We are sailing on the Pride of Aloha in a few weeks. After all that has been written,
there is little detail which would help Aloha Newbies such as myself. If anyone who has sailed the Pride can answer a few questions I would appreciate it. I know many people are passionate about their likes and dislikes regarding this ship so please if you don't mind try to help us out with some details so hopefully we can have some info before we sail. Thank you in advance.
Embarkation - What was the earliest you could embark? Were any pools open,
could you get off the ship again without having to wait on the same lines
to get back on? What was going on aboard (dining, etc), Were you able
to make reservations for that evening? Shore Ex office open?
Boat Drill - Same time as on other ships?
Luggage Delivery? ( I heard some people got their luggage real late. Were they
Sailaway - Party, music, etc.
Any or some of this info would really be appreciated.
I was on the July 4th sailing of the Pride of Aloha so I don't know how much they have improved on any of these procedures, but I will comment any way.
Embarkation - we were told we could get on the ship around 1:00 p.m. but we waited in line for about 1 hour or so. It really wasn't that bad. The pools were open as I recall. I did not try to get off the ship so I don't know if it was the same procedure to get on but I would assume that once you got your ship card, you did not have to wait in the lines again. There was a band at the pool deck (Pride of Aloha band) which played the same music most week long. There was a poolside buffet/barbeque that night before we left, I think it started serving around 4:30 p.m. or so. Hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, fruit, salad, banana bread, cookies etc. I don't know about the specialty restaurants. The shore excursion desk was open but the lines were absolutely horrible. I would suggest you call the NCL excursion line at least a week prior to sailing and book the excursions over the phone to avoid the lines. I'm not kidding, the lines were hours long because I waited for at least an hour just to change one of my excursions. If I can make another suggestion, I would recommend that you book as many of your excursions on line as possible (not through NCL) because I saved a lot of money. NCL charges around $50.00 more for some excursions. If you have any questions, I can even tell you what companies I used. The ziplining in Kauai was fabulous if you like adventure.
The boat drill started around 4:45 p.m. or so but by the time everybody got in their place, it was closer to 5:30 p.m. or so. We waited to the end to get there so we didn't have to wait around forever.
All our of luggage was outside our room by the time we got there except for one piece of mine which arrived about 3 hours later.
Sailaway party - the Pride of Aloha Band again. We did have the July 4th fireworks on Waikiki beach to watch but I don't know if this will be your case since it was a holiday for us.
If you have any other questions, I'll be glad to fill in you in.
Enjoy your cruise and cherish your time in the Hawaiian islands. They were absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to do it again.
Thanks Gumpgirl! I did book my shore excursions in advance. I will tell you it took forever to get them booked over the phone. One day I waited on line for like 3 hrs. I tried to book on line but it didnt seem to work. I hope I dont get there and have too many shore excursions booked.
I will absolutely cherish the scenery while I am there. My first time to Hawaii!
Wish me luck on my criuse. I will tell everyone how it went when I get back.
Thanks again Gumpgirl!
You'll be glad you did it ahead of time when you see the lines. If you did overbook the excursions, you have 24 hours to turn your tickets in without penalty on most of the excursions. I changed several of mine and switched things around and that didn't take too long after the first 2 days. That's when things are the most hectic as people are trying to figure out what they want to do the whole week. If you haven't done it yet, you might want to try ziplining in Kauai. It was absolutely the most fun we had the whole week. Beautiful scenery, fun people, and adventure, all in one activity. The excursions made my whole trip. We did something every day and had a blast!! Hawaii is gorgeous and I am sure you will want to go back. I know I do!! We are already looking forward to our next trip. Have a great trip.
Embarkation - we arrived at 1:00 and stood in line for about 30 minutes. They had many windows open so it went very quickly.
We found the buffet open for lunch (the only place for food) no tables, hard to get drinks and we were feeding a 5 & 6 year old so they had trouble getting around all the crowds of people.
Our rooms weren't ready as they had a staff "sick" out. Our steward was wonderful and great fun, so we handled it well.
Pools were open however we didn't get luggage until after midnight so I'd remcommend carrying on a bag with those clothes as well as dinner clothes so you can go to one of the nice places to eat that night. We were tempted to go in with our clothes on (they said we could, however....)
We didn't try to get off, so can't answer about reboarding.
Boat drill, we went early as we had parents who need elevators to get around, we didn't want to have to drag them up and downstairs. It started on time but we couldn't hear anything the speakers were so bad. It didn't take long.
I don't remember a sail away party - unless you mean the music they played at the dock with some hula dancers and about 10 people waving to us.
I was on the July 11 sailing of the Pride of Aloha. We didn't board the ship until 4:30 PM
and didn't have any wait. The muster drill began just as we crossed over the gangway
at approximately 4:45 PM. We didn't go up to the pool because we figured it was too late
for lunch and we planned to go for an early dinner. We went to dinner at 6:00 at the Crossings Restaurant and were still there at 8:00 when the ship left port.
As far as shore excursions were concerned, I booked mine on the NCL website about a month prior to the cruise and the tickets were on the cabin door. You can book the shore excursions privately at the savings of some money but you will not be able to book with the company that NCL uses since they are ordered not to book any shore excursions with pierside pickup during the days that the POA is in port. On our cruise we had a medical emergency during the night that we went to Hilo and the ship had to drop off a passenger
in Honolulu at 1:00 AM. Since we got to Hilo 3 hours late, some of the earlier shore excursions had to be rescheduled or postponed. If you booked with NCL you were rescheduled or refunded your money; if you booked directly lots of luck.
On the first night all the specialty restaurants were booked in advance. NCL has a hospitality desk in the Marriott in Waikiki for people who have booked pre cruise land
accommodations at the Marriott and they were permitted, if you showed your room key, to make restaurant reservations 1 day in advance.
Try to bring your own luggage on the ship. We checked in at 4:00 PM and we went to sleep after midnight and our luggage still hadn't been delivered. When I woke up early Monday morning it had finally been delivered. I noticed crew throughout the evening bringing one piece at a time up from the bowels of the ship. When asked why they didn't use a luggage carrier so they could deliver more than one piece at a time they just stared at me. We opted for the express checkout at the end of the cruise and wheeled off our own luggage just to be safe.
Everything that you have heard abouth the beauty of Hawaii is true and everything else that you have heard about the POA, its crew, officers and food is unfortunately i also true.
Cruise documents for my August 8 sailing on POA arrived today. I'm ready to go, but I'm not nearly as excited about this one as I was for my Adventure of the Seas trip a few weeks ago.
FIrst of all, that long flight from Connecticut to Honolulu, and then the flight to Kauai is nothing to look forward to.
Second, all the negative comments has made me a little leery of this ship. I hope and pray that people are wrong. I don't want to have a bad time.
FYI: Since this is a charter and our itinerary has changed, we will overnight in Honolulu instead of Kauai, and don't set sail until midnight Monday night. Therefore we have all day to board the ship (and the next). But we have a 3 p.m. flight from Kauai and will try to board somewhere around 4 p.m. if we can.
I have cars rented on Kauai for the three days there, and on Maui and Honolulu. Still trying to figure what to do on the Big island stops. I'll discuss with the other two couples in our group.
I know that you are concerned about your trip. I am just back from 7/18 cruise. It was much better than my expectations (which were admittedly low). Service was an issue that will probably continue to be a problem for the next few months as some of the more experienced staff are due to take their vacations in the next few weeks. The ship is roughly 20% understaffed (brochure claims 950 staff-cruise director said there were 800), but those that were there seemed to be working very hard. We had three rooms in our group in different areas of the ship and we all had good to excellent room stewards. Maybe we got lucky as I heard others complaining about lack of service. The buffet is not great, and food should be more available in the late afternoon and late evening, but the speciality restaurants were terrific (I ate in all 3) and well worth the expense. We had no problem making the reservations in person at 8am when they open the table near the atrium on deck 5. Don't bother trying to call, it will be more difficult that way. The main dining room was OK, but if you don't want to wait for an hour, best to be there before it opens and get in line early. My criticism of the main dining room is that the menu stays essentially the same through the week, with just a few additions each day. I am used to having a totally different menu each night on my past cruises and the variety was something that I looked forward to. As I only ate in the main dining room 3 times, it was not such a big deal, but if I had eaten all my meals there it would have been a problem for me.
Well, at least it sounds like it is improving slowly, hopefully by the time we go, it will be up to what we have had on other NCL cruises. I have only been on two other NCL cruises, and they were below what I have had on the other lines, but for the price we paid, we were satisfied. The last cruise on the Sea, our room wasn't ready till after 9:00 P.M. and the buffet never had enough tables. We still had a good time. This should be better, being it is Hawaii.
gardencat, Not all ships have this problem with the wait unless you want to dine from about 7pm to about 8pm. In that case your wait would be similar to what most of us have to put up with on a Friday or Saturday night at home if we choose one of the more popular restaurants that do not take reservations. We have sailed freestyle 3 times and never waited more than 2 or 3 minutes; dinner times we choose? As early as 5:45pm and late at 6:45pm. Larger groups, same as land establishments do have to wait longer as there are not as many tables available for seating 6,8 or more. Advantage to freestyle (most ships) flexibility. One time we took an all day tour leaving about 8:45am and not returning til after 4pm. We were exhausted thus showered in a hurry and set out for a very early dinner. The next night we had another long day but did not return to the ship til about 5:30pm (almost didn't make it actually) if we had early seating we would find it necessary to forget dinner. Most of the time 6pm, early seating is too early for us as we like to have a drink or two before dinner and not be too rushed, but 8:30 is too late unless we want to stay up til midnight or so. For you and for some freestyle isn't not the way to go, but for others it is the best idea to hit the cruise industry in 20 years. Same as a resort, who wants to be tied down to a schedule while on vacation. Remember POA is not your average ship. NMNita
"The main dining room was OK, but if you don't want to wait for an hour, best to be there before it opens and get in line early."
It just seems to me that if you have to get there before ithe dinning room opens (what is that 5;30PM?) that is even earlier than most early seatings. if you want to go at 7 and you end up waiting an hour you finally get in at 8PM not that much earlier than most late seatings. So, in practice, this ship (POA) really only has two seatings anyway. The only difference is that you could try to eat early one night and late the next but basically ,if the tables with servers available fill up at 5;30, and you don't make that ,then you won't be eating till those people clear out at about 8 or so.
I realize that the freestyle concept seemsto work better on some other NCL ships but I really don't think 'freestyle' is as big a feature as it is hyped to be on this ship (POA), at this point.
I think the freestyle will work when they are fully staffed. They are about 200 staff members short so service is affected. There were many empty tables in the dining rooms. If you don't want to eat at 5:30 when it opens, I would plan on about an hour wait and give them my room number and have them call me when it is time (they were offering to do that on the really bad night of the accident when I waited from 6:45 until 8:30 to be seated, so I would think they could do it any night). If I ran the cruise line, I would issue pagers to people so that they would go to a lounge, relax and enjoy a drink. There really is no place to wait nearby so that adds to the frustration.
I can't say enough about the speciality restaurants. All three were wonderful and if you can swing it make a really pleasant way to avoid the stress.
Margu1241, thanks for the information. I'll make the best of it, and hope that my luck holds out (I've never had a bad cruise). I do plan on eating in all the specialty restaurants, but I hate the fact that I will have to wait to eat in the main dining room. There is no way that my wife can be there at 5:30 p.m. after a day in port.
Maybe I am being petty but ,if I were on one of these cruises, I would hate to feel that I am being forced to eat in the specialty restaurants and give NCL more of my money ,because they are not giving me good value for the money I have already spent. It would feel like I am rewarding them, with extra income, for not giving me good value for the fare I already paid.
To my way of thinking, before they put staff in the extra money generating restaurants, they should make sure the main restaurants are properly staffed. In my view they have contracted to provide customers with decent service and food. Until they can do that ,they should not be diverting staff to extra money making areas. Of course, NCL will continue to do this, because every customer who gets disgusted with the wait or the sevice in the main restaurant, and goes to an extra-pay restaurant, puts more money in NCL's pocket so they have little motivation to improve this.
A lot of people share your sentiment-why should they have to pay extra for a really good meal. I heard that from many people on the cruise. However, my feeling is that it was a small price to pay for a really exceptional meal, and it saved the cruise for me. If it comes down to sticking with principle and not having a good time vs. coughing up the $$ to make myself happy, I am going to spend the bucks and not torture myself with the main dining room. I suppose I had no problem making reservations as many people didn't want to spend the money. Heck, I would have eaten there every day if it wasnt for the fact that I was travelling with 15 and 12 yo's who wanted to eat a real meal with us a few times during the cruise (as opposed to room service, or Hukilau). We didn't want to take them with us, and they needed to eat earlier than we would have liked to make the kids program so we were off to the main dining room.
By the way, it never looked like the pay restaurants were full either. I think they had staff shortages and just booked the restaurants accordingly.
Gardencat, I agree with you 100 percent. However, I'm trying to salvage this vacation. If I have to pay the extra money to do that, then I will have to do that. My revenge is that I will not sail with these jerks again. Service fees, specialty restaurant fees, museum donations. And on top of that this is the most expensive cruise I've ever been on. From what I see, it ain't worth it. I read on Cruise News Daily that NCL claims they will charge a "resort fee" or "service charge" on all their ships next year because they want their customers to complain about bad service and problems immediately instead of after the cruise so that they can do something about it. I'm taking the article with me on the cruise, and trust me, I will challenge them to fix whatever problems I have. I'm going to get my money's worth in one form or another. They may throw me overboard before the cruise is over.
I don't have too much objection to the alternate, extra charge dinning on a ship ,if the regular dinning is up to scratch. Then it really just becomes your choice if you wamt to pay extra for an exceptional meal.
It's just when they are not providing acceptable basic dinning that the extra charge really grates. I understand your desire to enjoy a meal, rather than stand on principle, who wants to be stressed out on vacation? . I guess that is why NCL thinks they will get away with this and 'people will just get used to it."
hello. Going on POA for our 25th anniversary trip in October sailing on the 17th. We are now reviewing information trying to decide on excursions. Could you help and tell us which ones you took and how you enjoyed them. I cannot do anything really strenuous because of knee problems. thanks for your help. The NCL excursions do seem very pricey.