My husband and I have travelled quite extensively but have only cruised once before many years ago on a short cruise to Mexico. My husband prefers the more adventurous travelling, avoiding the tourist spots and visiting 'real' places so I was surprised when he agreed on this trip. The Panama Canal has always been a dream destination for me and it did not disappoint.
We are not the typical cruise passenger, I should say. We don't drink or gamble or take in the spa luxuries. We travel on a budget and we probably had one of the lowest total costs for anyone on this ship but I can guarantee you that no one had more fun!
The ship was beautiful and had everything we could ask for. Our stateroom was much nicer than we expected (as we knew we were probably in one of the cheapest on the ship and did not have high hopes for it). Our room stewards were warm and helpful.
The food was amazing. We ate at the 'charge' restaurants on the 2 for 1 nights, Le Bistro, Sushi, and Teppanyaki and thought they were fantastic. We ate several times at the Indigo Room and thought it was nice. The Summer Palace was grand and the service was wonderful. Of course, the selection at the "Garden Cafe" was boggling. They had Indian food, Chinese food, Thai food, and everything in between. We discovered after the first week that the "Great Outdoors' served traditional British tea and real scones everyday at 4pm and indulged ourselves every day after that. We really loved the "Blue Lagoon" for some good comfort food-although the hostess there was not very nice.
The ports were nice. I will leave it up to my husband to write our review of them. I will just say that we had a wonderful time once we got away from the piers and the salesmen. There does seem to be a big emphasis on shopping on the boat and on the excursions, which is not one of our interests so that did get old after awhile.
We used all the public areas on the boat such as the pool and the hot tubs. We loved the water slide. My husband climbed the climbing wall on several occasions, the sports staff that worked there were very helpful and friendly. We were disappointed to find that the bowling alley charged a fee, but it is a cool idea to bowl on a ship. We attended some of trivia contests and used the library regularly.
The shows were mostly A+. We were happy with them and attended all of them, but one. It is a hard thing to entertain such a diverse group and they really did a great job.
The staff, overall, was wonderful and friendly and helpful. The cruise director, Andy, seemed genuinely warm even when you talked to him one to one. I always wondered when he slept? There were of course, a few times, that I did not feel I got the best customer service, the hostess in the Blue Lagoon was rude on two occasions, and surprisingly my interactions with the reception desk left something to be desired. But, of all the thousands of other interactions that we had, we find this pretty easy to take.
Our only suggestions: It would have been nice if they had had a regular staff person assigned to the library. It seemed like it was just whoever was available including the entertainment staff and they often couldn't answer questions. Surprisingly, the library always had people in it and people really used it often so I would hope they would take their staffing of it more seriously. And, another drink choice would be welcome. The only thing served was water, tea, coffee, or iced tea. Lemonade or Orangeade would have been much appreciated.
If you have a chance to travel on the Pearl with these nice people, beautiful surroundings, and interesting ports, I hope you will do it!