I took the same cruise in same cabin category last year and this year was so much different. Last year the family and I were bummed because we left a day late and didn't get to go to Juneau due to a propellor problem. We felt the compensation provided by NCL wasn't fair and pretty much swore off taking NCL to Alaska again. I'm glad we tried again because it was like a totally different cruise.
Embarkation this year was extremely quick. Last year the line was winding around outside the building and this year we walked right in, got a number and waited about 15 minutes and we were on our way. We arrived at 11:15am both times. It was so much more of a party atmosphere this time around, the pools and hot tubs were packed on day 1, the outdoor BBQ was going and it was a great start to the vacation.
The mini suite was just as expected. The one thing that still stands out is that tiny TV, it couldn't be more than a 13" screen. I also think a ship 5 years old should have some interactive features like booking excursions or specialty restaurants. The room was just fine although in 19 previous cruises we have never experienced such noisy neghbors as this time. Too many poorly behaved, loud, jumping yelling kids and parents next door. I left a note on their door and it helped a bit, but what are you going to do? It wasn't so bad that we complained to anyone, but it did get annoying at least a couple times a day.
Our room steward was ok, although he didn't introduce himself or leave towel animals daily, but he did a good job cleaning and supplying towels and ice. he would say hi in the hallway but that was about it. he did not get any extra tip from us.
I thought NCL did a good job debarking everyone at Juneau. We got off at prime time and the very long line moved pretty quickly. We docked at the AJ dock and there were plenty of busses shuttling everyone downtown.
As others have said, I think the bingo pricing is way out of line. Way too expensive even for the lowest price game.
My daughter, age 11, liked the camp and enjoyed going there.
We only ate in the main dining room once for dinner and it was slow going. We didn't stay for dessert. The first night had a wait of 30 minutes but in reality it was only about 15 mins. Lunch was very good but again, pretty slow. The cheesesteak sandwich was the best I've ever had so it made the waiting more bearable. Drinks were very hard to come by in the dining room too.
Fitness center was way too small for over 2,000 guests. There were about 10 treadmills, 5 steppers, and 5 ellipticals. There were about 10 weightlifting machines and some free weights, but certainly not nearly enough for a ship this size. There were lines everal times for the treadmills. I ran outside once and like many ships, the outside jogging track was short and challening having to dart around the other guests who apprently don't understand the signs or arrows on the track. Ugh!
We only did 1 excursion which was the train in Skagway. That was a great trip! I think it could be better if there was some food or cocktails served, since 3 hours is along time to go while cruising without food or drinks. LOL!
We ate at the Italian restaurant and that was nice, no issues and seemed worth the $10. We also had Teppanyaki twice which we loved!
The buffet was consistently crowded with not enough seating, but that seems to be the norm on most ships. We always found a table for 3 but it was not easy at times.
Most of the staff were happy, some more than others, but no one was bad.
Debarkation was smotth and we left at about 9:30am. There was a long line but it moved quickly and customs was very fast too. It took about 15 mins to get off the ship. We got a cab to the airport which is a flat fee of $32. Much better deal than waiting for the $20 per person shuttle bus to fill up. There were plenty of cabs waiting. Don't believe the hype from the town car operators who haggle with you so you use them.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. Again, I can't say how different the atmosphere was this year than last. I would say this was more like a Carribean, more fun cruise. I hope to go again next year.