July 2014 - Norwegian Pearl to Alaska - Inside Passage
Overall - we love going on Norwegian cruises, and almost use them exclusively because of the "freestyle" experience and consistent quality.
1. again, the freedom of being able to eat whenever you want and participate in activities or tours at your own freedom. I can't image going back to the typical structured & regimented cruise environment of other cruise lines.
2. overall high quality of the restaurants (a great alternative to the buffet lines).
3. Interesting/and high quality and variety of entertainment events while on board. From authentic "Second City" casts, the blueman group to some up and coming comics and musicians - they are all worth seeing. Then there's the quality fitness center, spas, nightclubs ... honestly if they never docked, it would still be a fun-filled trip.
4, The staff. Amazing. Helpful, knowledgeable, friendly. The waiters etc - equally amazing.
5. The rooms. Most cruiseline rooms are small and cramped - but Norwegian makes it work comfortably.
Negatives (though these are almost all shared with other cruise lines))
1. dealing with clueless and selfish people. I understand that we're often going to get "The Constanza's" (George's parents from Seinfeld) or the entire customer list from Walmart. Sometimes I think the staff can do a better job of making sure their boorish behavior doesn't infringe on the rest of us.
2. The coffee. The regular free-flowing coffee was pretty bad in my opinion. But hey. It's free.
3. Speed at the expense of comfort. They have to keep on schedule, but sometimes they keep the ship running fast during choppy waters which makes the boat ride a queasy experience. It doesn't happen often though.
4. No way for customers to do any kind of laundry. I wish all cruises would come up with a way. Since the rooms are small, and you also have to be prepared for all kinds of climate - it makes packing tricky. The only time passengers can do laundry is on the 2nd to last day when they have a "one bag laundry special" ... does us no good during the trip. It gets tiring having to do laundry in the sink or tub.
5. Internet. We had to take a second mortgage out on our house just to afford a few minutes of internet access. How cow, And it's sloooow. For many of us, it is a necessity - and there's no reason any more to charge so much for internet (and yes, we understand how it works on a ship).
6. Quiet areas. Sometimes it would be nice to have a few quiet areas (that are enforced by the staff). Even the library is not immune from the inconsiderate percentage.
Overall - I'd give this cruise a 9/10 .... highly recommended.
Alaska was beautiful.
The captain gave us an incredible view of the glaciers in glacier bay - it was amazing to have him pivot the board 360 degrees like a lazy-susan so we could all get photos. And mercifully, he kept his announcements and color comments to a minimum during the trip.