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Old October 22nd, 2012, 05:47 PM
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Default I need help with NCL cruise

Hi all I'm eyeballing Pride of America for a Hawaiian cruise. But I have never cruised NCL before. So I need some information. Some questions I have:

They do auto tipping or do you tip at the end?
Are you allowed to carry on Wine? (Carnival allows 1 bottle & Royal doesn't)
Do they do price match if the cruise price drops? (I book early saver on Carnival and as the prices goes down I get the difference as OBC)
Has anyone done the Hawaii cruise? If so what did you like and dislike.

I like Pride of America the best for Hawaii because it's the only one that is an America ship meaning no international port is needed so it spends all the time in Hawaii. But all the Hawaiian cruises are pricey and I would have to fly into Hawaii. Which isn't a huge deal since I'm in California anyway, but it's a pain to fly. Thanks for your help.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 08:52 PM
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We did the POA last year. We spent a week on Oahu, then the week-long cruise, and ended up with a week in Maui.

I tried posting a review on here, but it's too long, so I could do it. If you're interested in reading the review, which will answer alot of questions and provide some great information, send me a PM and I'll be happy to forward the link. Unfortunately, forum policies do not allow me to put the link in this post.

But definitely book through an agent as they can be invaluable when helping you with all the details and questions you have.

As for how to see Hawaii, the 10-12 night one-way cruises either to or from the West Coast are a better deal overall when looking at the number of nights. I just priced one for a client and an 11-night cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was basically the same price as the 7-night on the POA. And while the itineraries are slightly different and the Solstice spends 5 nights at sea, it is MUCH better than the POA.

If you think of the POA as just a way to see all the islands, you won't be disappointed. We enjoyed the ship and especially the crew, but the food left alot to be desired - not very good at all. The ports are awesome and I definitely suggest renting a car in each port versus shore excursions. They are cheaper plus you can do what you want, when you want, and go where you want. We are so glad we rented cars.

And yes, NCL will lower your rate if the prices go down provided final payment has not been made.

As for bringing wine onboard, NCL charges a $15 corkage fee for any 750ml bottle you bring on board, even if you're going to drink it in your cabin. Check it out here; Frequently Asked Questions

Let me know if you have any questions.

Pete
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 09:50 PM
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NCL has an auto gratuity program. I believe it's $11.00 per person per day but covers all of your tipping for the cruise. you may bring wine on board for a corkage fee (not sure how much). My in-laws did the Pride of Hawaii cruise and enjoyed it. Warning though the ship is staffed by an American crew and the service is not quite as good as on the foreign flagged ships. Hope this was helpful.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 11:42 PM
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When NCL first started their 7-night Hawaiian programs and had to staff them with an all-American crew, there were tons of problems. Passengers were staying away in masses because of all the complaints.

However, over the last few years things have changed.

First, NCL went to Congress and asked them to give them an exemption to the laws, which was granted. They were allowed to hire up to 40% foreign crew (if my memory serves me correctly).

We went last year expecting a crew that was not up to par with other cruises we've been on, but was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful crew that was very good. While the ship was nice, the food only so-so, the staff was a highlight of our cruise.

But quite frankly, like most people, we didn't take this for the cruise, we took it to see the ports. And as long as you go on this ship with that expectation, you'll have a wonderful time.

As for gratuities, NCL calls them a 'fixed service charge', which is automatically added to your onboard account in the amount of $12 per person per day. The reason they call it a service charge is to encourage you to leave additional 'tips'. To me, making it a mandatory fee is not right. Gratuities should be optional. When they are made mandatory, then they should be a part of the cruise and advertised in the price.

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Old October 22nd, 2012, 11:49 PM
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We were just on the Pride of America last June and really enjoyed it. The staff was wonderful. We had read all of the negative reviews but we were pleasantly surprised. We did not eat in the dining room at all only specialty restaurants but the food was fine. We especially enjoyed the steak house. The staff in the children's program were wonderful. Our grandson could not wait to attend every evening and morning when we were free. Did not carry on wine so cannot help you there. Gratuities were automatically applied to your account.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 11:01 PM
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Thank you for the replies. I have looked at the longer cruises leaving from Long Beach, San Pedro and San Francisco. My problem it the amount of sea days VS time spent on the islands. Plus I hate Enseneda Mexico so that'a a waste of a port for me.

I did cruise Celebrity to Alaska and I won't make the mistake again. Celebrity is not the right cruise line for me. I need a cruise line with more action. Good information about the auto tips and wine. I prefer auto tips anyhow. I knew about the American crew issues. But sounds like those were resolved. Interesting information about the exemptions through congress. I didn't know about that.
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Old October 24th, 2012, 12:50 AM
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Not trying to push it, but you really need to read my review - it's full of very specific information about the cruise that can be very helpful.

I hear what you're saying about Celebrity - if you're an old fart like me, you will absolutely love them! But they are a bit sedate, so if you're younger and want more action, Celebrity or Holland America really aren't for you.

As for Ensenada, you really don't have to do anything in the port. You either take the transfers to or from the San Diego Airport and go or come right from the ship, so it's no big deal at all.

And I also hear you about the days at sea. While those one-way trips to/from the West Coast can have 5 days at sea, some people really enjoy those - great way to relax. I have a group going on the Celebrity Solstice where they're flying into Honolulu for a couple of days before the cruise around the Hawaiian islands, followed by 5 days at sea to the West Coast. They chose this over the 7-night Pride of America cruise because it's a MUCH nicer ship and the 11-night cruise is the same price. Just depends on what one is looking for, their budget, and their lifestyle.

But the bottom line is, cruising around Hawaii is AWESOME!!!

Pete
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Old October 30th, 2012, 11:34 AM
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In my humble opinion the NCL ships based solely in Hawaii have terrible service. Our room steward on the Pride of Aloha was bad to begin with and he quit and vacated the ship on the wednesday half way through our cruise. We had to clean our own room for four days. And they were pissed when we wanted to reduce our tips because of literally no service.

NCL is quite strict about wine brought on board, most strict of any line.
If you take some better grade box wine it is less likely to be discovered by their inspections...they are looking for bottles.

Our NCL hawaii cruise was the worst cruise we have taken out of thirty plus cruises. Seven pages of serious complaints to the purser's office had zero effect. We hated that cruise and have never hated any other cruise before or since.

If that had been our first cruise, we never would have cruised again. I'm sorry to say.
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Old October 30th, 2012, 12:06 PM
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I didnt find any complain during NCL cruise. I visited last year there. Everyone was so happy and comfortable.
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Old November 1st, 2012, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Palm View Post
In my humble opinion the NCL ships based solely in Hawaii have terrible service. Our room steward on the Pride of Aloha was bad to begin with and he quit and vacated the ship on the wednesday half way through our cruise. We had to clean our own room for four days. And they were pissed when we wanted to reduce our tips because of literally no service.

NCL is quite strict about wine brought on board, most strict of any line.
If you take some better grade box wine it is less likely to be discovered by their inspections...they are looking for bottles.

Our NCL hawaii cruise was the worst cruise we have taken out of thirty plus cruises. Seven pages of serious complaints to the purser's office had zero effect. We hated that cruise and have never hated any other cruise before or since.

If that had been our first cruise, we never would have cruised again. I'm sorry to say.
I sounds like you cruised when they had three ships sailing and had huge service issues. Oddly enough I'm not concerned about the service issues.

I hadn't cruised NCL but for me so far Royal is the most strict on liquor. They don't allow any wine carried on board. Carnival allows one bottle per person over 21. Royal doesn't have a bar set up. Carnival you can call the Bon Voyage department and have Rum, Vodka etc set up in your room. It has to be done pre cruise. I called and Royal doesn't allow this. I think they may allow wine in the room but not rum for sure. I'm wondering if you can per order a bar set on NCL? I'm not interested in sneaking liquor on board (too much work).
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Old November 1st, 2012, 10:15 PM
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Hey, gb52877, we were on the June 25, 2011 sailing!

As I mentioned, we found the service to be very good. The problems of old have been solved and they now offer a wonderful experience. So those who were on the ship years ago and found poor service would be pleasantly surprised as to the changes that have occurred as it's completely different.

In each port, we pre-reserved a rental car in each port and did our own thing. It was the cheapest and best way to go, and we're so glad we did it. The excursions were too short, too pricey, too crowded, and too regimented. We got to do what we wanted, go where we wanted, stay as long as we wanted, and got to go places the excursions couldn't go. Plus, we never paid more than $45 for a car in any port, which really beats the price of excursions. In fact, in Hilo they gave us a brand new Ford Mustang convertible with only 6 miles on the speedometer for $35!! On Maui, we even drove the famous Road to Hana and went another 6 miles down the road to visit Charles Lindbergh's gravesite - something none of the excursions do. And on Kaui'i we drove over to the waterfall shown on the TV show Fantasy Island - another place none of the excursions go to because there's no room for them to park. We took our GPS with us, which made it very easy. Also, it helped us to find some wonderful local restaurants that were amazing. To us, it was the only way to see the islands - it was awesome!

The one thing I definitely suggest is going at least two nights before the cruise and renting a car on Oahu. For those of us on the East Coast, it's roughly 5-1/2 hours to the West coast and then another 5-1/2 hours to Honolulu, so it affords you some time to unwind after a long trip. Plus, you need at least one day to do some sightseeing on the island. One thing that is a 'have to' is Pearl Harbor. Being ex-Navy and having a daughter currently in the Navy, this was someplace I have wanted to visit for a very long time. It was quite moving. The new museum is amazing. But you have to get there early to get your free time-stamped tickets as there's usually a very long line. Afterwards, we spent time driving around this beautiful island.

We are so glad we didn't listen to those who complained about it and decided to do it for ourselves as we were not disappointed. But now that we have done it, we don't need to do it again because now we'd much prefer to just go and spend time on one island. But if you've never been there and want to see more than one island, it really is a great way to travel around the islands.

Pete
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Old November 2nd, 2012, 06:51 AM
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I was very pleasantly surprised with the food, service, etc. on our NCL Epic Cruisemates cruise! Up to that point I didn't know what to expect especially because of so many negative reviews of NCL.

They've certainly stepped up to the plate as far as I'm concerned and hit a home run. I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to even make me the slightest uncomfortable. The service and behavior of staff and crew were impeccable.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
We did the POA last year. We spent a week on Oahu, then the week-long cruise, and ended up with a week in Maui.

I tried posting a review on here, but it's too long, so I could do it. If you're interested in reading the review, which will answer alot of questions and provide some great information, send me a PM and I'll be happy to forward the link. Unfortunately, forum policies do not allow me to put the link in this post.

But definitely book through an agent as they can be invaluable when helping you with all the details and questions you have.

As for how to see Hawaii, the 10-12 night one-way cruises either to or from the West Coast are a better deal overall when looking at the number of nights. I just priced one for a client and an 11-night cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was basically the same price as the 7-night on the POA. And while the itineraries are slightly different and the Solstice spends 5 nights at sea, it is MUCH better than the POA.

If you think of the POA as just a way to see all the islands, you won't be disappointed. We enjoyed the ship and especially the crew, but the food left alot to be desired - not very good at all. The ports are awesome and I definitely suggest renting a car in each port versus shore excursions. They are cheaper plus you can do what you want, when you want, and go where you want. We are so glad we rented cars.

And yes, NCL will lower your rate if the prices go down provided final payment has not been made.

As for bringing wine onboard, NCL charges a $15 corkage fee for any 750ml bottle you bring on board, even if you're going to drink it in your cabin. Check it out here; Frequently Asked Questions

Let me know if you have any questions.

Pete
Well now we are looking at a 15 day Hawaiian cruise out of San Francisco. Or my favorite a 14 day cruise starts in Long Beach and ends in Vancouver. One is Princess the other is Carnival. These are a better deal then NCL but a lot of sea days. What do you think are the sea days worth it?
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Old November 12th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddDH View Post
I was very pleasantly surprised with the food, service, etc. on our NCL Epic Cruisemates cruise! Up to that point I didn't know what to expect especially because of so many negative reviews of NCL.

They've certainly stepped up to the plate as far as I'm concerned and hit a home run. I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to even make me the slightest uncomfortable. The service and behavior of staff and crew were impeccable.
Thanks for the information. I think sometimes we get old information. For example I took on Celebrity cruise in 2006. We hated the food and the activities when centered on how to separate us from our money. But that was over 5 years ago. So Celebrity could be way different now. However, it doesn't make my experience untrue, but it's not current to how Celebrity operates now.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 03:04 PM
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David and I really enjoy "at sea days" very much. We have been on a total of three NCL cruises as well as well over a dozen each cruises on Princess, Celebrity, and H.A.L. All of our experiences on the latter three choices have been far better than even our favorite NCL cruise to the Baltics out of Dover. I think you will be quite happy with either of those two choices.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 08:08 AM
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For yours, Chuck's and anyone else's benefit let me here state that the cruise I took was a Cruisemate's group cruise which adds quite measurably to the good experiences I enjoyed.

Even that being the case, we were on the Epic which is of course NCL's "show piece" and therefore probably gets far more attention than the average NCL ship. I just don't know about the others. As most do, throw out most but not all of the "top" reviews and the "we hated" reviews. That doesn't mean they're untrue it's just that in a majority of those "we hated" cases, the cruiser was either ill treated initially by either someone on the ship or during the booking process (which is one reason Cruisemates has it's own Planner/Advisor/booking agent). I am confident that any cruise planner who takes the time to join Cruisemates has to be good such as "cruise planner" and for those reasons, if and when I cruise again, I shall always go with someone who falls into that category which is especially important if this is one's first cruise or first time on a line, etc. Actually I was nothing less than delightfully stunned by the quality of the food in the Main Dinning Room on the Epic although I'm sure most of us enjoyed the extra charge restaurants that probably represent three quarters of all the world's major cuisines. We had our own Celebrity Chef (Matt was on ours) in the group who offered his advice on what best to order, etc., so that definitely also kind of insured a good food experience on our cruise.

On any future cruises I also shall not be spending what I used to spend on alcohol as while I'm undoubtedly stupid, I'm not stupid enough to combine booze with relatively strong pain medication that I'll be on for the rest of my life. Living such a life has the combined positives of no hangover and a much cheaper cruises.

Obviously, I come by my pain medication honestly but when I hold those meds in my hand I constantly am thinking, "Do you know how much these are on the street?" When people ask me if I'm afraid of being burglarized I give them a quizzical look and say, "You DO know in what profession I was involved, don't you?" If they say "No" then I say, "I 'double tap'....one or two rounds in the chest and one in the head." Best and cheapest anti burglary insurance on the market!
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Old November 14th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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Kat,

For most cruises I will take NCL. I like their Freestyle concept and upgraded entertainment. I also enjoy the alternative restaurants and I budget for them.

I have no personal experience with NCL in Hawaii but I do know there were problems but current reports are overall good.

You can pre-order in cabin bar setup from NCL. It isn't as "reasonable" (relative term) as Carnival's but it isn't as expensive as Celebrity's.

For you I would suggest doing the Carnival cruise. I think it would fit your needs and give you a good taste of the islands. Also, it would eliminate the airfare cost. I'm not sure how you would like the number of Sea Days but I love them and Carnival will probably have more "stuff" to do on the sea days than Princess.

When Michelle Roux left Celebrity and the Blau Group took over the dining, Celebrity's food went downhill for awhile. It has come back up but, IMO, not to the level it was ten years ago.

No matter what, I know you'll have a great time. You've received some good advice on what to do on the islands and I agree that a rental car is the best way to go.

Enjoy,
Mike
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Last edited by Mike M; November 15th, 2012 at 02:26 PM.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katlady View Post
Well now we are looking at a 15 day Hawaiian cruise out of San Francisco. Or my favorite a 14 day cruise starts in Long Beach and ends in Vancouver. One is Princess the other is Carnival. These are a better deal then NCL but a lot of sea days. What do you think are the sea days worth it?
That's really a tough decision because it depends on how well you do with sea days. Personally, I love sea days - I get to relax, read a good book, take a few naps, etc. Others hate more than 1 or 2 sea days because they get bored.

The same can be said about the different cruise lines. Everyone has their favorite and what one loves another will hate. With that said, I much prefer Princess over Carnival. But the price may be a deciding factor. If I had my choice, I prefer Celebrity over either of these, but I'm older and don't my the older demographics, plus I'm a foodie, so I love good food.

The prices between the 7-night roundtrip on NCL Pride of America versus some of the roundtrip cruises from the West Coast are very comparable, so when you look at the price per day, then obviously the longer cruises are a better value.

However, when considering the two, definitely look at the itineraries - you'll notice you go to more ports and spend more time in ports on the POA than you do with the other cruises. This is one thing we really enjoyed!

Hope the NCL POA review helped!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Pete
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Old November 15th, 2012, 07:41 AM
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Its auto gratuity program. We have once get in there last year and i remember, there was any deal so i got 9$ per person.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 12:42 PM
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Thanks dhowcruise I love auto gratuity because I know I have tipped correctly. Plus if any service is above and beyond I can give additional tips.

Mike M what is the upgraded entertainment on NCL? That sounds interesting.

Cruise planner thanks for the link to the review it was very good. I'm a foodie also. I grow my own stuff so my food can be as fresh and yummy as possible. Everyone raved about the food on Celebrity so maybe I was expecting too much. But the Shrimp was not deveined and the prime rib was tough. Seriously the prime rib was tough, this is the easiest cut of meat to cook the fat makes it favorful and juicy. I have had a dry as heck filet mignon on Carnival but that is a leanier cut of meat and harder to cook. So that was my issue with Celebrity. What Mike M said probably explains my food issues on Celebrity, but it's also not my style. I need action and there wasn't enough happening on Celebrity. Also some dude tried to take my plate at the buffet to seat me and that's just creepy. But that's my issue not Celebrity, I like to do a lot of things myself and sometimes too much service is overwhleming to me. I wanted to rip my plate out of the guy's hands and tell him to back off. But my mom and dad love this type of service and they aren't the only ones. I'm just a weirdo. I do enjoy sea days. I did a transatlantic (sp?)with 5 sea days and had a great time. That was on Carnival lots of interesting activites planned.

Todd you crack me up. We have a similar anti burglary system at my house. I also have two dogs sleeping in my bedroom. They alert me if anyone tries to get into the house. Sounds like the Epic cruise was a blast. I'm Portuguese on both sides so I don't get hangover much. I'm 43 years old and have only had one hangover in my life. I make homemade wine my dad taught me and he learned from his dad and so on. I believe the tolerance to alcohol has built up in my system from generations of hard drinking relatives. I also don't drink that much, just some pre dinner cocktails.

Chuck Palm sounds like you have done some interesting cruises. I'm jealous. I was wondering out of Princess, Celebrity, and H.A.L. which did you like the best and why?
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Old November 15th, 2012, 02:25 PM
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Kat,

I am referring to the "Second City" comedy, Blue Man Group, Legends In Concert, upscale lounge acts; such as Howl at the Moon. They are being put onto most of the NCL ships and not just Epic and Breakaway/Breakthrough. I'm not sure if they are on board the POA.

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Mike
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Old November 15th, 2012, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
Kat,

I am referring to the "Second City" comedy, Blue Man Group, Legends In Concert, upscale lounge acts; such as Howl at the Moon. They are being put onto most of the NCL ships and not just Epic and Breakaway/Breakthrough. I'm not sure if they are on board the POA.

Take care,
Mike
That sounds awesome I will have to see if that entertainment is on POA.
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Star Princess 2002
Viking Serenade 1994
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