I just got off the Pride of America, and I would have to agree with most of what you state.
The following is a copy of an E-Mail which is going to NCL corporate. I would encourage NO-ONE to sail on the Pride of America, anytime. Bear in mind that the below complaints were written before I came across this chat-room.
As fairly experienced "cruisers", my Wife and I booked a one-week Hawaian Island cruise aboard the 4-1/2 star "Pride of America", sailing from Honolulu on January 20, 2007. We took my 80-year old father along, who uses an electric scooter to get around. Our assigned cabins were #9652 and my Father's was #4522. (We had to pay double for my Father since NCL do not offer any kind of discount, nor do they have a "singles-share" program).
Everything seemed great once we were aboard at around 5:30PM for our 8:00PM departure, but as it turned out, things weren't quite as great as we were led to believe. Rather than make an essay of this, I am listing the complaints and issues we encountered that week in point form. Some of them are arguably insignificant, but together they add up to an disappointing holiday when compared to other ships we have been on.
My luggage was held by "security" because it contained a bottle of Whiskey. I had to line up and claim the luggage along with about 100 other people, and my Whiskey was confiscated until 6:00PM on the last evening, whereupon I had to again line up with the 100 people to get it back. That's about 100 people who won't be sailing NCL again.
Confiscating liquor is all very well, but why was it returned well before we disembarked? I like to take a cocktail in my cabin before dinner. The ship does not sell bottles of Whiskey on board. Which raises the question: What is the purpose of the Ice Bucket in our cabin?
We were not called upon to participate in lifeboat drill either on the day we boarded, or at any other time.
In-cabin movies were chargeable to our on-board account at $9.95 each, a completely ridiculous amount.
The TV on which were were to watch these movies was a tiny 14" diagonal unit.
The Aloha Restaurant was not open 24 hours as indicated in the Cabin Guide, but three times daily.
Access to the main restaurant(s) was through a single corrodor about 10 feet wide and 70 feet long, which held all the photographs for purchase. This often made for a very difficult traverse, particularly for my father and his electric scooter.
The staff in the main restaurants were variously experienced. One of our bottles of white wine was opened by a girl who confessed she had "never done this before", and then proceeded to pour each of us a glassful while standing in the same spot at the table, after which she plonked the half-empty bottle down in the middle of the table. I eventually had to ask her for an ice bucket.
The flowers on the dining table were plastic. We were in Hawaii, for heaven's sake !!
The food on board was below par for what should be a fine dining experience. On one evening, the only meat choices in the Aloha restaurant were Turkey or Lamb. No fish, beef, pork, or chicken was available.
The "entertainment" in the Hollywood Theatre consisted of:
Piano Bar Singer impersonating Elton John
Stand-Up Comic (2 nights running).
Magician who performed a total of 4 cheap slight-of-hand tricks over a span of 45 minutes.
Crew Talent Show
Passenger Talent Show
"Production Show Extravaganza" on the last night consisted of 6 people singing various songs, including "God Bless America"
On the day we tendered, the hoist mechanism to help my father get onto the tender was broken, so crew members carried him bodily onto the tender, which was somewhat humiliating for him.
There were no Ice Sculptures
There were no Midnight Chocolate Buffets, or "Chocaholic Extravaganzas" or whatever
There were no Culinary Displays where people take lots of photographs of amazing displays of exquisitely presented food
There was no Champagne Waterfall
There was no "Celebration" or organised "Party" or "Dance on Deck" or even a "Barbeque" of any kind at any time. Why was there no Luau?
The Band playing at the poolside were well below average.
There were no robes in the balcony cabins.
Our Cabin Steward was forever in our way, particularly when we returned from breakfast. But on at least two occasions, our cabin was not made up until after lunch. On many other cruises, we hardly ever saw our Cabin Steward.
My father complained about his cabin's cleanliness the day we left the ship (Which was too late to do anything). He got clean towels only once the whole week, and his bed made only once. His garbage can was never emptied, nor was his room ever vacuumed (A broken pretzel was on the floor from the previous passengers the whole week). He thought that that was standard practice, so did not mention it to us. And when we complained to Purser's Desk about it, they said they could not adjust the gratuity for us. (Aren't gratuities supposed to be for exceptional service?)
I would have to give the service, food and entertainment a maximum of 2 stars for this ship. It certainly did not live up to the 4-1/2 star rating as advertised by NCL. The ship itself was beautiful and modern, but the overall cleanliness and service was certainly not up to the standards that we have come to expect from modern cruiseliners. We had sailed NCL 5 times previously, but we will NOT cruise with NCL again, nor encourage friends or family to sail with NCL.
I hate to say this, KevinW...but your letter is very likely to get absolutely no response. I don't want to be a jerk here, and I am not disputing that you did not have a good cruise, but seriuously, a letter so opinionated and negative is quite unlikely to be taken seriously.
Please don't take these comments the wrong way. If you had a bad time, you should write a letter, and my hope is that you'll write a letter that will be read, and acted upon.
Let's take a minute to address what you've written.
1-Alcohol. EVERY cruise line has a similar alcohol policy(I believe the exception is Seabourne...which is all inclusive anyway) so your argument here is completely invalid, as you violated the rules of the cruise line. Bringing Alcohol onboard is expressly prohibited. They return it on the last night, per their policy, the same way they return all alcohol purchased on shore on the last night. This allows you time to pack it in your carry-on for the trip through customs. It also avoids the congestion of those 100 rulebreakers clogging up customer service during disembarkation.
2-tv too small? Did you pay thousands of dollars to go to hawaii to watch TV? Your letter is not going to cause the cruise line to buy 2000 new tv's
3-Handicap issues... I feel bad that your father had some issues, but you have to understand...you're on a SHIP. and the tender issue...you are trying to drive a scooter from one moving ocean going vessel to another. Now if he was discriminated against, or was unable to do the things that able bodied individuals were, such as boarding the tender, going ashore, or getting into his stateroom....then you have a valid complaint. I see what you wrote as testomony to the ship's crew doing everything they could to get him onto the tender. He can't walk...that's nothing to be embarassed about, and I applaud the crew in this instance for finding another way to serve him when a mechanical failure made their job much more difficult.
4-No Champagne Waterfall? I certainly don't book my cruises based upon the availability of a champagne waterfall. I don't think I've ever even seen one.
5-The Band playing at the poolside were well below average....that is an opinion based statement, and not likely to get anything accomplished
6- You didn't like the shows...I don't believe this letter-worthy complaint. I've not liked the shows on many cruises...I just didn't go to them.
7-Robes in the stateroom. In my experience, stateroom robes are only issued for free in suites, and sometimes as perks for multiple cruise club members. Make sure you are aware of the cruise line's policy regarding this before you complain about it. Were you promised robes in your stateroom?
8-Cabin steward in your way....did you place the do not disturb card on your door when you left? if you do not do this, the cabin steward will see you leaving, and assume it is time to clean your room. Also, if you were noticibly annoyed that he came to your cabin too early...do you think perhaps he serviced your cabin later in the day as a direct result of that? In one paragraph you complain about him being too early AND too late in cleaning your room.
This is not a flame, but more of a suggestion on how to make your letter more useful to the cruise line. If your intent is to effect change, your letter should be short, to the point, and only address issues that can (a) be changed and (b) be seen as true issues, and not opinion based.
Complaining about lack of activities or ammenities will get you no where. Mentioning the cleanliness of the rooms, cold meals, the difficulties concerning your father's mobility, poor dining room service, and overcharging (be it for inroom movies or anything else)...those are valid complaints, and need to be addressed.
I hope you haven't yet sent that letter in, so that you might re-word and shorten it so that it has more impact.
[b]How long since my last Cruise?
I'm glad I have been on cruises in the past, because if I had read all these negative reviews, chances are that I would never take a cruise. With that said, I have been on numerous cruises with different lines, NCL, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Each cruise lines has their own uniqueness about them, but every one of them has been nothing less than spectacular! My parents returned from the Pride of America in September, and my father passed away this past Christmas Eve. It was their last trip together, and their cruise was also nothing less than Spectacular..... Enjoy what you have, and the fact that you have the means to travel well, and have the opportunity to spend time with family. I will be traveling on the Sun with my wife and kids during their spring break. I can almost guarantee what kind of time we will have!!
Well I for one am aghast that they didn't have a champagne waterfall. I thought this was a hallmark for all fine cruises?
The lack of the waterfall, along with the fake flowers (it's Hawaii for heaven's sake!), and the ice sculptures (hmmmm, isn't it Hawaii for heaven's sake?), would leave me slack-jawed. And how dare a cruise line try to rate their own ships as 4.5 stars....on their own website! NCL should have clearly listed their ship as 2 stars and no more! Indeed, they should have recommended the ships of other cruise lines as being far superior to their own!
And finally, I cannot believe a standard balcony cabin of some 150 square feet (more or less) didn't come with a 50 inch wide screen TV. Oh the humanity!