Alaska on Norwegian Jewel, August 11-18, 2012 from Seattle
I will start by saying that this could probably be classified as somewhat of a "budget" cruise attempt in as much as we booked an inside cabin for my wife and I and did not participate in the more exotic excursions offered, e.g. those involving float planes and helicopter travel. There were two main reasons for this, primarily I am not into travel in small planes and helicopters,and secondly, the cost; excursions that ranged in price from $500 - $1000 per couple were simply not in our budget for this trip. We also used mileage to book our trip, and horror of horrors, we travelled to Seattle on the day of the cruise. I know it is risky, but there was a big difference in the mileage/cost for travelling on Saturday rather than a weekday and we also had the "advantage" of gaining 3 hours in travelling from the east coast. Admittedly, we left early and ended up arriving on time in Seattle at 10 am, so all was well. We took the Norwegian shuttle from the airport to the ship which was a plus in one way and a negative in another. The positive aspect was that we no longer had to haul our luggage around and it was delivered to our cabin, but it cost us time since we had to wait for our shuttle bus, and as a result didn't arrive at the dock until about 11:30 - 12:00 which turned out to be a very busy embarkation time. The cost of $25 per person was probably equal to what a taxi would have cost for the two of us.
Embarkation in that time frame was pretty bad and resembled the winding lines of sheep for prime rides at Disneyland on a busy day. When we got through, our cabin was ready and it was no more or less than we expected. The room steward was pleasant and attentive and our luggage arrived shortly afterwards. We proceeded to the Garden Cafe for the lunch buffet which was crowded even at that early stage of boarding - shades of things to come! "Washee, washee, happy, happy!!!" Norwegian's devotion of an employee's full time to spraying hands all day on entering this particular restaurant was impressive, and there was also an ample supply of hand washing dispensers throughout the ship, I would rate the food in the Garden Cafe as very good all week, although we only used it for breakfasts and lunches. But how could you not find something that you like in that display. One thing I found a little questionable, was the manner in which the fresh fruit, e.g. water melon, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple was provided. What concerned me was the likelihood that these fruits were not washed beforehand and were set out in slices with the skins still on, and these were touching the inside of the fruit pieces displayed. It just didn't seem very sanitary and not in keeping with washee washee! On the other hand I could be wrong, and perhaps these fruits were all washed beforehand.
After our first lunch we went to explore the ship and get our bearings. We were surprised to find that on a ship of that size there is no indoor pool. They say there is one in the spa, but of course you have to have spa access to use it and it is not really a swimming pool, more of a therapy pool and about the size of a hot tub. We visited the spa and inquired about the weekly passes which we had read about. We found that these are now $149 per person. I was interested in this primarily for my wife who is literally allergic to the cold, and if she is exposed to it for any length of time, everything starts running, eyes, nose etc. I had just thought that it would be a smart investment for her to be able to sit in the warmth and comfort and view the scenery. However, in keeping with our budget theme, she would not spring for the cost, and as it turned out with our warm weather, it was a wise decision. We were surprised to find the outdoor pools were open throughout the cruise and kept at very comfortable temperatures of 84-86 degrees. The hot tubs were also in operation, but that was expected. We used Tsar's Place excusively for dinners and were very happy with the food quality and selection, and we found a waitress there from India whom we particularly liked, and who we sought out at every opportunity as she was simply excellent. However at this stage I can’t even attempt to spell her name. Now I'm being cut off for space!!!