This is our fourth cruise, but first on NCL.
Embarkation was extremely smooth, well organized, and painless. Arrived about 11:30 am and we were on the ship at Noon for lunch. Greeted with champagne and very friendly crew.
SHIP: The ship was designed very well; easy to get around and navigate all major areas. The ship was rennovated in 2004 and is extremely clean and good looking. The outdoor decks have plenty of room although I must say we only sat out on one day of cruising as the weather was a bit too chilly for us most of the time.
We had an ocean view stateroom on Deck 5 with a large window and not a port hole as in many other ships........very clean and although not huge, we managed well. Bed was very comfy and the stewart always had what we needed.
I must say that compared to other cruises, this cruise line spent the extra bucks to attract FIRST CLASS entertainment. We saw almost every show and they repeated some shows that were very popular. So, A PLUS for the entertainment!! Just about all the folks we spoke to on the ship agreed.
The other activities (games, etc.) were also well organized and received well. Just don't get overwhelmed with the "promo" seminars, which have one goal.......to have you spend more money. Upselling was about the only part of the cruise which tended to be a "turn-off". If you tune yourself out, you will survive it easily.
The ship has two main dining rooms, one is not open all the time. Also a buffet, coffee shop type diner, and two grills. The free style dining is great.....no set hours for dining and casual is the theme.
Unfortunately my first dining room experience was not good......ordered Siamese Beef with noodles for lunch.....the meat was not tender and had little taste. My wife order the tenderloin steak for dinner which was also not very good. Now for the good news..........all other meals in the dining room were either average or above average considering it was cruise food. Breakfasts were great and most dinners were good. If you don't like the dish you ordered just order something else. The salmon is always good! I had duck, lobster, and prime rib, all of which were very good!
FOr lunch, we opted for the Market Cafe buffet which has a large variety of food......much of which will satisfy a majority of the diners. WE ate at one specialty restaurant (The Ginza) which was very good and worth the $15pp surcharge.
Exceptional all around service from a crew who knows what service means.
All excursions are a bit pricey. We did the Rain Forest in Ketchikan, Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and the White Pass Rail trip in Skagway.......we were satisfied with all. Like most cruise ports, the towns were honky tonk and tourist type. Did manage to see bears, bald eagles, and even a far sighted whale from the ship a few times.
Smooth and well organized..........the staff was eager to assist in every way.
Considering the prices of cruises to Alaska, I feel the cruise was well priced.
ON a basis of five stars, I certainly would feel that four stars are justified for my experience on this cruise.