This is our 10th cruise, 6th on Norwegian. This was just a quick, cheap weekend away. We drove down because we had to get to the Port of Seattle before 8am as the buses (arranged through travel agent) were leaving between 7 and 8am. We made it in plenty of time. We parked the car across the street where we could just pick it up after the cruise. Need a better option-parking in Seattle adds up quick!
The bus was older and the springs were shot. Forget waterboarding, the government could use that bus as torture device. All you would have to do is just drive around until they talk. After four hours in the bus I would have given up my own grandmother. We finally arrived at Canada place.
We then hit the 'mother of all lines' going through port security. We got there at 10:30a along with the train and four other buses, taxis, cars etc. Security/Customs did not open their doors till noon, except for Holland America people; they were being sneaked into a side entrance. I don't know what was going on there, but it sure looked unfair. Four hour bus ride, two and a half hours in line. The line at port security was so bad it caused the ship to be a hour and a half late in departing. Once we got to the Norwegian staff it went real smooth. The captain came on the loudspeaker to apologize for the delay. You could hear in his voice that heads were already rolling behind the scene!
NCL has really improved their food. We ate in the Summer Palace and Mambo for dinners. I am rating this food a 5, because they got it just right. The buffet was okay, not as good as the dining rooms. We saw a great improvement in the food in just a year. That was some of the finest I have eaten at sea. Usually the desserts are ok, but not great. This time they were outstandingly wonderful, especially the warm cobblers. I hope that the same will be true on our cruise to Alaska that we are taking in September.
The service was great and the crew was very friendly. The crew greeted us and was friendly over and above what they normally are.
They treated it like a sampler cruise, anxious to show passengers what a real cruise would be like. We took a 2 day B2B not long ago on Holland America, and there was almost nothing to do, long stretches of blank time. They kept saying "well, on longer cruises, we do all kinds of things!" Not so here; the place was hopping. Being over 45 degrees ( not much) there were a lot of folks in the pool or sunbathing. Northwest people are like that. There were three different shows a night and so many activities that you had to pick between two or three that were all at the same time. Our favorite juggler/ comedians from the Caribbean cruise last year were there too. "Shark Bait" was hilarious. The stand up guy was not as funny as my wife...he drew huge crowds, but had almost zero audience response.
The cruise director was saying something about this being a two day 'booze cruise.' It was mostly true. At the life boat drill, someone asked this lady where her roommates were, "Oh, they decided to start drinking early," was her reply. There were so many drinks at the hot tub, you could have started your own bar.
We had a blast though. It was the same ship that we had taken to the Caribbean last year. There was one window around the corner from the buffet that I had sat at and watched a plane take off from an airstrip in St. Lucia. Every time I came around that corner this weekend I got DEjà vu. My mind put me back, remembering the white sand beaches, the emerald waters and the palm trees swaying in the early morning breeze. It was so relaxing.
We were able to get an upgrade to an ocean view because the prices had come down so much since we booked. It was worth the phone call. It was only a port hole on the lower deck, but it was fun having the morning sun come in. Beats an inside where you can never tell what time it is till you stumble around in the dark and find your watch. We usually go for cheap cabins...better to go more often, since we don't spend much time in the cabin anyway.
They had so much going on all the time. We went up to the Spinnaker (Observation) lounge to sit and watch the water go by. We got there just in time for the country line dancing class one afternoon. I stayed because I was enjoying the music and watching the people dance. There was this eighty year old Asian grandmother that was dragged onto the floor by her teenage granddaughter. She was showing up half the class. Then there was a Tango class after that. Those two stayed for that one also. The tango class was taught by Simon the cruise director. Who knew he could dance? He really made it fun for all ages.
Since it was a two day cruise and it really didn't take two days to get from Vancouver to Seattle, we headed out into the Pacific Ocean and idled around. We were going so slow at one point that the waves were passing us.
Getting off in Seattle was a breeze! We paused only to swipe our key card, and again at Customs to show our passports. We were off the ship and on the street in under 5 minutes, including stopping to put on a coat. Seattle is SO much easier than Vancouver!
All in all we had a blast, even think that it would be fun to do again sometime (except for the bus).