Random Observation/Comment #561: We took the Norwegian Pearl (y’argh). Yes, I kept saying y’argh after the ship name. It’ll never got old.
Things NCL Alaskan Cruise did well
- Access to remote locations – We learned that locations like Juneau and Ketchikan can only be accessed 3 ways, “boat, air, or birth canal” (pause for laughter). Taking a cruise offers the opportunity to visit these magical places. The best was riding through Glacier Bay.
- Specialty dining – This was a pleasant surprise. We ate at Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, Moderno Brazilian steakhouse, and La Cucina. See below for full reviews. Our favorites are Teppanyahki and Le Bistro.
- Jim and Tim for Entertainment – “Music & Humor with Jim” is a must. Tim Kaminski also puts on funny and unique shows. He even provided great tips about the cruise when we met him offstage. The rest of the entertainment may not be Broadway-status, but it’s still a fun time.
- Friendly and talented staff – Everyone has a funny bone and warm smile. It’s evident that NCL emphasizes customer services.
- Towel Animals – This is still our favorite part of coming into a made room.
Things NCL Alaskan Cruise can improve
- Spa – Customer service was lacking with high volumes and not a lot of communication. We had to wait 30 minutes for a 9:30am appointment and there was not even a special wait area. We recommend skipping the spa. Very overpriced, a hassle to book, and poor customer experience.
- Cruise apps and mobile experience – Simple things like broken links in email newsletters and poorly designed websites led to a frustrating experience. This coupled with the long wait times for the customer service number was downright disappointing. What a lost opportunity.
- Low quality TT tables and paddles – From now on, Clemens is packing his paddle on all trips.
Our activities highlights
Sunday – Seattle, WA boarding and at sea
Wandering the boat
Teppankayi dinner – If you’ve never seen a Japanese Hibachi dinner, this will be just the right amount of awkward cheesiness and fun cooking. If you’ve seen it already, it’s like any other Hibachi.
Monday – at sea
Couples massage (way too expensive, but a nice hot tub prep)
Tim’s comedy show – By making people from the audience act out random scenes, he really brings everyone together and breaks down those walls.
Le Bistro – amazing steak and great service. I really loved it.
Music & Humor with Jim – the best type of comedy. Jim has the most funny delivery and we loved listening to all the classic tunes.
Tuesday – Juneau (docked 2-10pm)
Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest (2:45-8pm)
Mendenhall glacier (1.5 hours) – saw bears on the trail.
Highly recommend going out to the Nugget Falls. The fog creeps quickly so it will clear up if the glacier is blocked.
Whale watch (3 hours) – WWowwww bring your telephoto lenses (55-300mm as-c worked well) but you can easily spot flukes and breaches
Cool facts: The tides change 25 ft 4 times a day.
Recommended: Eat at Tracy’s Crab Shack. Our boat came back late so we couldn’t do this, but we heard great things.
Wednesday – Skagway (docked 7am-10:15pm)
Wander Skagway – It’s literally one Avenue and 15 tiny blocks of stores, so you can walk the whole thing in 1.5 hours. The Klondike Doughboy was delicious and Glacial Smoothies was a adorable stop for coffee.
White Pass Railway (12:30-4pm) – this 3.5 hour train ride was beautiful. If you can get a spot outside in between the trains then do that, but left side going up has the nicer scenery. It’s the same rails up and down, so they switch passenger seating so everyone gets a chance for fun views.
Salmon Bake (5-7pm) – this one was in Liarsville and the salmon was incredible. They make this sauce with maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, and pineapple juice (which we deemed liquid crack). I asked for it rare and without the sauce, which I felt personally think tastes better.
Thursday – Glacier Bay National Park
Stand to the back of the boat on the 7th floor. The ship will rotate so you’ll be able to see the whole view of the glaciers. I personally walked around the whole way and 7th floor had less of a crowd and no glass.
There’s also nothing better than reading a book on a balcony in front of glaciers. Remember to pack a hat.
Moderno Brazilian steak – decent meat selection, but heavily salted. As with most Churrascaria they serve the good meat later in the course, so start slow. Special shout out to the shrimp and lamb chops. Recommend skipping.
Friday – Ketchikan (docked 6am-1:30pm)
Walk around Ketchikan and shop
Alaskan fish house king crab legs for lunch
Relax and watch shows
La Cucina – Clemens wound up having steak, which was decent. Vinessa won this round by picking the lobster fra diavola.
Saturday – Victoria, BC, Canada – (docked 6-11pm)
Dinner in Victoria at Finest at Sea (it looks like a food truck across the street from the park)
Sunday – Seattle (docked by 6am)
Spent the rest of the day in Seattle before our flight. Remember to drop your bags off at the pier concierge for a much less expensive luggage storage option. It’s only $3 compared to any other rate around the city and airport.
The full Sunday activities in Seattle were highlighted at the end of the Pacific Northwest Roadtrip Travel advice.
~See Lemons Love Alaska with Vnessawithaneye