Since I can't post this all at once, I will submit it with an overview first and then arranged by date and activity. I will include pictures although a few more in our photo album and more to be added.
This was the very first Vancouver to Seward sailing by the Jewel so we didn't have much history to base it on as far as timings and activities but we had a lot of fun. I captured the dallies and will post them as well but in the mean time, if anyone wants them, let me know.
Itinerary and cabin.
Our cruise was for our 30th wedding anniversaryand was 2 couples, myself and my wife (60+) and her sister and husband(50+). It was our 3rd Alaskacruise and their 1st. Webooked over a year in advance. We chose this cruise specifically for theitinerary. When originally booked, itwas on the NCL Sun which wouldn’t have been our choice had it not been thisroute. It was later changed to the NCLJewel which was a much better option. The main considerations were a northbound tour that did Glacier Bay andpreferably Hubbard Glacier. Most cruiselines do Hubbard only on Southbound cruises. We preferred northbound because the scenery gets more spectacular as itgoes. That is, starting with capped hills,leading to snow capped mountains, glaciers, and ultimately Denali instead ofthe other way around. We also chose portside balcony rooms mid ship. Whileconventional wisdom says the starboard is better for northbound, from myexperience, Glacier Bay is better enjoyed from a port cabin. See notes below on Glacier Bay fordetails. We were in 10604 and 10606, adjoining cabinsthat we had opened so we could occasionally communicate without going out inthe hall or over the balcony. We werehappy with the rooms, they were convenient to the elevators and allactivities. We did some noise from thekid’s club and arcade but typically only during the day. Because of the weather we hit during thecruise, some of the outside kid activities were forced inside so the roomsunder it on the 11th deck were likely quite noisy at times so cabinsto avoid just in case.
Great itinerary. Ithink it is one of the best options available with long port times, Glacier Bayand Hubbard Glacier, in a northbound cruise.
Ship officers. Creditgoes to Steven Jacobsen, the hotel director, but this was one of the best crewsI have sailed with.
Entertainment – overall was pretty good, a few exceptions,but NCL does a good job of providing a variety of optins
The not as good
Bingo / Deal or No Deal – the cost outweighs the potentialwinnings
Smoking in the casino – I know its tradition, but notdesirable for the average person these days.
Photos – always expensive on cruise ships, but we typicallybuy a few. The pictures that theyprinted out had some filter process applied that made your teeth very white andalso highlighted other white areas and for us looked very unnatural. We got a number of different answers aboutthem but eventually talked to someone that said if we committed to buying them,they can reprint without it. I talked with a few others and they didn’t haveas obviously bad photos as our original so it may depend on the photo itself butdon’t accept them if you don’t like it.
Cabin Steward – every cabin steward has their ownstyle. On this cruise, ours was verylow key. We didn’t actually see her muchat the start but finally we did see her more regularly. We found that she relied on us setting thedial outside our room to make up or turn down the room which we didn’toriginally do.
Now for our complete trip report…
We flew into Portland and rented a car. For $400, we had a 3-day rental from Alamothat we could drop off at Canada Place. This worked well for us to visit family along the way and still reachVancouver the day before.
It was a nice drive up with the only unexpected delay ofover an hour and a half at Canadian customs. Be sure to watch the road signs to see which of the 2 routes offer theleast wait times, but still expect some delay and plan accordingly.
In Vancouver, we stayed at the Sandman Hotel. The first impression of the hotel was verydirty looking from the outside. But theinterior was much nicer and the rooms were comfortable and we had no complaints. While probably true of any hotel in thedowntown area, it was convenient to everything. Hobson street was 2 blocks up, the Gas light district was 4 blocks down. Canada Place was a bit further and an easywalk without suitcases. The Soccer/Footballstadium was right next door and the couple we were traveling with even took ina match.
Our activity the day before leaving was the Capilano Suspensionbridge. One of the free shuttles leftjust 2 blocks from the hotel. There was rain in the area, but after checkingthe weather, we felt a 10am start would work. By the time we got there, the weather in the area had cleared. They weren’t any crowds at this point, andwe were able to buy tickets enter quickly. We had considered buying the tickets online but since we weren’t sure wewould do it, we waited. We both got $4discounts (hotel guest and AAA) which we wouldn’t have got online. When we left the lines were longer andclearly at peak times could be long so buying online is probably the bestoverall but waiting worked for us. Thebridge and surrounding area was very nice. The bridge was fun to cross and the cliff walk interesting, but wereally enjoyed the tree top walk and rain forest trails on the opposite side ofthe bridge. We hadn’t anticipated thisgoing in, but we spent the majority of time over there.
Returning back to Vancouver, we considered stopping atStanley Park, but everyone was ready for lunch and a rest break so wedidn’t. A lot to see on a futurevisit.
In the evening, we walked down to the Gas light district,checked out the clock, did a bit of shopping and grabbed dinner. Everyone was raring to go cruising the next day.
When we had completed our online check-in, our check in timewas 9:30-10:00. That was a lot earlierthan we had planned to go but come morning, we were ready so went ahead andleft. Because we had our bags, wegrabbed 2 taxis at the hotel to Canada Place. They took us right to the bag drop off. One challenge is the Taxi credit cardmachines did not work at this level of the parking garage so we ended payingcash ($10 US). If we hadn’t had thecash, they driver said he would need to go out and then come back in.
We got to the check in area and there were about 100 peoplethere. We grabbed a seat and waited fora while before they started checking us in. It went relatively smooth and we proceeded to customs, this also wentquick as there were no lines and we were in the next waiting area by shortlyafter 11. They said that boarding wouldbegin at 11:30 but that ended up being delayed because the crew was performinga safety drill. We were on the boat bynoon. That of course meant time to hitthe buffet and grab a seat by the window.
Rooms were ready at1:30 and we got our first chance to check out the staterooms. A surprise to us was that our wife’s sisterhad purchased an anniversary package for our room so it was decorated withstreamers and balloons. It wasn’t acomplete surprise because the package showed up in our NCL account. I had noticed it and hadn’t mentioned it tomy wife, but I thought it was our travel agent that purchased it. It would have been nice if it could havebeen tracked on their room so it would have been a complete surprise.
Since we boarded early, we checked out a few things aroundthe ship but a lot wasn’t open yet but it gave us a chance to relax.
Our departure time was listed as 4:00 PM but left at 5:00after the typical emergency talk. Thesail away party kicked off and we sailed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and were on our way.
Well, almost. About an hour out of Vancouver, the shipmade an unexpected U turn and we were on our way back toward Vancouver. It was quite a while after we turned, buteventually there was an announcement that they had to do a medicalevacuation. We had to wait for theCoast Guard by boat to arrive and it was a couple of hours later that wefinally were on our way again.
We had reservations at Le Bistro for that evening and hadplanned to be sailing but were still in the outer harbor but it was still anenjoyable meal. This restaurant has adress code of no jeans and a collared shirt for men and it was generallyfollowed. The meal was excellent. We really enjoyed the French Onion soup (astep above the French Onion in the main dining rooms). My wife said she could eat the 4 somethingall day long.
After a beautiful sunset, we were ready for bed and skippedthe welcome aboard show.
next post day 2 (A sea day)