First Cruise - Wonder why we waited so long?: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by texas_sunshine

Norwegian Pearl 4
Member Since 2010

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First Cruise - Wonder why we waited so long?

Sail Date: August 2009
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
This was my husband and my first cruise. It was our gift to ourselves for our 10th wedding anniversary. I had been reluctant to try a cruise because I tend to like to be independent when I travel and avoid tourist places and I thought for sure a cruise is just endless touristy stuff. I was wrong! We went to Alaska and at 2 of the ports we were able to get off the ship and go hiking in relatively remote areas with no one else around just a mile or so away from the docks! The "cities" we stopped at were all relatively small so it is not far to the edge of town where the crowds are few and there were nice hiking trails (steep!). It would've been nice to have had a map though.

As far as the ship goes; The room was comfortable and clean. I liked the mini couch. I loved having a balcony! This cruise had endless beautiful scenery and being able to look at it in privacy was wonderful. Plus it was nice to have fresh air in the room. We left the door ajar most of the time we were in More the room unless it was really chilly out. My only complaint about the balcony is that the cleaning staff did not clean it. It was sprayed down at a couple of the ports, but there were gobs of hair left out there from previous occupants. I didn't bother to complain and picked it up myself, so no comments on responsiveness of staff.

Speaking of staff, we had nothing but pleasant experiences with every staff member we dealt with. From waiters to cleaning staff all were pleasant and kind. Our room stewards even thanked us personally and sincerely for the extra tips we left them. Many of the staff sang as they worked and were a pleasure to have around. I know they work hard and long hours away from their families so it is refreshing to see such a positive outlook.

Public areas were kept clean. Public restrooms were very clean too. They were a little militant about getting everyone to use hand sanitizer (you would get called out if you did not use it going in to buffet), but all in all I would rather have everyone be clean.

As far as food goes: It was good. Not the best ever, but tasty and not too salty (as a lot of restaurants nowadays seem to do). Honestly, the food at the buffet was often better than in the restaurants with the exception being the fresh, hot bread at the restaurants. I really liked the Indian food at the buffet. However, the atmosphere in the buffet was usually a little choatic (think mall food court around Christmas). Dining rooms were pleasant and much quieter. We went to one of the upcharge restaurants (Italian). It was good and service was a little more attentive. Not sure if it would've been worth the money except for these spicy olives they brought out as an appetizer that were the best olives I have ever eaten anywhere! Don't bother with room service. Food selection is limited and portions are tiny. I only had a few alcholic drinks. They were all good and did not skimp on alcohol. Their long island iced tea was the best mixed drink I tried (very refreshing).

As far as entertainment goes: We didn't attend very many shows. Comedians were good, singing/dancing shows were not really our style. Our favorite onboard activities were shuffleboard, ping pong, and golf practice cages. Watched one movie in theater, but it was distracting with people coming and going constantly.

As far as leaving and coming back goes: Embarkation was smooth and painless. Airports could learn a lot from these guys! We stayed across the street at a hotel in Seattle. It was wonderful to walk across the street to the terminal! Leaving the ship was a breeze. We carried our own luggage so there were no hassles. Only bothersome thing is they advertise that you can get off at your leisure, but they are rushing everyone as soon as they are cleared by the port. I know they have a tight turn around, so honestly they just need to tell people to plan on getting up and getting out instead of saying to relax but acting like there is a rush. Less

Published 07/19/10

Cabin review: BA Mid-Ship Balcony

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Port and Shore Excursions

Juneau istelf is not much to write home about. The sea plane port was interesting. Not nearly as pretty as Ketchikan in town, but out of the center of town it is gorgeous! We watched a lot of planes take off here and got some good photos. We did not do a shore excursion here either. We walked back up out of the town and hiked up a trail to the cable car location. we only ran into 3 other people on the entire trail. It was a steep hike. Scenery was beautiful! We were sweating and it was only 50 degrees F out. We took cable car back down (it is free to go down - only folks coming up have to pay).

Read 1143 Juneau Reviews

This is a very pretty city (well not really a city more like a town). We took a lot of photos here because it was so lush! It was fun to watch all of the salmon in the river. Truly amazing! We did not plan any shore excursions here so we mostly just walked around and explored. There are some really cool art galleries with quality work. There are hiking trails back up in the hills (ask locals for locations). The hillsides are lush and there are lot of small creeks. There really is no need to pay for any guides or trips as everything within walking distance is fun and scenic. Lots of people near ships and in creekside area, but gets pretty quiet the further away you walk until you find yourself mostly alone.

Read 1280 Ketchikan Reviews

This port was a disappointment. We probably should have done an exursion. There is not much to do in town on your own. The locals did not seem all that enthralled about the tourists whereas in Alaska they were delighted for the business and treated the cruise passengers well. I would say do an exursion or stay on the ship. I would have considered vacationing in all of the other ports, but this seemed like a place you would only go to visit family (reminded me a mid-size Illinois town). I'm sure it is a fine place to live, but not really set up to support tourism of any kind.

We did do a shore exursion here just because we were here all day long and and the town itself is tiny and only tourist based. Our shore exursion was great! We went to Spirit Lake and did horseback riding and canoeing. horseback riding was enjoyable and much more authentic than most rides where you ride on a nice open path on a slow old horse. These horses were lively and had personality. The area up here is much dryer than near the water so trees are smaller and there is less lush undergrowth. Canoeing was awesome as we were largely left alone to paddle at lesiure across the lake where our guide talked to us for awhile and then we were given free time to paddle around wherever we wished. The lunch they fed us was absolutely fantastic!!! Tasted like something mom would make. It was just soup, and sandwiches, and pie, but all were fresh and perfectly made. I would highly recommend that excursion!!!

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