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Bluestar01

NCL Joy: Alaska Inside passage 8/24-8/31 review

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These boards have been very useful for all of my cruise experiences and I hope my review will be useful for anyone else looking into this magnificent ship or the itinerary.

We sailed from Seattle, inside passage, 7 nights cruise on NCL Joy on Aug 24th. We were traveling with our school aged kids & extended family including older uncle & aunts. The extended family was based out off Seattle, so it was just us flying from OH to Seattle, we  reached a day early & rented car to visit Mt. Rainier, if not seen before, definitely worth a drive.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1: Embarkation from Seattle

Day 2: At sea

Day 3: Ketchikan: Ketchikan cab service

Day 4: Juneau: Alaska Humbacks whale watching

Cruise Endicott arm & Daws Glacier

Day 5: Skagway: Frontier excursions trip to Yukon with dog sledding 

Day 6: At Sea

Day 7: Victoria B.C.: Butchart Gardens & Butterfly gardens

Day 8: Disembarkation at Seattle

 

Following disembarkation, we roamed around Seattle, visiting popular tourist attractions such as Pike Place market, Space needle, Boeing factory tour etc prior to flying back to Ohio. 

Overall the cruise was excellent, the ship was very good, the staff & food was awesome,  & the scenery was breathtaking.

I would write about each day in detail, this was just the summary.

 

Hope you'll enjoy the journey. 

 

 

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Excited to follow.  I am sailing her in 3 weeks!! I am sailing with my 8 year old twins . Any info about kids club would be appreciated !

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12 hours ago, disneylover89 said:

I'm in!!  What hotel did you stay in pre cruise?

Since our extended family is Seattle based, we stayed with them, however, quiet a few hotels in the vicinity of the port, we were looking at Marriot before making plans with the family.

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12 hours ago, MoyCoy said:

Excited to follow.  I am sailing her in 3 weeks!! I am sailing with my 8 year old twins . Any info about kids club would be appreciated !

Frankly, my younger one is 10, & she stayed in kids club just once, there were 6 yr old twins in our grp & unfortunately they didn’t like the kids club at all, it’s called Splash academy in NCL. Although signing kids in on first day was an easy however, a lengthy process due to lines & just a few cruise employees working, I would recommend to sign them as soon as you get on board. Also every time you’ll sign kids in & out they’ll need not just yours but kids room key as well.

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All right here is some more: although cruised before, this was first trip to Seattle as well as to Alaska. 

Pier 66 cruise terminal in Seattle is very crazy busy place, we had rented a car from Avis which is few blocks away from the pier, so my husband dropped us off at the terminal with luggage while he went to return the car. 

NCL & port staff had made wonderful arrangements as to pick up tagged luggage by the drop off location. Avis rental was however another story, just 2-3 employees working & catering to the needs for many, so it took a while for my husband to come back to the Pier. 

The embarkation process was smooth & timely. Waiting area was nice and well equipped, the NCL staff was courteous. 

Once on board we decided to check out the ship, enroll our kids in splash Academy and then check out the bar & Garden Café (the buffet area). Remember Seattle has beverage tax until the ship is docked! 

Joy is big ship, however, it doesn't feel that big, there are enough elevators, so except for at the time of disembarking at the port, or after mandatory safety drill or just getting out from the Theater, where exodus of passengers try to get on elevators, typically we'll get the elevators and wouldn't need to wait/climb. 

Deck 16 is where the buffet is, as well as pool, spa, fitness, & H2O spice area. Deck 15 has a wonderful observation deck which we found out on the 2nd day, very nice enclosed area where one can sit for hrs enjoying the ocean. 

The cabins were available by 1 pm & even all the luggage came by 3 pm.

 

Our most recent experience on NCL Epic past yr was unpleasant, where the staff was rude, the food lacked variety, elevators were busy etc hence we were a bit skeptical about this cruise, however, Joy was very pleasant. 

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Day 1: Sea Day

We explored the ship further, attended CC meet & Greet. Few of the officers had come & were mingling with the crowd. Other than the usual dining rooms & bars, there is Starbucks on deck 6 , Atrium. The Local is in place of O'Sheehan's on deck 7 from where you can see the events happening at the Atrium. Deck 8 has nice Waterfront hallway which is nice place to view glacier while cruising. Also, they open up deck 6 forward when the ship gets close to the glacier. The Tradewinds shops & other shops had specials going on the entire week, my daughters loved to collect the free charm bracelet & the charms they give away. The art gallery was smaller than few other ships we've been on. But overall enjoyable. The pool area on deck 16 was a hit & miss location, while being closer to Seattle & Victoria it was nice & pleasant, however, otherwise, cold & rainy, yet we saw a few sitting in the hot tubs every night. Only 2 hot tubs in the general pool area, a couple more in Spice H2O on deck 17. Usually there would be line to get into one especially on nicer day. The two big slides ocean loop & aqua racer were a lot of fun. The kids water park was fun as well. There was a small but a separate adult pool in the main pool area. 

On the same deck 16 there is Galaxy pavilion in aft where there are  lots of 3D,4D even 7D virtual experience games, video arcade. Nice games, but all are $5/player/game so ends up being expensive. I wish NCL had kept few at no charge. or atleast had the arcade play for free & not give out prizes etc. 

The Joy speedway & Lazer tag is another specialty of this ship, however, that too paid, $15 per player for the speedway & we never went to Lazer tag. The speedway is good though. 

Another thing we noticed during our sea days are the teens & tweens don;t have much to do for free, because of the weather they can't use the pool much & rest all stuff is paid. the trivia & game shows at the Atrium were not that great either. However, my teenager ended up winning something during 'know it all' game show.   

Here are some random pictures

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Looking forward to the rest of your review.  Thx 

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On 9/8/2019 at 5:30 PM, disneylover89 said:

I'm in!!  What hotel did you stay in pre cruise?

We recently stayed at the Mediterranean Inn for our precruise stay and highly recommend it.

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Sorry for the delay in reporting, I should had labeled the above post as Sea days instead of Day 1, because actually it was Day 1 & 2. From here on I'll just review our port & excursion experiences.

We arrived in Ketchikan on Day 3, it was raining, which is expected as its in the rain forest area. We had booked excursion through Ketchikan Taxi cab tours after researching the posts on CC as well as trip adviser. Tim White is the owner of the company however, we were guided by Dave who was the previous owner, a very nice gentleman, well informed and the world traveler. This was very affordable and personalized excursion that I had found. Its a guided tour of Ketchikan for approx 3 1/2 hrs with stops at tourist locations. We saw some wildlife on the way such as bald eagles, seals, missed a bear sighting just by a couple if minutes. Also saw salmon run, the historical town, Totem pole park, glacier waterfall etc. We saw several other buses doing a similar route, but those won't stop at all the places. Dave took us 3 times to check on the bear my kids wanted to see! He had umbrellas & binoculars in his van & it was just 4 of us, so very personal guided tour. Disembarkation from the ship to the port was very well handled by NCL.

 

Day 4 was Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. We had booked whale watching through Alaska Humpback adventures. Steve Olmstead the captain of the boat is again a very pleasant & dedicated captain. I found his info from CC board as well. Its a small 6 people boat which sails out from Auke bay. He came to receive us at the cruise port. Prior to reaching to Auke bay he provided a short city tour showing Governors mansion, downtown, etc. He was very good communicator and explained the kids about whales. We must've seen over 11 humpbacks that day, it was a beautiful day raining at first but the Sun came out. Being from OH & away from ocean, whales were a big attraction for our family and this personalized guided whale watching experience was out of this world. We could hear the whales breathe also smell their breath! (& it smells like H2S!!) Many other whale watching tours do not take kids younger than 12 in such pvt boats, or costed more than Alaska Humpback adventures, so I strongly recommend this tour for up close and personal whale watching experience for the entire family. 

 

 

 

 

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