Here are some things to expect, from getting to the ship, to onboard activities and expectations, to your return:
(and some of this info may be helpful if you're sailing on another cruise line too!)
Some Things to Bring - Weather in Alaska can be unpredictable all summer long, so it is a good idea to bring your rain gear, just in case. Bring a watch, because there are not many clocks in the public areas of the ship, and you don't want to miss that activity or show. A power strip is ideal if you have iPods, phones, or computers to charge; there is really only one accessible outlet in most staterooms. And you may also want a lanyard for your keycard, if you don't usually have pockets.
Parking at Pier 66 - Parking will be available at Pier 66 (across the street at the Bell St parking garage for $20 per day per car. Once in the garage, you will see a cruise baggage station where you are to drop your luggage. Baggage attendants will take your luggage directly to the ship for you as long as you have your cruise line luggage tags attached. It is not necessary to make parking reservations in advance, unless you have a motorhome; if so, call 206-443-1793 for advance reservations.
Stevedores will be at the pier to assist with luggage - Baggage assistance is readily available at the Bell Street Pier. Recommended gratuity for the stevedores is $1-2 per bag; minimum $1 tip.
Boarding & Check-in - All passengers must pre-register on line at NCL.com. YOU WILL BE DENIED BOARDING if you do not have proper identification when you check in for your cruise. A passport is REQUIRED as the ship makes stops in Canada. The check-in lines are usually longest around the embarkation time announced in the ticket packet. Though check-in is possible late morning, embarkation is scheduled to start at 1:00pm. We STRONGLY recommend late arrival (between 1:00 and 2:00pm)... unless you don't mind standing in long lines.
Minors Traveling Without Parents, or with only one parent - The responsible adult in your party must present a notarized permission letter from the parents, or from the missing parent. A sample is available, just ask your travel advisor.
Muster Drill - Once all passengers are aboard, and prior to the ship setting sail, there will be a mandatory muster of all passengers and crew to go over the safety procedures aboard the ship. More information specific to your ship will be provided when you board.
Freestyle Dining - Norwegian Cruise Line has a FREESTYLE DINING policy. The various dining rooms will be open for seating from 5:30am to Midnight. You can eat when you want, and with whomever you wish. If you are traveling with friends, agree a time, place and restaurant, and the Maitre d’ will seat you at the available table of your choice when you arrive at the restaurant. There are NO ASSIGNED TABLES, and NO ASSIGNED DINING TIMES! To celebrate special occasions, anniversaries, and birthdays see the Maitre d’. Tipping guidelines and procedures will be outlined aboard the ship. A few of the restaurants on NCL ships are "specialty restaurants" and carry a service fee, as well as an additional charge. These restaurants require advance reservations that can be made only after you board the ship. The majority of the restaurants are "no service fee". For those who wish to have an assigned table and seating time, please see the Maitre 'd once on board to make those arrangements.
What to wear - Casual attire is more the norm for Alaska cruising. For the one formal dinner, dark business attire is acceptable, though there are a few traditionalists on any cruise who wear the tuxedo (gentleman), or long gown (ladies). REMEMBER! With FREESTYLE DINING, you can always go to a dining room that is more casual. The weather is generally like the Pacific NW during the summer, with cool evenings, and days that can be anything from t-shirt to sweatshirt to warm coat. We recommend packing for a variety of weather (layers!)
Room Charges - A running tab of expenses aboard the ship including shore excursions, gift shop purchases, wine with dinner, alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages, and any other charges, can be paid at the end of the cruise with a major credit card. The credit card imprint will be taken at embarkation. Personal checks are not accepted. Currency used ashore in Alaska is the U.S. Dollar ~ happily accepted by the natives in any denomination.
Laundry Service – There is no public laundry on any of the Norwegian Cruise Line Ships. Laundry service is available for a reasonable fee. Information will be available in your stateroom.
Shore Excursions – Shore excursion information will be available ONLINE starting a few weeks before the beginning of the season (mid-April). You will be able to purchase in advance from this site. For passengers who choose not to book shore tours in advance, these can be booked aboard the shop at the shore excursion desk. Shore excursions cost anywhere from $49 for the more generic "city tour" to $299 or more per person for flight-seeing and helicopter tours, and even more for some specialty items. On a limited basis it is possible to "do you own thing" in a port of call. There are buses in Skagway ($2) and Ketchikan (free) that run in a loop around the town, a great way to preview the area and decide what you may want to spend more time at.
Shipboard activities - You will find the traditional bingo, along with fitness and exercise, shore excursion and port lectures, contract bridge, and a variety of lectures that vary from week to week, including wine tasting, financial lectures, and towel animal folding. Some fun, some serious. First-run movies are played throughout the cruise on cabin TV, as well as Alaska features, and a variety of other things travel-related or not.
Tipping Guidelines - With Freestyle Dining, gratuities of $13.95 per person, per day, are added to your ship board account. NOTE: There is an automatic 18% gratuity added to each beverage charge.
Spa services cost about twice what is charged ashore, and are by appointment. The nail and hair salon charges are roughly 50% higher than you would pay ashore. Often, you can purchase a package of treatments for a significant discount.
Hair Dryers are provided in each cabin (or ask your cabin steward). No adapter needed.
There is a Safe Deposit Box in each cabin.
No Skating or Rollerblading on deck.
NO FISHING OR HUNTING from the ship (Yes! People actually ask!!!)
Internet Cafe - YES! Send e-mails, check your stocks. Also, Wifi is available on board for a fee (roughly $5/hour) for you to connect with your own devices.
Public WiFi - The libraries in both Juneau and Skagway are downtown, and offer free WiFi. The library in Ketchikan is a bit outside of the downtown area, but there is a coffee shop a block away from the pier with great connectivity.
Maritime - if this network is displayed as your current carrier on your phone, know that outgoing texts are $0.50 (incoming are free) and calls are $5.99 per minute.
Preparing to Disembark - After Dinner and entertainment the last night of the cruise, passengers leave their packed luggage outside their cabin door prior to retiring. (Being careful to leave out a few items to wear off the ship the next morning!) Baggage is picked up late at night by the staff, stored on the lower decks, then disembarked to customs as soon as the ship arrives in Seattle the last morning. Passengers recover their baggage on the pier at disembarkation. This is fairly simple with a "color coded tag" system. Instructions will be provided aboard the ship.
Disembarkation - Departing the ship is quick and easy in Seattle. Passengers who have used recommended parking services are shuttled to their car. Stevedores are once again available to assist passengers with baggage. This whole process seldom takes more than about 20 minutes once passengers are off the ship.
Inside cabins - These cabins are all around 150 square feet, with twin or double bed, private bathroom with shower, limited storage/closet space.
Outside cabins - These cabins are a little bigger than most of the inside cabins, but with a round window (larger than a typical porthole) or a mid-size picture window. Limited storage/closet space.
Balcony cabins - Not a bad location anywhere for these. Cabins are about 200 square feet, including balcony space. ALL of these cabins accommodate an additional passenger, but we do not recommend it unless traveling with a small child (sofa bed arrangement). Limited storage/closet space.
Mini-Suites - Includes two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed as well as a sitting area, and the sofa can sleep two additional guests. Approximately 272 square feet, including the private balcony.
Suites - These include a dining area and separate bath and shower. Cabins range from 341 to 578 square feet in the 2-bedroom Family Suite, which can sleep 6.
The Haven - These are the top-of-the line suites, and only a handful are available on each ship. Smaller Penthouse Suites are 440 square feet, Owner's Suites are from 791 - 1,197 square feet, and the 3-bedroom Garden Villa is 4,292 square feet. These all have private outdoor decks, some with private hot tubs, and 24-hour Concierge and Butler service. A great treat!
Revised June 2016
Info@ptserv.com (425) 827-5656 811 KIRKLAND AVENUE, SUITE 101 KIRKLAND, WA 98033