Occupation:Human Resource Mgr.
Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of Aloha
Sailing Date: June 25th. 2007
We sailed the Pride of Hawaii on a 7-day cruise on June 25, 2007. Itinerary
included Honolulu, Hilo, Maui, Kona and Kauai. The ship’s amenities were overall
very nice as this is a new ship. Cabin accommodations were standard.
We have cruised on 4 other cruise lines previously and typically choose our cruise based on the itinerary it provides and the reputation of the cruise line. Based on comments from friends, etc. Norwegian was not our cruise line of choice, but since it is the only cruise line that features the Hawaiian islands, we committed to this cruise.
Overall, the trip was wonderful as Hawaii is glorious in all regards. We used the cruise as a means to get to the islands. However, in evaluating the cruise experience, we offer the following:
This cruise line features freestyle cruising. There were 2 large main dining rooms and several specialty restaurants including a steak restaurant, tex-mex restaurant, Italian restaurant, Japanese restaurant and several others. Only 2 specialty restaurants (Italian and Tex Mex) did not require an additional fee. We found this freestyle cruising to be very bothersome in that the 2 main restaurants were crowded and we always had to wait in a long line to even get into them and the specialty restaurants were very hard to get into. Reservations were only made 24 hours in advance and reservations were taken beginning at 6:30 in the morning—and a long line formed at that time! We also feel that with freestyle cruising passengers lose the relationships they typically make with waiters and waitresses who take care of them daily on other cruise lines with typical 2-seating times of dining. Our experience in the past has been that these relationships were a valued part of our cruise experience and we felt well taken care of by our waiters, wine steward, etc. because they got to know us personally. This does not happen with freestyle cruising. More importantly, we found the food to be sub standard as compared to other cruises. Three nights out of 7 chicken was the featured entrée (I mean simple chicken dishes—nothing fancy) and one meal the chicken was not properly cooked and had to be sent back. One meal we had was Beef Wellington and the beef was very rare and not edible. The wait staff was for the most part unfriendly and unskilled. When milk was asked for, it was never received. At one dinner the waitress never even introduced herself and she seemed to have a chip on her shoulder the whole meal. When we asked the waitress about some specifics of a certain main dish, she was unable to answer any of our questions.
We ended up eating most of our meals at the Buffet which we found to be very well done with many wonderful selections prepared well.
As far as cleanliness, the ship was for the most part very clean. We did, however, notice room service trays sitting in hallways for many hours. We were very impressed with the hand sanitizer at the entrance of the ship (used each time passengers embarked from the islands) and at the entrance of the Buffet room. Many passengers used it as standard protocol.
We chose the following excursions: Hilo (Nat’l. Vol. Park), Maui (Road to Hana), the Luau in Kauai, and the Kauai (Fern Grotto river boat tour) and found them all well done. The drivers/tour guides were all excellent, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. The Road to Hana is not to be missed!!! It was extraordinary. We also did a helicopter tour booked on our own in Kauai and it was also a highlight.
The biggest disappointment of the cruise was the attitude of the ship employees. Many (not all by any means) were unfriendly and it was evident they did not enjoy their jobs. We never met our room steward all week! He/she did clean the room 1 time each day but one day forgot to clean the bathroom and leave clean towels. Even after towels were requested by phone, they were never received that day. Unfortunately, we had read reviews before we cruised that also addressed the poor attitudes of the employees but we read that Norwegian was working to correct the situation. Well, as of June 2007 it was not corrected. Anyone who has cruised before, knows that one of the advantages of a cruise is that “pampered” feeling one gets by being serviced by excellent staff. It is the luxury of taking a cruise. Well, on this cruise that was definitely missing—there was no pampering in any way, shape or form. We don’t know if it was because it is an all-American staff (because it is an American ship this is required) or the fact that the tips are now automatically added to the daily bill – so staff don’t have to put any extra effort into their work for their tips as they get them automatically (we hope it is the 2nd option as we truly don’t want to believe that our American work ethic is this bad).
As far as the ship’s evening shows, only one night really shined when the singers and dancers performed Broadway songs. The rest of the entertainment was a mediocre comedian and magician who appeared a couple nights. Again, other cruise lines far outshine the entertainment on this ship.