Alaska was our dream destination. Me and my husband decided to go at the end of the season because of the value we got for 10 day Alaskan cruise plus there were 9 other people in our group and that was the only time when all of us could go together. I definitely recommend going to Alaska, at least once in a lifetime. I loved Glacier Bay National Park where we could see glaciers, hear them cracking and see big chunks of ice falling into the beautiful blue green waters. That was the highlight for me. The scenery is just breathtaking and I didn't know that places like this still exist.
The reason why I'm writing this review is not about Alaska but it is about NCL cruise lines. One, we went on Jewel and the ship was very old needed update and many crew members especially in dining areas were flat out unhappy. There were no smiles or jokes like I am used to from the other cruises. The same situation at the bar. Barman was polite, gave you your drink but no other interaction. Next, I am not a greatest cook and for me any food is good as long as I don't have to cook it. However, food on this cruise was awful wherever you went. Buffet was just cheap cafeteria food and very greasy. I think Dennys serves better breakfast than this ship. Hardly any seafood or fish in the buffet. Couple of times we went to the main dining room but we had to wait 1.5 hours for food to be served and it wastasteless. One night they served steaks but by the time we got them they were cold and hard as a rock.
Further, shore excursions: Ketchikan - Misty Fjords National monument by boat started off really misty. We went early in the morning and fog was so thick we couldn't see anything but later on the fog cleared and we were grateful that we went. It was very cold and windy but there was plenty of shelter on the boat and hot tea, coffee and cocoa. They served salmon chowder for lunch and it was delicious. Highly recommend this excursion. Juneau - we booked Seaplane tour to Taku lodge that got cancelled due to weather and the cruise didn't offer any interesting replacements. Disappointing. They said they will refund us. So we went out on a pier and booked excursion on our own which almost turned out to be a disaster. Their instructions were sketchy and we almost didn't make it back to our cruise on time. Skagway - Train and an extension bridge in Canada. Well it was enjoyable at least but it could've been more fun if our friends were allowed to go with us. All of us booked this trip and the bus took us to train station where our friends were required to present with Canadian visas. They are from Czech republic and before this trip they called Canadian embassy and were informed that they don't need visa if they are entering Canada by boat, train, or car. Well high altitude customs in White Horse pass felt differently and our friends weren't allowed to enter Canada. So they got to enjoy tiny little town of Skagway and it's many bars and shops. They were very disappointed because the train was the highlight of Skagway. However, I partially blame for this fiasco NCL because they should warn international travelers that there is a possibility of not being allowed to Canada if you are not US citizen. At least NCL was going to refund all of them. Or that's what they promised. It was six people that went and it's been more than two months and they still haven't seen their refund checks. We filed claims on NCL web site, called them on multiple occasions, were promised that they will call back when they find out more. No calls, no money. Go figure. In Icy Strait we booked 4WD buggies and zip line. It was fun but couldn't see a squat. If you end up there and want to go on world highest zip line book it for the afternoon, chances are the fog will be gone by then. Icy Strait reminded me one of those Caribbean cruise ports like Grand Turk with Alaskan style Margaritaville. After foggy zip line we ventured to small town of Hoonah where we sat at the pub, enjoyed some local brew and chit chat with the locals. The little town is charming. After mixed feelings about excursions on this cruise we decided not to book anything in Sitka and Prince Ruppert. We just enjoyed walk around downtown in both of these ports.
Cabin was equipped with all the essentials but was very outdated and could have been cleaned better as well during turnover. When we walked into our room it was little dusty and carpet stained or worn out at best. Bathroom was clean overall but I found some stains on the wall right next to the toilet. Gross. Speaking of bathroom the toilet area was tiny for me and I am average height and weight. Also we could smell some exhaust from time to time for few minutes. Couldn't figure out where it was coming from.