Norwegian Cruise Line, facing a barrage of not-so-fabulous feedback on its fledgling Pride of Aloha, is responding by altering some policies on a limited basis. The idea is to quell concerns, fueled by trip reports in newspaper travel sections, as well as reviews on community boards such as ours, of folks who are booked on near-future cruises.
Specifically, the new policy allows anyone who's booked on a Hawaii cruise through an October 17 departure to cancel without penalty and receive a full refund. This offer, according to a source at NCL, is a limited-time-only deal because ship executives feel that areas of concern will be alleviated by then. In addition, NCL has temporarily rescinded the ship's mandatory $10 per-person, per-day service fee. Passengers are permitted to tip based on preference. This too is most likely a limited-time-only arrangement, and NCL will make a decision on whether to reinstate the mandatory fee on a week-by-week basis.
If recent reports from Cruise Critic members, who have posted reviews from Pride of Aloha trips taken in the past few weeks, are any indication, NCL's most recent efforts to improve the onboard experience are beginning to pay off. The cruise line replaced both the ship's captain and its hotel director. It hired a job motivational consultant to "cheer up" its crew. And, to shore up its staffing numbers -- the rapid turnover of crew has been a major problem from the start -- NCL hired shore-side folks to work onboard during the daytime, in areas from working the buffet to housekeeping.
Typically, areas of the Pride of Aloha's Hawaii cruises most under attack since the ship's July debut include food service and service in general, while the ship has received consistent praise for its all-Hawaii ports of call, its shore excursion operations and the ship itself.