My husband and I chose the cruise to correspond to our anniversary celebration. What a disappointment. Getting on the ship was easy and organized leaving pier 66 from Seattle. We have been to Alaska before and therefore knew what to expect as far as excursions and decided just to go off in each port and do our own thing. Our cabin had an ocean view window and was spacious enough for the two of us. The one major complaint regarding the cabin was that repairs were not made to the sink and drain even after leaving notes and the soap dispenser was not replenished. The television in the cabin was old and there was poor reception. We requested a non smoking room, but to our dismay the people next to us smoked and the second hand smoke was prevalent in our room and on the floor where we were situated. I believe that there should be specified floors for smokers or no smoking ban in cabins to avoid this issue.
On the request data for the cruise, it was noted if you are celebrating a special occasion, please let us know, we filled it out that we were celebrating our anniversary on the specific date during the cruise. The date came and there was no recognition, not even a card on our door. We visited the guest desk and asked, but were told that nothing was noted and we should have purchased the anniversary package if we wanted recognition. We traveled on Princess Cruises last year and they provided us with chocolate strawberries, champagne, and a lovely banner all complimentary. We promptly deposited a note in the box of the hotel manager to let me know how we were treat and how disappointed we were and were told that we would get a response within twenty four hours, we didn't hear from him during the entire cruise.
We ate in the main dining room Versailles where we expected the service would be good since they are used to getting meals prepared in a expedient fashion for those going on excursions, but we found otherwise. The service was terrible and the food was served cold such as at breakfast when cold uncooked eggs were served. Orders were confused since the servers rarely wrote down the orders. On the third day, the Maitre D asked us how things were going and we began to discuss our issues. He promptly took care of the situation and we were given personal service for the remainder of the cruise making sure that all of our meals in all of the dining venues were served hot and in due time. He was truly outstanding. We did however end up eating at the other restaurants such as the Tex Mex restaurant which was very good quality food and excellent server by the name of Jenallyne,the Bistro nice atmosphere, Asian Fusion good variety and La Cucina which was pretty good, but nothing special.
The service in all of the specialty restaurants was wonderful and servers very personable. Our feeling is that the food quality in the buffet and dining rooms is lower as well as the service and therefore people tend to spend the money in the specialty restaurants out of frustration. We noticed increasing numbers going to the restaurants after the first three days. More attention should be spent on the menu selections particularly for those with allergies to nuts since almost everything had nuts sprinkled on or in the main courses, salads and deserts. There was not enough variety in deserts especially those for diabetics since there were limited selections of no sugar selections and we were told the freezer was too small to hold a selection.
We attempted to eat at the buffet and just have coffee one evening after a show at 9:30P.M. nothing was left not even fresh fruit.This particular venue is supposed to be open long hours and there was limited seating. A little known fact on the ship is the drink dispensers located near Blue Lagoon self service for coffee, tea and water. This was especially nice for times when we sat and read, talked or played cards on the days at sea. The theater productions were entertaining especially the tribute to Frankie Valli and Band on the Run. The problem with the theater is that the staff are too busy selling lottery tickets rather than being concerned that people are creating a fire hazard by sitting on the steps from the top to the bottom. This could made it difficult for especially for the handicapp to get out of their seats especially if there was an emergency. In order to get a seat in the shows, people have to arrive at least a forty five minutes before the show begins because so many large groups reserve the seats. The trio that appeared in the atrium each night were very entertaining and enjoyable to listen to. We had an opportunity to speak with them and they were friendly and personable.
The casino staff was friendly and offered free drinks for those in the casino, and we sometimes took the drinks into the shows rather than to pay six dollars or more for drinks being sold. The thing that we could not understand was that Harrah's Casino is connected to NCl Cruise line, but you don't get the credit applied to your card for gambling in the casino on board the ship. NCL has their own seaboard credit and you have to earn 1000 points to get ten dollars on board credit.We question why Harrah's Casino is even involved other than to offer a discount for passengers who have the players card since it not valid on the ship.
The ports were easy to go off the ship and investigate on your own if you chose to do so. Skagway was the only one which might have required a bus or you could just walk, but the weather was very cold and rainy with wind that particular day and a number of people ventured out, but came back quickly. Prince Rupert was a total waste of time, although it is a short walk from the ship there is nothing much to do unless you book an excursion. NCL is the only ship to stop at this port which may tell the visitor something since most go on and stop in Victoria where there are more sights and interesting places to visit. Prices are higher in the stores by at least three or more dollars. There are two museums, but they tend to be overcrowded since there is not much of anything else to do in the town. Beautiful view of the ocean, but nothing special. There were plenty of comfortable places to sit throughout the ship either at tables or by the window seats where you could just chill. Popcorn was served hot every afternoon around 1;00-2:00 by the Red Lion Inn which made a nice afternoon snack. The sights and the people we met on the trip were enjoyable, but the Princess cruise to Alaska has NCL beat in food quality, service and customer relations provided.