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karatemom2

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Everything posted by karatemom2

  1. Wow, what a scary experience. You guys really saved the day. We had a deck 9 balcony as well and I never realized when we booked it would have that overhang extending just below. Imagine my surprise when two crew members walked by one morning right after I had been changing. Generally you have a certain expectation of privacy in your room and I was shocked. Didn’t realize my open balcony window was fair game. Thankfully I was decent but had they walked by 15 minutes earlier while I was dressing they might have gotten an eyeful! We won’t be booking cabins on that level again. I think NCL should warn people occupying those spaces if they are going to have crew working out there so they know to close the drapes.
  2. We recently returned from the Encore and brought back several packages of smoked salmon, an Ulu knife and even a couple of small carved pocket knives (OK as long as under 4 inches). They will check your bags as you return to the ship. We were fine - but the boys behind us with bananas in their backpacks got flagged and their fruit was confiscated.
  3. We just got back from the Encore and while all the activities are very cool, our focus on Alaska cruises is really the ports and so we didn't have much time to really do as much on board as we might have liked. I think we will save the mega ships for less port intensive trips. The Sun looks like a lovely ship after its refurb and honestly reminds me of the Grand Class Princess ships which we have always been our favorite. We booked the 9 day Alaska cruise on the NCL Sun next May and are very much looking forward to trying out one of NCL's smaller and more traditional cruise ship options without all the flash, but providing a really great Alaska itinerary!
  4. I get the whole relax and just go with the flow vibe being expressed by many - but some of us, like my group, had private excursions booked well in advance that we had planned and paid for and so it isn't always just a matter of trying to beat the next guy to town. We had a tour waiting for us that was holding up other people so we could make it - so yes, we needed to rush. Keep in mind, when I booked our 2:30 tour in ISP, our port time was supposed to be 1 p.m. I am very careful to allow time when doing private excursions. When they announced the day before that they were adjusting the arrival time to 3 p.m., I immediately reached out to the vendor and they were able to adjust our excursion to a 3:45 start time. Thinking we would be able to get off the ship at 3, that still allowed us time. In reality, we didn't get docked and start disembarking until 3:30 p.m. - and then getting off was a crowd of chaos because EVERYONE who had either private or shore excursions was trying to leave at the same time as we were already 2 and half hours beyond when some tours were supposed to begin. We are very lucky that we were working with such a great vendor. But there were also people with private whale watching, bear tours and fishing excursions that were equally pressed. So, it's all well to go with the flow and I try to be that person. But this was a very stressful and unpleasant situation and I was certainly not alone in my frustration.
  5. Just a word to the wise - if you want to do the small boat tour book it as soon as possible! We have done it twice on our own during long Juneau port days and it is spectacular! When I saw that it was an option with NCL on our scenic cruising day I was so excited. But when I went to book it, it was already full. They have very limited space and can only take a small group so BOOK EARLY. It is worth every penny!
  6. Thank you for saying this - and I didn’t fault the people on ship tours who were being escorted to the front of the gondola line ahead of us. We actually saw two different groups going to the front led by the NCL Shorex staff. First, you do pay for that privilege and second, they were scrambling to get things on track as well because we were so late. I was just stressed and frustrated because we were trying so hard to reach our private tour and kept running into one obstacle after another. But fortunately everything worked out in the end. My only point is that NCL needs to do some work on smoothing out this process at ISP because it’s a mess. I hope they figure it out before they start running with a full ship!
  7. We just booked the Sun for Alaska next summer - couldn't resist the itinerary! We have viewed videos of the newly refurbished ship and it looks wonderful. We love smaller ships. Would love to hear suggestions for those that have cruised on the Sun about things that make it special.
  8. Positive PCR tests are generally the gold standard and I believe I read that the refund policy states if you test positive anytime within 14 days of your cruise you would be denied boarding. So as long as you had a legitimate PCR test that documented your positive results, NCL would have to accept that and issue a refund. No one should be expected to travel once they have a confirmed positive - that would fly in the face of all public health guidelines.
  9. We were on last week and didn't hear of any positive cases onboard - however, our room steward was off sick one day which made us a little nervous, but he was back the next so assuming he was fine. They wouldn't have let him work if he had been positive. In Ketchikan a fellow passenger told us she saw some crew in hazmat suits removing plastic wrapped luggage, so that sent up a bit of a red flag. And apparently some people have stated they saw a couple being wheeled of the last day by crew in hazmat suits. So I guess it is possible - but absolutely nothing was shared with the passengers about it. Unfortunately given the current situation it is bound to happen even with how very careful NCL is being. I also heard that this CDC number could be impacted by the people who show up positive at port and are denied boarding, so that could be the case as well if a few people who arrived last Saturday to board tested positive. It's tough traveling right now!
  10. Well never say never, haha! In my review I noted that we would likely choose Princess over NCL for Alaska, but I guess I have to eat my words because we just used our shiny new cruise credit to book a 9 day Alaska trip on the NCL Sun next summer. We couldn't resist the awesome itinerary that added Sitka and Hubbard Glacier and the lovely smaller ship that is reminiscent of the ships we loved when we started cruising. I meant the megaships are fun with lots of activities and pizzazz, but there is just something about the more traditional, smaller ships that really makes me feel like I'm on a cruise in the old school style. So I guess we are really becoming NCL cruisers now!
  11. You are super easy going!! I admire that. My head was about to explode with the whole ordeal. We had a private tour scheduled and they had already been kind enough to change the time for us when I notified them we would be two hours late - but then we were even later and we couldn't even get off the ship in a timely way due to the absolute mass of people trying to exit all at once. I was a ball of stress. And then to get off and see the line for the gondola - we were so so late! Someone said the walk took 40 minutes so we waited in the gondola line hoping that would be quicker. It probably was about the same - I don't know. I was just so mad and stressed and not in proper vacation head mode at that moment because we were so looking forward to our canoe trip and thought we were going to miss it. But those dear people waited for us and held everyone else going up so we could make it. But I felt terrible that we inconvenienced others and just wish it could have been an easier and less stressful process to navigate that port.
  12. So sorry about the rough start in ISP. We had the identical experience getting off the ship last week. It was complete chaos. NCL has some work to do in smoothing out the rough edges for that particular port. Hope you find smoother sailing ahead!
  13. I posted a similar comment on my review thread, but thought I would share here since this discussion is specific to the topic. Ward Cove is a beautiful area. It has hiking trails and fishing at Ward Lake nearby and Totem Bight Park and Settler’s Cove aren’t very far away. If you had transportation options to reach these areas it would be a great location for those wanting to explore nature. The location at the dock was an old pulp factory - lots of history there that may be very interesting if it is tied in to what is being developed there. There are small docks for tour boats to pick people up and return them in the Cove as well which could be great for water based tours. It definitely has potential and may be very nice in time. The problem at the moment is NCL has chosen to use it as a base before all of this has been completed and the local transportation providers were not prepared either. The rental car company we use there said they commonly rent cars to people coming in on the ships, but it is a solid 30 to 40 minute round trip drive for their shuttle so it has thrown them for a bit of a loop. They can’t be driving back and forth all day - it’s a small office. But if it eventually provides enough business they may invest in a second shuttle and driver - time will tell. Right now you can tell they find it all a big hassle. By all appearances it was running much more smoothly for our trip then it was the week before and the shuttle was free which was a welcomed change. But it is still very much a work in progress.
  14. What a great review and photos!! We were on the same cruise with you as well and really had a great time. Totally agree that the crew was the nicest and friendliest crew we have ever had on any cruise. And we had a similar experience with Cagney's - definitely a disappointment. We loved Le Bistro though! We are going through the cruise withdrawal right along with you - it went too fast!
  15. Yes, that is the same reason we were given last week. I think rough seas are common this time of year and they have scheduled a very tight timeline to get from Seattle to Icy Strait Point for a 1 p.m. port time that clearly doesn't allow for much variance so it would just make sense to adjust it so it is more realistic. It's very hard on the Shore Excursions folks to have to make all of these last minute changes, not to mention on people who have private excursion plans.
  16. I think NCL needs to revise their port time for Icy Strait Point. This is the third week in a row they have been very late. The first week missing the port due to a medical evac was understandable, but there have been no such issues the last two weeks and yet they are still over two hours late. If they can't make it by 1 p.m. they should just acknowledge it and change the port times for future cruises so people can plan accordingly.
  17. Well I wish I hadn't forgotten my curling iron, but I managed, haha! I wore a hat a lot in ports anyway. Packing is subjective so it all depends on what you plan, but because we like to hike I was very glad I packed good hiking boots and comfy socks. The weather was good, but still very cold at some times, especially in Skagway where the wind picked up and it was very rainy in Juneau - so I was glad I packed layers and a rain poncho. I like to wear jeans, boots, a turtleneck and a pullover or two depending on how cold it is. Then I can shed layers as it warms up or as I get too hot from hiking. We did have a couple of umbrellas but didn't really use them much - I prefer to just wear a rain poncho or waterproof pullover with hood so I don't have to carry anything. I forgo a purse on these trips and bring a good backpack instead - so much easier for stowing jackets as they come off, rain ponchos, binoculars, snacks, etc. I didn't use my gloves much, but was happy to have them when it got pretty chilly a couple of time. We didn't get super dressed up, but I did bring a couple of nicer outfits to wear for our specialty dinners at Cagney's and Le Bistro. And I'm not a big gym person, but my daughter is, so if that is the case, be sure to bring some gym clothes and tennies. And of course a swimsuit if you want to do the slides, pool or jaccuzzi. Have fun!!
  18. Yes we got the offer I believe on Tuesday of our trip. It was $29.95 for a bag of laundry. Well worth it - we got everything back the same day!
  19. The experience and food at Le Bistro was extraordinary - totally what you would expect from a highly elevated dining experience. Every appetizer, entree and dessert was not only delicious but beautifully presented. My husband said his filet with the foie gras topping may have been the best thing he has ever eaten! There wasn’t a single miss for any of us in our group of 5 and we all ordered a variety of different things. I would give it 4.5 stars (only taking away a half because they did not have escargot even though it’s on the menu which disappointed a few of my crew). We had high hopes for Cagney’s based on our experience with the specialty steak house we have enjoyed on Princess but it didn’t really live up to our expectations. It was typical steak house fare that you could get at a Black Angus or Outback. The crab cake and lobster bisque appetizers were very fishy tasting, especially the soup which three of us who ordered it agreed on - taking only a few spoonfuls and pushing it away. The wedge salad and French onion soup were good but nothing really more impressive in taste or presentation then when we ordered them in the main dining rooms - just a larger portion. The sides were fine - nothing extra special, though the cream corn was delicious. The steaks were mixed - 3 of us ordered medium well, 2 ordered medium. One medium well was perfect, one a bit underdone and mine was charred - definitely well. One medium was fine, one was definitely medium rare. Just really inconsistent. We aren’t the send it back kind of people and nothing was inedible - just a let down. Desserts were similarly disappointing - I had better in the buffet. It just wasn’t what I would have expected from a really elevated steak dining experience, especially for what is being charged. I would give it 3 stars and that is being generous. We heard very good things about Onde and Ocean Blue so I’m looking forward to trying those options on a future cruise.
  20. Ward Cove is a beautiful area. It has hiking trails and fishing at Ward Lake nearby and Totem Bight and Settler’s Cove aren’t very far away. If you had transportation options to reach these areas it would be a great location for those wanting to explore nature. The location at the dock was an old pulp factory - lots of history there that may be very interesting if it is tied in to what is being developed there. There are small docks for tour boats to pick people up and return them in the Cove as well. It definitely has potential and may be very nice in time. The problem at the moment is NCL has chosen to use it as a base before all of this has been completed and the local transportation providers were not prepared either. The rental car company we use there said they commonly rent cars to people coming in on the ships, but it is a solid 30 minute round trip drive for their shuttle so it has thrown them for a bit of a loop. They can’t be driving back and forth all day - it’s a small office. But if it eventually provides enough business they may invest in a second shuttle and driver - time will tell. Right now you can tell they find it all a big hassle. By all appearances it was running more smoothly for our trip then it was the week before and the shuttle was free which was a welcomed change. But it is still very much a work in progress.
  21. It is in the smaller arcade located right next to The Local. $2.26 per game. It’s a lot of fun if the ship isn’t moving too much.
  22. Yes!! That was definitely us. We stopped for a bit there as she told us a legend about that cliff. Thank you so much for sharing that photo. I told my husband after that I wish I had a photo of us paddling in the canoe but of course that is kind of hard to do while you are in it. We were honestly so rushed getting to the excursion and then rushing away right after to get to the bear watch excursion that we got zero photos so I will really cherish this one. Thank you!!
  23. Our cabin had inside connecting doors so we did not plan to use it as a passageway either. We just wanted to enjoy the expanded space for viewing as well. We spent a great deal of time out on our balconies and it was fine. Just missed that added sense of being able to enjoy it together.
  24. Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. Thank you so much for your thoughtful advice. You are too kind.
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