July 2016 - Pride of America to Hawaii
My husband and I are in our early 40s, very active, and have cruised ~20 times with every major cruise line and in many parts of the world. We love cruising and would rather cruise than do any other form of vacation. We were very excited about cruising the Hawaiian islands onboard the Pride of America. Unfortunately, it ended up being one of the worst cruises we've experienced.
1) We had never been to Hawaii, so liked the island hopping itinerary. It gave us a great feel for the different islands and helped us identify were we would like to spend more time during a future visit. The islands are spectacular and the trip was magical. You have limited time at each port, so plan wisely and prioritize.
2) The cost was reasonable when compared to doing an island hopping itinerary on your own.
3) The shows were great. Excellent singers and dancers. The specialty acts were good. The theatre comfortable and roomy with plenty of good seats.
1) BEWARE STATEROOMS ON DECK 7 FORWARD! This was a last minute cruise booking, so only guaranteed balcony staterooms were available. This was a mistake we won't make again. We've never had issues with "guaranteed" staterooms in the past. We were given a room on Deck 7 forward, which is immediately above the Mardi Gras Lounge. There was loud thumping music from 8 pm to between midnight and 2 am every night. We contacted customer service and requested a room change, but the ship was full. The Cruise Director, Manager of Customer Service and multiple other CS staff called to tell us that the music would be turned down - but the issue was never resolved. You could physically feel the vibrations from the bass. We ended up avoiding our room as much as possible. But that wasn't all... The cleaning crew decided it was a good idea to use heavy forklift equipment outside our room on 3 of the mornings we docked starting at 6:30 AM... The loud beeps from them backing up and moving the equipment made sleeping impossible. So... music until 2 am and woken again at 6:30 by the cleaning crew! Our Hawaiian cruise was ANYTHING but relaxing. Deck 7 forward cabins should come with a warning. I know we aren't the only people who have experienced this issue.
2) Poorly managed staff and lack of customer experience was evident in many areas.
Dining: We experienced buffet workers running through the buffet and roughhousing with co-workers, with one even breaking through a safety barriers and nearly hitting passengers. We had to listen to buffet waiters having inappropriate conversations about "getting it on" with some of the female staff. For the first time ever, I asked to speak with a supervisor because I was so appalled by the unsafe and inappropriate behavior we kept seeing. The formal dining room was better but still disappointing. Dining room staff were unfamiliar with the menu items and couldn't answer pretty simple questions about the menu. Service was extremely slow. One night, we got tired of waiting to be acknowledged by our waiter so we left and headed back up to the buffet.
Tendering: The lack of safety concern was also seen during our tender to and from the ship in Kona. A disabled woman was not handled carefully enough by the staff and almost fell badly when getting off the tender at the port. There was 2-3 feet of walking space at the port as you exited and half of that space was taken by carelessly coiled ropes that could have easily caused someone to fall off the peer.
Entertainment Staff: Late in the cruise, I decided to try the popcorn available from one of the bar areas. As I entered the room with others also seeking the popcorn, I saw a group doing beer tasting. As I got half way through the room, the person with the microphone decided to mock those of us getting popcorn stating that "we weren't supposed to be allowed in the room" and then made a derogatory comment about our "need for popcorn" - getting a nervous laugh from the group he was leading. There were no signs stating that the room was closed or that an event was going on and both of the doors were wide open to the public areas. I've never been treated so poorly by staff on a cruise ship.
It's a good value and if you choose your room wisely and don't plan to spend much time on the ship, you could enjoy the benefits of this island hopping cruise. If you want to view this as a normal cruise: beware and avoid. You will be disappointed. Because of the service issues, we will never cruise the Pride of America again.