Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha Hawaii December 5, 2004
We sailed on the Pride of Aloha on December 5th. We were concerned, as we read reviews before sailing that were so negative. We also made note of the helpful tips that people were kind enough to suggest.
We booked our own air and hotel and arrived in Oahu three days before the cruise. We stayed at the Waikiki Parc Hotel - reasonable and quiet and one block from the beach-right behind the Halekulani Hotel. We rented a car for the three days and explored the island. Pearl Harbor is a must and Kaanapali and Lahaina beaches are magnificent!
Embarkation was a breeze - we took the suggestion to board at about 3:00pm. We had absolutely no wait--boarded the ship in minutes. Cabin was small, but adequate. Had enough hangers--used night stands and love seat for extra storage. Cabin was clean and our steward was attentive and courteous at all times.
Food was very good at all the restaurants. They could have changed the appetizer, soup and salad selection (they were the same every night, but they were good) They also added a new entree or two every night along with the standard items such as steak and grilled chicken. Desserts were always spectacular, especially up in the cafe. Deck barbeques were great with plenty of food. The specialty restaurants are incredible -- yes, they cost extra, but if you want a special night, its worth it! We found the service to be very good in all the restaurants. There were some slow times, but we came on the cruise to relax, so not a problem. Some of the overcrowding in the dining rooms was because everyone on excursions went to breakfast at the same time and came back hungry at the same time (you are talking about 1500 people or so). Because we were not on the excursions we were able to eat at different times. If you could go earlier or later you should have no problem.
The shows were very good. They did music from all the top broadway shows, a authentic hawaiin show, which was spectacular, a very good magician. The art auctions were very fair priced--bought a couple of signed lithographs at prices I couldn't get at home.
The islands are great. I would suggest renting a car in the different ports. We rented a car in all ports except Kona. We were able to see all of the sights that the excursions covered at our own pace and for a fraction of the price. We used Alamo and booked in advance. Cars ranged from $24-$35 depending on island. Maps are supplied and driving is easy. Be very careful in Maui--We thought that we would take the road all the way around the Island and we ended up way up at the top of the mountain with no shoulder or protective rail and room only for one car at time (Route 340). The views were spectacular but we were very nervous. It took over 2 hours to travel 10 miles. Scary!!! When we left Hilo, the ship rounded the volcano area and you could see the lave still burning--Incredible!!!
I read in one of the reviews that the ship was moving and that people were walking sideways in the halls. This was not the case. Perhaps they had bad weather or a storm. We had a very smooth sail.
We met some people who would not have been happy no matter what. In our opinion they ruined their vacations by complaining about everything and in some cases they tried to recruit other people as well, by complaining to anyone who would listen. It was very sad to watch as there was so much that was wonderful, after all we were in paradise, what could be so bad!
Tipping -- Unfortunately they told us on the third day that they would be waiving the mandatory tipping of $10 per person, per day. We chose at that time to tip as we went along in all the restaurants. I wish that they had told us earlier, as we didn't tip the first two nights.
All in all we had a great time. The Islands are beautiful and we would sail with NCL again. They tried their best to give us a great experience and they did!!!!
Make sure that you go to the Chocaholic buffet--held about 3:00pm on the day we were in Kona---WOW!!!!
Disembarkation was a little chaotic--some people were already trying to get on the next cruise with their luggage. Taxis were easily available. We stayed one extra night in Oahu at the Waikiki Beachcomber--very nice--good location near all shopping (Macy's right downstairs) and a beack walk- through across the street. All in all a great vacation. Hope yours is great as well -- Happy Sailing!!!