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We have always wanted to go to Hawaii, and time it worked out! We were on the 12th cruise after the March 2016 refurbishment. On 6/18/2016, I started a thread on the Norwegian Cruise Line (Pride of America subforum) titled “Pride of America Tips” which you may find helpful. We were Hawaii ‘newbies’ and concerned during our planning about what excursions to pick. If you’re in the same “boat,” here are our thoughts: We suggest breaking excursions down port-by-port. Which features interest you the most? e.g. On Maui: The Road to Hana? Mt Haleakala Sunrise or Sunset Tour? Beach days? Identify all of these and then seek touring options for each one. Search through the Hawaii board and roll calls for info and post any questions you may have. Try to book your 'don't miss' choices first, considering the following... Are you the type of people who like to tour on your own? If so, consider renting a car on each island. You can find lots of 'Car Rental' info on the Hawaii board. We only did this for the second day on Maui. Do you feel comfortable taking private tours? There are lots of options here, and you can also search for opinions on the Hawaii board. We used Roberts Hawaii since they had good reviews and they had a 5-tour package, where you can pick among a number of choices, that is very reasonably priced. We also used E Noa Tours in Honolulu for a 3-hour East Oahu Tour during our pre-cruise stay. But there are MANY other choices that cruisers have recommended. And, of course, you could also do a mix-and-match of the above! Do you like the safe option of taking ship excursions? If so, NCL offers lots of good choices. We typically avoid ship tours since they usually have lots of people and in our opinion, are overly expensive. However, you do know that the ship won't take off without you if you use ship tours! ========= Here’s our review of the Pride of America (POA): On a 0 (poor) to 5.0 (excellent) scale… VALUE (2.5) *This is obviously an NCL cash cow, since there is no competition for this 7-day cruise. On a cost per day basis, this cruise was considerably more expensive than every Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Baltic cruise we have taken. There are no “extras” for the increased price…not even a lobster night in the main dining rooms. Everything is an add-on. Note to NCL: we would have spent much more on the ship if this cruise were more reasonably priced! EMBARKATION (5.0) *Very fast and efficient when we arrived at 11:25am. We were on the ship by 11:40am! (Another member of our roll call had a much slower experience around 2 pm). TIP: Take your swimsuits and/or comfortable clothes in your carry-on bags. We didn’t get our luggage until 5:00pm. THE SHIP (4.6) *The ship looks great. We never cruised on POA previously, but it now looks like a recently built ship… except for the windows (probably a polycarbonate material) in all public areas that are all marked/scratched by sea spray. The large cabin windows to our balcony were fine, though. We didn’t encounter any sewage smells during our cruise. CABIN (3.5) *They were evidently designed very small to cram more cabins on this ship. It’s a shock when you first see them, but for us, a couple, it worked out ok. On the plus side, there are drawers, shelves, and bins in the main cabin area, closet, and bathroom (a corner medicine cabinet and a shelf under the sink), and we had enough room to store all our belongings. Two initial problems – a slow-draining shower and a non-working clothesline in the shower - were quickly fixed. We picked port side to see the Na Pali sail-by from our balcony when leaving Kauai (around 5:15 pm on Friday) and were glad we did. SERVICE (4.8) *Our room attendant was very good and we enjoyed the wild towel animals he provided. Guest relations personnel were very helpful. Everyone stressed letting them know if there were any problems, and they always followed up (by phone) to make sure it was fixed. Our waiters were attentive with some more knowledgeable than others. One tried to convince us that a fruit tart was a sacher torte, but she corrected this after we suggested she contact a senior waiter. SHIP OFFICERS, MANAGERS, CREW, WAITERS and STAFF (5.0) *Everyone was friendly, particularly if you engaged them in conversation. We often saw ship officers on deck and around the ship. Seven officers and managers attended our Meet & Greet, which we really appreciated. DINING: (we did not eat in any specialty restaurants) Aloha Café (3.6) *Similar to every other ship buffet we have experienced: lots of choices; average-to-good quality; very good station set-up. You are encouraged to enter starboard side, but you can also get there through the Gold Rush Saloon, port side. There are 3 omelet stations at breakfast for breakfast – starboard (where most tend to line up), port (often much less crowded), and in between the two. Keep your eyes open! There is lox at the fruit station. At the bread station, you can make sandwiches to take with you off the ship. Liberty Dining Room, Deck 6, with business casual dress code (4.0) *Most meals were ok, with several very good (prime rib, rack of lamb, beef wellington). Beware that clear soups are very salty. TIP: If you have your excursions set, consider making dinner reservations for the week when you board at the corner of the guest relations desk, Deck 5 as soon as get on board. We ate around 5:30 pm most nights (7:00 pm on Day 7 so we could see the terrific Na Pali sail-by) and were finished in 1 hr 15 min, in time to see the 7:00 pm shows. ENTERTAINMENT (4.2) *In the Hollywood Theater… Good production shows and the “Aloha Polynesia’ show (Day 2) and the ‘Oh What a Night’ Four Seasons tribute (Day 5) were terrific. We also enjoyed the comedian, Bud Andersen. The magician, Charles Bach, was just ok. TIP: Bring a sweater or light jacket since it is always FREEZING in the theatre. Also hold on to aisle chairs as you enter and leave. It can get very rocky at sea. *In the Mardi Gras Lounge, Deck 6…Go early for any show you want to see here. Seating is limited and sight lines are not that good. TIP: Don’t miss the Crew Ohana Talent Show at 8:30 pm in the Mardi Gras Theater Thursday (Day 6)! Hopefully, you will also get to see Skyline head waiter David Main there. DISEMBARKATION (5.0) *Terrific. We picked up our luggage tags at guest relations on Thursday morning, had our luggage on Saturday morning. OVERALL POA & CRUISE RATING (3.9) We would have rated this higher if it was a better value! PORTS ( 5.0) Hawaii is terrific! Honolulu (pre-cruise): *We went 3 days early and were glad we did. We walked all over Waikiki (beach and stores) our arrival afternoon; went to Waikiki Beach and Ft. Derussy Park & Beach the next morning, and took a 4-hour afternoon Eastern Oahu Shoreline Tour (from E Noa) in a mini-bus with a terrific driver/guide; and spent the next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, with its Polynesian country areas (think: Epcot Center), and where we attended both their Ali’I Luau and Ha’ -Breath of Life evening show. Very interesting and worthwhile. Maui: *Due to some motion sickness and altitude conditions, we did not take the Road to Hana or Mt. Haleakala Sunrise or Sunset tours. Our kids went to both a few years ago and loved them. We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). In Maui, we went to the Iao Valley and Maui Tropical Plantation. A good tour, but not as interesting as others on our cruise. We had an average driver/tour guide. On the second day, we rented a car and drove to Lahaina, a nice seaside tourist town with historical sights, and Kaanapali, where we went to beach for a while. Be sure to see the massive banyon tree if you go to Lahaina! Big Island – Hilo: *We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). We took a great tour to Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls. There were extra stops at an Orchid Farm (with a nice Hawaiian gift shop) and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory/store. Both were ok stops. Here, we had an excellent driver/tour guide. Big Island – Kona: *We took the tender in around 8 pm and toured on our own. We did much of our shopping here. There is a mini-bus shuttle to Walmart from the bus parking lot right next to the pier. Kauai: *We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they are using Polynesian Adventure Tours). The first day we took a terrific Waimea Canyon tour that also stopped at the Kauai Coffee plantation. We had an excellent driver/tour guide. The second day we took the Wailua River (calm) cruise and Fern Grotto tour that we also enjoyed. Here, we had we had a good driver/tour guide. Honolulu (post cruise): *We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). Upon disembarkation with our luggage, we took the Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour, with drop-off at the airport. It was definitely worth going, and we had an excellent driver/tour guide. We were at the airport by 3:30 pm. we had an excellent driver/tour guide on this excursion.

Great Cruise, Ship, and Crew; Lousy NCL Value

Pride of America Cruise Review by nisky

31 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
We have always wanted to go to Hawaii, and time it worked out!

We were on the 12th cruise after the March 2016 refurbishment. On 6/18/2016, I started a thread on the Norwegian Cruise Line (Pride of America subforum) titled “Pride of America Tips” which you may find helpful.

We were Hawaii ‘newbies’ and concerned during our planning about what excursions to pick. If you’re in the same “boat,” here are our thoughts:

We suggest breaking excursions down port-by-port. Which features interest you the most? e.g. On Maui: The Road to Hana? Mt Haleakala Sunrise or Sunset Tour? Beach days? Identify all of these and then seek touring options for each one. Search through the Hawaii board and roll calls for info and post any questions you may have. Try to book your 'don't miss' choices first, considering the following...

Are you the type of people who like to tour on your own? If so, consider renting a car on each island. You can find lots of 'Car Rental' info on the Hawaii board. We only did this for the second day on Maui.

Do you feel comfortable taking private tours? There are lots of options here, and you can also search for opinions on the Hawaii board. We used Roberts Hawaii since they had good reviews and they had a 5-tour package, where you can pick among a number of choices, that is very reasonably priced. We also used E Noa Tours in Honolulu for a 3-hour East Oahu Tour during our pre-cruise stay. But there are MANY other choices that cruisers have recommended. And, of course, you could also do a mix-and-match of the above!

Do you like the safe option of taking ship excursions? If so, NCL offers lots of good choices. We typically avoid ship tours since they usually have lots of people and in our opinion, are overly expensive. However, you do know that the ship won't take off without you if you use ship tours!

=========

Here’s our review of the Pride of America (POA):

On a 0 (poor) to 5.0 (excellent) scale…

VALUE (2.5)

*This is obviously an NCL cash cow, since there is no competition for this 7-day cruise. On a cost per day basis, this cruise was considerably more expensive than every Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Baltic cruise we have taken. There are no “extras” for the increased price…not even a lobster night in the main dining rooms. Everything is an add-on. Note to NCL: we would have spent much more on the ship if this cruise were more reasonably priced!

EMBARKATION (5.0)

*Very fast and efficient when we arrived at 11:25am. We were on the ship by 11:40am! (Another member of our roll call had a much slower experience around 2 pm). TIP: Take your swimsuits and/or comfortable clothes in your carry-on bags. We didn’t get our luggage until 5:00pm.

THE SHIP (4.6)

*The ship looks great. We never cruised on POA previously, but it now looks like a recently built ship… except for the windows (probably a polycarbonate material) in all public areas that are all marked/scratched by sea spray. The large cabin windows to our balcony were fine, though. We didn’t encounter any sewage smells during our cruise.

CABIN (3.5)

*They were evidently designed very small to cram more cabins on this ship. It’s a shock when you first see them, but for us, a couple, it worked out ok. On the plus side, there are drawers, shelves, and bins in the main cabin area, closet, and bathroom (a corner medicine cabinet and a shelf under the sink), and we had enough room to store all our belongings. Two initial problems – a slow-draining shower and a non-working clothesline in the shower - were quickly fixed. We picked port side to see the Na Pali sail-by from our balcony when leaving Kauai (around 5:15 pm on Friday) and were glad we did.

SERVICE (4.8)

*Our room attendant was very good and we enjoyed the wild towel animals he provided. Guest relations personnel were very helpful. Everyone stressed letting them know if there were any problems, and they always followed up (by phone) to make sure it was fixed. Our waiters were attentive with some more knowledgeable than others. One tried to convince us that a fruit tart was a sacher torte, but she corrected this after we suggested she contact a senior waiter.

SHIP OFFICERS, MANAGERS, CREW, WAITERS and STAFF (5.0)

*Everyone was friendly, particularly if you engaged them in conversation. We often saw ship officers on deck and around the ship. Seven officers and managers attended our Meet & Greet, which we really appreciated.

DINING: (we did not eat in any specialty restaurants)

Aloha Café (3.6)

*Similar to every other ship buffet we have experienced: lots of choices; average-to-good quality; very good station set-up. You are encouraged to enter starboard side, but you can also get there through the Gold Rush Saloon, port side. There are 3 omelet stations at breakfast for breakfast – starboard (where most tend to line up), port (often much less crowded), and in between the two. Keep your eyes open! There is lox at the fruit station. At the bread station, you can make sandwiches to take with you off the ship.

Liberty Dining Room, Deck 6, with business casual dress code (4.0)

*Most meals were ok, with several very good (prime rib, rack of lamb, beef wellington). Beware that clear soups are very salty. TIP: If you have your excursions set, consider making dinner reservations for the week when you board at the corner of the guest relations desk, Deck 5 as soon as get on board. We ate around 5:30 pm most nights (7:00 pm on Day 7 so we could see the terrific Na Pali sail-by) and were finished in 1 hr 15 min, in time to see the 7:00 pm shows.

ENTERTAINMENT (4.2)

*In the Hollywood Theater… Good production shows and the “Aloha Polynesia’ show (Day 2) and the ‘Oh What a Night’ Four Seasons tribute (Day 5) were terrific. We also enjoyed the comedian, Bud Andersen. The magician, Charles Bach, was just ok. TIP: Bring a sweater or light jacket since it is always FREEZING in the theatre. Also hold on to aisle chairs as you enter and leave. It can get very rocky at sea.

*In the Mardi Gras Lounge, Deck 6…Go early for any show you want to see here. Seating is limited and sight lines are not that good. TIP: Don’t miss the Crew Ohana Talent Show at 8:30 pm in the Mardi Gras Theater Thursday (Day 6)! Hopefully, you will also get to see Skyline head waiter David Main there.

DISEMBARKATION (5.0)

*Terrific. We picked up our luggage tags at guest relations on Thursday morning, had our luggage on Saturday morning.

OVERALL POA & CRUISE RATING (3.9)

We would have rated this higher if it was a better value!

PORTS ( 5.0) Hawaii is terrific!

Honolulu (pre-cruise):

*We went 3 days early and were glad we did. We walked all over Waikiki (beach and stores) our arrival afternoon; went to Waikiki Beach and Ft. Derussy Park & Beach the next morning, and took a 4-hour afternoon Eastern Oahu Shoreline Tour (from E Noa) in a mini-bus with a terrific driver/guide; and spent the next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, with its Polynesian country areas (think: Epcot Center), and where we attended both their Ali’I Luau and Ha’ -Breath of Life evening show. Very interesting and worthwhile.

Maui:

*Due to some motion sickness and altitude conditions, we did not take the Road to Hana or Mt. Haleakala Sunrise or Sunset tours. Our kids went to both a few years ago and loved them. We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). In Maui, we went to the Iao Valley and Maui Tropical Plantation. A good tour, but not as interesting as others on our cruise. We had an average driver/tour guide. On the second day, we rented a car and drove to Lahaina, a nice seaside tourist town with historical sights, and Kaanapali, where we went to beach for a while. Be sure to see the massive banyon tree if you go to Lahaina!

Big Island – Hilo:

*We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). We took a great tour to Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls. There were extra stops at an Orchid Farm (with a nice Hawaiian gift shop) and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory/store. Both were ok stops. Here, we had an excellent driver/tour guide.

Big Island – Kona:

*We took the tender in around 8 pm and toured on our own. We did much of our shopping here. There is a mini-bus shuttle to Walmart from the bus parking lot right next to the pier.

Kauai:

*We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they are using Polynesian Adventure Tours). The first day we took a terrific Waimea Canyon tour that also stopped at the Kauai Coffee plantation. We had an excellent driver/tour guide. The second day we took the Wailua River (calm) cruise and Fern Grotto tour that we also enjoyed. Here, we had we had a good driver/tour guide.

Honolulu (post cruise):

*We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). Upon disembarkation with our luggage, we took the Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour, with drop-off at the airport. It was definitely worth going, and we had an excellent driver/tour guide. We were at the airport by 3:30 pm. we had an excellent driver/tour guide on this excursion.
nisky’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Service
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BA 9622
Very small balcony cabin, port side. Just big enough for 2 people. Lots of storage areas, though.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Volcano National Park & Hilo Waterfall Tour
    We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). We took a great tour to Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls. There were extra stops at an Orchid Farm (with a nice Hawaiian gift shop) and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory/store. Both were ok stops. Here, we had an excellent driver/tour guide.
    View All 112 Volcano National Park & Hilo Waterfall Tour Reviews
  • Polynesian Cultural Center
    We spent the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center which has very interesting Polynesian country areas (think: Epcot Center). We attended both their Ali’I Luau and Ha’ -Breath of Life evening show. Very interesting and worthwhile. Be aware that no alcohol is served since they are affiliated with the Mormons.
    View All 43 Polynesian Cultural Center Reviews
  • Wailua River
    We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they are using Polynesian Adventure Tours). The second day in Kauai we took the Wailua River (calm) cruise and Fern Grotto tour that we enjoyed. Here, we had we had a good driver/tour guide.
    View All 71 Wailua River Reviews
  • Waimea Canyon
    We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they are using Polynesian Adventure Tours). The first day we took a terrific Waimea Canyon tour that also stopped at the Kauai Coffee plantation. We had an excellent driver/tour guide.
    View All 120 Waimea Canyon Reviews
  • Kona
    We took the tender in around 8 pm and toured on our own. We did much of our shopping here. There is a mini-bus shuttle to Walmart from the bus parking lot right next to the pier.
    View All 368 Kona Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kona Cruise Port Review
  • Iao Valley
    Due to some motion sickness and altitude conditions, we did not take the Road to Hana or Mt. Haleakala Sunrise or Sunset tours. Our kids went to both a few years ago and loved them. We booked a 5-tour Hawaii package from Roberts Hawaii – much less expensive that the same NCL tours (they us Polynesian Adventure Tours). In Maui, we went to the Iao Valley and Maui Tropical Plantation. A good tour, but not as interesting as others on our cruise. We had an average driver/tour guide.
    View All 23 Iao Valley Reviews