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Giantfan13

Back from The Pride of Hawaii

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Well we just returned from our vacation in Oahu and our Cruise on the Pride of Hawaii. We have been traveling for many hours so I'll try and make this as brief, but detailed as I can and will write more later.

 

As most have already said, the POH is just a gorgeous ship. The itinerary is great, but there is just some things that just don't make this cruise as great as all our other cruises. Let me say, first of all, we ALWAYS have a great time on any cruise. Our thing is just to get on the ship, and we book inside cabins for that. Cruising is always fun, but some cruise are better than others.

 

The biggest complaint we have all heard is the service, and that is still a big deal. Believe me when I say that it is not for lack of trying by the crew. They extend themselves over and above what might be considered normal, but there is not enough of them. THAT is the big problem, NCL is doing something wrong here. There are simply not enough personnel to make this cruise 4 star. They try, believe me when I say that, but you are waiting to be served, you wait for cabins to be made up, and that is because they don't have enough people working. The American crew is so friendly, they talk to everyone, smile and are always cheerful, but sometimes they look like there is absolutely no system to the madness. Things will get better though. Our first day there, we met a new head of the dining room. His name is 'Billy' (don't remember his last name). This was his first cruise and NCL brought him in from the Excalibur Hotel in Vegas, to oversee the Dining room and make it better. This is to anyone who is sailing the POH. If you eat in the main dining room and there is any problem, ask for Billy. I've told him I was going to mention his name here and he assured me that he will personally take care of any problems. Mention my handle - Giantfan, or my name 'Len'.

 

Quickly, as for other things, the menu in the Grand Pacific (the main dining room) has been simplified from all other NCL cruises we've been on. It also needs some work. The food is good, just the variety is lacking and the type of fish seemed to be more cheaply done. (We do not eat meat, so I won't comment on those dishes). On other cruises, we get Chilean Seas Bass, Salmon etc. Here we get Catfish, Grouper and Whahoo. It seems as if NCL is determined to cut corners at the cruisers expenese.

 

The shows were also just awful. We went to only two shows and they were just OK. The rest didn't even hold any interest to us. When you have the ships crew as the main entertainment for one night, things are hitting the bottom of the barrel.

 

And the last 'bad' comment was how the entire food, restaurant thing is done. There were several questions on how the reservations were done, for all the specialty restaurants and the main dining room. What was said is absolutely true, you MUST make reservations for where ever you want to eat ASAP, as soon as you get on the ship. We ate in a couple of them and the service and food were much better. The word is out though, and everyone, and I mean everyone has the same thoughts, make reservations ASAP. In the Grand Pacific it is free style, but most of the table are for 2 and 4. They take reservations for 1/2 the tables and if you don't do that, you may have up to a 1/2 hour wait to eat, especially if you do main dinner hours.

To add to this, after 9:00 the Buffet restaurtant is closed and the Grand Pacific closes at 9:30 or 10:00. After that, if you even want a snack, there is only ONE place to go and that is the Blue Lagoon, which is like a small scale restaurant. Even if you want an ice cream, a small pizza even a glass of ice tea, there is no where to get it except this Blue Lagoon and then you have to wait to be seated, served and gotten your order, maybe another 1/2 hour. I mentioned this to several people in charge that there should be a small part of the Buffet room open for things like a quick bite, a fast snack. You can't even get a cookie unless you go thru room service.

On the overnight in Maui, about 900 people attended the laua and got back to the ship about 10:00. Many were hungry and wanted something to eat. Can you imagine maybe 500 people decending on this Blue Lagoon which maybe seats 75 people??. It's madness.

 

If things like this really bother you, then believe me, this cruise is not for you. If you don't mind some slower service, not seeing great shows every night, and not gourging yourself with food at all hours of the night, then you will enjoy this cruise. As I said, we love cruising and this was still a cruise and we enjoyed it. From the itineraries you are usually so tired at night and need to get up early the next day, the late meals and shows just aren't a big deal. ( at least to us)

We loved the pools, the hot tubs, they don't come around asking you to buy drinks every two seconds, the photographer isn't in your room with you snapping pictures of everything and anything. The shops are great, even the deck chairs are newer and more comfortable.

As was said several times, this is an entirely different type of cruise. It is just a floating hotel to sleep and eat, not really like traditional cruising. If you want to see Hawaii and do a sort of mini type cruise with it, this is perfect. It was what we wanted and we had a great time. If your looking for relaxing days at seas on a ship, forget it, do the Carribean instead. You all read this site, read the reviews, so you should all know what to expect BEFORE you start. You know it, so except it and enjoy everything else.

 

I'll try and write more tomorrow. Anyone want any questions answered or just personal advice, please feel free to email me at Giantfan13@hotmail.com. Just put NCL or POH in the subject so it won't go to the junk mail.

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Nice review with useful details. I am surprised though that after attending a Luau (sp?) 500 people would WANT to eat anything at all. Most luaus I am familiar with provide a LOT of food.

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Zeno

 

They do, but from the people I spoke to, they ate about 7:00, then the show, the return back to the ship, and were looking for food. I can't say it was 500, but it was way more than the restaurant could hold. After all, you're cruising and part of that is eating also.

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i liked the blue lagoon on the star/dawn better. It was on floor 7 and had cookies and everything just sitting out there for anyone to just grab. The problem was seating which i understand is why they moved it up to the 8th floor. But this just makes it a very "formal" type thing when blue lagoon isn't.

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GiantFan13... We also spoke to the Latitudes Representative about the need to keep a restaurant open later in the evening. I suggested that they consider keeping one restaurant open until 11:30 or even midnight each evening, for folks who prefer to eat later in the evening... because they have done away with all of the midnight buffets and the chocolate buffet. Our experience with the Blue Lagoon... they have a very limited menu (Hamburger & Turkey Club)... and it seemed to be the place on the ship where all of the kids hung out... lots of pre-teens and teens. There are nearly 2500 passengers and it is likely that we were not the only ones that were looking for something to eat, or even a late night snack, in the late evening hours. Overall, our experience with the ship and crew was very positive... and we would recommend this cruise to anyone who is visiting the islands for the first time. It is a great way to see the highlights and experience some of the culture of each island. You are correct... the ship is like a huge hotel. We spent almost all of our time ashore... and managed to squeeze as much as possible into each port. That meant not returning to the ship until the last minute and sometimes late night (when we were in port overnight). This was our first trip to Hawaii... next trip, we will spend our time at the beach & golf course.

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It's not like you are going hungry, but you have to really want to eat after 10:00 to be able to get something. Being out all day, and running around, I drink a lot of Ice Tea. After Dinner, I may get thirsty, and there is no place to get just a glass of ice tea except the Blue Lagoon, and they will only give it to you if you are seated. They do have a coffee and hot water set up in the buffet which is open all night, so why not include a cold drink also and some light snacks, cookies, an ice cream machine??. I just didn't understand the reasoning behind all of this.

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I like your honest review. I look forward to your continuation on the island trips and what you saw and experienced. We are planning a trip on this ship next August. Would you recomend going this time of year? Also do you think that the problems you experienced were because this is a new ship or do you feel that NCL has problems like this on all their ships? I have sailed on NCL before, but it was in the 80's and it was a new ship. It was a wonderful cruise and the staff were always working very hard. I know it was a very large staff per occupancy for that particular ship. I also think that a different company now owns NCL, so that might be why this is happening. As far as the food is concerned, we aren't into eating large quantities of food, but we do like good quality. I don't like the idea that they cheat on that or save the quality just for the paying venues. I wish we had more of a choice for cruises in Hawaii, but the NCL seems to have that priority, no wonder they can get away with what is happening. I noticed you weren't the only one to complain about this cruise. We also love to cruise and always have a good time no matter what, but we are really looking forward to this cruise because my husband is retiring and wants to have the best time ever! I look forward to the rest of your review. Thanks again.

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As far as the food is concerned, we aren't into eating large quantities of food, but we do like good quality. I don't like the idea that they cheat on that or save the quality just for the paying venues.

 

Food is so subjective, everyone having their own opinion about it.

 

First, everyone should realise that ships with surcharged restaurants are going to cut back a little on what used to be available at the free restaurants. They going to do so just to get passengers willing to pay for excellent 5 star service, atmosphere, and food selections. If they were going to serve filet mignon, porterhouse steaks, and fresh lobsters at the free main restaurants at a high 5 star service level, who in their right minds are going to be willing to pay and dine at a surcharge restaurant?

 

Second, steaks, chicken, ham, pork, turkey, and fish are still available at the free main restaurants, and service has been lowered below 5 star levels. In the days of ocean liners, there were three classes of service for food, first, tourist, and steerage. Some will have you believe that service has fallen to steerage class, but it hasn't. Service aboard NCL ships match the service of most restaurants ashore, toursit class, which is far below a 5 star - first class level.

 

Third, most people don't eat at 5 star restaurants every night. Most can't afford it. Neither can cruise lines. If you got to have 5 star first class service, spend a little and dine in the surcharge restaurants. The additional fee of $20 to $25 per person is still significantly less than what you'll pay ashore.

 

Fourth, on a nominal seven night cruise, that's an additional $140 to $175 per person. Meanwhile, those of us satisified with 3 star tourist class service can more afford to cruise. I'm perfectly happy dining at tourist class level of service because that's what I am, a tourist.

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KKCruiser

 

First, about the time of year. It was HOT. It was the end of August, and I know the temperature is pretty constant in hawaii, but it was still HOT and high humidity. Most books of advice recomend certain activitues, like the climb to Diamond Head to be done in the AM when it is still a bit cooler. The heat is also subjective. I am not a hot/humid weather person. If that weather doesn't bother you, enjoy all you want, it's the same every day. I know the winter months are a bit cooler, but that's when the big tourist season starts in hawaii. We did happen to have a convertible a few of the days and had to keep the top up because of the heat.

 

What NCL is doing may be the theme of the future for cruise ships, simplifying the menu. Just giving good adequete food in the main dining rooms and hoping people will flock to the specialty restaurants for better food. Anyway to make a few extra bucks off of you. I have cruised NCL 3 other times and never, ever complained about the food. This particualr cruise, I rarely left the table 'stuffed'. The food was good, and you still can have as much of it as you like, only there were less choices and the 'prime' stuff was reduced.

 

Again, I want to reiterate, these Hawaiian itineraries are completely different from any other cruise you have ever been on. You really aren't even cruising, except when you are sleeping. You are paying to be housed and fed while the ship takes you thru the Hawaiian Islands. We always like a day or two at sea, just to do NOTHING except watch the ocean go by. We missed that on this cruise. We did get to see and do hawaii. We were fed, entertained and made to feel good, so, all in all, we have a good time. But if we rated this cruise along side of other cruises, this would come in last-just the cruising part of it. The itinerary would be #1.

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Food is so subjective, everyone having their own opinion about it.

 

First, everyone should realise that ships with surcharged restaurants are going to cut back a little on what used to be available at the free restaurants. They going to do so just to get passengers willing to pay for excellent 5 star service, atmosphere, and food selections. If they were going to serve filet mignon, porterhouse steaks, and fresh lobsters at the free main restaurants at a high 5 star service level, who in their right minds are going to be willing to pay and dine at a surcharge restaurant?

 

Second, steaks, chicken, ham, pork, turkey, and fish are still available at the free main restaurants, and service has been lowered below 5 star levels. In the days of ocean liners, there were three classes of service for food, first, tourist, and steerage. Some will have you believe that service has fallen to steerage class, but it hasn't. Service aboard NCL ships match the service of most restaurants ashore, toursit class, which is far below a 5 star - first class level.

 

Third, most people don't eat at 5 star restaurants every night. Most can't afford it. Neither can cruise lines. If you got to have 5 star first class service, spend a little and dine in the surcharge restaurants. The additional fee of $20 to $25 per person is still significantly less than what you'll pay ashore.

 

Fourth, on a nominal seven night cruise, that's an additional $140 to $175 per person. Meanwhile, those of us satisified with 3 star tourist class service can more afford to cruise. I'm perfectly happy dining at tourist class level of service because that's what I am, a tourist.

 

I agree with you, for the average person, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesdays or one of the Steak House Chains is the closest most people get to fine dining and I'm perfectly fine with that type of food. My wife and I go out to a 5 star type restaurant a couple times a year for our anniversary and things like that and that one meal cost over a $100.00 easily. If you want to eat like that for an entire cruise there are higher end cruise lines that will be more then happy to sell you a ticket. The mass market cruises are just that, mass market, they have to keep there prices low so the average person can afford to take a vacation.

 

Michael Wasiljov

Hagerstown, MD

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You only mention Grand Pacific and Blue Lagoon that you actually ate in. Did you eat anywhere else including room service? If so how were those restaurants/ room service? Also did you eat in any of the specialty restaurants and if so how were they?

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August is the hottest month of the year in Hawaii.

It seems hot to me here from July through mid September.

It's night time and I have the fan on high aimed at me right now. :)

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Hey Giantfan,

 

I enjoyed your honest review with interest as I am sailing Oct 23. I do hope it won't be as hot and humid as you had.

 

Where does the ship dock? Is it near Pearl harbour or another harbour all together? How far from Waikiki is the ship? Any idea what a cab ride would cost from pier to Waikiki ? We are staying the night before and would like to know.

 

Thank you

 

C.

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It's a lot cooler in late October.

 

The ship docks at the waters edge of Downtown Honolulu.

Pearl harbor, the Airport, and especially Waikiki are not terribly far.

If you're on the town side of Waikiki it can be pretty close indeed.

Taxi from Waikiki to cruise is going to be less than $20 in any case.

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I agree with what Mike said. We got around on 'The Bus' most of the time. It is a really great and inexpensive way to get around town, to all the places of interest if you do not want to rent a car. While the main points of interest are fairly close, they are defiantely not walking distance.

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i liked the blue lagoon on the star/dawn better. It was on floor 7 and had cookies and everything just sitting out there for anyone to just grab. The problem was seating which i understand is why they moved it up to the 8th floor. But this just makes it a very "formal" type thing when blue lagoon isn't.

 

I'm surprised they do this on any ship these days because of the spread of things like the Norovirus. I wouldn't take a cookie off a plate/tray that had been sitting out for anyone to grab (and then maybe put back or what have you). It's really not good food safety to have things left out like that on a large ship with so many pax and staff.

 

beachchick

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Hey Giantfan 13,

 

Thankyou and MIkekaye for you reply regarding where the ship docks. Thankyou. Our flight home leaves at 5:20 pm so I was thinking that we could do the flight easy thingy (whatever it is called) where NCL takes your luggage to airport so you are free to do whatever for the day. I believe it costs $20.00 pp. I thought we would do that as were are 3 couples travelling. Thought we could take the local bus to go see Diamond Head or go see Pearl Harbour....or would it be better to book the Pearl; Harbour tour with NCL or would it be cheaper to get there ourselves as ship tours are free (right?). What is your suggestion?

 

You have been quite helpful. Thankyou.

 

C.

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A better plan would be to rent a car from Thrifty for the time you will be in Ohau. You can rent a car for $35-$40 and that is cheaper than cheacking your luggage and getting a cab to take you to the airport.

 

We called, made a reservation (Blue Chip) with the Thrifty Airport location. We called them as we were disembarking. They told us a van would be by in about 20 minutes to get us. We gathered our luggage, had a porter bring it across the street (where the rental car vans congregate) and waited maybe 10 minutes. the shuttle came, took us to the Thrifty location and we were off in about 10 minutes later. Our flight left at 4:30 so we only had about 4 hours to do something. We went to the Dole factory and it fit right into our schedule. we returned the car, they shuttle you to your airline and our only cost was that of renting the car (a few dollars tip to the drivers who helped with our luggage).

 

We flew AA, and we were told we could check our luggage as early as we wanted if we were flying out that same day. We went to the airport as soon as we got our rental to check the luggage. We didn't really want to have it in the rental all day. But the AA location at the airport wasn't checking anything in until 10:00 AM, and there was a huge line already. We took it with us, and in the afternoon, there was NO line and we breezed thru check in in maybe 25 minutes.

Hope this helps.

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It's not like you are going hungry, but you have to really want to eat after 10:00 to be able to get something. Being out all day, and running around, I drink a lot of Ice Tea. After Dinner, I may get thirsty, and there is no place to get just a glass of ice tea except the Blue Lagoon, and they will only give it to you if you are seated. They do have a coffee and hot water set up in the buffet which is open all night, so why not include a cold drink also and some light snacks, cookies, an ice cream machine??. I just didn't understand the reasoning behind all of this.

 

I totally agree... On Carnival ships they keep one section of the buffet open till way after midnight....I believe 2 AM it closes on the Legend. They serve cold cuts, fruit, danish, pizza....quick and easy things like that. They keep the beverage station open 24/7 so one can get something to drink any time of the day. We tend to snack late at night after the shows and or before going back to our cabin for the night. Can't do that on NCL ships unless you fight for a seat at the Blue Lagoon.

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Cruisingisforme,

 

We also had an early flight at about 4:40 p.m. We did the same thing as GiantFan13... Rented a car with Thrifty. We walked off the ship with our luggage at approximately 7:30 a.m. and called thrifty for a pick-up in the park area across from the entrance to the Aloha Tower shopping center. We were shuttled to the nearby Thrifty location, picked up a car and spent about 6 hours sightseeing. We stopped at Dole Plantation, drove the North Shore along sunset beach, stopped briefly at Turtle Bay Golf Course, had Shave Ice at Matsumoto's, drove back to PunchBowl cemetery, then back to the rental location at about 2:30 p.m. We were shuttled to the airport and checked in without delay. The shuttles were free except for tips... and we just threw our luggage in the trunk. We had a very enjoyable day and the cost was minimal.

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