Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: July 15th, 2002
Itinerary: Inside Passage Alaska - Sawyer Glacier
I surprised my mother and took her on the NCL Wind from 7/15/02 to 7/22/02. We did a round trip Cruise from Vancouver traveling through the inside passage and then stopping in Skagway, Haines, Juneau, and finally Ketchikan. Overall, I have to admit that I enjoyed myself on the cruise tremendously and I think the same can be said for my mother. I had read some shaky reviews going into the experience so I was a bit worried but I would say that unless you are extremely critical, you will definitely enjoy the cruise.
This was actually the only really low point of the trip. We had done an air/sea package through NCL and we ended up getting tickets going through Seattle. The “transfer” to the port that they provided us with consisted of a three hour bus ride up to Vancouver. After having traveled all the way to Seattle from the East coast, the last thing my mother and I wanted to do was board a bus for three hours. We tried to change the arrangements with NCL but since we were within two weeks of the cruise date, they said all sorts of penalties would apply so we just stuck with what they gave us. It was extremely tiring (both going to and returning from Vancouver) but at least this was the only really low point of the trip. If you do choose to make air arrangements through NCL, SPECIFY THAT YOU WANT TO GO THROUGH THE CITY WHERE THE PORT IS LOCATED IN!!
This went very smoothly and didn’t take long at all. No complaints!
We had an outside view stateroom with a “large picture window”. Both my mother and I were very pleasantly surprised by the room. It was no place you’d want to be throwing parties in but for two people, it was extremely comfortable. We had a nice little sitting area apart from our bed. The bathroom was a bit small but concerning the fact that I found a hundred better places to spend my time in while aboard the ship, I didn’t mind that much.
Overall, the ship was pretty good. The layout was a bit confusing at first but nothing that you wouldn’t be able to figure out after a day or so. Mostly everything important is located on decks 9, 10, and 11 and once you’ve figured out those three, you’re good. The casino was great and the dealers were very friendly. The experience level of the people gambling was not very high which at times could get a little frustrating if you’ve gambled in the past and you’re used to a very smooth gambling experience but it was rarely a problem. The Stardust lounge where all the big shows were held was very impressive and was a good size. Rarely did we have too much of a problem finding a seat during a show, even if we arrived late.
The food on the ship varied. Some nights it was ok and others it was excellent. Of the three major dining rooms, the Trattoria, the Terraces, and the Four Seasons, we like the first two the best just because they were a little smaller and therefore more quaint. Overall, all three were very good though and we frequented each equally. “Le Bistro” which is the more formal dining room that includes a $10 cover was definitely not worth it. We ate there one night and the service was slow and the food was nothing special. Doing it all over again, I would not have wasted any extra money there.
One other thing about the dining rooms that I liked was that if you ordered a bottle of wine but did not finish it, they would keep it for you and you could have it whenever else during the cruise you wanted to. That way, there was no pressure to finish any bottles of wine in a single evening because you always (except for the last night) would have another opportunity to enjoy them.
These were some of the best parts of the trip for me. In the first port, Skagway, we did the Sawtooth Mountain Nature Hike which was a 5 mile hike. I actually wanted to do the 9 hour Laughton Glacier hike which I had repeatedly been told was incredible but I didn’t think my mother would be able to handle it. Anyways, the hike I did take was great and it is really an experience to hike up there. The landscape is so different because of the historic presence of glaciers there that it was not only breathtaking but also extremely educational to take the hike.
In Juneau, we took what was probably the most incredible (and most expensive) excursion. We did the 4 Glacier Helicopter ride with the dog-sledding. For me, the helicopter ride was nothing less than incredible. I felt like I was in a movie and whoever was writing the script was a genius. The scenery was nothing less than extraordinary and the fact that the pilot played some chill trance, café del mar-esque type of music during the ride made it all the better. Anyways, dog-sledding on one of the glaciers was quite the experience as well and I would definitely recommend it. Just watch out for the bite it will take out of your wallet!
Lastly, I did the mountain point snorkeling in Ketchikan which was very cool and very cold! The full body wetsuit they provided definitely made it bearable but I was still shivering a bit. Anyways, we saw really cool jellyfish, huge starfish (three feet in diameter!!), and other cool things like sea cucumbers.
We stopped here for about an hour or so and it was really breathtaking. Not only the glacier, but also the approach to it was really an experience. Such beauty!
Great Cruise! My only caveat is to people in my age group (18-28) because there were very few of us aboard. When they saw the average age of the people on the cruise is 57, believe them. But as long as you come with someone you enjoy spending time with, you should be okay! I’m definitely going to make it back to Alaska at some point in my life. For the first time, I think taking a cruise was an excellent choice. NCL exceeded my expectations and I really have no complaints. I found an excellent deal with them (which is why I chose them) and I don’t regret my decision in the least.