This was our first cruise on NCL and our first real vacation in 18 years. We chose the Alaska Cruise and Denali Explorer by Rail more than a year in advance to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We compulsively pre-booked restaurant ... Read More
This was our first cruise on NCL and our first real vacation in 18 years. We chose the Alaska Cruise and Denali Explorer by Rail more than a year in advance to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We compulsively pre-booked restaurant reservations and shore excursions, and were glad we did. We also had NCL take care of our flights and airport transfers, but will do our own flights next time. Embarkation was lengthy but our timing was good and we missed some of the delays that others experienced.
We chose a balcony cabin and spent many happy hours watching the scenery, including whales, glaciers and sea otters. Our cabin was small, but serviceable; we had a king-sized mattress. Our room steward Ali was great and we saw him every day. Our favorite restaurant was Le Bistro (my husband loved the French onion soup), followed by Moderno (especially the salad bar). Cagney's was just okay, although the service was good. We liked Tsar's Palace and Azmara, but ChinChin was truly awful. We had room service once, but my husband usually brought breakfast back to our room. We did not like the coffee; much too acidic. O'Sheehan's was decent, but had a limited menu. As we had prepaid our service charges, we did not tip our servers. I gather from the reviews that this was a mistake. Oops!
We worked out in the fitness center three times, and were disappointed to see that broken machines meant people had to wait in line. I had a spa treatment which was very expensive but worth it. The "upsell" did not bother me, as I just said no. We did not see any of the entertainment, but did spend time in the casino, which needs some newer machines. The laundry deal for $19.95 midweek gave us a chance to address some of our packing mistakes.
We had three great shore excursions, and saw wildlife on every one. We saw bald eagles in Ketchikan, and 17 whales doing a "bubble feeding" in Juneau. We had to rush through the Mendenhall glacier, and will have to see it again. In Skagway, we were disappointed in the White Pass Railway, but the Yukon Suspension Bridge add-on saved the day. We saw a mother bear and her cub eating dandelions by the side of the road just after crossing the border into Canada on our way to the bridge. We also had the time to walk around in each port, and would love to re-visit them all.
Debarkation was easy, as we were the first group off due to our train schedule. We enjoyed riding in the glass dome railcar, and the food and service on the train were good. We wish we could have spent more time in Denali. The schedule of the land portion of our package was grueling; we had to get up at 4:30am one day and 6:00am another day. That might have worked out better if we were staying in one place, but we moved repeatedly. We enjoyed the Alaska Zoo, but had no other need to see Anchorage. We felt a lot of time was wasted in Fairbanks, and our accommodations there were not great. We would rather have spent more time in Denali and taken excursions there. So, all in all, we had a very good time and are certainly willing to try NCL again. Read Less