Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: July 6th, 2006
Norwegian Cruise Lines America
Pride of Aloha Cruise Review
It's always a good idea to go into something with low expectations. After reading all the negative reviews from this site, I expected very little from this cruise line. Fortunately, my expectations were exceeded. I'd still rank NCL the worst of all cruise lines I've been on (Celebrity, Princess & Carnival are the others I've experienced), but this is still a worthy cruise line and this is a great itinerary.
My partner and I rented cars at all stops and that proved to be a decent decision. Alamo in Honolulu however will shuttle you to get their cars, but not shuttle you back. It's a 3 mile walk to the cruise ship or a $25 cab ride. We walked and enjoyed the exercise. In Maui and Kauai, there are shuttles both ways. On the Big Island, Alamo wanted the car back too early (before 3:30pm), so we rented from a place two blocks from the ship that was actually cheaper (crappy car, but who cares for one day) and allowed us to keep it another hour. With gas, it ended up being about $60 a day for rental cars. One excursion is usually $60-100 per person and the rental car offers plenty of freedom. In Maui there's FREE overnight parking next to the ship, while in Kauai, the closest spot is $10 a night.
This was my first experience with "freestyle dining". The best part of NCL dining is that formal dress is never required. I hate packing a suit or wearing one and slopping food all over myself (I'm a piggy eater). We ate in the main dining room three times and the rest in the paid ones. Service and food are better in the pay sites but service is friendly everywhere. Food in the main dining room isn't horrible though, just not up to par with other cruise lines. It's best to go early for the free dining rooms unless you want to wait to be seated and then wait and wait to eat. One night we arrived to the main dining room at 8pm and didn't finish eating until after 11pm! At least our table partners were interesting. This brings me to another point - you are never required to eat with somebody you don't know. Sometimes I like meeting new people and sometimes I'd rather eat alone, so it's cool to have that option.
Staff onboard the ship were very friendly and seemed to enjoy their jobs. I hear though that NCL has a hard time keeping the ship fully staffed as American workers are not as loyal to their contracts as foreign workers on other ships. It does seem like they are understaffed in the main dining rooms and possibly in housekeeping. Room stewards were slower to clean rooms than I'm accustomed to on other ships, but still acceptable. The boat was clean and every time you boarded the ship, they sprayed your hands with a disinfectant. This must help as there were no outbreaks on this cruise.
A couple other great things about this cruise include not having to deal with customs (because you never travel outside the USA), and embarking/disembarking is much less congested because only half the ship is doing so at any one time.
The most expensive part of this cruise trip could very well be the flight to Hawaii. For my partner and I, that wasn’t the case because we were able to use award saver airline miles to get to Maui (total cost =$10, 35k miles with United). The timing was near perfect, the cruise price right, and the free upgrade to an ocean view room was really cool too (we booked 10 days prior to sailing). So overall, while I can certainly complain about some things, I certainly have no regrets taking this cruise.