July 3, 2004 - Pride of Aloha at Pier 10 in Honolulu Harbor.
The first cruise of the Pride of Aloha from Honolulu was a one night charitable fund-raiser on July 3rd 2004. The ships services were donated by Norwegian Cruise Lines America and several local charities sold the cabins raising funds. Over $400,000 was raised.
My review of NCL America's Pride of Aloha, previously named the Norwegian Sky built in 1999, will be in two parts. First, the ship itself. Second, the crew and onboard services. Because it appeared that NCLA is having staffing and training problems I don't think it is fair at this point to determine the level of service of this new all American crew. For latest problems and complaints click hear.
NCL was able to convince the Feds to let them bend the rules and allow them to take a foreign built ship and register it as an American flagged vessel and crew it with Americans. This special dispensation allows them to cruise the islands without having to visit a forein port. But it appears that the GAO, Government Accounting Office, feels this special agreement "gives NCL a monopoly on interisland Hawaiian cruises." MORE
In general the public spaces of this ship are very nice, but the cabins are lacking. Just a few weeks ago this ship came out of dry dock and major refit. That being said I was surprised at the maintenance issues I found in our cabin.
It appears that Norwegian decided to upgrade and convert public spaces to give them an island feel, but they seem to have done very little to the cabins. My wife called the decor "Hawaiian Casino". Our cabin was one the best onboard, on the uppermost stateroom level the "Norway Deck" deck 10, a category AA "Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony." Only 20 or so cabins are rated higher than this cabin.
I was surprised that this "AA" grade cabin was such a budget affair. This stateroom was similar in size to cabin I had a few years ago on the lower deck of an old Carnival ship. Very small and cramped. I didn't mind it on the Carnival ship, because that is what I had paid for, but I think passengers who put out the extra money to get one of the best cabins on the Pride of Aloha may be dissapointed with what they find.
Fabrics were new, but the rest of the cabin reflected the age of this 5 year old vessel. Linens were comfortable. Bed was a bit short for me; I'm 5'11". Extra pillows in the closet would have been nice. Balcony was large with a cocktail table and chairs. Closet and storage space was adequate for a ship with a seven day itinerary. In-room safe.
As for service related items including Staff, Food & Beverage, Hotel Services, and Entertainment, I was disappointed. (Read more about Freestyle Cruising) Based on recent new articles it appears that they have had alot of crew members quit. American employees are not used to delivering the kind of work required on a cruise ship. And many of those onboard are still in training, I heard lots of problems and complaints.
Staff members I spoke with were very friendly, but errors & delays were almost non-stop. Everything from incorrect meals being delivered with great fan-fare to our table in the up-scale Kahili Restaurant, to finding personal items in our cabin left behind from the previous occupants.
Staff who wouldn't normally speak to guests were almost rude in their attempt to avoid contact with passengers.
As for entertainment the only performances that went off without a hitch were a great comedian, and several solo/duet musical acts.
Should you take this cruise? Depends on your expectations. If your looking for a nice comfortable stateroom this isn't the ship for you. But if you want to visit the Hawaiian Islands, unpack once and see several islands this is for you.
Right now, due to the exclusive deal the Federal Government made with NCL, other cruise companies are not able to provide similar itineraries.
Honolulu Cruise Terminal
Other Pride of Aloha links: Pictures - Review
Welcome Aboard the Pride of Aloha!
Body Waves Fitness Center
Royal Palms Bistro
Kumu Cultural Center
PHOTO PAGE - ONE - TWO
All Photos © Copyright 2004 Bruce Murray