4 Norwegian Sky Alaska Cruise Reviews

Saturday, September 20 - After a leisurely breakfast, Fred took us to the port for our cruise. There was evidently a Washington home game because traffic was backed up terribly. We arrived at the dock about 12:15 and checked our luggage ... Read More
Saturday, September 20 - After a leisurely breakfast, Fred took us to the port for our cruise. There was evidently a Washington home game because traffic was backed up terribly. We arrived at the dock about 12:15 and checked our luggage in. We went around to the check-in and there was practically no line so we walked right up to an agent. We gave her our tickets and she said. "Did you know you have been upgraded?" I answered that we did not know because I had stopped checking on the internet about two weeks before our cruise. I started getting excited and Matthew thought I had gone off the deep end. I knew that we had to be in a suite because we had booked a category BA. She told us it was room #9201, but I did not know which suite that was. She set everything up and told us she would call someone to escort us to our room. Amit (who we later learned was one of our butlers) came and took most of our carry-ons and walked us past the line to have our pictures made and then up the elevator. Since I am directionally challenged, I did not know if we were heading forward or aft. Imagine my surprise when we unlocked our stateroom door and the bow of the ship was in front of us! We were in an owner's suite!! By now, I was really excited! We wanted to look around the cabin, but Amit made us sit down while he told us about the amenities of the suite. Ruth, the concierge, came by and told us what special treatment we could receive After they left, we went to the buffet to have lunch because it was the only restaurant open. At least it was a nice day and we could eat outside. We walked around the ship and found that the spa was having a tour at 2:00. Of course, we could not wait to get back to our room to check it out. Matthew wanted to watch college football (and did while I went on the spa tour). I took a ton of pictures and was amazed at our good fortune. Here goes the long description of the suite (#9201). You open the door to a hallway, on the right is the door to the half bath with a sink and toilet (complete with a fresh flower). On the left, is a mirrored wall with two pocket doors concealing closets, one with hangers and a shelf, and the other with just a high shelf and a bar (with no hangers). After the hallway, on the right is a set of floor to ceiling glass shelves with glass doors and then the bar area which has a counter area with cabinets and a small refrigerator enclosed in one of the cabinets (refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, Evian water, sparkling water). There is another set of glass shelves with drink ware, and an ice bucket with glasses on a tray. The bar area complete with two bar stools, has the bar accessories and a small sink. A bottle of champagne was on ice for our arrival. After the bar area, the room opens to the dining/living area. There was a large glass table with fresh flower arrangement, two love seats, a smaller glass end table with a lamp. The dining room table had a tray of fresh fruit and four chairs. The balcony had four chairs and a table, two chaise lounges, a large cooler for drinks, and a hot tub (I would call it a Jacuzzi tub). Along one wall, there was ample closet space (mostly shelves) and a murphy bed. There was a desk area with personalized stationary, room service, breakfast, and alternative restaurant menus (we were told we could order anything from room service). There was a 27" TV, a CD and DVD player (complete with music CDs in room and a list of available DVD movies), surround sound speakers in both the living room and bedroom. Plenty more shelves and drawers around the corner and across from the bar. The bedroom had a queen size bed, vanity area (more drawers), bedside tables with lamps (no lamps on the headboard), and a walk-in closet with large hanging area, safe, and more shelves. The bathroom had a separate shower with glass doors, a tub, sink area with one sink, a scale (whose idea?), and another fresh flower. In addition to the liquid soap/shampoo, we received various bars of soap, shoe mitts, bathing salts, and lotions. Each of the bathrooms also had water glasses. This cabin would be great for a family or a longer cruise. Unfortunately, now we are spoiled and will not be able to go back to a smaller cabin. After looking at the Freestyle Daily, we got our life vests (there were six in the cabin) and went to the muster drill. I was amazed at the number of people who could not get to the correct place. We then returned to our cabin for sail away. We sipped our champagne and just enjoyed the views. At 5:00, the spa was having a drawing for some spa services so we went to that. One aspect of this cruise we did not enjoy was the constant advertising of ship revenue producers (spa, casino, bingo, art auctions, stores, booze). Of course, we know that is where the cruise lines make their money. We went to dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant, which turned out to be most convenient for us since Seven Seas is aft and you can only access it from the aft elevators. We were seated immediately and we both had prime rib. Other than Le Bistro, the dining room food was fair and the buffet food was borderline bad. We returned to our suite to see if our luggage had arrived and it had not. As we were heading to the Stardust Lounge, we told our room steward (Jose, and his assistant Christophere) and he said he would check on it (I also had to explain that the luggage tags had our old room number on them). I also asked Jose if he would put an egg crate mattress on our bed, which he did. The show gave a preview of the Jean Ann Ryan dancers and Milt Able, the comedian. We returned to our suite and our luggage had still not arrived so I called the reception desk (and explained again about the luggage tags). About five minutes later I got a call from Ruth, who said that one bag had been found and someone was bringing it up and that if the others were not found I would need to fill out a report. About thirty minutes later, Ruth called and said that the people in our old room were not there and that our luggage may be inside the room, but since they were not there, no one could go in without security. At that point, I went to the reception desk and filed a report for our two missing pieces. A short time later, someone brought our two bags and Ruth called to make sure we had gotten everything. Needless to say, we were relieved. I filled out the breakfast room service request (Amit said we could write in if we wanted something that was not on the menu) and placed it on the door. Sunday, September 21 - After an intense week in Seattle and the excitement of the suite, we were ready for a break. Luckily, it was raining and foggy so we did not feel guilty about doing absolutely nothing. Our breakfast was delivered at 9:00 by Amit. Room service in a suite is not as simple as leaving the food. It includes putting a tablecloth on the table, setting the silverware, plates, and napkins, ensuring all the condiments are there, and if we were ready to eat, Amit would even put the napkin in my lap. Wow! Since Matthew is not a big breakfast eater, I had ordered him some danishes and muffins. I had bacon, eggs, and French toast. There was more food than we could eat! We had a couple of grapes and a pear from our fruit tray and Amit took the tray and said he would bring us fresh. We unpacked our suitcases and found that we had more room than we could ever use. All of our bags fit under the bed so they were out of the way. We did leave the suite for a while to explore the ship so Jose could clean up our room, but we quickly returned. We had lunch at the Four Seasons, which was good. Matthew was disappointed that ESPN did not have any football games on, but he got over it. We napped that afternoon and since it was formal night, put on our better clothes and proceeded to the atrium to have our picture made. Since there is no set times for dinner, the photo lines were not long and we had our picture made at the atrium and another location. We decided to try the Seven Seas restaurant and we had to wait about five minutes. It was lobster night and two tails were served per plate. Matthew ordered seconds and I had a NY strip, which was good. We went to the show, "Hey, Mr. Producer," which is scenes from various plays. Since we had not seen most of the plays, we were kind of lost sometimes, but overall the production was good. The dancers are very talented, and there was a gymnast that was excellent. Monday, September 22 - We woke up to a cloudy day and we were almost to Juneau. Our breakfast came again (pancakes - not good) and Amit wanted to refresh our fruit, but I asked him not to because we had eaten so little. At about 12:00, the captain came on and said that we would be arriving in Juneau soon and we could debark as soon as we got clearance. We went up to the buffet (had cold cheeseburgers and the buns were twice the size of the burger) and were glad we got there when we did since there was a long line when we left. We got off the ship and made some phone calls. Then we went shopping! The Juneau Shirt Co. had all their stuff 50% off so we bought a lot of souvenirs for the people at home. We went to the House of Russia and bought some stacking dolls, and went to a couple of other stores. Our tour with Orca Enterprises (Captain Larry) was at 3:30 so we made another quick phone call and went to their office to wait. We walked to a bus, which took us through Juneau and the driver pointed out the highlights of the town. We saw the Mendenhall glacier and then we arrived at Auke Bay. We had a naturalist onboard, who worked in the winter on Celebrity as their naturalist in Hawaii. He was very informative and knowledgeable. We cruised close to an island that had several bald eagles and then we were in search of whales. Since he and Larry had been out that morning, they knew there were a mother and calf, and four other humpbacks in the bay. We were not out long when we saw our first blow. The naturalist told us that a humpback needed air about every 7-8 minutes. When the four would come up, he would start timing and tell us when it was time to look again. Of course, they would move around, but so would we. We followed the mother and calf a while and the naturalist said that the calf jumped out of the water that morning. We were looking in one direction, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a big splash. In a few seconds, the calf jumped out of the water again. It was awesome! We also went around an island with sea otters (cute). On the way back to the dock, Mendenhall glacier was in full view with the mountains around it. They said they had not seen the mountains in about a month. It really turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day, but was chilly on the boat! The driver let us out in town and we shopped a little more and then decided we were tired so we went back to the ship. We had dinner at the Four Seasons (both had beef tenderloin) and then went to see Jane L. Powell at the Stardust Lounge. Tuesday, September 23 - I forgot to order breakfast the night before so I went to the buffet. Everytime I go there. I ask myself why. Some items (nonfat milk was one) were not replenished. The cups are tiny. There were no seats available inside. Since we had arrived in Skagway, I went outside and ate (and it was cold!). We were supposed to leave Skagway at 5:00, but that was extended to 7:00. We went to town for shopping and there was a Skagway Shirt Company with 50% off their stuff so we bought more and walked around town a while. We went to a locally owned jewelry store and started looking at the gold in quartz jewelry. We looked at a couple pieces in Juneau but they did not look good. We found a pendent I liked and we bought it, even though we had not shopped around, which is not like me. I ran back to the ship and dropped off our bags and ran back out to meet our tour at 12:15. I was just on time and there were four people that had not shown up yet. There was a lady beside us saying that we should leave them. We waited around for a while and two more people showed up and then we left. It made no sense that a bus came to pick us up at the ship when the train was right beside us. Anyway, the bus took us to the train depot and we loaded up on the rail car. We took the first seats on the left and people were coming on wondering which side was best (thanks Cruise Critic). Matthew is a train nut and so he enjoyed the trip. I really enjoyed the views and took tons of pictures since it turned out mostly clear. We took the bus back and they told us pretty much the same things we heard on the train, with the exception of the thirty earthquakes a day that Fraser gets. We did get to stop and get out for pictures. Our next stop was Liarsville, which was cheesy, but we did get to pan for gold (do not dump contents of the pan into water - the gold is already in the pan). We arrived back at town and made a few quick shopping stops and got back on the ship. We went to Seven Seas for dinner and had to wait about twenty minutes. It was Italian night and we had tomato soup, Caesar salad, chicken Parmesan, trout, and tiaramisu. We then went to the Stardust Lounge to see Running Wild and it was OK. We made stops at the photo gallery thru the week and I asked the people behind the counter if they would hold all our pictures and they would not but they did tell us they would not be moving the embarkation pictures. So, throughout the week we gathered our pictures and put them behind our embarkation pictures so we could compare and pick out the best ones. Wednesday, September 24 - Our 9th Anniversary - We both woke up several times during the night and Matthew was running a fever so we decided to visit the ship's medical center. It opened at 8:30 and I called the reception desk before then to find out if we needed to make an appointment or just show up and she told us to just show up. Since we were to see Sawyer Glacier, I wanted to get the doctor visit over with so we could enjoy the rest of the day. We arrived and we were the only ones there. The receptionist took our information and both our temperatures (sure enough Matthew had a fever). We sat back out in the waiting area and the doctor called us back. He diagnosed me with pharyngitis and Matthew with tonsilitis and gave us each five days worth of antibiotics, some saline spray (which I was unable to find in Skagway), and some Tylenol. Total cost was $120 paid on shipboard account. Needless to say, it was worth the cost to get to feeling better. After our visit, we quickly went to the buffet and back to our haven. Since we were on the front of the ship, we turned our couch around in front of the doors and watched instead of sitting on our deck. We did not get close to Sawyer Glacier but we could see it. A small boat from the Sky made its way closer to the glacier and it turns out it was the ship photographer who took closeups of the glacier and the ship there. We thought it was funny that that evening when we went to the photo gallery they had pictures on a table that said they were pictures of the glacier "taken today." Well, I know they were not taken that day because our cabin was at the bow and there were three people standing on our balcony in the pictures, and there was no time when there were three people on our balcony. Anyway, we turned around (almost 360 degrees) and left the glacier. Matthew laid down and napped for a while and I cleaned up the cabin. We went to the dining room for lunch, but nothing appealed to us so we went to the buffet - I had pizza and it was OK. The weather was good going into the glacier but as we were leaving, it started raining and became very foggy. About 5:30, the seas became very rough. The doors were slamming shut and open, anything in the bathroom that was not behind doors came off the shelves, the TV's swiveled back and forth. I had never been seasick before, but now I can empathize. I had removed my patch Tuesday morning and had not replaced it. Matthew replaced his, but he still got sick. When it started getting bad, I put a patch on and took a prescription strength Bonine but they took a while to work so I had about an hour of sickness. We were invited to a party in the Captain's quarters at 7:00 that evening and had reservations at Le Bistro for 7:30. Needless to say, we did not make either. About 9:00, things calmed down and we ordered room service at around 9:30 - I ordered a chicken Caesar salad and Matthew had a NY strip sandwich, we also ordered the "assorted cheese and international crackers." Another steward brought our dinner and put out the tablecloth and set the table just like in the dining room. He said that everybody was ordering room service. The food was fairly good and our cheese and crackers turned out to be a huge platter with a box of Carr's crackers. The people we went fishing with on Thursday said they were in the dining room (5th floor) when the seas got rough and the waves were hitting the sides of the windows. Amit told us the next morning that they missed us at the Captain's party, but that everyone else that came left after about five minutes. Obviously it was not only we that were sick. Thursday, September 25 - I remembered the room service breakfast this morning and ordered French toast, muffins, and danishes. I must say that they sure do give you a lot of food. Also, you must specify if you want something like butter, syrup, kind of jam, etc. There was also variation in the times it was served, from ten minutes before the time specified to about 10 minutes after the first time listed (ex. 9:00-9:15). We were meeting Ken from Northern Lights fishing at the dock at 8:00 for our fishing trip. There were three others with us on the boat from Florida, one of them being the infamous "Sugar Lips" from the Miss Norwegian Sky contest. We had a great trip and I would highly recommend this outing for anyone interested in fishing. At one point, we had all five lines in the water and all of them had fish on them! That was exciting and I am not a fisher person. The weather in Ketchikan was cloudy with rain at times and Ken said that most of the ship run excursions (fishing and flights) had been cancelled, so we were glad we did not book with the ship. Matthew and I had taken rain suits and were glad we had since it was rainy, but also because we would have gotten fishing stuff on our clothes. We were out until about 1:00 pm and Ken arranged for a van to pick us up and take us back to town. We went back on the ship for some lunch at the buffet and to drop off our rain suits. We also made our make-up reservations at Le Bistro for 7:30 pm. We went back into town and did the rest of our shopping. Prior to our trip, the consensus was that Ketchikan was the place to shop and they did have more stores than the other ports, but I am glad that we did not wait to buy anything in Ketchikan. Juneau and Skagway had stores that had 50% sales going on for the end of the season, but Ketchikan had few, if any items, marked down that much. I would venture to say that if we had not needed to buy some last souvenirs that we would not have shopped. When we got back to the ship, we took a nap and then went to dinner. Since our anniversary was during our cruise, we had a note in our cabin upon arrival to give to the Maitre'd at the restaurant we dined in that evening. I had the cream of mushroom soup, Caesar salad, filet and Matthew had the French onion soup, Caesar salad, and salmon and we shared a chocolate fondue (yum)! Other than the mushroom soup, everything was excellent, but I would say the service was no better than what we received in the dining rooms. Before our dessert came, they sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to us and brought out a small cake. We asked them to send the cake to our room but we never got it (it is not like we were starving to death!). I found it interesting that many of the ship's personnel ate in Le Bistro the same night we did (including the ship's doctor who remembered us). After dinner, we went to the Stardust Lounge to see the final show of the Jean Ann Ryan company - Sea Legs Cirque. It was excellent! We stayed for the Liar's club, which was a lot of fun. Friday, September 26 - Today was our last day on board. We had room service for breakfast and then went to the photo gallery to pick out our pictures. We only purchased two of ourselves, because we had just had pictures made last year, and these were not that great. We made a final round thru the shops but did not buy anything even though the Alaska stuff was 35% off. We went to Shawn Farquar's up close magic show, which was great! The weather started off foggy, and we got to hear the foghorn, but it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day with crystal clear blue skies. The ship ran into several pods of dolphins (I think) and there were about 50-100 dolphins in each pod. That was exciting! We went to the chocoholic buffet at 2:00. I am a chocolate freak, and I did not think the chocolate was that great, but the ice sculptures and decorations made from chocolate were fabulous! By the way, they did not allow anyone in to take pictures before it started. We took our food back to the cabin and ate. We packed, enjoyed the views, and took time to decide how much tip to leave to whom. We participated in the freestyle tipping, but that did not cover our butlers or concierge. We also wanted to leave the room stewards a little something extra since they had much more to clean in our suite than in the other cabins. Ruth (concierge) came by to tell us that when we were ready to go on Saturday, just to call her and someone would meet us to escort us off the ship. For dinner, we went to the Four Seasons for the Klondike dinner. Matthew had BBQ halibut (which was very good) and I had a sirloin steak (also good). We went to Jane L. Powell's show at 9:30 and enjoyed it. We finished packing and put our luggage out (with special tags attached). Saturday, September 27 - What a bittersweet day. We ordered room service for breakfast and Henri brought it this morning. He asked if he could take our fruit tray but we asked him to leave a couple pieces which he did. Amit came by and we stood around talking with them for a few minutes. They wanted to know if we would be taking another NCL cruise and I told them that after Wednesday night, we did not know if we would take another cruise at all. They said that the cruise prior to ours was terrible and the seas were rough for a day and night. Now that would be miserable! Anyway, we had a great time and I know that we would not have had as good a time had we not been in the suite. We gathered all our stuff and called Ruth to let her know we were on our way down. When we arrived, there was another couple there (who were our neighbors that we never met) and we were waiting on one more couple. With us all together, Ruth bypassed the line to get to our luggage, where it was waiting in a special area. We breezed thru customs and went inside the terminal. It was a madhouse! Evidently, busses were late and there were hundreds of people in a small area. After we figured out that no one was in a rental car line, we went to the Budget counter where I had reserved a car. After that was taken care of, we went outside to wait on the bus to take us to our car. Since it was so pretty, we decided to drive to Whistler. The views up were gorgeous. Unfortunately, the traffic was horrible, so we did not stop to take pictures and the ones taken in the afternoon contend with the sun. We stopped at Brandywine and Shannon falls and they were both good places to stretch our legs, and they were nice waterfalls. I had packed long sleeve shirts and long pants but we really needed shorts and t-shirts. When we arrived at Whistler, I thought the town would be a little more visitor friendly, but there were no signs to the gondola. We finally stopped at a tourist information center and she told us where it was, but we still could not find it. After driving for a while, we tracked down the gondola and found a parking place. The town was crowded with mountain bikers and visitors in general. We bought our tickets and waited in line. We got in a car with two women, mother and daughter, who were just enjoying the day. While we were trying to find the gondola, Matthew said that he wondered if it would be worth the trip. Let me tell you it was! There was not a cloud in the sky and we could see almost forever. I am not sure what the elevation is there, but we both became winded easily. We made the trip back down the mountain and then drove up to Pemberton. We found out later in the day that Pemberton had the highest temperature in Canada that day - 86 degrees. We drove back to Vancouver and checked in at the Westin Bayshore. We asked the lady at the reception desk where was a good casual place to eat and she said Cardero's beside the hotel. So after we took our stuff to the room, we went to dinner. It was still nice so we dined outside. I had salmon and Matthew had the seafood wok, which he said was not that great. After we returned to the room, I started looking at the Westin information and discovered the bed had feather pillows and down comforter. That is not good since I am allergic to feathers, so I called the front desk and someone immediately came to change the bed. We ordered a pizza from Dominos and then retired for the evening. However, some people down the hall had other plans. Matthew said they were slamming doors, yelling, and having a grand time until about 4:00 am when the security guard came to make them be quiet. I slept thru the whole thing. Sunday, September 28 - We had planned to sightsee around Vancouver, but after watching the weather, found that it was clear in Seattle. We made the decision to go ahead and drive down there early so we could go up in the Space Needle. We took the scenic route out of Vancouver (not by choice), waited about twenty minutes in line at customs, and arrived in Seattle without incident. Matthew had become very familiar with downtown Seattle, so he took us right to the parking lot at Seattle Center. From the top of the Space Needle, we could see Mt. Rainier (90 miles away) and even Mt. Baker (150 miles away). After three visits to Seattle that was our first sighting of Mt. Rainier from the ground. We stayed at the top for about three hours and just enjoyed ourselves (and took lots of pictures). Since we enjoyed our dinner at Cutters before, we decided to go back there for dinner and have salmon one last time before we left the Northwest. Again, our food was delicious and the chocolate lava cake was to die for. We found our hotel, Days Inn (not good) at the airport and crashed. Monday, September 29 - We needed to be at the airport at 5:20 am for our 7:20 flight so we were up at 4:00. Yeah! Surprisingly, the airport was not crowded and we were at our gate by 6:00. This was after one of our carry-ons was searched because it tested for nitroglycerin, it turned out to be glycerin in soap or lotion. Our first class seats were nice on our long flight, and we actually got good food. We had a fruit plate with strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe, and then either French toast or French toast. The flight attendant said she would give us a bottle of champagne since they had run out of cheese omelets, but we told her that was OK since we wanted French toast anyway, and we do not drink. We arrived back at Charlotte and gathered our luggage (and found out two of our four bags were searched), got the car, and headed home. I had decided we were going to eat at the Cracker Barrel for dinner since we were going into Southern cooking and sweet tea withdrawal. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
For a change I'll try to contribute a few things not usually discussed in other reviews... To begin with our sailing differs in that it involved 40 people in 15 cabins. Ages spanned 2 through 75. We had mostly Cat BC Balconies, then ... Read More
For a change I'll try to contribute a few things not usually discussed in other reviews... To begin with our sailing differs in that it involved 40 people in 15 cabins. Ages spanned 2 through 75. We had mostly Cat BC Balconies, then some window and inside cabins on deck 7. Our group traveled in from Honolulu, Chicago, Arizona and from all over California. The Hawaiian folks came in 1 or 2 days early and stayed at a Springfield suite or Marriott. Travel and transit for them was routine and uneventful. The others all traveled the morning of departure. All flights were scheduled early enough that if anyone missed their reserved flight or if the airline suffered an equipment failure - all would have another flight that could get them to Seattle in time. We used a group charter with Alaska, United and America West. The flights were nearly full with tolerable airport experiences. No jam packed lines or unreasonable delays from airport management at any of our gateways. On arrival in Seattle we all took taxis to pier 66. On pickup of bags we took an elevator up one level; crossed the walkway to the central parking area where taxis were lined up, and asked the first taxi to call a couple of vans in. We then proceeded to the end of the taxi queue to await the vans. Most of us had enough that we obtained 7 passenger taxi vans as opposed to regular 4 person taxis. Van arrival was very quick - and easy. The transfer costs were $26-29 on the meter per van. Our drivers were quite nice. At pier side the NCL porters loaded the bags onto carts and requested one person follow them over when they hauled the load away. Everyone else was directed into a big snaking line to get aboard. At this point I must digress - because one of our party had just discovered that they were missing one of their bags. I accompanied the distraught auntie to get assistance from the concierge - who was located directly in front of the taxi drop off point. I found that this concierge was not a NCL rep but rather was a terminal rep. On taking the description she started trying to telephone the lost baggage desk for United at Seatac. Oddly enough, not to knock the concierge - but she did not have the United contact number. However, I had frequent flyer priority numbers - and obtained some access numbers for her. At this moment I was getting concerned for the progress of my party in checking in. So I told the concierge we were going up to check in and would return soon to see how she was progressing with the local UAL baggage desk. Check in was divided by one line for Suites, Lattitudes, and another long line for everyone else. My line was Lattitudes and it must have been 1/5 of the regular line's length. I was running between 3 parties to see how they were getting along - and I noted that much passenger info was incomplete - and had to be entered or corrected. The NCL counter personnel seemed very very patient and competent. Even though when I asked about courtesy upgrades or purchase options they responded with nothing. No complaints from me. From there the lattitudes line for boarding must have been 1/8 the regular line. There also was an empty lattitudes lounge - so I don't know how folks would use that if the line was moving. I guess it serves if you get there before boarding begins. So my experience differs here as the concierge came up to find ME and suggested that she had no luck getting throughto the United desk. As sailing was 2 hours away - she offered the idea that if we wanted to venture a ride back to the airport to go check in person - this might be the best way to recover the bag in time. She had a town car ready if I was agreeable to their fee... $100 r/t plus a walking escort in for as long as the search might take - with an assurance that the driver will get us back in time to catch the boat. My auntie agreed. In retrospect we might have done OK with a taxi to and back for a net $62 inclusive of gratuity. But for the little extra we had a bit more comfort and certainty. Besides, my Auntie had no concerns over the cost. In short, we recovered the lost bag and made the ship 30 minutes before it was supposed to sail at 4. We were checked in before we ran to the airport - so on returning to pier 66 we just walked into the Lat line. On boarding - I was met with fair courtesy and happy spirited processors. They snapped a digital image of me for boarding cross referencing. I made a point of "hamming up" a silly smile and waving gesture for this. Then, we were met by a steward who would guide us to our rooms. I waved my guide off and pulled out my cell phone to find out where my spouse and baby were... joined them in the Buffet directly. I was pretty hungry - but was underwelmed by the variety and quality of food. Please note, the food was good - it's just that it didn't strike me as all that "cut above" type of thing I was actually looking forward to. With 2000 folks on board I expected more - even if it's just the buffet. After a medium sized late lunch we were reminded by very polite staff that the life boat drill was coming up - and when we finished dining we should go down to our muster area or get our life jackets then go. THEN, they reminded us NOT to rush eating and relax a bit. Odd - but I was very clearly comfortable with their extreme courtesy. I liked all of the staff and their conduct up to this point - and through out the cruise I must say the staff exceeded my expectations. About the drill - I liked the fact that 1) the life jackets were extremely clean and 2) showing up last for the drill meant we could stand off to the side and not be sardine packed while they ran through their routine. After the drill we settled in to observe departure from our balconies. I visited several in our group to see how they were getting along - all was well. All the balcony cabins had a courtesy bottle of champagne. I suspect every balcony cabin got one - anyone want to write in to confirm or deny this suspicion? The sailing weather was simply gorgeous out of Seattle. Puffy clouds and sunbeams playing through the broken cloud cover. Most folks with 3 in the cabin felt cramped. With 2 and a baby in my cabin I felt it was tolerable. All the rooms were sparkling clean and odor free. No disappointments here... except closet storage was tight but adequate. We just left 2/3rds of our stuff in the bags and rolled them under the bed. Cabin details - for a BC balcony - one utility hook on the wall next to the closet. Two power outlets - one in the bathroom and another at the desk top. Two robes were already there. The circular shower was anticipated as being tight - but the actual experience was I tended not to notice the true size of it as there were fewer reference corners as I showered... IE, it was a cozy and efficient bathroom design. The vacuum toilets were... powerful. I would not encourage flushing it while sitting and using it - unless you're into "cheap thrills". Besides, the flush button is hard to reach while the toilet is in use. Other cabin observations: we had several cabins paired with connecting doors - and this was really terrific. Ventilation and temperature control were excellent. Water temperature sometimes wavered a bit - so be prepared if it matters to you. I am tolerant - but my spouse yelped a couple of times when the temp dropped while showering. Our first night dining (yep - I'm pretty early into this) - was set for half our group to dine in Le Bistro. It cost $12.50 pp which I prepaid and reserved in advance BEFORE boarding the ship. Something I requested since we had a small group to manage. In brief - so as not to spoil the "discovery" experience for others while providing an opinion... The views and service were quite good. For my taste - I would have gone more often IF I did not have a crowd to join who had other ideas and preferences. The menu does not change - but it offers the certainty of a known alternative if you don;t care for the main dining room offerings. Do try the "extra cost" seafood dish - and desserts in any of the specialty restaurants are NOT prepared at table side. IE, no flaming dessert preparation at table side anywhere. Too bad. Awakening on day two... inside passage. It was a really beautiful day. Our group had some who got massages, did gym activities (I don't know what they called it but it was stretching, semi-areobic at times, etc.), and our group wandered about taking pictures while they explored the ship further. This is when I found the cafe buffet hidden outside on the fantail level 11. This evening we bought several embarkation pictures. $20 for an 8x10 of the ship, 5x7 and 4 wallets of boarding in front of a mural and life ring, and a free plastic key chain picture holder. Day 3 in Ketchikan we got off at pier side. Princess was anchored off a ways and had to tender in. Later that day Radisson and Carnival docked. We chartered an amphibious DUCK tour. In brief - the tour guide was EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING and generally exceeded our expectations. Although it was a pretty simple experience - it was well run - until we got on the water when it became kind of slow. No so slow that many felt it was a bad experience. I would recommend the tour to most folks. Shopping was OK - but most folks should WAIT and do all their shopping in Skagway. Just get the "free" canvas bag with the coupon - and wander about here. This evening we organized a group of 20 to dine in Horizons. 8 folks never made it as the entrance is a bit difficult to find. The seating is completely fixed as booths or table duos. So they did not have any big tables. The food and service were very good here. The next day we had a comparatively short port call in Juneau (7 to 1:30). Our group had 4 aircraft chartered for half the group. The other half bought a bus tour on the pier. The flying group obtained van taxis that took 6 at a time. Cost to run from pier to airport, airport to Mendenthal, and back to pier cost approximately $73 including gratuity. That works out to $12 pp. Excellent compared to the folks hawking $5 rides each way to Mendenthal only. The flying group used 3 aircraft on wheels for 45 minute flights. They ALL had a BLAST flying about. Although not a helicopter doing glacier trekking or dog sledding... the cost worked out to only $44 per person on a full plane (5 people). One plane was a seaplane obtained through Ward Air. This was my flight. Our pilot wrote a book with many aerial shots ($16). He took us up, landed on a lake, and compared to the other 3 wheeled flyers on a 45 minute tour - we saw things they clearly never covered. Also, even though we all paid for either 45 or 60 minutes... we all had more or less 50-55 minutes or 70 minutes of flight time. Plus the seaplane ride was VERY leisurely including the time on the lake landing. The charter rate was $480 for 6 passengers for an hour plus up to 15 minutes parked enroute tach off. The owner of Ward air also gave my 2 year old baby a Ward air embroidered cap free. We bought 3 books... and tipped the pilot well. I do believe his smile and conduct as received it were sincere appreciation. Gotta fly if you go. And when I do this again - we're gonna try and fly two or more times when we go. Oh - one note, try asking your pilot what is the BEST method of shooting pics for the best results. They generally know. Also, ask what the options are for either lower channel flying or high angle perspectives - or simple ask for a bit or each. I did not ask at all and simple said lets have fun - it's at the pilot's digression. Mendenthal was nice and very pleasant. I really wish we had another 3 hours out there so I could have flown in the morning and hiked extensively. As it was we only had an hour fifteen there. I did not enter the $3 exhibit - but many others did - saw film shows, etc. Dinner was a bit better then I expected in the 7 seas regular dining room. Late night I picked up pizzas from Chao Caho on deck 11. Pizza was reasonably good - but for my taste it always needed crushed peppers. For some reason - my daughter did not tolerate many shows so I saw very little of them. I sent my spouse out to see most of them 0 and she really enjoyed them. The next day in Skagway we found that the shopping was the BEST here. Some of our group spent some of the time seeing a "Days of 98" show. If you get a group of 20 going then the group rate drives the cost down from $14 to $11. The party saves $60. Walking off the pier where we were parked was really far away. They had electric courtesy carts that took you FREE (for gratuities only) to the end of the pier. From there you could catch a shuttle for $1.25 each way. Quite convenient. All the other ships tied up closer then we had it... so I imagine sometimes the Sky might park closer to town. A few of our party rode the White Horse train. It seems the cruise lines are "in bed" with the train company as they made it so those cruising HAD TO BUY it through the cruise line - if you wanted to go. If traveling as a couple or two - try telling them you came in the other day on a marine ferry.. and you'll save some bucks if you get away with it. Those who rode the train thought it was NOT a good value or worth while experience. Not too bad - but really a bit of a low point on the cruise vacation. I did not go personally... and it looked like it would have been more fun then the folks riding it said it was. 31 of our group charted 2 motor buses to take us on a city over look and cemetery tour. It was 2.5 hours long and was described as going beyond where the train traveled. In practice, this tour was also a disappointment as it was long and boring. Mostly due to our driver having limited experience in the region and as a tour driver. He knew little - and really did not deserve the gratuity we gave - but I gave anyway since not tipping would have signaled anger - when we really were not quite that disappointed. Another thing - when you walk into town to shop several folks will be selling tours like this. You generally need a group of 20 to get 20% off - but the last tour of the day is about 20% off if you have less than 20 in your party. In retrospect, when visiting Skagway again we would shop alot - and try things other than the train or bus tours. What to do... I can't say except try something else. That evening back on ship - we celebrated 3 birthdays and one anniversary (our 9th). Service was good - food was OK. Again, I opted for late night pizza. Tracy Arm was a bit disappointing as we had NO CALVING. Oh well... someone else said they were there the year before in September and had calving. Hmmm.... The next day was outside passage cruising. Most of our group was affected by the very rough seas. Several were quite sea-sick. Fortunately we had 5 electric relief bands to combat the discomfort. We gathered 22 in Chao Chao's here. They had a surf and turf. Dining in all the specialty restaurants is cooked to order... and here the dishes were generally disappointing in size. The sushi was really tiny - and the sushi rice was missing something. The next day for arrival into Victoria - I had a private meeting room reserved with LCD projector and screen. We shared digital pictures right after lunch but before docking. We had great fun sharing pics and laughing over it all. When docked - it's cheapest to pile into a cab. Also, the cabbies will try to quote you or collect the same as the busses at $5 per person. It should really be $7-8 per CAB load to get into town by the meter. Ask the pricing method and estimate BEFORE entering a cab. Going to Chinatown places you more or less at the far end of town... so you can walk back to the ship... if you're up to it. Some of our party went to the Buchart Gardens and had a good time. We wandered about town and had a really pleasant but simple afternoon. This evening - I had the privilege of reserving the Captain's table in 7 seas for my group's use. It only holds 16 - so 11 of our group went to Horizons - and the others went ? On returning to Seattle we waited a LONG time to get off. Understandable since we were flying out the next day - so that's why we had no priority. The food venues close by 9:30AM. If you have any problems with your tab - you have to settle before the early AM as they close the desk... and it's tough luck if you want to change or correct anything. A sneaky consideration - if you did not like YOUR embarkation picture - then as you wind your way off the ship you'll pass the photo point where they take that shot. If you look ahead and get someone to help you.... As you get there you can hustle behind the railing and snap couple of shots. In my case I had to run to the airport to help with the missing baggage and consequently MISSED the photo opp with my spouse and daughter. Well, this opportunity provided me with another chance - so I "hammed it up" and had one normal and another silly one taken with my camera by traveling buddies. Although the date in the life ring is set for the next cruise - you can get "free" shots OR a chance to reshoot these pics "right". When taxiing to our hotel one cab mine went directly to out Holiday inn for $7. The taxi following us took another route early on and from what we pieced together he went on an aimless spiral to the hotel... as their cab fare was $12. When in Seattle, we were in the free bus zone - only we saw very few busses. SO we walked the 10-14 blocks to Pike's market. Got lunch (paid too much - but that's OK). Than took out dinner in Chinatown. Got a pretty good preset banquet for $98 - fed 11. The restaurant was NEXT DOOR to another one named TOP GUN. The next day we rested in the hotel and simply went to the airport to fly home. WE charted 5 towncars AND Lincoln Navigators for $28 to the airport. It was $140 for 5 car loads. Getting out was no sweat. Our aircraft upgrades cleared and we went home with some comfort. This Friday we fly out to Orlando to catch the Disney Magic for a 7 day Eastern Carib cruise. We are confirmed "NUTS" for sailing so much nearly back to back - but not quite, eh? When I get back I'll post another detailed review of the MAGIC. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
After returning from a cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Sky, I felt inclined to give my opinion. For those who like things to the point, my experience on this ship was just "average". For everyone else, here's the long ... Read More
After returning from a cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Sky, I felt inclined to give my opinion. For those who like things to the point, my experience on this ship was just "average". For everyone else, here's the long version. We arrived into Seattle, WA the day before to enjoy the town. There's plenty to do there! After spending the night at a hotel, we were whisked away to Pier 66 where the Norwegian Sky was docked. After standing in a long line carrying all of our luggage, moving a foot or two every minute, we finally made it inside the building. After having our luggage taken, we waited approximately another hour and a half until we boarded the ship. It was a mad house! Not a very quick process if you ask me. Once inside the Norwegian Sky and having a chance to investigate all the places to go, I wasn't impressed very much. Yes, it was clean and the glass elevators were sparkling, but the "WOW" effect just wasn't there. The Norwegian Sky's decor is very simplistic and toned down. Almost every review you'll read about the small cabin size on the Norwegian Sky. This review is no exception. We had 4 people scrunched into one small cabin room. Even with just 2 people it would have still been rather small. Nevertheless, we had fun living in such small quarters. The shower was the best part of it all, as it didn't drain as quickly as the water came out - which meant water overflowed and covered the bathroom floor. The staff onboard the Norwegian Sky is relatively friendly. A few instances, mostly the male staff members at the bars, were silent and made no effort to smile or even pretend to enjoy their self. But on the other hand, everyone else seemed cheerful and glad to take care of you. The food on the Norwegian Sky wasn't anything spectacular. I'm a very picky eater anyways, so I didn't try anything very creative. But from other people's reactions, I could tell they weren't thrilled with the food either. Luckily there was a 24-hour pizza service at Ciao-Chow's. You have the option of cheese, pepperoni, or veggie pizza. I did enjoy the Chocoholic Buffet where everything was chocolate. Aside from the food, the alcoholic drinks seemed expensive with a 15% gratuity added to the already expensive price. We purchased the Unlimited Soda program for everyone in our cabin, which cost $28.95. This allowed us just that, unlimited soda while on the ship. With sodas over a $1.75 a glass, this $28.95 purchase was well worth it... considering I probably had 4 sodas a day. Entertainment was very good on the ship. From singing, dancing, comedy, and magic the entertainment was very good and was something I always looked forward to! You definitely shouldn't miss the shows. The Norwegian Sky also offered an arcade room (which was pretty sad actually), some small shops, library, etc. At every port we took a shore excursion. We booked our excursions a month prior to going on the cruise. As a family we did the Totem Bight & Ketchikan City Tour, and the Skagway Street Car. My girlfriend and I also went on the Tram & Trek excursion and the Dominion Observatory excursion in Victoria, B.C. My parents went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Overall, the tours were very fun. The various drivers of the tour buses are what make it so fun. And finally, what you've all been waiting for! Alaska's beauty! Alaska is a very spectacular place visually. Mountains everywhere, trees everywhere. Snow capped mountains, jumping salmon, cool breezes, majestic glaciers. The scenery is just awesome! Yes, palm trees and sandy beaches are nice, but this is something even better! If you get the chance to go to Alaska, then definitely don't miss out on the adventure! The Norwegian Sky was suitable for the trip to Alaska, but I'm not sure I'd recommend taking this cruise ship. Look around with other companies, such as Princess or Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise to Alaska on the Sky we sailed on 7/12/03 from Seattle. We are both 38 years old and have kids, but we traveled without them. The Norwegian Sky is in very good condition (it was built in ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise to Alaska on the Sky we sailed on 7/12/03 from Seattle. We are both 38 years old and have kids, but we traveled without them. The Norwegian Sky is in very good condition (it was built in 1999). Everything was working (pools, spas, elevators, etc.). The only exception I noted was that the plastic outdoor tables in the Great Outdoor cafe are looking a bit rough and should be replaced. Shaun, our port and cruise consultant, was fun and entertaining. We ate our dinners in the Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants -- very good service. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Great Outdoor Cafe in the aft part of the ship. The older passengers showed up at the adjoining indoor Garden Cafe (the other buffet) before sunrise to reserve the best spots, so we didn't even try. Watch out for the crows/seabirds at the Juneau port -- you may get some extra cream in your coffee if you are eating outside! There is a cool hidden secret for food on the ship -- the Pizza buffet. It runs 24 hours a day and serves up great cheese, veggie, and pepperoni pizza! It is located next to the Sports Bar on the aft part of the ship on level 11. The staff overall does not bend over backwards to cater to you on the outset. But I noticed that those passengers who took a few minutes to exchange conversation with their servers got much more favorable service. If you are not already aware, NCL has implemented a practice they call hassle free tipping. This means that you will be charged $10.00 US per day per person to cover all tips for all crew members (the only exception to this being the luggage porters at the embarkation / debarkation points). While I found this to be easier to deal with than stuffing cash into envelopes the last night of the cruise, I have a problem with using the term tipping with this program. The term TIP or TIPS is actually an acronym for To Insure Prompt Service. If you were a service employee of NCL, it would easy to see there is not much incentive to work harder at being prompt when you know your tip is already in the bank. I think NCL should rename this program Hassle Free Yet Mandatory Gratuity, which at least would true up what the money is going for. Our room attendant stuck to a strict time schedule for making up our room in the morning and in doing the turn down service at night. Night life was boring and, to be honest, totally non-existent. However, we booked the cruise knowing that. Activity on the ship pretty much wound down at around 8:30 p.m. at night. There were a couple of folk artists on the ship who played in the smaller bars, including the Windjammer. Unfortunately, I only got to listen to them as I passed through. Juneau was the best port and I wish we could have stayed there longer. Sawyer Glacier was breathtaking, not to mention a little chilly! Skagway was a tourist trap -- not much to see. I could not justify spending $80 to $100 for a train ride on the White Pass. All land tours can be booked cheaper if you do them yourself when you're in port. The only tour I would book with the cruise ship would be the White Pass train, since it will likely be sold out by time you can get to the ticket office in town. We would definitely take Norwegian again, but not to Alaska too boring at night. It is also a little frustrating for people our age to have to navigate around the more senior people who abound on these cruises. If you want to see if you have what it takes to do this, try doing a few laps around the buffet lines at Old Country Buffet on a Sunday morning at around noon time. One final note about the Norwegian Sky - I found out during a future cruise presentation that it is going to be rebadged as The Pride of Aloha in mid-2004 and redeployed as a US flagged ship in Hawaii. Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
Norwegian Sky Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.6
Dining 4.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.5 3.9
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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