Norwegian Pearl - Cruise Critic Review - April, 2010
Four of us took a week-long repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC. I have done the US West Coast repositioning cruise a couple of times, including trips on the Norwegian Sun and the Coral Princess.
NCL cruises, and especially the repositioning trips, are often lower cost than similar length on other lines. However, this means that there are more charges on board and also that there will be more attempts to sell you things (like drinks). Overall, I would say this a very good value.
Our Trip: Our trip was one of the best cruises I have experienced. This was due to a number of factors. One was the wonderful travelling friends, another was the truly great work of the crew. We were lucky in having more contact with the ship's officers, and also in being upgraded to VIP status, but even crew members who did not know of our status were polite, efficient and knowledgeable.
I would like to especially acknowledge the work of the Hotel Director Dennis Prguda, and Restaurant Manager Jorge Martinho. Both were outstanding examples of staff members who truly were enthusiastic about their jobs, and who wanted to get the job done right. This was evident not only in their interactions with us, but also in the way they treated their staff, and the genuinely happy responses they received from their staff members.
Cabin We had a BB class balcony stateroom on deck 9. It was a bit smaller than some I've had, but there was enough storage room for both of us (bring bags which you can store under the bed). We really appreciated the sliding door for the shower, so there was no fights with shower curtains!
Our room stewards were very helpful and efficient. I appreciate service when it is effective, but unobtrusive, and this is what I felt I received.
The ship itself was clean, cheerful, and fun to be aboard. We particularly enjoyed dancing in the Spinnaker Lounge, and the different bar choices.
Fellow Passengers: We had a variety of ages on board. Because schools were in session there were not too many children aboard, which was, quite honestly, nice for the adults who wanted more of a chance to relax. There were a fair number of retirees, and a mixture mostly of Americans, and Canadians.
Restaurants and Food: We ate in a variety of the specialty restaurants (Teppenyaki was especially fun). We really enjoyed two dinners at Le Bistro. On our trip we found it very easy to get reservations at the specialty restaurants, and really enjoyed the extra-special experience. We had one dinner in the Summer Palace (main dining room), and found the food and service to be very good.
NCL is known for it's flexibility in dress code. Although one "Formal or Not" evening was held, only a limited number of people dressed up. The only announcement which was made about the "Formal or Not" night was in the ship's paper.
Some people did wear jeans to the restaurants (main dining room and specialty), but "Resort Casual" was probably the best description or what most people were wearing.
NCL offers Freestyle dining. This means that you have the choice to dine when, where, and with whom, you like. Some people love the flexibility of this, while others miss the relationship you might develop with your wait staff on board a "traditional" dining ship where you dine with the same people, at the same time, each evening.
Entertainment: There was a wide variety of entertainment, from live music in the atrium (very pleasant to listen to), to lively bands in the bars and more formal shows in the theater. Andy, the Cruise Director, was lots of fun and we enjoyed the tribute to the Four Seasons very much.
Final Thoughts: If you're looking for a chance to get away for a week, and unwind aboard a beautiful ship, with some good time at sea, then the West Coast repositioning cruise is one you should seriously consider. It was wonderful to walk the decks in the early morning hours, enjoying the feeling of the ship steaming at a good pace northwards, enjoying the quiet sounds of the ocean and the smell of the sea.
The seven day repositioning cruise has all of the amenities of the traditional cruise - including the chocolate buffet! :) - but with a much lower cost. However, you're not going to exotic ports of call, and do spend more time at sea.
NCL has a style and approach that we enjoyed. The emphasis is on fun, and informal, while still providing very good service. Spend some time looking up hints and ideas on the CruiseCritic Boards. We learned some useful things: ask for robes and slippers (no longer automatically provided), check out the bridge viewing room on deck 11, and try the great ice cream in the Garden Cafe.
Thanks to the crew of the Norwegian Pearl for a wonderful week!