Posted July 6th, 2004, 03:38 PM
Last edited by Another ship trip; July 6th, 2004 at 03:49 PM Reason: sentence needed clarification
This will be a short post--I can answer questions later. I just wrote a 5 page (on word) review of this trip and posted to Cruise Critic under the reviews for Pride of Aloha. I spent about two hours writing between loads of wash and then submitted. It said there is a backlog of submissions and they will let me know by email when it will be posted. After spending 5 pages writing a review, I DON'T want to redo it here, but will say that the flamingos had a fantastic time overall. I think there were a few who found some problems which I am sure will be addressed but I have full faith that this will become a very successful cruise itinery for NCLA. The staff from the captain, to Mr. Deering the hotel manager, the cruise director, Patty, the concierge, Al, the great photographers who we fell in love with--you know who you are-the two Heathers, Matt, the cute red head, and their fearless leader, were great. Our cabin steward/stewardess Kathleen and Nathan deserve kudos for their hard work. Yes the ship was still short staffed but that should be under control very shortly. Food quality was only average in the dining room. A disappointment for me was that this was the first cruise which did not have lobster tails offered during one night in the regular dining room. I did not eat on board one night when we went to a luau but I do not think it was offered then either. This was the first cruise I have ever taken in 15 that did not have tails offered one night. Of course they were available at the cover charge restaurant. We had surf and turf at the Bistro and there was even an extra 5.00 charge for getting both there. The food in the cover charge restaurants was very good. Since I have been cruising for 18 years, it seems that what used to be common in the regular dining rooms has now moved to the "pay for" restaurants. As recently as 8 years ago, the quality of food in the cover charge restaurants was very similar to the quality in the main dining room. This seems to be an industry standard in the mass marketed cruise lines which is a disappointment. To keep fares low, food quality has been sacrificed, sadly. I suppose you should resign yourself to eating about half your dinners in the cover charge restaurants if quality is highly important. Dining room food was not as good as most prior cruises I have taken. Deserts were good but were premade in many cases and always premade and bought in the buffet. Soups which are generally a highlight for me, were only adequate here. Breakfast buffet was good until the omelette and waffle stations as well as the bread stations disappeared along with some fruit. These stations were removed, we were told, because there was a food inspection. The first day in Kauai, I saw the inspectors, the second day they didn't offer these stations, I suppose there was still an inspection??? Yes there were often waits for the dining room at evening meals because, as we already knew, they were short staff. I found friends to eat with and it really was never a problem for me. If the wait was longer than 20 minutes, we went and had pics made, went and had a drink, sat with newly made friends at talked. I just wasn't that uptight about having to wait for dinner at times. Granted, we didn't bring our son this cruise and I can appreciate families with hungry children wanting to eat. It seemed that there was never a wait if you ate early anyway. This wait was probably the biggest complaint I heard all cruise and will adjust once all crew is aboard. The wait and the "resort fee." I had several passengers ask me if I would go in with them to refute the resort fee. I said I would not since I was aware of it prior to sailing. One honeymooning couple was quite dissatisfied with the cruise and the wait for dinner. It was their first cruise and they had no other to compare it to, but had been listening to others complain and wanted to jump on the bandwagon I suppose. Entertainment was overall very good. Loved the comedians, especially Kermit. A talk by Buzz Aldrin was an added treat. The Hawaiian ambassodor was great! We hula'd all week and made ribbon leis, ribbon flowers, paniolos, headdresses for our hula and more. This was special I imagine, to our cruise, since on the seven day trips, they will not have nearly the time that we had to do these things. Great speaker on Hawaiian culture. His talks were always packed. A plethora of shore excursions are offered and there is something for everyone. We booked all of ours prior to the cruise through independent sources, but not to worry if you don't. There is soooo much to do. Be ready for rain. It is probably guaranteed with your cruise, but does not hamper the experience. Get over your hair getting wet and remember you are in the tropics with rain forests. Short showers come and go in many areas. The sites are breathtaking. Viewing the volcano pouring into the ocean at night is phenomenal and the captain gave plently of time for viewing it. Even though we hiked four miles to see the lava and walk on it, there is nothing like the view from the ship. He also sailed quite slowly by the Na Pali coast as this is also a gorgeous site. Hopefully the full review will be available soon under "Reviews" as I don't want to repeat everything. The Flamingos were a very positive group of fun people. I would cruise with them again in a minute because of their fun, giving, friendly, and positive perspectives. Was everything absolutely perfect? No, but a cheerful crew and our positive and flexible attitudes made this an absolutely wonderful cruise. I would do this 12 days across the Pacific again in a heartbeat. Thanks Nancy and John for arranging the cruise critic party and everything. You are welcome to my home anytime. We had birthday parties aboard with kids turning various ages. Laura, your family always seemed to have fun too. Tammy, you are a hoot and my hat is off to you. You have that large family organized to the nth degree! I hope you find the missing film and baggage! Tom and Bill, I loved playing friendly poker with you guys. Margie, you have Tom's winnings around your neck I hear! Jane, your family is great and I enjoyed visiting with you folks too. If in Houston, call us! Jane went on a fishing trip and caught the second biggest swordfish (Marlin?) in the islands all year! 831 pounds!!! What an awesome picture and tale you have there. Tina and Bill, ya'll were great too. Tina, Nancy, Margie, Deb, and I hula'd in the final show along with the kiddos. I know I missed someone--who did I miss from the hula? Stacy, you and your hubby know how to party too. If you have bar questions, ask them. They have the inside scoop there! Tracey and Chrisanne, it was nice to get to meet you and your families as well. We saw your pics on the family site but I know you were very busy and had little time to post. Todd and Tony, you guys were great too. Tony even won a bingo game--you go! Margie also won one for 300. too. Marilyn, it was so great to meet you. You have such a giving spirit and I am glad I got to visit with you and your family at the hotel post cruise too. I love my flamingo hat and it came in quite handy throughout the cruise. The lanyard too. And our door signs were awesome! I cannot say enough about the flamingos. We will probably be sailing on NCL this Thanksgiving out of Galveston on the Sea. Hubby wants to do more diving and these are great places for that as we have done these islands many times. Come to Galveston and join us. The Sea is an older ship and has no balconies (boo) but the flamingos will have fun regardless. It was great vacationing with all of the flamingos as well as some of the new friends we met including one couple from my home town, Jim and Karen. Folks, a vacation is what you make of it! You spent many hours earning the vacation you take. Now enjoy it. If there are a few lemons, add some sugar and make some lemonade! Hawaii rocks!