Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by marthabro: First Time on NCL - The Good and The Bad
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First Time on NCL - The Good and The Bad
We just returned from a multi generation cruise to Alaska. We have cruised many times on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess. We chose this ship for the flexibility especially with dining. Ages ranged from 10-80.
My little family - DH, DS and me flew into Seattle on Saturday afternoon. We took a cab to the Crowne Plaza Downtown for $40 and saw the rest of our family. It was unseasonable warm in Seattle so we dropped our bags and went out to explore. Walked to Pike's Place Market and snacked a little then took a cab to a restaurant in Capitol Hill. Walked back to the hotel later to check our our room. It was a nice big corner room with views of Downtown Seattle. Fine for one night.
The next morning we were up early and out for another walk in the glorious weather. Had breakfast near the Market and then went to Target for last minute purchases. Should have bought bottled water to take on board.
Transportation from the hotel More to ship was at 11:00 fairly well organized but once we got to ship things got crazy. Had to ask three people for VIP check in as we were all in suites. Finally went to The Haven and got checked in, but lounge was so crowded we stood around outside for 20 minutes. They did get my mother a chair. Then escorted through a maze of people to lounge, checked right in but had to stand in line again for keys. Finally escorted on but not by our butler. As soon as we got on we bought a Thermal Spa pass - it was our refuge. Went to Cagney's for lunch then to our cabin.
We had a Family Suite with a balcony. It comes with a separate interior cabin with its own bathroom. Great for our 25 year old. Living room, dining area with coffee machine and fridge. Bedroom accessed through a sliding wood and glass door. Bedroom and bathroom all in one with curtains closing off the bed. The curtains were very very effective at blocking the light from the windows in the tub and shower area. I felt like the cabin was worn out and they flip the ship so quickly that not everything is done right. We were missing one robe and slippers, soap for the shower and many lights weren't working. One of the two safes were not working either. In my Mother's Owner Suite many more problems that took 1 1/2 days to fix, such as broken safes, lighting, missing pillows etc. Our room steward was great, always smiling, he knocked on the door about 30 minutes after our arrival and greeted me by name.
Our butler was horrible. He never came by on the first day until I called well into the sailing. He then made a speech that made no sense and gave me a portrait card with the name of a photographer. I asked for 24 bottle water to be delivered and bananas and grapes every day. The water was delivered a day later and the fruit hardly ever appeared. Our room service breakfast was late 2 days and then after I complained to the Conceirge delivered by our butler on time once. He always made it seem that our requests were a waste of his time. He was never available to escort us off the ship at priority times and we ended up getting serviced by my Mother's Butler who was one floor up. Fernando on the other hand my mother's butler was great even delivering chocolate covered strawberries to us when he noticed our Butler had not.
Leah Rodriquez was great. She planned my Mother's Shore Excursions made sure she got on and off the ship with the younger grandchildren and organized a beautiful 80th birthday dinner at Le Bistro with complimentary wine. She visited with all of us once per day either in Cagney's during Breakfast or Lunch or by calling us on the phone. She is great.
The Pearl is the charter and you can tell. It is worn out in places and I never saw the constant cleaning that I see on other ships. A few times I had to mention to a crew member that the public restrooms needed work. They did spray our hands as we embarked each day and in the buffet. The Catch Phrase was "Washy, Washy, Happy, Happy".
After researching other reviews my little family decided to buy the Ultimate Dining Package for $119 per person. A great choice as we knew others on the cruise and they complained constantly about the food in the Summer Palace and Buffet. We never went to the Buffet except to get ice cream once or twice and dined for lunch in the Summer Palace. We had access to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch but the menu never changed so it was limited. We did have lunch twice at Lotus Garden where we could have sushi, noodles, or dim sum. Very good and we got a 20% discount. We enjoyed the Teppanaki, Cagneys (2), La Cucina and Le Bistro.
This was a good tool. We made all our reservations for dinner on the app and the three of us texted each other through the app.
The Cruise Director "Dan the Man" was non existent. I never saw him. We went to one Bingo and the callers were bored so we didn't do it again. We went to one show "Oh What a Night" and it was a fun recast of Jersey Boys. Most of the activities required buying something and all the lectures were for products such as accupuncture, shore excursions or shopping. The guitar player was fun, as was the piano player and the 4 string quartet was fabulous. My DS said the nightclub was boring, but he did bowl one night at 11 when it was adults only. The officers on the other hand were everywhere - I had coffee at Java Cafe and spoke to the Bar Manager every day. She was always out and about going around talking to people. Same with the Restaurant Manager and Hotel Director. Their enthusiasm did not translate to the servers and hostesses though.
In Juneau we did Mendenhall Glacier, ate crab at Tracy's and shopped a little. Skagway was the best we did the Klondike Family Experience which takes you to one place and moves you through stations. We panned for gold, met a musher, saw sled dogs and PET PUPPIES!!. We also tasted beer and had a great lunch buffet. We then shopped a little and had more beer. Glacier Bay was fantastic warm and sunny day and lots to see. We hung out on our balcony and saw everything. We didn't miss the Ranger because you can hear it on TV. Ketchikan saw DH and DS fish and me shop. Best shopping in Alaska wait for this port. Lots of great galleries and art. The stop is too short. Victoria we walked to downtown, bought Roger's Chocolates, Cigars at Morris and had a pub meal and Bard and Bankers. Oh and beer.
There is lots of sea time on this itinerary. We added up the shore time and it only totals 30 hours.
Freestyle cruising worked for us due to the number of people and differing body clocks, however I wouldnt do it again. Not enough to do on sea days if you don't want to be sold something and the ship is needing a refresh. Some of the crew is nice but most are sullen and slow. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Too long for the experience. We should have booked off the ship and added a city tour.
Because our captain was a native we caught the limit. Very informative.
Klondike Family Experience
Fabulous experience. Gave us a taste of all the different ways of life and the guide was so cheerful and fun.