Great Way to See Islands, NCL could do better: Pride of America Cruise Review by Babs25

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Great Way to See Islands, NCL could do better

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Honolulu
This is a good way to get a taste of the islands. Unfortunately NCL has no competition.

There were several nice suprises based on some of the negative reviews. Embarkation was a breeze, our cabin was clean and well kept by our steward (except in seven days he never figured out we wanted turn down, he would come by each day and ask, and each day I'd tell him yes to come by a little later, as he came when we were getting ready for dinner.)

You can bring your own water on board, don't fall for their "special pre-board" very overpriced case of water. Irons and boards were available, and my blow dryers were not confiscated as some members stated, and they did not blow any fuses. Be warned, though, the only plug is NOT in the bathroom, it's by the desk.

Plenty of storage space and comfy beds. We opted for a bigger balcony on the front of the ship Deck 9 (B6) which was well worth it. With the exception of a surly bartender or two 95% of the help on board were nice; More however if you asked questions many times staff was clueless. When I asked one young man when we sailed, he told me "5:30". That was when we were due back on board. I asked another front desk person about the Napali Coast sailby on the port side, and she told me we'd already sailed past it, when we had not. It's clear employees are not given an overview or briefing of the ship, which would be helpful. They have also discontinued the luggage sail away program, disappointing, although they will hold your luggage until 6PM for a fee the day you leave the ship. It would also help if the stewards would give you a little room tour, show you how the shower controls work, where the medicine cabinet is, and that there is a light in the closet (which we discovered when packing to go home).
Getting on and off the ship was pretty easy, but the line for the tender in Kona coming back to the ship ate up precious shore time. As for the general areas, the Lanai Martini bar on Deck 13 was a hidden gem with little publicity. It would be nice to show movies in the Hollywood theatre, or at least have them on demand in your room. The shows were lame with the exception of Second City, which was terrific. We did not have Tim Kaminski on board, disappointing as he got such glowing reviews. Pink's Champagne Bar had a following for those in the easy listening crowd, we heard the same Billy Joel songs a few times passing through. The White Hot Dance party was lame, we poked our heads in to see the "Electric Slide", not unlike a bad wedding reception.

The food was probably the most disappointing. It was mass produced and it showed. Service was pretty slow, exasperating if you wanted to have breakfast in the dining room. The servers looked overworked and spread thin. I avoided the "chow lines" in the Aloha Cafe. One of our diners had raw chicken, the chef came over after we complained and said he would check with her to make sure she did not become ill. He never followed through. The Cadillac was the only 24/7 restaurant and yes, the sundaes were yummy, but many times it was just too crowded to eat there. When we returned from our Hilo excursion we were starving to find a very small amount of food in the Aloha cafe for us to eat. I've never been on a cruise where food was not more readily available.

Anything regarding an upcharge was heavily promoted, sparkling water with dinner or lattes/special coffee with breakfast, specialty restaurants (where service was much better than other "free' dining rooms) and drinks, drinks, drinks. If you sat in one of the bar areas and did not order a drink you felt awkward. This must be a tremendous cash cow for NCL. Would I recommend NCL? If you want to overview the islands, maybe. But I'd tell people not to expect too much. Next cruise I think I'll go back to Royal Caribbean. Less

Published 09/29/11

Cabin review: B69012 Large Balcony

Light in closet, just look in the back. Great balcony, doubled room size. Only tiny clock on phone, bring your own clock/alarm we like seeing what time it is. Irons/boards available upon request.

Read All Large Balcony (B6) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Rented a car went to the Black Sand Beach and, Volcano National Park. Ran out of time to see Akaka or Rainbow Falls as this was only a one day port. You could easily spend a day at VNP, we left at 10M and wish we would have left an hour earlier, we could have fit in Akaka Falls, which I was sorry to have missed. The black sand beach had sea turtles, different from the ones we saw in Maui. We did not swim there as it was pretty rough and volcanoes awaited. Reviewers who tell you to pack a lunch should be heeded, my travel partners vetoed my suggestion and we ended up very hungry buying the trail mix at the gift shop. No restaurant at the park. Day went fast, back to the ship for the other side of Hawaii.

Read 444 Hilo Reviews

We spent three days prior to the cruise to acclimate to the time change and to see Honolulu. We spent a day driving around the island (the only time we rented a car) to see the Blowhole, Haunama Bay (sp?), the Dole pineapple fields and Wiamea Falls Park. We ran out of time to see the falls, it was late and the fee to enter was too high for us to run through it. We did find a beach with turtles which was a great surprise. Lani's Beach is the nickname, locals helped us find it. Exploring on our own we saw the resident's side of Hawaii and drove through many areas and neighborhoods, both good and bad. In town we walked most places or took shuttles/taxis. Pearl Harbor is a must-see, we actually went back after leaving the ship as we did not have time to see it all. After a tip from our shuttle driver we did not get there first thing, we got there around 10AM and got 11:40 shuttle tickets to the memorial. This was a Thursday in September, I don't know if it would be more crowded other times. On Waikiki the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian was very nice. We hiked Diamond Head one day, great view but not for the out of shape. Overall Oahu was congested with a lot of vendors, if I were to return to Hawaii I'd limit my time there as a transfer point to Maui and Kauai.

Read 505 Honolulu Reviews

First day on Kauai we rented a car and headed to "Wings Over Kauai" for a plane ride. We rented the entire airplane for the six of us and had a fantastic experience. I can't say enough nice things about their outfit. We had made arrangements beforehand and they did not even ask for a deposit. Be forewarned you will be weighed after cruising for six days! It was a beautiful day and our pilot made sure we knew all that was going on and took care to look out for those of us prone to any motion sickness or trepidation about a small plane (my first experience and I was nervous, but it was great). It's a wonderful alternative to the helicopters and far less expensive. You see Kauai from a panoramic view. We were given a DVD with our group photo after the tour, no extra charge. (By this point of the cruise I'd had it with being nickeled and dimed to death). This was one of the highlights of our trip, and when we did the sail by the coast from the ship I felt like I'd already experienced the coast's beauty.

Read 407 Kauai Reviews

Slept in a little (no car needed today)and took the 12:30 Captain Zodiac snorkel tour after we looked around town a bit. The zodiac boat was fun and the snorkeling was pretty, however my husband tried five different masks on and could not get a good fit with his mustache, so he spent most of his time in the boat. By the time we got back to the shore, the line for the tender to the boat was very, very long and we had to be back on board. We did not get to look around at the shops as we had hoped.

Read 292 Kona Reviews

It was nice to have two days to explore Maui. We rented a car (for both days, Thrifty Blue Chip Program was awesome) and explored the Kaanapali Coast, eating at a seaside open air restaurant called the Gazebo which was a treat. The next day we ziplined and then headed toward Haleakala, stopping at a beautiful lavender farm with a panoramic view. This gave us a litte taste of the Road to Hana, which I am glad we did not attempt. These island roads are not to be navigated by the timid or during the dark, as there are one-way bridges and narrow, curvy roads. We would have gone to Haleakala but ran out of time, as we had to get back to the ship. I would go back to Maui and stay on the Kaanapali coast.

Read 477 Maui Reviews

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