Sorry you had such a bad first experience with cruising. While you raise some real concerns, many of the things you said in your review are common on cruises and really pretty minor. (No choclolate ice cream) The first thing to learn is that shore excursions are money makers to cruise lines. I just got back from the Radiance and also took the Mendenhall Galcier/ Salmon bake tour. It was over $60. Yes I saw the same signs for $5 to Mendenhall. But that gives you a mere 15 minutes at the glacier and without a stop at the hatchery. One thing I suggest is start taking one of the larger cruise lines like RCL or Princess. I have taken 30 cruises. I have not gone on NCL and never will. Yes they are cheaper, but I have seen too many bad reviews lately. I know you NCL fans, some cruises are great. But too often the sweet taste of a bargain turns sour.
We sailed a few years back on NCL's Norwegian Sky to Alaska and they were absolutely fabulous. I must admit now that after reading so many bad reviews of NCL recently I would hesitate to book them again.
The $5 trip to Mendenhall isn't 15 minutes at the glacier in our experience. The bus we took did a round trip every 1/2 hour. You could stay there as long as you liked...as long as you didn't miss the last bus of the day.
Ships break occasionally and ports are missed. This isn't only a policy with NCL. They all do it. They will eventually have to cancel a week or so to fix the ship but the lines do tend to put it off when possible. It's a bummer when you have to miss ports of course but it does happen.
How was a dance team "sickening". I don't understand this comment.
Every ship we've ever been on serves lobster only on one night. For future reference you can order extra however on that night. At least that was our experience on all cruises we've taken.
It's too bad the cruise was so dissapointing for you. Alaska is such an awsome place.
Thanks for your observations. This was our first cruise, and since so much of Alaska's Inside Passage is accessible only by sea or air, it was the only way we had to see the ports we wanted to visit. Hence, our disappointment when so much of it was cancelled and/or cut short due to the engine trouble. This was the only cruise with the itinerary we wanted.
We are not of the income group that can afford a vacation like this every year, or cruise several times a year. Therefore, this vacation meant a lot to us because we knew it wasn't something we could do again. We just felt we did not get our money's worth and the $400 in ship board credits given to compensate was not "real money" in our pockets. It was a good experience to say we have done a cruise at least once in our life, we did enjoy many aspects of it, however, travel style is an individual thing and we decided we like doing things on our own better and having more control of what we are getting for our money.
To those of you who cruise often, I am sure there are good cruises and bad cruises and the things that happen to us also happen with other lines, some things cannot be predicted, etc. It just seemed like there were more bad things than good things about this particular trip.
Don't give up on cruising just yet. I know plenty of people who are on a budget and take many cruises. I am booked on the Diamond Princess in December on a 7 day cruise for $599 per person including all taxes and port charges. I was on the Holland America Ryndam for 7 days last year for $499 per person out of San Diego. Airfare can be expensive, but if you plan early there are deals on Southwest and a few other cruise lines. To me this price is a very good value. These are not value or bargain cruise lines and are a step above NCL and Carnival. Just start shoppinga round.
I can honestly say I have never been on a nightmare cruise. But first timers are often fooled by all that hype they see in TV ads. The food is usually pretty good, but not much better than most chain restaurants in large cities. They have to serve 1,000 to 2,000 dinners each night in a 4 hour span. It's really glorified banquet food. But if something does not taste right, send it back. They only serve lobster, and filet mignon usually once. BTW... on my Radiance cruise of 3 weeks ago to Alaska they never served Crap Legs.
Entertainment is hit and miss. But usually pretty good overall. Shore excursions are expensive, but if you had read some cruise boards in advance you would have learned about independent tours.
In summary, cruising is a very good deal. Just price out a 7 day land vacation some time to say Miami, Hawaii, San Diego, New York City or San Fransisco.
Believe me, I did read the boards. We chose the Dream because of the itinerary - it went to the places we wanted to see and it was round trip from Seattle, which was important to us because my husband is deathly afraid of flying and we could drive there. I had read good reviews and bad reviews about the Dream and decided to make our own decisions and go on the cruise with open minds.
Booking the excursions through the cruise line was a choice we made, since we were unsure of what the options were at each destination otherwise, and we wanted to play it safe. My husband has a very bad back, and he cannot take kayak trips, or go on long hikes, or anything else very demanding physically. We realize that this can sometimes require a trade-off. See the country by a bus ride or a train ride or see nothing at all. My point is that they are overpriced, and also that we were rushed too much, without enough time to really enjoy. While on the Resurrection Bay boat ride with lunch on Fox Island, the boat ride was great, but we had less than 45 minutes to have lunch on the island and if you were in the back of the line, it was woof your food and get back on the boat with no time to even look at the scenery or in the gift shop. There was another boat load of tourists cruising into the dock just as we were pulling out, so obviously it's a timing thing where they have to feed as many as they can as fast as they can before the next bunch is due to arrive. Why schedule it so tightly? The same thing happened when we went on the White Pass train ride with the side trip to the L:iarsville gold camp. We were delivered to Liarsville about 10 min. late, so we missed part of the show. We were rushed from the show to the water troughs to pan for gold, we did that for 10 min., then it was rush back on the bus to go up to the top of the pass to catch the train ride back down. You live and learn, it was our choice to book it that way, but we didn't realize it would be such a cattle herd mentality. We really thought we would have more time to enjoy.
As for the food, yeah, it's gotta be a challenge to cook for that many people, however, I don't think it's an excuse for not keeping buffet food hot. This was a free-style dining cruise, so we could eat wherever we wanted when we wanted and we did like that aspect very much.
An Alaska cruise is one of the more expensive cruises to go on, and an 11 day one made it more so, but it was what we wanted to do, it offered the ports we wanted to see, and we thought we were going to get to see more of Alaska than what we did. It didn't turn out that way, we are disappointed, and we learned that although cruising may be fun for a lot of people, and maybe it is a good deal sometimes, but overall it's not what we like.
A $400 shipboard credit was not compensation for ports missed. It was use it or lose it, and we didn't care if we had any souvenirs from the ship's shops or not, nor did we particularly want to drink it all up. I believe cruise lines ought to offer passengers a choice - an on-board credit or a refund to put in your pocket. I purchased the soda card for $57.50 (to try and use part of the on-board credit), but that really is not a good choice, unnless you are addicted to soda. If not for the credit, I would not have purchased a soda card. You can't drink your money's worth out of that either. At an average price of $5.00 a 12-pack of soda, you would have to drink about 11 twelve packs of soda in an 11 day period to make it pay. Maybe some cruises are "deals", but add up all the incidentals, and it's expensive enough. And top it off with a nice big fat tip for everyone automatically added onto your bill, whether or not they gave you good service. We like to reward good service, and feel we would rather tip those that deserve it rather than have the tip money put in a pool and divided among them all. NCL will adjust the $10 per person per day service charge, but you have to go through such an ordeal to have it taken off your bill that it just ends up making you frustrated and mad and you are made to feel like some kind of Scrooge/Tightwad for even asking. The lady at the credit office even tried to tell me that the 15% automatically added to bar bills (for our convenience - ha!) is like a "tax" that is charged in bars on shore. What a load of crap. Since when is the word "gratuity" defined as "a tax"? She was something else. Leave off your automatic 15% and allow me to do my own tipping, thank you very much, and don't insult my intelligience by trying to convince me it is a "tax".
When you travel independently, you have much more control over all of these items, which sometimes they are small but they do add up. Cruising just wasn't for us. I'm not trying to insult anyone that enjoys cruising - for those of you that love it, that's great.
It is unfortunate that you did not have the holiday which you expected. Sounds like crusin is not for you.
I did not read the review but if you have not done so I would write to NCL and ask for a refund for ports missed as if you only had the option of onboard credit. That is not right for sure. Port charges should have been refunded as "cash" in my opinion. The amount that the line wishes to give you extra as a onboard credit is their choice of course and I can see them not wanting to give money away that they didn't get from you in the first place. I too have been aboard ships with whole days of the cruise cancelled because of mechaniclal problems.
No amount of money (beyond my wildest dreams of course) would have made me happy at the time. But we keep saving and going again and again because we enjoy it so.
I guess cruising is not for everyone. Maybe you should consider a vacation with a little slower pace and one that caters to people on a tight budget. Try Branson or Laughlin next year. You can get rooms for $22 and eat at $3.00 buffets. And you never have to tip.