This was my 33rd cruise and 8th time to Alaska. Maybe I'm just getting pickier or maybe because our last cruise was in the haven, but I seemed to notice more little things that bugged me. It was a good vacation but nothing ... Read More
This was my 33rd cruise and 8th time to Alaska. Maybe I'm just getting pickier or maybe because our last cruise was in the haven, but I seemed to notice more little things that bugged me. It was a good vacation but nothing spectacular.
We are platinum and so we were expecting the priority boarding as stated in many places on the NCL website. We got the priority check in which had I believe 3 dedicated workers just checking in platinum and higher, and haven guests. The problem was that if you were in that "special" line, you had to wait for one of those 3 dedicated workers to check you in. After moving super slow and the non platinum/haven guests clearly getting their paperwork done quicker, a worker saw what was going on and waved us to a regular check in spot. The worker checking us in had no personality and barely said anything. The last thing anyone wants at this exciting start to a vacation is to get bummed out by someone who just doesn't care. We also didn't get a ship map or listing of what was going on the first day like everyone else. We got boarding group 18 and I asked about the platinum priority boarding and the worker either didn't speak English or couldn't formulate an answer more than a few grunts so we moved on. On to the waiting area and I asked 2 workers about the priority boarding and they said there is none for platinum. I had even printed out the platinum perks and showed them but they were oblivious. As I type this I know I probably sounds like a snob but I just wanted what we were told we'd get from NCL.
Moving on, turns out the priority boarding is probably a farce because they called 2 or 3 boarding groups at a time and group 18 was called about 15 minutes after group 1 so probably something that NCL gives frequent cruisers that doesn't really make a big difference, at least for those who arrive early anyway.
It was a warm day in Seattle and my daughter and I were excited to go on the loop slide but it was broken and not operational all week. We then moved on to booking go carts and laser tag. The first screen we encountered lead us all the way to the part where you insert your card to pay just to be told it didn't work. We found another one and were able to get a decent go cart time on day 5 and laser tag the last day while in Victoria. You must reserve these 2 things ASAP upon boarding because at least 2/3 of the times were already filled and we did this as soon as we boarded. Next we went to an unorganized line at Teppanyaki to remove the 4th person from our reservation there and at Cagneys. NCL still can't figure out how to let people book for an odd number. We were a party of 3 but had to book for 4 ahead of time.
We got the drink package perk so off to a bar. Long island ice tea was the drink of the day so I got one. They pre-mix all the liquors into 1 bottle and then add sweet and sour and coke at the end. Without a doubt, the alcohol mix is watered down greatly. In a 12 ounce glass, there was 1 shot of the "alcohol" mix followed by what appeared to be heavily diluted sweet and sour mix and coke. I had a bad stomach ache about halfway through the drink. A better bet is beer or wine, or a 1 alcohol drink and tell them easy on the mixer. I feel bad for anyone who paid $100 a day for this package. Crazy expensive!
We went to La Cucina the first night. I wish they had chicken parmesan still. They seem to be going more fancy. The food was great but our waiter was extremely quiet and hard to hear. We met our room steward later that night which was the only time we saw him. Didn't get any towel animals this trip either but he did a good job cleaning.
Cagneys was excellent. No issues at all with the food or service. Great dinner. Since I'm complaining so much, after dessert we didn't get anything to sign and no one asked if we were done so we just left. No biggie, but weird because at the other specialty restaurants they gave us a bill to sign and a place to add even more than the 20% tip already included. Speaking of the specialty restaurants, I think it's way too expensive. For example, at La Cucina you can get salad, soup, spaghetti and dessert. This looks exactly like what you can get at the buffet or main dining room. Why pay $20-$30 more for this? Is it really worth that much more that eating at an included restaurant? Again, we got this perk included. Teppanyaki at $39 each plus 20% tip is even worse.
More little annoyances-
games in the atrium. This cruise starts and ends in the USA. Why not get someone to host the little games they have who has a grasp of the English language? It was like NCL looked for the person with the thickest accent and told them to host a trivia game.
Platinum tour-I'm glad I didn't pay the regular $79 price. Again, 2 of the 3 places we visited (laundry and galley) had workers speaking to us who were barely understandable and then asked if we had any questions only to have to ask several times and then have the tour guide answer for the other person. The show coordinator was English so at least everyone understood him and he was able to communicate. Lame tour other than the show guy. Perhaps add some interesting facts about how much laundry or how many eggs they use....something interesting other than here we do laundry and here we cook a lot of food.
Los Lobos restaurant- despite the board showing completely full, the restaurant was less than half full when we arrived and left. While waiting to check in we heard them tell several guests that they were completely full. Strange. Maybe they were just short handed.
Go carts- very fun but we arrived 15 mins before start time, then waited another half hour for some unknown reason. Then we got our racing hoods and were told the smokestack was blowing black stuff onto the track so our clothes might get dirty (they didn't get dirty at all). Then we waited longer sitting in the carts with helmets on for who knows why? It took 1 hour and 15 mins to complete this yet the racing part was only 10 mins. Once we got going it was really fun. The waiting was annoying especially since you have a reservation.
Laser tag was also fun but the instructions given on the TV screens as you wait were completely different that what you are told when given your weapons. How does NCL not notice that? Again, the worker who gives verbal instructions can barely speak English. One guest asked how many bullets you can shoot and she asked, "what bullet mean?" This went on for a few more questions until everyone just agreed that we'd figure it out on our own.
Butchart garden tour- way too short. I think this should not even be offered. Judging from other reviews, this is a common theme. Here's how it went down. Meet at 745 in the theater. Walk to the bus off the ship at 815. Drive 45 mins to Butchart and get tickets. Enter the gardens at 915. Immediately go to the fireworks area for the 930 show. Sit on the sidewalk because all the lawn seats are long gone. Fireworks ends at 10 and all aboard bus at 1050 cause all aboard the ship is at 1130. Try to work through the massive crowd leaving the fireworks to see at least a little of the gardens and then start the walk back to the bus. Too rushed!!!
Despite the annoyances, it was a good trip. Alaska is a fun place and the ship has a lot to offer. Food was great everywhere we ate and service fairly good. This is not a luxury cruise line but NCL can make some easy changes to greatly improve things. For just over $7k I expect more. As many say, "first world problems." Read Less