Truth about cruising to Hawaii

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Long Island
30 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
My wife & I are planning a Hawaiian cruise in the early Fall. After reading the reviews posted on the site, I'm beginning to have second thoughts. What's the real lowdown on these cruises? Is the ship really dirty? Is the service really so bad? The bad reviews outnumber the good reviews by 6 to 1. Is it only the people who were disappointed that post? Let me know. Thanks.
111 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
We sailed on the POAM and the ship was beautiful and clean. Hawaii was also great. The only thing we didn`t like was the food and service in the dining room. Make reservations as soon as you get on board. If you eat in the specialty restaurants, I think you will be OK. It`s worth it to see hawaii.
Flagler Beach, Florida
6,905 Posts
Joined May 2006
Originally posted by margaretmerrill
We sailed on the POAM and the ship was beautiful and clean. Hawaii was also great. The only thing we didn`t like was the food and service in the dining room. Make reservations as soon as you get on board. If you eat in the specialty restaurants, I think you will be OK. It`s worth it to see hawaii.
We absolutely agree with the above! Cruised PoAm last week and had a FABULOUS time! Couldn't recommend it any more highly and I have been on numerous cruises on a number of cruise lines! You can read my review on this and the Hawaii boards! We had the vacation a lifetime!!!
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0 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
I was on the POA in 2004. Let me give you some truthful answers:

1.) The Pride of Hawaii just launched this year. It is the most moderan and newest ship in the NCL fleet. Very similar to Star and Dawn, the flagships of the fleet.

2.) The Pride of America launched in 2005 and was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly. Another new ship.

3.) The Pride of Aloha was launched in 1999 as the Norweigan Sky and underwent a million dollar refurbishment in 2004 and was rechristened as the Aloha. Although the oldest and smallest of the NCL America fleet, I can personally say that she was clean and a great ship.

4.) The service issues in the dining rooms seem to continue to be the biggest issues. I think it all comes down to the all American Crews. Americans just don't like to work the long hours that cruise careers require. By law, the Pride ships, being American flagged, must have 75% American crew and since most of the command and engineering crews are international, that means that dinning and room staffs are almost all American. It has been an issue that has plagued NCL since the launch of the Aloha in 2004.

5.) Food is a subjective topic. If you read about the NCL International ships (as well as the other lines), you will find just as many negative comments about the food on those ships. Too many times, the food reviews get tied in with the service reviews.

6.) The Pride ships are the best way to see Hawaii. It is great to not have to pack and repack and go from airport to hotel to airport to hotel.

7.) Hawaii cruises are different from any other cruise in the fact that they are very port intensive. You basically use the ship for sleeping, eating and evening entertainment. So much of your time will be spent on shore excursions.

8.) All other cruise lines Hawaii itineraries either start in Mexico or LA and require a several day sea crossing which either makes the cruise longer and/or restricts your time in Hawaii.

Hope this helps.
Flagler Beach, Florida
6,905 Posts
Joined May 2006
I amend my orignal agreement with the first person who posted and I copied. We had NO issues with service or food quality in the dining rooms on our cruise last week. NEVER had a meal last longer than one hour and only had to wait longer than 10 or 15 minutes one time (Lobster/formal night) and they gave us a beeper like at any good land restaurant. I guess we had a VERY good week! We also like all the food and had NO complaints! OUR CABIN WAS KEPT VERY CLEAN AND THE SHIP SEEMED SPOTLESS AT ALL TIMES! Please read my review linked on my last post!
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Wylie, Tx.
228 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Just to second the above post, We sailed on Pride of Aloha in May 05. We had cruised twice before. It was a little different type of cruise, but very enjoyable. We would do it all over again. Just relax & enjoy the cruise. don't spend your time looking for things that are wrong. On any vacation there will be things that don't suit you.

Life is way too short to stress out over a few things that go wrong on vacation.
Long Island
30 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Thanks for all the info. I suspected that if you go with the flow, everything is alright. We'll be booking soon & I'm sure we'll have a great time. We're pretty laid back. If there is anything else I should know, keep posting.
2,304 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
I did Pride of America last October and also Pride of Hawaii maiden voyage recently. Both ships are really beautiful. The itinerary in my opinion is really superior to what other cruiselines offer, with the possible exception of twice-a-season repositioning cruises.

I've lived in Hawaii most of my life and done most every major cruiseline.

We loved our PoAM cruise overall. We walked off with a feeling of WOW, that was nice, so the people I was with asked to do another one. I'll skip talking about all the things we liked and say that the main dining room food was subpar and had quite slow/poor service. We avoided waits for tables by showing up when the opened. The service and food quality at specialty restaurants Jeffersons and East/West (asian) were really excellent, but the (free) italian specialty restaurant food was just ok. I did read some complaints in reviews about bad room stewards but we were lucky there.

We totally loved the maiden voyage of POH also, wish they did S.F. to Honolulu regularly. I thought the food was significantly improved over the PoAM cruise 9 months earlier, competitive with other cruiselines. But now I read a bunch of reviews complaining about food and I'm second guessing myself. The service was still a bit slow, but we had some better waiters than we had on PoAM. Suite passengers get fantastic service for breakfast/lunch at cagneys, and amazingly yummy berry compotes. I thought the menu & food at EastWest specialty on PoAM was far better than the asian equivalent on POH. POH had fantastic twin pool + Slide setup, while pool setup on PoAM was pathetic. Most people are probably off the ship most days and don't care, but I got good use out of the pool.
I really loved POH and everyone I came across seemed to love it to, so now I'm amazed seeing some bad reviews. I know the June 5th folks definitely seem to have a worse experience than maiden voyage folks.

Well duty calls so I'll cut this short.
49 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
My opinions are well documented elsewhere so I won't bother repeating them. In short my experience was disappointing to the degree that I won't board another NCL ship, despite having heard that PoA was an anomaly and that the other ships are much better run.

I would try another cruiseline first myself.
Houston, Tx
650 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
We also took the Pride of Aloha cruise in May of '05. There had been many bad reviews, mainly about dining. I only had two complaints about the cruise, one, with being in port every day, it was very busy, we just didn't take enough time to relax. Personally, I would have liked a sea day or two. The second complaint was the design of the ship itself. By that I mean you couldn't get there from here. For example, if you were in the "Crossings" restaurant and wanted to go to the front of the ship, the only way of doing it was to go up one deck go forward and then back down. Our service in the restaurants was always great. Never took longer than about an hour to eat, and that included dessert. We did make it a point to be there when the restaurants opened, so we were pretty much able to choose where we wanted to sit, and to get the same waiters. We enjoyed the cruise very much, in fact are thinking about going again next fall on the Pride of Hawaii.
149 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
I have sailed on both the Pride of America and Pride of Hawaii and would recommend either ship. It get's old hearing and reading negative comments about an all American crew and that American's are lazy. I take offense to this because I am American and work hard, like most of you do....What you want to keep in mind about an all American crew is that they are unionized. Therefore, they have specific job descriptions and have to adhere to them. So if you see a glass on a table in the pool area and a crew member walks by it don't freak out! They maybe a housekeeper whose job description does not include gathering dirty dishes from the pool area....
335 Posts
Joined May 2006
We just got off the POAl and had a great time. Everywhere we looked the ship was clean, the food was good and the service was fine. Here's what I have decided, this was our 3rd cruise, first on NCL, every cruise we have been on had quite a few negative reviews. So I think the key is expectations. The dining rooms serve 2000+ people, the food is not (on any cruise) the most fantastic food I have ever had BUT it is very good. My hubby thought NCL was the best I thought Princess was the best but only by a little. We thought it was a wonderful way to see the islands. Having been to Hawaii several times, I would say it's not as relaxing because we wanted to see several places at each island. But that's not NCL's fault. Maybe it's because we love to travel and I have NEVER had a bad day while on vacation!! I say go, shop around and get a good deal because if you feel like you paid too much, as one lady did, you will probably not have as good a time.
Sheridan Beach (Seattle, WA)
4,348 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Prior to ANY cruise I have read lots of negative reviews and started wondering just what kind of time we might have. Then we get on the ship and start to wonder just what those people were complaining about!

Take the reviews with a grain of salt and make the cruise what YOU will make of it. Attitude is so important.

Have fun!
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charlotte nc
469 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
exactly some people are never happy. I've stayed in fine hotels, and had a great time got home read som reviews and thought did i stay in the same place. Ive also read reviews worried myself to death and then had a great time. like i said some people are never happy
893 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by lambs2
We absolutely agree with the above! Cruised PoAm last week and had a FABULOUS time! Couldn't recommend it any more highly and I have been on numerous cruises on a number of cruise lines! You can read my review on this and the Hawaii boards! We had the vacation a lifetime!!!
Great review! We are on the POH in Jan. and hope they offer the half price nights in the specialty restaurants as well. That would be great!

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434 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Not to be too repetitive of the remarks of other posters, but I have to agree that the NCLA Haiwaii cruises are wonderful. I sailed on the POA back in January 2005 and absolutely loved it. There were a couple of minor problems that we noticed onboard that we had not experienced on our other NCL cruises --- i.e., our room steward and the main dining room food were only average to good, not consistently very good like other cruises we have been on. However, the specialty restaurants and nightly shows were outstanding, easily the best we have had at sea (compared to Disney Cruise Line, Princess and RCCL). And the 7-day itinerary is so port intensive that you will spend less time onboard than other cruises.