Sail Date: January 2009
My dear mother-in-law wanted to see Hawaii "before I die" so three weeks before she turned 91 she took my husband, myself and our son on NCL Pride of America. We sailed January 3rd, 2009. The embarkation was very smooth; we were ... Read More
My dear mother-in-law wanted to see Hawaii "before I die" so three weeks before she turned 91 she took my husband, myself and our son on NCL Pride of America. We sailed January 3rd, 2009. The embarkation was very smooth; we were able to obtain a wheelchair curbside for Mom, personnel were polite and helpful. Our rooms were small, but ready for us. We have all cruised before, so were expecting great food, great service and great times. So far so good. By the end of the cruise we were disgusted. Our room had been vacuumed down the middle every day; there was dirt and garbage under the bed from previous passengers, and along the edges of the carpet. Because one of our pillow cases was turned seam-side-out the second day, we knew the linens were not changed after day two. Also by day three, our towels in the bathroom were stained with yellow streaks (probably sunscreen - just guessing but ya'all know how sunscreen stains show up on whites after washing and drying)and black spots but come on - stained towels should not be hung in guest rooms!; the bathmat the last day had holes in it so big that you could not have dried a dog with it. I took pictures of the towels and bathmat and took them to the help desk; she was "appalled" but nothing was done. So I lowered the mandatory $12 fee per day per person. She was NOT happy about that! "Should you punish the other employees who gave you good service?" Many guests were talking about the cute towel critters that showed up on the beds at night...what critters? We had none. Not a big deal,I know, at least we got the chocolates!(there would have been fur flying if he forgot the chocolates, too!!!) On the plus side, our steward did let us have some ice for our little cooler when we left the ship each day. Now the food...we were impressed the first day by the Aloha Cafe. We ate there the first evening and then for breakfast the next day. It was good, it was hot, we were impressed with the variety for the first few days. All the coffee/juice machines were up and running. Even the outside buffet was up and running. The second evening we ate in the main dining room. Now, we were told there was a dress code. So we all got gussied up and headed out - only to see many diners in jeans, shorts and T-shirts - some men in the longer bathing suits and tank tops. Okay, we are pretty laid back folks, so we figured the rules were only suggestions. It took forever for our food to come. Mom eats very slow, and the waitstaff were not happy about that. They all seemed to disappear if we needed something. The food was so-so, not great. Mom preferred the Aloha Cafe as she could take as much time as she needed to eat and choose what she wanted. By the 4th day we realized the menu never varied, and each day the freshness was worse. Some of the pastries could have been used as hockey pucks (go Red Wings!)...the outside buffet was down to a few items for breakfast and the beverage machines out there were "out-of-order". The juice dispensers two days in a row were dispensing mostly water. When we complained, nothing was done. That is another thing - complaints were never worth the trouble or time. Each day the food and service were worse. When I mentioned it to an employee in another area of the ship I was told they do that on purpose so we would start eating at the restaurants we had to pay extra for!We did eat at Teppanyaki for our son's 21st birthday. We had arranged for a birthday cake but they acted like they never heard of doing that. It finally came, partially frozen. It was fun to watch the chef, but the food wasn't all that great. It was okay, but the steak wasn't as tender as we expected. On a side note, the other group at the table were told the extra cost was $15 per person not $25 per person. They raised a real ruckus when the bill came, which was uncomfortable for everyone else; not that I blamed them. We had reservations and still had to stand around for almost 30 minutes. I finally asked for a chair for Mom and suddenly our table was ready. We had two waitstaff - who were not the friendliest. The waitress turned out to be the same one we had a problem with at the Cadillac Diner the day before - she forgot to bill us for our shakes and when we realized that as we were walking away, we came back but were told by the manager the shakes were on them. We could see her getting a talking to as we left. I saved up my pennies for months to splurge on myself at the spa. I was not disappointed. It was incredibly expensive, but I felt so pampered. Hey, every gal should do that at least once in her life! The facial was wonderful and I got a pedicure, too. When the cheapy flip-flop broke, flipped up and smeared all the polish on my left foot, the woman was very gracious and redid the polish. She was professional all the way and I felt so relaxed and pampered. Kudos to her! She was the assistant manager. The shore excursions were expensive. Because Mom had trouble with steps, we rented vehicles four times. We wanted to go snorkeling but didn't want to pay $100 per person for about an hour in the water. So we found a Boss Frog Surf Shop on Maui, rented our gear for under $30 total(including Rx mask);the owner directed us to an awesome snorkeling beach where we waddled into the water (how else would you describe trying to enter the water with fins on? We laughed ourselves silly!)and the reef was 20 feet from shore with so many colorful fish, sea urchins, coral and other critters. We did do the ship excursion Luau;so-so food but the show was great. Someone else mentioned the long, long wait for the bus back but we lucked out and got on one within 20 minutes. We drove the road to Hana on Maui and it was so awesome! Would do that again! Just be careful about buying food from the side of the road...we asked at one spot to use the restroom and were told they didn't have one, not even running water. On the way over to check out the BBQ, I noticed the "chef" putting raw chicken on the grill then dishing cooked chicken up...and I didn't see him clean his hands in between...gag. Also, there are very few restrooms the whole way so when you see one, use it! One serious flaw we experienced - doesn't this ship have stabilizers? The waves out at sea were reported at 5-7 feet but that ship rocked back and forth so much even the staff were staggering. With Mom being nearly 91, we were having to hold on to her all the time. We have cruised Royal Caribbean with much bigger waves and you could hardly feel the waves on that cruise. Mom was afraid to take a shower unless we were in port. So if you are elderly, beware. All in all, I doubt we will ever cruise NCL again. Very disappointed in food, service and cabin cleanliness. As a "traveling hotel" it was one expensive hotel. Even though we complained, on the ship and to the cruise line when we returned home, I felt that not one employee really cared. Save your money and just go to Maui or Kauai or both. We loved those two islands the most and will return to them - but not to NCL no matter where they go!I am wondering if adding the mandatory $12 charge per passenger per day has anything to do with the poor service. Why should they make any effort, extra or normally, if they are guaranteed their portion of that money? Hmm, just a thought. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
We were not expecting much but were pleasantly surprised. Decor is attractive and reflective of ship's name. We enjoyed the large murals on stairways and had little trouble getting elevators when we wanted them. Every crew member ... Read More
We were not expecting much but were pleasantly surprised. Decor is attractive and reflective of ship's name. We enjoyed the large murals on stairways and had little trouble getting elevators when we wanted them. Every crew member we had contact with was extremely friendly, helpful and efficient, and our cabin was kept clean, well-stocked, and we received anything we asked for quickly and with a smile. The food wasn't as gourmet as on other cruises, but there were plenty of options and we had no trouble finding lots to eat. The only specialty restaurant we went to was Little Italy, which was excellent and well worth the extra $10, we thought. We had cars rented on every island (through Hawaiidrive-o.com)and also did 3 tours through the ship, so we felt that we really saw and experienced a lot of the islands by the time our week was over. We also flew into Honolulu two days early and strongly recommend that to deal with the travel/time issues before boarding the ship. The processes of boarding and leaving the ship were extremely well organized and we never had to wait to get on or off. Our main complaint would be that every communication we received from the ship seemed designed to sell us something...and we also felt that the pricing for beverages (other than water and iced tea...when we could find it) was extremely inflated. I highly recommend purchasing the books by Andrew Doughty - Oahu Revealed, Hawaii Revealed, Kauai Revealed and Maui Revealed - unbelievably great reading and such detail, maps, recommendations, etc. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was our 5th NCL cruise and was booked "spur of the moment". The price was about right, we love Honolulu and the Hawaiian islands, so what could we lose? We had heard numerous negative critiques about earlier sailings of this ... Read More
This was our 5th NCL cruise and was booked "spur of the moment". The price was about right, we love Honolulu and the Hawaiian islands, so what could we lose? We had heard numerous negative critiques about earlier sailings of this particular ship because NCL, in order be in compliance with the Jones Act which requires that only US citizens may be hired as crew members when no foreign port is part of the itinerary, hired only Americans. People told us that both cabin and dining room service was poor, crew members rude, lazy, etc. because the college age Americans simply refused to work the very long cruise ship hours,(no 8 hour days for the staff members as all cruisers know). Reading Cruise Critic members' positive reviews helped us make our decision to give it a try. Fortunately, that earlier situation has changed. The crew is still American, but many were naturalized citizens, or older, or eager Hawaiians willing to work when jobs are scarce in Hawaii. We were very pleasantly surprised with the customary excellent service of our cabin steward and the dining room waitstaff. Anyone who has sailed on NCL ships knows that they are not stuffy. Life was particularly laid back on this Hawaiian island Thanksgiving week cruise. We enjoyed our 7 days very much and certainly would recommend this cruise. Embarkation was the best we've ever experienced on any of our cruises. We got upgraded from an inside cabin to a balcony cabin for an additional $50 per person once for the entire cruise. However, the cabin actually seemed smaller because we had the balcony. It would have been nicer if the occupant in the cabin next door hadn't smoked cigars or been on his cell phone a lot. It is too bad that smoking is permitted in cabins and balconies. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
I need to start off by saying we have been to Hawaii at least 7 times in 30 years. This was the first time we tried a cruise. I felt sorry for first timers, since in almost every port we docked by industrial containers and that is not a ... Read More
I need to start off by saying we have been to Hawaii at least 7 times in 30 years. This was the first time we tried a cruise. I felt sorry for first timers, since in almost every port we docked by industrial containers and that is not a pretty sight. In Maui, which is beautiful, NCL could have anchored on the other side by Lahaina and tendered like other ships. This would have been so much nicer since we were there overnight. People could have just gone ashore and explored Lahaina without renting a car. We left the ship for the night and stayed at the Hyatt on Kaanapali beach where we always stay. That was probably the best part of the cruise. Kauai was not to bad but it was by the industrial containers again. If you were on the starboard side you stared at containers for 2 days. We did not book any excursions since we have been there so many times before. We did rent cars on Maui and Hawaii and went to places that we enjoy. The check-in process was very fast and easy, but that is where it stopped. When you walked on board into the main area it was very closed in and oppressive feeling. Heavy drapes and Victorian era furniture. Expected the ship to be very light with a feeling of Hawaii. Absolutely not the case. No feeling of being in the islands at all. The "sail-away" party on deck was accompanied by rock and roll music. Hawaiian music would have been wonderful and helped with the Aloha feel, which was totally lacking. We could not get into our cabin until after 3pm which seemed long. On RCL your cabin in ready by 1pm. We thought we were ready for the small cabin since we had read about it in the reviews. Were we ever wrong. It was difficult for two people to be moving around at the same time. Hardly any storage (drawers especially.) Closet was almost useless. Bathroom was small, but not to bad. Our cabin steward, Jemma, was absolutely wonderful. She fulfilled our every request and kept our cabin clean with ice in the bucket. We also had a wonderful waiter in the Skyline Dining Room, Juan Gonzalez from the Dominican Republic. Every staff member we encountered was helpful, polite, friendly and truly went out of their way to help. We ate in the Aloha Buffet in the mornings and that was good, but they ran out of things very early and only had very greasy bacon, hash browns, and chopped potatoes. All of the other food we ate was very bad. The food in Little Italy was almost edible and the dining room was not much better. We also ate in the Steak House and it was somewhat better. Not even close to comparing to Chops or Portofino's on RCL. I will not write reviews for each port as they are all different and each have their own personalities and experiences. Hawaii is very beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
It was fun watching my sister see the ship for the first time. It was a WOW moment for her. She could not believe that there were bigger ships than the POA. The POA (Pride of America) is a very nice ship. Very clean and fairly easy to ... Read More
It was fun watching my sister see the ship for the first time. It was a WOW moment for her. She could not believe that there were bigger ships than the POA. The POA (Pride of America) is a very nice ship. Very clean and fairly easy to learn your way around, at least after that first day which can be a little frustrating to newbies and oldies even until you are able to get your bearings. The cabin was a balcony on the ninth deck, aft. It was efficient after we got all our things put away and suite cases stored under bed. We worked out a routine for back and forth to the bathroom since space was at a minimum. This room would make a great singles room if one bed was removed but it worked. We did not see our cabin steward very much but when we did ask for anything he took care of it very efficiently. The food on board was very good. We ate at Little Italy and the Japanese special restaurants and they were wonderful. In the Japanese we were in the area where you are at tables where the chef cooks right in front of you. It was good fun, everyone should go there. The cover charge for each was very reasonable. We also ate at the Skyline main dining room 2 times for evening meals and the service and food were very good. We also did breakfast each morning at the Aloha Cafe buffet as we had excursions to get to. The food there was also very good with a lot of variety to choose from. My sister and I were very fond of the prepared granola with mixed berries on top. It was wonderful. Of course the deserts at lunch time and dinner time were very good in the buffet as well as the dining room. We booked excursions mostly through NCL as we wanted to be sure and not miss the ship. The excursions at all stops were very well organized and the drivers were very informative and entertaining. We loved the luau on Kauai put on by NCL. The food was good and the show superb. We also did an excursion on Kona through Roberts for snorkeling and that was wonderful. I let my sister have the underwater camera and she did a good job and I hope I can get a couple of the shots loaded here for everyone to enjoy. We also did another luau in Honolulu at Paradise Cove. The food was good here also and the show was good. Unfortunately we had some rain so their fire dance part was shorter than planned but it was good. We did like the one in Kauai better after seeing both of them. It was good that we saw both to be able to compare. I enjoyed the CC meet and greet even with a small group. Thank you all for the good advise about getting around. It was very good to meet several members of the ship's crew and the captain also. They were very informative also about upcoming dry dock events for the POA. It sounds like POA will be upgraded to be more like the other NCL ships with added amenities. It won't happen until next year but will be great to see what takes place after POA is out of dry dock. Our embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. We arrived just after they started embarkation and were on board within 20 minutes. It was a surprise to both of us that it went very smoothly. We were glad even with waiting for our room as we had been up since 2:30 a.m. that morning from Seattle. I was still tired from my 5 hours flight from NC. We stored our carryon with the desk and went to get our first taste of food. We then just explored a little and rested in the atrium until our rooms were ready about 1 Hawaii time. Our luggage arrived around 4 and we got all settled and took about rest before dinner. We just ate in the buffet the first day then we went back to room to retire. The rest of the trip was wonderful and we enjoyed ourselves very much and hope to go back again some day. I will try to answer any questions that anyone may have. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
The people of Hawaii treat each other, their visitors and their country with love and respect. On September 25 my daughter-in-law and two friends set out for a seven day cruise in Hawaii. After a one day flight delay aboard American ... Read More
The people of Hawaii treat each other, their visitors and their country with love and respect. On September 25 my daughter-in-law and two friends set out for a seven day cruise in Hawaii. After a one day flight delay aboard American Airlines we boarded NCL's Pride of America on September 26, 2010. This ship began a seven day cruise, in Honolulu to four Hawaiian islands; Kahului (Maui), Hilo and Kona (on the Big Island and Nawliwili (Kauai). Let me backtrack the first night of our cruise September 25 was actually spent in the Makena Resort on Maui because, as I stated earlier, our flight was delayed and instead of boarding the ship in Honolulu we were flown to Maui and boarded the ship there. The ship was beautiful and clean. I had heard beforehand that the crew aboard the only American ship in NCL'S fleet were not as gracious as the crew aboard other NCL ships, I did not find that to be true. The crew on Pride of America was wonderful, everywhere we went everyone was friendly and courteous. My cabin steward Errol was so pleasant and responded to every request with courtesy and timeliness, I even became friendly with the cabin steward in the next section, because I would pass her everyday in the hall and on my last night there she gave me a postcard with dolphins on it to remind me to remember Hawaii with a smile. I thought that was kind of her, her name was Lula. As far as the transportation and shore excursions go. I only did one excursion with NCL and that was the glass bottom boat because NCL shore excursions are too pricey. I read other reviews before I went to Hawaii and contacted Roberts Hawaii at gorabbitgo.com and booked my airport to pier and back transfers thru them because they only charge six dollars and NCL charges twenty dollars for the same bus ride in the same coach buses. They also offer great deals on shore excursions. In Maui we met Reynolds who has a SUV taxi and we booked our Road to Hana tour with him; we chose this instead of renting a car because that road has about a hundred curves some of them are very narrow and we preferred to let an expert handle that driving. If you go to Maui that tour is a must, you will see the beauty that is Hawaii. Hawaii has all types of shuttles taxis and tour buses. You can also rent your own car if you like because at Maui and Kauai the ship is docked for two days. Because Hawaii is so beautiful and there is so much to see we didn't spend a lot of time onboard the ship, but I did manage to get to the pool every morning and have breakfast which was good. My one complaint about the pool and the area surrounding it, is it is not large enough to accomodate the close to three thousand people that are on the ship and when the children arrive they just take over and you cannot enjoy the pool at all because they are throwing the ball and hitting folks in the head. Also there are not enough poolside lounge chairs.......just saying. There was a Hawaiian couple who taught us all things Hawaiian. Some days we were taught to make different types of leis, including an orchid lei and one evening the lady (or wahina) taught us the history of Hawaii which was interesting for me because I am a history buff. The food was pretty good, I didn't try any of the specialty restaurants this time but I did eat in the dining room every night and the food was delicious and I ate at the Cadillac Cafe a couple of times, I like it there because they serve comfort food. Wednesday night NCL hosted the Hot White party in the Mardi Gras lounge which was fun and Thursday was the luau. Now I didn't go to the NCL and I'm glad I didn't because everyone complained that the food was horrible. I didn't go because some reviewers said the food was horrible. I chose Smith Tropical Paradise for my party's luau and it was wonderful. The food was very good, except for the purple sweet potato and the show was outstanding. One thing I observed about Hawaii the people of Hawaii are very proud of their country and they keep it very clean. I didn't see a scrap of paper or broken glass anywhere and they host thousands of tourists everyday but they kepp that place clean. I enjoyed sailing past the erupting volcano and the Na Poli coast was awesome. So that was my experience and I gotta tell you I love Hawaii, the Hawaiian people were wonderful and I can't wait to go back. 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
Sail Date: September 2010
We met on a ship, the Oronsay, on a voyage to England in 1956 - and have loved ships ever since. CruiseCritic over the past few years has added a new dimension - reading about each ship in the months before we sailed - what passengers ... Read More
We met on a ship, the Oronsay, on a voyage to England in 1956 - and have loved ships ever since. CruiseCritic over the past few years has added a new dimension - reading about each ship in the months before we sailed - what passengers enjoyed, what they criticised, what would it be like for us? Costa Allegra was great for us, in spite of what we had read, Dawn Princess to celebrate our Golden Wedding year was much as expected. Rhapsody had proved so popular with friends we knew it would be good - in spite of some criticism we'd read. Miami provided us with Crown and Anchor numbers, 19 years since we last sailed with them - in the Caribbean! Waikiki is one of our favourite places and Courtyard Marriott Hotel was great value for money. We revisited all our favourite places four four days - and vowed to get back there again one day - as we always do. Embarkation on Rhapsody was easy. We boarded about ll.30 am, had lunch in the Windjammer, and had access to our cabin at 1 p.m. Oeanview, and down on Deck 2, which we love - looking out AT the ocean - which proved very exciting in the weather approaching Sydney - we had the cleanest windows! Loads of room, plenty of wardrobe space, pristine-clean with comfortable beds. August our steward later starred in the towel animals exhibition in the Centrum. Food is greatly important to us --- and the dining was great - Favourites were Venison, Duck, Prime Rib, and, yes, LOBSTER (much mentioned on CruiseCritic) - and the lunchtime salad bar was awesome, as our grandchildren would say! Royston and Englebert couldnt do enough to make every meal memorable! We are oldies, and earlybirds, and used the best pool we've ever experienced on any ship very early every morning - loved the quiet times in the Viking Lounge - and were first in to breakfast in the Windjammer, where Ivan looked after us many mornings. I loved the Morning Mass each day with Father Dale. Fun watching the "Crossing the Equator' again, and we thought the Walk a Wish with the Captain leading was remarkable. Entertainment was good, especially the magician, and the 'boys and girls' dancing and singing and the films in the theatre - everything well attended. When we saw the DVD clips on the last night we realised that there was a whole world of entertainment enjoyed by all after we went to bed! Q and A with members of the staff - excellent - we learned lots --- lecturers great and big enthusiastic audiences for them. Ports - magic. We 'did our own thing' Papeete and Moorea we were revisiting - a five dollar ride to Matira Beach on Bora Bora was a real bargain - we snorkelled,taking our own goggles and mask - it was heaven! Bloody Mary's was well worth a visit - again a five dollar shuttle - a whole day in each port gave us plenty of time. Raitea the most welcoming port ever! The pursers office - open 24 hours a day, and again, best we have ever experienced. I have been filling in customer surveys, in detail (!) for over fifty years, and for the first time ever, on Rhapsody, I had a phonecall, and a most interesting conversation about my comments, with charming David, the Food and Beverage manager, about the 'tables for two' which we prefer. They are there, and bookable, but a bit too close together - we think! Susan, the Maitre 'D also helpful, and so good to talk to! Just one criticism! Disembarkation was late, because of some 'interesting' weather the last night. For some reason there was no information as to what was happening --- and many of the 2000 passengers, like us, had family driving round outside, parking problems, and it would have been so good had we been able to let them know what was happening. But it was the first time this season. Hopefully better when I do my next trip in November. Hooked on Rhapsody! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
First let me say that this is cruise #18 for me and my wife. We've been on many different cruises and with many cruise lines. So we have a perspective from which to evaluate this cruise. The cruise had its good and not so good ... Read More
First let me say that this is cruise #18 for me and my wife. We've been on many different cruises and with many cruise lines. So we have a perspective from which to evaluate this cruise. The cruise had its good and not so good points. First the good: The shipboard entertainment was exceptional. The ship was also very clean and our room quite nice with a balcony. Room size was typical of these type ships. The ship was quite large and rode very smoothly. About 2100 passengers. Now for the not-so-good: They had several specialty restaurants for which you paid an extra $15 to $25 per person to use. The food at those restaurants was OK but not spectacular in any sense. The Italian specialty restaurant was awful. Similarly, the food in the main restaurants was OK but certainly not that special. The senior crew members and the officer staff of the ship were quite nice and friendly. They got it. The crew, however, the ones with whom most folks come in contact every day, were for the most part disinterested, distant and not that welcoming. They did not smile very much and seemed not to be enjoying what they did. The entire crew appeared to be USA nationals. All the service staff appeared to be US citizens and their friendliness was not the same as many other ships we have been on with international crew members. Considering the entertainment which was superior, I would rate this cruise with a 6 on a scale of 10. Without considering entertainment, I would rate it a 4 at most, on a scale of 10. 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: February 2011
We flew from London to San Francisco and spent 3 nights there. It was cold and wet and our Hotel, The Sheraton, Fishermans Wharf was a nice enough hotel but our room was opposite a road and a bus station. All night we could here buses ... Read More
We flew from London to San Francisco and spent 3 nights there. It was cold and wet and our Hotel, The Sheraton, Fishermans Wharf was a nice enough hotel but our room was opposite a road and a bus station. All night we could here buses coming and going and the constant beep, beep of reversing buses. We flew to Honolulu and went to Germaines Luau with Roberts of Hawaii. It is right on the beach, the food and entertainment was great and we had a lovely time, except for about 15 mosquito bites I got. Next day at noon we took a shuttle to the port, The embarkation queue was horrendous in a hot room with no seats. Once on board there wasn't anyone to show us where our cabin was, which we had been used to on other cruises. we went straight to the Aloha cafe for some lunch and then explored. Our cabin was small yes but quite adequate, the bed was comfy and plenty of storage space. The bathroom was small, yes but so of all the cruises we've been on and it was very clean. I see no need at all to complain about things. We always have an inside cabin and always eat in the cafe if there is one. We spend very little time in our cabin and prefer to spend our money on trips and seeing the country we are in. I have heard people saying the ship was always trying to get money from you but you don't have to buy them. We don't buy art, we don't use the beauty salon, we don't buy the photos, (at our age we have cupboards full of photo's) we didn't have the soft drink package, we don't drink much alcohol when it's hot. preferring to drink lots of water We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants, I am a funny eater and prefer to choose from a buffet. One thing I thought was funny, only small dishes were provided on the salad bar and I like a salad for my main course so, I had to get a hot plate to put my salad on.I was very disappointed in the dessert bar but the crepes were lovely. I always found something I liked to eat and I can't complain about the food when it's me that is difficult. I can't understand people complaining about the ship and the staff. we always try to be pleasant to people and mostly they are pleasant back. Our cabin steward, Jonathan was always cheerful and very helpful, reception ditto. All our trips were with Roberts and the driver/guides were very knowledgeable and entertaining, at Maui we did the Hana Road, I thought it was to long a day and most of the scenery was much the same but Henry made it so much fun, when he wasn't talking he was singing like Elvis or laughing and making us laugh. we had a nice picnic lunch and I always enjoy myself, it was our choice to do this tour so I wouldn't dream of moaning. Maui day 2 we went snorkeling, it was an early start but we were greeted with a buffet breakfast and drinks were plentiful all day. After the first snorkel lunch was on the go and we went to Turtle Town for the second snorkel. It was a good day. Hilo we went to the Volcano National Park and Rainbow falls, Hank our driver/guide was such a character he had us laughing all day. it was very interesting and informative day Kona we went on the Historical tour. again lots of information and we went to a refuge which has been restored to it's original state as much as possible as it was in the 1700's. Kuai was Waimea Canyon and river ride to Fern Grotto. this was a lovely day and we really enjoyed it. Kuai last day, we were close to a beach so, we took the free shuttle and spent the morning swimming and relaxing and after a little retail therapy ashore and back on board, we found a sunbed to watch the beautiful coast we sailed by. We also saw lots of Humpback Whales throughout the whole cruise. Next morning, disembarkation was simple and we were again picked up by Roberts and taken to Pearl Harbour, very interesting and emotional but something everyone should see. Just one thing slightly annoyed me, our guide kept saying this was the start of world war 2 and I had to point out that us, (Britian) had already been at war for 2 years. 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: May 2011
We just returned from the May 28 sailing and were very pleased. My wife and I were last in Hawaii in 1973 and decided to return for our 40th anniversary. We were not looking for a party ship, but simply a way to visit the islands with ... Read More
We just returned from the May 28 sailing and were very pleased. My wife and I were last in Hawaii in 1973 and decided to return for our 40th anniversary. We were not looking for a party ship, but simply a way to visit the islands with enough on board entertainment to give us something to do when we weren't ashore. Neither my wife or I or very mobile and NCL's website allowed us to pick shore excursions based on level of activity. We booked all of ours ahead of time and avoided the rush at the on board shore excursion counter. My biggest concern was eating because I have Celiac disease I have to follow a strict gluten free diet. Within days of booking the cruise NCL sent me a survey asking what specific foods I wanted. When we boarded there were letters from the chef & staff with their on board numbers if I needed anything. Along with the letters they gave me an advance luau menu with gluten free options notated. I didn't have any food issues at all. Each restaurant either had a gluten free menu or the chef reviewed what I wanted. The food was excellent & the staff polite and attentive. If you're looking for a "good time party ship", look elsewhere. If you're looking for the easiest way to see a lot of Hawaii in a week, I have no problems recommending this cruise. I read some negative reviews about cleanliness and staff indifference, but I did not experience any of that. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
During our cruise through the Panama Canal we were given the opportunity to place a deposit on our next cruise and given a $100 credit off our account. The cruise to be taken within two years. Too good an offer to refuse. Subsequently we ... Read More
During our cruise through the Panama Canal we were given the opportunity to place a deposit on our next cruise and given a $100 credit off our account. The cruise to be taken within two years. Too good an offer to refuse. Subsequently we booked the Hawaiian cruise. We decided to book a balcony suite on the starboard side in order to see the lava flowing into the sea after we left Hilo. I also booked the air flights so that we would arrive on the morning the cruise left and we would stay two weeks on the islands following the cruise. Three days before we were due to leave we received an email from NCL offering us an upgrade to a Penthouse with a Large Balcony for an additional $830. It was to be on the starboard side which was not going to be a problem because the lava had ceased to flow following an earthquake earlier in this year.The added bonus was that we would have an view of the Napali coast after leaving Lihue. This upgrade has spoilt us for all future cruises. The first thing was the priority boarding after lodging our baggage ( no queuing), a glass of champagne while waiting for lunch in the Lazy J Restaurant, the location for our breakfast and lunch for the duration of the cruise if we wished. We were introduced to our concierge and butler. The accommodation was a revelation. A large bed sitting area (with settee lounge chair and footstool and a small table with two chairs), a dressing area with a well lit make up desk, the usual compact rest/bath room and an expansive balcony with two pool lounges and occasional table and a small table with three chairs and ample room to walk around. The service supplied by the cabin staff (steward and butler), the waiters, maitre d and general staff in the Lazy J Restaurant could not be faulted. We had our evening meals in either the Liberty or Skyline restaurants and were quite impressed with the variety and quality of the meals. The only problem we had was with a roast lamb course where my wife had a piece of meat that was a bit tough and gristly. This was replaced with another meal of her choosing when she complained. Overall our experience was the best we have had on a cruise ship. The only downside being the cost of most shore excursions and incidentals (drinks etc) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
We took our first cruise ever on NCL's Starwood back in 1987, and over the years have cruised 6 more times on Celebrity, Princess, RCCL, and Holland America. This 8th cruise was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We ... Read More
We took our first cruise ever on NCL's Starwood back in 1987, and over the years have cruised 6 more times on Celebrity, Princess, RCCL, and Holland America. This 8th cruise was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We came on this ship with low expectations because of the mixed reviews. We picked it because of its port intensive itinerary. We were part of a roll call Cruise Critic group and were able to have a Cruise Critic meeting on the day of embarkation with about 8 officers from the ship including the Captain, the Hotel Director, and the Head Chef. On Friday afternoon we all were invited back for a follow-up meeting with 8 top officers to give our input on the ship and the various experiences we had. On other ships we never met any officers as part of Cruise Critic meetings, so this showed a level of caring and commitment to improvement which was outstanding. THE STATEROOM: We were in an obstructed view cabin, 7102, with a floor to ceiling window behind our bed. It had a large open area and almost a full view as only the back end of a lifeboat was visible. Several times during the day I noticed workmen walking about the little cat walk right outside out window, and although they were never looking in our window, we had to be careful about prancing around in the buff. The cabin was small and felt smaller because of the bunk beds hanging on both sides on the long walls. We had to watch we didn't hit our heads when getting OOB in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. The cabin next door didn't have as good of a view as ours, but at least the bed was arranged on the left long wall and had a tiny sofa bed next to it on the window side. We missed having somewhere to sit other than on the bed or the desk chair or a little round stool. The bed itself had some sag in it, and the pillows were not great. I packed my own oldest down pillow which helped me and then I just left it there after the cruise. The bathroom was the standard ship bathroom but the shower had the best shower curtain with stiff rods in it making it stay in place. The cabin was quiet. We never heard anyone on either side of us or above us. We were in a great location near the stairs and elevators, and the only time we heard hall noise was a little around 9-10 PM at night. Our cabin steward Narcisso was not at all intrusive and always friendly and made us wonderful towel animals every day. He did his job competently. THE FOOD: We had low expectations of the food, but it was generally good to even excellent. The food at the Aloha Cafe (the buffet) had some great choices, great coffee, and enough to eat. We ate there every morning, for the lunch on embarkation day, and for one dinner. The rolls and baked goods were always fresh. You can nitpick about any buffet, but I won't. Some food was delicious, some not so much. Your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. The Cadillac Diner was a wonderful place to grab a quick coffee without sitting down to eat. We had one breakfast there and although it was fine, the service made it slower than dashing through the buffet. My husband LOVED going there for the free brownie sundaes which were delicious. We loved the Skyline and Liberty restaurants. I chose the Chef's Regional Special almost every night and they were all wonderful. The service was all done with class and efficiency, and much friendliness. We never had to wait for a table and always got to sit by ourselves at a table for two, three nights by a window. On our anniversary we were serenaded by a group of waiters who made us hold hands while the one sang LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART. They then instructed us to kiss for 40 seconds one second for each year married, and they dragged the count way out, so we were laughing so hard trying to keep a lip lock that long. They also presented us with a little cake and a lit candle. It made our day so special, and I will never forget it. We also somehow got invited to their Dine With an Officer Program on Weds. Night, (even though we never put our names in for it). We enjoyed a free drink prior to dinner, and then dined with the Hotel Director, Carey, and also the Systems Director, David, plus another Cruise Critic couple and two women who were sisters. It was a lot of fun and we learned some interesting facts about the history of the ship. ENTERTAINMENT We attended the first and the last shows of the week in the Hollywood Theater and both were amazing. The second half of the first show featured the ship's extremely funny comedian, Tim Kaminski, who called about 15 people up on stage for a little remake of THE WIZARD OF OZ, which had everyone howling. Later in the week we saw him perform again in the other smaller show lounge and he was hilarious. We attended the NOT SO NEWLYWED GAME, and we were chosen as one of the 4 couples to play the game. It was a ton of fun for us, though we did say some embarrassing things! There was always something going on in the late afternoon and in the evening on the ship, but we were often just too busy or tired to get to everything we wanted to see and do. THE PORTS When I get time I will do a port review, but right now I will say that all of them were spectacular. We rented a car at every port for every day except the half day on Kauai. We found this to be very easy and affordable for us. The shuttles to the car rentals were quick and convenient. We loved the sail by the Na Pali coast of Kauai on the last day. We were invited to see it from the large balcony of one of the owner's suites occupied by the Cruise Critic member Sandy and her husband Terry, who organized our meeting. THE STAFF: Contrary to what another recent reviewer reported we never once saw a staff member who was "scowling" at a passenger or not smiling. We never saw staff members taking pictures of each other and ignoring passengers. We did not feel like we were ever being "punked". Almost every staff member we passed greeted us with a cheerful "Aloha!" from the first day to the last. We thought this was the friendliest, most competent staff we have ever encountered on a ship. I submitted at least four or five STYLE cards to compliment certain staff members who did their jobs so warmly and competently with such thoughtfulness. SUMMARY The ship itself was very clean and comfortable. It has a low key comfortable, casual atmosphere and it not smoky like other ships we have been on. They restrict smoking to cabins and the top back deck. Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. The Disembarkation process did not feel like we were getting the boot starting mid week like on other cruise ship lines. This was the BEST cruise we have ever taken. What made it so special was not the ship itself, but the warmth of every staff member and officer we encountered. We were made to feel special and important by every one of them. At the end of the final production show on Friday night they did this number with a large group of the staff and officers where they sang this song about being a part of their family now, and I was moved to tears(not usual for me at all). We hated to leave! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
First my wife & I have have never been on a cruise. I guess our experience on POA will now change all that. In the past we tended to fly to our destination, rent a car, then explore the countryside. However, as we age, we now find we ... Read More
First my wife & I have have never been on a cruise. I guess our experience on POA will now change all that. In the past we tended to fly to our destination, rent a car, then explore the countryside. However, as we age, we now find we like others eg. shore excursion to do the driving & shows us things we could have missed out on. We found the crew to be very friendly & helpful. The entertainment was excellent, they even had some very talented crew who performed their own show one night. However, the entertainers brought onto the ship in the latter part were extremely good. It was tribute to all the entertainers throughout the Hollywood period. Didn't swim the ship pool - a bit on the small size, and lots of people drinking cocktails/beers etc whilst in the pool - always worried about urine in the pool, rather swim in the ocean. We couldn't fault the meals. We enjoyed a meal in Little Italy on our last night. The price of wine is higher than the mainland, but, hey your on a cruise. The Aloha Cafe can be very busy with people each morning. Its a bit like a dodgem course. Some people seemed to be hell bent on getting that ice cream or last bit of cake. We tended to get our breakfast (cereal & tropical fruit - great stuff) then walked to the rear of the Aloha Cafe to the outside deck, called Aloha Cafe Lanai, just beautiful having breakfast whilst overlooking the ocean or port. 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: December 2011
We wanted a overview of the Islands and Pride of America had some neat things to offer. We scheduled so much activity each day, we spent little time on the ship except to sleep. I can't think of one activitiy I would like to do ... Read More
We wanted a overview of the Islands and Pride of America had some neat things to offer. We scheduled so much activity each day, we spent little time on the ship except to sleep. I can't think of one activitiy I would like to do without though! Some of the tours I booked by myself and some with NCL. NCL provides a much smoother transaction for first timers than I could do on my own. It is very important to have a smooth transition between the ship and your destination and it was much easier when all transportation was arranged. At least for this first timer. This might not be the same for all travelers if you know the islands but by the time we paid a cab, we could have booked from NCL and much less stress. I am a handicapper traveler and things that are necessary for me would be essential for my comfort. While you are still traveling in the USA on the only USA cruise ship, don't assume the islands are as all together as the mainland. NCL's ADA accommodations are first class and the room was most comfortable. Some of the public doors on ship need attention so the wheelchair bound can open them without waiting for a kind soul to help. Kona, we only stopped for one day. Returning to the ship by tender was a nightmare for all with a waiting line that ran the length of the pier, sidewalk and out in to the street. NCL's policy allows a wheel chaired person to come to the front of the line as security procedures are more complex. In Kona the security guy sent my caregiver (husband) to the back of the line and left me sitting in the heat ignored. Finally I asked the beige shirt guys to point me to the BOSS. He wasn't pleasant but started the process of my security check. By that time, I was exhausted from heat and near panic when I turned around to find my husband in the crowdhe came from the middle of the street to join me ready to take on the beige shirts. While this all worked out OK, there really is no excuse for a USA port to be untrained in ADA requirements. I could have had a stroke from the stress and the heat. Kona could and should be a overnight stop. We did not get to see much of this island and did NO shopping because of the time restraint. Fellow passengers, please do not grouse because we get "special treatment". Anyone would trade places with you if independent walking was part of the trade! 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: 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: May 2013
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on ... Read More
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on Cruise Critic and Trip Adviser for months! My sister says I could be the tour guide as I had learned so much. But that is the key to a good trip, learn as much as you can about the places you plan to visit so you will know what to expect and understand. We arrived in Honolulu on Thursday, May 2, 2013 from Dallas, Texas. There is a 5 hour time difference so we were plenty tired. We stayed two nights in the Wyndham Royal Garden. We are Wyndham owners so I used some points to book the hotel. It was very nice; about 2 blocks from the beach. We rented a convertible for our stay in Honolulu. Loved driving the island with the top down. Honolulu was our least favorite of all the places we visited because it was so commercialized. We walked Waikiki beach Thursday evening and it was beautiful. Friday we ate at IHOP (eating at fine restaurants is not a priority with us) then drove to the Dole Plantation; took the train ride; very enjoyable. We drove around to the North Shore, stopping at a fruit stand and buying fresh mango!! The we drove to the Polynesian Culture Center and visited for the afternoon. This was so enlightening of the many cultures of the islands. We drove on back to the hotel Saturday, we drove to Diamond Head and parked at the base. We walked through the tunnel and made some nice pictures. We then went to Bishops Museum; it was ok. We drove the car back to the airport off-site location and they shuttled us to the pier. That was a big plus!!! Embarkation went very smoothly. You could feel the excitement in the air. All the cruise staff were out to meet and greet you and make you feel special. Our cabin was on the 4th floor. I was very apprehensive at first and tried to change the room prior to sailing, but no rooms were available. The room was great. Some of the restaurants and Hollywood Theater are on the 5th floor, so we could walk to them. But we were low enough that we did not hear any noise either. So it was great. Karl, our room steward was so friendly and kept our room in top shape. We ate at the Liberty, the Skyline and the Aloha Buffet mostly. We ate at the the Cadillac Diner for their desserts:) Food was fabulous everywhere and service was very good with the exception of Thursday night in the Liberty. It was just a little slow that night, but nothing to gripe about. Shows: Oh What A Night was so entertaining. I have seen the musical 'The Jersey Boys' and realize this group is not quite that caliber, but these guys are not far from it. Do not miss this show. We Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
I was a huge fan of the old Norway and sailed on it four times. I would be still be a passenger if it was still in service. It was a great ship with wonderful ambiance and a crew that really took care of it's passengers. It's ... Read More
I was a huge fan of the old Norway and sailed on it four times. I would be still be a passenger if it was still in service. It was a great ship with wonderful ambiance and a crew that really took care of it's passengers. It's very hard to find that these days. The Pride of America (henceforth POA) is not a very large ship. It is, however, easy to figure out and get around. There are plenty of elevators and stairways and the layout is plainly marked on diagrams near the stairways. Our stateroom was small but well organized. We had a balcony which made the room seem bigger. We enjoyed the balcony at night quite a bit and I enjoyed my morning coffee there. An expensive option but worth it if you use it. Dining was hit and miss. Let me say right off the bat that we are not fans of free style dining. One of the things I most enjoy is the experience of formal dining. Unfortunately it is not to be had on POA. Despite the rules regarding what can and cannot be worn in the dinning rooms, some passengers look and act like they are going shopping at Wal-Mart. (The specialty restaurants are better. I guess Maw and Paw Kettle are afraid of the cover charge! I thought the Italian was very good.) Service in the Liberty Dining room was slow. One night our entrees were very late and cold. We sent them back and endured another 15 minute wait. I spoke with our waiter and she told me that they were short staffed and she had 5 tables. We did not have an assistant waiter that night. That is unacceptable. There was not a wine steward in either dining room and we were not offered bar service. Overall the selection and variety of food offered was good. Service at dinner was poor but surprisingly good to excellent in mid morning. The Buffet or "hog trough" as my wife refers to it, was good. I did not see kids with dirty hands coughing and sneezing while serving themselves which is a constant problem on many of the Caribbean cruises (of all lines). The selection was good and hot foods were served that way. Taste was very good. The staff was kept busy cleaning tables and seeing that people were comfortable. Frankly I was impressed with the Buffet and I didn't expect to be. The halls and staterooms on POA are kept spotlessly clean. The room stewards are excellent. Everyone in our group bragged about the efficiency and professionalism of the room stewards/housekeeping. POA is probably the cleanest ship overall we have sailed on in the last 3 years. We saw all of the shows and enjoyed them. Particularly good was the Four Seasons Tribute group "Oh what a night". I met and talked with one of the dancers during one of our trips ashore. She was a delightful young lady and represented POA well. She also was very talented as we watched her performance the following night. Having been to the islands and cruising (another line) several years ago, we opted to do our own itinerary on each island and planned well in advance for it. On two occasions we encountered people that we recognized from POA who were on ship excursions. We hired our own guides on Maui and both ports on the Big Island. We got to see some things that most people don't get to see because of our planning and the guide's knowledge. Overall POA is a great way to see the islands. I may do it again next year or the one following. 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

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