Pride of Aloha
by Laurence Chin
March 11, 2006
My family of 4 and my friend's family of 3 took the cruise. My family and I have cruised once with NCL in the past and 5 times with other cruise lines. Quite frankly, this is by far the worst and most disappointed cruise. To be fair, this is an older vessel and I had read about the negative on-board reviews before I went hoping that in the span of almost 2 years in operation, there should be some improvement.
First, food at the buffet and dining room. There is nothing stellar about it. Food at the buffet was boring--food court quality with barely enough selections. Food at the dining room was slightly better, but the quality was inconsistent. For instance, I had a juicy steak one nite and a beef jerky another nite, and I ordered them medium rare on both occasions. We didn't try the specialty restaurants this time, and may be we should have, then we wouldn't have been disappointed.
Second, service. All I can say is NCL does not try to create a culture of customer satisfaction and service at least with this vessel. Friendly smiles and greetings were rare. Some staffs didn't even look at you as you walked by them. Many looked tired and indifferent. We made a dinner reservation one nite with a female staff whose computer was not working properly. She simply wrote our name and the # of people on a piece of paper. We were puzzled and 10 minutes later my friend decided to check the validity of the reservation and found that she had made a mistake with both our name and # of people. When we tried to correct her, she denied the mistake and impatiently asked for our name to begin the reservation procedure again. My friend argued with the entire reservation team and finally got our wish without one word of apology from them.
I have never seen such poor customer service and you can imagine my disappointment. One interesting fact though, we found out that the best dining room service were consistently given by staffs of Asian background. My guess is because they come from cultures that are hospitable and accommodating, and they know the importance of service within a community. In other words, they are more people-oriented and depict less egotistic individualism. The cabin steward was OK. We hardly saw him except that we knew that our beds were made.
The biggest smile and courtesy came from the Purser and the Excursion desks. I guess they are well-trained to handle inquires and complaints. All in all, I wouldn't recommend anyone to cruise on the Aloha unless substantial improvement in food and service have been made.