Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of America
Sailing Date: October 21st, 2006
Embarkation was quick and easy. We arrived
early so I think that helped. We found our cabin ourselves, there was no-one
around to assist us. We dropped our luggage and went in search of the dining
room. We were immediately accosted in the hallway by a women resembling a prison
guard who asked us what we were doing on deck 9 as it hadn’t been cleared. We
explained that we hadn't been informed about the procedure of clearing the
floors and no-one prevented us from reaching our cabin. Our cabin was not
cleaned very well even after the all clear was sounded. The coffee maker was
filthy, so was the refrigerator. We never opened it all week. There were 2 bars
of used soap left in the shower from the last occupants.
The newspaper we’d been given as we boarded listed 3 different itineraries! As we left Honolulu that evening my husband, an ex-merchant marine noticed that we only had one engine! So we were expecting an announcement confirming a change of plans. No explanation came. It eventually got around that we were not going to Hilo and were in fact heading straight for Maui where repairs to the ship could be made at the dockside. This meant an extra day in Maui it also meant that the highlight of the cruise a trip to Kilauea was not going to happen and the much touted cruise passed the lava flow was also not going to happen. We finally received confirmation of this over the public address system later that evening. (Only discovered that ship had this problem for a week after reading review of sailing the previous week.)
The following morning we docked in Maui and were informed that we all had to be back on the ship by 5:30pm that evening as we would be sailing at 6pm? We took a trip down to the front desk. We’re sailing tonight? Aren't we spending 3 nights in the same place? Where are we going? Apparently, nowhere. We were just heading out to sea to spend the night and would be back in the same port the next morning where we would dock overnight, this should have been included in the sailing announcement to save confusion but wasn’t. So we spent the day in Maui and all rushed back to the ship for 5:30pm only to be informed that we weren’t leaving port at all. The ship was just changing its docking birth, basically turning around in port. The following evening we did leave port, sailed around all night and then arrived back in Maui the next morning. We were told that we had to leave port to process some of the waste as they couldn’t do this while docked. Again, the situation was so fluid, we were unable to plan.
This entire sequence of events could have been avoided if there had been prompt and detailed communication from the crew. This lack of information marred the entire cruise. Now we understand that there was a mini riot on the ship the previous week and this was also caused by a failure to communicate, so you would think they would have learned from that experience. This seems to be an ongoing problem with this cruise line, they don’t learn by their previous mistakes, they keep repeating them! (Which to me is a clear indication that NCL isn’t interested in customer satisfaction, they just want our money).
The restaurant staff couldn’t find the sugar the first day and by Thursday, tea bags became difficult to find. They ran out of bananas by Wednesday, (some achievement, considering we were in Hawaii and had spent 3 days in port) and several other food staples failed to materialize as the week went on.
The staff were a mixed bunch, some were very nice, others were not! One waitress wanted me to order my desert with my appetizer and entrée, because she said it may her life easier. Generally they were poorly trained. The food was OK to bad.
The special restaurants were an improvement on the main dining room, but they were fully booked all week and there was a cancellation fee for no-shows. It completely unfair to have to book these restaurants within hours of boarding the ship and then be subjected to so many changes during the week, our plans were changing daily. Generally the food was better quality and service was also improved, but their menus lacked imagination and the some of the desserts weren’t available. My thought on this is, if they can train their staff in the better restaurants to wait in the manner expected, why can’t they train everyone like that?
The cabins are the smallest in the industry and poorly cleaned. Our floor never saw a vacuum the entire 7 days. Asked for extra towels each day, got them only twice, same with the newspaper we paid for. Different people making up rooms each day, so special requests are meaningless. When I complained that there was no air conditioning in our cabin the person at the front desk was barely civil and I was left to speculate if and when we would get the AC back. We did a few hours later, but there was no follow up call offering any explanation or an apology.
We got the feeling that the entire crew was one step ahead of disaster. At any given moment something could go wrong and then all hell would let loose. In the early hours of the morning I did wonder what would have happened had we had a real emergency at sea and our lives were placed in their hands. We heard the captain’s voice once, the first evening, when he began to outline our proposed departure from Honolulu, but his voice was so quiet and slurred, he sounded like he’d just woken up from a long sleep, and we missed most of what he was saying.
We didn’t take any of their excursions, we’d read the reports of other passengers and decided to save ourselves the hassle, but needless to say the excursion desk was mobbed with all the changes. Many people waited for up to an hour in line only to be told that they had received automatic refunds when they tours canceled. Others waited in line to book tours that were full. Again, a little planning, a few announcements and all this could have been avoided. It couldn't have been the first time trips had been canceled.
My husband did use the spa once and was keep waiting 20 minutes for a massage while the attendant continued her conversation with someone at the front desk and then seemed quite shocked when my husband dressed himself and prepared to leave.
Disembarkation from the ship was a joke. We were schedule to leave at 8:50 am. Our color-coded tag meant that we would be among the last to leave the ship. At 8:50 not one announcement had been made regarding leaving! Eventually two colors were called without much response. We asked what would happen if we left before our color was called and were told that our luggage would not be out and we’d have to wait in more uncomfortable surroundings. After a few more minutes of inactivity we decided to leave. Inside the terminal building our luggage was laid out and we retrieved it within minutes. As we came to leave the building, there was a great mass of people trying to get onto buses. There was no room on the street for others to leave! My husband walked out, but I was prevented by a burly security person who insisted that I stay inside until all the bus passengers were gone. I refused and pushed past him to join my husband before I lost him in the mass of people. We got a cab and took a 15 minute ride to the airport to pick up a rental car, about an hour later we drove past the docks and there was still a small line of people trying to get on their buses for a tour!
Again it was as though they’d never done this before! It was pure chaos. Surely they knew from experience that loading the buses directly in front of the terminal building would create a bottleneck. Two thousand people were trying to leave and there was no organization either on or off the ship.
My advice is if you’re booked to cruise NCL be prepared, it’s not worth letting their inefficiencies ruin your vacation! If you’re still in the planning stages, think twice before handing over your money, especially if you’ve cruised with other lines. Trust me you will be disappointed.