Excuse the length of this but wanted to include everything I could remember and also some pre and post trip information. I traveled with my husband, 3 kids (12,16,19) and elderly parents (mid 70’s). This was our very first cruise. We traveled July 14-21.
Pre-cruise: We flew into Seattle early afternoon on Friday. We rented a car through Avis and picked up at the rental center. We drove from the airport to Port Angeles which took about 2 hours. We really wanted to some hikes at Olympic National Park prior to the cruise. In Port Angeles we stayed at the Olympic Lodge. One of the few “nice” hotels in Port Angeles. Did a waterfront walk starting at Francis park and had dinner at Kokopellis which was very good but a bit pricey.
Saturday we drove into Olympic National Park and spent a good portion of the day doing hikes around Lake Crescent including Marymere Falls. We also drove up to Hurricane Ridge and walked around. Well worth the trip. Saturday night we drove back to Seattle and stayed at the Sleep Inn near the airport. It was as expected for a lower end hotel but very nice staff.
Getting on ship: Sunday morning, I dropped of my parents, kids and luggage at the pier at 9am while my husband and I went to return the rental car. There is an Avis/Budget rental car on 1919 5th Ave. About a 15 minute walk (less than a mile) to the pier. We were all checked in by 9:45. We received boarding group 2 and were on the ship by 11:15.
We immediately went to Deck 6, the Social to book laser tag, go-karts and the escape room (escape the big top) We had pre-booked shows and dining. We did not do the dining plan but you can book Manhattan, Taste and Savor early as well. Book as much as you can early. Go to book other things as soon as you get on the ship.
Cabins: We made it into our cabins about 1pm. We went on the cheap so we could spend money on excursions. We had 2 family 1 regular inside stateroom. My husband and I were in 12641 the kids 12637. Our room had the big bed in the middle with 2 bunks in ceiling, the kids had 2 twins and 2 bunks that could come down from ceiling. They had one dropped the first night and kept that open. My parents were in 13451 with one bunk that come out of the wall and the main big bed. I thought the cabins were plenty roomy enough. There is a definite lack of storage though and we had stuff stored all over the place. I brought 10 magnetic hooks which were great for the backpacks, jackets, hats and gloves. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GVCSGTX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Hair dryer is great which was surprising. I had packed mine just in case. Water pressure and temperature in shower and sink were also good. We only felt rocking the evening after Glacier Bay. Never really felt it unless sitting on the pot. TMI?
Dining: Again we did no specialty dining and really didn’t see the need for it. Breakfast we did in the buffet. My parents really enjoyed Taste and Savor for breakfast. I think we only ate breakfast 4 of the days. Garden Café has lots of choices for breakfast and they are all ok. I don’t like the fact at how crowded it is and how often you have to get up for drink refills and coffee. The food is never hot which I also don’t like but for a buffet it is fine. We only went to dinner at the buffet once and that was because we had a short time span between laser tag and the Jersey boys show. It was fine for dinner. We went on Alaska night which had a lot of seafood which my husband enjoyed. Most dinners were at Manhattan or Taste/Savor. My youngest age 12 had the New York Strip every night. It was hit or miss on the cooking and quality. Some nights a perfect medium, sometimes overcooked and once near raw. Sometimes it was a bit thin and fatty others it was perfect. He LOVED the Caesar salad and would often eat 2 at dinner. One night asking for one for dessert! We always found plenty of appetizers we wanted to order and several things from the entrée menu. I thought it had a good variety of specials each night and we usually ordered one of those. The only disappointing thing is it is always a long meal. Plan on 2 hours for dinner. Our favorite place was the Local. I loved their Cobb salad and had one about every day. My boys (12 and 19) loved the burgers and wings. They didn’t try anything else on the menu as they loved it. We ate lunch here most days as it is quick and good. We would get chairs above the Atrium to watch whatever show was going on. Your food comes out quickly so if you order appetizers you won’t be done with them before the entrée comes out. We did lunch one day at Savor and it was also great. We never went to buffet for lunch. I loved that we could wear anything to any of the restaurants as we aren’t fancy people and are happy in jeans and sweatshirts or shorts and t-shirts. I also loved that from the app I could book a new dinner reservation if we wanted to eat earlier or later that day. There were always something available in the complimentary dining places and we never had a wait even when we didn’t have reservations.
Common areas: The pool deck was great even though it is a bit small and can get crowded. We were able to find seats and enjoyed the first day and last day up there most of the day. If hungry you can bring food from Garden Café out to seating. We loved the Waterfront. It was never crowded and we would sit outside there a lot and have drinks. The Atrium was a bit of a nightmare. I don’t understand why they would have such a small area for so many people. The seating is poorly designed and it would be better suited to have stadium seating or something so more people could sit and enjoy it. Go to the Local and watch from above. The Atrium area was always packed and we only once scored folding chairs after searching and dragging them over to the bar area. My parents were on the Not so Newlywed game and we were in the WAY back for that. I don’t know why they don’t utilize the Bliss theatre for more things. Which brings me to activities.
Activities: I thought the amount of activities for teens were lacking. It kind of sucked for us since our kids are in 3 different age groups and they actually like hanging out together. There was no “club” they could go to together. They liked the game shows in the atrium but again always crowded. Other than that there wasn’t anything to do on the cold rainy days. Kids liked the go-karts and we all loved the laser tag. I wish we had signed up for the laser tag more than once. Worth the money. The Arcade is pretty small and not worth the money for the few unlimited games with the prepay. The 12 year old went twice and spent about $20. Of course we told him no more than $20 a day and he went twice and spent about $10 each time. We saw Havana and all I can say is Yawn. They are talented performers but no story line and we all found it incredibly boring especially the slow songs. The 12 year old took a hard pass and went back to the cabin. We all loved Jersey Boys though. Even the 12 year old boy liked it. Yes, some cussing but they are pretty much desensitized to that by their horrible parents. ;0)
Bars: We only got one free at sea option so went for the drink package. Lots of fun bars and great drinks. Unfortunately we usually drank too much during the day to rally and do much at night. We did do a bar crawl or two where we tried to hit as many as we could by having one drink at each before moving on. We liked the mojito bar but drinks can be pretty sweet after one. They make great Moscow mule everywhere. We also liked the Dark and Stormy but some places made it better than others. District Brew house has a great selection of beers but the On Tap cocktails were a bit strange. We drank them anyways.
Excursions: - All excursions booked off ship months in advance. So much cheaper than booking through NCL. My parents couldn’t be as active as we were so they did not do the excursions with us. 5 people for each excursion adds up quickly! $$
• Juneau - We walked around town a bit as our excursion wasn’t until 5:50. We ate lunch at Tracy’s King Crab shack. It was a bit expensive but you have to try the King Crab while you are here. It was fabulous. We shared 2 legs, 2 soups and 4 crab cakes. I didn’t share my beer though. For our excursion we did the Glacier and Dog Sledding trip through Coastal Helicopters. Pricey at $550 a person (NCL $100 more a person) but well worth it. We were lucky we had hats, gloves, fleece and rain coats as it was very cold. Dog camp was awesome though and everything was very professional and informative. The van driver even took us out of the way on the way back to see so many bald eagles it was amazing. Highly recommend this once in a lifetime experience. On and off ship was easy and everything ran smoothly.
• Skagway – We packed a lot into this day. Our pre-booked excursion wasn’t until 1:30. We took our time getting off ship and made it into town around 10am. We went to the tour desk in town and asked what we could do and be back by 1:30. We did the Summit Express. Walked into town and caught a van for a 90 round trip minute drive to the top of the summit into Canada and back. We had to go back on ship and get our passports before meeting the van. We didn’t have to go through border crossing in Canada but we did coming back into Alaska. Great tour guide that answered questions and made lots of stops for pictures. Cost was $37 a person. We then went to lunch at the Smokehouse. Great BBQ and beer. Our pre-booked excursion was the Glacier ATV tour. It was a 6 hour excursion that I think was about $350 a person maybe a little more. We took a boat to an area to ATV. The boat ride was about an hour each way and the crew did a great job with pointing things out and telling stories. The ATVs were a blast. Each one holds 4 people but my husband and I had one to ourselves and my kids had another. My 19 year old had a blast driving as did my husband. We were right next to the glacier and got some amazing pictures. We were also on the coast and got to explore that as well. They do provide lunch but we were glad we ate before. Apple sauce, trail mix and some nasty turkey sandwich. Loved talking to the people who work there and hearing their stories as to how they got there. On and off ship was easy and everything ran smoothly. Even going back to get passports was not an issue.
• Ketchikan – My husband, father and boys had a salmon fishing trip booked for 7:15. They got in a waiting area early and were there to meet the Captain at 7:10. Can’t believe how smoothly everything goes with getting on and off the ship. They id Ketchikan Charter boats with Captain Dan. I believe it was about $250 a person. They had an amazing time. Caught about 17 fish and were able to keep 8. Captain Dan was great and he even called a bald eagle down to the ship to catch a fish when he threw it. They packed up 18.5 lbs of salmon that was shipped to our house and arrived today (Tuesday). It cost about $200 to ship the prepared fish to us but again, once in a lifetime experience. My mom, daughter and I did the Alaska Kayaking experience. I think about $150 a person. I can’t rave about this one enough. It was a couple Mary and Tim who meet us at the pier. We walked to their boat and got on. They drove us out to a cove where they fitted us with water proof pants and jackets and pulled down the kayaks. My daughter and I were in one and my mom road with Tim. My mother had NO intention of getting in the kayak. She took a bad fall in Olympic National Park on Saturday and was very bruised, plus she had a pace maker put in 4 weeks ago where she couldn’t raise her arm fully. Tim convinced her and he seriously lifted her in and out of the kayak so gently. We saw 100’s of starfish, sea urchins, a sea lion, a minks and sea anemones. It was such a personal tour. We felt like we were the only ones on the water. They only take up to 4 people but if you get a chance book this excursion. Alaskakayakcompany.com
• Victoria – I had mixed feelings on this one. It seemed stupid to get off the ship this late at night and we had nothing planned. Well my daughter is an explorer like me and we decided to go for it. Everyone else stayed on the ship. We walked off the ship with no plan. We were greeted by Graham the pedicab driver. A pedicab is essentially a guy biking you around the city. It was $75 a person which we initially thought was way too much. We decided to do it and were so happy we did. Graham was an awesome driver and peddled us all through the city. He even made us stop at a chocolate store where he bought us chocolate covered maple bars which he said we must try in Canada. The city is beautiful and clean. We saw so many sights in the 2 ½ hours and took lots of great pictures. He told us cool ghost stories and other things. Definitely give it a try and ask for Graham!
Leaving the ship – We packed our luggage up the night before and left out to pick up in the morning. Go early to pick up tags as there weren’t many left when we went. We wanted a late disembarkment which we got though. We woke up at 8 and headed to Garden Café for some breakfast. They called our color tags around 9:15. There was a line but it moved quickly. We found our luggage easily and walked outside. We went out to the right and took the elevator to the 5th floor. We walked across the bridge to a less populated area. I thin walked to back to the car rental place and picked up our van. I drove back down the street and loaded everyone up with no problems. We spent some time doing tourist things in Seattle. Not a very clean city and had lots of homeless. We did the Underground Tour, Public Market and Wings over Washington. I don’t think Wings over Washington was worth the $20 a person unless you have never done Soaring at Epcot. Very similar to that. Underground tour is good and this was the second time we have done it. The other time was 20 years ago. We had lunch at Pike’s Place Brewery, very good. We drove back towards the airport and again stayed at the Sleep Inn.
We went on the cheap so we could spend money on excursions. We had 2 family 1 regular inside stateroom. My husband and I were in 12641 the kids 12637. Our room had the big bed in the middle with 2 bunks in ceiling, the kids had 2 twins and 2 bunks that could come down from ceiling. They had one dropped the first night and kept that open. My parents were in 13451 with one bunk that come out of the wall and the main big bed. I thought the cabins were plenty roomy enough. There is a definite lack of storage though and we had stuff stored all over the place. I brought 10 magnetic hooks which were great for the backpacks, jackets, hats and gloves. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GVCSGTX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Hair dryer is great which was surprising. I had packed mine just in case. Water pressure and temperature in shower and sink were also good. We only felt rocking the evening after Glacier Bay. Never really felt it unless sitting on the pot. TMI?
Seattle is a dirty city with lots of homeless. Everything we did is written above.
Great time on helicopter and dog sledView All 138 Helicopter Tour Reviews
Beautiful to look at from waterfront, helicopter pad, sundeck and observation lounge.
Captain Dan was amazing with my boys.View All 100 Fishing Reviews
This was amazing. Mary and Tim are the best. Highly recommend for a personal experience.View All 58 Kayaking Reviews
Ask for Graham! It was so much fun and informative.View All 23 Pedicab Reviews
Boat tour and Glacier ATV tour. Tons of fun.View All 36 4x4 Tour Reviews