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Age: 66


Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of America

Sailing Date: 2011-01-31

Itinerary: Hawaiian Islands

THE GOOD: Overall, a nice clean ship, adequate staff, fantastic itinerary. This is a great way to obtain an overview, or a nostalgic revisit, to more than one island in a short amount of time. Shore excursions are pricey but conveninet. Nicer way is to rent a car (book in advance!) at ports where you want to explore.

THE BAD: Before this late 2010 cruise, our previous experience on NCL was in 1992. The food on that 1992 Western Carribean cruise was quite mediocre. In fact, we avoided using NCL when other companies were avaiable. It seems that time has not been good to NCL cooking and, perniciously, possibly with intent. As others have said, we too are not particularly picky, but even so, we found the included-food to be inedible (and we went through several entrees trying to find something even moderately edible). THE UGLY: But never on any other cruiseline, whether big or small ships, was the food ever this lousy. Which (again probably by intent!), forced us to try their so-called specialty restaurants, at substantial additional costs (especially substantial when the cost of the already-included meal is included). Even then (e.g., the specialty Little Italy) it was not good. Better were the other specialty restaurants, but we deeply resented having to pay extra (following the airlines' lead with "Food for Purchse"?) just to have reasonably edible food. We ate off-ship when in ports overnight (e.g., Mama's Fish House on Maui, and The Beach House on Kauai).

THE GOOD: Staterooom was nice, clean and with a great and over-sized balcony (stateroom 8028). Absolutely no complaints. Beds were among the best we've had on a cruiseline, and while room not huge, it was spacious enough for three in a king and a sofa bed. We were wall-to-wall beds at night, but then at that time, were were there to sleep. All around, the staff looked and actied over-worked and while pleasant, were not the best feature of the cruise nor the best we have experienced on other cruiselines.

Did very little onbaord (the itenerary is very port heavy), never went to the pool, and skipped most of the evening entertainment. What we did see was fun cruiseline quality -- passed the time away nicely.

If you are more than one person, and can plan enough ahead to book a rental car before leaving home, renting is preferable to the excursions. Rental car companies have free shuttles from the ship to rental locations, and same on return. Very well organized.

We took this trip for the itinerary, NOT the cruiseline. As NCL had a monopoly, we had to "choose" them. Based on our 1992 and 2010 experinces, we will continue to avoid NCL at all costs (we would even turn down free tickets on a cruise that another cruiseline toured!) -- except when they are the only cruiseline going somewhere we want to go. On a related (pun intended!) note: Our son went on this Hawaiian cruise for his honeymoon 2 years ago and had the same good-ship-bad-food-ugly-extra-food- charges experience. He went on another NCL cruise last summer (2010) in the Western Mediterranean, and found the food situation on that NCL ship equally appalling, except for highly-priced specialty restaurants, but he too resented having to pay extra. What's next for NCL? Charging for luggage!

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