First and foremost I would like to point out that this cruise got off on a bad start as far as I am concerned. We booked through Orbitz travel group and paid for a quad stateroom. When booking this trip I was ensured that I would receive a room with two upper bunks and two lower beds. This being something that is the cruise industry standard if you will. It is something that has always been this way as far back as I can recall. Imagine my dismay upon opening room 5102 on board the ship, which reeked of a mold smell, only to find three beds and a folded cot. We did not receive the room that was promised to us as described above. The room was small to begin with, but having to fold a cot out into the middle of the space made the experience almost unbearable with four people in the environment. Also I would like to note that my husband was the one who had to fold and unfold the cot each day as our room stewards were virtually useless. (This I will describe in more detail shortly.) My husband claims he hurt his back because of having to perform this task all week long. Logically, upon seeing the room we had received I proceeded to reception so that perhaps we could be moved to a true quad room. We spoke to Janet, who claimed to be a supervisor, and she snapped back with, “I could maybe have you in another room by Tuesday…” Mind you this cruise began on a Friday. It did not matter either way though, as we were never contacted for a room change.
Since there was no option but to stay in room 5102, we expected the service would at least be decent. The service was less than stellar in reality. Allow me to explain. Firstly, our room was hardly ever serviced unless we would call reception. On top of that we never received the proper amount of toiletries (i.e.: towels, hand towels, etc.), had to use the same dirty glasses all week as they were never replaced, the shower gel was never refilled, we never had ice put into our ice bucket, we never had our beds turned down at night, and absolutely no mints were on our pillows at night. Upon talking to some other passengers, the consensus was that about half of us received mints and half did not. Furthermore on Saturday morning (the second day of the cruise) we discover that our cabin has no hot water. We call reception to tell them of the issue only for them to say, “We’ll put a work order in for it…” That is all well and good, but the issue was not immediately resolved. In fact, the issue was not resolved until two days later. This means that my family and I had to take cold showers for two whole days. We were not alone either. When talking to other passengers it was apparent this was a ship-wide problem. Additionally on this Saturday in Maui, we were ready to disembark to venture forth to a beach on the island only to discover the crew was not handing out beach towels by the gangway as they do on other ships. A rude older crew member told us to go up by the pool to find some beach towels. We proceeded to the top on the ship to the pool deck to find out they were out of pool towels. (Note that ‘being out of things’ soon became a common theme for this cruise.) We were then told by a pool attendant to see reception about the issue. Reception was totally disgusted we asked them for towels and promptly told us to see our room steward for the towels. After being sent on this wild-goose-chase we had to hunt down a steward in the hall juxtaposing our stateroom. She insisted that we must see reception about the issue and only went to look for towels when we tell her we had already been to reception. After waiting 20 minutes still with no beach towels in our possession, we decide to take the regular bath towels from our room and head off to Maui. The steward never did give us our beach towels that day and we had already spent close to an hour of valuable beach time searching for our own towels. It was at this point of total frustration that we decided waiting for towels was less important than seeing an exotic island. What type of ship runs out of beach towels? Needless to say, I was very much unimpressed.
As for entertainment on the ship, there was certainly a lack of it—literally. Again I would like to point out that this cruise started on a Friday. The first show in the showroom, a comedian, was on a Tuesday. There were four more shows after this. Accordingly, this meant that there was no evening entertainment Friday evening to Monday evening of the cruise and certainly no welcome aboard show. In addition, there was no captain’s cocktail party as usual. There was, however, a “meet the captain” session in the atrium. The problem was the captain didn’t show up! Of course you can forget the complementary cocktails that are traditional at this event. Lastly, we are latitude members. They did have a repeaters party, but only after complaining numerous times did we receive our Pride of Aloha pins.
Moving onto dining, I would just like to say that the experience as a whole was an industry low. Carnival, which I used to consider the industry low, made the NCL America dining experience look like something from a Ritz Carlton. To open with, I would like to point out my concerns with the buffet-style restaurant. The main concern that comes to mind was the lines. I do not mind waiting in a line for food so long as the wait is reasonable. It’s when the wait starts to get up to about 30 minutes that I get a little bit worrisome. There was one day that they had a pasta station set up where one could customize their pasta choice. I got in what I thought looked like a short line consisting of about five people. After about 30 minutes, I was only second from the front. Soon after, I gave up. No pasta in the world is worth waiting that long for. In the morning a similar wait time was common for the omelet station. Moreover the normal line was also very slow because you could not dish out your own food. Everything from drinks to condiments to meals had to be served to you by the surly crew members. It was impossible and not worthwhile to get a drink refill because of the wait. On one occasion I was in the main line waiting for pizza. I suppose one must only be allowed one piece, because when I asked for a second piece the crew member slapped the piece down onto my plate in a rude manner. On another occasion, the line for burgers was wrapped into random places on the outer deck. The buffet line must have gotten so bad that an announcement was made for guests to come to the lower dining rooms so as to relieve the upper restaurant.
In the main dining room, service was much the same. By this of course I mean slow and shoddy. The common wait to get seated in a main dining room was about 45 minutes to one hour. On one night after we got seated we waited for 20 minutes just to receive four iced teas. It was common not to have butter on the table or water in the water glasses. As one can imagine, dining at a main dining room was at least a two hour event—that is once seated. One thing that was quite shocking was witnessed in the main dining room when an elderly couple complained because they waited an hour only to discover the wait staff did not put their name on the list. After the couple was out of sight, the two young women at the podium were laughing at the patrons and making fun of them for complaining. On another occasion a woman complained about the wait when the crew member quickly retorted, “Then take Carnival next time ma’am!” Even more disappointing was the fact that the restaurants were often out of many food choices. They were out of pizza once, smoked salmon once, apple juice once, and they were out of soup once—in an up charge restaurant! I was disappointed that lobster was not served on this cruise as well—a cruise industry tradition so it seems. I would like to point out that the quality of food in the up charge restaurants was more akin to the regular food on most other cruise ships. The service was just as slow however. Why I must pay additionally for this type of service and food is beyond me.
I would now like to point out some general flagrant flaws with the Pride of Aloha. Perhaps the most blatant error that I discovered was the lack of a life boat drill. If one did occur, we were not made aware of it. There were no announcements for the event and no ringing of the ships horn (with seven short and one long blast). I am fairly certain a life boat drill did not occur and if I am not mistaken this is a federal violation of maritime law! Either way, I would not trust the competency of Pride of Aloha crew in the event of an emergency. Additionally, we got to talking to some guests who said that they had raw sewage backing up into their staterooms and that NCL said that they could do nothing about it. Again, this is a violation of the US health code I believe. Another couple said that upon embarking they discovered that their stateroom had not been cleaned since the previous week’s cruise and that there were peanut shells on the verandah. Lastly, I would like to point out something of interest concerning the staff. I got to talking to a nice young woman on the dining room staff that said she only gets 5 hours of sleep a night maximum and no off days. This is against the US labor laws. I told the woman this and she said, “[that] we are trying to organize a petition to NCL but we haven’t had the time to congregate together to do so…” I feel that I can validate the overworkedness of the crew from something I witnessed whilst in the port of Kona. An NCL badged crew member was sitting by the docks crying with other NCL crew members around her. They were trying to convince her to reboard the ship and all she kept saying was something to the effect of, “There is no way in hell I am going back on that ship…I have friends coming to the airport soon to pick me up…”
In conclusion, I honestly can not believe that NCL can market Pride of Aloha to consumers as a vacation product. After coming back from this mess of frustration I feel I never really took a vacation. The aggravation of this ship got so bad that during the third day of the cruise, I decided to call Orbitz telling them of my concern since I could not get satisfaction from any crew member. The nice young woman told me to write a detailed letter of my experience to their company and to NCL. Also, on the last night of the cruise I went to the reception desk to remove all of my tips. Janet, again at the desk, was quite rude. She hardly spoke and only threw some sheet at me very quickly so I could sign it. I am sorry, but no member of this crew should be tipped for their efforts. I am not going to reward bad service. I know that I am not alone in my utter disgust for this cruise experience as literally every passenger I came into contact with shared the same or similar concerns. My family and I are from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For us to travel to a destination such as Maui Hawaii, you must understand that this is a rare, costly event and that I expected a much better cruise product especially for traveling such a distance. I would not recommend this cruise to anyone and I am not certain I will be back on NCL myself. It is my sincere hope that you understand the magnitude and the shortcomings of this NCL vessel and her crew. This is a disgrace for NCL and I just want to make sure these concerns go the proper authorities of this once stellar company.
I am sorry if you have already booked this cruise, as most of the time you are in Hawaii anyhow--which is great. I just have a gripe with Pride of Aloha. If you have any questions just ask...