Cruise Ship Photos, Info, Reviews and Comments
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Pride of America Cruise Ship Comments & Reviews
UPDATE: September 13th 2008 - This morning I was able to interview passengers as they left the Pride Of America. Problems on this ship have been greatly reduced over the years, but some issues still exist. I interviewed six passengers as they waited for transportation out of the harbor area, they represented groups consisting of over 40 passengers. Passengers who had cruised before found the ship lacking, those new to cruising were satisfied but wonders what all the "fuss" was about because they thought the cruise was just OK....I would now reccommend this cruise only because of the great itnerary, not because the of the ship or crew. It is great way to see the Hawaiian Islands, but I wouldn't expect much more than basic services from the Pride Of America. Bruce Murray
Based on Passenger Exit Interviews on Saturday, Aug 20, 2005
NCL's new Pride of America has been cruising the Hawaiian islands for a month now and I figured it was time to do my standard review based on passenger exit interviews. I interviewed the first passengers that arrived from San Francisco on Friday July 22nd, but I decided to give the ship a few weeks to get into it's normal routine cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.
NCL has had some serious problems with it's operations here in Hawaii over the past year and I've been very disappointed in NCL and the treatment of it's passengers. Problems that NCL called "start-up challenges" on the Pride Of Aloha. Passenger lawsuits are pending against NCL over poor service. Due to NCL's past lack of customer concern I cannot recommend any cruises operated by NCL. Latest BBB Report on Norwegian Cruise Line.
THE ISLANDS - Passengers love the idea of taking a Hawaiian cruise. They enjoyed the itinerary of the Pride Of America and would recommend seeing the islands by cruise ship to friends and relatives. Maui and Kauai seem to tie for most favorite island. Many rented cars and used guide books to explore the islands. Some pre-arranged for their rentals, others did it by cell phone from the ship, and others on each island.
On Maui they enjoyed the variety of things to see and do. The sunrise bike ride down the side of the dormant Haleakala volcano is a big hit. I required getting up very early in the morning, but everyone found the experience breathtaking.
Kauai was another favorite island. Passengers loved the dramatic variations in landscapes and vegetation.
THE SHIP - I personally find the Pride Of America's exterior to be pretty ugly but I didn't hear any such comments from the passengers either way. Most passengers liked the interior layout of the Pride Of America. Some Seniors found the size to be a bit overwhelming, but manageable with time. A few commented on the lack of Hawaiian decoration. The ships public areas have a variety of Americana themes ranging from the Capitol Atrium to the Santa Fe fitness center. These areas are very well decorated and comfortable even with the sometimes overwhelming "Vegas" style carpeting.
During this specific cruise the Pride Of America had engine/generator problems. The ship arrived late into one port which caused problems with shore excursions and they had to change its itinerary so that they could arrive back in Honolulu harbor on time Saturday morning. Passengers reported a power outage, problems with air conditioning and toilets. A passenger was told that this was the second time they had problems in the past month. But most all of the passengers I spoke to took these issues in stride and understood that they were on a brand new ship and problems can occur. I've contacted NCL's PR folks for comment.
Due to the summer season the ship had a fair number of families onboard and I had some complaints about the pools being loaded with kids.
Most wheelchair users didn't have problems, larger/heavier wheelchairs that support individuals with major mobility issues had problems getting around. Especially getting on and off the ship.
CABINS - Small, most felt that the standard cabins were small. First time cruisers were less sensitive to this than and those who had experienced other cruise ships. Larger passengers found 3 in a cabin to be very tight; they also found the showers almost unusable. Airlines have recognized that obesity among adults has risen significantly in the United States over the last 20 years. Thirty percent of adults 20 years of age and older are considered obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. So why does NCL build a new ship for the American market with such small cabins and bathrooms????
Cabin attendants were considered by many to be poorly trained and rushed. Some cabins went for days without being properly cleaned. A maintenance item like a burned out light bulb took several days and several calls to be replaced. Complaints about a stained bedspread fell on deaf ears, on the last day of the cruise this couple returned to their cabin after breakfast to find the bed made up for the next guests, the stained bedspread still in place.
FOOD - Most had breakfast at the Aloha Cafe buffet, on balance they ranked the food as average. Food in the dinning rooms was ranked slightly higher, but service delays were a common complaint. Long waits for things as simple as a requested water glass or iced tea refill were common. Freestyle dinning continues to get mixed reviews. Many prefer the traditional dinning room arrangement, while others felt the added service charge for meals, after already paying for the cruise, was unfair. Others liked having the various options that Freestyle Cruising offers.
The Pride Of America has the video screen shown above located in various areas, usually near elevators. Passengers found these screens helpful for the free dinning rooms, but useless for the extra fee specialty restaurants. Those restaurants were fully reserved early in the cruise. While onboard I noticed that these screens were crudely installed, almost as an after thought. The only item on the ship that looked cheap and out of place.
ENTERTAINMENT - Mixed reviews, everyone enjoyed the Comedian & Juggler, several found the performers talented but placed in average productions. Several complained about a lack of late evening entertainment.
STAFF - Comments about the crew were very, very mixed. It seemed to be a love/hate relationship. Passengers had great experiences with some crew and horrible situations with others. Thinking the ship had only been in operation one month, many passengers stated that the staff was new and required additional training. Not knowing that many of the crew were seasoned vets from the PRIDE OF ALOHA and others who had been on the ship for months.
One passenger, a Senior Director of Operations with a major national department store chain, stated "It's about service, and they just don't get it."
It also appears that the many of the hardworking members of the crew are getting tired of the other non-productive crew members and voiced their dissatisfaction directly to passengers. I was surprised at the amount of "inside"/crew information some of the passengers were aware of. They spoke of vast numbers of crew members who had quit, romances and drama between crew members, and employee contract details.
OTHER ITEMS - Kids had a great time with the onboard programs for Keiki (Hawaiian for child). This has always been a strong point for NCL's Hawaiian operations as has the process of the initial passenger boarding and exiting their ships in Honolulu.
SUMMARY - The vast majority of passengers would NOT recommend this cruise to friends or relatives. One passenger, while on the ship, called a friend who had booked the Pride Of America for later this year and told them they should cancel the trip.
This is a beautiful ship with an outstanding itinerary, but staffing and training issues need to be resolved. Read review about the improved Pride Of Aloha.