After all the excitement of counting down to my first cruise, I was finally aboard for a fulfilled trip to LA. Traveling with my sister as part of a Zumba fitness group, we decided to leave Victoria on our own by taking the economical transit route, putting the money saved towards our cruise expenses. After almost not setting sale due to a storm overnight, we were lucky the ferries didn't cancel and the ferry itself was packed with cruisers heading to various ships for the repositioning cruises. We boarded packed a transit bus, transferred to the skytrain to Waterfront station then transferred to a bus for all of $2.50. We met another couple on the way and the 4 of us walked 3-4 blks thru a shady part of town and only encountered one panhandler. The path to the port however required us to haul our luggage down 4 flights of stairs. No exception! Next time we will call a taxi from waterfront for the ease as they drop you off right in front of the doors. Worth the $6 IMO
As we arrived at 12:30 we had an hour wait to board the ship and were immediately directed to the stardust theatre for a freestyle dining presentation and chance to win dinner for two in a specialty restaurant. We were told our cabins would be ready by 2 so we headed up to see it and drop off our stuff. Our cabin had a lovely view of the lifeboats but as this was an upgrade from an inside we were pleased. We only planned on sleeping here anyway. We then headed off to the sailaway party and won free drinks. We met the rest of our group at the Summer Palace for dinner. Throughout the cruise we were able to get reservations at Summer Palace and Indigo that accommodated 20+ of our group though not always at one table but 2-3 tables together. We ate as a group at La Cucina ($10) in which we actually found the main dish-risotto-undercooked and starchy but the service was great. Would have sent it back but wanted to get to a show so didn't bother complaining.
We loved the shows- Oh what a night, sharkbait, broadway, the ventriloquist and the finale was wonderful. The games in Spinakers lounge were hilarious and music by Odessy was good but a bit repetitive by the last nights. The white Hot Party was great too. Julie is a great cruise director and all the staff.
Unfortunately we hit one of the worse storms overnight on the first night amd the port of Astoria was closed. Kudos to the housekeeping staff as the had many messes to clean as almost 1/2 the passengers were down with seasickness along with many experienced crew. Bowls of crackers everywhere and they were giving away gravel and gingerale as this storm went on for 22-24 hours!! Our TA has sailed 59 cruises and said it was in his top 5 of worse storms ever! The ship came up with a new freestyle daily later with more options as we now had another sea day. We were rewarded with a glorious day in San Fran to make up for it.
Disembarkment was smooth and easy as we booked the LA OVERVIEW excursion ending at LAX. This was the biggest disappointment of our trip. The first words out of our tour guides mouth was that this excursion was impossible to complete in three hours and she asked if anyone had a flight before 2:30. One hand shot up that had a flight at 2:30 so she(Mary) decided we would have to skip parts to make it by 12:30. Many many protests from all as this was not acceptable. Without any chance to change buses( our friends on same tour were on the next bus) we were off. We drove past the universities and every highschool and elementary school was pointed out including Mary's daughters. - did I mention Mary was a retired teacher?? She also pointed out where her dad bought his first car!! We were then allowed off the bus at Olivera for our promised stroll as per the description from NCL. By the time were got off the bus we has a sprint of 10 min and barely made it back on the bus. We rushed off to grommannsand after parking 1 1/2 blocks away, he had 20min to run back to take pics. We did have the option at this and the prior stop to follow Mary and she would show us where the bathrooms were. We opted to skip that as that would take the full 20 min. After arriving back at our meeting spot we waited 10 for the bus to return. We then went to Farmers market for our time to shop and enjoy lunch. NOT!!! 15 min to which many frustrated passengers have up by now and just stayed seated. We then specked to Lax and made it there by 12:45. It wasn't till 2 that our friends arrived and raved about their excursion. Same price but they had ample time as their tour guide skipped farmers as it was out of way and wasted time. That would be fine with us. All this proved to me was NCL excursions were a rip off. They need to either check who they hire or correct their descriptions. I've taken shuttle buses more informative and funny for a fraction of the cost and less expectation.
All in all though, I can't wait to cruise again and NCL is a great choice minus excursion. And as q PS, we got an unexpected $15 credit for missed port. Not a lot but still, not expected.