Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sky
Sailing Date: May 6th, 2003
Itinerary: San Francisco, Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver
This was a repositioning cruise for the Norwegian Sky to begin its Alaskan cruise service for 2003. We were two of a group of eight people taking advantage of the unique opportunity to begin a cruise from the beautiful port of San Francisco.
We arrived at pier 35 and our luggage was immediately handled by a courteous and professional
stevedore. (Be sure and have a few dollars ready for these hard working gentlemen). This is the last time you will see your checked luggage until the ship has left the port, so if there are items you may need in the meantime, carry them with you. There was a long line of people waiting to board the ship, and we recommend that you arrive very early to avoid the delay.
Upon boarding the ship we were directed to our staterooms. Food was available at the buffet and the bars were open. We took advantage of the opportunity to explore our new surroundings and ready ourselves for the delightful experience of setting off on a voyage through the Golden Gate.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has pioneered the concept of 'freestyle cruising' which means you may dine whenever and wherever you please. There are a couple of specialty restaurants on board which charge a $10.00 service charge if you want to eat there. We opted not to try them, and enjoyed most of our meals in the main dining rooms. Despite the fact that we never had the same servers twice, the quality of both the food and service was outstanding every time. An extensive wine list and a knowledgeable wine steward perfectly complemented the exceptional food and the professional dining room staff.
There are many bars on board and believe me we tried them all. From our formidable bar tabs we clearly enjoyed ourselves! There are punch cards available at the bars which, when completed, entitle you to various freebies. We recommend starting immediately, as by the end of the cruise you will no doubt have joined us in the ranks of 'Official Bar Hoppers' and have a t-shirt and liter bottle of your favorite potable to prove it.
Our cabin stewards, though rarely seen, did an outstanding job of keeping up our stateroom, and anticipating our every need.
Even though the cruise line automatically adds a daily $10 per person gratuity to cover both the cabin and dining staff, we feel the quality of service we received was worth a bit extra, so we tipped accordingly and felt it was much appreciated.
There is no point in elaborating on the ports of call. This ship stopped at three of the best destinations on the west coast. Any one of the three cities (Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver) would be worthy of a vacation on their own.
Our return flight from Vancouver to San Francisco on Alaska Airlines was not until later in the afternoon (May 11th) so we opted to take a tour of the city arranged by the cruise line which dropped us off with our luggage at the Vancouver airport. The tour was interesting and informative and we recommend it.
Overall, this trip was delightful both for the experienced and novice cruisers in our group. We believe cruising, like any other form of travel, is what YOU make of it. We have all booked passage again on the Norwegian Sky for 2004, and look forward to meeting you on our next voyage! All the best!