5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Chose the 7 day cruise from Honolulu because it was easier than island hopping via inter island air, booking air bnbs, etc. We had an ocean view room which was clean and cozy. House keeping staff was great and friendly. The ship itself ... Read More
Chose the 7 day cruise from Honolulu because it was easier than island hopping via inter island air, booking air bnbs, etc. We had an ocean view room which was clean and cozy. House keeping staff was great and friendly. The ship itself seemed clean. There was one hot tub that I assume was out of order on the pool deck, it had no water in it. Plenty of time to explore while at port. We rented a car almost at every one, and those when we didn’t, we wished we had. We had plenty of time at the Hilo port to drive to Volcanoes National Park to explore and drive Chain of Craters Road, and see Akaka Falls. I wouldn’t recommended taking any tours through the ship. For Maui we booked with Valley Isle Excursions on our first day for Road to Hana since the shipped was docked overnight. It was awesome and they’re the only company that goes past Hana and takes a back road back to port so you can see more of the island. We booked the Haleakalā tour through the ship but were somewhat disappointed. While the guide was exceptional and hilarious, you don’t go to the summit and you have 20 minutes at the visitor center, for $125pp! The drive is nothing scary or difficult, I HIGHLY recommend renting a vehicle from a company that will let you drive up. We booked a helicopter tour on our first day in Kauai’i with Mauna Loa, which does private tours of 2+ people of your group only! It’s so worth the extra money. On board food: The food and service at East Meets West was excellent, but make reservations ahead of time. Skyline - excellent service from the food service team. Not so good service from one of the hostesses at night. My friend and I were on our way back to our room from the spa and decided to stop by to make a reservation for later in the evening. The hostess looked my friend up and down, so my friend felt the need to say “don’t worry I won’t be dressed like this when we come for dinner, we just left the spa.” I’ve read reviews on here about the American staff being ignorant and rude, and I’m ashamed to say it’s true. The food was only ever slightly warm, never hot. Aloha Cafe Majority of the staff looked miserable, and besides the staff spraying sanitizer before walking in, no one else ever greeted anyone or was friendly/personable. The food was never warm, which made us nervous about food safety so we wouldn’t eat certain items or only took from the back of the plates, when fresh items were put out. Key west grill: Same offerings everyday but at least you could get a hot burger and hot dog without having to ponder if it was going to make you sick. On board entertainment was good from the few shows we went to. On board comedy with Vince is not to be missed!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise for its itinerary around the Hawaiian Islands, the island themselves were great - BUT - Very disappointing overall, we never knew who our steward was the whole cruise, fancy not meeting your steward - items ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary around the Hawaiian Islands, the island themselves were great - BUT - Very disappointing overall, we never knew who our steward was the whole cruise, fancy not meeting your steward - items weren't being replaced that had been used, including the bath mat. I was treated like a second class citizen because i wasn't drinking so wasn't tipping, I purchased coffee and really did not want to go back there for the way I was treated. Most of the crew looked like they were there because they had to be not because they wanted/enjoyed the work. Smiling - what's that! Food - in a word - awful. Cold, not cooked properly. The shows were mediocre, for a ship this size I was expecting a whole lot more. We will not be cruising on NCL again thats for sure. Having cruised with RC, Princess and Celebrity we were really let down. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
We choose this cruise for the itinerary and number of islands offered and the over night in Maui and Kauai. After booking the Canadian at par became available which made the cruise more affordable. We found the food and service in ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary and number of islands offered and the over night in Maui and Kauai. After booking the Canadian at par became available which made the cruise more affordable. We found the food and service in Liberty very good. Cagney's good but expensive, LaCucina service poor compared to Liberty, East Meets West one dinner was poor quality. Skyline was a good choice at lunch but slow at dinner twice. We had an aft balcony which would be fine for two but once you pull out the couch for the third person it was uncomfortable for sleep and we were forced to crawl over the person in the pull out to access the balcony once it was in place due to its position by the balcony. Entertainment and shows were well done. Tours expensive so we rented cars and explored on our own except for Pearl Harbour airport excursion. We would recommend this cruise to those wanting an overview of Hawaii. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
We went to Hawaii for Easter week. The cruise was excellent from the butler to the steward and wait staff. If you want to experience Hawaii this is the way to do it. Shore excursions were fairly expensive but worth the price. I would go on ... Read More
We went to Hawaii for Easter week. The cruise was excellent from the butler to the steward and wait staff. If you want to experience Hawaii this is the way to do it. Shore excursions were fairly expensive but worth the price. I would go on this cruise again in a heart beat..The pen house suite for a good size, reminded me of a suite at the Hilton. Bed was extremely comfortable. My 12 year old loved the children's programs. The cruise director Jamie was awesome. I asked to meet the captain and our concierge made it happen. The captain showed up one night when we were out to dinner and introduced himself to us. The ship was in good shape to be 13 years old. This was our favorite trip, our trip of a lifetime and I would recommend this trip to my friends and family.I have to say I was rather leary because most of the ship employees are American workers-(because we tend to have less of a work ethic than some other countries) that is just my opinion but I must say the American workers did just as well. Loved this trip,. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Getting on ship was easy. Room was ready by 4pm. First night was rough night at sea. I have CPAP, be sure to bring extension cord. No cords plug ins by bed. Next morning took shower in smallest shower ever. Good luck on washing feet ... Read More
Getting on ship was easy. Room was ready by 4pm. First night was rough night at sea. I have CPAP, be sure to bring extension cord. No cords plug ins by bed. Next morning took shower in smallest shower ever. Good luck on washing feet and legs. Went to buffet, it was great. Good selection. We rented a car for road to Hana. Great decision. Pay $6 download Gypsy guide to Hana, gave very detailed info on hole trip. We did drive backside of island, it is a white knuckler not for faint of heart, but very beautiful. When we got back to dock no place to park rental. Either park at the mall (no security) or the airport (10 mins). Next day we played golf at the dunes $95 great value (bring plenty of balls), really nice course and yes greens were good. Wife’s and kids were suppose to do a zip line way up mountain called Flying Hawaiin but it was cancelled when they couldn’t get 4 wheeler up sloop due to recent rains (A for effort they tried). After a day of shopping took rental back we ate at buffet again that evening. Once again food was good. However this is when we started noticing few problems. That had two ice cream machines for everyone only one worked entire trip. There was only 1 milk machine and no tea just coffee and juice. I did buy coke package for $55 and 24 500ml bottle water for 29.95. Our friend went for ice that night and could not find working ice machine. He went to a bar to get a bucket of ice and they told him it was for bar only. First sign of poor service. That night we went to Hilo had 9 mile hike scheduled we left ship at 8am got to tour guide and we were told lava was not flowing so they were changing the hike to a 15 person passenger van ride tour with lunch, no hike. Was able to get my son on zip line excursion with my wife. (They hated it, very unsafe, no railings on platforms and too many people on excursion). I went to town to explore. Hilo is very ugly. Looks like third world country. Homeless, just nasty. Don’t go downtown in Hilo. French restaurant night. This was the best. Had mushroom soup and steak. Soooo good. Apple tart was not good however (oh well). Everyone’s food was delicious. That night we went around island to Kona. On way around island our ship slowed so we could see lava flowing (see why my excursion was cancelled no lava flow). Bring binoculars to see lava. Worth it. Kona is next stop and is great. Went snorkeling. Can’t go wrong on this island. This night we ate at main dining. Service was horrible, rude and slow. Food was slow and not good. Heard same complaint from others on the cruise. We are going to shows each night. They are usually too crowded and not that good. Standing room only. Also tried pool and hot tubs on several occasions. The pool was extremely cold and the hot tubs were Luke warm, not hot. Next day we went to Kauai. This is so beautiful. Only 3 percent of island is inhabited. We did the Kayak and waterfall. What a fun and challenging excursion. 2 and1/2 mile kayak and 300 foot down trail to waterfall. Wear shoes and shirts that you toss. The mud is hard to get out. I wore flip flops with straps worked fine. That night there was a Hawaiin Luau that 700 people went. They said it was great presentation. Worth it if you have never been to a luau. Since ship was deserted until 930. We decided to eat at East West restaurant. It was awful. Worse food of entire trip. I like oriential food as does my family. We all hated it. We went to buffet to eat something else. Afterwards we went around ship to do something and everything was shut down. Couldn’t believe it. Even deck chairs around pool had been taken up. Next morning we ate at Cadillac diner and it is a plus. Left ship and went to beach half mile if you walk. Nice beach. Good waves. Lots to do. You have to be back on ship by 130. Ship goes around coast for best view of Kauai over next 3 hours. Well worth it on Port side. Then you head to Honolulu We left boat at 730. Got to airport to drop off luggage (American doesn’t open till 9). We rented a car to few island. Went to Dole Pineapple plantation (really good stop) and to north shore (overrated) but huge waves. We read that they had just redid Pride of America. They might have put in new carpet, TV and paint but not up to date. This is not a new boat. We thought in general service on this cruise was poor. We have cruised on NCL before and Royal Carribean. Prepaying for tips and service at $204 per room is not worth it. We had three rooms so $612 in prepaid tips. Don’t feel they earned it. Hey but it was Hawaii. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
To celebrate the holidays, we wanted to visit Hawai'i ! We chose that cruise because of the itinerary. As cruisers, it was our first time with NCL. It's the only ship who goes to the hawaiian islands we wanted to visit. So, this ... Read More
To celebrate the holidays, we wanted to visit Hawai'i ! We chose that cruise because of the itinerary. As cruisers, it was our first time with NCL. It's the only ship who goes to the hawaiian islands we wanted to visit. So, this review is based only on our experience of the ship "Pride of America" (!). Professionnals, in our mid-forthies, we did many cruises in the last five years, mostly with Holland (HAL) and Royal Caribbean (RCI). Our expectation for a nice cruise (in that order) : 1. Itinerary, 2. Dining (gourmet), 3. Service, 4. Entertainment, 5. Value for money, 6. Spa. We might have been spoiled with HAL (5 stars+++ on eveything) but, at the end, we've paid way more with NCL to get way less. Feels like a summer camp. Itinerary : very good ! Ship : looks good. Embarkation : we had to wait 3 hours to get into our room and 2 hours to get out of this ship. Cabin : As experimented cruisers, we've been quite unlucky this time... Don't take the 4051 (or any room near). We were above the engine room (continuous loud noises and high vibration). Unbearable, even with ear plugs and/or white noises. We didn't slept for 2 nights. After many complaints, we've been relocated. Later, we've received a letter saying they had mechanical problems (oh, really ?) with a cheap bottle of wine. I still ask myself how come this cruise line accepted to book these rooms ? Anyhow, the state room was regular and ok. We just go there to sleep so we don't mind about the size. Dining : disappointing. The Aloha Cafe is fine (go there instead of Liberty's and Skyline's dining room if the food really matters to you). Freestyle ? We tried but, with or without reservation, you have to wait. There is no somelier. For the ones who likes personal attention, you won't get those. You can wear whatever you want, there is no dress code (scruffy appearance by most of the clientele). For junk food, try the Cadillac. It's funny ! East meet west is the best dining on board. Entertainment : very basic. Don't expect much ! Service : we felt very unwecolmed. The staff is unhappy to work on this boat and to serve the guests. At the dining room, we could hear their snarky remarks about passengers. It felt like a summer camp. Ports and Shore excursions : ports of call are great ! Rent a car : it's cheaper and you'll see/do a lot more. The excursions are overpriced compared to any other cruise lines. But if you book with the ship, ask for Lila. She's the best and the nicest. Still, did you know you can book the exact same excursions but for much less ? Go online to "Robert's Hawaii". Gym : small but efficient. Very crowded. Spa : I've tried to go twice but they told me "come back tomorrow, we're busy"... So I really don't know. I just wanted to know the prices, how it works, etc. We won't go back on "Shame of America". We will think twice before going to any NCL ship mainly because of the terrible service and the poor dining. But, again, we've been spoiled with other cruise lines Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our best cruise ever. We cruised multiple times with Norwegian and always stay in Haven. This time we wanted to try out the Pride of America and the ship itself wasn't that great it's an old ship but, our butler was the ... Read More
This was our best cruise ever. We cruised multiple times with Norwegian and always stay in Haven. This time we wanted to try out the Pride of America and the ship itself wasn't that great it's an old ship but, our butler was the only reason why my whole family didn't miss the Haven! She was amazing throughout our entire trip. No words can explain this girl! Our reservations was done by day 1, anything you ask her it's like she sleep outside the door she's super fast the kids loved her very polite and beautiful! Thank you Susana. You are truly the best and will definitely ask for you next time we visit. Also, lots of American on this ship. Still no surprises, all the shows were amazings and restaurants staff provide great services excursions little over priced but worth it. Nepali coast helicopter and the luau kalamaku was my favorite .. We were all happy. Experience of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
We traveled on Pride of America around the Hawaiian Islands departing April 29th 2017, we have no issues with the cruise, it was everything we expected of Norwegian as we have traveled with them before. The cabin (we chose an Aft facing ... Read More
We traveled on Pride of America around the Hawaiian Islands departing April 29th 2017, we have no issues with the cruise, it was everything we expected of Norwegian as we have traveled with them before. The cabin (we chose an Aft facing cabin) which was roomy with an extra large balcony with tremendous views when leaving the ports of call. All in all this was a very full on cruise where the emphasis was on the ports of call and sail by's to ensure the full Hawaiian experience. The ships captain included a night time sail by to allow us the experience of seeing the hot volcanic lava spilling into the sea on the island off the island of Hawaii, a sight we will never forget. The cruise was intended to allow as much time as possible in port to allow time to discover the islands and to enjoy this cruise to its fullest your need to make the most of your time ashore to discover the sights and culture of the islands. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We booked this cruise on somewhat of a whim, but are so glad we did. We had an absolute blast. Vacations are VERY MUCH WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM. If you are an unhappy person, you will dislike any trip. If you enjoy life, you will find the ... Read More
We booked this cruise on somewhat of a whim, but are so glad we did. We had an absolute blast. Vacations are VERY MUCH WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM. If you are an unhappy person, you will dislike any trip. If you enjoy life, you will find the good in anything. This trip was awesome for our family! We spent a couple of days in Honolulu (Waikiki Beach) prior to departure. It is very important to call out... Uber while functional in HI, is not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. You will need to arrange a taxi or hotel transfers. We stayed at Embassy Suites - Waikiki Beach. We loved this place. Breakfast in the AM and Drinks/Snacks in the evening... a great pool, lanai and bands 4 days a week. How can you go wrong with that!? Also, walking distance to everything. We UberXL to the port at about 12:00pm. Embarkation was a breeze. The terminal was not crowded at all. The attendants greeted us with lays, bamboo crowns for the kids and flowers for the ladies hair. Pictures & paperwork, we were on the ship before we realized it. We had lunch in the Aloha Cafe (buffet) and explored the ship. Our room(s) were on the 4th floor (which made me feel I was going to have a bad experience)... but it actually turned out very well. We had a great view from our window and it was very quiet. We were in an inside and outside guarantee rooms. We were able to get into our rooms about 3pm. Dining overall was good. We really liked the flexibility of the mytime dining and casual nature of the Skyline restaurant. I can't say that I had anything that knocked my socks off from a food standpoint, but it kept my and my families bellies full and not complaining. We really enjoyed the barbecues by the pool and grill that always had burgers/hot-dogs/fries. The diner was a great go-to place too. We took special advantage of the deli meat and fruit in the AM and packed a cooler each day, with sandwichs, fruit, snacks and drinks. Maui 1 - With our packed cooler in tow, rented a car from Budget. (Budget has a shuttle to the airport to pickup the car.) Explored the island for the day (waterfalls, beaches, snorkeling). Headed back to the ship before dinner to get cleaned up. Easy on/off the ship. Maui 2 - Spent the day on the ship, taking advantage of day-time activities. Hilo - With our packed cooler in tow, rented a car from Budget. (Budget has a shuttle to the airport to pickup the car.) Explored the island for the day (Volcano, Waterfalls, Swimming holes.) Headed back to the ship before dinner to get cleaned up. Easy on/off the ship. Kona - Tender on/off the ship, requires a smaller boat on wavy seas, be prepared if you get sea sick easily. We visited the beach right there on the bay in the AM (snorkeling, beach). Back on the ship for the afternoon/evening. Kauai 1 - With our packed cooler in tow, rented a car from Budget. (Budget has a shuttle to the airport to pickup the car.) Explored the island for the day (waimea canyon, spouting horn, queens bath). Headed back to the ship for a late dinner. We were filthy from queens bath, lots of mud. Kauai 2 - Booked an excursion (outside of the cruise line) to go to Kipu Ranch (ATV Tour). We picked the 4 hour waterfall/UTV tour. It was very muddy and alot of fun. We were back on the ship by 1pm. We spent the afternoon doing cruise ship activities. Entertainment was good. Activities were good. (We attended the barbecues, pool-time activities, pool deck bands, dance competitions - and won, glow-party, white-party, polynesian shows, magic shows, comedian, etc.) Service was good. The service personnel are not bothersome. They are always around, and if you need something you can ask, but they are not in your face all day asking you if you want something. If you prefer that sort of vacation, you may be unhappy on this ship. My kids loved the kids program (the instructors, activities and friends that they made). They spent most evenings there from 6pm-10pm. My teen liked the teen hangout room and the flexibility to come and go as she pleased. Disembarkation went smoothly and took an Uber XL to the airport. With a flight 10 hours away, checked into the flight, handed off luggage and rented a car for the day to explore Oahu. Visited the North Shore & Pearl Harbor. Will I go back to Hawaii? Probably sometime later in life. There is so many other places to see in this world. Will I cruise with NCL again? Yes. We were pleasantly surprised with how much we loved the casual and flexible nature. What would I recommend to someone reading this review? Google maps is a great way to 'build your own excursion'. Renting a car is a great economical way to see the islands and at a pace your family can handle. Bring a soft sided cooler & some ziploc bags. (At breakfast, pack your water bottles, some fruit, make a handful of sandwhichs, etc.) In summary, do your homework. Most cruise lines charge gratuities. Most cruise lines now have specialty restaurants. Hawaii does not have a drink package. There is a cost associated with travel to/from the cruise ship, as is with most cruise-line / locations. Uber is limited by the airport. There is an 18% gratuity on every drink you purchase. If you are a wine drinker, look at the wine package - its the best bang for your buck. Set your expectations up front, and you will have a great time! This is a fantastic way to see/explore all of the islands in an easy on / easy off fashion, and can effectively be done without breaking the bank. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
If you have high expectations then this is NOT the ship for you...If you're more into the onshore activities and seeing the Hawaiian Islands then this may be the cruise for you. My husband and I have taken this cruise twice within a ... Read More
If you have high expectations then this is NOT the ship for you...If you're more into the onshore activities and seeing the Hawaiian Islands then this may be the cruise for you. My husband and I have taken this cruise twice within a two year period. We'd expect improvements from the first cruise, rather we were quite let down. The shows are exactly the same, you'd think they'd update their entertainment! How does this accommodate frequent cruisers? Their food sucks unless you purchase the specialty dining packages. If you have an expensive palate like mine then you're forced to pay that extra fee for the dining package, if not then you'll be disappointed. The wait staff on this ship are nothing compared to the service you'd get on other cruises. We missed a show due to the extensive time the main dining hall took on our dinner one night and almost missed a second nights show due to the same reason. We dodged the ball on this night because we walked out having to wait 20 minutes for our dessert, after waiting that long we did without the dessert and hurried to the show. Service lacks and food sucks, again unless you dine in the specialty restaurants. The room stewards are exceptional. They seem to have a passion for what they do, both cruises we've loved the service from our stewards. They make coming back and leaving the room pleasant. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We did a lot of research prior to our trip. We traveled with our family, total of 7 people. 5 adults and 2 children. I will continue this review and add pictures over the next couple of days. Overall, we had a great experience and would ... Read More
We did a lot of research prior to our trip. We traveled with our family, total of 7 people. 5 adults and 2 children. I will continue this review and add pictures over the next couple of days. Overall, we had a great experience and would highly recommend the Pride Of America to anyone wanting to visit Hawaii. This is the perfect way to visit the islands of Hawaii. The ship was very clean. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food, which continually gets a bad reputation, was good. We ate one night in the Aloha Cafe and was disgusted by the food, but we ate the rest of our meals at the Skyline. Skyline was a great alternative to the chaotic buffet. We booked all of our excursions with private tours (not with NCL). I hope to add reviews in the future. Some of our excursions were: the Fairwinds, Ricky's Tours, Kauai backcountry adventures and Chief's luau. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
A bit of background, we've been cruising for a number of years with our kids and have used several different companies. Last year we cruised for the first time with Norwegian and vowed to never cruise with them again for a host of ... Read More
A bit of background, we've been cruising for a number of years with our kids and have used several different companies. Last year we cruised for the first time with Norwegian and vowed to never cruise with them again for a host of reasons (being nickel and dimed to death, mediocre service, ship etc.). However we really wanted to explore the Hawaiian Islands without spending many days at sea and this is the only option. After many, many requests from my better half to reconsider we booked the cruise albeit half heartedly after reading some of the reviews on here. We still feel the nickel and diming is annoying but the cruise itself beat our expectations easily! The Ship: updated fairly recently it was always clean and is very easy to navigate, we had an obstructed view cabin and in all honesty it didn't matter - you're off the ship so much that an inside cabin would have been just as fine (and cheaper). Our room steward (Kris) was fantastic - always attentive to our requests and did a great job! Dining: The dining room staff were also very friendly and seemed to be run off their feet most nights but still had a quick smile when they interacted with us. The only issue we had with the dining room was the time it takes to get served (not the problem of the wait staff), I feel that the freestyle approach means that the kitchen is stretch too thin as theirs no 'concentration' of cooks working on entrees/appetizers etc. one evening we left after an hour and a half before we got to dessert. There's no shortage of places to eat - we loved the Diner and the Asian restaurant had really great food, the buffet was as good as any we've experienced in the past. Ports: The ports of call are perfect, we hired a car on 2 of the islands and saw so much! we booked all of our excursions of the ship and saved a ton of money. We would highly recommend this cruise as a way to see the islands without breaking the bank, the ship is basically a floating all inclusive hotel that has something for everyone. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
SHIP: Embarkation Very slow and poorly organized. Took over one hour of standing in line to get on the ship. Wait until after 1:30 pm to board. Cabin Inside cabin. Clean. Nice. Good, hard working room stewards. ... Read More
SHIP: Embarkation Very slow and poorly organized. Took over one hour of standing in line to get on the ship. Wait until after 1:30 pm to board. Cabin Inside cabin. Clean. Nice. Good, hard working room stewards. Entertainment Better than expected. We watched the shows on the last two nights of the cruise and regretted not attending the others. Dining East Meets West Tried the restaurant twice. Great appetizers, poor main courses. Skyline Tried the restaurant twice. Good appetizers, poor main courses. Aloha Cafe (buffet) After not so great experiences in the main dining rooms, we ate the remaining of our meals in the buffet. The dinner menus are better than the main dining rooms. Disembarkation Quick and easy. Went smoothly. PORTS: Oahu (Honolulu) Excellent public bus system. No need to rent a car. The Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor are must see attractions!!! Maui (Kahului) Excellent public bus system. No need to rent a car. Best Shave Ice in all of the islands IMO (we tried shave ice in all of the ports for comparison). Excellent beaches in Lahaina and Kihei. Big Island (Hilo) Poor public bus system. Rent a car. Big Island (Kailua-Kona) Poor public bus system. Rent a car. Kauia (Nawiliwili) Average public bus system. Renting a car would be faster. Rent bicycles and ride the trail that starts in Kapaa. It is excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We (two couples traveling) wanted to see the other Hawaiian islands that we had not visited previously and we thought this would be a great way to do it. We have cruised in the Caribbean on various cruise lines but had never cruised with ... Read More
We (two couples traveling) wanted to see the other Hawaiian islands that we had not visited previously and we thought this would be a great way to do it. We have cruised in the Caribbean on various cruise lines but had never cruised with Norwegian. With all this being said, the only reason I did not rate this cruise line and ship as "terrible" was the location of the cruise and the excursions were pretty good. That's the only thing it did right! The ship needs to be updated, the service is very sub-par, the food is not good, entertainment is poor and the rooms are smaller than competitor's ships. If you do choose to cruise on this ship, do not waste any $$ on the specialty restaurants other than Cagney's. We tried the Jefferson Bistro (had to wait over an hour for our main course and no one seem to care! ..... unbelievable), Cagney's and East Meets West. Cagney's food was good and the service was great. Can't say that about the other two restaurants. The main dining room food was o.k.....we only ate there once. The general dining staff was not friendly at all .... bar staff was friendly and chatty as you would expect. The excursion staff was helpful and friendly. So bottom line, as another reviewer stated, if Norwegian had any competition in Hawaii they would be out of business in a heartbeat. In the future, I will plan my own itinerary in the Hawaiian islands and fly from island to island. I am sure I can plan something better and less expensive than what Norwegian charges for their poor service! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
About us: We are a married couple in our 30s from the USA. This was our 11th cruise and first with NCL. Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. It was probably less than 30 minutes from the taxi drop off to when ... Read More
About us: We are a married couple in our 30s from the USA. This was our 11th cruise and first with NCL. Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. It was probably less than 30 minutes from the taxi drop off to when we boarded the ship. The lines were well organized and were always moving. (We arrived about 12:30pm at the port.) Upon Boarding: The entrance of the Pride of America leaves a lot to be desired. There is no wow effect like on the other larger cruise ships we’ve sailed. We checked to see if our room was ready, but the hallways were blocked off. We went to the dining room for lunch where the staff actually talked us out of eating there telling us the food would be better at the buffet (little did we know at the time, they were actually right). We had lunch at the buffet and waited for our floor to be called that it was ready…and we waited…and waited, until 3:15ish when our floor was called…it was nearly 4pm by the time they called the last floor. Stateroom: We had an inside room. This was a small room, but was manageable. We weren’t planning to spend much time there, just sleep and shower. Our room steward called us by name all week each time he saw us, which was impressive. However, he only cleaned our room once a day. We were often without towels each evening because he never came by for the turn down service. Ship Layout: This is was the worst layout we had ever seen for a cruise ship. There were several floors where you could only walk the length of the ship on one side and not the other. This lead to the theater filling up fast on one side and few people sitting on the other. Entering the buffet in one area the passengers have to walk through a galley pass through. I can’t tell you how many times a staff member almost ran over me running through the pass through. It was just odd. Buffet: The buffet area flowed nicely. Even at busy times in the morning when people were rushing to eat before excursions the lines moved fast and we could always find a place to sit. The food was average for cruise ship food. Nothing special, but also nothing terrible. Other Dining: We did not go to any of the restaurants that were an extra fee. However, we really enjoyed the 24 hour snacks at the bars including the popcorn. And we really enjoyed the 24 hour Cadillac Diner. That was a great place to get an appetizer between meals and also when we came back from excursions and the buffet was closed between lunch and dinner. Dining Room: Skyline & Liberty were the two dining rooms. One was supposed to have more of a dress code than the other, but we thought people looked the same in both. We liked that we were always able to have a table for two next to a window. The menu was just plain boring with not as many choices as what you get on the other big box cruise ships. (The worst was on Easter where there was only one choice for the dinner meal! We ended up having Easter dinner at the buffet.) The servers were hit and miss, some were very professional and others were not. Entertainment: The Oh What A Night Frankie Valli show was great! That is a must see! The comedian was good as was the magician. But the shows with the cast from NCL were terrible. We gave each of them a shot, but ended up walking out of each of those shows. It was like watching a middle school performance. As for the cruise director, she was a little dull and lacked enthusiasm as did her entertainment cruise staff. We won prizes at trivia because we were the only people who showed up. American Crew: The main difference with having a mainly American crew that we noticed was they were more willing to actually engage and hold a conversation with you. Overall, they were likely less professional than what we’ve experienced on other cruises, but overall they got the jobs done and it really wasn’t as big of a deal as others have mentioned in their reviews. Napali Coastline: We went out to the promenade deck about 30 minutes before the narration started to secure a good spot for photos. The narration started about 5:15pm and we took our best photos about 5:30-5:45pm. One the ship sails past the coastline, it turns around and sails back past it again. The first time by there were hundreds of people out on the promenade deck, once we turned, we switched to the other side and there were six of us out there. The scenery was spectacular, I’m not sure why everyone else when back inside. Debarkation: We chose to walk off with all of our luggage around 7:45am. This was very easy without any lines. Excursions: Kahului, Maui - We booked with Valley Isle Excursions for the Road to Hana tour. It was a great way to see a lot of Maui on our first day there. After taking this excursion, we were so glad that we hadn’t booked a rental car because the driver never would have seen anything (as the driver has to focus so much on driving) as well as many rental agencies force renters to turn around at Hana. (There is nothing to see in Hana. And, the “fun” part of the road is really just beginning after Hana!) Our driver was great, super friendly, laid back, and knowledgeable. Anytime he thought something might be of interest or if a waterfall was running really good, then he would stop and for us to take photos. Our bus had 10 people and was a nice size group. Lunch was salad, roll, and barbecue chicken breasts. There was always water and coke available on the bus as well as at lunch. The scenery on this trip is spectacular, lots of steep rocky coast lines and a few water falls here and there. Well worth the price! The cruise ship offered pretty much the same tour, but they had more people per bus than what we had for more money per person. We had a great time and enjoy having more flexibility than with the cruise ship tour. Kahului, Maui – NCL excursion to Haleakala Crater. This is the second most popular excursion for the Maui port (Road to Hana is the most popular). This was a big bus excursion with about 50 people. There were many switchback turns going up to the crater. It was cool once we got above the cloud line and saw the clouds below. At the crater we got some nice photos. Hilo – NCL excursion Akaka Falls & Volcano National Park. This was a big bus excursion with about 50 people. Originally we had signed up for Rainbow Falls and Volcano National Park, but NCL changed us to this excursion because the parking lot at Rainbow Falls was being redone while we were there. We were at Akaka Falls for about 30-40 minutes. The falls were large and flowing well. The down side was that it was raining while we were there, so our photos are not very good. We had several stops at Volcano National Park, at a larger crater, steam vents, a large lava tube to walk through and a lava field. It did rain on and off while we were there, but that is the nature of this part of the big island. We also had two bathroom/shopping stops on this excursion. One stop at an orchid farm and one at a macadamia nut factory. We were given a box lunch of a turkey sandwich, apple, chips, cookie, and water that we ate on the bus. Kona – NCL excursion Captain Zodiac Snorkeling - You tender from the cruise ship to the pier and then the Captain Zodiac crew meets you there. First you sign your life away with a waiver, and then you are off for the fun! On the zodiac boat, you sit on the side and do not where a life vest. On the way to the snorkeling site which took about 45 minutes we did see one whale, which was pretty neat considering we were at the end of the whale season. The snorkeling site is in a cove area and other companies take guests there too. It wasn’t too busy the day we were there. They did have a few prescription masks on board too, which was nice for those with glasses. You enter the water by going over the side of the zodiac boat and then they have a ladder to use to get back in the zodiac. The snorkeling site was pretty good. We’ve seen better other places in the world, but this was decent. We saw at least a dozen or so different type of fish and even a free swimming eel. We were at the snorkeling area for over an hour. When everyone finished we were offered a snack of chips, fruit, water, and coke. On the way leaving the snorkeling site several pods of dolphins showed up, so we watched those for a while before going back. On the way back, we hugged the coast line and lava features were pointed out. The following morning we woke up with sore butts. You don’t realize how much you are bouncing around on the zodiac boat until the next day. This is definitely not a trip for those with any back issues. We had a good time and the captain Andy and his assistant Liz were both friendly. Nawiliwili, Kauai – NCL Heaven and Earth Quest excursion – this excursion included a helicopter sight seeing as well as sight seeing on land. First we were taken to the airport for the helicopter tour. The helicopters each hold 7 guests, 3 in the front and 4 in the back, so not everyone gets a window seat. The company assigns seats by weight so you do not have a seating choice. Also, if you wear lighter color clothing they will force you to wear a black t-shirt that they provide to prevent glare in photos. I had a seat next to the window and there was a lot of glare in my photos. The scenery was spectacular! The photos we took do not even begin to show the depth of what we saw. I would highly recommend a helicopter tour of Hawaii! It was well worth the price. The land tour portion of this excursion was a little dull, but we did get to see most of the east side of the island including Hanalei Bay and Kilauea Point. Lunch was provided and was a turkey sandwich, chips, and water that we ate at a park beside the ocean. Kilauea Point was beautiful with lots of birds and beautiful rocky coastline. We got some great photos there. Nawiliwili, Kauai – NCL Waimea Canyon excursion. Our primary goal was to see Waimea Canyon by land since we saw it by helicopter the previous day. There was only one lookout point for the canyon and it was gorgeous and worth the trip. We also had a couple of bathroom/shopping stops on this excursion including one at a blow hole. According to our driver this was the best blow hole in Hawaii and compared to what we saw else where it was! We also stopped at Kauai coffee. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Eight of us (in 4 cabins) planned this trip and it was totally enjoyed by all (ages 40 - 70) There were activities on board ship, shore excursions, things to do on our own. Hawaii is beautiful and being on the ship to be able to make ... Read More
Eight of us (in 4 cabins) planned this trip and it was totally enjoyed by all (ages 40 - 70) There were activities on board ship, shore excursions, things to do on our own. Hawaii is beautiful and being on the ship to be able to make port at all the islands is the only way to go! Our 2nd week was spent in a condo on Kauai which was fantastic. I definitely recommend the cruise for first time visitors to Hawaii. Each island is unique and you get to see them all without the hassle of flights and hotels (to say nothing of packing and unpacking on a daily basis!!!) I have been on several other cruises and I wouldn't rate the food on Pride of America as being the best I've ever had but it was very good, beautifully prepared and the employees on the ship couldn't have been any nicer. I had read reviews that the service wasn't up to par compared to other ships but we did not find that to be true at all. It was a fun, relaxing and totally enjoyable week. Some did miss not having a casino on board but not being a gambler that didn't bother me. There was a pool, music and a spa! We booked directly with NCL receiving top service, even getting upgrades to balcony rooms when we had booked inside cabins. Now I am spoiled and will always want a balcony!!! A great time was had by all and we can't wait to return to Hawaii Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
The food and drinks were awful including the specialty restaurants. Limited entertainment with poor after dinner shows. Minimal activities for children and teenagers. Alcoholic beverages extremely expensive. Ship is extremely outdated. ... Read More
The food and drinks were awful including the specialty restaurants. Limited entertainment with poor after dinner shows. Minimal activities for children and teenagers. Alcoholic beverages extremely expensive. Ship is extremely outdated. Mostly accommodating to senior citizens. Most bars closed by 10 or 11pm. Excursions were $100.00 more per person than vendors exciting the port. We cruise twice per year. This ship and cruiseline were disappointing to say the least. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Expected the food to be better. The specialty restaurants were great but dining hall and buffet needs to step up the quality of their food. Uncalled for when you have to send your meal back to be re-cooked and this happened more than once! ... Read More
Expected the food to be better. The specialty restaurants were great but dining hall and buffet needs to step up the quality of their food. Uncalled for when you have to send your meal back to be re-cooked and this happened more than once! I'm all about quality! Service was okay, it's funny because I asked one worker for sour cream and was told there was none. I walked a few steps further and asked another worker for some and she got me some! I guess some workers really live up to Norwegians motto to make the customer happy and some workers don't give a s---! I loved our room stewardess she was awesome! Very welcoming and helpful! Always asking if we needed anything! I had to make a formal complaint with one of the managers about the bathroom near the oasis hot tub. It reeked urine and feces and evidence was on the floor. I made the complaint because it's the nearest restroom and we watched cruisers open the door and close it after smelling the stench, health issue by far! We hung around for over an hour and no one came to clean it during the time! Unprofessional! We enjoyed the entertainment! We participated in he different trivia's, nightly shows, bingo, newly weds, perfect couples, etc! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Our family of four decided to take this cruise from Honolulu to three neighboring islands over Spring Break. The Pride of America is a large ship, although not super-sized and we had a bit over 2,000 guests on our cruise. The ship is well ... Read More
Our family of four decided to take this cruise from Honolulu to three neighboring islands over Spring Break. The Pride of America is a large ship, although not super-sized and we had a bit over 2,000 guests on our cruise. The ship is well maintained and clean throughout. Most of the employees take pride in their work and seemed happy to be on board. The price of the cruise was a bit higher than anticipated, but overall the cruise was great and we had a fun time. We purchased our tickets using the ticket office on base as I am active duty military. We saved about $50 off the NCL price. Cabins We opted for two cabins instead of one so four adults (kids: 14, 23 yrs) wouldn’t be stuffed into one room with only one bathroom. Suite options were a bit expensive, and not all suites have multiple bathrooms, so we decided on one balcony and one ocean view room. As we made reservations late, our rooms were not near each other. The balcony was room 7648 and the ocean view was 4588. Cabin 7648: This seems to be a standard balcony cabin and was sold as such. However, once we got to the room, we found it had a partially obstructed view. There was nothing in front of the window, but the life boats were only two cabins forward of our room blocking any forward looking view. Also, a life saving equipment crane on deck 6 would be in any photo from the balcony as it rose up towards deck 7. I tried to change rooms once on board, but the cruise was sold out. Otherwise, this cabin was OK. Walking space was tight as the king sized bed was only 12 or 18 inches from the wall. The small shelves and cabinets did help with stowing gear, and the space under the bed was perfect for storing suitcases. The bathroom was sufficient and had a medicine cabinet behind one mirror. Before we embarked, I called NCL to inquire if the room had bathrobes…they told me it did not. Once we were in the room, I did not see any robes, but after dinner we had robes. I don’t know if this is because I complained about the view or because I called NCL. See cabin section of review for more. Cabin 4588: This is a ADA compliant room which was a bonus for us. We only requested a standard ocean view cabin, but this is the cabin we were assigned. This cabin had two single beds, a nice desk area, two sitting chairs with a table, good storage, and a huge bathroom. There was plenty of room to walk as the space between the foot of the bed and the wall was an easy 8 feet. This cabin is located on the port side in the middle of the ship. It was directly port of the mid-ship elevators which made accessing any area on the ship super easy. Most disembarkation took place on the 3rd deck below this cabin, making shore trips that much easier. Food and Dining Overall, food on this cruise ranged from delicious to unremarkable. Aside from the buffet and lunch lines, dinner service took a long time but could be sped up if the guest is in a hurry. We ate breakfast at the Aloha Café or Moderno every day. I liked the selection of main and side dishes, and the bacon was fresh and crispy all the time. My wife was disappointed by the pastry selection as they did not have the fruit pastry she liked. Although some of the selections changed daily, most breakfast foods, including pastries, were the same every day. We have to comment on the service at this buffet…it was good. Everyone was friendly and helpful. My wife likes plain French toast, but the buffet had thick bread with cinnamon and raisins. We asked Yessi, the cook behind the line, if they could make plain French toast and they did. It took a few minutes, but 4 out of 6 days we had fresh French toast made to order. On the third day, Yessi actually made it without us requesting it, but that day we tried the buffet selection, so Yessi waited for our request before making the special order. During our cruise, sunrise happened just past 0630. I normally woke at 0600 and had enough time to find a spot on the aft deck and then get coffee and breakfast in plenty of time to witness a beautiful sunrise. The buffet and the tables were not crowded at this time, but everything got busy at 0700. Of note, coffee is available on the Aloha line, but there is also a coffee/drink station near the aft deck on the starboard side…it is much closer to the aft dining area. We hardly ate lunch on the ship, but the few times we did, we had BBQ dishes (burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs) or main dish items in the buffet. Nothing special to report, but nothing bad either. We ate dinner at the buffet once and enjoyed a few dinner-time snacks as well. The menu changed a little every day and each meal had a carving station with a different meat each night. The crepe station made a good, fresh dessert, and soft serve ice cream was available too. For dinner, our rooms had been booked while NCL was running a special that included OBC and the Ultimate Dining Package (UDP). We ate at Cagney’s twice, Skyline MDR, East Meets West, La Cucina, and the Teppanyaki. Reservations for the first two nights were easy to secure, but after that it was tough to get in when we wanted. We ended up eating teppanyaki at 2130 and Cagney’s at 2100 later in the cruise. Teppanyaki only sits 32 customers at each of three sittings, so it is the toughest to get into. I strongly recommend advance reservations for all UDP choices. Cagney’s had the best food. The arugula salad was quite tasty and is recommended. The chicken drumsticks are sweet and sour, but quite tasty. The prime rib confit is a small appetizer but packed with flavor and is served with tast pita bread. I liked the bread and garlic butter served early in the meal. The bison was unremarkable but the filet mignion (5 and 8 oz), leg of lamb, and rib eye steaks (12 or 16 oz, I forget) were delicious. My favorite was the sea bass which fell apart with the slightest touch of my fork. All meat dishes were cooked exactly as ordered. Service was good, but it did take at least 90 minutes for each meal. La Cucina also pleased our palates. The restaurant was breezy which made it cool throughout dinner. I feel as if the staff closed the front door this problem would have disappeared. The lasagna and pizza (served as appetizer, but full size pizza) was tasty but the lobster pasta was just so-so…maybe I am not a good judge though as I don’t eat much lobster. Of note, the chocolate raspberry tart for dessert was delicious. East Meets West is also home to the Teppanyaki. Our first night at EMW, we only had 60 minutes before the magic show. We let our team (Kwan and Austin) know we had a timeline and they made sure we met it. Orders were placed in an expedite status and we never had to wait for the next dish. The chicken kung pao and orange beef was OK, the sweet and sour pork was so-so, and the dessert was all delicious. Teppanyaki was disappointing. The show during the meal prep was great, but the food was not that good. We started with a salad which was OK. Once the chef came out, we had fried rice and then the main dish prepared in front of us. The shrimp was good, but the steak did not have much flavor. The dessert was highlighted by the ginger cake served with green tea ice cream. Finally, the Skyline MDR was disappointing. I don’t remember what we had. The food was not bad, but it wasn’t very remarkable either. The service seemed all over the place and there was no organized entertainment aside from the live music in the center. Our server brought us our food but never made a connection with us. She also never used the word YES. Everywhere else on the ship, people said yes or yes sir, but this particular server’s reply was yeah. Not that I care what people say, but her words were not up to par with other staff on the POA. Finally, the mai tai served at the Waikiki Bar on the 13th deck was well prepared and taasted good. The drink was served with a mint leave, an orange, and a stick of cinnamon. I had never had cinnamon in a mai tai before, but will be trying this one at home in the future. The dress code for all UDP and the Skyline is casual, but not swimwear or flip flops, although we did see a few dinners in flip flops. NCL seems to try to keep the restaurants looking classy but doesn’t refuse service to the few customers who don’t meet the dress code. Liberty MDR and the Jefferson Bistro both require a bit more though, collared shirts for men and dresses for women. Of note, once on the ship, we received a note offering us $100 credit towards excursions in each port if we didn’t use the UDP. This was a per cabin credit. I think you could have used one, maybe two nights, of the specialty dining, and then turned it in for credit. As we were booking our own excursions, we kept the UDP. Itinerary Disclaimer up front…you will not be relaxed or refreshed after this cruise. As the POA docks in a new port every day and there are no days at sea, you feel rushed to do as much as you can in a short amount of time. The cruise is a good cruise, but you will stay busy or have to choose to skip a port if you want to simply relax. We stopped in Maui, Hilo, Kona, and Kauai. We over nighted in Maui and Kauai. This ship will sail by any active lava flows on the big island, but as none are active now, the POA simply sailed from Hilo to Kona. We took our cruise in March, which is in the winter whale season. Whales were seen while sailing into and out of port in Maui, Hilo, and Kona. Dolphins and a whale were seen near the ship while anchored off the coast of Kona. With a family of four and a budget, we did not use any of NCL’s excursions. Instead we rented cars and planned our own trip. One thing to keep in mind if you do this is the time required to get and drop off your car. If you have reservations, you can take the rental companies’ shuttles from the pier, but you will have to wait in line at the pier and again at the airport. In Maui, this process took over an hour, in Hilo and Kauai, about 45 minutes. Entertainment We did not see any of the musical and dance acts. We did enjoy the magic show and the comedy show. The ship’s magician is Charles Bach. He pulls off some cool parlor tricks in a smaller show in the Mardi Gras lounge and then some bigger tricks in the main showroom. On the sail to the Napali Coast, he escapes from chains and locks while underwater in the ship’s pool. He was under water for nearly 3 minutes! The comedian was Michael Sommerville. His act had me in tears, but it seems to be much the same as the act he performed last year on Letterman. I think this was his last cruise, so expect a new comedian in the future. In summary, we had a good time on POA. The staff was attentive and friendly. The pricing was a little high, but POA does have a monopoly on this specific market. We would do this cruise again in the future, but would adjust our shore activities based on personal preferences. Mike Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
I have been in 7 cruises so far, three of them with NCL. I was looking forward to this trip because I wanted the opportunity to see more than just one island in Hawaii. Unfortunately, even though I considered until now NCL to be the better ... Read More
I have been in 7 cruises so far, three of them with NCL. I was looking forward to this trip because I wanted the opportunity to see more than just one island in Hawaii. Unfortunately, even though I considered until now NCL to be the better value (I traveled with Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean); this last cruise disappointed me. Having paid $ 5100 for my daughter and I, I expected the cabin to be larger. The ship needs updating. Carpets are dirty. The cabin was dusty. The bed was extremely hard and lumpy. The shower was very small by any standard (I am not morbidly obese other passengers). And if you Service was decidedly poor. Many of the service crew looked like they didn't want top be there, and some of them were outright rude. The food was not very good, large quantities without quality. And the specialty restaurants I tried were not that special. Stay away from the brazilian rodizio-the meat was very tough an dry; the italian was OK, the asian was OK an the french was really good. Considering that we pay a premium to go to the specialty restaurants, it is really not worth it when the rest of the included options are of similar quality. While the islands are paradise on earth, and hawaiian people are very nice; now I think I should have just paid to stay a weeklong in a resort. Pride of America is not up to the standards of other NCL ships Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
My husband and I took this trip with our 2 girls, ages 7 and 11. We do a big trip each Spring Break, and this has to be one of our favorites. We loved the ship, all of the crew was very nice and helpful. We booked an inside cabin for ... Read More
My husband and I took this trip with our 2 girls, ages 7 and 11. We do a big trip each Spring Break, and this has to be one of our favorites. We loved the ship, all of the crew was very nice and helpful. We booked an inside cabin for all 4 of us because we aren't ever in the room very much. It was really small, but what we expected on a cruise ship. We loved the food in the Aloha Cafe. The girls really liked the Cadillac Diner. When we went to the nicer restaurants, I thought the food was just OK. We didn't eat in any of the restaurants you had to pay extra for. The girls went to the Kids Club every night and loved it. They wanted to get back from activities on the islands as soon as possible so they could go. All of the counselors were great. In each port we rented a car from Budget. They, along with others, had a shuttle that would pick you up at each port and take you to the airport to get your car. The only place this wasn't true was in Kona. They don't have a shuttle there, so I would rent from somone else. In Maui you can park your car outside the boat - there is very limited parking. We kind of had to make our own space. In Kauai we parked in a shopping center for $20. They had a shuttle that would take you to the ship and back to the car that ran every 15 minutes. I planned all of our own excursions. Most of my ideas came from Frommers Hawaii 2012. I would definitely recommend buying it before the cruise. This is what we did in each port: Oahu - Our favorite thing to do in Oahu is go to the North Shore. We went and swam at Waimea Bay. It is fun for the kids to play in the waves. My husband and 11 year old also had fun jumping off a rock into the ocean. You definitely have to try the Shrimp Trucks. We like Giovanni's. Get the shrimp scampi - lots of garlic and butter - so good!!! They also let you write on the truck with a sharpie - our girls loved that. Matsumoto's Shave Ice is also in the North Shore - you don't want to miss that either. We didn't have a chance to do this before the cruise, but we love Hanauma Bay. They have the best snorkeling there, and it is a beautiful beach. Maui - First we drove to Lahaina and walked around. There is a really old banyan tree there that is neat to see. After that we went to Kaanapali Beach. The waves are great for boogie boarding or body surfing. Then we went to Kapalua Beach. It is a beautiful beach lined with palm trees. It is a little hard to find - kind of behind the Ritz Carlton. The second day in Maui we went on a snorkeling trip to Molokini crater with Trilogy. I would highly recommend the trip and using Trilogy. The crew was wonderful, and they gave you breakfast and a catered lunch. We saw tons of fish around the crater, then they took us to another location where we saw sea turtles. Lots of fun!!! Hilo - We went to Hawaiian National Volcanoes Park. Hilo is one of the few places with an active volcano. When we went up to view it, it was smoking from the crater. Very cool! We then went and walked through Thurston Lava Tube. The kids loves it. This took most of the day. On the way back we drove to see Akaka Falls which was beautiful. Kona - First we went to the Sea Horse Farm. It was very informative, and at the end you get to hold a sea horse - it will wrap it's tail around your finger. After that we went to Kahaluu Beach Park. There are beautiful views as you drive down to it. The beach is made from lava rocks, and there are large black lava rocks in the water you can snorkel around. It was not my girls favorite snorkel spot because it is kind of shallow around the rocks (plus I think they were spoiled from the trip to Molokini). There are lots of sea turtles in the area, and 2 came up on the rocks while we were there. It was neat to see them that close. After the beach we returned our car, and walked around the town of Kona - it is very near where you get on the ship. Be sure you get some Kona Coffee to take home. :) Kauai - This, along with Oahu, was one of our favorite stops. The island is so green and beautiful! We drove to the North Shore to go to Kee Beach. Be warned - it takes at least an hour to get there - but it was worth it. It is beautiful beach surrounded by huge green cliffs. It was also a good place to snorkel. On the way to Kee Beach we stopped at Tunnels Beach. We didn't swim, because the waves were pretty big. Across from Tunnels is a dry cave you can walk through - very cool! Go up the road toward Kee Beach and there is a wet cave you can see. The girls were going to take surfing lessons in Poipu, but we missed them because of how long it took us to get back from Kee Beach. We had booked it through Margo Oberg, that Frommers recommended. I called them when we realized we were going to be late to see about rescheduling, but no one answered the phone. I left a message, but no one called back. When we got to Poipu, there was another surf company there, and they said they had never even showed up. They don't even have a shop they just meet in the parking lot. Not sure I would recommend. My girls went into the water at Poipu and had a good time boogie boarding in the waves. On the 2nd day in Kauai we splurged and went on a helicopter tour to see Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast. We used Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. I would highly recommend them, and our pilot Jimmy. We saw so much we would have never seen otherwise. Kauai is so beautiful, and even more so when you are seeing it in a helicopter. One of the highlights was at the beginning of the trip when we were flying toward Waimea Canyon, and there was a full rainbow right in front of us. We had a great trip and were sad to get off the cruise today. It is a trip our family will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Let me preface this review by saying we were concerned with some of the reviews we read on Cruise Critic prior to sailing on the Pride of America (POA). This was our 10th cruise mostly sailing on Carnival in the past. Our expectations were ... Read More
Let me preface this review by saying we were concerned with some of the reviews we read on Cruise Critic prior to sailing on the Pride of America (POA). This was our 10th cruise mostly sailing on Carnival in the past. Our expectations were neutral towards the POA based on some reviews. We couldn't have been more pleased with our cruise. Our group of four didn't take this trip for a 5 star dining experience, casino action, or to be pampered by a conceige. We booked to see four islands of Hawaii. We got what we wanted with a very nice cruise experience.Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom, deck 7. Although the cabin is small compared to Carnival we had ample room, and a very comfotable bed. The balcony was perfect for watching cruise past the Na'Pali coast. The bathroom is small. The shower is small. At 6' 200lbs. I had enough room to manuever. Our room was always clean and well tended to.Dining: We never found a need to use any up charge restaurant. After long days touring the islands the last thing we wanted to do was get dressed up for dinner. We did use the Skyline one evening but were disappointed that the food at the Aloha Buffet offerd us more choices. With that we ate most of our meals at the Aloha. The food was always good, the choices plentiful. Don't miss the crepes and the bread pudding with some ice cream for dessert! We also used the Cadillac Diner often. An appetizer of hot wings, the best fish and chips I've ever had on a cruise ship, and a dessert that was a rich chocolate, brownie, ice cream thing was wonderful after a long day. " Sam I Am" the manager was great as was the service of Monica our server.Staff: I was concerned about some comments about the mostly American staff. Absolutely the most friendly, courteous, and helpful staff of ANY cruise that we have taken. No language barriers! Everyone was willing to chat and share their experiences. It's easy to kid around with Americans because they "get it". Restaurant managers, especially Dave Lillis, went out their way to make sure we had what we wanted. One evening we mentioned we were disappointed that there was no clam chowder that evening on the buffet. Within minutes Dave had clam chowder on our table. That's never happened to us before. Usually managers don't have the time for you.The Ship: We all thought the POA was well appointed. The USA theme was tastefully done. The decks were laid out well. The pools are FRESH water, which we found very nice. The decks were always clean. The waiters are not constantly hounding you to buy the "drink of the day", but were always near when you did want a drink. Although the shops were small we found the prices to be much more reasonable than previous cruises. Sweatshirts at $22 compared to $42 on other ships.Conclusion; Don't hesitate to book NCL and the POA as a way to see Hawaii. We rented cars at every stop and toured the islands at our pace seeing what we we wanted to see. If you're looking for a 5-Star cruise, and want to be pampered, then look somewhere else. If you want a comfortable ship, with a great staff and good food, and a great way to see four islands in seven days then NCL's Pride of America is a great way to do it! Any questions regarding this cruise send me an e-mail and I'd be more than happy to try and answer any questions you might have.Mike C. mecling@ameritech.net Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
This was the worst cruise we have ever taken!Having said that I will comment on the positive thing that we found about this cruise/cruise line. Our 2 children really enjoyed the kids area. We were pleased with the way that it was run and ... Read More
This was the worst cruise we have ever taken!Having said that I will comment on the positive thing that we found about this cruise/cruise line. Our 2 children really enjoyed the kids area. We were pleased with the way that it was run and with the youth counselors. There were plenty of them to watch, play with, and do activities with the kids. We also liked that they had structured activities for the kids all the time and they had a discipline policy. Because on the Disney cruise we took it was very disappointing to send our kids to the kids area, it was a total free for all with not many activities and not very many adults to supervise or interact with the kids. But, it was NOT that way on the Pride of America. So, I am happy about that!Our room was dirty. The carpets were like dusty especially in the corners. The bathroom smelled like urine, very strong urine. I actually took my travel disinfectant spray and sprayed under the rim of the toilet and found what looked like, black mold, that came out. I then took the toilet brush and scrubbed and scrubbed and got most of the black stuff off. My husband walked into the bathroom and said, "It smells better now." So, it's so disappointing to go on a cruise and have to clean your own toilet especially for the money we paid. Our stateroom lady did a pretty good job, but NOT excellent. She forgot to refill things, and just did a half way job. She didn't vacuum the entire cruise. Our room was sooooo small, it was the smallest we have ever been in. The balcony was dirty and the railing was unmaintained. There was no varnish, just bare wood. It was also greasy. The first night in the liberty dining room was just ok. It took FOREVER to get our food. They were not friendly or happy to serve us at all. They were almost rude. The second night we went to the Skyline dining room. We got our appetizer and salad in a pretty timely manner, but we waited 30 minutes before we just decided to walk out. We didn't get any waiter asking us if we were doing ok, or if we needed anything or our entrees would be out soon. We did not set foot in any of the dining rooms the rest of the cruise. It was terrible. We ate at the buffet, or room service or the Cadillac diner. The quality and taste of the food was just ok. I will say that the room service was actually good. They staff of the room service was VERY friendly. It was like a battle to get our food at the buffet. The staff was like put off to serve us and we had to almost yell to get them to put some food on our plate. Usually on cruises the staff is friendly and says hello and is genuinely happy and nice, but NOT on this ship. The shore excursions were pretty good, but still VERY overpriced. I think they were a rip off. We just felt like we got so ripped off for this whole cruise! We paid a lot of money for this cruise and we DID NOT get what we paid for. We have gone on very inexpensive cruises before and got far more than we paid for. I feel like if we would get 2/3rds of our money back would would have received what we paid for. I never have written a review before. I felt like I needed to write this review to warm everyone not to waste their money on this cruise. I know that it seems like the perfect way to see the islands. We thought that too. It would be a great way to see the islands if the cruise wasn't so terrible. We did enjoy seeing the islands. Hawaii is great! When we go back to Hawaii we will stay at hotels and fly from island to island or pick a couple islands to visit and rent a car on the islands. I think even doing that we would save money. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
It was great to find out first hand that most of the negative stuff I had read about the NCL Pride of America was, in my personal opinion, not true. First of all let me say that this review is based on my 14-yr. old son's, my ... Read More
It was great to find out first hand that most of the negative stuff I had read about the NCL Pride of America was, in my personal opinion, not true. First of all let me say that this review is based on my 14-yr. old son's, my husband's and my experiences aboard the NCL Pride Of America cruise to Hawaii we took from 10/3-10/10. Secondly, we are not loyal to any one cruise line and we are experienced travelers. So, having said that, here is my very LONG and thorough review. We were met at the airport in Honolulu by a representative from NCL to help us transfer to the bus that would take us to the POA. The NCL representative was very friendly and helpful. We had landed in Honolulu (arriving from Los Angeles) at about 11:00a. This was the first time we had made travel arrangements through NCL. The airline times NCL arranged for us were excellent. This was one of the first nice surprises as on Cruise Critics' NCL Boards we had read all kinds of negative stuff about arranging your airline tickets through your cruise line. Our airline arrangements through NCL couldn't have been better for our personal time-constraint needs. Embarkation: Fast and friendly. We are Latitudes members (Bronze Level) and have cruised on NCL 4 times now. Our membership allowed us to get into the line that is for Latitudes members only. This was a really nice perk as the line for non-members was pretty long. We had arrived in Honolulu by air at 11a and by 12:25p we were sitting in the Gold Rush Saloon eating lunch! That's how fast we got through transferring from the airport to the cruise port,embarkation, ship security, and having our pictures taken with two lovely Hawaiians. The embarkation person we signed in with was very nice and helpful. No complaints at all about embarkation for us! Our next really nice surprise, after boarding the POA, was that every staff and crew member we met was incredibly friendly and helpful (unlike all the negative reviews we had read on CC about the American NCL staff). We followed a tip I had read on CC and got our lunch from the Aloha Cafe (the buffet), which was delicious (our next good surprise and again opposed to all the negative CC reviews about the Aloha Cafe's food)and took it to eat in the Gold Rush Saloon. The Gold Rush Saloon staff, especially "Valerie", were super friendly and helpful in getting us our unlimited Soda card and Teen card for our son. We spent a lot of time in the Gold Rush Saloon and Valerie was always there with a smile and an offer of whatever service we needed. Gold Rush Saloon: This section of the ship was a great find! When the Aloha Cafe is crowded you can take your food here and always find a table to eat on. We found the service in the Gold Rush Saloon to be fast and courteous. Also, we were able to watch the College basketball finals, the Masters golf tournament, and American Idol on a big screen TV. You also can get free, hot, delicious popcorn in there. This was one of my favorite places on the POA. One of the first things we did on embarkation day, besides eat lunch in the Gold Rush Saloon, was to go to a Meet and Greet that was set up by one of our lovely co-passengers on the CC NCL Roll Call Board. We were totally blown away by the reception we were given. At the meeting, which was held at the Diamonhead Auditorium, there was a very nice setup of food and drink but the most outstanding surprise was that we were greeted by just about every head of staff on the ship, including the Captain himself! The staff of the POA is unique to any other ship we've sailed on in that they really care very much about making your cruise the best it can be. We were asked what our needs were, what we expected from the cruise, and were given business cards from each head of staff so that if we needed or wanted anything we just had to call them and ask. This kind of greeting had never happened on any other ship I've been on. The Staff: I'm sorry to say that at the moment I can't find my stack of business cards that would allow me to mention each and every person that we met at the Meet and Greet but when I do find them I will post them on the CC NCL Board. This is without a doubt the friendliest staff and crew we have ever met on any cruise ship that we have sailed, and we have sailed for many years on many different cruise lines. The POA staff is superior and I can't for the life of me understand why there are so many negative complaints about the POA's staff and crew on the CC NCL Board. These people really care about your enjoyment of the ship they work on. Not only were greeted by most of the heads of staff at our Roll Call's Meet and Greet, they asked us to come back on the last day of the cruise and give them our feedback about our experiences on the POA so that they could correct any problems that we found and make things better for the next cruisers. Again, I have never been so greatly impressed with any cruise ship's staff or crew as I was with the POA's. Every time we passed a crew member on the ship, whether it was the Captain himself or one of the service staff, we were greeted with a smile and asked if we were enjoying our cruise and if there was anything they could do for us. I've just never experienced this level of service on any ship we've ever been on and my husband and son feel the same way. We have no complaints about the POA staff and crew. Hands down they are the best ever! Food: This is a very subjective subject, but here goes. Again, what's up with all the criticism about NCL's and especially the POA's food?!! I am a very picky eater and my husband rarely dislikes anything he eats. We are totally at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to our tastes in foods and yet we both, including our very picky 14 yr. old, found the food to be very good in every venue on the ship we ate at. I can't speak to any other pay-to-dine restaurant, other than the steakhouse, but at every other place on the ship we ate, includeing the Aloha Cafe (buffet). We were more than satisfied with the food on the POA. We were especially amazed at the quality and variety of the food served in the Aloha Cafe, especially after reading such negative things about it. I was also very impressed with the wonderful variety of fresh breads served everyday in the Aloha Cafe and elsewhere on the ship. And no, the hot dog buns were not stale (and I ate lots of them, at all different times and days of the week)as described on the CC NCL Boards. All and all we have nothing, absolutely nothing negative to say about the food on the POA. Cabin: We stayed in cabin 4071, an inside cabin that slept all three of us. It was located on the 4th level of the ship and was in a great location. It was near elevators and on port days it was only one floor down to exit the ship. The two main levels of the ship were the two floors above us. We were very happy with our cabin's location on the ship. Our son slept in an upper bunk and my husband and I slept in two single beds that were separated by two small night stands that were placed between them. There was plenty of drawer and closet space for the three of us. There was a small TV that we watched CNN on (we like to keep up with the world news)that also had various other channels which we didn't watch much. The bathroom was small, but there was plenty of room for all three of our various personal toiletries. There is a nice large shelf under the sink for storing stuff. There was both a full-length mirror and a huge mirror over the small desk. The seating in the room consisted of a chair for the desk and a small leather stool. There were lots of shelves for storing stuff both in the room and closet. Also in the room was a safe for storing valuables and a small fridge (it was locked, but we didn't ask for the key because we didn't need to use it). Yes, the inside cabin is small, however, even with three of us in it we never felt crowded. I would describe it as cozy. One thing we really liked is that there is a thermostat so that you can control the temperature in the room. We were only in the room to sleep, rest, or shower so the size of the room was not a problem for us at all. With the exception of last year when my sister-in-law cruised with us, we have only ever cruised in inside cabins. Last year, for her first cruise, my sister-in-law requested that she and I book a balcony room because she wasn't sure she would like cruising and wanted a place to escape to if she felt bothered by the crowds. She loved her first cruise and I loved being in a balcony room for the first time. I won't lie about that, the balcony room was a treat. However, inside cabins have always met our family's needs and in order to be able to afford to cruise more we will continue to book them. Room Steward: I have to mention our room stewardess on the POA. Her name is Erica and she is from Guam. She is absolutely delightful! We had fresh ice put in our ice bucket twice a day and our room was always clean and neat. Erica met our every request (not that we had many) with a smile and fast service. On one of our port days in Maui I was coming back from a short trip on one of the free Wal-Mart shuttles when I saw someone walking fast towards me and calling my name. It turned out to be Erica who greeted me with a big hug and a smile. Now that's sweet! Hawaiian Excursions: Wow! What can I say but awesome, awesome, awesome! We have been to Hawaii several times before on land trips, but this trip was still very special as we had never been to the big island of Hawaii before. Hilo and Kona were beautiful places to visit and we hope to go back and spend more time in both places again sometime. We chose our excursions based on the fact that we did not want to rent a car in each port and spend time driving around as we have done that on many of our other trips to Hawaii. Maui: On the first day the DH and DS went on the Maui Downhill Bicycle Adventure which we booked through NCL. It cost $109 for each of them and they felt it was worth every penny. They said their tour guide was friendly, funny, and very informative. They had a blast! I slept in late and had a late and delicious breakfast in the Cadillac Diner where the wait staff was friendly and fast. I also took a short trip on the free shuttle to Wal-Mart where I stocked up on some gifts to take back home to friends and family. The Macadamian nuts and candy items are really inexpensive at the local Wal-Mart as are many other Hawaii-related gift items. I shuttled back to the ship and spent some time in the conservatory reading a mindless, but fun romantic novel that I got from the ship's library. Here's a tip. In the ship's library they have a whole section of books that you can have for free that have been given or left to the library by past passengers. When you finish with your books, if you don't want to cart them home, just take them to the library and leave them there for others to enjoy. I finished my book by the time the guys got back (I'm a fast reader) and returned it to the library. On the second day in Maui we went on the Molokini Crater Snorkel which we booked through NCL. It cost us $119 ea. and was worth every single penny! I can't remember the name of the foundation that it was run by (I will mention it as soon as I find my paperwork on the CC NCL Board). This foundation does an awesome job of making sure you have a great time. They serve a continental breakfast of muffins and several kinds of juices and coffee. Bagels and cream cheese where also served. They also provided a barbecue lunch of grilled chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers. Several different kinds of pasta and salads were served with the meat entrees so vegetarians would have something to eat. There were several kinds of soft drinks and alcoholic drinks offered (only after the snorkeling was done though). We were very lucky to experience a rare sighting of a Monk Seal and the snorkeling was very good. We were given a presentation of information about the area we were in and about the fish we were seeing. Very informative. There was also a presentation for the kids and stickers for them to keep. At the end of the snorkel cruise we were dropped off at a small shopping area for about 1/2 hour. There were a few nice inexpensive shops (I got a long-sleeved t-shirt and a couple of shell bracelets) where you could buy gifts and there were inexpensive places to eat. We had some delicious Macadamian Nut ice cream and shave ice. One other thing, I'm blind as a bat and this was the first time ever that I've been on a snorkel excursion that offered prescription masks. I was able to see so clearly that I plan to buy one for myself to use on future excursions. All the necessary equipment for snorkeling such as masks, snorkels, fins, etc. were made available for your use if you didn't bring your own. Also, I'm not the best swimmer and was happy that they also offered waist belts to keep you afloat and "noodles" to float on top of the water with. The boat also had a slide which made it fun to slide down and get into the water quickly. They also offered wet suit tops for rent ($10) which I highly recommend as the water can be really chilly. The crew is wonderful and very knowledgeable about safety and preservation of the ocean and its inhabitants. It was a wonderful excursion and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I would have to add the caveat that this excursion takes place on some very choppy water so if you're seasick-prone be sure to prepare yourself with seasick meds before you go on this excursion. We had a wonderful time and would do this excursion again in a heartbeat. Maui is extraordinarily beautiful. Hilo: This is one of the ports where we had never been to before on our previous land trips to Hawaii. We had booked the "Big Island - Helicopter Deluxe Volcano Coast" excursion through Safari Aviation. We booked it online and paid $537 for the three of us and saved $201 by booking online. My son and I had never been on a helicopter before and we were very excited to try it. We were supposed to view the Kilauea Volcanic System, but because of some bad weather we only got to go up for about 10 mins. We were at first disappointed, but were soon excited to find out that we had the choice to have our money refunded or they would exchange our excursion for one of their other ones in Kauai. We found the Hilo staff of Safari Aviation to be really friendly and helpful. We were given safety instructions and felt confident in their pilots expertise. There is a weight limit for this excursion but it escapes me what exactly it was as it didn't matter to us because we were all way under the weight limit. I would recommend Safari Aviation in Hilo to anyone wanting to try a helicopter ride. Even though we were only up in the air for 10 mins., it was very very exciting. After the helicopter ride our guide was kind enough to drop us off in downtown Hilo where we did a little shopping and ate some delicious shave ice. There was a free shuttle to and from the ship for the downtown area. It was fun to be a part of the local area for awhile and mingle with the local people. Kona: This was a port where you have to take a tender from the ship to the dock. That is why we booked the Captain Zodiac Raft, Snorkel & Dolphin Adventure through NCL. We were able to be the first ones off the ship. It is a short tender ride to the dock and we did not have to wait long at all to catch a tender back to the ship when we were ready to go back to it. This was probably my favorite excursion. Not only were our guides very friendly and informative, the captain went out of his way to be sure we saw all the wonderful creatures that inhabit the area. We saw wild, tropical parrots, lots of spinner dolphins that jumped right out of the water and spun in the air right in front of us, we saw lots of fish at the snorkel sight right in front of the Captain Cook Monument, we saw lava tubes and small caves, but most of all the captain went out of his way to take us to see a huge pod of shark-finned, black backed whales. It was an incredible sight to behold! They were coming up really near to the raft and were as curious about us as we were about them. We were served fresh fruit, cookies, a nut/cracker snack mix, juice, water and a variety of sodas. It was a wonderful, beautiful day. This excursion is probably one of the best I've ever been on. I would very highly recommend it to anyone. It cost us $119 each and was worth way more than that as far as I'm concerned! After the excursion we went to visit downtown Kona and went to see the first Christian church ever erected in Hawaii where I sail some prayers for my family and friends. We also went to a local museum across from the church. Using a tip I got off the CC NCL Hawaii Board we had some super-delicious hamburgers, fries, and onion rings at "Splashers" a local ocean-front restaurant right in downtown Kona. We loved Kona. It was my favorite port of the cruise. Kauai: The DH and DS played golf on their own at a golf course near the Marriott Hotel. They said it was one of the most beautiful courses they had ever played at. I took one of the free shuttles to the local K-Mart, to buy some more inexpensive Hawaiian-related gifts and did some shopping at the mall right next door to it. The DS was happy to learn that there was a "Lids" (hat store) at the mall and we went back later in the afternoon after their golf game to get him a new baseball hat. He was thrilled! On our second day in Kauai we finally got to go on our helicopter ride and it was amazing! Kauai is one of the most beautiful places you could ever hope to see and seeing it from the air in a helicopter was such an unbelievable, exciting adventure! We saw so many beautiful waterfalls, the area where Jurassic Park was filmed, and the incredibly beautiful Kauai coastline. I just don't have enough words to describe the beauty of Kauai. The staff at Safari Aviation in Kauai couldn't be nicer. We really enjoyed doing business with them and would highly recommend them to anyone that wants to experience an amazing helicopter adventure. It was, for lack of a better word, "awesome", or as my DS would say it was "Beast!" (which I believe is adult for "awesome")LOL. Entertainment: We are not really big fans of cruise ship Vegas-style shows and so were not upset that there weren't many, if any of those on the POA. We did enjoy the magician, the three Second City shows we saw, and the "White Hot Dance Party" was also a lot of fun. The cruise director was a riot with his angel wings! There were several other shows and musicians playing around the ship, but unfortunately, because this cruise was so port-intensive we didn't have enough time to get around to seeing every show or performer. What we did see and participate in we thoroughly enjoyed. Teen Club: The DS is not a kid-club type guy. However, on this cruise, on my advice, he did sign up for the Teen Club and though he didn't participate in many of their actual activities, he did meet lots of nice kids between 14 and 18 in the club. This was a spring break cruise and he got to meet a lot of kids both guys and girls. Several of his new friends are from Australia and he is now in touch with some of them via Facebook. He and his new friends would meet in the Teen Club and then they would hang out together all over the ship and they would go to dinner, shows, and get late night snacks in the Cadillac Diner. According to my DS this cruise was "Beast!" The POA: We can't say enough good things about the POA and its ultra-friendly staff and crew. On a scale of 1 through 10, 10 being the best, we'd rate them an 11! We have absolutely nothing negative to say about this, our 4th NCL cruise. As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, we are not loyal to any one cruise line. We book our cruises based on itinerary and price and nothing else. Last year we cruised Carnival's Triumph to the Eastern Caribbean and had a wonderful time. Having said that, I do want to say that all of our four NCL cruises, one to the Western Caribbean and Central America on the Dream, one to the Mexican Riviera on the Star, on the Star again to Alaska, and now on the Pride of America to Hawaii, have all been really great, fun cruises. We really enjoy "Freestyle" cruising. We are really glad that NCL offers a laid-back style for cruisers who don't want to be dressed up "fancy" all the time. We were able to dress up or down as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted. The DS and DH on the POA were able to wear jeans and dress shorts with collared golf shirts to all of the restaurants on the ship. I wore nice blouses and tops and capri pants with heels to every restaurant we ate at. As I've mentioned above, we only ate at one pay-to-eat restaurant (the steakhouse) so I can't say what the dress code is for all the other pay-to-eat restaurants, but for the steakhouse and all the other eating venues on the ship we were able to dress as nicely or as casually as our family wanted. On "Dress Up or Not Night" I wore a nice dress with heels and the DH and DS wore dress pants and dress shirts, otherwise it was jeans and nice shorts with collared golf shirts for the guys and nice blouses, tops, capri pants and heels for me. Our family has been on many cruises (usually during spring break because of the DS except for Alaska which we did in Aug. of '08) and we would gladly sail on NCL anytime. They offer a wonderful experience for a really decent price and have some great itineraries. They, regardless of whatever negative stuff you may read on cruise boards, really care about you having the best time possible on their ships. This is especially true of the crew and staff on the NCL Pride of America. There is no question that I would choose to sail on NCL in the future and I would recommend them to anyone anytime. Our family loves to cruise and what we experienced on the Pride of America is exactly the kind of cruise experience we love and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This turned out to be a longer review than anticipated. Hopefully someone reading this will get an idea or two for their trip. Most of the things that we did we learned from reading reviews and posts on Cruise Critic. BACKGROUND INFO My ... Read More
This turned out to be a longer review than anticipated. Hopefully someone reading this will get an idea or two for their trip. Most of the things that we did we learned from reading reviews and posts on Cruise Critic. BACKGROUND INFO My wife and I, from Queens, New York, were on the POA the week of April 3, 2010. This was a vacation in celebration of our 15th Wedding Anniversary and (although my wife didn't know it until we got there - 'see pre-cruise review') a second honeymoon. This is our 7th cruise but first one on NCL (previous were RCI and Carnival). PRE-CRUISE I booked the cruise myself via NCL.com and looked online for the best airfare available. The Delta flight from Laguardia Airport to Honolulu via Atlanta went smoothly. We arrived on Thursday at 1:30 PM and proceeded to the Thrifty car rental shuttle area. A few months back I researched and found Thrifty to have the best rental car prices. I also signed up for their free Blue Chip Membership for ease and speed at check-in. Once on the packed shuttle in Oahu the driver asked if anyone was Blue Chip, I was the only one so he took my name. When we arrived at the car location there were huge lines at the counters. I was told to go to the special Blue Chip line - no wait as I was the only one. Once there, they had the car and paperwork all ready prepared based on my reservation and member profile info. Literally within 10 min of walking in the door I was sitting in my rental car while the first person in that long line was still signing forms. This was the same exact case at each Thrifty location in Hawaii. GO BLUE CHIP! We had rented a beautiful cottage on the beach along the northeast shore in Ka'a'Awa from http://www.vrbo.com/47077. It was called Paradise and I have to say that is an understatement. The fully furnished house with French doors overlooking the ocean and our own semi-private beach was romantic to say the least. On the way to the beach cottage we had stopped off K-Mart and a supermarket for groceries. After cooking up some steaks in the fully furnished kitchen we relaxed listening to the water and enjoying the view. We awoke at 5:30 am each morning just to watch the sun rise over the ocean horizon. It was like we had stepped inside a postcard. That first morning, as we were laying on the beach chairs soaking up the sun, my wife learned of the little surprise that I had for her. Since it was our 15th Wedding Anniversary I had arranged for a Hawaiian style Vow Renewal Ceremony at our beach paradise http://www.sweethawaiiwedding.com/ . She was totally surprised and engulfed in tears. The package included a minister who announced the wedding by facing the sea and blowing the conch followed by the recital of a Hawaiian wedding chant. We exchanged Hawaiian style vows and participated in a lei exchange ceremony (both flowered and beaded). There was also a photographer who took 125 pictures (and burned us a CD on the spot) and toasted us with champagne. VERY ROMANTIC and a great way to start off our SECOND Honeymoon. After the ceremony we headed over to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which was only 20 min away. We spent the afternoon visiting the different "islands" and seeing the various shows. We had the Ambassador package which included a personal tour guide, shell lei greeting, Luau dinner buffet and great seats to the evening show -HA Breath of life. A very nice way to get a taste of not only the Hawaiian culture but of the other Polynesian islands as well. I suggest that you get there no later than 1 to see all the shows and demos. The next morning, after watching another beautiful sunset and enjoying our deck and beach, we headed to Pearl Harbor but unfortunately by the time we got there we couldn't fit the tour into our schedule so we will make it a priority on our next. I heard that unless you get there real early, they open at 730 am, to get a timed ticket, you will have a long wait, or worse be shut out. We headed instead to the Dole Plantation for a pineapple tour on their Pineapple Express train through the plantation. We enjoyed it but it's something you would only do once. After visiting the gift shop we turned our car in and rode the free shuttle to the pier. EMBARKATION We arrived at the pier just after 5:00pm to NO LINES. We were told that most of the passengers had already checked in. This was the fastest embarkation that I have ever done. We walked in, dropped off our luggage, picked up our ship cards and a few minutes later were in our cabin (7618). We had an "obstructed view" - but it was only $10 more than an inside cabin. Having a huge lifeboat outside our window WAS our view on all but the tender day. But that is fine since the only time we spent inside the cabin was to sleep. We had large suitcases but they still fit under the bed. The room had a stocked mini-fridge (which we unstocked and filled with our stuff) and a small couch that I believe might have turned into a small bed -not sure. Our steward, Josephine, immediately greeted us. She was constantly very polite and sweet. She forgot a couple small things over the week but when I mentioned it to her she would immediately stop what she was doing and see to our needs. Some comments on here mentioned that the crew wasn't as friendly but I didn't find that to be the case at all. But of course, I am not demanding and don't "look down" on people in the service industry. I smile and greet the crew members I encounter and actually talk to them. There was an organized Meet and Greet for the Cruise Critic members but unfortunately I missed it. I heard the captain and the department heads, including the cruise director and Executive Chef were there along with some food and drink. I was told that they seemed concerned about our opinions and assured us that they DO read the comments on Cruise Critic. They handed out their They even invited us to an evaluation meeting on Friday to get our feedback (which I did attend). We missed the muster drill but there was a make-up one on Sunday - unfortunately we were planning to still be ashore in Maui. A crew member confidentially told me that I don't have to go but I should make sure that I know where my muster station was. MEALS We ate all of our breakfasts in the Aloha Cafe. It was crowded each morning so when we entered we looked for seats and I sat down as my wife went to the buffet first. When she returned, I then went (she is a slow eater so it worked out). There was a wide variety of food. Some complaints online were that "it's the same food every morning". That is true HOWEVER they have anything and everything that you could want. I don't know what else they could have served. I thought the variety and flavor was better than RCI and Carnival. My only complaint was the amount of oil in the home fries and hashbrowns. They did have multiple stations with the same food which resulted in faster service. We were recently on Carnival Victory and the lines at the buffet were always so long. The only lunch we had on board was during the last day of the cruise. Again the selection and flavor was better than expected. We did take some fruit and other small items ashore with us for snacks. We split our dinners between the Aloha Cafe, Liberty and Skyline Dining Rooms. We would check the dining room menus first and if nothing caught our fancy we went to the cafe which had different main selections each night along with some standard items (like shrimp cocktails, salad bar, burgers, pasta station, etc.) There was a carving station with two choices each night. We really had no complaints with the food. I did like the dessert choices on RCI and Carnival much more though. But since I am watching my weight it is a good thing I wasn't tempted to have multiple desserts each night. I do love Carnival's chocolate lava cakes though. The menu in the Liberty and Skyline are identical however the Liberty is supposed to be a bit dressier as no shorts are allowed. However I did see people in shorts and t-shirts and nobody said anything. The dining room did take a little longer but the servers were friendly. We had a table for two each time without having to ask. If we wanted to share, we could have requested it. SHIP ACTIVITIES/SHOWS Most nights the main theatre show was at 7pm and again at 930 pm. We usually had dinner at 6pm-ish and caught the early show. The cruise director used to be an opera singer and does perform a few nights in one of the lounges singing Broadway tunes. The main entertainment was all VERY GOOD. The Polynesian Show was a lot of fun. If you are not planning on going to a luau in Hawaii (and shame on you if you don't) then don't miss this show. The Second City improv comedy troup was hilarious as well as the comedian. I find most lesser known magicians lame however Matt Marcy who performed was very good and funny as well (I even bought his DVD after the show). I do suggest a light sweater as it did get a bit chilly in the theater. We were exhausted each night on this port intensive cruise so we didn't do anything else much in the late evening other than relax since we were waking up early each morning. The Hawaiian cultural ambassador hosted a number of classes on board for hula dancing, lei making, etc. We attended the Kahului nut lei making class. Each person received a free kit with the option to buy additional kits of different varieties. We did attend the sailby's of the Napali Coast and the Kilauea lava flow. It is almost impossible to get a good photo of the lava flow but it was fun to watch. Bring a sweater and binoculars. The ship will sell 4x6 photos the next day. Unfortunately we didn't spend much time on the pool deck but there did seem to be lots of live music whenever we passed by. The gym is also very well equipped for those trying to negate all that food. SHORE EXCURSIONS We only booked one of the ship excursions. Trust me that it is much cheaper and you have more freedom to do excursions on your own. I rented a car in every port except for Kona and still saved money rather than using the ship excursions. Plus I got to do multiple excursions on the same day which you can't always do with the ship. The freedom to go when you want as well as being able to pull off to take a pic or stop at a local store is great. If you don't drive or really don't want to rent then I highly suggest Robert's of Hawaii tours. Great selection of tours with many the same as the ship's but cheaper. They have a special site for cruise passengers for excursions to make sure you are back on time: www.gorabbitgo.com MAUI DAY ONE: Caught the Thrifty shuttle at the pier and once again had no wait at the Blue Chip counter. I even got upgraded to a bigger car and it was only $30 a day. We drove to Lahaina with a short stop at the lookout just pass mile marker 8 to view a whale in the distance. We made a stop at Boss Frog's to pick up our tickets for tomorrow's Molokini Snorkel excursion www.bossfrog.com. Our next stop was our 2-hr whale and dolphin watch catamaran cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation www.pacificwhale.org ($28 per person). Even though it was the end of the season we saw LOTS of whales including behaviors that surprised the marine biologist tour guide we had. One female whale even passed by under our boat. Many others were very close as well. Afterwards we walked along Front street visiting the many interesting shops. There was also an outdoor craft market in the park around the large Banyan tree. DAY TWO: We booked the Molokini Crater snorkel with www.bossfrog.com for $85 pp/ We had to be at Lahaina at 7:15 am to check in. The tour, on their Quicksilver catamaran, included a continental breakfast, BBQ lunch, a snorkel stop at Molokini crater (includes gear and instruction but an additional charge if wetsuits are desired, which I recommend) and a second stop at Turtle Town to swim with the sea turtles. We saw lots of fish and turtles and really had a good time. For an additional charge of $69 they can videotape you underwater and mail you an edited, custom DVD with music. On the way back to shore we had multiple whale spottings and were also treated to a pod of dolphins swimming and leaping alongside the boat. A truly majestic experience. We returned to the dock just after 1 pm. HILO Today was the only day that we had bad weather. It was cloudy and rainy which made our trip to Volcano National Park not the greatest. After a quick stop at Thrifty to pick up our car, we drove to the Visitor Center and watched the short movie and spoke to the park ranger for suggestions on what to do. Crater Rim Drive was closed between Jaggar Museum and the Chain of Craters Road junction due to volcanic activity in Halema'uma'u crater. We received a park map and drove Crater Rim Road to Kilauea's summit caldera and craters and made a few stops to view steam vents. We then continued on to the Jaggar Museum and the Thurston Lava tubes. The first part is lit but if you want to explore the second part you need to bring your own flashlight. Was hoping to do some hiking and see more but the conditions and the rainy weather prevented that. It was still interesting and I will definitely return on my next visit to Hilo. On the way back we stopped off the Mauna Loa factory (I love macadamia nuts). They have a short self guided tour and a nice gift shop which offers samples and sells various products including amazing mac ice cream. After a quick stop at Hilo Hatties we returned our car and took the shuttle back to the ship. KONA This was the only island where we booked a ship excursion. We did the one-hour glass bottom boat tour which was nice. Since this is the only time we had to tender (using POA's lifeboats), everyone (except people with ship excursions) had to get a sticker. We just met in the theater and were escorted onto a boat. Overall it went rather smoothly. Afterwards, we booked a guided tour (from the Surf Shack on the pier). We were the only people signed up for 11:30 am so we had our own private tour with a great guide. We stopped off the Greenwell Coffee farm, which grows the coffee beans that are sold to other companies to roast and sell as Kona coffee. Their tour was very interesting and quite enjoyable. We were able to sample numerous types of coffees (and honey too) before seeing the process first hand. They also grow bananas and oranges in which we were able to "help ourselves" and pick some free samples from the trees. Our next stop was a quick tour of the famed Painted Church before heading to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. We saw many archeological sites including temple sites (heiau), some sledding tracks (holua), and old house sites. There is also an open lava tube that ends at the face of a sea cliff. We also spotted green sea turtles in Keone'ele Cove sunning themselves on the beach. We had a very good tour and were happy that we booked it. Upon return we spent some time at the beach near the pier before taking the last tender back to the ship. The line was long but the boats came quickly. KAUAI Once again we took the shuttle to Thrifty and experienced the benefit of Blue Chip Service. Close by was the viewing area for Wailua Falls, made famous as being in the opening sequence of TV's Fantasy Island. There was a lot of rain during the previous week so the water was running quite heavy but unfortunately was also very muddy looking because of it. Our next stop was Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours in Lihue. My wife wasn't quite up to a helicopter ride so I did this one alone. Our pilot Kevin was great and the experience was amazing (I even got to sit in the co-pilot seat). We flew in the new eco-star with great viewing areas. The views of Kalalau Valley, Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast, not to mention the many waterfalls, etc. were just amazing. They also have a 4 camera video recording of your flight (including an inside camera) that they sell after the trip for $25. It includes music in the background as well as the pilot's commentary on what you are seeing. A must buy!! After a quick lunch at a Mexican place in the shopping center where the Blue Hawaiian office is we headed to nearby Poipu. We had reserved a 2 hour beach and valley horseback ride with CJM Country Stables. The horses were well cared for and the trail guide was great. It was a very scenic and relaxing "walking ride". Overnight parking at the pier is limited but at nearby Anchor Cove shopping center they offer parking for Cruise passengers but they charge $20. It is a short walk to the ship or you can take their shuttle. The next day we headed out to go "Tubing the Ditch" booked from www.kauai-tubing.com. This 3 hr water tubing ride down a ditch of a former sugar plantation was a lot of fun. They issue you gloves and a helmet with a miner's light because along the trip there are 5 tunnels that you tube through. A picnic lunch is provided and swimming can be done at the end of the ride. After some last minute shopping, we returned our car and headed back to the ship to hit the buffet and relax on deck. DISEMBARKATION We spent the extra money and took part in the "Easy Fly" program in which you place your luggage outside your cabin at bedtime and don't see it again until your home airport. Since we had a lot of carry-ons, including souvenirs and pineapples, this made things so much easier. We relaxed on board until 9:15 am and had a short line to leave the ship ?. There were plenty of taxi's at the pier as we headed to the airport for our trip home. We didn't get jetlagged on the way to Hawaii but coming home we were messed up for a few days. IN CONCLUSION My wife put it best when she told me that - "this was our BEST vacation ever!". In eight years we are planning on selling our house in New York and were going to move somewhere in Virginia or North Carolina. After this trip we are seriously considering a move to Hawaii. We met so many people who came to visit years ago, fell in love with the land, the people and Hawaii's "Spirit of Aloha" that they just packed up and moved there. I can totally understand why. If you reached this point in this long review, Congratulations and Mahalo! Read Less

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