I traveled on the Pride of America in October 2006. Needless to say we did not read many reviews prior to booking and then were VERY nervous after we booked and started to browse reviews. We read only one or two decent reviews, the rest were scary to say the least. I would like to cover a few points.
During our departure the first day of our cruise our captain ran over a buoy. 1st problem - they did not communicate this incident to the guests until the 3rd day of travel. 2nd problem - the captain was less than truthful about the time the incident occurred. He stated it happened upon arriving to port, a guest had video documentation to the contrary, showing it happened leaving the first days port. 3rd problem - The processes to repair the ship was a complete joke. We were delayed so long that we missed an entire Island listed on our itinerary and we had an entire day at sea that was unplanned. And last but not least, 4th problem – The damage to the ship caused us to run on fewer propellers than normal, delaying our travel time to every port. This caused us to be delayed on all of our excursions and. NCL's answer to all of these, how did they word it, oh yeah “slight inconveniences” was to give a $100 credit PER CABIN. They didn't even do per guest. This was an insult! I understand that the unexpected can happen but they handled every issue in the poorest method possible.
On to the other parts of the cruise:
Due to our unexpected delays we had PLENTY of time to eat, so believe me I can tell you about the food. The free style eating was great with the exception of the difficulty to book reservations at the specialty restaurants after the first day. If you choose to go to the specialty restaurants plan in advance and book them all the first or second day. As for the cost of the specialty restaurants, I would say that it was excessive. The food while good was not worth the cover charge. If you do like to eat early and are able to book soon enough, they did offer a ½ price cover between 5pm-5:30pm. At the half price cost I would say to try a different restaurant every night. The Cadillac Diner is my recommendation to get sit down service without a charge. As for the buffet, it was decent but they had the same choices every day so breakfast and lunch got a little boring.
STATE ROOMS –
I had a balcony state room on the 7th floor. Although smaller than other cruise lines I found the room to be cozy and had TONS of storage. Two people had to share space to move around but that didn't bother me. We had a problem with the shower draining the first day but they resolved it soon after we called. After that we had no issues and there was plenty of hot water. We did have the room service one time. The free items were limited and small but hey, they were free! It did take about 20 minutes to get the room service.
It was a typical American staff, some were helpful and pleasant while others were not. The shore excursion manager Tim was awesome. He did everything he could to help fix issues caused by delays. In general no complaints.
I was somewhat concerned upon arrival when we were told by crew that the “mandatory” safety drill was not really mandatory if you had previous cruise experience. We asked two different crew members and they both said “if you have cruised before you don't have to worry about it… just don't say we told you that” I don't think that is really allowed by the coast guard? We did not test the coast guard and went to the evacuation drill. Not sure what happened to those who did not go?
Had the buoy incident not happened I would say it was an average cruise with the high point being the “freestyle” dress and dining? However, I will NEVER cruise NCL again due to their poor communication and problem resolution skills displayed due to the buoy issue. I warn everyone that most of the reviews I read had something about a ship malfunction in them, so I would think twice about using NCL if you want a no “mechanical issues” cruise.