May 2016 - Norwegian Pearl to Alaska - Inside Passage
This was our very first cruise. NCL came recommended by Cruise One along with Princess for their Alaskan Cruise. We had high expectations as everyone raves about cruises in general and say Alaska is the best by far. Let's just say we wished we had chosen Princess.
Our biggest disappointment came with the food. Everyone always talks about how great the food is on a cruise. We could rarely find something we liked, much less thought was great. Breakfast is breakfast: hard to screw up, but they managed too. The 1 buffet is really your only option for breakfast. We tried the one other sit down areas open for breakfast but the menu items were the same as ones offered on the buffet and I'm pretty sure they went and just scooped them from the buffet. At least at the buffet I didn't have to wait. Eggs were watery and runny and tasteless, bacon was overly greasy and hash was burnt. I ended up eating cereal and fruit most days and the occasional waffle. We had this idea of ordering room service for breakfast and siting on our beautiful balcony sipping coffee but room service is $8!! I had always heard room service was great on cruises. Lunch options were limited as most of the sit down restaurants aren't open until dinner. Hamburgers were dry and tasteless and bun was crumbly. Pizza tasted like the frozen kind and most of the meats looked and tasted questionable. Dinner should have been great in the two beautiful sit down restaurants right? Unfortunately not, it was impossible to find salmon or crab or even a shrimp meal on an Alaska cruise!! There were some items that you could pay for like a surf and turf with lobster but I had already shelled out a pretty penny on the cruise itself and considering those were going to be cooked in the same kitchen that all the other terrible food was prepared in I would rather not chance it and spend my money on good food at port. But the included items disappointed as well. Gnocchi was as chewy as a rubber ball, sent that back and thought I was safe with just a steak. Ordered medium rare and got very well done and the mushroom sauce looked like a can of campbells mushroom soup was poured on top. This same thing happened the other 2 nights we dined in the restaurants. We found one dessert we liked which was chocolate lava cake but all others were pretty underwhelming. There was not a cheesecake on the entire ship the whole time.
I will say the wine selection is decent and prices are very reasonable which was surprising considering all other drinks were very expensive, but we expected that. However, 1 evening we got a great table with a view in one of the main dining rooms and ordered appetizers and a bottle of wine and told our server that we were going to enjoy these for a little while and wait to order our main course. She told us "ok but there is a line outside". We had just walked through the doors 15 mins earlier and there wasnt a soul waiting and less than half of the dining room occupied. I was pretty appalled at the rude service. Everyone else we encountered on the ship was pleasant.
As for the boat itself, it was nice. The decor and paintings on the exterior could be a little cheesy at times but everything looked new and clean. Our stateroom and accompanying balcony was great and our room steward was phenomenal.
But we were honestly quite bored on the ship. Most of the activities were geared toward an older crowd but we expected that somewhat on an Alaskan cruise. We weren't going to Cabo. But for a 20 something couple we didn't find much to do. We spent most of our time on the ship napping, reading or playing checkers and scrabble in the game room. A couple examples are the first ship party they had was a 1950's themed Prom. We also decided we would try to partake in Bingo only to be told it was $70/person to play! $70?? I expected about $20! The 1 night club was very creepy with strange beds with TVs in them so we didn't spend too much time there. And the shows and comedy were very cheesy.
But the scenery couldn't be beat! Alaska is breathtaking and the itinerary is good but wished we could have been at port longer. They say we get into port at at certain time but you aren't able to get off the ship until at least an hour later after the port security clears the vessel. And the hour later is assuming you lined up early in the massive herd that piles up in the hallways and stair wells.
The day cruising glacier bay was phenomenal and we loved that the park rangers came on board and talked the whole time over the loud speaker. We actually saw whales from our balcony on the ship! Incredible!
Overall, we will definitely be going back to Alaska but it won't be on a cruise.