Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Norwegian Cruise Line

Pride of Aloha
by P. Lemmer
May 20, 2007

As our long awaited cruise approached I was becoming more apprehensive about the ship and cruise after reading many of the reviews. We had been to Hawaii several times and had dreamed of cruising the islands for many years. This was to be a combination retirement and birthday celebration. Thankfully we are very happy and had a great cruise.

We arrived a day early for 2 reasons- losing luggage ( seems to always happen to us) and we wanted to be sure that we saw Pearl Harbor. Good idea as the luggage was delayed.

The transfer to the Marriott Resort was very smooth. Our room was ready and we were able to complete our cruise registration and confirm our shore excursions at the NCL Desk before we went for dinner and a walk. Watching the sunset across Waikiki Beach was beautiful.

Sunday we left our luggage in the room for transfer to the ship while we toured Pearl Harbor and saw Honolulu. Be sure you go to Pearl Harbor.

Since we were already registered we were able to board the ship immediately after our tour. We ate lunch at the buffet while we waited for our cabin to be prepared.

We had requested 2 beds and were surprised to find the bed made up as one bed. We requested the refrigerator be unloaded as we wanted to purchase soda and water to take with us on our excursions on the islands. A message left on the bed and a call to housekeeping solved our requests. Definitely request a balcony cabin when close to such beautiful scenery. We were able to relax on the balcony and watch the volcano flow. Port side is best if you want to see the NaPali coast from your cabin.

I was concerned about the cleanliness of the cabin and ship after reading the reviews. We had no complaints. The cabin was always ready when we returned to the ship. Luggage storage was not a problem, we just slid them under the bed.

I had read complaints about the food. The food was very good, especially on the lobster and prime rib night. We found the service in the Palace Dining Room much better than the Crossings. If you want slow service, go to the Crossings for breakfast. It was half empty but people were waiting for tables. For some reason they would not seat anyone in the middle section. We only ate at the Crossings the first night and the first and last breakfast. The buffet worked nicely for us and it was nice to sit on the open deck and enjoy the scenery while eating. If you want to sit inside for the buffet and the tables are full, go to the Longboard Bar after you have your tray. The Palace was very good. We were always greeted with a smile and usually had the same server.

The open seating on our schedule for meals is great. We were able to eat when we wanted and enjoyed the casual atmosphere. We requested a table for two after our first morning when we were seated with a “know-it-all” couple. The breakfast was not enjoyable between the couple and the service.

On Wednesday we noticed that suddenly we were not able to touch anything (including the beverage station) at the buffet. Apparently there had been a couple of illnesses treated and no chances were being taken by the crew from that point on. I'd rather they be cautious than become ill.

We ate lunch ashore the first day on Kauai, in Kona, and on Maui. The views were great. Although the meals were pricey , how often does a person get to have such beautiful open air views while eating? It was worth every penny we spent.

We rented a car on Kauai for the first day. I wanted to see Waimea Canyon and the Kilauea Lighthouse and Bird Sanctuary which are in opposite directions from where we docked. The Lighthouse was not included on any tours and was well worth the time.

Check with car rental companies for rates as we were able to rent a minivan for less than a compact on Maui with NCL.

The second day on Kauai we took the Backroads adventure. What an adventure!

We laughed the whole time and the ride in the back of the van was worse than the last car on a roller coaster. When it says rough roads- believe it! The scenery was beautiful and the off-the-path beach where we had a snack couldn't have been more pretty or peaceful. We really recommend the excursion. We'd do it again!

At Hilo we again rented a car through NCL. After waiting for a long time for a bus to the airport to pick-up the rental car, several groups, us included, rented taxis to get to the rental desk. It was $13 plus tip but we saved time. We had no problems when we were ready to return to the ship.

The Kona Historic Tour was very nice. We needed to tender into Kona. Thank heavens the water was fairly calm. This was a concern as we had tendered into St. Maarten when a hurricane was approaching and it was quite an experience. The trips to and from the ship were very smooth. I would rather dock in an industrial area than tender.

On Maui we drove to Lahaina and beyond to see some beautiful coastline. I'm glad we decided to go that direction instead of heading for Hana. A few miles of that road is enough!

The 2nd morning on Maui we took the tour to Haleakala Crater and the Maui Ocean Center. We felt like we had stepped onto the moon when we saw the crater. The view was awesome. I admire anyone who cycles down the road- certainly not me. I wouldn't even attempt to drive it. Since we love tropical fish we liked the Oceanic Center.

Unfortunately our adventure was finally over and ended on a sour note. We had been charged for pop missing from the refrigerator when it was checked. It was already missing when it was opened on the first day. The time to correct the mistake was long since NCL only had 2 people to settle accounts and they were very slow. I thought we needed to send a “search party“ for my clerk when she left to correct my account.

We highly recommend the Easy Fly for the luggage when returning home. We sat the luggage out the last night and we were suppose to next see it at our home destination. It saves having to handle it at the Honolulu airport. If you don't miss your flight, it works fine. Unfortunately we missed our flight in Chicago.

We really don't know who is at fault for our ticketing (NCL or United). We only had 41 minutes between flights in Chicagonand we needed to change terminals. Our flight was late arriving in Chicago and we made it to the connecting flight gate in 8 minutes ( a 22 minute walk on the way to Honolulu) to find that although we were at the gate with 5 minutes to spare, we were denied boarding as the gate closes 10 minutes before scheduled departures. We now know how the contestants on Amazing Race felt since we did the Amazing Race Run through O'Hare. Whose fault was the ticketing? We don't know, but avoid O'Hare if at all possible. Maybe it would be better to schedule your own flights.

Needless to say that when we made it to our home destination- no luggage! The story of our lives and no one knew where it was. It finally arrived 12 hours later.

Would we go on NCL cruise again? Yes! Except for our flight home we had a very good time. The ship isn't as fancy as other cruises we have been on but the food was good, the scenery beautiful, the cabin clean, and the crew very friendly. A big plus is the dining on your own schedule not the ship's. NCL just has to be cruising where we want to vacation on a cruise.