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25 Norwegian (NCL) Whittier Cruise Reviews

We were amazed at the size of the inner stateroom we had. On the 9th deck, it had a king sized bed, a full sized sofa (that could be converted to a double bed), 2 closets, 2 sets of drawers. So much room we even had a place to put our ... Read More
We were amazed at the size of the inner stateroom we had. On the 9th deck, it had a king sized bed, a full sized sofa (that could be converted to a double bed), 2 closets, 2 sets of drawers. So much room we even had a place to put our suitcases away and out of our paths. Since this was one of NCL's smaller ships the food choices, although good, were a little bit more limited but we each gained 10 lbs that week. The specialty restaurants were awesome as was the staff. We also went on the Denali land portion of this cruise and although exhausting felt that this was a very worthwhile experience.Although we did not utilize any of the shore excursions except the city tour of Vancouver to the airport, each port had plenty of very reasonably priced locals doing tours. I would gladly do this same cruise over in an instant! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We were a party of 6, travelling with our 90 year old mother in a wheelchair. Attentive, courteous and caring staff made our trip fairly smooth. Thanks to Ferdinand, who always remembered our names and kept our staterooms spotless. Mom had ... Read More
We were a party of 6, travelling with our 90 year old mother in a wheelchair. Attentive, courteous and caring staff made our trip fairly smooth. Thanks to Ferdinand, who always remembered our names and kept our staterooms spotless. Mom had a balcony and that was the best place to be for glaciers, fjords and just sightseeing. Our server at dinners was exceptional. Melanie kept us well fed, especially with chocolate desserts. Stella, on excursion desk, did a lot of leg work for us, to ensure that mom could get on the seaplane. Our excursions were many amongst the 6 of us, but the best was seaplane ride into Misty Fjords with Carl. Their crew was very patient with Mom and her mobility issues. We danced to the Love Bros and Kris..Romel always remembered our names!!! Loved their music especially the country with a phillipino/spanish twist!! Thanks to them for keeping us entertained. Little issue with advertised 1/2 price wine for last dinner on board. When questioned, first it wasn't available till shown the flyer, then a written list of 3 wines priced from $165-$220. Not very credible. Overall our Alaskan cruise and the dream of a 90 year old was amazing!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Lots of things change....cabin was better. Roomier and comfortable. Quiet. Entertainment was fairly good. I liked the juggler best. The show Look of Love should have been called Look of Lust and I was embarrassed for my father who is very ... Read More
Lots of things change....cabin was better. Roomier and comfortable. Quiet. Entertainment was fairly good. I liked the juggler best. The show Look of Love should have been called Look of Lust and I was embarrassed for my father who is very conservative. Variety show was good. Cruise Director was fun and did a lot of funny little games with late nighters. Drawbacks 1) buffet was horrible - crowded and food average at best. Restaurants had limited hours so sometimes it was buffet or nothing if you didn't want to eat in room or pay extra. Main dining rooms were good and food much better. 2) lack of quiet space - really none- even small library always full of people with kids, boardgames ect. 3) add on service charge. I think the staff worked much harder to give guests excellent service when this wasn't just a gimmie. Enjoyed the art auctions and the hot tub. The massage was good but the lack of robe at entry and the masseuse standing in room waiting on tip was unprofessional. Ports were good. The best thing was the Tracy Arm Fjord day of touring. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Booked the Alaska Cruise for our 50th Anniversary bringing a total of 18 people!! Rooms were OK but a little tired.....our room, aft suite, was nice with a huge balcony. Service on board was courteous and friendly but occasionally we would ... Read More
Booked the Alaska Cruise for our 50th Anniversary bringing a total of 18 people!! Rooms were OK but a little tired.....our room, aft suite, was nice with a huge balcony. Service on board was courteous and friendly but occasionally we would get a disgruntled employee. At times there was a fairly significant language barrier. Food was just average to poor at (overcooked, goopy, dried out)......we were somewhat spoiled since we recently did two Regent Cruises! Also at times the service was very , very SLOW! They also ran out of diet soda, two different Pinot Noirs! We also did not like the incessant advertising of shops in the ports of call.....owned by cruise companies. Watch out for arcade room as kids can play using their room key! All in all, we had a great family trip but something needs to be done about service and food in main dining rooms (we did not try specialty rest.) or they will loose business. Also, they automatically add a 15% gratuity to all drinks.......it should be included in daily service charge. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
After spending our 25th wedding anniversary on The Pride Of America we were over the moon with this cruise so we thought why not go to Alaska and do the cruise back to Vancouver something on most peoples bucket list. Once again we had a ... Read More
After spending our 25th wedding anniversary on The Pride Of America we were over the moon with this cruise so we thought why not go to Alaska and do the cruise back to Vancouver something on most peoples bucket list. Once again we had a balcony room and like the other ship it was the same inside but this is where it ends. The buffet restaurant was the first place we went to the first night for dinner and Breakfast the next morning and the first thing we noticed was the lack of variety but for the next six nights it was basically the same with may be a change or two and not to mention running out of some food as well towards the end of the trip.The restaurants that you payed a cover charge were better but the ones that were on the complementary list the food was good but really who do you have to kill to get a drink with your meal.Basic restaurant rule's sit the customer down give them the menu take the drink order while they are looking at the menu IT"S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE NCL you are loosing money by not doing this.We had breakfast one morning in one of these places and had to explain four time that we wanted four slices of toast not french toast to the waitress who's command of the English language was not great don't get me wrong here service was great but please.The carpet in some place was thread bare and the linen looked old the whole ship looked tired.But the staff were friendly and helpful but I am sad to say I would not recommend this ship to my friends or family and I was not the only person on board not happy with the cruise or the ship also the time in port was not long enough Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just got home from Alaskan cruise on Norwegian Sun. Loved the cruise first and foremost. Had our very first balcony cabin and now are spoiled! We really thought the ship was very nice, it is an older ship but we felt it was very clean and ... Read More
Just got home from Alaskan cruise on Norwegian Sun. Loved the cruise first and foremost. Had our very first balcony cabin and now are spoiled! We really thought the ship was very nice, it is an older ship but we felt it was very clean and well maintained. our balcony room was very spacious and out kids ocean view cabin was as well. In our cabin we had 2 separate 3 drawer dressers, also the closet had lots of room for hang up clothes. My only negative was the shower...Can you say TINY!!!!!! the dining room was beautiful , both the Seven Seas and The Four Seasons. Pros and cons of 'freestyle" cruising......loved the fact that we could go to dining room anytime and sit where we wanted with just our family. However didn't really like the fact that we didn't have the same waiter each night and the wait staff didn't do dance or sing like on other ships we've cruised on. Also the menu in both dining rooms didn't have much variety.....each night half of the menu remained the same and they added maybe 4-5 new main entrees each night and even the dessert menu remained the same with the exception of a few new each night...there was never LOBSTER on the menu or SHRIMP COCKTAIL!!!! I've been on 2 other cruise lines and they ALWAYS have lobster night. This said the food was very good , however very little variety. Loved the cruise director and the staff, everyone was very polite and friendly. When we arrived in Whittier it was pouring and , we got off our bus and had to get our luggage and give it to the cruise staff to put it on the ship. It was pouring rain and we got wet however they moved as quickly as possible and the process of getting o the ship as well as getting off the ship was very organized and smooth.. We discovered the Tappas bar up on deck 12 and loved the ceviche they served. Each day in port getting on and off the ship was great, no hold ups .We loved Alaska more then we ever dreamed.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Monday, Aug 25  We arrived about 11:35am to make the Whittier Tunnel (the schedule is online, easy to find it when googling). Our friend drove us around Whittier and we arrived about 1215 at the ship. We dropped off our luggage (luckily ... Read More
Monday, Aug 25  We arrived about 11:35am to make the Whittier Tunnel (the schedule is online, easy to find it when googling). Our friend drove us around Whittier and we arrived about 1215 at the ship. We dropped off our luggage (luckily the baggage handlers there had staples to staple the baggage tags you print off and also had some to provide). Lines were pretty short (I’ve been in much longer) – and we were able to board fairly quickly. Was disappointed to find out none of the complimentary sit down restaurants were open for lunch that day. Was looking forward to having a nice relaxing sit down lunch, so we went up to the buffet on the 11th deck. Was expecting the buffet to be larger but it was never crowded. Mini Suite Cabin on Deck 11: Didn’t have to wait long for all the cabins to be ready. Great location – not many cabins located at that end and not much traffic either. Large closet, with about 6 drawers of storage, including a shelf for the safe and another shelf for the life vests. Separate room for the sink with cabinets and storage and across a chair with another counter. Additional room with door to room with tub/shower and toilet. Cabin itself was nice size – another storage unit with about 4 drawers, tv, desk, refrigerator; and full size couch. We had the mini bar emptied. Overview of the ship: I thought the ship was nice – a little odd as you can’t go across from one end to the other for one of the sit down restaurants on the same deck. There is a stairwell next to the Seven Seas restaurant that goes down to the 4th deck – not many people know about it and easy to walk to the other side of the ship instead of going through the photo gallery, Dazzles, etc.. Dazzles is the bar/lounge that majority of cruise staff activities occur. You have to walk through it to go from one end of the deck to the other. Ship also has shops, library, photo gallery, a smaller lounge called Windjammer. Atrium in front of the ship opens up to deck 11 – stairs go between deck 5 and 6 where guest services is. Took a tour of the spa, and took a free tour of the ship. The free tour of the ship was led by Sassy Sarah (a member of the cruise director staff). She was very nice and personable and always friendly everytime we saw her throughout the week. Used the spa for a massage and manicure/pedicure. Really enjoyed the nail tech Trudy, she was very friendly and personable. Seven Seas Restaurant: Made reservations ahead of time and didn’t need it – pretty empty. Food was pretty good – ate there a couple more times Saw the entertainment show that night – comedian was funny, a lot of time spent introducing crew/officers Signed up for the Behind the Scenes Tour of the ship – they only offered it once for 16 people on Sunday Tuesday, Aug 26: At sea day. Went to the buffet for breakfast (through the week served about all the same dishes for breakfast). Attended some activities including tv trivia. Ship took us up really close to the Hubbard Glacier – the ship sailed toward it, then turned and stopped and then turned so the right side of the ship could have front view, then turned so back could see it. Open Seasons for dinner – good but saw the same main courses offered at the buffet. Entertainment show that evening was ok until the tap dancing started then it went downhill. Do we really need 4 or 5 numbers of tap dancers. Attended the Newlywed game which was funny. Wed: Icy Straight Point: I knew this was a stop created by the cruise ship industry and the town of Hoonah was very small. If you go make sure you have an excursion as not much to do after walking around the shops, food places, etc.. Took the Forest and Nature Tram excursion, which left 15 minutes late. As expected it was slow, laid back and so mostly the rainforest and the water. **Highly recommend the excursion “Alaska’s Wildest Kitchen”. We took it at the end of the day and it was great. The woman who taught this has lived in Alaska on the water for 20+ years. Worked on fishing boats, etc.. Gave us 3 recipes of her favorites – Salmon Dip, Salmon Burgers and Fish Soup. Showed us how to make it and we had samples. Then we each got a piece of halibut and salmon and were able to season it ourselves and cook it outside on the fire. It was very interesting too. Thurs: Juneau: Didn’t book anything ahead of time. We were thinking of going up the Roberts Tramway but had been told if it was cloudy/overcast you wouldn’t be able to see anything. Clouds hung around the top the whole day. Booked a city trolley tour from one of the excursion booths at the port. It was informative and interesting – we got off once across the water for a nice view of Juneau and the ships. Walked around the town and were surprised that with several ships in Port more stores weren’t open earlier. With the recommendations of others – had lunch at Tracy’s Crab Shack and was definitely worth it. The crab bisque was really good too. Also got the mini crab cakes. Our ship left 40 minutes left as one person didn’t return, they finally left her. We heard she got to Skagway and was at the pier when the ship pulled in. Ship went up Tracy Arm Fjords which was amazing and very pretty. Can’t imagine the first people who discovered at the end of that was a glacier. We didn’t go as close to this glacier but the scenery was awesome. Saw the comedian that night and he was good, improvised too when the ship started making noise. Heard his second adult only show was just as funny. He made fun of the people who can’t read the signs at the water dispensers in the buffet that says not to fill up water bottles, made fun of those who get up really really early and go to the buffet in their pajamas – even made fun of some kid that everyone saw all over the ship but never saw his parents anywhere. Friday – Skagway We had booked an excursion with Chilkoot Charters for a bus and rail excursion for 3.5 hours. We took the bus up (small bus picked up passengers at each of their ships). Good commentary on the bus, interesting. Small group about 12 people. Stopped a couple of places along the way. Had to go through customs when we got to Canada. We were then dropped off at small train station – our group had a car to themselves. Narration over the train – great scenery and you can go outside to take photos along the way. Very pretty and amazing how the pioneers during the gold rush climbed up and down those mountains. Went back to Skagway and had lunch at a local pub/bar which was good food and walked around the town to the various stores – but were done by 2pm and headed back to the ship. Saw the juggler/ladder guy at the theater and he was horrible, awful and corny. Went to the sing along with the crew and guests in the atrium which was fun Saturday – Ketchikan Had booked the 1pm Duck tour through the ship (it was only a $2 difference between booking it directly) - **Plus for booking through ship – there was a long line to get off the ship – but after some of the excursions met in the theatre we were called to leave and walked by everyone in a special line and were able to leave the ship. Duck Tour was just ok – wouldn’t recommend, the guides weren’t that good and corny. Walked around the town **Note if you are Catholic and want to attend church – Holy Name Church of Ketchikan offers a Port to Pew Shuttle Service – just google their name – they pick up at 8:15am on Sundays and 4:30pm on Saturdays. Very nice friendly people and great service. One of the women on the shuttle said she had asked guest services about the local catholic church and they didn’t know – she asked the visitor center and they told her about the free port to pew shuttle service.: Sunday – sea day Took the behind the scenes tour which was interesting – saw the galley,laundry, waste management, walked by the doors to some of the crew cabins which were way down. Got a presentation of the history of NCL too. 15 minute break in the middle was a waste of time. Took a picture in the galley and at the end were presented with a padded booklet with our picture and a photo of the ship and itinerary – very nice gift. Went to the Q&A with some of the ship officers and production staff. Staff talent show was awful – left before it ended. Monday – Vancouver. We chose to carry our own luggage which I’ve done before. We had to be out of the cabins by 8:30am although didn’t need to leave the ship that early. We left at 8:00am and were shocked, one person on the elevator with us – only a few people leaving the ship and only a few people in line for customs. Stayed in Vancouver for 2 more nights – took two great tours with LandSea Tours Took the Post Cruise City Highlights Tour – they pick you up at the port, handle your luggage and will drive you to your hotel. Great tour and tour guide, got out several times, had good time at Granville Island to shop and have lunch; went to Stanley Park and ended going up the Vancouver Tower for a great view of the city, ship. The next day we used LandSea Tours again for the North Shore Capilano Bridge and Grouse Mountain Tour – another great guide, small bus and interesting tour   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was my 2nd Alaska cruise - 5 years ago I was on Holland America. The weather was perfect for this cruise. We went to Icy Point Strait - I'd never seen it before. There was a cooking excursion that was very good. We got to cook ... Read More
This was my 2nd Alaska cruise - 5 years ago I was on Holland America. The weather was perfect for this cruise. We went to Icy Point Strait - I'd never seen it before. There was a cooking excursion that was very good. We got to cook our own lunch and learned tips on cooking both halibut and salmon. We went to Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier. We did not get close to either glacier. We could see them in the distance, but we couldn't see any glacier calving and we only stayed long enough to turn around and run to our next port. When I went to Glacier Bay on Holland America, we got really close and the captain spent over an hour turning the ship around so you could get a view of the glacier from no matter where you were on the ship. We also had a naturalist from Glacier Bay Park on board to talk about the glacier and point out whales, sea lions, eagles, etc. We never had anyone on Norwegian point out any wildlife. If you couldn't find it yourself, you didn't see it. We went to Juneau (but only stayed from 7am to 1:30pm) not nearly enough time to explore the city. This is a beautiful city with lots to see and do, but you need more than 5 hours. We also saw Skagway and Ketchikan and they've improved on where the ships are moored. Made it much easier to get in and out of both cities. Food - the bad news. The buffet was always crowed, and the quality of the food was really bad. Pancakes that were too hard to cut in half. Canned fruit that was hard. Eggs weren't fully cooked. Country potatoes were better in the 1st half of the cruise, by the end it was mostly onions and peppers with a few potatoes. We usually ate in one of the two dining rooms for dinner. The 7 Seas was much better than the Four Seasons, but that's not saying much. If you ordered steak it was only 1/4" thick, and poor quality. Dinners used to be fancy and high end, this cruise we were offered turkey, meatloaf, and usually a seafood dish. Never saw lobster, but one night they offered cod encrusted with crab and shrimp. We had to send it back, the table next to us said that they sent it back twice. We ordered risotto, but it was setting in a kind of velvetta cheese sauce that was disgusting. I was appalled at the amount of food that was wasted, because it was inedible. We paid the service charge and went to the Italian restaurant one night for dinner. I ordered lasagna, and had to peel off the top layer because it was a hard uncooked lasagna noodle. The service there was better than in the main dining room, but a lot of the food was similar (salads, appetizers, desserts). The desserts were not good. Boring and tasteless. It was my birthday while we were at sea and my friends ordered a cake to be set up in my room. Our steward decorated the room and threw confetti on the bed and floor. That cake was really good. But they paid extra for it. Indoor wildlife - After spending the day in Skagway we came back to the cabin to the birthday surprise and we stayed in the room playing cards. Sometime that evening I got bit by a spider. It got progressively worse so after I got home I went to the doctor. I'm now on antibiotics and I have a huge open sore on my leg. Who knows what bit me, but it makes me think twice about the cleanliness of the room. Our steward was wonderful and the room looked clean, but who knows what or how those things get into a stateroom. Our cruise director was a bit strange, and I wasn't a fan - but I could put up with him. Just totally disappointed with the food. I expect to be treated and fed like someone special. When you pay as much as I did for 7 days and get fed worse than cafeteria food, it makes me think twice before I'll go on a cruise again. In fact there are 12 of us that were planning a cruise next summer on the Norwegian Pearl. My husband and I backed out because of this cruise. Norwegian really cut costs on food, but they want you to pay extra for the food that used to be standard fare. If I was to give this a star rating, up to 5 stars, I couldn't honestly say their food even earned a 2 star. I doubt seriously if I'd ever cruise Norwegian again. We've been on 3 different Norwegian cruises over the last 18 years, and they've gotten worse each time.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We are not experienced cruisers, but we are experienced world travelers. Our conclusion studying opportunities for Alaska was that there isn't much of an alternative to taking a cruise, and we booked with Norwegian partly because of ... Read More
We are not experienced cruisers, but we are experienced world travelers. Our conclusion studying opportunities for Alaska was that there isn't much of an alternative to taking a cruise, and we booked with Norwegian partly because of their combined pre-cruise package going to Denali. First .. during the entire time we were in Alaska there just perfect weather ... almost everyone exclaimed that 'it's usually not like this!" ... Our trip to Denali had spectacular views, and the entire 7 days going south from Whittier to Vancouver was also just perfect weather. It was great luck, but it also made things that might have been more irritating much less so just because it was hard not to have a good time being outside with this kind of scenery and wildlife. We had a forward cabin on deck 8, starboard side, large rectangular window. For just two, the room space was fine. We requested the beds be together (sort of a queen size bed), but since one of us sleeps in the middle, there was the uncomfortable joint where the two mattresses meet. There are lots of solutions to this, but clearly this isn't something Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) counts as a priority. I'm a good sleeper, and eventually manager with it. We thought there was plenty of closet and drawer storage space for two of us, and we are not light packers at all. We never heard the anchor drop, hardly even heard the ship ... everything was very quiet. Since our weather was always perfect, there was really never any ship movement. A note about packing ... if you enjoy having a drink in your room, or a glass of wine or a beer, be sure you bring this on at the beginning and packed in your luggage -- not in your backpack! If you can manage without the mini-bar in the fridge, ask them to remove everything ... and voila you have your own in-room fridge! It is almost impossible to bring something on once you are underway making the point calls, ... so buy what you want in Anchorage, put it safely in the luggage. Oh, and bring your own corkscrew!! The crew were always delightful .. everywhere you went, someone was smiling and saying hello. This is top to bottom ... the room steward and other staff on your floor, all the public areas, eating areas and bars .. great training and it was all well done. I give NCL kudos for that. The food was just horrible, although sometimes it rose to the level of mediocre. We found that having breakfast in the room from room service was the best option for us, and to order nothing cooked. Coffee, fruit, milk, cereal ... it was great to just be on our own schedule and not worry about a schedule. There was no charge for room service, other than a nominal tip. But the food for lunch and dinner .. it's just incredible that it could have been so uniformly bad. The best strategy for lunch is the outdoor bar b que on the pool deck. Our advice would be to always avoid all buffets anywhere on the boat other than this lunch. Of course, if your weather is bad, this might not be an option .. but ours was uniformly great, and this worked. Dinner was another story ... but first, a suggestion for couples or groups of 4. The regular dining rooms have lots of tables by a window, and if you are 2 or 4 you can always get one if you are willing to wait 10 minutes or so. We always had a window table, every time in every restaurant. Large parties .. this isn't going to work for you. More amazing about the food ... we were in Alaska .. where a large part of America's seafood is from. But in the restaurant, the salmon was either Atlantic (farmed) or, really, Norwegian (farmed). There was never Alaska crab, or halibut ... or anything. Even though it looks like the two dining rooms share the same kitchen, we found that begging for something to be cooked a certain way worked better in Seven Seas than the other dining room. Not sure why that was the case. It hardly mattered ... insipid menus, no vegetables, horrible ingredients prepared like your middle school cafeteria. It seemed to me that being on a cruise ship was just a bit expensive ... and then being fed horrible meals over and over was like a poke in the eye. (salad nicoise with canned tuna; some 'risotto' made with what had to be velvetta, and lots of it, etc. I just don't want to think about it.) Ports ... we did not book any of the NCL excursions, but always found fun things to do, even though these are mostly cruise-ship stops with not much special. At Hoonah, the small town near Icy Point Straight, we saw Eagles, an Eagle nest, and had a great lunch of fresh caught Alaska crab .. it's the first little place to eat on the road to the town. We enjoyed the view of Hubbard glacier, plenty of time to see it, and enjoyed seals, two whales, otters along the way. In Juneau, just walk to the main bus area (big letter "C" over the parking lot) and buy a ticket to the Mendenhall Glacier park ... it's $20 round trip and there was an entertaining talk both ways. At the glacier we saw spawning salmon in the stream, and enjoyed the walk to the face of the glacier, and the waterfall. That's about all the time there is in Juneau. The ride up Tracy Arm Fjord to see the Sawyer glacier was also great. (Get on the top deck, and grab a deck chair up close to the wind protector!) In Skagway we rented a car (Avis) and drove into Canada, stopping to talk walks on various trails. In Ketchikan we walked along the creek and saw more spawning salmon, went to the totem museum, had a nice dinner at Cape Fox Lodge (need reservations .. some think Bar Harbor restaurant is better .. need reservations further ahead for that), and walked around more up to boarding. We enjoyed having a drink in the observation lounge .. great windows, great drinks. The biggest negative from NCL corporate was the relentless, incessant selling. Over the loudspeakers, in the halls, it was just non-stop. What are they thinking? Have they tested this? I'm concerned that it must be working, but suspect that some genius in corporate decided that they weren't selling hard enough and they needed to up the number of contacts per day. It was just horrid, and always left a bad taste. We enjoyed the exercise room ... tried to figure when the peaks were and go other times, also liked having the whole of deck 6 as a jogging/walking track. But, overall ... we had a nice cabin, had great weather, great views of wonderful scenery. Saw wildlife, both in Denali (bears, golden eagles, foxes, caribou, moose, ptarmagan, etc), and on the ship (whales, multiple times, including Orcas, seals, otters). I didn't sign on for the food, and I learned to ignore the hawking of junk (who buys diamonds on a cruise ship?). Your mileage may vary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was an epic 18 day adventure. Here is a link to the same review on the NCL forum that includes pics: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2089424 DW have sailed 20 some times on I believe all mainstream lines. This is I ... Read More
This was an epic 18 day adventure. Here is a link to the same review on the NCL forum that includes pics: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2089424 DW have sailed 20 some times on I believe all mainstream lines. This is I believe our 5th NCL, including Sky, Pearl, Dawn and an inaugural cruise to nowhere on the Breakaway last year. July 22) – We got up at 3am EDT and flew American Airlines to Seattle and then Alaska Airlines to Anchorage. The Alaska Airlines plane was a new 737 with very nice seats that are different from anything I’ve previously experienced. I actually had sufficient legroom, which is something that has gone the way of the dinosaur over the last decade. Enjoyed a very scenic flight north with decent views of Mt. Fairweather and Yakutat Bay. Upon arrival in Anchorage, DW’s bag was destroyed… I went to the baggage counter to take care of the paperwork and was shocked when the attendant took me back to a storage area, pulled out a box and presented a brand new bag. Got to love Alaska Airlines! We transferred to the Millennium Hotel, on the shores of Lake Hood. We arrived about 9pm (1am body-clock time), it was well past dinner time so we got to our room and went down to check on dining options. We opted for the outdoor venue and had seafood (black cod/sablefish) tacos and crab cakes while sampling local beer and listening to the balladeer play mostly classic rock songs! It was a relaxing end to a travel day that spanned 24 hours and a great welcome to Alaska! July 23) – Up and out by 7:00 (but 11am body-clock time!). I’m excited to be taking the 12 hour trip on the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks (DW, not so much, but being a pretty good sport). We enjoyed the Alaska Railroad’s Goldstar service to Talkeetna then changed to one of the two Wilderness Express private cars for the balance of the trip. Both Goldstar and Wilderness Express cars feature upper level seating with glass top, panorama viewing with a bartender/barista, depending on your poison. Dining was on the lower level with wide tall windows. My breakfast in the Alaska Railroad diner was a scrambled egg skillet w/ reindeer sausage, it was excellent. On the Wilderness Express, I had a sesame seafood salad for lunch and prime rib for dinner, I consider both to be excellent, and wonder how such fine quality can come from a moving train car! Dinner was served as we were rolling through Denali National Park. Fine food combined with unmatched scenery, what an experience! Finally our scenic day comes to a close as we roll into the Fairbanks Station. We transfer to the Rivers Edge Resort to begin NCL’s Authentic Alaska land tour. Sleep comes fast in our comfy little riverside cabin. July 24) – We were greeted by temps in the low 40s and drizzle this morning. Bags out at 7 with 2 tagged with a “meet me at the ship” tag that will catch up with us at the ship. We head to the dining hall in the main building. Two options, continental buffet or full/hot buffet, I believe it was $12.99 and $16.99. We opted for hot and it was more than adequate. There are two groups (40 each) doing this itinerary, we are assigned to “group A” and meet our delightful tour director, Annette and our driver, Jim. We would be traveling in sort of a loose tandem with the other group throughout the land portion. We board the motorcoach and head to the Riverboat Discovery, I was not sure what to expect. The narrator reminded me of Marlin Perkins, if you’re old enough to remember Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom… he just had this very personal, engaging vocal style. First was a bush plane demonstration, a float plane takes off and lands next to the sternwheeler. A bit corny, but so what. Next we stop at the late Susan Butcher’s Kennel. Susan was a 4 time winner of the Iditarod and succumbed to leukemia in her early 50s. The vessel pulls up to shore at the kennel, her husband, David Monson, comes out and provides some stories and commentary before his crew rounds up some very excited dogs, hitching them up to a quad with no engine and they tear off! Later he is onboard to answer questions and sign books. Further up the river we visit an Athabasca Indian village. We get off and walk to various demonstrations of how these natives dealt with the harsh conditions and have thrived in this region for 10,000 years. This was very informative and extremely well done. So back on the boat, then back on the dock, board the bus and after a quick drive-thru downtown Fairbanks, we get dropped off for lunch. DW and I found a little hole in the wall Mexican place. I don’t recall what we ordered, but if it would have been bad I would have remembered. Upon reboarding the motorcoach we get more narration from Annette and then stop at the Alaskan Pipeline. Everyone jumps out and snaps a few pics. Once reboarded, we head south for Denali. After a couple hours we arrive at the Grand Denali Lodge, high on the side of a mountain, over-looking the village and the Princess compound across the street. This will be our home for the next two nights. The views from the Alpenglow Restaurant at the lodge were spectacular and the food was fighting for equal billing. July 25) – We took the shuttle down to the village and after wandering between the shops, eventually had a great breakfast at Prospectors Pizzeria & Alehouse, highly recommended! We take the shuttle back to the Grande Denali Lodge and head off on the Denali Tundra Wilderness tour in one of the comparatively spartan, but adequate Aramark busses. This tour takes you approx. 65 miles into the park. The weather was at times sunny, at times overcast, at times foggy and included several rainbows. We saw a nice variety of critters including a mamma grizzly w/ two cubs, numerous caribou and dall sheep, a moose and a red fox that came trotting through a parking lot just after we reboarded our bus. This was about a seven hour tour, so it was pretty late when we got back to the lodge. We grabbed a quick bite at the Alpenglow Restaurant and called it a night. July 26) – This morning we had our bags out at 7:00 and are greeted with sunshine. We have another excellent meal at the Alpenglow Restaurant. We then boarded our motorcoach and headed to Jeff King’s Husky Homestead for a very entertaining morning. Jeff has won the Iditarod 4 times and is an energetic entertainer. First you have photo ops with the puppies and learn about how the dogs are selected for the various individual roles they must perform on the sled dog team. As at Susan Butcher’s Kennel a couple days ago, they hooked up some very excited dogs to a quad (this one had an engine that was running???) and sped off…. Returning a short time later as the crowd cheered! After that you go inside and Jeff entertains with stories of mushing, survival and the challenge of raising girls in a house that has no running water. Following our time at the Husky Homestead we head to Denali National Park (saw a moose on the way) for a bit of free time before boarding the Alaska Railroad for the ride south to Talkeetna. We met a man from NY State and his two 20 something sons who were getting back to their car after hiking the rugged interior for 7 days. They said they had lots of rain and several nights that were in the 30s. They were either very excited about all they had seen and done, or were excited about finally taking a shower… We board the now familiar private Wilderness Express car on the Alaska Railroad and once again the beauty of this great state scrolls by. We arrive in Talkeetna and have very little time, about enough to cover the town, walk to the river and return to the motorcoach. Cute, bustling little town with a heavy dash of hippy-dippy thrown in. We reboard the motorcoach and head south to Anchorage as Annette narrates our way through the Matsu Valley. We arrive at the Anchorage Hilton about 8:00 and grab our room keys as quickly as we can. We have an 8:30 reservation at the Glacier Brew House, a place that came highly recommended. It did not disappoint, I had the rockfish, which has been a favorite of mine since we had our catch of rockfish, halibut and cod shipped home from Ketchikan 4 years ago. July 27) – I wake up and figure I’ll take a walk around Anchorage and pick up something to eat. DW opts to lounge around the hotel and take her time getting ready. I walk and walk and walk, it is Sunday morning and nothing is open… nada. I made it out to the airport and not so much as an Egg McMuffin available??? I probably walked 4-5 miles round trip… back at the hotel I grab a bagel and coffee at the Starbucks inside. We board the bus and head out of town, as we hit the road our Tour Director, Annette says do you see that, Denali!…. Everyone is scrambling for cameras and gawking, but they just keep on driving. Annette is back in guide mode and pointing out the sites, including the largest FedEx facility I’ve ever seen. Apparently every package from SE Asia passes through here. As we are heading out of town to begin our drive south down the Turnagain Arm, Jim pulls the motorcoach into a parking lot by a lake, and there, across the lake it is, the site that eludes 65% of travelers to Alaska, Mt. McKinley/Denali, the tallest point in North America. We had much closer vantage points prior, but as is typical, it was not visible due to cloud cover and this was our last chance to see it before we head south across the Kenai Peninsula. Everyone jumps out of the coach for photos and to enjoy the view. I feel quite fortunate to have a second siting in as many years. The scenery driving down the Seward Highway, is amazing, Turnagain Arm / Cook Inlet on the right with mountains behind it and more mountains on the left, in many places the road is actually cut into it. We made several stops for photos/restrooms and stopped for lunch in Soldotna, Annette’s hometown. We eventually arrive in Homer, our home for the night and check in to the Ocean Shores Motel. Rather non-descript and quaint, it is just down the bank to the shore and every room has an amazing view! We had about an hour to freshen up before going to the Homer Spit. The “Spit” is a narrow band of land, maybe a couple hundred yards wide that juts out 5 miles. It is home to a harbor with hundreds of boats as Homer claims to be the halibut capital of the world (we saw one hanging that weighed 230lbs). It is also lined with shops and restaurants. Finn’s Pizza ended up with our dinner order tonight. Order downstairs and enjoy organic, wood-fired pizza and local brews upstairs while overlooking the western shore of the “Spit”. We enjoyed the food and the hippy-dippy, psychedelia atmosphere. As we were enjoying the view, we watched the shore get larger and larger as the tide went out. We were told the tide can fluctuate 24ft in one direction and 14ft in the other… a 38ft swing! I then looked at the boat docks, they were all on “collars” attached to long poles so they would float up and down as required. When we got back to the hotel (motel?) the tide was still going out, there were now 6ft high boulders on the beach that were completely submerged when we were there a few hours earlier. DW went to bed, I went walking on the new beach that now stretched probably a half mile from where it had been when we arrived. I joined a few others that were drawn to this phenomenon. There were lots of colorful jellyfish and I was completely in awe! It was tough to head back to the room, but eventually I did. July 28) – Today was much like yesterday, but in reverse. We boarded the motorcoach, drove a few miles, piled out and had a nice breakfast at family run restaurant, the Fresh Sour Dough Express Bakery / Café. We then took the scenic drive with a lookout over the “Spit” before heading north. We stopped in Kenai to visit a tiny Russian Orthodox Church. The pastor/minster/padre/father was a native Alaskan and told of the core beliefs and made comparisons to western Christianity. He injected a great sense of humor into his answers as he fielded questions from our doubled up group of 80. Following a late afternoon visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and a stop for group pictures we were in line outside the tunnel to Whittier. For once, I was not rushing to get on the ship, the land portion was simply spectacular and I was not in a hurry to end it. We eventually got in line and boarded. We dropped off the bags at the room and admired the view from the aft balcony. Following the muster drill we made a trip to the buffet and headed back to our room to enjoy a beautiful sail away with a view of the wake! July 29) – Sort of nice to not be on a schedule today, by early afternoon Hubbard Glacier is in view and we spend a couple hours approaching it, spinning around and heading out. We saw a few seals congregated on ice bergs. Later we won at trivia as we teamed up with some of those “group b” people. Actually, when we first arrived at Fairbanks, a week ago, while checking into the hotel the person behind the front desk said, “That is your tour director over there sitting on the couch.” We went over and introduced ourselves and the woman gave us instructions on where to meet tomorrow. It was the next day when I discovered that this was not our tour director, but a couple from Atlanta, a couple of those “group b” people. Anyway, we hit it off with this couple and participated in several activities with them during the cruise. July 30) – Icy Strait Point / Hoonah - A long day here so we were not in a big hurry to get off. Eventually we tender in and head for Hoonah (about a mile walk along the water), we wandered around a bit and decide to get lunch at Chipper Fish… Very glad we did as the silver salmon tacos were one of the best thing I shoved in my face all week! We eventually wandered back to the reconstructed cannery museum where the tender boats come in. We were going take the trails down to the shore area we saw from the ship, but the weather began to look threatening. DW heads back to the ship. I hang out hoping the weather will clear, but it turns for the worse and is soon pouring. I make it to a tender fending off most of the water and am soon back on the ship. We had heard that tonight is lobster night, something DW will not want to miss. I will generally have one for the novelty, and they are typically tough, stringy and tasteless, but these were succulent, tender and flavorful; I ended up having two! July 31) – Juneau / Tracy Arm – Twin Sawyer Glaciers – This morning was a bit rushed as we needed be back on the ship by noon. We take the shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier and walk to Nugget Falls. We were here in 2010 and it was socked in and drizzling; today was blue skies and bright sun. Quite a contrast. We head back to the ship and join our 2000 new friends in a line that stretches a couple blocks. Eventually we are on board and steaming south. We make the turn into Tracy Arm about 4:00 and soon pass the Carnival Miracle as it exits the fjord. As at Mendenhall Glacier, there could not be more contrasting conditions from when we were here in 2010. Tonight we met some of our friends at the Jeopardy game show, and yours truly was picked to be one of the three contestants. I was able to deliver many correct answers, however, putting them in the form of a question seemed to be the bigger challenge for me. Eventually DW would yell, “What is?” whenever I’d buzz in which helped, but alas, it was too little too late. Oh well, better to have played and looked like a fool than to never have played at all....right? right? Aug. 1) – Skagway - In my prior visits here I’ve struck out on the numerous hiking trails, this morning is no different, and I’m up early and off to Smuggler’s Cove and Yakutania Point. This is the first time we’ve docked at the downtown (Broadway St.) pier, so this is easy. Coming off the pier go left, take the walking bridge across the river next to the airport and follow the trail markers. It was a gorgeous morning! I was back on the ship at 9:30 to roust DW, she was already gone. I join her at breakfast and then we head off the ship. Someone yells, “What is!” We wander around town and head back to the ship to meet our driver. We have a 1:00 reservation on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. We meet our driver/guide from Chilkoot Tours next to our ship, board the shuttle van and head over to the main dock to pick up passengers from the Star Princess and Carnival Miracle. We get a tour of the Skagway and then head to the train station. Upon boarding our train car we set off. Our group of a dozen or so had a car all to ourselves. These cars are beautifully maintained. We continue our scenic climb out of Skagway winding along water, crossing bridges and tunnels, eventually ending up at the Fraser, BC station. It was a beautiful trip. They allow you to stand between the cars to take photos, which is where I remained for the duration, however, the downfall is that you can only hear the narration if you are inside the car. We disembark and our Chilkoot driver (whose name escapes me) is there to pick us up. He provided excellent narration and several photo stops on the way back and once back in town, dropped individuals off where ever they wanted. We got dropped off a ways up Broadway St. and made our way back to the ship at about 4:15, just ahead the 4:30 all aboard. Aug. 2) – Today we are scheduled for a 1:00 arrival into Ketchikan. I’m up early and while having some breakfast spot what I believe is a dolphin. I then headed to the front, outside on deck 13, I had the entire area to myself. It is a stunningly beautiful morning as we sail the inside passage along Prince of Wales Island. It’s not too long before I spot some whale spouts. Then one blows right next to the front of the ship, and it shows the entire tail before diving. I feverishly shoot pics, but it could not have been in a worse spot, directly in the glare of the sun. I then move down to the viewing deck in front of the Observation Lounge. A few other were whale watching here. Over the next couple hours we spot numerous whales and dolphins, but nothing as dramatic as the one alongside the ship. I head back to the room to check in with DW, she is getting ready for our big day in Ketchikan, so I go out on the balcony. A short while later I spotted several orcas/killer whales in the wake. They remain near the surface and are visible for about 20min. We are meeting friends in Ketchikan, and we lucked out because he is a commercial fisherman and we had about a 20% chance of him not being out fishing. Turns out the Alaska Govt. gave the fleet the day off as they planned the next stage of the salmon harvest. Upon getting off the ship we run into Ken of Northern Lights Charters, he was looking for his clients. We booked Ken in 2010 and he showed our family an incredible time. Our friends arrive and we go to one of the local restaurants for lunch. We hung around the Fish Creek area for a while and watched seals chasing fish. We then headed for their beautiful water-front home, we dropped off the women and we headed out to Totem Bight State Park. The tourists were gone, so he showed me around, he told me that when he was in high school and this was not yet a state park the lodge was a popular drinking spot. We then continued north until the road ended at Settlers Cove State Park. We went in and I was astounded at the size of the trees and the density of the foliage. This is a rain forest, and this place really shows the results. There is a beautiful waterfall and there were some pink salmon, err… humpies in the river/creek. Back to their house and I take note of the maple tree in his front yard. There is moss growing all over the tree, and then ferns growing out of the moss! The climate here is actually more temperate than ours in the upper Midwest. It seldom gets below freezing and seldom snows. They did, however, get over 160 inches of rain last year, which is about average. There are also very few wells, they have a 3500 gallon cistern in their basement that collects rainwater, which is how almost everyone does it here. So after a great day with friends, we get back to the ship. We have a reservation at La Cucina and enjoyed the Italian fare along with great views as we made our way south through a very narrow channel. DW decides slumber is in her best interest, I enjoy the balance of the evening on the balcony. Aug. 3) – Sea Day, mostly unremarkable ocean scenery so we get packed early. We went to the crew show and met our friends for another losing effort at trivia. Late in the day I see the Disney Wonder, the only other ship in Ketchikan, appear behind us. Late at night it was alongside and apparently beat us to the checkered flag in Vancouver. Aug. 4) – Vancouver – No reason to hurry, we vacate our room by 8:00, and head up for some breakfast. We were joined by some of our “group b” trivia friends. They were taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto. We did this following our 2010 cruise, and we were able to provide some info. Today we were taking the 5:45 train to Seattle. We take a cab to the Via Rail Pacific Station, check our bags and then run into our “group b” Atlanta friends. We thought we’d seen the last of them! They are taking a bus to Seattle and spending another few weeks wandering around the northwest. We decide to head to Granville Market where we meet up with some our “group A” friends for lunch. It was about a mile and a half walk along False Creek, a very scenic waterfront sort of boardwalk. We eventually make it back to the station, and board the train for the scenic ride south. Once in Seattle we gathered our bags and transferred to the Roosevelt Hotel for a fast sleep. Aug. 5) - DW flys home and I board Amtrak’s Coast Starlight for Sacramento. I enjoyed beautiful scenery along Puget Sound. Mount Hood came into view early in the afternoon. By evening we were in the Cascade Mountains. Aug. 6) – Arrive Sacramento – I walked down to Old Sacramento and enjoy the old timey atmosphere. Around 11am I boarded the California Zephyr and begin the ascent into the Sierra Nevadas and eventually cross Donner Pass. Aug. 7) – I awake to the beautiful, sculpted scenery of eastern Utah. The backdrop gets increasingly dramatic as we get closer to the Colorado Rockies. By the time we arrive in Glenwood Springs, the peaks on either side of the train are stretching thousands of feet over us. The panorama continues throughout the day. We reach Denver by nightfall. I get off the train and snap some pics of the snazzy new station with a very retro, sort of metro / deco vibe. Aug. 8) – According to my GPS, I am somewhere in the middle of a cornfield in eastern Nebraska when I awaken. The rolling hills turn into flatlands shortly after we cross the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois. The corn and soybean fields stretch as far as you can see! Eventually the Zephyr rolls into Chicago’s Union Station and my epic journey draws to a close. So, in conclusion, I could envision living on the Kenai Peninsula. Winters there sound tolerable and it does not stay dark all day. The Alaska folks are a unique breed, this is the last frontier and they are a proud bunch. They are fiercely independent, yet there is a strong element of team spirit. Most seem to not only tolerate us "lower 48ers", but to genuinely welcome us to their home (after all, come September, we are gone til May). One funny line we heard a couple times regarding the 5 to 1 men to women ration... for the women: "The odds are good, but the goods are odd!" Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a ship review. I'd say the Sun is the perfect size for a mainstream cruise to Alaska. The crew was consistently warm and friendly throughout the ranks! I'd sail the Sun again in a heartbeat!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We recently completed our cruise from Whittier to Vancouver with the Anchorage/Alyeska land tour beforehand. The land portion was fabulous, wonderful wildlife sightings in Denali, a great train ride to get there and a beautiful visit to ... Read More
We recently completed our cruise from Whittier to Vancouver with the Anchorage/Alyeska land tour beforehand. The land portion was fabulous, wonderful wildlife sightings in Denali, a great train ride to get there and a beautiful visit to the Alyeska resort. Only disappointment was Mt. Mcklinley was never to be fully seen, but I guess only about 30% of visitors actually see it. The Sun is lovely ship, well maintained with a very helpful crew.Cruised Hubbard Glacier on our first full day, we saw and heard calving, had no idea how loud it would be, absolutely fantastic! We loved the stop at Icy Strait Point where we took a marine mammal cruise, saw an amazing number of orcas as well as humpbacks. Juneau was a visit to Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier gardens. The gardens had much more color than we expected. In Skagway we took a trip on the White Pass Mountain Railway which I think is a must do there and then visited the Red Onion for drinks and small lunch, lots of fun. Ketchikan was our only rainy day, we visited Totem Bight which was interesting. We ate in Le Bistro and Moderno. Moderno has the most varied salad bar and everyone in our group loved it and the meats, the lamb chops and filet were particular favorites. Disembarking was the only place we had a complaint. We met the concierge for VIP disembarking and had our luggage tagged with the VIP tags which are sort of a bronze/brown. Only problem is there are also brown tags. Our luggage ended up in the brown tag group which was last off the ship, aggravating wait and that then meant the taxi line was backed up and we stood 45 minutes there. All in all we spent about an hour and a half in the terminal. I suggest NCL use a more distinctive color for the VIP tags, as we were not the only ones whose luggage got mixed in with the brown. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Well, long story short, my sister and I gave NCL, another chance, after 7 years of not cruising with them. We had been cruising with them on 2 separate ships, and found them both to be less than satisfying. We then decided to give them ... Read More
Well, long story short, my sister and I gave NCL, another chance, after 7 years of not cruising with them. We had been cruising with them on 2 separate ships, and found them both to be less than satisfying. We then decided to give them another chance, and went on the NCl Sun to Alaska. What a disapointment. They absolutely ruined mine and my sister's luggage, along with many other people that we traveled with on a land tour previously. They compensated me with a bag worth a fifth of the cost. The food was awful!!!!! I didn't even get one shrimp cocktail on the whole trip, nor lobster, or crab. It was just blah food, with no pizzaz! The auction people at the paintings on board were aggressive, and basically scam artists and liars. The shows were blah!! The layout of the ship, was beyond ridiculous! Our room, a balcony room, was in bad need of repair. Everything was falling apart, ripped, or stained. Needless to say, I could go into detail, but why waste my time. For sure we will NEVER EVER take another NCL trip agains!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first cruise (although we have done 3 trans-Atlantic crossings on Cunard). We chose NCL because of the timing and the fact that we wanted to disembark in Vancouver. Embarkation was quick-thank goodness- because it was pouring ... Read More
This was our first cruise (although we have done 3 trans-Atlantic crossings on Cunard). We chose NCL because of the timing and the fact that we wanted to disembark in Vancouver. Embarkation was quick-thank goodness- because it was pouring rain, winds were 40 knots and there was almost no covering for the passengers as they approached the ship. So we began our trip wet and cold-but then things got even wetter. On the first morning of our trip, the toilet overflowed. It was literally Niagara Falls in there-the carpet was instantly soaked along with some of our belongings. We were throwing our things on the bed, looking for our water shoes, keeping our electronic devices dry-if it wasn't happening to us, it would be funny....The response was quick and they actually replaced the carpet but all of our things (which we had so meticulously unpacked for a 7 night stay) were strewn and stowed anywhere dry. We were moved to an inside stateroom (their emergency cabin) but I felt ill because I need the fresh air, even on a big ship. They moved us again as the repairs were being made until we were finally able to re-enter our cabin and try and figure out where everything was. A toilet can overflow on any ship, but the crew was singularly neutral-their apologies seemed insincere and there was not even the slightest attempt to "make up" with a free meal at one of their specialty restaurants or something similar-that is, until I said something and the service rep said: I was just going to offer that to you. Sure. The free-style dining experience was certainly not our style. Even their very causal dress code was not enforced in the "upscale" restaurants. Something quite incongruous about a waiter draping a napkin across your lap, saying "Madame" while the people around you are in flip-flops and T-shirts saying "I survived the Alaskan zip line" . The staff were friendly but not particularly helpful-mostly because very few spoke English well enough to answer all but the simplest questions. As a monoglot myself, I truly understand how hard it is to learn a foreign language. However, none of our waiters were able to answer questions about how a dish was prepared or even identify foods in the buffet line! Our bad luck? Maybe, but from our steward to the waiters to the people helping with excursions we experienced some major communication gaps. However, once food appeared it was quite good. The wine selection in the restaurants was more than adequate and they will cork a wine for you and bring it to any restaurant you are eating in. We ended up eating in specialty restaurants for 4 nights-in retrospect we should have bought the dining package but we had no way of knowing how rushed and difficult the service would be in the main dining rooms. The shore excursions were the high point of our experience. We enjoyed all four ports. However, all people going on an excursions were rounded up in their entertainment lounge before disembarking. The purpose of marshaling all those people into one room at 15 minute increments was never revealed to us. You sat there while someone yelled out the name of the excursion; people raised their hands and at the end of each 15 minute period, EVERYONE in the room got up and walked to the gangway together, not in separated groups. Once off the ship, each person was on their own to find the appropriate person holding a placard with the name of their excursion on it, Why gather people if there was no attempt to divide us into our tour groups? Besides the excursions the only other high point on the cruise was that we were participants in one of the games that was led by the cruise director. She was terrific and always made a point of saying hello to us and asking about our day whenever she saw us on the ship. There were, unfortunately, many more relatively small things that occurred that taken together made this an experience we are unlikely to repeat.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Recently came off the Sun's Southbound inside passage (6/30). Due to past experiences NCL WOULD NOT have been our first choice. We were accompanying a friend who had made this his Birthday trip. First the good; Embarkation and ... Read More
Recently came off the Sun's Southbound inside passage (6/30). Due to past experiences NCL WOULD NOT have been our first choice. We were accompanying a friend who had made this his Birthday trip. First the good; Embarkation and disembarkation are done smoothly and very efficiently(could be the ports). Tender operations at Icy Strait Point/Hoonah excellent NO line ups. Liked the ship and layout. Specialty dining is very good-excellent, Cagney's (Steakhouse) and La Cucina(Italian) BUT extra $$. Now the not so good; Dining room "service" is "spoty" at BEST. Restaurant 101 - take the drink/beverage order first. It's surprising that the way cruise ships "nickel and dime" you for everything that it would be so difficult to get a glass of wine. We had to ask twice before we got a glass of wine. We even had to ask for water more then once. Out of the 5 nights in the main dining rooms did we come out saying those guys did a great job. Perhaps a dedicated bar person to rotate around X amount of tables to take the pressure off the wait staff. The main dining room menu choices are limited almost "forcing" you to the specialty restaurants where of course you have too pay extra. We were never informed what the special was had to ask each time. Food quality was OK-Good at best. I'm all for casual dining but you SHOULD have limitations. Other then the first and last nights(un-packing/packing) T-shirts and shorts ? REALLY ?? Not once on the entire cruise did I feel anybody exceeded my expectations on service. Past cruises we've had wait staff/stewards that were out of this world. Here nada. Perhaps with the "freestyle cruising" you don't make connections with the wait staff. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My wife and I recently completed the 11-Day Denali Express - Southbound Cruisetour that included a four day Anchorage & Denali Land Tour and a seven day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver on the Norwegian Sun. Friday was our arrival in ... Read More
My wife and I recently completed the 11-Day Denali Express - Southbound Cruisetour that included a four day Anchorage & Denali Land Tour and a seven day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver on the Norwegian Sun. Friday was our arrival in Anchorage. Our cruise documents said we were to spend the night at the Clarion Suites Downtown. We arrived at the Clarion Suites and were told that we did not have reservations for Friday, June 13th. The staff informed us (after several phone calls) that we were at the Millennium Resort and Hotel. We checked into the Millennium and were given room 4063. The outstanding points of the Millennium are the restaurant, the bar and grill and the lake view. The problems we encountered in our room were: • desk chair that was unsafe and in very poor condition • Closet door not attached to the folding track, because it was broken • Window screen cut, falling out of the window • Loud air blower noise • Tub plug was broken and sitting on the edge of the tub. • Dirty laundry room with a broken soap dispenser. I went down to the desk and they gave me soap. • The hallway and room carpet is dirty, well worn and rolls in the hallway. We were told by the hotel staff that a representative of NCL and our tour guide from Premier Alaska Tours would be in the lobby area at 5 p.m. There was no one from NCL was present but Michael H. of Premier Alaska Tours was present. (Michael our tour guide was outstanding. He can only work with what he has.) There were 4 other tours also in the hotel so finding our guide was like hide and go seek. Michael had a piece of paper with NCL on it lying on a table. We located him by listen to what the tour guides were informing guests. He gave us the needed information about the tour. On Saturday we left the hotel at 7 a.m. and took our bus to Talkeetna and boarded the Alaska Railroad Wilderness Express for our 4 hour trip to Denali. (See Trip Advisor for my review.) In Denali our tour guide informed us we would be staying at the Grizzly Bear Cabins and Campgrounds instead of the Denali Bluffs Hotel as our cruise documents stated. Our tour guide, Michael H. told us that NCL makes the hotel choices. The rooms at the Grizzly Bear were outstanding with a great view of the river. The problem is that it is 6 miles from Denali with no restaurant with only a connivance store / gift shop. Michael H. told us that there was a restaurant “across the street” at the McKinley Village and Chalet Resort where we could go for breakfast and food. Luckily, our bus driver volunteered to shuttle us to Denali on Saturday night for food and shopping on Saturday otherwise we would have had no dinner. On Sunday morning my wife and I with others on the tour found out what “across the street” to the McKinley Village and Chalet Resort meant. “Across the street” entails crossing a very busy 3 lane highway and a half mile walk. WE WERE STRANDED!!!!!!! I know of at least 9 guests (including myself) that have disabling conditions that prevented such a walk. Our Denali Park Tundra Tour (see my Trip Advisor review) left at 7 a.m. and the Grizzly Bear store did not open until 9 a.m., thus there was no opportunity for breakfast provided by Premier Alaska Tours (PAT) or NCL!!!!!!! UNEXCEPTABLE! This was prior to our 8 hour tour including a box lunch that consisted of snacks, no sandwich. When we returned from the Denali Park tour I met with Michael H. about this problem. He informed me that he would “do his best” to get us a shuttle the next morning for breakfast if it was possible. I informed him that his best was not good enough as NCL nor PAT were not providing breakfast for their disabled guests. I was very upset by his answer and told him that by not providing a shuttle for breakfast NCL and PAT was discriminating against those of us with disabilities. Fortunately, Michael arranged for a shuttle the next morning at 5 a.m. providing us the opportunity to eat breakfast. It should be noted that 9 of our group got up at 4 a.m. to have breakfast and have our luggage at the door to be ready for a 7 a.m. departure from Denali. Norwegian Cruise Line and Premier Alaska Tours need to assume there are clients with disabilities since most of their clientele are senior citizens. On Sunday evening we went to the Denali Cabin Nite Dinner Theater for a very enjoyable dinner and show. (See my Trip Advisor review) Monday we went by motor coach to Whittier with a stop for lunch in Anchorage. We had lunch at the Snow City Café which was outstanding. (See my Trip Advisor review) We embarked at Whittier in a driving rain storm. Be advised that you are not undercover from the terminal to the ship. Our first day we cruised but did not see much of the glacier because of rain, low clouds, and fog. On Wednesday were visited Icy Strait Point and tenders were available to visit the city. We did not go ashore due to rain and wind. On Thursday we ported in Juneau and took Dogsled Adventure by Helicopter excursion. Outstanding excursion. (See my Trip Advisor review) On Friday we ported in Skagway. We had signed up for White Pass Scenic Railway excursion but due to the wind and rain we decided to stay on the ship. On Saturday we ported in Ketchikan and took the Exclusive Flightseeing & Crab Feast excursion. Worth every penny. (See my Trip Advisor review.) On this excursion we met two NCL staff members who were reviewing this excursion. Lee, from Shore Excursions, and Natalie, a cruise consultant, were great to talk with about the cruise business. They are excellent representatives of NCL. On Sunday we sailed to Vancouver and disembarked on Monday morning. Everything was well organized, on time and handled very well. The food on the buffet was average for a cruise ship. The food in the Four Seasons and Seven Seas Dining room was very good. We did dine in the IL Adagio restaurant, the Le Bistro restaurant and the Steakhouse restaurant and the food was outstanding. The entertainment was ok, not wonderful. Our cabin steward Antonio was great and did a super job.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I found very little information on NCL Cruisetours (the land portion), so I'm including that in the trip. The four of us -- my parents (age 72 and 74), my nephew (barely 14) and myself (51) had a wonderful time on the Denali Express ... Read More
I found very little information on NCL Cruisetours (the land portion), so I'm including that in the trip. The four of us -- my parents (age 72 and 74), my nephew (barely 14) and myself (51) had a wonderful time on the Denali Express Cruisetour, but the logistics leave a lot to be desired. Unless they get their act together, I'd recommend you put together your own land tour - you can do it yourself. The short story is: NCL outsources the management of the land tour to Premier Alaska (or most of them, anyway). No one at NCL can answer questions directly, and if there are any problems, it will take you (or in our case, your Travel Agent) hours to sort it out. I could list all of the issues, but I won't bore you. Suffice to say that the communication between NCL and Premier Alaska is lacking, Premier Alaska may or may not put you up in a "hotel" that is really just a decent room in what is otherwise a campground (complete with RV's and tents), and the Tour Director may not be familiar with the property at which you are staying or some of the possible upgrades you may be interested in. All of the problems we had on the ground could have been easily avoided, and were made worse because of the hours spent in advance of the tour unsuccessfully trying to sort things out in advance. That said, the Denali Express starts in Anchorage. We enjoyed the Clarion Suites as a perfectly acceptable 3 star hotel -- with a really responsive and helpful staff. We loved the glass domed train from Talkeetna to Denali National Park, and even saw Mt. McKinley aka Denali clearly from the train (apparently only 30% of visitors even see it through the clouds!). We were less than pleased with the Grizzly Bear Lodge, which is really just a campground with a few rooms. The rooms would have been fine, if all three had been cleaned in advance (my parents room had wet towels on the floor, and my nephew's bathroom was never cleaned) (also: DON'T USE THE COFFEE MAKER, I'm sure that has NEVER been cleaned. EVER.) We went white water rafting that evening on the Nenena River, and it was a highlight of the trip. The next morning we upgraded from the Natural History Tour to the Tundra Wilderness Tour - it was wonderful. I considered upgrading to the Katishna tour, even though our Premier Alaska Tour Director did not know anything about it (???), but I think our 14 year old would have had a meltdown if on the bus that long. There is a lot of driving and other transportation on this tour; we could have skipped the return to Anchorage. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was fun, but we also would have been find skipping that; we were ready to get on the ship. As for the Norweigian Sun: we had a great time. It is an older ship, and a little dated and worn, but very clean. You have to know that in advance. We were on one other cruise, on the Royal Caribbean Oases of the Seas in the Caribbean. I would say that that was like being on a floating resort, which sometimes stopped at some islands. This was a trip to Alaska, where we happened to be staying on a ship. We enjoyed our rooms -- three mid-ship balconies in a row -- and spent a good amount of time on the balconies. My parents & nephews beds were quite comfy, mine was a little hard, but our room steward Ruphres brought me an egg crate pad and it was fine. The bathroom is tiny as people say, but serviceable. Definitely needs updating -- the mirror, for example, is worn and the sink was a little crackly, but it was clean and everything worked fine. The couch was very worn and hard as a rock. It didn't prevent my nephew from sleeping on it every night, which we couldn't figure out as he had his own room and his own bed, but he is a teenage boy and they are a different species. The layout of the ship is odd, but manageable. I saw someone complain about smoke and perfume smells, etc. We HATE smoke, and had absolutely NO problems whatsoever. No smoke on our balconies. No wafting smoke in the hallways near the casino -- in fact, while we had to walk through the casino to get from one end of the ship to the other a few times, there was little smoke in there (and few people). It might have been the time of day, but it was a little weird. I was worried about the food based on reviews, but it was good. Nothing amazing, but good (although I admit I avoided the buffet most of the time). We aren't big foodies, but we do like to eat and we are discerning. We ate dinner at the MDR the first two nights, the second night was surf-and-turf, and the food was enjoyable. We realized we had a ridiculous amount of onboard credit and so ate in specialty restaurants the rest of the nights. We like Le Bistro the best, and ate their twice (my nephew would say that the 32 ounce steak he "shared" with his grandpa was the #1 highlight of the trip). Cagney's is good. My dad and I had sushi one night; we were the only one in the restaurant all night, but it was really really good. We thought Il Adagio was just so so. What was weird, however, is that the specialty restaurants were often half empty when we were there, except the last night. And we ate at 7. We saw no lines at the MDR's. Yet the buffet was crowded. We couldn't understand that. As for entertainment: we were entertained. It was not broadway quality entertainment, but the production shows were, well, entertaining. I think of it as where the really really really talented kids from your high school go -- the ones who are REALLY talented, but just missing that X factor that gets them to the big time. But they were great singers and dancers and entertainers. The comedian was funny, as was the hypnotist -- I highly recommend both. The most important part of this cruise is Alaska, and Alaska did not in anyway disappoint. SPECTACULAR. We went kayaking in Icy Strait Point, which was amazing (saw a lot of bald eagles). In Juneau, we went on the Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier excursion from the ship, and loved it. LOVED IT. We did the Glacier Point Safari Adventure in Skagway - booked directly with Alaska Excursions, but they also offer the same one through the ship (for $50 more). IT WAS AMAZING. CHECK IT OUT. And in Ketchikan, went on a float plane tour of Misty Fjord Monument with Randy at Mountain Air -- ALSO AMAZING. We also cruised Hubbard Glacier, and Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier. I know people say Glacier Bay is better, but we don't have any point of comparison and thought they were spectacular. We were lucky, because while we had rainy weather in port (it didn't get in the way of any enjoyment, don't worry if it rains), when we were cruising the weather was clear and sunny. Tracy Arm is exquisite. We found the service on board to be wonderful too -- our room steward was great and attentive, the wait staff was quite good, and anywhere we went, people were kind and helpful. Overall, I would say: as long as you don't expect the kinds of bells and whistles that you find on the newer ships, the Norwegian Sun for Alaska is a great option. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Went as a solo passenger in a mini suite! I had cabin 1206. The ship was kept up OK but extremely basic in decor - CERTAINLY not luxury! The staff was all Filipinos and most did not appear to like what they were doing! The purser's ... Read More
Went as a solo passenger in a mini suite! I had cabin 1206. The ship was kept up OK but extremely basic in decor - CERTAINLY not luxury! The staff was all Filipinos and most did not appear to like what they were doing! The purser's office was not warm and friendly at all! The food was REALLY bad! I wonder when they will start getting with the times and offering organic foods, healthy foods and non dairy basic items like coconut milk, almond milk, etc.! Food all tasted pre-made and barely edible! Room service was VERY VERY basic (cheeseburgers and hotdogs, stuff like that)! The tapas restaurant have the same tapas each night and it doesn't really make up a meal whatsoever! The Benihana restaurant on board was definitely not nearly as good as Benihana and you have to pay an additional $25 per person!!! Sorry to sound so bad in this but the ship was not luxe at all. Also the entertainment was super lackluster at best (best to skip them, they feel like a student production at best)...NO WAY would I sail this ship again! Canon was GREAT but there is noise from the above dance floor until about 12ish every night! Good balconies but they have railings and are not glass so they obstruct a but when looking from inside! Also, there is no drain and balcony floor was always wet! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP ... Read More
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP privately onto the ship at Whittier and were immediately introduced to our butler, Juremar, who had a bucket of champagne and appetizers waiting for us in the living area. My wife was immediately impressed with the size, location and comfort of the Penthouse suite with the large balcony, separate jacuzzi bath & shower and ample living area for entertaining. We had also booked aft cabin 0267 for our friends which was 2 doors starboard of our cabin. Butler service allowed us to have private dining in the room each morning we wanted, appetizers in the afternoons and wine our champagne on demand. We only dined in the specialty restaurants for Teppanyaki, Brazillian style, East meets West steakhouse, Le Bistro for my birthday night, and Sushi and Italian for good measure. All the service was excellent and we want to especially thank our restaurant host Alvin Hernandez for being exceptional and going above and beyond to make us feel like VIPs. We flew the Temsco helicopters in Skagway up to the glacier for the dog sledding ( my wife's favorite day of the trip), took whale watching tours everywhere we could and saw large numbers of humpbacks. We were so impressed all around that we have booked the Panama Canal aboard the NCL Star in Nov for 13 days... Penthouse all the way baby! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Had a great cruise. Cruised with kids (10&12) and parents (early 70's). Flew into Fairbanks, spent 2 nights there, 2 at Denali, and 2 in Achorage.  Embarkation in Whittier was a breeze. Should have listened to advise and booked a ... Read More
Had a great cruise. Cruised with kids (10&12) and parents (early 70's). Flew into Fairbanks, spent 2 nights there, 2 at Denali, and 2 in Achorage.  Embarkation in Whittier was a breeze. Should have listened to advise and booked a glacier tour before departure. Ports: Icy Strait - Was a rainy day. Went whale watching with FISHES. Had a great trip and saw many whales and some seals. Walked around the cannery and the shore. The tide is great. Be sure to take pictures of the starfish when you get off the boat because a couple of hours later, the tide will have come in! Juneau - rented a car and went to Mendenhall. Walked to the waterfall and used Dad's National Parks pass to do the exhibits. Ketchikan - Did the ship trolley tour to see the totem poles and had an excellent tour guide. Got off on the way back to check out the salmon and do some shopping. Skagway - split up here. I took daughter to pan for gold and sled dog puppies. She totally loved it. We had done panning and a sled dog ride and petted the puppies on out land tour. Mom, hubby and son did the trolley tour and even the 12 year old had a great time and learned alot about Skagway. Dad took the White Pass trip. Overall, had a great time. The kids don't usually spend much time in the kids programs. We usually do the trivia contests and there was a crafty lesson each day. Also enjoyed the shows at night. Only negative is the food. Loved the pretzel rolls but most of the rest, expecially dinners in the dining rooms is boring and not anything to write home about. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first trip to Alaska, and our second Norwegian cruise. We sailed with our daughter and her boyfriend, first time cruisers who usually travel very frugally, frequently camping or staying in hostels, so we weren't sure how ... Read More
This was our first trip to Alaska, and our second Norwegian cruise. We sailed with our daughter and her boyfriend, first time cruisers who usually travel very frugally, frequently camping or staying in hostels, so we weren't sure how they would like the relative luxury of a cruise ship. We needn't have worried. We had a great time on the Sun. It's a smaller ship and older (you can tell by the truly miniscule showers, which is really the only bad thing I can say about the accomodations. It's less glitzy than other ships we have sailed on, but lovely and comfortable and clean. The staff was truly outstanding. Lucille Seno, the Group Coordinator, set up our Meet & Greet at rather short notice (our roll call was rather lackluster until the very end) and arranged for us to meet many crew members. She also set up a galley tour which was truly eye-opening for many of us. Sherryn Lacson, the hostess at Seven Seas, remembered our names from the very first evening, no matter when we came in during the cruise, and remembered where we liked to sit. We were in a aft balcony cabin which was very comfortable (except for the aforementioned tiny shower, and an unusual type of hairdryer that was oddly placed), and Benson Fallon our steward was very helpful and attentive to everything we needed or desired. Candi the cruise director was very entertaining and on top of things; she and the beverage manager and Tom the general services manager were ever present and approachable. We went to a couple of the shows, which were quite good. We participated in most of the trivia games, which were at times hilarious, at times contentious, but excellently done. Most nights we listened to music in Las Ramblas or in Windjammer. Pleasant surprises: Icy Strait Point, which I expected to be dull. We signed up for ATV/ziplining through the ship and not only did we have a blast, but we had a fabulous guide and learned a lot about Hoonah, and much general information about the native populations in Alaska. Thank you, Thomas James! Also: the effort to get us as close to glaciers as possible, and keeping us informed every step of the way. Even though it was raining, windy and COLD, I wouldn't have missed the viewing of the Hubbard Glacier for anything. And Candi seemed as disappointed as we were when we couldn't get as close to the Sawyer Glacier because of ice in the water. Both exhiliarating experiences. In Skagway we booked an excursion to take the train over White Pass outside the cruiseline and had a great time. The weather cleared up as the day went on, but the train ride was kind of spooky in the mist which added to the excitement! Biggest disappointment was Ketchikan, although the totem museum is worth seeing. The other major museum was closed due to plumbing problems, and the general weather was rainy and cold. There are a couple of other interesting places to see but we felt "nickel and dimed" there more than anywhere else. If we had to do it again we would have booked a salmon fishing excursion. Maybe next time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Will be brief -- a back to back journey from Whittier Alaska and back, on The NCL SUN. This is our second/third cruise with NCL. This trip was excellent. No issues, nothing to report as to disappointments. Our Inside stateroom was the ... Read More
Will be brief -- a back to back journey from Whittier Alaska and back, on The NCL SUN. This is our second/third cruise with NCL. This trip was excellent. No issues, nothing to report as to disappointments. Our Inside stateroom was the largest yet. nearly 20 x 12 feet. Smallest shower to date. Room was well laid out and well taken care of Neat and very clean. Our cabin Steward was excellent. We were on the 8th deck, so it was handy for all the various public areas. Only took minutes to get to them. The first segment we had approx.2100 guests. You could see the difference from one week to the other. Mainly the food court and outside areas. Very low amount of pushing of upcharge items. Only time I was approached was when we boarded and when we were in Glacier Bay. The rest of the time little to no daily pushing of up charge items. NICE! We did have some minor issues regarding being a back to back cruise guest. They did forget paperwork and we had to remind them. Again no big deal. The food was very good, not great. Basically we had the same menu twice since we were on the same cruise twice. But there were highlights and some nice touches. Several nights the menu would totally beat out the upcharge restaurants for quality and food types. So plan your nights. The Garden Cafe basically is serving food 24 hours a day. There is a daily BBQ by the pool deck -- not bad! The upscale restaurants; Italian was wonderful fun and worth the money. Great views and inviting. The French restaurant they can keep. I thought was not very good. And the Steakhouse was very good. The steak I had was tasty and correctly prepared. The side are smallish So you can ask for more no. Bottom line NCL did a great job. The staff are great and super friendly. Not one sour puss in the crowd. The room was perfect size, the food met and exceed many of our expectations. The ship is clean and nice to ride in.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Unfortunately, I spent my entire time on our Alaska Southbound cruise on Norwegian Sun being very, very sick. While in the boarding line, I wasn't feeling well, but I thought it was just jet lag. It wasn't long before I realized ... Read More
Unfortunately, I spent my entire time on our Alaska Southbound cruise on Norwegian Sun being very, very sick. While in the boarding line, I wasn't feeling well, but I thought it was just jet lag. It wasn't long before I realized that I likely had food poisoning (symptoms matched Salmonella poisoning). It must be noted that I DID NOT contract the food poisoning on the Sun. My suspicion is some poorly handled Salmon in the Seattle airport, but I can't know for sure. I spent the first few days feeling miserable, but was reluctant to go to the medical center because I knew I would likely be quarantined. On night three, it was clear that I was getting dehydrated and simply had no choice but to go down there (honestly, at that point, I didn't care if I got quarantined). The Sun medical staff was willing to allow me to come to the medical center before posted hours and after a brief examination, they told me that I needed IV fluids. I spent the next five hours hooked to an IV receiving fluids. The medical staff was fantastic! They took great care of me, were very professional and gave me the necessary fluids and two different antibiotics. Alas, I was quarantined for about 36 hours, but that is a CDC regulation and I understand that it is in the public interest. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time at all exploring the Sun, but I would not hesitate to sail on her again. My only regret was not going to the medical center earlier as my whole trip was basically trashed. Even so, I was able to see many beautiful things from my balcony (which I highly recommend if you get quarantined - at least you get to see some of Alaska!) I am also thankful that I took out travel insurance. It looks like it will cover my trip costs and possible some of my family's trip costs. Every staff member I encountered on the Sun was pleasant, especially Grace, our fantastic room steward. She always asked how I was doing and was always there to help out. We have sailed on Carnival, RCCL, and NCL. NCL is by far our favorite so far, even with my illness. Looking forward to sailing with them again - and next time I'll take some antibiotics with me! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My daughter and I enjoyed our cruisetour overall. We began in Anchorage and traveled to Denali National Park and Aleyska Resort. The land tour was great and the tour guide very knowledgeable and friendly. We met wonderful new friends on ... Read More
My daughter and I enjoyed our cruisetour overall. We began in Anchorage and traveled to Denali National Park and Aleyska Resort. The land tour was great and the tour guide very knowledgeable and friendly. We met wonderful new friends on this part of the tour. Most of us learned that we are not bus travelers, but still had a great time - were very excited when we exited the tunnel to Whittier to see our the Norwegian Sun waiting there for us! Our balcony room was nice, although we prefer front or back to the middle, and sized adequately - even enough closet space for two women! The only "bad" part was the size of the shower - the smallest I've seen on a cruise. Great service by our steward and everyone we encountered on the ship. We did the Chef's Table dinner, which I would recommend to everyone taking NCL - I understand the menu is the same on all their ships. It was the highlight meal of the trip. The regular dining menus were lackluster and very disappointing. Very little difference from night to night and I definitely NEVER want to see squash puree again! We did love the freedom to eat when and where we liked, but the food in general was not up to what we have had before. I will commend them on having a very good buffet and casual choices for dining if you did not do one of the dining rooms. And the dining room for breakfast was absolutely awful - the worst food (pancakes) I have ever had on a ship. Luckily, many good choices on the buffet - and the French bread made on the ship - wonderful! All in all, I would definitely cruise again, but be prepared to eat mainly in the buffet or sports bar or tapas. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We booked the Denali Explorer (11 days). Got home last night 6/3/2013.The front end land package was exhausting, we were up & running to the bus to hit the road every morning before 8 am. Bussed ANC to Talkeentna, train to Denali at ... Read More
We booked the Denali Explorer (11 days). Got home last night 6/3/2013.The front end land package was exhausting, we were up & running to the bus to hit the road every morning before 8 am. Bussed ANC to Talkeentna, train to Denali at the start-- couple of days there, then bussed to Whittier to the dock. Beautiful! Denali Bluffs hotel sucked big time, rooms are tiny, dirty, food is repulsive. Premier Tours was mediocre at best. Cruise was fabulous, really great job by NCL. We booked a port balcony on return & view was spectacular. Lessons learned: don't book land pkgs thru NCL, save a bunch & do it yourself. that's about 35-40% more plain & simple. You won't miss the ship if you book independently despite claims to the contrary. Avoid shopping at stores on shore that are advertised by NCL, it's a series of kickbacks. Shop the locals who are independent of NCL. Aside from the irregularities discussed, enjoyable once we got on board, kudos to the crew, chefs, etc. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our cruise on the Sun was nothing short of fantastic in every way. We started with 2 days in Anchorage to explore the town and took a great wildlife viewing cruise in Seward with Major Marine. We booked our transfers to the ship through ... Read More
Our cruise on the Sun was nothing short of fantastic in every way. We started with 2 days in Anchorage to explore the town and took a great wildlife viewing cruise in Seward with Major Marine. We booked our transfers to the ship through Norwegian which would have been flawless, except the driver was 45 minutes late for our pickup. We missed the tunnel to Whittier and were delayed getting to the ship. When we arrived, around 5:30 for a 9 pm departure, there were very long lines for embarkation. After security, check in took place in Dazzles, which was slow but fine. The staff was very cheerful and helped alleviate some of the boredom. Overall, it took about 90 minutes from arriving at the port to getting to our room.The ship itself is perfectly sized and wonderfully staffed. We dislike all the new gizmos that ships are putting on, so the smaller and simpler Sun was perfect for us. We found navigating the ship to be easy and all the spaces we used were clean, comfortable, and nicely finished. The Sports Bar is especially well suited to scenic cruising. We didn't go to any of the shows, so I can't comment about the theater or Dazzles. Our balcony cabin was really well laid out with plenty of storage room and a nice sized bathroom (for a cruise ship). Our steward, Grace, was incredibly friendly and sweet and did a great job keeping everything clean (and not hiding the stuff I always leave on the bed). The balcony was great for Alaska, we sat out (in coats and blankets sometimes!) almost every day to watch the scenery and take photos.The food on the ship, most particularly in the specialty restaurants, was fantastic. We participated in the Chef's Table and it was a can't miss event. Chef Orwill was really wonderful and seemed to enjoy giving us an introduction to the menu and joking with the guests. He also did a really thorough galley tour for our small group that included some of the freezer and prep areas. As logistics enthusiasts, my husband and I were very glad we went and got some fascinating details on how the ship operates. We dined at the Italian restaurant, sushi restaurant, Teppanyaki, and Moderno. All 4 meals were notably good, even for food snobs like us. The pizza at the Italian place is fantastic, the sushi is some of the freshest I've ever had (try the snapper, so good!), and the churrascaria had some wonderfully prepared meat. Teppenyaki was a solid hibachi experience, although the show being performed by 2 filipino men making bad 1950s Chinese jokes made for a strange anthropological evening. Overall, it was well worth the extra cost for these eating experiences. The main dining rooms were fine, but the dishes mostly were bland and underseasoned. It was continental cuisine, with very little variety. There was a nice yellow curry the first night, but after that, chicken breast all the time. It would be really wonderful to see at least one ethnic dish on the menu every night. Mexican, Thai, Indian, anything with spice would be a huge improvement. Chef seemed to indicate that he was doing all he could with it and I believe him. I'm sure we are in the minority of eaters. We did find the Indian items on the buffet to be extremely good and went back for more multiple times. Other than that, the buffet was solid but usually too crowded for us.A tip on the food: the sushi restaurant is open for lunch on sea days and is filled with both guests and crew members. It was a great experience to see the crew enjoying themselves on their breaks and days off and the food was wonderful (and a great portion for lunch).The itinerary for the Sun was equally wonderful. We viewed Hubbard Glacier and stopped at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We also went into Tracy Arm, but regrettably couldn't get close to the glacier due to ice. As for ports, I highly recommend that people walk to Hoonah and not just stay at the dock in Icy Strait. The people were very friendly and we saw multiple whales and eagles at a close distance on the walk to town. we also had the best fried halibut of the trip at Misty Bay Lodge in downtown Hoonah. We did a ship excursion in Juneau (Photo Safari with Gastineau Guiding) and a Dyea Dave bus tour up to the Yukon in Skagway, which were both very good. Ketchikan was by far the highlight, with excellent shopping at Rain Barrel and a floatplane trip with Randy at Mountain Air. Highly recommend both businesses. Disembarkation in Vancouver was a breeze. We didn't think we had a lot of time, so we did walk off and managed to be the second and third people off the ship (literally!). Customs both at the dock and the airport were streamlined and simple and we had no issues getting to the cab stand at Canada Place and getting to the airport. We made it from the ship to our gate in an hour. Definitely a record!Excellent cruise on an excellent ship. Can't say enough how much I enjoyed the Sun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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