We haven't cruised NCL in years, as they don't serve out closest local port. This cruise reminded us exactly why we loved it before, and why we'll be back, again and again. Also, we discovered they will be serving our local port starting next fall, so we may be on an NCL ship every year!
Our experience on the Pearl was excellent. The staff is easily the nicest and most accommodating staff we have ever dealt with, and they truly enhanced the total cruising experience. We had a few issues during our trip, but the staff went over and above to make sure they made it right with us. Prem in particular was one of the most accessible leaders of the ship - we often saw him out and about, actively interacting w/cruisers to ensure all was going well.
The food was excellent, regardless of where we went. The buffets were great, the dining rooms were delectable, the portions were just right, and the wait staff was cordial and accommodating. We missed out on the Salmon Bake that Seattle Mike referred to in his review, but it seems like we didn't miss out on anything there, so no big deal!
The room stewards were excellent as well, they worked around our schedule and always took care of the room for us. They were always super friendly and greeted us by name. Towel animals were always creative and a fun way to return to the room.
The photographers weren't terribly pushy, and neither were the servers at the bars & lounges. On other cruise lines, it was ridiculous, and we felt like every second on the ship was an opportunity to separate us from our money. On NCL, the service was there when we needed it, but not intrusive the rest of the time.
We aren't big fans of the Broadway-style shows, so we skipped most of those. There was some sort of scheduling conflict w/the comedians, so we missed seeing them for a few nights, but things happen, so it wasn't a big deal. There was plenty of other things to do, the game shows were so hysterical we were actually crying from laughing too hard!
The actual itinerary was great, even the somewhat weird time frames of getting in and out of port worked out wonderfully. Victoria was a notable stop - being able to get off the ship and experience the vibrant nightlife was so much fun, so there was plenty to do both on and off the ship. Some days, there was so much we wanted to do, it felt like we were running from one great activity to the next!
We had such a great time, we picked up two vouchers for the next two cruises we'll be taking w/NCL. We'll be long-time repeat customers if our experiences tend to be as good as we experienced on the Pearl. Great ship and an amazing itinerary. Worth doing at least once, even if you don't like cool-weather cruising.