Chose NCL for it's itinerary and casual atmosphere. Checkin okay, although Latitudes priority line just as long as regular one. Despite being told cabin wouldn't be ready until 2 p.m., went there first to drop of carry-on bags. One piece of luggage not delivered until 6:30 p.m.; inconvenient but before NCL's 8 p.m. deadline.
Balcony Cabin 11590 nice size for 2 people, with small safe but no refrigerator(cabin attendant kept ice bucket full entire week). Bathroom worn, old tile, musty smell, mildew in tile grout under sink. Excellent A/C control. Sister's cabin few doors down had A/C stuck "on" until repaired in evening. Liked the bright ceiling lights, plus 2 reading lights above headboard. Only 1 110-volt outlet in room, so brought extension cord. Balcony nice for 2 people, got lucky-no smokers on either side. Everyone learned the hard way that you should snap the sliding closet doors shut, or they slam shut, like at 1:30 a.m. the first night when the ship slightly rocked. Luckily, we had calm seas and no rain.
Food: Identical menu to Pride of America in Hawaii, but disappointed nothing new to try, but quality consistently good in Windows Dining Room; only 1 night had very slow service. Met Executive Chef at Cruise Critic Meet-and-Greet and he told me NCL tries to standardize their menus. However, buffet not nearly as good as Pride of America. Slim selections of fresh fruit and salads, not nearly as many selections. Also, never found out how to order a soda at buffet area, didn't see anything setup to sell those and no waiters (maybe I just missed something). Had poor experience at Shogun Asian Restaurant. Couldn't make reservation for 6 when wanted, so we ate early and saw several empty tables at time we originally wanted. Extemely slow service and I didn't receive what I ordered (wide chow fun noodles). Instead I got another type of noodle dish, but didn't complain because we had already waiting so long to be served. One person at our table had to order a glass of wine from 4 different people before the waiter finally decided to bring it. We decided not to try any other specialty restaurants.
Entertainment: Excellent. Even though they might not have interested us ashore, the music/dancing, magic, and comedy shows were fun. The dancers in the Broadway Tunes show never stopped dancing and jumping around, don't know where their energy came from. Rock and Roll songs representing that era were mostly not big hit tunes. Best show was last night, with single Irish entertainer telling hilarious jokes and singing classic Irish songs. Family enjoyed the pianists performing in the Deck 7 Lobby area and in Windows Dining Room.
Tours: One confusing experience. In Sydney we had booked the Louisbourg Fortress tour in the morning and the Fiddle show in the afternoon. After breakfast, found a note on door saying tour operator had postponed the Fortress tour to the afternoon. Went to Excursions Desk and they wouldn't cancel my Fiddle show until I brought the tickets; this made me wait in a very long line a 2nd time. Also, another family member booked on the same Fortress excursion was not notified of postponement, good thing I told her. Finally, new Fortress ticket said to meet on the pier. Sounds simple, but turns out they didn't mean the pier in town where tenders were dropping off passengers, but the industrial coal dock pier where Spirit was tied up; I only heard this that 2nd time at the Excursion Desk. Sat on bus next to someone else who had to race back to ship on tender to just make tour. Another passenger commented they had had 3 tours in 3 days cancelled. Carefully read Cruise Critic reviews of ports and cruise tours, some are excellent and other can be skipped.
Conclusion: Was a nice cruise and guess first-timers would have enjoyed it the most. You still can't beat traveling without unpacking and worrying about meals or entertainment. Traveling in late September into early October, most passengers were elderly and saw spectacular Fall colors outside Quebec City.
11590, nice size for 2. Bathroom nice size, but musty-smelling entire week, with mildew on tile outside shower and under sink. Bathroom needs renovation. Excellent lighting in cabin with overhead lights and 2 reading lights. Also, great A/C control so one can precisely adjust temperature. Needs another 110 volt receptacle and a refrigerator. Safe in nice size closet. Balcony good for 2. Cannot hear shipboard announcements coming from speakers outside cabin in hallway. Being a Fall cruise, too cold for pool use on deck 12 above, only heard minimal banging of furniture topside at times. Music noise from above only heard a little, but this would be a problem on a Caribbean trip.
Spent few days pre-cruise so didn't use NCL's tours. Millennium hotel excellent location across street from huge Quincy Market with dozens of shops, restaurants, and a 2-block long interior food court. Loved the macaroni and cheese with lobster. Also, Faneuil Hall is located here, make sure to take free Park Ranger guided tour of 2nd floor meeting hall--it looks exactly like history book pictures.
Used Old Town Trolleys for City tour, including Cambridge, then walked Freedom Trail (goes right by the Millennium). Get to USS Constitution early to avoid long lines. Loved Old North Church, but Boston Common too crowded to enjoy. Excellent City for Colonial period life, best if you can easily walk. I don't know how to plan this, but everything would be nicer if you visit when there aren't so many tourists in town. The historic sites are still wonderful, but some of the city's charm is lost with wall-to-wall people.
Rented a car (Enterprise picks you up) to see Lexington and Concord area. Wonderful free guide in Lexington Green explains history, points out Paul Revere's route and exactly where lines of patriots and British soldiers lined up to face each other. Don't miss Visitor's Center in Minute Man National Historic Park with it's excellent introductory film. Screens on front wall with maps, Concord on left wall and Boston on the right, easily explain the movement of Paul Revere and William Dawes, British troops, and colonial soldiers at the Revolutionary War began. Eastern portion of park has Old North Bridge and famous Minute Man Statue. Also drove 5 minutes South of Concord to see Walden Pond where Thoreau wrote.
Also drove to JFK Presidential Library and Museum. If you remember the early 1960's, this is a memorable stop, with displays covering his entire life and presidency. Only a tiny area setup with only video clips to relive the assassination. Exhibits on Jackie and the brothers.
Tender port, no large ship pier. Took NCL Best of Both Worlds Tour: Acadia National Park drizzly and foggy, so views were obscured, couldn't see a thing from Cadillac Mountain, but still were able to see scenic shorelines. Stop at Lobsterarium interesting, but Turret's cottage a slight disappointment because we could only walk through the first floor. The exterior was impressive, though.
Lots of tourist shops in town, plus an art show. Guide warned us that 25 to 30,000 daily vehicles jam the roads in Acadia during the summer. Don't know if he was exaggerating, but glad we were there at the end of Sept.
St. John, New Brunswick next port (not a Port choice to review on this site so I'll sneak in a few words here). Bay of Fundy tidal changes big draw at this port and many of the tours show the Reversing Falls and tidal change areas along the coast. Could have skipped NCL tour Fundy Coastal Tour. New Brunswick Museum, located near pier, an excellent small place. Describes tidal changes and local history. Few shops in town, pretty churches, not a spectacular port.
Halifax, made a big mistake with Peggy's Cove by Coach & City by Double-Decker. Since we've seen other lighthouses and rocky coastlines, Peggy's Cove was a huge disappointment. Jammed with dozens of tour buses, hundreds of visitors walking through the tiny town, it was an unpleasant experience. The single store/restaurant with a public restroom had long lines.
Halifax city was great, tons of shopping and things to see. The double-decker buses run 3 distinct routes, but since we wasted all morning with Peggy's Cove, we only had time to quickly ride 1 route (the combined tour doesn't explain this). The highlight of this port was the Halifax Citadel, a British fort above town. Parks Canada has personnel in uniform explaining all aspects of for life. Saw a small change of the guard ceremony, being explained just inside the gate. Also saw an Enfield Rifle demonstration including a loud firing. Nice museum, many cannon, great views of the port below.
Sydney, Nova Scotia. Excellent Fortress of Louisbourg tour. This huge French partially-reconstructed fort was so large we only had time to walk 2/3 of the area, even with a couple of hours. Year 1744-dressed Parks Canada personnel were in each building explaining how they lived and showing products they made. Muddy roads and dark unlit rooms added to the authentic atmosphere. Bought a delicious soldier's wheat/rye loaf baked in the old oven. Spoke to the blacksmith and a French officer. As other reviewers have noted, it was much colder, windier, and damp then in Sydney so be prepared.
Walked the old part of Sydney, visited some churches. Didn't walk over to the newer shopping area part of town but heard from other family members that it was nice. On the pier, a large building full of craft stores and booths. Missed the Fiddle show because our morning Fortress tour was postponed until afternoon.
No port choice of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland on this site so sneaking it here.
Gros Morne National Park was beautiful and large. The mountains, lakes, Rocky Harbour, and Lobster Cove were wonderful. Not a tour for shoppers, although our guide at lunch pointed out a couple of local souvenir shops and the bus actually stopped at another. Lunch was nice. Parks Canada has a nice short film on the park in the Visitor Center. Also some souvenir shopping available there. Tour guide, Vance, was hilarious, and had the bus laughing the entire trip with his stories about local life and the colorful characters that live in Cornerbrook.
Not much to see in town of Cornerbrook.
Although the Spirit was returning to Boston, we weren't going round trip and not allowed to take any NCL tours of Quebec City, so we booked separately.
This was easily the most impressive city of the cruise. Took Les Tours Voir Quebec for a 2 hour walking tour of the old town, then the next day their Countryside tour. Even though the city was packed with tourists, we were able to hear our guide because they limit the sizes of the groups. Tour walked us past an amazing number of historical buildings and sites, and left us in the lower town full of shops and restaurants. The Countryside tour was even better, stopping at a copper factory/museum, a bread place, the chocolate factory's parking lot was full so we stopped at a fruit stand, Montmorency Falls, and the spectacular St. Anne's cathedral. Being the first week of October, the entire area's Fall Colors were spectacular.
We walked over to the Citadel and took their guided tour, looked out over the Plains of Abraham (Battlefield Park), took a guided tour of the Chateau Frontenac, and several times walked around the streets between the Chateau to our hotel, Courtyard by Marriott. The Courtyard is a modern facility with large rooms and bathrooms, plus it is 15 minutes from the overly-busy Chateau area. The streets between are full of shops, restaurants, and old historic churches.