Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Pride of America
Sailing Date: February 17th, 2007
We have just returned from this sailing. We will never sail on NCL again. Had we seen the reviews prior to booking we would have made other plans but since we didn't we just figured that we would go with an open mind and hope for the best.
We have sailed previously with Royal Caribbean and have loved every cruise.
First, we traveled with our 3 children, ages 10, 9, and 6. All of them loved the RC cruise and the great activities they offered. This time they would not spend any time in the children's activities area and found them no fun at all.
We had a family suite at the very front of the ship, direct view of where we were going. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, dressing area, plasma TV, coffee grinder/espresso/cap/coffee maker with 100% Kona coffee. Large balcony with 2 lounge chairs. 1 Bathroom had a tub/shower, the other just a shower. We can not complain about the size of the room or amenities in the room. The room was kept up and serviced regularly, we also had a butler who was great. But, please keep in mind, that this cruise with air cost us over $14,000 and that does not include the excursions or the on board account, with that you can add an addition $2,000 to the cost. So we should have had a good room and service to match. But the 'good' service ended there.
The food was terrible, and I do mean terrible. This was our first experience with "Freestyle" eating and it will be our last. We made reservations in the East Meets West restaurant the first night. The food was just ok and it cost us $120.00 to eat there. The "better" dinning areas all required reservations, which our butler made for us and with the exception of the Italian restaurant, all had cover charges which were outrageous. I would suggest that you make your reservations the first day and only do the Italian one, and try to book it more than once. By the way, if you do make a reservation and do not cancel it if you decide not to go they will charge you a fee. The best meal we had was at a McDonalds while on shore. We were more than a little upset with the food. My kids would only eat on shore or the chicken wings in the cafe during the day or the hamburgers.
Also, we had to bring soda and water on board when we went ashore to keep in the refrigerator. We also took the small cartons of milk in the Aloha cafe to keep in the room too. Unlike RC, they only had water and unsweetened ice tea in the fountains during the day. What kid drinks unsweetened ice tea? RC always had fountain soda or fruit punch for free, NCL must need the money because you couldn't get anything but water for the kids unless you paid for it.
Breakfast was terrible. The same cold eggs, waffles and such every day. The Aloha Cafe had the same food as the sit down restaurant and it was bad in both places. They always ran out of food and the fruit flies on the fruit filled pastry was nasty, especially since the staff did not remove the items and just looked at it. The desserts in the afternoon in the Aloha cafe were very good though, but that is because they were brought on the ship on not made there.
The staff is so poorly trained it wasn't funny. No one had any knowledge of the ship or islands.
The excursions were way over priced. We only did the luau on Maui and had no real choice, because of our terrible flights out, 11:55pm on Saturday, but to do the Grand Finale on the last day. We rented a car the other days ourselves and drove to the sites and beaches and saved a ton of money doing that. My suggestion would be to rent a car, look for deals from home for the days in the ports you want. The people that did that saved even more by booking the cars early from home. Also, if you are doing the final day tour they have a luau, not mentioned in the excursion book, so don't bother with the one on Maui, we did not know and could have saved ourselves about $400 by not doing the so-so one on Maui and just waiting for the one at the Polynesian Culture Center.
We live on the east coast and although there
were many flights out earlier they did not give us our return flight until
11:55pm and we did not get home until 8:30pm on Sunday. Needless to say, it was
way too long for any child to endure (although my kids were great about it).
Considering how much we paid they should have had us on better flights. I think
they do this so you will spend more money on the excursions. Which by the way
you can get much cheaper off the ship by the same companies that do the tours,
you can even book some on line by these same tour groups yourself and save some
money by not booking through the ship.
The entertainment, if you can call it that, was pathetic.
The other big issue we had was the "service charge" they put on your bill at the end. This crew doesn't earn their tips, like on other ships, they get it automatically from the forced charge for each passenger. This was $10 per day per adult and $5 per day per child. The only one we had to tip with cash at the end was our butler and she was the only one who earned it.
The islands are beautiful but if you have a choice I strongly recommend that you fly to a resort and island hop another way. If you can get out of this cruise do yourself a favor and do it. I wish we had.
I just hope that NCL gets some real
competition in the future from another cruise line, they are the only one that
does the shorter 7 day sails, because that may be the only time they will shape
up. Right now they are basically the only game in town and have not listened to
the many complaints they have gotten. We spoke with many people on this cruise
and not one said they were happy or that they would ever sail with NCL again.
They have forever lost our business.