Let me start by saying if I could give a higher rating for the Joy, i would! We are seasoned cruisers with 40+ cruises....Platinum on CCL and RCCL and sailed Princess and Celebrity, so this was our first NCL cruise and we were SO impressed with this ship and it's crew. This is by far the best experience we have ever had. First of all, the ship is beautiful and so clean and spacious. You don't even feel like you're on a ship but in a gorgeous, fancy mall or hotel lobby. Next, the food was phenomenal! We had unlimited drinks and 3 specialty restaurants, Cagney's....awesome, Le Bistro...incredible and Teppanyaki...super, but honestly, everywhere we ate on the ship felt like a "specialty" restaurant! The Manhattan dining room food was as good as the specialty restaurants and the food comes out on a hot plate and has so much flavor and so many choices it's hard to chose! Even the Garden Cafe buffet was sooo good and with so many duplicate stations, we never had any problems getting right to the food and to a table. There is food all over the ship! And now the crew....the friendliest, happiest people you'll ever meet! They really made you feel special. The Beatles show is very good, so don't miss it, but get there early if you want a seat because the Cavern is very small and best to get a drink before you go because the bar service was very limited.
Embark was very long and busy because we flew in and got there at peak time. Our friends were already in Seattle, so they got on the ship around 10:30am and walked right on, so if that's a possibility do go early. Disembark was a breeze and the Port Valet service is fantastic! It's free and they take your bags to the airport, check them in and get your boarding pass for you! We had a connection in Denver and didn't see our bags until we got to Houston! That was GREAT! We got off the ship around 8:30am and walked across the street to Pike Place Market and spent a few hours, then walked a few blocks to the train station and paid $1.00 (Sr. rate, or $3 under 65) for the trip to SEATAC! What a bargain! i can't believe they don't charge for this service!
If I had one complaint, it would be the price of the excursions. I know it's Alaska and they should be high, but talking with friends that took other cruise lines to Alaska, NCL was much higher, so we didn't do excursions, except in Victoria and we did Butchart Gardens and the Craigdarrock Castle. Both were great and we had time to stroll downtown for shopping and a drink. Victoria is a beautiful city and you have lots of time to explore. We went to Icy Point Strait and if you don't have an excursion planned, it's really not worth getting off the ship unless you want to shop. There are some nice stores right off the ship with loads of stuff to buy. We hit them at 25% off everything, so it was great to get gifts to take home and really nice selection. Would not recommend taking the shuttle to Hoonah...there's nothing there except a bar and a restaurant and a few vendors. Was rainy and cold in Juneau, so we stayed on the ship.
Typical balcony cabin, but the bathroom was much larger and nicer than other ships we've been on. The only problem is the hang up side of the closet is tough to get to due to the sofa, but not really a problem. Very comfy cabin with plenty of space and great room steward. We enjoyed being by the AFT elevator as it was never busy like the Forward elevators, and our AList bar was right below us as well as the dining room, Taste and Savor restaurants. AFT is really the best location on the ship.
The port is just a few blocks for Pike Place Market, so it's great to walk over there before heading to the airport is you have time.
Not much to do it you don't have planned excursions. The ziprider looked like fun, but we just shopped at the big store they have, a short walk from the excursion building. The big shopping area has great stuff, but I wouldn't recommend the shuttle to Hoonah...there's nothing there!
It was rainy and cold and we didn't have an excursion booked so stayed on the ship.