We cruised to Alaska last year twice on the Ruby Princess and it was such an inspiring journey, I knew we wanted to go back. This year we decided to return on NCL Bliss because it was big and new and sounding very exciting....and it was.
We sailed out of Seattle and the embarkation was a breeze, very organized and very quick. But the scene outside the terminal.....a zoo! NCL docks downtown Seattle at Pier 66, not at Pier 91 outside of town like Princess.
The terminal is directly across the street from railroad tracks and adds to the chaos. The public street is narrow and with all the buses, taxis, limos, shuttles, and private cars it is very challenging just to get to the drop off location. The taxi drivers made it even worse by stopping in moving traffic, moving street cones, and cutting across lanes to the curb. So just be warned, especially if you are dropping someone off or in a private car.
The ship is beautiful with lots of entertainment, over-the-top buffet, and plenty of bars and eatery's. The shops are all very pricey, not like most other cruise lines that keep prices competitive with the ports. You cannot bring water or beverages of any kind on board and the Unlimited Drink Package is expensive ($89 per day) and does not include water or brewed coffee. In fact the only specialty coffees on board are at Starbucks and that is not part of the cruise or beverage package....it is pay per drink. Lots of speciality restaurants you can pay to dine, or eat in the buffet, 3 included dining rooms, or the awesome cafe called The Local. This is a pub-like bar and eatery. They have the best breakfast, fish & chips, and lots more food, including an amazing tortilla bowl. Best part is they are open and serve off the menu 24 hrs! They also have a bar and seating around the atrium on deck 7.
I want to give a huge shout out to one of the best little excursions we have had on any cruise. It is in the Port of Juneau, called Alaska Pedicab-Juneau. They are local and can usually be found at the dock or in town to escort you around town or just from the ship and back for about $5. But you can arrange for a 90 minute tour of town and landmarks around town for $90 that includes 2 people. It was fantastic, so personalized to where ever you would like to go. The owner, James took us all over downtown and to some of the historic monuments and statues dedicated to the town's history. He also took us out to Whale Park where we got a great picture of the news view in Juneau. Be sure to look up Alaska Pedicab-Juneau. They also have a Facebook page.
And finally the disembarkation back in Seattle was so easy. We picked the Port Valet service as it is FREE! Your bags are picked up the night before docking, the ship checks in to your flight and delivers your boarding passes and bag tags to your room. Your bags are taken directly to the airport for your flight and you don't pick them up until you are back at your home destination. We got off early with our carry on luggage and was at the airport before 9am, our flight was at noon. So simple and easy.
We loved our balcony cabin. I researched and chose cabin 8138 because it was just a regular balcony room on deck 8, but because it was next to the mini-suites we had an extra large balcony. It was twice the size of other balcony rooms. Plenty of room and storage and nice size bathroom with a glass shower door! It was so nice not to fight those shower curtains in those tiny showers. It was really nice and big. And on deck 8 you are on the same floor as most of the shops, bars, and some of the specialty restaurants. The Brewhouse bar was only 8 cabins away and it was very nice with a wonderful view of the water.
Fantastic whale watching tour with Island Adventures, a 4 hr tour out of Anacortes just north of Seattle. Huge 3-deck boat with great views on the decks, front stadium seating, big warm inside cabin with food and beverages. We saw lots of Orcas, seals, porpoise. The naturalist onboard described everything we were seeing. Fantastic for families too.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The boat was very small with a small cabin crammed tight with about 40 people sitting shoulder to shoulder on benches. The boat never got off plane so the nose was always in the air and you could not see anything. It was a brief trip out to a crab trap that they brought up so everyone could view the crabs, then back to shore. The small lodge was nice but so packed with people from several boats that it was hard to move around. The best part was all the nice crew and people at the lodge that served an outstanding lunch of all the steamed crab you could eat....and I mean ALL YOU COULD EAT, no scrimping. If you love steamed crab it was great, but at $199 per person, I would not do it again. Perhaps it was just not what I thought it would be.View All 129 Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast Reviews
Wow, what a great 90 minute personalized tour of Juneau. It was a cold rainy day but James picked us up at the dock, provided blankets and a covered carriage and took us to all the great and legendary parts of Juneau in town. He also gave a great narrative of everything and let us stop where ever we liked. He took us out to the Whale Park for a great adventure and pictures with the big whale! Definitely book James for a custom tour, or even just a ride into town from the ship for $5.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We rode the White Pass training last year in Skagway and it was great so we wanted something different this year. So we took the shuttle into downtown and booked directly with M&M Tours ($35 each) for a 90 minute tour of town, the surrounding area, scenic old cemetery and waterfall, and overlook of the valley. It was great and the trolley car was new. The brought it in from Disneyland on a ferry and had just put it in service. Comfortable with huge windows, great driver! Still had plenty of time to walk around town and shop.View All 53 Street Car Tour Reviews
Victoria is beautiful. We tried to book a pedicab at the dock but they wanted $90 per person for a 2-hr ride. So instead we took the bus from the dock to downtown by the wharf ($13 per person for a roundtrip ticket you purchase at the bus). There were independent pedicabs parked on the street so we purchase a 45 minute tour of town for $40 total! It was great. This young man was a local and took us all over town, China town, historic area of the old Fort Victoria, waterfront area, historic buildings. We loved it and he dropped us off downtown so we could check out some of the shops and then catch our bus back to the ship. Well worth the small amount of money.View All 23 Pedicab Reviews