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Chuck Brinkley

Age: 65


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: 05-23-2009

Itinerary: Inside Passage

We sailed from Seattle 23 May 2009-stayed at SeaTac La Quinta-superb location & free breakfast bar, free shuttle driver helpful & pointed us to Seattle Shuttle to Pier for boarding (14 minutes @ $12). Boarding was a nightmare, tho staff were friendly-but like being dropped onto an ant hill. Security everywhere was a huge pain-esp. carrying a CPAP machine for sleep apnea-very lengthy checks at all points. Difficult not to lose things in the shuffle-my companion lost her glasses at last checkpoint & they were never recovered. But winning the $2900.00 bingo jackpot lessened the blow for her. Scenery became heavenly from the outset-a paradise of uncorrupted nature and quaint housing on forest-surrounded granite cliffs. Balcony was ideal for private viewing-when not too cold. Pack for Siberia-we froze in Skagway & worse in rainy Prince Rupert. Forget dressup (nobody did) and pack extra warmth-down, etc. No insects at all in this Ice Age scenario. Ketchikan 20 man canoe trip cancelled due to frozen lake- PR Rupert grizzly viewing cancelled due to guide sickness-don't believe excursion bookings until you are on them-and then some. Skagway train trip just after we finished was backed down the mtns due to a landslide (we saw 2 bears beside the tracks, another from Skeena River bus in PR). Humpbacks in Juneau's Bay thick as rabbits in a vegetable garden. Sawyer Glacier cancelled due to ice-rerouted to Dawe's Glacier in Endicott Arm-still breath taking-missed bear spotting due to noise pollution disallowing public address announcements. Skeena River boat trip was in open outboards-so we shivered beneath the awning instead of walking in the forest, etc-40s, rainy & unbelievably cold & wet-best guides in the business-Darlene and May. First Nations Darlene can do anything-from shooting a moose, to cooking salmon over the coals to healing the sick. An inspiration. Juneau bus driver a whiny vslley girl mouthing about college loans and crying when a curious bear sniffed her. Misty Fjords jet boat gorgeous, comfy and fun. Eagles everywhere. Itinerary-Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Pr Rupert, Seattle.

Ate at Cagney's the first night to excape crushing crowds-surf and turf $35 extra, no better than Versailles unless you need cloying, patronizing Filpino boys hanging over everyone's shoulder. Food is just as good and is free at Versailles and Aqua. Market Buffet varies in quality-similar to Golden Corral-and ALWAYS crowded-the riffraff seem to hang out here. Endless Summer ($10 cover) not real Tex-Mex-but uncrowded. Room Service never more than a half hour wait-but choice & quality poor-worst pizza in existence. Had to beg for a room service menu-breakfast only cold stuff-but on time. Blue Lagoon okay if desperate-but few seats, crowd always passing thru, and closed from 3 to 5 am.
Kudos to NCL for the Cooking Light and sugar free choices. I only gained ten pounds in the week!

Excellent bathroom, plenty big enough for 265 pounder. Comfy firm bed, good balcony chairs-had to ask for coffee machine replacements. And fridge quit 2nd day (used to keep insulin cool)-3rd day they put in a new one. Could not get cpap machine to work first night until extension cord was changed from bathroom 220 volt (had read there was but one) to room's 110 volt-checked out a heavy duty extension cord from reception until steward pointed out 2nd 110 volt one. Carried earplugs for sounds adjacent-but never even unwrapped them-no problem. But you do hear everyone else's conversation on the balcony. If you lean out, you will even see them. Takes a while to orient yourselves to elevators, layout, etc- but wall maps everywhere and staff quite helpful. We received several bonus coupons for shipboard credit in our stateroom-but nobody will tell you if they will be honored-and you discover in the end-most are not-only Cagney's did. No merchandise, alcohol, etc.

They were so-so-best was wry comic magician Murray-as droll as Jeff Goldblum. I have seen better college students in Improv than 2nd City on board-many routines scripted-not improv. No guts-no glory. Jean Ann Ryan dancers young and energetic-what they lacked in polish they made up for in striving. Chinese acrobats not too bad either. But cruise ships don't pay Vegas wages. Passenger talent show ranged from the very talented (Great Balls of Fire 13 yr old) to the embarassing. The hosts of Bingo were the phoniest, most patronizing pains I ever encountered-led by the Queen of Forced Cliches, Georgina. I suppose they are forced to perform these apish exaggerations, which probably originate in tropical cruises and rank with such things as the hairy legged contests and conga lines for the most offensively tasteless in humanity. But go for the scenic paradise-forget the casino-like offal. if that's what you like-go to Vegas, Laughlin, Biloxi or Atlantic city-much cheaper.

It would be a travesty to go all this way and miss the countryside away from the Asian-imported tourist traps. Book a trip into the mountains, glaciers, forests, and rivers-you will be amazed. This bucolic retreat has not changed since the big bang. The prepondence of waterfalls was absolutely unbelievable-makes the Rockies and Sierras, and Alps look like Knotts' Berry Farm. Photographs simply do not do justice to this pristine paradise. Its too bad you must fly in uncomfortable sardine cans to begin the journey. And most airlines no longer feed you and all charge for checked bags. The NCL has a program (around 20 bucks) to carry your luggage from your casbin hasllway to your asirline-not a bad idea. But you must sign up by thursday noon! And all but handheld luggage must be in the hall by 2 am Fri. Deboarding was much easier than boarding. Customs was a piece of cake.

It was much more beautiful than I ever imagined- and I have toured 22 countries and all but 5 states. I was absolutely astonished at the unspoiled paradise. And the people, though overwhelmed with thousands of us greenhorns from around the world- were friendly and tolerant. It was a most fitting beginning to mark off my personal bucket list.

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