50 Norwegian Spirit Alaska Cruise Reviews

We sailed from Seattle on 5/21/05. The embarkation process was smooth, but we did get there before it got real busy. They had some number system where they called you number to proceed on the ship, however the P.A. system was not working ... Read More
We sailed from Seattle on 5/21/05. The embarkation process was smooth, but we did get there before it got real busy. They had some number system where they called you number to proceed on the ship, however the P.A. system was not working so it became first come at the security screening. The last 2 cruises I took were on Royal Caribbean were their ships are a lot of glass, brass, and chrome, so I would have been surprised about the colors on this ship had it not been for this web site and group. Over all the ship was very nice for an Alaska Cruise. The very best place to be for watching the view, if the weather is not favorable for deck 13 fwd viewing, is in the Galaxy of the Stars on 12 fwd. The key spot is either on the left or right side corners on the raised platforms with the red carpet. From here you can see everything forward and aft of the ship all while being inside! Trick is once you are there, you have cant leave. You have to have somebody stay and hold your chairs. We never did get these tables but saw the same people there every day. The food was good, but definitely not the best I have had. Raffels food was usually luke warm to cool if it wasn't just brought out. In the dinning rooms, I think service suffers do to the freestyle cruising. We had empty glasses a bunch, had to ask for more bread. The waiters are not motivated since you are not tipping them directly. I suspect this is on all NCL ships. Swimming was great the kids & adults pool were kept at 85 and the hot tubs at 100, and we were impressed with the Kids Crew program. Our daughter was in the 6-12 group and was always in a hurry to get to the program. Captain Lars was very informative and did an excellent job getting us as close as he could to the Sawyer Glacier. The week before, he said that they were unable to see the glacier due to the ice in the water. We still didn't make it all the way up, but we have a good view of it. My biggest disappointment of the cruise was not the fault of NCL. I was majorly disappointed in the Ports of Call (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway). Except for the beautiful mountains and very nice people, I would have thought I stepped of the ship into any town in the Caribbean. I am tired of Diamond International, Tanzanite International, Del Sol, etc.... They are in every port just like the Caribbean! The few excursions we did were fun, and I heard good reviews about most that we did not go on. So I guess I can sum it up this way...Would I go again and on this ship?... Yes. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We boarded the ship in less than 15 minutes!! This was a beautiful ship..... and the number of passengers was small enough that it didn't seem over-crowded. Our cabin was wonderful--- refrigerator and a roomy sitting area. We had ... Read More
We boarded the ship in less than 15 minutes!! This was a beautiful ship..... and the number of passengers was small enough that it didn't seem over-crowded. Our cabin was wonderful--- refrigerator and a roomy sitting area. We had a private balcony that was a nice place to sit and read while under way. (Oops ... I made a mistake above... this room was on the 10th level, not Deck 9). FOOD WAS EXCELLENT !! We had so many dining areas to choose from, but our favorite was the buffet with an endless variety of tasty foods to choose from. Sometimes we ate inside, but usually we filled a plate and walked out to the open-air dining area at the back.... A relaxing and beautiful setting for our meals !! Entertainment was first-class. Crew and service staff was very courteous, friendly, and efficient... absolutely NO complaints. You are able to see the bridge through big windows. The Captain had personality-plus, and was often seen talking with guests. On one occasion he appeared next to us, and handed me his binoculars to view the eagles in the trees. Ports of call were all fabulous. My favorite was Skagway-- so picturesque! I also enjoyed Juneau, Ketchikan, and Prince Rupert. There were many things to see in each city, and lots of photo opportunities everywhere we looked. Don't miss the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. It isn't necessary to book an excursion for this. City tour buses run often, and I think the price was under $10 R/T. The ship travels up a fiord amidst icebergs after leaving Skagway. Big and little seals were sitting on most of them... so cute! At the end of the fiord we arrived at a majestic glacier-- wow! I saw several whales, the seals, and many birds (lots of bald eagles) during the trip. On the trip back we passed hundreds of seals on one rocky area of the shoreline. Sailing was smooth. The weather was warm-- I could wear shorts every day. We had rain the last day, but we were at sea above Vancouver Island so it didn't matter. Dress was casual mostly. A few people dressed formally one evening. This is also a family-friendly cruise itinerary..... great for children. There is something for all ages to enjoy on this trip. The scenery is breath-taking. I had never wanted to travel to Alaska, but now I am planning to take this cruise again in about 2 years with friends. Disembarkation was efficient and easy..... but we didn't really want to leave !!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
First of all, I want to thank the Cruise Critic site for the heads up about this ship! The professional review was right on the money, and I was never caught off guard. Embarkation: This went quickly and smooth. No complaints about this. ... Read More
First of all, I want to thank the Cruise Critic site for the heads up about this ship! The professional review was right on the money, and I was never caught off guard. Embarkation: This went quickly and smooth. No complaints about this. Room: Balcony room was very nice. Not much storage space, but expected this per reviews. Firm bed was nice, but I like firm beds Food: Overall the food on the ship was average. This was my biggest disappointment of the cruise. Wait staff was ok, but I think that is a result of Freestyle Cruising.. they don't have to earn their tips! Shows: The comedian, Adam Ace, was great! The NCL production company was good for the price you pay to see the show (free). Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Embarkation was handled beautifully; same with debarkation. Plenty of staff to direct you and answer any questions. Our Window cabin was on the small side and the bed was rock hard (my suggestion: ask for a "egg crate" as soon as ... Read More
Embarkation was handled beautifully; same with debarkation. Plenty of staff to direct you and answer any questions. Our Window cabin was on the small side and the bed was rock hard (my suggestion: ask for a "egg crate" as soon as u board). Bathroom was large with large shower and the lav was behind a sliding door. Closet was adequate but I was surprised to see a lot of metal 'dry cleaner' hangars. Our cabin steward wasn't very visible. When we traveled Diamond Princess, our steward was always there ready to assist if ndd. On the Spirit, we asked if the two twin beds could be separated during day so we could see out the window and pulled together at night but steward said she couldn't do it since she had a bad back. Since I did too, I could emphasize but thought the answer was a little strange! Windows and The Garden Room Dining areas were very pretty, well appointed and the wait staff was WONDERFUL. Very courteous, accommodating and well-groomed. Food portions were on the small side but you never walked away hungry. The selections were varied and I particularly enjoyed the creamed fruit soups. The Buffet was so-so ... an odd assortment of food other than breakfast ... many other paxs felt the same way. I talked to the Food & Beverage person about this, he was very polite and promised to pass on my remarks to mgmnt. One nice touch on the ship was the Observatory on 12th level...windows and comfortable chairs to enjoy the changing scenery. We weren't able to go down the last fjord since there were too many small bergs in the water; that was disappointing but totally understandable. NCL offered many shore excursions, pretty high in price so we'd recommend trying to get a better price from a local vendor. The train ride in Skagway was $99 pp but we found a bus tour covering about the same route for $35pp and we were able to get off the bus at least 6x to take pixs - that was nice. I wasn't crazy about the Asian decor and atmosphere but this ship was brought into Alaskan service from the Asian market. All in all, it was a good 7 days and if for nothing else, we'd do NCL again for the great wait staff and interesting meals offered. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
My wife and enjoyed our week on the Spirit very much. The ship was beautiful and its condition was immaculate. Virtually every member of the crew we met was courteous and determined to make our stay pleasurable. We didn't go to any ... Read More
My wife and enjoyed our week on the Spirit very much. The ship was beautiful and its condition was immaculate. Virtually every member of the crew we met was courteous and determined to make our stay pleasurable. We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants, as the food in the main dining rooms (Windows and Garden) was excellent. While there were a couple of dishes we didn't particularly care for, the quality of the food was very high. The wait staff was efficient and any slow service was understandable due to the number of tables each one of them covered. We loved the Freestyle program. We usually went as early as possible in order to make it to the evening shows and had very little trouble getting a table. When it was busy, we were offered the opportunity to share a large table with several other groups or wait for a smaller table for just the two of us. We usually were open to sharing except for the night we celebrated our anniversary (we purchased this cruise for our 10th wedding anniversary). We met a lot of nice people when we shared a table. As far as the other dining choices go (Raffles and The Blue Lagoon) the food was about what one would expect at a buffet and a fast food restaurant. That is to say it was nothing special but when you are in a hurry, it will certainly do. The food at The Blue Lagoon, however, was better than the average fast food experience. We ate at Raffles for breakfast a few times and while it was crowded, it allowed us to share tables with other passengers and relate our cruising experiences over the meal. We never experienced empty coffee machines or any of the other disappointments we read about Raffles in some of the CC postings. We heard several of our fellow passengers complain about the wait at the main dining rooms as well as the quality of the food at the other venues. I am convinced that those who were complaining would not be happy no matter what was offered to them. Here was a ship with close to 2,000 passengers - of course you're going to have to wait in a few lines now and then, especially if you are unwilling to share a table with other passengers. And who has ever received gourmet food at a buffet? I'd venture a guess that no one has. Life is full of inconveniences; take a breath, a reality check and enjoy your cruise. Our room stewardess was great. Any request we made was met almost immediately (the towel animals were a nice touch too). We had an inside cabin which was adequate for the two of us. It had plenty of storage for our suitcases and the closet and drawers held all we brought (we did bring a few extra hangers based on helpful CC suggestions). The entertainment available was plentiful and we lost sleep trying to take in all we could. The shows in the Moulin Rouge were top notch and the variety of things to do in the various nightclubs that we participated in was generally very good. We took part in the Sports Afloat program and earned a t-shirt at the end of the cruise (lots of hard work to set off all the food we ate). As far as the ports of call were concerned, we enjoyed that aspect as well. We took a bus tour of Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier. This tour package included a salmon bake at the Thane Ore House a few miles out of town. Both the salmon and the halibut were excellent. We booked the excursion through an independent vendor that saved us quite a bit of money compared to the same tour offered through the ship (another helpful CC tip). At Ketchikan, Skagway and Prince Rupert we just toured on our own. Ketchikan and Skagway had some great history to educate yourself with and some great shopping choices as well. Prince Rupert is probably a couple years away from catching up to the cruise ship industry but they did have some nice little shops and the Canadian dollar exchange helped bring down the expense (hint: use your credit card to take full advantage of the exchange rate). The trip up to visit Sawyer Glacier was breathtaking and we enjoyed the chocolate buffet that was served during it. This was a great way to visit Alaska and see the beauty of the Inside Passage. We loved our NCL Spirit experience and highly recommend it to anyone. We definitely look forward to sailing with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
First off - - I am no cruise expert. My recent cruise to Alaska on NCL Spirit was only my second cruise. My only other experience was the Caribbean on Carnival Fascination several years ago. As a novice, I was advised by several ... Read More
First off - - I am no cruise expert. My recent cruise to Alaska on NCL Spirit was only my second cruise. My only other experience was the Caribbean on Carnival Fascination several years ago. As a novice, I was advised by several experienced cruisers to really take a good look at Cruise Critic Member reviews to get a feel for what I was in for. I must say that upon my readings, my expectations were pretty low for this cruise. Albeit - - having spent seven days on the Spirit from August 28 through September 4, I wonder if I was on the same ship that so many others had such big problems with. The NCL Spirit was WONDERFUL. The difference between NCL and other cruise lines was obvious as soon as I picked up my luggage at SEATAC Airport. There were two very nice old gentlemen in starched vests representing Holland America, similar female versions representing Princess in equivalent garb, and two "kids" (relative to the others) in navy blue khakis and teal blue polo shirts representing NCL. That - - for starters - - made me feel like we made the right choice. We were a large party and we had not booked transfers from via NCL - - but the two kids were most helpful anyway - - telling us exactly where to go for information and advising us on the best and least expensive way (which included a limo!!!) to get to the ship. They were great. Upon arrival at the ship - - our bags were snatched out of our hands by eager NCL representatives and we made it through the whole embarkation process in about 15-20 minutes. Everyone from NCL was extremely efficient, professional with great senses of humor - - but most importantly - - appeared excited to see us. The NCL team knows how to make you feel special immediately. This was VERY different form my experience on Carnival. Upon entry to the ship - - we decided to walk some of the decks prior to going to our cabin. Basically - - our jaws were dropping over how beautiful this ship was. The decor was very classy and tasteful - - the ship was spotless- - and all appeared brand new even though the ship was 6 years old. Every time we walked into a new room - -weather it be the Galaxy of the Stars, The Moulan Rouge Lounge, the Atrium, or the pool deck - - our reaction was consistently "wow". The cruisers I was with are very experienced and their comments were in the nature of being the most beautiful ship they have ever been on. The cabin - - yes - - it was small - -but I did not spend a hell of alot of time there. It was very tastefully decorated - - bathroom was large and very comfortable, all was in working order and spotlessly maintained. Our Cabin Stewardess- Renata- - could not have been more accommodating. Any question or request was handled by her IMMEDIATELY. And I could not figure out, for the life of me, what all the comments about "the hard beds" and the need for "foam eggshells" were all about?? The beds were FINE with lots of extra pillows available. Maybe I live in a slum or just love hard beds - -but you would think we were on prison mattresses based on other reviews - - and that is just not the case at all. The food - - again - - I must have been on a different ship. Waffles was fine. Every morning - - choices of smoked salmon and salads, eggs, omelettes, pancakes, french toast, potatoes, blintzes, danish pastries, etc. I'm not sure what else I should have been looking for. OK- - so the bagels and toast were offered at a separate table a little out of the way - - SO WHAT - - given all I was eating - - the little walk probably did me some good. Don't get me wrong - - it is a buffet and not GOURMET - - but the food was good. And relative to the slop I experienced on the buffet on Carnival - - this WAS gourmet. We ate most nights at Windows. Having had lunch most days - - it was really impossible for us to eat before 8:00-8:30 and in all the days we ate at Windows - - we had a very modest line (15 minutes) ONE time and it would have been 5 minutes if we were a bit more flexible. Food at Windows was EXCELLENT and service was even better. Ask for Ceaser or Yanna - - both outstanding servers and delightful in different ways (Ceaser is just totally friendly and warm - - Yanna could be a stand up comic). We did eat a Maxim's one night as were so impressed - - we had to go back again before we left the ship. The Porterhouse I had (both times) was amongst the best steak I have ever had. Service impeccable (Emma and Janet are a serving team to top all others). The Itinerary - - OK - - I have a bias here. In 2003 I flew to Anchorage, rented an RV and drove Alaska for two weeks. If the reason for your cruise is to go on a cruise - - it is great. If you are going to see Alaska and all of it's beauty - - a cruise is not the way you will get it - - -not even the "tip of the iceberg". Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway were all quaint and precious in their own ways - - but I did not feel like I was in "Alaska" in these places - - not when I've been to Danali National Park - -or Valdez. Between Little Switzerland and Diamonds Internatinal -- I felt like I was on St. Thomas or Barbados more than Alaska. Not that I did not have fun shopping - - I DID. It's just not particularly "Alaskan". I understand why we had to go to Prince Rupert - -but I would have been just as happy for a day on sea - -which his basically what it was - - since I was back on the ship in about 15 minutes. You got a VERY small taste of true Alaska for about 2-3 hours after leaving Skagway - - going through Tracy Arm and at Sawyer Glacier- - -but this is what the trip should be all about as opposed to 2-3 hours. Of course - - shore excursions would have gotten you more of this - - but I had seen much on my own in previous years. If you must cruise to Alaska- - take an itinerary that goes further north - - into Glacier Bay. Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise was extremely well organized and a piece of cake. We appreciated being able to have a leisurely breakfast and stay in our cabins and relax. When we were called - - no big lines, no commotion - - NCL has this process well perfected. Two additional items- - - first, while the ship was wonderful and the food was great - - we all agreed that what made this cruise most special was the NCL team. These people were falling all over us to make sure we were happy and satisfied with EVERYTHING at ALL TIMES. If it even looked like I was having a problem carrying something at the buffet to the table - - there was immediately an NCL Server there to help me - -multiple times. There was NOTHING these people would not do for you. Second - - I do not like pretense and formality. In that respect- - NCL and freestyle cruising are a perfect match for my taste. It may not be for others. My one comparison - - Carnival - - which also goes for the "relaxed / more casual" atmosphere - - simply could not compare with NCL. Carnival was Crass while NCL was Class - - without pretension. BRAVO to NCL and the Spirit!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This was one of the most enjoyable cruises we've been on. The staff was fantastic, the restaurants (8) were great, the food was very good, the cabin was very nice and the entertainment was super. Our cruise started off with a ... Read More
This was one of the most enjoyable cruises we've been on. The staff was fantastic, the restaurants (8) were great, the food was very good, the cabin was very nice and the entertainment was super. Our cruise started off with a Welcome Aboard barbecue with music and dancing by the staff and guests that was great fun. We ate in one of the ship's main restaurants, Windows, and had a a very nice meal. The entertainment that followed was a revue type show that was quite professional. Each day and night of the cruise was similarly nice. Our ports of call, (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway & Prince Rupert) were all very nice. We enjoyed two shore excursions, rented cars in Skagway & Prince Rupert and enjoyed the sights tremendously. The weather was wonderful for the whole cruise so we got very lucky. I would highly recommend Norwegian Cruise Lines and the Spirit in particular to anyone. We're really considering doing the same cruise again and next time not take the shore excursions and car rentals so that we could spend more time in the actual port cities. They have a lot to offer that we missed because we were away from the towns. Don't hesitate to book on this cruise. You'll love it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Dana, Larry and Natalie Mudd Chris and Steve Caro NCL Spirit Aug 21-28, 2004 Pre-cruise: We arrived the evening of Thursday, July 19. I had already made arrangements with Townepointe Limousine (http://www.townepointelimousine.com) to ... Read More
Dana, Larry and Natalie Mudd Chris and Steve Caro NCL Spirit Aug 21-28, 2004 Pre-cruise: We arrived the evening of Thursday, July 19. I had already made arrangements with Townepointe Limousine (http://www.townepointelimousine.com) to meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel. Greg, from the Townepointe was extremely helpful in arranging this service. Glen met us at Baggage Claim. If you do arrange for a car service, ask the driver to bring the car around while you are claiming your bags. Glen waited to see how much luggage we had and then went to get the car. It seemed to take forever for him to come back to us! After being on a plane for 5 hours we were ready to go! He had lots of information about Seattle. He gave us a great map of the area. We had other maps but his turned out to be the best. The ride was going smoothly until we realized Glen had the wrong hotel-there are 2 Best Western Hotels within a block or so of each other. Not sure how this happened, I looked at my e-mail when I got home and I had sent the correct address. Oh well! We could see the right one so we just went around the block. No problem. We had really enjoyed the ride and the conversation with Glen. My sister-in-law made reservations through Priceline. Best way to go in my opinion. Hotel rates in the downtown Seattle area were outrageous! Best Western Executive Inn was the chosen hotel. When we arrived in our room, we realized immediately that it was smoking room and we had asked for a non-smoking room. We tried to get it changed but the hotel was full. Apparently, if you book through Priceline you basically get whatever is left. The staff was great though. We went to the lounge for dinner and they brought some kind of machine to the room that got rid of most of the smell. I am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke and never had a problem after the machine ran for about 30 minutes. The hotel was nice and clean. It was very convenient for the things that we wanted to see in Seattle. The restaurant had great food. There is a Laundromat down the street that we used on Saturday morning before we went to the pier so that we would start off with all clean clothes. Neither my sister-in-law or I are good with directions, needless to say we got lost but a helpful gentleman pointed us in the right direction and then showed us the new machines to use! Not sure of the name but it was next to the Five Points bar. The owner of the bar also owns the Laundromat. The hotel has a free shuttle that will take you to the airport. It starts running around 10:30 but you can call the front desk and they will take you earlier. I would advise doing this. We called around 9:30 and we had to wait for a group ahead of us. The ride is only 10 minutes or so. Seattle: It took us months to decide what to do with our day in Seattle. Lots of great ideas from our fellow cruise critics. I had also e-mailed the chamber of commerce and got great information and coupon books. I contacted the transit system and received several route maps. After discovering the ride free zone would take us where we needed to go, we decided against renting a car. This was a great decision! We are from the Atlanta area and the bus system is not that great so we were a little apprehensive. The ride free bus area was wonderful! A little confusing as to what bus to take but we always found a helpful person to point us in the right direction. On Friday morning, we found the right bus to take us to Pike Market (www.pikeplacemarket.com). We had breakfast at the Athenian Inn. Great food at very affordable prices. The market was amazing! Beautiful flowers, produce, etc. I wanted to take all the flowers home with me. The prices were incredible. Biggest lobster tails I had ever seen at the stand next to our breakfast place. Of course, we had to go to Starbucks. That was a necessity for my brother-in-law. Then we headed over to the aquarium (www.seattleaquarium.org). We had coupons that were good for this attraction. $2 off adult admission. Really neat place. My daughter loved it! We were there for a couple of hours. Then we did some shopping around the downtown area. Our next stop was the Space Needle (www.spaceneedle.com). It took us a few minutes and a few wrong turns before we figured out what bus we needed to get us to that area. If the monorail was working that would have been what we needed. Oh well. This is the only time the bus went out of the ride free area but it only cost us $1.25. We had make reservations for 12:45 at Sky City. Yes, the lunch prices seem high but not if you consider the $13 price tag for the observation tower that we were going to do anyway. The observation Deck is included in your lunch price. Amazing view and the food was good too! Very relaxing and the view kept our 3 year old entertained. After lunch, we went back to our hotel, which was just across the street to drop off some things. On our way back we made reservations to Ride the Duck (www.ridetheducksofseattle.com). Their office is right across from the Space Needle. Reservations are recommended for this attraction. Then we headed back to Ride the Ducks. Our driver was Helen and she was a hoot! This was one of the highlights of our trip! We saw lots of downtown and we went into Lake Washington where we saw the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. I would highly recommend this tour! After our duck, we went back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the next day. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier, there was a guy there with a cart to get all our luggage, we checked in with someone curbside and they directed us into the waiting area at the pier. It was about 10:15 and the check-in process would not start until 10:30. Everyone was told to wait downstairs until the gates opened upstairs. We had a stroller and my husband has a bad knee so we started looking for the elevator. It was around the corner to the right so we went ahead and took it upstairs. No one yelled at us so I guess it was ok! We were the first ones standing at the gate when it opened. One of our fellow cruise critic members was able to place us on the VIP list. We were literally the first one in line to register. They were handing out numbers to everyone else-not really sure what the numbers were for. We are also Latitudes members. Registration was painless and quick, then it was off to the VIP room. There were drinks and snacks available to us and a window with a great view of the Spirit. Also, a bathroom was close by. Someone from NCL came to get us around 11:30 and we were the first ones on the ship. Cruise Critic: A fellow cruise critic member arranged for us to have a meeting with the top staff onboard the spirit. On our first sea day we met with the hotel director, the food beverage director and the cruise director. They were so funny! Very informative-answered questions and told us some facts about the ship. They really do read cruise critic. Some of the policies have been changed on the Spirit because of comments on cruisecritic .com message boards. The boards are so full of great information so do your research and ask questions. Ship: AMAZING! The lobby looks as if it belongs in a luxury hotel. In fact, my daughter kept asking me when we were getting on the big boat! It does have a heavy Asian theme but it was beautiful. And I am not one for Asian dEcor! The decks were a bit confusing. By the end of the week, we had finally mastered the right elevators to get us to either Windows or the Garden Room. Casino was nice but smoky. My husband did get lucky there with the slot machines. Restrooms all over the ship which came in handy with our toddler. We liked going up to Galaxy of the Stars-great observation area. Also, you could go downstairs and view the Captain's bridge. I was fascinated by this! The hot tubs were a busy place. My husband and brother-in-law used them one night. My daughter went to the kid's pool once. It was nice! But the weather was a little too cool for us. The pools were heated. It was just the thought of getting out that bothered me! The ship is so amazingly clean. I literally someone scrubbing with a toothbrush! The staff everywhere from the restaurants to Kids Crew to deckhands were extremely nice. Although, we did think the staff at the reception desk was the least friendly. There was a gentleman there that was very nice but the ladies were not. They weren't rude-just not very helpful. The camera shops staff was a lifesaver. My brother-in-law accidentally reformatted the disc for his digital camera. They were able to recover all his pictures. We also bought a few pictures. We had already booked all our shore excursions so we did not have much contact with this area. They did fix a price for me where my 3 year old had been charged an adult price. This was done very quickly. The seas were mostly calm. There night that we left Skagway was rough when we were in the Pacific Ocean. We had bought bio-bands and they worked. At least, I am assuming they did because we were never sick. Cabin: We had balcony cabins 10532 and 10536. They were adjoining cabins. We had to call the front desk when we arrived to have someone come and unlock the adjoining doors. The balconies did not join, this would have been nice. We used our balcony a lot. I can't imagine cruising Alaska without one. Well worth the price. Our room stewards were Horace and Liwang. They were great! Always a clean room! We also had towel animals every night! They brought extra hangers and an egg crate for the bed to us on our first day. They were so cheerful and seemed to love what they were doing. The bed was hard but the egg crate did wonders. The duvet cover was so warm and comfy. I have now purchased one for our bed at home! I think the bed was supposed to be a queen but it felt bigger than a queen to me but not as big as a king. 10536 was the cabin designated for 3 or more persons. The small couch folded out to a bed for our daughter. It was good for her but I think an adult would be uncomfortable. I had to lay down with her the first night and it felt like what it was-a sofa bed! It would be fine for small children. The adjoining room was the same except that it had a chair and a floor lamp. It also appeared that the chair folded out as well. No refrigerators! I really missed not having one. My daughter loves milk first thing in the morning so we would have to hurry and get her some from the buffet. On the Sun, I would fill her cup up the night before and have it there when we needed it the next morning. Don't know where they would put one. The closet had plenty of hanging spaces and some shelves-but they were in the corner and not very user friendly. There were 4 small drawers in the cabin. I could have used more shelves for jeans, fleeces, etc. My daughters clothes were a problem They don't fit on adult hangers and there were not enough shelves or drawers for them, so I left them in the suitcase and laid it on its side in the closet and just took out what I needed each day. Luggage fit under the bed except for one piece we just had to leave behind the drape. We could have given it to the steward but it really wasn't in the way. We did not need a nightlight. We left the light on in the bathroom and then cracked the door. We did take a stick up for the bathroom to help with any odors. The shower was awesome! Sliding glass door and great water pressure. Best ship shower ever! Bathroom had plenty of storage room. A lot of people take the over the door shoe hangers but we didn't need one. I had packed mostly travel size bottles and they all fit nicely and there was a large shelf under the sink that held a lot. The drapes were heavy and kept the room dark in the mornings. Bring a travel alarm clock as the only clock is on the phone or on the ship's TV channel. My husband watched a lot of TV. They do get TNT for all you race fans. They were playing some good movies on the movie channel as well. Food: We ate at both the main restaurants, the Blue Lagoon, Bier Garten and Raffles. The food was incredible-I now have 5 pounds to lose. We eat out a lot so we are good judges of restaurant type food. Raffles was always our quick breakfast place before excursions. We loved the hamburgers and the rice at the 24 hour Blue Lagoon and they would wrap stuff up for us to take back to our room. We had lunch at Windows almost everyday. We ate at the Garden Room once for dinner and then at Windows 3 times for dinner. The other nights we went to the Buffet. We would always look at the menu earlier during the day to decide where we wanted to eat. The first night we just did the buffet because it was easy and we were tired. The other nights we didn't care for the menu. There was always something at Raffles that we liked. They seemed to have solved the earlier issue with keeping the food warm because we did not have a problem. There were occasional waits to find a table in Raffles for breakfast. Other times we had no problem. We never waited longer than 20 minutes for dinner. Try doing that at a mainland restaurant on a busy night. 7-8 seemed to be the busiest time. We prefer early dinners but Kid's Crew did not open until 7. We learned that if we went to dinner at 6:30 the wait time was shorter and then I just took our daughter to Kid's Crew at 7. Some servers were better than others. Candinodo (sp?) from the Philippines was wonderful-kept my daughter entertained during our first lunch onboard. One night we did not get the iced tea we requested. We could have asked again but we were fine with the water. Not a big deal in the big scheme of life. Sometimes you just have to let things go! There was a waitress in the Garden Room that for some reason did not like us and was not very friendly but she was efficient. The evening we were sailing Sawyer Glacier we did not want to miss the view or change out of our fleece! So, we went down to the Garden room and ordered off the menu and then room service brought it to us. That was really nice! We weren't sure they would do it but we thought we would try! We had a soda card and The Bund on Deck 7 was where we got most of our drinks. The soda card was well worth the price for us. I am a soda fanatic. No problems getting soda at lunch or dinner either-even in Raffles. The chocolate buffet was amazing too! My favorite was the fruit fondue. Yummy! It was served around the pool area the day we sailed Sawyer Glacier so we didn't miss out on the view. Dress code was relaxed. We were told that jeans were acceptable in the dining rooms as long as they were not torn. This was great. We didn't wear most of the dinner clothes that we brought. I usually wore black pants and a nice shirt and my husband wore dockers. Some days we didn't even have to change for dinner because what we were for the day was acceptable. Wish I had known that before I packed. Not sure if the other ships are following this dress code or not. Room Service was always prompt and correct. Love this! The food was always great. Shows: The only show we saw was Jane Powell and she was great! At the beginning it was slow and we were wondering if we had made a mistake but then it picked up! We were so glad we stayed. So, if you go be patient-the best is yet to come! Ports of call: Ketchikan We went to the Tongass Trading Company so my husband could get a new pair of sneakers. They had a huge variety of things-even a hardware store! We then went to the rain gauge to meet Jarred from Island Wings for our Misty Fjords flight seeing trip. This was the first excursion that we have ever done independently and things went very smoothly. The trip was fantastic! Amazing scenery. Michelle's plane was the cleanest plane that I have ever seen. We had a party of 5 and we were joined by another couple. Plenty of room. Michelle was good about pointing out things of interest along our journey. We landed on a lake and walked around the beach for a while. We saw bear tracks! I had read tons of information on cruise trip regarding this excursion and that is why I booked and because they did not charge for my 3 year old because she sat in the middle and did not have a window seat. Was she personality/tourguide extraordinaire? Not really, maybe I expected something different given the rave reviews. But who can argue with the trip itself-so amazingly beautiful. By the way, we though it would be chilly on the plane-think again! Don't bundle up too much or you will get hot. We still had time to explore when our flight was over, so we went to a few souvenir shops and stopped at a restaurant to have some appetizers. Then it was back on board. We docked when we arrived in Ketchikan but had to tender back to the ship. One of the staff captains was standing near us and he was so nice! We talked a few minutes about weather in the ports to come and the cruise in general. We had excellent weather in Ketchikan. Juneau/Sawyer Glacier Another beautiful weather day. We did the Mendenhall Glacier/ Wildlife Quest through NCL. This excursion is ran by Allen Marine Tours (www.allenmarinetours.com) We wanted to see the Glacier and go whale watching and this was the only excursion we could find that did both. Time is tight in Juneau-wish there had been more time. This excursion was breathtaking. We saw eagles, seals, sea lions, whales. We had thought about doing the Tracey Arm Excursion but didn't want to really spend another 5 hours on an excursion. In hindsight we should have since the ship could not get really close to Sawyer Glacier. Because of the 90 degree temperatures this summer, lots of ice is melting and breaking away so it was not safe for the ship to go any closer. But it was still neat to be in the water with icebergs everywhere! Beautiful scenery, waterfalls and majestic mountains. By the way, some people are negative about the ships excursions saying they are overcrowded, etc. We had 53 people on this tour. Not crowded at all! This is the tour you will need your warm clothes for! It was very comfortable down below but up top was windy and cool. Bring gloves, hat and scarf for this excursion. Skagway We did the Best of Skagway tour. Again through NCL and there were only 22 people on this excursion. It started with a bus ride up through Skagway and into Canada. We stopped several times for photo ops. Beautiful scenery! We then too the White Pass Railway back down to Skagway. This simply can't be missed. We really enjoyed this. Beautiful waterfalls, etc and a great narrator to point out sites along the way. Back in Skagway we again boarded the bus for our Salmon Bake and tour of Liarsville. Ok, I must confess that none of the 4 of us like Salmon but we thought we had to try it in Alaska to see if it was different. Well, I am sure it was wonderful but not to us. Although my 3 year old loved it! The side dishes were great and they had hot cider and cookies! We are just not fish people. Liarsville show was entertaining and then we panned for gold. Not actual panning since the gold rush actually occurred 600 miles to the north. But it was fun. Then back on the bus to the Red Onion Saloon for a tour of the brothel. Interesting. We then had some time to shop before going back on board. We found several interesting souvenirs at the White Pass Railroad store. The train at least one way is a must but not sure the other things were a must. Another beautiful weather day! The train was a little chilly though so bring a jacket. Prince Rupert: We would have done the Bear Sanctuary if it was still in season but it wasn't and none of the other tours looked interesting. So we just got off the ship to explore on our own. I needed to make a stop at Safeway and when I came out it was raining so we just went back to the ship. There really didn't seem to be anything of interest anywhere. Wish we could have gone to Victoria instead. Oh well. We had a relaxing day onboard. Might be a good stop if you are on a 10 or more day cruise but with only 4 ports, I would have preferred a port with more to offer. **Note: The tour guides that are used on the NCL excursions seemed to be mostly college students from Washington State. They were great! What a fun way to earn money for school. So, don't forget to tip them if you have a good tour! Kid's Crew: Fantastic! Love the sea days when they are open almost all day! My daughter cried when we left and woke up every morning begging to go play with her friends. She is 3 so she was in the 2-5 group. I am a stay at home mom so she is not used to daycare. But she adapted very quickly. The counselors were great and the activities seemed to be well planned. The whole area seemed to be well organized-staff seemed to be mostly from Canada. We did buy the backpack and the soda card was worth the money! Although next time I will ask for a sticker instead of the band-it was hard to keep track of! I wish that they would open earlier in the evening though-we like to eat at 5 or so but had to wait until 7 for Kid's crew to open so that we would have a more enjoyable dinner. The last night the kids had a pajama party and dinner. The dinner was in a sectioned off part of Raffle-again well planned. Everyone on board was so nice to out toddler, always a pleasant smile for her. From the passengers too! There were a lot of older passengers onboard and I think they missed their grandkids! Disembarkation: We needed earlier color tags so we went to the reception desk and got these without a problem. We had breakfast and were off the ship by 9:30. Went through customs and then retrieved our luggage. All of it was mostly together. Very quick. Transportation to airport: Again, set up through Townepointe Limousine. We called as soon as we were off the ship and they sent a limo over. We were earlier than expected because things had gone so smoothly. We did have to wait a few minutes but the weather was beautiful and we were better off outside that at the airport anyway. Tyler soon arrived and had us on our way. Checked baggage at curbside and then went to security. We did have to wait in a long line so I would not push it close with departure times. We ate lunch at the airport and then boarded our plane for our long journey home. Expenses: Yes, tours are pricey but you get what you pay for. I wouldn't change any of ours. Except maybe adding the Tracy Arm Excursion. We booked through an online travel agency back in February so we had a few months to pay off the cruise. We booked our own airfare. Also, so that we would not be left with a huge bill after the cruise, throughout the year I purchased traveler's checks to pay for our onboard account. We set it up with a credit card during check in but on the last sea day went to reception and paid the balance in full with traveler's checks. Now I will not have a big credit card bill next month! The soda band really worked for us. We purchased water at our first port stop. Bought some souvenirs but didn't go wild. Didn't have the luggage room for a lot anyway! For those of you with kids all of the above excursions were perfect for our 3 year old. She is a great traveler and I do believe that every child is different. Some people suggest that you don't do long tours with toddlers but ours has always done fine. Of course, she will sleep anywhere! The umbrella stroller is a must anything larger would be really cumbersome. I have a packing list for toddlers if anyone is interested. She is potty trained now so life is easier. We just took some of her favorite snacks, juice boxes and every medicine known to man and we were well prepared. Pack comfy clothes for playing on board. We didn't pack any toys just some coloring books for the plane. She was easily entertained. There is a child lock on the balcony and we had the talk about not standing in furniture, etc. We had no problems. If you have a climber you may want to have the furniture removed from the balcony. She was never out there without us. The kids menu was great and they would always bring it right out to her. We did room service a lot before going to Kid's crew and also for PB and Js for shore excursions. Just be aware that the doors are very heavy. We had smashed fingers on the first day! We also brought our portable DVD player. This was useful on the plane and on the ship. Packing tips: Leave the hair dryer at home. It will not work on the Spirit. You are limited to 500 watts. The hair dryer on board was fine. Take a power strip. You will need it. Most of the things we plugged in were small wattage-cell phone charger, DVD charger, curling iron, etc. By the way, we didn't use our cell phones the entire time. Not sure if we would have had coverage with Verizon. We just wanted to escape everyone for a week! Our family had the emergency number on the ship if they needed us. Now for clothes. We had 5 suitcases for the 3 of us. Remember this summer was unusual for Alaska-it was very warm. They had 90 degree temps earlier in the summer. So, my husband packed mainly jeans and a mixture of short/long sleeve shirts, a few pairs of shorts and several fleece pullovers. I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 2 docker type pants, 2 thin stripe cords and a mixture of long/short sleeve shirts with things that I could pull over these shirts. Fleece, lightweight sweaters, long sleeve shirts. I did take a few shorts but I never wore them. I was cold on the ship most of the time. Layering was the key. We used just about everything we packed except for our dinner clothes. For dinner I had packed mostly Chico's travelers collection. If you are not familiar with their clothes you should be! Great travel clothes. I only wore one outfit though. When I was packing I took a pair of pants and then paired it with a short sleeve top, long sleeve top and then a pullover of some sort. I also packed a light weight jacket and a medium jacket. Same for husband and daughter. For my daughter's clothes, I packed things that would be worn in spring/fall. Long sleeve shirts with leggings or short sleeve shirts with sweaters and pants-both jeans and cotton pants. Gymboree outfits with the matching shirt/sweater/pants were perfect. I had packed some things for dinner that were never worn. She is the one I over packed for but you never know with a toddler. I should have left the dressier things and brought more casual. Of course we packed gloves, scarves, etc. These were needed on the balcony as we cruised Sawyer Glacier and on the whale watching trip. They did not offer the $20 bag of laundry deal as they offer on several other ships. This would have been nice. I hate coming home with dirty clothes! All in all a wonderful cruise and we are all ready to go again. I wish that NCL sailed the Greek Isles-that is our cruise for next year. So I guess we will try another cruise line. At least it will give us something to compare with NCL. We love the Freestyle concept-it is the main reason we started cruising. I would like to do the Southern Caribbean cruise on the Spirit. Maybe in a year or so. We would also like to do a cruise that goes farther north in Alaska. Next year NCL will be offering various Alaska itineraries. We love NCL and have never had any problems with customer service. I have called a few times and had great service every time. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at themudds@yahoo.com . Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
The Norwegian Spirit cruise to Alaska met with most of our expectations and I would recommend this cruise to anyone who wants a relaxed vacation to Alaska. Our party consisted on three adults, one in the 80's and a teenager. All of ... Read More
The Norwegian Spirit cruise to Alaska met with most of our expectations and I would recommend this cruise to anyone who wants a relaxed vacation to Alaska. Our party consisted on three adults, one in the 80's and a teenager. All of us enjoyed ourselves so it would appear that Norwegian knows how to please all age groups. We had two outside cabins with balconies. The cabins were pleasantly decorated and had plenty of storage, even for those of us who brought too much in the way of clothes. I would highly recommend these cabins, I spent two lovely days on the balconies watching the scenery pass by. The cabin staff did a great job and catered to our every whim. Every night we returned to beds turned down, chocolate and a unique "towel sculpture". The casual cruise dining experience was also very good. The Raffles buffet is not great, but served us well for a quick breakfast or a snack for lunch. I would not recommend it for dinner. We also dined in the Windows restaurant. Here the food was very good. We also visited the steak restaurant and tepenyaki room. The food in these restaurants was excellent and well worth the extra "cover". Two in our party had significant diet restrictions and we found that all the restaurants would bend over backwards to make sure these two had pleasant dining experiences. I think this casual dining will slowly move to other cruise lines because it is so flexible. Entertainment aboard the ship was superb! Every night there was a great show in the main theater followed by great music and dancing in the Galaxy Lounge. I was really please to see that Norwegian did not gouge for drinks. No more expensive shore lounges. Shore excursions were pretty much "standard". Since we had an older adult in our party we stayed away from the more adventurous excursions but everyone I overhead talking about glacier visits, kayaking, etc. seem pleased. Like every cruise line, Norwegian marks up excursions and you can probably save a few bucks by booking ashore. You do, however, risk missing the excursion. The teenager in our party had a ball. Every morning she was up and out the door. Except for dinner and excursions we hardly ever saw her. Yes, teenagers prowled the ship, laughing and sometimes being loud, but hey they were having a good time and I enjoyed watching them. The ports in Alaska are nice. Very touristy, but nice. Hey, on a vacation you expect touristy. The stop in Prince Rupert was nothing to write home about. We did find the people in Price Rupert most gracious and the museum just up the street from the dock is worth visiting. Give Price Rupert some time. They will catch on. If you are looking for a good cruise, consider the Spirit. She is a beautiful ship crewed by a helpful, friendly courteous crew. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Since this is my first cruise ever, I have nothing to compare it with so I guess I was a bit too optimistic/positive while experiencing everything and this reflected in my review. My first ship choice was the Sapphire or Diamond Princess ... Read More
Since this is my first cruise ever, I have nothing to compare it with so I guess I was a bit too optimistic/positive while experiencing everything and this reflected in my review. My first ship choice was the Sapphire or Diamond Princess but they were all full. So, we picked the Spirit instead of the Star and we decided to stick with it, no matter what and experience it. But, going into the cruise I felt as if it wouldn't enjoy it as much since many people have complained a lot about many things which is okay because they are probably more experienced cruisers. I can say that this was an amazing, exceptional experience of a lifetime and the ship itself was stunningly beautiful. There is always room for improvement but I think that the staff did everything that they could for the most part to please their customers. I would most definitely sail on NCL again if I get the chance to and would recommend it to anyone. July 23 - Left home early, (at 8:30 am) and boarded American Eagle to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Reached there, went to Domino's for lunch (which is close to gate 3) and had some pizza (shouldn't have done this though because we were sitting in Business class on our next flight and they gave us a HUGE meal!). Our next flight was to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX. Took us about 5 hours and 30 minutes and we finally reached Dallas. We reached kind of late and only had about 30 minutes to run from one gate to another (somewhere in terminal A all the way to terminal C) which were very far apart and the airport was so crowded! We practically ran to the next gate but on the way there, we found out that our flight to Seattle was delayed by almost 1 hour so we were happy that we could take it a little easy. We finally reached our C gate and set off for Seattle. Arrived in Seattle around 10 pm and picked up the luggage right away and went to our hotel for the night which was Holiday Inn Express SeaTac. It was actually a nice hotel. July 24 - First Day of cruise - Seattle When we got up in the morning, we went to breakfast in the lobby which was crowded with people since breakfast is complimentary. It was a nice meal with quite a bit of variety though all the food was basically cold stuff (cereal, muffins, bagels, coffee, juices, fruit). We then took a cab to Holiday Inn on Dexter Avenue to drop off some of our suitcases which we would not be needing on the cruise (we were traveling for 2 more weeks after the cruise). After that, we went straight to Pier 66. I enjoyed the drive from the Airport side to the city side. The city of Seattle reminds me a lot of San Francisco because of all of the dips going up and down in the roads. Before we even got to Pier 66, we saw two other ships at an earlier pier (Diamond Princess and one of the HAL ships). Pier 66 was bustling with people all over the place. The boarding process was pretty simple. We stood in line outside first with all of our luggage. We reached a point where a woman checked all of our passports and cruise tickets and then sent us front to place our luggage on the x-ray conveyor belt. We then walked out of the building and reached to the escalator and rode up, and entered an area where there was a HUGE line that moved slowly. Another NCL official checked our tickets and passports and told us to stand in the appropriate line. Lucky enough for us, we are not American Passport holders so we stood in the International visitors line and our line was completely empty. Yaay! Others were in line for a long time. Our group consisted of 7 people. Myself, my younger sister (17 yrs old), my parents, my uncle and aunt and their young daughter (7 years old). After getting our id cards for the cruise we then stood in another short line which led us to the ship. Before we got up to the ramp, we took out embarkation pictures and then we were finally on the ship after they swiped our cards for the first time. At the reception desk on deck 7, there was a sign that said "No rooms can be altered due to full capacity." So I guess the ship was really full, plus every website that I visited before we left said our date was sold out. We did the life drill at around 3:40 which was when we were starting to assemble and we stood there till about 4:05 which was when we were told that the sail-away party would start in a few minutes. We basically ran from deck 7 to our cabin to put the life vests back and went up to the deck 12/deck 13 area. There were drinks, a live band and barbecued food and boy was it HOT! We were told that the heat was a record breaking 91 degrees! We finally sailed away. The Diamond Princess was right behind us all the time. After a while, I kind of got tired outside as it was so hot, so we decided to go inside. A few hours later, it was cold outside! I guess heading up to the inside passage the weather got chilly. Earlier that day, we had Raffles for lunch and it was good, but at dinner, the food was pretty bad so we went to Blue Lagoon instead and had some stir fried noodles and fried rice. Good food. After dinner, we decided to explore the ship a bit and took a nice walk around the public areas to know what's where and then called it a night. Oh by the way, if you can't find your room the first time, its okay because once you know where it is, you'll get used to it right away. When we first went to our cabin, we were lost for a few minutes because we had 3 cabins for the 7 of us but eventually we found our way around. That night, the ship rocked quite a bit but it actually put me nicely to sleep. I forgot to mention that some time on this day, I attended a shore excursions lecture at the Moulin Rouge Theater hosted by Jamie who tried to also provide some comical relief as well as inform us since the lecture got pretty boring but there were quite a bit of people in attendance, though generally, people kept coming and going. July 25 - Second Day of cruise - At Sea I first woke up at 7 am but finally got out of bed at 8:30 because I was so tired. I actually wanted to relax and explore the ship a bit more today. We had breakfast at Raffles which was good, the food was fine. I then went to deck 13 to take a brisk walk but it was really cold and windy so after about 3 laps, I decided to stop. Lunch was at Windows. This place is really nice. Very crowded, big, nice views but it was a great atmosphere. Our waitress was a fellow Indian Sonali. She was really nice and patient with our requests since over half of our party is completely vegetarian. I had the onion and bacon quiche with the apple fritters and ice cream for dessert. Good food. After lunch, we went to Galaxy of the Stars to play bingo. You have a choice of manual cards of the electronic machine. The manual cards cost $29 for 2 sets and the electronic machine was $39. We also bought a few krack-its and won practically nothing. Galaxy of the Stars during Bingo time is a crowded place. So many people, including my sister and I, sat on the floor. But seriously, I love it here because its big, pretty and the scenery outside is amazing from here, especially if you sit all the way at the front or on the bridge. During Bingo, we passed through a very narrow passage as the captain was explaining. Its actually a native village and it was pretty nice to look at. Later on, we went to the aft (where the amphitheater is) to play ping-pong but we had to wait our turn since there were so many people playing. Later on, I took my little cousin to Buccaneer's Wild and while I was standing and gazing at how beautiful and calm the ocean is, I spotted a whale in the water! I was so excited. During the evening, we walked through the Lobby and saw so many couples and groups taking out formal pictures since it was Formal Night. So many people were dressed so nicely. We didn't dress up though. This vacation was truly for us to relax, explore new places and de-stress so we didn't want to dress up formally. Ate again at Raffles and it was pretty good. Seriously! After that, we went to the production, "A Night on the Town." at Moulin Rouge Theater. The show was good. Very colorful, good singing, pretty costumes, good themes. But if you want to compare it to the shows you see in Las Vegas, you'll be bored here but I liked it. It was good to see once especially if you like live singing, dancing and music. After the show, we stepped out on the deck because it was so crowded there and we noticed that people were looking at whales spouting water/air, and porpoises! The porpoises were amazing...there were two of them jumping around playfully together and they were almost like synchronized swimmers. Beautiful! I was pleasantly surprised. July 26 - Third Day of cruise - Ketchikan We arrived in Ketchikan pretty early. We got up at 5 am because we forgot to turn the clocks back by 1 hour so we went back to sleep for a while and got ready and were at breakfast by 7 or so. At about 8 am, we were already off the ship. The weather was nice, it was cold yet pleasant but I was worried since it was overcast (all day!) We first shopped a bit at a few of the stores right at the docks and then we took a tour of the city through a taxi and the driver was really nice and knew a lot. He was Hispanic and his fiancEe was a native so he knew his stuff. We first toured an area called Herring Cove which had an unlimited amount of king salmon, ravens and bald eagles. There were just so many of them everywhere. Very nice to see them up close. After that, we went to Saxman Village where there's totem poles. They are carved very nicely. After that, we were dropped off at Creek Street and walked around a bit and then we actually had to run back to the pier where we had to meet a bus to take us to the Misty Fjords Seaplane Adventure that we booked through NCL. Our Seaplane adventure was through Promech Air and they did a really good job. When we arrived, we waited for about 5 minutes and then boarded our plane with our captain Chris. This excursion truly was amazing. We took off and floated in the air as we passed over mountains, deep valley's, cascading waterfalls, pools of water, snow capped mountains and of course, lots and lots of clouds. Finally, we landed on a very tranquil lake which was deeply formed on top of a mountain. WOW! What a landing. And the best part was being able to come out of the seaplane and stand on the beams outside of the seaplane. Chris said we could out for 10 minutes and we got to take some wonderful pictures and take in the scenery which was absolutely breathtaking. I would recommend this excursion because it is truly something that you will only get to see once in your life unless you get lucky to see it again. Now, for the planning part of the excursion, I have huge complaints. We were told to meet at the pier, in the space where NCL was docked at earlier (and later on, the ship had to be tendered) So, about 5 minutes before we were supposed to meet, we arrived at the meeting spot. We never saw anyone so we decided to split up in two groups to try and find out where we had to meet. We ended up all the way at the other end of the pier! They never told us of the change and we were all over the pier, looking for our excursion group. That sucked and I think it was poor planning on NCL's part. Again, after we gave the clerk our excursion tickets, she told us to walk to about center pier and find bus blah blah blah (I can't remember the bus number right now). So, we walked so far, only to find that the bus we needed to board was back where we first started out. Uggh! Bad planning. It was actually annoying to walk back and forth trying to find the right place. When we finally got on the bus, the other 3 people on the excursion with us from NCL also complained that they could not find the NCL Excursion representative and she was planning on complaining because her husband was partially handicapped and could barely walk! Bad planning aside, the excursion was great and Ketchikan was really nice, except for the fishy smell on the docks! Since we were tendered back to the ship, getting back was another problem for practically everyone! There were 3 tender boats taking passengers back to the ship and unfortunately, one of the tender boats (slightly) scraped Volendam's fore and scratched it slightly. Oops! The line was about 1,000 people long (LITERALLY!) and took about 1 hour to clear. We were supposed to leave Ketchikan at 2 pm but we ended up leaving at about 3 pm or so since we were all late getting back to the ship (not our fault). I think that the process of getting back could have been a bit quicker if they had more people. At Ketchikan, we had 3 other ships in port: Carnival Spirit, HAL Volendam and Island Princess. Back on board, after sailing, the captain announced that there are whales on the port side of the ship so we all ran outside and stood there for like 30 minutes and saw absolutely nothing but tranquil water, no whales. I guess they appear and disappear really quickly if they want to. We got cold so we went back inside. Dinner was at Windows for us, and trust me, they are strict on the dress attire. NO JEANS! I actually went there in jeans but the host asked me to change so I had to. We had an amazing meal of specially ordered fish curry (for me, my sis and my uncle) and veggie curry for the rest of the gang. If you have a special request, like we did, most of the time, you have to let them know at least 24 hours in advance and they prepare it for you. Good job, NCL! I think that the staff at Windows was exceptionally pleasant at times. Around bedtime, the boat rocked quite a bit. I felt the rocking mostly at night while going to bed but in a way, it always put me to sleep. July 27 - Fourth Day of cruise - Juneau/Sawyer Glacier Woke up early again and went to Raffles for breakfast. The buffet line was always crowded at breakfast. After eating, I stepped out to the amphitheater and looked around and noticed that it was awfully foggy outside and the clouds were grey and hanging very low. Mount Roberts Tramway was a bad idea for an early morning activity. Good thing though, it never rained while we were there though it drizzled slightly. There were 4 other ships in port with us today: NCL Star, HAL Ryndam, Island Princess and Vision of the Seas. We took the shuttle from the ship to town and were dropped off by the entrance of Mt. Roberts Tramway. First stop? The famous Mendenhall Glacier. Driving to the Glacier, even from a distance, its so pretty to look at. Our driver told us that we're lucky its overcast because that's when you can see the blue color the best and boy was she right. It took me a while to take it all in. It was an overwhelming sight and at the same time, very beautiful. We walked on a few of the trails. We took the one where you can touch the water at the shore (almost like a beach), one that took us high up to view it from up, and one that took us pretty close to it. After Mendenhall, we went to Glacier Gardens which was just okay. Golf carts take you up the slopes where you pass through really tall trees, berries, flowers, tree trunks and other natural vegetation. When we left here, we went up to the Mount Roberts since the weather was more clear and we were there for a fairly short time, since we had to get back down, shop a bit and board the ship again. The view was really nice but I think its too pricey to go up there. After we got back, we went to the Alaskan T-Shirt Company and shopped a bit there. This is a nice store that has lots of t-shirts, souvenirs, candy and other odds and ends. Has anyone seen the poopin' keychain? Its funny. My sister bought three of them, one for herself, and one each for our little cousins back in St. Maarten. Its basically a bear and when you press the belly, you can see it poopin' and this brown mushy stuff comes out but sucks back in when you release the belly. I think there were several other animals of the keychains but we picked the bears. When we got back on board, we sailed Sawyer Glacier later on. As others have already mentioned, the timing of the Chocoholic Buffet is weird since it kind of clashes with the time when we sail through Sawyer Glacier. The buffet was great! Good chocolate desserts and many people had plates FULL of chocolate creations. Most of the buffet was cakes but it had some solid chocolate, and dipped fruit (banana/pineapple). Also, there was a small sugar free cake variety. The presentation of the buffet was beautiful. There were ice sculptors, and chocolate carved pieces for display only. Sawyer Glacier: what a sight! I spent about a whole hour at the fore on deck 13 with a huge group of people, all crammed there to watch the huge chunks of ice floating in the water, the fjords, waterfalls, and low clouds which made it misty and even more dramatic. The actual Glacier which is divided into North Sawyer Glacier and South Sawyer Glacier (which you will find out) were amazing. I loved every moment of this journey. The captain did a great job of steering through the ice, which was all over, it was very very icy! We went quite close to it and we even saw a boat with excursioners closer to the South Glacier and later we were so close to North Sawyer Glacier. Getting out of the Sawyer Glacier area was tricky! The captain actually practically stopped completely for a long time to slowly turn around to the left and finally get us out. The ice was all very blue because it was overcast. There was a little pup seal in the water at the port side of the ship. After a while, on our way out of Sawyer Glacier, we faced a lot of rain! Nonstop rain! It rained for several hours, but thankfully we were on the ship and were inside so it was dry. We hoped that Skagway would be dry too. July 28 - Fifth Day of cruise - Skagway My number one complaint about Skagway's weather was that it was wayyy too windy! The wind made it even more cold so we were really chilly. When we got off the ship, we spent some time shopping on Broadway which was unbelievably bustling with people...since there were 5 ships in port, there were over a whopping 10,000 people in town. Ships were: us (of course), NCL Star, Island Princess, Serenade of the Seas and Spirit of 98' (a small one). The Alaskan T-Shirt Company was packed with people. We walked as far as Del Sol, not further since we were scheduled for an excursion. We went to Starbucks and grabbed some sandwiches (egg salad, turkey club, and veggie hummus). All were excellent. We then boarded the White Pass and Yukon Route Rail Road Train at 1:20 or so. At first, the train was completely empty but when we started off, I noticed the whole train was completely full and we were in the NCL cars. Our narrator Tobey was great. I think its best to sit on the left side of the train at first when going up so you can take in all the scenery at first. Coming down was a bit more boring and I almost fell asleep for a short while. Whoops. As soon as we got off, we went straight to the ship and got back on board. The boarding process was a bit too slow and since I mentioned it was way to windy, which made it even worse. July 29 - Sixth Day of cruise - Prince Rupert, British Columbia This is the first day in a while that we got to wake up a bit later. I actually decided to take things slow and get dressed late and skipped breakfast and went straight to lunch. I had barbecued chicken and a hot dog with warm barbecue sauce which was delicious. Yummy! I was watching us dock (safely) at PR and it was kind of nice. There was a park with so many kids playing and as we were coming to a stop, all the kids lined up at the fence to see the ship. We first went to downtown PR and visited Safe Way Supermarket. We picked up a few things here: magazines, junk food etc and we took a small walk around the downtown area. Prince Rupert is a very small town with very few (visible) people. We went to Zorbas Taverna Restaurant for a late afternoon snack. We ate the Indian Cuisine which was pretty good. We then went onto a public city bus which drove us around a residential area for a while through Prince Rupert Blvd (a very nice residential area). The homes were all pretty small but looked very nice. I think that that overall, Prince Rupert is a nice place but it needs to develop its tourism product offering if they expect more ships to call there. After downtown, we took the shuttle to Cow Bay. We stopped by a few shops in the area and grabbed a magnet, a few other things and before we knew it, we were already back on board. It was Mexican cuisine night at Raffles so we ate there and then went to the Mahjong room (The Card Room was FULL) to play a few hands of Rummy. July 30 - Seventh Day of cruise - At Sea Is it already the last day? Wow...what a quick week! I wish it lasted a bit longer. The time that we spent on the cruise went by so fast. I went to play Bingo in the morning at Galaxy of the Stars. I lost the big jackpot by 2 numbers. Uggh. We ate lunch at the Raffles Terrace which was yummy. I had the barbecued chicken and hot dog (again!) Later, I went to the movie theater and saw The Prince and Me while the rest of my family was at the hut tub. The movie was good and full! There were so many people sitting on the floor. Later on, my sister, my cousin and I went to play ping pong, we read magazines, we took a walk and then I went to the Mandara Salon to blow-dry my hair. While I was doing my hair, my family was at Raffles having their afternoon tea and they all spotted whales jumping around. They even got one picture where a whale is on his way back into the water and they clicked a picture and got his tail which was visible in the picture. Later on, we got ready for dinner and before we actually went to dinner, we got dressed up a bit to take our professional pictures. We went to Shogun's for dinner. It was so good! The place had a great atmosphere and ambiance and the waitresses were dressed in traditional Japanese kimono dresses. I had the hot and sour soup, the tofu with green Thai curry sauce with rice. For dessert I had the coconut ice-cream which was delicious. My sister had the sushi (California rolls) and said that they were really good. After dinner, we went to purchase our cruise pictures at the photo gallery. We went back to the cabin to call it a night and pack. We packed, and put out our luggage and it was lights out. July 31 - Debarkation Day (back to Seattle) We're back already to Seattle. We woke up, had breakfast, went around walking for a while. Waited for our tag to be called (Lime Green) and got off. We cleared customs and picked up the luggage down at the terminal and went straight to Holiday Inn on Dexter Avenue in Seattle. The location of our hotel was great (we were like a 4 minute drive away from the Space Needle). I'll stop here since this is where my cruise journey ended. But listed below is some of the stuff that we did in Seattle and Vancouver B.C. if anyone is interested. Also listed below are a few final remarks about NCL and the Spirit ship. Overall Comments: *The ship was always clean, I think that the staff did an outstanding job maintaining it. No complaints here at all! *We had interior cabins. I think that they can easily accommodate 3 people comfortably. More than 3 people might be a bit too tight. Even though the cabin first felt a bit small, eventually it felt spacious enough for us. *Bingo was fun even though we lost. Jimmy and Ferdi (not sure how to spell his name) were the Bingo hosts and a part of the cruise director staff. They were quite comical and provided entertainment along with simply calling numbers. *I have only heard wonderful things about the kids program. My little cousin (7 years old) first hesitated to try it out but eventually we convinced her to go and she absolutely loved it! At many times, she didn't even want to come back to the cabin. She always wanted to be at the kids program with the new friends she made. She was so happy there. *There were three gentlemen at Raffles that treated us wonderfully since we had special meal requests all the time. They even requested that the chefs bake us some eggless cookies and cakes. I suggest that if you ever have a problem, see them and they will try their best to help you out. Their names: Manuel, Stan, and Mario. Raffles can use some improvement for sure. Their food was not as bad as I thought it would be but it can use some help. Breakfast at Raffles was always good though. Desserts were good and they had a choice of sugarless cakes and puddings all the time. The other problem at Raffles is that often, the food is just lukewarm and by the time you get out of line and sit down to eat, the food becomes cold. Eek. The barbecued food at the Raffles Terrace was always hot though! Yummy! *At the Bingo tournaments, they had these long strip cards called Krack-its. We bought them a few times but seriously, they were a HUGE waste of money and time for me. You can supposedly win up to $100 per card but we never won. *Service overall has been flawless. I felt that everywhere we went, we were always treated like royalty and we had no complaints in the service department at all. Good job NCL! * A main complaint of mine was with the amount of time it would take us to get back onto the ship. Almost every time when we would board back onto the ship, we would often wait in line from anywhere between 50 minutes to 1 hour (in Ketchikan)! The only place where it took us only 2 minutes to get back on, was in Prince Rupert. *The shore excursion that we did in Juneau (Misty Fjords Seaplane) the planning part for this excursion was a mess and I think that NCL needs to improve here. *The captain did an excellent job with the sailing. Even though the water was rough many times, he still managed to maintain tranquility of some kind and he did a great job especially through Sawyer Glacier (maneuvering carefully through ice chunks and narrow passages). Seattle: -Space Needle -Seattle Aquarium -North Gate Mall -IMAX Theater Vancouver: -While we were in Vancouver, we took a day trip to Whistler which was a great trip. -Grouse Mountain -Capilano Suspension Bridge -Downtown -Metrotown (Metropolis) at Burnaby -North Vancouver -Science Center If anyone has any questions, send me a message and I will try my best to help. Happy Cruisin' Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
I will begin this review by saying I did not have the same experience as 99% of my fellow passengers. I never had dinner in the main dining room (ate at 2 specialty restaurants and the rest of the time Maxi served us in our suite!), never ... Read More
I will begin this review by saying I did not have the same experience as 99% of my fellow passengers. I never had dinner in the main dining room (ate at 2 specialty restaurants and the rest of the time Maxi served us in our suite!), never went to a show (we were too busy partying with our fellow suitemates!), did not have a spa experience (went for a stone massage, they did not have slippers and expected me to walk around barefooted...said NO THANKS), did not have ONE drink in any bar as I was too busy drinking wine with my fellow suite mates! That being said: Check-in: We were whisked to the nearest check-in, processed and on our way in less than 10 minutes. We found our fellow cruisemates and were told about a suite VIP lounge. NCL did not inform us of this. At 11:30 AM the concierge escorted us onto the ship. From there we were left to fend for ourselves in finding our rooms. If I had paid "full price" for our suite I would have been VERY upset (suite 10001)! We did NOT have a 1/2 bath as advertised. I also believe (am not certain) that the suite next to the other end unit did not either. Ours was quite a bit smaller than the end unit and did not have a separate bar either. Another thing, if we had not become REALLY good friends with 10002 we would have had a major issue. The walls were paper thin and there is actually a tiny area in one corner of the sitting area that you can see into the next suite; a good laugh to be sure between friends, however a big shock to others Suite perks are champagne upon arrival and daily canapes. The concierge COULD make your experience great. On past cruises our fellow suitemates informed us that their concierge roped off seats for them in the stage balcony, met them after shore excursions, was constantly checking to see if she/he could be of assistance. We found ours, Simone, to be of NO help whatsoever. She made 2 initial specialty restaurant reservations for us and two other requests were met with resounding NO's. The rest is totally the butler. Maxi, our butler, was absolutely the best. He served us every course just like you would have in the restaurant. Soup, then taken away, salad, taken away etc. He poured our wine, he did anything and everything for us. We had his personal pager and whenever we wanted anything we paged him. But not just that, he became our FRIEND. His attitude was, "I am here to make you feel pampered and special." On the other hand, the butler at the other end of the hall, from everything that was said to me, had no personality and did little to enhance the suite experience. I think we had an amazing weather week. Sunday (sea day) was terrible; rainy, cold, and the sea was rough. Our three port days were incredible: low seventies maybe even eighty. The forest fires however made the visibility very hazy. I would love to go back just to REALLY see what it is like. BUT, nothing will measure up to this past experience. Maybe a land/sea tour. Or a one way not round trip. The only times I was cold was up on the glacier (the crazy woman that took us to the helicopter said it was only 10 degrees colder so I left a lot of my layers behind!!), and when the ship was going through the ice and up to the glacier. But I had on earmuffs, gloves, jeans, wind pants, a sweater, fleece jacket, and my Goretex raincoat. AND...Maxi served us hot French onion soup on the balcony while we snapped photos and cried out of sheer amazement. I NEVER wanted to go to AK. I am a warm weather nut. I only said yes because it was my daughter. We don't spend a lot of time together and I knew this would be special. God truly blessed our experience. In Juneau, while at the pier, I walked out on our balcony and a bald eagle was perched on a piling. He proceeded to put on a show of diving, retrieving a fish, flying back to his piling...this went on for several hours. Bald eagles are very common in AK but to have your "own" was special. On our whale watching excursion we had two whales breach (which is NOT common). I had seen this in Hawaii, but my daughter had not. The Misty Fiords Island Wings seaplane...wow, wow, wow. Michelle is an amazing pilot; landing in a glacier pool high in the mountains; all I can say is...incredible. We saw mountain goats and more eagles. The highlight of course was the helicopter/dogsledding in Skagway. My breath was taken away so many times. A very "religious" helicopter ride..regardless of your faith. My daughter begged me to do this as I had no desire to be in a helicopter (went to Hawaii 5 times and NEVER got on one) or on a dogsled. AND...VERY EXPENSIVE. I can now say it was worth every penny. I won't repeat my comments on the White Pass Railway, suffice to say it was a terrible experience. Many people have asked about what to pack. I took NO formal wear (never missed it), one black pants suit, 2 pair of jeans, 3 pair of cropped pants, two sweaters, lots of long sleeved tees, several short sleeved shirts, a pair of shorts, Gortex tennis shoes and rain jacket, and several fleece items. Binoculars ARE A MUST. They became a part of us. Also sunglasses of course. Sunscreen...believe it or not. I wore everything with the exception of a few tees and my bathing suit. Many people went in the hot tub and for some reason the days we were in port....THE POOL WAS CLOSED. Maybe, in all fairness I could have gone at the wrong times. I would say to you....don't miss it going to Alaska. Go prepared for rain and if it doesn't...at least you won't be miserable! Go expecting cold and if it isn't, relish the sun. Take time to develop new friendships. Our time was so enhanced by new relationships. Our trip would never have been the same without them. We spent many an enjoyable hour sharing the day's adventures, having a bottle of wine, and commenting on the passing scenery with people who had been strangers the week before. My life has been greatly enriched by realizing my expectations were so limited, my horizons so low, and that I have much to learn and see. I can only envy all of you whose trip to Alaska is yet to come... To see my Alaska pictures: http://community.webshots.com/user/10snut200 __________________ Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
First of all, it doesn't look like the picture above. We didn't see those snow covered mountains! I sailed on the Norwegian Star last August to Hawaii, and though the Spirit is smaller there are many similarities. First of ... Read More
First of all, it doesn't look like the picture above. We didn't see those snow covered mountains! I sailed on the Norwegian Star last August to Hawaii, and though the Spirit is smaller there are many similarities. First of all, these waters are very smooth sailing, so don't be afraid to book a cabin on a lower deck. We did have two days of rain and fog (our 2 sea days) but otherwise the weather was unseasonably warm. I was travelling with my sister-in-law and her 2 kids, 3 and 7 years old. The Spirit had the best kids center I've seen on a cruise ship (though the younger one refused to go). The older girl loved the kid's crew and hardly missed a session during the whole cruise. Plus there was a wet-and-wild type kids pool (though I hear they are going to do away with it to put in more cabins). Norwegian isn't my favorite cruise line, but with the kids it was the only way to go. Several days we missed lunch because of shore excursions and were grateful for the Blue Lagoon being open 24 hours. We did wish that room service would provide some hot items, though. The biggest complaint was the fact that we had to tender into Ketchikan. There were 2 other ships in port. We waited in line over 1 and a half hours to board the ship! Lahina had lines in Hawaii, but nothing like this! We were never told why we had to tender instead of dock. And personally I would have liked a better selection of TV programs on the in cabin TV. RCL for instance has fairly new movies for free. If you don't like CNN, cartoons, or TMC you are out of luck. Tracey arm was awesome. But here's a tip. I had just had a hot stone massage (definitely have to do that again) when we started seeing icebergs. Instead of going to Dazzles, forward, where the crowd was huge, I sat in the little waiting room in the spa with floor to ceiling windows and about 3 people! The photos I took are quite incredible. So don't fight the crowds. Go to the spa! It's open to everyone (because of the fitness center). I thought that the food on the Spirit was much better than on the star (I remember not even eating dinner the last night on the Star because it was so awful), but the service was slow. That's because there is only one kitchen to serve the 2 main dining rooms plus the buffet and the part they turn into the trattoria. Ate in the Japanese restaurant twice. Both times the food was excellent for only a $12 surcharge. One time we were in the Teppanyaki room and had a lot of fun. Didn't want to pay $20 for a steak, especially since I wasn't very impressed with the Bistro/Maxims on the Star. It didn't seem that too many people were taking advantage of the pay restaurants and reservations were fairly easy to get. I had a guarantee cabin on deck 5. Nice picture window. Glad I didn't pay more. But mom and kids were on deck 4 and all they had was a porthole! Same size room, though. They weren't very happy, but we blame the travel agent, not NCL. Also, shopping on board was really meager. Maybe that's because it is a smaller ship than the Star. The Star had much better shopping. I spent most of my money on excursions. I took the float plane over Misty Fjords in Ketchikan. Cheaper than a helicopter and everyone gets a window seat! In Juneau, we did the whale and wildlife sightseeing. We saw humpback whales, seals, and bald eagles. In Skagway, we took the train and then went panning for gold. What fun! Not much to say about Prince Rupert, BC. Not much there. By that time the kids and I had rebelled against any more shopping! But we did need to hit a foreign port. There are a lot of oriental decorations on board and the zodiac motif plays heavily (former name was Super Star Leo, so I guess that explains it). I heard that when they took the ship from Hong Kong to the US all signs were written in Chinese! I think the ship still needs to be a little more "Americanized." Crew was more friendly than I remember on the Star, too. In fact, one waitress in Blue Lagoon actually peeled the skin off a hot dog (without being asked) so one of the kids would eat it! Reduced price spa treatments were affordable. A little too much emphasis on Bingo, but the best art auction at sea I've ever been to. Wasn't looking for art, but a huge Thomas Kinkade print of he Alaska mountains went for around $300. They also had Miro, Dali, and Rembrandt. Me? I went for the champagne and the seat! But if you are into art, this was quite incredible. I also liked that though they had a $7 drink of the day, they also had special daily drinks for only $3.75. Other lines don't do that, and Norwegian Star didn't do that last year, either. So Norwegian has made a lot of changes for the positive. So if you like free style cruising, have kids, and/or don't mind a little bit smaller ship (it isn't THAT small), the Spirit is for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
"Attire Wear what you want. Dress according to your mood. It is your vacation. "Resort casual" attire is as dressy as you'll ever have to get for dinner. But if it's elegance you're dreaming of, we invite you ... Read More
"Attire Wear what you want. Dress according to your mood. It is your vacation. "Resort casual" attire is as dressy as you'll ever have to get for dinner. But if it's elegance you're dreaming of, we invite you to indulge. Many of our restaurants offer formal options. If you prefer more casual dress, that's fine, too. How you dress is up to you." That is what NCL states on their web site. What they don't tell you is that you cannot wear jeans to dinner. They need to tell you what they call "Resort Casual" actually is. We were refused into the dining areas. In fact the hostess in Windows was very rude in refusing us service. I couldn't believe it. There were a few friendly faces, but mostly the crew went about their jobs with out a smile. We had a bunch of teenagers running around the ship making noises and such. No supervision. The food was so so and the buffet was cold. The food was good in the 24 hour Blue Lagoon, but it was a tight and narrow place with people going through. Not that comfortable. Crowded in the buffet area also. Not giving people much space to get around. They tell you there are so many options for dinner, but forget to tell you that you have to pay extra for about half of them. There were lines to get into the two main eating areas, the Garden and The Windows. Sometimes up to an hour waiting. We went to one before 5:30 when it was to open and the stairs and hallway were packed. Very uncomfortable. Getting to the boat from airport was fine, but they were so unorganized when we were going back home. They need to communicate among each other and get their stories straight. Loved going to Alaska, but will not cruise with this line again. Not the service or experience I have had on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
First I have to say why I chose NCL. I chose it because I wanted to try the Freestyle dining. The one and only other cruise I've been on (Royal Caribbean) was amazing, but the food was just ok (presented beautifully, and service was ... Read More
First I have to say why I chose NCL. I chose it because I wanted to try the Freestyle dining. The one and only other cruise I've been on (Royal Caribbean) was amazing, but the food was just ok (presented beautifully, and service was great, but taste was lacking). My travel companion is the Food and Beverage Director for a large resort, so needless to say, good food is very important to him. For his first cruising experience I did not want him to be disappointed. With the speciality restaurants to choose from, I thought NCL would be perfect, and they did not disappoint! The food in the two main restaurants was the same that you get on other cruises, nice, just nothing to write home about... the food in the speciality restaurants was amazing, and well worth the small cover charge. The service, like you'll find on most cruise ships, was outstanding! When in any of the restaurants or bars, you'd hardly put your glass on the table, before they would be over to refill for you. The stateroom attendants were great. We had a small issue with the hair dryer, in that the cord was broken. We called down, and asked them to tape it up, then went to the casino, we came back a little over an hour later, and the hairdryer had been completely replaced, with a note saying that if we needed anything else, not to hesitate to ask. This example fits the quick, friendly service all throughout the ship. By the second day, so many of the crew members knew our names, and were talking to us like old friends. They made us feel welcome and almost like stars. You can tell that they make an effort to make most of the guests feel that way. Now onto to Alaska. What an amazing place! Everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to see. We were fortunate with nice clear days while in port. We chose not to get off the ship while in Ketchikan. We decided that instead of spending the money on an excursion we would treat ourselves to a spa service (this was a great idea, as the excursions are almost the same amount as the spa, but given a second chance, I would not have missed ketchikan, I would have chosen the spa day during Prince Rupert). But with the ship practically empty in Ketchikan it got us a chance to explore view the scenery from the decks. In Juneau, we split up, he went fishing for the day, and I went did the whale watching/Mendenhall glacier trip. This was so much fun. On the whale watching portion we learned saw about 15 humpback whales, and we learned how to effectively spot a whale. The entire time I was madly trying to take pictures, but kept just missing them. Amazingly the last whale came up for it's final dive just as I was shooting, and I got a great shot! Then on to Mendenhall Glacier. Being this close to a glacier was impressive. The trails in Mendenhall park are beautiful, and if your up to it will take you about 30 feet from a towering waterfall. If you want to learn about glaciers at all I would recommend stopping by the Mendenhall visitor center in the park. It is fun, and informative (which came in handy later on on the ship). Incidentally, Michael, had a great time on his fishing trip, with on member of the fishing group catching a 5 foot halibut (perhaps not a halibut, I don't know very much about fishing) That afternoon was Sawyer Glacier, again, absolutely amazing! Blue ice all over the place, towering mountains, waterfalls, and again humpback whales! Apparently there were also seals, but I did not see them. This is where the Mendenhall info came in handy. Sadly the naturalist they had onboard to explain about glaciers, was boring. It reminded of us of Ferris Beuller's Day of... "Beuller, Beuller," Very boring, but I'd learned about them that morning! Next was Skagway. Our ship was the first ship in port, and we chose to go shopping. This was great for the first hour or so, but then 4 other ships arrived as well, so as you can imagine, 5 ships each carrying 2000 people, made for quite a busy town. So we went back to the ship. Next time I go to Skagway I am going to have to do the White pass railway tour, as many people were raving about it, that evening. Our final port was Prince Rupert. As I said this port should have been the day we chose to do the spa. Prince Rupert was not very exciting. I have heard, however, that at the time we went it was an extremely new port to the cruising world, and this year they have added more tours, and options. So that does it, we had an excellent vacation, and both of us agreed that we wanted to do it again. We planned on going to the future NCL cruising seminar, unfortunately we missed it. I've heard, though, that they are incredible discounts if you do go to the seminar. As it turns out we are going to go on another NCL cruise. We've got our next cruise planned on the NCL Star back to Alaska for this coming May!!!!! A few more notes: Embarkation was extremely quick, just listen to the NCL representatives while you are waiting. At check-in we got into the wrong line, which happened to be extremely long. NCL reps were walking along the line telling people where to go, a lot of people were not listening, but we did and turned out we did not have to wait in that line. which made our check-in about time take about 5 minutes instead of 45. Finally, I scheduled our flight for a red eye that night. I though we could take the day and see Seattle. There were many problems to this. Michael's drivers license expired (he does not live in the country, and does not drive, where he is), and the one rental agency that had a pickup in downtown Seattle, and a drop off at the airport has a driving age of 26 (I was not old enough to rent the car). This created a problem with what to do with our luggage, and all the time we had. We were also extremely tired (last day of vacation does that to you). So we just went to the airport and figured we'd sit in the airport for 8 hours. The airport literally would not let us. They would not let us check-in, until 4 hours prior to our flight, and they would not let us wait in the check-in area. They said the security would make us leave if we waited in check-in for longer than an hour. So now we have our luggage, and no place to go. We ended up getting a taxi to take us to the cheapest hotel near the airport, and we had to pay for a room for the night, even though we'd only be using it for 6 hours. But at least we did get to sleep. My recommendation would be to get an afternoon flight, and do your transfers from the ship to the airport through NCL. They have all NCL transfers disembark first, then they have the disembarkation for those getting there own way back, which can take a while. Also, get an outside stateroom. The view in Alaska is constantly amazing, and it is worth it to pay more for a view. I hope this helps. If anyone has questions, feel free to e-mail me. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
NORWEGIAN SPIRIT 7/03/04 TO 7/10/04 We had a great cruise on the Spirit. Here's our review: Embarkation - Went very smoothly. We arrived at the parking garage across the street from the terminal about 11:15 and by 12:10 we were ... Read More
NORWEGIAN SPIRIT 7/03/04 TO 7/10/04 We had a great cruise on the Spirit. Here's our review: Embarkation - Went very smoothly. We arrived at the parking garage across the street from the terminal about 11:15 and by 12:10 we were having lunch at Windows after dropping off our carry-on stuff in our stateroom. There were no lines to speak of for check-in but we got there before they started loading the ship so we had to wait about ½ hour before loading began. Our room steward was just finishing up with the room so we asked him for some type of pad (egg crate foam or whatever) to soften the hard mattress. By late afternoon, it had been taken care of and we enjoyed a comfortable bed all week. The weather was beautiful in Seattle and it got a little warm for our "lifeboat drill" at 4:00. As we pulled away from the dock around 4:45, a fireboat serenaded us with a water show which was enjoyed by all. Day at Sea - Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day at sea with temperatures in the mid-60's. It was a scenic day while cruising the inside passage - we took over 50 pictures that day alone. Ketchikan - We pulled into Ketchikan about 6:00 on rainy Monday morning. It rained the whole time we were there (over 2" of rain that day) and the temperatures were in the mid-50's. We got right off the ship (no lines) about 8:00 for our excursion (Totem Bight & Ketchikan City tour). After we got back from our excursion, we walked to Creek Street and around town. Getting back on the Spirit around 1:30 was no problem at all - we just walked back on. Juneau - We arrived in Juneau quite early, around 5 in the morning. There was a very low cloud ceiling and it was "misting" out (light rain) and again the temperatures were in the 50's. We didn't book any excursions in Juneau and had planned to go up the Mt. Roberts Tram, but it was so cloudy out and the visibility was so bad, we decided it wasn't worth it. So, we set off walking to explore Juneau - we went to the Alaska State Museum which is quite nice. Again there were no problems or lines in getting off or back on the Spirit. We did dock quite a ways from downtown, but the shuttle busses were there to take you back and forth so that was no big deal. Tracy Arm & Sawyer Glacier - We left Juneau promptly at 2:00 and entered Tracy Arm Fjord around 4:30 and were at Sawyer Glacier about 5:45. It was cloudy (at least it wasn't raining), so we didn't get to see some of the magnificent colors that abound when the sun is out. We viewed the entire event from our balcony (Deck 9, starboard side) and had a fabulous view and could keep popping back into our nice warm stateroom when we got too cold (and it was cold). There were a lot of icebergs so we didn't think we were going to be able to get very close, but we did - I kind of felt like I was on the "Titanic" hitting all the icebergs we did, but we got quite close to the glacier (didn't get to see or hear any calving, though). There were hundreds of seals (a lot of babies) lying on the icebergs. Skagway - By 4:30 in the morning we were docked in Skagway. We saw the NCL Star dock right beside us around 5:30. It was quite cool early in the morning (about 48) but warmed up to the low 70's in the early afternoon. We also watched the Coral Princess, Serenade of the Seas, and the Spirit of Endeavour dock nearby. We got off the ship about 7:45 (again no lines or problems) for our first excursion (Klondike Dredge & Gold Panning, which was really a lot of fun). After we got back from that excursion we walked around a "packed" Skagway (too many ships in port), going back to the Spirit for lunch and a little rest before our afternoon excursion (Skagway Street Car, which we also enjoyed). Both of these excursions give you a good background of the history of the area which we liked. We did some more walking around town until around 4:00 when we got back on the Spirit (again no lines or problems). That night after leaving Skagway, the waters were a little rough causing a few passengers to get seasick. Prince Rupert - We arrived at our last port of call about 2:00. It was mostly sunny in PR with temperatures in the low 60's. Hoping to get acquainted with the city and its history, we had signed up for the City Tour. We were somewhat disappointed because the tour guide just read a script "word for word" and gave a lot of boring information. We know PR is new to the cruising industry and hasn't had much experience yet, so we need to give them some time. This is a good place for a self-guided walking tour. They have a great museum just up the hill from where the Spirit docks with all kinds of information on the area. Day at Sea - Finally a day to sleep in since we had been getting up around 4:00 each morning to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and scenery. We cruised on the west side of Vancouver Island so there were really not many sights to photograph. Luckily the waters were quite calm and the weather was nice enough to enjoy the outdoor barbecue. It was a day of meetings (debarkation talk), demos (ice carving and towel folding) and shows (crew show, passenger talent show, Jane L. Powell). Debarkation - We arrived in Seattle around 5:45 right behind the Diamond Princess. We had a nice breakfast in Windows, then went back to our stateroom to watch the unloading (and preparations for reloading) of the ship. The first group of passengers (those with flights before noon) debarked at 7:55, and about every 15 minutes they would announce the next group. Our group (Deck 9) debarked at 9:10, walking right off the ship, right through immigration, picked up our luggage (had trouble finding one of our bags because it was put with Deck 8) and walked right through customs with no problems. Dining - We usually got a light early morning breakfast (between 6 & 7) via room service - coffee, milk, juice, fresh fruit, a muffin or Danish. You fill out the little card and put it on the outside of your stateroom door the night before, indicating what time you want it delivered. They were always prompt, in fact, usually about 15 minutes before the time we had indicated on the card. Later on in the morning we would either go up to Raffles Buffet or Windows for a nice breakfast. Both were good (Windows a little better, though) and we never had a wait at either. We had lunch at Blue Lagoon once, which was pretty crowded around noontime but service was still pretty fast (soup and fried rice were pretty good). Several times we went to the Raffles Terrace barbecue - that was always good and usually no line (except hard finding a table on the nice days). We also had lunch at Windows several times, probably the best place for lunch, and we never had a wait there. We had dinner at Windows, Garden Room, Raffles Buffet and Maxim's. We were rather disappointed with our $50 dinner at Maxim's - our waiter was busy with a large party and pretty much ignored us and the meal was not much better than what we had at Windows. We normally ate rather early (between 5:30 and 6:30) and never had a wait anywhere but when we left after dinner at Windows or the Garden Room, there usually was quite a long line of people waiting for tables. The buffet was better than we had expected and the desserts there were really good and we always had an excellent meal at Windows or the Garden Room. Our only complaint with dining was the "background" music in the restaurants was pretty loud and sometimes annoying. Also, they needed faster clearing of tables both at Raffles Buffet and Raffles Terrace - it was difficult finding a table at times. A recommendation for dining is that you be willing to share a table with fellow cruisers. You get to meet a lot of people that way and it helps speed up the dining for later arrivals. It seemed like most of the tables for 4 in Windows, had 2 people sitting at them while there was a line of people waiting. Cabin - We were very happy with our balcony cabin (the only way to go on an Alaska cruise because the scenery is never-ending). Our room steward did a great job and kept our ice bucket full and replenished our towels as needed. Storage space was pretty good - there were about 4 shelves on the side of the closet and another shelf on the bottom for shoes and there were 4 small drawers under the TV area. Our largest suitcase would not fit under the bed but there was plenty of room in the closet for it. Also there were 4 shelves in the bathroom on either side of the mirror. The bathroom was a good size (a lot bigger than the Sky had) with a separate toilet area (very tiny with a frosted glass door) on one side and the shower (very good size) with a glass door on the other side. There were only about 10 hangers in the closet so you might need to ask for more or bring some of your own. Entertainment & Activities - We weren't much into the activities and entertainment as we wanted to be outside on deck or on our balcony as much as we possibly could. We did see some shows (Great Adventure Showtime, Night on the Town, Jane L. Powell, and our favorite was the comedian, Bud Anderson). There were all kinds of activities - just check your Freestyle Daily every evening when you get it for the next day's activities - bring a highlighter pen so you can mark your choices! One thing we did enjoy was the viewing area for the bridge of the ship. The curtain is not open very often or for very long, but if you check the Daily you can find out when viewing is available (noon to 2 on embarkation day and then usually only when in port from about 11 to 1). Complaints - Our main complaint was that the cruise was over way too soon! No, seriously, we really don't have much in the way of complaints - nothing is 100% perfect and you should expect a few problems. We would have liked to have the Spirit cruise on the east side of Vancouver Island (southbound direction) instead of on the west side as there is nothing to see but the ocean, and the inside passage is so beautiful and full of wondrous sights that you can't get enough of them! So, we're ready to cruise once again to Alaska - just want to find a ship that cruises the "true" inside passage the whole trip. Norwegian Spirit -On Channel 3 on the television in your stateroom you get a "Report from the Bridge" every 15 minutes (miles traveled, miles to next port, miles from last port, current temperature, sea conditions, wind conditions, exact location, etc.) and then between those updates there was a continuous map showing the route you were on and the Spirit's location. In fact we got a map of the inside passage and attached it to the wall in our stateroom (the wall had a vinyl covering) and marked our route as we sailed along. The Spirit is a beautiful ship with a fabulous crew who do their best to serve you well - everyone was friendly and took time to converse with you if you were interested - we found the staff in both of the main restaurants (Windows and Garden Room) to be attentive and, in fact, outstanding. It appears the crew of the Spirit has made great advances from the first few cruises making this a great choice for your Alaska adventure! ENJOY! Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
We just came back from the July 10th-17th cruise to Alaska on Spirit. Yes, as first time cruisers, we did have some doubt about this trip after reading some bad reviews on line. But after one week of amazing cruise we are glad to say this ... Read More
We just came back from the July 10th-17th cruise to Alaska on Spirit. Yes, as first time cruisers, we did have some doubt about this trip after reading some bad reviews on line. But after one week of amazing cruise we are glad to say this is the best travel experience ever for both of us. The breathtaking scenery, the wonderful weather, the beautiful ship, and the excellent service will make this trip stay in our memories forever. And we are definitely going to have another cruise with Norwegian cruise line and loved the free style too. Embarkation: Just a little bit chaos because of the crowd and rather long line. But it' s still bearable. After embarkation you can wonder around the ship or have a drink on ship. Shortly after we found our baggage had already arrived at the door of our room. Though one of our baggage had a little bit damage on the handle. It was probably because it had already been battered around for many trips before. Stateroom: we booked an inside stateroom. It's on the 10th floor; the location is quite convenient since it's just a couple of floors down from the top deck. If you book inside stateroom, we suggest you register your information early to get a better room location. The room is not very big but is well designed to fit the needs of traveler. There's a lot of space for personal stuff. And the bathroom is comfortable enough and very functional. The rooms are cleaned twice a day when you are away. A 13-inch TV provides CNN and a few other channels. The beds were not as bad as somebody had described. Actually we found they are quite comfortable to sleep in. Not mention every night the maid will arrange a different animal design using the towel in your bed and we appreciated efforts :) Dining: Overall we were very pleased about the food on board. The dining experience in the Windows and the Garden Room was enjoyable. There seemed a marked difference in quality of food between lunch and dinner with the latter being much better. The waitresses were all great. They are warm, efficient and not overtly pushy for the drinks. Actually the prices of drinks weren't that horrible. They were priced just as you see in local bars. And we enjoyed very much the free style, which fit us well. We tried to dine earlier or later every night so we could get a window seat without waiting. One night we went to Garden room for dinner at 6:30 pm, a time of relatively crowded and we did not have to wait but got a four person table a little further away from the window. Though the delicious food made it all up. The buffet in Raffles is nothing to write home about but the place is good for both a relaxing morning snack time and afternoon tea. The seat setting is cozy and the dessert is quite good. It offers a change of scene from the more formal settings of the restaurant and we were surprised that eating was not as much a struggle as we had heard from some of the previous guests. Shore Excursions: We didn't book any excursions onboard. We bought some from the ports. In Ketchikan we hiked to Saxman village to see some totems. Cannot say much about the place. But the weather was gorgeous. You even felt hot under the sun. Juneau was our favorite port. The town is quite nice to walking around. Don't miss the Mendenhall glacier. You can buy 10 dollar round tip tickets to get there at the dock and there are plenty of buses to go around. The view of Mendenhall bay glacier was great though the smoky air caused by the Yukon forest fire had made it a less perfect view. In downtown of Juneau you can buy ticket to get a sky-ride to Mt. Robert . Though we thought 24 dollars for one ticket was quite expensive consider at time we didn't have plenty time to do more hiking. Plus one theater screen was not working so they had the 25-inch TV instead. We went to white pass train in Skagway. We liked this train trip very much, you can feel the depth of the landscape. There's not much to say about Prince Rupert port since we missed the train which could have brought a totally different experience .The sawyer glacier bay was the highlight in the whole trip/ Don't miss viewing this magnificent scenery and better get a perfect spot on the 13th forward deck. Don't take too long of a nap in the Tuesday afternoon :) Entertainment: We gambled very little in the Casino and the Casino was not very busy at anytime. Bingo seemed a big deal and it is not a shocker considering the mature make up of the guests. Moulin Rouge is a big theater, the shows were good, and The performances are the typically singing and dancing stuff. We also watched the Jane Powell show which was quite entertaining. The cruise director is a funny guy who was very much of this whole experience. Galaxy bar was decorated quite nice and was a great place to enjoy the view of the sea while sipping on some fine Scotch. Disembarkation: Much more smooth and quick than embarkation, we just enjoyed our breakfast on the Raffles terrace waiting for our calls. The customer and baggage claim all went smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
Embarked Seattle - 6/5/2004 - Boarded about 2:30 pm with very little wait. The computers were down so we had to visit the purser's desk within 24 hours to setup our credit card and get our pictures taken. We had given our luggage to ... Read More
Embarked Seattle - 6/5/2004 - Boarded about 2:30 pm with very little wait. The computers were down so we had to visit the purser's desk within 24 hours to setup our credit card and get our pictures taken. We had given our luggage to the Norwegian representative at the airport and were surprised to see it in our room when we entered. We had upgraded to a stateroom with a balcony on the port side of deck 9. I strongly suggest a balcony for this very scenic cruise. The portside balconies offer a great view of each of the towns where the ship docked. The cabin was a comfortable size especially the bath with separate sections for the sink, shower, and toilet with sliding doors between each section. The Ship - Overall it was very clean and well maintained. There was very little vibration. There was some swaying in open water but after all we were at sea. Moving throughout the ship was confusing at first, by the end of the second day we had figured it out. The Crew - We seldom saw our room stewards but our room was cleaned each time we returned ... as many as three times a day. We always had ice in the bucket. The waiters and waitresses were very good and most remembered our name after just one day. No problem with understanding what was said by us or them. Casino staff was friendly and helpful. Food - The main restaurants, Windows and Garden Room, have excellent food and service to match. The Buffet at Raffles offered limited selection but overall the food was pretty good. Grilled items were available at Raffles Terrace on the rear deck behind the buffet at certain times. Breakfast was good at the buffet except the Omelet Station was on the outside terrace and there was usually a long wait ... suggestion.... Get your omelet before your other breakfast items or the rest of your breakfast will be cold before you sit down including your coffee. Shows - The ship's singers and dancers worked very hard to put on good shows. Jane Powell was the show you don't want to miss ... she was great. Also, make sure you catch the talent search show near the end of the cruise. Excursions - Ketchikan - we took the Wilderness Adventure and Crab Feast. It consisted of a bus ride to an old lodge, now a crab restaurant. At the restaurant we boarded a small boat to the crab traps and experienced first hand the harvesting of crabs. Those crabs were released and upon returning to the old lodge we had a great meal ... crab, of course. Juneau - a short bus ride to the Salmon Bake. Good food in a relaxed atmosphere complete with a guitar soloist, a babbling brook, and a beautiful waterfall. Sawyer Glacier - (not really an excursion) since we viewed it from our cabin. The Captain did a great job maneuvering as close to Sawyer Glacier as possible and allowing both sides of the ship great viewing. Skagway - The Eagle Preserve Float Trip, this was GREAT ... no rapids, no long walks and no climbing, just a couple of bus rides, a water taxi to Haines, and scenic float down the Chilkat River. Our guides' names were "CP" & Becky and I highly recommend them ... CP met us at Skagway and provided info and enjoyment until saying goodbye as we headed back to Skagway from Haines. Prince Rupert - we just walked through the town. The Spirit started docking here in May. The ship has brought new prosperity to a town that has suffered a decline in their industries (lumber and fishing). The townspeople bring the kids to the city park that overlooks the dock where they can see the Spirit up close. This is a refreshing change from the other ports. There are few souvenir shops and jewelry stores. The first thing we saw as we went ashore was a real fully uniformed "Canadian Mountie". My wife and a few friends found a Canadian Legion club and enjoyed some drinks with the locals. Disembarking Seattle 6/12/2004 - We were off the ship by 10am and at the airport with time to spare. Immigration and Custom checks went smooth with no delays. The porters at the cruise terminal did a good job getting our luggage to the airport shuttles. There was a problem at the airport because a conveyor that moved the luggage from inside the terminal to the planes was not functioning. As a result our baggage arrived at our home about 22 hours after our arrival ... it was all there! Highlights - The Scenery - gets better and better as you head north. The Jane Powell Show. The Steak & Lobster Meal is delicious in the Main Dining rooms. The Sawyer Glacier & the Eagle Preserve Float Trip in Skagway (remember to ask for CP). Special Thanks to Elena - our waitress in the casino, Rex - our waiter in the Galaxy of the Stars, Brent - the casino supervisor who brought me luck, and CP & Becky- our guides on the float trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
Norwegian Spirit Review June 12, 2004 sailing Day 1: When we arrived at Seattle's Pier 66, we had a feeling this was going to be a wonderful cruise. You can see the money that has been invested in the port, and it is by far the ... Read More
Norwegian Spirit Review June 12, 2004 sailing Day 1: When we arrived at Seattle's Pier 66, we had a feeling this was going to be a wonderful cruise. You can see the money that has been invested in the port, and it is by far the nicest port I have seen (compared so Miami, San Francisco, San Juan and Los Angeles). We anticipated quite a wait to get on the ship, however we waited only 5 minutes in line and were processed very quickly. The time from parking our car to being on the ship was about 15 minutes. The ship is stunning. The overall Asian theme works well with some of the European dEcor at the pool and several lounges and venues. Our cabin was 11660, a balcony on the port side. The room was of good size compared to my prior cruises and included a queen bed (not twins pushed together), along with a small sofa, table and a desk. The balcony furniture was white plastic with cushions, though we discovered the suites had proper wooden patio furniture. There is a small entertainment area, which has the 13-inch tv on the top, another shelve for storage, then the drinks area that included a tray with glasses and an ice bucket, followed by 4 small drawers on the bottom. The double closet had plenty of storage space, plus roomy shelving on the right side. At the bottom of the closet is a small safe to store valuables, though we didn't use it. The bedding includes a nice coverlet that was nice and warm. The bed was VERY hard and I can truthfully say it's the worst bed I've ever slept on. Even the cabin stewardess noted the beds are hard and apparently there are a lot of passenger complaints about this. My bed at home is a medium firmness, not soft, and still the beds were hard. We did have a theory that the beds are bad on purpose to get more business for the spa! The bathroom in the cabin was also the best I've had on a ship thus far. The toilet area can be private by the use of a glass door. The shower also has a glass door, and the entire bathroom is tiled. We had a fish motif in the decorative tiles. The shower has a clothes line and a dispenser for conditioning shampoo and soap; knowing this prior to the cruise I didn't pack shampoo, but if are particular about shampoo you might want to consider at least bringing conditioner. I wish I had. The sink also has a soap dispenser and a hair dryer is included. The dryer isn't that powerful (it's similar to my hair dryer's low setting), but it does the job eventually. The only outlet in the bathroom is for a shaver. Our first day on the ship was fairly cool and I was happy that I brought my wool coat. We were surprised how "empty" the ship felt even though it was booked to capacity. We had dinner at Windows this evening. I had prime rib and my husband had spaghetti Bolognese. The food was good and our waitress was excellent. We ate around 8pm and did not have to wait for a 2-person window table. Our waitress talked to us quite a lot about the Spirit. She was formerly on the Sky and actually misses it. She was flown to Hong Kong to get familiar with the ship and sailed the Spirit to Seattle. When I asked her what she thought of the Spirit, she said most passengers would much prefer the Spirit, but she preferred working on the Sky because it was smaller. There was an interesting occurrence during dinner. We were near Victoria, BC and we saw a pilot boat come up to the ship from our window seat. We noticed no one was on the boat except for the driver, but it came right up to the ship and picked up one person. What we later discovered was the person was a crew member who was to greet a passenger who's flight was delayed to Seattle. Since their flight was booked through NCL he was rerouted to Victoria where he was tendered to our ship. We actually sat in Victoria waters for quite some time, but the Captain made an announcement about this and it didn't have an bearing on making our first port two days later. Day 2: At Sea (Formal night) The day began sunny and beautiful, and we sat on our balcony sipping coffee while passing Brown Bay. Now this is the way to cruise! I cannot say enough about having a balcony and from now on we won't consider a lower cabin category unless we bring our young children. I personally would not want a small child in a balcony room because I am paranoid like that. ? We had room service for breakfast and lunch today so that we could enjoy our balcony and just relax. When we did explore the ship we noticed the bars and lounges were empty, even during the free rum punch hour! It was getting cold by this time so pax were staying indoors apparently. We went to our room to dress for formal night, but I ended up getting so sick from the 8-foot swells that I couldn't leave the room. I had a bit of a mishap, shall we say, and I called the steward for new towels, etc. The stewardess arrived within 5 minutes and she was so helpful. I cannot say enough about the excellent service of our cabin stewards. I did tip her $5 for her trouble and she really didn't want to take it, but I insisted. One of the tv channels includes a map with our ship's position and the route. Some of the information was never correct, such as our sail date of 6/5/04! We did find out that the route is always the same: inside passage going north, and then outside of the passage coming home. Day 3: Ketchikan There were 4 ships in port this morning: Island Princess (there pax had to be tendered), HAL Volendam, Carnival Spirit and of course NCL Spirit). We wanted the Misty Fjord tour today, but it is not available yet and I never did find out when it would be. We did a lot of shopping here and I felt it was by far the best shopping port on the cruise. I got some good bargains on gold jewelry, and if you want salmon this is the port to get it. Go to Salmon, Etc. (it will be on your shopping guide map) and get their delicious free samples! The ship's Internet Cafe has prices that are completely out of line in my opinion. I pay less for unlimited high-speed broadband per month at home than NCL wanted for 20 minutes! Save your money and use the port cafe's - we found one in very port. In Ketchikan there is an Internet cafe right at the pier called Surf City. 20 minutes cost $5, 60 minutes cost $8.25. We had breakfast and lunch at Raffles. What can I say about Raffles? It is pretty bad, and I ate there much more than I wanted to because my husband preferred its convenience. We did come up with a few nicknames: Scarffles, Stuffles, Barffuls, and I could go on. We even heard other pax make up nicknames! Raffles has quite a bit of variety, but the food items were quite odd for a typical American palate, and much of the meat seemed unidentifiable. I also noticed throughout the week that there were odd combinations of food. For example, one day mashed potatoes were served, but no gravy. Another day there was guacamole and salsa, but no chips. Then we had rice and nothing that went with it, not even soy or chili sauce. I am not opposed to eating different foods and I always do quite well when I travel foreign countries, but the choices in Raffles were so random. The food quality was poor as well, though the salad bar always had fresh items. I feel I should say something positive about Raffles. The afternoon snack is usually much better than lunch. It includes scones, tea sandwiches, desserts and usually chips or something savory. Also, breakfast really isn't different in Raffles than Windows. Everything on the Windows menu is also served in Raffles with the exception of eggs benedict. During the entire cruise the juice and coffee machines were never empty, as they apparently were on previous cruises this season. We overheard several pax complain "there is nothing to eat here" so the food quality and selection is not just our opinion. This evening we ate at Maxim's. The food here is fabulous! We had the lobster and it was the best lobster dinner I have ever had - even better than those I've had on the Jersey shore and in NYC. Definitely worth the $25 price tag. Once again we had a waiter that was very informative. He also was new to the ship since it became the Spirit. He told us that he was very happy he didn't have to work on it as the Leo (as most of the staff did apparently) because the rules for Asian ships are different than in America. The staff policies are apparently much more organized on NCL (as opposed to Star Cruises) and the work is easier. However, some staff could not come to the Alaska route due to immigration issues. Also the pax are much better to deal with as NCL. The owner of Star Cruises is a wealthy casino owner in Asia; when the Spirit was still LEO the casino was on two decks (not one as it is now) and took additional space - space that is now some of the board rooms and art rooms. The waiter told us the Asian pax were so hardcore about gambling that they wouldn't leave to go to the bathroom or even to bed. Some would fall asleep and fall off their chairs - and rather than helping out another passenger would just take over the machine! We had towel animals tonight! It was an elephant and I have the photos to prove it. ? The ice was also replenished in our cabin each evening. Day 4: Juneau Juneau is the best port and this was by far the best day on the cruise. I wish this was an overnight stay because there are so many excursions to take that part of one day just isn't enough. Getting on and off the ship while in port has been very easy and there's never a wait. We found the shopping here quite similar to Ketchikan, though some prices were higher. But! If you want a book, Juneau is the place to shop because we couldn't find a bookstore in the other ports - and my husband was desperate! We got daring and made up our own excursion to the Alaskan Brewery. Alaskan Amber is one of my husband's favorite beers so it was a must see for him. Since we had another excursion booked for 1pm we didn't want to risk taking the bus for $1.25 so we hired a taxi at $15 each way. We had a personal tour of the brewery and even found out the guide had been to our hometown and told us how to get Alaskan Amber by the keg. He was quite a character! My husband is now the proud owner of an AK Amber beer tap for his kegerator and we were surprised how inexpensive the souvenirs were. By the way, you can drink as much beer as you want, with half-pint samples of all 6 beers! As a side note, my husband is from New Zealand and there was a small group of people from the HAL ship that came to tour the brewery. One couple was also from NZ - the same town as my husband! Then we found out our cab driver (we had the same woman both directions) was from our town here in Oregon. Is it a small world or what? She told us that while Juneau has a year-round population of 30,000, about 50,000 additional people come to work the tourist trade, plus about 10,000 ship passengers a day. Juneau is dead in the winter. Cost of living is very high here and the average home is about $250K. Our favorite tour on the cruise was Tracy Arm Fjords. At $149 pp, it was worth every penny and we heard from several pax who didn't do this one that it was their regret of the cruise. The weather was sunny all the way and we saw humpback whales, eagles, orca, mountain goats and seals. Sawyer Glacier was calving while we were there and the sound is just incredible, like thunder. There are snacks and hot beverages available throughout the excursion and the naturalist and captain were very knowledgeable about the wildlife and terrain. The most stunning picture of the Spirit was as we came into Sawyer Glacier, coming through the small packs of glacier ice floating in the water. I have to admit those of us on this tour felt quite superior to the other pax as our boat came alongside the ship and we got back on. You simply cannot see what we experienced from the ship. However! We did hear from a staff member that the Spirit's captain has been trying to get closer and closer to the glacier with each cruise this season and he got the closest on this run. Chocoholic Buffet: If you go on the Tracy Arm excursion you will miss this, and I consider this poor planning on the part of NCL. The buffet could easily extend an hour to allow those of us on the tour to also enjoy the buffet. When talking with other pax it was definitely the full chocoholic buffet NCL is famous for, not just cookies and cakes passed around on trays. Apparently more than one guest was seen with multiple heaping plates of chocolate delights. There are many glaciers to view this evening from the ship, some even larger than Sawyer Glacier and we did see more whales and porpoises. More towel animals tonight! Day 5: Skagway The weather was beautiful and only needed short sleeves, no jacket. We were a bit disappointed with Skagway in that most of the shops were the same as the previous ports. Some merchants clearly advertised that they were Alaskans and not outside chain stores. We searched for Ulu knives here, but were very sorry we didn't purchase the handmade knives in Ketchikan with the caribou handles. At least we got a website for ordering. ? Skagway is very quaint, and the tours are MUCH cheaper when purchased off the ship. We booked the White Pass & Yukon railway tour through NCL at $99 pp. The same train with an added city tour was only $39. I was not happy! I have already begun my letter to NCL about this. I don't have a problem with a markup, but this is almost triple the price and that is out of line in my opinion. The rail tour was fun, but we were surprised that we wouldn't be getting off the train. By hour three we were ready to have it all end. Try to sit on the left side of the train first. When you cross the Canadian border you will be required to switch sides, but it's nice to have the more formal commentary going up. Speaking of the commentary, it was a new college student that did the narration. That was a bit disappointing because she lacked story telling skills. An "old sourdough" would have been more effective...and more interesting. Getting back on the ship was about a 10-15 minute wait today since what seemed like half of the ship's passengers were on the White Pass tour. Earlier when we weren't on a tour there was no wait to return to the ship. Embarkation in all ports seemed very well organized and we never had any trouble. We ate at La Trattoria and over dinner and drinks in our cabin we enjoyed a marvelous view of glaciers, mountains, humpback whales, porpoises and seals. More towel animals tonight! Day 6: Prince Rupert (Semi-formal night) Prince Rupert is beautiful - from the ship. There really isn't anything to do here and the shopping is almost non-existent. The citizens really want the cruise industry to be successful here and you can see what will be extensive construction happening at the pier. As we sailed into port several small children in the park held up signs that spelled Welcome to XXX (couldn't understand the last word and it wasn't PR or Canada) along with the Canadian flag. Many people were in the park watching the ship come in and they weren't in a hurry to leave the park even after we docked. We visited Cow Bay and found one nice shop, but I can get the same merchandise for less money at home. I didn't want typical gift ship items, but still didn't find anything. We then walked into town (prepare for lots of uphill walking) and it was a collection of your typical small town shops. They are definitely not quite ready for cruise ship buyers, but they are working on it. Raffles has a Mexican buffet on this night, and by this point in the cruise I was really craving Mexican food. Luckily I did get chips & salsa, but we went to Windows for our anniversary dinner as it was lobster. The lobster was terrible! Generous portions, but so rubbery and chewy that we could not finish. Windows tends to be much busier later in the evening while in Prince Rupert since we don't sail until 9pm. This was the one and only night I wish I had eaten in Raffles. Throughout the cruise, and especially tonight, we really enjoyed Henry's Pub. The server always remembered us and was great about suggesting virgin drinks for me so that I didn't quite so out of place. I talked with her about our route home and she said the ship always cruises the ocean side of Vancouver Island and to expect the last at sea day to be a bit rough. (Someone on CC asked me about this specifically.) She told me that the crew and staff are not allowed to take any seasick medication because of the side effects and the fact that their bodies should not get used to needing the meds. They are told in training to drink a lot of ginger ale (to burp a lot) and also eat apples to keep your tummy full. More towel animals! Day 7: At Sea It was over 80 degrees today and we have sunburns as a result. We spent most of the day reading by the pool or on the promenade deck. We took this cruise specifically to relax, since we left our young toddler at home, so we didn't do all of the activities that we could have. We did try to get to the pub quiz, but even though we were less than 10 minutes late the quiz was almost finished. We ended the beautiful evening watching the sunset and playing shuffle board. No towel animals tonight. Day 8: Disembarkation Leaving the ship was just too easy, but our cabin location did play a part in this. Since we were on deck 11, we were the 3rd category to leave the ship, only behind those with early flights. We ate breakfast in Raffles (yes, AGAIN!) and heard out color called when we were finished. We picked up our carry-ons in the cabin, walked down to deck 7 and walked off the ship. After going through security we picked up our luggage and walked the skyway to the parking garage. We left Raffles at 9am. We were on the freeway by 9:30am. This simply could not have been faster. What we did not understand were all of the people forming a line in the centrum waiting for their color category to be called. Wouldn't they rather be playing table tennis or enjoying breakfast? Recommendations: Bring extra hangers Use internet cafe's in port rather than on the ship Book tours (with the exception of Tracy Arm) off ship - you will save $$$$$ My final comments (and criticisms): The no-jeans policy should either be enforced or abolished. When we were eating in Maxim's a party of 8 seniors came in and two of the men wore jeans. They should not have been allowed in the door. When you book reservations you are told about no jeans, so why isn't it actually enforced? NCL markup is way too high on excursions. Never again will I book tours with the cruise line unless it's a must-see that I simply couldn't live without. Most of the tours were available for booking on the pier, at lower prices and often better times. Try to stay away from Raffles, the food is sub-par. I swear people feel obligated to eat when they enter! Food in the specialty restaurants is much better than the mains. La Trattoria IS Raffles. Don't let them fool you! On the first day of the cruise we kept looking for it, then found out it's one side of Raffles with white table clothes. Some of the pasta is ok, and definitely a better alternative to Raffles itself. Staff is friendly, but not pushy. I feel this is a result of freestyle cruising. Bar servers didn't push drinks like on other ships because they were getting their tips anyway. The entertainment wasn't quite as good this week as in previous weeks. One of the comedians was a juggler...not my cup of tea. Jane Powell was good, but we really preferred the music entertainment in the lounges. The guitarist in Henry's Pub was very good and a nice guy to boot. The stop in Juneau should be longer so we can do more! This is a minimum 2-excursion port! ? Better beds! My back is still sore. Take advantage of Noel, the Port & Cruise Consultant if you have questions about anything in port. He is always on the pier in the mornings while in port and a really nice guy. Freestyle is not for everyone, and there are still elements of traditional cruising that I miss. However after our easy disembarkation I certainly have a fondness for freestyle. What I do miss about traditional cruising is 1)You don't necessarily meet as many people since you don't dine with others, or least we never did. We had to initiate conversations in lounges and other areas, which could be a problem for some. 2) Having to make reservations everyday can be a bit of a pain. You cannot make a reservation more than 1 day in advance. My website will have scanned dailies, menus and more info on the restaurants. I will post the site address once my husband has scanned everything this week. Maria Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. It seems as though most of the ships' kinks have been or are being ironed out. The crew was friendly and helpful, and I neither saw any passengers who felt they needed to berate crewmembers nor ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. It seems as though most of the ships' kinks have been or are being ironed out. The crew was friendly and helpful, and I neither saw any passengers who felt they needed to berate crewmembers nor any crewmembers being rude to passengers. The crew took great care of the ship; it's very clean and I noticed staff cleaning and painting and varnishing almost every day. Embarkation in Seattle was easy as pie for Latitudes members, but a long line for everyone else. Debarkation was easy as well; it's nice not to have to sit in a lounge with other passengers and wait in long lines in the stairwell. We had a leisurely breakfast in Windows and debarked when our tag color was called. No lines to speak of, and we saw many taxis outside to whisk passengers away. We had an inside cabin and it was larger than I was expecting. I wouldn't want to have more than two--or maybe three with a small child--in there, though. (That also goes for the balcony cabin my father was staying in.) The bathrooms are nice; I liked the shower especially with its removable showerhead. Shelves and drawers were plentiful, but the closet needed more hangers. There is one outlet that will take the standard plugs for the USA passengers, but it only will handle 500 watts. The ship itself is quite beautiful and very well kept. The decor is brightly colored, and some of it can be too garish (like the carpet in the hallway next to the Taipan Bistro), but mostly the colors are cheerful. The Galaxy of the Stars lounge has great views, and The Cafe on the port side of the Grand Centrum is the perfect spot for coffee, pastries and people watching. The food was good in the main dining rooms; the vegetarian meals were very tasty and, most importantly, filling. There were a few minor mishaps with servers (one forgot to give me a menu) and mistakes on the menu (watercress salad without watercress), but nothing very major. Both Windows and the Garden Room are nicely decorated; I rather preferred the Garden Room for its more intimate atmosphere and the lovely Asian decor. Too bad they played Celine Dion and Whitney Houston instead of relaxing instrumental music. The buffet is best during breakfast and afternoon snack times. Lunch and dinner were okay, but there were sometimes odd combinations of ingredients or inedible items. Don't judge a dish by its appearance. The desserts were very good. The food in the specialty restaurants are even better than the main dining rooms, and I recommend trying one that appeals to you. By comparison, the food in the main restaurants is a bit blander. I don't know how many children were on the cruise, but the ones I encountered were very well-behaved and seemed to be enjoying themselves. We sat near a family of five one night at dinner and the kids made no noise; they were all just tuckered out! The kids' pirate-themed pool area has slides and water jets and fountains. It looked much more fun than the main pool; it even has its own hot tub. There is a lot of space for parents to relax and still watch over their children. We had unusually hot weather in Alaska, and the pools seemed to get plenty of use. As for Alaska, the place is stunning. When cruising up the Tracy Arm Fjord, get thee to an open deck. The views are wonderful, and Sawyer Glacier is magnificent. We were lucky to see some calving. I recommend a whale watching excursion; seeing those enormous creatures up close is so much better and you get an accurate idea of their size and majesty. While on the Spirit itself we did see some whales, but far away. The dolphins, sharks and seals we saw swam much closer to the ship, so it's not as though you won't see any marine life. In summation, our family had a fantastic vacation on the Norwegian Spirit, and I would definitely cruise her again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
First let me say we were blessed with NOT ONE DROP OF RAIN!!!! One crew member told us that in 7 years he had never had better weather. We traveled with my 14 year old son, my husband and I, and my 80+ yr old parents and all had a ... Read More
First let me say we were blessed with NOT ONE DROP OF RAIN!!!! One crew member told us that in 7 years he had never had better weather. We traveled with my 14 year old son, my husband and I, and my 80+ yr old parents and all had a wonderful time. Mom even won a hundred bucks at bingo! Since there was so little wrong I will start with that. The casino was small and not too many folks had any luck at the slots. The folks playing black jack seemed to have better luck. The crab legs were skimpy, and there could have been more planned games for couples. That's it, that's all that wasn't darn near perfect. My son was lost to us, there were 30 teens on the ship and they were all with Club Hal whenever there was something planned. He just kept thanking us and telling us what a great time he was having. Our table mates had a 5 year old daughter and they had to drag her outta her age club Hal. Very good job with the kids! The food on the whole was excellent. Nice variety and I didn't have one bad meal. Could have had more and bigger crab legs but they were good and the creme brulee more than made up for them. LOL. There were many different lounges, we liked them all, but found our place in the crows nest watching for whales. We saw one and became addicted. Then we saw orcas, sea otters (cutest little things in the sea), many more Whales and then a national geographic moment on our way out of glacier bay. We witnessed a huge humpback and his pod feeding. We watched this guy for 20 min all the time getting closer to him. He was blowing and slapping his tail and flippers and then wow, he breached like 3-4 times right off the bow. Yes, I got pictures and video!!! The side trips were good in the ports. You can save some money not booking them through the ship. Best shopping is in Ketchikan. Good coupon books given when you board the ship. We hiked (easy trail) back to the waterfall at Mendenhall in Juneau, then went whale watching too. Took the railway in Skagway. It was ok, boring for kids. Oh yeah, Juneau in port is GREAT for spotting eagles. Like 8 at a time! No kidding!!! Nice town. The glaciers are cool! My 14 yr old was amazed with them. We saw 2 pretty good calvings. Loud. Our room was an inside cabin, plenty of room for the 3 of us. The beds were pillowtop and very comfortable and I am a tough critic on beds. The crew was very good, although we did notice a bit of prejudice between the crew which was totally mindblowing in this day and age. What is wrong with people? I have been on several cruises and I would rate this one very high. If you can't have fun on this cruise, I suspect you can't have fun. Oh yeah, the shows weren't that good. In fact, they were barley even good, let alone great. But we didn't go to many and usually don't. My son liked a couple of them and my parents did too, so maybe I just expected to much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
Actually, renamed the Norwegian Spirit. For a first time cruiser, this was a great cruise. A little confusion on the embarkation process at pier 66. They gave us a number to board, but this was ignored. Our cabin was great! A lot more ... Read More
Actually, renamed the Norwegian Spirit. For a first time cruiser, this was a great cruise. A little confusion on the embarkation process at pier 66. They gave us a number to board, but this was ignored. Our cabin was great! A lot more roomy than anticipated and the shower was great! Colors were a little bright, but we got used to them. Although the crew was new to the ship, they all had a great attitude and were always polite and helpful. The main restaurants, Windows and the Garden Room, were very good. Service was sometimes slow during the busy periods. We only had to wait on a table once and that was on the formal night. By the way, we didn't like how they did their formal night. Formal attire was optional and we were mixed in with others at dinner who elected not to dress up. They also did not enforce their resort casual dress code on this night or any others. Our suggestion was to have one restaurant dedicated to those dressing up. Entertainment was super, especially the comic and magician. The only bad glitch on this, the Spirit's inaugural cruise with NCL, was a late arrival into Juneau. Their waste water plant had not been certified on sailing, so they had to go out to sea to dump their gray water, which put us over three hours late into Juneau. Several shore excursions were cancelled which upset many. Also, they were very late in communicating this change which caused us to arise early thinking we were arriving in port on time. All things considered, we would definitely sail on the Spirit again. We got a great deal and had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
Overview I will try to provide a quick summary so that those who want just the facts don't have to read the entire review. Overall, I would rate the cruise an A- overall. Others may have a different perspective, but we really ... Read More
Overview I will try to provide a quick summary so that those who want just the facts don't have to read the entire review. Overall, I would rate the cruise an A- overall. Others may have a different perspective, but we really enjoyed ourselves. The food in Windows was consistently very good, and the buffet was average for a buffet. Le Bistro provided a fabulous dining experience, though I should have scheduled it for a different day, not during the visit to the Sawyer Glacier. There were some minor issues due to the ship just coming over from Asia. Some of the signs hadn't been loaded yet; they were replacing ice makers, etc. The entertainment was good, and the weather was perfect. The staff was consistently friendly. I believe that every staff member we passed greeted us with a smile and hello, most wanted to know how we were enjoying the cruise. Our room, deck 9 inside forward, was fine. We had plenty of storage, 4 drawers, 5 shelves in the closet, and sufficient space for hanging clothes. We packed more than we used, but still had enough room. Our cabin attendants took very good care of us and our cabin. We didn't get any towel animals; maybe the bear-eating salmon got them. The ship was in very good shape, the crew was working constantly to maintain it, and on upgrades that were needed for the US market. Many of the issues we encountered were due to changes for the US market. Most of the wiring in the ship was 220v which made replacing equipment more of a challenge than normal. Food preparation areas had to be modified to meet US standards, the ice makers had to be replaced. According to the Hotel Manager, the staff was on the ship for its last sailing in Hong Kong, but they could not begin upgrading the ship till the passengers disembarked. They had 2 days in Hong Kong, 12 days crossing the Pacific, and 3 days in Seattle for refurbishing, which was not enough time. Not all of the new ice makers were installed prior to sailing, which may have been why some cabins lacked ice. The issue that caused us to be late to Juneau was the lack of a permit to dump gray water inside of the 12nm limit. They had upgraded the waste water treatment plant, and had filed the proper paperwork, but the approval from the Coast Guard did not come through until Wednesday. That is why we could return through the Inside Passage. During the Cruise Critic meeting we were told the issue was the current between Vancouver Island and the mainland. I do resent being misinformed, but I am not sure the Hotel Manager had the correct information. Another related issue was the fact that the longshoremen loading the ship on Saturday were only scheduled to work through 5:00 PM. They left at that time. This was in spite of the fact that there was cargo that still needed to be loaded. Public Areas The public areas of the ship were all visually appealing, though the colors are more intense than on the other ships I have sailed. The ship has an oriental dEcor with beautiful oriental art on display. Celebrity Disco This is on the 13th deck forward. You can reach it from directly below by means of a staircase. If you are mobility impaired and need an elevator, you have to go up the mid-ship elevator and then cross open deck to get there. My wife who uses a wheelchair found that uncomfortable due to the breeze when the ship is underway. We did not attend any shows there. There will be karaoke in this lounge once the equipment gets installed. Adrian, the cruise director, said that the equipment was onboard, just not yet installed. The view from this lounge was ok, but did not match the Galaxy of the Seas lounge below it. Galaxy of the Stars This was far and away the best viewing location on the ship. It is located on deck 12 forward. You can reach it via the forward elevator. It sits directly above the bridge, and a special feature is access to a viewing room that looks into the bridge. The only time I saw the viewing room open and with the curtains open was in Seattle before we sailed. At other times the whole room, or the curtains would be closed. There are some interesting displays when the room is open. There is an outer area that is separated from the main lounge by glass panels and doors.  The outer area has tables and chairs that are adjacent to the windows and along the inner wall. This area receives good sun light and has the best viewing chairs. In this outer area, there is a navigational display. There is a mock steering wheel as well as two electronic displays that usually had the ship's position course speed, rate of turn etc. This display was disabled when we got behind schedule. Too many of us were asking questions no one wanted to answer. The center area had a bandstand, a bar, a dance floor and some tables. This seemed very popular in the evening and I saw several couples dancing. This area was sometimes used for events and activities in the daytime. Tivoli Pool Area The pool area was very attractive, and in a warmer climate will see a lot of action. There are four hot tubs, one at each corner of the pool. There are deck chairs and lounges area, and at the very outside, tables. This area was still somewhat breezy when the ship is underway, and with the air temperature in the 60's, sunbathing and swimming were activities for the hardy. Moulin Rouge This is the best show lounge I have seen on a ship. The main theater seats are on an incline so that every one in that area will have a clear view of the stage. The main seating is theatre style with no tables or cup holders either. There is a balcony area on both sides, three levels, and each level has tables for two. The view from some balcony seats is obstructed by pillars, but most have a good view and some are excellent. Drink service before and during the shows was unreliable. The musical productions were excellent, the comedian, Fred, was outstanding. We did not see the magician. Adrian, the Cruise Director, was great. He was funny, enthusiastic and seemed to do his best to care for the passengers. Champagne Charlie's This is small venue on deck 8 just aft of and overlooking the atrium. Usually a band played here in the afternoon. They were ok, but if you listened to the words you found they were making some of it up as they went along. This too, is an area sometimes used for shipboard activities. For example, craft projects and the anniversary party. Henry's Pub This is a small area on deck 7 just aft of the atrium. It is set up like an English Pub, has a dart board and small pool table of some kind. It is used for activities including crafts and trivia contests and occasionally has live music. The Cabin I thought our room was outstanding in size and facilities for an inside cabin. We booked the lowest available category, and would not mind it again. We left the beds divided as this seemed to give us more room. There is a chair with a small footstool, and a desk with a chair that doubles as a vanity. The desk has a lighted mirror behind it, and one drawer. Next to the desk is cabinet that has 4 drawers, an area for the coffee pot, above that is an open storage area and above that the TV. The closet has a top shelf that covers the full width of the closet, and half was used by the life jackets. Under that there were 4 or 5 shelves. At the bottom under the clothes bar there was another shelf that held the safe, and an area under that. There were probably 10 to 15 hangers in the closet. We had more than enough storage space. We were able to fit the luggage under one bed, and there was a trundle bed under the other one. We had the biggest luggage you could check on the airline, and 2 of them plus a 3rd large case fit under the one bed. Our cabin attendants did a great job. I did tip them a little extra on Saturday, and I think that made a difference. We ordered the anniversary package which included a bottle of champagne. Our cabin attendant kept it on ice and ready until we drank it several days later. Dining Windows This is a beautiful dining room to eat in. It is open, with large windows along the sides. The aft ceiling is raised and the whole aft wall being windows. It is the most popular and tended to have long lines. The lines seemed to be worst between opening at 5:30 and about 7:30. Service at dinner was almost always excellent, not fast, but precise and attentive. We only had one night where we thought service was off, it wasn't bad, just not precise, they missed the ice tea spoon, and we had to ask for butter. Understand that good service is not necessarily fast, plan for one and half hours to eat. Partly because of freestyle cruising, with people coming at different times, it adds to the challenge for the wait staff. Every dinner we ate was excellent, We ate breakfast and lunch here as well, service declined at these times, never bad, just less precise, and less attentive. The breakfast menu would have all the standard items, with a different specialty item each day. The only complaint I had about breakfast was the scrambled eggs were done in large batches, and you could not get them the way you wanted. I like mine very done. However, if you ordered a plain omelet you could get it cooked the way you want. The bacon varied in crispness from day to day. The items my DW ordered were all pleasing to her. Lunch was consistently very good to outstanding as well. Each day brought a new menu, with four courses as well as everyday fare. The menu included hamburgers and fries, but why bother going to the dining room when there are faster venues for those. The restaurant was seldom crowded for either breakfast or lunch. The staff in general was very helpful. They would push my DW's wheel chair in and out, and would put it out of the way during the meal. They were all very friendly to us, but we also would ask them about themselves, how long had they been on the ship, had they been to Alaska before, etc. I think the service will improve as they get used to the new ship. Most had been on the Sky and so things were different for them as well. Raffles This is the buffet, and it looked like a buffet, and the food seemed to be of buffet quality. I travel for business and many times have a buffet breakfast in the hotels where I stay. I would say that breakfast here matched what I get at a Holiday Inn. We did not eat any other meals here, and only ate breakfast there when we got up to late for Windows. Blue Lagoon We really enjoyed the fried rice and wonton soup here. The variety of food items includes pastries and coffee, hamburgers and hot dogs, cookies and salads. Service here was only fair, they seemed to be understaffed. One day we sat outside since the indoor seats were taken and it took forever to get served. Le Bistro This is the only surcharge restaurant we tried. The food and service were fantastic. We were the only couple in the restaurant, and we had everyone attending to us. The restaurant was usually busier than that, but we made reservation right before we got to the glacier. It would be better not to schedule the meal on Tuesday night on this itinerary, or instead to schedule it very late in the evening. We both ate the Filet Mignon with BEarnaise sauce which was perfectly done, the vegetables were not overcooked, and the chocolate fondue was so good I wanted to stick my head in the pot to lick it clean.(I did refrain, but only with difficulty). Entertainment We skipped the later shows, but we did enjoy the entertainment we saw, and we never had the opportunity to get bored. We did come to see Alaska, and that was where we placed our time and energy. Shows The opening show is a variety show, and included Adrian as the MC, followed by the comedian, Fred. The show also included musical numbers by the singers and dancers. All of it was great. Fred and Adrian comically harassed any one that was late and those sitting in the front rows. The second night's show was also music and dance, and was very good. I am not typically a song and dance guy, but the performers were very good. They also performed on two other nights. Fred performed a second full show, and also performed a late night routine. We missed the late night show, but the second show was great. We laughed till we hurt, and then we had to buy his CD. We missed the magician, we were just to tired to stay up, I think he performed on Tuesday night, and we watched glacier until we went to bed. Music There were three groups performing on board, one was a guitar player, another was a band from the Philippines, and the last was a group from Canada. The Canadian group was very good and played at night in the Galaxy of the Stars. They also performed for the sail away party at the pool. Activities A variety of games was offered around the ship, including several rounds of trivia. The putting contest, called the Ryder cup, was played in several areas around the Galaxy of the Stars, including down the staircase. Craft activities with lessons and supplies provided, included crochet, beading, and origami. They also offered language lessons in several different languages. Ports Ketchikan This is a very compact port, and you can walk to see most of the sights. There is an abundance of shopping, ranging from cheap tourist stuff to fine jewelry. We did walk over to Creek street, and found it very interesting. If you are pushing a wheel chair, the hills will limit your range. We saw some of the sights, and then went back to the ship. Juneau We had booked whale watching with Capt. Larry and Orca Enterprises. This was one of our best decisions of the whole trip. When we were approaching Juneau (4 hours late) I called and talked to Carol. She said not to worry; they had a boat and crew standing by just for those arriving on the Spirit. We went straight across the street, and checked in. She refunded part of our fare since they were going to have to shorten our trip a little. There were ten of us on the boat, and it was beautiful. We saw whales at a little distance, and some seals floating on the surface right by us. The crew got us back to the ship in time even though we arrived in Juneau 4 hours late. The captain had to make a decision here. He could have stayed the full allotted time in Juneau and cut the time at Sawyer glacier, or possibly eliminate it totally. That would have been most profitable for NCL since they could have gotten all the revenue from the shore excursions. Instead he cancelled most of the shore excursions and gave us the full time at the glacier and I am glad he did. This part of the cruise was truly breathtaking and words do not do it justice. Skagway We used the guide to Emerald Lake and drove over to it. This is one beautiful drive. You see just about everything they can see on the train, you are just on the other canyon wall. You also see quite a bit more. If you drive yourself, you can control where you stop and take pictures. We were able to stop about 50 feet or so from a bear along the side of the road. We took his picture and for the most part he ignored us, other than to make sure we weren't getting to close. Emerald Lake is beautiful, and so are about 100 other spots on the drive. If the weather is good, with little or no wind, there are a handful of locations where you will see the mountains reflected on the water below. If the afternoon the wind picks up you no longer have the perfect reflections so take the picture when you have the opportunity. We also stopped and saw the world's smallest desert in Carcross. Prince Rupert We just went shopping in Prince Rupert, there is a Safeway right above the dock, and a little art gallery off to the left as you exit the ship. Every one was very helpful, and we got quite a reception as we arrived, brass band and all. They had a variety of activities in a park right above the pier. They set off fireworks as we sailed. Issues There were a variety of minor issues through out the sailing, but they had no impact on our enjoyment. The only one that concerned us was the delay into Juneau, and if we had booked a different tour, and especially one that we couldn't get refunded, that might have been a bigger issue. As it was, we would rather of had more time there, but such is life. I am sure as they finish upgrading the ship, such inconveniences will go away. The staff did all they could to make up for it. Summary This is a great ship with a great crew. The ship is very attractive, and quite a contrast from most in this market. The crew went out of their way to help my DW in her wheel chair. Every time we got on or off the ship, they would help push it, and at times just about carried her in it. Even Adrian helped her on and off the ship when he was by the gangway. I do not think we passed a crewmember that didn't greet us and inquire about our day. I have heard some complaining about getting on and off in port. Any time you try to get 2000 people through one door there is going to be a wait, either in or out. We have had to deal with this on every cruise we have been on, and it is a little worse now that security has been tightened. It seems as though a good number of the passengers were deaf or chose not to follow directions. Many would crowd into the gangway area, and the congestion slowed down the process. The only occasion where it may have been the crew's fault was Prince Rupert. There was not a gangplank on the dock, and the ship's was stored where the crew had to take it out a forward hatch, slide it along a rail, and then set it up which took almost an hour. I would take this cruise on this ship anytime. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
The Spirit is a beautiful ship. Unfortunately, the service and food on board is not. "Freestyle cruising" is nothing more than NCL luring passengers with cheap fares and then charging for more on board. Most of the time, the ... Read More
The Spirit is a beautiful ship. Unfortunately, the service and food on board is not. "Freestyle cruising" is nothing more than NCL luring passengers with cheap fares and then charging for more on board. Most of the time, the "free" restaurants are overcrowded and the alternative restaurants empty but with cover charges ranging from $12.50 to $15 per person and even more surcharges for steak and lobster ($10). At times I saw over 100 passengers sitting on the stairs waiting to get into the free dining areas. NCL also charges $10 per day per passenger tipping "conveniently added to your on board account." The buffet dining was a mob scene, everyday. Buffet crew would not bring water to your table, refill coffee or anything like it. Beverage dispensers frequently were empty causing one to go to the other side of the ship which was like crossing the Berlin Wall. Room stewards cleaned your cabin at their will; putting the "Please Make Up Room" card in the cabin door key was totally useless. One could hardly take a nap for fear that the cabin would be passed by for cleaing. This was hardly the kind of service customary with other cruise lines such as HAL and RCL. The Captain of the Spirit, whom we never saw, did a wonderful job bringing the ship close to the South Sawyer Glacier and again on an emergency helicopter medical evacuation. In short, if you cruise NCL be prepared to pay at least another 15% of your fare for service and food usually included. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
We were the second cruise of the new ship to the Norwegian fleet. We are an active group of 30-40 year olds (14 of us) with one sr. citizen (who kept up w/ all of us). Having been on two Royal Caribbean cruises in the past and reading the ... Read More
We were the second cruise of the new ship to the Norwegian fleet. We are an active group of 30-40 year olds (14 of us) with one sr. citizen (who kept up w/ all of us). Having been on two Royal Caribbean cruises in the past and reading the reviews, we were a little apprehensive. This trip was an incentive trip I earned for making my quota, so we had no say in the cruise line or the cabin selection. We had an outside cabin on deck 5, no balcony, smaller room. However, the room was actually nicer than expected. The ship is beautiful, no complaints there. HOWEVER... I'll give ratings from 1-10 to help limit the explanation necessary. The food on the buffets--3. Cold, tasteless. The food in the restaurants that were NOT for a fee: 7; service 3 (this no tipping stuff---for the birds, the only people who fall all over you are the bar help and they are rude and won't leave you alone). We ended up paying for dinner 5/7 nights to get a good meal and the food was a 9 but the service was slow---2 hour min. for dinner every time. Limited the shows we could see etc. Cabin service: 10 cleanliness. but no extras and didn't see much of the people. Room service: 10--the food was actually better AND HOT...it was unbelievable how lukewarm all the food was. Tried it our last day and should have used it more. Entertainment (what we saw): 8 Art auction: 8--fun, bought four pieces but everyone else bought jewelry so I was still ahead and I love art. Shore excursions: Alaska is truly unbelievable. I want to go again. It was just awesome. Did whale watching/glacier in Juneau; White Pass RR in Skagway; Visited museums and hiked then did the Lumberjack Show (really good despite my aw shucks when it was suggested) in Ketchikan. Hung out and walked in Prince Rupert--need to do a tour there...there's nothing to do, but hubby was tired of tours. Embarkation/Debarkation before and after the trip and before/after tours was a nightmare. Long, long lines. They were really unorganized here. Overall, staff was only a 5 on the friendly scale but there'd be a person or two who would be very nice. All the entertainment people were a blast. Nightlife is limited as 80%of cruisers are elderly, but I liked not having a bunch of party hounds around. I will do Alaska again...probably when our boys are pre-teens we'll take them. Expensive but worth it. (We'd have to cruise on a line w/ better food so we'd not pay for it. Our bill was unbelievable). TRY ALASKA AMBER...awesome beer!! Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
Friday, May, 21, 2004 - Seattle, Washington Our flight into Seattle was uneventful, we arrived at the airport at approximately 5:00 pm. We had arranged ahead of time for a car to pick us up, using Seattle Towncar. It was $60, including ... Read More
Friday, May, 21, 2004 - Seattle, Washington Our flight into Seattle was uneventful, we arrived at the airport at approximately 5:00 pm. We had arranged ahead of time for a car to pick us up, using Seattle Towncar. It was $60, including gratuity. They can take up to four people, however, luggage for four people would probably not all fit in the car. Luggage for three adults would probably fit. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Tower in downtown Seattle. Our room was 2211, on the 22nd floor. It had a king size bed, high-speed Internet access, and a great view of Puget Sound from our large window. The dEcor was pale woods, light carpet, and beige and white bedding and walls. The bathroom had ceramic tile on the floors which looked like tumbled travertine marble. There was a (1875 watt) hairdryer in the bathroom also, so I was lucky since I did not pack one. The coffee provided in the room was... Starbucks, what else? The only real splash of color was the paintings and photos on the walls. It was very tastefully done, and was very relaxing. We asked the concierge at the Sheraton where she could recommend for us to eat that would be good Asian food. She recommended many within walking distance, and we settled on Bambuza on the corner of Pike and Convention Center Blvd. They had what was supposed to be Vietnamese food, but I found it to be more of an Asian fusion type food. The Bambuza rolls were just spring rolls with shrimp. Randall had salmon, and I had egg noodles with shrimp and tofu. We also had some coconut sweet potatoes that were really good. After dinner we walked around downtown a little. It was not that cold, but the wind was awful. Saturday, May 22, 2004 - Embarkation Day Embarkation day we slept in. We woke up about 9:00 am. It was lightly raining, but the wind was not bad, so it was not uncomfortable. The temperature was in the upper 50's. We had breakfast at a Starbucks about 100 yards from the Sheraton. After walking around after scones and coffee, we were struck by the number of Starbucks in one city block of Seattle. They were everywhere! We had forgotten to pack a few essential items so we found a Rite-Aid Pharmacy nearby. From there we walked down to the Pike Street Market by the water. We got to watch the fish throwers, and were amazed at the amount of produce and fresh flowers for sale. Also, we got to see the Princess ship that had rammed the pier in Victoria, B.C. the night before limp in. We were unable to see any damage on the hull, but we only saw her port side, and the damage may have been starboard or already repaired in British Columbia. We were grateful we were not on the Princess ship, as they were getting in much later than anticipated. We then went back to the hotel and checked out. We grabbed a cab to the cruise terminal. The fare was $12, including tip, but our taxi was delayed by a train, so it would have been approximately $6-7, if the train had not delayed us. We unloaded our luggage and got in the line to drop off your luggage to be loaded on the ship. We waited 15-20 minutes in this line. Once you got up to the NCL representative, they sent you to another short and quickly moving line where they quickly x-rayed your luggage before placing in the big bins to bring on the ship. After dropping off our luggage, they directed us to another entrance for the boarding the ship about 30-50 yards away. We waited approximately 10 minutes to be checked in. The Latitudes Members line was much shorter than the lines for all others, but we were lucky enough to be in a suite this time and had a special line with no one in front of us, so I could not vouch for wait times for Latitudes Members or others. After check-in, our butler, Maxi (from Bali, Indonesia), escorted us and other suite passengers through security and to our cabins. We had cabin number 10000. It is the Philippines Suite. When the Spirit was the Superstar Leo, this cabin was used as a lounge for suite guests. It is located on deck 10, completely forward, in the center. The butlers were available in this lounge 24 hours a day, and snacks and refreshments were on hand. Now, it is an actual suite, and there is no lounge for suite passengers. Our butlers were Maxi and Denny, and our senior stateroom steward was Randolf and our stateroom stewardess was Sonia. The suite enters into a short hallway. The suite has a half bath on the left hand side immediately when you enter. The short hallway is part muted gold-toned carpet and part hardwood floors. The panels on some of the walls and the hardwood floors are a rich cherry stained wood. In the hallway there are two paintings hung on the walls. On the left hand side of the hall there is a small semi-circle shelf with a mirror above it and a wall of mirrored panels. On the right hand side, there is a door to the bedroom, and a built-in credenza, where extra wine glasses are stored. The hallway opens to a dining room and living room and with two windows looking out on the balcony outside. There is a small dining table for four (which can double as a card table if you take the top off - it has a green felt covered inside), with a five foot tall, faux tree in the corner. The chairs are upholstered in textured, dark red, velour. There is a small bar with a small refrigerator, coffee maker, ice bucket, and enough glasses to host a cocktail party for at least fifteen to twenty people. The living room had a full size, golden-beige, chenille sofa, two upholstered chairs, a glass and metal coffee table, a glass and metal end table, a lamp, and an armoire, that included a 25 inch television and DVD/CD player. There was a large painting in the living room of a woman holding a bowl of fruit. The balcony door has a porthole window in the door, and a water-tight door. We found the water-tight door odd, but it was necessary due to the immense winds that would whistle through the other door. We found it was absolutely necessary to have the balcony door closed when you open the door to the main hallway, as anything lightweight was blown away. There was no furniture on the balcony, so we asked why. Maxi explained that the furniture was not allowed due to the high winds that could possibly blow it away. The bedroom had a tapestry bedspread with olive green, gold, and red floral pattern. There were gold velour curtains on the wall between the bedroom and living room. The wall behind the bed had mirrored panels like in the hallway, with a painting of koi/goldfish. On each side of the bed there was a small nightstand with a small drawer and a small bedside lamp. The ceiling had a fabric treatment that was gathered together at the light fixture. Across from the bed there was a closet with mirrored doors, six drawers to the right of the closet, with a television above the drawers, and two cabinets above the television. Also by the doorway leading to the bathroom there was a drawer and shelf. The doorway to the bathroom did not have a door, but had a gold velour curtain instead. The floor was tiled in cobalt blue one-inch tiles that had a gold shimmer to them. The vanity and tub surround was solid black granite. The tub was a Jacuzzi tub, and they had a porcelain jar with bath salts on the tub surround. The walls around the tub were tiled in a beige tile. There was a small vanity where an upholstered stool sat. There was a stainless steel jar with cotton balls, and a small dish of potpourri. There was a double sink, tissue box and garbage can built into the cabinets under the sink. The shower had the cobalt tiles on the floor, with a small sunburst in the center. The walls were tiled in a beige tile. The toilet room was tiled in the beige tile on the walls around the tub and shower, and had a glass door that matched the one on the shower. The walls in the toilet room were a cherry stained burled wood. There was a toilet with a bidet as well! Our muster drill was at 3:45 pm. It went quickly, so it was no big deal. The first day onboard we explored the ship. I found out that the fitness instructor was the same as the one on the Star. I also found out that the Spirit does not have spinning classes. Thank God! The concierge, Lisa, stopped by to see if we needed anything. I asked her if our CC members could get invites to the VIP cocktail party. She said she would ask. We had an informal Cruise Critic meeting at the Henry the Black Pub that evening. Everyone who posted on a roll call was there and we picked up 2 more. We had a great first meeting and really enjoyed getting to know everyone. We ate dinner at Windows dining room the first night. We went to dinner at 7:15 pm. There was a slight wait (about 5 minutes), and we noticed larger parties were having a longer wait. We were just a party of two. I had the shrimp cocktail (you get 3 shrimp), iceberg salad with avocado, and crawfish etouffee (was bland, I had to spice it up with Tabasco sauce). Randall had the shrimp cocktail also, corn and red pepper soup and the prime rib steak. For dessert, I had the sugar free chocolate & raspberry cake (was really good) and Randall had the crème brulee. After dinner we went back to the room, Randall watched a DVD we brought with us, and I took my bath. I spent the rest of the evening reading. Sunday, May 23, 2004 - At Sea I woke up at 5:20 am, thinking it was close to 8:00 am because of the bright sunlight streaming through the curtains. Once I looked at my watch and realized what time it was, I went back to sleep. We had ordered room service breakfast the night before. It came at about 8:15 am, as ordered. Maxi set our table in the dining room for us. I had scrambled eggs, sausage, smoked salmon with cream cheese and bagels, fresh fruit, orange juice and milk. Randall had a cheese omelet, bacon, fresh fruit, muffins, orange juice and milk. I attended the gem and jewelry seminar at 10:00 am. They were raffling a $150 diamond tennis bracelet for those in attendance, so I stuck around for the entire thing. If you know very little or nothing about jewelry it could be informative. For myself, I know more about jewelry than I should (much to my husband's dismay), so I found the presentation relatively boring. Also, I missed the sushi demonstration that I really wanted to attend because of that, so honestly I do not feel it was worth it. I went back to the cabin after the gem seminar. Randall and I took photos from our balcony and sat outside reading and trying to keep an eye out for whales. Soon after we went to deck 7 to the Blue Lagoon for lunch. I had the Singaporean-style Fried Rice, with Shrimp and Pork. Randall had the Cantonese-style stir fried noodles, and we shared a Shepherd's Pie. All were excellent. Then we went back to the room, where Randall continued to read on the balcony while I took a nap. I attended the Filipino language lessons with Jackie at 4:00 pm. I already knew a little Tagalog, but her lesson definitely gave me a much larger vocabulary, and more conversational phrases. I feel it was interesting and one of the most fun things I have done on an "at sea" day ever. We had our official Cruise Critic Meeting at 5:30 pm in the Clipper meeting room on deck 8. We had some trouble finding this, as the meeting rooms are kind of tucked away. It is back by Champagne Charlie's on deck 8. There was some misunderstanding between the group director and myself, as I made the mistake of assuming that Christina with NCL in Miami had let them know that we would like to meet with the hotel director and concierge. She had not told them we wanted to meet with some of the ship staff. Luckily the group director showed up 30 minutes later, answered our questions, and the concierge showed up a few minutes later. We were informed that some of the ship staff could meet with us on Friday at 5:30 pm in the same room, so we agreed to meet again then. The concierge informed us that she had been granted permission to send VIP party invites to all cruise critic members in attendance, so she took down everyone's names and room numbers. Randall and I went back to the cabin and got ready for formal night. Randall wore his off-white dinner jacket, tuxedo shirt, bow-tie, cummerbund, and tuxedo pants. I wore a black velvet, floor length, halter style, fish-tail train, gown. It had some silver beading in the v-neck of the gown. I wore plastic 3" heels with rhinestones across the toe. My earrings were black and clear rhinestone, with silver metal. We ate dinner at Windows dining room again. Randall had escargot for an appetizer, Avocado Watermelon Soup, and Beef Wellington for his entrEe. He said the Beef Wellington was excellent. I had a spinach salad for my appetizer, and Shrimp Jambalaya. The jambalaya was very bland, so I had to spice it up with Tabasco sauce. For dessert Randall had the Grand Marnier Souffle. He said it was mediocre. I had the sugar free Strawberry Mousse. It was awesome. If you like strawberries or strawberry shakes, you'll love it. I would definitely order it again. After dinner we stopped by the kid's program and the arcade. We don't have kids yet, but we were curious as to what they had to offer. The kids program had lots of stuff for the kids to play with, and they had snacks set out where the kids could get to them. We stopped at the room with the 3 to 5 year olds. They had just gotten back from their Prince & Princess Parade. Several of them still had on their paper crowns and were dressed up for formal night as well. The arcade is right next door to the kid's program. The arcade had a good amount of games. Most of them were Sega, and many of them had not been outfitted for the American market yet, as some would talk to you in what was either Japanese or Chinese and were set up to accept Yen. After that we went back to the cabin and watched Freaky Friday on DVD, then went to bed. Monday, May 24, 2004 - Ketchikan, Alaska First off, when you have to set your clock back one hour the night before, obviously the ship's wake-up call computer was not aware of the time change, as the wake-up call I requested for 6:15 am, came at 7:15 am. Luckily, Randall used his cell phone as a back up alarm that night, but if you really want to be safe, bring a travel alarm clock (either one that works on batteries or will plug into a 220V outlet as there is one 110V outlet in the entire suite! Also, I had a couple 220V adapters that came with my cell phone that I wish I remembered to pack). We arrived in Ketchikan around 6:00 am. We watched as the captain eased us into the dock. Our breakfast came at 6:45 am. I had inadvertently ordered 2 orders of Pineapple for breakfast the night before thinking that one order would only be a few pieces. I was wrong. Each order had about ½ to 1 whole pineapple sliced. It was more than we could ever eat in one day. We also had salmon, cream cheese, and bagels. As Maxi was leaving we asked if he could have breakfast waiting on us when we got back on board at 2:30 pm. We ordered 3 pizzas to be waiting on us. We quickly ate breakfast, and then headed down to the dock to meet our shore excursion tour. We were booked on the Ketchikan Sportfishing excursion. We met the tour group at 7:55 am. We quickly got under way. Randall and I were on the Ketch 'Em (name of the fishing boat) with another older couple from Oregon, and a gentleman from Sacramento, California. We got a general fishing license, and one for king salmon. Unfortunately we did not catch any fish. We did get a few strikes, but they just took of the tail of the halibut bait fish. Despite the fact that we did not catch any fish, that was okay with us. We saw several (at least 6-7) eagles, the eagle's nest up on the mountain, and two sea lions. One of the eagles flew directly above us, about 50 feet in the air. That made for some unbelievable photos of the eagle flying. The two sea lions were about 50 feet from our boat. One of them was catching salmon. Then he would roll on his back and swallow the salmon. The wildlife made the fishing trip worthwhile. If you are only there to fish, and do not care about seeing eagles or sea lions you would have been disappointed, but if you want to see wildlife, and do not care whether or not you go home with a fish, this is a great excursion. Our captain said the average cost to process and ship a fish home is about $100 for a 10-15 lb fish. Taxidermy services were available, but we did not find out the prices on that. One person out of the 31 from our ship who went on this excursion caught a fish. The boats hold 3-6 people, so if you are in a group of more than 6, you cannot all be on the same boat. The boat has a small sheltered room with seating, a small bathroom, and some salmon and snacks set out to nibble on. Water and sodas were provided. We made it back to the dock at 1:30 pm. Randall and I stopped in a few shops to pick up gifts and a couple Christmas ornaments that we buy on every vacation we take. One ornament was a glass blown miniature cruise ship. The other was a blue, purple, and green glass blown salmon. We bought a few children's books as well. The line to get back on the ship was unbearable at 2:00 pm, as it was cold and raining, so we continued to stop in many of the jewelry stores to stay dry and kill some time. At 2:30 pm everyone was supposed to be onboard, but our Port and Cruise Consultant, Noel, was not even in line yet, as I had just left him at Diamonds International, so I had a feeling we would not be left if we were not there at exactly 2:30 pm. We slowly made our way back to the ship where the line was slightly better, so we went ahead and got in line. Shortly after we got in line, I noticed, Noel about 20 people behind us in line. We got onboard at about 2:45 pm. Maxi had us a cheese pizza, veggie pizza, and a pepperoni pizza waiting for us when we got back to the room. The pizzas were about 7 inches in diameter, had about 1 inch thick crust, and were okay. They were definitely not your cheap frozen pizzas. We stuffed ourselves, and I went to take a bath since I was still chilled to the bone from getting so damp and cold. Randall read while I took a nap that afternoon. Later we gave a tour of the suite to a couple we met on the fishing excursion the day before. After that we watched Mona Lisa Smile on DVD. We had dinner at Maxim's Steakhouse. We ordered a bottle of J.P. Chenet Merlot. Randall had Shrimp Cocktail, Crabcakes, and Filet Mignon. I had the same as Randall, but also had a cup of Clam Chowder. We ordered cheesecake and a chocolate cake to bring back to the room for later. We were unable to finish the bottle of wine, so we had them save it for another evening. The chocolate cake tasted somewhat like a Hostess "Ding-Dong" without the cream filling, only richer. The cheesecake was okay. It wasn't the best I have had, but certainly not the worst. After dinner I went to look at the pictures we had taken by the ship photographers so far while Randall went back to the room. I still was unable to find our photo from embarkation day, but the rest I quickly found and put all of them together, so that I could show Randall the photos later. I was impressed with all of them from formal night. I then went back to the cabin, read for a little bit, and then went to bed. Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - Juneau, Alaska Our wake up call for 6:15 am worked this time. Breakfast was delivered at 6:45 am. I had scrambled eggs and sausage. Randall had a cheese and mushroom omelet with sausage. While we ate there was an eagle on the roof of the library/parking garage about 100 yards ahead of us. He sat there for the longest time, preening his feathers, and watching the water for any fish to catch. The Holland America ship, Ryndam, was coming in and was going to dock right next to where he was perched. We trained the video camera on him and watched him while we ate breakfast. Sure enough, as soon as the Ryndam got close enough, he flew off, and I was lucky enough to catch him on video as he flew off. We figure he was not happy that he lost his fishing spot. From our balcony we were able to see a couple waterfalls coming down the mountain. They probably extended from at least 5000 feet elevation. The waterfalls reminded of those we saw in Kauai, Hawaii. Also, if you have Sprint PCS service, this was the first port it worked at since Seattle. We used this to our advantage and called my dad that morning, Randall's office, and my mother (on her Sprint cell phone, so it was free!) that afternoon. We were on the Juneau City and Mendenhall Glacier Tour. There was a slight delay in getting to leave, but that was okay. Our bus driver took us through town, pointing out important things, and giving her commentary on different things. I took a photo of the Scottish Rite Temple as we passed it, as my dad is a Scottish Rite Mason. She pointed out the federal building with a bronze statue of pelicans in front. She explained that the state of Florida had commissioned the same artist at the same time to make this piece of artwork, and when it was finished and they received the piece, they unwrapped it to find the statue of pelicans. They figured out what had happened and called the federal building in Tallahassee to see if they had their bronze statue of eagles, and they did. The people in Florida said they liked the eagle statue more, and wanted to keep it, thus, the federal building in Tallahassee has a bronze of eagles, while Juneau has a bronze of pelicans. We found this interesting. After the driving city tour, we were off the Mendenhall Glacier National Park. It was unbelievable. There was a waterfall next to it, called Nugget Falls, and it was beautiful. The glacier had a pale blue to white coloration on most of it, with a few dark blue pieces. The visitor's center had a small gift shop, observation area, and an 11 minute movie. Also, there are trails that lead to an outdoor observation area, which is closer, and some people were hiking out to the waterfall. Your depth perception is altered when there, as things appear closer than they are. If you are on a tour that is only there for 1 hour, there is not enough time to hike out to the waterfall. Please do not be late getting back on your bus. We had one elderly couple who held us up from leaving for 10 minutes, only they were 20 minutes late, since the driver said she would pick us up at 45 after and it was 5 after when they showed up. They acted like it was no big deal, and they didn't realize we had been waiting for them. If you know what time the bus driver says to be back, be back then, it is not fair to the rest of us. (Just my little editorial there! ?) They were lucky we waited for them, since the driver said a taxi from the glacier is $40. After the glacier, we drove by the University of Alaska - Southeast campus. It was so pretty. They are lucky to have a campus that pretty with such great views. Then we went to a salmon hatchery. We stayed only about 30 minutes there. It was neat to get a cup of food to feed the salmon on your way out. Also, if you are a lady, and the line for the ladies room is long upstairs (where the gift shop/aquariums are), go downstairs. There was no line, and lots of stalls. Our bus driver was gracious enough to drop off those who wanted a few blocks from the ship so that we could explore and shop a little before heading back. We noticed many people getting off the bus and not tipping the driver (We tipped her $5 a person, so $10 total). I do not believe the tip was included in the excursion ticket price (I believe it was $40-45 per person). Personally, I feel if you felt the driver added a little more to your trip, tip them. If the driver did a bad job, maybe a tip is not warranted. We stopped in many of the shops along the Franklin Street, in front of the cruise ships. There were many jewelry stores, t-shirt and souvenir stores, and many Russian goods stores. The fudge from The Alaskan Fudge Company (195 Franklin St., Juneau) was really good. We bought a slice of the mint chocolate fudge. Yummy! There is a tram by the cruise ship dock that will take you up on the mountain. We did not do this, but talked with some people who did and they said it was fabulous. We are unsure of the cost, but heard it was between $20-25. We went to get back on the ship about 1:15 pm. Luckily when we did, we noticed they had opened one more line to get back onboard. I suppose after the fiasco of one line the day before that was soooo long and people having to stand in the cold rain while waiting to board, they wanted to avert that problem. The line moved quickly, and by 1:30 we were back in our cabin. We saw Maxi in the hall on the way back to our cabin and had him bring us 2 club sandwiches for lunch. They were good. Fellow Cruise Critic members, Dawn&Pete, came by for a tour of the cabin that afternoon before we got too far underway to Sawyer Glacier. It was really fun talking with them. Their cabin was only three doors down from us. We put chairs out on the balcony once we got underway to Sawyer Glacier. We took lots of pictures and videos of the icebergs as we went along. Slowly, the number of glaciers increased, as we got closer to the glacier itself. They ranged from clear, to white, to a beautiful blue. When we got very close to the South Sawyer Glacier we saw many seals with several pups, sea lions, and an eagle. The glacier itself had a deep blue tinge at the bottom near the water. The icebergs were huge near the glacier, and so numerous there were too many to count. It was very cold. I was wearing a turtleneck sweater, silk long-johns, blue jeans, my ski jacket, a warm hat, and a scarf tied around my head, covering my ears to help keep them warm. I was very glad I brought my ski jacket for the trip. We did not get to hear or see any "calving" (the sound made when chunks of ice break away from the glacier) of the glacier. It was extremely overcast, some low-lying clouds or fog, and rained lightly off and on. It was quite an unbelievable sight. As we were on our way back from the glacier, we began getting ready for dinner. We went to Shogun for dinner. We ate at the sushi bar. We ordered the Osaka combo. It had 2 different types of California rolls, a New York roll (with eel), Boston roll, 2 pieces of crab Sashimi, and some other weird roll with smelt egg, gourd, spinach, and pickled radish. I did not eat any of the New York roll (I don't like eel), but Randall said it was good. I did not have any of the weird gourd roll. Randall said he did not like it very much because it was too sweet. After we finished all of that, we ordered 1 order of Ebi (shrimp sashimi), and one order of Hamachi (yellow tail tuna). It's pretty hard to screw up Ebi, so it was good. The Hamachi was the best we have ever had, period. After dinner I ordered a bowl of Matcha (green tea ice cream). I get this at home, and it is wonderful anywhere I have had it. We always think it is funny because to someone who doesn't know what matcha is, it looks as if we are eating wasabi paste. After dinner we went to the photo gallery, found our photos, and purchased two 8x10"s and one 5x7" photo. We then went back to the cabin and watched Big Fish on DVD, and read some more before bed. Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - Skagway, Alaska We got a call at about 7:15 am from our butler saying he was on his way with breakfast. Thank God he did, as my wake up call I put in when I was half asleep the night before was at the incorrect time. The butler showed up about 1 minute after the call, so it appears he called from down the hall. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Randall had bangers and mash, with toast. After breakfast I crawled back into bed, since my back was killing me and I was still really tired. Randall went ahead and went down to the dock and walked to town. Randall walked around town, bought some Cokes at the only grocery store in town. There was one bank, a Wells Fargo. Also, there was only one post office. I got up later, and made my way to town about 10:00 am. The city transit is called the S.M.A.R.T. bus. They run at least every 20 minutes. They pick you up at the end of the dock, and then drop you off at three different intersections, 2nd & Broadway, 4th & Broadway, and 7th & Broadway. The fare is $1.50 each way. Randall said he spoke with his driver on the way back to the ship when no one else was onboard with them. He said the driver was also the mayor, and had lived in Skagway for all 69 years of his life. I was unable to meet up with Randall in town. I found many very interesting stores. My favorite was at the corner of 2nd & Broadway, on the same side of Broadway as the Red Onion Saloon (which has a brothel museum - no, I didn't go in). It was a store that sold beautiful table runners, throws, throw pillow covers, purses made out of old rugs, and rugs. I could have spent a small fortune there. Close to 5th & Broadway, I entered an antique store that was really neat. There was not much antique furniture, but I found some vintage hats that were beautiful. I collect antique hats, so I ended up buying a black pillbox hat, with little silver embroidered starbursts all over it, and a black fishnet veil; and a satin, seafoam green, pillbox hat, with an unusual gathered bow at the back of the same colored satin. I also bought Randall a vintage aerosol can for him to use for chemical testing. The Outlet was a good place for gifts. I bought a small stuffed animal moose purse for Randall's goddaughter, and a pair of flannel boxers for myself. I went in several of the other stores, none too memorable. I had lunch at Starbucks, where I had a ham sandwich, a Dr. Pepper, and a tall latte. I bought a cookbook with Alaskan recipes at the gift shop at Starbucks. After lunch, I caught the bus back to the dock, where I finally found Randall. We talked about what we did, then got on the train for our shore excursion. We were on the White Pass Railway. It was really interesting, and we just happened to choose the car where the narrator/announcer and any extra train staff would sit. It was neat to hear about the different young people's lives. The scenery was unbelievable! Some may find it boring, and I could see if you are around mountains on a daily basis thinking it is no big deal. However, we are from Texas, and Southeast Texas at that, so we are certainly not used to mountains. We found much of it absolutely breathtaking. We found it really neat that a tent site in town for the summer is $400 per month, and RV site with hookups is $450, and a shower is 25 cents for 2 minutes, not guaranteed to be warm. The line getting back on the ship was about the same as in Ketchikan or Juneau, but it was sunny, so it was not as miserable of a wait. Once back in the room, we were on the balcony looking for a sea lion colony that we were coming up on. Before we got to the colony we saw a small orca whale off the portside bow. It would swim up close to the ship, then it would surface close to shore. It did this for a few minutes. So we finally saw a whale! The VIP cocktail party was in the Celebrity Disco. Our entire Cruise Critic group was sent invitations, and everyone showed up. We had fun drinking and visiting with everyone. The captain came and talked to our group for at least 5 to 10 minutes. It was also interesting to learn that the two owners suites were both couples who gambled over $10,000 per cruise on average. They did not have to pay for their cruise outright. We figure they paid for it in the long run probably! After the party several of us decided to have dinner together. We had dinner at The Garden Room with Suzanne, Michael, Jean, Chuck, Sharlene, and John. At dinner we both had Lady Diana's Pear Avocado with shrimp salad, President Nixon's Crab Bisque, and I had the Sea Bass, while Randall had the lamb. Suzanne and Michael had their anniversary cake and shared it with everyone. The cake was actually pretty good. After dinner we invited our table guests to stop by and have a tour of the cabin. Suzanne and Michael stopped by shortly after dinner. Randall and I both read for a little bit before bed, and then it was lights out. Thursday, May 27, 2004 - Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada We had breakfast delivered at 8:30 am. Randall had the Spanish Frittatta, and I had a mushroom & cheese omelet. Both were good. We got dressed and Randall went to the lecture on Prince Rupert while I went to the talk about future cruises with the Port & Cruise Consultant, Noel. The art auction followed immediately after the future cruise talk. In the past I went a little crazy at an art auction on the Carnival Triumph, so Randall was a little leery but there was a raffle for a $1800 retail piece of art, so I figured I'd go for a chance to get some free art. Well, they had a much higher caliber art collection on this ship than on the Triumph, so I was impressed. The sheer number of original Salvador Dali sketches was unbelievable. We would like to have one, but the price is a bit out of our current budget, so that will have to wait. That being said, the auction started, most pieces were not our style, and then this beautiful Marc Chagall signed lithograph of the Paris Opera House ceiling was up for $300. For a signed Marc Chagall I could not turn it down. In the end it cost $431, including shipping and the matting and framing. A frame and mat for a piece that size at home would be over $300, so it was not a bad deal. The next piece they placed on the easel was a $34,000 Marc Chagall original. I just about fell out of my chair. I whispered to the lady sitting next to me, "My car costs that much." I understand art, especially by someone like Chagall, appreciates over time, but for $35,000 it better have tires and an engine! I liked my $300 piece more anyhow. I stayed for the entire auction, but did not win the art raffle. I went back to the cabin right after and broke the news to Randall. He wasn't thrilled, but he wasn't mad, but he doesn't know who Marc Chagall is, so I don't think he understood what a good deal I got. Randall and I went to meet with Noel at 1:15 pm to discuss a future cruise. The couple in front of us talked his ear off and went way over their allotted time, so we did not get into see him until after 1:35 pm. We got brochures on all of their cruises, as we really are having a tough time deciding. We want to cruise the Greek Isles, but NCL doesn't have any ships in Europe anymore. After meeting with Noel, we went to the cabin, grabbed our jackets to wear in Prince Rupert, and went down to Blue Lagoon to grab some fried rice for lunch. The service there is slow. We could have gone to eat in the main dining room and been done by the time we got our food. Luckily, we were not in a hurry to get off the ship. We got off the ship about 2:30 pm, and then we went into Prince Rupert's downtown first. We walked along 1st Street to the museum. We stopped in the gift shop there and looked around. There were several books I wanted, but Randall and I agreed they would be able to be bought at our local Barnes and Noble, so we did not buy any. There was a Safeway grocery store across the street from the museum. We walked up to 3rd Street and walked down the main drag. There was very little tourist shopping, many vacant store-fronts for rent, lease, or sale. Randall said he heard in the lecture on Prince Rupert that the city has decreased in size considerably, and that most of their industries have failed, leaving cruise ship tourism as a possible last hope. The homes were affordably priced. We saw one 3 bedroom, waterfront home for $85,000 Canadian dollars, and one huge, 5 bedroom home, with city and harbor views, for about $224,000. On the way back to the cruise ship we stopped at the museum again and actually took the tour. There was a lot of Native American artwork (mostly Tsimishien tribe of British Columbia). It was $4 per person in US dollars. It killed some time, which was good, as there is not that much to do there. We walked to Cow Bay next. There are some shops in a red building right next to the dock. They were okay, but further down the road there are some better ones, in our opinion. We actually like Cow Bay better than downtown Prince Rupert. We got back on the ship about 7:00 pm. I was so tired, so I crawled in bed and took a short nap, while Randall read his book. He woke me up at about 8:00 pm. We decided to go eat in Windows since it was lobster night. We had about a 5 to 10 minute wait. People in parties larger than four had to wait longer. We got a great table for 2 by a window. We got our unfinished bottle of wine from Maxim's to have with dinner. For an appetizer, I had the lobster mousse, which I found not that appetizing. Randall had the beef tenderloin medallions. We both had the salmon bisque, which we found rather bland and more like a chowder, as it had no tomato base to it. We both had the lobster for our main course. There were 1 & ½ lobster tails on each plate, and they were pretty small (a little larger than the jumbo (8-10 ct) shrimp we get in Texas). We ordered another plate each. For dessert we both ordered the mocha fudge pie, with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The pie was not very good. There was very little flavor to it, and it was kind of dry. We went back to the cabin and watched television and went to bed. Friday, May 28, 2004 - At Sea We both slept in this morning. We did not order room service breakfast the night before. We planned to go eat breakfast at a restaurant. Randall slept till 8:00 am, and I slept until 9:30 am. Once I was up, Randall saw hundreds of dolphins swimming along the portside bow of the ship. They did this for about 5 to 10 minutes. We decided to skip breakfast and just eat an early lunch, before the Latitudes member's party at 1:00 pm. We went down to Windows dining room at 11:30 am, thinking they would be open. We, along with about 20 others, were told they do not open until noon. We did not want to wait 30 minutes, so we decided to tough it out at the buffet instead. It was like a mad house. One elderly lady looked irritated that I joined Randall in the line for the buffet (they were setting out food and we were one of the first dozen in line) after I got my tray and silverware. The food did not look great, but we were hungry. The best thing we found was a chicken tortilla casserole. We did not know what it was. We just saw chicken with onions, and what appeared to be cheese on top. Once we sat down and began eating, we both said if we would have known what it was and that it was that really good, we would have got a big plate with nothing but that on it. We picked up some desserts on the way out of the buffet and brought them back to the cabin. We went to the photo stand to see if they could give us credit for a photo bought earlier when we forgot that the honeymoon/anniversary package included a picture. They said they couldn't, so I asked if I could see the pictures from initial embarkation, as I had never found ours and they were no longer up. They pulled out a basket, and ours was the 5th one in the stack I looked at. I chose one of the two for my complimentary honeymoon/anniversary one. We then joined our fellow CC members at the Latitudes party. It was held in the observation lounge on deck 12. The Latitudes pins were not there, but they said the home office in Miami would be mailing them out the next week. No one from our group won any prizes. After the party, Randall and I went down to the bridge viewing area. It was neat to see where the bridge is in respect to our room. The watch officer sits over our dining area and the captain's chair is over our living room area. We then went back up to the room until the art gallery room was open again so that I could show Randall our Chagall and the $34,000 one. On the way back to the room, we ran into Maxi, and we asked him if we could get breakfast in our room on debarkation morning. He said yes, but we would need to do so between 6:00-6:30 am, because he and Denny had to go do immigration fingerprinting for Indonesians after 6:30 am. He said they are required to do this every week for immigration. I think that would get really old. While we were in our cabin before the art auction we heard an announcement to avoid decks 12 & 13 for the next hour or two. They were medivac-ing a passenger off the ship. We later found out a woman onboard had a stroke a few hours prior, so they were sending her to Vancouver. The medivac helicopter was a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter. They made several passes, and were unable to land on the helipad, so they ended up lifting the person up in a basket. After all the hubbub with the medivac, we attended the art auction preview. I found one Dali piece that I really liked. Charlie, the art auctioneer, said to come back between 7 to 9 pm and he could work out a private sale for us. After that we walked up to Noel's office to book 3 rooms on the Sea out of Houston or the Dream out of New Orleans for next summer. He said there is no ship scheduled to go out of either port next summer. I truly hope they eventually end up putting something at one of those ports, since it is so convenient for us to drive to either port. So, we were unable to book a future cruise. Randall and I went back to the cabin and began the arduous task of packing. I had all the suitcases set out and mostly packed when I realized it was 5:30 pm, so I quickly ran down to the Clipper room for the final CC meeting, where the hotel director and others were to meet with us. I was truly disappointed, as the meeting became a time to air our gripes to the staff, when half of the things some pointed out are out of the ship's control. Much of the problems were with the port authority at each port. Many people pointed out the long waits in the restaurants. Randall and I did not have a problem with any long waits. Most of the time we waited less than 10 minutes or did not have to wait at all. Granted, we eat later than most people though, and we are not concerned with going to any of the shows. An older couple voiced concerns that there was no where to sit at embarkations at any of the ports or on embarkation day. This problem lies with the port authority, as NCL has no control over things that happen off the ship or how each port has their terminals set up. Also, this may be more of a problem in Alaska with the older clientele. The wait in the restaurants can be compared to if you go eat at say, Outback Steakhouse at a peak time on a Saturday night. Of course, you will have to wait. If you go toward closing you probably won't have a wait, or at least a much shorter wait. It is unrealistic to expect to have no wait at all at any meal. If that is what you are looking for, go on a traditional cruise line or something like Seaborne where you have a higher staff to passenger ratio. Jean and I felt very bad that the meeting became such an attack on NCL/the staff, so we had to say that we have been happy with everything, and we both said because we do not go to the shows, we had no problems with any long waits. After the hotel director, asst. hotel director, and food & beverage director left, Lisa, the concierge, gave out VIP disembarkation tickets to those who needed them. It was very nice of her to provide this to those who had early flights out. I went back to the cabin, changed for dinner, and Randall and I decided on sushi again. This time we ordered a California roll, a Boston roll, one order of hamachi, one order of ebi, and one order of sashimi (Ahi tuna). It was even better than before. We totally recommend it, if you like sushi. After dinner, we went up to the art gallery. We looked at all the Dali's on hand, and we kept coming back to one called Henry VI. It was a hand signed original etching from the "Paradise Lost" series. The paper it was on looked like a type of rice paper. It was very pretty, and I can't wait to get it home and figure out where to hang it. We then went back to the cabin and resumed packing. We had invited everyone from our CC group back to the cabin for champagne at 8:30 pm. Suzanne and Michael were the only two who showed up. We had a really nice visit with them. They had to leave to start packing, and we still had to finish, so we said goodnight. Saturday, May 29, 2004 - Seattle, WA - disembarkation Day I woke up at about 5:00 am. There was light streaming into the room. Randall was already out of bed, laying on the couch in the living room. I tried to go back to sleep, but really just laid there. At 5:30 am, our wake up call came. I trudged out of bed and began to get dressed while Randall was in the shower. We finished packing our carry on luggage and watched some CNN. Breakfast was delivered right before 6:30 am. I had scrambled eggs with bacon. Randall had a cheese omelet with bacon and sausage. We both agreed we were not in a real hurry to get off the ship. I think we will miss the room. We also agreed, that if we were in an inside cabin we would have been ready to leave about 3 days ago. Since we had VIP disembarkation and a flight at 11:30 am, we met the concierge at Henry the Black Pub at 7:45 am to get a VIP escort off the ship. We quickly got through the customs line. On our way down to retrieve our luggage, we saw our butler going through immigration and waved goodbye to him. All the VIP luggage was grouped together downstairs and was easy to find. We grabbed our 4 bags and ran outside to catch a cab. The fixed fare from the airport to downtown hotels is $25. Our fare from the cruise ship terminal to the airport was $27. We got to the airport a couple hours early, but we got a Javachip Frappaccino from Starbucks and camped out until our flight was called. We flew first class on the way back to Houston. One of the meal choices was salmon salad. It was very good. We got home from the airports at exactly 8:00 pm. When we got home I immediately started laundry and I am still working on it this afternoon. I miss my butler... It was a great cruise, but I've seen Alaska now and I really don't think I will want to go back. We found we are a little partial to warm weather cruising. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
Norwegian Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.8
Dining 4.5 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 3.5 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 5.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.0

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