Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: n/a
Norwegian Cruise Line
Our first trip up to Alaska and we couldn't have asked for more. My wife, two teenage children and I had a fantastic time. I'll go back as soon as I get the chance. The kids had their own agenda - meeting new friends, partaking in activities, attending dances - as did my wife and I. We would meet up for dinner and shore excursions but literally had our own and separate vacations.
There were a couple of monkey wrenches thrown in, as happens on any vacation. (At least it does to us.) Like being down one engine to start, and not having the speed to sail into Sitka while maintaining the rest of our schedule. So, that meant the first 4 days were spent at sea. There was so much to do aboard the ship that the time flew by. Plus, the sightseeing up on deck was fantastic. Humpback whales and porpoises were often seen while we were sailing in the Gulf of Alaska. And the Coast Mountains are simply breathtaking. (If you forget to bring a pair of binoculars aboard, you can purchase them on the ship. It's a requirement!)
We lost the other main engine on our way back to Seattle, and could only achieve a speed of 13 knots with the two auxiliary engines. I know it caused many of the other passengers travel problems, arriving in Seattle just after 2:00 p.m. when we were scheduled to arrive at 7:00 a.m. But we planned accordingly, affording ourselves a couple of extra days in Seattle in the event of such a delay. So, we stayed up later the night before arriving in Seattle, slept later that day, and enjoyed a late breakfast and a barbecue for lunch. All the delay did was extend our vacation.
We were slightly delayed in getting into Ketchikan due to a Princess Cruise Line ship that was late in departing. A few of the passengers complained about being slighted time in Ketchikan. But were we all able to partake in our excursions without being slighted.
The two main restaurants, the Terraces and the Four Seasons, served similar menus that changed on a nightly basis. The food was fantastic. For those who complained about these meals, I don't know what they were looking for. You could order as many dishes as you wished. I never went away hungry. My family and I couldn't find anything wrong with these two restaurants. The Sports Bar, where you could order "fast food" meals, was okay. Nothing fancy. Cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, etc. But it certainly served the purpose, staying open all night and into the wee hours of the morning, allowing us to catch up on all of the sports scores on the televisions broadcasting ESPN while we feasted on different desserts. The Pizzeria offered hamburgers, hot dogs and salads each day between lunch and dinner. The food was rather good. Again, you ate as much as you wanted. There were also barbecues up on deck several days during the cruise. If the aroma of that didn't make you hungry, I don't know what would.
I purchased a soda package for my family, since soda is not included in any of the meals - it's an added cost. So, at a price of $34.50 a person, we had insulated metal Coca Cola containers (they hold roughly 1 can of soda) waiting for us in our stateroom upon our arrival. We presented our cup and our room card to any of the bars or restaurants and were given our choice of soda (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Diet Sprite or Ginger Ale). We certainly got our money's worth over the length of the entire cruise.
The entertainment on board was quite good. (My wife and I took a Carnival cruise some years ago, and the entertainment on that ship paled compared to this cruise.) Something different each and every evening. The cruise director, Soozy Atkins, and her staff were fabulous. Very talented people.
Each evening the stewards would leave a "Freestyle Daily" booklet in your room informing you of all of the following day's activities. Quite often my wife and I would go our separate ways to partake in the activities we enjoyed. At other times, we'd meet up just to sit back, relax and read.
My wife and I got to know quite a few of the employees on the ship. From all parts of the world, and all different occupations aboard the vessel. Getting to know them only added to the enjoyment of the cruise. You ended up having friends no matter where you went, from the salespersons in the shops to the staff members of the restaurants to the cabin stewards. The staff was simply excellent.
The freestyle cruising was perfect for my family. With no set times for our meals, we went when it was convenient for us. We were often given the option to sit amongst ourselves, or share a table with others. We often opted to share a table and got to know many of the passengers. It made for a very enjoyable evening.
The seas were a little rough the first few days at sea, with the ship experiencing 20-foot swells. It never caused any inconvenience, that I know of, and it literally rocked you to sleep. We missed that motion when we were cruising the Inside Passage and its calmer waters.
The bottom line is if you're looking to pick apart this cruise, you'll be able to, as you would in any cruise. If you plan on enjoying yourself, you'll certainly be able to do that. If you want to sit back and do absolutley nothing but relax, this is the vacation for you. If you want to do as many things as possible for every awaken moment in your day, this vacation is for you. I'm already planning another Norwegian cruise.