Alaska did not disappoint - the weather was at times cold and rainy (as expected for late September) but the scenery was outstandingly beautiful. We stayed in an AB penthouse on the Star, and loved the cabin. It was spacious, comfortable, quiet, and we really appreciated the suite perks. Everything worked as expected and we had no complaints.
The staff were great and always responded quickly and cheerfully to our requests. We booked online through an NCL personal cruise consultant who was also very responsive, replying to each of my emails within 24 hours. No complaints about any of the staff before or during the cruise.
We met the senior staff at the CC meet and greet on the first day at sea, and they were very keen to assure us that we should let them know if we had a problem and not keep it to ourselves on the ship, only to vent later on the internet. That's fine insofar as it relates to problems that can be fixed on the spot, but of course some complaints relate to much wider systemic issues that are beyond the ability of the ship staff to fix. So I thought it a little disingenuous of them to bemoan the tendency of passengers to complain on the internet but not to them. Having said that, I did get the impression that if we had had an immediate problem on the ship, they would have done their best to fix it.
This brings me to the issue of the food. It ranged from mediocre to good. It was never great. We ate mostly in the specialty restaurants - I didn't like the look of the buffet at all, and our one meal at Versailles was by far the worst we encountered. It is unrealistic to expect a truly gourmet experience considering the numbers that have to be catered to and the cost we were paying.
I wasn't upset about having to pay extra for the nice food, because, really, the cruise is not expensive. You are paying from around $100 to $200 per person per night, and that includes accommodation, transport and entertainment. For that sort of money, the food is going to be basic. Another factor is the vast quantities of food on offer. Maybe if portions were smaller, or fewer courses offered (three courses for both lunch and dinner is a lot of food) then quality could improve. But I understand that other passengers have different priorities and presumably NCL knows its customer base pretty well.
Other things that others have complained about we just ignored - the bingo, the art sales, the shopping seminars ... there was no hard sell to attend any of these and we found it easy to filter out everything we weren't interested in.
I am very aware that much of what we liked about our experience on the ship was a direct result of being able to afford the suite and the specialty restaurants. I imagine it would be a different experience altogether if you were on a stricter budget. Overall though, I still thought the cruise was reasonable value. It is much cheaper than staying at a five star resort.
Our only sour note came after we got home and realised we had left some personal items in the cabin. I emailed NCL in the (probably) vain hope that they have some sort of system for returning lost property, and have not even had the courtesy of a response. NCL if you are reading this, and I think you must be, there is no point spending so much effort on customer relations during the cruise, only to ignore them once it is over. People do remember this sort of thing and yes, they will vent about it on the internet.