Four of us were on the NCL Jewel to Alaska from Seattle August 16-23. It was a fantastic experience and our weather was sunny and delightful. We stayed overnight in a hotel at Seatac airport and then took a shuttle to the port on Saturday around 11 a.m. The embarkation process was very smooth, even though there were a lot of people getting there at the same time.
We were able to drop off our hand luggage in our rooms and then go to lunch and a tour of the ship. Our larger suitcases arrived before dinner. We had a midship oceanview room on deck 5 and the other two in our party had an oceanview room with partial obstruction on deck 8. They still had a good view over the lifeboat.
The meals in the buffet were good, but it’s usually very crowded. There is enough seating because they also open the La Cucina restaurant for overflow during breakfast and lunch.
We ate dinner in the main dining room, Tsar’s Palace and the service was great. The food is really good—but no lobster on the menu. There was some seafood and fish every night, plus prime rib, chicken and vegetarian entrees. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. NCL is freestyle dining so we would arrive for dinner whenever we wanted. There was not a very long wait usually. NCL is not having the chocoholic buffet anymore since they have come out with new menus recently. Instead, on one night of the cruise all the restaurants and dining rooms have about six chocolate desserts on the menu.
Our first port of call was Ketchikan and it’s a cute little walkable town. My husband and his sister took a flightseeing bear watching trip from NCL on a seaplane and they loved it. My daughter and I walked around Ketchikan and saw the salmon ladder and did a little shopping. There are many stores, especially jewelry stores, and if you need a fleece lined jacket for the trip, that’s the place to buy it cheap.
Juneau was next and we all did an NCL whale watching/Mendenhall glacier excursion. Juneau was a very short day, leaving port at 1:30 pm, but we really packed in a lot that day. The excursion was excellent—they guaranteed we would see whales and we saw a lot of them. Sea lions too. Then we got back on a bus and went to Mendenhall glacier. We walked/hiked on a paved path to get closer to the glacier and a waterfall. Although our weather was perfect, it had rained a lot the day before and the trail was flooded in some places. We managed to walk it and it was worth it to see the glacier and waterfall up close. Back on the ship and we cruised to Sawyer glacier, which was an absolutely beautiful trip to get there. They opened the forward section of deck 8 outside for us to view the glacier, or you could see it from other places on the ship indoors or out. Then the ship made a 180 degree turn (amazing something that size could do that) and back out we went.
Skagway was our last port in Alaska and we took a private tour with Dyea Dave. A van picked up about 12 of us and we went into Canada’s Yukon territory, stopping at lakes and seeing the mountains. We did not do the railway but some people on the van did go back that way. The tour was good and the guide stopped at a lot of places for great photos. We had lunch in a little town in Canada.
Victoria is a very pretty city. We had been there before so my husband and I walked around, having shared a taxi from the port to the city center. We went to the ‘castle’ and toured inside, which was interesting. The other two in our group went to Butchart Gardens with an NCL tour and it was a perfect day.
Our weather was great, no rain in any of the ports or in Seattle. We even got to lounge at the pool in 80 degree weather. The pools are heated too. We look forward to going back to Alaska again and to sailing on NCL too.
At the Glacier, we did not go into the information center, instead we wanted to hike to where we could get close to the glacier and waterfall. Very pretty scenery.
Whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier tour was definitely worth it. The whale watching captain took us to where whales had been spotted and they were spouting and swimming all around.
NCL excursion flightseeing and bear watching was excellent. The guide was informative and knew his stuff.
Van tour into the Yukon with Dyea Dave Tours. It was a lot of fun, and the tour guide got us through the border crossings really fast, which gave us more time to enjoy the scenery.
Victoria is a very friendly city. There were several ships in port that day but the city seems to handle it all very well. There were street vendors with crafts and jewelry across the street from the Fairmont hotel.