Overall the cruise was disappointing. If this had been my first cruise it likely would have been my last. My experiences on previous cruises (including one other NCL cruise) have been much better.
The observation lounge provided nice views but the seating was poorly organized. Large single person lounge chairs that were space out about 6 feet apart were the only window seats. These chairs were almost always occupied, typically with people taking naps. This left couches and group areas away from the windows for the majority of the passengers to fight over. When we did find seats in the observation lounge the great viewing window were not of much use.
All the common areas were packed. On the Alaska cruise the outdoor areas do not get used all the much due to cold and often rainy weather. The inside area were not designed to fit all 4000 passengers on the nearly 3 full days at sea. Thus instead of the at sea time being relaxing it was a constant battle to find a place to hang out.
The race track was fun but overrated. We were able to luck into tickets once during family time for the race track. All other track times were fully booked.
We were never able to get tickets to laser tag. Even during the at sea days Laser tag was only open generally 5-9pm. By the time we got on the boat at 1pm on Saturday all spots were reserved and when we tried to get in to play on a stand-by basis the message was we are already overbooked for today try tomorrow. This was the number one activity the kids wanted to do so their assessment at the end of the cruise was "We didn't even get to play laser tag"
Both evening show were inappropriate for the kids (we took them anyway because there wasn't anything else for them to do)
Most of the other entertainment was in venue that were too small so unless you were at the venue/lounge an hour ahead of time you were standing in a packed space.
They had fun at splash academy but the majority of the time there was just spent playing switch or PS4 games which they can do at home.
The food was very hit and miss. The shrimp on several occasions, including at Le Bistro, was always overcooked and tough.
The garden cafe (buffet) had very little variety from meal to meal or day to day. The breakfast options every day were the same, about the only thing that changed was the flavor of muffin and the on type of cheese you could choose. The omelet stations all had the same 5 ingredients to choose from, cheese, peppers, onions, ham and ??. The lunch and dinner options were the same as each other and for every meal. Only the nightly main entree (Prime Rib, Seafood, Salmon, BBQ, Asian, and Ribs) changed in the evenings. We didn't eat dinner at the buffet but by the end of the week everybody was tired of the same old buffet food for lunch and dinner.
The main dining room food was generally decent although again the menu variety was lacking. The daily specials changed but were still relatively similar to the special from the other days. I would give the food quality in the dining rooms a B- in general. The service on the other hand was very very slow. Only one night did we get in and out of the dining rooms in less then 2 hours, often waiting 30 minutes between courses.
2 of the 3 specialty restaurants were good Le Bistro had an interesting menu and good quality food (other than the overcooked shrimp mentioned above). Unfortunately the only table we could get at Le Bistro was at 9:30 at night for 2 people so the kids were not able to try French food. Q was also good, it was a last resort choice for us because we couldn't get reservations at any of the other specialty restaurants. The cheese grits were the best item I ate all week. Los Lobos food was bland and did not have any of the traditional mexican flavors. The fish at Los Lobos was overcooked and barely edible. Service was so poor we didn't bother to send it back. Our dinner here took over 2.5 hours.
The music options were ok, most of the groups were decent but were often scheduled in spaces that were not large enough, while the larger areas (theater, observation lounge, Q stage) often went unused. There were the same number of entertainers and venues on this boat as there was on my previous NCL ship that had half the number of passengers.
During the at sea days there was very little and no music entertainment scheduled during the day leaving us and the kids playing card games as our best option.
Large Groups and Families.
We had an extended group of 14 people. For the meals that we wanted to eat together the dining rooms would not let us sit at a single table. The best they could do was put us at 2 table in the same general area of the dining room. Service was so poor that even though we were seated at the same time, all three meals we had on table was completely done with entrees by the time the people at the other table received their entrees.
State Room Service
The state room attendant was friendly but rarely was our room made up before 1 or 2 in the afternoon and was generally not put back into sleeping arrangement until 9 at night (There were a couple nights the kids were ready for bed before the room was ready) The couch was left in bed formation the entire weeks so we only had beds to sit on when returning to the room. The kids favorite part of the stateroom, the towel animals, showed up 4 times during the trip.
Port of Seattle
entering and leaving the ship in Seattle was surprising efficient. It seem like this was the only part of the larger boat the NCL was ready for.
Overall the boat felt like it had twice the people as previous cruised but the same amount of public space and entertainment options making everything a fight to try to be able to do. Often we were not able to participate in or enjoy the limited option that were available on the ship.
The cabin was well laid out with plenty of storage. nice bathroom.
There was a couch in the room but we never got to use it as it converted into a bed for one of the kids and was left as a bed the entire trip rather than being re-configured to a couch during the day. We didn't spend a whole lot of time in the room but it would have been nice to have a place to sit other than the bed when we did stop by.
The views were spectacular. One of the few reasonably priced excursions available. There were some great hiking trails at the top of the mountain. We took a short 1 mile loop and hiked to a viewpoint with the cross overlooking the valley.
The 20 minute video in the visitor center was also very well done.View All 263 Mount Roberts Tramway Reviews
Rather than take a cruise excursion we visited several of the museums in town. Most were only $5-6 per person. At least one of them wave the fee if you have a national parks pass. All were well done and gave great historical and cultural overviews of the area. It felt much more authentic than the many of the overpriced excursions we took on our last Alaska cruise.