Our cruise was from September 15 - September 22, 2007.This was our first cruise and we couldn't have had a better time! We're in our mid-twenties and from Philadelphia. We flew in the Thursday before the cruise. Our flight was a disaster and we were very grateful that we didn't decide to fly in on Saturday.
We had booked the Sheraton hotel and it was a great location to all the local downtown sights of Seattle. It was a really short walk to Pike Place Market and just a short ride on the monorail to the Space Needle, EMP, etc. It was also a great location to get to the pier on Sat morning. We arrived at 12:00 and check in was really easy. We though there would be more security, but the first time that they actually glanced at our passports/ID was when we received our room keys.
We were a little out of sorts from traveling, so we decided to skip eating lunch, but we did see a lot of people out at the grill by the pool since it was an incredible day in Seattle. We explored the ship and thought it was really beautiful, excluding some of the rope hand railings that were there b/c the wood ones were probably being repaired. Those were about the only drab looking thing we saw all week.
Since this was our first cruise, we booked a Category K inside cabin 4597, since I am prone to seasickness. The cabin was very adequate and we had no problems all week with the cleanliness, stewards, our it's location. Most of the gangplanks were lowered on our deck, so we never had to hurry in the morning.
We ate most nights in Versailles, and the selection and food was great. We are from Philadelphia, where there are some great restaurants, but we thought the quality of the food and the vast selection of choices every night were great. We were incredibly glad that we used NCL b/c of the freestyle cruising. We were able to eat at whatever time we liked at night, always received a table for 2 usually by the window, and had great to excellent service. My boyfriend had purchased the soda card, and they do continue to make it very difficult to get drinks at dinner, but by the second course each night, he had finally gotten his Coke. We had the same two servers for at least 3 of the nights on the boat, so it was nice b/c they were very friendly.
We are at the Blue Lagoon for snacks after returning from our excursions. The food was pretty good, but the wings weren't the greatest. We tried the Buffet once and found it way too hectic, crowded, and it would take forever to get through the line.
We took advantage of the 2-for-1 dining in Cagney's on Sunday and Thursday night of our cruise. The food was great. Our steaks were always cooked just how we liked them and there was so much food that we couldn't even handle desert! The entertainment on the ship was a good variety. We managed to get to the magic show, but missed some of the others b/c by 8:30-9:00 on shore days, we were ready for bed. We didn't mind the announcements for bingo b/c none of them were made in the cabin. My one major complaint/observation was that it was unfortunate that they choose not to make many announcements on the cabin speakers, and if I wanted to hear the announcements, I would find myself having to stand in the hallway and listen.
The captain didn't do the best job making the announcements, but the cruise director Ricky was always very enthusiastic sounding.
Alaska was incredible. I thought we had great weather. Ketchikan we did the Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer. Though it was pouring down rain when we left, we had an incredible 4 hours trip to the Fjords and the weather was beautiful! We booked all excursions through the boat, and this one was offered by Allen Marine tours. We walked around the port a bit when we got back, but did not do any shopping or eating.
In Juneau, b/c the Tracy Arm Fjord excursion was canceled, we booked on the Capture Juneau Photography tour. My boyfriend is a professional photography, and going on a hike and to Mendenhall Glacier was a great experience for both of us. As most of the ships this year, we made it up to Dawes Glacier, and we found it a great trip. The captain was very worried about us getting out before dark, so it was a quick trip. We saw some sea lions on the ice and lots of small glaciers as we sailed up to the Dawes.
In Skagway we did the White Pass Scenic Railway and did some souvenir shopping. We bought some smoked salmon and reindeer at this great little shop off the beaten path. It was an incredibly windy day, but overall, the town was crowded and I thought a longer stop could have been used in Juneau and not Skagway.
We hit some rough weather and we were late getting into Prince Rupert. There was a neat little local craft show happening, so that was the highlight of that stop.
Overall, this was a great trip. We make jokes now about the "special coffee" that they kept trying to serve as we went up to the Glacier, and how our cruise was predominantly southerners, but we couldn't have asked for a better time. Though we were some of the youngest cruisers on the trip, we didn't feel out of place. We did feel that people sometimes dress too casual in the restaurant, especially Versailles, which was supposed to be the NO Jeans restaurant, but it never ruined our experience.
WE are booked on the NCL Gem for next year, so we can't wait to try NCL again!