July 2015 - Norwegian Jewel to Alaska - Inside Passage
First of all, the title of the cruise is misleading. If we went to Sawyer Glacier none of the six of us who went on this cruise saw it. Must have been at night. We saw Mendenhall (which we had to pay for) on an excursion. No big deal to me as I have seen too many glaciers to count, but grandkids wondered where Sawyer was and how it compared. We will never know.
The food was OK.
The Garden Cafe was a super giant buffet of multiple stations that the kids loved, but by day five I was skipping meals if I had to go there because of the crowds, the lack of atmosphere and the unavailability of seating for all of us at once. I swear all 2300 people are in there at once every morning. I skipped breakfast, waiting until the outdoor BBQs set up because those were very good.Except no service in rain. ANd you must know that it rains 2 out of every 3 days on average in most cities we visited. We had rain three days of 7.
The entertainment was terrific. Best part of the cruise.,
This cruise line nickels and dimes you to death. Everything is extra. We bought a "beverage package" for everybody and call drinks had a surcharge. Only two white wines were on the package. They were ok. Not special. The main atrium is always crowded because vendors set up their wares - cheap jerwelry, expensive jewelry, clothing - whatever. There is a casino and a video arcade where our youngsters learned- the hard way - that play cost $1.50 for 3 minutes as we made them pay for it, Some of what we thought were cruise programs to provide information turned out to be sales pitches for diamond or orthotic shoe inserts!
The staterooms were clean and the steward was attentive, T hank GOd we had balconies. They are VERY small, particularly the bathrooms. None in our party weighed more than 200 pounds and most much less, but big guys won't fit in the toilets.
The best dining room for me was the Tsars Palace. In all regular dining rooms the staff is attentive and helpful. Not so the bartenders in the special bars. I began to think they were ignoring me on purpose. The whole family experienced the same thing. I suspect these fellows are overworked, but still, they could have at least made eye contact. I let Norwegian know about it.
The excursions we booked (ziplining in Skagway with Grizzley Falls, salmon fishing out of Juneau, Whale watching etc), were all great, My favorite was the zip lining by a mile. Great, funny guides and lots of challenges. One of our teens caught a HUGE salmon he could barely hold. Very exciting, and we decided to send it home. THis is the most expensive fish we will have ever eaten, but we should get many meals out of it! We booked a seaplane ride out of Ketchican that got cancelled at the last moment. Bummer. Too late to book anything else so we just wandered around the trinket shops. BORing.
The embarkations and disembarkations were well planned and went smoothly, and the guest desk and shore excursion people were helpful once you got to the front of the line. (Book your excursions before you go if you can.)
Two full days at seas in the end, where most of the entertainment was stuff you paid to play and only five hours at night in rainy Victoria were very disappointing.
THe kids programs were wonderful. Our nine year old made friends and attended something every day. The teen program was enjoyed by our teens.
This is my sixth cruise, and I have been on Royal Caribbean, Crystal and Seven Seas, and this line is very far at the bottom. Before you think the prices of those all inclusive cruises are out of your prices range, think about this -- Each of us - even the 9 year old - had a nearly $100 required "tip." Excursions for six of us cost $4000 and we were good shoppers for best prices. Eating in specialty dining rooms where the food and service are much better cost extra per person, ranging from $19 per person to $109 per person depending on the restaurant you choose. .
What started out as a cruise for six (3 adults and 3 kids) at $9000 (two balcony rooms with pull outs for kids) wound up around $15,000.
Finally, I would have no hesitation booking through . Our agent Danielle was thorough, knowledgeable and had consistent follow through. The staff had access to our itinerary and were able to guide us in decision making.