August 2015 - Norwegian Pearl to Alaska - Inside Passage
The cruise to Alaska was my third cruise and first with NCL. The actual destination and ports were worth the trip but the cruise line and ship were a disappointment. I had never tried NCL "freestyle" dining and activities. In theory, it is a great consumer value proposition; however, the actual implementation on a ship is very hard to do while maintaining a high customer service level. Even after some planning and making restaurant reservations, every day I often had to queue up for activities and dinners as there were never enough NCL crew to process the "waves" of people going after the same event or dining venue. NCL can't be blamed for 100% of the issues but they did not do a good enough job to anticipate and mitigate the surge of people for popular times and activities.
In regards to the activities on the NCL Pearl, the ship did not have enough outdoor facilities when compared to other ships and due to weather, often were closed (e.g., rock climbing wall, golf swing cage, etc.). Additionally, my daughter was disappointed with the kids club as the facility was not very big nor had enough activities and staff for her to do her own thing. The Disney kids club is on a totally different level but she even said Royal Caribbean's kids club was better.
Overall, I enjoyed the trip to Alaska but will not be trying NCL in the future as "freestyle" cruising makes the cruise experience more stressful with the crowds, especially for popular activities.