Booked 9 months in advance and the anticipation building, I flew to Seattle, shuttled to the ship and climbed onboard. I met up with 6 other family members and we were so pumped up about our first Alaska adventure together. When I got to my oceanview stateroom, I must admit it was nicer than I had had on Royal Caribbean, because it was larger and had more storage. There were three of us in the stateroom. Our room had a porthole. The cruise book that NCL had sent me didn't show any rooms with portholes, it was represented that my room would have a rather large window. Once I returned home I went on NCL online and looked again at the types of rooms offered on NCL Star, there were no rooms shown or offered with portholes. I guess they just like to surprise you when you are onboard. The family member who booked all of the rooms for us talked to the "front desk" on Friday evening and again on Saturday. They blamed it on the travel agent and the travel agent blamed the cruise line, when all along the cruise line clearly shows there are no portholes offered. Now this may seem trivial, but when you are in Alaskan waters, the views are so spectacular and the marine life that it would be nice to be able to see these sites without climbing up on the ledge to "peek" out of a porthole.
Eventually on the 6th day of the cruise, the cruise line gave us a $25 credit to our onboard account. They only gave it to 2 of us, even though there were 3 of us in the room that paid for the room. Creative accounting in their favor.
It was quite a shock on our first evening onboard to find out 5 out of the 11 restaurants had cover charges. What? Freestyle cruising, have your choice of where to eat, but pay for the privilege if you want something other than buffet or standard dining room. In most cases the food in the restaurants was good, and in the restaurants with the cover charges, (we ate at 2 of them) the food was outstanding, the service was the same. Generally the wait staff in all the restaurants was exemplary and really did contribute to an excellent dining experience.
The rest of my family has cruised with Princess, and it remains their favorite, especially after this cruise on NCL.
The onboard entertainment was generally superb, namely the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers, but the magician was a joke and I don't mean that in a funny sense. I was embarrassed for him and NCl for trying to pass him off as entertainment.
Another very disappointing factor was the spa services. You had to pay $20 a day to use the hot tubs, lap pool or hydrotherapy pool in the spa. Princess cruises don't charge a thing for their use. Needless to say they weren't very busy in there the done day I paid to use it.
The hot tubs/jacuzzi's in the pool area, (the temperature outside was below 50 degrees most of the time), were never hot, but warm. We complained and inquired about how to get the temperatures raised several times of several people and were told, "We're working on it".. Not in 7 days was there a difference made.
Lastly, stopping at Prince Rupert, must only be because they have to stop in a foreign country. I walked the route to the downtown area, dirty, trash strewn street. Only about a half block of tourist stores by the dock. Beautiful mountains behind the city, but I wouldn't want to stop there again. Victoria would have been much nicer.
What I did enjoy was the shore excursions and the trip into Sawyer Glacier. The scenery far exceeded my expectations and I can say I had a wonderful time. I just wouldn't do it again on NCL.
I believe that they are getting away with false advertising and as long as no one calls them on it, there is no reason for them to change their marketing decisions. I am specifically talking about showing a window in your stateroom and giving you a porthole and then blaming you or your travel agent for it.
Thanks for the opportunity to vent, God knows my family and friends at home have heard it several times.
Happy Cruising Alaska fan