Background: This is DH's and my 11th sail with NCL and we combined this little overnighter after taking Norwegian Star on her 7-day Sawyer Glacier cruise. We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn at Sea-Tac as we were flying back in from Vancouver (they allow up to 4 days parking with a one night stay and have a shuttle from the airport). We took a town car from the hotel to the pier ($45). We have sailed the Norwegian Pearl 3 other times: Glacier Bay, 5-day Coastal and 19-day Panama Canal reposition. So far Norwegian Star and Norwegian Pearl are our favorite ships and crews.
Embarkation: Even though we were in a mini-suite, so no VIP check-in, we were whisked right to the Latitudes desk, checked in and were on board within 20 minutes. (We arrived about 11:00.) Our first course of action was to book dinner reservations and leave notes for friends at the front desk. Of course the 'drink of the day' was in order by the pool, but it was still chilly outside so we went to the buffet for lunch and sat in La Cuchina to eat where only a couple of officers were dining. Nice and quiet. Then we had another 'drink of the day' for a matching set of glasses (I'm kidding), on the aft deck where the sun was now shinging. It was then announced we could go to our cabins and we made our way aft to our mini-suite on deck 11, port corner. We met our Cabin Stewards and they fulfilled a small request and then said they'd be back about 8:00 for cabin turn-down. I like to shower before dinner, which I did, but the turn-down never happened and our calls were not answered, so downside is that I dried the next morning with a hand towel (more on that about the cabin).
Cabin: We were in a cabin for the handicapped as DH has some physical limitations and we thought we'd give it a try. The cabin is extra large, has emergency call buttons everywhere (even on the headboard of the bed), has a ramp up to the deck which also has an extra railing to securely grasp. The deck door is operated by push button both inside and out; it's a little slow, so if it's windy it could be a problem. The closet has a pull down handle, so if you are wheelchair bound, you can still get to your clothing. There are 3 large drawers and lots of open storage. There is ample room to move a wheelchair or walker around and probably a Little Jazzy (or other brand) as well. Electrical outlets were everywhere to accommodate breathing machines, etc., so that was really nice for all of our electronics. Now the down side if you are not handicapped (that would be me): The bathroom is spacious, the mirror over the sink can be adjusted up or down and the toilet is extra high (I'm short). The real downside for me was the shower; I could never get water hot enough and even with towels around the drains the entire floor gets soaked. That's how I came to dry myself the next morning with a hand towel. Needless to say we did not leave a tip, but did leave an explanation as to why.
Photos: So far Norwegian Pearl has the best photographers and we decided to dress for dinner and take advantage of the opportunity. We were not disappointed. On the way to photos we ran into Dave Lange, Safety Officer, whom we had dined with on our Panama trip last fall. He did remember us and we chatted for a few minutes. It was nice to see him again and I reminded him to 'mind his English' or he'd be in the naughty room (if you ever meet me, I'll tell you the story). He laughed and said he'd try!
Dining: We were hungry for Cagney's and this is the nicest Cagney's on any of the ships yet. I had Oysters Rockefeller, a small salad and lobster, which was just delicious. DH had the salmon and King crab and said his was delicious too. The sun was just setting and the water was like glass; I believe we were sailing about 5 knots, so the view of the sunset over the Olympic Mountains was wonderful. After dinner we stopped by the Star Bar but nothing was going on, so I called one of my friends on board and we met in Star Bar for a drink while DH went back to the cabin. My friend arranged for us to have breakfast in Cagney's in the morning, which is always a treat. You know who you are and we thank you. Entertainment: By the time we made it for some jazz, it was all over, so we ordered a glass of wine and listened to Karaoke and I even gave it a try (big mistake—the guy that sang with me didn't know the song!)...which made it hilarious, to say the least. And then it was back to a cabin that had not been turned down. No fresh towels, nothing...and no one would answer their phone, including the front desk. Ah well...at least we slept well, listening to the beautiful wake of the ship. After a quick shower and packing we headed to Cagney's for breakfast. It was then about 8:00, when we were to disembark, but for some reason we were not cleared until almost 9:00. I stood in the lobby of Cagney's for a while and a waiter from the night before came up to talk to me and we danced a little mambo before he twirled me to the elevators with the promise to dance in February. Before disembarking I called my friend to say good-bye until our next meeting.
Disembarkation was a breeze and we passed our past Concierge (Karan) on our way out. Now picture trying to hug as one is going down the elevator while the other is running up the steps! He finally gave up and came back down the stairs! We told him of our February plans and that fits with his schedule too. So...Karan, Denis and Captain Lars (we missed seeing you—that old jet lag again!), we'll see you in February! Getting home: DH is now a retired airline employee and all flights were booked or oversold until at least 8 p.m., so Budget needed a car driven to Seattle, which we did. Arrived SEA about 5:30 (long border wait) and then grabbed our car, a quick dinner and a big coffee for me (the driver) and headed to Portland, arriving 9:30 p.m. A long day, but good to be back home (even if the cat did yell at us all night!). All in all it was a nice little sail and moved us up a level in Latitudes before we sail again next month.