10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many ... Read More
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many cabins to fill.....our luck. Also, we had never cruised with Holland American Line before and have wanted to for years, so a win-win all around! We flew in to Seattle arriving around 1pm for a 3pm at the lasted boarding time. We had thought we would simply grab an Uber or Lift to the pier, but after getting our bags, time was running out, and we discovered HAL had a service to transfer us by bus to the terminal....so we used that (both ways as it turned out).... Check in was easy as we were getting they later in the day and most had already boarded. Our veranda cabin on the 8th floor starboard was decent. Definitely could use an upgrade as there were repaired holes and such in the bathroom. The deck really needed to be washed, as it was all a mess and dirty. The beds were quite comfortable, slept well all 7 nights. The TV served up some good movies OD, a few TV channels, access to the bridge cams.....nice. I liked how the closets had shelves that could be swung up to make more room for hanging clothes....every cruise line should have this great idea. Cabin steward was efficient and did not see much of him. As for dining, we ate most meals in the main dining room and had mostly above average luck with our meals. We are mostly Celebrity Cruisers so that is what we are comparing to....I think Celebrity does food better, my partner thinks HAL is just a bit better. The Lido Market is not a bad place for snacks and small meal. Overall, the service onboard is wonderful. The staff seems to enjoy what they are doing and we enjoyed having one waiter all week who treated us great. I would say the general overall service seems a bit warmer on HAL that Celebrity. Also, the Oosterdam has a warmer feel to it than most of the Celebrity ships. The design is obviously night and day, with Celebrity more modern and HAL a bit traditional. I like the change and the size of the ship. As a charter ship, the on board entertainment was quite good. A few let downs, but over all some great comedy, music and dancing were well done. The ships own dancers did an awesome job the night I saw them, using the huge screens on stage to interact with....something new to me and fun to watch! Something else HAL does is the Lincoln Center Stage, with a string quintet and pianist play a huge variety throughout the cruise. I wish I was able to see more of them, but what I did hear was top-notch..... OK, the internet! I thought I would take advantage of buying a weekly package before boarding as I would save about $50 for the 'Premier' package and be able to stream shows if I would like. Well, the internet on the Oosterdam is a joke. I was never able to stream....downloading pictures from Facebook took many seconds, and often,,,,very often, the whole thing stopped and needed to be restarted.....not fun....the front desk passed on my concerns.....but while I was there at the front desk,(and every time I was there, btw) other passengers were also complaining and some were rather irate. I just put down my iPad and did not let it bother me. But just don't expect much in terms internet on the Oosterdam. We had been to Alaska a few times before, so did not do many excursions, but LOVE seeing Hubbard Glacier....always my favorite part of an Alaska cruise! We would certainly consider HAL again....we like the 1900 pax load. Not too small, not too big. The food was good and service great. While this review was a little boring, the ship was not! I would suggest this to those who like music, relaxed atmosphere and a ship not geared up with bells and whistles of all the newer ships like RCL and Norwegian and Carnival. I almost forgot my favorite place on the ship, the Crows Nest on the top deck.....great place to sit and stare out watching the world go by with the panoramic windows....and a bar and coffeeshop..... Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
First, the date I chose was purposeful and intentional! It rains 98% of the time. May is the least rainy time if the whole year. It did not rain a single time, at any of our stops and the sun came out! I figured, if I'm going to ... Read More
First, the date I chose was purposeful and intentional! It rains 98% of the time. May is the least rainy time if the whole year. It did not rain a single time, at any of our stops and the sun came out! I figured, if I'm going to Alaska; I want to see snow and it all melts in the summer months... So May it was! We experienced sun, snow, green spring/ early summer colors and seriously, it was AMAZING!!!!! At every single stop the locals kept saying "You picked a good day. No rain today, and it rains every day here". The ship itself is well maintained. I only encountered ONE rude crew member and it was an American crew member in the gift shop. Everyone else was superb and helpful and kind. Our first stop was Juneau. We went whale watching. The crew on the boat were knowledgeable and friendly and very helpful! We saw humpback whales (a mom and baby) that breeched several times. We also saw eagles and and see lions and seals! Our second stop was Skagway. We booked 2 excursions because it was a long day in port. First we did a zodiac rafting adventure which I highly recommend! We were outfitted in all weather, WARM, sub Arctic deck suits with goggles, gloves, and face masks. Captain Jen was incredible as was her crew. She made the ride FUN by doing donuts in the middle of the water multiple times. We saw waterfalls that blew our actual minds and eagles and sea lions of all different varieties and otters playing in the water. We stopped for several photo ops. We were brought back to the staging area by the ship where the next excursion started. We did the 3 hour White Pass Railway Adventure. I don't even have words to do that trip up the mountain justice. It's not an exaggeration when I say the views were spectacular and impossible to really process at first. We saw lush green mountains and snow covered mountains side by side. We learned a lot about the gold Rush and how the railway was made, etc. Going through the mountain tunnels was exhilarating. You can't go to Skagway and not do the White pass Railway. We cruised Glacier Bay next. Please do yourself a favor and book a balcony (try to get an Aft Balcony. They go FAST and there are only 20 on the ship) and bring binoculars. I was brought to tears by the stunning beauty!!! You don't understand how INCREDIBLE it was. We watched the Margorie Glacier calve. First you hear rolling thunder then you see part of the glacier crash into the water making huge splashing waves. Some of the glaciers are ice blue and others not so much. When you cruise Glacier Bay, Carnival gives you warm blankets to cuddle up with so you don't freeze to death. All along the way we saw whales breeching and see otters floating lazily on their backs with their cute paws and heads just above the water. This was one of my favorite days!!! I was pretty much euphoric all day. Our next stop was Icy Straight Point. I didn't book an excursion here but my friend in the cabin next to me did. She went whale watching and saw multiple whales breech very close up. She also went on a bear excursion and saw brown bears. I was a little jealous if the pictures she got. We rode into town and saw how the natives live. Then we went to The Crab Shack. GO TO THE CRAB SHACK!!!! There we got Alaskan King Crab legs that were HUGEEEEE and Bloody Mary's full of crab meat, shrimp, and a crab claw!! The crab the best we've ever had and we were unexpectedly so full it wasn't even funny. Finally we went to Ketchikan. Here is my ONLY complaint. We were only there for 4 hours which is ludicrous because Ketchican is huge and we didn't get to experience even a quarter of Ketchikan. We did a Go Kart Adventure thru the rainforest. It was a gorgeous, sunny, dry, day so we didn't need the rain gear offered. The ride was kick ass and although I've seen some people complain that it wasn't long enough; we found it to be the perfect length. We stopped for a few beautiful photo ops and a quick snack and water. Our guide was Rhianna Marie! We wanted to put her in our suitcase and bring her home. She was GREAT. Our next stop was Victoria BC. from 7pm - 11 pm. Honestly, that's a huge waste of a stop. I would much rather have had more time in Ketchikan. I got the feeling they stopped in Canada just so Canada could try to make a few bucks off of the tourists. Not this girl! Let me just close by saying I will be booking another Alaskan cruise!!! You couldn't pay me to go in the heat of summer and get rain EVERY DAY and miss all the snow and be hot. Who wants to be hot in Alaska!? Not me.... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this boat because it is a brand new ship, started sailing just two months prior, and we loved the itinerary. The stops were great, we loved the excursions chosen, food was good, service was great, and we took full advantage of ... Read More
We chose this boat because it is a brand new ship, started sailing just two months prior, and we loved the itinerary. The stops were great, we loved the excursions chosen, food was good, service was great, and we took full advantage of the drink package. We enjoyed the shows, bands, live music, trivia, and hot tubs. I was surprised there was no lobster served in the dining room - first cruise I have been on where this was not on the menu. However, the food was food, and we would sail on this boat again. Our first stop was Ketchikan where we did off road vehicles through the woods. This was a great tour. We wish it would have been longer. It was about twenty minutes out and twenty minutes back, but it was so nice to be outside. We spotted a mother bear and two cubs which is a rarity. We felt really blessed to have seen them out in the woods. The tour guides were kind, and informative. Our second stop was Juneau where we decided to go whale watching. We chose Alaska Galore Tours because they had small boats. We were on a boat that held 15 or so along with a boat captain and tour guide. We learned so much, and saw 5-6 whales turning in the water about 15-20 times. Unfortunately, it was raining, but we still would have chosen this tour again. We were supposed to go by Sawyer Glacier, but the weather was too bad as it was very cloudy and icy. We still saw some beautiful scenery from the boat, and it was a lovely evening on the balcony. Finally, our last day was in Skagway. My husband and father-in-law went on a helicopter to walk around on the glacier. it was short, 20 minute ride out and 20 minutes back with about half an hours walking around and learning about the glacier. We would recommend. We also did the train ride up the mountain. It was informative, beautiful, and again, we would do this same tour all over again. The bands at night were great, especially the guy in the piano bar. He was funny and incredibly entertaining. My in-laws loved Jersey Boys, the broadway show. We would absolutely sail on Norwegian and on this same boat again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
My wife and I went on this cruise and brought along my parents and one of our best friends hoping to have a nice 8-day escape to Alaska. We chose this cruise line because they had -- what appeared to be -- a reasonable price for the ... Read More
My wife and I went on this cruise and brought along my parents and one of our best friends hoping to have a nice 8-day escape to Alaska. We chose this cruise line because they had -- what appeared to be -- a reasonable price for the experience we were seeking and they were also a subsidiary of Carnival (of whom we had previously sailed with many times before and with whom we had enjoyed each and every previous cruise experience). Little did we know that these things would not be worth our rather nightmarish experience aboard the Ruby Princess. Embarkation: I would actually rate this relatively high. Princess's embarkation process out of Seattle was one of the quickest most painless processes I've ever been through in my many times sailing. I would even go out on a limb to say that this experience was superior to the other cruises I've taken out of other ports with other cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian). This being our first impression of Princess, we were actually pretty excited and expecting our cruise to be better than we thought it would be (after having read many bad reviews about the same ship we were boarding). Cabin: Our cabin was kind of awful. Laying on the top bunk bed felt worse than laying on a plank of wood. There were blood stains on the sheets the entirety of our stay which leads me to believe that the sheets don't actually get changed or cleaned for the duration of the cruise. The air conditioning didn't work the first night in our cabin and we nearly roasted in our room waiting for someone to come fix it. Shortly after our air conditioning was repaired, the toilet stopped working. Our shower had only one (unfixable) setting and that was scalding hot. The room constantly smelled like sewage. Overall, the rooms sucked. But we tried to remain positive since we knew we wouldn't be spending much time there anyways. And for the most part, Princess would send someone (albeit it was usually someone with a bad attitude) to come fix the problems we were having. Dining: One of the better parts of this cruise was the service in the main dining room. Our friend has food allergies and the head waiter made sure to cater to her needs and remained easily accessible to us should there be any question of what ingredients a dish may contain. Though there wasn't ever any question because the menu was always clear and concise about what each dish contained. The food was not the best but decent. There were good nights and bad nights with more just okay nights than not. But you could tell that the staff was willing to go out of their way to make sure your experience was pleasurable and enjoyable. The buffet, however, was a different story entirely. The food was always cold and usually everything tasted like fish (even the baked goods like cupcakes and cookies). We usually tried to stay clear of it if we could. Services: My parents did a few of the spa services on board. And they both said that the spa staff constantly tried to sell them products the entire time. That it's not a very relaxing experience because of how much they are trying to push products on you. Also, my mom had a few issues with scheduling her massage. She scheduled with the manager of the spa for a specific time in the morning and then when she showed up to the spa the day of the scheduled massage the very same manager told her that her appointment wasn't in the system and that it was never scheduled. They ended up rescheduling but I think the entire spa experience definitely stressed my mom out far more than it relaxed her. Activities: This cruise line is very obviously geared towards an older crowd (60+). My wife and I are in our late 20's/early 30's and found it was very difficult to find activities geared towards our age group. Which didn't really bother us too much since we were mainly there to spend time with our family. But we certainly had to make a lot of our own entertainment on this ship (which we haven't had to do as much on other cruise lines). Entertainment: One night we went to the princess exclusive Stephen Schwartz show called "Magic To Do." This was, hands down, the worst thing I have ever sat through in my entire life. The show made no sense. It was supposed to be part musical/part magic show. But the singing was dreadfully bad and hard to listen to. The dancing appeared as if a 4th grader choreographed the show. And the magic tricks were the most basic of basic tricks. Not even a little kid would be entertained by it. It was laughably bad. Kind of like the movie "The Room" (by Tommy Wiseau) is to film. "Magic To Do" is the "The Room" of musicals. A complete disaster. I felt really bad for the cast for being forced into doing it and butchering their potential careers. Towards the end of our cruise we went to a comedy show with Steve Moris as the performer. He started out singing and making a lot of self-deprecating jokes. Then the joking turned darker and he started making homophobic jokes and racist jokes. They were distasteful and certainly not my brand of humor (considering my wife and I are a lesbian couple and don't care much for racism). I didn't think any of them were funny, so I didn't laugh. I didn't heckle him or comment, I simply sat there quietly and waited patiently for the show to end. He noticed that my wife and I weren't laughing and proceeded to call us out in front of everyone. We continued to sit there quietly (still not laughing) and allowed him to poke a little fun. But then he wouldn't stop and his entire show became centered around insulting and harassing us for not laughing. He continued to make racist and homophobic jokes and then harassed us more for not laughing. At that point, my wife and I quietly discussed walking out because his constant attention was starting to make us both very uncomfortable. We ultimately decided to stay because we thought walking out might further fuel the fire so we sat there and continued to take his abuse. Eventually, he harassed us to the point of throwing a water bottle at me and by that point I was so mortified and upset at being treated the way I was that I stood up and walked out. He made sure to harass me the entire way out with jokes about me being a "sensitive millennial." He even had quite a few people making rude comments to me as I walked out. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I love stand up comedy and have been to many live performances from my favorite comics and never have I seen them treat anyone this way (front row or not) -- I've not even seen hecklers get treated this poorly. I feel like any comedian that has to rely solely on bullying audience members (who aren't engaging in the show in any way) for a laugh is not a very good comedian at all and probably won't make it very far in the business. We spoke to management on the ship after the show and they apologized and said they would write up a report and speak to him and the staff about it. We tried contacting them the day after we got back from the cruise for a status report on the report that was written to see if any action had been taken on this matter and they told us they "don't have access to the reports that get written on the ships." I don't feel as if justice has been or will ever be served for how I was treated as a paying customer on board their ship. And I am extremely disappointed in Princess for how they handled this entire situation. Ports/Excursions: This was the best part of the cruise. We stopped at the following ports: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. They were all amazing ports. Absolutely breathtaking views of the mountains and glaciers. We did a seaplane over the glaciers in Juneau which was absolutely amazing. We did dog mushing in Skagway and greatly enjoyed getting to hold and cuddle puppies as well as learn more about Iditarod. We did a jeep and canoe excursion in Ketchikan and it was pretty fun and informative. We explored Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria and it was a beautiful building. The only complaint is that we wish we could have spent more time in Ketchikan and Victoria. We were only allotted about 5 hours in Ketchikan and 4 hours in Victoria and it just wasn't enough time to do excursions and explore/shop the towns. Would we go back to Alaska? Absolutely. It is a beautiful state and the sights were amazingly beautiful. There is so much there to explore and learn. Will we ever go on a cruise again? Of course! We love cruises. They are a great way to explore a number of different locations in one trip and usually are a lot of fun to do. Would we ever use Princess again? Absolutely not. We will never use this cruise line ever again. They seem more focused on making money than assuring customer satisfaction. And I am more than willing to shell out the money for an awesome experience, but when I'm basically paying for discrimination and to feel like I don't belong and like I'm nothing more than an ATM, it's just not worth it to me. I'd rather go somewhere else where I'm treated better and there certainly are places like that that exist. If Princess isn't going to change the way they do business they should at the very least put a disclaimer somewhere that warns against the fact that they have poor customer service and if you are a minority or protected class that you will probably run into some issue onboard -- if not from the staff and entertainment guests then surely from the other passengers. Vacation isn't really vacation on Princess. Would I recommend Princess to any of my family and friends? Not at all. I love and respect my family and friends. I wouldn't want them to have even the slightest chance of going through what I went through on this cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
We were not thrilled about this cruise to Alaska. The port stops were too short, not enough time left to visit the town after an excursion. Because, at the end o the cruise, there was an incident in the warehouse the disembarkation was ... Read More
We were not thrilled about this cruise to Alaska. The port stops were too short, not enough time left to visit the town after an excursion. Because, at the end o the cruise, there was an incident in the warehouse the disembarkation was delayed, the crew and all staff seemed unaware of the people waiting to exit needing a supportive communication and some water while they waited in line for over an hour. There had been time for staff to exit the ship and new staff on the ship but the new staff had not been notified to assist asap. The Staff were wonderful, and helpful. The staff did a wonderful job of cleaning and maintaining the rooms. There was no additional service in the Buffet room, no one came to assist you with your plate or offer beverages. You required to make several trips to the fountain. First time on this cruise line, not enough staff available to assist people when there are lineup on or off the ship. Not clear communications from the bridge or other staff on the ship. Life vest drill was a waste of time, we had a packed room and only one crew member demonstrated the vest. Most attendance was done by your key card but the emergency drill was done by paper list, double work for staff to be sure everyone attended. The food was repetitive. The fancy restaurants were nice, but the portion sizes were enormous. We had an awful steak, dry and flavorless, in Cagney's Steakhouse which was meant to be there prime offering. The entertainment was fine, Tim KIminski the comedian was great. We tried not to miss a show. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Always wanted to do a gay cruise - and always have wanted to see Alaska. Got the chance to do so last week - and was pleasantly surprised. The ship is really nice, the food was SURPRISINGLY good, and the itinerary (Seattle-Juneau-Glacier ... Read More
Always wanted to do a gay cruise - and always have wanted to see Alaska. Got the chance to do so last week - and was pleasantly surprised. The ship is really nice, the food was SURPRISINGLY good, and the itinerary (Seattle-Juneau-Glacier Bay-Sitka-Ketchikan-Victoria) was wonderful. Best part of the cruise was having National Park Rangers narrate on the ship PA as we toured Glacier Bay National Park. Worst part of the cruise was the Spa. Avoid at all costs. High Pressure sales like nothing I've ever experienced (they even cancelled my appointments and re-booked 3 more without my consent). Who knew I needed $1700 in facial creams? I already look 10 years younger than I am ... but I need $1700 in product PLUS a dermatologist consult (who was conveniently onboard and ready to take my money)? The spa day passes are over-subscribed so the spa was always too busy for me to enter (no lounges, pool was over-full). There really was no reason to go in the spa anyway - every spa I've ever been too includes grooming supplies. This one didn't even have soap or shampoo in the showers, and no sinks for grooming, shaving, etc. Our stateroom was nice, albeit slightly snug (I've only done one other cruise, and that was on the Oceana Riviera - this room was considerably smaller, it seemed). The TV entertainment offerings were very good (and free!). AMAZINGLY soundproof. The premium restaurants are all worth a few bucks additional, with the exception of the Tamarind, which was a bit of a let-down (and the ONLY restaurant that wouldn't let you order more than a single main course). The service in that restaurant was wonky (our meal was half-done before our cocktails were delivered, and the meal was nearly over when the Sake arrived). We got a bit weary of the Lido Buffet, and some instructions as to which direction the line moved would have helped with crowd control. The ship is immaculate and maintained beautifully. Friendly and competent staff everywhere we went. Embark and Disembark was painless. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult ... Read More
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult which can be placed in regular luggage, but bring your corkscrew if you will drink in your room. Corkage in the dining room was $18 plus tax in Washington :-( . Once out of Washington, no tax. Wine steward service was very good with our bottle always waiting for us at dinner, and each bottle lasted 3 dinners for us. Mildly upsetting was that Holland initially tentatively charged our credit card account $1,499.82 on embarkation (per our bank) while our final bill was only $32.20, overestimating the final amount by 4,657.8 percent. Seems to me that they should have disclosed this to passengers so that they would know what to expect since many banks now inform their customers of each charge made. The ship appears to be old and desperately needs renovation with SD TV's with poor reception in the staterooms (even for the usual onboard sourced programming) with noticeable wear in the bathroom and cabin and dated ship decor. There was substantial deferred maintenance In our stateroom, the bottom desk drawer didn't function well (other passengers said theirs did not work at all) and when I decided to take a bath (I am used to the tiny showers on other lines) there was ring around the bathtub. Yuk - showers on out. I also noticed that the grout had brown stains and the toilet seat showed signs of wear. The bathroom had ample shelf space with toiletries bags and reading material going under the sink and a closing corner vanity cabinet with three levels, There was a hair dryer mounted on the wall as well as a corded hair dryer in the desk which we did not use. A magnifying mirror was mounted to the desk and there was another in the desk as well. Two bathrobes were provided. During our cruise, they were apparently sanding and varnishing outdoor stairs between decks (we were pretty far aft). The strong smell permeated the hallway and rooms and caused both my wife and I to become nauseated. This continued for a substantial time. At one point, someone propped up am outdoor chair in the exterior doorway, but that was soon removed. They were also varnishing the railing on the top deck. Unfortunately, their "Wet paint" signs were placed on small labels facing the sea twisted somewhat around the railing structure. I found out that there was wet varnish the hard way. In another area of the top deck, the top wood rail was completely missing and remained missing throughout the two week trip. Others complained of smoke odors in public areas (purportedly no smoking allowed) and we noticed curry smells near the stairwell once or twice - we presume that the crew must have been cooking in the lower decks. Clean windows appeared to be a low priority on this ship. Besides the stateroom windows which is understandable due to their inaccessibility, windows for public areas, particularly the dining room, were filthy substantially blocking the view outside. Even accessible windows (like the windows on doors in public areas were filthy). Stewards were very polite, as were most personnel on board - much better than we have experienced on competing lines, while shop personnel were typically hard sell as on other lines. Food service in the dining room was good though food sat too long and was too repetitive. With a few exceptions, soup was placed in pitchers and poured into bowls at the table which helped to keep it hot, but most everything else was lukewarm. Portions promoted good health but seemed small. They served Alaskan crab at one dinner which consisted of two segments of a single leg. Dinner fare was unimaginative and repetitive. Souffles were sparse, and the variably prepared creme brulee was available every day. The one time I tried a souffle, it was very cupcake-like. The dinner rolls were likewise the same for the whole trip while other cruiselines provide different variations and styles. I was surprised when the surf and turf night did not include a baked potato. Interestingly, this cruise featured demonstrations by America's Test Kitchen, but it did not appear that anything was communicated to the cooking staff. Eating at the Lido Buffet was similarly unimaginative. Breakfast was substantially the same everyday. There were several stations with different types of food, but the food was generally unchanged and if one wanted different things, several stations would have to be visited. There were separate stations for fried eggs, omelets, waffles, poached eggs/congee, one for juices/milk, ... If one wanted poached eggs/eggs benedict and sausage, that would require a trip to two different stations, or even more if one wanted toast, with each having a separate queue which became very long at times. The stations generally did not have any additional assistance when the queue grew. Potatoes were cooked the same throughout the trip - no variations like potatoes o-brien, hash browns, etc. were offered. Fruit was sparse, and there were no smoked fish like salmon\ or trout, nor a large variety of sliced meats like those offered on other cruiselines. The servers were apparently instructed to work fast, but in their effort to serve the next person, often failed to provide what the prior person wanted. Once, and elderly gentlemen in front of me wanted a couple of different items. When he politely repeated what he wanted, the server became visibly peeved, finally responding to him and filling his request. Things similar to this were often repeated and it appeared that the servers either didn't want to listen or did not understand the people they were serving. It appeared that their failure to listen resulted in longer delays in the lines, though by the third or fourth day, I gave up and took whatever they scooped. Beverage service (coffee, water, tea, lemon syrup water) was spotty, depending on what personnel were present. Even though we were generally approached fairly quickly, beverage speed ranged from immediate to times when after finishing my food, I went to get iced tea from the dispenser myself. Even the supervisors (in suits) were variable - sometimes they would be helpful, sometimes they were busy talking amongst themselves and didn't care, and there were times when the dining area was relatively empty - they served a single diner, but refused to acknowledge other diners who wanted refills, even turning around and walking away after seeing diners wanting service. Lunch at the Lido was similar. There were multiple stations with a few variations (whatever was left over from a prior meal). Pizza, relegated to one regular station, was the worst I have had on a cruise, in part because it generally sat around for a long time (I don't know if the older passenger demographic was a cause). It was refreshing to be offered sushi, but there was only a very few variations of mini rolls (surprising since this cruise served lots of salmon), so after the second day, meh. They were small enough that people often got several, poured the sushi onto one plate, and abandoned the empty dishes. Many also gave up on waiting for the server - they just reached over and grabbed what they wanted. The buffet closed between meals though the food was placed in warming ovens quite early. The food, having sat for an extended time, lost its freshness by the time it was offered. An example - one station had small plates of pasta. I did not encounter any fresh plates. The plates had been sitting around long enough that the outside was dry and hard. Very few people partake. For lunch, sparcely filled small sandwiches were often available in small paper bags. Unsealed, these sat around long enough that the bread was often hard and dry. Lido provided snacks 10:30p - 11:30p. Comfort food such as wings, fries, tortilla chips, potato chips and other leftovers were offered. The wings, though not real fresh, were pretty tasty (unlike the other fried chicken which could have come from a frozen TV dinner. The fries were the best I have had on a cruise ship with two variations, one well done and one regular, provided. The chips, probably coming from bags, were typical. Guacamole was provided, but typically went very quickly without replenishing and at other times, stayed, the surface clearly discolored from sitting too long. The Lido dining area was not well maintained. The tables were often a little sticky (They need to replace the cleaning buckets more often) and it appeared no one bothered to vacuum the carpet, particularly noticeable near the windows. Desserts where typical - nothing fancy - but were not replenished quickly enough. Ice cream service was exceptional, extensive queues not withstanding. There were several choices of real ice cream (eg: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, cookie dough, etc., sherbets) as well as soft serve, served in regular cones, waffle cones, or in bowls with a selection of toppings such as marshmallows, syrup and chocolate chips. This started near lunch and ran throughout the day. The Pinnacle Grill provided a quiet experience with attentive service though the food was unexceptional. The Italian restaurant was a cordoned off part of the Lido. It had attentive service and good portions, though the food was not up to par and was not close to what we consider good authentic Italian food. It tasted the same as the dining room although with a little different spice mix. Since there were very few people there, it was very quiet. Their written confirmation was off by a couple of hours for us as well as another diner, but with few patrons, it did not matter. The only Cioppino I ever had before this was San Francisco Cioppino and this did not compare. I appeared that the ingredients were boiled separately with Italian inspired broth poured over. The seafood had little flavor. Entertainment was next to the worst we experienced in the over 10 cruises we have been on. The ship's personnel's shows were karaoke style with mostly recorded instumentals accompanied by a lone violinist. There was good one male singer who apparently also worked the restaurant while the others attempted a reasonable facsimile of a high school musical. Dancers included one woman who clearly had some ballet training, but the others were not so graceful. The troup's attempt at a county western bar motive was, with obviously non-native English speaking backgrounds, was entertaining, but not in a good way. The guest performers were better than the onboard musicians and dancers, and they were often accompanied by a live band which appeared to be professional. There were also the requisite lounge musicians. Stateroom TV's provided old NTSC(?) standard definition analog video of very poor quality with lots of distortion, NOT caused by degradation of satellite signal. Last time I watched video that bad was close to 20 years ago. Although the TV appeared to be a first generation stereo set, all signals going to it were mono. This was a 14 day cruise covering just a few more ports than shorter cruises and allowed extensive time in each port, so there was no hurry to get off the boat or rush back to the ship. Unfortunately, at least for us, when we returned to the ship, it was often after lunch hours and there was no food available. For extended hour ports, we arrived after dinner hours, so no food either until snacks at 10:30. This was the first time we were left hungry on a cruiseship, and after 11:30 pm, no food (although room service was still available). It would have been nice if they coordinated the buffet, but no such luck. It was surprising that many halls, stairwells and elevators and outside decks were empty after hours. It was refreshing and comfortable, if a bit spooky, to be able to walk the halls of a cruiseship without seeing another human. This contributed to the slowness of the environment. Maybe because young families cannot always afford to take a 14 day vacation, this cruise attracted an older crowd and we sexagenarians appeared to be among the younger of the crowd. This is NOT a cruise for young people though there was one pack of less than 10 millenials wandering around the decks. Our adult child would have been miserable. The whirlpool on the pool deck closed at 10pm (the pool closed earlier) which was disappointing (we like to linger later) though after 9, there were very few people on deck. Well before 10, the retractable roof over the pool area was closed. Some ports were small enough that unless you paid for a shore excursion, there was very little to do. One port provided a short shuttle to the other side of the spit where there were only a few shops catering to cruise passengers. This being our fourth cruise to Alaska, we did not go on any shore excursions. Embarkation was the best we have experienced. Port Valet service allowed passengers to check in their luggage on the ship and obtain boarding passes for their flights FREE of charge. Luggage fees were charged to our onboard account at cost ($25.00). It made it very easy and comfortable to disembark without having to deal with luggage, and made disembarkation the easiest and most efficient we ever experienced (They or our overbooked airline did lose our seat assignments, but we were able to get new assignments at the airport). I do not know whether it is a Seattle port program or a HAL program, but the ability to transfer our luggage and check in was much appreciated. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
The whole boat was clean and very good looking. I couldn't walk 15 feet without a crew member smiling and politely greeting me. I loved the activities and shows. There is enough food onboard to feed an army, and the best part is that ... Read More
The whole boat was clean and very good looking. I couldn't walk 15 feet without a crew member smiling and politely greeting me. I loved the activities and shows. There is enough food onboard to feed an army, and the best part is that most of it is free of charge. There is so much onboard entertainment, you name it, from movies to comedy shows, they have it. I didn't participate in any, but there were numerous activities for the homosexual individuals. I loved the diversity on the ship, there were so many crew members from so many different countries. In the Ocean View buffet, there were so many different types of food from so many different countries. The cruise had an X-Club for the teens. Although it sounds lame, it was actually an amazing experience for my daughter. She went for the first few days and made friends. After making friends, they hung out everywhere on the ship. They could choose what activities they wanted to go to. The Ocean View cafe had amazing food choices, and the sky lounge had amazing views and an aesthetic appearance. The entire ship was so big and luxurious. I felt like royalty. The crew were all respectful and friendly. They lived to serve you. I would love to live on this cruise until I die. Everyone was so friendly. This was an amazing experience. I loved it!!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We just returned from our Alaska Adventure with a group of 8. It was a once in a life time experience. Carnival Legend made the experience an all time high of vacations. This was the least expensive way to go to Alaska with the ... Read More
We just returned from our Alaska Adventure with a group of 8. It was a once in a life time experience. Carnival Legend made the experience an all time high of vacations. This was the least expensive way to go to Alaska with the biggest return of life time memories. I researched all the the choices that left from Seattle and this was the best package. The shore excursions are expensive but worth every penny. This is to be expected in Alaska and so once your do your comparisons, it will absorb into realty. Outstanding service in the Dining Room with Nicoli/Table 217 and his crew. Prompt, professional service with Noel as our main Stewart in room 6234. The young performers were amazing and full of energy. They were a cut above in talent and personality. Each member was gifted in voice and choreography! The Shore Excursions will have me fawning for the rest of my life: Helicopter Ride, Rain Forrest, White Passage Train Ride, Cycling Down a Mountain, Zip Lining, Whale Watching, Glacier Hike, Butchart Gardens, each one of these experiences was as magical as the next. Thanks for the Time Of Our LIves Terry and Ellen Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We choose this cruise and itinerary because we heard that Princess had a great reputation for Alaska. Overall, I had a nearly perfect experience on the ship. The highlights of the cruise were the superior level of service from almost ... Read More
We choose this cruise and itinerary because we heard that Princess had a great reputation for Alaska. Overall, I had a nearly perfect experience on the ship. The highlights of the cruise were the superior level of service from almost everyone on the ship and the seamless way our cruise was handled. Our roundtrip out of Seattle pier 91 was very simple. My first Princess cruise, we arrived at the port around 11:15 and were on the ship by 12:15. Embarkation was handled smoothly in groups. People who had gotten to the pier earlier were called earlier, but they didn't start boarding until around 11:45. We received our bags in our cabin around 6:30PM. My only other cruising experience has been with Carnival multiple times, and I would say overall this is a step up in many ways, especially staff to passenger ratio and service. As Carnival is my only previous experience, most of my observations compare the two experiences. There weren't many children visible on the ship; passengers were mostly couples in their early forties and older. Food The room service and main dining room experience was excellent from a service standpoint. Food quality was pretty good and the breakfast room service menu is better than Carnival, but the MDR food selection was definitely more limited than Carnival. It helps to know that with AnyTime dining, you can make a reservation in advance and not have to wait. Although the MDR opens at 5PM for dinner, we arrived at 5:30 one night and were given a pager and told it would be 30-45 minutes to wait in the DaVinci dining room. Ultimately, we only waited about 20 minutes and enjoyed a drink from Vines wine café across the Piazza. Bartender Mark Anthony in Vines remembered us after the first night and would always offer our glass of Chandon before dinner. Also Vines offers a modest sushi plate or cheese plate in the afternoon if you order a glass of wine. I also loved the quality and selection at the included International Café in the Piazza. From pastries to sandwiches, salads, and desserts, these options were good. As for the specialty dining, we tried the Salty Dog gastropub in the Wheelhouse Bar on the first night for $12 and were impressed with the quality of the pub fare. The umami burger was fantastic, as was the crab cake. On our first elegant night, we opted for the Crown Grill which everybody raves about, but I was underwhelmed. The service was fantastic. The food quality paled in comparison to the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouses on Carnival. For a $29 upcharge per person, we had a nice selection from the menu, and you can order as many things as you want. However, we started with a "special off the menu" appetizer of oysters on the half shell which weren't that fresh. They seemed slightly dehydrated. The scallop appetizer was excellent. Soups and salads were all right. My chop porterhouse steak was too fatty. They served the sides family style in the middle of the table which seemed a little sloppy. There were no amuse bouches served nor specialty breads and butters like on Carnival. We also tried the Crab Shack one night which operates in a special corner of Café Caribe on certain nights. Overall this was better. While the salmon rillettes and clam chowder were fine, the crab and shrimp and royal mixed steamer were very good and an excellent value, the dessert tray was a real let down: just four cakes under plastic domes already partially cut up and not particularly appetizing looking, so we skipped it. The highlight of the specialty restaurants is Curtis Stone's Share at 16 aft. We really enjoyed the ambiance, excellent service by hostess ZaZa, and the food quality was certainly a significant notch higher than on the rest of the ship at $39 per person. This 6 course restaurant aspires to Michelin star territory, and with the exception of slightly under-salted pasta courses, was superb. We didn't use the buffet too often. One night it was just after 10PM and the last pizzas were going into the oven as we approached, so it was our only option. The area can get a little crowded and the selection is okay. Because there were so many Asian passengers on board, I was surprised to find that at least 30% of the dishes on the buffet were Asian. It's wouldn't be my first choice for dining on the ship. I'd rather have a more limited menu with table service than search for a table after the buffet. However, in contrast to Carnival, the buffet dining room tables are set with cloth napkins and silverware and the service staff were quick to come to us after sitting down to ask if we needed anything else like drinks. I regret that the Café Caribe was not open as often, because for food selections, the atmosphere was newer and the choices were healthier. Bar Service I enjoyed the coffee shop in the mornings for our iced espressos and chai lattes. It was only late in the cruise that I discovered the coffee shop also offered spiked frozen chocolate mint milkshakes. Those frozen Polar Bears were awesome! We had booked our cruise with a Sip and Sail promotion, so all of our beverages and drinks were included. With the exception of a few wines by the glass, room service drinks, and wines by the bottle, unlimited beverages are included with the package-- which I loved. I will also note that one major difference between Carnival and Princess with the drink packages is that on Princess, they may ask you to show your card to order a drink, but they never have you sign a slip with the option to tip on each drink. This was very nice, and it kept our overall tipping tab down. Overall bartending was excellent across the ship. My only nits were that the same drink wasn't always served the same from bar to bar. I had an excellent signature bloody mary from the bar next to the Trident Grill on the first night and it was never recreated exactly the same way again. I loved that there were roving servers in the dining rooms and on decks to ask us if we wanted anything, which was a far cry from the Carnival experience where it's rare to have someone on deck ask you for a drink order. We loved the Adagio bar in the back on 16, it was nearly always empty and very private. Our bartender Rosie was special, asking about us and serving us our favorite drinks every time we visited. Entertainment Until the quite fun balloon drop on the second to the last night and it's excellent accompanying Magic To Do stage show, entertainment on the ship was mediocre. It seemed to be focused on an older crowd. The magic show was tired and lame, the singer was good but the shows were basically just singing song after song. One night, there was a pub review sing along with a bunch of old songs our group in our forties and fifties didn't even recognize. The comedian was pretty funny. Otherwise, I found the tone of the entertainment to be several notches below Carnival. We enjoyed the few trivia challenges we entered, and we won two of the four we played. I wish Princess offered a keepsake collectible from winning a trivia challenge like Carnival's ship on a stick. We got some dollar store bargain DVDs for one prize and princess wine stoppers for another. The de rigueur British-accented Cruise Director was fine. Ship Design Most of the ship's dining rooms and bars were nice, but indistinguishable from one another. The interiors were very suburban McMansion styled from the '90s, with a strange mishmash of Sixties clocks and Italian styles. It's not modern with the exception of the Café Caribe and Share restaurant. It's nice to have so many hot tubs and pools on the ship which were unfortunately not really used for the Alaska cruise. There were usually a few people in the hot tubs while on ship. Enrichment I loved the naturalist on board for the Glacier Bay viewing. We also had another naturalist who offered lectures and tips about what to do in port throughout the cruise. These were very good. I wasn't much interested in dancing lessons, but there were many of these. I didn't go to champagne art auctions, of which there were many. I also didn't go to the many "parties" they threw in the shops to sell jewelry. Sanctuary and Gym We booked the Sanctuary first thing for Glacier Bay viewing at $60 per person. From 6:30AM until about 4PM, this included excellent service with unlimited bloody maries and mimosas, our own padded lounger with blankets, a thermal mug, ear warmers, special food service at a private buffet for breakfast, lunch and tea service, and a keepsake picture. In order to see the glaciers without the blue glass of the Sanctuary, I had to move to another part of the ship which was close, but overall, this experience was fantastic. It was cold! I jumped down and stood fully-clothed the sauna for about five minutes when I needed to take the chill off. The gym below the Sanctuary was fine with jogging machines and elliptical trainers. We went to a spin class for a fee one morning, and really broke a sweat! Itinerary and Excursions I don't think I'll go on an Alaska cruise again any time soon, but if I did, I'd be happy to do it again with Princess. This seems like a once in a lifetime experience, and overall Princess didn't disappoint. I wish we had more time in Ketchikan (8AM-noon) and Victoria (6PM to Midnight), but otherwise we had plenty of time in Juneau and Skagway. We booked a dog sled on the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau which was cancelled because of the weather. Instead, my group of 4 booked a float plane to view 5 glaciers. This was considerably less expensive ($215 per person vs. the $600 per person for the dog sled through Princess.) I loved the gorgeous views, but if you're prone to motion sickness, beware of float planes! I white knuckled this for a part of the ride. One nit with the cancellation of the dog sled excursion was that Princess showed that I had a $1300 credit on my bill after we had cancelled the prepaid trip, but still charged my credit card (which dropped off the card), and then they told me that I would have to wait 10-15 days after the cruise to get the refund by mailed check from corporate. That's bogus. They could easily refund the card I used to pay for the excursion. We also booked the luxury car train for the White Pass Scenic Railway. This was SUPERB! If you can afford it, I highly recommend this upgraded experience with unlimited snacks, beers, wines, and champagne for the 2.5 hour train ride. Only 14 people in the car for the experience are allowed. The views are breathtaking! Our final planned excursion was the 4 hour boat ride in Ketchikan to Misty Fjords. This was a long excursion that precluded us from any other activity in Ketchikan. The bulk of the ride in either direction was taken up with talks from the naturalist and native American speaker. However, the cruise through Rudyerd Bay was worth the trip! So beautiful! It was like no place I've ever seen. So green with ribbon waterfalls, seals, bald eagles, and puffins, we were fortunate enough this rainy day to have this part of the ride without precipitation. I loved it. Final Thoughts I went on this cruise with my husband and we've been together for 34 years. We were hoping to experience a vow renewal. It had shown on our itinerary under the payments and schedules section that we had this included, however, there was some sort of miscommunication between me, my travel agent, and Princess, because we were told no service package was included for our cruise without us paying a minimal addition of $229 for a vow package. I had called Princess in advance of the cruise to confirm that our package was included and spoke with someone who said it was. No one at the customer service desk including the manager would consent, and we weren't prepared to pay more for this, despite the fact that we both wrote new vows. We tried multiple times with confirmations, but were ultimately left disappointed in this omission. It didn't ruin our cruise, but we felt sad that we couldn't have our renewal ceremony. This leads me to another point about LGBT meetings on the cruise. Every night at 6:30PM there was an LGBT gathering in the Adagio bar. We'd go with our traveling couple companions nightly, and we were almost the only people in the place. Twice there was just one other couple who weren't particularly friendly. This was inconsistent with our experience on Carnival. Once again, this didn't disappoint or ruin the cruise, but we were surprised that nobody else on this full ship of 3100 passengers would come to a gathering. Princess is an upgraded experience over Carnival, with superior service and a very laid back, mature vibe. It's calm, serene, and a good value overall. The atmosphere is like an upscale suburban traditional wedding reception. It's not a fun ship party atmosphere. It's genteel, refined, and quietly luxurious. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Really enjoyed my first trip with Norwegian on the Pearl. We had great weather on our Alaska voyage! The freestyle dining was wonderful and a nice departure from the likes of Carnival, MSC, and Royal Caribbean (who I have cruised with in ... Read More
Really enjoyed my first trip with Norwegian on the Pearl. We had great weather on our Alaska voyage! The freestyle dining was wonderful and a nice departure from the likes of Carnival, MSC, and Royal Caribbean (who I have cruised with in the past). I really loved the Great Outdoors Cafe for breakfast at the aft of the ship. It was so nice to enjoy a hot breakfast and watch the mountains go by. Room was very clean and our stateroom attendant Mark was excellent. We did have one issue when our balcony door came off the track but maintenance remedied in a reasonable timeframe. I enjoyed the Indigo dining room on most nights and thought it fit our style more than the other dining venue. Evening entertainment was average with only a few truly WOW factor moments. I felt that Royal Caribbean had the best main theatre entertainment of any cruise line I have tried. Carnival is also strong in this area, not so much for their main theatre entertainment, but the amount of activities and venues that go well into the night are really nice. NCL was a bit scaled back in this area but it was adequate and entertaining enough to enjoy. I really enjoyed the token game in the Casino. We must have won five bottles of champaign from this addicting little game! Didn't have too much luck on the slots and I though the casino was EXTREMELY smokey and I am usually not easily disturbed by this. Drinks seemed to be about the same price as Royal Caribbean and more than Carnival or MSC's wonderful drink voucher program. A margarita or Smirnoff and cranberry was $10 on average with the service charge. Top shelf could get expensive real quick. I would recommend travelers that like Carnival and want to keep the energy and "fun" ambiance but maybe want something slightly more upscale to give NCL a try. I am sure glad I did and will actively consider it when shopping for future cruises! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but ... Read More
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but seemed to be brand new. The cabin was somewhat cramped but that was to be expected. There were more than enough activities to keep all on board occupied 24x7. They have a theater where there were a mix of shows Vegas style, poolside BBQ and parties, a great variety of all kinds of restaurants with eclectic menus. The staff were all extremely courteous and efficient and the service was generally of a high standard. They have a lot of activities for children.We had three shore excursions which were well planned and covered interesting sites. All in all a good trip except for a major billing problem wherein they erroneously charged me upwards of $4200. this was a major inconvenience and as of writing this charge though accepted by them as an oversight has still to be reversed. The entire trip was soured by one accounting clerk's slip. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was our second cruise on the Legend and it has been redecorated. We liked the decor! Embarkation was fine except my daughter left her passport in her suitcase. So we were put into the "trouble children" pen. (LOL) It was a ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Legend and it has been redecorated. We liked the decor! Embarkation was fine except my daughter left her passport in her suitcase. So we were put into the "trouble children" pen. (LOL) It was a pen where people went if they forget their passports, ID, tickets, whatever. We stayed there a while waiting for her suitcase to be delivered to her room. The employees worked so hard to find it and get her passport. After a couple hours and a few tears and her part, they found it and brought it to her and we all got on board! Our rooms were great! We had a balcony and the kids were across the hall. Our steward Voltor was wonderful! The food was great, as always! We had anytime dining and I thought we had to make a reservation every night, but we didn't. They told us to just come to the second floor of the Truffles dining room. We had 3 different waiters and they were all great! We only had to wait in line one night. Then we sat in Guyman's section the rest of the cruise! All staff were very friendly and called us by name. People still wear grubby clothes to fancy nights and they let them in for some reason. The rest of the nights were cruise casual. The Punchliner comedy club had great talent! Very funny! The shows were great, the music was pretty good. Some bands were better than others. Tea was great! The scones were awesome! Food on the Lido was awesome too! Room service was late. Jen the Cruise Director and her team were great! We love Crky (sp)! We loved the excursions and the towns we visited! We did the helicopter glacier walk in Juneau, zipline in Skagway and Misty Fjords float plane in Ketchikan. All were great, but the helicopter was our favorite! Not enough time in Victoria! They have a $10 pp shuttle and some shops stayed open, but some closed at 10pm. The pools were open the first couple days, then when it warmed up (67 degrees) they had to close them for repair. No polar plunge, which was fine by me! They kept the glass dome closed, which was nice. Hot tubs were working fine. We saw whales and dolphins from the ship. We also took a whale watching trip from Seattle and saw orcas and seals! We are already booked for our next Carnival cruise in November! Happy cruising! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - ... Read More
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - average. The entertainment was average, service was average. If you have never cruised before and don't have anything to compare it too you will probably rate it as good. The two things that really annoyed me about this cruise was: 1) They tried to ram raffle tickets and this quick pick scratch offs things down your throat every single day - multiple times a day. Instead of scratch offs though they were these little door things you open. 2) Smoking! There were so many smokers on there that you would have thought it was a smoking cruise. Why smoking is allowed anywhere these days other than in peoples cars and house in beyond me! Would be sitting down on a quite area of the ship when a smoker or two would either come sit close by or just stand there smoking. Got ran off several times a day due to smokers. Also, was in the casino quite a few times and was doing really good on roulette one night until a few smokers came and joined the table. I had to leave the casino and work up with a sore throat the next day. Trying to think of some positives about the ship but really can't. It was not bad at all and I am not trying to be negative. It was just very average in every way. The ship layout was not good. There is about 2300 passengers on board and it seemed like it. I went on the emerald princess a few years ago and the ships are the same size - The emerald princess had almost 3100 passengers but somehow it seemed the Norwegian Jewell had twice as many passengers as the Emerald Princess. Felt like cattle being led to the eating trough most days. Excursions: We did not book anything through NCL as with any cruise line they add 20% for themselves. We booked everything on our own and had no issues. In Ketchikan we did salmon fishing - Unfortunately, the weather was not good for fishing and they were just getting over major storms and flooding. Still had fun though. Juneau - probably most least favorite place. However, we did the float plane - 5 glaciers and taku lodge with Wings airlines and I thought that was great! they food was great! salmon was amazing! Skagway - This was my favorite of all the stops. We did the Yukon deluxe and had Brian as a driver and guide. Very funny and likable guy. Also, very smart. Was a great excursion! Last stop was Victoria, BC. Is a pretty neat city. Not a ton to do, but worth a visit. I think 5 or 6 hours here and you have done about all there is to offer. All in all - an average cruise with good excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
Having sailed 3 other lines, I was anxious to give NCL a try. Alaska was a perfect itinerary to do so,as we took the train up to Seattle from Portland and got to save some money for the excursions and a sweet upgrade. We upgraded into ... Read More
Having sailed 3 other lines, I was anxious to give NCL a try. Alaska was a perfect itinerary to do so,as we took the train up to Seattle from Portland and got to save some money for the excursions and a sweet upgrade. We upgraded into an aft Penthouse suite (8132) the week of sailing. Super excited,as I have always wanted an aft balcony. The extra perks of being in a suite were a bonus,especially breakfast and lunch in a separate restaurant ('though the menus don't change all week,which would be nice) By far,the best perk to us was being able to get off the ship at ports through the super secret hallways,making it two minutes or less every time ! ( Seattle embark/ disembark was bizarrely fast- I'm talking we were off the ship and through customs with our luggage and at,a taxi is less than ten minutes!) I could go into every detail,but that's what the forum boards are for,right?! but I will say the Pearl is a wonderful ship for sure! 98 percent of the staff we had contact with was very pleasant. No signs of Noro this week,as serving spoons always faced outward and the salt and pepper weren't taken! Public areas were kept very clean overall ( PSA-* if you have a blowout in the bathroom,please take some personal responsibility and clean up your carnage! Don't leave that filth for the staff to deal with-I don't care if you're on vacation,it's just gross.Public women's rooms never cease to amaze me) Overall food quality I would rate as meh to very good. Obviously,we were spoiled by the private breakfast and lunch in Moderno's,but there was very little I didn't like...(that would be you, O' Sheehans- what a let down that food is, with the barely room temperature food at Lotus garden being close behind :( Desserts were also just pretty ok overall,but that seems to be every cruise line I've been on. Maybe I would have gotten to try better ones if the general public didn't attack a cake like who did it and ran,but when a sheet cake looks like a crime scene,I'll pass... * Oh,another PSA or two- even if you don't think ""washy,washy" will help anything,DO IT ANYWAY!,because you're being judged as ewwww gross person! Also, don't be rude and camp out during meal times when it's clear people are circling like vultures to find a table. I know the views are great but it's kinda hard to eat a plate of food standing up. To the lone man who sipped a beer by himself in Glacier Bay at lunchtime at the table by the railing at the Great Outdoors and to the man who arrived at an empty table the same time we did ,(who was only eating a dish of ice cream as I looked for a table for our full lunch plates) clearly chivalry is dead in your mind as you milked that dish of ice cream slower than my little daughter before bedtime...travel jerks that forget we are ALL on vacation....and yes,that also goes toward you,lady who clearly used a half bottle of perfume right before the show. You smelled like skunk and it was gross. We didn't do much in the way of ship activities but there were a ton of them. We really just enjoyed our little heavenly room and balcony and did things here and there. I guess,everyone has a different pace on vacation and ours was a great combination of see,see,see while on land and be lazy while on board! The UBP was a great perk that we got for free,but we actually didn't even drink but half of what we would have down in the Caribbean. Alaska was everything I imagined and overall the trip was a wonderful success. Feel free to ask me any questions via private message so I don't ramble ,but suffice to say it will not be our only trip on NCL and the kids already are begging to take a cruise to Alaska as a family! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
We had a great time on the Solstice. We received superb service at the bars and restaurants, particularly from Agus and the rest of the staff at the Martini Bar. Our room attendants, Badrus and Syam, were always there for anything we ... Read More
We had a great time on the Solstice. We received superb service at the bars and restaurants, particularly from Agus and the rest of the staff at the Martini Bar. Our room attendants, Badrus and Syam, were always there for anything we needed and always gave us a very polite "Good morning," every time we saw them. Our only real complaint (and it's not so much a complaint more as something we would do differently) is that in our first port, where we didn't have an excursion planned, was in Ketchikan and then the next port our excursion was canceled and it was a very rainy, cold day. We wanted an afternoon cocktail and the only bars that were open were the bar inside of the buffet (floor 14) and the Pool Bar (floor 12). Both of these bars were rather inconvenient, in our opinion. We could either go to the cafeteria (so to speak) or the outdoor bar (way too cold, rainy and windy). We would have rather seen the Pool Bar close and one of the indoor bars open. This was only the second cruise we had been on, and in comparison, Norwegian had lot more to offer in the form of entertainment. We loved the singers and bands that performed, but there was a lack of daytime entertainment and we would have preferred to have other options in means of "Broadway" type shows or Cirque de Soleil type of entertainment. As we mentioned earlier, we were not dissatisfied with anything on this cruise line at all! These were just some things we noticed in comparison. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This was our first cruise. We choose Royal Caribbean and the Rhapsody because of our itinerary - Alaska that we'd never visited before - and after doing research decided we wanted to travel in June because of the weather that was ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We choose Royal Caribbean and the Rhapsody because of our itinerary - Alaska that we'd never visited before - and after doing research decided we wanted to travel in June because of the weather that was nearly totally awesome! We drive up to Seattle from Portland for embarkation. Security and the boarding process were hectic, so we were glad to get to our (inside) cabin. Sailing weather varied from mostly gorgeous to cold and windy - both wonderful! It was interesting seeing the brave few who tolerated the cold to smoke cigars and whale watch! And we saw a lot of whales! I sat for a half-hour, after leaving Skagway, with my binoculars watching a pod of whales feed while birds swirled overhead! The crew, for the most part, seemed to genuinely like us and their jobs. There was always a friendly greeting as we passed and Daniel, our cabin steward, called us by name and kept our cabin in impeccable condition. We looked forward to the daily announcements from Capt. Hampstead and appreciated his humor! We mostly ate in the Windjammer (buffet) and had a few dinners in the Edelweiss. Except for one meal with over-cooked fish the food was very good. I particularly liked the international variety in the Windjammer. The entertainment was spotty. There were obvious mistakes during the first night's welcoming show and the rest of the entertainment in the Broadway Melodies theater that we saw was mediocre. However, the bands located in various locations on the ship were great and offered a wide variety of music. There were the typical silly things to do on the daily schedule like napkin folding and presentations for over-priced cosmetics, but no hard sell. The ports of call (Juneau, Skagway, Victoria, BC and Mendenhall Glacier) were varied and interesting. Overall, I give high marks to Royal Caribbean and the Rhapsody! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
The Celebrity Infinity Alaskan Cruise was a good experience and I would recommend doing it - once. Before I dive into a more detailed review it's worth noting that I start with a bias - I love cruise vacations. I've been on at ... Read More
The Celebrity Infinity Alaskan Cruise was a good experience and I would recommend doing it - once. Before I dive into a more detailed review it's worth noting that I start with a bias - I love cruise vacations. I've been on at least 14 that include itineraries within the Caribbean, Mexico, the Mediterranean and now Alaska. I've sailed on 4 different lines (Carnival, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity) and have found that Celebrity Cruises meet my needs and wants the best. Overall, I like the Celebrity experience for three primary reasons: the ship interiors reflect an understated high end design, the food quality is excellent, and the service is consistently well executed. Despite my preference for Celebrity, I've never been on a cruise I haven't enjoyed. I like being on the water and the overall experience of sailing on a ship. I like visiting different ports of call without the hassles of packing and unpacking. I find the value of a cruise exceeds, dollar-for-dollar, a comparably priced land based vacation. Finally -- if I am on a cruise I am also on vacation so what's not to enjoy? Regarding the Alaska experience - it was wonderful but I'll never do it again. One morning at 6am, when we were sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord, I was wearing 2 layers of clothing, a cable knit sweater, a rain jacket, gloves, a hat and was wrapped in a wool blanket. While I was bundled up in the cold morning mist, watching cruise attendants try to sell $9 "souvenir" mugs of hot chocolate to other frigid guests, I quietly thought to myself, "did I really pay for this experience?" While the Tracy Arm Fjord, and indeed all the nature I experienced in Alaska, was beautiful and even breathtaking, it was also cold, windy, rainy and cloudy. It was toward the end of summer (early September) so I expected this. I also realized that I prefer warm weather vacations. I'd still recommend going to Alaska because it's worth seeing. I took advantage of being there -- I saw black bears, humpback whales, glaciers and took active tours that put me in the middle of the scenery. It was great. But once was enough! It was disappointing for me to see so many people never venture past the utterly fake "Alaskan" experience of small-town ports designed and staffed by the cruise lines or their affiliates. If you are headed to Alaska and your only experience is a short walk from the ship to the next "Tanzanite International" jewelry store my recommendation is don't go! If you are going to spend your time and money on an Alaskan vacation then go and see it! Get out there and experience it! Put yourself in the center of what Alaska has to offer. It's truly wonderful -- despite the weather. When deciding on a cruise I find the choice of ship is as important as the destination itself. The Celebrity Infinity is a "Millennium Class" ship -- meaning that it shares the same general blueprint design of the Celebrity Millennium ship. There are 4 ships in that series -- the Millennium, Infinity, Constellation and Summit. The Infinity was completed in 2001. I sailed it in 2004 and remember being impressed. In 2008, Celebrity celebrated the inaugural sailing of their first new class of ship in nearly a decade -- the Solstice. The Solstice is bigger than the Millennium ships and features many new innovations and entertainment venues. Since then a total of 5 "Solstice Class" ships have been released: the Solstice, Eclipse, Equinox, Silhouette and the Reflection. Within the last year, each Millennium Class ship underwent a major multi-million dollar renovation branded as a "Solsticzation." Through this process the older ships were outfitted with some of the new innovations and entertainment venues found on Solstice Class ships. Since I've sailed on the Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox I was anxious to check out the new and improved "Solsticized" Infinity. As I mentioned, I love being on the water and the experience of sailing on a ship. I could take a cruise to nowhere and thoroughly enjoy myself. I chose this Alaska cruise equally for the experience of Alaska as I did for the experience of sailing on the newly remodeled Infinity. It didn't disappoint. The ship looks fantastic -- fresh and new despite being more than a decade old. It was fun to experience new venues like the chic Martini Bar, unique specialty restaurants like "Qsine" and "Bistro on 5," as well as other public venues like the "Cellar Masters" wine bar or the re-purposed "Michael's Club" which is now a micro-brew pub. The new Infinity felt like a smaller and more intimate version of the Solstice Class ships. If I was disappointed by anything it was some of the food options and inconsistent service experience -- which was surprising given the consistently great experiences I've had on so many previous Celebrity cruises. The Infinity's upscale ocean liner themed restaurant, the S.S. United States, offers French cuisine similar to the "Murano" branded restaurants found on Solstice class ships. The similarities end there. The service was way off, the food wasn't prepared well (deflated souffle's among other obvious mis-steps) and a faded decor in need of its own refresh all contributed to the disappointment. I don't think this venue was touched during the renovation and I didn't feel value for the extra $40/person charge. Based on previous experience this should have been one of the "highlight" dinners of the week. In contrast, the new "Blu" restaurant was superb! Blu is a contemporary restaurant venue available to guests who book "Aqua Class" rooms. It's small, minimalist in design, with a focus on contemporary cuisine and modern service (attentive but not stuffy). Unfortunately, I only ate there once. My partner and I were traveling with a friend who was booked in another class of room and Celebrity staff would not allow him to dine with us in Blu -- even for a fee. This was extremely disappointing. The venue was seldom full at the times we chose to eat and they could have easily accommodated him. I understand that Celebrity needs to ensure a consistent experience for those who book in a higher class of room -- but I can think of several easy solutions to this non-issue which became a service issue in my eyes. All this reference to "class" really did take me back in time: were we sailing on the Titanic? With regard to service overall, I could list many other inconsistencies but by far one of the biggest problems was the lack of bar service. It often took 10 minutes or longer to get a single drink order placed during peak times. This was the case at every bar we tried and was a consistent frustration that I, and many others, expressed throughout our cruise vacation. Celebrity -- you are not only disappointing your guests you are leaving money on the table! Fix it! Speaking of class, the staterooms are divided as such and include Standard Cabins, Concierge Class or Aqua Class. All these cabin classes are roughly identical in size but differentiated by their location on the ship and other "amenities." In my opinion, with the exception of the fabulous "Blu" dining venue available exclusively to Aqua Class guests, the list of amenities does not justify the price difference. A better robe? A pillow menu? A "free" bottle of low quality sparkling wine? Afternoon "canapes" which are ridiculously small? A "fresh" flower which ended up being a single alstroemeria stem that was never replaced all week? A shower with multiple jets with barely enough water pressure to matter? Are these "amenities" really worth hundreds of dollars more per person? It's ultimately up to you but my advice would be to save your money and book a standard cabin, bring your own better bottle of champagne and order room service as an alternative to afternoon "canapes." Beyond Aqua Class there are several types of suites available which offer larger rooms and higher levels of personal service which might be worth the extra cost depending on your expectations and vacation budget. Overall, this was a good cruise vacation. Alaska is spectacular if you're willing to be a little adventurous and see it beyond the immediate port of call. It's certainly worth doing once in your life. The Celebrity Infinity is a beautiful, small (by modern standards) ship that's well maintained with a good variety of entertainment venues and restaurant choices. The food and service on this cruise was inconsistent in areas but good overall and I would still recommend choosing Celebrity over other lines. I'm giving the cruise product 3.5 stars because it was good, not great. But I did have a great time. After all, I was on vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
My first cruise was to Alaska and I loved it (and cruising). It was time to go again on a different itinerary, round-trip Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria. Booked everything through Princess, including ... Read More
My first cruise was to Alaska and I loved it (and cruising). It was time to go again on a different itinerary, round-trip Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria. Booked everything through Princess, including transfers. Princess booked us into the Seattle Westin, which was very nice and in a good location. We walked to Pike's Place for dinner and ate at the yummy Steelhead Diner (get the Poutine!). The transfer was typical and we were onboard by noon after a short wait at the cruise terminal. Cabin: This was our first Lido cabin and it was pretty convenient. I was worried that we'd hear noise from the gym above but it was pretty quiet. We spend a lot of time at the Lotus adult pool and the cabin was very close to the spa. We purchased the thermal suite passes and it's awesome in a cold climate. Ship: The Star is in good condition and is what we were expecting for a Grand Class ship. We did appreciate the updated Horizon Court (buffet) layout, Princess needs to roll this enhancement to the rest of the fleet. On the Star, the bakery items are in a new station across the aisle from the buffet. The new station really improves the traffic flow. Ports: Enjoyed the ports as always. Ketchikan - The Lumberjack show was fun and Totem Bight park was beautiful. Juneau - Did just the Mendenhall glacier and it is spectacular as usual. Skagway - The railroad was beyond spectacular. It's expensive but totally worth it. Victoria - Only there a few hours, we walked to the gift shop at the end of the pier, that's it. Would be nice if they got us there a little sooner to spend more time in Victoria. Tracy Arm Fjord - Wow, truly amazing. Got there just before sunrise. I opened the curtains and there were friggin' whales just a few yards from the ship. That's a sight I'll NEVER forget. Amazing day, if a little cold. We spent the morning huddled on the balcony. This was the first time we'd ever used room service and now I'm hooked. We lucked out on the weather on this trip! After weeks of rain the last cruise of the season was mostly sunny. Saw just one show in the theater, it was typical cruise quality. The food was very good in the MDR. We had any time dining but ended up requesting the same servers (Richard and Maria) all week. Thank you for making the dinners special! We tried the new service where you put your bags out the last night and you don't see them again until you get to your home. Probably won't do that again. We were shuttled off the ship WAY early (9am for a 3pm flight) and changed flights when we got to the airport, but our bags were already checked through so we had to come back to the airport a few hours after we got home to fetch them. Note to Princess: You close the self-service laundries while in Alaskan waters (I get it, that's the law). BUT, you need more that a little blurb in the Patter about that. Fortunately I read it so we got some laundry done just before the laundries shut down. Overall, a wonderful cruise! We've already been on another Princess cruise and have booked two more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2012
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all cruise ships slow down the boarding process by having everyone pose for a photo BEFORE boarding? Not sure, but it's one of this cruiser's frequent complaints. I was told rooms would not be available until after 1:30 so had a glass of wine and some hummus poolside. Seattle weather was incredibly cooperative: sunny and warm. My room became available at 1:15. All in all, I could not ask for a better embarkation. My suggestion to all is to come early to avoid lines. And being a Lattitudes member certainly speeds up the process and you do not have to wait in the "main" line. This was the best embarkation I've ever had on a cruise. It was also the earliest I have ever arrived to the pier. My big advice: get there early and avoid the lines! Stateroom: I stayed in the cheapest possible room. Lowest level inside cabin room 4583. My previous time on the Jewel I had a balcony stateroom although I found that I didn't use it enough to justify the extra expense. The stateroom was clean (if I were going to be picky I could highlight that one of the bathroom shelves had dust). Unlike in other staterooms on different ships, I was pleased that the room had three functioning electrical outlets. I'm a gadget junkie with phones and cameras and tablets to charge so I made very good use of the electrical outlets. Storage is efficient and plentiful for me. I pack and travel light so many of the shelves I did not even need. But to be fair, the room is small. It's a tight fit for two people. I would not stay in this room with someone unless we were on an intimate basis. It's JUST that small. Given that I don't spend much time in the room, it met my needs and I could spend all the money I saved on a balcony on items that are more important to me: food and wine be chief among those. The bathroom is also very small but there's plenty of storage for most. Although a person with tons of cosmetics and skin care might want to bring along one of those organizers that hangs on a doorknob. Don't expect luxury and you'll be fine. But this is NOT a two person bathroom. It's barely a one person. The room attendant was friendly and available. I made sure to leave a tip upon disembarkation. Overall Ship Impressions: The ship is clean although the cleaning rarely gets in the way of the flow of traffic. Certain times the elevators can be incredibly full especially at midship. The ship design does not always flow logically with some elevators only going down to deck 7 and forcing those who want to go below deck 7 to use other sets of elevators. Once you get use to the illogic, it's not that bad but I wonder if there was a more customer friendly design. Several times during the cruise, one elevator was out of service. Taking the stairs from deck 4 to the pool can be a good way to burn some extra calories but at the end of a long day, having plentiful and working elevators can be a big deal. Public spaces are very plentiful and the push to sale drinks is much less than on other ships I've been on. A simple smile and a "No thank you" was enough that bar staff knew I was only enjoying the public space and not looking to drink. The card room and library offer great views and a respite from the noise. Even on a crowded ship, one does not have to look very hard to find some alone time and tranquility. The atrium can get crowded but is relaxing early morning. The gift shops can be a zoo. Go at off times or not at all. The sales pitch on the Jewel was toned down on this trip. The shopping consultant rarely made announcements. Of course some may be bothered by the art auctions and bingo announcements but seasoned cruisers will have no trouble tuning out what they are not interested in. The smoke filled casino has less open hours on this itinerary. A smoking/cigar lounge would be nice to allow smokers to go some place besides the casino. Restaurants: Mama's: I've eaten here several times on my previous cruise on the Jewel and at nearly identical restaurants on other NCL ships. The $10 surcharge is reasonable. The food is good but don't expect it to conjure up Tuscany or even an Italian-American grandmother's cooking. It's a few steps above Olive Garden. The menu remains nearly unchanged over the years. A few more changes could help NCL frequent cruisers to stay more interested. I dined here twice on the 7 day cruise. The calamari had a burned taste to it (old frying oil?) but the salad with figs and pancetta was excellent. Unlike on previous trips to NCL's Italian Restaurants, the meal did NOT start off with the chef's antipasto. It was not offered (only a selection of unimpressive breads). I enjoyed the vegetable lasagna which was loaded with summer squash and had a very fresh tasting and light tomato sauce. The seafood linguine was watery and lacked a big flavor punch. The shrimp and mushroom risotto was very good if not quite as creamy as a home cooked and properly stirred risotto. As always on NCL, I had the superb cheesecake for dessert. Service was very friendly although the waiter seemed ill-informed about the menu. Was the salmon wild? He had to check with several people before getting the answer: no. Did the tomato sauce have meat? After a few minutes, he was able to find out that the answer was no. For only a $10 surcharge, it's hard to complain. The $10 is worth it just to get away from the crowds. Mama's location near the buffet is not a plus but they do their best to give it a distinct character and flavor. If you don't have high expectations, try it. Cagney's: I had dinner here twice and had eaten at Cagney's previously on the Spirit and the Dawn. NCL's signature steakhouse continues to offer freshly prepared (you can watch the cooks prepare many of the selections at an open kitchen) cuisine in an atmosphere that harkens back to the roaring twenties. The menu is strictly traditional, and that is this restaurant's strength. Nouvelle cuisine lovers beware, Cagney's dishes up crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, oysters rockefeller (all excellent---feel free to try as many of the small sized appetizers as you like), chopped salads with blue cheese (very good), onion rings (good), Parmesan truffle fries (piping hot and so addictive and delicious on this cruise that I think they should be classified as a controlled substance), large cuts of beef, a kosher chicken, lamb chops (very good) and salmon stuffed with crab (a good dish but the pale and flavorless farmed salmon was overpowered by the crab). Side dishes of note are the garlicky potato gratin and the creamed spinach. The lobster bisque topped with lobster custard was outstanding. Service was particularly good with the waiter very patient as my dinner party slowly sampled and savored nearly 2/3 of the menu. Obviously, this is not a restaurant for dieting or anyone who finds buttery sauces and other fatty foods objectionable. There's enough hollandaise sauce and bacon and blue cheese on the menu that this restaurant serves as a throw back to days before food became our enemy, before every bite of something flavorful had to come with a measurable amount of guilt. Don't forget the cheese course: real Gorgonzola, Saint Andre and Gruyere with fig preserves and fresh fruit (this was the only restaurant on the ship that offered cheese that wasn't of the mass produced factory American type). And if you can hold it, I'd highly recommend you try the warm chocolate espresso brownie (or have it sent back to your stateroom so, after a long walk or an evening of dancing, you can enjoy it more). The cheesecake was shockingly light in texture and very flavorful. Some may complain about the $25 surcharge but I dare anyone to find a comparable meal in any U.S. city for less than three times that price. Chin Chin: Think you can't find good Chinese (well perhaps more appropriately called Chinese-American) on a cruise? NCL seeks to change those perceptions with their fleet's Asian inspired restaurants. I've eaten at many of NCL's Asian restaurants including on a previous trip on the Jewel. I've never been disappointed and this meal was no exception. My advice: don't skimp on the appetizers as these offer small portions of some very flavorful food. Start your meal off with as many as you can stomach and you won't be disappointed. The steamed vegetable dumplings, crab wontons (yes REAL crab), spring rolls and shrimp with spicy slaw are stand outs. Sadly, my favorite fried fish dish has been discontinued so I tried its replacement, the gingered mushroom mahi mahi. The fish was slightly overcooked but the flavorful and surprisingly light sauce made up for the shortcomings. The spicy lamb chops were shockingly tender despite being cooked more than I would have liked. The curried noodles were too spicy to be paired with other milder foods and the Cantonese Vegetable Chow Fun was a gloppy mess of stuck together noodles that appeared to have been cooked ahead of time. The banana pancakes and trio of creme brulee shouldn't be missed. Service was very friendly and attentive. The $15 surcharge is reasonable. Sushi is available al la cart. Unfortunately, NCL no longer offers the $15 flat feet sushi bar experience. And that's a shame for sushi lovers. Tsar's Palace Main dining room: I ate here for lunch and dinner several times. Service was always friendly if inefficient at times. Food runs the better side of average although the sheer amount of food they must produce on a daily basis prevents the food from every being called great. Selections are mostly traditional fare. Lunch is the same menu the entire cruise but the dinner menu has permanent selections as well as changing nightly selections. It's hard to imagine that even the pickiest eater couldn't find something to enjoy on the menu but it's equally hard to imagine that anyone will have a wonderfully memorable experience in the main dining room. Cooking for a thousand on a daily basis limits what can be done with the food. The friendly wait staff is the stand out of the main dining room. They, despite being very busy, seek to please. Don't be afraid to ask for something else if your first dish is not to your liking. The menu at Azura, the other main dining room, is identical although the atmosphere is more casual. Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro: This brunch is a mixture of a buffet and a la carte selections. The buffet included a Caesar Salad station (add grilled shrimp, chicken or anchovies if you like), a selection of very boring pastries (save your calories and skip these standard items), pale colored smoked salmon (as ubiquitous on the Jewel as it is flavorless---it's all salt and no depth to the factory tasting fish), several standard cheeses and a large selection of desserts (very good cheesecake and pretty standard creme brulee are the best selections). The a la carte menu included several beef dishes, a salmon with saffron risotto (salmon was flavorless but the risotto was great) and a vegetarian pasta dish (standard tomato based sauce with olives, good but unspectacular). The service was good but not quite as attentive as I'm used to at NCL's specialty restaurants. The popularity of the Jazz brunch makes it hard for the wait staff to keep up with demands. I requested French press coffee (it's standard at Le Bistro in the evenings) and my waitress was kind enough to ask the manager if she could serve it even though it is not a standard part of the brunch menu. It's little touches of nice service that make me wish many on shore restaurants could have comparable service. The $15 surcharge seems reasonable. Garden Cafe Buffet: Quantity rules out quality here although the salads are good. It's incredibly popular for reasons that escape me. It's crowded from early breakfast until late dinner. It's too noisy, too packed with people piling plates miles high for me to enjoy eating here. It's just not my cup of tea but judging by the crowds, I'm in the minority. Blue Lagoon: They call this comfort food. It's fast service sit down diner like setting. The fish and chips were greasy but pleasant. The tomato soup was surprisingly good. It's open 24 hours. I had a less than pleasant encounter with a wait staff member during one of my early morning visits for coffee. Upon arriving, she barked at me that the buffet was on the "other side" and waved her hand in the direction of Moderno restaurant. I replied that I just wanted coffee. I started to sit next to the window and she barked again that the buffet was on the other side. I then asked if it was OK for me to sit where I was sitting. She then barked that I should help myself to the coffee and pointed at the coffee machine she was standing next to. I helped myself to the coffee then asked her where the orange juice was. Her tone of voice got louder as she barked again that "everything" was on the other side. This kind of service is very unlike NCL. I assumed she was overworked and tired of customer questions. If they didn't want anyone to sit on the cafe side, just block it off. But several like me wanted to enjoy the view (it is a cruise after all) and it didn't seem to me that asking for coffee and juice at a 24 hour cafe was an unreasonable request. This was my 4th NCL cruise and I've never had any interaction with any crew member who was anything near this unpleasant. Le Bistro: NCL's signature French restaurant might not be all that French but the food is very good and perhaps more palatable to the American consumer. Provencal style scallops, garlicky escargot and Asparagus with orange hollandaise are just a few of the stand out appetizers. The lamb chops were very flavorful. The duck was overcooked but still remained moist. The duck skin should have been much more crisp and flavorful. Le Bistro needs to work on its side dishes. Compared to Cagney's they are subpar. Unfortunately, 2/3rds through my meal, the service changed from friendly and excellent to almost non-existent. It was nearly 9pm and two parties of six came in. This arrival seemed to stall the kitchen and rattle the wait staff. My table and several tables around me waited over a half hour for continued service. Two tables asked to see the manager and complained. Waiters didn't even come by to accept more wine orders, a sure sign that service had stalled. (When you can't order alcohol on a cruise, you know something is wrong!) 45 minutes after finishing the main course, we received the cheese course (cheap American cheeses) then our desserts (a passable chocolate fondue: the chocolate tasted cheap and very good creme brulee). We had to ask specifically for coffee service which came slowly. When we received the bill, they had mis-charged for the wine, a mistake the rushed looking manager needed to correct. Tables around us were still waiting for service. One of the tables of six seem particularly bothered by the poor service. When the service is worse than the main dining room, it's difficult to be happy about the $20 surcharge. Le Bistro needs some menu changes. French cheeses, some classic French sauce choices and a better French wine list would help. I've always enjoyed Le Bistro but not sure I'll be rushing back on my next cruise. Entertainment: I'm a poor judge of cruise entertainment as I don't like family comedy shows or Broadway style singers who over-sing to the point of migraine. So, I skip any shows with those themes so that means most evenings, I'm enjoying dinner, wine and perhaps a jazz piano player instead of the main shows in Stardust. I did enjoy the husband and wife acrobat team. Don't miss it! The second seating for most shows is much less crowded. Like the buffet, I don't go on cruises for the entertainment but clearly both are very popular with cruisers. Spa and Gym: I signed up for the spa pass ($119) that gives access to the men's changing room with wet and dry sauna, showers, relaxation rooms, hot tub and cold plunge. It also gives access to a co-ed relaxation area with small pool (not big enough to do laps). While the area is not quite as grand as on the Dawn, which has an indoor lap pool, the spa pass was definitely worth the price especially on an Alaskan cruise where outdoor pool time is limited. The men's changing area was rarely crowded; the spa staff was always friendly. As usual on NCL, there's not heavy sales pitch to buy products or services even though I encountered many spa staff each day of my cruise. The gym is standard cruise ship gym where there seemed to always be gym staff ready to sign cruisers up for classes. The locker room next to the gym has a steam sauna (this is available for NO charge). The lockers aren't accessible unless you walk all the way over the spa to get a key, making the men's locker room pretty useless to gym goers. Why not keep the keys in the gym? Ports of Call: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Victoria all offer enough for the nature lover and adventurist. Sun lovers beware. It is Alaska and the Pacific Northwest so don't expect to get a tan. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan and the railroad in Skagway should be enjoyable for all age groups. The tour of the Mendenhall Glacier was a bit of a let down. I'm not sure it's worth the expense and time spent there. But it was very beautiful I toured Victoria on my own, and it's very walkable. The Empress Hotel is overpriced but worth a visit. Check out Chinatown for lunch in Victoria. Four stops in a cruise can be too much for some seasoned cruisers who enjoy their sea days but I found it to be a perfect number. It was also nice that to see ports that have (yet) to be completely overtaken by the usual cruise industry traps (although Diamonds International and Caribbean themed retailers like Del Sol are threatening to make Ketchikan look like a stop in Nassau or Cozumel). The Alaska itinerary is definitely for anyone who's tired of the same old Caribbean ports. Disembarkation: The room staff knocked on my door twice before 830am to see if I was ready to leave the room. I left the room for breakfast and returned to find the bed already stripped. By then it was 9am. Although I felt rushed to leave the room, disembarkation was smooth if not as efficient as embarkation. There was a line to get off the ship. Customs officials ranged from rude to friendly, although this is completely not under NCL's control. Final thoughts: While not a perfect experience (what is?), I can say I enjoyed my second time on the Jewel at least as much as the first and possibly more. NCL's freestyle cruising truly does allow cruisers to make the day what they want it to be. I always recommend NCL to first time cruisers because NCL seems to be better suited for those who might be put off by more traditional cruising. A special applause should be given to how the Jewel gets the kids programs out of the way of cruisers who aren't interested in them. It was a Nick at Sea cruise but other than the occasional person dressed as a favorite Nick character, I wouldn't have known. Kudos to NCL for giving the kids what they want without getting the adults annoyed. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
This was our first time to cruise with four of us going. Princess made it easy, but of course, I poured over all the CC comments and was aware of what to avoid and/or enjoy the advised advantages! Thanks to all of you for your comments ... Read More
This was our first time to cruise with four of us going. Princess made it easy, but of course, I poured over all the CC comments and was aware of what to avoid and/or enjoy the advised advantages! Thanks to all of you for your comments and warnings! Seattle: Stayed and the Mayflower Hotel. We loved the older and beautiful architecture, and the hotel has all the modern conveniences. Also, it is close to Pikes, the rail, and other downtown attractions. We received the package with the breakfast and shuttle service, and they met us on the dot at 11:00 to take us to the pier. Concierge service and front desk were all AWESOME, and we felt we were in a European hotel! Embarkation: Got to the pier at about 11:30. Lines were very long, unlike others on CC saying to go then. However, the staff directed us with efficiency and got us on as quickly as possible considering the l-o-n-g lines. Our baggage followed us shortly. Rooms: Some have said that the showers were very small. We had absolutely no problems, including our 6'+ sons who stayed in an inside cabin. Also loved the large closet and cubby-holes by it where the safe was conveniently located. I would highly recommend getting a balcony on the Carib deck. Though it is partially covered, it was the largest of all the balconies on the ship and accommodated the four of us very well. (Note: The deck below us -- Dolphin Deck -- had NO covering at all and no privacy from us above.) Weather/Packing Tips: The weather was GREAT while we were there, and I think the time to go is definitely early June. We checked the 10-Day forecast sites before going, and they were right-on! It said mid-50's with one low-60's, so we did not have to take the heavy coats. Be sure and layer, though. Also, grab some blankets from the evening Movie-Under-The-Stars, and we kept them in our room to wrap up in when out on the deck. Food: We did not care for the buffet, except maybe breakfast. We had anytime dining and did not have to wait hardly at all. The Italian night was the best, and avoid the Steak-Wellington. At lunch, some of us had the sirloin burgers, and they were the best HBs we had ever had. Staff was superb and selections were varied and delicious, though sometimes hit-and-miss when you are guessing at something you have never eaten. (Though I considered the title of one dessert, the "menage-a-trois" rather vulgar. . . .) The ice-cream by the pool was great, as well as the pizza and HB/Hot Dog place which we opted for on the 1st dress up night. The second dress-up night was fun, though one of my sons had to go back and get on a long-sleeved shirt before they would let him sit. (Note: Thankfully, no jackets are required.) Disembarkation: BEWARE!!!!! We opted for the "Princess Transfers" at $24 per person, rather than the "Independent Arrangements", thinking we would have the better of the service. WRONG! For a total of $96, we stepped out with our luggage, had to walk PAST the taxis to the end of the pier pick-up buses. Then we had to wait in line to get on the bus, with the bus driver complaining about our 2-each bags (what do you expect for a week-long cruise? . . .), and then were herded on the bus. Then, at the airport, we were NOT dropped off at the airline doors, but w-a-y down at their drop off. We had to haul our baggage uphill, as we watched the taxis drive by and their smiling passengers. Found out later, we would have saved a LOT had we taken the taxi, and not been EXHAUSTED before checking in at the airport. BAD! BAD! BAD!, and I reported to Princess and have heard nothing back. Overall, though, the trip was great, the staff was superb, and we had a great time. Princess, though, needs to realize there is lots of competition out there, and they need to take care of details. We may try a different line next time to compare. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
I wasn't sure quite what to expect my biggest worry was that I had paid all of this money and that by day 2 I would hate it or even worse be sea sick the entire time! But boy was I surprised!!! The scenery was beyond words, the staff ... Read More
I wasn't sure quite what to expect my biggest worry was that I had paid all of this money and that by day 2 I would hate it or even worse be sea sick the entire time! But boy was I surprised!!! The scenery was beyond words, the staff was top notch everyone was so pleasant, as a matter of fact most of the crew knew my name by the end of the cruise, staff would see us in the hallways and ask where we were the night before that they had missed us in their dinning room. We had gotten to the point where we didn't even have to order our drinks, the staff would see us empty handed and suddenly they would bring us our favorite drink!!! Can you imagine that happening anywhere else? My every need was met before I even thought of it. Our concierge was always just a few steps away from our room and always asked if we needed anything. Our room was always clean with fresh towels, even if we had used our towels for the day when we returned there was always fresh ones waiting for us. We are not use to dinning in a 4 star restaurant so when we got there we were unsure of what to order from the menu but our matradee was a great help and never made us feel stupid, he answered all of our questions about which silverware to use for each dish! By the end of the cruise we had this down! Laundry service was awesome, the always had items returned to us in a timely manner, I had accidentally spilled coffee on a brand new shirt, after only wearing it for about an hour, my concierge got it right to the laundry and they got it cleaned and there is no sign of the spill. The activities on board were ok but we really didn't spend a lot of time doing those, as we had met a lot of new friends! The staff at all of the bars was wonderful, the Asst. bar Mang. was awesome and always ensured that we got excellent service. The ports were awesome and the shore excursions were wonderful. We took full use of the Aqua Spa, it is a little pricey but well worth the cost, we had our very first massage, facial, and paid to utilize the Parisian Garden, which we did on a daily basis it was spectacular! The staff at the Aqua Spa was great and explained everything. The only downside to the entire trip was the buffet dinning only because of the other guests on board, it was like a cattle drive and everyone was very pushy as if the food would grow legs and run away from them or they thought it would all be gone by the time they got there, but there was always plenty of food! Also finial disembarkation was like a total cattle drive, but the staff really tried to limit this but was unsuccessful. I would and plan on utilizing this cruise line again in the very near future! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This was my first cruise to Alaska and second on a Jewel Class Ship. The scenery was beautiful and we had great ports of call. Pearl was well cared for and always clean. The deck plans of the Jewel Class Ships are well laid out and easy to ... Read More
This was my first cruise to Alaska and second on a Jewel Class Ship. The scenery was beautiful and we had great ports of call. Pearl was well cared for and always clean. The deck plans of the Jewel Class Ships are well laid out and easy to get around. There was very little of 'you can't get there from here.' We had stayed next door to Pier 66 at the Edgewater Hotel. On Sunday morning, it was a 100 yard walk next door to the Terminal. We went around 11:00 in the morning and our baggage was taken immediately. We had short lines all the way through and check-in was a snap. We had a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet with the Ship's Department Heads. It was helpful to hear from them how much they value Cruise Critic Members. Staff was helpful and did their best to serve. NCL is serious about their wanting to correct issues as soon as possible and does take complaints seriously. We had a service issue with the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. We immediately went to the front desk where the manager of the restaurant was called. The restaurant manager listened intently to our issue and apologized for the problem. He invited to us to return to the aformentioned restaurant, but we chose not to. Within 24 hours food and beverage service contacted us about our problem and made amends to our satisfaction. Our cabin, although tiny did fit two adults. There was ample storage for all of our clothes between the six drawers, closet and eight cubby holes. The beds were high enough to place our empty suitcases under the beds. The bathroom was large enough for more than one person to be in there, provided one person was in the shower compartment or the toilet compartment at the same time the other was at the sink. Our cabin was in a short hallway of three cabins, just outside the Medical Center, which allowed for little if any traffic in front of our cabin. On the other hand, at most ports entrance to and from the ship was just a few steps away. Thank goodness only one of our ports was an early morning port. We were awaken that morning at 6:00 AM by the banging of the metal ramps as we docked. (Fortunately for us, we were awaken only a half of an hour earlier than planed.) We did participate in the unlimited soda pop program, unlike in the Caribbean where all outside bars are open, during this chilly cruise many of these bars were closed making it more difficult to find a place refill your glass. Probably the best thing we did when we boarded the was to buy the week long pass to the Hydro-Spa. It was the best purchase we made all week, especially with fog, damp chilly temps and light rain. The saunas and steam rooms are single sex. There is also two small single occupant hot tub in the men's relaxation area. The men's relaxation area has loungers and windows facing the bow of the ship, while the sauna has windows facing port and the bow. The tiled heated loungers are in a coed common space along with the hydro-pool and a large hot tub along with non heated loungers facing the bow. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Let me start off by saying I LOVED THIS CRUISE, this is my 20th cruise and I jump from one cruise line to another to suit my vacation desires, to me the secret to having an enjoyable cruise is you simply need to tailor it to your own ... Read More
Let me start off by saying I LOVED THIS CRUISE, this is my 20th cruise and I jump from one cruise line to another to suit my vacation desires, to me the secret to having an enjoyable cruise is you simply need to tailor it to your own preferences. Boarding was very fast, always a challenge filling out the health questionnaire while carrying luggage and keeping pace in line. Off to the Lido deck for lunch, the Lido was packed, no trays so you grab a plate, stand in line forever, throw some food on, hunt down a table and skip the drama of finding beverages while guarding the table. That was the first and last time I ate in the Lido. After lunch we went to the room to discover we received a free triple upgrade to the Lanai stateroom on the lower balcony, after walking in the room Holland America was "tops" in my books. The room was large, wheelchair accessible for those who may need it, huge shower and bathroom of wall to wall Terracotta, so many drawers and closets you cant even use half of the space provided and a electronic sliding glass door that leads out to the Lower Promenade where you have your own private (reserved) cushy chairs to relax in. We named the electronic sliding door DD for Devil Door, on two separate occasions it closed while my cabin mate was standing in the doorway chatting up a storm, no harm just plenty of giggles, I miss DD, she showed gumption. All window Glass is ONE WAY VIEW so you can see out but people outside can not see in. We ate Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the La Fontain dinning room, open seating so we could mix and mingle with people, lifestyles, and cultures from around the country and around the world. Made reservations at the Pinnacle Grill and then cancelled them because we were getting Prime Rib, Lobster, Filet Mignon, and many other terrific multi course meals in the LaFontain dinning room that could not have been better. If you see Surf and Turf and prefer the surf then ask for 2 lobsters, if you prefer the turf then ask for 2 Filet Mignon, mix and match to your taste buds desire. Without going into every delectable dish I will finally say they serve up home made sorbets pineapple, Mandarin, Mango, ETC---that are out of this world and could never be found in a grocery store. Juneau was the first stop, went on the Kayak tour and the water was really rough. Had fun watching the bald eagles, wildlife and getting exercise. I understand from other passengers the whale watching tour was amazing as they watch pods of whales feeding. Sitka is the most picturesque of all the stops with islands around you covered in pine and mountains abound. Ketchikan was another stop with the usual tshirs, sunglasses, knick knacks, jewelry. Victoria, if you love flowers -Botany - then go to Buchart gardens, or if you want to walk around town and see the Parliament building light up at night it's very nice or do the pub crawl if a big glass of ale is your preference. Seattle, spend a day at the Pikes Market and enjoy the fruits right off the vine, tasting like they should taste. There are so many options and tours at each port that you can change them so every visit to the same port is different, new and exciting. The Oases is a nice collection of palm trees and hammocks to relax in, the back of the ship offers a hot tub to relax in while watching whales swimming by on their migration, the Mix is a great place to meet up with friends and family for cocktails, Sushi bar, Serenity pool, mid ship pools and hot tubs, the places to go and things to do are so many you need to remember to RELAX, reflect and rejuvenate and not let the cruise go by in a flash. T-Shirts, sweatshirts and polo's go on sale for half off on the last day of the cruise. GLBT parties every evening ensure new friends are made as well as Solo and Single parties for the other passengers on board. Cruise Critic parties were also held in the Crows Nest, allowing Cruise Critic passengers to meet & greet, and discuss the art and enjoyment of cruising. Holland America runs it's cruises like a finely tuned Swiss watch, paying attention to the small details and the satisfaction of all of their guests so everyone has the highest potential to have the vacation of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
I like the idea of freestyle cruising since it lets the guests eat in the main dining room whenever they want within the set hours. There is also no formal dress code, which I find quite liberating. My partner and I think that the ... Read More
I like the idea of freestyle cruising since it lets the guests eat in the main dining room whenever they want within the set hours. There is also no formal dress code, which I find quite liberating. My partner and I think that the food was good, even though they do not receive our utmost praise. We like dining at Le Bistro since the French food there was quite good. Our waiter was also very friendly at the Ginza Restaurant, which helped enhance our dining experience there. The sushi was well prepared at Ginza and they even let me order from the Teppanyaki Restaurant menu without incurring another 15 dollars charge. However, we were quite disappointed with the ship's itinerary on the Sawyer Glacier/Tracy Arm Fjord. There was a so-called expert who was supposed to brief us on what we will be seeing on our way to the Sawyer Glacier. Instead, she gave a very long winded Geography lesson on the various terms of the glaciers and their formations....stuff that I could have just read from any book on glaciers. Our ship headed back prematurely before we reached the foot of Sawyer Glacier, and we did NOT even get close the the edge of the glacier to see the calving, where the glacier makes a thunderous noise falling into the ocean. Neither the captain nor the 'Glacier Expert' explained why we have to turn back prematurely!! That was NOT cool! The ports of call were so-so. Skagway exists because of the cruise ships. The population of 800 people would perish if the ships stop going there. People who work at the so-call chain stores (tourist souvenirs stores) were treating us like we were burdening them with work. Most of them had sour faces and were not happy with the influx of cruise passengers swarming their stores. One lady even brought up Obama vs. the Republican politics in front of her customers...so much for leaving your personal beliefs behind! You would think that they (the business owners) would welcome the cruise passengers with open arms, especially since we are the only source of income in Skagway. We do like all our shore excursions since we did not pay through the nose for the helicopter rides and glacier/dog sledding adventures. I personally think those activities are over-charged...you can probably get a much better deal shopping around after your ship has docked in the port. Just ensure that the independent operators commit to taking you back before the ship sails... To my utmost disappointment, there was no indoor heated pool in the ship. There was one in the spa area, but you gotta pay 20 bucks to use it. Yeah, right! As to why NCL does NOT have an indoor pool considering the Alaska rainy and cool weather, I do not know! I just think it is absurd to design a ship to Alaska and think that passengers would want to use the outdoor pool when the day time temp is less than 70 degrees in the SUMMER. Read Less

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