Ten minutes ago I finished writing this trip report. It took ages not because it's so long (did I really just put 82 photos in a single blog post?) but because it felt so negative to write that I kept avoiding it, worried that it would be too easy to write about the lows and too hard to describe the balancing highs. (The excuse of a torn-up ankle made it easy to procrastinate, too.)
I'm going to proofread it now, once, which is less than it needs but all it will get because
a) eons will pass before I want to relive it all again,
b) we all know that I actually like long, rambling sentences/paragraphs/posts that meander far from the perceived point, so the best we can hope for here is a punctuation check, and
c) I want to get this bugger out in the open before people start planning their Alaskan cruises for next summer. If I can save one person from booking Norwegian...
I typed that last bit a little tongue-in-cheek. I do that a lot.That's why this "prologue" is happening, so that people know that I'm not as serious as I may seem in my trip reports. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to be a little dry, a little deadpan, but also a little hyperbolic and goofy sometimes, too. Definitely a little human.
It's a weird arrangement, when you have things you want to say, but you also don't want to be taken too literally. I doubt I'll pull it off. After all, "A Modest Proposal" still horrifies people, and I'm not Swift. (Nor will I begin to try to be, so please kick that bar of expectations back down into the dirt where it belongs).
So here's the deal:
We had a great vacation during the second week of July 2012 when we cruised to Alaska. Great vacation, yes, but a decidedly mediocre cruise on Norwegian Pearl. As in, we decided we'd never risk another cruise on Norwegian again.
This is the trip report for that cruise.
Don't come looking for exciting drama, though. If you like a low rumble of eye-rolling and disgruntlement, you might be okay.
If you hate Carnival, you'll probably get miffed because sometimes I compare NCL to CCL, but that's just because Carnival is all I know. (My in-laws have tried just about every line except for NCL. Their sentiments were similar.)
Besides, if I were a dogged cheerleader for Carnival, we wouldn't have broken away from them to sail on Norwegian, would we? And hey, sometimes Norwegian beat Carnival in our experience, and I talk about that.
So, I may be whiny, boring, self-indulgent, and far too windy and wordy for almost everyone's tastes, but I am fair.
This is just one trip report. I'm not purporting that our experience with NCL was universal or even common. (If it was, they surely couldn't stay in business.)
I also know, and would like to reassure the reader that I know, that our tastes are not the same as everyone else's tastes. Literally. I'm a vegetarian. Mike's not, but he doesn't like fish or seafood. Mike doesn't drink; I rarely do. We don't gamble on the ships because we live in Las Vegas (for a few more weeks, anyway). Balconies are important to us. Certain room amenities are, too. Good service isn't mandatory, but bad service is intolerable. And so on.
Everyone has their own expectations. We're no different. Maybe you'll relate to us; maybe you won't.
I'm only writing this trip report because in the 7th grade my English teacher had me keep a travel journal while I missed a week of school. Something about that stuck. I like to write. I like to record. That doesn't mean I'm any good at it. (Sorry!)
Luckily, this isn't a time-share presentation, and you're free to leave at any time with no obligation. (You don't even have to stay for all the words! If all you want is the photos, you can tuck them under your mouse-click and escape. See? I'm very nice! Try to remember that when I'm on my 70th lap of whining about Norwegian's food.)
The great thing about cruising is that "there's something for everyone." Unfortunately, our Norwegian Pearl experience didn't meet our preferences at the level of service we'd experienced in the past.
Another adage is that "A bad day on a cruise is still better than a good day at work!" Well, yes, but I used to say something similar that went like this: "Three weeks with pneumonia is still better than putting up with 5th period freshmen!" (2011) Or, "A few hours at the dentist getting a crown replaced and - OOPS! - looks like the anastethic wore off! - is still better than 52 minutes spent with my 4th period sophomores!" (2012). Or "Striving to be the good cog in a criminally incompetent school system is better than being unemployed!" (2005-2012).
"Better" does not always equal "good enough."
We had a bunch of fun on our vacation, because that's who we are. (And there is bonding in the bitching, is there not?) I hope this trip report conveys some of our delight at seeing new places, traveling with dear family, and, particularly, being perpetually enthralled by the majesty that is Alaska.
And I hope someday, sometime, someone at Norwegian sees what I've written and initiates a few reforms. I'm too skittish to risk another Norwegian cruise myself, but the line does have some good ideas, and I'd like for them to at least do well enough to keep "the other two" on their toes.