This was our third NCL Cruise. Our first ever cruise to Alaska. I should change my CC handle to "CigarCruiser" because, I will always address cigar related issues to cruising. Cruise ship musts for us include cabin comforts, ... Read More
This was our third NCL Cruise. Our first ever cruise to Alaska. I should change my CC handle to "CigarCruiser" because, I will always address cigar related issues to cruising. Cruise ship musts for us include cabin comforts, specialty restaurants, and a reasonable cigar lounge. NCL continues to meet these criteria for us. We had a mini-suite category cabin on deck 8. We ate at 7 of the specialty restaurants (5 for dinner and 2 for lunch). I visited the Humidor Lounge daily. We chose the "sail away" rate, as opposed to the more inclusive rates. Our rationale is that we don't drink that much. In fact, I'm pretty sure the "Gratuity/Service Charge" of $154 per person was greater than the amount we consumed on the voyage. I didn't use the ship's internet. We bought a 4 meal specialty dining plan.
La Cuccina, Italian. I had Osso Bucco, my wife had Veal Scallopini. Very good dinner.
American Diner. We had lunch. Its kind of open air, so, it was chilly. I had skirt steak chimichurri ($15). My wife had their cheeseburger ($11). Cheeseburger gets vote for best burger at sea now, surpassing previous #1 of Carnival's Guy's Burger and HAL's made to order burgers. Yeah, you have to pay for it, but, its worth it. The skirt steak was great, also. This one isn't expensive enough to use your meal plan, so, I don't think many people are eating there. But, its worth it.
Q, Texas BBQ. I had the Texas sampler with brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. My wife had the ribs. This was surprisingly good. I've never been a brisket fan (I guess, being from Alabama). The brisket was very tender. Everything else was very good. We'll go back. Our bill total before being zero'd out by the meal plan was about $70, so, it justifies the meal plan, but, just barely.
Teppanyaki, Japanese Hibachi show dinner. This was fun. I had filet and scallops. This specialty actually costs more than our local similar restaurants at $39.95 apiece. So, this one and Q, I think seem to be unsubsidized by the dining portion of your cruise fare. Increasingly, the costs of the specialty restaurants appear to be comparable to similar quality restaurants on land. But, its worth using the specialty plan here.
Cagney's, Steak. This was the best Cagney's we have experienced. Both of our steaks (a filet and a porterhouse) were cooked pretty accurately. This was very good. I'd say half way between Outback and Flemings or Ruth's Chris on my quality meter. The cost (without the dining plan is also about half way between. Great choice for your specialty plan.
Food Republic, Mostly Asian. My wife loves this place. Its all small plates. We tried a few, and spent $70 (didn't use specialty plan). It was all good. I particularly liked the pork belly with ramen and the scotch eggs.
Le Bistro, French. We had 8 oz filets. They were different from Cagney's, which surprised me. Also very good. Just a little less expensive than Cagney's, but, not much. Probably your second best choice for specialty plan.
The Humidor Lounge, Cigars. If you enjoy a cigar or two while on vacation, this is a nice hideaway on the 8th deck. Unlike other ships, its not attached to Malting's Whiskey Bar. There were signs (3 of them) prominently displayed, stating that this lounge for for cigars only and that cigarettes were prohibited there. Well, that didn't matter, which shouldn't matter to anyone other than cigar lovers and cigarette smokers. If you like cigarettes, then this place beats the pants off of the corner of H2O Spice, where it was cold through most of the Alaskan Cruise, and many smokers were only too happy to adopt this as their home at sea. I was fortunate to find a seat in the lounge for my cigar. I didn't complain, and I don't think anyone else did, either. But, NCL, to their credit, did make a few attempts at enforcement. But, too many staff came through to provide implied consent. My fear here is that this is fast becoming an airport smoking lounge. When the ship realizes this, they will just re-purpose the room. The cigarette smokers will go where they are allowed. And, cigar aficionados will abandon the line. There are 18 comfortable seats in this room. You have to use the telephone to order drinks or cigars. One decent smoking bar would generate more revenue, and it would show more concern for their cigarette smoking/paying guests. IMHO.
Entertainment. We skipped the Footloose show. This is notable, because the Broadway type shows on Breakaway and Bliss (Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys) were amazing. We went to the opening Theater Entertainment Sampler. They did 2 numbers from Footloose, and, I want to be charitable here, but, they just weren't good. We did go to Elements. This show was amazing. It is not to be missed. The Russian aerial acrobatic and ballet couple were awesome. The magician (PJ Wen) provided spectacular illusions. We were mesmerized throughout this show. Finally, the Beatles Tribute Band did a long set concert covering the Beatles career on Friday afternoon before we landed at Victoria. What a great show. The Cavern Club is just not big enough for the quality of their shows (also true on Bliss). But, I get what they are trying to re-create here. On both cruises where they have a Cavern Club, the band has done a long show in the theater on the final day or night of the cruise. The theater was packed for their show, demonstrating why it was so hard to get into the Cavern Club during the week. The final point on entertainment. You might be surprised to learn that the best singer on the ship is probably the cruise director, Dan Dan. He was on the Bliss earlier this year before transferring to the Joy. He is a brilliant singer. He should do a show. He will sing toward the end of your cruise. You should not miss it.
Our cabin was a mini-suite, which seems a lot like a balcony cabin, except it has 2 sinks. I see some traditionalists complain about the less personable approach to housekeeping, but, I don't try to get to know maids at hotels. The guy cleaned our room, replaced our towels, got us ice, and he was courteous when he saw us. I don't think I want any more than that.
The ship is like other large ships. It's beautiful. We found our way around pretty well. Once embarkation was done, it was pretty easy to get around. We didn't go to top decks much, because it wasn't really warm enough for pool activity. But, we were able to get elevators when we needed them. Read Less