Just returned from the Pearl 3/6-13, 2010. Had sailed RCCL in 2005 so it had been a few years since my last cruise. I was not disappointed in any way. The Pearl is a BEAUTIFUL ship. I was traveling with my mother (a senior) and my daughter and her SO (late 20's). We stayed one night in Miami at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Directly across the street from Bayside Marketplace and a very short cab ride to the POM.
Embarkment was a breeze! We left our hotel at 10:30 and we were given ticket number 13 which got us on board just a little after 11:00. The Garden Cafe and buffet were open so we had lunch and then went to explore the ship. The crystal atrium is very nice and has a Chuhuly glass sculpture as it's focal point along with two staircases (on which many a picture was taken). Rooms were ready around 1:30 and our luggage arrived around 4:00. Sail away was at approximately 4:30. The pool area had live music (True Life is excellent) and so we stayed up top a good portion of the evening.
Sunday was an all-day cruising day and we chose to have dinner at the Teppanyaki restaurant ($25/person). The food was good and the chef was very entertaining. I would not choose to dine at this particular restaurant again while on board only because it is nothing different that what you can get on land and I felt it probably wasn't worth the extra dollars (I will note that this was a birthday celebration for 3 in our party).
Monday was in port at Samana, Dominican Republic. I chose to go on-shore and unless you have an excursion planned there is not much to do other than to walk to town and browse through several shops. Many vendors set up along the way mostly selling jewelry and local art. Very poor area. Never felt 100% comfortable so I was only on shore for about an hour. Others went on a cave tour and said it was okay.....
Tuesday was St. Thomas. Spent the morning downtown browsing through shops. Had a Best of St. Thomas tour in the afternoon. Wonderful to see both sides of the island. Made several stops at some tourist places for shopping. Mosty enjoyed the ride as it was crazy - lots of hills and very narrow roads.
Dinner at Indigo on board this evening. If you are looking for a nicer sit down restaurant (with no upcharge) then this is the place. Be sure to go a little earlier (closer to 6:00 than 7:00 as the lines would start to get long). We ate at Indigo several evenings and always enjoyed our food. They also do breakfast (which I didn't do).
Wednesday we were at Tortola. Had signed up for the White Bay at Jost Van Dyke tour - HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TOUR. If you like white sand beach and very few people then this is for you. You will swim in to shore from the boat and also back out when leaving. Absolutely gorgeous. You will spend the day in the area of the Soggy Dollar Bar.....a Sunny Place for Shady People.
Thursday was another day at sea and then Friday was Great Stirrup Cay. We were not able to get on shore as it was very windy and they felt it was not safe to tender in so one more day of cruising.
We were in cabin 5406 (picture window). I felt the room was adequate and more than enough storage space for two people. I called after we had gotten unpacked and asked our room steward (Sydney) to remove all items from the refrigerator which was done promptly. Much easier to put our own soda/water/etc in since they are small fridges. Bathroom has separate sink area although only one person at a time can really be comfortable (unless one person in shower) while another is using mirror/sink. Shampoo and soap available.
Many shows although I didn't do too much of that. David Nester (comedian) was on board and I would highly recommend his show. Also, Second City show was hysterical (very adult so be prepared). We did play bingo one afternoon but other than that spent most time poolside. Very large group on board from Premier jewelers as well as spring breakers from various universities. Lots of fun and never saw anyone out of control. We did get out to the pool around 9:00 AM in order to have our chairs for the day (yes, we smoke so always port side).
Drinks are no more expensive than I would have guessed so no issue with prices. They do add an auto-gratuity so no need to tip additional. Keep track of your beer bucket and get a $5 credit when it is returned.
Overall, Loved the cruise. Would definitely cruise with NCL it the future.