Celebrity, Holland, Princess, Norwegian. We had various choices to choose from for our long awaited Alaskan cruise. Having cruised on Princess and Carnival before, the free style cruising was intriguing, especially since we were planning a cruise for 9 people of various interests and tastes.
Embarkment was definitely smooth and stress free. although we were told we could not check in until 1pm, lines opened at 11am. Definitely get there early, but lines moved quickly. We were even able to check in, enjoy the lunch offered and then leave the boat and walk around Pike Street Market prior to sailing.
We had a total of four rooms. Trying to economize, we all took inner rooms and gave my parents the room with a balcony. This worked out well. The grandkids loved going to their grandparents room to watch for whale and enjoy the scenery.
After being spoiled with the excellent cuisine on Princess, we were very disappointed with the quality of food on Norwegian. Many times, after an unsatisfying meal at the Versailles, we would go to the buffet looking for something else to eat. The only meal we truly enjoyed was our special night at Cagney's Steakhouse. But this is a specialty restaurant that charges $20 per person. It is too bad that for the level of quality you expect on a cruise, you can experience it only if you are willing to pay the additional cost after already paying the expense of a cruise. But after days of mediocre food, we were starving for something to excite our taste buds. Like Carnival, we would wouldn't have minded the uninspiring food if the entertainment on board made up for it. Unfortunately, it did not.
The theatre was so sparse and drab, local high school auditoriums could put them to shame. A painted black wooden floor stage and black curtains was all they offered. Maybe staging would be brought in for the shows. Nope! No spectacular lights, various staging effects or sound. The shows were just awful. I've seen better at the amateur level. My family had to refrain me from walking out of their high touted end of the cruise Cirque du Soleil "extravaganza." Being Asian, I was totally offended with their Asian themed show with the awful, insulting painted faces and black wigs. Why is this acceptable when no one would dare present an African American themed show with afro wigs and black face paint. When was the last time you saw Asian women walking around with their hands clasped together taking baby steps as if their feet were bound? Does Norwegian not look at the demographics of those cruising and realize that cruisers tend to be highly educated, professional people?
We followed a Holland and Princess ship along the route we took. How I wished I had booked our cruise on either one of those boats instead. I must say that the only truly enjoyable aspect of the cruise was the natural beauty that surrounded us. But then again, the passengers on Holland and Princess enjoyed the same beauty while enjoying a better time on their ship, I'm sure.
Okay, I have to find at least one good thing to say about Norwegian. The disembarkment was the best we ever experienced. My son had to catch an early flight to Chicago and was able to be one of the first ones off the boat. The rest of us had no plans as our flight out was not until the next day. We stayed on the boat and ate a leisurely breakfast and then relaxed in the Atrium until the last call to disembark. Now if only Norwegian can do something to make the time between embarkation and disembarking better, I might reconsider sailing Norwegian again. NOT!!!!