After booking a cruise with Norwegian Joy on her new itinerary to Alaska, I obsessively read the reviews on this site and others. Yes, the beginning reviews were not so great, but then got better, so I worried less. However, my husband and I personally had nothing to worry about since the incredible staff in the Haven enclave took such great care of us. If you can, book a Haven suite...post-pone your cruise, save your money and book a Haven suite! The enclave included an indoor pool, hot tub, outdoor sun deck with two additional hot tubs, two lounges, a bar, an observatory, a library, concierge, and of course the wonderful Haven restaurant. Within this peaceful place we experienced the awe of Alaska.
I was simply overwhelmed by the personal service the staff gave us. They all, always greeted us by name, knew our drink preferences, went out of the way to indulge us in any way they could, think...bowlfuls of gummy bears and peanut M&M's in our room, not once but four times. The head concierge came to each specialty restaurant and searched out his Haven people to inquire about our experience and to make sure it lived up to his standards for each of us. These wonderful people smiled, laughed, conversed and even sang. They were fun, interesting and incredibly professional. They work so very hard to give each person an ideal cruise experience.
Having just gushed about our experience, I will have to say that I can very much understand people's comments concerning the rest of the ship, and unfortunately the staff. When we emerged from our fantasy Haven-land the crowds were very apparent. Several times I walked the ship and looked around the shops, restaurants, bars, deck 15 Observatory, and buffet. All were very crowded and very loud. It's understandable since the approximately 3600 other passengers were left with very little inside space. The layout of the ship felt cramped and dark with the exception of the Observatory and some bars. The two "atriums" were small and felt closed in by the floors above and/or below. It was so apparent that this ship, with the exception of the Observatories, was not planned with Alaska in mind. When you have that many people crowding in an inside space because of the cold outside, you are bound to have stress and tension. That, in my humble opinion, is not the way anyone should experience the incredible awe and wonder that is Alaska.
As a result of the overcrowding, many of the staff were not happy and it showed. The one time I inquired about the general library hours at guest services I got a pretty much a sneer when I asked why they were only open two hours a day. In the Brew House District bar, which we enjoyed all the great beers, we never got a smile or even eye contact when we ordered at the bar though there were only two other couples in the entire place. The service in the specialty restaurants felt rushed and very impersonal. But it was easy to see why since they were soooo busy and crowded. Many staff members I met were polite and professional, yet the ones that weren't unfortunately stand out. I know they all work so hard, get little sleep and must also be overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. I just wish that at dry dock Norwegian execs would have made the decision to have fewer cabins and thus a smaller crowd for the sake of their customers and staff.
I will say that while I believe Norwegian Joy is the wrong ship for an Alaskan cruise, if you cannot afford the Haven, it is probably just fine for a warmer climate cruise. I love the thought of dining and having drinks on the Waterfront overlooking a warm sea, but this outdoor space was truly underutilized in the cold weather.
Again, my true appreciation and respect to the marvelous staff that took care of us. After thirty cruises my Alaskan adventure in the Haven was absolutely the best.
Perfect cabin with plenty of room and nice sized bathroom. It was wonderful to take a hot bath in the full sized tub.
Sorry to say, I wouldn't do this again. The mic kept cutting out for the tour guide which was irritating. The tour started late so no time at the Market...just OK but definitely not worth the nearly $100 each.View All 56 City Tour Reviews
We just looked around the stores and did a bit of shopping. Quite a long way to walk from the ship. I was fine but it was more than my husband could walk comfortably. The views of the snow capped mountains and the marina were very beautiful.