Aloha, Just got back from Pier 10 where I interviewed passengers as they exited the Pride Of America this morning.
I'll post the details of the interviews on my websites early next week. As with the Pride Of Aloha I interviewed these groups separately so that they didn't overhear one another, I also tried to make a random selection of couples/families, young/old.
Almost everyone loved the concept of seeing the Hawaiian Island by cruise ship. The bulk of the passengers liked Maui then Kauai the most. Every family with kids raved about the children’s program, the kids loved it. They also stated that getting on and off the ship was very smooth.
The ship appears to be having engine problems, second time in a month. They arrived 2 hours late into one port, causing problems with excursions, and had to change the itinerary in order to get back to Honolulu Harbor on time this morning. A variety of issues came up that all seemed to be generator related, a power outage, no air-conditioning at times, hot water problems, and toilets sometimes wouldn't flush. I've got a call in to my NCL PR
contact to see if I can get some details.
The situation on this ship is nowhere near as problematic as it was last year on the Pride Of Aloha. Only one group that I interviewed had an enjoyable cruise and didn't experience any problems. As for the rest, one passenger put it best, a senior executive in charge of operations with Macy's department stores stated "It's about service, they just don't get it".
Everyone loved the ship, It’s a beautiful new ship. And everyone loved the Hawaiian Islands and it's people. Problem appears to be a lack of staff and the consistency in staff and their training. Long waits for meals in the main dinning rooms. Most were seated quickly, but dinner could take 3 hours. Common complaint was how long it took to get a water/tea glass refilled. No complaints about dirty rooms, some room stewards were very attentive and hard working, others were not. (Note: about 30 temp workers boarded the ship this morning to help the crew clean/prepare cabins.)
It also appears that the many of the hardworking members of the crew are getting tired of the other non-productive crew members and voiced their dissatisfaction directly to passengers. I was surprised at the amount of "inside"/crew information some of the passengers were aware of. They spoke of vast numbers of crew members who had quit, romances and drama between crew members, and employee contract details.
Many who had cruised before had four common comments, the rooms were small, service was uneven, they felt overcharged for onboard services, and they wouldn't cruise with NCL again. First time cruisers seemed to enjoy the cruise more, but even most of them wouldn't recommend the Pride Of America to family or friends. FreeStyle cruising got a 50/50 response.
One woman as so disappointed that she called home to a friend and told them to cancel their cruise that was scheduled for later this year.
My conclusion is that if your looking for a convenient way to visit the Hawaiian Islands this is a great way to do it, by cruise ship. But don't expect much from the staff of the Pride Of America.
I'm headed out to board a helicopter to photograph the WORLDS LONGEST HULA DANCER LINE on Waikiki Beach this afternoon. They have tried this before, but this time it is an "officially" sanctioned record breaking attempt. Sunday Morning I'll be greeting the Pride Of Aloah and updating my articles about that ship.