My husband and I flew into Seattle two nights before departing Seattle on the NCL Jewel for a 10-night Alaskan cruise to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday. We packed 3 medium size suitcases and one large suitcase anticipating ... Read More
My husband and I flew into Seattle two nights before departing Seattle on the NCL Jewel for a 10-night Alaskan cruise to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday. We packed 3 medium size suitcases and one large suitcase anticipating really cold temps in Alaska with layering clothes and warm winter boots. We did the 10-hour tour by Northwest which included a tour to the Boeing Airplane Factory. We really enjoyed this tour of the Seattle downtown and surrounding areas including the Salmon fish ladder at Ballard Locks and Dam. NCL embarkation went very smoothly. We arrived at the pier about 1030, dropped off our luggage, and stood in line to get our cabin card assigned, then sat waiting for our boarding group to be called. We were boarded and having lunch by 1:00pm at the Garden Cafe. NCL Jewel left port in Seattle around 4pmish on Saturday 23 Sep 2017. Our cabin was 10528, a balcony cabin, close to elevators. The room and balcony were kept clean during our 10-night cruise. Our cabin steward was a young lady (Wuan One sp?) who sang happy birthday to me and made me a cake out of a towel, flowers and sparkly confetti. Very sweet of her!! Cabin furnishings were showing wear and tear; recommend to NCL to refurbish within the year. Electronics for cabin need to be updated as well. The food was great at each of the complimentary restaurants except for the Chin Chin. We ate there the last evening and ordered Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice and spring rolls. The chicken was very tough, the sauce tasted old. Rice and spring rolls were good. I experienced extreme gas for several hours afterwards and frequent trips to bathroom. Maybe their other dishes are better. Entertainment and activities were outstanding. Something for everyone throughout the day even when in port. Alaska was beautiful (Skagway, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, Icy Strait Point). We discovered that we over packed (way too many clothes and cold weather boots which were never worn). Our trip lasted 17 days flying from Cincinnati to Denver (one night), Denver to Seattle (2 nights in Seattle), NCL Jewel 10-night Alaskan cruise, 1 night in Vancouver, AMTRAK train ride from Vancouver to Seattle on the Cascades Train in business class (very nice), 2 night AMTRAK train ride on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago, one night in Chicago, and flight from Chicago O'Hare to Cincinnati Airport. The two-night train ride on AMTRAK was not very restful, with us waking each time the train hot a bump, rocked or rolled. We slept for 13 hours straight in Chicago on a luxurious bed with a great view of the city at Magnificent Mile location. Flight from Chicago to Cincinnati on United was very relaxing. Made it home Saturday night by 9pm and slept for another 13 hours. Good thing my husband and I are retired (we are both in our young 60s), but we definitely needed a rest from our 17 day journey (trip of a lifetime and now marked off our bucket list).
A word to the wise for advice on packing: We only needed clothes really for seven days as most outfits could be interchanged and worn again. We did not need heavy winter coats. We did not need cold weather boots. We could have taken three medium sized suitcases and two personal carry on bags and have been just fine. The more suitcases you have, the more difficult to navigate without assistance and additional expenses. There is plenty of room under the bed to store the suitcases. NCL Jewel freestyle cruising fit our needs where we could dine when we wanted to within restaurant hours. The perks associated with our cruise included the ultimate beverage package, $100 onboard credit and $50 per cabin deduction for port excursion. Drinks being served while still in Washington area while free under our package still incurred state tax which quickly eroded the onboard credit. Drinks could be pretty potent, so advise being aware and conscious of number of drinks consumed. They hit you hard when you get up and start moving around a rocking ship. Too easy to stumble from the rocking and fall and get hurt before ever starting the vacation. Also Medicare insured folks should be aware that Medicare does not pay outside the USA. One of our friends had to visit the ships doctor for a bad cold that turned for the worse and had to get a prescription for medicine (antibiotics, etc). His bill was $500. I have since discovered that Medicare insured folks can purchase additional supplemental or gap insurance that does cover outside the USA.
We immensely enjoyed the WhitePass and Youkon Route train ride in Skagway and the Otter Express excursion in Sitka. We saw over 50 humpback whales, sea otters and seals and bald eagles in Sitka. Overall: This was a great experience. My husband and I had never been to Alaska and we loved the parts we saw. Luscious pine tree forests, beautiful pristine waters, and Oh My Goodness: The glaciers were magnificent! We witnessed and heard the loud cracking noise of calvings before they occurred. The staff on the NCL Jewel were extremely professional, courteous and helpful and actually looked and acted they were glad to be there serving the NCL Jewel and its customers. We loved it. We highly recommend taking this cruise. Read Less