This was my 2nd Alaska cruise - 5 years ago I was on Holland America. The weather was perfect for this cruise. We went to Icy Point Strait - I'd never seen it before. There was a cooking excursion that was very good. We got to cook our own lunch and learned tips on cooking both halibut and salmon.
We went to Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier. We did not get close to either glacier. We could see them in the distance, but we couldn't see any glacier calving and we only stayed long enough to turn around and run to our next port. When I went to Glacier Bay on Holland America, we got really close and the captain spent over an hour turning the ship around so you could get a view of the glacier from no matter where you were on the ship. We also had a naturalist from Glacier Bay Park on board to talk about the glacier and point out whales, sea lions, eagles, etc. We never had anyone on Norwegian point out any wildlife. If you couldn't find it yourself, you didn't see it.
We went to Juneau (but only stayed from 7am to 1:30pm) not nearly enough time to explore the city. This is a beautiful city with lots to see and do, but you need more than 5 hours. We also saw Skagway and Ketchikan and they've improved on where the ships are moored. Made it much easier to get in and out of both cities.
Food - the bad news. The buffet was always crowed, and the quality of the food was really bad. Pancakes that were too hard to cut in half. Canned fruit that was hard. Eggs weren't fully cooked. Country potatoes were better in the 1st half of the cruise, by the end it was mostly onions and peppers with a few potatoes.
We usually ate in one of the two dining rooms for dinner. The 7 Seas was much better than the Four Seasons, but that's not saying much. If you ordered steak it was only 1/4" thick, and poor quality. Dinners used to be fancy and high end, this cruise we were offered turkey, meatloaf, and usually a seafood dish. Never saw lobster, but one night they offered cod encrusted with crab and shrimp. We had to send it back, the table next to us said that they sent it back twice. We ordered risotto, but it was setting in a kind of velvetta cheese sauce that was disgusting. I was appalled at the amount of food that was wasted, because it was inedible.
We paid the service charge and went to the Italian restaurant one night for dinner. I ordered lasagna, and had to peel off the top layer because it was a hard uncooked lasagna noodle. The service there was better than in the main dining room, but a lot of the food was similar (salads, appetizers, desserts). The desserts were not good. Boring and tasteless.
It was my birthday while we were at sea and my friends ordered a cake to be set up in my room. Our steward decorated the room and threw confetti on the bed and floor. That cake was really good. But they paid extra for it.
Indoor wildlife - After spending the day in Skagway we came back to the cabin to the birthday surprise and we stayed in the room playing cards. Sometime that evening I got bit by a spider. It got progressively worse so after I got home I went to the doctor. I'm now on antibiotics and I have a huge open sore on my leg. Who knows what bit me, but it makes me think twice about the cleanliness of the room. Our steward was wonderful and the room looked clean, but who knows what or how those things get into a stateroom.
Our cruise director was a bit strange, and I wasn't a fan - but I could put up with him. Just totally disappointed with the food. I expect to be treated and fed like someone special. When you pay as much as I did for 7 days and get fed worse than cafeteria food, it makes me think twice before I'll go on a cruise again. In fact there are 12 of us that were planning a cruise next summer on the Norwegian Pearl. My husband and I backed out because of this cruise. Norwegian really cut costs on food, but they want you to pay extra for the food that used to be standard fare. If I was to give this a star rating, up to 5 stars, I couldn't honestly say their food even earned a 2 star.
I doubt seriously if I'd ever cruise Norwegian again. We've been on 3 different Norwegian cruises over the last 18 years, and they've gotten worse each time.
Instructor was a kick. She had several stories while fixing salmon dip, salmon patties and boiled fish soup. We had samples of everything, then she cut up a halibut and we were given a piece of halibut and salmon, and we went outside to cook them ourselves. I'd never eaten halibut before and it was really good. I've cooked salmon, but this was really fresh and both were delicious. This was the best meal we had on the cruise.