We cruised the inaugural cruise on the Pride of Aloha on July 4, 2004 which spent 1 1/2 days in Kauai, 1 day in Hilo, Hawaii, 1 day in Kona, Hawaii, and 2 days in Maui. The Hawaiian islands are fabulous and the cruise was worth every penny if for no other reason than just the beauty of the islands we visited.
Embarkation was chaos for most. We waited about 1 1/2 hours in the hot sun to get on the ship. People were already extremely frustrated, but I was going to see Hawaii so I was in a good frame of mind. This did not bother me too much.
The ship was beautiful. Beautiful glass elevator in the lobby and picturesque setting. I knew our room was going to be small and I was not disappointed. We did not get on the cruise to stay in our room so this did not matter.
I suggest you book your excursions before you get on the ship. I made a call two weeks ahead of the sailing date and booked my excursions on the phone. This saved me a huge hassle. The lines to book the excursions on the first day were hours long. People were furious, but they should have done their homework before getting on board.
The first breakfast was absolute disaster. Nobody knew where the lines were and everybody seemed to get in the same line so people were lined up clear past the pool to go to the breakfast buffet on the first morning in Kauai. Some of us had early excursions so we had to skip breakfast in order to make it to the excursion on time.
The excursions were fantastic that I chose. Some of them I booked through NCL and some of them I booked on my own to save money. NCL charged quite a bit more for each excursion (sometimes $50.00 more). Do you research ahead of time and try to save money, keeping in mind that you must be back on the ship in time for boarding as NCL will not wait for you if you book your excursion on your own.
Each night we had a barbeque buffet by the pool. The food was good, not great, but edible. I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and not because of the food so I was not disappointed. If you want 5* food and great service, this is probably not the cruise for you. The specialty restaurants had better food but you had a $12.00 to $15.00 extra charge per person to eat in these, and the service was very slow, especially if you went between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Many people missed the 8:00 p.m. shows because they did not receive their food in time. We ate the cafeteria or pool buffet every night so we did not have a problem with waiting and we never went hungry although we did not eat quality food either.
The fitness room was fantastic. There was a nice jogging track. The internet charges were exhorbitant and too costly to even use.
Every night (except maybe 1) there was a show in the Stardust Lounge. Most of them were excellent, with the exception of the last one entitled "Mr. Producer" which was far from family entertainment. The last 15 minutes of the show was disappointing as girls were running around on the stage in the bras and slinky panties doing dirty-dancing type moves. The male singer was singing a song about "party from hell" and talking about prostitution and ladies' "tits". If I was not blocked in on the second row, I would have walked out. Most the crowd was as disappointed as we were because only about 7 or 8 people stood for the standing ovation at the end which was sad since the singers did have a great talent. Their choice of songs was poor, and the cruise director, Pati, should rethink that show.
All in all, I enjoyed my cruise experience because I was in the Hawaiian islands and off on shore as much as possible, seeing and adventuring the islands as much as I could. How could I be disappointed in Hawaii? Would I sale Norwegian Cruise Lines again? Probably not. Hopefully NCL can get their act together and make this a great cruise as the itinerary could not be beat.