Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: September 11th, 2005
Norwegian Cruise Line
Pride of Aloha
I never post these kinds of things, but I felt like it was my duty to share the experience we had on a recent cruise on Norwegian’s Pride of Aloha. We booked this cruise to celebrate my parent’s 40th anniversary. We didn’t do much research on it prior…my mom wanted to go to Hawaii, so we chose NCL. After I began to read some of the reviews, I was worried about what we had gotten ourselves into. I am pleased to report that none of fears were realized, and we had an ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL experience!!
Embarkation was extremely smooth. I would recommend doing a pre-cruise hotel package. We did ours at the Mariott Waikiki in Honolulu, which worked out wonderfully as there is a Norwegian Cruise Line office on premise. It could not have been simpler. We were shuttled from the airport (we bought airfare from NCL) to the hotel, and we both checked in to the hotel, and preregistered for the boat at the same time. So, they took all of our emergency information, took our i.d. pictures, and gave us the boarding pass time for the transfer to the port. (They send people over on buses to the port in groups so it doesn’t clog up the embarkation process. Because we had the pre-cruise package, we were in the first group to head over on embarkation day.) The only glitch here was that we arrived before 3:00 p.m., and only my parent’s room was done. We had to wait an hour or so for our room to be cleaned, but as we had my parent’s room to base ourselves out of, it was no problem. We had a lovely time at the hotel, and were sad to leave it, but were excited about the cruise!
On the actual embarkation day, the bus dropped us off right at the security checkpoint. We only waited for about 10 minutes to get through the security, and then we were greeted with leis, and shell necklaces. The next stop was for two embarkation photos, and then we were escorted to the Mariott VIP line as we had already gone through the registration/picture taking process. We were given our ship cards/room keys, and headed to the boat. Everybody was extremely friendly, and knowledgeable, & we got onto the boat without a glitch. My only real complaint is that when we got onto the boat, it REALLY, REALLY smelled. BAD!! My parents were on the 9th floor…we were on the 8th, and the lower you went down, the stinkier it got. It smelled like a combination of sewage, and raw fish. It was not a very good way to first experience the ship, and at that moment I was very fearful that the reviews I had read were true, and we were going to be riding on a big, stinky boat for a week. Even our two-year old held her nose and kept saying, “Ewww…stinky”. I even thought of calling the front desk, but my husband said to just wait until we pushed away, and see if it got any better. It did continue to get better. I am sure it was because they had recently pumped the sewage from the ship, and while we were there, it was really bad. My recommendation to NCL would be to invest in an air-freshening system, and blast that baby while passengers are loading!
The ship was very nicely appointed. There was a lot of Hawaiian/Island influenced themes, and it is very cheery. Once you get a chance to explore, it is easy to get your bearings, and the ship is easy to navigate. Our cabin was very clean, and of ample size. There is not a whole lot of room to store luggage in the closet. I overpacked, as usual, and space was tight because of it. A few days into the cruise, we realized that there was a lot of storage space under the bed, and that made it easier. My parents room was decorated for their anniversary ( I paid extra for a little package). There was confetti, and streamers, and wedding bells on the door. Plus, they were given champagne, and a “Happy Anniversary” cake. They loved it, and it was really cute! The bathroom was ample, and the shower looked a little small, but in reality it was plenty big. The T.V. was small, but appropriate. The room was equipped with a safe and a refrigerator, both of which we used.
We basically only ate on deck 11 (the buffet) as we just didn’t want to get dressed in anything but shorts! Plus, with a 2 ½ year old, we always found something for her to nibble on in the buffet. The food was good…the singing waffle guy was especially entertaining! He always did pirate impersonations, and made us giggle. The crew in general was very helpful…they were always friendly. They would always make a big fuss about our little one…usually because she was wearing a grass skirt, or some other adorable Hawaiian outfit! But, it was nice, and they seemed to really care. Our steward was very nice, and always made our room up nicely.
We especially enjoyed our Hawaiian ambassador in the Kumu cultural center. He offered classes in the evening on how to make a ribbon lei, or how to make kukui nut necklaces. Holly really enjoyed the bead crafts, and it was very reasonably priced. We made a few necklaces for souvenirs, and bought a few of the kits to work on at home to keep the Aloha spirit alive long after the cruise!
The lounges and bars were pleasant. We spent many a night munching on hot wings, and pizza in the Longboard bar. Drinks were priced as to be expected, however in the Blue Hawaiian club, you got a much bigger draft beer for the same price than you did on deck!
We took in a few of the shows, and they were nicely done. None of us are real show people, but they were entertaining. There was a nice variety of shows from musicals, to magic, to ones that included fellow cruisemates.
The photographers were present, but not pushy at all. They made you aware that there were picture opportunities, but it was not a hard sell. There were plenty of opportunities to pose for pictures, and we did a few. Another nice feature is that if you run out of room on your camera’s memory card, they will download the images to a c.d. at the photo department for $9.95. We didn’t have to do it, but came really close! We took a lot of pictures!!
The store on board was smaller than I expected. It did have a few items that we needed. My husband lost his glasses in a big wave in Maui, and they had the contact lens solution and cases that he needed. They are definitely not as cheap as Walmart, but you are paying for the convenience, and they had it. The one thing they did not have was baby wipes. They had diapers, but no wipes. I made a note to the gift shop attendant, and he thought that strange as well, and promised to add it to the list to get for the next time.
I had to spa treatments, and my mom had one. The spa was very inviting, and the treatments were nice. As in all cruises, beware because they automatically tack on a gratuity. I can’t remember now if it was 15 or 25%, but it adds up! And if you are not careful, you may tip them additionally if you are so relaxed that you aren’t paying full attention to what you are signing!
We signed our daughter up for the Kid’s Crew, and we got her the unlimited beverage card, and all of goodies in the backpack. She did not actually attend any of the camps or activities, however, because she loves to hang out with mommy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa. But, she did enjoy the backpack, shirt, Frisbee, and sippy cup that came with the kit. A few times when we were doing the crafts, the kid’s crew parade came through, and they were SOOO cute!! They did have a lot of really fun activities, and themes for the kids to enjoy.
The ports of call were all nice, and the shore excursions were terrific. Everything ran very smoothly, and there was not a lot of waiting in lines for anything. We attended the ships Luau on Friday night, and it was great. I would recommend signing up for that right away, as it does book up quickly. We ended up having to take a tour on the day of disembarkation, because our flight left at 8:50 at night, and we didn’t want to have to worry about lugging all of our suitcases around the whole day. That is the only other thing to be careful of. When you let them plan your airfare, you are at their mercy, and our schedule had us on a flight with a layover in Los Angeles, and the red-eye. We were supposed to be at work the following day, so it got all screwed up. So, on one hand it is good to have them book it because all of the transfers are a no-brainer, but you may end up with a heinous schedule!!
To summarize, this was a WONDERFUL trip! We thoroughly enjoyed it, and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. We are fairly laid back people, and not a lot ruffles our feathers, but in our opinion, whatever issues they had in the beginning have been rectified, and we would definitely cruise with NCL again!
Thanks for reading, and enjoy!