Pride of America Cruise Review to Hawaii

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4 out of 5

Norwegian's Pride of America to the Hawaiian Islands

Sail Date: June 25, 2011

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Balcony

We sailed aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America departing 6/25/2011 roundtrip from Honolulu to the Hawaiian Islands.  This was our 42nd cruise and our 9th trip to Hawaii but it was our first Hawaiian cruise.

 

We were lucky enough to be aboard Pride of America for a one-night pre-inaugural sailing in June of 2005 and, thanks regular maintenance, the ship still looks brand new. 

 

Itinerary:

Definitely a fantastic way to enjoy these islands!  The port times are long enough to get a feel for each of the ports.  We utilized a combination of ship tours, third party excursions and rented a car in Hilo and on Kauai.  The ship's excursions seemed expensive, but they offered some unique options.  We did a tour with Roberts Hawaii on Maui that was priced less than Shore Excursion Group which was even less expensive than the same tour with Norwegian.  It pays to shop around.  If you are comfortable striking out on your own and like to do your homework before sailing, renting a car is a great, affordable option.  HOWEVER - the overnight parking on Maui was complimentary and right in the port.  On Kauai, they had you park at a nearby shopping mall for $20, then either walk or shuttle back to the ship.  We found "public" parking closer to the pier and avoided the "extortion fee".  They don't tell you about that option.

 

Ship:

 Excellent condition.  The carpets throughout the public areas of the ship were replaced recently without going into dry dock.  According to a crew member, they did the work throughout the late nights and early mornings when in port.  Very minor wear and tear in a few spots, but overall for a six year old ship, she has held up very well.  There was PLENTY of deck space.  There are areas of the ship on decks 13, 14, and 15 with literally hundreds of chairs to be had!  I think most people didn't even know they were there!  There’s an amazing conference room and breakout meeting rooms that didn’t seem to get any use at all.  It's a great cruise for those who need to stay "connected".  Being so close to shore and in U.S. ports for so many hours using the smart phones, iPads, computers with aircards makes it  extremely easy  (and affordable if you avoid those internet and cell roaming fees!) to keep doing business.

 

Cabin:

 Balcony stateroom 10648 (category BC).  Comfortable for two adults with plenty of storage.   The cabin could comfortably accommodate a third passenger if a child; adult would get a bit cramped.  Storage included two large drawers under the fridge, several shelves both in and out of the closet, two additional smaller drawers by the closet, and even a three shelf corner storage unit behind the bathroom mirror.  Coffee maker and complimentary coffee packets refilled daily.  Perfect for those early morning sunrises on your balcony.  Bed was comfortable with the new duvet style bedding.  Décor is pleasant island colors and art.  Bathroom is the typical cruise cabin with a small shower with a curtain.  Safe is in the cubby above the TV.  There is a small desk with two plugs that was convenient for recharging.  A hidden gem is the additional two outlets behind the coffee maker and two more behind the TV.  The location of this cabin was excellent in our opinion!  Close to the rear elevators, one floor below the buffet and Little Italy, on the preferred side of the ship (more often than not) for sunrises, Napali Coast viewing, etc.

 

Overall Service: 

Extremely friendly team members.  It's funny to hear the typical jabber among young workers about the last party, whose shift they are covering, how she hurt her finger last night.  It makes you wonder if you are actually hearing the same stories from the international crews, but you just don't understand them.  There was definitely more camaraderie among employees and more joking around, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - just an observation.

 

One minor thing is that they tend to concentrate on each other instead of immediately ceasing conversation and addressing a guest.  They tend to finish their thought before they greet the guests.

 

Minor Service Issues:

·         Luggage Delivery - We checked three bags and two of them were delivered to our room along with a piece of luggage that belonged to someone else.   When bringing that bag to the proper room down the hall, we found our third bag in front of yet a different room.

·         VERY Slow cabin service.  We must have been at the end of his line of rooms because we could be gone for three hours and our cabin was left untouched.  They work very specific hours (8am-noon and 6pm-9pm), so it's not like the typical cabin cleaning ninjas on other ships where you leave for 20 minutes and POOF your cabin is ready to go.  He seems to go from one end to the other regardless of when people are in the room.  Also, there is little in the way of "turn down" service.  Our towel animals arrive in the "morning" room cleaning, so the night time is more a refresher - clean towels and straightening of the bed if needed.  Our beach towels weren't refreshed nightly, so we didn't have them to go into the ports as needed.  It became a running joke to see if the room would get made after we'd been gone for over three hours - it usually wasn't.  When it was cleaned, it was cleaned well.  However, we did have to leave a note to refill the shower gel.  Our steward was EXTREMELY friendly though, and he made cute towel animals.

 

 

Food Quality:

 Very Good to Excellent in all outlets.  Food quality was surprisingly above expectations.  No complaints on the items in the Liberty Dining Room.  There were plenty of items to choose from.  The buffet offers many varieties of food to choose from including some curry dishes for those who like it with a little spice.  Omelets at breakfast; pizza, made to order pastas, and the traditional sandwich and salad offerings for lunch.  Dinner buffet offered selections from the main dining rooms and even some featured items from the specialty restaurants.

 

Regular Dining:

It seemed the main dining rooms were there to push people through and seat the next group.  No lingering and chatting.  They even offered to take our dessert order at the time of initial order.  The service was fast and friendly, but the timing was very quick - our first meal in Liberty was 45 minutes from being seated to out the door. 

 

The Cadillac Diner served comfort food very similar to that served in the O'Sheehan's pub on the Norwegian Epic.  The food in the Cadillac diner was prepared MUCH better than the Epic's Pub. 

 

The Key West Grill offered regular and turkey burgers, grilled chicken and hot dogs and other sausages along with some basic side dishes.

 

The Aloha Café (aka buffet) had several choices each day.  We enjoyed all of our onboard breakfasts and lunches here and found enough variety.  Food tasted GOOD, too!  Breakfast buffet had the same items every day, but there seems to be much more variety than on Royal Caribbean ships and the biscuits and gravy are better than we've had on most ships!  At lunch watch for the Pretzel Rolls - YUM!  Everything tastes better on a pretzel roll!

 

Specialty Restaurants:

 We enjoyed a nice steak in the Lazy J (aka Cagney's) steak house.  The Truffle Oil/parmesan fries are a don't-miss.  Take advantage of the first night $15 price tag at Lazy J.  Jefferson's Bistro offers a $15 first night service charge, but the menu is a "taste of all" buffet - not the regular Le Bistro menu. 

 

We enjoyed our dinner so much in Little Italy ($10pp), we decided to go again.  Unfortunately, the consistency wasn't there.  The first night the Cucina salad was so delicious, we both ordered it again the second night unfortunately the presentation was noticeably different with more arugula and no fresh grated cheese night number two.   The pepperoni pizza that was "to die for" night number one, was missing ingredients and came out overcooked.  When it was remade, it still came out without the roasted red peppers and it was again a little black and crispy on the edges.  The Chicken Parmesan and Cheese Tortellini were excellent!  Service was friendly and helpful both nights.

 

In general, we noticed several dining time openings in the specialty restaurants on most nights, unlike other ships where the specialty restaurants are filled immediately.   The only restaurant that was pre-reserved was Teppanyaki, so make those reservations early if you are interested in that.

 

Summary:

We have recommended this product to many friends with the typical disclaimers about the difference in crew and service on board.  At this time, we can wholeheartedly recommend Pride of America as a great vacation choice for families, couples and business groups! 

 

VIEWS WHEN IN PORT:

Oahu Pier - port side view of docks

Sailing to Maui - sunrise on port side

Maui Pier - industrial docks on both sides view of island/mountains on starboard side, view of ocean on port side

Sailing to Hilo - Sunrise on port side

Hilo Pier - cargo pier, but views of island are better from starboard.  Sailing away, port side is better for sunset.  No lava viewing on this cruise because volcano is not spewing into the ocean at this time - hasn't for the last five months.

Kona - tender in, but sunrise was very visible from port side once again.  If using an aircard for internet, signal is intermittent when on the ocean side of the ship. 

Nawiliwili (Kauai) - shore side view is on starboard, but ship still docks at a container port

NAPALI COAST - port side gets the first look and the narration.  The ship does turn around and go back the other way, but it's nice to be first!  

Ship Quality
Food and Dining
Cabin / Stateroom
Service and Staff
Entertainment
Destinations and Excursions


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