Occupation:IT project leader / Sr. Programmer
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sky
Sailing Date: May 24th, 2003
My husband and I have taken six cruises in the past twelve years, prior to this Cruise. Three cruises were on Carnival (Hawaii, Bahamas, Southern Caribbean), one on Holland America (Alaska) and one on Norwegian (Western Caribbean). I spent some time on the Internet, researching the ports of call for this cruise. I knew just want I wanted to do at each port.
The ports of call on our Alaska cruise were great and the scenery was breathtaking. We had a medium size suite with a large window. Security personnel and equipment was abundant and tight, which eased my mind.
In Ketchikan, we took a self pace walking tour of the town. The town was quaint, had small shops and a charming marina. Eight years ago, we took a tour of two totem pole parks. The totem pole parks were great but we wanted to do something different.
In Juneau, we took a self pace walking tour of the town, also. We went to the state capitol, governor’s mansion, a rain forest and did some shopping. We saw many eagles flying over the town. We took an awesome floatplane tour out of Juneau, eight years ago.
The cruise ship went to Sawyer Glacier, one afternoon. The approximately one hour trip (each way) down a very narrow river in a big ship to the glacier was as fascinating as seeing the glacier itself. Sawyer Glacier was at the end of the river. The cruise ship did a 180 in the small cove, which was very remarkable. Icebergs were floating in the water and seals were on many of the icebergs. It was beautiful. Eight years ago, we toured Glacier Bay, instead of Sawyer Glacier. Glacier Bay had lots of glaciers, seals and icebergs.
Skagway is a small town of 800 people, but grows to 4800 when two cruise ships arrive daily during the months May through September. The Klondike gold rush trip started there in 1897. We took a scenic three and a half hour ride (round trip) on the old train to White Pass like the miners did over one hundred years ago. The train climbed nearly 3000 feet (sea level to the pass). Do not miss the train ride. The train ride cost $89 per adult at the depot or $99 on the ship. We saw one whale after we left Skagway.
Our last port stop was Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We made a quick stop at the Empress Hotel, walked around some flower gardens, Chinatown and did some shipping. Three years ago, we spent three days in Victoria and went to the Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel, Royal British Columbia Museum, Butchart Gardens and Craigdarroch castle. Do not miss Butchart Gardens.
Eight years ago, we toured Sitka instead of Victoria and Skagway. Sitka is a small Russian like town with a beautiful state park abundant with totem poles.
The dining room service was very slow. Lunch and dinner took 105 to 120 minutes everyday. This service took 60 to 75 minutes on our other cruises. Two hours is just too long for me. Norwegian started Free Style cruising recently. They do not have assign dinner (evening) seating anymore. You are seated at different tables, with a different waiter, with different people each night and you can go to dinner at any time. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. At the end of the cruise, my tips are distributed to all waitpersons, not just my assigned waitperson during the cruise because I did not have an assigned waitperson. Why give great service when tips are not given based on service. Ten dollars per day per person was charged to my credit card for tips. This money was distributed to all ship staff. I believe tips should be given on based on quality of service. Service in the dining was poor compared to my other cruises. On our other cruises the waitpersons were part of the entertainment and you never had to ask for more water, tea or coffee. Cruisers can wear formal or informal (blue jeans) attire in the formal dining rooms in the evenings every night. There are no formal nights but some cruisers wore formal attire on the captain’s night and farewell dinner night. My husband and I prefer to dress up for dinner in the dining room. If we want to be more relaxed, we go to the cafeteria.
Our room steward took good care of our room but we did not get any special services like our other cruises. For example, expect no towel animals. The ship was neat and clean. Safety procedures were good. The nightly shows were great. Events on the ship were not publicized like we experienced on our other cruises and there were fewer ship events to attend (things to do).
Norwegian booked our air flights on Delta Airlines. I called Delta to get assigned seating for my husband and I. Delta said I had to get assigned seating at the airport when I arrived there. I did not know that Norwegian booked our air flights extremely late. After our cruise, twelve Norwegian cruisers (including my husband and I) did not have seats because our flight was over booked. Everyone on the Princess Cruise Line had assigned seating. Good for Princess cruisers. A couple people cancelled so we made our flight unlike a few other poor souls. My husband and I were not seated together but at least we were on our flight.
Norwegian is my least favorite cruise line out of the four cruise lines I have experienced. My husband feels the same about that. Although, my husband and I enjoyed our cruise, we will probably avoid Norwegian Cruise Line in the future. The staff is better on the other cruise lines. For the first time, after a cruise, my husband and I were ready to go home.