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Copyright © 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman

Pride of Aloha
Hawaii, September 2005

by Luis Fernandez

This was my 8th cruise since my recent retirement; my family and I have traveled with Holland America, Disney, and Princess so I we thought Hawaii and "Freestyle" was in order. We do not get special discounts, favors, privileges nor upgrades; therefore, we are free to express a sincere opinion. Our vacation consisted of a 2 day Waikiki pre-cruise and the 7 day Freestyle Pride of Aloha. NCL arranged our stay at the Marriott where they have a Hospitality desk and they proved to be human by making mistakes. The embarkation procedure was extremely efficient as well as the disembarkation a week later.

The food in the 3 specialty restaurants on the ship was extremely well presented, however, it did not taste as good as it looked. The food in the other two restaurants where we didn't have to pay extra, was similar, great presentation, fair, mediocre, and even poor flavor. International cuisine this days has become a very non-discriminating sensationalistic mixture of "the more the merrier" ingredients. The service in all 5 restaurant was quite inconsistent.

The food choices, presentation and taste at the Hukilau Cafe and Lanai, which is where you run every morning for a fast breakfast before your port excursion, were poor, limited, and sad. There were no choices of juice like other cruise lines, however there was a machine that dispensed a watered down orange flavored and colored fluid.

The next challenge after a compromised breakfast on a tray was to find a table. Good luck--you're on your own. Most of the staff remained indifferent and apparently "Freestyle" to them was poor service and cleanliness of the place is acceptable... please look at the wooden floors! However, let me give credit where credit is due--ice cream does not cost extra like one other cruise line and you can have all you want at lunch time. And on two occasions we were greeted by the crew. Most of the time several of the were holding meetings by the kitchen door.

The floor show in the ship was just as good as any other cruise that we have experienced. Those performers are professional people doing the best humanly possible under crowded and limited circumstances. Good for them! 

The first night I had to open our bed and repeatedly call for towels and water drinking glasses. Finally the towels arrived at 11:45pm. We had terrible customer service for two days. I reported our discontent several times and on the third day I received a letter offering an apology and a $5.00 discount per person in a specialty restaurant. I went to see the person who signed the letter and asked "Do you know why you sent us this letter?" The answer was NO! 

From here on things went gradually and sadly down hill. Our ship issued a letter explaining that due to something to do with the Union we would not be charged $10.00 a day per person for the gratuities of the crew. Instead it was up to us to acknowledge and reward for the service experienced. 
So, is that why the crew was delivering mediocre performance? Three times it was announced that this was the first American ship with an all American crew in the last 40 or more years. That is great, I am an American, too, and I am very happy that we are creating jobs for Americans. But before we toot the horn so loud, shouldn't we improve and deliver good American Customer Service?

The ship needs very much general maintenance. There are small bruises and damage every where, the signs of a rush job, there is an expression, do it quick and dirty, hurry up.

We met 5 outstanding crew members, if those five wonderful Americans can do it so can the rest of the crew. I know that we as Americans take pride. We can do much better than this. There is no reason why other ship crews are running circles around us. Please, all of you--management and labor--make us proud. 

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