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zimmerjulie

June 20 STAR ship cruise to Alaska 2004 - REVIEW

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Hello everybody!

 

Welcome to my review of our Norwegian Star cruise, June 20, 2004 to Alaska on the Glacier Bay itinerary. We are a family of 4 and this was my 10th cruise, 4th on NCL. We were traveling with a family group of 38 people. It was a great cruise and we had a wonderful time!! Glacier Bay was the absolute highlight for me -- very impressive and beautiful.

 

We were very fortunate to have beautiful weather, calm seas, and timely arrivals in our ports. Too many other things to list simply fell into place and made for a great vacation for us. Example: I had just started my panoramic sweep of the Marjorie Glacier with the camcorder, when I heard a sharp crack and a low, loud rumble. I could not locate the "calving" site immediately with my naked eye, so I looked quickly down into the eyepiece. Right there in the middle of my shot, a big hunk of the glacier slid off the face and into the water, all in the matter of seconds. This is just one example of the good luck we enjoyed for most of the cruise. Of course, your results may vary :) . I wish you the same uncanny good luck, karmic reward, and/or divine intervention that we enjoyed!!

 

Lets get down to the details!

 

Pre-Cruise hotel:

We drove to Seattle and stayed at the Marriott Waterfront, literally across the street from the stern of the docked Norwegian Star. http://marriott.com/property/propertyPage.mi?marshaCode=SEAWF

($60 Priceline, 3 star downtown category). It was great.

 

We parked in the Republic garage on Wall Street & Alaskan way, adjacent to our hotel and across the street from Pier 66. The parking fee is $12 per day. http://www.portseattle.org/seaport/cruise/parkingandtransportation.shtml

 

Embarkation: easy for us

At about 9:45 am on Sunday, we hooked our rolling suitcases together to make a "train", and walked across the street to watch them loading supplies at the stern. From there, it was a short walk north to get to the Terminal doors.

We got there early, checked our luggage at 10:00 am at gate 2, went through the short "check in" line upstairs at 11:00 am, and boarded the ship at 11:45 am. Lines were still just a few people deep at 11:45.

 

I made up a sheet explaining what my group members might expect as far as checking in at the pier, so if you want all the gory details, check out this letter:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=1555179#post155517

 

The Ship:

The Norwegian Star is a very nice ship. My favorite areas are the Stardust Theater and the Versailles Restaurant. Most people in our group had Cat J inside cabins on deck 8. They were 142 square feet - pretty small, but the showers were very uncommon for a standard cabin. They were about double the usual size, with sliding glass doors, as opposed to the usual clingy curtains. You could set the temperature you desired and the on/off valve was on a different control than the temperature, much like you would find in a European fixture. There was also a small refrigerator, coffee pot, safe, and hairdryer. The 3rd berth folded down from the wall and there was a trundle under one of the beds for a 4th. They all had the standard blue or green "knot" bedspreads which were removed for "turn down" to the white duvets for sleeping.

 

The Oasis Pool area is really neat, with terraced seating all the way up to the Biergarten. The Plexiglas surround also made it comfortable to enjoy the pool, even when it was a bit too windy and cold in the aft (kiddie) pool area. I also appreciated that this "shelter" on deck 13 had gaps in it so that I could get my camera in between the panes to take pictures of the glaciers.

 

The Crew:

I wanted to mention this aspect early in my review, as the crew made instant positive impressions on me that framed my mindset for the rest of the trip. In the first 3 hours of our cruise, I encountered approximately 100 crew members, all of whom greeted me with a friendly word, a smile, and an offer of assistance when appropriate. The vast majority of the crew was efficient, helpful, and obviously took great pride in their work. I did encounter a few obvious exceptions to this generalization, three total, during the week.

 

Standouts:

I can't say enough about Mariusz Zukowski (sp?), Matre d', I believe, in the Versailles dining room. He will take good care of you.

Simona Leanca: the most helpful group coordinator that I have ever encountered.

Suyatno, our cabin steward, was exceptional and we enjoyed his efficient service and outgoing friendliness. He had a great assistant, as well.

Michael the photographer: loved his attitude and his pictures.

 

My Favorite thing on this cruise:

GLACIER BAY! Wow. It was amazing how close we were to the glaciers and to the mountains rising out of the sea.

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The Food:

I really enjoyed the food on the Star. The desserts in the main dining rooms were unbeatable. From the Crem Brule to the coffee toffee parfait to the Bananas Foster to the macadamia nut apple crisp, to the cheesecake, to the rhubarb crumble, these little gems were superb and I was spoiled all week!

The cold fruit soups were also a treat and extra pleasing after that HOT Alaska weather. I also loved the bread and the vast majority of the appetizers. The meat (main course) is probably the least important aspect of the meal for me, so that is where I may differ with most people in the food review. If I were judging largely by the main course, my assessment would be somewhat less glowing. I thought the chicken on Presidents night was not as good as I had had on the Sun last year, however the appetizer (sort of a fondue-filled, deep-fried crust) more than made up for it. I could have eaten a whole plate of those for dinner. Add to that the "Floating Islands" dessert, and my lackluster main course couldn't even do much to bring the assessment of this meal down.

 

Another thing that comes to mind regarding food is the way that they sawed the Lobster tails in half lengthwise for easy of removal of the meat. It was a great idea for that purpose, but I found that it left tiny bits of shell on the meat that were hard to remove and more than a bit distracting while eating it.

 

I must mention these additional food items that I would definitely recommend, should you come across them: Cuban Sandwich (same lunch as the Rhubarb crumble after Glacier Bay...excellent), Mushroom & cheese crepe (Aqua lunch, embarkation day), Spanish Frittata (Monday breakfast), Pear Blintz w/pecans (breakfast)....are you getting hungry yet?

 

Further evidence of some extraordinary forces at work: I got on the scale when I returned home, and I had only gained one pound.:confused: .

 

The Dinner themes:

Sunday - Bon Voyage (don't miss the Creme Brule for dessert)

Monday - Captains Gala dinner (fun to dress up for Versailles, but it wasn't anybody at our table's favorite meal. The dessert "Coffee Toffee Parfait" was excellent, though. Maybe a good night to go alternative, as many people were trying to get into the Versailles and it looked like the waits might have been long.

Tuesday - President's Dinner (Don't miss the fried fondue appetizer and the floating islands dessert).

Wednesday - Chef's dinner (I don't remember this one right now. I'll have to check the pictures )

Thursday - Italian night

Friday - Farewell dinner (lobster, filet mignon, pork, good options)

Saturday - Star Spangled dinner (I don't know about this one, as we were in Victoria. We hit the Blue Lagoon and had fish & Chips at about 11:00 pm. We enjoyed the F & C's.

 

The Buffet:

I tried to avoid this area as much as possible, because it was usually crowded and bustling and took awhile to get through the line, but it did provide a good variety when you needed to grab a quick bite. They had a "Maryland style crab cake" action station set up the first day. The extra touches like this, I thought, set it apart from the usual buffet.

We were able to find a table without too much trouble when we needed to eat here, and the staff was constantly removing trays and washing tables to help in this area.

 

There was quite often a line or a cluster around the dessert station of the buffet which part-way blocked the entry to that section. The desserts here would satisfy a sugar craving, but were no where near the flavor and general deliciosity of those in the dining rooms, imho.

 

One morning the sausage on the buffet was WAY too peppery (my obligatory petty complaint ;) ).

 

My other notable buffet experience was on Skagway day, when I had to run back to the ship for something and grabbed a burger at the kiddie buffet just to keep me going (after all, it HAD been probably two hours since I'd eaten my last huge meal). It was good, so there ya go.:D

 

The Specialty Restaurants:

I would recommend Monday night and Thursday night as good nights to try the alternative dining, but, of course, this all depends on how you like the main dining room menus those nights.

 

The only Alternative Rest. we tried personally was the Ginza. We had a great meal and would recommend it.

 

The Service:

I do not envy the waiters and assistants serving Freestlye on a full ship--it definitely has its challenges. I was amazed at how they handled it all, including late arrivals to our tables, additions for a birthday celebration, special requests, and the extra challenges presented by our 2 year old (things like bringing another chair and making a bed for her when she fell asleep in her peanut-butter and jelly sandwich). We found our service to be pleasant and efficient, for the most part. There was an exception for some members of our group, who encountered a crewmember who could have handled a seating mixup situation much better.

 

Meals usually took 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on if we all arrived at the same time and ordered fairly quickly. Once, in the Aqua, I stated that I was hoping to make the show (needing a 1.5 hour meal), and she had us out of there in one hour.

 

We were very happy with our service throughout the ship, from the Reception desk to food service to room service to bar service, etc.

 

The Lines:

There were lines for meals, especially outside the Versailles on Formal night. We had packed up the aforementioned uneaten pb & j and were walking out the doorway and up the stairs. There was a guy that exclaimed, "FOOD!" and started heading for our takeout dish.:eek: . I know he was kidding, but it was an indicator that he had been waiting for awhile. This brings up a tip: If you don't make it to the Versailles by say 6:00 pm, it is likely full and will take another hour, minimum, for tables to start to become available again. I would hold off till about 7pm in that case. The exception would be the first night, when things were not very crowded.

 

On subsequent evenings, after formal night, it seemed that things normalized a bit (at least outside the Versailles at about 7:30 pm) as people discovered the Aqua and the other restaurants and the diners spread themselves more evenly throughout the ship.

 

Tips for those traveling with groups:

The best tip I can give you is to avail yourselves of the excellent services of the Group Coordinator, Ms. Simona Leanca. She helped me with numerous requests and made my overall experience so much nicer. She is great and I heartily thank her for all of her help.

 

Last year on the Sun, our group did great with Freestyle. This time it was a lot more challenging. First of all, our group was larger (38 vs. 19), some people wanted to eat late, and the shows were scheduled at different times each night, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out dining arrangements. I was instructed to contact the Miami office for group dining reservations before the cruise. When I contacted them, I was told that they could only reserve two times, 5:30 pm or 9:30 pm and only the Aqua dining room. This was less than ideal, so I waited until I got onboard. I spent a LOT of time trying to figure out what people wanted, arranging around the shows or port activities, getting the reservations, and calling everyone every day with the final arrangements. Simona was able to arrange the accommodation of every one of my dining requests (at 5:30 pm or 8:30 pm in either dining room). I don't think it was easy, though.

 

I would HIGHLY recommend, if you are going with a group, that you make reservations for the whole week at the same time. Early would be my recommendation (5:30pm) if you can stand it. This will give you much more chance of catching the shows, which we found to be definitely worth the time. If anyone wants to diverge from that schedule, fine, but at least if people want to eat together, they have the opportunity and you don't have to work every day to get it planned. Also, I would recommend that you meet somewhere before dinner and head down together. An example would be to meet in the Java Cafe at 5:00, as opposed to the Versailles dining room at 5:30. This gives you a chance to gather, visit all together, and even arrive a little late without causing stress and delays to those waiting for arrivals while they are seated at a dinner table. I was impressed with how well the dining room staff dealt with latecomers to our seated party, but the wait and uncertainty was sometimes distracting for me. I definitely wanted to save places for our group members, but sometimes wasn't SURE they were coming and didn't want to inconvenience other prospective diners waiting for a seat.

 

I made a special group request of Simona regarding the Bus/White Pass Railroad/gold rush trail camp tour in Skagway. I asked if she could arrange it so that our whole group could be on the same outbound bus. Things worked out so that we had our own bus and were able to sit all together in the same train car on the way back down, as well. This excursion was the highlight of our "group bonding" for the week, as there were 31 of us all together for the 4.5-5 hours that day. Really special.

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The Entertainment:

We really enjoyed the shows that we were able to attend. Standouts were Jane L. Powell, 2 time world champion magician Shawn Farquhar, and the Cirque Asia show, all of which received standing ovations. I am not much of a broadway-type dance show person, so the JARC portion of the Cirque Asia was just okay for me, but it was punctuated by performances by Chinese acrobats, which were simply amazing. We had one Jane L. Powell show, and two Shawn Farquahar shows, the first of which was my favorite of the two. Shawn does a lot of comedy within his act and keeps things interesting for the "short-attention-span-for-magic-show" types like me.

 

 

The Star Seekers competition made me wonder if it was summer break on Broadway, many of the performers were so good.

 

 

We enjoyed Kieron Buffery as cruise director. He was enthusiastic without being hyper and has a nice voice over the p/a. He and his staff did a great job of keeping us entertained throughout the cruise, although, as I said, we were not able to get to a large number of the offerings.

 

 

The Cruise Critic Gathering:

We had planned our get-together for Monday afternoon at 2pm in the Star Bar. This turned out to be a good time, as it wasn't conflicting with anything else that I could see. gsbw made us some neat name badges with a picture of the Star on them and we got to match those familiar names with their faces! We had a nice visit amongst ourselves and with the ships management personnel that came out to welcome us. It was a good time and I really enjoyed talking with you fellow cruise critics and meeting up with you occasionally onboard. I think the "ocean going" s and I were on a parallel course throughout much of the cruise! We kept running into each other on tenders, at shows, on deck, etc.! (I have a picture for you if you would like to drop me a line at zimjb@comcast.net).

 

I wish we could have had more time to hang out as a Cruise Critic group, but there was so much going on and there weren't enough hours in the day (even with the longer day:) ). It was a pleasure meeting you and I wish you many more happy cruises. Special congratulations to gay & skip, who were married in Juneau!! I would love to share pictures with you all, so if you want to get in touch by e-mail, we can swap a few.

 

Latitudes:

We enjoyed the benefit of the Latitudes check in line at embarkation, but didn't take advantage of some of the other benefits extended to us, largely do to time considerations.

 

We received our Norwegian Star Latitudes pins in our cabin with the invitation to the cocktail party. The party was scheduled for Monday at noon in the Spinnaker Lounge. The letter said that they would be having a raffle prize drawing, as well as the free drinks. Dress was smart casual and the Captain would be there to speak, as well as Senior officers, department heads, etc. We didn't make it to the party.

Another letter outlined the other benefits for our sailing:

 

 

  • Receive a 20% discount on well drinks, beer and wine by the glass from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Tuesday through Friday in the Spinnaker Lounge (not valid with other promotions or souvenir items).
  • Receive 15% off any Spa Service on Friday and Saturday, anytime, and finish your cruise with a relaxing treatment from our Exotic Menu (Promotion is not in conjunction with any special promotion or Salon Services.
  • Activate your account at the Internet Cafe, buy Internet time, and receive extra time! See your Internet Cafe Manager for more details.

You will need to present your Latitudes card or this letter to take advantage of the above specials.

 

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Argh! Your picture didn't come through!!!!!!!!

We leave 7/11 on the Star, so I have been hanging on your every word! So glad to hear positive things as opposed to earlier reviews. I am so anxious, I can't sleep. This will be our 1st cruise!

8 days, 2 hours, 18 minutes and counting..........

NM

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__________________________________________________________

THE PORTS

 

JUNEAU:

www.traveljuneau.com

 

The Freestyle Daily had us scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 12:00 noon, which was earlier than our ticketed itinerary time of 2:00 pm. I believe that this will be a realistic time for future arrivals, as well. It is hard to imagine that they could get in at 9:00 am, as we were cookin' all the way there (reports of 31 knots Sunday night). The tendering process started at 12:00 and ran very efficiently, at least 'till we exited from tender #6. We picked up the tickets at the reception desk the night before. The Star docked at the AJ dock, after the N. Spirit left our "parking spot".

 

We looked around town a bit, then went to find a shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. We saw a white bus with a green stripe and a sign that said "Glacier $5" just pulling out. Some of the guys secured some round trip tickets from the tour kiosks and we waited the 25 minutes in 88 degree weather for the next bus. It was a scorcher! I would not recommend the bus with the green stripe...no narration, no tour, just the transportation folks, and a few defensive comments about how this was the U.S.A. and they used Farenheit, inches, yards, miles, etc. in an egotistical nasty voice. Anyway, go for the MGT blue stripes or some other company. I have read that they give nice narration on the way to the glacier. Also, you can just buy the one way trip for $5, then catch whatever bus is available when you are ready to return and pay the other $5.

 

Mendenhall Glacier was a great attraction. Don't miss it! We spent some time hiking around and taking pictures, then did a quick duck into the visitors center to buy a few postcards. We did not take the opportunity to view the interpretive center & movie that they had available.

 

http:///www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/districts/mendenhall/map.html

 

Next we headed back to town to take the Mt. Roberts Tramway up the hill overlooking the docked cruise ships. http://www.alaska.net/~junotram/

It was great too. The views were beautiful. We enjoyed some cold Alaskan Ale in the eatery up there www.alaskanbeer.com, saw the captive eagle(www.juneauraptorcenter.org) and a wild one preening himself in a treetop, ate some bear candy (plant) and perused the gift shop. It was a beautiful ride and definitely a worthwhile stop. I think it was $21 for adults, $12.50 for kids to ride the tram.

 

SKAGWAY:

www.skagway.org

We had arrived in Skagway by the time I woke up at 6:00 am.

We got ourselves together and headed into town for a bit of exploring. As in Juneau, the surrounding mountains were beautiful. We hit a few gift shops, looking for sun hats for shade :rolleyes: .

 

We stopped into the National Park office and signed up for the 10:00 am Ranger-guided walking tour. http://www.nps.gov/klgo/ . It is free, but they do sign-ups so that they have some idea of how many people will be on a certain tour. They had some great displays and, I hear, a movie available there. We REALLY enjoyed touring the town and learning so much of the history. Our ranger was a great speaker. It was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the presentation. Part of the tour goes through the museum adjacent to the visitors center. They have some great displays that give you an idea of the scope of the endeavor that the "stampeders" attempted. The tour was 45 minutes to 1 hour and was really great.

 

At 11:45 am we took the White Pass Railway/Bus/Trail Camp excursion through NCL. This tour gets a definite thumbs up:D !!! It was ideal for us. It was 4.75 hours in duration, which included the stop at the "Liarsville" gold rush trail camp. Our outbound portion was on the bus. Our guide was great and the bus was air conditioned, which was a big deal, as it was 83 degrees at the WP summit that day!

 

Our first stop was the "Liarsville" gold rush trail camp, which is a re-creation of the original camp. It was a lot of fun, after the initial rocky start of contemporary political jokes:rolleyes:. The music was really neat and our bit of comedy was extra hilarious due to the volunteer chosen from the audience and how she played off the presentors. They also performed one of the gold rush poems written by Robert Service, then we panned for gold, had hot apple cider & cookies, and snapped a few damaging photos with the "ladies of negotiable affection" that were there in costume.

 

From there we enjoyed a beautiful drive up the highway toward White Pass Summit.

 

The train portion was GREAT too...beautiful vistas, nice narration, neat tunnels and bridges. www.whitepassrailroad.com

 

I really saw the value in having the two modes, one way by train and one way by bus. It really let us get the best of both worlds. It also let us see some different sites each way. The railway is incredible and I would definitely recommend it, but round trip would probably have been a bit much for us, as the last 10 minutes of the trip we were ready for its conclusion. That could have been due to the heat, which was a bit draining.

 

It was back to the ship to drop off a few things, grab a snack, and head back out for some shopping. I found there to be a great number and variety of quality souvenirs available in all the Alaska ports. Beautiful carvings, paintings, jewelry, kitchen accessories, books, Christmas items, educational videos, tour-associated merchandise (ie. WPRR store) as well as a lot of nice apparel were all to be had in many price ranges.

 

KETCHIKAN:

www.visit-ketchikan.com

My daughter (age 8) and I went snorkeling.

NO! It was NOT COLD, even when we had shucked off our wetsuits and were sitting on a bench in our wet swimsuits, surprise! :eek: . The weather was perfect for me this day. Probably about 63-65 after a bit of a chilly start. We went with AK Deep Six (www.akdeepsix.com) .

 

I LOVE to snorkel, and thoroughly enjoyed this excursion, even more than some of the snorkeling in the Caribbean. We saw sea stars, jelly fish, hundreds of hermit crabs, some little fish, a few larger rock fish, a fish that looks like an eel, but isn't, urchins, etc. It was also really neat swimming through the kelp forest and simply floating in the water...complete relaxation.

Al was a kick and got us suited up and at the site in quick time. The van has a lot of character, too. You'll see what I mean if you go with this company. Also, they take a maximum of 6 people, as compared to the ship tours that arrived later at Mt. Point (where we were snorkeling). They had more like 20. It was a no-frills, seat of the pants, get suited up and get snorkelin' sort of affair. The ship tour may have a more formal instruction, educational type approach. We simply hit the water and talked about what we saw in the van afterward.

 

It was mentioned that Ketchikan was a port where people experienced long waits in inclement weather to get back on the ship. I am glad to say that we had no trouble or long line getting back on to the ship in Ketchikan. There was a very short, rapidly moving line when we returned (15 minutes prior to ALL ABOARD). We did not have any trouble or waits at any of the other ports, either.

 

VICTORIA:

www.victoriabcguide.com

Disembarking at this port was the most patience-testing episode of the trip for me. In contrast to the other ports, virtually EVERYONE was trying to get off the ship at the same time. It was very crowded and SLOW. Tip: Try taking the forward gangway, as opposed to midships. It seemed much less crowded.

Victoria is a beautiful city, but we only got a taste, so we are planning to go back soon for a longer visit.

 

They had a sailaway rib barbeque party planned by the pool at 11:30 pm, but we had had enough of the crowds and were looking for something a little quieter, so we headed for the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, where we enjoyed Fish & Chips for the adults and (what else?) noodles for the kids. I am not much of a fish person, but those greasy-fried fish pieces were downright good.

 

We later heard from some of our group members that they had to wait in line an hour for the ribs, so you might keep the Blue Lagoon or room service or dinner in Victoria in mind for Saturday night.

 

 

_______________________________________________

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Automatic gratuities:

I have already described the high level of friendly service that we received aboard the Star. If I were to draw conclusions about how well the tipping pool works, based on this, I would say that service must have been excellent because a crew member's percentage of the tip pool is based on merit, experience, and passenger comment, as opposed to the whims of his/her assigned passengers for the week. Perhaps the knowledge that there is no chance that they will be stiffed for a week's worth of hard work takes away some of the financial stress and the "unknowns" for someone trying to support a family back home and creates a more secure, consistent approach to the job. Sweeping generalization based on little fact, I know, but that seems to be how many tipping/service assessments are made, so what the heck:D.

Whatever the reason or motivation, the crew of the Star did a great job of keeping us happy.

 

I gave three small cash tips in person when I requested a special service. One was room service, and the $2 tip was appreciatively accepted. The other two instances were a bit awkward, with the crewmembers seeming surprised and reluctant to accept the tip. In my experience, they really do not expect or solicit extra tips and it is outside the normal experience to receive them.

 

I left some larger extra tips in envelopes in the cabin and at the Reception Desk, to thank those who had gone way above and beyond in helping me throughout the week. This also allowed me to avoid the awkwardness and to avoid having to track them down the last morning.

 

Disembarkation:

First debarkation call was made at 8:20 am and those with red tags were invited to leave the vessel. (NCL Airport transfer and Independent guests with flight prior to 12 noon). Things stayed pretty close to the outline they provided, with our tags (6th category) being called at exactly the predicted time of 9:45 am.

 

The big warehouse full of luggage and people milling around looking for theirs can always be a bit chaotic, but it wasn't bad. Once it is located, you go to the customs desk to turn in your declaration, then it's out the doors to the buses or shuttles. We walked our luggage out of the terminal and across the sky bridge to our van in the parking garage. No problems.

 

Freestyle disembarkation is the best improvement to cruise ship operation in history!!! (Well, maybe a close 2nd to making sure there are enough lifeboats for everyone;) ). In all seriousness, this is really the way to go. I shudder when I remember the days of getting up EARLY to be showered, packed, and out of the cabin by 7am, herded with my carry-ons with EVERYONE else aboard, to WAIT for an hour, or two, or three in a public room until the ship was cleared and we could leave. No time for breakfast, instant persona non grata, out with the old passengers, on with the new. Sob, sob:rolleyes:

 

Everyone has their "little" thing that is BIG to them, so I guess this is mine .

Not so for us on NCL!!! We slept in, then let the kids sleep in even later while we readied for our departure. We woke the kids 30 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time of 9:45 am, gave them some breakfast (previously acquired at the buffet), delivered a bag to the cabin of some embarking cruisers, and walked off the ship at the appointed time. The old way seems so harsh in comparison.

 

The reservation process:

I must say that I had an incredible number and variety of difficulties during the reservation/arrangement process. I booked under the old computer system, then experienced many many difficulties in the switching over/discovering glitches phase. I am so glad that this cruise delivered once we got onboard, because with a group reservation and all the associated accounting, tasks, special occasions, registration, shore excursions, Latitudes, etc things I had to try to do (and re-do:mad: ) with the new system, it was a continuing trial. I will say that throughout all the frustration, the NCL reps were very apologetic and helpful. Hopefully this will improve for others as the kinks get worked out.

 

Kids Crew:

With the port schedule and meal times, we didn't use the Kid's Crew a whole lot. When we did, the kids had a great time and were eager to go at the next opportunity. The counselors were nice, interested in the kids, and hardworking. Here is a link to the schedule for our week. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=46608

The other age groups had the same time schedule, but different activities. The facilities were really nice. The little kids (2-5) had their own separate ball pit and the kids just LOVED it in there!

 

To sum things up, we had a great cruise, loved Alaska, loved the ship, loved the crew, loved the food, loved the on-board passenger mix, had a really fun time. Of course, there were things that could have been better, but none of them were significant enough for me to put a damper on the trip as a whole. I was worried that THIS would be the cruise where all the little things that incite other people to irateness would diminish my cruise experience as well. By the second afternoon, it was VERY clear to me that I had no need to worry about that. I was very happy with how everything was going. I was glad that I had read all the early reports, complaints, worries, and tips. I wish to thank everyone that provided information and opinions on this itinerary and ship. I really enjoyed the researching and pre-cruise correspondence!

 

Feel free to ask me any questions. I will be glad to try to answer them.

Julie

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CruzN-tchr,

 

You aren't kidding you were waiting! I had to post my review in chunks, because it said that my post was too long and I had too many pictures. (I only had one:confused: ). You got in there are replied while I was still editing! You are fast on the keyboard!

 

I'll try to fix it so that I can display the pictures somewhere. If you want to send me your email address to zimjb@comcast.net I can zip you off a few pictures to tide you over.

 

Also, my review will probably help you fall asleep!!!:D

 

I envy you being first time cruisers. Maybe you should ignore my review so that the cruise has a chance of providing you a few surprises and exceeding your expectations!

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your review was great I am very impressed. I can't to hear about how the June 27 group did I hope they had a great time also. AM going to write review later today for sure.

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That was a great review Julie! Very accurate..especially about 'the food'. The main courses left a lot to be desired, but the appertizers, desserts, etc. were very good.:p

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You are very welcome!

I thought that it was very interesting when I tried to post my review all in one piece, then found that the posting maximum was 10,000 words.:eek: I am glad that I had the review backed up and could cut and paste.

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zimmerjulie

 

Great review, right down to the detailed comments and recommendations on the food. I'm sure this review wil help many people who are planning their upcoming cruises.

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Thanks everybody!

 

Casshew, your avatar is so appropriate, but I do miss Roz;) .

 

Also, forgot to mention that the family really enjoyed the free ice cream, served aft of the buffet and just forward of the kiddie pool (great location:D ). It was available most days for multiple hours (often 1-5 pm) in the afternoons.

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