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UPDATE: Pride of Aloha
Based on Interviews with Exiting Passengers - December, 3, 2006

By Bruce Murray, Publisher CruiseLines.US

Spent most of this morning visiting with passengers as they exited the POA cruise ship at the Aloha Marketplace pier. It appears that things haven't changed much on this ship. The comments from 16 months earlier still seem to be accurate.

Pride of Aloha Reviews
Based on Interviews with Exiting Passengers - August 21, 2005

By Bruce Murray, Publisher CruiseLines.US

Send me your Pride of Aloha Cruise Reviews/Comments

pride of aloha

Spent Sunday morning August 21, 2005 at the Aloha Tower cruise terminal interviewing 12 groups of passengers as they exited the Pride Of Aloha after its seven day Hawaiian Island cruise.

The Pride Of Aloha has had some serious problems during its first year of operation here in the Hawaiian Islands and I've been very disappointed in NCL and the treatment of it's passengers. Passenger lawsuits are pending against NCL over poor service. It appears that the situation on the ALOHA continues to improve, but due to NCL's past lack of customer concern I cannot recommend any cruises operated by NCL. Latest BBB Report on Norwegian Cruise Line.

I and others here in the islands have been very disappointed with the use of the words "pride" and "aloha" when attached to such a poor product.

Passenger satisfaction continues to improve, of the 12 groups I spoke to nine of them would recommend this ship to friends an relatives. Three groups said they liked seeing the Islands by ship, but won't advise others to book the Pride Of Aloha.

Those that would recommend the Pride Of Aloha made comments that were basically items the I feel many would consider standard requirements for a good cruise. Food was ranked good to very good to excellent. Entertainment was ranked very good to excellent. But most agreed the cabins were small, very small.

The biggest change has been that those that have previous cruise experience have enjoyed this ship more than they have in the past. One couple decided to change from a Princess cruise to NCL for their Alaska cruise next summer.

Of the complaints, one couple, honeymooners from Chicago, found the cabins small and couldn't get the cabin attendant to properly clean the room. They also complained that room service only had one or two items available from the dozen or more items on the menu. This after discovering that food service ended at 9pm when the in cabin guide stated 11pm.

Another couple from NJ, with 30 cruises between them, didn't meet their cabin attendant for the first 3 days, but stated that cabin was kept clean. They didn't care for Freestyle dinning. They rated the food and service only average in the main dinning room. They liked the entertainment but still won't recommend the Pride Of Aloha due to it's unprofessional poorly trained crew.

At check-in the last group, seasoned cruisers from Massachusetts, found their cabin hadn't been cleaned from the previous passengers. On a daily basis they said their room was rarely cleaned by the time they returned from shore excursions. By late afternoon the cabin was usually serviced. They found the food to be fair, and expected more "Hawaiian" food. They felt that the buffet was very poorly monitored by the crew, unsupervised children were eating hand to mouth on a regular basis.

I'm very pleased to see that a little pride is returning to the Pride Of Aloha.

NOTE: The information below is provided for historical reference.

Pride of Aloha Reviews
Based on Interviews with Exiting Passengers - January 30, 2005

By Bruce Murray, Publisher CruiseLines.US

Send me your Pride of Aloha Cruise Reviews

Spent Sunday morning January 30th, 2005 at the Aloha Tower cruise terminal interviewing 14 passengers as they exited the Pride Of Aloha after it's seven day Hawaiian Island cruise. 12 were parts of families/groups that represented 36 passengers, 2 (a passenger and tour planner) represented a group of 108. The reviews were fairly random, but I did try and get a mix of ages so the sample may not have been representative of the actual passenger load that the POA carried that week.

In general, since my 9/12/04 exit interviews (See Below), conditions on the NCL Pride Of Aloha have dramatically improved but still need work. I first asked "How did you like your cruise". In a general sense responses changed dramatically from last Septembers "worst experience of my live" opinions to today's "OK", "fine", "lovely", "could have been better".

I told passengers I was going to ask them two sets of questions, first about visiting the Hawaiian Islands by cruise ship, and then ask them about their Pride Of Aloha experiences. Everyone of them basically said that they loved the Islands and seeing them on a cruise ship was an enjoyable experience. Most found they liked Maui the best. Many rented a car and explored Maui & Kauai on their own.

When asked about the ship the reviews divided into two groups. Most of those that had cruised before found the NCL ship disappointing, while those that were on their first cruise thought is was OK.

  • NOTE: First let me state that Pride Of Aloha had plumbing problems that started Sunday a few hours after they set sail and continued until Sunday's arrival back in Honolulu. The first night a woman from Arkansas got out of her bed to find the cabin floor covered with water, her first thought was that the ship was sinking!!! Another woman from Florida dressed for the flight home on Sunday stepped out of her cabin into a flooded hallway. I found her sitting at a table at the Aloha Tower Marketplace trying to dry out her socks. It appears that most of the problems were on deck 10 but decks other decks also had water. Even though the ship was said to be "sold out" they were able to move those effected on the deck 10 to other cabins. In theory this was a one time event, but several passengers thought that for a new ship it shouldn't have had so many problems. NOTE: This is a recently redecorated ship, not a NEW ship!
  • ncl pride of aloha

    CABIN: Most passengers found their rooms as they expected them to be. Only one passenger I interviewed had to ask to have their room cleaned. The cabin had been cleaned but the sheets had not been changed. They asked that the sheets be changed, they were. But the next morning they realized that the cabin attendant had changed only the sheets, but not the soiled pillow case.

    Many commented that they had to ask for items or services that they felt should have been provided by the cabin attendent. Two examples were nightly turn-down, and cleaning of the bathroom mirror daily.

    Several said they had bad smells in their bathrooms and couldn't leave their bathroom doors open because it would stink up the cabin. This may have been related to the plumbing issues on this cruise.

    The most common issue on the Pride Of Aloha was the small size of the cabins. The majority of cabins are very small and really only able to serve two adults comfortably. When the sofa bed is extended it is very difficult to move around the cabin. For seniors or those with mobility problems this could be a serious issue.

    FOOD: Many Passengers continue to be dissatisfied with the food and drinks in the Pride Of Aloha buffet. Cleanliness doesn't seem to be an issue anymore, but availability seems to be a problem. It wasn't unusual for the self-serve drink dispensers to be empty, out-of-order or providing very watered down beverages. Coffee seems to run out early in the day. Also those that arrived at the buffet line toward the end of the serving time found selection very poor. This happened mostly to those returning to the ship after a morning shore excursion expecting to eat lunch.

    Over the past few months the number of food service complaints have been dramatically reduced. But many still thought the menu in the main dinning rooms offered very little variety from day to day. Some still commented that the restaurant service was slow and staff didn't get their orders correct. In one case the staff served the incorrect meals to a table acknowledged the error and just walked away. Some felt that NCL provides marginal service in the public areas forcing those looking for better food and service into the themed / boutique restaurants which charge a per person entrance fee.

    As in the past kids enjoyed the Kids Crew program. One parent thought several of the video games in the game room were adult in nature and not intended for kids and required adult supervision. He also found some of the machines were not functioning properly. Several parents mentioned that they felt that older passengers were annoyed at them for having small children with them.

    As for entertainment, everyone who went to the shows enjoyed them, but some found the theater uncomfortable.

    Suggestion, if you are a passenger on the POA and have a problem, if your first crew contact doesn't resolve your issue take it to the highest level of management as soon as possible. Skip middle management. On several occasions passengers went several days with problems, but it wasn't until they contacted upper management that they got some resolution.

    All said they would recommend visiting the Hawaiian Islands via a cruise ship but very few said they would recommend the Pride Of Aloha. Several said they would never cruise on NCL again. This included the tour manager for a group of 108 passengers. She had continuous problems with NCL during and even before the cruise began. She booked her group early and got a great deal. Later she was told that her group was being moved from outside cabins to inside cabins. She said that she was told that they were being moved because NCL could get more revenue from other passengers wanting those cabins. What??? I asked her to repeat it, because it didn't sound right and she said "Yes, that is what they told me".

    Passengers offered these tips. If yoy are sensitive to cool temperatures bring warmer clothes for wearing on the ship. Also most cabins have only one electrical outlet, bring a power strip if you want extra outlets. If you have a video camera, still camera, cell phone, it can be a pain getting them all recharged with only one plug.

    My personal suggestion.... Wait a few years before crusing the Hawaiian Islands. If you want to do it now try a line other than NCL. If you must go with NCL, expect the worst, it can only get better. It appears that the new NCL ship Pride Of America may also have staffing issues. Rumor has it that they are going to pull some of the experienced crew from the Pride Of Aloha and place them on the new Pride Of America leaving BOTH ships understaffed. If you want to visit Hawaii here is my suggestion: Spend 2-3 days on Oahu on Waikiki beach, and then spend a few days on two of the other islands. I would do Kauai and the Big Island.

    Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau ranking of NCL as of 02/11/2005: "Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau, due to one or more unresolved complaints." Read the latest report at: Norwegian Cruise Line

    NOTE: The information below is provided for historical reference.

    Pride of Aloha Reviews
    Based on Interviews with Exiting Passengers - September 12, 2004

    By Bruce Murray, Publisher CruiseLines.US

    Send me your Pride of Aloha Cruise Comments

    For this review I met the Pride of Aloha at Aloha Tower in Honolulu Harbor and interviewed 17 couples/groups as they exited the ship. These interviews represent the thoughts of well over 50 passengers. These NCL passengers were chosen at random, and in most cases inteviewed seperatly and didn't hear the problems and complaints of other passengers.

    The comments were mixed, but in general they felt the ship was understaffed, the crew wasn't properly trained, and things were poorly organized. A few passengers said the cruise was excellent, food was great, and the staff was very good. In both cases on deeper questioning about specifics they had experiences similar to others on the ship but didn't see them as problems.

    Many of the positive comments related to experiences off of the ship and a handful of crew members that provided excellent cabin service. Everyone loved the concept of cruising the Hawaiian Islands. All said they would like to return based on what they saw, favorite ports were pretty evenly split between Maui & Kauai. Only one couple said they would recommend the Pride Of Aloha.

    The problems I heard were the same one's I heard of before. Over the past two months I've received dozens of emails from NCL's Pride of Aloha cruisers complaining about their cruise experience. But because these were emails I couldn't count on their authenticity, but my face to face interviews cemented many issues. But the good news is that many previous issues were never mentioned by these exiting passengers.

    Most multiple complaints fell into two categories:


    - Many found their cabin wasn't properly cleaned when they arrived. It was not unusual to find personal effects of previous passengers. The items found ranged from undergarments, pile of hairbrush hair in a drawer, pills/medication on the floor, and other personal property. Towels and sheets had not been changed or did not meet the particular passenger's standards of cleanliness.

    - Cabins on the Pride Of Aloha are small, even in upper categories. This becomes a major problem when more than two passengers occupy a room. In some outside cabins when you open the sofa bed it is very difficult to move around the room. Anita Arrington of Akron Ohio, a first time cruiser and part of a group of 50, found the cabins uncomfortably small when the sofa bed was extended. Another woman traveling with Anita, a seasoned cruiser, found it unacceptable and was very unhappy with her cruise experience. Another passenger slept on the floor so that others could get to the bathroom at night.

    - Several passengers said that they had mildewed shower curtains. In one case it was replace immediately, and in another it took several days.

    - This is a difficult item to comment on based on my interviews. Some passengers had a hard time defining the different dining option they were speaking of, and everyone has different tastes when it comes to food.

    - Those that paid the extra Freestyle fee and visited the boutique restaurants got much better service and food.

    - Biggest food related issue was that the main dining room menus didn't change. Service was slow and food quality was marginal.

    - The majority of the complaints seemed focused on the Crossings Restaurant, one of the main dining rooms, and the buffet lines. But, on the positive side, it appears that the wait times in the restaurants are decreasing, and I didn't hear one negative item regarding the Palace Restaurant.

    - The Pride Of Aloha's room service menu is very limited, but unlike past reports it appears the wait times have decreased to acceptable levels.

    - Bar and Pool drink services are very slow.

    - Public free drinks, juice, coffee, etc, were always running out. Some felt this was done to motivate bar sales.

    - Staff was standing around talking or grabbing a bite to eat in the corner while passengers needed them.

    - Passengers had to clear tables before they were able to sit down in the buffet seating areas.

    - Couldn't bring food on the ship from the ports.
    - Freestyle dining fees were unfair.
    - Cabins & Public areas are very cold, air conditioning should be turned down.
    - The Karnehin's from Sandusky Ohio: No pamering and high drink prices.
    - Texas couple had to ask cabin attendant for clean towels.
    - The Wife of a Las Vegas couple was very upset that their cabin didn't have a safe.
    - The Albitz family was celebrating their daughters recent graduation from college. She enjoyed the Islands, but didn't find much entertainment geared toward her age group. She also stated that the gym didn't have much ventilation.
    - No ice sculptures.
    - No clock in the room.
    - Lots of old people.
    - No casino.
    - It took a long time for hot water to get to the faucets.
    - Passenger that never saw their cabin steward.
    - Lack of daytime activities and nothing at the dock forces passengers to take over priced excursion tours.
    - Public clubs/areas closed for private parties when the daily schedule said the area would be open.
    - Waiter couldn't open a bottle of wine, didn't know how to use corkscrew.
    - Lazy American crew.
    - The voicemail service on the cabin phones wasn't working.
    - Shopping options at the ports-of-call were all similar.
    - Older passengers found it difficult to get from one end of the ship to the other.
    - Due to problems with the deck transitions near watertight doors, a woman in a wheelchair was instructed by the hotel staff to use the service elevator near her stateroom. But several times other crew members told her she had couldn't get into the elevator or told her to get out when they entered.
    - The music from the lounge one deck below was so loud, that they needed ear plugs to sleep.


    - I didn't hear any complaints about the famous required $10 per day per passenger service fee. I asked several passengers about this fee and they didn't know anything about it. I later discovered that NCL America had decided not to charge this mandatory fee. Of those that were familiar with the fee it was an even split between people that learned of the fee from their Travel Agent when booking the cruise and those that didn't discover it until they were on the ship.

    - I ran into two internet savy parties that were informed of the Prides operational issues before they came on-board. In one case they thought conditions were better than they anticipated, another thought it was as they expected.

    - A handful of passengers were upset with their cabin assignments. It was common to hear of passengers who were booked originally on the Pride Of America and moved to the Pride Of Aloha who were disappointed in their accommodations. In several cases passengers said they booked outside cabins and were downgraded to inside cabins and didn't receive a refund.

    - One group of 150 cruisers from Las Vegas as a radio station promotion appeared to get much better service than individual travelers. They took their complaints directly to their tour companies on-board representative and received speedy resolition. Those not in a group had to deal with the front desk staff and got mixed results.

    - Another donation/fee I hadn't heard of before popped up. Passengers were told upon arrival that a $5 donation had been added to their cabin bill as a donation to the Bishop Museum on Oahu. I know this museum and it is a legitimate cause, and if passengers wanted the donation removed they had to directly request the charge be reversed. Wait lines at the front desk could be as long as 1-2 hours.

    - Those who were first time cruisers didn't seem to know better and assumed this was the way all cruises were and made the best of it. Others, some American and especially non-American passengers assumed it was due the poor work ethic of American workers and took the problems in stride.

    - It is important to note that I was told of many members of the crew who seem to be attempting to provide high levels of service, but they have been placed in situations they can't resolve.

    - The Pride Of Aloha is obviously a work in progress. Things are improving. I think the core issue isn't the US crew, but the management of the crew. I've cruised the Hawaiian Islands with a US crew on the SS Independence and it was ok. NCL has acknowledged that the ship is understaffed. Based on reports I've read in the local Honolulu media one of the main reasons NCL gives is that each week crew members leave the ship for vacations based on their contracts, 3 months on 1 month off. But logic would dictate that since the ship has had a US crew since April that each week an equal number of crew members should be returning, replacing the ones going on vacation.

    Other online POA pages:
    - Pride Of Aloha Review
    - Photos

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