This was my 2nd cruise to Alaska, my first being on a Princess cruise. I went with my grandma and cousin who is 11. This was our first time with NCL and we will never go again. We flew into Seattle the night before our cruise and stayed in a hotel not associated with NCL. The day of embarkation went smoothly, we arrived very early to avoid the lines and were one of the first group of people onboard the Pearl. When we walked up the gangway, we were greeted by some of the NCL staff. They were high-fiving us and playing caribbean music. At first we thought this would be a fun, energetic cruise, but we were totally wrong. We went to our balcony room first and it was very pleasant. It was clean and we met out room attendant right away. He was very nice and remembered our names for the entire cruise. He was the ONLY cruise member who ever talked to us about our day and addressed us by our names.
After visiting our room, we went around the boat to get a feel of what we would be able to do for the week. The Pearl is set up in the worst way. It almost feels very claustrophobic. The areas are so congested and sectioned off you feel totally trapped. There are only 2 main dinning rooms which make you wait with a pager and the ONE buffet area they have has ONE line and is complete chaos. There are not enough tables at all and you have to wait 20 minutes to even sit down. Once you have a table, you have to have at least one person from your party wait to get there food because if you leave the table, it will be gone by the time you get back. The food was below average. The chicken was dry, pasta was overcooked, and desserts tasted like they were from Costco.
Next came the activities to do onboard. Since this was a cruise to Alaska, the weather is not always great to be in the pool or hanging out outside so we expected there to be a lot going on to keep us entertained throughout the day but we were wrong. The cruise director was never seen except at the end of a show in the theater. We found ourselves just sitting and watching the ocean throughout the day and then going early to our room to get ready for dinner.
Our room was a nice balcony, spacious room during the day and a nightmare at night. We had 2 twin beds and then a sofa bed. When the sofa bed was pulled out for sleeping, you could not get onto the balcony unless you crawled over the bed. Since they turn down your room at 7pm and sunset in Alaska is usually not until 11pm we could never look at the sunset from the balcony. I was traveling with my 76 year old grandma and there was no way she could climb over the bed. This was a ridiculous design and it ruined the ability to go on the balcony at night.
The staff throughout the cruise were not friendly and were very rude and looked like they hated their jobs. No one went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and even the bar staff barely approached us while we were seated at bar areas to offer us drinks.
The only good part about this ship was the entertainment in the theater and 4 out of the 7 nights they brought in outside entertainment.
Overall we were extremely disappointed with the food, service, and lack of activities available throughout the cruise. We will NEVER go on a NCL ship again.