Written on: 02/04/2011 by alycats (2 reviews written)
First time cruisers so nothing to compare it too. I believe this ship would be classed a mid size. It was small enough to seem friendly but big enough not to feel confined or as though you saw the same people all of the time.
Cabin was big enough and balcony an absolute must. Toiletries are replaced as needed and there are bathrobes (albeit a little hard). Staff very attentive and friendly, not after tips as gratuities are prepaid.
The 2 main restaurants were elegant. If you wanted a table for just 2 you sometimes had to wait but it was nice to share with different people on some nights to exchange stories and histories. The self service buffet does not do the food or presentation justice. An excellent option, especially for breakfast on early docking days.We never felt the need to pay to eat in any of the speciality restaurants as the food and service in the included ones was more than adequate. When we walked past we never saw any of them full so don't know whether the surcharges were too much in this economic climate.
We purchased the soda package which was beneficial to us but you could not get hot drinks everywhere for some reason. Alcoholic drinks were expensive but not extortionate and there were plenty of different venues to enjoy them depending on what sort of mood you were in.
Entertainment in the Stardust theatre was of an exceptionally high standard and varied but there was often standing room only.
We only did NCL excursions due to being first timers. They were excellent and could not be faulted. Saw and did everything we had wanted to: bears, glacier walking and were lucky enough to see 8humpback whales bubble feeding. Due to the type of trips and the area we were in (plus the fact they were cruise line organised) they cost us a lot of money but it was a once in a lifetime experience!
WARNING: There are a lot of extras to be paid on the ship in addition to drinks. Bingo was expensive as was the internet (neither of which I anticipated to be free but not as dear as they were). Demonstrations and other daily events also had a cover charge. Of course it is optional as to whether you participate or not.
The clientele on the ship was predominantly Americans with a fair smattering of Brits and some other Europeans. The age range was predominantly 50 plus but there were some young families and we did not feel out of place being in our early 40s.
We had the most fantastic weather- NO RAIN and we were able to sunbathe on the deck. We had not expected that! 1 patch of mist which took about 40mins to cruise through on our way to the glacier but otherwise clear vision, blue skies and minimal wind(one of the piano players who has been doing the cruise for >10yrs said he had never experienced a solid week of sun, how lucky were we?)
The only negative was Prince Rupert. We had decided not to do an excursion here but reconsidered when a member of crew advised us that there was nothing in Prince Rupert and as it was an evening stop there was nothing to see that was close by. A tiny shop sold souvenirs but nothing that my husband or I found interesting. Thanks to the member of crew we booked the whalewatching on the Zodiac and had the most fantastic experience (we were extremely lucky there 2 as got cancellation tickets). Any of the other stops you could easily do your own thing but be prepared to stay on board or book an excursion here.Apparently as it has sailed from America and is returning there it has to dock in another country before it returns to America, hence Prince Rupert as it is in Canada.
All in all this will be a hard act to follow. It wasn't cheap so we will cruise on alternate years with land holidays in between. (I do think the expense may well have been due to the fact it was Alaska though).
Hope this is useful.
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