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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This is our 11th cruise but first on NCL since 1997. Our very first cruise experience was on the NCL Seaward for our honeymoon over 20 years ago! Since then we have tried all the other cruise lines but haven't gone back to NCL until ... Read More
This is our 11th cruise but first on NCL since 1997. Our very first cruise experience was on the NCL Seaward for our honeymoon over 20 years ago! Since then we have tried all the other cruise lines but haven't gone back to NCL until now! Embarkation Day We dropped our pup off at the boarding kennel around 8am and started our 2.5 hour drive down to Seattle from Vancouver BC. We arrived at Republic Parking on Wall St. around 11am after making a quick stop at Walmart for some Bonine which is not available in Canada. :) Parking was $147 USD for seven days. I had requested a 12-12:30 boarding time but we decided to get there a little earlier after reading reviews about how all the activities were getting taken up by late afternoon on the first day. We decided to take our own luggage on the ship. Our largest luggage was 18.5 W x 26 L x 10 H. The person at the front entrance to the embarkation area was hesitant to let us through saying the luggage was borderline in term of size . He did warn us that security may send us back. We took our chances and make it through security ok. We were on board within 15mins. Fastest embarkation ever after 11 cruises. Activities Once on board we went straight to the kiosk and reserved our laser tag and race track sessions. We were able to get two sessions of laser tag reserved and one race track session on Saturday.. By Monday,, most of the slots were on standby only. Our first session of the laser tag was in the afternoon at 4pm. It was hot and bright so hard to see the controls on the guns. Our second session which was scheduled for 9pm on Thursday was cancelled due to poor weather , it was the one day that we received a bit of rain and even though most sessions ran all day , ours was cancelled. We also went the Silent party which was quite funny and entertaining. Escape the Big Top is a puzzle challenge not escape room. I couldn't find info on this before hand and expected an escape room but it's really nine or ten groups of 8-10 players that try to solve a mystery using the clues placed in the restaurant where the game is played. Cabin We had an inside cabin on deck 11 for me, my husband and my teen daughter. it was a tight squeeze but not horrible. NCL did a good job of utilizing all the avail space in the cabin. Of course in hindsight , I wished I had chosen a balcony. We were offered the upgrade program but with a brand new ship that was sold out , we didn't think our bid would get us a balcony. The bid we submitted was $350 canadian per person and it was in the "good" range and we received the decline email on the Thursday before the departure day. Dining There were hits and misses. This review is for the complimentary dining venues. Lunch menu in the dining rooms were the same all week. We were a little disappointed with that. The Local was pretty good if you enjoy pub food. Dinner in the dining room was average. Some days were awesome and had a great variety of food but one day the dishes were not edible. I ordered the Hawaiian pork belly and it was awful. My daughter's Asian noodle salad was made with udon noodles which not a good choice because it ended up being mushy . However another night, she had pad thai and it was awesome. There was no lobster and I think we missed crab legs in the buffet but no crab legs in the main dining rooms all week. Prime rib was available twice during the week . I think Sunday and Friday ? We went to Coco's twice and enjoyed their crepes and hot chocolate and the Bake Shop macarons were yummy . Public Rooms As others have mentioned, the Observation Lounge was almost always full and lots of folks did sleep on the chaise and without socks. But I guess when no one regulates it then people will continue to do it. We still enjoyed the lounge. But our favourite spot is the Waterfront. We loved it there! The weather was great all week with the exception of one day so we took advantage of it. The waterfront was definitely underutilized by most folks except on glacier day. It was packed hours in advance LOL . We chose the port side b/c it received the most sun and we got the best views. We saw whales after leaving Ketchikan and seals near Dawes glacier. Service Our room attendant was awesome. Erwin was so approachable and friendly and his towel animals were the best! The dining room servers for the most part was friendly and upbeat. The washy washy folks at the Garden Buffet were too funny and I don't think I will ever forget to washy washy happy happy smiley smiley. I think NCL really wanted feedback on how these first Alaska cruises . Pam and John from Hotel services stopped to chat with us and wanted to know how we felt from embarkation to food to our cabin services. After we chatted, they sent up chocolate dipped strawberries as a thank you for the feedback. Ports Ketchikan we just walked around the port. It was a very very warm day so we decided to go back on the ship early and enjoy the pool and sun. Juneau - since it was a short time in port but we still wanted to see Mendenhall Glacier we decided to rent a car. The cost from Avis was $108 USD taxes included. I called Evergreen taxi as well for a quote and they quoted $35 each way but have to pay an additional $17 per person on top for park fees and additional service charges. Since the cost would almost be the same we decided on renting so we can stop in town before coming back to the AJ dock. Skagway - we booked the Musher's camp excursions through Alaska Shore Excursions since it was a cheaper than booking through NCL. We paid $133 per person. It was fun to meet the puppies and learn about mushing. Our guide Jason was very informative and gave us time to get some awesome photos at certain viewpoints along the way. Entertainment We had reservations for both Jersey Boys and iHavana. We arrived approx 1/2 hour before the show started and was able to get very good seats. People were flowing in close to showtime and seats were available but if you have a large group then might be hard to get seat together. For Jersey Boys, they had a section roped off the Haven folks but not many showed up . The shows were good. I enjoyed Jersey Boys and there is a lot of cursing as expected . Disembarkation It wasn't as quick as embarkation but still went pretty quick. We took our own luggage off the ship and went to line up to leave around 8:15. The line was long and snaked around the Local restaurant . The confusing part were people who were waiting for the luggage tag to be called were sitting in the local while people in line were crowded around them. NCL should have just told those folks to wait in other areas instead I'm sure it wasn't fun for them either. Misses This was brought up in previous reviews but the atrium was really really loud when they had activities. I guess it made it easy for people to join in if they wanted to so I can see why they would do that. It was also very crowded there b/c guest services, onboard credits, shore excursion/port info and dining reservations were all on the same level next to each other in the atrium. This miss is for husband. The only flavours of ice cream in the main dining venues is chocolate, vanilla and strawberry whereas the buffet had eight different flavours in two separate stations The dining should have had at least one speciality flavour each night and not just the boring ones. Anyhow, that was my hubby's beef. LOL This miss is not really an NCL problem but just people in general. Our neighbors constantly slammed their doors enough to actually move the walls. I have no idea why they needed to slam it that hard. Also kids were running up and down the halls at midnight. or up and down the stairs throughout the day. Another pet peeve was families who decided sitting on the stairs to chat is the best place. They would sit and take up the entire width of the stairs then laugh before moving for us to walk by. hmmm. Conclusion We had a great time with NCL in Alaska. We had great weather all week with the exception of our last sea day (see pics) but that didn't hamper our experience. The Bliss is a beautiful ship and the crew is amazing. We will definitely consider cruising again with NCL in the future (even tho our next cruise will be on RCCL's Symphony :) Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
There were 13 of us traveling together with kids 5-20 years old and grandparents in their 70's. We chose this cruise line because of all the options it had for all the age groups in our party, and it did not disappoint. My 17 yr old son ... Read More
There were 13 of us traveling together with kids 5-20 years old and grandparents in their 70's. We chose this cruise line because of all the options it had for all the age groups in our party, and it did not disappoint. My 17 yr old son spent every spare minute in the teen club, the outdoor nighttime movie was a hit with all the kids and the food was incredible. We ate in the traditional dining room and our wait staff was spectacular, making each of us feel special and well cared for. There were so many excursions and very well organized with the tour companies on land. Every staff member we had contact with treated us all as if we were the most important people on board. I also loved talking with everyone from all over the world, literally--from those traveling on the ship to those working. I think it's so neat to see people from so many different countries working together to accomplish one goal...customer satisfaction! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had a RECORD-BREAKING AMAZING visit to Alaska. The weather was BEAUTIFUL every day ... in EVERY Port ... Apparently, quite out of the ordinary! Such a treat to be in such lush BEAUTY without rain or cold! Bright RED Moon one night ... Read More
We had a RECORD-BREAKING AMAZING visit to Alaska. The weather was BEAUTIFUL every day ... in EVERY Port ... Apparently, quite out of the ordinary! Such a treat to be in such lush BEAUTY without rain or cold! Bright RED Moon one night with Mars trailing right behind ... We loved the location of our stateroom ... close enough to the end of the ship so we could get to larger viewing quickly ... quite close to the elevator for quick moves to other floors ... not very close to the FOG HORN which was nice since we had one sailing day in total fog ... blasts about every 3 minutes. You could get to one of the main buffets very quickly so you could grab a snack and be back in your room FAST! Happy to have the onboard Princess Wi-Fi (not regular Wi-Fi that you pay for) that made it possible to connect with fellow passengers with internal texts. Just wish the texts made an alert sound so you could know when someone was trying to catch up with you. It did make it possible to leave messages but you had to check it regularly to see if there was something for you. Totally easy getting both on and off the ship. That was a bit of a surprise ... thought it might be cumbersome but it was slick as a whistle. Liked the production shows ... enjoyed a round of Trivia and Scattergories ... Even tried our hand a Karaoke. Fun! The 6 of us found the perfect table for Farkle and Five Crowns so we made our own fun, too. We enjoyed Seattle before we left AND after we came back. Did the Space Needle, Chihuli, Pike Place Market and had a lovely dinner on the waterfront. Did the Seattle Underground Tour when we came back ... IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! The guides were hilarious and the history of the beginnings of Seattle ... fascinating! Loved, loved, loved the White Pass Scenic Railway in Skagway ... Great for those who want to sit and soak the beauty in ... Photographers can stand on the platforms at the end of the cars so window-obstructed shots were possible. Basically ... our only disappointment was that the excursion to Butchart Gardens was mostly in the dark. We thought that they wouldn't schedule a visit there unless they knew that it would be light later or that the Gardens are lit sufficiently to enjoy a night time visit. Instead ... our bus got us to the Gardens after 8:30 and darkness covered by about 9:15 or so. Some sporadic ground lighting, but the majesty and incredible beauty of the Gardens could not be seen once it got dark. Sat on a bench waiting for the bus to come ... Sad to know that we were so close but not able to enjoy! (And the $$ we paid ...) I guess I should have checked to see when sunset was when I made my excursion payments 6 months beforehand. Just got home this afternoon and now, after thinking about all of our fun ... I'm going to head to bed and dream of my next trip to Alaska!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Explorer of the Seas is a large, beautiful ship that has lots of amenities. The staterooms are a decent size (we had a basic balcony room that sleeps three including the pulldown upper bunk) and the beds are comfortable. Cabin steward ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas is a large, beautiful ship that has lots of amenities. The staterooms are a decent size (we had a basic balcony room that sleeps three including the pulldown upper bunk) and the beds are comfortable. Cabin steward was very pleasant and accommodating. The dining room food is good and the servers are very attentive. Photos are taken by RCI staff frequently, although after a week on the ship I still don’t know where the photo center is located. For me, there are just too many people on this ship (about 3800 passengers). The ship’s public areas didn’t seemed designed for such a large mass of humanity. The Windjammer cafeteria was always crowded and there were often long waits for food, and then for table space. I know there are those who like the large ships, but for me, I will take a “small” ship (since when do 2200 passengers constitute a small ship?) in the future. Another issue I have with Royal Caribbean (and possibly every cruise line) is that the ship is more a profit center rather than an all inclusive vacation experience. Everywhere you go you were invited to upgrade to an expensive meal (Johnny Rockets is an upgrade?), or to purchase soft drinks or to pay $2.50 or more for each arcade game. On top of that, about $100 per person was added to each stateroom for gratuities whether you like it or not. Another example -- regular water bottles were sold at the gym, in a vending machine, for $3.95!! Seriously? Finally, and perhaps most annoyingly, I chose Explorer of the Seas because RCI boasts great internet service (and it’s not cheap). After buying internet service, it rarely if ever worked. NEVER purchase wifi from Royal Caribbean, it is a total ripoff. When it worked, it was unbelievably slow and inefficient and usually crashed after a moment or two. The fact that RCI advertises the best Internet service on the high seas and then failed to provide service, made me question RCI’s credibility. I requested a refund because of the practically nonexistent Internet service, but was refused. To summarize, if you want the experience of a very large cruise ship with lots of things to do, and you don’t mind waiting in line for almost everything, and being disconnected from the world, from work, from friends, and from news because of the lack of Internet service, then Explorer of the Seas is the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We like ACL and this is our 3rd cruise with them. Pluses: We booked our next cruise with them while on board to get the 15% savings. and no port charges. We like the intimacy of a smaller ship with less hassles going on & off ship. ... Read More
We like ACL and this is our 3rd cruise with them. Pluses: We booked our next cruise with them while on board to get the 15% savings. and no port charges. We like the intimacy of a smaller ship with less hassles going on & off ship. For people with mobility issues the smaller ship is good as there is less walking around the ship.The ship being small could go to ports like Petersburg where the larger cruise ships cant go. An added surprise was overnighting in Glacier Bay and being able to go off ship at Barlett Cove and walk around. Again something that the big ships cant do. When we saw whales the Capt stopped for some time and then rotated the ship so everyone could see.. The ship is all inclusive with no shops, casino or spa. We like this as opposed to the big ships that can push sales constantly. There is no mail box or name on the cabin door so no worries about having to cull advertisements out constantly like on some ships PLUS & MINUS: The food is good but rich and the desserts are constantly pushed, cookies at 10 am, desserts at lunch & dinner. Happy hour with treats then dinner and for the night's program root beer floats & sundaes. For anyone struggling with a sweet tooth or watching sugar intake has a constant temptation. Snacks are kept out. ACL has started room service for breakfast which we didn't use. A highlight was our Tlingkat Native interpreters that came on board in Glacier Bay Barlett Cove with the Ranger for 24 hours. Captain, Capt Brown who was retired Coast Guard.Capt Brown was very pleasant and conscientious .Our hotel manager Nico was excellent always working and determined to please. MINUS: The vast majority of the staff are younger students.We found this to be true on the other 2 cruises we took with ACL. This was a problem that wait staff needed better training and meal service could be very chaotic. Even the Cruise Directors were young so we see ACL as a training ground for students going into the hospitality field. I would like ACL to include and pay higher wages to some seasoned waiters to mentor the young waiters. The waiters try but it can be frustrating to see the chaos and their stress. Internet was sporadic and we lost it in Glacier bay for several days which met that people could not check in with home or use their cell phones except for the 3 hour stop at Barlett Cove in Glacier Bay. When we cruised Tray Arm again the loss of internet & cell from about 3 am the last day until about 8 pm when we arrived back in Juneau..I think ACL needs to improve their WIFI which we found to be slow. People with health issues have on the larger ships access to medical clinic with doctors. On ACL there was a medic I believe but no medical clinic. I believe a heart attack in Glacier Bay could be a major issue for a medical evacuation. ACL does cater to the older crowd with a higher probability of health issues. There is no cable TV and some of the videos shown on the ACL channel were very dated at least 20-30 years old. there were movie videos but the lack of updated videos on the Alaska channel was disappointing. Excursions are mainly walking tours and the fishing, float and Kayak tours had limited space and sold out. I would like ACL to have more variety with their tours and increase the capacity for float, kayaking and fishing. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Have been on 50 plus cruises This was absolutely the most disgusting food ever in all venues , including luminae, the restaurant exclusive to suite Passengers. The service staff were heroic in their effort the mitigate the very very ... Read More
Have been on 50 plus cruises This was absolutely the most disgusting food ever in all venues , including luminae, the restaurant exclusive to suite Passengers. The service staff were heroic in their effort the mitigate the very very poor food quality. The “chefs” didn’t attempt to defend the inferior quality of the products served . Have sailed Celebrity in the past , last time approximately 8 yrs ago. Would not recommend this ship if food quality matters The suite was acceptable. The steward did his job adequately. The Butler was rarely visible Bartenders were good but bar service was inadequate. Celebrity needs to upgrade their food quality especially if retaining suite passengers matters . Additionally, if a customer pays 4 times the price of an average cabin special amenities should be provided such as priority exit and entry Lines In summary, strong efforts from servers and staff but horrendous food. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Chosen for the conference on board. Pros Staff helpfulness Cleanliness Ease of shore excursions Cons I had read where although the Tracy Arm Fiord is the advertised route the ship almost never makes it in and sure ... Read More
Chosen for the conference on board. Pros Staff helpfulness Cleanliness Ease of shore excursions Cons I had read where although the Tracy Arm Fiord is the advertised route the ship almost never makes it in and sure enough we did not either. Many staff SAID that’s where we were but only AFTER we were sailing away was one SHORT announcement made we had actually been in the Endicoty Arm at Dawe’s glacier The glacier day in the Endicoty Arm was unimpressive in and out, and took one entire sailing day without being able to get off the ship. Shore excursions were overpriced and under delivered!!! Do NOT do gold panning!!!! Drives to excursions were long and monotonous. Butchart Gardens were beautiful but in a 4 hour excursion with tea we only had 1.5 hours to tour the gardens!!!! The guide was confused about the location of the tea and some missed it altogether He was too busy telling unfunny jokes to give us any real information. I heard the Celebrity Cruise following the same route was amazing Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Love Alaska. The scenery is magnificent and the citizens are great. The weather in Anchorage was rainy and the first day at sea was also. As that was natural, it could hardly have been a negative for the cruise, but it could have been ... Read More
Love Alaska. The scenery is magnificent and the citizens are great. The weather in Anchorage was rainy and the first day at sea was also. As that was natural, it could hardly have been a negative for the cruise, but it could have been better, of course. Otherwise, great. The ships entertainment staff was excellent. The shows were at least as good as any we have ever seen in over 40 cruises on different ships and lines. The ship itself was attractive and not as gaudy as for instance Carnival ships. More traditional wood motifs and much more attractive to the eye than all of the chrome accents on some other ships. The dining rooms were very attractive and the wait staff was attentive and friendly. Princess (Coral) is an very well staffed and attractive ship. It seems I need a few more words to complete my review. This is added for meeting the requirements of the survey. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
I had been on this same itinerary same cruise line 4 years ago. Here's what improved: Loved the entertainment!! Cruise director Matt was hilarious and I saw my first Crew talent show. We loved the excursions in Skagway- the ... Read More
I had been on this same itinerary same cruise line 4 years ago. Here's what improved: Loved the entertainment!! Cruise director Matt was hilarious and I saw my first Crew talent show. We loved the excursions in Skagway- the Chilkoot trail and rafting were just lovely and our guide Emily was wonderful. Here's what got worse: The Horizon Buffet was not good. The food was often room temp and looked very picked over. There was no variation in the fruit choices: watermelon, pineapple, honeydew cantaloupe and canned fruit- would it kill you to add some berries or papaya? The salad bar also had very little variation. We also had problems each of the 4 times we ordered steak on the dining room menu. It took an unusually long time for the steaks to be served, once half of our party were finished with their non steak entrees before the steaks even came out. The steaks were undercooked, 3/4 times we needed to send back to cook to medium rare. Teen club: our 14 and 17 year old children used the club maybe 3 times for 30 min each. they were told they had to participate in the scheduled activity and could not use the game console if it was not a scheduled "free time" Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Fully met all our expectations from boarding to disenbarkation. The staff were all friendly, helpful and patient, and made our voyage fun, relaxed and one to remember for a lifetime. Our room steward was so sweet and friendly and she ... Read More
Fully met all our expectations from boarding to disenbarkation. The staff were all friendly, helpful and patient, and made our voyage fun, relaxed and one to remember for a lifetime. Our room steward was so sweet and friendly and she worked hard to make our room clean and functional each day. Getting on the ship at the beginning and leaving on the last day ran as smooth as silk. No stress and felt well taken care of. The food was excellent and well prepared. We were served promptly and courteously in both the Horizon Court and the Bordeaux dining room. I had a special diet and Arthur, the head waiter made sure my dietary needs were met with friendliness and professionalism. Our waitresses served us like we were royalty. The meals were delicious. The nightly entertainment was enjoyable and varied , from a magic show to musicals. We looked forward each night to our date night. I would give this cruise a 10 and would definitely cruise again with Princess Cruises. Read Less

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