Friday, August 07, 2009

Alaskan Cruise: Overall Review

As promised, here is our last post directly related to our Alaskan Cruise! We've taken a number of categories, ranked them from 1 to 10 cruise ships, and provided our commentary on each. We have written these reviews independently, and the comments of the person who rated each category the highest will be listed first.

FOOD

Andrew


The food on this cruise had its ups and downs, but for the most part I was quite pleased. I think what we found was that it takes a day or two to become familiar with what food is served where, and to get into a routine of going to the right places at the right time.

One thing is certain; The food was plentiful, as was clear by our post about our meals. I would have liked to have been more amazed by some of the dishes, and certainly would have liked to see more shrimp, but overall I'll give the food a solid 8.

Natasha


I loved the "freestyle dining". Eat where you want, whenever you want. No set schedules, and no specific places you have to eat. I found the food was plentiful. There was always lots of food and we could eat as much as we wanted. The variety was very good as well. The only thing I would say was slightly below my expectation was the quality. The food was very good but I had heard lots about cruising and I was expecting to be blown away by the food. I would say overall the food experience was a 7/10!

ACCOMMODATION / SERVICE

Andrew


This is a tough one for me because I was not going on this cruise expecting amazing accommodation. We probably could have had a balcony, but decided to save the money because we wanted to be out and about during the cruise, not in our room. The room itself was comfortable and had a surprising amount of storage space. For the first time I realized the benefit of actually unpacking when on a trip instead of living out of a suitcase. The bathroom was probably the most disappointing part of the room, being very airplane-like. Still, for the amount of time we spent in the room, I thought it was decent.

The service also had its ups and downs. The room service was good, and the few problems we had seemed to be resolved quickly. Where things were lacking was the restaurant and bar staff. One waiter was fantastic, the rest were rather bland. As for the bar staff, I'm sure I got a frown or questioning look every time I ordered an ice water (no doubt the least ordered drink on board).

I'm going to rate this a 7 out of 10 and hope to get an 8 next time around.

Natasha


We had a few small issues with our stateroom when we arrived on board. However, the management was quick to fix the problems and even gave us some chocolate covered strawberries for our troubles. A few of the servers we encountered weren't very "friendly"... they just did their jobs and didn't say much. Other times the servers were very friendly so it was about half and half. I would say overall the accommodation and service were a 7/10 as well based on the above average service but considering it could have been slightly better.

ENTERTAINMENT

Natasha

On the Norwegian Sun there was never a reason to be bored. From the games room, library, dance classes, fitness classes, to the nightly entertainment there was always lots going on for every type of person. We attended several art auctions, a first for us, and really enjoyed learning about different artists and types of art. We even won a piece of art in a raffle just for showing up! There were also game shows in the evening featuring guests on board which were lots of fun. The nightly entertainment was always really good. From dancing, singing, to magic and comedy, they were all well rounded and very talented individuals. I would rate the entertainment a 10/10 because I feel I couldn't have been entertained any better!

Andrew


The entertainment aboard the ship can be summed up by a single word: Unbelievable! I guess I'm sort of new to big entertainment, but the quality of singing, dancing, acrobatics, stunts, and music blew me away. We have heard that Norwegian Cruise Lines leans towards better entertainment while other cruise lines focus on food, and I think that's totally fine. The long list of activities throughout the ship made it difficult to choose what to do, and we often made a list in the morning so we would have a bit of a plan.

The only thing stopping me from giving it a full 10 is that I thought the comedian(s) were more silly than funny, and while very much geared towards being family friendly, still contained a few too many innuendos for my conservative-leaning taste. Still, I'm rating this the highest of all the categories and look forward to more of the same next time we cruise.

PORTS OF CALL

Natasha

Ketchikan - 6/10 I found Ketchikan had some very nice parts but also some dumpy parts. Had we done an excursion in Ketchikan we might have had a better idea of what the town was really like... but as it was we chose not to and only did a self-guided walking tour which was nice, but which also took us through some of the not-so-nice parts of town.

Juneau - 8/10 Juneau is the capital of Alaska so it is a very big town. We were only there for a morning and since we chose to sleep in we didn't have a lot of time to explore but we did end up going to see the Mendenhall Glacier which was really beautiful! We also were able to see quite a few eagles on the flats on the way to the glacier (on the bus). I enjoyed our stop there quite a bit.

Tracy Arm Fjord & Sawyer Glacier - 10/10 The fjord was amazing! It was so narrow that we felt like we could almost reach out and touch the towering mountains on either side of us. While going into the Fjord we saw lots of waterfalls, some Eagles, and beautiful towering peaks. Once we reached the Glacier we soaked in the beautiful ice and the many ice bergs all around us. Definitely an experience of a lifetime!

Skagway - 10/10 We had an entire day in Skagway and we took the White Pass Railroad up into the mountains. The train ride was definitely worth the price, we had a great time! The town of Skagway was well laid out, interesting, and attractive. I really enjoyed Skagway, it was my favorite stop!

Andrew

Alaska is a beautiful place, with rugged nature all around. For views of hills, trees, iceburgs, glaciers, and animals, you will not be disappointed. The ports of call are somewhat less exciting. My 6 out of 10 rating should not be taken to mean that I did not enjoy my time off the boat. On the contrary, I did have fun, but I think they are geared towards people who a) love to shop for jewelery, or b) have a suitcase full of cash to pay for excursions which are truly amazing. Being that we didn't fall into either category, we enjoyed a few of the basic excursions, took in the towns on foot, and just enjoyed each others company off the ship for a while.

To make your Ports of Call experience an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10, budget between $1000 and $2000 for your off-shore fun.

OVERALL VALUE

Natasha

I really enjoyed my Alaskan Cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun. I think 8/10 is a really good rating for an overall experience all things considered. Next time we cruise, there's a very good chance we will be cruising once again with NCL. I would say the two things that really stood out for me... 1) The freedom of freestyle dining and 2) The excellent entertainment.

If you're considering a cruise in the near future... take a look at NCL, they're definitely worth consideration!

Andrew

The positives of this cruise far outweighed the negatives, and I would cruise with NCL again. I would even take this same cruise to Alaska, as we now know what to expect and could plan accordingly to make the most of our time and money. Overall, I recommend this cruise to anyone interested in a leisurely and comfortable trip to visit Alaska, the last frontier.

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3 Smart Remarks:

Anonymous Stephanie said...

Looks like a trip worth taking by your reviews!

Going on excursions would definately make it fun! I guess I need to bring that extra suitcase full of money when I go! :)

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Susanna said...

It was nice hearing your detailed reviews! We'll consider the Norwegian Sun if we decide to go on a cruise in the near future.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous e. said...

Good Reviews....Surprized at the amount of $$$$$$$ required for "Off shore fun" !!

11:20 PM  

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