We live in Oregon and really need more cruises departing from the west coast.
Flew to Vancouver BC via Horizon - Portland to Seattle, then Seattle to Vancouver day of cruise. Very cramped aircraft but it got us there safely. Hung out at the airport then caught limo to the Ballantyne pier.
We were among the first to arrive at Ballantyne so fact that there was no separate suite line didn't matter. We were checked in and escorted directly to Cagneys for a wonderful lunch. Dropped off our carryon bags in the stateroom, explored a little, did safety drill and went to Biergarten for our cruise critic sailaway party. NCL provided light refreshments and we enjoyed meeting our message board buddies. There was no rain and sailaway from Vancouver was beautiful.
First port Nanaimo - light rain but no wind so no problem for Oregonians. We took the free shuttle, got off at first stop and spent 3 to 4 hours wandering along the harbor and part of the town. Inexpensive low key enjoyable port.
Victoria - captain announced that Victoria was expecting high winds and extreme weather and we needed to go in night before or we wouldn't be able to dock there. He got us safely to pier but in the morning it was POURING and WINDY. Our stateroom was above the gangplanks and we watched people walking backwards & having umbrellas turned inside out and decided to stay on board. We'll all be retired next year and can drive to Victoria in a few hours so we'll plan a three or four day trip and do the city justice.
I think it was Victoria night that we ran into heavy seas - 17 to 20 feet. Roseann and I stayed in casino until it closed as deck 6 is more stable than deck 12. Mezacline (generic Bonine) worked again and none of us got sick or even felt queasy. Our friends are now assured they are sailors and we're looking forward to new schedules so we can plan next our cruise.
Port of Astoria was closed so we were unable to make that stop. We had looked forward to approaching Astoria by vessel rather than car but the Columbia Bar is dangerous and weather was lousy so it was understandable. The port charges were refunded without asking.
Port of San Francisco - we did the NCL Muir Woods and Sausalito excursion. It was foggy going into port - I was up on deck 13 and one of first sights was the Ghiradelli Square sign. Weather was ok in San Francisco and we enjoyed the excursion. They dropped us off at pier 39 and we explored, then walked back to the ship.
Meal thoughts - we ate in Versailles one breakfast and several dinners. Had dinner at Aqua once but preferred Versailles. We didn't have any bad meals and some were really good. Most breakfasts and lunches we went to Cagneys. It was quiet and relaxing and the limited menus along with their small buffet were very enjoyable. Nida was wonderful server and we requested her station. We gave her tip at end of cruise and filled out STYLE cards for her. We ate in the Market Cafe a few times - food is ok but the Star buffet setup reminds me of a school lunchroom. Didn't do any specialty dinners this cruise. The Best of All lunch was wonderful - they had favorites from everywhere except the Sushi Bar. It was served in LaCucina - some buffet style and some ordered off a special menu. The beef tenderloin off the menu was to die for as was the prime rib from the buffet. Creme Brule - wonderful.
For $15 per person this meal is a true bargain.
The pool was not open on this cruise - it was filled on the last day to be ready for Panama Canal crossing cruise. Hot tubs were open and used. There were NO two for one martini specials - really missed that. Think they had 20% off wine every day. They did have two days of martini and margarita tastings as well as wine tasting but we didn't attend.
We went to most of the shows - my first time to go to Second City show and I loved it. The "fountains" presentation was done at the end of the crew talent show instead of the main final show. We enjoyed Kenny in the Red Lion Pub - he showcased different singers each night. Also enjoyed the trio in the atrium and the couple in Gatsbys. There was no pushing to buy drink refills and some people just sat and listened or sang along without buying anything.
Rich got up early every morning and worked out in the fitness center while the rest of us slept. He enjoyed the equipment and is probably the only one of us who didn't gain any weight.
We were invited to tour the bridge along with other suite guests. This was one of the highlights of the cruise for all of us. Our family suite 12518 was another highlight - perfect for the four of us and it would work for 6 if you packed lightly and weren't bathroom hogs. Our butler Mark was great - brought us canapes every afternoon along with two pitchers of orange juice at our request. We didn't ask for anything special but I'm sure he would have done it with a smile if requested. I left my Nook charger in the room final day and he tracked us down to deliver it.
For the four of us this was a low key relaxing and relatively inexpensive cruise. We enjoyed NCL's hospitality and rested and amused ourselves. Purchased another cruise rewards and I think my final bill was $450 (prepaid the gratutities). This was a record low for us :)
Traveled home via JetBlue from Long Beach - $46 taxi ride to the airport. JetBlue was wonderful as always. Non-stop to Portland, plenty of leg room and first bag free.