Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: December 4th, 2005
Norwegian Cruise Line
Pride of Aloha Cruise Review
It's just my opinion, but... I suppose "I wish I had known" is a phrase you might hear all too often and think the trip had been pretty dismal, but with my recent experience on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship (The Pride of Aloha) operating in Hawaii, my experience would truly overpower the shower scene in the original PSYCHO.
I received a TRAVELZOO special stating NCL was having a 7 night, four island/five port vacation for a total of $899 with free r/t airfare from the coast. As my family and I (four adults) had been discussing a Hawaiian vacation for some time we decided to go. I booked the trip for four people and paid in full (BIG MISTAKE). As we are located in the Midwestern part of the US, we asked the booking agent to let us know which coastal city we would be leaving from, which airline and time so we could book connecting flights. His response was that in contacting NCL, they would not give him the information. Thinking the travel agent might have been up to some extra curricular profits, I called NCL direct and spoke with an agent whose personality would rate right up there with Jack the Ripper. Her arrogance was stunning. And, when I told her that maybe I should just cancel the cruise, she informed me that if so that would be my choice but the penalty would be 50% of what I had paid and 50% would be held by NCL for my next cruise with them. I then asked her if they would book the connecting air and she turned into the Good Witch from the North stating, "Of course! We would be happy to book the airfare for you." Little did I know that fare would be an additional $542 per person and wouldn't depart from any coastal city...but through a snowy Denver (hardly free r/t airfare from the coast as advertised). I then attempted to get reserved airline seating and was told I would have to contact the airline direct. I called United Airlines and was told I could choose my seating as the four of us wanted to sit next to each other. The airlines assured us the seats would be reserved, going and returning...but, NOT IN MY LIFETIME as I would later find out (Though United had accepted my seating requests and assured me they would be held, I later found out from United in Honolulu that United does NOT reserve seats but for an additional $79 per person we could get reserved seats). My next experience with NCL came three days after the booking when one of my party informed me that she would not be able to go on the cruise due to a medical problem. I called the agent to change the name and was told that if I had paid the minimum the charge would have only cost $50, however, since I had paid the trip in full the charge would now be $520. The agent said he would call NCL and see if they would waive the exhorbitant fee. His return call informed me they told him "Of course they WOULD NOT". (Are we starting to get the picture?) I looked online to see the NCL land tours available...another great disappointment. It seem to me the tours were over-rated and over priced, so we decided to book car rentals through AAA (the one saving grace we found). Though I called NCL direct and asked for promotional information on Hawaii (which took about two and a half weeks to receive), we didn't actually get our actual boarding passes until approximately one week prior to the date we were to leave. When I received the promo material my family and I looked through it and saw where we could have NCL book us for an additional few days in Honolulu as we felt we weren't being given enough time to see and enjoy that part of Hawaii. I called NCL to request them to book us in one of their 'sister' on land hotels and was rudely informed, "Oh, we can't do that. That's not part of your package". I told them of the offer in their promo information and again the NCL agent told me they refused to book any extension. I then asked if we couldn't just call the airline and reschedule the departure date/time, and then was told we could not and, if we did, that we should understand that if we missed any part of their schedule for the entirety of the trip, the remainder of the trip would be cancelled. (This was probably actually a favor as we saw everything we wanted to see in Honolulu any way with about seven hours to spare).
When the vacation date finally arrived we were all looking forward to seeing the beautiful Hawaiian paradise. When we landed we had been told that we would be greeted by a NCL agent who could assist us. The scene could most aptly be called 'pandemonium". Agents may have been dressed to easily identify, however, we were never informed of how they would be dressed. No one was sure of anything. We finally were herded on to crammed, stifling hot buses where we were taken to the dock. Once onboard ship we tried to settle in, get unpacked and head down for something to eat. Little did we know that this would probably be the last decent food we'd see onboard the ship for the rest of the week. Arriving in the first port, I asked one of the officers where we might find the car rental shuttles. His response was that we couldn't get a shuttle on THEIR property...we would have to walk through three check points and off of their property before we could contact our rental agency...a walk he described as about half to a full mile. Shortly, we found out that he had deceived us as the rental shuttles were just outside and just the other side of the dock building...maybe three hundred feet. I suppose this was just an attempt to get us to book with their land tour office...maybe not, but it sure seemed like it. After that, we just got off the boat at the remaining ports and found our shuttles...all readily available. Our onboard experiences were pretty much the same every day. We generally ate at the buffets and found the food to be not much better than that of a poor grade school cafeteria in quality and in quantity (quantity as they were at the very least extremely slow to restock, if ever). Various drink dispensers were inoperable about half the time and seating was very scarce. The one time we did attempt to eat at a sit down, restaurant requiring reservations (not one of the three restaurants onboard that charged extra)...after they took our 'in person' reservations and we waited until our names were called did they inform me that I was dressed inappropriately (shorts and a Hawaiian shirt)...and denied entry into the restaurant.
Later, at the airport, one of our fellow passengers informed me that she had overheard the conversation and that I should know that when they went into the same restaurant others were dressed as I was. I might also add that nowhere in our promo information or in their onboard 'daily' bulletins did they state that there was a dress code in those restaurants. I suppose I would rate our 'floating hotel accommodations" as pretty much equal to a last ditch motel on the outskirts of nowhere...as the rooms were small with only three electric outlets in the entire cabin (including the bathroom) and the television was hooked up to one of those. The wash basin in our cabin bath was plugged up two of the seven days we were onboard. Also, one of my family members key card needed to be repeatedly reprogrammed for use. Grubby and worn is probably the best way to describe how I saw the ship overall...with broken, marred tables and unsturdy chairs, grungy carpets and dirty floors elsewhere. Generally, the lower employees were hospitable and kind with most of the rest being sometimes downright haughty and rude. While their promo materials stated that each passenger is automatically charged $7 per day in tips, we found we were charged $10 per day. The final insult came when we attempted to finally flee the ship on their 'express departure'. The night before I had taken care of all of our onboard charges and was told if my statement showed a "0 Balance" I didn't have to stop by the credit desk again. Needless to say, we were the first in line to leave.
Each of my party was allowed to leave but
when it came to me they said I could not leave the ship as I had not taken care
of my bill. I presented my statement to the man, showing him the 0 balance, and
was told that the statement was incorrect and I could not leave until I went
back to the credit desk and made arrangements to handle my bill. Once at the
credit desk, I stood in line almost a half hour before I could even discuss the
problem. Once I was finally up at the desk, the employee looked up my bill,
stated that "Oh, it must have been a computer glitch. Go tell the man to let you
off." No apology...nothing. And that was the same with the man at the departure
gate. And, as we departed, I thought...'I wonder how they stay in business. And,
Aloha to you too!...we WON'T be back'.
At the airport, we met several of our shipmates where we compared experiences. We were NOT alone. We will cruise again, but NEVER, EVER, EVER with Norwegian.
I wish I could rate NCL accurately, however, I have not been able to find a rating system with negative values. Oh, and yes, I am writing to my State Attorney General with my complaints