My husband and I decided that we wanted to go to Alaska for our Honeymoon. Having never been on a cruise before, we consulted many family and friends who had been. We knew for sure we wanted to visit Glacier Bay National Park, which left us with only Princess, Holland America, and NCL. With rave reviews about "freestyle" on NCL, that's who we chose: 7 day, roundtrip, on NCL Pearl, May 20-27, 2012.
We arrived in Seattle the day before. On a tight budget, we opted to stay near the airport (instead of closer to downtown/port areas). We paid $49 on priceline for the Holiday Inn Express Airport. The place was really nice, had prompt shuttle service and we had no wait at check-in. We used a shuttle/van service to get to the port the next morning. $12 per person.
When we got to the port (we thought we were early) the place was busting at the seams. People everywhere! 1st we waited in the luggage drop off line, then the check-in line. We stood in lines for almost 2 hours! But if you're not the first people there, I guess that's pretty typical. Had some annoying people behind us the whole time, and wouldn't you know, they were in the cabin across the hall from us the whole trip! That's my luck.
We stayed in cabin # 5553. An interior room. Small, but well appointed. We weren't in our room very much, so not having a window didn't bother us. A little noisy on days we were in port (gangway was on our level). Had plenty of room for all of our things.
We aren't ones to have other people come in and make up our room...even though we were asked by our stewards several times per day. I know they are just doing their jobs, but I don't like the idea of people coming in just to make my bed. Plus, when they did, we didn't even get a cool towel animal :(
We really enjoyed the freestyle dining. Like I mentioned before, we were on a tight budget, so opting to go to a fancier restaurant and pay extra was not something we chose to spend our money on. We dined at the complimentary restaurants: the Main Dining Room, the Garden Cafe Buffet, Blue Lagoon, and had room service. The buffet's French toast was to die for!! That's what I had every morning for breakfast. We enjoyed the main dining room's food, but even that was a little to formal for us.
We were surprised at the entertainment on board! We went to every show that was in the theater and enjoyed all of them. Especially "Oh, What a Night" they were great!
The cruise director's staff was great too! Funny and kept us entertained. I didn't much care for the price to play Bingo though. So I only did that once. But I often listened to the Bingo calling because that was a show in and of itself.
The wind out on the ocean at that time of year was pretty chilly. So we didn't find our selves on the pool deck or outer decks all that often (except to smoke~my husbands a smoker). We spent a lot of our time in the Spinnaker Lounge. It offered the best view of the gorgeous mountains, wildlife, glaciers, etc. It had comfy furniture and was the center of all the activities and entertainment.
We didn't do any shore excursions; which is something we regret. Next time, we will. But there was plenty to see and do right in the ports themselves. We souvenir shopped (I think we went into every single store!) mostly. Juneau was nice, because they offered a shuttle to downtown. Skagway advice: don't wait for the shuttle, and wait to get off the ship until 10am, because none of the stores open until then anyways. We ended up walking the short distance to town with one store being open. No places to sit (a few benches that were rain soaked). Ketchikan was by far my favorite port. Ship docked just off Main Street. Everything was within a short walking distance. And everything was open when we got off the ship! Loved going to Creek Street. That was really neat.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We had some breakfast and opted to walk-off carrying our own bags. Never had to wait in a line at all. Matt, our shuttle driver, picked us up and took us to the airport to catch our flight.
We can't wait to go back to Alaska ~ and when we do, it'll be on the Pearl.