Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: June 16th, 2006
Norwegian Cruise Lines America
Pride of Aloha Cruise Review
'Pride' of Aloha - HA! NCL should NOT be 'proud' of this
cruise! We have sailed multiple times on Carnival and expected a similar
experience with NCL. The dining was so far below what we've experienced on
Carnival, it was like a bad joke.
In a nutshell, dining was a hideous ordeal. Details:
1. Inadequate staffing in main dining rooms for all meals.
• We regularly endured waits up to 45 minutes (at both breakfast and dinner) just to be seated while observing many tables set but never utilized. Upon doing a quick head/table count on one day, it was obvious that table space (17+ empty tables) was sufficient to accommodate the waiting guests in the vestibule area. It was grossly obvious that the cruise was significantly understaffed.
• Breakfasts normally took 1-2 hours to complete after finally being seated. We observed several guests on different days leaving their tables before finishing because of plans with time commitments.
• We were forced to change our desire for main dining room breakfast several times because we did not have two hours to spend over breakfast. One of the reasons we enjoy cruising is the luxury of a sit-down breakfast that we rarely have at home.
• There appeared to be no people dedicated to beverage refills or to prep work at the server station. Head waiters were scrambling to wrap their own table service into napkins. Head waiters were scurrying around refilling coffee, tea, water for tables that didn’t belong to them when they were hijacked by thirsty guests.
• One server acknowledged the staffing situation and relayed that many employees were moved from Pride of Aloha to get the new Pride of Hawaii started. It is inexcusable that a cruise line would sacrifice service for one ship’s guests to get a new ship out of the gate! This directly contradicts the quoted information above.
• A topic at almost every meal among new tablemates was the poor dining service as a result of staffing problems.
• We were told by a waiter that if we wanted to get out of breakfast in under an hour, ‘Don’t order specialty, cooked-to-order items such as omelet's.
• We missed out on several evening entertainment activities being held captive in the dining room for 2+ hours.
2. Inexperienced main dining room staff.
• There appeared to be no plan for division of duties between the head water and assistant waiter (on two occasions where our table actually had both available). They were confused as to who had done what with the table already. One exception was the fine service we experienced one evening from Ray (Middleton?) and his assistant. They were the only examples we found of truly efficient, smooth, teamwork in the dining room.
• We experienced daily occasions where pieces of orders were forgotten. On one particularly bad morning, Peter ordered smoked salmon plate, a bagel w/cream cheese, fruit plate and French toast. The salmon arrived along with all our tablemates’ orders. After 10 minutes of waiting, our server reappeared and was reminded that Mr. X was still waiting for the bagel for his lox sandwich. The server apologized and said they were ‘out of bagels’ but would get some toast. Another 10 minutes passes and everyone at the table is now completely finished. Mr. X hasn’t even started. Mrs. X walks to the server prep station to try to find our server and notices a bagel sitting there and takes it to Mr. X. We have never experienced a situation where guests have to resort to swiping food! Our server finally arrives with approximately 10 slices of toast for the table which were then wasted because, by that time, everyone was finished. The fruit plate and French toast never appeared and we gave up.
• Again, we were told by a server that many of the experienced people were moved to Pride of Hawaii.
3. Inexcusably long waits for room service.
• Upon requesting simple coffee service one morning, we were told it would be a one hour wait -- FOR COFFEE?
4. Other dining deficiencies.
• Running out of iced tea and ice cream in the buffet dining area. On one day, only soft serve (none of the four daily premium hand-scooped flavors) were available towards the end of the day.
• Long waits at the grill area daily for hamburgers.
• Coffee temperature in all dining areas was barely above lukewarm.
• Poor traffic flow design - bottlenecks in the buffet areas.
5. Poor morale and stressed employees.
• Employees were openly sharing frustrations with guests centering on working long hours because of the short staff situation, and having to deal with guest dissatisfaction.
• We were told that when our cruise docked at Honolulu, 20-30 employees walked off and never came back.
• One guest commented to us that ‘one of these people is going to go postal’ after she overheard a buffet area employee making loud, inappropriate comments.
We, in good faith, attempted to discuss our concerns and request a refund at the front desk while on the ship. We were told nothing could be done at that time and were simply given a business card with generic Customer Relations contact information. We made our dissatisfaction known via the on board comment form that all passengers were asked to complete and intend to send a formal letter to NCL's president.