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The stuff you need to know: Embarkation is easily one of the WORST I have ever seen having done many Alaska, Mexico, Med and Carib cruises on all lines. Bottleneck at security and at the NCL check-in counter, where they ask you all the same questions you already handled in the pre-board questionnaire, then require a separate credit card for each room even though we had already linked a single credit card for multiple rooms, then each agent has to walk over to a bin to locate your card. Ridiculous. ADVICE: Show up at 3pm and avoid the absolute incompetence. Ship: any nice touch you have seen in any TV commercial for a cruise ship... the POA doesn't have it. I'm not asking for a rollercoaster, but the "mini golf" is literally a 10sq ft carpet with some metal bowls for holes stolen from the kitchen. Imagine that kind of low-cost crowd pleasing effort that NCL has avoided... and you have the POA. Another example is that- despite the recent drydock renovation- they seem to have avoided replacing the windows along the main walking decks, like 5 & 6. It looks like someone tried buffing the windows and ended up scraping them so badly that you can barely see out... 100s of windows. Complete headscratcher... its a cruise, of Hawaii... people might want to look out the window. Port area: as many will report, the Kahului port area is a dump, and the port agents make it worse by not allowing any convenience for personal pickup/dropoff of passengers. Tons of passengers rent cars on Hawaii port-of-call, and most cruise passengers are older. But getting the rental car anywhere close to the passenger pickup/dropoff is next to impossible. Why not make this an easy thing? And local Hawaiians working the Maui security areas could get reminded about the "Aloha spirit". Could NCL spend a tiny bit of money and get some local artists to paint some murals on the side of the ugly warehouse walls that they dock next to (Hello Lihue, looking at you)? Food: Buffet is above average, main dining room food and service was below average. Cooks could not get the steak cooked to order to save their lives. So disappointed that we went to the specialty restaurants for the second half in order to have the dinners be a complete disaster. Le Bistro was solid, good tenderloin but duck and creme brule cannot be recommended. Tappenyaki made an effort, but you get quantity more than quality here. NCL website advertises John Adams coffee bar as "complimentary" which seemed too good to be true... and it was. They put the same pastries out in the morning as the buffet has, and call that the "complimentary" part - so said the barista. Literally everything else was a charge. Sad... just a few little things that could be improved that would bring this cruise experience up to par with other lines, and NCL doesn't do it. Overall, you are on this particular route for multi-Hawaii stops. You could do it with island hopping airlines, still see the same stuff and rent the same car... but you think the cruise would combine the convenience and the service of a cruise ship. Thus you are willing to pay a premium price (POA is not cheap) and settle for a small ship, hoping for good service. But you will get a small ship with no features and not so good service. Concept is good, NCL execution misses. Comedian Michael Somerville was the lone standout. I would recommend that you take the same money and do island hopping on your terms. The flights, hotel, rental car and restaurants will end up being better service for the same price or cheaper- and on your terms.

Hawaii is the star, but for the price POA should be better

Pride of America Cruise Review by prpltry

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Large Balcony
The stuff you need to know:

Embarkation is easily one of the WORST I have ever seen having done many Alaska, Mexico, Med and Carib cruises on all lines. Bottleneck at security and at the NCL check-in counter, where they ask you all the same questions you already handled in the pre-board questionnaire, then require a separate credit card for each room even though we had already linked a single credit card for multiple rooms, then each agent has to walk over to a bin to locate your card. Ridiculous. ADVICE: Show up at 3pm and avoid the absolute incompetence.

Ship: any nice touch you have seen in any TV commercial for a cruise ship... the POA doesn't have it. I'm not asking for a rollercoaster, but the "mini golf" is literally a 10sq ft carpet with some metal bowls for holes stolen from the kitchen. Imagine that kind of low-cost crowd pleasing effort that NCL has avoided... and you have the POA. Another example is that- despite the recent drydock renovation- they seem to have avoided replacing the windows along the main walking decks, like 5 & 6. It looks like someone tried buffing the windows and ended up scraping them so badly that you can barely see out... 100s of windows. Complete headscratcher... its a cruise, of Hawaii... people might want to look out the window.

Port area: as many will report, the Kahului port area is a dump, and the port agents make it worse by not allowing any convenience for personal pickup/dropoff of passengers. Tons of passengers rent cars on Hawaii port-of-call, and most cruise passengers are older. But getting the rental car anywhere close to the passenger pickup/dropoff is next to impossible. Why not make this an easy thing? And local Hawaiians working the Maui security areas could get reminded about the "Aloha spirit". Could NCL spend a tiny bit of money and get some local artists to paint some murals on the side of the ugly warehouse walls that they dock next to (Hello Lihue, looking at you)?

Food: Buffet is above average, main dining room food and service was below average. Cooks could not get the steak cooked to order to save their lives. So disappointed that we went to the specialty restaurants for the second half in order to have the dinners be a complete disaster. Le Bistro was solid, good tenderloin but duck and creme brule cannot be recommended. Tappenyaki made an effort, but you get quantity more than quality here. NCL website advertises John Adams coffee bar as "complimentary" which seemed too good to be true... and it was. They put the same pastries out in the morning as the buffet has, and call that the "complimentary" part - so said the barista. Literally everything else was a charge. Sad... just a few little things that could be improved that would bring this cruise experience up to par with other lines, and NCL doesn't do it.

Overall, you are on this particular route for multi-Hawaii stops. You could do it with island hopping airlines, still see the same stuff and rent the same car... but you think the cruise would combine the convenience and the service of a cruise ship. Thus you are willing to pay a premium price (POA is not cheap) and settle for a small ship, hoping for good service. But you will get a small ship with no features and not so good service. Concept is good, NCL execution misses. Comedian Michael Somerville was the lone standout.

I would recommend that you take the same money and do island hopping on your terms. The flights, hotel, rental car and restaurants will end up being better service for the same price or cheaper- and on your terms.
prpltry’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience

Cabin Review

Aft-Facing Large Balcony
Cabin B1 8204
Average cruise cabin. Nice balcony with good lounge chairs. Never saw our steward EVER.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Hilo
    Greener than I thought it would be, but nearby snorkeling was a bust. Lava fields were not very active, so we drove to Waipio Valley lookout, which is ... a lookout of a valley. Its pretty... but is that how you really want to waste 1 of your previous days in Hawaii? I wish we hadn't.
    View All 522 Hilo Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Kauai
    Walking to the nearby Kalapaki beach and Anchor Cove mall was the best use of the 1/2 day. One of the nicest beaches of the trip, snorkeling and sand, sun or shade, nearby food, and a nice view. NaPali coast later in the day was iffy, but waves calmed down and sun came out at last minute. Be prepared in the ideal non-windy spot with camera and unobstructed background for the pictures.
    View All 498 Kauai Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kauai Cruise Port Review
  • Kona
    This is a lava rocky island, not much else to do except go to a beach and hope for good snorkeling. Went to 2 highly recommend spots (Kahaluu and Honaunau Bay) and were very disappointed. Very little sand, facilities are not great (parking is chaos, restrooms are iffy and water was not the easiest in/out. Blew most of our day and snorkeling was very below the advertised standard. Wish we had gone to Mauna Kea Beach to the north which is guaranteed sand and easy... though the snorkeling may not be any better.
    View All 362 Kona Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kona Cruise Port Review
  • Maui
    Make sure you have your itinerary booked, because this island is where the best To-Do items are. Iao Valley is not worth the time. Haleakala sunrise if you get advanced morning reservation and the clouds cooperate- memorable. Road to Hana (banana bread on the way, red and black sand beaches) - worth it. Whale watching from Lahaina? fantastic. Beach options are plentiful... Kapalua beach may be the best if you have the time leftover to drive that far northwest. Just not enough time!
    View All 566 Maui Cruise Port Reviews
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