My husband and I took this cruise to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. This was the first time we have cruised with Norwegian. Let me first say the cruise was good and we had a great time. We are not big drinkers so we were ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. This was the first time we have cruised with Norwegian. Let me first say the cruise was good and we had a great time. We are not big drinkers so we were looking for great food and good excursions. We got a deal when we booked the cruise that we could get 4 of the specialty dining rooms for free. I was happy about that, because I think we would have been disappointed if we hadn't gone to the specialty restaurants. The food in the dining room was good, just not extra special. The buffet was always the same and very crowded.
We had wonderful weather! There were a couple of days we didn't have to wear a jacket. Being from Florida we weren't sure what to expect. Like the reviews say, pack layers so you can take them off as needed. I wore long sleeve shirts under sweatshirts and took a jacket.
I read a lot of reviews prior to going on this trip on how Norwegian nickel and dimes you. I found this to be true, but never felt pressured in any way. For example, every other cruise we have been on had a night in the dining room where they serve lobster. With Norwegian, you could have lobster in the dining room every night, for an additional charge of $24.95 per person. Before each show they sell lottery and raffle tickets. You can order anything you want from room service, but there will be a $7.95 charge. If you don't like it, don't get it.
The shows were good. There was karaoke, dance lessons, trivia, bingo, lots of activities. We would have liked to take the behind the scenes tour, but it was an addition $79.00 a person so we opted not to. They had first run movies playing in the cabins each day, so if you wanted to stay in and watch them you could. We have been on cruises in the past where there was always something to do, and there really wasn't much on this one that we were interested in. We spent a lot of time on the balcony admiring the scenery.
Norwegian was great about being sure they were germ free. They had crew members at the entrance of buffet offering hand sanitizer, as well as throughout the ship. They ship was small and older, but we expected that from the reviews we read before booking the cruise. It was clean and the staff were super nice.
We left out of Vancouver and stayed at the Sunset Inn & Suites. It was a really nice hotel and very convenient. We took a cab from the airport and it was very reasonable. We rode the hop on/hop off bus to see Vancouver and the hotel sold the tickets at the front desk, as well as had a stop within walking distance to get on the bus. The rooms were big and they provide a free continental breakfast each morning.
In Ketchikan we went salmon fishing. The bus picked us up and took us out to the marina. We were on a boat with three other people from the ship. The water was very choppy and a person got sick, so the captain moved us to calmer water. Between the 5 of us we caught a salmon that was too small to keep, a rock fish and a 13 lb salmon. We saw a lot of bald eagles and the scenery was beautiful. The captain (Kevin) was not real personable, but he warmed up to us.
In Juneau we went whale watching. What a wonderful trip! We saw stellar sea lions, a couple of pods of humpback whales, and a couple of pods of orca. The boat was really close to them and we got great pictures. The boat had indoor and outdoor seating and the guides were local and very informative. There is a free shuttle from the cruise ship to downtown which we were not aware of. We didn't venture off the ship until our tour was scheduled at 2pm. The town is a little bit of a distance from where the ship docks.
In Skagway we did the dogsled tour. So fun! The bus took us to the camp and the tour guide was full of good information about the city and dog sled racing. He actually has his own dogs and wants to run in the Iditarod. They had a 16 dog team ready to go and they pulled us in a cart that held 6 people. After that we got to play with the puppies, and there were plenty of them. Once again, there is a free shuttle to take you back and forth between town and the ship.
The glaciers were breathtaking! Norwegian arranged for rangers to be on our boat while viewing the glaciers. There were 4 of them and they narrated interesting facts while going by the glaciers as well as being on deck to answers questions. We picked them up and dropped them off as we entered the park.
While on the boat we saw whales, seals, stellar sea lions, lots of birds, and porpoises. We would see them while in the pool area, or while eating in the dining room. Other guests were really great about pointing them out. We also saw plenty from the balcony. Sometimes it was too cold to be on the balcony with the wind blowing but we could very easily watch from inside the cabin.
We went an additional 3 days on the land tour after getting off the boat. The buses were there to pick us right at boat as we exited in Seward. The first day we went to a conservation area where you could see injured/recovering animals very close up. They even had a reindeer they were walking through the visitors that you could pet. There were moose, bear, porcupines, wolves, caribou, etc. Really interesting and great pictures. From there we went to Anchorage and had lunch on our own, then the bus dropped you at the hotel about 5pm so you had the evening to yourself. We stayed at the Lakefront Inn on Lake Hood. It was really pretty. It has a restaurant and a bar on premises, as well as some within walking distance. They also have a courtesy van that will take you to downtown Anchorage and the Airport.
The next morning we were up bright and early and back on the buses head to Denali. It was a 4 hour ride up to Denali and then we boarded converted school buses for a tour of the park. You could upgrade your tour for an additional $70 a person to go further into the park and have a better chance of seeing the mountain and wildlife. We did this and the tour was 8-9 hours. It was a long day, but this is probably the only time we will see Alaska. We saw bear, moose, caribou, golden eagles, dall sheep. Be sure to take binoculars with you and a camera. Afterwards the bus dropped us off at the hotels in Denali about 9pm.
The last day of the land tour we woke up and rode the bus to the train station. We boarded the Alaska railroad and took the train to Talkeetna. There was an option to eat in the dining car (at your own expense) for lunch, or there was a snack bar that had food as well. Of course, every where you looked was gorgeous. The buses picked us up and drove us the rest of the way to Anchorage back to the hotel. We arrived back about 7pm and you had the rest of the night to yourself.
The land tour was wonderful and I would highly recommend this. However, it was very busy! We saw a TON of things in this 2 weeks though. Definitely hit the highlights. You were responsible for all the meals during the land tour, it's not like the cruise where this is included in your fare. I also went down to the desk while on the cruise to find out what to expect on the land tour. Norwegian didn't give us a lot of information on this. For example, we stayed a couple of extra days in Anchorage and it would have been nice to know which hotel Norwegian was sending us to so we could have continued our stay at the same place.
We stayed in Anchorage two days on our own and The Lakefront was able to accommodate us one of those days. We went into Anchorage and caught the Trolley tour. It was $20 a person and very interesting. They also gave us a coupon book for other stores/tours in Anchorage. The guide grew up in Anchorage and had a lot of information.
The last day we booked a fishing trip with Regal Air. They picked us up at the hotel at 7am and we took a seaplane out to Lake Creek Lodge. They fed us a hot breakfast and set us up with a guide that took us out. It was rainy, (the first rain we encountered on our tours) and we didn't catch anything. We went in for lunch which was really good, then back out to the boat. We caught a 33 lb king salmon which they cleaned and packaged up for us. Regal came back to get us at 5pm. We left our fish in a storage cooler with Regal where the Alaska Sausage company came and picked it up the next day and we made arrangements for them to ship it home to Florida. We saw lots of wildlife from the sea plane and the pilots were very informative and great about pointing out critters. Our guide at Lake Creek was Brian and he was an absolute delight.
I know this review was lengthy, but I had so many questions before we left. I hope this answers some of yours. It was a wonderful vacation, we loved it. Read Less