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Age: 58

Occupation:Radiology Equipment Engineer

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pride of Aloha

Sailing Date: October 8th, 2006

Itinerary: Hawaii

Norwegian Cruise Lines America
Pride of Aloha Cruise Review

Pat Stires

I’ve consulted this site for our last few cruises, and thought it about time to contribute a review. My review will have three parts. First, a review of the cruise and ship, second, a report of the earthquake and subsequent events, and last, a comment on how to vacation.

The Pride of Aloha is truly a beautiful ship. The public areas are amazing, with decoration befitting a top-line cruise ship. The wood paneling, artwork, and atrium hangings were beautiful. These areas were always spotless. The two rooms we occupied were also very nice, and kept clean by the staff. Only once did we have to get our own towels when the staff forgot to restock them. While our bed wasn’t turned down every evening the room was kept neat.

Meals in the dining room were excellent. We only ate a couple of meals at the buffet on the main deck due to excursion scheduling. One breakfast there, the eggs and bacon were cold, right from the steam table. We never had a problem getting into the dining rooms, as we usually arrived within the first half-hour of opening. Late arrivals did have to wait for tables but that happens on all NCL freestyle dinning ships. My wife and I avoid the buffets for two reasons, the crowds and weight gain. Meals in the dining rooms are portion controlled.

We only ate at one premium dining room, the Kahili. This Italian style meal was maybe the best meal I’ve ever eaten on any cruise ship. The atmosphere, service, and food were superior. Again, early diners usually paid half the premium fee most days. I don’t necessarily agree with the premium dining concept, but I suppose NCL must do something to counter the lack of a casino on-board.

As far as the ship staff is concerned, we found it refreshing to talk to folks with accents and attitudes like our own. They were all friendly, and worked hard. We always treat all cruise staff, American or not, with respect, which is always returned in kind.

My wife and I had been to Hawaii before, years ago, and we both found that touring the islands by ship is the best way to see as much as possible in a single week.

The earthquake threw a great big curve at us all. It occurred just as our ship was pulling into Honolulu at the end of our cruise. The only motion we felt seemed like another docking movement. Once extension cords were run to the pier, (the power was out in Honolulu for twelve hours), we were disembarked and bused to the airport. The bus pulled up at the airport to a line of literally thousands of people awaiting flights that weren’t going to happen. After waiting about four hours, United Airlines announced that they were canceling the day’s flights. I can’t really fault them, as it must be very dangerous to handle all the details of flying without airport power to TSA, check-in, gates, or jet-ramps. The one thing they should have done is recommended alternatives, either other airlines, (Aloha and Hawaii still flew), or hotels.

Another hour of discussion and flight arrangement followed. Because another cruise ship pulled in the next day, those reservations were already booked. The next reservation we got was Tuesday night, which we grabbed.
About this time, we learned that NCL was going to keep our ship in port an extra day, and allow us back on-board. They also had to wait for five hundred passengers that didn’t make it from the mainland. This was a grand gesture on the part of NCL, but it is regrettable that they could only find one hundred thirteen of us.

After a free night on the ship, gazing at a dark, stricken city, we disembarked again, and went back to the airport on NCL buses. We spent our second day and night at the Beachcomber Hotel in Waikiki, then flew back to the mainland Tuesday night. People aren’t very sympathetic when we tell them we were stranded in Hawaii for two days, but I’m sure for some it was a major hardship, physically and financially.

Lastly, a lot of folks need to learn how to go on vacation. Most of the time on our ship we were in cell phone range. The ship also would let you check email on their system, or use your own laptop for a fee. Vacation is about getting away from these things. The only people I met who really needed a cell were the new parents checking on the six month old baby. The people back home not only don’t need to hear from you while you’re cruising, they probably find it a little insulting. The earthquake and airport emergency? There were plenty of phones in the airport.

Employers should require their workers to not check voice or e-mail while on vacation.

One last comment on shore excursions. We always book excursions with the cruise line because at least twice we have been up on the promenade deck watching the ship pull out and seen passengers arrive too late to get on board. If your cruise ship excursion bus blows a tire, the ship will wait.


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