After reading the negative reviews prior to our departure I was quite nervous for our family's first cruise and wondering if we made a mistake booking on such a big new ship. I'm generally inclined to be critical. However, this cruise couldn't have been a better experience from start to finish. Yes, there are a lot of people. No, it's not all inclusive, but no one ever said it was. I traveled with my husband (with mobility issues) and two teenagers (17 and 19 years old). Details & maybe a few tips:
-Initial, final and port embarkations & debarkations were smooth, quick and easy. Port valet (luggage sent from the ship to final destination) for final disembarkation is the BEST!
-We had connecting balcony staterooms on 9 aft and they were perfect. Our room steward did an excellent job keeping our room clean and tidy. I've seen plenty of complaints about the elevators. If you haven't booked yet, try to book a room in the back half of the ship and use the aft elevators and you'll have no problems; or if you can walk to the aft elevators during busy times.
-We chose the specialty dining and unlimited open bar options for our "free at sea." Very happy with both. We made our restaurant reservations in advance, as advised by our planner. We didn't have a bad meal in any restaurant, including the buffet and the complimentary restaurants. We NEVER had to wait and were NEVER rushed in Manhattan, Taste or Savor. We did room service for breakfast a few of the days when we had early excursions and we were very happy with this service. Drinks were delicious and service was available and fast at numerous bars throughout the boat. We found the selection of cocktails, beers and wines to be great. Service in all of the establishments was friendly and accommodating. I will second, third and fourth the annoyance at off-brand sweetners but NCL may have gotten the message as I started to see real "Sweet N Low" appear later in the week.
-Amenities & Onboard--book your laser tag and go-karts upon embarkation day and you'll get reservations. We chose a late embarkation time and still had no problem. Entertainment is good. It's not broadway but it's solid and entertaining and they're working their butts off for us. We loved The District and entertainer Jim Badger--lots of fun! No problems finding space on the pool deck. Very comfortable seating for hanging out and viewing on Deck 8 ("The Waterfront"). We were able to get seating in the Observation Lounge whenever we frequented it. Activities and instructions were clearly communicated all week long by the captain and cruise director.
-We did two excursions through NCL--Wilderness Exploration & Crab Feast in Ketchikan and Mendenhall Glacier Explorer in Juneau. Both excellent. First was completely guided. Glacier was mainly transportation with good commentary on the bus, and then explore on your own. We privately booked excursions in Skagway, Victoria and Seattle.
-The gym was quite crowded on the days at sea. The weather on these two particular days was not great so I'm sure this contributed to the crowding. However, I got great workouts by walking (Deck 8 is good for this) and doing lots of stairs. This was also a good way to explore the ship. I returned the same weight as I was when I departed so I'll call that a win :).
Again, all in all, a fabulous family vacation! Gleaming new ship, great service from all the crew, delish food and drinks, and the spectacular sights of Alaska.
Nicely done. Good "flow". Enough storage space. Nice to have the couch. Could work okay for 3 people; 4 would be tough. We booked 2 connecting staterooms which was perfect for our family of 4 (2 teenagers).
Perfect for everyone! Fun boat ride, endless crabs at the feast!View All 129 Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast Reviews
Privately booked a private tour including downtown, Boeing Factory and Snoqualmie Falls on debarkation day. Our flight out of Seattle wasn't until 10:30pm so we had time for it all. Picked up at the ship and dropped off at the airport. A fantastic day!View All 56 City Tour Reviews
Narrated commentary and transportation to/from the glacier, and two hours on our own at the glacier. Glacier area is easy to explore so this worked well, but you could probably save $ by independently getting a cab or shuttle.View All 971 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
Drive into the Yukon to Emerald Lake & back. Beautiful scenery and stops along the way.View All 117 Scenic Drive Reviews
Four hour private city tour in a luxury vehicle. Fun, and also economical believe it or not, compared to bus tours. Canadian to US Dollar exchange works in our favor!View All 76 City Tour Reviews