Observations on Cruises

Yes, I just now remembered I’d promised you this post.

Well, since it was our first cruise, we really had no idea what to expect.  Because we purchased the tickets so close to the date, we were able to get a room in The Haven (the upper-deck poncy areas with butler and concierge service) for a reasonable price.  The butler idea worried me before we even got on board.  More on that below.

There were a couple of little things, little niggles, not really problems.  On a ship called the Norwegian Pearl (or Norwegian anything), you’d expect a lot of the crew to be Scandinavian, right?  But no.  Most of the crew we encountered was Asian or Indonesian.  Our butler had such a thick accent that most of the time we couldn’t even understand what he was saying!  But in the end we all did manage to communicate when needed.

What bothered me most about the butler is that he would randomly stop by and ring the doorbell, either to see if we needed anything, or to give us some information about some activity that would be happening later.  We’d be leisurely enjoying the view from the balcony, and then the doorbell would ring; I would hop up to open the door, and the butler would push past me into the main living area so he could speak to Chris.  Nine times out of ten this conversation could have taken place at the door, without the butler entering, but he always came right into the room as soon as I opened the door!  Once or twice I tried to block his passage but he just made some foreign-word remark (that I didn’t understand) with a smile and pushed me aside.  So in that respect I was extremely uncomfortable with this high-level cabin.

Water:  supposedly the tap water on the ship is no good for drinking; we had to purchase bottled water if we wanted to drink water in the room.  This was an annoyance, especially since we were in the high-profile room.  And of course it was more expensive than at Safeway or similar.

Elevators:  totally crowded all the time.  Our deck was only accessible by putting our keycard into a slot in the elevator and then pushing the button for 14, and a lot of times we really had to struggle to get near the button panel to do this.  And then of course there was commentary from the other elevator people:  “I didn’t even know there WAS a 14th floor!” and similar.  There were a lot of wheelchair patrons on this ship, and we almost always had a wheelchair in the elevator also.  We ended up taking the steps a lot, except when we came back to the ship and embarked on deck 4…I was not about to walk up 10 flights after roaming around town all day!

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Spruce beers in Skagway.

We are not big drinkers anymore, but we’d paid for the unlimited drinks package just because we thought it would be worth it.  It wasn’t.  Chris and I kept forcing ourselves to order beer and wine just because we knew we had the drinks package.  So there’s that.  Next time we won’t bother with it.

Oh, internet.  Alex and Chris are pretty addicted to it, and even I am falling into that trap sometimes.  We got one “250 minutes free” package with the booking, and had earmarked that for me, and then we purchased the “unlimited internet” package for the boys.  It took us nearly 24 hours to sort it all out, but ultimately we did.

The food was fine, the drinks were fine, the staff was at least all pleasant.  Views were excellent, no matter where on the ship we were.

I found it frustrating that the Norwegian website was lacking in a lot of information.  It seemed that they could have a webpage about this particular cruise, indicating the times restaurants were open, or what activities were taking place at what time, and things like that – but we only got this information on a printed daily newsletter.  Chris pointed out that if you are charging people for internet access, it’s hardly fair to put the information on the internet for them to hunt down!  Which makes sense.  But there were screens all over the place in the common areas, directing people to various locales, and showing cutaway views of the ship to indicate which places were on which deck…etc.  So we got through it, but I still feel the Norwegian site is lacking.  They have a community Q&A page for each ship and I posted a lot of pre-travel questions there, which were answered by people who had traveled before on this ship.  But they were all common sense questions (like, do you need to have your TSA liquids in a clear pouch and accessible before boarding?  A:  No, they can be packed in your check-bag).  There should be some page with all this kind of info for people who have never cruised before and don’t know the protocols.

So, because we liked the cruise, but because some of the Norwegian stuff made us uncomfortable, we will be investigating other cruise lines for our next sea adventure.  Got a recommendation?  Please let me know!