My friend is on the ship right now. She said it's ok. The room is kept clean and made up each day. They've only had to wait 10 minutes to be seated for dinner at night, but last night the meal took about 3 hrs. The food is pretty good also. I know she'll write a a review when she gets back. Also, the excursions they've taken have been good, all booked with the ship.
I too, would be interested to know if things are improving, according to your friend. My wife and I are scheduled on the 10/11/04 sailing. We are monitoring the situation closely through postings, message boards and cruise reviews. Our travel agent has also spoken with the President of NCL and he and other company officers were on the cruise two weeks ago in order to monitor and take action to improve the situation. If we hear encouraging reports over the next 4 weeks, we will go with high hopes that things will be OK, otherwise, we will cancel.
I spoke to a friend onboard who told me something interesting. NCL standards dictate there is always a back/front waiting team, one to get food from the galley, and one, usually more experienced, to entertain the guests.
NCL has for the time being done away with that system.
Now, every server in the dining room will play both roles. This is to ensure that every table is sat, and no one has to wait 90 minutes to be seated.
Problems? Of course. Now that your server might be in the galley waiting for entrees, s/he might not know when a new table is sat, leading to guests waiting up to ten minutes before they are greeted. Meals are taking a little longer, because one person is doing the work of two.
Atleast there's this: NCL Corporate is tinkering with the system, instead of sitting on their thumbs.
I am so glad to hear some good news about POA. I have been reading the boards for the last few weeks and have been very leery of taking our trip (9-12).
I even called our TA to see if we could cancel last week. Yes, we could (airfare and all). We are traveling with another couple and between my husband and them they did not want to cancel. They want to make the best of it. I can deal with the long dinners; I will be very upset if the room is not clean.
I will definitely post once I get back. I thank all that have posted, so that I am at least prepared for what I might encounter.
From what I can see the clean room thing seems to have improved a lot on the most recent cruises. Now it seems to be more the dinning room and buffet problems that keep getting mentioned. ( No doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong about this.)
If you are willing to put up with glitches in food service it should make a big difference to how you enjoy your cruise.
Let's hope you come back and tell us you are glad you went and you had a great time.
If some people ARE cancelling that might help to improve service for those who do go too.
My husband and I sailed on the POA from Sept. 5th- Sept. 12th. We had a fabulous time and we plan on going again next year. The service was great . Our room was always made up. We also received fresh towels each day. Ice bucket also filled every day. The shore excursions were awesome as well. We never waited more then 10 minutes in line for dinner. We preferred to eat on deck 11 so that we could eat outside on the deck. It was truly a wonderful vacation and we can't wait to do it again.
That certainly is great news to us. We are booked on the 10/10/04 saiing and have been anxiously awaiting this weeks returning postings. We seem to be hearing good things. If you come visit this thread again, could you let us know how the service was after you were seated in the dining room and the food there, as well as the buffets?
I too am glad to hear it. I hope that is the general feeling of most of the people on board ship from now on. I know there will always be some on the ship that will never be satisfied, but at least it is encouraging to hear something positive. We can't wait to get on her next spring.
I just returned from the 9/4 sailing. Below are copies of 2 of my postings replying to other messages/strings.
Original post #1 (reply to NCL Bashing: Stay Calm):
I just returned from the 9/4 sailing I thought it was fine. Maybe it wasn't a gourmet journey through Hawai'i, but I really had a great time and had no problems on the ship. There were four of us ranging in age from 40 to 83 and we all loved it!
This is only my second cruise - my first experience was on Carnival Victory--Cruise to Nowhere from NY (a company trip). That cruise was much worse, so I'm sure many of you will say that I don't have anything good to compare this to - well THANK GOODNESS! At least I was able to have a great time without constantly saying how much better it could have been!
I'm glad I read some of the constructive criticism before we went, so I knew what to expect. But the rest of the people running off at the mouth should put a sock in it!
Yes our room was small, but so what. Now that you all know that it is too small to squish more than 2 people - don't do it. Pick another cruise. The bed was comfortable (yes it was hard, but we liked it and slept well). The bathroom was clean and there were plenty of towels. We did bring lots of dry-cleaning hangers (which we just left there) since I read there was more space to hang clothes than put them in drawers. (thank you to the person who gave that good tip).
***I forgot to state this in my original message, but my only major complaint about the stateroom was that there was not an alarm clock. Fortunately I had read this on an earlier post and brought a travel alarm. I heard the wake-up-call service was not reliable.***
We always ate at the breakfast buffet, which I thought was fine. It wasn't like going to the nicest Mother's Day Brunch in town, but it was good. I don't know if the food has gotten better, but I cannot believe that people on previous postings a few weeks ago were saying it was the most disgusting food they have ever seen, etc. It just wasn't that way at all. There was fresh fruit and guava juice every morning, plus the usual breakfast fare. I enjoyed the endless macadamia nuts to put on cereal, etc. The first day there was a line (which I timed - it took us 10 minutes from when we got in line, to when we sat down). Then after that, there was never a line. Sometimes there weren't tables available inside, but we preferred to sit outside anyway.
Lunch and dinner buffets were what I would consider convention food (i.e. what you would get at a conference or convention at a big hotel). Some dishes were good, and some were only okay. None were terrible or disgusting. It was exactly what I would expect to find in a place serving 2000 meals at the same time. We ate lunch and dinner in both the main dining room and the buffets, but actually preferred the buffet because it was more casual. The dinner food was better in the dining room, but we were so tired by that time (after long excursions and then a couple of hours of pool time) that we just wanted to grab a bite to eat at the buffet. We never waited more than 5 or 10 minutes for the main dining room (we usually went around 8:00 to the Palace). We ate at Pacific Heights (extra charge), which was pretty good, but not THAT great. One nice touch: They heard us wishing happy birthday to one of my travel mates (we didn't tell them it was his birthday) and they brought out a cake and sang "Happy Birthday" (no charge). It was a good size cake, and we were full, so they just put it on a to-go plate.
I have no interest in a midnight buffet - I would be sick if I ate again at midnight. So I really didn't care that they didn't have that available.
As for activities, we enjoyed the craft classes (I wouldn't do crafts at home, but it was fun on the ship!); the music trivia with Dr. Dean was fun; I didn't go to the shows, but my travel mates really enjoyed them, especially the one that was called "Sea Cirque" or something like that. We liked the Hawai'ian duo that played at the pool in the early evening - very relaxing while sitting in the hottub sipping a drink.
The pool was never very crowded except the day we went by the Na pali coast - and everyone still got chairs. That day we did have to wait about 5 or 10 minutes for a towel, which I didn't mind (what's 10 minutes?!?) but other people were unbelievably mad.
I thought the staff was very nice and helpful. If we asked a question and they didn't know, they always ran and asked someone else. The crew is young and cheerful (who else would do this job???), and I'm not very demanding, so we got along very well.
Now, here is what I think - and you can all bash me if you want, because I probably won't see it, as it is likely I will not come back to this site for a long time (until I take another cruise). Many people were very nasty and I thought they looked stupid. They were complaining loudly about the dumbest things: the elevators are slow; there isn't coconut ice cream at lunch like yesterday; the Na pali Coast wasn't that great; the ship is too long; the food doesn't taste like at home. In fact, the people I heard complaining over and over about the food, seemed to be complainers in general (I would sit with them all day on a tour bus, so I know!). Most people seemed to be having a great time. As I said, no one will say the food is the best they ever had, but I saw people putting quite a bit away (in their stomachs!). As I read in other posts, I agree that sometimes it should have been a little hotter, but it wan't as if it was cold.
All in all, If you read all the reviews and are convinced you will have a bad trip, then I'm sure you will. I saw many people who were just looking for bad things because they had read the reviews (I think most people had, from what I could tell). But there were plenty of people who had a great time and would go again - including us.
Original Post #2 (reply to POA Excursion Recommendations):
Although it is cheaper to organize your own tours or rent a car, we decided to take NCL shore excursions every day - and we were very happy with them. It was great having tour guides tell us what we were seeing - something you wouldn't get with a rental car. Plus it was very easy and thus worth the extra charge for us (we were 4 people ranging in age from 40 to 83).
Kauai: "Journey to Waimea Canyon" - very nice scenic drive; plenty of stops at lookouts
Kauai (day 2): "Scenic Hanalei" - I though this one was a little bit boring, but some of my travel mates really like it. But I would still recommend it just to see the other side of the island and the spectacular Hanalei Valley lookout.
Hilo: "Volcanoes National Park & Rainbow Falls" - easy way to see the volcano. The Thurston Lava Tube was great, but you do have to go down a steep hill (and come back up!).
Kona: "An Eruption of Flavor - A Chocolate Lover's Dream" - that was pretty good, but the last stop at a strawberry farm was a waste of time (and the driver knew it and was embarrased). I would still recommend it as an overview of Kona.
Maui: "Maui Ocean Center & Iao Valley" - both these sights are great, but if I were doing it again, I would rent a car and drive to both, then have the car for the rest of the day to go to beaches or whatever. We tried to rent a car when we got back from this excursion (at about 1:30) and they were all sold out. If you do rent a car, make reservations ahead of time. They will pick you up at the dock.
Maui (day 2): "Road to Hana" - this was the highlight of our trip! But I wouldn't recommend driving it yourself because it is pretty scary and the driver would never be able to look away from the road to see anything! Plus the tour driver had lots of interesting information to share.
Oahu: "Grand Circle Island Tour" - this was surprisingly great! Nice scenic drive. They dropped us off at the airport at 6:00.
I could not agree with your report more. I was on the Pride of Aloha on the inaugural sailing and I agree with EVERYTHING you say. The people that were complaining like to complain. Yes, it had some areas that needed much improvement, but it was not
as bad as everybody is stating. I'm glad you had a good time, and wasn't Hawaii absolutely gorgeous? I can't wait to go back.
Thanks gumpgirl and PattyL for your positive reviews of the POA. I know at first we were concerned about our Nov. 7 cruise, but fortunately we also have a positive outlook. I know there are some people that you couldn't make happy no matter what. That's just some people's personality I guess. We are looking so forward to our 6 days in Honolulu and then the cruise that it would take a lot to be disappointing for us!! Any helpful hints about things to be sure to see and do would be very much appreciated. Thanks, SueZ
We made the best of the cruise with our excursions. We didn't have time to complain
about the non-5 * food because we were busy enjoying Hawaii and doing as much as we could. If you like adventure, I would recommend ziplining on Kauai. It was FABULOUS! We enjoyed the Kipu Ranch ATV adventure on Kauai also. Remember, the cruise will be what you make of it. If you want to sit around all day on the boat and not see much of the islands, you will be disappointed. Do as much and see as much of the beauty as you can. Enjoy!! If you need any details about the excursions, let me know. I'd love to help.
Thanks for the post. I would love to know about the excursions. My husband and I are booked on the 10/17 sailing for our 25th wedding anniversary. Taking the downhill bike tour and the catamaran snorkeling excursions, among others. What in world is ziplining? :-)
Sorry but I got off the POA on 9/12 and was NOT happy at all! While I did see improvement with the cabin service... like the first three days we did not have a full complete set of towels or ice and gradually we did get those things. But for what we are paying that should always be available!
As for the food...we ate in the restaurants and paid the "per head charge" b/c at lease we got service and we were there for 2 hours but eating and enjoying ourselves over several courses. In the main dining rooms it was 2 hours with poor to little service.
My biggest complaint was witht the staff itself!
Two incidents - 1 is that my helicopter excursion needed to be changed due to my husbands weight to a different day. No problem, I asked the shore excursion guy if the price would change and he told me no but due to my husbands weight it would be surcharged and he crossed out the price on the ticket and put .5. When I got my bill at the end of the week they charged me for 3 helicopter tickets not 2.5. When I asked I was told that the third ticket was a surcharge. I fought it b/c I do not have a problem paying a surcharge but paying for a total additional ticket is another thing. After about 20 minutes of yelling they reduced the cost.
2 incident - I called the doctor at 7pm one night. I was asked by the nurse if "this was a $100 problem" b/c that's how much it would cost for the doctor to see me. When I told him yes, he asked again if I wanted to pay the $100. I knew what my problem was and that if they ran one lab test they would know too and could provide antiabiotics. When I arrived at the Medical Center, the nurse again was sarcastic saying my problem could wait to the next day. It was not a big deal, the doctor was on call and the next day it would have still cost me $50. It was more important for me to get an antibiotic in me then the $100. His tone was completely unprovisional.
I loved this cruise b/c I got to see all of the islands but if you have not booked yet and are considering I would wait until another liner starts crusining this itinerary
If I have followed recent posts correctly, I think people are getting seated in the restaurants more quickly than before, but once seated the service is still very slow.
In other words, it still takes a long time to get through dinner in the main restaurants but, now you are spending most of that time sitting in a chair inside the dinning room, instead of standing in the hall outside the dinning room.
We only waited once to be seated (less than 10 minutes for a group of 4) and were seated right away the other times when only 2 of us went to dinner (always around 8:00). As for the length of the meal, all our dining times were normal - no long waits for service. In fact, service was good, though the experience of the wait staff varied. One night we had Brian who was very good; another night we had a young woman who was very nice and cheerful, but clearly not as experienced. But she served the food just fine. Brian told us that the new crew was made up of lots of 17 and 18 year olds for whom this was their first job. But he was high-spirited and said they were all trying hard.
An American citizen who wants to work on an American Ship must join the US Merchant Marine - very much like joining the military. One must be a minimum 18 years old to join the US Merchant Marine.
International Cruise Lines generally do not hire Americans (except singers and dancers) at any age.
We are sailing on the 10/17 POA and I am VERRRRY nervous about it with all of the reviews. It was great to read yours. Did you book your excursions through NCL or on your own? Did you rent a car? If you booked them on your own, how did you do it. Thanks for any help.