December 3, 2005
This was our 3rd cruise & 3rd cruise line. Previous cruises were on Royal Caribbean and Star Cruises (an Asian cruise line).
Our room on the Pride of America was a deck 4 stateroom with window, which accommodated my wife and our two young kids. (We thought it was a fair size).
We loved the bright decor throughout the ship and its newness.
The food was best at the large Aloha Buffet - lots of variety and high quality. The food and service were 'ordinary' at The Liberty and The Skyline formal dining rooms. (We didn't dine at any of the 'paid' restaurants).
Because the ship is US-registered, and remains in US waters, all the crew are US citizens or residents.
We're talking a much different experience from the Caribbean cruises sailing from Miami or the Mexican cruises sailing from LA where most of the crew are European or Asian.
The result: If you're accustomed to having 'Euro-style' formal service in the free dining rooms, forget it.
A lot of the crew are college students or 20 somethings looking for a lark for a few months. While on foreign staffed ships, for many it's their 'career'
You can't turn a waiter from a diner into a European waiter. But they try hard on the Pride, and the crew is very friendly.
If you're expecting your room towels to be turned into works of art (like into animal shapes), like on foreign-crewed ships, forget it.
Because the crew are US citizens and covered by US Labor laws, the crew to passenger ratio is much lower than on Caribbean, Mexican or European cruises staffed largely by foreigners. These US kids get overtime!
I suspect the ratio is about 1 crew member to at least 5-8 passengers compared with nearly 1 crew to 1 passenger on some of the foreign-staffed ships.
So at dinner, unlike RCL where you're simultaneously swarmed by one waiter pouring water, another getting you a drink and another bringing you bread - on the Pride of America generally one waiter or waitress does it all. So the service is slower and more casual than on foreign-crewed ships.
We learned that most of the Pride's crew are on quite short-term contracts, whereas on foreign-crewed cruise ships, some staff make careers out of working on cruise ships.
That said, on the whole, we're glad we took the Pride of America. It's new and spotless (you'll love the public washrooms), and it's casual and friendly.
You spend a lot of time 'in port' (not sailing) on the 7 day cruise from Honolulu. (Maybe because it gives the smaller crew a break while passengers are on shoreexcursions, and because the ship gets no international tax break on bunker oil).
The Kids Club - Rascals - was brilliant, but there weren't many kids because of the time of year.
The Cruise Director - Ray Carr - is the BEST we've ever encountered. A real professional and very funny.
The entertainment on 'crew nights' was actually better than the paid entertainment in most cases.
The two pools top deck pools at South Beach are a bit small but they're wet. There are lots of deck chairs.
For a casual cruise I'd give it 4 out of 5. But if you want a more sophisticated dining and cruise experience (and gambling and duty free shopping), give the Pride a miss.
But if you like good buffets, friendly folks and no customs or immigration hassles, give it a go.