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Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by Pearl: Freestyle is NOT Free

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Freestyle is NOT Free

Sail Date: February 2008
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami

Or maybe it was just the Freestyle experience. This was our 6th & 7th cruises. We did 2 cruises back-to-back; 5 days western Caribbean to Cozumel and Grand Cayman & 9 day Southern Caribbean to Dominican Republic, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia. This was our first experience with Norwegian Caribbean cruises. Our first 4 cruises were on Carnival and we loved them. Last year we sailed MSC Opera to the Southern Caribbean. MSC is a totally Italian cruise line and that experience was very different but not the "un-special" experience like the NCL Pearl. Don't get me wrong, the Pearl is a beautiful ship and there are some great things about it, but overall, we were just turned off by the Freestyle experience. We don't go on a cruise for O.K. food or for an O.K. vacation. We go for a fabulous, relaxing, pampering experience and we just didn't get it.

Everywhere you go on the ship they are asking for more money. My husband loves to sit in the steam room but he More couldn't do it or go to anything in the spa without paying an extra fee ($15 per day or $75 each per cruise just to get to the steam room).

We didn't feel the food was anything to write home about either. The food in the "free" dining rooms was just O.K. Sort of like going to Applebees - maybe not as good as Applebees. We went to Teppanyaki one night with the whole juggling salt & pepper show ($20 each) and it wasn't as good as other comparable restaurants we have been to. Even the desert menus were not up to par as I was looking forward to crème brulee and on our second to last night we finally asked if they had it. I had noticed it was on the menu for the French restaurant (also $20 each) so we asked in the main dining room if we could get it. The Asst. Maître D' said he would have to talk to the chef. After about 10 minutes we did get my favorite desert, kind of hush-hush. I think they didn't want everyone to know you could get food that wasn't on the menu. We had most of our breakfasts & lunches at the buffet. What we had was good but if we were going for much variety or change it would not have been there. We are both trying to eat healthy so we chose mostly fresh cereals and fruit for breakfast and salads & chicken for lunch. Nothing gourmet there except the grilled tomato halves for breakfast were fabulous. If you go for burgers, brats or hotdogs, they were always there for lunch.

It also seemed like there were traffic flow issues especially on deck 7. The atrium was not that large and was filled almost every night with those picture backdrops with lines down the hall of people waiting to get their picture taken. There also seemed to be too many bars - on deck 6 is the Casino and an area called Bar City if that tells you anything. We are not drinkers so did not get to deck 6 much. We made it a point to check the "schedule" so we could catch Trio Los Hernandez, the group they had singing each night in the atrium. They were very good but we had to scramble for seating as it was very limited with all the photography going on in there. They could use more open lounge areas for a group like that. Overall, we had a mostly relaxing vacation but we didn't leave the ship feeling that we had 14 days of pampering like we have on our past cruises. Supposedly, Carnival, is on the "low end" as far as cruise lines go. I'll take a Carnival cruise any day over Norwegian Freestyle. I just have to say - for our first & last (unless we get a free one) cruise on Norwegian- we weren't impressed! Less

Published 02/28/08

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