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.
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