I booked this cruise about a year ago as a way to celebrate my wife's 35th birthday this September. She had always said that she "wanted to see the ice before it melts", so a trip to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl seemed like a great idea at the time.
Flash forward to this year, and I'm sitting here a week and a couple days after returning from this cruise, wishing we were still on it. Sure, there were unbelievably rough seas on day 6 causing us to miss our Port of Call in Ketchikan, but this truly was the trip of a lifetime!
We had a forward facing port-side corner Owner's Suite on Deck 10. The suite itself was amazing: large bedroom with the forward balcony; one full double-vanity bathroom; a half-bathroom; living area; mini-bar area with a espresso machine and 3 bottles of liquor; dining area; and large side balcony. We had the usual suite perks with a butler, concierge, etc.
The suite perfectly suited this trip. Half the awesomeness of cruising Alaska is seeing the views from the ship, and this suite gave us the best vantage points as we pulled into each port and particularly on the day we cruised Glacier Bay.
As we had never been to Alaska before, we were very pleased with the itinerary - although, I suspect, we would've been pleased with any Alaskan itinerary. The key was in the excursions we booked in each port. Missing Ketchikan gives us another reason to go back sooner rather than later; but, with the dangerous weather conditions we encountered, I think NCL made the right call skipping the port.
The itinerary included stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria BC in addition to a cruise through Glacier Bay. I will write reviews of each excursion later; however, we booked the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier excursion in Juneau and the White Pass Railway and Laughton Glacier in Skagway. We hiked onto a glacier, and it was awesome. Can't recommend these two excursions enough!
As with most NCL cruises, the food was decent. We skipped the Chef's table yet again because silly NCL has the same menu on each ship for Chef's table. This being our third NCL cruise in 13 months, it just wouldn't have been worth the almost $90 per head to do the same menu again. We ate at Cagney's for breakfast most days (a suite perk) and ate their for dinner, which was quite good. We really enjoyed our dinners at Le Bistro and La Cucina. The meals in the regular dining rooms and buffet were certainly reasonable. But, with the buffets and main dining rooms being so overly crowded, it was worth it to us to spend the extra dollars on the specialty restaurants just to have a more intimate setting.
Overall, the service was excellent. We were fortunate enough to have Monica as our concierge again. She is fantastic, always checking on us and seeing how we were doing. I wish we had been able to see her on our last day to thank her again; but for some reason, we did not.
We love The Second City...just love them! As a treat, we did the Presumed Murdered Luncheon Theater and had a great time. The meal was so-so, but the entertainment made it worth it.
The rest of the entertainment was high-quality but just didn't appeal to us. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons? Not. For. Us.
While the ship was fantastic, the reason you go to Alaska ''" and what makes this trip ''" is Alaska! What an overwhelmingly gorgeous state! The air quality; the landscapes; the glaciers; it was all unbelievable.
My wife and I made so many new and wonderful memories in Alaska. I can't recommend the Norwegian Pearl enough to get you to this beautiful state. This is a trip everyone should do :)