This was our 5th cruise on NCL and our second to Alaska from Seattle, this time with a party of 6 (3 cabins). Some things have changed since our last cruise from Seattle. We have used Republic Parking, directly across the street from the cruise terminal. In the past, we have dropped our bags in the parking garage to be transported to the ship, parked our vehicle and walked across the sky bridge to registration. This time, we had to wait for one of two shuttle vans, cram everything intone of them and then driven to the terminal across the street. Once there, we had to drag our bags into the terminal until we could turn them into to someone at the luggage scanner. Then we could get in line and wait to get to registration. Admittedly, we got to the terminal around 11:15 along with hundreds of other folks and the line moved slowly, but we were on the ship by 12:15.
We did not expect our cabins to be ready and went straight to lunch in the Garden Café. While eating in the Great Outdoors, they announced that our deck 5 cabins were ready. So in our cabins by 1:00 and bags by 4:00. Some of our Cruise Critic group met at 5:00 in the Great Outdoors and had a drink while we sailed away. Sail away was scheduled for 4:00 but didn't happen until 5:00.
Throughout the cruise, we used all the "free" dining at one point or another (Summer Palace, Indigo, Blue Lagoon, Garden Café) and one specialty (Le Bistro). We like to sit down and be served when not in a hurry and so, did not use the Garden Café as much as Summer Palace and Indigo. I can't say that we ever had a bad meal, though perhaps some items ordered were not to our taste. We like Le Bistro and eat there once whenever we cruise with NCL. Service seemed a little slow this time but the food was still excellent.
We had 70 folks signed up for our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet on Monday, the first Sea Day. Unfortunately, only half bothered to show up and some of the food and drinks provided my NCL went to waste. The Captain did greet us and offered a bridge tour which 30 of us took him up on later that afternoon. Spent over an hour with one of the officers in the bridge and very pleased with the tour.
The ports are like all ports, plenty of places to spend your money on dust collectors. We did enjoy a streetcar tour of Skagway from our guide Michaela who was excellent and gave us some good tips for the best biscuits in town and espresso. In Juneau, we took the "blue" bus to Mendenhall Glacier and spend several hours walking around, out to the falls, etc. The last time we were here, it rained so hard, we could barely see the Glacier so no rain until the end of our time there was a treat. In Ketchikan, we did the Lumberjack show and just remember, it is a show and not a competition and you will enjoy it. Walked all over town afterward and were still on the ship by 11:00.
Glacier Bay was our reason fro going back and it proved to be what we expected. As the ship entered the long bay, the clouds cleared away and the sun came out and we had nothing but blue shy the rest of the day. The captain spun the ship 2-3 times in front of the glaciers and we saw some calving. The ranger narration was a little too "sweet" for my liking but guess that's why she became a ranger. ON the way out we saw humpback whales over and over, dolphins racing by and a large pod of Orcas. We continued to see whales on our way down to Victoria along Vancouver Island.
Our room steward was excellent as was one for another of our cabins, but alas, the third cabin suffered from what was assumed to be a "newbie". He got better as the cruise went on. The casino staff was friendly and happy to give money away if you pushed the right button or drew the right cards. The casino seemed to be open more hours then I remember from previous cruises. Maybe there has been some relaxing of the rules on when they can open. The shows were OK, we loved the four guys from " Oh What A Night" and Comedian Bud Anderson. I have never been a Second City fan and that didn't change after watching them again.
On the last sea day, NCL asked any of our Cruise Critic group that could make to attend a kind of debrief of our cruise. The Hotel Director, Cary Turecamo along with 6-8 members of his staff showed up as did about 15 members of our CC group. We provided comments both good and bad about the trip and received feedback.
We were scheduled to disembark at 8:00 on Sunday morning but the ship was cleared early and we began by 7:30 or a little earlier. We walked off with our bags and were in our car and headed out of Seattle by 8:00.