My wife and I returned from our Alaskan cruise August 6th. We left Nashville, Tennessee Sunday afternoon July 28th and flew to Seattle. Flight was good eventhough we flew from Tennessee to Philadelphia to Seattle. You ask why? Two short words, free airfare. Flight was long but OK. We made reservation in a Travellodge right near the airport in Seatac Washington. Little over $66.00 for the night. Good clean comfortable room. Next morning we went back to the airport by 10:00 a.m. Met NCL representives at bagage checkin. They took our bags we never saw them again until we got on the ship at our room. We wait about 1 hour for a bus ride to Vancouver. Had a good driver he pointed out sites and told us about area on our trip. Probably took us 3 hours. Paid $100.00 pp for transfers. Could have done it cheaper but I believe it was worth the money. When we got to the pier we checked in. Never got on a ship faster. We are Latitude members so went to latitude line and was checked in in about 15 minutes or less. We boarded the ship imediately. This was about 2:30. We were greeted and taken to our cabin which was 5056. Found the cabin to be quite large, We had a window, sitting area, queen bed and standard bath. Clothing storage was sufficent for us my wife took 2 large suitcases and two large carry ons. Plenty of hanging space. Room had a 13" TV and room safe. We had our bags at the cabin by 5:00 p.m. After we relaxed in the room we toured the ship. Found excurision desk and booked whale watching right away. We book all our excurision from the ship not ready to trust the internet yet. We found food about 3:30 don't remember where we ate.
That evening we ate in the Four Seasons met a waiter from an preivious cruise. I asked him how he was all the usually stuff them asked how freestyle was? He gave me the NCL response. It is OK. I asked if it cost him money he said he ended up about the same now as then.
I am not going to give a minute by minute review of the cruise. But I wanted to give you some of my thought as I boarded. Now I want to tell you about different subjects.
Entertainment was OK better than most ships. The Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers were great. Marty Thompson the cruise director was fun. Comedian in main lounge was not so hot. Comedian in Observatory Lounge was great. But he can get a little dirty but no worst than cable TV. Magican was OK but nothing to write home about. George Soloman the singer was great, he put plenty of engry into his act. With freestyle I thought getting seat would be hard. But only found one night not getting good seats. I think the trick is eat dinner at 7:30. This seemed a good time no big crowds and got you out in time for the good seats at the shows. Only on a night or two was the last show full.
Room Steward was OK he kept the bed made and room straight. Only one night did he do anything special. Always turned down beds and put out chocolates. He was older in late 40's maybe early 50's. If he saw us he always spoke. Didn't go out of his way to get to know us. What ever we asked for we got.
Dining was a far different story. Food was so-so and service was poor. Even the waiter who remember us from a previous cruise wasn't as good as he was before. You were seated and left. It took us over 2 hours one afternoon for lunch. It was so bad one couple from our table left after 20 minutes and hadn't gotten anything yet. You were always served water and asked if you wanted a cocktail, wine or such but never asked if you wanted tea or coffee. Portions were small. One night servings were so small waiter appoligized and asked we wanted additional servings. No one ever got extra servings. I guess my biggest complaint was seating. Yes you could get tables for two if you wanted to wait and sometimes the had tables for two waiting. But for the whole week in the larger dining room we were seated in a corner where the view was poor. One night I asked to be seated on the other side of the ship. We were given the answer we could but it would take sometime. I said OK we would wait. We waited about 1/2 hour and finally were called and they pointed to our table. It was in the same corner on the other side of the ship. I told them to keep it and walked out. No one ever asked if I was upset or why. We did the LeBistro on our last night to see if the food and service would be better. Was I surprised, it was worse. Our waitress was horrible. If it hadn't been for another waiter we would have never gotten any extras we asked for. Like extra butter for the potato. I would still be waiting if I hadn't asked someone else who was walking by for it. I am used to seeing a desert tray on all of my preivious cruises. But I never saw a desert tray on this cruise. Not even in the Le Bistro. Generally speaking I was looking for a McDonalds or Wendys when we got home to compare service and food. I believe Wendys wins.
Ports of call were good. We did Sawyer Glaicer and got really close. Saw it calve. We saw plenty of whales, seals and eagles. But no bear or moose. Skagway was fun. Did the bus trip up to White Pass also stoped in Lairsville had a fun time there. Spent rest of day walking around Skagway. Old goldrush town fun. That evening we went to Haines. My wifevwants to move today. Did a horsedrawn carriage tour. Simply loved it. Guide told us Skagway was settled by the rough and ready crowd and Haines was settles by Presbrytiean (sp) missionaries. I believe he was right. World of difference in the two. Next day we were in Juneau. Did whale watching here. We book through ship they use Dolphin tours. Our Capt., R.D., was great we got to see about a dozen whales. He got us within about 100 or 200 hundred yards. Got within feet of seals. Did Mt Roberts Tram. We loved it. Did a little shopping. Next day we were in Ketichan. You can smell this town before you see it. Fishing is one of main industries. Bought my wife a gold whales tale here. When I buy always like to get to know the sales person. Asked him where he was from. He told me his family owned a jewelry store in the states. I asked where? He said Brentwood Tennessee. That is about 30 miles from where we live. Small world. First and last day we did inside passage. Was Ok but nothing like scenery at Haines.
Weather was great. We bought rain suits. But my wife never opened them and returned them and bought grand kids school clothes. Guides said we were lucky because they showed us waterfalls and mountain tops instead of just telling us the clouds were not in the way you would see some great sights.
Getting off the ship was almost as easy as getting on.
All in all I had a good time. Wish I was on a different ship. I really believe it will be a while before I sail NCL again. But, I sail for the price not the ship. So if they offer cheap enough cabins I will sail them again. To put everything in perspective we paid $2198.00 for our cruise which included all fees and port charges plus our transfers. Our ships bill was $597.00 (we don't drink) plus we spent about $500.00 more in cash for trinkets. Nothing big except gold whales tale and a few silver coins.
As I have said before I have never been on a bad cruise but some have been better than others. I have taken 9 cruises in the past three years and plan to take three more next year. So I have something to compare this ship with.
I ,too, have been disappointed with NCL. I much prefer Celebrity, and RCCL.
For the money, I won't go back to NCL. The ship is really the destination. My husband and I didn't figure that one out until cruise #6 (with NCL). Our last three cruises have been on Celebrity. Keep sailing!
We had the same type of experience on the Wind this past March. Bad service and food that was only so-so. The portions are minicule and the menu did not change either. Unlike you, we will never sail on NCL again no matter how cheap they are. Their prices are comparable to better lines that offer a much better product. As for freestyle dining, they can keep that as well, we had long lines, non-existent wait staff and 2-3 hour meals. The only redeeming factor we found with the Wind was the cabin size. But with the closet, bathroom and cabin door right beside each other, it does make things awkward when opening two at once.