This cruise on the Norwegian Pearl was the fifth for us. The ship was the most beautiful and contemporary that we have sailed on. We are active, empty-nesters who don't particularly enjoy cruising with small children.
We booked a balcony, amidships, on deck 9. Our cabin was beautifully decorated and comfortable. My only complaint is that the furniture could have had drawer space underneath, and didn't. The only way you could store your clothing is on open shelves, or hanging in the closet.
This was our third cruise with NCL. We learned the deal with the dining early on. The only drinks that are free on this ship is tap water, iced tea, and coffee. The buffet was really good, much better than the included dining rooms. We ate most of our dinners at the premium restaurants, which were all well worth the surcharge.
NCL doesn't miss an opportunity to make an extra dollar. Photographers are always right there taking your picture, and sometimes blocking access off of the gangway at the port. Most of the events on the daily schedule were designed to make money for the cruise line, and most for an added fee, such as wine and beer tastings, bingo and casino specials, fitness and spa events, and jewelry promotions. The shops onboard were nice, but we weren't onboard to go shopping. Instead of trying to improve the economy of some of the underdeveloped areas NCL visits, by promoting local handicrafts, the cruise line obviously partners with stores like Diamonds International, steering customers to partner stores at the various ports.
For our shore excursions, we usually book independently, but this time we chose to book with NCL, because the prices were comparable. Also, for example, in St. Thomas, getting back in time would have been an issue if we had booked an outside excursion. NCL shore excursions are guaranteed that the shop won't leave without you.
We enjoyed all of the public rooms. We especially enjoyed relaxing in the less crowded spinnaker lounge, which cleared out every day after bingo. As a runner, I was disappointed that the jogging track was much shorter than on the last cruise, but I guess we can be pretty annoying to non-runners. We are also non-smokers and were really pleased to hardly see any smoking on board! The ship smelled great and was spotless.
The entertainment was pretty good. We went to four shows in the Stardust Theater. I wasn't crazy about David Naster, the comedian. He spends the last ten minutes of every show trying to sell his f*rt toy. The juggling/ comedy team "Sharkbait" was wonderful, and shouldn't be missed. The music on board wasn't nearly as good as previous cruises...no steel drums, a big disappointment on the Caribbean!
All-in-all, I would recommend this vacation. I'm attaching separate port reviews.