265 Norwegian Sky Hawaii Cruise Reviews

We have sailed this same itinerary last January and in spite of the bad reputation at NCL America, were pleasantly surprised. I mentioned this to the Hotel manager on board and in a review I did after returning. This trip however indicates ... Read More
We have sailed this same itinerary last January and in spite of the bad reputation at NCL America, were pleasantly surprised. I mentioned this to the Hotel manager on board and in a review I did after returning. This trip however indicates the general malaise that has befallen PoA staff, knowing the PoA's days are numbered. I think this cruise is selected for the itinerary with less emphasis on the ship itself. The stops were as good as before but the attitude of the crew indicates almost indifference. Many are just "putting in their time" until next weekend completes the PoA's tenure. Don't get me wrong, several shining lights still exist but many are counting down the days until it's over. Housekeeping staff were great, amongst our group of 15 cruisers. Embarkation was smooth. We were checked in and onboard in no time. We made a dinner reservation in the Palm Bistro for 15 of us and after clearing it with the manager were given the OK. (Large groups require a manager's approval) Unfortunately, by 7:00, many of us had yet to receive our luggage and several had to attend "as they were" as they had no luggage. The dinner was terrific and I have nothing but praise for all of the specialty restaurants. Missing luggage was received by the time we completed dinner. Rooms are small but we knew that when we booked so we really couldn't complain. Bar staff were unwilling to circulate amongst the guests taking drink orders. They expected the guests to go up to the pool bar and order direct. (Sabrina was a smiling exception) Several of our group met for drinks around 5 one afternoon by the pool. As each of us arrived, we generally went up and ordered our own. Several of our wives joined us so I went up and asked if someone could come take our order. I said we had been seated there for over half an hour and no one had even come by. I was told by one of the wait staff that she had "just been by our table". Had that been the case, she would have clearly seen the people with no drinks and the empty glasses and would have taken them away. She begrudgingly came and took our order and once that was delivered, never saw her again. Room service was lacking...many times critical items were overlooked from the order. Sugar and cream but no coffee, coffee but no cups, cheesecake ordered yet cheese plates arrived. One of our couples had perfect service in this area but several others experienced regular problems. The Hukelai has gone downhill. I complained on a previous cruise that this is the major area for improvement but it has not gotten any better. Disorganized layouts and mediocre food. Soup spoons for breakfast that wouldn't fit into the yogurt containers, omelets makers that can only make a single omelets at a time, no pineapple juice after day 2, and the limited breads for toast. My god, don't they know that whole grain is better for you? White bread, brown bread and English muffins. That was it! Certainly not an example of a cruise line standard for buffets. Our group had two people booked on their own Dolphin trip in Kona, our tender port. This was not offered through NCL so they booked one privately. On the morning of Kona, they could not get anyone to tell them what time they could leave the ship and got conflicting answers depending on who they asked. Frustration mounted until I advised them to head for the tender dock as soon as the boats were in the water, and wait. They were told that since they were a nice looking couple, they could get off on the first tender. Good thing they were good looking, as they would have missed their trip had they listened to NCL. I took this trip as a family vacation and for the ports. Generally, I treat this as a floating hotel with the real enjoyment being the ports and tours. I had booked rental cars for Kauai, Hilo, Kona and Maui with a NCL snorkel trip to Molokini. The Volcano in Hilo was incredible, as was the lave spewing into the ocean. The highway 130 run was really worth it!! Thanks Cruise Critics!! Saw a couple of the shows and entertainers, and they were all right. So…the recap? Trip was super, the ports were fantastic, the ship was as expected and many staff were indifferent. You had to really overlook those staff and find the good that does exist on the ship. I did have a chat with one of the entertainment staff. He did concur that morale was low and it was reflected in performance. He went on to say how much better NCL was over NCL America. I said that after this trip, I had a tainted opinion on NCL in general and would be very unlikely to give them another try. I need to spend my vacation dollars for a product with a greater chance of success. I also would like to say that if I had known when I booked that the ship was on it's second to last sailing with NCL, I would probably not have booked the trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We just got back from our 3/26/08 cruise on Pride of Aloha. I realize this ship doesn't have many days left, but I thought I would pass on some information on our trip that may prove beneficial to others. We started out on March ... Read More
We just got back from our 3/26/08 cruise on Pride of Aloha. I realize this ship doesn't have many days left, but I thought I would pass on some information on our trip that may prove beneficial to others. We started out on March 25th, by flying in from Dallas / Fort Worth Texas. We arrived in Honolulu without incident at 3:30pm (direct flight with American Airlines), although eight hours is a long time to be on an airplane! We took a cab to the Waikiki Marriott, which we booked through NCL. I know this isn't the most economical way to go, but we thought it was well worth the money. We went straight to the NCL check in desk, checked in to the hotel and the ship, and were on the way to our room in short order. In no time at all, we were on Waikiki beach hunting down a restaurant mentioned in the Revealed books as being a "military" hotel, with great prices. We finally found it once we realized it was more of a snack bar. The food was decent, and the prices were good. We didn't realize how good until we continued on in our travels. We were on Waikiki beach for sunset. What a great way to start a vacation! The next morning we were up fairly early. We tagged our luggage, and left it just inside the door as instructed, and headed off in search of breakfast. We went to Duke's right on the beach, and got a table with a great view of the ocean. If sunset at Waikiki beach was a great way to end a day, this was surely a great way to start one! Duke's has an all you can eat breakfast buffet for $15.00 a person. After that, we went to the International Market Place. While we hadn't planned it that way, we ended up doing much of our souvenir and gift shopping here. It is hard to pass up seven tee shirts for 20 dollars, among other bargains. Then it was time to head back to the hotel for the shuttle to the ship. Our luggage had already gone on ahead of us. The shuttle picked us up, and took us to the cruise ship. Oh, if only every embarkation could be this easy! We definitely got the red carpet treatment here. We had our own special boarding line, and we never stopped walking. From the time we arrived until the time my wife and I were up on deck eleven in search of food was less than 30 minutes. It was several hours before our rooms were ready (about 3:30pm), but we had no difficulty keeping ourselves entertained. Our friends, and traveling companions arrived a short time later, and we went off in search of real food. I had intended to go to "Crossing" based on information I had read on Cruise Critic, but ended up at the "Palace" instead. We got in with very little wait, and ended up with a server named "Mercy". What a God send she turned out to be. Again, I knew from Cruise Critic, that half the battle was finding a good server, and sticking with them, and she was the best we have ever had in three cruises. She always had a smile on her face, and if we asked for something, she was off to get it. For example, Todd, one of our traveling companions, doesn't typically have desert. The only desert he likes is vanilla ice cream, with chocolate sauce, and whip cream. Needless to say, that wasn't on the menu. Once Mercy got Todd to mention something he would eat, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and whip cream were showing up at out table every night. One night she apologized profusely - no whip cream. It turns out she had been taking the ice cream from the kitchen to the bar to get the whip cream, and this particular night the bar was out. That is just one example. I could give more dramatic examples, but won't for fear of getting Mercy in trouble, or encouraging people to take advantage of her gracious nature. Needless to say, I tipped her well above and beyond the "mandatory" tips I know she would be receiving. By night two or three we were making reservations, but even when we didn't we never waited in line long, and were always able to get seated in her area. Despite a lot of criticism in times past about the food, we thought it was very good. Our traveling companions regularly commented that they felt the food was better than our previous Carnival cruise. That being said, we are just regular blue-collar folks, so we aren't much for "fancy", we just want edible and recognizable. As far as the rooms go, we did have a few minor issues. I knew the mattresses were hard, so I had requested, and my wife had confirmed an "egg crate" mattress cover weeks prior to the cruise. It never happened, although our cabin steward Javier did add an additional pad to our mattress. After the first night, the mattress didn't really seem to be an issue any more, and we were sleeping like babies. Our friends were a little less fortunate. They requested one queen bed, and ended up with two singles. It took three days to get resolved, with trips to the reception desk every day. I also noticed that their room didn't seem as clean as ours starting out. Again, it may just be the luck of the draw, but our cabin steward Javier took great care of us. There was always ice in our ice bucket, and fresh towels when we requested them, not to mention a few towel animals thrown in here and there. For breakfast, we often went early, around 6:30am, and ate at one of the buffets on deck eleven. There is no doubt it could get crowded by 7:30am or 8:00. While the buffet was nothing to right home about, it was nothing to complain about either. We ate a ton of fresh fruit, which was delicious! On the 27th, in Oahu, I had scheduled a rental car with a cruise ship pick up through Thrifty for 6:30am. It turns out that their shuttles don't start until 8:00, so I had to take a cab to the Thrifty location to pick up my car. The folks at Thrifty did make up for the problem by discounting the car. I had rented a GPS that didn't turn out to be nearly as user friendly as the Garmen 350 I had previously used through another rental company. We had a difficult time making our way back to the pier to pick up our friends. Thankfully, I had my wife with me, who IS willing to stop and ask for directions, while I sat in the car wondering if the $1.00 insurance I got on the GPS unit paid for intentional abuse, as I considered backing over it! By the time we picked up our friends, we were about an hour and a half behind "schedule", which put us at Diamond Head a little later than I had hoped for. Todd and I headed for the top like two men on a mission, while the ladies followed at a more leisurely pace. To be quite honest, we didn't really expect the women to make it to the top, but after arriving ourselves, we found out that they were only a short ways behind us. The views from the top were spectacular - well worth the hike, although by this time it was 9:00am, and fairly crowded. Back down we went to head to our next stop - Hanauma Nature Preserve. We arrived about 10:00am, and as I feared, the parking lot was already full. Bummer! Oh well, we are on vacation, so we just turned around and headed for the North Shore. When we got to Haleiwa, we ate at a "hole in the wall" called "The Grass Skirt". It is just south of Matzimoto's shaved ice. It was probably some of the best food we had anywhere, and the prices were great. I highly recommend it if you can find it! Then we headed to Shark's Cove for some snorkeling. The North Shore is very iffy this time of year for snorkeling, and this day proved to be no exception. I am a pretty experienced snorkeling, and had a great time once I got out past the rocks and breaking waves. My friend Todd, who is a good swimmer, but a beginning snorkeler didn't fair quite as well, and took a bit of a beating. After missing Hanauma Bay, I was fairly determined, and probably didn't use the best judgment. We did see some cool fish though. Then it was back to Thrifty to drop the car off, and head back to the ship. We stopped by the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the way back, because my wife wanted to. I knew better after reading Cruise Critic, but after 26 years of marriage, I also new better than to argue. Yep, your typical tourist trap, and crowded. Of coarse even I didn't want to leave without grabbing a pineapple ice cream cone, which was delicious. The on board entertainment was good, but not excellent. To be honest though, I was still on central time most of the trip, so it was early to bed and early to rise. At 47, we were some of the YOUNGEST on the ship. One night I went up on the top deck around 9:00pm, and it was vacant! On our Carnival cruises, the party was just getting started. None of us are partiers though, so this suited us just fine. The Comedian was funny and clean, the magician and juggler were decent. Most of the time we were more interested in sleep than the shows - too much to do on shore! On the 28th, in Maui, we grabbed another car from Thrifty. Blue Chip is a must! We left the ship, and were driving our car in under 30 minutes. We had originally intended to go to Iao Valley, but it was obviously fogged in, so we headed straight over to the Lahaina area, and Kaanapali beach. We tried to find parking near the Sheraton, and Black Rock, but public parking is very limited. We got lucky, and found a spot about a mile away. We mostly wanted to give our friend Ranelle a chance to learn how to use her snorkel equipment. She doesn't swim well, and had a lot of apprehension. When we got to the beach, she decided she wasn't ready to get in the water yet. We had plans for Molokini Crater the following day, so we really wanted to get her used to her equipment. After kicking around in the water for a while, I really wanted to go to Black Rock, but as I mentioned it was quite a ways away. Much to my surprise, everyone decided they were up for the hike, and I was so glad they did. Black Rock was crowded with snorkelers, but boy was it worth the walk. Once we swam out past the throng of young snorkelers, the views and fish were amazing! I don't know if it is like this every day, but there were even turtles swimming up close to the shore, despite being surrounded by dozens of young kids. Some turtles in the water was all it took to get our friend Ranelle to decide it was time to put aside some fears, and try on that new equipment. She snorkeled around the shore area, and began getting comfortable with the equipment. We snorkeled out around the point of Black Rock, where it was far less crowded, and oh my goodness, what a display! Tons of live coral and fish of all different sizes and shapes. Some of the best snorkeling I have done anywhere! And if you dove about ten feet under the water, you could hear the whales singing! It was really quite awesome. From Black Rock, we showered on the beach, and headed back to Lahaina for Old Lahaina Luau. After snorkeling, we were ravenous. I started out looking for a restaurant recommended by the "Revealed" books, but it appears to be gone. We went to "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" instead. Great ambiance, and right on the beach. We had four cheese burgers, four pineapple smoothies (one with alcohol), one side of fries, and one side of onion rings. When our waiter brought the bill, our friend just stuck a $100.00 bill in the folder, and handed it back to the waiter. He asked "did you want change?" I remember thinking, "this guy was a good waiter, and entertaining, but he must be expecting a hefty tip." When my friend got the folder back, he collected his change - $4.00! He carefully looked over the bill, and it was right! Thankfully my friend has a good sense of humor. We laughed about our $100 hamburgers the rest of the trip, but did not return for seconds! As far as the Luau goes, I don't know that I can add anything here that hasn't already been said on multiple occasions. It was a great show - well worth the money. After the show, we beat feet back to the ship in hopes of finding parking at the sea wall. It turned out to be no problem. On the 29th, it was up early to head over to Maalaea Harbor to meet up with Aloha Blue Charters. It is a good thing we aren't drinkers, it might have been a rough morning after the Luau the night before. We were at the Harbor by 7:00am. Aloha Blue Charters is a snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater and Turtle Arches. We picked them because they also offer fishing on the way to the crater and back (for $10.00 a person!), and our friend is an avid fisherman. I originally discovered them through the web site www.tombarefoot.com. As it turned out, there were only six people schedule this day, the four of us, and two others. It was like our own private charter. We heard there were about 30 people the day before. The crew was great, and off we went. It wasn't long before the fishing poles were in the water, and we were off to the crater. Snorkeling at the crater was okay, but certainly not great. I talked to some people from the ship who took the afternoon trip on another boat. They said they had gotten in at the crater, but the water had gotten rough, so they went to an alternate site. I believe they called it "Coral Gardens", and they said the snorkeling there was far superior. After the crater, we headed off to Turtle Arches. After seeing turtles the day before, again, this was somewhat anti-climatic. We did see turtles, so it certainly wasn't in vain. Then it was time to head back to the port, and drop the poles back in the water. As we were headed back, some whales started breaching about half a mile behind us. It was fairly spectacular, although somewhat distant. The ladies wanted to turn the boat around, and go see them, which I can understand, but at that point we were in "fishing" mode. I heard one of the Pacific Foundation boats did turn around, and they got quite a show. If I went again, I would surely pass on Molokini Crater. And we were definitely glad we had our wet suits! That being said, if you want to go, and especially if you would like to throw in a little fishing, I would recommend Aloha Blue Charters. We didn't catch any fish that day, but neither did the other charter boats that we talked to, and I am sure those folks paid a lot more than $10.00 to fish! After the snorkel trip, we caught Iao Valley, and Iao Needle, which we missed the day before. It is a short trip, and doesn't take a lot of time, so I would recommend it. Some very beautiful scenery, and very interesting history. We dropped off the rental car, and headed back to the ship for some much needed rest! On the 30th, in Kona, my wife and I were right back on the water with Captain Zodiac. This was the only excursion we booked through NCL. We could have saved $10.00 if we had booked directly, but Kona is a tender port, and we thought of the $10.00 as insurance. This was a great trip! The rigid hull inflatables were just bouncy enough to keep things exciting, without being overwhelming (although some people looked a little overwhelmed). The snorkeling by Captain Cooks Monument was second to none. We were some of the first to arrive, so we had the run of the place until many of the other boats started to arrive. Tons of fish and coral. My wife and I were the last ones back in the boat after a little more than an hour. On the way back we saw some very interesting lava tubes, and spent a short amount of time cruising with some spinner dolphins. At one point I could have leaned out of the boat and touched one of them. It was a great trip! On the 31st, in Kauai, we grabbed another rental car and headed to Waimea Canyon. Waimea Canyon was awesome in every sense of the word. I have been to the Grand Canyon, and this was equally awe inspiring. We went to the very end, and can now say we visited the wettest spot on earth (440 inches of rain a year). While we were there, we had plenty of sunshine! After Waimea Canyon, we headed for Po'ipu beach. We decided to do some snorkeling here as well, and WOW! The water was much cloudier than many other places, but talk about fish! And the area is fairly shallow, so you can get really close to them, which is great for taking underwater photos. There was also a Monk Seal there basking in the sun on his own little beach. From what I have read, these are now a protected species, and very rare. We stayed long enough to watch the sun set, before dashing back to Thrifty just in time to catch the last (8:00 pm) shuttle back to the Ship. The second day in Kauai was originally scheduled to end at 2:00 pm, so we didn't rent a car. We originally planned to spend time right next door to the ship at Kalapaki Beach in front of the Marriott. By this time though, we were pretty well "beached" out, and instead spent time walking around the many local shops. The departure time had been changed to 5:00pm, so we had a little extra time. April 2nd was a much needed sea day. We slept in, and the wives both got massages. We spent the afternoon playing some version of a domino game, and had a very relaxed day overall. At 8:30pm, the ship passed the Big Island for a little volcano viewing. I wanted very badly to hike to some real lava, but there was just no way I could work it in, or have any real confidence of actually seeing lava. The sail buy was probably even better. Words cannot describe it! We could see lava coming out of the lava tubes and pouring out into the ocean, creating giant steam and gas clouds. Occasionally you could see the lava spraying up in to the sky in a spectacular display. There was a lot of high dollar cameras out, catching lots of pictures of "orange blobs" in the dark of the night (they actually turned off some of the ships lights for better viewing). Somehow, with my point and shoot cannon, I managed to capture one spectacular picture, along with plenty of my own orange blobs. I attribute it to turning the flash off, so I could get longer exposure times. My camera also has optical image stabilization. That and a lot of luck appear to be what it takes to get a good picture. The ship turned around to make a pass the other way, so we headed around to the other side of the ship. While we were heading back the other way, we actually got to watch a new lava tube, and a new lava flow being formed right in front of our eyes! If that doesn't make you stand there in awe, I am not sure what will. The next morning, on the 3rd, we were back in Lahaina. We spent some time walking around, but spent most of the day doing something a little off the beaten path. My wife and I got a tattoo at a place called Atomic Tattoo, just around the corner from the Burger King. There was another Tattoo shop there as well, but they weren't open yet. Getting a tattoo is not something I wouldn't recommend on a "whim", but it is something my wife and I have done on occasion as a way of remembering a special moment or time together. Hey, it beat jewelry! We had time to do this, because once again the ship extended the time we were in port from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. By the time 4:00pm rolled around, the water was getting pretty rough, and there started to be some concern about tendering back to the ship. Everyone got back on safe and sound though. On the 4th we headed back to the Big Island to visit Hilo. Originally I was going to rent a car here, and drive to Volcano National Park. With everything going on with the Volcano though, we decided just to take a tour instead. We were realizing that by renting a car we were giving up at least a couple of hours each day for pick up and return. Even though it didn't really take that long, with the "safety factor" thrown in, it did. We booked Volcano National Park and Rainbow Falls through Roberts. Roberts was handing out tour information when we first got on the ship. Their tours were about half of what the cruise ships were. I made reservations at the last minute over the phone. The tour was about what you would expect for a bus tour. The driver was informative and humorous, Volcano National Park was great, Rainbow falls was beautiful, and a few "tourist traps" thrown in (Macadamia Nut Factory) so you know you are on a commercial tour bus. At $35.00 a person, it well worth the money, and we didn't have to spend time figuring out where we were going, and how to get there. On the 5th, it was back in the home port. Getting off was just as easy as getting on. If only all ports could be this easy! While we were on our 10 day cruise, two airlines went out of business. First, Aloha airlines, then ATA. Well, our friends were flying out with ATA. As a result, they could not get out of Hawaii until Wednesday after we arrived in port on Saturday. Fortunately they were able to find a hotel (Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel) which put them up for free! My understanding is that this was done strictly as a courtesy by the management of the hotel. If so, my hat is off to them! From the ship, we helped our friends get settled in for their extra stay, and then headed off to the airport to catch our flight. Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered our flight had been delayed by a little over an hour, which put our connecting flight in Los Angeles to Dallas Fort Worth very much in question. When we asked one American Airlines agent what would happen if we missed our connection in Los Angeles, he told us most likely WE would be stuck for at least two days in Los Angeles, as all flights were booked to the max. We seriously considered staying in Hawaii. I would much rather be stuck in Hawaii, than Los Angeles. As it turned out, the flight from Los Angeles to Dallas / Fort Worth was also delayed, otherwise we would have missed our flight. We traveled on to Dallas with many other travelers who were once again facing the prospect of missing their next connecting flight. It was a wonderful vacation, a great trip, and a great ship. I truly think you get what you expect. If you go expecting to have a great time, you will. If you go expecting to find problems, you will. If you treat people with respect and gratefulness, for the most part you will get the same in return. I count myself as blessed for getting to do a 10 day cruise in Hawaii while the trip was still available. Aloha, and may your trip be as blessed as mine was! -Mike Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
I (30+) traveled with my mother (60+) to Hawaii a few years ago and we only saw Oahu and decided to return in order to see more of the islands. We decided to cruise with the Pride of Aloha in March 08 which would also give us the ... Read More
I (30+) traveled with my mother (60+) to Hawaii a few years ago and we only saw Oahu and decided to return in order to see more of the islands. We decided to cruise with the Pride of Aloha in March 08 which would also give us the opportunity to do some whale watching. We booked with our travel agent locally in New Zealand and it was a very quick and simple process. We have cruised twice with Disney before and decided that an inside stateroom would be ok as on previous cruises have spent little time in our cabins. We booked our hotels, transfers and shore excursions independently. We knew that the ship has had very mixed reviews so we went into it thinking of it as a simply an easy way to see the island with meals included and determined to make the most of it. For the night before boarding, we stayed at the Aqua Palms & Spa and for the two nights after we stayed at the Aqua Equus which were both nice mid-range hotels and both booked directly via the Aqua website. All our shore excursions we booked via Roberts on the internet a couple of months prior to departure. We highly recommend them, their prices are excellent and we thought they provided excellent value for money. Once we arrived at the port around 12pm (we just used a shuttle the hotel arranged) we checked in and made our way to the buffet. We didn't visit any other food location on the ship as we found the buffet in most cases provided enough of a selection to keep us happy. The food wasn't fabulous but it was ok. The only fault I could see was that at times the labeling was non-existent, wrong, in the wrong place or simply not there. It meant you had to guess at what was in the dishes. The other problem was that queues often backed up at areas of the buffet so if you weren't interested in that section, you would have to jump the queue to get what you wanted. Breakfast was very repetitive and by the last two days, I really didn't fancy any of the selections. As for entertainment, most of it wasn't to our taste but we did see the comedian Bill Hildebrandt and the magician Matt Marcy who were very good and we enjoyed both their shows. We found the staff on the PoAL to be very personable and friendly. They would often make a point of saying "Aloha" or "Hi" and if you looked like you needed something, they'd get it for you. We didn't hit one single rude or surly staff member as reported in some other reviews. Our stateroom was always cleaned and turned down promptly, we did have a problem with the light in the bathroom not working and it seemed to be more than just a bulb needing to be replaced so it took a couple of days to get that fixed properly. In terms of the public areas, a couple of times, I wanted to find a nice spot to sit and read my book, the deckchairs by the pool were extremely uncomfortable for sitting and reading and also out by the pool was usually crowded and noisy. Often indoor areas were too cool to sit comfortably for any period of time, I often ended up putting on jeans and a sweatshirt just so I could find somewhere to sit and read other than the stateroom. Other people also commented on the chilliness of a number of the areas on the ship. I think if we sailed with NCL again, we'd probably get a stateroom with a balcony as we found we had a lot more down time than we have had on our previous Disney cruises. In summary... 1) book with Roberts or other independent tour operators as the cruise ship prices are a rip off for virtually the same thing 2) don't expect to be "wowed", it is nothing near a luxury cruise in any area 3) see as much of the islands as you can, they are wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Wonderful Islands, Indifferent Ship... Getting on board. My wife and I sailed from Honolulu on March 16th for an 11 day cruise through the islands of our 50th state! This cruise was purchased by my wife as a 50th birthday gift for me. I ... Read More
Wonderful Islands, Indifferent Ship... Getting on board. My wife and I sailed from Honolulu on March 16th for an 11 day cruise through the islands of our 50th state! This cruise was purchased by my wife as a 50th birthday gift for me. I had never been to Hawaii and had cruised before on another line (RCL) and so expectations were high! We flew to Honolulu on Saturday the 15th with plans to stay on ship that night and for the Sunday evening sailing. We were told by the travel agent that we must check in on Saturday, but did find out that this was not true. The crew aboard POA said that we could check in up to 4pm the day of sailing. Ultimately this was not a problem but may have allowed us additional flight options. The check in went very quickly and we were able to be on board in about 20 minutes from our arrival at the pier. There were several porters available to handle the bags and give us clear directions. We were on the ship and exploring in not time! Our cabin #4230 was an outside stateroom with porthole but was not going to be ready for a while. We were invited to go to the 11th deck for lunch at the Hukilau Buffet (inside) or the Hukilau Lanai buffet (outside). Both had the same selection of cold cuts breads, and other sandwich makings, as well as pasta salads, and burgers. The lay out of the buffet was very cramped and guaranteed that during busy times there would be a real jam here. We were to find this out in person over the next ten days. The food was very low end buffet quality and the presentation was below what we would have expected on a cruise. This was also to be true future visits to the buffet. At around 3 PM our stateroom was ready and we went to drop off out things. To our great surprise our bags were delivered very quickly and we unpacked. The room was small but had ample space for all of our things, decent closet space and a few drawers. Anything that did not fit we simply used the small night tables. The suitcases were stored easily under the bed. The bathroom was small of course, but big enough considering the limited time we would spend in the cabin. The cabin was clean and neat and well lit. Housekeeping. We had our cabin made up every other day, and it was always done by 10am or so. The cabin steward would come again each day at around 6pm to turn down the bed etc. We usually left the "Do not disturb" sign on the doors we did not get our mints every day. Our cabin attendant was very pleasant and attentive. The Food and Freestyle dining. This was a very big disappointment. The food was banquet quality at best in the main dining rooms. The menus were limited and included an "Island Favorite" each night. In addition there were several other selections that changed each night as well as a few standard entrees that were always available. The quality of the food was uniformly low in the two main dining rooms. Very bland! The menu writers were too good, the food never lived up to the description. I ordered the Wahoo from the always available menu. It came completely dried out and tasteless, obviously prepared ahead and left to sit. The portions of the appetizers salads and soups were very small, prompting many people to order 2 shrimp cocktails etc. The dinner portions were on the small side but not to the degree of the sides. The plating of the food was unappealing as well. The Freestyle Cruising idea is that you did not have a set time for meals or a set table you stay with. When entering the main dining rooms we were asked if we had a reservation. Parties of 5 or more, or people requiring a table for two are encouraged to make reservations. You are allowed to make reservations by phone 1 day in advance, between 9AM and 4PM and from 5PM to 10pm. These are the times we are off the ship, or at dinner and the show. These times also applied to making reservations at the specialty restaurants as well. (more on these later). We agreed to share a table when we ate at the main dining rooms. We were lucky enough to meet some nice people and have good conversations for the most part. However the downside of sitting at a table for 8 is the painfully slow service. You need to allow for at least two hours for dinner!!! The wait staff was fair at best and completely indifferent at worst. We tried to get a table for a smaller number of people hoping that this would speed service, but to avail!! In took forever!!! All of these things made the specialty restaurants seem very appealing. We ate in the buffet for breakfast daily and for lunch on the 2 sea days. Breakfast was a two hour ordeal in the main dining rooms. The buffet was simple with some fresh fruit, rolls and muffins, sausages, bacon etc. There was an omelet station too. The fresh fruit was limited to pineapple, melon, apples and bananas. Until the last three days when there were no bananas. All other fruit was canned. There were very few healthy choices to be made here. No whole grain breads etc. The food quality was poor here, we typically had eggs to order, toast and fruit. It was all we needed, but not up to the standards of other cruises. There are 3 different themed restaurants on board, Kahili (Italian), Pacific Heights (Asian Fusion), and Royal Palm Bistro (French). Each required a cover charge of $10-15 per person. Reservations are required!! Again you could only call between certain times to get the reservations and it was difficult at best to get this done. There would be no answer, or busy signals. We even went to the restaurant and tried to make same day res. The room was empty, maybe two tables seated and the soonest we could get in was over 2 hours later??? The system is clearly not working well, at least for the passengers! The service and food quality at the specialty rooms was clearly better than the main dining rooms. The Italian place was our favorite. The portions were good on the entrees, but the appetizers were still tiny. The menus were limited but included a nice selection. In general the preparation and plating was comparable to a 2-3 star restaurant on shore. The service standard was very good and much more to the standards we were expecting. When there were problems they were handled quickly and effectively. However it should be noted that most of the food was prepared in advance so the quality and flavor was not all it could have been. We ate the specialty rooms 6 nights. The meals here were actually of the quality I had experienced on my previous cruise in the main dining room! Entertainment. The entertainment on board was OK. Not great. The best was the Cruise Director Doug who was a classically trained vocalist that had been on Broadway. He had a couple of informal singing concerts that were very very good. The other entertainment nights were just average cruise fare at best. The Blue Hawaii had some high energy staff and events that were fun in the evenings after the shows. Another highlight was Toby Beau (Angel Baby) that was on board all week and played several times in various clubs. Desk staff and general service. The reception staff was very good and well versed in dealing with customers that had issues with the service. We had found out after booking that this ship was going to Asia in a month and much of the crew would be out of work. This had a great impact on the service we received. Some people were great, they were moving to another ship, others were rude and abrupt, they were out of work! The desk staff was always cordial and helpful. The excursion staff was good at selling an excursion, but was full of disinformation!! Little bits of information that were wrong that caused us not to bring a towel, pack a lunch etc. Inconvenient and frustrating. I booked most of our excursions and rental cars online not with NCL. This was on average 30 to 50 percent less expensive and by all accounts better run than the NCL excursions. Tipping, if you can call it that. NCL added $10 per person per day to your cabin account for gratuity and 15% auto gratuity to all beverages. This is offensive in my opinion considering the level of service we received. The housekeeping and hospitality staff was very good and deserved it, the dining staff and kitchen staff did not. I made sure to tip the waiters in the specialty rooms directly for their good service. So I did feel bad about requesting and having the $110 removed from my cabin charges for tips. There were hundreds of people doing the same thing! Final points. This cruise is about seeing the islands, and that you do! The ports were wonderful and we had a great time. If you love cruising, and have cruised before, you will probably be disappointed in this cruise! Nothing about it compares favorably to other cruises in terms of service, food, or entertainment. I've been told that other NCL cruises are great and the American crew is the problem with the service compared to foreign crewed ships. An the fact that NCL was moving this ship out of Hawaii in many ways destroyed the attitude of the staff on board. No matter what we said or did there would be no solutions because everyone was a short timer. And it was clear that the NCL had stopped caring as well. NCL may have great ships in service, and excellent staffs on these ships, but Pride of Aloha is not one of them. The fact that NCL allowed the service and quality to drop so far, makes it very unlikely that I would book another cruise with them in the future! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Just got off the PRIDE OF ALOHA. Hawaii is wonderful. Definitely the best destination we have ever experiences since we have cruised I think about our tenth cruise. The ship is a great "hotel" for visiting the islands. Only one ... Read More
Just got off the PRIDE OF ALOHA. Hawaii is wonderful. Definitely the best destination we have ever experiences since we have cruised I think about our tenth cruise. The ship is a great "hotel" for visiting the islands. Only one day at sea. We did excursions every island and we recommend Roberts travel instead of NCL. Tour prices are cheaper and tour guides are excellent. Can't believe the fellow cruisers who took the "Wal-Mart shuttle" at every port. Get a life! We experienced the history, saw all the attractions and enjoyed the scenery provided by the Roberts native Hawaiian tour guides. the Pride of Aloha staff didn't push alcoholic drinks like Carnival does. Turned out we likes the American crew once we got to meet them. Out room steward was the best we have ever had on a cruise. We always had plenty of ice, clean cabin, bed turned down and chocolate on our pillows. The food was OK but we got turned off by some of our fellow cruisers who couldn't get enough to eat and complained that there were no trays so they had to go back to the buffet line 3 or 4 times. Again, get a life! There was a leak in the buffet area ceiling for 2 days but it didn't affect us. The biggest distraction on the cruise were the "complainers" who weren't pampered enough or missed the casino. We made friends with other "happy cruisers" and tried to avoid these complainers which can be a challenge with freestyle dining. It is unfortunate this ship is going to China in May, but wouldn't hesitate to sail on the "Pride of America" in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
This was our 12th cruise, our first (and last) on NCL. One fellow cruiser called it "the cruise from Hell". I wouldn't go that far, but the level of service was certainly not up to par. We stayed pre-cruise at the Marriott ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise, our first (and last) on NCL. One fellow cruiser called it "the cruise from Hell". I wouldn't go that far, but the level of service was certainly not up to par. We stayed pre-cruise at the Marriott Waikiki, a very nice facility. Our travel agent had told us we could book shore excursions and dinner times at the NCL office at the hotel, but since we didn't book the cruise through the hotel, NCL wouldn't do anything for us. Boarding was in mid-afternoon, very well organized, in the cruise terminal and onto the ship in about 10 minutes. The size of our room and balcony were a disappointment, both very small. Balcony had a very small table maybe 12inches. Cabin storage for clothes minimal, 2 shelves in the nightstand, 3 shallow drawers and 1 shallow shelf in closet, that was it. So we had to leave half of our clothes in the suitcases, and drag them out from under the bed every day. Safe did not work, had to call 3 times for repair and then a few days later conked out again. Took 27 hours to get an electrician to replace the keypad and battery. Lifeboat drill was first afternoon, very poorly organized. Many had come on board, then left for shopping, etc as the ship was overnighting in Honolulu. So the crew made a half-baked attempt to see who was there and then we stood, and stood, and stood for almost a half hour, then the captain announced that the crew would show us how to put on our life vests, which they had already done a half hour ago. Then when this ordeal was finally over, they would not let us go back to our cabin by the door at which we had come, but marched us way to the other end of the ship! Okay, FreeStyle Cruising. No formal nights, eat when you want to. This falls under the category of "Be careful what you ask for, you may get it". No formal nights is fine, but rest ends up being a big mess. You have to make time reservations for dinner in the two main dining rooms, as well as the three specialty (Extra Cost) rooms. BUT they will let you make such reservations only a day in advance. We ate at the Pacific Heights room one night ($10 pp extra); it was okay, but not overly great. Rest of time we used the Palace Main or Crossings Main. Even with a reservation, there was often a wait. Menus same at both Mains, but Palace seemed to be less crowded. After a few nights, we found a great waitress Evelyn at Palace and requested her. Service was slow, 10 minutes or more between courses and a dinner was never less than 2 hours. There was no barmaid nor Sommelier, so the waiter had to handle drinks. There were two buffets, which we mostly utilized for breakfast and lunch, but selections were very limited. No trays, so you had to juggle plates on the rails that were designed for trays. The napkins there were wrinkled; had they even been washed after use by last passenger? In addition to poor selections, the buffet tubs were often empty, which slowed things down. Bar service was horrendous; some bars had no waiters; others had them, but they acted like it was too much trouble to serve you. One person commented that the problem was that most of the service personnel were Americans, who had no training or culture in service. Sad, but probably true. Most other ships have Filipinos or Europeans in such jobs, and they acted like they were willing to serve! Over all, the quality of food and level of service was the worst we have had on any ship. The bars had no swizzle sticks, so you got a straw for that if they remembered to give you one, usually you got no napkin. We did 6 shore excursions; Pearl Harbor/USS Missouri (must do); whale watch & sunset cruise (saw a lot of them); Kailua Glass Bottom Boat; Luau Kalamaku & Plantation Train; Volcano & Rainbow Falls Deluxe; and Best of Maui. All were well organized, enjoyable, and I recommend all. Be sure to get some kind of trip the Volcanoes National Park. Unfortunately the ship was unable to route past where the lava was flowing into the ocean. The ship had water leak problems, plastic buckets in buffet dining room and in the 10th deck hallway. Room across the hall from us had to have the carpet replaced. Overheard a worker telling someone that the ship is old, the pipes leak and they wont spend the money to replace them. Of the 11 bars in the daily program, 10 had an opening time, but closing time was just shown as "close", so you never knew when they were open. On a cruise of this length, I normally have a bar tab of $1,000-1,500, but on this one it was about 300, simply for lack of service, need I say more? Bar entertainment was almost non-existent, except for a middle age couple who did Eagles, Beatles & Country music sets, and a very good job of each, in the Outrigger Lounge. They had SRO crowds, despite the problem of the temperature being kept at about 50 degrees in the Outrigger. It's my opinion that this FreeStyle Cruising is just an advertising gimmick that masks its real purpose - that of trying to run a ship with a minimal number of personnel. The mundane food and service in the main dining rooms appears to be a ploy to drive patrons to use the extra cost dining venues, thus enhancing the ship's revenues. At one time, NCL had a great reputation for class and service, but that no longer exists. We will take our cruise business elsewhere in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
I read the previous reviews of this ship before booking. Now that I have experienced it, I am happy to report that my experience was not bad. What I have to say will probably not influence many people, since the Pride of Aloha is being ... Read More
I read the previous reviews of this ship before booking. Now that I have experienced it, I am happy to report that my experience was not bad. What I have to say will probably not influence many people, since the Pride of Aloha is being re-branded and moved to Asia. However, I want to give some positive feedback, since so much negative feedback has been voiced here. I have sailed on two previous cruises - both with Royal Caribbean. The NCL Pride of Aloha definitely does not measure-up or come close to comparing with Royal Caribbean service or quality. But, I did NOT have a "nightmare experience" with them as others have reported in this forum. (I went expecting "LaQuinta" instead of "Marriott", and that is exactly what I got.) The registration desk and personnel were all helpful: A+. Our inside cabin was exceedingly small, but clean. Yes, it showed signs of wear - especially in the bathroom where we found rust and a deteriorating mirror, but overall the room itself gets: "B". The maid service was adequate: A. There were some initial issues getting toilet paper and Kleenex boxes stocked, but that did not end up being the maid's error - just a procurement problem. The dining experiences varied. Both the Crossings and Palace were exactly what I expected under "freestyle" cruising: B+. Our waiters were good, and our orders delivered as requested. The only negative was that there was dish breakage at EVERY meal in these restaurants. Makes me wonder how many dishes they go thru! The specialty restaurants were superb. We ate at all 3 (italian, asian, and french) and all were excellent food quality, and excellent service: A+ I also have to add a kudo for the restaurant reservation desk agent (Cheryl) A+++, who got us into Pacific Heights after we were turned away at the door because it was "fully booked". The breakfast buffet had a great selection: A. It was well attended every morning we were there. Special order egg line was worth waiting for, and the taste was appealing. Sanitization units were at every restaurant entrance, and at the entertainment venues: A+ The tender ports were not nearly as difficult to maneuver as others have made them out to be: B+. Yes, you have to take a ticket and wait your turn - but this was never an issue for us. We never had to wait longer than it took us to eat breakfast - 15-20 minutes. The hot tubs were excellent, and the water chlorine levels were checked every day we were there: A+. We did not use the saltwater pools, and did not really care when they were open or not open. The bar service was good, but not great. We had an anniversary party that was supposed to include Champagne - but the bartender failed to show up. After a few phonecalls, this was resolved - and we actually ended up getting served a high-dollar Champagne instead of what was normally served at these events. B. We did not book our shore excursions thru the ship. Instead, we did all our own booking online. We booked a car at every port except Lahaina. This worked out well everywhere except Kona, where getting to AVIS took a taxi. We booked these excursions, all of which were A+++: Wings over Kauai, Princeville Ranch Zip-n-Dip, Blue Water Rafting Molokini snorkel and whale watch. We toured Pearl Harbor, Haleakala, and Kilauea on our own using rental cars. The on-ship entertainment was good. No, it did not compare to the well-known names that Royal Caribbean books (like Charo for instance) - but it was adequate: B. The disembarkation was organized and staff was helpful. We used the EasyFly option to get boarding passes and check luggage thru to the Airport early. This was WELL worth the extra $40: A+ I would love to see some non-NCL competition be allowed to service just the Hawaiian Islands. I think some good competition may be just what NCL needs in this market, and the consumer would benefit. However, I did enjoy this cruise and its locale - and will be sorry to see it go. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
I was expecting a small cabin but I was not expecting a cabin with the last traveler's garbage, three burned out light bulbs, damaged vanity, a bed that would not stay together, hair dryer that would not work, plug in that would not ... Read More
I was expecting a small cabin but I was not expecting a cabin with the last traveler's garbage, three burned out light bulbs, damaged vanity, a bed that would not stay together, hair dryer that would not work, plug in that would not and oh yes a moldy shower curtain. So it was off to the basket ball / volley ball court / shuffle board to work off the displeasure. It would seem the sports equipment was borrowed from my highschool -circa 1980. The weight gym was a little better but still, missing pieces, out of service equipment, and frequently no towels added to the frustration. So how 'bout a swim - well no, the pools were closed more often than open. Well there was always the food. So lets see, walked out of one restaurant after 2 hours and still had not received all of the meal. The waiter spilled a glass of wine on the table of another ( which was never refilled ). Staff service varied greatly - It would seem senior staff was very helpful and genuinely concerned. Others it was hard to get the time of day. Many staff were lethargic and really did not seem to care. Makes me more than a little annoyed there was a mandatory tip each day. The on board shows were entertaining; comedian Bud Andersen was hilarious. Two of the stops had tendered travel to shore. Staff did a good job getting people off in a relatively orderly fashion. The islands were fantastic, the people, the beaches, activities - all great. I was actually dreading returning to the ship after a day on shore. Shore excursion staff ( on the islands ) were very personable. Our group rented scooters and did a tour of Kauai. That was the highlight of the trip. Great way to see the island and meet people. Two meals at Duke's on the beach during the stay made me a little more disappointed with ship food. Cannot say enough good things about the islands - great place for all ages of people. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
The problem is, where do I start? Getting onto the cruise ship was quite smooth and pain-free. The agents made sure they processed your info and that you were on your way onto the ship fairly quickly. HOWEVER, while walking through the ... Read More
The problem is, where do I start? Getting onto the cruise ship was quite smooth and pain-free. The agents made sure they processed your info and that you were on your way onto the ship fairly quickly. HOWEVER, while walking through the promenade to get to the ship, you will have a few people standing there ready to sell you stuff already. The most notable one was the Coca-Cola bottle. They want you to pay $70 for this bottle with the idea that you can have it filled with soda pop for free throughout your cruise, whether it's from the bar or restaurant. Unless you plan on drinking a LOT of soda pop...don't waste your money. Or, if you want more time to think about it...you can purchase it from the pool level after you're on the ship. Don't let them pressure you into thinking this is your one and only chance to get this "deal." Staterooms - we had an inside state room but weren't allowed to access it until the afternoon. We didn't get our luggage until 7pm and when we finally got to go into our cabin and began to unpack, we found garbage, sand and items left over from the previous guests in our room. The duvet cover had a blood stain on it and when we pulled back our linen, the bed liner had a huge yellow stain. The two single beds were not attached together properly and during the night, would separate to the point where there would be a 2 inch gap between our beds. The "mattresses" were very thin and the support underneath was just plain old wood! Very hard on the back. Restaurants - let's start with the Hukilau Buffet. Horrible food! Long line-ups! Horrible service! On top of that, they ran out of food starting on the 7th day into the cruise...such as milk, yogurt, bananas to name a few. When I tried to order room service milk, I was told they only had chocolate milk left. I'm sure the kids wouldn't mind! On the first two nights, we went to the Crossings Restaurant where the service was atrocious, the servers themselves had absolutely no personalities, and the food was cold when it was finally served. We were sailing past a point where you could see the lava flowing into the water and the captain made an announcement over the PA system, well all the passengers went to the side windows to look out along with half the servers, meanwhile, we had been waiting for our food for over 2 hours, so we all just got up and walked out of the restaurant and never returned there again! To their credit, we complained to Scott (one of the managers in a white uniform) and he made arrangements for our group of 6 people to go to the Kahili Restaurant (one of the $10 cover charge restaurants) for free the next night. After day 4 on the cruise ship, there was a strong smell of sewage that emanated from the Crossings restaurant and could be smelled while on the stairs 2-3 flights up from this restaurant. It was extremely disgusting! So the Kahili Restaurant had really good food but the problem was that none of the menus ever changed in these restaurants. So for 7 of the 11 nights that we were stuck on this floating contraption, we ate at the Kahili. By the end of the cruise, we were sick of the menu but to his credit, our server Dennis always made sure we had some new and unique dessert. Room service food was good but there was a very limited menu to choose from and it usually took 35-55 minutes for it to arrive. Service - the people who worked on this cruise ship were all Americans. This was due to the fact their main port was in Honolulu. They were mostly young kids who were more interested in making the most out of this cruise for themselves than for you! When we were sitting up on the pool level eating our breakfast, we would literally have to pile all of our silverware on top of our plates / cereal boxes / milk boxes / yogurt containers to prevent them from being blown off by the wind, because it took the servers an extremely long time to come by and clean off the table. The staff were not very friendly and a few of them came off as quite arrogant. The housekeeping staff were nice, but they didn't change our linen once during our whole cruise. The sand never got vacuumed from the floor. Our shower curtain had mold on it and was finally changed on our second to last day on the cruise ship. We had 3 light bulbs burn out and had to wait 10 hours for someone to come and change them. I have travelled on a Mediterranean cruise before this one and the service was amazing. The staff were all friendly, helpful and would bend over backwards to ensure you had the time of your life. Not the case with the NCL Hawaiian staff!! Entertainment - they had a comedian named Bud Andersen that was pretty funny. They also had a musical group called Toby Beau that had a single hit back in the 70's...and then for the rest of the trip, they did "tributes" to country music, the beatles and the eagles. Enough said there! The rest of the entertainment was pretty sub-par and not worth the time to go see, unless you are extremely bored with nothing else to do! Shore Excursions - we only did one shore excursion in Kauai called Tubing the Ditch. We were picked up from the warehouse and driven for 30 minutes to their headquarters, where we received bike helmets with lights on them, gloves and water shoes. We then drove for another 30 minutes to some view point where they talked about movies that had been made in the area. One of our guides, Stephanie, hates awkward silence so she talked on the van's PA system the entire time. After 1 1/2 hrs of driving, we finally made it to the "ditch" where we were all loaded into our tubes and with one guide at the front and one at the end, we floated down this ditch. For 70% of the time, we were underground going through tunnels. It was pretty fascinating, but the actual time spent floating in the water was a maximum of 45 minutes. When we were at the end, they picked us up in the same van and drove another 10 minutes to our lunch campsite. The package said it included lunch...so we were expecting some hot food. Turns out their version of lunch was a package of two macadamia nut shortbread cookies, one small bag of Maui Chips and one can of juice. For $145 dollars per person for this excursion, I expected better food than that! Because we were in a group of 10 people, we were able to rent our own vehicles to drive ourselves around to the tourist hot spots. I would highly recommend doing this if you are able to as it will save you money, you can go where you choose to go and you aren't stuck being herded around on tour buses on a set schedule. We rented a vehicle in Hilo and drove ourselves up to the Volcano National Park and had a great time. We rented mopeds in Kauai on our second day there and rode to a scenic waterfall where you could go swimming. That was the best time ever and the mopeds cost $45 for two hours. Definitely worth the money! Tendering - this is what they do when there isn't a dock/port big enough to handle a large cruise ship, so they anchor the ship out in the water and "tender" you on lifeboats to the land. The problem is, if you don't have a shore excursion booked, you have to line up in the Blue Hawaii room to get tickets that will determine what time you are allowed to leave the ship. After 2 days at sea, everyone wanted to get off at Fanning Island and there was a lineup that was extremely long as people jostled to get these tickets. There was only 1 person handing out these tickets and it took a long time for them to process people in a non-orderly way. Make sure you get there early to get off as soon as you can. Ports - this was an 11 day cruise that travelled to Fanning Island. We stopped at Hilo then travelled 2 days at sea to get to Fanning Island (Republic of Kiribati). Fanning Island was neat (great little straw market where we bought a lot of our souvenirs) and you can walk or bike around the island where every 10 feet, you will see people begging for money by dressing up their little kids in "warrior" outfits. It is classified as a 5th world country as there is no electricity, no phones, no food (they exist on coconuts, wild pigs and dogs and fish) and no other form of income other than a few that grow seaweed for european makeup companies and the tourists. If you do decide to go on this trip, take some extra stuff for the kids (ie, crayons, coloring books, clothing, toys). You can walk right to the school and give it to the kids yourself. This stuff will be more useful to them than the american money that they beg for because there is no where on that island for them to use this money. There was a "Code Alpha" on the ship which means a medical emergency so instead of sailing back to Maui, we ended up sailing to Christmas Island to drop two people off, then sailing for 3 days directly to Kona. We missed the Maui stop and there were a LOT of upset people that had to deal with the not-so-nice staff at the service desk. We then continued to Kauai were we stayed overnight. I would highly recommend you visit a restaurant called Dukes, the bottom restaurant on the beach, as their food was amazing, the service was fast and amazing and the views of the beach were amazing. Also, visit the Kai'ai Marriott Hotel as the building is extremely impressive and the gift shop had some great items in them that were NOT expensive whatsoever. We were able to buy items cheaper at this gift shop than at the markets back in Waikiki. Gratuity - you are forced to pay a $10 gratuity (what they refer to as a service charge) per person, per day. So before this cruise even started, they had already dipped their hands into our pockets and taken $220. THEN...when you order from the bar, they add another gratuity to that. I ordered virgin pina colada's that cost $3.50 and they would add $0.53 to each bill and on top of that, leave a blank spot for you to add an even bigger tip. If you ordered a drink from a server walking around the pool deck, then they automatically added another $1 to your bill. I went to the service desk to complain about the horrible service we had and told them I did not want to pay that $10 per day gratuity charge as I would rather tip people directly who provided me with good service. The lady wouldn't allow me to remove the service charge but did provide us with two free dinners and a bottle of wine (which was very thoughtful considering I was 6 months pregnant!!) The problem with this autogratuity is the staff know they are already making this tip from you and so they don't have to work any harder in order to make more than their minimum wage pay check. Pool - there were two main saltwater pools and 5 hot tubs. The pools on this cruise ship were extremely small and were closed most of the time as the ship movement caused the water to move too violently for someone to swim safely. I did see a staff member check the chemical levels in them quite often so that was good to see, but since they were closed most of the time, it didn't mean much in the end. Basketball / Volleyball court - this was the only saving grace we had on this ship. The basketballs were old and worn out (some were permanently deformed) but we were still able to have a good time playing since 90% of the passengers were over the age of 60 and were not interested in being physically active. Gym - the gym equipment was pretty good but you were left to your own devices to figure out how to use the equipment as no one was ever there to help you out. The scale was broken so you couldn't weigh yourself to see how much weight you lost due to the bad food. Running track - they call it a running track but what it really is is just a deck (Level 6) that has a painted line through the middle that shows that people can run on the right and walk on the left. This would be a good level to go and watch when the whales or dolphins are swimming outside the ship, as it isn't much good for running around on. Public Washrooms - these washrooms were absolutely unclean, they had no toilet paper in the stalls, they didn't refill the paper towels and there was no soap to wash your hands. This was on day 2 of the cruise. To sum it all up, this cruise with NCL Pride of Aloha was absolutely terrible and I would never ever ever recommend anyone take this cruise line. *Horrible service *Horrible food *Unclean and disgusting ship *Wallet-gouging Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
A group of 9 left the cool midwest for Hawaii. We had planned this trip for 11 months. We flew through Chicago, to Honolulu, arriving the day before. We stayed at the Ohana Melia and was impressed with the service and quality of the hotel. ... Read More
A group of 9 left the cool midwest for Hawaii. We had planned this trip for 11 months. We flew through Chicago, to Honolulu, arriving the day before. We stayed at the Ohana Melia and was impressed with the service and quality of the hotel. Saturday morning we took a tour of Pearl Harbor through Roberts Hawaii. We arranged our own transportation to/from the airport and the port. We arrived at the port about 3pm and everything was very smooth and found our rooms. In Hilo we rented a large van from Harper. They picked up the driver at the pier and he came back and got the rest of us. We spent the day exploring and some some beautiful scenery. (Akaka falls is gorgeous! and went to volcano national park)That evening we saw the flowing lava from the ship. We had two days at sea to Fanning Island. Was a good time to relax. Fanning Island was an eye opener. As the briefing before we arrived stated, it is a fifth world country. Unfortunately, someone became ill and we had to proceed further south to Christmas Island instead of going back to Maui. So we had 3 days at sea instead of two. This was the third cruise for my husband and I, the first for our adult son and another couple. The two other couples had cruised before also. I was looking forward to sea days to relax, but five was definitely to many. If we do another cruise, will do one, or two at the most. We had been to Hawaii before and were looking forward to Maui the most, so were very disappointed when the stop was canceled. We arrived at Kona and snorkeled there, (had planned on snorkeling in Maui also). We did the Body Glove Snorkel. Was GREAT!!! We have snorkeled in several places in the caribbean, and this was one of the very best. Easy and saw lots of fish and turtles. We explored Kona on foot until we returned to the ship. At Kauai we rented a car and five of us explored the island. We were able to see a good part of the island and beautiful scenery. We were in port over night. The next morning we just walked to the beach by the Marriott and did a little shopping at a nearby mall. That afternoon we sat on deck and enjoyed the Napali coast. Magnificent! Wednesday we arrived back in Honolulu. We heard a lot of complaining about missing Maui. We too were very disappointed, but there is not much that could have been done differently. I do feel there could have been something extra done for the day at sea. The "free" drinks for an hour by the pool were some type of frozen punch, and really kind of a joke. The staff on board was very good. They were friendly, attentive and always helpful. Anne, our cabin steward was wonderful. Anyone who complains about the service, etc should get over themselves! They aren't quite as important as they think they are. The average age of the people on board seemed to be well over 60. Maybe that had something to do with the attitude that they needed to be waited on hand and foot. We ate at two of the specialty restaurants and was excellent. Ran out of time to do the final one. Crossings was good. We were never able to get into the other one. Overall cruise was okay. We all felt that we would prefer a scheduled time to eat. Free style really did not work for us. If you made a reservation that was fine, but if no reservation wait time was 20-45 minutes. And if you wanted a time before 8p.m. you had to call the day before. On vacation, we don't plan that far ahead. We would call in the morning for a reservation, and never got anything earlier then 8pm and usually 8:30pm. Shore excursions through Roberts Hawaii are about 25-35% cheaper for the same tour. When we disembarked, we spent two nights at the Outrigger Waikiki. BEAUTIFUL! It is in the process of renovation, but the pool is open, beach is gorgeous, and the new rooms are beautiful. Staff is great and the Shorebird had good food and entertainment. We flew out Friday night through Denver. Overall, a great trip. Hopefully we can go back sooner then 24 years, and visit Maui! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We took this trip for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. My husband and I have never cruised before and we chose this cruise due to the itinerary and plus we got a great deal at the time of booking. We flew out of Buffalo early in the morning ... Read More
We took this trip for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. My husband and I have never cruised before and we chose this cruise due to the itinerary and plus we got a great deal at the time of booking. We flew out of Buffalo early in the morning amidst a snow storm. Arrived in Chicago and left there for a 9 1/2 hour plane ride. Very long. We would definitely break the trip up more so your not sitting so long on an airplane. We arrived the day before the cruise and stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. It is a beautiful spot. The beds are wonderful. The Cruise line met us at the Airport and shuttle bus took us to the hotel. The luggage was brought to the room and shortly after we signed into the NCL office below. There, they make the embarkment so much easier for you. We had dinner at the Cheese Burger Restaurant just down the street. Very good. We went the ABC Stores for early gifts and they are very reasonable in price. The day of the cruise, we got up early as we had to be in the hotel lobby for 11:15 am for the shuttle to the boat. When we booked our holiday we were told we would have the whole day and be at the boat by 4:00 or so. Needless to say we couldn't do Pearl Harbor because of this. We never did see Pearl Harbor because the last day of the cruise we had to be at the airport by 3:00 pm and the tour through NCL was 7 hours long. That was a disappointment for me. Anyhow, we made use of our time and we went to the Aquarium and the Zoo in Honolulu. They were very nice to see and we took some great pictures. Embarkment was so easy due to the pre-signing in with NCL. We bought the soda cards which I wouldn't do again, but for kids or someone who drinks alot of pop it would be worth it. Did some excursion trips through NCL. Nice. A little pricey but the convenience is good and if they get cancelled you get your money back. We took the National Volcano Park Tour along with Rainbow Falls. Very knowledgeable tour guide. We ended up seeing flowing lava that night from the ship which I understand is very rare. Nice touch though, as we knew we weren't going to see any at the Park. Fanning Island was terrific. The tendering was fine and calm but handing out the tendering tickets on the ship needs to be addressed. We were fine because we were there early but some people had to wait over an hour to obtain theirs. Due to illness by a passenger we missed going to Maui as we had to go to Christmas Island so they could be tendered in and then flown back to the mainland for surgery. Due to the hours involved with this, the Captain decided that we would go straight to Kona. We were very disappointed in this as we had the Road to Hanna booked. The only compensation that was offered was sorry and a free drink between 4-5 pm at the Breakers Bar. They should have done more regarding this though. We had a terrific time in Kona. We took the Atlantis Submarine Tour and that was awesome. The sub went down to 105 feet. Many fish to see. In the afternoon we took the Captain Zodiac Boat. We had Captain Carl and Bill on board. They were a riot and so much fun. If someone saw a whale (and we saw plenty)they took us over to see it. We snorkeled for 45 minutes and had a great time. Saw lava caves and the scenery was gorgeous. When we tendered back and got back onto the ship we just stood on our balcony and watched the whales junk and frolic around. Our next stop was Nawiliwili, Kauai. We rented a car from Budget and toured the Island. We had the Luau Kalamaku booked that evening. We took the option of the train ride before the luau. Had a great time. The show was nice to see and the fire dancers were fantastic. The next morning we booked an air tour not through the cruise line. We found it on the internet. The Tour was "Air Adventures." We cannot say enough about this company. They were first class all the way, we had so much fun and the pilot Joel was terrific. It is a family owned business and it shows. I would recommend this over the helicopter flights any time and it is alot cheaper than the helicopter. Took terrific shots from the air and we saw a pod of 6 whales also. Again, would recommend this company.The last day we took a trip through NCL for the North Shore. It killed some time as we had to be at the airport by 3 pm and this was one of the shortest tours available and they took us to the airport. Overall: We had a great time. We heard complaints from other passengers that had been on other cruise lines, but again, we had no major complaints except for the tendering tickets taking so long. Our suggestion is that when they give you your short excursion tickets upon arrival they should include the tendering tickets in the envelope. During the trip we know of 7 people who had to be removed from the ship due to some type of illness or injury. That made an impact regarding Islands and departure times. The alcohol drinks are expensive, not a major concern with us but we could imagine some bills at the end of trip. Entertainment on board wasn't bad. They had a juggler and a comedian (funny). They had to cancel Tony and Tina's wedding which we would have loved to have seen but again out of our control. They played the basic games on Bingo, Newlywed Game etc. They had craft sessions, photo tips etc. We tried all of the restaurants on Board. The Bistro was my favorite. I had the duck with orange sauce. They had lobster one night and it was good. The escargots at the Bistro cannot be beaten. Well worth the surcharge for these restaurants. We ate at the Hukilau Cafe and Lanai most of the time and the selection was fine. There were complaints about service and type of foods by other guests, but we found it great and the service to remove dirty dishes etc was great. The crew members were very friendly and helpful. Jackie (our waitress the first night at Pacific Height Restaurant) was very helpful in giving us tips regarding the Ship and even offered us to stay longer to watch the sunset from the Restaurant. Many staff members were fairly new to the cruise ship and they will receive more experience with each passing cruise. It is too bad that the cruise line is pulling this ship from the Island. Our maid, Monique was very friendly and the room was always done up very nicely. She made us several towel animals for us throughout the cruise. Always asking if everything was okay, did we need something etc. She always asked how our trip was going and if we did something special that day. The disembarkment went smoothly more or less. As we did not use Easy Fly, and we opted to have a tour we had to put our luggage out the night before and we had to take it the bus and it was certainly busy trying to find your luggage to take it to the bus etc. No big deal but a little busy trying to co-ordinate everything. Would probably use the Easy Fly next time. The big question: Would I do this again. Yes, but not with an extended itinerary like this one. Due to the medical emergency and being in the middle of no where when it happened things were disrupted. At least if your touring day by day you have a lesser chance of having things changed on you. With that being said, The Pride of America that left with us on February 23rd missed Hilo for a medical emergency overnight after leaving. We enjoyed the Freestyle Cruising, but willing to try other formats to compare. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Pride of Aloha Review 2/13-2/23 Day 1 We arrived in Waikiki on Sunday afternoon. At the airport there was a lady with a card with NCL Pride of Aloha. She told us where to get our luggage and where to meet the shuttle. The shuttle NCL ... Read More
Pride of Aloha Review 2/13-2/23 Day 1 We arrived in Waikiki on Sunday afternoon. At the airport there was a lady with a card with NCL Pride of Aloha. She told us where to get our luggage and where to meet the shuttle. The shuttle NCL provided was very nice but staying at Marriott Waikiki, we were the last people to be left off..(I know let's not whine we are after all in Hawaii.). NCL express check-in..It literally took 30 seconds to get our room key. Marriott is absolutely wonderful... beautiful room and lobby, we ate at the buffet downstairs and if you eat before I think 6:00 you can get it for$ 20.00 each.. DELISH.. We had a very long day of traveling so after dinner we crashed..slept around the clock. Day 2 Beach Day, Lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise..Yummy.....Dinner at Dukes.. Beautiful sunset... Day 3 We were going to Pearl Harbor booked through Roberts...we were supposed to get picked up at the lobby of our hotel..after waiting for ½ hour I called them and they informed me that I was suppose to walk to this other hotel to get my shuttle....I told the gentleman that when I booked the trip they told me that I would be picked up at the Marriott...(This said they would credit my credit card and they were sorry) Please when booking with Roberts make sure that you are being picked up at the place they tell you...We ended up walking Waikiki Beach going to the aquarium, having a beach day, and dinner. It was a beautiful day even though it started out disappointing...We love Waikiki...... Day 4 Honolulu 1st Day of Cruise,Pride of Aloha ....The NCL office in the Marriott was great they gave us tons of tips..and even booked Pearl Harbor for us last day before we flew home..Dinner reservations were booked also (they booked them but when we got on the boat we confirmed them for Valentines Day guess what??No reservations...)we re-booked..I checked because so many of you told me they sometimes don't get posted.. The reps told me sometimes the reservations from the hotel don't get through or posted.. always check.... They picked up our luggage in the morning and we went out for breakfast and returned it was gone. We did some last minute shopping and heading back to the hotel..Shuttle pickup was at 11:15. Got to the ship and embarkation was so fast. They gave us our cards and we literally walked on the ship. Contrary to previous post...The ship was very clean and very well maintained. We went upstairs to eat lunch on the deck...the food was hot and delicious... Our room was ready at 1:00.. Our steward was great..room was immaculate...NO COMPLAINTS............................. Walked the ship..laid by the pool. Dinner...all great.... Day 5 Honolulu, Shopped at Aloha Tower and had lunch. Back to the ship to the pool..( the staff keep things hopping on the deck.. we had fun..) Dinner at Bistro. Valentines Day..Yummy great dinner and wine deal.. Day 6 Kahului, Maui. We took the bus to Lahaina, then another bus to Whalers Village. Spent the day with my niece, had lunch at Hula Grill, Dinner, at Mama's Fish House.. Delicious but very $$$$$. Day 7 Kahului, Maui. Molokini Crater snorkeling...It was great.. bring extra $$ if you want to rent a wet suit top. 10.00 each..We did and we were glad we did..Light lunch was provided, tons of fish beautiful coral.. The weather was super, and the water was clear. Day 8 Kailua, Kona. Captain Zodiac Snorkel..We loved this trip..It was so much fun. The crew was fun the snorkeling was super, light snack provided. I Highly recommend this tour....Great fish.. great coral. Say Hi to Paul... Day 9 Nawiliwili Kauai .. Journey to Waimea Canyon.. great tour Day 10 Took Shuttle into town for lunch and a little shopping Day 11 At Sea..The views were great Coast of Molokai Day 12 Lahaina, Maui Went up the coast to have breakfast and toured the beaches and coves.. Shopped in Lahaina great little town. Woo Hoo extended our time in town by 3 hours... Day 13 Hilo, Volcano National Park The craters were unbelievable... The Ship... Very Clean.. Crew...Helpful...Many staff explained that many of the staff from the Hawaii had been transferred to the Pride of Aloha so on that 10 day cruise there was a full staff.. Our room was immaculate, room steward was always left tons of chocolates, and clean towels twice a day.. he brought us a egg crate first thing we loved our room steward... (One negative note.... The beds are rock hard..and the pillows are those foamy things) Hated the beds even with the egg crate...We got spoiled because we had just spent 4 days at the Waikiki Marriott.. Food.. Bistro was delish.. Main dining rooms good service, Keith in Crossings table 42 by the windows, Table for 2 ) good food, Long Boards, Great Fish and Chips, Wings and Burgers & Cold Beers..Buffet.. very busy after 8:00, but food was always hot plenty of fresh fruit. We always ordered room service in the morning if we had a early excursion day.. It just worked for us, put the little card on the door at the time you wanted it the night before and in the morning it was there.. If we had extra time we would walk down and grab snacks or bowls of fruit.. We would bring our coffee cups with us and just fill them up We were so tired by the end of the day DH would head for Captain Cooks for a drink and I would head for the cabin... We saw some shows they were fine.. The Piano player Lex at Captain Cooks was great, he also played the banjo...very entertaining... Spa..Very professional.. we were both satisfied.. Health Spa, up to date equipment. We had extended time in Lahaina which was great..and extra 3 hours. Antibacterial hand gel throughout the ship.. (I only spoke to 1 women who said she had gotten sick and I asked her if she had gone to the infirmary to let the Dr.s know she said no but I hadn't heard of any other people saying they had gotten ill. We heard some people complaining at the front desk about not getting cookies, and 1 gentleman that wanted an upgrade because he thought the rooms were too small... The odor people complained constantly about was sometimes evident but a crew member confirmed that the smell came from the docks.. ( I didn't smell it consistently, nor was it that disturbing...just sometimes..) There was not a lot of people smoking or if they were they we extremely polite. Unlike Carnival you could not smell it in the halls or corridors. There are good things and bad about freestyle cruising.. We ended up having the same waiter because we reserved a table in his area when we were eating in the Crossing, It is nice that they remember your drink order and after they get to know you can recommend entrees.. We made or reservations at the same time everynight so we are creatures of habit... We had a great cruise and would recommend NCL and Pride of Aloha...I think if you go with an open mind and remember your in Hawaii you will have a great time...I want to thank all of the people on Cruise Critic who helped us make this the best cruise ever, you information was invaluable Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Pride of Aloha which stood out as one of best cruises we have ever taken. We travelled with a group of 17 friends aging from 50 - 60. This was our 7th cruise and first with NCL. We chose this ... Read More
We just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Pride of Aloha which stood out as one of best cruises we have ever taken. We travelled with a group of 17 friends aging from 50 - 60. This was our 7th cruise and first with NCL. We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary and the 3 overnight stops in Honolulu, Kauai and Maui. We arrived 2 days early which I would recommend if you are travelling any distance to give you a chance to get rested before getting on the ship. We stayed at the Resort Quest Waikiki beach which is a nice hotel and good location at the far end of Waikiki beach near Diamond Head. 2 days before we boarded the ship for our vacation the crew were told this ship was leaving Hawaii and they were given layoff notices so whether or not that had something to do with the service I am not sure but the ship seemed to be under staffed and a lot of them seemed to be doing jobs they had not done before. DINING EXPERIENCE I am going to start with the not so great about the ship. The dining on board definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Service was very inconsistent and dependant upon the server. A couple of nights we had great service and it felt like we were on a typical cruise ship. The other nights unfortunately were not good. Most nights the dinner experience was very slow, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. There were typically 8 of us dining together.Other than being slow our frustrations came from silly mistakes that would typically not happen in any restaurant like tea but no hot water, drinks that were ordered before dinner would arrive just before dessert, salt and pepper shakers not filled, butter for the lobster arrived after we had eaten. Incorrect orders. We ate in both the Palace and Crossings and had 1 good experience in each.(Coincidence or not both those nights the wait staff were not American) We ate one evening in Pacific Heights to celebrate one of the girls birthdays and service there was excellent. We ate in Longboards. They serve roadhouse style food and it was good. Might want to go get your own drink at the bar outside though if you are thirsty. I must say we didn't have any complaints about food quality in the restaurants. It was always good. Food at the Buffet was good but nothing special. On the pool deck if you can find Danielle she gave us great service. SHORE EXCURSIONS Shore excursions were amazing. We booked a combination of tours through NCL and Roberts. Did 4 tours with NCL - we booked all these excursions ahead of time on line and all our tickets were in the room the day of arrival. Kauai - helicopter tour through NCL (beautiful scenery - experience of a lifetime) Kauai - kayak and jungle falls tours NCL (fairly easy paddling, more strenuous hike to the falls) Kona - Captain Zodiac raft and snorkel NCL(great snorkeling and a fun ride, saw whales and dolphins)not recommended if you have a bad back. Maui - Molokini snorkel NCL (great snorkeling, lots of fish and turtles, more whales again) We toured Volcanoes National Park with Roberts Hawaii and friends did Haleakela crater and some other tours with them all of which they enjoyed. While in Kauai we took a taxi to Poipu beach. ( a $50 cab ride each way but we had 6 to share so not too bad) There is a deli there which sells reasonably priced munchies, washroom facilities and we shared the beach with 2 Monk seals which was pretty cool. ENTERTAINMENT Production team was good but not great. The shows on board were entertaining. Comedian (Bud Anderson)was funny. Saw all 3 of his shows. There seemed to be a good selection of evening activities although the ship seemed pretty empty later in the evening. The assistant cruise director Mike and his team do a good job of entertaining people around the pool during the day. If you are young or young at heart you will enjoy them in the Blue Hawaii in the evenings as they get people involved in the typical cruise games and dancing. We went there every night it was a fun way to end the day. Lots of lounges to choose from but we didn't get to all of them. This was one of our best cruises we have taken and a perfect way to see the beautiful Hawaiian islands, but not for you if you expect service like you would get on an international cruise. We would go back in a heartbeat. We did not have a drop of rain the entire time and saw more humpback whales than we could have imagined. Wish we were still there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My husband and I have been on 5 previous cruises so we do have something to compare this ship to. I have to admit that I did read the reports of other passengers who had been on this ship. Luckily I did not let them influence my ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 5 previous cruises so we do have something to compare this ship to. I have to admit that I did read the reports of other passengers who had been on this ship. Luckily I did not let them influence my experience. Our cabin steward introduced himself to us and I have to admit that he kept it clean and tidy everyday. We ate most of our breakfasts in the Crossing Dining Room and we did order room service once. It was delivered hot and on time. We found the staff everywhere to be very accommodating and friendly. We ate in the specialty restaurants twice. Once in the Bistro, the food was perfect and the service impeccable and once in the Italian restaurant. As well, the service and food were excellent. It was our last night, so of course, they were busy, still the service was good. We tried the buffet twice. Our only problem was that we could not find a table but one was quickly cleared for us. I think if you treat people with dignity and respect, they will 'go the extra mile for you'. One review that I read said that he had to pay for some nighttime entertainment. We were on the same trip and I can't recall paying for any of the entertainment. I found that there were so many 'fun activities' that it was hard to fit it all in. I am still not sure if I like freestyle dining as you have to plan in the morning where and when you want to eat. With assigned times and seating on other ships, you don't have to give it a thought. The Islands were beautiful except for Hilo. This island experiences a lot of rain, and that is exactly what we got. We did rent a car in Maui and Kauai. If you plan on doing the same, I would recommend that you book on line in advance. When my husband got on the shuttle they asked him if he had a reservation. Those who didn't had to try another company as they were all booked. The Pride of Aloha is not a four or five star cruise but for those of you who have already booked, please don't let other peoples experiences make you change your mind. It is a beautiful trip with a wonderful itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We wish we had found this web site before we cruised. (Would have saved us a lot of money and frustration.)and was not surprised to read some of the reviews. We just completed the most substandard cruise we have ever taken. (This was our ... Read More
We wish we had found this web site before we cruised. (Would have saved us a lot of money and frustration.)and was not surprised to read some of the reviews. We just completed the most substandard cruise we have ever taken. (This was our 7th cruise - our first and last on a NCL cruise ship. Freestyle cruising is not what it's advertised to be) We paid extra to have a room (more like a closet) with a balcony and these accommodations left a lot to be desired. Not only was the room too small (3 people shared the room), there was no drawer space so we had to live out of our suitcases for ten days. We, along with our luggage, were stacked in there like sardines. The largest disappointment was the lack of good food (one of the main things you look forward to in taking a cruise). I've eaten better food at a fast food restaurant. Unless you had a reservation, you had to wait in long lines to get into the restaurants, then wait an hour or more to get your food and then it was cold. They consistently ran out of food at the buffet line, which compared to buffet lines on other cruise lines, was a joke. There were never enough utensils, i.e. cups, spoons, etc. and the service people appeared to be poorly trained and just plain lazy. They were not willing to go out of their way to do anything for you. There were 3 nice restaurants (which you had to pay extra for) that were the saving grace for everyone. We ate in one of them two nights - the food was excellent, as well as the service. There was no evening entertainment to speak of unless you were willing to pay extra for any "broadway" type shows. (We all would have probably jumped overboard if it were not for the shore excursions.) I hope the "powers that be" read the questionnaires completed by the passengers at the end of the cruise. I am sure they found the majority of the passengers were disgusted and disappointed in the services of the cruise ship. This cruise was certainly not worth the money and we feel everyone should receive some kind of reimbursement as a result of the poor quality of food and service. I certainly would not recommend this cruise to any of my friends. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Just back from Pride of Aloha 11 day cruise - wanted to give a bit back to these boards since I obtained so much valuable info from them.... Flew Continental from Newark to Honolulu Friday afternoon - was fed lunch and two ... Read More
Just back from Pride of Aloha 11 day cruise - wanted to give a bit back to these boards since I obtained so much valuable info from them.... Flew Continental from Newark to Honolulu Friday afternoon - was fed lunch and two snacks.....Long but uneventful flight .... Arrived Honolulu at around 8:30pm - was able to get a mini bus for the 10 of us to take us to Marriott for our one night pre-cruise stay. Marriott was nice, but did not compare to other Marriotts we have stayed in. Sat morning we climbed Diamond Head in the rain....lots of fun, regardless. Yes, there are lots of steps, but they can be done even if you're not in the best of shape. Great views from the top. Delicious breakfast was had at Lulu's in Waikiki Beach (stuffed French Toast and Macadamia Nut pancakes)... Later that day we took an outrigger canoe ride on the beach - lots of fun. They let us ride 3 waves and took about 70 digital pix of us. We were able to purchase a cd containing all the pix for $40 (we shared with another couple). We rounded off the afternoon with Mai Tais and Nachos at the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar. Then, onto the Pride of Aloha at about 4 p.m. No lines whatsoever. We did miss the muster drill (we boarded as it was ending), and had to make it up later on in the cruise. Because of our jet lag, after dinner, we all conked out. Sun was the SuperBowl. We were going to do Hanauma in the am, but the weather didn't cooperate, so we just explored a bit near the ship (went to Chinatown, but all was closed on Sunday and it was a bit seedy) - and also shopped at the Aloha Tower. Back on board for the Super Bowl (Yay Giants!!!) - watched it in the Sports Lounge.... Monday we arrived in Hilo and had pre-booked a van tour with Ricky (jrbanasan@cuhawaii.net) at $50 p.p. He took us all over VNP and then some - we spent about 6 hours with him - a very nice guy who worked with us to ensure we saw and did all we wanted to do. I would recommend him highly. Tuesday was Lahaina - did a whale watch with Pacific Whale Foundation (booked on our own) - saw lots and lots of whales. Would recommend them as well. Wednesday was our first sea day - got to unwind a bit. Thursday we were off to Kona - prebooked Body Glove Snorkel with NCL. Another nice day - boat offered snorkeling (water was a little rough - snorkeling was actually better in the Caribbean), inner tubes, viewboards, and a slide. There was also a pay bar, free sandwich lunch (deli meats, tuna, salad and chips) and clean bathrooms. Friday was Kahului, Maui. Spent the early part of the day exploring the road around Western Maui - went as far as Nakalele Blowhole. Nakalele Blowhole is worth a look if you want to make the drive. We ran out of time (Feast of Lele that evening) so had to turn back - friends of ours made it to Olivine Pools and loved that as well). Feast of Lele is a must do - a wonderful evening - sort of an upscale luau without the buffet lines. Food was okay - tried poi :( and other Hawaiian fare.... (Hawaii is not really known for the cuisine, but it was fun trying everything anyway) - Service and show were exceptional... Definitely worth the extra money if you're planning a luau anyway. Sat morning we used Go Rabbit Go to do the Haleakala sunrise. Altho the sunrise was beautiful, I felt we left way too early (4 a.m., sun didn't come up till almost 7) and the van we took was a bit crowded so the ride was somewhat uncomfortable. The sunrise is definitely worth seeing from that vantage point though. In the afternoon we lazed at Wailea Beach (beach access and free parking between Grand Wailea Resort and Four Seasons). Stayed for the sunset which was amazing. Was also able to find a couple of beach chairs to settle down on (they belonged to one of the hotels fronting the beach but no one bothered us). Had nachos (which were alright) and drinks at beach bar at Grand Wailea. Finally another sea day and more time to rest. The boat ride past the Napali coast was somewhat of a let down (it was a bit cloudy and the colors did not come through as they do in all the pictures we had seen)....a talk was set for 5:45 so we got on deck a bit before that, but by the time we got on deck to see the coast, we were passing it.....you really only cruise by the Napali coast for a short while (the ship does turn around so you can see it from both sides), so make sure you get out to see it early. Kauai was next - we started off the morning with a Blue Hawaiian helicopter ride (go for it - great views of Napali coast, Waimea Canyon, etc from the helicopter!) - and then did an NCL tour in the afternoon (Jungle River Kayak and Hike). The Jungle River Kayak and Hike was also a lot of fun - 4 of the 6 of us had never kayaked before but, as I was told on the boards, that was not a problem at all - it was real easy and a whole lot of fun. The hike was through all sorts of lush vegetation and ended at a beautiful waterfall which we got to swim in. What a day. A sandwich lunch (made to order your way) ended the tour. I think this was my favorite day of the cruise! Tuesday was our last full day on the ship - drove to Waimea Canyon and spent most of the day there. Make sure you take the road to the end - pass Kokee State Park lookout (you can stop there too, but make sure you keep going) and check out the lookout at Kalelau Valley for amazing views of the Pacific..... After leaving the Canyon, we stopped at the shrimp shack when we turned off Route 550 and shared coconut shrimp, garlic shrimp and thai shrimp - yum. Next day we disembarked - we all used Easy Fly because our flight was leaving at 10:45 p.m. Except for one piece of lost luggage (mine, which was found the next day), Easy Fly went very well for the 10 of us....For $20 each we put our luggage out the night before disembarkation and didn't see it again until we arrived in Newark (except for my one bag, which took a side trip to Cleveland). Just walked off the ship, no customs, no searching for bags in large rooms, etc....P.S. boarding passes were also included, so all we had to do was go to our gate when we got to the airport. Spent our last day exploring the North Shore of Oahu - stopped at Dole Plantation and had a guys v gals competition in the maze - guys won :( . Had some pineapple ice cream, spent some $$ in the shops and then continued on. Stopped at Turtle Beach and saw some turtles just basking in the sun. Then drove to Bansai Pipeline and Sunset Beach....saw some large waves and crazy surfers. Then we sampled the shrimp at the famous Giovanni's Shrimp Truck - altho there was only one type of shrimp on the menu (shrimp scampi), it was delicious. We returned via the Windward coast and ate dinner where we had our first breakfast - Lulu's in Waikiki Beach - Dinner was surprising good, would recommend Lulu's for both breakfast and dinner. All in all, Pride of Aloha was a really nice ship - much nicer than we had expected based on all the reviews we read. The American staff was wonderful and this was despite the fact that many of them found out that they were being laid off as it was just announced that P of Al was leaving Hawaii. Because we were 10 people, we had a table reserved for us each night, so we had no issues with waiting on line for our meals. We only saw 3 of the shows (2 production, last night variety), all of which were okay. The food was surprisingly good in the dining room - buffets were somewhat boring. I highly recommend the banana bread, caramel ice cream and pecan pie. We had 2 specialty meals - one in the French Restaurant (service was real slow and food was just okay - banana wonton dessert was delicious though) and the other in the Asian restaurant (which was okay). Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was our second cruise, and the first a Caribbean one on Holland America was impeccable so we were looking forward to the same in Hawaii. We arrived to Honolulu the night before, checked into the Ohana Airport hotel (I checked the ... Read More
This was our second cruise, and the first a Caribbean one on Holland America was impeccable so we were looking forward to the same in Hawaii. We arrived to Honolulu the night before, checked into the Ohana Airport hotel (I checked the ratings and many people complained about it, yet we found it clean, staff excellent and a positive experience) The next day we boarded the Pride of Aloha, with no problems, the boarding went well and we went to the Palace restaurant for lunch for a satisfactory lunch. When we got to our room, it was satisfactory, but there was someone's shirt in one of the drawers, the mini-bar was locked (even though we don't usually use the bar), and we found the storage space limited. We found out the drawbacks of freestyle cruising that night in the Palace. The restaurant was 1 hour waiting at 6pm so we went up to the buffet, to what is a fairly low quality fare. After being use to having a regular dining time on the Holland America, where we rather enjoyed hearing about what our table-mates did that day, we had to struggle to figure out when we wanted to go for dinner and had to phone or go to the reservations desk every day. This was to me a real pain to have to worry about this every day to what was suppose to be a relaxing cruise As for the trip, as the ship was in port for the first 2 days the next day we went on a 'Grand Circle Island' tour by Roberts Hawaii. This was not a NCL tour but I arranged it via cellphone on the ship from a brochure given to us as we entered the lineups. The tour was excellent, a must for the first-time visitor by a very entertaining driver who picked us up outside the ship the morning. That evening we went from Honolulu to Hilo where it rained 20 inches the previous 24 hours, we arriving in a downpour. We reserved a rental car, I thought for sure it will be a disappointment, but everything turned out well. The sky cleared enough to go to volcano site (with an umbrella for the lighter rain) which was the best view of a volcano I've seen. After lunch back on ship we went to the WAIMEA lookout, it was starting to clear and we got some nice pics. After returning the car and back to the ship we went to the Bistro for supper. Very romantic place, but we were very disappointed in the food. It was no better than the regular food, and the main dishes (sole for her , steak for me) were tiny. We visited the other islands, Maui, Kauai, the Big island again (kona), and rented a couple more cars and a couple of tours and again the islands were wonderful. As for the ship, by the time half of the cruise was over , the constant conversation was the service in the restaurants (or lack of one). We think it is either the lack of training or the non-caring attitude of some of the restaurant staff. The stateroom cleaning staff was good, our stateroom was cleaned frequently. The entertainment staff and programs were excellent. The best entertainment on the ship was Tony and Tina's wedding. The whole event was a hoot, with the singing, dancing and activities right next by, don't miss it. Jeffery and Amber (the Juggler and his wife), Ross the comedian, the banjo player and the magician were excellent as well as the crew's entertainers. The food service though deserves the most mention. Not a single meal in the Crossings or Palace were without mistake. For instance one breakfast, the wife ordered coffee, and me tea. She would get coffee and cream,and finish it before they came by, and I would have to ask for Tea again. She asked for white toast, I asked for whole wheat. We both asked for marmalade. All that came was two pieces of cold white toast. Several people mentioned that they ordered appetizers and entrée. After the appetizers came and went, they waited and waited for the entrees. Finally the waiter came and started to clear the table. About an hour later the waiter asked if they are leaving! Apparently the entrees were left somewhere and after searching was found and delivered to the people cold and no apologies. The food was substandard to what we were use to on the HA Westerdam, where the seafood was fresh and plentiful, and no mistakes. On disembarkation night, as usual leaving the suitcases out between 8pm and midnight. Unlike the H.A. Westerdam, who moved the suitcases at a reasonable time, the movement didn't start until about 11am and continued past 2am, and through this all the crew were yelling to each other until a lady came out and complained they had to sleep. All in all I wouldn't recommend NCL , except if you want to see a cruise of the islands by itself, they have a monopoly. So if you are going, keep your sense of humor, don't expect things to be as good as other Cruise lines, and don't order the seafood. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
OK. I waited a few weeks to calm down before I wrote this... Bottom line is, it's bad. It's really bad. If you have ever been on ANY other cruise line, then you would NOT want to go "Freestyle" or "America". ... Read More
OK. I waited a few weeks to calm down before I wrote this... Bottom line is, it's bad. It's really bad. If you have ever been on ANY other cruise line, then you would NOT want to go "Freestyle" or "America". I learned that these are really code words for: "Instead of staff who care, we hire kids out of high school and then we chalk up the poor service to "freestyle" cruise experience." Staff constantly complained about their contracts. On every other cruise line, you could ask the staff.. "How long have you worked on board?" You will get answers like 2 years, 5 years, 7 years etc... On NCL America, you get 99% who say.. 2 weeks, 1 month, or "Just since school let out." If you like stateroom service 2 times a day (the industry norm), you better not expect it on NCL. If you like to get a live person when you call room service, or housekeeping or the purser desk (the industry norm), you better not expect it on NCL. The bottom line is, the staff don't care and it shows. They all see it as a "summer job for a few months" and thus they do not give the service that you get on other lines. (There were a couple of exceptions, but really only 1 or 2.) Food was bad. No refills on drinks, no strolling bar servers, cold food in dining room, no special orders in dining room, slow slow slow service. Very very very limited room service menu. Laundry service lost my new shorts. Back of ship smelled of a sewer really bad. The list truly goes on and on and on. Trust me... if you go on this cruise, you will hear all these same issues from every guest in the elevators, in the hallways, in the dining room etc... If this would have been our first cruise, I would NEVER have tried cruising again. I HIGHLY suggest RCCL or Princess over NCL. Don't waste your money on NCL or "freestyle". Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
this is not our first cruise with ncl but by far the worst the raw sewage smell throughout the ship especially in apt section was at times enough to make you sick. service was nonexistent the only way we found good service was once we ... Read More
this is not our first cruise with ncl but by far the worst the raw sewage smell throughout the ship especially in apt section was at times enough to make you sick. service was nonexistent the only way we found good service was once we found a waiter in the main dining room we requested him every night this make dining in the evening excellent the food was good for the most part. breakfast was a joke in the dining room the service was extremely slow food cold and were always running out to some items. as for the buffet could not handle the number of people using it and was not kept clean seating was not even close to cover the number of people using it. I was under the impression that this ship was refitted our room was living proof that only portions of the boat was upgraded. The bath room was well wore to say the least as far as the room service also not so good dishes were never picked-up on the balcony. as for the fitness room the equipment was the same as it was when we cruised this ship when it was the sky to the point that the cybex arm curly machine was broke then and still is!!!!! I know that NCL is much better than this or was, next year we will take another cruise with NCL to the caribbean it could be our last. for the record we have cruised HAL, carnival and RC. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Our trip started in Honolulu with 2 ports in Hawaii, and one each on Fanning Island, Maui and Kauai. Embarkation was delightfully short and easy. We were on the ship before noon, but rooms were not ready until about 3 pm. Overall the ... Read More
Our trip started in Honolulu with 2 ports in Hawaii, and one each on Fanning Island, Maui and Kauai. Embarkation was delightfully short and easy. We were on the ship before noon, but rooms were not ready until about 3 pm. Overall the ship was clean and attractively decorated throughout. The exception was the Blue Hawaii nightclub which was garish, with a cheesy Elvis statue at the door. The Plantation lounge and Outrigger lounge as well as Captain Cook's bar were quite lovely. Our room was small but perfectly adequate, in bright cheerful colors. I dress for dinner every night in a different outfit, so I was worried that there wouldn't be enough closet space, but there was enough room in the closet for all our clothes and room under the bed for our suitcases as well. We did not meet our room steward until near the end of the trip and he never introduced himself. There wasn't a notice in the room with his name on it either. Our friends had an adjoining stateroom to ours, and we had another friend down the hall. This friend said he had a fully stocked bar with alcohol, beer and soft drinks upon arrival. We did not, nor did the adjoining stateroom. After about three days, I noticed there was suddenly soft drinks and beer on the shelf above the desk area. A day after that, I noticed there was alcohol in the fridge. The adjoining room never received drinks of any kind during the entire voyage. Food overall was very decent with some meals approaching excellence. The service at breakfast was abysmal. We often ate in the Crossings Dining room, rather than dodge people at the buffet. There was always a long wait, with food arriving cold on almost every occasion. Warm toast was an impossibility. Once, the toast was so hard and cold it was like Melba toast. There were a couple of outstanding servers, but mainly the staff seemed to be in a daze, unsure of what to do next. I believe there were many new staff on board which may explain this. The specialty restaurants were very good. The Kahili was beautiful with great service and food, but unfortunately it was very hot in the room, making it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. The Royal Palm Bistro had tremendous service and outstanding food. The Chateaubriand and onion soup were as good as any expensive restaurant on land. The Pacific Heights restaurant gets mixed reviews. The first time we ate there, it was just incredible, with the best service and food imaginable. The next time we went, the service was slow, indifferent, and the food lukewarm. We had different servers both times. The bar service was annoying. On the very first day, we ordered Pina Coladas, only to be told that they were out of the mix, and wouldn't have any until the next day. On another occasion, our favorite wine was highlighted as a special of the day. When we ordered it, we were told they were out of stock. About a week after this, the same wine was featured again, but of course there wasn't any in stock. Getting a drink on deck by the pool was rare. We usually had to get our own from the bar. Another time, I was served a glass of flat champagne. It was pretty obvious as there were no bubbles of any kind, but the waiter still served it to me. The entertainment was just okay. The most fun was the crew talent night, which goes to show you the level of entertainment available. The balcony of the theatre had terrible sight lines. There was a horrible, persistent smell of sewage in the hall outside the theatre all the time. The spa was very nice with great service. However, I was very upset to learn that the 18% gratuity automatically added to the spa services bill does not go to the individual who gives you your treatment. You have to tip extra if you wish to reward them, which makes the spa rather pricey. Ports were nice and disembarkations were handled efficiently. A very nice itinerary, and going to Fanning island was a highlight. I was disappointed to learn that there was no midnight chocolate buffet or afternoon tea service which is available on other NCL ships. The "coffee bar" was never open. A lady I spoke to was upset that there was no chapel on board. It has been turned into a Hawaiian museum instead. While the museum was really nice and interesting, I felt sorry for the devout passengers who had to do without their chapel. Disembarkation was fairly easy and well run. I would not cruise on this ship again. Last year, our trip on NCL's Norwegian Star was excellent. I was surprised by the difference in quality and service between two ships in the same line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We selected the POA 11 day itinerary that included Fanning Island. We appreciated the opportunity to sample the ports and were intrigued by Fanning Island. This was our third NCL cruise but we found the service on board POA lacking. The ... Read More
We selected the POA 11 day itinerary that included Fanning Island. We appreciated the opportunity to sample the ports and were intrigued by Fanning Island. This was our third NCL cruise but we found the service on board POA lacking. The ship has great qualities; good space, room at the pool, lay out is fine and everyone complaining about the aroma on the ship should get over it! This cruise with 4 sea days is well planned; you spend lots of time in port which allows you to see the highlights of each island. Given that, we will return and spend time of the islands that we liked! We used rental cars to get around; car rental agencies have shuttles at each pier and convenient drop off times. Our comments: Embarkation: Excellent! We had pre-booked accommodation at the Marriott on Waikiki. NCL has a desk in that hotel and we were able to do our ship sign in there. The day of the departure we were picked up and on arrival at the terminal we went from curb to ship in less than 15 minutes; extremely convenient! Accommodation: We had a balcony room. The room was plentiful. The staff kept our room clean. Their were ample spaces for storage of 4 suitcases and closet space was OK! Washroom and balconies were a tad smaller than we had on other NCL ships or on Princess. Food: Ummmm ... They have great difficulty serving hot breakfast and their time from order to meal receipt was up to 45 minutes. We spoke to the managers on day 2 (and often again) by day 11 at least the toast was hot. They have few great wait staff! We did try the buffet, while they have lots of stations offering breakfast the areas are crowded; conversely the dining room was never full for breakfast (making us wonder why?) Dinner and lunch were OK or better. The speciality restaurants are good. But... we had two meals at their Asian restaurant, the first was superb and the second was awful. The difference was the attitude of the wait staff. The Palms had excellent food and service on both trials! Bar service: I think they loose at lot of opportunity by not have staff going around the pool areas offering drinks on a frequent basis. On Princess we found they did this way too often, but we could get served! Often we found ourselves getting up to get our own - why was that necessary? Entertainment We were wowed by our NCL Star Mexico cruise. I had expected more Hawaii style entertainment, perhaps a Luau performance. But we received singers, comedy and a little dance, not bad but no Wow factor! Overall: We would likely not recommend this to those who enjoy dining room dining on their cruise. So NCL America, work on that part of your offering! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Just arrived home from our 11-night Cruise to Hawaii / Fanning Island aboard the Pride of Aloha. First things first - I am well aware of all of the negative things that have been said / written about this ship regarding service levels, ... Read More
Just arrived home from our 11-night Cruise to Hawaii / Fanning Island aboard the Pride of Aloha. First things first - I am well aware of all of the negative things that have been said / written about this ship regarding service levels, etc. and let me say this - while they were not as high as you may find on an international cruise, the crew on board this ship were as helpful, friendly and willing to go above and beyond whenever needed as much as any cruise I've ever been on. We (my wife, myself, my in-laws and extended family - 9 in all) arrived in Honolulu 1 day prior to embarkation. We lucked out in our home airport (Providence, RI) as it was a very rainy day up and down the east coast and there were delays everywhere. We were originally booked to go through Newark and LAX, but when we arrived at the Continental desk in Providence the agent was beyond helpful. She told us about the potential delays (especially in the New York area) and proceeded to rebook us on a direct flight from Newark to Honolulu. Not only did this eliminate the worry of catching our connection in LA - which we would have missed - but it also got us in 3 hours earlier than originally scheduled! Even though the flight was nearly 11 straight hours it was worth it knowing that our luggage would be greeting us in Honolulu and we wouldn't have to worry about racing through LAX to get our connection. Since we would only be in Honolulu for a short time prior to our cruise, I was a little concerned that this would not be long enough to acclimate (coming from east coast), especially arriving in the evening as we did, but we all seemed to be ok within a day or 2. We stayed at the Castle Ocean Resort Hotel on Waikiki. Let's just say that it was fine for one night - would not recommend it for an extended stay. But, given that we would be there for only about 15 hours, it was fine - especially considering the price. Honolulu Given the location, we were able to spend the morning strolling Waikiki and really enjoyed the short amount of time we had to spend there. We headed to the ship around noon. We were checked in and aboard by 12:15 - what a breeze! If I had to guess, I'd say we were among the first 75 aboard - it was so easy and quick! After grabbing a quick bite at the Hukilau Cafe we sat by the pool and enjoyed the sun. Our staterooms were ready by about 2:00 (all staterooms were ready by no later than 3:00 or so, I'd say), so we headed down to Deck 9. One of our pieces of luggage had already arrived (they all arrived by 4:00) so we began to unpack. We had an Inside Superior Stateroom. It was pretty much what we expected. If we had one complaint, it would be the lack of drawer space - 4 drawers (and shallow at that) for 11 nights for 2 people is not much! We made the best of it and hung what we could in the closet (luckily a previous passenger had left several plastic hangers, so we were able to use those). We decided to meet up with the rest of our party at the Palace Dining Room for dinner. The crowd was quite sparse - we assumed it was due to the time change, people being tired, etc. The service this evening was quite good as our assistant server kept us entertained with her stories (she was from Iowa or Idaho - can't remember which) but she did a great job. The food was quite good - everyone was satisfied. We called it a night and all decided to retire for the evening. Hilo, Our first full day brought with it a little bit of rough seas as we cruised into Hilo for our fist port day. My wife and I (still on EST) awoke early (5 am) and decided that since we were up we would take advantage of the fitness center. The Body Waves Fitness Center on Deck 11 was excellent. Always enough treadmills and elliptical machines to be used - at one point in the cruise one of the treadmills broke down - we never had to wait and never saw anyone waiting when we were there. Note for anyone who hasn't been on a cruise before: When you are on a treadmill and the seas are rocky, you will have a little more trouble that you would think controlling yourself, especially while running (which I was). After our workout we had a light breakfast from the buffet (Hukilau), watched the sun rise and took some great pictures of Mauna Kea. It's really amazing to look a snow-capped mountain peak while sipping coffee in your bathing suit - a really great way to start our day. Which brings me to the day's activity - our helicopter excursion. We went through Safari Helicopters and let's just say it was perfect! I would highly recommend them - www.safariair.com. Extremely hospitable, extremely convenient and extremely reasonably priced. We did the Deluxe Volcano / Coast Safari. Our Captain - Leigh - did an awesome job narrating the entire trip as well as providing a great soundtrack throughout. We saw several waterfalls and a rainforest on our way up to the Kilauea Volcanic System. On this day we were lucky enough to see a very active vent as well as red lava flow and several craters. From Leigh's perspective we really got an awesome day, considering how much cloud-cover there typically is. We also went along the beautiful coastline and got some breathtaking pictures and video. On our way back we saw the Mauna Loa Mac Nut Factory and fields and flew right into a bit of a rain storm that had swept in - really and overall outstanding experience. Once again, can't say enough about the group at Safari - extremely professional and fun! Once our helicopter tour was over we headed back to the ship (about a 5 minute ride) because I am a HUGE New York Giants fan and my Father-in-law is a HUGE Dallas Cowboy fan and they were meeting in the playoffs that day. So we booked it back to the ship and headed up to the Longboard Bar. We had a great seat to watch the Giants upset the Cowboys. I was outnumbered probably 5 to 1 by the number of Cowboy fans there, which made it that much more enjoyable. In addition, several of the crew and staff of the bar got very into the game - you would have thought we were at a bar in New York or Dallas and not at a dock in Hilo! After the game we spent some time in the hot tub at the bow of the ship (this seemed to get the smallest crowd of the three) and had some drinks to celebrate. That evening we actually skipped dinner as my wife was not feeling great, so once again, we turned in early. Sea Day 1 Today began a long stretch of days at sea on our way to / from Fanning Island. Today was basically a lounge by the pool / relax day - not much else, really. The seas were a bit rocky and we did hear people complaining, but all things considered it was a very pleasant day. We had dinner in The Crossings Main Dining Room. Our server (unfortunately, I can't recall his name) was outstanding. He happened to be from New Jersey and was fairly new on the ship (which we found to be the case with many of the crew), but was extremely attentive and polite. We had a wonderful table at a window and had a great meal - I highly recommend the Thai Noodles and Chicken - it was excellent! Sea Day 2 Once again, another day of relaxing for the most part. Once again, a little rocky, but not too bad. Since this was our second day at sea and I have trouble sitting still for too long I decided to take a late-morning run on the walking/jogging track on Deck 6. This was not too bad, but a word of caution - as you near the aft of the ship you are hit with a smell that clearly tells you where the ship's septic tank is. And after going past that spot 15 times I was ready to call it quits. That would be the one major complaint I would have on the entire trip. To break up the afternoon my wife and I, along with her uncle and aunt decided to do the on-ship "Pub Crawl". Basically, this is an event where a few of the ship's crew gather up a crowd (in this case 20 or so) of people and go from bar to bar, causing all kinds of mayhem throughout the ship while all the while getting drunker and drunker. It was a blast! We started at Captain Cook's, made our way to the Atrium Bar, Breakers Bar, Longboard Bar and finishing at the Hukilau Lanai. Throughout our journey we played several games, chugged several drinks and, in general, disrupted the entire ship for a couple of hours. From what we understand, the Pub Crawl doesn't get a lot of positive feedback on the comment cards - we definitely know why. Each bar we entered cleared out in a matter of minutes. As a sidebar, my wife was voted "Most Valuable Drinker" by her peers in the Pub Crawl - we are all so proud! Anyway, this pretty much decided our fate for the evening as we ended up in the Blue Hawaii Night Club for 70's night. My wife ended up singing Gloria Gaynor in front of everyone, her cousin dressing as the Cowboy from the Village People and I, well - let's just say that "It's Raining Men" is now on my Ipod. Hands down, the most fun we've ever had at sea on any cruise. Fanning Island After rising early (surprisingly easily, given the previous evening's festivities), we got our tender tickets to Fanning Island. One note of recommendation here - get your ticket early! They are handed out in the Blue Hawaii and I was luck enough to be going through as they began the process, so I grabbed a couple. We were able to head down any time after they called the first group. The problem being that they don't have many tender boats for this port (I believe they only had 4 this day) so the process can be fairly lengthy if you don't get a ticket early. Once we finished breakfast we got in line for our tender and waited for only about 20 minutes or so to get off the ship. Once on the island, we found a couple of chairs on the beach and relaxed for a bit. I took a walk back past the NCL area in English Harbor side and came across several children playing and singing. The children will sing you a song, but you have to give them a dollar. My suggestion is to bring a fistful of dollar bills as there are plenty of donation boxes around the island as well. After that we decided to go eat at the NCL-provided barbecue that was set up in a couple of pavilions. Once again - get in line early. After eating, we caught the 12:15 tender to Na Pali Beach. This is an add-on excursion and, in my opinion, well worth the $25. After being on the very crowded English Harbor beach, Na Pali was a very welcome, secluded, spread-out place to relax and really enjoy the tropical paradise. The do a nice job of only allowing so many people there to make it seem private and, believe me, it does. My only other recommendation would be to not do the water-sports add-on for $15. While you do get use of Hobie Catamarans, kayaks and paddle boats, the surf coming in makes any activity very difficult and futile (especially the kayaks). Other than that - the walk from the boat to the beach is about 2/3 of a mile and there are no facilities on Na Pali beach, but I would still recommend going. For dinner this evening we decided to try Pacific Heights, the specialty "Asian-Fusion" Restaurant on board. Despite the $10 cover charge per person, my wife and I agreed that this was, without question our finest meal of the trip. Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable, polite and attentive and the food was superb! The setting was also the finest of the trip as we had a window-side seat during a spectacular sunset. Our group of 7 all agreed that this was the best on-ship restaurant, right down to the sushi (an extra charge, but still worth it) that our waiter suggested we try deep-fried - it was delicious! Sea Day 3 As we began our trip back to Hawaii we once again encountered a bit of rocky seas and the wind was significantly stronger (this was true both days, and is pretty common, as we came to understand) especially on the 12th deck, which is where we typically found ourselves. Since most of us had had enough sun (only 200 miles from the equator on Fanning Island) we mostly napped or holed-up by a window in one of the public areas. Today was also the day I spent some time in the Kumu Cultural Center. It was definitely time well-spent. While it was understandably abbreviated, it was surprisingly enriching and comprehensive. Covering everything from the migration to Hawaii to the Paniolos (cowboys), right up through some of the entertainers and celebrities that made Waikiki famous, the collection, I felt, rivaled that of any museum. Also, they had daily shows highlighting each island we were at that day. These were concise, informative films and I really enjoyed the ones I did see. I would certainly recommend setting aside time to visit the Cultural Center. Went to the only show we saw all week - a comedian who was ok at best. Not much else to say, I guess, other than the sight lines in the balcony of the Stardust leave something to be desired. Sea Day 4 Once again, sunny, warm and windy. Choppy seas. Napping. Eating. Reading. This evening's dinner brought us to another of the specialty restaurants, the Royal Palm Bistro. Once again, our waiter was top-notch. (It is pretty clear that the best servers are assigned to the specialty restaurants as all of them, assistant servers included, were excellent.) The dinner was excellent; if not long (we were there for nearly 3 hours). It was my mother-in-law's birthday and we had a cake sent over and waiters singing - pretty typical of what you'd find at any restaurant state-side. Kahului, Maui Land! Finally! After what felt like forever at sea, we arrived in Maui. My wife and I had not booked an excursion for this day and decided to set out on foot. We didn't find much initially, but were able to book a Whale Watch that left at 12:30 from Ma'alaea Harbor. It was with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Note: If you can find a less expensive mode of transport, it is the exact same Whale Watch through the ship - its $38 pp as opposed to $74 pp through the ship. However, if you take a taxi (which we did), its $40 each way. We were lucky enough to catch the earlier boat at 10:30 as opposed to 12:30 since we were there so early, and that worked out well. On the watch we saw more humpback whales than we could count. They were breaching, tail slapping, spouting like crazy. All-in-all an excellent day. Once back in Kahului, we hit the local Star Market for bottled water to bring back to the ship and walked back via the pedestrian walkway. The pedestrian walkway leads right to the Maui Mall, which is an outdoor mall with your typical mall-type stores as well as a Long's Drugs, Star Market and movie theater. Tonight we had tickets to a special production of Tony 'n Tina's Wedding on board. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_and_Tina's_Wedding) It was performed in the Outrigger Lounge and it was a riot! So much fun! We had so much fun - the cast is extremely interactive and their timing is excellent! The dinner was fairly basic - Cesar salad, baked ziti, alfredo pasta - but not that good. We also had - of course - wedding cake. The production more than made up for it, though! Note: Book early and pay the extra $10 for the premium seats. It entitles you to early entry and better seats (right up front), which gets you more involved in the show. Kona, Big Island One thing about Kona is the weather - beautiful all the time. Today we had booked the Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure. (www.captainzodac.com) The tender was a breeze and we over on the dock in no time. Our Captain on the raft, Colin, was awesome! On our way to the snorkel site we were able to spot 2 species of whales - humpbacks and pilots. The Pilot Whales were in a pretty large pod and we got some awesome pictures. We then headed to the snorkel site - Kealakekua Bay. What a great snorkel site - unbelievably vivid colors and lots and lots of fish! After snorkeling for about 35 minutes we sat in the bay while Colin gave us a great history of the bay and Captain Cook's significance to it. We explored a lot of the coast on the way back, including sea caves and historical sites. We also encountered a pod of Spinner Dolphins, which were right next to the boat before we even realized it - very cool! Once back at the dock, I headed right back to the ship for my seat at Longboards for the NFC Championship Game to watch the Giants upset the Packers. Once again, I was outnumbered, probably 10 to 1 this time. Once again, the staff and crew were into the game and it was a lot of fun. By the end of the game, I'm guessing that the bar was close to capacity as there was little room to move. Nawiliwili, Kauai Day 1 For our first day On Kauai we chose to the Discover Jungle Falls by Kayak excursion. Once again, very fun. We kayaked down the Huleia River - 2.5 miles. It was a very easy paddle, as we were with the wind and the current the entire time. We saw some historic spots and some movie/tv filming spots (Raiders of the lost Ark, MASH, Jurassic Park). We then hiked a wildlife refuge (not a long hike) - not too exciting. After that we hiked down to 2 secluded waterfalls - the second of which we swam in and climbed up onto. Pretty cool considering the amount of water pouring down 50 feet. After our hike back up (Note: bring sneakers you don't mind getting muddy and wet - you will get dirty) we enjoyed our lunch - great sandwiches from a local deli. For dinner we once again enjoyed the Crossings (our dining room of choice) having the Turkey Dinner, which was very, very good. As a twist we took a local's advice and walked over to the Kauai Marriott (which, in itself is worth the walk - about 10 minutes) and went to a restaurant called Duke's Canoe Club and had the Hula Pie for dessert. Whoa! If you are a fan of sweets and ice cream you'll love it. It's a HUGE slice of vanilla ice cream pie with hot fudge, mac nuts, you name it, it's on there! It can easily feed 2-3 people. Nawiliwili, Kauai Day 2 Since my wife and I had not planned anything for this day, but still wanted to see more of the island, we decided to take a chance and head down to the excursion meeting point and see if they could fit us in to the Journey to Waimea Canyon excursion. I'll admit that I was skeptical, as we were told it had been sold out. As it turned out, there were 2 seats left - 1 being the jump seat next to the bus driver and the other being way in the back. So, unfortunately we weren't able to sit together, but still enjoyed the trip just the same. In fact, I was the one sitting in the front with the driver and really enjoyed it - best seat in the house! The trip up to the canyon took a couple of hours, but what a view! I would highly recommend going there if you have the time - when they call it the Grand Canyon of the Pacific they aren't kidding. The tour also stopped at a couple of other spots along the way of significance and our driver did an excellent job of narrating the entire trip. The afternoon was spent cruising along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. Our Cruise Director, Douglas, was supposed to narrate the trip, but had a lot of trouble with the ship's PA System, but it was beautiful, just the same. It was surprising how close the ship gets to the cliffs, which soar up to 3,000 feet high - really a gorgeous sight. Note: We went to deck 6 as opposed to deck 11 - we had heard that 11 gets really crowded. We also got out there early (around 5:00) and secured a spot. We were able to kill time looking for whales (saw a few) while waiting for the narration to begin. Honolulu Disembarkation was a breeze - right off the ship, to a taxi and to the airport for our 2:00 flight. (We were actually there at 10:00!) Note: There is an option for EasyFly - take advantage if you can. There are some stipulations, and its $20 pp, but well worth it. You check your bags the night before (leaving them outside your stateroom, as you normally would) and the net time you see them is at you home airport. In addition, the ship prints your boarding passes the night before. Unfortunately, we had to switch airlines in LA, so we couldn't do it (one of the stipulations), but would have if we could. Overall, an excellent cruise. We were very happy with the ship and thrilled with the itinerary! The ship's crew was outstanding, with a special nod to our room steward, Apolonio (towel animals 8 nights). Pros far outweighed the cons on all aspects of the ship, ports, food, entertainment (forgot to mention the poolside band, who were great every day) and crew. We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone looking to see more of Hawaii - and for the value, you can't beat it. Without question, the greatest vacation we've ever had! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
It all started back in May of '07, after just returning from the STAR, Mexican Rivera... We found a great deal on a Hawaii cruise on the NCL site and booked it, then after looking at airfares thought WOW, it was nearly as expensive to ... Read More
It all started back in May of '07, after just returning from the STAR, Mexican Rivera... We found a great deal on a Hawaii cruise on the NCL site and booked it, then after looking at airfares thought WOW, it was nearly as expensive to fly over there. After all was said and done, the airfare was cheap, the ship was great and the Hawaiian Islands, truly one of the trips of a lifetime! We flew DELTA, nonstop from Atlanta, after originally paying a high fare, over $1800 we listed with YAPTA and they notified me about a month before leaving, DELTA had lowered their fares about $600 so I called and got the reduced fare, and got a $400 voucher from them for a future flight, I'll take that! We flew out on New Years day, got into Honolulu about 3:00 PM, those nonstops are long, we had a head wind and it took us nearly 10 hours, and let me add this, to those of you who fussed and "fumed" over the odors on the Pride of Aloha, believe me, the odors on the ship were nothing compared to odors on that aircraft, and you're sealed in it, it was a full flight they fed us lunch shortly after take off, I need say no more! We had booked that first night at the Waikiki Marriott, so we caught a shuttle bus, checked in with the NCL desk there, and made sure we had a pre-cruise excursion to Pearl Harbor the next day. Being they did the pre-cruise check in at the hotel, we left our luggage in the room the next morning, caught a tour bus at 6:00 AM, and enjoyed a great tour of Pearl Harbor, Punch Bowl and the USS Missouri, then the bus dropped us off at the ship about 3:00. Our luggage started showing up about 4:00, but we weren't too concerned, we were off exploring and enjoying the balcony on the stern. Let me say this, any of you who haven't enjoyed a balcony room on the stern, need to try it, it's a very unique experience! We spent the night in port that evening and enjoyed a great dinner at the Crossings, food was good and the service was great. I could tell right away a lot of the servers were American, but it never affected their attitude or manners. The next morning we caught a cab and went back over to Waikiki Beach just to enjoy the scenery and walk the stores, it was nice, real nice and the weather was just beautiful! That afternoon we went up topside to see if we could spot any of the CC'ers group we communicated with on the roll call, didn't spot a one, I really think you need to wear something, a color shirt, a hat, a pin or something. We kind of got messed up, as the Sail Away was to take place right after the muster, but they did the muster the first day, instead of just as we were leaving port. Oh well, it worked out well any way, that evening we went down to the Crossings restaurant and low and behold, 16 of us showed up for dinner! One piece of advice, if you are going to do one of these Sail Away dinners, make the reservations early on and request the Captains table if available, it seats about 18, they had to seat us at 2 tables adjacent to each other. The dinner, once again, was good, the service was good and the fellowship was fantastic! I think each one of us enjoyed putting names with faces... First stop Maui, we had booked an excursion on Atlantis Submarine, and it was a blast. They bused us over to Old Town Lahaina, where the harbor is and we were pleased with Sub. I will have to admit, it's pretty neat 140 foot down under, we even saw and old submerged ship. We got back to land and toured Old Town Lahaina and the shops, got a little bite to eat, caught the tour bus and back to the ship we went. That night we ate at the buffet, it was good, pretty typical, just a buffet, there is usually something we can find to eat. Next Stop Kona, that morning we discovered the "outside" aft buffet and the omelets, those folks make a mean Spanish omelet, needless to say, this was the breakfast stop for the rest of the cruise! We booked an excursion called Historic Kona, and it was a blast, we had the best driver you could ask for, he educated us all about Kona and the Big Island of Hawaii, he even sang the old Arthur Godfrey song to us, and sang a solo of Hang Loose, he was a true blast and literally made the excursion. He took us by a small church near his home, one of the first missions in Hawaii, I complemented him on how explained it and told of how the missionaries worked with the Hawaiians, I felt he was pretty brave to stand in front of all of us, you could just feel there were those amongst us, who didn't like being told about the scriptures, I tipped him well… We got some great pictures, had some good KONA Coffee and back to the ship we went. That evening we ate at the midship restaurant, The Palisades, the menu was the same as the Crossings, so the rest of the cruise we ate at Crossings, it was nice, the food was OK and we enjoyed talking with the servers and some of the people we met. Let me say, we have met some of the neatest people on these "freestyle" cruises, just ask to be seated at any open table, there are always some neat folks on a ship. Next stop Nawiliwili, Kauai… After having one of those Omelets, we had booked a tour of Waimea Canyon, after several stops along the way and a very good driver, he was very blunt and truthful about the island, you could tell this was an island for the rich and famous, nice place, very laid back and very pristine, and very expensive, several movie stars live on this island. The canyon was really a beautiful place, got lots of pictures and saw the "blow hole", a very nice excursion, you just learn so much from these tour bus drivers about the region and the lives of these people. I mean let's face it, you can't expect to go to place for 8 to 12 hours and learn and see everything about it, but when you ride with these folks who have lived there most of their life, you can sure get a feel for it. The ship stayed in port overnight pulling out the next day and sailing the Napali Coast, now that was an experience, you could almost see the film makers working, several movies were filmed here, that coast line is something to behold, beautiful waterfalls and whales, several whales jumping all around the ship, sometimes I almost felt the ship tilt as people ran from side to side taking pictures (just joking), but it was funny watching everyone, the ship got "buzzed" by some of those motorized hang gliders, I would just guess it made the Captain a little nervous, they came quite close to the ship a time or two. It was back to the Crossings that evening for dinner with discussions with the English folks about our American Election process, it was a real hoot! Next day was a "sea day", we sailed the Coast of Molokai, it was nice and peaceful, we had near perfect weather this cruise, hardly any rain at all, although the fog, or "Vog" as they call it, kept us from getting some of pictures as clear as I wanted, again saw several whales along the way, some quite close to the ship. Next day, back to Maui, on the Lahaina side this time, only there for about 6 hours, but being they had bussed us over there the first stop to Maui, it wasn't a big deal, we got to get some more pictures and look in some more of the shops. Left out of there about 2:00 PM headed for Hilo. Next day Hilo, it is on the opposite side of the Big Island than Kona, but WOW what a difference, we took the Volcano National Park tour and enjoyed it very much, what a desolate part of the islands, you can understand how these islands were formed and see the richness of their heritage, We were not able to see the actual lava flowing, it was closed off to the public, several houses had burnt up, but going to the park, although the Volcano was not erupting you could see steam and smell the sulfur seeping from the cracks in the earth, the guide told us we were very lucky as we got to see 2 of the State Birds, the Nene, there on the rim of the crater. We walked the Thurston Lava Tube and what amazed us the most, less than ½ mile from the desolate area of the crater, there existed a Rain Forrest around this "Tube", with birds chirping, all kinds of plants and wildlife, beautiful, just an amazing site. Our excursion also took us to Rainbow falls, it was OK, but located in a very populated commercial area and not anything big, maybe if the sun had been shining we might have seen a rainbow… The next morning we were back in Honolulu and the cruise was over, a very fast and exhilarating way to visit Hawaii in just 11 days! We had planned a post cruise stay over in Maui for a week, I am sure glad we did, it gave us time to reflect back on what we had just experienced and do some further tours on Maui, including some snorkeling, beach walking, enjoy the folk lore and Survive the Road to Hana, that was an experience in itself! About the waterfalls, a lot of the falls are located on people's private property, and are now posted, No Trespassing, the signs in fact are asking you to write your legislature to get laws passed to protect these landowners from liability lawsuits, Lawyers hard at work! Would we do it again, you bet, it was probably one of the best cruises we have taken, one must understand, NCL caters to the masses and in doing so there are lots of different people you run into on their ships. The ship is well cared for, it's clean, the service was good, the entertainment was good and the food was good. For those of you who like to be pampered, and made over, you probably will hear complaints, those people might as well get used to it, I have read even Holland is going to a "freestyle" concept. As far as the "odors" I have read about, you will catch some, every now and then, it's a ship built in the early 90's, a gigantic camper or motor home, if you get my jest, what did you expect? Those folks need to get over it and enjoy the cruise. I will say this about the staff, I could tell with my conversations with some of the American staff, some have learned (the hard way), what it means to WORK, I do mean WORK, 7 days a week, for however many months they agreed to. They get sent for training, they get free boarding, food, certain medicines and NCL takes as good a care of them as you could expect, just in the American "entitlement society", some of them sure get disheartened… Our cabin steward was from the Philippine's, and he was a great guy, always called me "boss", and took care of all of our needs, we tipped him well! Go enjoy the islands, you won't regret it! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We have just returned from a fabulous trip that I would recommend to anyone thinking of going to Hawaii. We stayed for five nights at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach prior to embarking on what I can only describe as a very enjoyable ... Read More
We have just returned from a fabulous trip that I would recommend to anyone thinking of going to Hawaii. We stayed for five nights at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach prior to embarking on what I can only describe as a very enjoyable holiday. This hotel was in a prime position for not only the beach but for strolling around Honolulu and the many shops. I would strongly recommend it. We arrived at the pier about 2pm and were on the ship within about 15 to 20 minutes at the most. We were travelling with friends who also had children (ages 8, 9 & 10) and they too were on the ship in no time. Our room steward, Anthony, was absolutely wonderful. He was very polite and friendly as was all the staff we encountered. I was at a loss to understand how anyone could go on this ship and not have a good time (although there was one young 20 something travelling with her parents and she complained about everything. My suggestion to her would be to grow up and stop sponging off your parents because when she wasn't around they seemed to be enjoying themselves). We did a shore tour booked with NCL in every port and absolutely loved every one of them. You might pay a bit more but as the old saying goes "you get what you pay for". We went to a show every evening, as did our children, and again couldn't fault them. Some of the acts had us in stitches of laughter. The food was plentiful and they catered for all tastes. We ate mostly at the buffets but did manage to have a few evenings in the dining rooms. There is only one way to sum up this holiday - you don't have to cook, make a bed or do any housework and you get to experience things as a family in one of the most beautiful places on earth - what more could you ask for. Oh and if you're wondering, yes we have cruised before and this ship and its crew are just as good. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
My husband and I took a 10-day cruise on NCL, Pride of Aloha, Jan. 2, 2008. The itinerary included Honolulu, Oahu; Kahului, Maui; Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (big island); Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; Honolulu. We chose the cruise having ... Read More
My husband and I took a 10-day cruise on NCL, Pride of Aloha, Jan. 2, 2008. The itinerary included Honolulu, Oahu; Kahului, Maui; Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (big island); Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; Honolulu. We chose the cruise having read many of the reviews on this site, and found that our cruise ship experience was largely what we expected. We planned to treat the ship as a moving hotel, and as such it worked perfectly for us, since it enabled us to visit many more islands than we would otherwise have done in ten days. We chose this cruise largely on the basis of the itinerary, and could not have been happier with the places we visited. The following are some reflections on our experience, and recommendations for future travelers on NCL. Room: We selected the smallest room available, and were happy with that choice since it was difficult to see what a window or balcony would have added. If we wanted to go outside, we could easily go out on the deck at any time of the day or night. As many had warned, there is very little space to store belongings. We moved the bed over to one side of the room to give ourselves a bit more room for open suitcases along the other side. There's also a little bit of closet space. The bathroom was tiny but user-friendly; we had no trouble with the shower or toilet, and there was a bit of shelf space for personal items. The room was kept clean; there were some spots and stains on the sheets, and the beds weren't very comfortable, but we still slept fine. Food: As many have written, the food on the buffet and in the non-cover-charging restaurants was nothing to write home about. It was fine, though, and the breakfast buffet was actually pretty good. They always had scrambled eggs, omelets and waffles made-to-order, oatmeal, a selection of cold cereals, and fruit, as well as pancakes, biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage. The selection of juices was sometimes uneven, but otherwise we had no complaints. Another handy thing about the breakfast buffet was that it included sandwich bread and PB&J, which we used to make lunch to take along on our excursions each day. You can also refill water bottles and pick up small cartons of yogurt at the breakfast buffet. We recommend the outdoor cafe (lanai) for breakfast, as it was much less crowded and had a more pleasant atmosphere than the indoor spaces. The only time we ate lunch on the ship was the one day that we were at sea, and the buffet was just fine. For dinner, we either went to the buffet, or to the more casual of the two free restaurants, "Crossings." We never had trouble getting in, perhaps because we usually went between 5:30 and 6:30. The selections on the Crossings menu were generally of a higher quality than the buffet, and included at least one vegetarian appetizer and entrEe each night. Service generally: Everyone we encountered was very cordial and accommodating; we had absolutely no complaints in this regard. Public areas: Generally clean, but there was an unpleasant smell in certain areas of the ship. Scheduling/planning: We reserved two tours ahead of time: Pacific Whale Foundation's whale watch in Lahaina and a kayak/snorkeling tour with Aloha Kayaks, in Kona. Both were excellent. We established a schedule that involved waking up around 5:30am and going to bed early, to give ourselves as much time as possible to explore the islands. Speaking of which, note that it is usually possible to get off the ship before the official docking time, and that's worth doing, especially on "tender" days, the days when you take a small boat from ship to port. E.g., on the day we docked in Kona, the time on the itinerary was 8:00am, but we went downstairs at 7:15 and were on the shore by 7:45. Car rental: We did not register for any of the cruise excursions, but decided instead to rent a car in most of the locations. We rented from Thrifty (sign up for Blue Chip program, which sometimes means a shorter line) and Dollar in each port, and were satisfied with our experience. We never had any trouble getting on a shuttle from the port to the car pick-up location, and sometimes got very helpful tips from the rental car agents about getting around. Make all your reservations in advance, and try to use the same credit card for the reservation as you want to use for the purchase to save time. Additional drivers are a few dollars extra, and we usually found that worthwhile. We were a bit concerned about getting back in time and returning the rental cars before it was time to be back at the ship. This turned out not to be a problem; we were always back with time to spare. In part we were lucky in not encountering much traffic, but we were very happy with our choice to rent cars and go off on our own rather than signing up for "shore excursions." Here's our schedule to give you a sense: Maui Day 1: Road to Hana—we didn't run into much traffic, and it was not a bad drive—sights were very much worth the trip. Maui Day 2: Haleakala National Park—went hiking and to lookouts and were easily back by 5:30 Kona: Aloha Kayak tour (4-hour morning tour)—kayaking and snorkeling Kauai Day 1: Napali Coast hike Kauai Day 2: Waimea Canyon hike—up early and back by 1:30. Maui Day 3: Lahaina—whale watching: we had reserved an 11am tour out of concern that we wouldn't get to shore in time, but because we were able to leave on the first tender boat, we changed our tour to 8:30; spent the rest of the day taking a walking tour of Lahaina. Hilo: Volcano National Park A couple of other notes: In Kona, make sure you reserve a car (Thrifty or Dollar) that has a pick-up at the King Kamehameha hotel, which is right next to the boat. Make sure you check the itinerary each day, as NCL is liable to make changes without notifying you. One of our few complaints is that we found out that we had an extra four hours in Lahaina only by accident on the tender boat on the way to port! Parking: On the nights when we stayed over on an island, parking was no problem. In Kahului, Maui, there was plenty of free parking near the ship. In Kauai, there was somewhat limited parking near the boat: ask your rental company and be sure to register for a parking permit before you leave for the day. Travel safely and enjoyably! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Norwegian Sky Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.6
Dining 4.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.5 3.9
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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