Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by ginacoco: Not the best cruiseline I have gone on, but some great features
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Not the best cruiseline I have gone on, but some great features
I have to write a mediocre review on the Norwegian Pearl, but there were some good things to highlight also. We've been on 6 cruise lines and enjoyed each and everyone differently.
Let's start with the good:
1. The Haven: if you have the extra funds, this is worth the money, every bit of it. On an Alaskan cruise, the regular pool is almost a waste, as there really isn't the weather for it. The Haven has it's own private pool in an atrium (for all Haven level rooms and some other suites on the ship), so it is warm and you can use it throughout your cruise without any crowds to battle or wind to bare. You also get access to wonderful lounging areas, a private hot tub that seats 10 or so, and you can have breakfast and lunch served to you in the atrium itself. The suites are spacious, but a bit dated and the service is impeccable. You get to use the steakhouse for your breakfast and lunch too, which was a positive for us (different menu though).
2. The bowling More alley. They do charge an arm and a leg ($7/game including shoes), but this was a really fun added activity, especially for the kids. They went down and played on their own quite frequently and there was rarely a wait (probably due to the expensive cost). It was a bit of a challenge, due to the boat rocking, but we just put up the bumpers and the game was fun again. You can do it without them, but we found it less frustrating for the kids since there was so much uncontrolled movement once the ball left your hand.
3. The ports chose were great. Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay (not a port, but around), Victoria. The negative to any of these is the weather, as it is a crapshoot. We missed our helicopter ride at the very last minute, due to weather considerations. We booked private tours everywhere ,except the train and we were very glad we did (less cost, better itineraries).
4. The ship was immaculate.
The bad points;
1. The restaurant food was on the lower end for sure. Our Celebrity cruise last year was head and shoulders above this line in the normal restaurant....wow, what a difference (on a good note, no weight gain!). Norwegian really wants you to eat at its specialty restaurants and they give you an incentive, far from spectacular food. On every other cruise I have been on, I've stayed in the main dining room, but we only ate there a couple of times on this one. AND we had to wait 20 minutes each time to get a table. This is likely due to the fact that the service is terribly slow (even so in the specialty restaurants). For specialty: The Asian one and steakhouse was good, skip the Italian.
2. The ship is dated. Whether they just did it or did it years ago, the ship really looks quite dated in color scheme and theme.
3. The kids club forces the kids to stay a minimum of 2 hours before they can check themselves out. My boys wanted nothing to do with it because of this. This also accounts for why the older kids (9-11) rarely show and it is mostly daycare. My kids have always loved kids club and just enjoyed one last year on Celebrity....we could barely get the to stay with us when at sea....not so on Norwegian. The teen club, however, was fantastic for our teen and he was in there much of the sailing time.
4. The stays at port are WAY too rushed. They really need full days at these ports (most were 1/2 days). I felt totally rushed and wanted more time to just stroll around. As an example, you get to Ketchikan at 6 am in the morning and leave at 1:30pm. You really can't do anything until 8am or so and you have to be back on the ship at 1pm, so there is little time for excursions, especially when they have to pick you up and take you somewhere. This leaves little time to shop around and see the town. This part was really a big disappointment.
Juneau: Bad weather and our heli ride/dog mush cancelled....bummer. Did whale watch and saw them bubble (very cool and you can only see during small periods of time and in only 2 places), but the rain made it a bit less enjoyable, though I wouldn't have missed it. No Orcas, which was a bummer for me, as I really wanted to see one.
Skagway: We did the train. This is good for adults, but I wouldn't recommend it for kids unless they are over the top on loving trains. It's scenic, no real wildlife and boring for the kids, almost at any age. In the afternoon, we made up for it by going ziplining, which everyone loved. They have one there that you only have to be 50 lbs, which is huge for me, as my boys at 11 only weigh 65!
Ketchikan: We kayaked and did a floatplane. This was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed our day. The town was really cute and enjoyable to walk around, though we had almost no time.
Glacier Bay: Beautiful. We enjoyed several hours outside watching the glaciers.
Victoria: You get there so late, there isn't much one can do (6pm). We ate dinner at port and walked around a market and saw Parliament lit up, but that was pretty much all we could do. There are a few cruise excursions, but none suited the fancy of a family with younger boys.
In all, this is a one and done cruise for me and my family. It was beautiful to see, but one trip definitely fulfilled our need to see Alaska. Part of that is that the cruises are only in the summer and, being from Colorado, we only get 3-4 months of good summer weather, wasting a week in the cold of Alaska is a bit of a sacrifice for us. If I lived in super hot weather, it would have been an added bonus to have the cold and my feelings might be different! The other reason is that there is not that much to do in each port. We hit the best things we could find, which were fabulous, but, unless you love fishing, there wasn't a great list of things I felt like I missed doing, unlike all the other cruises I have gone on where I feel like I am definitely missing something when I settle on something else.
Alaska is a beautiful state with wonderful wildlife (though we saw little of it). I would recommend all to go at least once. As far as Norwegian goes, I'm not sure I will cruise with them again. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have them beat at around the same price point. To me, a cruise without spectacular food is an oxy moron. Less
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