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Cruzer

Age: 48

Occupation:Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sun

Sailing Date: 2009-09-11

Itinerary: Alaska

With our 3 teenage kids, my husband and I decided to try this Alaska cruise after talking to a friend of ours who happens to be a travel agent and we were able to get a phenomenal price. As we have spent our summers RVing around Western Canada and the U.S, the idea of cramped cabin conditions did not bother us. We decided to spend extra and go for a balcony stateroom and I am glad we did.

The meals: Before we left on the cruise we read over some of the reviews and were concerned that our dining experience was not going to be so good. Fortunately, for most of the trip that was not the case. We primarily ate at the Seven Seas for breakfast and lunch and I would strongly suggest against ordering any of the sandwiches available on the menu. They seem to be made a long time before they are served, as the bread is soggy and the meat very unappetizing.
Breakfast: the Seven Seas were open daily. This is where we would eat. I never did try the buffet in the Garden Cafe, as why stand in line getting your meal on a tray when one can sit and be served at no extra cost? The menu at the Seven Seas had a variety of good breakfasts to choose from such as Eggs Benedict, specially prepared omelets with your choice of filling to pancakes and cereal. Side orders of bacon, sausages, hash browns, etc. are just a request away as well as morning juices in good size glasses. The service at the Seven Seas was always outstanding. Plates were quickly and quietly whisked away, water glasses always full and asking for extra side orders was graciously received. In my opinion a very professional staff.
Beverages: all alcoholic drinks cost extra and a gratuity of 15% is added, so if you want to imbibe, be ready to pay. I have heard that other cruise lines may allow you to bring one or two bottles of your own beverage on board with you, NOT SO for Norwegian Cruise Lines, they will take your bottle and leave you a note letting you know that you can pick it up at the end of the cruise. They do offer a special rate on wine if you choose 6 or more wines ahead of time (these are for any wines on their wine list and they did offer some very nice wines). Pop and mock-tails for the kids also come with a price, however the cruise does offer special books and daily specials for these as well.
Coffee (including espresso, cappuccino, etc in the dining areas only) and tea are free. However, if you enjoy a good cup of coffee be prepared to be disappointed! I found it to be less than satisfying and that includes the espresso and derivatives thereof. It tastes like it has had chicory added and is not pleasant to say the least. As there is a small drip coffeemaker in the stateroom, when we docked at Ketchikan I bought a very good bag of coffee roasted there and small size filters to fit the coffee maker. I would then make my own coffee. So if you really enjoy a good cup of coffee, bring your own (plus filters).
Lunch: once again at the Seven Seas and if you order one of the specials of the day you will not be disappointed. The presentation of the meal was always pleasing to the eye and the food a pleasure to the palate.
Dinners: We ate most of our dinners at the Four Seasons and between the five of us did not once have a meal we were disappointed in there. The portions on the plate was just enough for us (however, when they offered the lobster and prime rib we did ask for and receive double portions).

The cabin was bigger than we expected. My hubby and I slept on a king, our daughters slept on a pull out queen and our son was on a pull down bunk that was a good size twin. As I get motion sickness pretty quickly our agent friend placed us near the middle of the ship and also got a cabin that was on the starboard side going up to Alaska, which meant we were able to see the coast all the way up (something to keep in mind). Although using the bathroom was a bit of a balancing act, being used to a motorhome this was not a stretch for us.

Specialty restaurants: There were a couple of times we decided to pay extra and try out some of then out.
Ginza, - one night we tried the TeppanYaki where your meal is prepared in front of you by 2 cooks in the Japanese style. I remember going to one of these as a teenager and so wanted our family to enjoy the experience as well. What I remember from my youth was a lot of knife work and these being thrown back and forth between the cooks. Not much of that happened this time, which was disappointing, although as one of our kids did mention it might not have been such a good idea in a moving ship. Although the food was well presented and delicious, would I pay $25.00 per person again? Probably not.
Sushi Saturday afternoon lunch. Being from the West Coast my family all enjoy sushi and there are a number of very good Sushi restaurants in the city we are from. This was all the sushi you could eat for $15.00 per person. The sashimi was fresh and tasty, but the sushi lacked the different tastes and spices that we are use to at home. So for us it was not worth the extra cost.
In Le Bristo there was a special brunch set up for Friday called the Champagne Jazz Brunch with a French style buffet and a la carte menu. My hubby set a reservation for just the two of us. Although the meal was very good Chateau Briand for hubby and a filet mignon with jumbo shrimp in a barnaise sauce for myself. The service was so bad that to us the event was a complete bust. It was sold as a Champagne Jazz brunch, but no champagne was offered, and the band, although the musicianship was impeccable, the sets were maybe 10 to 15 minutes long and completely lackluster. The service was almost non-existent. My husband arrived before me and after being seated, waited for almost 10 minutes before someone came and poured him water and asked if he would like anything. It was not very busy, so there was no excuse. When I came down, I too sat and waited for our server to attend to us. When that didn't happen we decided to check out the buffet and have a few nibbles as we were getting hungry. When we finally asked the person who appeared to be the matre d for service, it never truly happened. I could describe how bad it went but what' s the use, let's just say it was a low point. My husband at one instance did get up and tell them to cancel our order as we were so put off with the lack of service that we were leaving. This seemed to help a bit and our food ($15.00 a plate) was comp-ed and they were very apologetic. Which was nice, except for the fact that our plates were not cleared, my hubby's coffee not refilled and my water glass was left empty. Later I went back as I thought I had left my room card there and I saw tables that were still not cleared and under one table a fork was left on the ground apparently unnoticed. I am not sure who oversees that restaurant but I find it hard to believe it would be the same person that oversees the Four Seasons or The Seven Seas.
If we go again we will not bother with any of the specialty restaurants, in my opinion they are just not worth it.

We didn't do any of the excursions as they were way to pricey for our budget. We only stayed 4 hours at Juneau which I felt was not nearly long enough. Just enough time to be bussed in to the old downtown area and go shopping. As it is the State Capital, I would have liked to have been able to see more of the city and sites.

Skagway is where the White Pass Rail is and if you can afford it I hear it really is something. We did try and rent a vehicle in Skagway and drive the same route as the train for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, we are Canadians and Transport Canada has a law in place that a CDN citizens cannot drive an American registered vehicle over in to Canada. We did talk to some Americans that did rent and they said it was great as they could stop and do what they wanted; their time was more their own. Staying 14 hours at a town that is 6 blocks long and 3 blocks where the vast majority of the stores pack up their wares and follow the cruises down south, was way too long.

As for the cruise, the weather was beautiful, going and seeing the Sawyer Glacier was amazing, the nightly performances at the Stardust Theatre were very enjoyable and the majority of the staff were top notch and very professional.

Would we go again? ABSOLUTELY!!!

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