction of the Pride of America is it’s itinerary around the Hawaii Islands. No sea days, hence the on board facilities and the activities program is less relevant then on most cruises. We liked Kuai best and Kona least. ... Read More
The main attraction of the Pride of America is it’s itinerary around the Hawaii Islands. No sea days, hence the on board facilities and the activities program is less relevant then on most cruises. We liked Kuai best and Kona least. Embarcation and debarcation: in Honolulu: smooth without a problem. Stateroom We had booked a cabin on deck 4 mid ship. The cabin itself was well equipped and sufficiently spacious. However, in that cabin is was difficult to get a good sleep because of a continuous, irritating, humming noise (like a vacuum cleaner). After complaining at the reception we were offered a cabin on deck 8 (in spite of the general information telling that change of cabins was impossible as the cruise was fully booked). That fixed the problem. Afterwards we were asked twice whether we were now satisfied: very good service. Restaurants Almost all nights we had dinner at the Liberty restaurant (deck 6), which was fine. There are slight differences in the menu’s of the 2 main restaurants, but if we asked for something that was only on the menu of the Skyline restaurant we could get it without a problem. Food was fine, but nothing special / extraordinairy. The only problem in the Liberty restaurant was that quite regularly opera songs were played loudly over the speakers. In my view that’s a kind of music which is utterly inappropriate as background music for dinner. We ate once in the Skyline restaurant but thought the chairs were awfull. We missed the cosy tea sessions as they are offered on Oceania ships. We were unhappy with the many “luxury” restaurants. Especially the first half of the trip they were practically empty: obviously many guest wer not impressed. They did yet take a lot of public space, and quite often made strange detours necessary (e.g. if you want togo on deck 6 from the Liberty restaurant to the midship lounge). One night we had dinner in the Lazy J steak house, but were not impressed. Hardly better then the main dining room and certainly less nice atmosphere. A wast of money. Uncompable less then luxury restaurants at HAL and Oceania ships. Public rooms We missed a forward looking lounge, in spite of the fact that this was not as important as on other cruise, as the itinerary implied no sea days. Quantity of inside public lounges is a bit limited because of the space taken by the many “specialty” restaurants (see above). Sitting area around the pool is practically unusable if you want to sit quietly, because of the overly loud pop music. However, the back deck (behind the Moderno restaurant) was quite nice and quiet: our favourate place. Entertainment The best we have experienced on cruise ships (other cruiseline with which we can compare are HAL, MSC, Oceania and several German cruiselines). A big + for NCL ! Excursions We didn’t use the NCL excursion program, as we consider it outrageously expensive (as is the case with moth cruiseline excursions). We rented a car in most ports. In almost all ports the rental car company did pick us up from the quai. Exceptions were Honolulu (where onl Hertz offers a shuttle bus) and Kona. In Kona you have to take a taxi to the airport, costing appx $30 one way: makes a rental car quite expensive, although still much cheaper (and nicer) then a ship excursion.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Firstly, apologies for not showing up at the "M&M" - if it happened. We assumed it was to be in addition to sail-away function that was discussed in the forum, but we never got the promised notice in our cabin of the ... Read More
Firstly, apologies for not showing up at the "M&M" - if it happened. We assumed it was to be in addition to sail-away function that was discussed in the forum, but we never got the promised notice in our cabin of the time/place for the event and never saw mention of it on the 'community noticeboard' (after we eventually discovered the noticeboard mid-journey). There are many pluses for the Solstice: great food variety and quality, generous sized comfortable balcony cabins, lots of welcoming crew, interesting venues, some top quality entertainers, good library, etc. My partner had a birthday during the cruise and, even though we didn't purchase a 'Celebration Package', the dining room manager had a scrumptious cake sent to our room and our sweet cabin steward gave us a large bottle of Champagne.... fantastic! But there were several areas where we felt let down when comparing it with the Princess ships. There are no self-serve laundries on board, no self-ironing, and the prices to have some articles done are nearly the price of cheap new ones.... looked like the majority of the passengers felt the same way and didn't bother sending things to be pressed or laundered. The venues around the atrium are interesting, and the floating, huge tree between the lift wells is fascinating, but the black walls in the area of the lifts gave it bit of a sombre atmosphere, especially in the evenings. We were mostly unimpressed with the main dining room upper level (anytime dining) - for decor, structure and organization. The ceiling seemed too low; the square tables for 2 & 4 were so closely packed that it was more like a school cafeteria, and the windows were curved so the view out was greatly distorted - quite claustrophobic. The first couple of nights were chaotic and annoying, with confusing signs for where to queue, but the remainder of the trip went fairly seamlessly, with the same table/waiters. We gave up on having breakfast or lunch there after one go, as the menu was rather ordinary, service was slow, and our preferred selection of food seemed to only be available in the buffet. The buffet at breakfast and lunch is fantastic with great variety and quality. I only tried the evening buffet once - the night after a formal night. We had Beef Wellington on the formal night. I don't know what was wrapped around the fillet, but it wasn't the expected pâté. It was hard and fibrous. I took a small bite and dismissed it. My partner ate it all. The following day, he was quite sick, couldn't leave the cabin, and couldn't get rid of the taste of that fibre. I went up to the buffet that evening to collect some food and was rather shocked to see a few Beef Wellingtons on offer up there, which I would assume were left-over from the previous night. The remainder of what was on offer wasn't nearly as impressive as breakfast & lunch times - made me glad we ate in the dining room all the other evenings. WARNING: Don't comment on anything if you don't want to draw attention and be interrogated about it. The first night we asked for a glass of wine (didn't buy the drinks package as we don't drink enough to warrant the hefty price). The sommelier recommended a wine, which wasn't on the list.The following night we ordered the same wine from a different sommelier and the price was a couple of dollars more. When we queried the discrepancy, she chided and interrogated us: "THIS is the correct price! Which sommelier served you?" When we couldn't remember his name, she bombarded us with questions about what he looked like... the closeness of the tables meant there was no chance of NOT feeling like everyone was watching and listening to the dialogue. Didn't appreciate it at all. Another night the dining room manager notice I had only taken one bite of my "Angel Food Cake", and asked me if there was anything wrong with it. I, foolishly, told him that it wasn't what I had expected - Angel Food, a high, egg-whites only cake was my favourite cake when I was young, back in Iowa, which I never see in Australia, unless I make it myself. What was served was a whole-egg layer cake with a strawberry cream filling. I'm sure many people would have found it delicious, but I try not to eat "Big Tummy" foods that aren't "Big Yummy". It wasn't a big deal to me - I had already had sufficient, excellent food and could easily go up to the buffet if I wanted something else - but he immediately fetched the Pastry Chef to our table and the interrogation began again - offering alternatives. Some people thrive on such attention and efforts to please - I don't. When we were entering the port at Auckland, I was out on the balcony photographing the clear, sunny arrival, Suddenly, I was showered with the dirty run-off from the cleaning of the balconies above! I went inside, changed shirt and dried off my camera. I went out again, when the run-off ceased, only to be doused again! When I complained, the response was, "Sorry, but it's scheduled balcony cleaning. You should have been informed." We weren't - but why would they schedule balcony cleaning while entering a port, when it's natural that passengers would want to be out photographing? Overall it was a nice cruise - beautiful ports-of-call, very relaxing, interesting lectures, but still prefer Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We sailed from Honolulu on Pride of America January 12-19. The sailing experience and ports of call were fabulous. However, we were unable to open the sliding door to our balcony. There were no problems with the balcony door in our ... Read More
We sailed from Honolulu on Pride of America January 12-19. The sailing experience and ports of call were fabulous. However, we were unable to open the sliding door to our balcony. There were no problems with the balcony door in our party's connecting room. We called maintenance, and they came twice. By the third day of our cruise, we could partially open the door, but it took the two of us to do so. Since we paid extra for the balcony stateroom, I thought this was unacceptable. There were also two drawers that could not be opened until Maintenance repaired the glides. The food was just okay, but pretty standard fare for today's cruises. However, the fillets in the Lazy J Texas Steakhouse lacked flavor and were chewy. Since the cover charge was $25 each, this was disappointing. The food in the Italian Restaurant was very good. The service was not as good as we've experienced on prior cruises, but I attribute that to the policy of automatically charging gratuities to your stateroom rather than your server trying to please you. I loved cruising the Hawaiian islands, and being able to use our cellphones every day while the ship was docked in port since we were still in America.Our credit cards were charged $78.67 and $158.45 respectively on the day we disembarked, though neither of us purchased anything that wasn't on our final invoice. When I called NCL, I was told those were customary credit holds that would be released 3 days after trip, though they couldn't explain how they got the amounts. However, the charges are still on my card 10 days later, and I have never been billed for unidentified charges on any of 8 prior cruises. We probably won't use NCL for our next cruise, although I loved the fact that PoA was registered as an American ship so that it could cruise the Hawaiian islands without having to visit a foreign port. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
I spent a few days in Honolulu in 1976 courtesy of the US Air Force and was "stranded" for a little longer stay than was planned. My wife, also stranded, at home with a newborn, has never believed me and for 36 years I have ... Read More
I spent a few days in Honolulu in 1976 courtesy of the US Air Force and was "stranded" for a little longer stay than was planned. My wife, also stranded, at home with a newborn, has never believed me and for 36 years I have "owed her"! Well earlier this month I delivered. We made the trip with her 86 year old mother who is in great shape, and an 83 year old friend of hers who had been to Hawaii on an NCL inter-island cruise 6 years earlier. We drove down from Nacogdoches 100 miles down to Houston Bush and stayed at a Sleep Inn right there by the airport. They kept our car at no extra charge for the entire time. The shuttle picked us up right after 4 am and delivered us to the terminal. We departed Houston VERY early Thursday morning before the Saturday 8/42012 departure of POA and had uneventful flights thru LAX on United and landed in Honolulu around noon. Even security was a non issue. When we landed and I turned my phone on, I had a message from the Outrigger Luana where I had made reservations MONTHS before. As I dialed I thought "Oh XXXX here we go". They had sold out our room category "Partial Ocean View Kitchen", and were offering a two room suite as compensation. Well, considering the age difference of the couples in our party, that would not do, so we finally agreed on two Partial Ocean View Room with no kitchen. Turns out the only difference was no microwave. All's well that ends well and we had a very nice stay there. Good parking, good service, very helpful staff! Their little store has some of the best Aloha Shirt and Mumu prices in Honolulu. There is an ABC Store right across the street, and in the next block and in the next and ... We decided to rent cars in every port and do our own tours. This worked out very well most everywhere but learned very quickly that you do not drive in Waikiki. The traffic is insane! WE ended up walking everywhere we wanted to go in Waikiki and everything is so close to the Outrigger Luana that it worked out fine. What a nice walk to the beach thru Ft. DeRussey Park. We had dinner the first night at Vit's Steakhouse and it was good enough that we went back for brunch Saturday morning on the way to the ship. Friday morning we got up early again and did Pearl Harbor on our own. See my excursion notes below. No problems driving or finding our way. We stopped and had a "Local Favorite" breakfast of Spam, Eggs, and Rice at McDonald's. Way different but very good! Friday afternoon we drove ourselves around the short, east, end of the island and saw the sights. Wow, the scenery is great! We came back over the mountains and I dropped the girls off at the International Marketplace. That was a bit of a disappointment due to it's rundown state. We had dinner at Jimmy Buffett's upstairs. Good food and atmosphere! Saturday morning, (sailing day) we got up early again and went snorkeling at Hanuama Bay. Wow, what a treat. fish and coral everywhere. Spectacular! Get there early. Back to the hotel to pack up and check out. We returned our Alamo car at the Honolulu location and it was a bit of a walk back down the ramps in the parking garage to catch the shuttle. Then we got one of our pleasant surprises of the trip, and it was an example of things to come. NO CROWDS! We walked right up to the luggage door, right up to security, right up to a check-in window and right on to the ship, and right up and forward to our cabins! The whole process took 30 minutes! Another pleasant surprise, POA is beautiful, inside and out. After reading the reviews and blogs, we were expecting, rundown, tired, and poorly served. Well it is not! Inside, outside, public spaces, cabins, the ship is clean, bright, airy, and well maintained. The crew and staff were absolutely wonderful. Another pleasant surprise, the safety drill was a breeze. We were seated in the comfortably in the theater and everything was explained in clear detail and off we went! We departed right on time and started the process of taking the 1666 digital pictures we took between us. Our cabin was just fine. It was out first inside cabin and although it was small, it was clean and bright and well appointed and there was plenty of storage for two or three over-packers. Plenty of plugs for all our electronic gear. The closet door fell off of the girl's room next door but was repaired right away. No other issues at all. Our Steward (Cora) was wonderful. We tipped her very well! Dinner the first night and every morning and night thereafter was absolutely wonderful. The Skyline and Liberty Dining Rooms are both equally good with the Liberty just a bit upscale. The buffet on deck 11 was our "go to" place and never let us down. The food was always hot and good and plentiful. Don't hesitate to ask for something if you don't see it on the menu just exactly as you would like it. They met our every need. The "excursions" are noted below so I won't go into a lot of detail here but I will say that every port was delightful. We arrived on time, the disembarkation was painless, the ground transportation and organization was mostly well done. Maui was a little hectic at first. The one thing I was unsure about went just fine also. When you rent a car and stay overnight at the same port, it is difficult to find enough information prior to departure to be completely sure of how it works but in both cases, Maui and Kauai, the Alamo Shuttle Bus driver was very informative. No problem. Alamo did a real good job everywhere except Hilo. No car at Alamo and they took me down to Avis and had to wait for a car there too. When they finally sent me out to a car, someone else was already in it and about yo drive off. Wrong car in the wrong slot! What a mess! Every other port worked like clockwork regarding rental cars. The entertainment on board was just fine. It is not why I cruise but the two shows we saw were as good as any we had seen on a ship and as good as a couple we have seen in Vegas. The entertainers in the lounges were actually a step above the stage performers and were very professional. However, they have funny schedules. Nothing open in the afternoon. After departing the Nawiliwili port, the ship sailed north past what must be one of the natural wonders of the world. The Na Pali Coast is simply unbelievable and indescribable! We took some very good pictures but none of them do it justice. On the last day, we arrived in Honolulu right on time and since we were taking the Grand Circle Tour to kill the time till our flight at 10 pm, we met in the theater at 9:15 and walked right down off the ship and to our coach. Again no lines! Our bags were there and were loaded right on the coach and off we went. It was a very good tour and we were dropped off right at the terminal for our uneventful but reluctant trip back to Texas. We are joining "Over Packers Anonymous" before our next trip. Summary? Wow, what a trip. We will be back, maybe with a little less planned next time around. Richard, Jeanell, Julia, and Betty Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This is a good way to get a taste of the islands. Unfortunately NCL has no competition. There were several nice suprises based on some of the negative reviews. Embarkation was a breeze, our cabin was clean and well kept by our steward ... Read More
This is a good way to get a taste of the islands. Unfortunately NCL has no competition. There were several nice suprises based on some of the negative reviews. Embarkation was a breeze, our cabin was clean and well kept by our steward (except in seven days he never figured out we wanted turn down, he would come by each day and ask, and each day I'd tell him yes to come by a little later, as he came when we were getting ready for dinner.) You can bring your own water on board, don't fall for their "special pre-board" very overpriced case of water. Irons and boards were available, and my blow dryers were not confiscated as some members stated, and they did not blow any fuses. Be warned, though, the only plug is NOT in the bathroom, it's by the desk. Plenty of storage space and comfy beds. We opted for a bigger balcony on the front of the ship Deck 9 (B6) which was well worth it. With the exception of a surly bartender or two 95% of the help on board were nice; however if you asked questions many times staff was clueless. When I asked one young man when we sailed, he told me "5:30". That was when we were due back on board. I asked another front desk person about the Napali Coast sailby on the port side, and she told me we'd already sailed past it, when we had not. It's clear employees are not given an overview or briefing of the ship, which would be helpful. They have also discontinued the luggage sail away program, disappointing, although they will hold your luggage until 6PM for a fee the day you leave the ship. It would also help if the stewards would give you a little room tour, show you how the shower controls work, where the medicine cabinet is, and that there is a light in the closet (which we discovered when packing to go home). Getting on and off the ship was pretty easy, but the line for the tender in Kona coming back to the ship ate up precious shore time. As for the general areas, the Lanai Martini bar on Deck 13 was a hidden gem with little publicity. It would be nice to show movies in the Hollywood theatre, or at least have them on demand in your room. The shows were lame with the exception of Second City, which was terrific. We did not have Tim Kaminski on board, disappointing as he got such glowing reviews. Pink's Champagne Bar had a following for those in the easy listening crowd, we heard the same Billy Joel songs a few times passing through. The White Hot Dance party was lame, we poked our heads in to see the "Electric Slide", not unlike a bad wedding reception. The food was probably the most disappointing. It was mass produced and it showed. Service was pretty slow, exasperating if you wanted to have breakfast in the dining room. The servers looked overworked and spread thin. I avoided the "chow lines" in the Aloha Cafe. One of our diners had raw chicken, the chef came over after we complained and said he would check with her to make sure she did not become ill. He never followed through. The Cadillac was the only 24/7 restaurant and yes, the sundaes were yummy, but many times it was just too crowded to eat there. When we returned from our Hilo excursion we were starving to find a very small amount of food in the Aloha cafe for us to eat. I've never been on a cruise where food was not more readily available. Anything regarding an upcharge was heavily promoted, sparkling water with dinner or lattes/special coffee with breakfast, specialty restaurants (where service was much better than other "free' dining rooms) and drinks, drinks, drinks. If you sat in one of the bar areas and did not order a drink you felt awkward. This must be a tremendous cash cow for NCL. Would I recommend NCL? If you want to overview the islands, maybe. But I'd tell people not to expect too much. Next cruise I think I'll go back to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
About us: semi-retired professionals, not too fussy, 39th cruise, 13th on NCL, and second on PoA. Cruised with two other couples, all seasoned travellers. Our cabins were extended balconies, deck 11 forward. Our cabin ws 11526 ... Read More
About us: semi-retired professionals, not too fussy, 39th cruise, 13th on NCL, and second on PoA. Cruised with two other couples, all seasoned travellers. Our cabins were extended balconies, deck 11 forward. Our cabin ws 11526 We arrived three days early to adjust to time and see the sights on Oahu. If you plan on doing a tour of the Missouri at Pearl Harbor, arrive early. They only sell a limited number of tickets and there is no reservation system - first come, first serve. We arrived at 8:30 and got tickets for the 10:30 tour. We booked a car through Thrifty on all islands except Kona, and had first rate service and vehicles. Be sure to become a Blue Chip member before leaving home and you will go to a special line. We never had a single person in front of us and the rental processing took about three minutes. You will also get a second driver free. It is usally a $12 fee. This does not apply on Kaui, but when I complained because this had not been in my rental agreement, they took it off. In HNL they will shuttle you from the airport rental office to the pier. the bus runs continuously. Be sure when you rent the car that you pay very close attention to where the office is, because the map in the brochure they give you is wrong and it is not near any of the other return sites. Gas was about $4.59/gal We stayed at the Aqua Palms and it was okay. Very convenient to Waikiki but noisy, with difficult parking and an overworked desk staff. It got great reviews on Trip Advisor but did not live up to the rave reviews. For $99 a night with a beach view and IHOP breakfast included, it was a good deal, but not the great boutique hotel represented in the reviews. Boarding: Arrived at the pier at 12:15 and there was quite a crowd but it moved quickly. We had two carry-ons, which the airlines allow and PoA allowed last time, but they decided one of them was too big and had to be checked. Unfortunately they did not tell me that until I got to the security check point and had to go back to the opposite end of the terminal to drop off my bag then come back and get in line again. Fortunately, we were VIP so the line was short. Security was similar to airport checks. We were then greeted with a lei (flowers for girls, shells for the guys) and photos taken. Checkin was quick and our total time from drop off to onboard was about 20 minutes. Rooms were not ready until 2:00. There was a bag drop at East Meets West restaurant, which is in the main lobby near the boarding area. Unlike our past NCL cruises, the dining room was not open, only the buffet. This was a disappointment since we always like to begin the cruise with a leisurely meal rather than the craziness of the buffet. Cabin: nicely appointed with hair dryer, refrigerator, safe, and coffee maker. There is shampoo and shower gel in dispensers in the bathroom. The shower curtain is of the non-cling variety. The extended balcony has two side chairs, a tiny end table and two chaise loungers. Our steward had not conquered the art of putting beds together properly. He had put the gap guard between the beds, but had not put down the overlay on each side so there was a 4" ridge down the center of the bed. We asked several times to have it corrected but he never did. Likewise, there were no robes in our cabin and he said I'd have to call the front desk to get them (unusual since they are standard in balconies, and our friends had them in theirs) It took three days to finally get robes. The room was cleaned daily before noon but evening turndown some evenings did not happen til 9:00 pm. Ice was placed in the room during morning service which meant when we returned to the room in mid to late afternoon, most of it was melted. No ice was distributed at turn down. To get ice it was necessary to either go to the bar or call room service. None of these were horrific events (well, maybe the bed) but it was certainly a deviation from the service we have come to expect on NCL , Dining: I realize this is very subjective. We ate dinner 4 nights in Skyline (main dining room with more casual dress) 1 night in Liberty (main dining room with less casual dress) and 2 nights at buffet. The menus in both MDRs are the same. There is a nightly menu as well as an "anytime" menu. While there was always something I could find, I did find the new menus less exciting than in the past. The chef's special most nights was fish and always well done. The desert menus were pretty uninspired. Chilled soups were completely absent with the exception of gazpacho one night. This was a true disappointment. The food was well prepared and the presentation pleasing. Service in the dining room was the worst we've had on any of our 39 cruises. Service was painfully slow. The average time between starter and entree was 20 minutes. Dittos for desert, which one night was 30 minutes and another night never came (our server, when questioned said she'd forgotten!) Coffee was usually not served til desert was almost done and one night they could not bring us coffee because they did not have any cups! There was no oversight of the table (refilling of wine glasses, water) and no notice of things like one person at our table of six not getting his entre. There did not seem to be an assistant waiter most nights, just the waiter who seemed very stressed and overextended. There was entertainment most nights in the Skyline, which was always a pianist who played wonderful dinner music and he was occasionally joined by a vocalist or two. Very nice. However, the tables which bordered the stage area were always occupied by staff members. On occasion the wait staff spent a fair amount of time visiting with fellow staff members, ignoring the patrons. I had to get up and tap our waiter on the shoulder to ask for our water and tea refills after we had waited patiently for some time. It is possible to make a reservation at the MDRs. We are early diners and usually arrived at the dining room at 6:00. and had little or no wait time. One evening it was 20 minutes, even though we let them know we were gold latitudes (the hostess haughtily told me she didn't care what level we were, there were others ahead of us). Wow. I can understand if the ship's policy does not favor repeaters but I was quite astounded by her lack of tact. The staff was friendly enough, but we never had a waiter who had been onboard the Pride more than a few months. One told us the xact number of days he had been onboard and the exact number until he could leave. kind of had the impression these young people had signed on thinking this job would be a lot more fun and a lot less demanding. They would have made great camp counsellors- nice but more prepared for play than work. The two evenings when we dined at the buffet, it was actually because we had all found the dining rooms the prior evening to be exhausting. Surprisingly, the evening buffets were some of our best meals-they even had my beloved chilled soups. A large variety of foods and attentive staff. The breakfast buffet had a very good variety of offerings and the coffee cart attendents were always entertaining. Very friendly and funny. There is an aft buffet which has a scaled down sampling of the main buffet, but its hours are different. There is also a grill with burgers, hot dogs and all the extras. Favorite spots: The Waikiki bar on the aft is a nice, open and quiet area. There is a small pool there with padded loungers, so it became our favorite place to relax. Pinks Lounge has a paino player most of the evening and it became a favorite spot as well. The internet cafe is small, but adequate. The library and card rooms are larger than on many ships and quite inviting. There is a chapel and Sabbath services were held there Friday evening. It was used for several meetings, but no renewal of marriage vows was listed as on some ships. The saloon, which is adjacent to the buffet and provides overflow dining area, has sporting events on the TVs there (these were channels not available in the cabin) and had nightly popcorn. Latitudes: There was a lovely and helpful representative onboard. The main latitudes party was one afternoon from 5:00 - 6:00. The captain, who is quite a chatty guy, gave a wonderful history lesson on Hawaii, and drawings were held for door prizes. I did note that the spa did not contribute anything this time. The Wave, the show band, played very nice dance music and waiters circled with free maitais, and wine. Other drinks were available by request. A VIP party was held but since it was at 7:00 pm, we were at dinner and did not attend. Ports: The ports are the main reason for this cruise, of course, and it was a treat to overnight in Maui and Kuai. Disembarking began about 8:00 each day and went well. The ports are all in somewhat industrial areas so there are no grand shopping and dining areas at the dock like in the Caribbean. Each port had circling shuttles for all the rental companies. Note: we did not disembark in Kona, and I understand this was not the case there There were also vans to WalMart and/or KMart as well as city shuttles and Hilo Hatties. In the terminal buildings were racks of literature and we found the tall skinny guides for each island to have good information, coupons and good maps. Speaking of maps - get a real set of maps before you go, if you intend to drive. The rental car and guide books maps are not especially accurate and we lost some time because the maps were not quite right. Maui - our special trip was up to the lavender farm. It is an easy drive and a beautiful place. They serve lunch but it must be reserved in advance. Google "maui lavender" and you will find their website. So calm and beautiful - you can see both sides of the island from the porch while sipping lavender tea and sampling scones. Hilo - I think the VNP is a must see. Currently you cannot completely circle the caldron because of road work, but well worth the visit. There is a wonderful series of videos at the museum at the caldron. After the VNP, we headed to Akaka Falls. Beautiful and not a difficult walk - but not for the mobility challenged and no handicap accessility at all. Between the two areas, be sure to watch for the "scenic road" sign and take it. A gorgeous road with majestic overviews of the ocean and near the end a terrific food and smoothie stop. What's Shakin' is such a treat for lunch or a snack. The macadamia nut pie (little snack size) are heavenly. Kaui - we drove to the end of the island and it was an especially windy day so the waves were spectacular. There were two delightful little churches we stopped at and had lunch at a shrimp truck across from a flea market. We spent the afternoon at the beach on the south shore. The second day we did a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian and it was the perfect end to our trip. Be advised that you cannot wear white clothing in the helicopter and can only take a bottle of water and your camera without the case. They provide you with a locked bag for your things at the office. The pick up point is at the Harbor Mall. If you book through the ship they pick you up at the pier, but if you book on your own you can take the trolley looking shuttle - or walk, it's only about three blocks. Spa: The prices are much higher than the deluxe spas near my home, but we did use the spa as our Kona day excursion. The treatment was well done and facilities nice. The restroom in the spa area has a free sauna and steam room. They are small but fine. If you find the cabin showers confining you may want to shower in the spa where they are larger and there is also a very large handicapped shower. Entertainment: The production shows were only in their second week. Brand new and very nice. The magician was good and comedian was pretty good. Second City was very entertaining. The music in the bars and poolside was the best I've experienced on any ship Bravo! Misc: There was a buy 5 get 1 free wine program. Drinks were about the same price as nicer restaurants. Soft drinks were $2.00 plus gratuity. There is a soft drink program but I do not recall the price, except that it would not have been cost effective unless you drank multiple sodas per day. Security getting onboard each day is done in the terminal and very stringent. Officers, including Captain Buzz wandered the ship regularly and were very chatty. Shopping is not my thing, but there is probably less shopping area on this ship this most. There were two Hawaiian Embassadors onboard to do informational talks each day. They were very informative and also did a commentary while we cruised the Napali coast. There is no casino or bingo due to Hawaiian law. There are meetings for Friends of Bill each day, a Friends of Dorothy gathering and there was a Veterans' meeting, although it was during port time, so my husband missed it. Disembaking: The Pride uses the usual color coded tags, or you can self disembark if you carry off your luggage. VIP's can disembark at their leisure. Rooms had to be vacated by 9:15. The self-disembarking call was made at 7:45 and the first color was called at 8:00. To our disappointment, they no longer offer the EasyFly program, whereby you put your bags out and they were checked through with the airlines. Luggage storage is available at the pier and NCL offers excursions to late flight passengers which store your luggage and deliver you to the airport. Taxis and shuttles were easily accessible the pier. If you choose to shuttle to the airport, the big bus by Roberts is $6 per person. Summation: This cruise was a disappointment because of our previous experiences with NCL. For some time the Pride has gotten very mixed reviews and we did our first PoA cruise with very low exectations but found it to be fine. As such, we thought this one would be the same and that poor reviews were often times by people with unrealistic expectations. I'm afraid, this go 'round I had to agree with many of them. I still feel the PoA offers the best value you can get for a Hawaiian vacation, but the service sector of this ship certainly needs some serious attention. 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Sail Date: September 2011
Rhapsody of the Seas-Hawaii to Auckland September 21-October 6, 2011. 7 nights pre cruise Hawaii Flew Auckland to Hawaii on Air New Zealand, Pacific Economy class. A 9 hour flight, which left on time, 11am NZ and arrived Hawaii at ... Read More
Rhapsody of the Seas-Hawaii to Auckland September 21-October 6, 2011. 7 nights pre cruise Hawaii Flew Auckland to Hawaii on Air New Zealand, Pacific Economy class. A 9 hour flight, which left on time, 11am NZ and arrived Hawaii at 9.45pm, USA time, and gained a day as crossing the dateline. Nice flight. No problems getting through Security etc at Hawaii and Waikiki bus shuttle ($9 one way) to Waikiki Ohana West hotel. The hotel was well located, Tourist standard, excellent air conditioning, pleasant pool, and big Supermarket across the road. Two blocks back from beach, lots of restaurants, but only High end or tourist shops in this part of Waikiki-very similar where ever you went. The Waikiki Beach, Zoo, Diamond Head all very accessible from this location. Nice visit. Like Surfers Paradise in Australia, dont feel any compulsion to return, but its very pleasant and also an entry point to further USA travel. Did a couple of bus Tours, both with pick ups from the Hotel, Pearl Harbour, Aviation Museum, and Mini Island Circle Tour, both good value, and musts for 1st time to Hawaii visitors . Embarkation Ship departed from Terminal 2, Ala Moana Building, ($20 US, taxi from our Hotel) and virtually no queue. Full marks . Royal Caribbean very strict on no alcohol in either your carry bags or luggage, many had their luggage delayed, due to alcohol within the bag. Long delays in getting bags delivered to room due to security approach The ship in general Rhapsody of the Seas built in 1997, refitted in 2007, is again going into refit 2012, getting 3 specialty restaurants in the area of the current Schooner bar. For the age of the ship it was in excellent condition,. 78,491 tons, 2000 passengers with 750 crew, and last yr it won the Royal Caribbean internal award for best ship. With lots of newer ships in their fleet, some feat. We are Princess Cruisers, and with this ship and a repositioning cruise, my expectations were not high, but I was pleasantly surprised, a nice ship, very well set out, and spit polish clean with lots of glass, the Broadway Melody Theatre was a lovely venue , the Atrium area impressive, spanning 6 decks, with spiral affect and glass window view lifts, and the Two tier Edelweiss dining room elegantly furbished. There was a well stocked and large Library, a smaller internet Caf, a stand alone card room, and late release movies played each day in various locations. The ship Dancers and Singers Group were solid, without the X factor of a number of recent Princess Cruise shows that I have seen, but the quality of the individual entertainers headlined each night e.g. Singers, Comedians, etc was as high as any I have experienced on any other previous cruises. Excellent formal lectures, on this trip with a Pacific, with reputable United States University lecturers doing the presentations Royal Caribbean cruises, like others add a US 10.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with you on the ship can also receive something. If you dont like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available. In this instance we prepaid, took any emotion out of the issue. The bars and public seating areas of the Rhapsody of the seas were excellent, roomy and stylish e.g. Navigator Bar, excellent piano playing throughout and a piano/violin father and son combination, played wonderful music in the atrium area. Gym was well equipped, with nice outside sea views, and the Viking Crown lounge at the top of the ship, quiet in the day, and wonderful place to grab a book and soak up the sea view, as the ship proceeds at about 17 knots. The quality of formal lectures/presentation was excellent. I missed wine appreciation and tasting on this ship, Princess does that very well, but not available on this cruise. I did not climb the rock wall, they are a feature on all the Royal Caribbean cruise ships, but many did. No art auctions either, thank goodness; Princess Art auctions have their place, but be wary of their claims and values! The cruise was calm throughout; with a small increase in swell motion as New Zealand got closer I have in previous reports mentioned weather motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises and up the Pacific Rim area. This can be managed by good planning, patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are often not calm, and I continue to be surprised at the passengers who do not understand that reality and are not prepared or ill advised. Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus My Time dining are great options. I found the Royal Caribbean My time dining option somewhat complicated to understand in practice. I had requested a table for 2 1st sitting Traditional dining, but was given seating at 1st sitting at a table of ten, so switched to my preferred option at the 2nd sitting. It worked well for us, often the Headline shows were 7pm for the 2nd sitting customers, followed by dinner, and those in 1st sitting had their dinner first and then went to the 9pm show. Due to age of ship Rhapsody of the Sea principally had only two substantial dining venues, the Traditional dining room Edelweiss for meals or the Windjammer Buffet. Room service with a pleasant set menu, was also available and excellent, and there were a couple of limited menu cafs and Burger joints. The formal dining room quality was better than Princess, seemed to have more taste, the buffet on par. Lots of choice at the Buffet, once you learn to select carefully, you can enjoy very good food. Royal Caribbean room service was also more extensive than Princess, who has a poor reputation for the limited menu they provide for room service, but even so its nice to have an ordered meal, delivered in style to your room, day or night. Celebrity provides the best room service menu, followed by Royal Caribbean, and Princess at the rear. Personally I am a breakfast addict, and both venues above, served comprehensive stylish breakfasts. It is nice to sit at the table, nice table cloth and appointments, and the staff serving you egg benedict, followed by peach slices and oatmeal, followed by prunes, a choice of breads, lots of fruit, squeezed orange juice, coffee of choice, muffins galore, dainty jams and assortments all personalized to you. The evening menu in the Edelweiss was very comprehensive, excellent service and style right up there with any international hotel, one of the obvious delights of cruising. Our cabin We had a 7th floor interior stateroom Number 7145, which exceeded my expectations. As this was principally a sea voyage, with only 3 Ports in 14 days, I decided a Balcony was not justified, and our room was spacious, and pleasant, and the air conditioning excellent The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. Small TV, but excellently positioned. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Nice soft armchair too. Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bathroom shower pressure excellent. There is a safe in every room. . PORTS OF CALL- Only 3 on this repositioning cruise Rhapsody of the Seas like all cruise lines formal ship tours at each Port of Call, they are well organized, and lots of options, they are costly, but the premium you pay, is perhaps made up for by the convenience? Papeete-Tahiti. Ship moors in the City Centre proper, which is great, and a lovely Boardwalk Promenade with Parks reaches out from the wharf gates. The City itself is seedy, very much 3rd world, and like all of French Polynesia pricey. Dont look for shopping value here. Pearl Museum near to ship was interesting. We did not do a tour here, just strolled around, and took lots of photos, when hungry back to the ship? Moorea A lovely Tahitian Island. Ship tenders of the Island, but the view is magnificent and the tender ride to the small wharf also lovely. Nice welcome by locals. Bora Bora Another island paradise lives up to its reputation. Ship tenders off the wharf, coral reef nearby, wonderful views. Did a coral reef, glass bottom viewing tour here. Lots of fish, plenty of time, simple and effective. The small boat ride (20 passengers) took about 30 minutes to get out to reef, and pleasant commentary, which could have been improved by guide using a mike or similar. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We are used to expedition-style cruising on small ships with minuscule cabins, so our small cabin seemed roomy to us, and we were thrilled to have a separate shower in our somewhat seedy bathroom. We had a LOT of storage space and the ... Read More
We are used to expedition-style cruising on small ships with minuscule cabins, so our small cabin seemed roomy to us, and we were thrilled to have a separate shower in our somewhat seedy bathroom. We had a LOT of storage space and the closet had more hangers than we needed. (That was a first!) The cabin was dusty when we arrived, so before unpacking I dusted all hard surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Same for the balcony furniture. Not a good way to start out, but it didn't take long. We were very satisfied with our cabin except for the much overused mattresses. They were grooved down the center from too many voyagers. We did not sleep comfortably in our trough-style beds, which left us a bit tired and cranky. On disembarkation day, I observed that all the mattresses in cabins near ours were also visibly worn out down the center -- it was easy to see when the beds were stripped down. We found the ship to be attractive and especially enjoyed the enormous photos of American scenes at the stairwell landings/elevator entrances. The food in the large dining rooms was ordinary and the service was slow, so we mostly ate in the cafe/cafeteria. We thought the food there was quite good for cafeteria food, with lots of options, and we loved eating in the outside area. The one excellent meal that we had was at the French restaurant, the Jefferson Bistro, which was worth the surcharge. For us the trip was not about the food or other traditional ship amenities but the ports. And the ship is a great way to see several islands in a short amount of time. We wore ourselves out on shore, so I can't say much about the diversions available on the ship. Because of the beds, we will not use NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We just completed the seven day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on the NCL Pride of America. Like many readers, I studied all of the reviews posted on this trip and was apprehensive prior to our departure because of all of the negative ... Read More
We just completed the seven day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands on the NCL Pride of America. Like many readers, I studied all of the reviews posted on this trip and was apprehensive prior to our departure because of all of the negative stories I read. I have previously never submitted a review, but I am doing so this time because I feel strongly that I should counter all of the naysayers. Remembering that nothing in life is ever perfect, I want to say that our cruise was a totally delightful experience. The crew and staff were phenomenal - always friendly, courteous, helpful, and never intrusive. Several of them gave us valuable hints of things to see in the various ports. It was fun to visit with them and learn where they came from and where they had gone to school, what their goals are, etc.; we met several who came from our area and that was special. A real plus was that there was no language barrier. The ship had just the right ambience for our tastes - understated just enough to be comfortable and "glitzy" enough to be fun. Our balcony cabin was wonderful; I believe ours was one of 12 on the ship that was on an end near the life boats that have a curved balcony that gives a broader view line. Yes, the cabins are a bit small, but they are have comfortable sitting and great sleeping; there is more than adequate storage and luggage fits nicely under the bed - and yes, the bathroom and shower are small but you don't spend a whole lot of your day in there! We ate all of our breakfasts and lunches at the Aloha Buffet and almost always ate outside on the aft deck. The view was great and we never had a problem getting a table either outside or inside. Tables were bussed quickly and efficiently. The food was more than adequate; there were always some interesting items and always great omelets, hamburgers, interesting ethnic selections, etc. We normally ate dinner in the Liberty Dining Room and preferred that to the Skyline because it seemed quieter and less chaotic. We always asked to sit in Vanessa and Amy's area and they were great fun. The food was always good - and sometimes outstanding. Desserts were the best. I am convinced that if you go expecting to have a good time, you will. If you go expecting to have problems, you will find (or probably create) some. Remember - life is good, life can be great. It is usually what you make of it. Go and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Arrived in Honolulu on Wed. night after an 11 hour flight from London to LA and then a 5 1/2 hour flight to Hawaii Stayed in the Hilton Hawaaian Village got an upgrade to a sea view room nice surprise. Read in previous reviews about the ... Read More
Arrived in Honolulu on Wed. night after an 11 hour flight from London to LA and then a 5 1/2 hour flight to Hawaii Stayed in the Hilton Hawaaian Village got an upgrade to a sea view room nice surprise. Read in previous reviews about the coffee shop across the road and ate mostly there, cheap and cheerful. Booked through Virgin holidays and all transfers were included so we had no problems getting to the hotel and then to the ship. Arriving at the port there was a short queue but once we were inside the building being latitude members we were able to check in very quickly. Once on board we headed to the Alhoa cafe for lunch, we were still eating when it was announced that the cabins on our deck were ready. The cabin was big enough for the time spent in it and there was plenty of space for all our clothes (we were away from home for 16 nights so we had a lot of clothes). My husbands suitcase arrived in reasonable time but mine was still missing when we went for dinner, when we next checked there was a note asking if one of us could go to deck 3 to claim our case,I had put a pair of scissors in the case and they had shown up on the security screen. We didn't book any tours in advance just waiting until we arrived. On Maui we got the free shuttle to Queen Ka'ahumanu Center the local buses leave from the rear of the center and we were able to go to Lahaina for $1 dollar each way. We decided we would go on a Roberts tour in Hilo and were able to phone and book from the pier in Maui. Wednesday we just did our own thing and Thursday we got the free trolley shuttle to a shopping centre and booked a tour on a trolley bus, much nicer way to see places than sitting on a bus. We had breakfast and lunch in the Aloha and like other cruise ships it was very busy,we found several times that 2 people spread themselves at a table for 4 which is very selfish when you can see people looking for somewhere to sit. I like to socialise on holiday but you couldn't really do this on POA we have been on other freedom cruises and you had the choice to sit on your own or share but no-one seemed to want to share. We found the staff to be pleasant the only time we had a problem was when we requested that our gratuties be reduced (they are discretionary) we bought wine every night charged infated prices plus 15% so they still got quite a lot of money off us, we also like to give our own tips. Disembarkation was a breeze, my husband said it was the quickest he ever got our cases, we were continuing to Las Vegas so again our transfer was arranged. We enjoyed the holiday but will probably try another cruise line next year Read Less

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