Let me start by saying: Alaska is wonderful. Breathtaking and unforgettable.
But then, there is is pressing question: What happened to the cruise industry in US? It used to be a nice experience cruising with interesting people, having the formal nights and enjoying gourmet food for a few days.
Well, this is ALL GONE! In order to survive on a very competitive market, cruise lines gave a big welcome to middle America, white trash clientele and therefore the cruising experience became a week on a floating Wallmart, where formal night means tank tops, bad hair and shorts. The casino is like a night out... on a cheesy hotel in Reno.
It's amazing how NCL managed to make food look and taste so unattractive and stale. Even the "specialty restaurants" have below average food. The worse of them all on Pearl: The Asian restaurant. Shameless cheap and horrible presentation. Panda Express is a gourmet place in comparison.
The buffet smells like a university cafeteria and the quality is horrendous.
The main dining rooms menus offer cheap food and terrible service. Even the special lunch menu at Cagney's for Haven passengers has few options, the portions are tiny (the smallest sea scallops I have ever seen) and it never changes during the seven days.
We were "lucky" enough to stay at the Haven - that in the end was nothing more than a misleading advertisement. Yes, you have a bigger cabin with great views, but you pay quite a lot for that. Then you have a "butler" and a concierge to help you - the problem is that you will see the concierge twice during the whole cruise and the butler is inattentive and elusive.
There is an area in the Haven with a small pool, a jacuzzi and snacks for the VIP's guests. For upscale snacks NCL offers peanuts M&Ms, gummy bears and stale cookies. I'm not kidding!
Entertainment was a mixed bag with decent productions like What a Night and Broadway Night and a horrible "magician/comedian" and a troupe of comics that will make you cry or throw up.
But in the end it's the fellow passengers that make the experience... different. Have you ever spent a week at Wallmart, eating and mingling with the other shoppers? That's exactly how I felt.
"Au revoir" NCL! I'm not your target clientele any longer.