Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by Mr and Mrs C: Awesome Cruise!
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We drove from Ontario Canada to Miami to get on the cruise ship - about a 26 hour drive. All of us were very excited to go cruising - my husband and I went on the NCL sky last year and loved it, first cruise for the kids.
Arrived in Miami 10:30 to park the van ($20 a day) and get checked in, we were on the ship having lunch by noon. Be sure to have your stuff ready when you get to the port, first stop is giving your luggage to the porter, then park. Kids loved the buffet so we ate there most of the time.
We also ate in Indigo (for the free lobster night, first adventure with lobster, was not my favourite, but I can say I have had it now), Summer Palace, and Blue Lagoon (get wings here 24 hours a day - dipping sauce is very hot!) We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants, we are not fancy people, and I appreciate any meal that I do not have to cook, or clean up after.
We signed the kids up in the kids club - we hardly saw them after that! Both our More kids can be very shy, but once they saw the activities that they had for them they could not get enough. They have met other kids from around the world, and have been chatting to them on the computer after the cruise.
We went to pretty much all the shows - favourite would absolutely be Sharkbait - do not miss this! My hands actually hurt from clapping at the end of the show.
As for the ports - in Roatan we had a private driver booked through Victor Bodden tours ($25 a person), she picked us up in the port, had no problems booking before the cruise, and had no problems finding them when we got off the ship. We had been gathering items to hand out at the orphanage there, but found out when we got there that they where well taken care of, so instead our driver took us through the village to find children in need. We handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste (donated from our dentist), books, candy, crayons, pencils, toys, stickers, as well as toiletries we have been collecting at hotels we have stayed at. It did not take long for word to reach the children that we were handing out free stuff, and they all came running. Most of them without shoes, some without much for clothing. The only thing I would do differently is have individual bags ready to hand to each child - it was hard to make sure they all got something. I think our children have a new appreciation for the life they have. If you ever get the chance to go here, or any other country in need, I recommend doing this. We had a huge suitcase full of items that friends and family sent with us, we probably only spent $40 in total, but to them it was like Christmas. We also had her take us to Victor's monkey farm ($5 a person), we got to hold the monkeys as well as a parrot, we enjoyed this. We then went to a beach to go snorkeling, the beach was free to use, and we brought our own equipment, but you could rent them there. We had lunch there, the shrimp was really good. My husband got 2 massages there (he was having problems with his neck), the first lady met us in the parking lot, and offered him 30 minutes for $20 - she was not that great, and he was still in pain when he was approached by 2 others who said they give better massages for the same price. They did give a much better massage. Our driver took us back to the ship, and we sent her home with some donations as well to help her family out.
Next stop Mexico! We walked off the ship and found a tour which included the bus ride to the beach, unlimited drinks (alcohol as well), use of the beach chairs, kayaks, and peddle boats. We also booked 2 jet skis for 30 minutes, and negotiated a price of $200 for the 4 of us for the whole day. We should have applied more sunscreen throughout the day, but after all the daiquiri's I forgot! The drinks are watered down - go get them from the bar yourself, and tell them to put extra rum! No problem getting a ride back, taxis were everywhere. This was at BOH beach.
Belize - booked through the ship so we could get an early tender to the port. Went to Al tun Ha, and new river safari. Loved the ruins, very hot, so be prepared, bring extra water, and wear good shoes, very steep uneven steps. Lunch was chicken, rice, and beans and salad, kids did not like it, good thing I brought extra snacks! River boat tour was great - saw dolphins, crocodiles, birds, and lots of huge iguanas!
Key West - what a pain! You have to go through immigration even if you are not getting off the ship. No line up for US citizens, but if you are a non US citizen be prepared to wait. We were told to get in line at 9 am, when we saw the line, it was huge, so instead of waiting we went back to our rooms and played cards, and relaxed. At 11 am we went back , and waited for 10 minutes, and we were good to go. I had originally planned on booking jet skis here in the morning, I am so glad I did not - we would not have made it off the ship in time, and it was much cheaper in Mexico. We did a trolley tour for an hour ($38 for 4), also very informative, and had 8 stops you could get off and hop back on the next one. We went into the butterfly conservatory ($30 ish for 4), and then walked about 5 minutes to the 0 mile marker to have our picture taken. We had a few minutes to shop, and eat Key lime pie, then race back to the ship for 2:30. It would have been a lot nicer if we had more time!
We loved having the balcony for fresh air, and the views. Our room had an awesome bed for my husband and I, a couch that pulled out to a double,(quite hard but okay for kids) and a bed that came down from the ceiling for my son -it sad it held up to 300 lb.
We got up early Sunday morning and were among the first few to walk off the ship with our own luggage, about 8 am.
Bar service - Tiger remember our families names after the first night, we probably had more drinks then we intended to because of the great service! Had an awesome drink one night made in a pineapple - best drink I have ever had!
We love cruising with NCL, dress how you want, eat when you want!
Buy your pictures towards the end of the cruise - buy 4, and get one free!
Hope my review helps, I did a lot of reading here on cruise critic before we left, and found it very helpful to plan our vacation!
PS - I packed some ziplocks to grab snack items for the kids (and us) from the morning buffet while in the ports, this came in very handy! You are not allowed to take fruit or vegetables. Less
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Cabin review: BA9602 Mid-Ship Balcony
Very handy to the elevator and stairs!