Norwegian Cruise Line's NCL America brand is a leader in the Hawaii cruising industry. Pride of America is NCL's sole ship in Hawaii (after the recent departures of both Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii from the Hawaiian cruise market). At its inception, Pride of America was the first US-flagged cruise ship in 50 years. Appropriately, this beautiful vessel has a America theme throughout. She features 11 different restaurants and 24-hour room service! Gamblers beware - there is not a casino onboard this ship, as US maritime laws prohibit casinos to be operating onboard cruise ships sailing in Hawaiian waters.
Pride of America exclusively does 7-Day Hawaii cruises, sailing round trip from Honolulu.
The staterooms aboard Pride of America are very nice. They range from the more basic interior staterooms, all the way up to very high-end suites.
Interior Staterooms: The interior staterooms onboard Pride of America are very colorfully decorated. These rooms feature two lower beds that are convertible to a queen-size bed. These rooms have a small refrigerator, a closet, a TV, and a bathroom with shower and sink. The least expensive inside staterooms are usually the category N's, as they are located on the lowest passenger deck of the ship. The most expensive inside staterooms are usually the II's, as they are located much higher up on the ship. There are a few categories in between (M, L, K, J, JJ, and I).
Oceanview Staterooms: Pride of America's oceanview staterooms are pretty much the same as the interiors, except they have either a window of some sort (i.e. porthole, picture, single french, double french, obstructed). The most basic (and usually least expensive) oceanviews on this ship is the category H rooms. These rooms are located lower on the ship and feature a sitting area and either a porthole or picture window. The category G oceanview rooms have an obstructed view, meaning that there is a lifeboat right in front of your window that blocks your view outside. The most premium (and usually most expensive) oceanview staterooms on this ship are the category CC's. These rooms are located higher up on the ship and feature either a picture window or double french window.
Balcony Staterooms: The balcony staterooms onboard Pride of America are an excellent choice, especially for those that enjoy "alone time." It's really great to be able to sit outside and enjoy the amazing views of the Hawaiian cost, while still having privacy. The least expensive balconies are usually the category BI balconies, while the most expensive are usually the category BA balconies. All balconies feature a two lower beds that can convert to a queen-size bed, a sitting area, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to the private balcony.
Suites: Pride of America is big on family rooms. For example, they have a Family Suite that can either have an obstructed oceanview (category AG), or can have a private balcony (category AF). Of course, the AF's are usually more expensive than the AG's. Both of the Family Suites have a living room, a convertible sofa bed, two separate bedrooms each with two lower beds, single and double french windows, and two TV's (three TV's in the AF's).
The Penthouses onboard Pride of America all feature a living room, private balcony, walk-in closet, bath and shower, butler, and concierge service. There is a Deluxe Family Penthouse (category AB) that has a hot tub, two TV's, and a separate bedroom with a king-size bed and CD/DVD library.
Pride of America's Owner's Suites have a living room, dining room, private balcony with a hot tub, separate bedroom with a king-size bed and walk-in closet, CD/DVD library, two TV's, luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower, guest bathroom, butler, and concierge service.
The Grand Suite is the most premium accommodation aboard Pride of America. These suites feature a living room, dining room, private balcony with hot tub and dining area, separate bedroom with king-size bed and walk-in closet, baby grand piano, CD/DVD library, two TV's, luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower and guest bathroom, butler, and concierge service.
This ship does not have NCL's newest suite innovation - Courtyard Villas and Garden Villas. You can find such accommodations on some of NCL's newer ships (such as Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel).
Please be aware that the suites on Pride of America that are made for those with disabilities will not have the luxury bath - they will only have a shower.
All Norwegian Cruise Line ships have an open dining setup (which is one of the main aspects of their Freestyle Cruising format). Open dining means that you can eat where you want, when you want. Pride of America has 11 dining venues from which you can choose from, besides the 24-hour room service!
There are two main restaurants onboard Pride of America, Liberty and Skyline. These two restaurants offer the same menu as each other, but the menu changes each night of the cruise. They are both free of charge for all guests. Dinner is served from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Liberty has an American Colonial theme, while Skyline has a Art Deco style inspired by the architecture and skyscrapers of 1930's Manhattan.
The Aloha Cafe is Pride of America's indoor/outdoor buffet. Located on deck 11, and able to accommodate 680 people, this Hawaiian themed buffet features a wide array of options for you to chose from, depending on the time and day you dine there (including omelets, waffles, fruit, pastas, soups, salads, and more).
Cadillac Diner is a retro indoor/outdoor 1950's style diner featuring a classic menu of fish 'n chips, potpies, and hamburgers. It's located on deck 6, plays 50's rock music, is open 22-hour a day, and can accommodate up to 106 people.
The specialty restaurants onboard Pride of America offer many dining choices to choose from. Most of these venues have a per person cover charge, ranging between $10 and $30. Lazy J's Texas Steakhouse is probably one of the more popular choices among Pride of America's specialty restaurants. It is located on deck 6 and features a wonderful menu, filled with certified Angus Beef, veal, pork, grilled chicken, seafood, and more. Jefferson's Bistro is the upscale French restaurant onboard Pride of America. It is inspired by Thomas Jefferson's Georgian residence, and is located on deck 5. This restaurant is definitely worth the price, ranging from $15 to $20 a person (depending on what option you pick for your main entree). East Meets West is the Pan Asian specialty restaurant onboard this ship. The food is excellent. There is a teppanyaki (hibachi) room, and a sushi and sashimi bar (with a $15 per person all-you-can-eat menu) in East Meets West. Little Italy is a casual Italian Restaurant located on deck 11 that has a $10 per person cover charge.
Reservations are highly recommended for the specialty restaurants, as they are very in demand and can book up quickly. Dining reservations cannot be made prior to your cruise. You can make a reservation 24 hours prior to the day you want to dine, unless you have a balcony or higher (in which case you can make a reservation within 48 hours). Be sure to make reservations at least the night before you want to dine, to help ensure that the time (and restaurant) you want to dine at will be available for you.
Pride of America is packed with tons of places to go and things to do. There's really something for everyone onboard...
As far as sport-related features go, there is a jogging/walking track (located on deck 6), a basketball/volleyball/tennis court (on deck 14), and the Santa Fe Fitness Center (which is open 24-hours a day and has daily fitness classes). There is also the South Beach Pool and Oasis Pool, and four outdoor hot tubs! The Gyrosphere is a popular activity for those on the more adventurous side.
During the day, the Waikiki Bar (located on deck 13) is a popular, and busy, place to hang loose at. It's a great place to grab a drink. The Mardi Gras Cabaret & Nightclub is a lively place to spend your time at. For those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, there is also Pink's Champagne & Cigar Bar, John Adam's Coffee Bar, and the Napa Wine Bar.
One of the most popular things to do onboard Pride of America is to go to the Hollywood Theatre for its nightly shows. This large theatre is located on deck 5, and has a capacity of 880. It features various Broadway and Vegas-style shows.
For those looking for a more relaxing time, there is a internet cafe, card room, the SoHo Art Gallery, photo gallery, the LifeStyles room (a place for quiet reading), and a huge outdoor deck to pick a spot on and relax in a lounge chair. The Santa Fe Spa is located on deck 12. Feel free pamper yourself and choose from a wide range of spa treatments - you won't regret it!
Want to shop? Not a problem...the Newberry Street Shops are located on deck 5. This set of department store style shops feature tax-free discounted liquor, jewelry, clothing, snacks, medicine, and much more.
As mentioned above, there is no casino onboard this ship. This is because it is illegal to operate a casino in US waters.
Because of the Freestyle Cruising concept, the dress code is not very strict or formal on a Norwegian Cruise - it is actually quite casual, relative to other cruise lines. As far as dining goes, casual attire is preferred during the day. Examples of casual attire are: khakis, skirts, jeans, casual tops, and shorts. At the buffet and outdoor dining venues, swimwear with a cover-up is just fine.
During dinner a collared shirt and pants (or nice jeans) is fine for men. For women slacks, jeans, dresses, skirts, and tops are fine. If you'd like to dress up for dinner and wear something more formal or glamorous that is OK too, as on most NCL cruises there is usually at least one night were many people will do so (known as the "Captain's Night" or "Formal Night"). For kids 12 and under, shorts are OK in all of the restaurants.
NCL's children's program is called the Kids Crew. The Kids Crew program is run by NCL's Youth Staff and is free of charge (of course, gratuities are appreciated by the staff). Each staff member is CPR and First Aid certified. The Kids Crew program features complimentary activities that are scheduled throughout each day of your cruise. Examples of these activities are painting, pajama parties, pizza making, and shows. A parent or guardian is required to initially register 2-17 year olds for this program. Children are assigned to groups, based on age (Juniors = 2-5 years old, First Mates = 6-9 years old, Navigators = 10-12 years old, and Teens = 13-17 years old). Kids under 13 may not sign themselves out. There is not a one-on-one care program available in the Youth Program.
There is group-sitting available for kids. The "Late Night Party Zone" and "Port Play" are both programs for kids 2-12 years of age. The "Port Play" program is run from 9 am to 5 pm and is for parents that want to go on shore excursions alone, leaving their kids in the hands of qualified professionals. The "Late Night Party Zone" is available from 10 pm to 1 am. The cost of these two programs is $5 per hour, per child, and $3 per hour for each additional sibling in the same family. These charges are applied to your onboard expense account.
There is also a Teen Program available onboard Pride of America. This program is for those that are 13-17 years of age. This program is a great way for teens to meet and have fun.
As far as facilities for children and teens goes, Connections Teen Club, a hip teen hang out, is located on deck 12. Rascal's Kid's Club is also on that deck, and is a special kids area filled with an indoor jungle gym/obstacle course.
NCL charges a fixed fee for what they call service charges on all Pride of America cruises. This fee is $12 per person, per day and is charged to your onboard expense account. There is no such charge for children under 3 years of age. If while on your cruise you find that these fees are more than you'd like to pay (or if you are very unhappy with the service you've been provided with by the staff), you can adjust the service charge fees to the level you prefer (as long as you do so before you leave the ship). NCL does not consider this service charge to be the same thing as a gratuity or tip. NCL states that they do not auto-charge you for gratuities (even though the service charge does seem to be a similar fee).
If you find a few staff members that really stand out and make your vacation more enjoyable, NCL's staff is allowed to accept cash gratuities. The recommended gratuity for guests purchasing bar beverages is 15%. For those purchasing spa and salon services, please be aware that NCL automatically adds a gratuity of 18% (called a service charge on certain ships).
The official legal drinking age on a Norwegian cruise is 21 years of age. However, guests that are 18 to 20 years old with written consent from their parents or guardian are allowed to purchase beer and wine when the ship is sailing in international waters (except in Alaska & Hawaii, where you must be 21 years old to do so).