Our Stateroom: We stayed in the Forward penthouse with extra large balcony (9500). The view was incredible and our balcony was used even on sea days. It was quite breezy on days when we were underway, but still quite doable. There is a very thick, sturdy metal door that seems to airlock when closed. There is a sign that said for safety purposes to keep it locked when underway. For the record we did not, and neither did our neighbors. Also important to note is that after sunset, your curtains have to be closed to the window to block any light going out on the front of the ship. We did not mind. Our stateroom was well equipped with a sitting area, a table and 4 chairs, king-size bed and full bathroom with tub and shower. A separate vanity for putting on make-up, doing hair etc was also included. The drawer space was more than adequate and the closet was very roomy. There were two safes in the room. We had a fancy coffee maker and nice bar set up. The balcony held two full lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a small table. There was plenty of room on top of that. We also had a refrigerator and a DVD player. A doorbell to the suite is a nice touch. The bed was very comfortable. We had pre-ordered three different types of pillows and they were brought to the stateroom the first night. We also had two bottles of champagne waiting for us with chocolate covered strawberries. Also a box of Godiva chocolates which was a very nice touch. I had also ordered a bon voyage basket including wine and fruit. That was not delivered to the stateroom until late, well after sail away. We had two Latitudes pins and received chocolates at turn down. We also had snacks brought to our room daily. We also requested a pitcher of water be put in our suite and it took an extra day to get it straight, but Carlos finally came to understand my husband's expectations and he offered us complimentary water and kept it on ice. I think our butler, Carlos was stretched a bit thin; he seemed a bit rattled at times. We saw him at the most one time per day. Very nice, but our butler on the Epic was better. Our concierge, Monica, on the other hand was quite lovely!!! She helped us with shore excursion reservations and dining reservations. I waited until I was on board to book everything and there was no problem. We received everything we asked for. I was surprised that they did not have the interactive tv showing you your reservations like on the Epic. I missed that feature.
Embarkation: The process was very smooth and we were on the ship by 12:00 noon. We were eating in Cagneys when they announced that our staterooms were already accessible. Cagneys is a great perk for Suite and Haven passengers. We ate breakfast and lunch there several times. After lunch, we dropped our carry-on bags in the stateroom, met our stateroom steward Jovell, (he was the best I have ever had on NCL) and headed up to the Mandara Spa. We took the spa tour and signed up for the week-long pass for the hydrotherapy suite. There is a limited number of them so go early if you want one. (Price is $119.00 per person) The hydrotherapy pool , Jacuzzi and heated ceramic chairs are all found in the unisex portion and then there are separate men and women's steam rooms, saunas, hydrotherapy tubs and cold plunge pools as well. The new electronic locks on the lockers were a constant annoyance and did not work correctly. Next we signed up for shore excursions; just to let you know there are some excursions offered on board that were not offered on the NCL website. Next came the lifeboat drill, our station was Stardust Lounge and next the sailaway party. The seas were rough and it was very windy. It was amazing that I was never once asked if I wanted to order a drink!!! Unheard of on NCL. I purchased a bucket of beer from Topsiders and we enjoyed the DJ and all the people dancing. I particularly loved the re-mix of the NCL "LET's GO" song and we heard it several more times throughout the week. You would hear people singing and humming it including passengers and staff. Our first night dinner was at Cagney's and we used our facebook coupon for a free bottle of wine. I had prime rib, and David had the filet! Excellent dinner!!!! We saw the welcome aboard show at 9:30 which showcases the talent you will see throughout the cruise. The seas were rough and in the front of the ship you do feel the motion much more. David had to take Dramamine, so we called it a night soon after.
Day 2: Great Stirrup Cay (private island)
Room service was on time and Carlos, our butler brought breakfast. In the suites you get a full breakfast menu and we always take advantage of eating our breakfast on the balcony. We used priority tending with Monica. The seas were very rough and tendering was a bit difficult. This is the first time I have been to GSC since the improvements. The negative is that there has been a lot of clear cutting and vegetation destroyed from the original state. It has lost some of its charm. The island was very crowded. We found chairs and used them all day. Rafts could not be rented as it was way to windy. Many people swam but it was a bit cool for us, so we worshipped the sun all day. Live band played reggae music and we picked chairs in close proximity so we could hear. We walked the island to some of the more secluded places and it was beautiful. Noticed that the cabanas are way out of the way from the main areas so be ready for a bit of a walk if you have reserved them. The buffet lunch was lacking in fruit and drinks. Later, we found out that the ship was having difficulty keeping the island stocked for its guests. We bought a bucket of beer; tendering back was even rougher than when we came over to the island. We returned to our room and no shore excursion tickets had been delivered or no ice water in a pitcher per our request. I called Monica who told me the shore excursion tickets had been printed and delivered to our room; after I told her that was not the case, she ordered a re-print and told me they would be delivered shortly. Finally David called Carlos who arrived at our cabin at 6:45 p.m. with excursion tickets, VIP captain party invitation and treats. He apologized that he was supposed to have delivered these much earlier. That is why I believe he was stretched thin. We also went to the spa and it was lovely as always. Dinner that night was Le Bistro. It was complimentary from Latitudes and included a free bottle of wine. Food and venue was perfection! I had the onion soup, escargot, beef tenderloin and crÃ¨me brulee ( orgasm in a cup). We booked spa treatments for Thursday; they were normally priced at $269pp marked down to $139 pp. 75 minutes included full body massage, moisturizing facial, scalp massage and feet and ankle reflexology. Went and saw the show "That's Entertainment" and it was average.
Day 3 Sea Day
We started our day eating at Cagneys. We went to the gym afterwards; David worked out and I attended a health and wellness seminar on Detoxification of the body. After that we got changed and went to the general Latitudes party. This party has certainly cut back in what it offers. A few snacks and quantity and quality of drinks have lessened. It was also scheduled at the same time as the bar hop. Wish we had done that instead at 1:00 in the afternoon. Next, it was up on deck for some sun worshipping and listening to the band. Then on to the Blue Lagoon for a quick lunch about 3:00...then on to the spa and back to the cabin to get ready for the Captain's VIP party. Also it was formal night. The captain's vip party was in the Bliss Lounge and we met some very nice people! Quality of drinks was superb and musical entertainment was provided. Next was our dinner at Teppinyaki! First time I had tried this restaurant and it was very good! That night we attended the show "Oh what a night" a tribute to Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons....it was an awesome show!!! I highly suggest attending this one! We then went to the 70's disco party and enjoyed the crazy antics up there. Called it a night about 12
Day 4 Jamaica
No tendering today! YAY!!! Our shore excursion was early so we had early room service breakfast and was on the dock by 9:00 am. We did the Bamboo Beach Break shore excursion. It was simply going to a local beach, where there was an open bar and lunch was served as well. Our guides were very sweet Jamaican girls, Tiffia and Teniqua, and they promised to be our mommas for the day. The beach was very nice with comfy chairs and there were bathroom facilities. Also a dj who played a variety of music. We drank beer all day , Red Stripe! After a while, I decided to go for a swim. WORD OF CAUTION!!! Wear water shoes because once you drop off the sandy beach it is all sharp coral and you cannot stand. I let the waves crash me back on to the beach where I managed to get back up on my feet and return to my chair. More beer and I was feeling no pain...everything was IRIE mon! Our girls served us several different courses to our chairs. We wanted for nothing! I had jerk chicken, a must in Jamaica. Finally, I did a little dancing, Cupid Shuffle and The wobble. GOOD TIMES!!! We got back to the port by 2:00...did a little shopping and then stopped at the small bar on the waterfront. More Red Stripe and reggae music. The locals were quite nice. Back on the ship, we went to the spa and then back to our stateroom for sailaway and wine and treats on our balcony. We went to Summer Palace for dinner and it was good, but service was slow. We were on vacation so no problems! After that we strolled the outer promenade deck and skipped the show. Overall very nice day.
Day 5 Grand Cayman (Thanksgiving)
It was a rough night on the ship! We rocked and rolled and had an early shore excursion at 8:00 am. We went to The Garden Cafe for breakfast! Yummy and not crowded. Made to order omelets, smoked salmon and crÃ¨me cheese, along with fresh fruit! Washy Washy, Happy Happy!!! Tendering was again very rough and when we got on shore we found out that the Port Authority had ordered the reefs to be closed due to heavy seas and gale force winds. No excursions for us as we were supposed to go snorkeling and then Tiki Beach. We were never charged for the excursions so no problem with having to get refunds. So...change of plans....we shopped for a while and by 10:30 found ourselves in Margaritaville drinking strong margaritas and watching The Macy Day Thanksgiving parade from NYC...LOL!!! I think I have started a new tradition. Got a good buzz then decided to head back to the ship and eat lunch at Cagneys. We had our spa treatments that afternoon and they were wonderful! Then on to the hydrotherapy suite. Finally back to our cabin to chill and lay on our balcony. We had the second Latitudes party that night in Bliss Lounge for Silver, Gold and Plaitinum members. Great drinks and entertainment! We ate Thanksgiving Dinner at Indigo (main restaurant) and it served a great Thanksgiving dinner with pumpkin cheesecake to end it off. I had two Mojitos and they were served with lots of love!!! We both went and crashed at 9:30 and missed the White Hot party. Oh well...
Day 6 Cozumel
Wow what a day! It was beautiful sailing in to Cozumel . We started our day at Cagneys and I had steak and eggs. I mention this because it filled me up so much I did not want to eat for the rest of the day. Service was somewhat slow, so after eating, we went returned to our balcony to watch the arrival into Cozumel. Our arrival was scheduled for 11:00 and we had a shore excursion at 12:00. There were numerous ships already there including the NCL Star and NCL Dawn. I was more than excited to know there were three NCL ships in port; how cool. There were two other RCCL ships and three Carnival. It was a packed port. We docked alongside the Star. The camaraderie between the two ships was obvious from the beginning! How much fun was this day going to be? Our excursion took us to PlayaMia...it was a huge beach with many different activities to choose from. It had lunch included and an open domestic bar. It was really crowded at first but as other tours that had been there from earlier hours began to leave, it became much more pleasant. We found some chairs directly waterside, the music played from the DJ and the beer began to flow. Then it changed over to pina coladas and they were made with lots of love!!! David ate lunch; I wasn't hungry but I continued to drink pina coladas. They were awesome. We went swimming and the water was beautiful!!! It was a glorious day! Met lots of really nice people as well. By the time we boarded the buses to return back to the ship, I was feeling no pain to put it nicely. The walk back to the ship was extremely festive, a real party atmosphere. Cruise director Julie was up on stilts and the rest was just a crazy blur. We made it back to our stateroom to watch the sunset and the Star sailaway. Remember how I said I had not eaten since breakfast? Well it caught up with me and I took a very long nap that extended 12 hours into the next morning. We missed our reservations at Moderno Churrascaria and the Chocoholic Buffet...oh well...It was a great day!!!
Day 7 -- Last sea day
After my 12 hours of sleep, I awoke to the sunrise off of the coast of Cuba. This is one thing I love about cruising...always something new! We went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast and custom made omelets along with smoked salmon and crÃ¨me cheese with fresh fruit. There really is something for everyone! It was extremely windy so we decided to hang out on our balcony. For some reason, the force of the wind was not as bad there as other places on deck. I had a few errands to do like buying my next cruise reward so off I went to the cruise consultant's office. While there, I think I sold two couples on booking Breakaway and convinced another couple to move to South Carolina. LOL!! Stopped at the shops to enter a raffle on the way back to the cabin. Then we spent from 10:00 until 2:00 on our balcony. It was glorious and we ordered room service for lunch and had lunch with champagne. We decided to go up top afterward to listen to the band one more time but it was very windy so we opted to go to the spa for one last time instead. The only thing that irritates me about the spa btw is the people who camp out for an hour on the heated ceramic chairs....Ughhh!!! One last time to the gym to have our basic metabolic rates tested and a health/wellness program assessment for us to follow at home. I loved Ryan who was a personal trainer! Great information from him and he gave me his e-mail to follow up. He is from England and should be back home as his contract was up on the Pearl the following week. Back to the room to start to pack and get ready for our final dinner on board. We chose Le Bistro because is it my favorite. NCL was generous enough to provide us with another complimentary dinner with wine. Of course I had to have crÃ¨me brulee one last time. We went to the final show which showcased the talent of "Oh what a night" The final farewell from the staff was great.
Time to leave: We do walk off with our luggage so we don't have to worry about luggage tags and putting our luggage outside the door at 12:00 a.m. We had a flight leaving from Fort Lauderdale at 11:20 am so we were off the ship first thing. We had priority disembarkation with our concierge Monica and were off the ship by 7:50 am, through customs and on the pier to wait for SAS transportation. Easy as pie!
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Pearl has aged a bit since the last time we sailed her in 2008. The decor in the suites need updating and having the interactive tv channel should be a must for post drydock. There was an overwhelming odor of sewage in the hallway going from the front of the ship to the front elevators. It wasn't there all the time, but more than enough to get noticed. Unfortunately, we were unable to use the casino due to the heavy fog of cigarette smoke. It literally makes my husband ill and ventilation needs to be improved.
This was our first time in a front balcony and for those who get motion sickness, the front of the ship does move significantly more than the middle. I loved the large front balcony which made up for the excessive motion. I thought the food in both the specialty and included venues was top notch. Our room steward Jovell was stellar in the service he provided and I tipped him extra and above the regular service charges we had applied to our account. I always tip the butler and concierge extra as well. The trip was fun, relaxing, entertaining and made me feel like I was home for the holidays. I would highly recommend the Norwegian Pearl and I can only imagine what she will be like after her drydock and facelift!!!!! She is my second favorite in the fleet only behind the Epic! Make sure to include her on your list of ships to try out!!!