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Norwegian Cruises aboard the Pride of Aloha
Above: Norwegian Cruise Lines Pride of Aloha Cruise Ship.

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Ship Details
Began service: January, 1999 Refurbished June 2004
Guest capacity: 2144
Total staff: 800
Length: 853 feet
Passenger decks: 11
CDC inspection score: 95

Pride of Aloha Overview

The Pride of Aloha cruise ship departs from Honolulu, HI. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Hawaii Islands.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Hawaii Islands.

On our last Pride of Aloha cruise, service was very good. While cuisine was already quite delicious in the ship's boutique eateries -- Royal Palm Bistro, Kahili and Pacific Heights, we found that standards had risen in Pride of Aloha's surcharge-free dining rooms, Crossings and Palace.

The Hukilau Cafe still offered mediocre buffet-quality fare, but service was good, lines moved quickly, and key food items didn't run out. Our cabin steward was efficient (if invisible).

Norwegian Cruise Lines ran into trouble with the debut of Pride of Aloha for two reasons. One was that the ship's unique American-flagged status meant that 99 percent of its employees must come from the U.S. The U.S. has not been a player in the onboard staffing of cruise ships; in America, there's not the same culture or tradition of cruise work.

Secondly, the ship simply wasn't ready. In a stroke of extreme bad fortune, Pride of America, the U.S.-flagged new-build initially slated for the official NCL America launch in July 2004, was swamped while docked at its shipyard during a storm in January of that year and sank to the shallow bottom. As a result of the damage caused, it was delayed for a full year and Pride of Aloha (formerly known as Norwegian Sky) was rushed into refurbishment and service.

I was on the ship's first cruise in July, and experienced problems firsthand, and so can report that it has made such a significant turnaround.

The ship offers a unique resort-at-sea cruise; passengers can spend a maximum of 96 hours in ports (that's including time in Honolulu on both ends of the voyage). And onboard, the ship incorporates elements of Hawaii into just about every aspect of the journey. Its white hull is adorned with a huge floral "lei" of pink, yellow and green that's visible for miles from each island stop. Inside the multi-story lobby atrium, passengers are welcomed with a lei greeting, and a Hawaiian fantasy of enormous, colorful tiki poles with Gauguin-inspired murals, pots of Hawaiian plants, and painted tiles with Hawaiian designs. Overhead, windsurf sails hang suspended in the air.


Whether you've booked an inside (121 sq ft.) or a suite, cabins on Pride of Aloha are small. Outside and balcony staterooms both measure 152 sq ft.; the latter's balcony adds another 50 sq ft. to the total. That balcony can be a lifesaver in cramped quarters.

Regardless of size, cabins are cheerful, and there are mattress pads on the beds and duvet covers stuffed with lightweight down comforters.

Bathrooms are disappointing. Our small, shower-only bathroom featured dingy lighting, flimsy nylon shower curtains, and minimal water pressure (and a water temperature that typically fluctuated from steaming hot to cold).

Suites come in two varieties. There are 10 penthouses (311 sq ft.), which feature two separate rooms and a luxurious bathroom with whirlpool tub. TVs have VCR's, and balconies are outfitted with furniture you can actually sit on. There are just four Owner's Suites. These are about twice the size of the penthouses and also feature living rooms with a dining area and balconies with private hot tubs. All suite passengers are entitled to butler service.


While Pride of Aloha offers NCL's much praised "Freestyle Dining" options, the smaller (and older) ship only features a handful of those found on newer and larger vessels like Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Sun. Still, the dining experience never lacked variety.

The ship has two main dining rooms: the Palace and Crossings. At least one is open for breakfast every day, lunch on some days, and both serve dinner from 5:30 - 10pm. Tables for two were plentiful and staff was gracious.

Breakfast menus feature a variety of hot dishes, including eggs, omelets, and French toast. There's a special each morning, and at the restaurant's entrance, there is a cart stocked with ingredients for Bloody Mary's and a selection of sodas.

Lunch varies; there are a handful of hot dishes as well as salads. At dinner, the menus are very simple. They don't change much throughout the cruise, but every day, there is a featured recipe from one of Hawaii's celebrity chefs.

The Hukilau Cafe is the ship's buffet restaurant and is open for three meals every day.You will encounter lines, particularly during high-traffic times. However, the ship has carved out niches for desserts, soups and NCL's trademark vegetarian Indian offerings. Food was fair to middling.

The ship's lunch and dinner buffets, held on the pool deck, were fun, festive affairs and ranged from barbecues to Hawaiian fare.

Tucked inside the Hukilau Cafe is Sprinkles, an ice cream station.

The highlights of the Pride of Aloha dining experience revolve around its three boutique restaurants. My favorite was the Italian-themed Kahili; it's elegant and narrow with banquettes overlooking windows. If there's a scampi better than its "40 Cloves of Garlic" version, I haven't tasted it! Reservations are recommended and there's a $15 per-person fee.

Pacific Heights features an Asian/Pacific Rim menu. The most significant offering here is a sushi menu. It's priced a la carte but passengers can order up to $12.50 worth (the amount of the restaurant's service fee) without paying.

The Royal Palm Bistro is the most romantic restaurant onboard; save room for the signature chocolate fondue for dessert.

Room service for most is fairly limited. But suite residents can order off any restaurant menu at the appropriate times.


Pride of Aloha has 13 different bars and lounges. The Outrigger Lounge, on Deck 11, features panoramic views. On more than one night, passengers took to the baby grand to give an impromptu concert. The Plantation Club on Deck 12 is also surrounded by windows, and is a gathering spot for a pre-dinner drink before heading to the Royal Palm Bistro. Captain Cook's Bar on Deck 6 is a pub-like lounge. The Cigar Bar is tucked away in the back with an excellent selection of aged Cognacs and a pianist playing pop and show tunes.

The Blue Hawaiian nightclub on Deck 6 features a great DJ who manages to get baby boomers, teens, kids and seniors out on the dance floor together.

At the pool area on Deck 11, there's an assortment of musical entertainment with Hawaiian flair throughout the cruise. On Monday evenings, a regional dance troupe, Tahiti Productions, performs a "South Seas Spectacular" in the ship's Stardust Theater. Two Las Vegas-style production shows round off the entertainment week in the Stardust.

Mother Nature also puts on a spectacular show for Pride of Aloha's passengers. On Tuesday afternoons, the ship does some scenic cruising along the velvety green cliffs of Kauai's Na Pali Coast. On Wednesday, Pride of Aloha takes a nighttime pass by the awesome Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. Waitresses serve glow-in-the-dark "lava flow" drinks to passengers on the outside decks. In the pitch black, under a star-filled sky, there's nothing like the scene of the fiery orange-red lava flowing down the mountain, and hitting the ocean in a plume of steam.

Pride of Aloha's shore excursion program is exceptional. There are hundreds of offerings covering all the islands and they range from sedentary fare to daredevil adventures. While it's fairly simple to book your own independent tours with off-ship operators, we appreciated the convenience and the high quality.

Fitness & Recreation

The Body Waves Fitness Center on Deck 11 is open 24 hours a day, and is equipped with a good selection of treadmills, weight machines and exercise bicycles. There's an aerobics studio next door that offers yoga, spinning and aerobics classes.

When the Fitness Center gets crowded in the late afternoons, a brisk walk on the Promenade deck is a great way to burn off some calories (3.5 laps equals one mile) and admire the view. The ship also has a basketball and volleyball court, and two golf-driving nets. There are two swimming pools and four hot tubs, as well as a shallow children's pool.

The ship's Body Waves Spa offers standard treatments, such as facials, manicures and hair styling. There's a Hawaiian twist to some of their offerings, such as Lomi Lomi massage and Coconut Body Polish. There's also a beauty salon that offers the usual services. Prices range from average to outrageously expensive.

One highlight of Pride of Aloha is its golf operation. NCL Golf Hawaii offers club and shoe rentals, onboard clinics and loads of golf-themed paraphernalia. The ship also boasts a wide variety of golf-oriented shore excursions; cost for these includes green fees, transportation, and club rental (you can bring your own clubs, but there's a storage charge -- and we heard from golfers onboard that they were happy with the rentals).

Public Areas

The central focus of Pride of Aloha is its three-deck-high atrium. On each level it is basically a place to pass through on the way to another part of the ship, though reception and shore excursion desks are located here, plus a reservations desk for the boutique restaurants.

The most important public room is the Kumu Cultural Center. Housed in the space that was formerly the ship's casino (casinos are illegal in Hawaii), the Kumu Cultural Center features a variety of exhibits from modern day Hawaii, including quilts, surfing memorabilia, ukuleles, movie posters, and a gallery that tells the story of the islands, from their volcanic origins to early Polynesian settlers. There are also video showings on different topics each day.

The Mark Twain Library is a small library with old books. It's next to the card and game room (an Internet "Hot Spot").

The Stardust Theater is the main venue for Pride of Aloha's evening shows. There's a coffee bar/Internet center adjacent to the ship's Galleria, which offers logo wear, Tommy Bahama clothing, etc. One omission: duty free items (due to the ship's all-America sailings, the shop cannot offer them). Just down the corridor is the ship's golf shop; it's well-stocked with everything from rentable clubs to sporty fashions.


NCL offers Kid's Crew programs for kids ages 2 - 12 in the Kids Korner, located in an odd and out-of-the-way spot on Deck 7.

Teens have a few hangouts of their own. The Club, on Deck 7, is a teen center with beanbag chairs and tables set up for board games. At night, it becomes a teen disco. The Zone, on Deck 11, features karaoke, lounge chairs and a close proximity to the pizza oven. There's also a video arcade onboard.

There is a group baby-sitting service while the ship is in port called Port Play. It's available from 9am - 5pm while ship is in port, and every evening from 10am - 1am. The fee is $5 per hour, per child, with a reduction to $3 for other children in the same family.

Expert Pride of Aloha reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Hawaii.


Discount Code

Pride of Aloha cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Pride of Aloha Score: 95

Cruise Critic: Pride of Aloha
The Cruise Critic gives NCL's Pride of Aloha a 4-ribbon rating.

Pride of Aloha " don't recommend Pride of Aloha cruise"
Date: August 29, 2005
Reviewer: Miami Beach 411 User, Oakland, CA
I was on cruise through hawaiian islands from 9/18 to 9/22 at which time I left the ship because of family emergency at home. My experience with this line was not one I'd recommend. The food was really unacceptable and the restaurant service so slow it would take hours to get through a meal. The cabin was OK but small, the balcony a saving grace. I feel sorry for anyone without a balcony. Of all the cruise lines advertised and the money it costs to book a cruise, this line should be avoided. Next time I'll do more research before I venture out on a cruise.

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