May 2015 - Norwegian Jewel to Alaska - Inside Passage
The reasons why I liked this particular cruise:
-The ports were great. Alaska is beautiful and a cruise is a great way to experience it.
-The buffet food was great. Lots to choose from and well stocked and clean. Not at all like your usual buffet.
-The dining rooms (free ones) were elegant and tasty. It was fun to be able to order the appetizer, main dish, and dessert without having to be concerned about additional cost.
-We didn't feel under dressed anywhere on the ship. I wore jeans all the time and felt comfortable. Although I did wear a nice blouse with my jeans for dinner, lots of people just wore t-shirts.
-We could dine at any time, and could dine alone - rather than with a bunch of strangers.
-It's great to be taken care of. Having our stateroom ready for us when we got back from anything was so refreshing. Plus, being treated like we were important all over the ship was really nice, especially at dinner.
The reasons why I didn't like this particular cruise:
-Although the buffet was pretty fabulous, finding a seat each time was a great big hassle. I felt like a vulture hovering about until someone would get up to leave and I could grab their table. This made the buffet less enjoyable for me, but my husband didn't seem to mind.
-The two free dining rooms always had the same menu. Why have two different dining rooms offering the same food? I think they meant to do that because one looks more upscale, but when everyone is dressed casual, it doesn't seem to matter. Also, the dining room menu of about 12 entrees, only changed a couple of them each night, and the rest remained the same. So, for someone like me, that doesn't like very much (no chicken or seafood, just beef or pasta) that didn't leave me many choices. Also, their lasagna was pretty bad - so I didn't order pasta more than once. The steak was really good, though.
-The ship only has one theater - and that theater offers the same show twice a night. We saw a show there every night. With the exception of the first night - the rest of the shows were very low quality. The magician, who was also a comedian, did very little magic and what he did could be done by amateur magicians. The comedian on the comedy night was fairly funny, but he was also easily distracted and didn't seem to have much of a show, more of a rambling about whatever came to his mind. The acrobat/music combo Cirque show on the final night was downright embarrassing to watch. It was awful as the singers were off key and the acrobats looked like they were in pain.
-For day time entertainment, if you didn't want to partake with the rowdy poolside crowd - you were left with either Bingo or Deal or No Deal. Both of which cost (in my opinion) too much. $40 for Bingo, $20 for Deal or No Deal. We did play Deal or No Deal, which was kinda fun. I was hoping for a movie theater - or at least for more daytime activities which didn't involve dance lessons or paying money to participate. So, I would have liked to see more entertainment during the day which wouldn't cost money.
-When we cruised by the glacier, it would have been so great if they would have turned off the music blaring from the poolside, so that we could hear the sounds of nature and potentially hear calving from the glacier, or seals barking. When my sister cruised, she said they had complete silence on the boat. That would have been awesome.
For anyone considering this cruise, keep in mind that the two at-sea days can be problematic if you get seasick. On our way back from Alaska, the seas were rough and many people stayed in the cabins the whole day. I normally am quite prone to seasickness, but I had been taken Bonine regularly and it kept the sickness away. Also, if you take the train ride in Skagway, keep in mind that this can cause motion sickness. Especially if you take a lot of pictures (which you should!).
Although I'm not recommending this cruise, I do have to say that the ports of call made our trip completely worth it. If the cruise portion would have lived up to the hype, I know I would be whole-heartedly recommending it. This being said, the next time I cruise, it would have to either be on a different NCL ship, or on a different cruise line.