We have benefitted greatly from the insights and experiences of others in these travel review sites, so find it important to put our two-cents in as well. We enjoyed the Norwegian Pearl through Alaska's Inside Passage and found the ship to be very comfortable and immaculate. We had a mini-suite that we shared with our teenaged daughter, which was adequate accomodation for us. I read another review from "starbuck2000" who obviously didn't have a very nice time and complained about just everything from the cabin to the crowds. I don't know what ship they were on, because we never felt overcrowded. While we've only been on two cruises, we learned very quickly that in order to have the best time, you just need to avoid "going with the flow". In other words, don't go to dinner or try to get on/off the ship at peak times! It's simple. Just wait about 30-minutes to disembark and you'll avoid the (inexplicable) rush of people who feel it necessary to line up to the be the first ones off the ship. Rediculous. Same goes for dinner. We sat right down nearly every single meal without a wait. Why? Because you go whenever you WANT to on Norwegian...THAT's what sets "free style" cruising apart. I have found that there are two types of cruisers...1). Creatures of habit: those how like the ritual of dressing-up, eating at the same time every day/eve, sitting with the same people, etc. and 2). Those who like to relax, and not be so hemmed-in by a fixed schedule. I have friends that like being 1's and I actually heard a lady intone, as we lolled in Glacier Bay, that Norwegian was "too casual" for her. Wow, that was really surprising. We brought nice clothes and dressed-up whenever we wanted to and made our own special nights. "Whte Hot Nights" was a fun theme night too.
My favorite place was the balcony, which was spacious, private and had two decent chairs and a table. I liked that we had a nice curtain between the bed and pull-out. The bed was better than ANY I've encountered in any hotel. It made the trip so much more enjoyable. Bathroom was more efficiently laid-out than the NCL SUN's and had plenty of space for three people's stuff. The closet was a bit cumbersome next to the bed, and required some juggling. We thought a better floor plan would have been to "flip" the room, with the bed closer to the balcony side and the couch/desk toward the door, but we didn't spend a lot of time fretting about it. We liked the design and felt that the room had nice, upgraded materials compared to the older NCL SUN we were on in '04. The cabin attendant was, in a word, SUPERB. We NEVER had to wait for anything. She even brought us a vase for the flowers we bought at Pike Place Market to have in our cabin during the week.
The one thing we were, and I'll use the word "horrified" by, was the "chocolate buffet" night, which was a free-for-all of obscene gluttony, with people literally stacking trays with desserts. I would strongly encourage NCL to eliminate this, but more to the point, some people are just there to eat and drink as much as they can lay their hands on - it's no wonder the average cruiser gains 8lbs on a 7-day cruise. One other thing...if you don't like to be around people in general, do not go on a cruise. While you can manage your exposure to crowds, there's still 2,199 other passengers onboard with you (not to mention another 1,500 or so crew members). An important way this his aided is by AVOIDING, to the extent you can, the BUFFET. When people get around unlimited amounts of food, you see the worst of manners, habits and gluttony, and it isn't pretty.
The Inside Passage is spectacular and it is still hard to believe how absolutely stunning the vistas are. Glacier Bay will take your breath away. The White Pass railway ride in Skagway is defintely a must-do (get a seat on the left side going up). Plan to get out of the "villages" when you disembark, even if you don't take a formal excursion. We found all the stops offered the same merchandise, etc. Get out and explore ALASKA, that's what you're there for. And really, how many sourvenirs/trickets do you need for your next garage sale? BE SURE TO BRING BINOCULARS.
Final note...DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CONSIDER USING GRAYLINE OF SEATTLE for your airport transfers. It took us TWO AND HALF HOURS TO GO 14-MILES on a bus, then switching to a van, and circling all around Seattle before arriving at our hotel. Imagine schlepping your luggage for a 7-day cruise from bus to van, etc. on a sidestreet in Seattle! It was a joke. We had purchased our transfers online ahead of time and it was such a bad experience, we didnt' even bother using our return tickets after the cruise, and GRAYLINE said, well "too bad", so we were out another $70. Most unprofessional service I've ever encountered.