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Graydon Hackett

Age: 28

Occupation:Engineer

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Wind

Sailing Date: September 9th, 2002

Itinerary: Inside Passage - Sawyer Glacier

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Lines
Sailing Date: September 9th, 2002

My wife and I decided to take a cruise for our 1st wedding anniversary. We wanted to travel round trip from Vancouver (our home) for ease of arrangements. We had traveled with Princess Cruises in the past but couldn’t find an itinerary or price that met our needs from Princess. Therefore we ventured out and booked with Norwegian Cruise Lines. We were a little apprehensive based on some of the past reviews we had read, but the cruise was fantastic, the service fantastic and Freestyle Cruising is a great way to go. We did a round trip Cruise from Vancouver traveling through the inside passage and then stopping in Skagway, Haines, Juneau, and finally Ketchikan.

Air Arrangements:
None as we are from Vancouver

Embarkation:  We arrived at Ballentyne Pier and were given a number for boarding. We were boarding in group 11. Once boarding started at 12:30, our group boarded approximately 30 minutes later with few waits in line. Simply a trip through the metal detectors, signing in with NCL reps to get our room cards and to establish ship board credit, then off to Customs. We were on board and in our stateroom by 1:30 pm. No complaints here except for the people that simply couldn’t wait for their number to be called and budged into the boarding line.

The Room:
We had an inside cabin. It was very small but comfortable with a small sofa, television and bed. There was just enough space in the closets for our clothes and under the bed was a great place to store suitcases etc. Now its not the greatest place in the world, but all you really need to do is sleep here so the size isn’t a problem. And yes a window would be nice but hey you can’t have it all and that was a budget item for us.

The The ship is great. It’s a little different than most without a main atrium area and it does take a bit of getting used to with the main showroom in the middle of the ship. But after a day or two it is easy to find everything as most things are on Decks 9-12. The Stardust lounge was great with the only complaint being that it is in the middle of the ship and when shows are on you have to find you way around the showroom either above or below. It is an impressive showroom though and finding seats was not a problem. The only other concern with the showroom is that seating is Tiered only every second row or so it helps to arrive early to get the best seats.

Dining Rooms/Food:
The ship offered a wide variety of food and many alternative options such as low fat, cooking light, sugar free etc for those looking for something different. The 5 main restaurants were the Trattoria, the Terraces, the Four Seasons, the Sports Bar Buffet and the Pizzeria. The first three offer quiet a la carte ordering, while the other two are buffet style. The food overall was good – some nights better than others. We didn’t try Le Bistro – which is an extra Tariff ($10 per person) restaurant but it seemed like a nice spot for a very intimate quiet meal. Overall if you needed a table for two, 4 or 30 the restaurants were able to find you a seat usually with someone new at any time. Generally speaking the service was great. One thing were would have like to have seen was more 24 hour coffee and Tea stations throughout the ship. Usually coffee and tea was available only in the Sports Bar. We understand that the cruise line wants you to buy other drinks, but it would have been a nice touch to not always have to go to deck 12 at the back of the shift for a quick coffee. Finally, it is important for passengers to carefully read the Daily Newspaper on board to find out where and when food will be served. There were many comments by other passengers complaining about food not being available. This was not really true. We found that food was only unavailable during two 30 minute time periods from 6 am to 10 pm each day and you simply needed to have ready the daily newspaper (which also explains all the activities onboard) to point you in the right direction. These two short breaks were just long enough to give the crew time to clean up the buffet service and get it ready for the next meal time.

Ports/Excursions:
A great time was had at all the ports. There are plenty of excursions available both on board the ship and once you disembark in town. Sometimes a better deal can be found from the local providers not associated with the ship, but for ease of mind buying tickets on board can be a good idea. We mostly enjoyed the walking tours available in each town from the local tourism office. Plenty of shopping opportunities are also available in all the ports. We found people in all the ports to be very helpful as well. There is a great amount of scenery to be seen and wildlife to be found.

Sawyer Glacier:
Absolutely breathe taking – we stopped here for almost an hour watching the glacier carving etc. Lots of seals and other wildlife to be seen. Probably the best part of the cruise is the trip up the Tracy Arm Fjord.

Disembarkation:
Very relaxed – NCL offers transfers to the airport etc. We were independent travelers and were able to get up at 8 am, have breakfast and then be ready to disembark when our color was called (colours based on needs – first off are people catching planes etc). We were off the ship at 9:30, easily found our bags and then to Canada Customs. No complaints here at all.

Overall:
Great Cruise! Average age is probably near 55+ but there were almost 100 children on board as well. We had a great time; there are lots of activities for all ages on board. We chose NCL based on the Itinerary and the price. NCL offered an excellent package for the money and we don’t regret the decision to travel with them at all. The freestyle cruising concept is great as well with the most formal clothes required being resort casual – Basically no jeans or tank tops after 5:30 pm – Perfect!

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