We collectively decided as a family to take the Norwegian Pearl's Aug. 16-23, 2009 Alaskan cruise based upon its itinerary and promise of freestyle cruising. The itinerary had a lovely unique route sailing one day through Glacier Bay National Park for more than 6 hours. We were even joined on board by Alaskan Park Rangers who gave a terrific narration of what amazing sights we were all enjoying. Marjerie Glacier calving was amazing. The striads of brilliant turquoise in the ice was beautiful. We had port visits to Juneau, Skagway where we leased an Avis van and took off up into the Yukon independent of the ships planned tours. One needs to be aware that Avis doesn't have the most reputable business arrangements in Skagway. We had reserved a vehicle a few months prior to our trip only to arrive there and be told that "our" van had not been returned the night before and when queried about the 3 vans sitting in their lot, they said they each had some mechanical problem . My More
brother-in-law Ken asked about them and since as well as being the purchasing agent for Ameren Electric, he had worked his way through college as a mechanic, he decided to take one and personally be responsible for it's repairs, thus securing a vehicle for all of us to go touring in.Lucky for us we had no problems and marveled at Emerald Lake and Carcross. Ketchikan was a pretty interesting town filled with totem poles and nice parks, a good town to simply walk in. Our 4th and final port was Victoria B.C. Canada.
Now no cruise review would be complete without commentary on the food. For the most part, we all found the cuisine quite nice. The variety and preparation was nice. The Garden Buffett served breakfast, lunch, and dinner with all of the ususal expected items and with some lovely touches. The salad bar was wonderful. Many different lettuces were available along with fabulous cheeses and other vegies and enhancements to create terrific salads. I also throughly enjoyed the espresso self serve machine near the end of the Garden Buffet. I'd not seen that on other ships. The 2 Main diningrooms that we dined in that were inclusive with our cruise fees, the Summer Palace and the Indigo Room were lovely. I thought the lobster served the 2nd night of the cruise was the best I'd ever had! The steaks were also good. And, the creme brulee ...to die for! However, I felt there was a bit too much focus on the other 6 restaurants charging additional fees of $10-$25 per person per meal. Also, unlike other cruise lines, juice is only available at breakfast on NCL.
I did experience a lot of rude people..NOT THE CREW, but rather they were taking the brunt of crabby vacationers who seemed out of line to me. I wonder if it was because this was a FULL cruise, too many children?, Alaska ? I'd never experienced that undercurrent on any other cruise before.(I also found Alaskan's worn from seeing so many tourist in their little towns too. did admire and respect the crew for how well they handled these challanging situations.
The entertainment was good. Loved the "Geisha Garden" with the Ayn Rand Dancers and "Shark Bait." There seemed to be something for everyone to enjoy doing on the ship regardless of age, physical limitiations, likes & dislikes. The Bliss Lounge with its 4 bowling lanes was big hit with our group. It wasn't as easy as it looked. Bowlers with 300's at home had their fair share of gutter balls on ship! It was comical.
I hate to say it but the cabins were too small for me, and too dark inside. Lighter walls and carpeting would help.
BEAUTIFUL city with a British flavor. Be sure to go see the Butchart Gardens. Downtown is lovely at night when all the Parliament bldgs. are lit up. Have a cocktail in the Empress Hotel in the very posh Bengal Lounge across from the Inner Harbor.