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James Miller

Age: 54

Occupation:Manager

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of America

Sailing Date: 2009-04-13

Itinerary: Hawaii

I had read all the reviews of this ship prior to making our plans and was kinda of leary but I was pleasantly surprised. This being our 4th cruise but first with NCL overall they did a good job. This is the best way to see Hawaii; from the Road to Hana in Maui to the volcanoes on the Big Island to the Waimea Canyon on Kauai, we had a awesome time.

The food was good. The Aloha buffet and the Cadillac Diner were our 2 favorite eating spots. The Liberty and Skyline dining area were of mixed emotions. The Aloha buffet had tons of food, all hot with a great selection of all your usual breakfast items. There was also cooks making eggs to order. The fruit bar was great as was the selection of sticky buns. When you are serving a thousand or so guests at a sitting you really couldn't complain about what you were getting. The Cadillac diner probably held about 70 seats but we never had a problem getting a table. Outside seating was limited but we ate inside everytime we were there. Great wings, burgers; all around the food was good. Now for the Liberty and Skyline; we had eaten there 4 times during the cruise. The selections are limited, but there is always a list of fall back items to get. The first night we had a table for 2 in the very back of the ship and the service was great, timing of dinner and the food good. The second time it was the very opposite. People who sat after us were eating before we got our food. Don't know if the server was new or if she had no help but it was awful. The 3rd and 4th times the service and food was good. An example of the food, I ordered the baby shrimp cocktail one evening and what came out was basically shrimp salad on a bed of lettuce. Prime rib wasn't bad and my wife enjoyed the steak one night and the lobster another. I'm not a gourmet but I do like to eat so overall the food wasn't great but it wasn't bad. We also did not try any of the cover charged restaurants - there were 5 I think. I wasn't going to pay extra for meals.

The rooms are smaller then on any other ship we have been on. I did have a chance to talk to Patricia who was our housekeeper. They have 18 rooms each to clean and turn over. She was friendly and took care of any requests that we had. There was a burn hole on the duvet cover and pieces of paper/debris on the floor when we first arrived. Also the wall lamp on my wife's side of the bed would go off after a while. Dust that had built up that never got wiped. BUT, the sheets were clean, the bed comfy, the bathroom (also small) was clean. The decor was nice. So overall the room was okay, BUT then you don't take this cruise to stay in your room.

The entertainment was so-so. The opening night's show had some singing and dancing and it looked like it came from a high school show. The comic and the magician were okay. Made me laugh but not not belly busters. Now we didn't see a lot of the shows on board but the nicest one was the magician in the Mardi Gras room were it was more informal and his tricks were very clever. We did do two lei making classes, one was with real orchids and the other was a ribbon weave. Those were fun. Were so busy that we did not use the fitness center. Basketball court was nice. They also had a giant checkers and chess sets on the 12th deck (One on each side of the ship) and that was cool.

You take this cruise to see the Islands and that's what we did. First day in Maui we rented a Jeep (I had pre-arranged all this stuff before the cruise) and set off on the "Road to Hana." That was awesome. We were on the road for 9 hours and stopped at all the "tourist attactions" along the way. The next morning we were back on the road this time to Lahaina. Neat town with lots of small shops. Found a shirt store (I like embroidered stitching instead of iron-ons) and they had tons of nice clothing. Stopped at the Maui Ocean Center on the way back but they wanted $25 per person to get in so we opted just to look around.

Tuesday we were in Hilo, I again had rented a car and went to see the volcanoes. What can I say but AWESOME again. Hard to imagine the destuctive power 'til you see it first hand. Parts of the Crater Rim road was closed due to the sulphuric smell so we headed down to where the lava had covered the road on its way to the sea. You had to hike the last 1/2 mile to get there but for me it was worth it. Disappointed that I didn't get to see some lava up close and personal but hey...Also the Thurston Lava tube was neat. On the way back to port found this fantastic restaurant in a strip mall and had our first authentic Hawaiian meal. Got back to the rent-a-car center and it just started to pour. It was the only rain we had all week. The ship does pass by the lava flow later on that evening. Neat to see the red glow as the lava hits the ocean.

Wednesday we were in Kona so we did the shore excursion to Abay called the Kona Beach Blast. Included in the fee you could take a glass-bottom boat (more on that), snorkel, or get a paddle bike. I went snorkeling and just as I was coming back I caught a glimpse of a sea turtle so I followed him around for awhile. Big turtle and so graceful through the water. Wife and I then thought we would take the glass-bottom ride but was told it was done for the day. It seemed that you had to do this first thing on arrival but it was never communicated that way.
Really a minor thing in another great day. This was the only port where you are tendered to the mainland. Also as we were waiting for the bus I did get to see a whale albeit it was a small black speck out on the horizon followed by the splash but I did see it.

Thursday was Kauai. Again another shore excursion to see Waimea Canyon. Vinny our bus driver was pretty good. He had grown up on this Island so he was full of interesting tidbits. Waimea Canyon - Awesome again.
Not a religious person but when you see this view it makes you wonder! On the way to the canyon we had stopped at a store (tourist trap) for bathroom break and some refreshments. Did find a Tiki coffee mug for our son that I couldn't located anywhere else.

Friday was a down day for us. Got to the Oasis Pool at the rear of the ship around 9AM and just worked on more of the tan and read a book. Ship was leaving at 2 so we went top side to watch the ship sail away.

I was happy with everything all this trip. The ship did its purpose of being a floating hotel so we could see the different islands. Food and room were good. The Pink Champagne bar was our favorite hang out before and after dinner. Chris, the bartender and Shalee, our server, were great. Friendly with great service, they took care of us during the cruise. The weather was 80 with rain for alittle bit on Hilo. Embarkation took 1/2 hour with no problems. Departing was also a breeze. Since we were staying in Hololulu we were the last group to leave.
Called our colored tag at @ 9:40 and we were off in 5 minutes.

Suggestions: If you are coming from the east coast, jet lag will kill you. So we stayed at the Marriott Waikiki for 2 days before and 1 day after the cruise so as not to zap us. When you are arriving you are probably awake for 18 hours straight plus losing 6 hours due to the time zones - we crashed about 6:30 that night and woke up @ 6:30 the next morning with no side effects. We were good to go then. Also being here a couple of days earlier we didn't have to rush around and also got to swim in Waikiki and go see Pearl Harbor. The extra day before our flight home made sure we weren't rushing to get to our plane and we also made arrangements to see the Polynesian Cultural Center.

NCL did a good job. Scale of 1 - 10 for the overall vacation was a 9. Rating on NCL was a 7.5, but like I said you use the ship as your hotel and you come for the Island. I would sail with NCL again.

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