This is my first review... so pardon me if I get too wordy.
My wife & I flew from Portland into Vancouver International Airport on the day the cruise was departing; our flight on Air Canada Jazz was on-time and we cleared customs & immigration in a breeze. (Note: we tried booking train on Amtrak but it was already booked for the day prior to the cruise 6-weeks prior to departure.) as we left the luggage claim area, we were met by NCL representatives who took our three bags and we boarded a bus. The driver gave us a 45 minute tour of downtown Vancouver BC on our way to the ship which was very nice.
We arrived at the port terminal & was through security check in no time. We then waited maybe 5-minutes to check-in and get the cabin keys and our vacation was set to begin.
We walked up to the ship & boarded... and to our cabin we headed. The cabin was 5006. It was perfect for my wife & I. (The cabin steward introduced himself and it turned out he's from the same town in the Philippines as my wife is from. Throughout the cruise, he was superb towards us.) We attended the mandatory ship emergency procedures meeting in the Stardust Theater and then we found ourselves wandering topside. While we wandered around topside, the ship departed the port and our cruise was beginning. We sailed under Lion's Gate Bridge leaving Vancouver behind. We spent the next two hours exploring the NCL Norwegian Star; we wandered back to our cabin and only two of three of our bags were there. We went to the stardust Theater show that evening and met our cruise director & a sampling of the shows scheduled. Our third bag arrived after the show ended - just before 9pm. We finished unpacking and then off for a late-dinner.
The next day saw us stopping in Nanaimo. The weather was wet - with rain pouring down on us. It was the start of three days of bad weather... but still, my wife & I took the bus into Nanaimo and made the most of our time there. The afternoon saw the rain disappear... and the sun come out for a few hours. I was very tired and slept early. A Captain's announcement was broadcast that he was going to dock at Victoria at midnight to avoid the high winds expected the next morning.
The day at Victoria was windy & rainy. Gusts of 40mph on the dock. My wife was determined to go ashore; I let her do so knowing my opposition would be ignored. She said she had a fun time ashore. BUT while she was ashore, wind gusts toppled a gang-plank while people were on it; two had a medical emergency and were taken ashore. While on the ship, I explored it... and watched shows in the Spinnaker Lounge. My wife returned after 3-hours in Victoria; and we had a fun afternoon exploring the ship together. The ship left Victoria on-time and we were at the show in the Stardust Theater at 7pm... and it was very good. About 30-minutes into the show, the ship began with rough seas.
The stop at Astoria was canceled due to the rough seas. We had 15-18 foot swells. My wife was sea sick ... but I guess I had good sea feet. The day she spent in bed. I wandered top side a few times and it was closed due to the weather & rough seas. Water was splashed from the hot tub & pool onto the deck - and people were slipping. The crew had card games & board games setup and played movie in the Stardust Theater. I sat in the casino and had $10 last me 4-hours at slots and black jack table. (I was lucky - hitting six black-jacks and winning one double-down in a ten dealing span.)
The next day was a planned day at sea. The swells were still 10-12 feet... but more tolerable. My wife was feeling much better although a few larger swells caused her to be dizzy. We again wandered between shows in Spinnaker Lounge and Stardust Theater. This evening, Angels performed; a ballet duo that was fabulous. Also this evening, we ate at Cagney's Steakhouse which was our treat on the cruise - celebrating our 24th anniversary about 5-weeks early. We had fun taking photos of the sea... and other ships we saw.
Thursday saw us in San Francisco. It was a foggy morning as the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. YES - there were conflicting orders by NCL on clearing immigration and a few people left the ship before they should have been permitted off the ship. My wife & I had a fun 5-hours on SF Pier 39. We had lunch of Fried Clams and French Fries & Cole Slaw at a small booth near Pier 39. We walked ... and walked. We returned to the ship and had a quiet rest in our cabin. That evening, I strolled all around the ship after we set sail for our final destination.
We had one more sea day. And my wife & I took the BEHIND THE SCENES tour. It was fabulous and long. We had an hour on the bridge as dolphins & whales crossed our path off the California Coast near Santa Maria (city). We had an early dinner and then to the last show in Stardust Theater. It was fabulous!
I awoke early to go see us sail into San Pedro Harbor and our destination port. We disembarked smoothly although PURPLE and LAVENDER colors were very similar but treated differently by NCL staff. Still, we were off the ship and through CUSTOMS and on to bus for our LAX airport transfer. Our flight home was bumpy as another storm front had entered Portland area Saturday.
The food on board in the main dining area (Versailles and Aqua) was superb. I did not like the Garden Cafe buffet food. But the top side food buffet had build your own omelettes every morning that were superb; and until 9pm, the same spot had crepes that were superb too. NCL does serve PEPSI products; we bought COCA-COLA and SPRITE in Nanaimo that lasted us the cruise.
All in all, we had an enjoyable time. I took over 1,250 photos and my wife took over 900 photos. YES - we had lots of fun. And we will cruise with NCL again, soon. We will take a ten day Caribbean cruise during 2012. We are already counting the days.