Occupation:Customer Service Rep.
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: May 15th, 2005
This is our 3rd Alaskan cruise with NCL and we love Freestyle cruising, as well as Alaska! We boarded the Star in Vancouver, which is only a short ferry and bus ride to Canada Place as we live in Victoria. Checking in at Canada Place was very slow as both the customs/immigration computers and NCL's computers went down at the same time! It took about 2 hours to get through, but the line kept moving so you were not standing in one spot and we were offered juice and cookies. Very nice!
Walking on board was like walking into a movie! The Grand Atrium was amazing! Glassed in elevators and small fountains, marble tiled floors, WOW! And our room was great. As Lattitudes members, we were treated to a 6 category upgrade in the room and it was so nice. Large picture window, comfy bed and a bigger than expected shower, which was nice. Lots of storage space too. Our two room stewards were VERY attentive to our every need. Always there when we needed them.
The many restaurants on board offer a great variety of food for all tastes. We ate most of our meals in The Blue Lagoon which was a buffet stlye restaurant and the food was excellent, the cleanliness and friendliness of the entire staff there is to be commended. The smoked salmon was a big hit with my husband! Other restaurants we dined at were The Vesailles, and The Aqua. These were dress up restaurants which were also very good. Waiter/waiteress was also very attentive, and each course of the meal was served in a timely manner, with the hot food being hot and the cold being cold. The restaurant manager also comes around to each and every table to see how things are. I don't know how they do it with those 100's of people they serve at the same time!
My husband ate once at The Ginza restaurant for the sushi buffet. He was very dissapointed with this. He found that there was very little fish sushi. There seemed to be only California rolls with cucumbers and avocados. He also did not like the way the seating was set up. 10 or 12 people sat at one long counter so if you were sitting at the wrong end from where the chef puts his creations, (which, of course, he was) you got the last of the sushi. There was a cover charge of $10 pp for this restaurant. I did not go as I don't like sushi.
The variety of activities on board for all ages, and the entertainment in the Stardust Theatre were spectacular. There was a comedian, (very good) a magician with card tricks that were awesome, but we thought the BEST entertainment in the theatre was Jeffery Allen as Elton John. The only complaint we have with this is it wasn't long enough! He was amazing! Like the real thing!
The weather was good all the way up and back. A little cloud and a few sprinkles here and there, but in Skagway it was hot, hot, hot! As I said earlier, this is our 3rd cruise to Alaska, so we did not go on any shore excursions, as we have done a few before, but I do recommend the White Pass/Yukon Railway in Skagway. Because the weather was great, I walked up to the Gold Rush Cemetery, which is about 2 miles from town. Very easy, flat walk and people have the most interesting things in their yard! An old wringer washer made into a planter, an old model T car used as a lawn ornament! All the houses are well kept and tidy. The walk was well worth it, as I walked along the Skagway River to get to the cemetery. There are also street car/tour buses that will take you there as well. If you go on your own, be sure to take the SHORT hike up to Reid Falls, worth it! I do not believe the street car tour gives you time for that. Back in town we saw the Days of '98 stage show which was really good. Great acting and it looked like they were having fun! Watch out though, they get people from the audience to participate! In Juneau or Ketchikan we did not take any shore excursions either, but we have taken the Mendenhall Glacier tour and the Mount Roberts Tramway. Both were excellent too. Creek Street in Ketchikan is interesting as well. Tram in Creek Street offers a wonderful view of the harbor when you get to the top. The cost was $2.00 return.
This third time we sailed through Glacier Bay. (The first two were Sawyer Glacier) What a breathtaking sight! The weather was good for viewing too. Not to cold. But the park ranger who came aboard to narrate to us as we sailed through was terrible. She seemed to be stumbling over what she was saying. You could tell she was reading it from a script and not very good either. She said she had been doing this for seven years? Lots of other cruisers said they same thing, that they tuned her out after awhile.
The only real complaint I have is about the chocoholic buffet. It should not be at midnight. Most people don't want to fill up on chocolate that late or else they are sleeping! The first time we cruised with Norwegian Wind it was at midnight, the second time with Norwegian Wind again, it was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, (perfect time!) but this time it was at 11:30 at night. Not good. I didn't make it as I feel asleep! The chocoholic buffet is what I look forward to with NCL.
We arrived back to Seattle the following Sunday morning and the disembarkation was really well organized and fast too. We were off an hour earlier than we expected! We were getting the Victoria Clipper back to our home of Victoria that afternoon, but we were directed the wrong way to the pier in which to catch it and must have walked at least a mile dragging our luggage behind us until finally we asked a taxi driver and we were told it was back the other way! Some one at the pier should be more knowledgeable or there should be signs directing people.
All in all, the cruise was fantastic! We are looking into the Mexican Riviera for next year, with of course NCL! No other cruise line for us! 2 thumbs up NCL!!