I like the idea of freestyle cruising since it lets the guests eat in the main dining room whenever they want within the set hours. There is also no formal dress code, which I find quite liberating.
My partner and I think that the food was good, even though they do not receive our utmost praise. We like dining at Le Bistro since the French food there was quite good. Our waiter was also very friendly at the Ginza Restaurant, which helped enhance our dining experience there. The sushi was well prepared at Ginza and they even let me order from the Teppanyaki Restaurant menu without incurring another 15 dollars charge.
However, we were quite disappointed with the ship's itinerary on the Sawyer Glacier/Tracy Arm Fjord. There was a so-called expert who was supposed to brief us on what we will be seeing on our way to the Sawyer Glacier. Instead, she gave a very long winded Geography lesson on the various terms of the glaciers and their formations....stuff that I could have just read from any book on glaciers.
Our ship headed back prematurely before we reached the foot of Sawyer Glacier, and we did NOT even get close the the edge of the glacier to see the calving, where the glacier makes a thunderous noise falling into the ocean. Neither the captain nor the 'Glacier Expert' explained why we have to turn back prematurely!! That was NOT cool!
The ports of call were so-so. Skagway exists because of the cruise ships. The population of 800 people would perish if the ships stop going there. People who work at the so-call chain stores (tourist souvenirs stores) were treating us like we were burdening them with work. Most of them had sour faces and were not happy with the influx of cruise passengers swarming their stores. One lady even brought up Obama vs. the Republican politics in front of her customers...so much for leaving your personal beliefs behind! You would think that they (the business owners) would welcome the cruise passengers with open arms, especially since we are the only source of income in Skagway.
We do like all our shore excursions since we did not pay through the nose for the helicopter rides and glacier/dog sledding adventures. I personally think those activities are over-charged...you can probably get a much better deal shopping around after your ship has docked in the port. Just ensure that the independent operators commit to taking you back before the ship sails...
To my utmost disappointment, there was no indoor heated pool in the ship. There was one in the spa area, but you gotta pay 20 bucks to use it. Yeah, right! As to why NCL does NOT have an indoor pool considering the Alaska rainy and cool weather, I do not know! I just think it is absurd to design a ship to Alaska and think that passengers would want to use the outdoor pool when the day time temp is less than 70 degrees in the SUMMER.