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Dream Cruise to Alaska 7/21/05


alderaniandad

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Ok folks, I have read the other comments on the Dream and now it is time for me to speak out. I will try be be analytical and fair to all. My daughter and I had an absolutely wonderful time on this trip. She really has not come back yet. The crew was fantastic - the weather, very co-operative, the ship - smaller but with graceful lines and a litttle difficault to navigate around but about the third day it all comes together. What I found difficult to take was the rudeness displayed by some of the passengers to both their shipmates and to the crew. There were displays of snobbery by a number of the passengers that I personally felt were uncalled for. I guess you put 1700 people in a very local area and you will see it all. The only other thing aboard thaat was irritating was the smoking. The starboard side of the ship tending to draw the smokers and the port side the non-smokers. Obviously we stayed on the port side but passing through the casino could gag you at times. Some very humerous incidents that you can't help but chuckle over - an elderly man berating the fitness director for not telling him where the other fitness center was on the ship (there is only one). And then his wife starting in on the quality of the ice cream to the same poor fitness director. This went on for 15 minutes and I just had to watch. The fitness director was from South Africa (I think) and was so gracious and patient with these folks. All I did was wink at her and smile. You could see the twinkle in her eye. She understood.

One interesting story kinda told the story of what the crew endures. When we arrived at the terminal at pier 66, we were handled very efficiently and a lot smoother that I anticipated. We were given #14 to board and as we were waiting I spotted the hospitality table with juices, coffee and cookies. As I went over, I noticed the table tended by a crewmember. Her name was Renee (a bar steward from the Sports Bar). I said hello and called her by name and her mouth just fell open in surprise. She replied to me and I will never forget -- "Thank you for recognizing me." I then had the idea of what the crew deals with. Understand that these crewmembers sign on for 10 months, working 7 days a week for 12 hours a day. I think a little courtesy is in order.

Now special people on this cruise I want to recognize

Corina - Maitre De in the Four Seasons Restaurant - charming woman from Romania - I thought she was exceptional

Jonathan (Bong-agent 008) - bar steward at the Coffee Bar - ask him about his "bar rat". He was kind enough to make white roses out of paper napkins for my daughter. He also has a great trick with a cup of mocha latte.

Philmore - table steward in the Terraces Restaurant. Wonderful man from Jamaica. Went way beyond in making us feel special.

Captain Mogic - it just is not fair. You will see what I mean when you meet him. Just a wonderful charming human being and runs a good ship. Gave my daughter special attention which she will never forget. There are so mant others that I regret I can not remember all the names. Suffice to say, we were treated exceptionally well and will sail NCL again.

The issue with Sitka is not the fault of the crew or the ship. That is in my opinion a corporate blunder. I was aware of the problem through this website as soon as it happened and chose to stay with the itinerary as it is not being repeated next year and the future is uncertain. Corporate did notify the booking agents but somehow the word was not passed to passengers. We got our notification from our booking agent the Monday prior to departure. Not very timely but again not the crews doing. To me it would have been better PR to compensate passengers as they boarded rather that wait to tell them to call customer relations. I think that would have toned down the "heat" generated through poor PR and possibly saved a few clients. But sometimes the "suits" look at numbers and lose perspective on PR. Those "suits" should have been on board to take the "heat" off the crew.

The engine problem also caused another minor but noticable problem. Harmonic vibration in the aft end of the ship as the port side propeller seemed to be generating about half the revolutions as the starboard side. Not being in synch seemed to cause the vibration. Interesting in the shops on 10 deck when the windchimes would tingle with the vibration. We could not feel it in our cabin however.

Food? I would rate the restaurants as very good. Le Bistro (cover charge) was intimate and exceptional. Service was excellent. The buffet was good - especially for mass produced food that can sit for a bit before being consumed. I read complaints about the eggs at breakfast. I don't eat eggs! But I found the scrambles eggs to be good and I ate them each time we had breakfast at the buffet. And this brings us the the "freestyle concept". Personally, I like it as you are not under the gun to get back from a tour or run to have breakfast before youo leave the ship and you eat when you have the time. And if you have a table mate that you do not mesh with --- well, it is not permanent. We had that on one occasion and though interesting not something I would want to repeat. So next meal you have someone else to get to know. And if you get along then you can meet up again elsewhere as we did with some great folk that we can now say are friends. "Freestyle" is not for everyone (especially those "stuffed shirts"). I think NCL has hit a niche market that will serve them well in the long run.

Entertainment? I will mention those things we did see. There is a lot going on all the time, so you kinda pick and choose what interests you.

Gotta mention Charles Nahale (singer at the Coffee Bar in the evening) A fantastic voice with that Hawaiian "Aloha Spirit". Found him on the third or fouth night and kinda "hung out" there until we were ready for dinner.

Loved the "Nearly Newlywed Game". The answers were hilarious.

Then there was Doctor Trance, a hypnotherapist who put on a fantastic show with subjects chosen from the auidience. So many stories to tell.

Scenery? Fantastic!!!! Saw all sorts of wildlife. A large group of Humpbacks near Alexandria Island (very early in the morning - only eight of us stupid enough to be up that early in the morning). And on the way back, a group of dolphins using the ship as cover while getting clear of a pod of Orcas about a mile away. My daughter has all the data on that.

Tours? For us were good. We limited ourselves to one a port as we didn't want to run ourselves to ground. We can always come back. Some folks were returning to the ship exhausted from running around from touor to tour. Now, one interesting tidbit here. As we were late arriving due to one medical emergency (there were two -- we had a baby born on the ship in Skagway - a 7 month premie - they were airlifted out -- and healthy.) But anyway the tour desk rebooked all the early tours to later times and got the information to the passengers. We chose not to book early tours just because of the early times and feeling rushed (I am on vacation). We booked afternoon tours as time permitted and never felt as though we had to do a tour. If it fit, we did it. If not, we didn't.

One last thing - the layout of the ship. I have read lots of complaints here on the difficulty in getting around. We did not seem to have that problem. I watched the crew at the "sail away barbecue" on the pool deck. It is not easy for them either. They had to haul everything out from the aft galley up and down stairs to the service area and then haul it all back when the party was over. So please have a bit of empathy for the crew as they try to make your lives a bit better and more enjoyable. And --- just go have fun, drop all the pretenses and enjoy the ride.

Oh!! The condition of the ship ------ they are doing a lot of work on her while underway. She was always clean and tidy. They were refinishing the railings while we were on board and painting the inner service areas. A very nice ship not too big and not too small.

And again to Captain Mogic and his crew - thank you for a wonderful experience and depending on how customer relations handles the Sitka issue for us, we look forward to sailing with you out of Houston next Spring.

A pleasure to meet you and may you and the crew be blessed with a following breeze.

Kim (Dad) and Kimberly (Daughter) Rolls

Woodland, California

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Real quick story here. We missed the Captain's reception the second night out and the photo op that went with it. So knowing that after Prince Rupert would be an optional formal night, I went to the front desk to ask if there would be another photo op and was politely informed that none was scheduled. I was visable disappointed as my daughter was wanting that photo. The desk clerk informed me that I could write a letter to the Captain and make the request but there would be no guarantee. The next morning when we got back from breakfast our room had been prepared and the copy of "Freestyle" was waiting and to my surprise there was a photo op at 7:00 that night. I may have been in the room for 10 minutes when a call came in from the front desk informing me that the Captain had received our letter and thanked us for asking. He was requesting our presence at the photo op that night.. So we ended up with a family picture with the Captain and one of her and Captain Mogic and then Kemel (the photographer) wanted to take one of her solo. Those photos are her treasure from the cruise. Just one of many examples on this cruise of the extra effort the Captain and his crew went to to make the trip special. If you wonder --- she was the one in the white gown, who looked like a princess and felt like one too. And Captain Mogic had wonderful words for her the next day after the crew farewell.

 

Hey and does Soozy have a voice or what!!!

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Thanks for your review. We found the same thing as you when we were on the Dream last fall -- extremely rude passengers but a very kind, courteous staff. We observed one passenger treating staff very rudely and then coming on this board talking about how rude the staff were. I know different. There are always two sides to the story.

 

Glad you enjoyed your cruise.

 

Sue

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You are most welcome Kara. One more tidbit if I may. Following the photo op with Captain Mogic, my daughter wrote him a note expressing her appreciation for his crew and the wonderful experience she had over the last eleven days and when she was returning to our cabin a steward was bringing her a wonderful and warm reply which she is having framed for her vacation wall in her room. It is those small things that make a trip exceptional. She was impressed that the Captain would actually take the time to respond.

BTW --- Chocaholic's Buffet was quite a show. According to the chef in charge, it takes three days in the galley to get it all together.

One difficult item for me was the amount of daylight. The futher north you go, the longer it stays light. There were a couple of days (going into and out of Seward) where I only got 4 hrs. sleep as it was light outside and I didn't want to miss anything.

Anything else? Just ask.

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Wow! Thanks for the wonderful information! We're booked on the 9/1 sailing, 11 day cruise. Did you book your excursions thru the ship, or on your own once you were in port? What tours do you recommend? Where was your cabin? We are booked in 7053. What kinds of activities were offered on the sea days? Thanks again for your positive, upbeat comments!

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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I'll be on 9/1 also (Hi, Seashellt) and am really looking forward to the Dream. Good to see another cruiser with a satisfying experience.

 

Kathy, try a search using 'cruiseclues norwegian dream' and you should get a whole page of links, many with photos. Also, check shipcafe - Steve says he took photos of Dream in Seattle which he will be posting eventually. Search using '360 degree ship tours' should produce a page with virtual tours of many ships, including Dream.

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Hi again --- yes I do have pics of the ship (are you kidding???). Between my daughter and I, we shot 22 rolls of 35MM film. In the process of sorting it all out. The ship also has a very good selection in the photo shop. The photos that are best were shot at Hubbard Glacier in June

 

We chose to be on 4 deck to minimize motion. It was Kimmi's first cruise and I didn't want her to be motion sick. I am aware how rough it can be in the Gulf of Alaska on the way to Seward and back. We had 8 to 10 foot swells on the way in and fairly calm leaving. Had one day where we had a head sea and the ship was throwing bow waves out about 50 feet or so and the misty spray would come back up on the forward promanade -- very neat feeling. Another neat sight is to sit midship on deck 12 and face the stern and watch the ship "wag her butt". Can't feel anything but you can watch her move --- verrrry cool.

Another neat sight is to watch the other cruise ships in port and as you pass one another. When we left Juneau, it was midnite and Celebrity's Mercury had left and hour before (very beautiful with the lights and all) and we moved laterally away from the pier and backed away alongside Summit. We were taking pics of them and them of us (a big party). They were calling over to us "Where are you headed?" Turned out they were headed to Skagway too. Just a great comraderie between folks.

At Hubbard Glacier we saw Seven Seas Navigator leaving, Oosterdam leaving and shared time with Serenade of the Seas.

One thing I really liked about this itinerary is the the ports were not flooded with cruise ships. We had 2 at Ketchikan; 3 at Juneau, 4 at Skagway and from then on we were it. Nice to not be crowded.

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We did book our excursions through the ship. I think it is a bit safer in that the ship won't leave until you are back and the staff will re-book your tour if there is a delay. Those who wish to work on their own assume the risk.

 

Sea day activities are all listed in the ship's daily newsletter and are plentiful. The trivia sessions are fun and there are some really tough questions asked.

We preferred to roam the ship, catch naps and visit with friends. I think we just really enjoyed being at sea and the relaxation. Hard coming back to reality.

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I called customer relations today and was told that they would not offer any compensation at all. Told me to fax or mail a letter to them and they would respond in 7-10 days. I don't know if I feel like battling this, especially since we had such a wonderful vacation anyway.

 

Please let me know if you get a different response.

 

Roni

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Thanks so much for the review. We were on the May 30th cruise, our first to Alaska. We had a wonderfull time also, and the crew was exceptional!! Always greated you with a smile, a good morning and even sometimes by name, and we always returned the courtesy. It dismay's me as to the rough reviews of this ship and crew in recent weeks. We made Sitka, but trying to get to shore was a problem. I am sorry you and other folks missed this port as it was beautifull, even though we only had a short time there because of the problem with the waves and boats trying to get loaded and to shore.

 

Again Thanks for the extensive information you have shared, I was beginning to wonder if I was even on the same ship as some of the poster's.

 

Wish NCL would repeat the 10 and 11 day, if not next season at least for 2007 when we will be going back.

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Sounds like you had a wonderful time :-)

 

I read somewhere that someone said there were movies everynight at 11 -- do you know if they are still doing this?

 

I am looking forward to hearing what people are hearing after calling CS and after sending in their faxes. I am upset over losing Sitka and strongly feel we are ALL entitiled to the $50 PP OBC and will be faxing them upon our return. That being said, we all plan on another wonderfu Alaskan cruise!

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I enjoyed reading the reviews. We are considering sailing from Houston after the first of the year on Dream. We have done this itinerary before with Norweigan and loved it, but on a different ship.

 

I am wondering about getting around on the ship. I have read that the mid-section "insertion" had caused a lot of stair climbing to get across the ship. I'm not sure what the reviewer really means by that. I walk with a cane and HAVE to take the elevators. I would like to hear some opionions on the difficulty or ease of getting around this ship.

 

I am also wondering if anyone had kids in kid's club. Our experiences in the past were very good, but it has been awhile and I am wondering if Norweigan has kept up with the other lines as far as a quality kid's program. Any and all opionions are helpful. Thanks!

Debbie

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Ok, let's try to answer these questions. Getting around the ship ----- not that bad. Here's the scoop. Midship elevators only go up to deck 11. Forward and aft elevators go up to deck 12. Sports Bar (buffet) and the Observatory are on deck 12 so planning is essential to avoid stairs.

Now as for the Kid's Club --- the younger children appeared to have a ball and were well attended for with lots of activities. The teens didn't appear to want to be in the program and hung out in groups throughout the ship. We seemed to have quite a number of kids on the trip, probably close to 80 or so, ranging from 17 yrs.to just a few months in age. There did not appear to be older teens on this cruise and my daughter (17) felt kinda left out as the 15 and under crowd was "just too immature" for her taste. So she enjoyed getting to know the crew and finding out all about them.

One helpful hint that you will get used to --- all the elevators face aft, so the port side (as you get off) will always be on your right and the starboard on your left. Took a day or two to figure out. Feel real dumb getting lost all the time. Figure out what side of the ship your cabin is one and plant the thought "turn _____ to get home". Hope it helps!

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RE: the movies ---- they had "Popcorn Movie Matinee" in the afternoon while in Ketchikan, at 4:00 in Juneau, at 1:30 while in Skagway, at 3:30 in Seward and 2:00 in Prince Rupert. So there you have it. Never saw any of them as we were off ship but you could catch movies on TV in your stateroom --- if you're ever there.

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Sorry to keep going on but things come to mind. About the bad reviews ---- we were talking to one of the entertainers that gave a marvelous show the evening before and the subject of irate people came up. I have concluded and he did also that about 15% of the passengers on board are just miserable in their lives and expect the ship to cure it all. They bring their misery on board and want to "share" their misery with everyone else. Then there are the 25% that just want to have a blast - they are a happy bunch and roll with the punches and the other 60% fall in between. Very simply -- choose where and who you want to be with.

As we were waiting for our shuttle to arrive after leaving the ship, this elderly (very) came up the sidewalk dragging her suitcase behind her, waving off attempts of the porters to help her. She asked one of the crew if this was were she checked in for the cruise and the response was yes. She then asked where she was to put her suitcase and was politely told that baggage check in was about about 100 feet away which brought about a sharp, angry retort "That's what I asked you in the first place!!!"

Imagine what kind of cruise the lady is going to have.

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I am also wondering if anyone had kids in kid's club. Our experiences in the past were very good, but it has been awhile and I am wondering if Norweigan has kept up with the other lines as far as a quality kid's program. Any and all opionions are helpful. Thanks!

Debbie

 

We were on the 7/21 sailing and my kids, ages 5 and 6, loved the kids crew program. We were thrilled with it.

 

Roni

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My kids are 10 and 12. One difference is that NCL no longer employs males for their kids club. The rooms that they hamg out in on the Dream aren't very spectacular ... just empty small spaces, amd unlike other lines you have to sign them in and out EVERY session of which there are up to 3 a day. That can be very inconvienient. Having said that both my kids had a blast - I'm not sure they care about the same things that we do.

 

From a parents point of view there's not as much flexibility as some of the others but at the end of the day all my kids cared about was making new friends.

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Hi Kim;

It was a pleasure to meet you and your daughter on the cruise and I'm really pleased with your review. After all the negative comments about the Dream on other posts, it is nice to see that a cruise or any other vacation is what you make it. While the Dream is a little worn and probably won't be our favorite ship as it once was, you won't meet a nicer group of people than the crew. Treat them like people with feelings and not like slave/servants and they respond in kind.

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