Visiting Alaska was one of my dreams for many years. My daughters and their husbands also wanted to go so we decided on a family vacation. We chose the Pearl because of the friendly attitude they displayed toward accepting my young grandson on the tour. He is only seven months old and some lines did not work much with us in setting up the details needed for him to travel. Norwegian was most cooperative and fair in making those arrangements. We also wanted a ship that cruised Glacier Bay so the Pearl was an excellent choice for us.
We made our own travel arrangements to Seattle and chose to fly in two days early so we could visit Mt. Rainier. We arrived at the port at noon and had a remarkably easy embarkation process. We gave our luggage to the check-in porters, entered the main port, and proceeded to agents set up to expedite the process. We were on the ship in less than 30 minutes and able to go to our cabins immediately so we could drop off our carry-on luggage. No having to carry it around the ship while the cabins were being readied.
Our stateroom was perfect. We had a small cove or hull balcony, plenty of storage, a nice bathroom, and a very comfortable bed. Everything was spotless, and Wilson, our cabin steward, kept it that way the entire week. My daughters also had cabins with balconies, and my grandson's pack and play was in the cabin for him shortly after we boarded the ship.
The staff and service of the Pearl was truly outstanding. Not only did Wilson, our room steward, greet us in the hall; the others did too. On the elevators, in the public rooms, in hallways--it was the same story. Staff members smiling and telling us to have a good day. I will also say that the wait staff in the restaurants were wonderful with my grandson. They quickly brought high chairs, and then stayed around to talk to him, smile at him, and even play "peek a boo" with napkins when they could spare the time. We were treated like royalty throughout the week, and it would be impossible to say enough good things about them.
Our ports were perfect, and we were blessed with good weather. We had rain in Juneau and on our last day at sea, but the other days were perfect. In Juneau we booked an excursion to Taku Lodge aboard a float plane. In Skagway it was a trip on the White Pass railway with a return scenic drive booked independently of the cruise line. Cruising Glacier Bay was amazing, and the captain navigated the ship so both sides of the ship were turned toward the Marjorie Glacier for a portion of our time in the bay. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan and a carriage ride in Victoria completed our trip.
My only criticism of the week was related to freestyle dining. Before leaving, I read that you simply made reservations for dining halls and it was rare to wait for a table. That was not the case on our trip. The only restaurants taking reservations were the specialty restaurants, not the Summer Palace or Indigo. We did experience difficulty in getting seats without excessive waiting. One night we waited over 30 minutes for a table. We finally learned that going to dinner at 5:30 was our only choice to avoid long waits for tables. The food itself was very good. Some have complained about it in other reviews, but it was far better than the food on my last cruise, which was with a different cruise line. Eating in the buffet was truly a disaster. Again, the food was very good, but it was always crowded when we wished to eat. Finding a table was difficult and visiting the stations to get food was frustrating. We only ate there a few times and then turned to the Summer Palace for breakfast and the Indigo for dinner.
Entertainment on the Pearl was varied and in general good. The Oh What a Night tribute group was very good. We enjoyed their perfomances each time they were on stage. The Pearl dancers and production team was okay. I didn't think they were as good as other groups I've seen on my previous cruise. I thought the juggler was very good and displayed a good sense of humor. We did watch Deal or No Deal one night, and the crowd was really into the activity. Julie is a great cruise director and has a knack for involving the audience. The ship's crew show was fun, and the final number/routine was hilarious. I won't spoil the fun for anyone else, but be sure to see it if you cruise on the Pearl.
Disembarking was even easier than embarkation. We put our luggage out Saturday night, walked off the boat and through customs, and found our luggage in less than 20 minutes.
Traveling on the Pearl was wonderful because of the great crew. Some modification of freestyle in relation to the main dining rooms is needed, but the food is good. Would I sail on the Pearl again? Definitely. The many positives certainly outweigh the minor issues related to the dining scheduling.