This was a "repositioning" cruise - Started in Vancouver, B.C., with stops in Astoria, Oregon, San Francisco, and ending in Los Angeles. My husband & I were looking forward to the "freestyle" cruising - we're not into getting dressed up for dinner while we're on vacation. We've previously cruised on Holland America & Royal Caribbean.
So "freestyle" means that you don't have to dress up for dinner, and you don't have assigned dinner times/tables. But you can't really eat whatever you want whenever you want - there are set times for breakfast/lunch/dinner. It's not like you can roll out of bed at 10, and then have breakfast. There are 2 main dining rooms, and the food isn't that special. Some of it was terrible! (Beware the shrimp cocktail!) And you don't get the "good" food in the dining rooms - you have to eat at the "specialty" restaurants for that - and you'll pay upwards of $35 a person for that! Room service has a limited menu (BLT, pizza...), but you can pay extra for fancier stuff. In our previous cruises, pretty much everything served in the dining room was available as room service. We were looking forward to ordering room service, and having a nice meal on our balcony - BIG disappointment there! Totally felt like they were nickel & dime-ing you.
Our room was very nice, the balcony was great, and always love a coffeemaker in the room. But when we first got on board, there were NO towels in the bathroom, and the room hadn't been cleaned very well - one shelf obviously had not been dusted at all, and the table on our balcony had red wine rings all over it...!
Good thing: Only had one day with those stupid towel animals - HATE those things!!
They had the usual list of daily activities on the ship & they made a big deal of the "freestyle" aspect - but it's not like you have to do any of that stuff unless you want to, so there's really no difference.
Entertainment - we saw a ventriloquist, an improve group, and some Cirque-type entertainers - all good.
Gym was good - good selection of equipment & not too crowded. Didn't try any classes - something else to pay extra for! There's a running/walking track on one deck that's not too good - there's really not enough room for it so people get in your way, etc. Tennis court was reserved for adults each morning for a couple of hours, but there were always families with little kids fooling around there, so forget that.
Layout of the ship wasn't great - majority of public areas are all in the middle of the ship, so people are always walking through. There's no cozy bar, or piano lounge. "Bliss" club was a wannabe cool bar. And bowling on the ship? Yeah - nothing says "great vacation" like bowling! Best place to hang out on the ship was our room - glad we had the nice balcony!
Overall: Great room. Disappointing food. Too many extra charges lurking everywhere. If this pretty well represents NCL - we won't be back.
Astoria, Oregon. Interesting town, some beautiful homes,
lots of history. And "The Goonies" was filmed here! The locals take a
lot of pride in their town & are there to share info, provide maps,
point out places of interest, etc.