I'll abbreviate my review and cover only the "high" points...which were many but I'll condense them as best I can.
Having cruised with NCL before and having had a wonderful experience, we again chose to cruise w/NCL. We departed Miami on January 30, 2011, arriving at the port a little before noon. Our embarkation couldn't have gone smoother and right from the start, NCL staff was attentive and most accommodating.
We were taken to the VIP lounge and were then escorted to Cagneys Steakhouse for a delicious lunch while we waited to join the rest of our group and then for our suites to become available, which was a little before 2:00pm.
Maybellin, an NCL event coordinator, assisted me in coordinating our Cruise Critic Meet 'N Greet, to which almost 100 "cool cruisers" attended on our first full day at sea. The executive staff on NCL's Pearl took the time to join us at our Meet 'N Greet, which was appreciated by those in attendance as they answered questions cruisers had, and coffee and snacks were provided.
No matter where you choose to dine, the food on the Pearl was wonderful, especially in the specialty restaurants, one of which we dined in every evening of our cruise. For a minimal extra cost per person (ranging from $15 to $25) we had the most fabulous meals along with exceptional service. Although all of the specialty restaurants are great, our favorites were Cagneys and Le Bistro, in which we dined 2 nights each. Everything was amazing, from the salads to the entrees to the desserts!
Members of our group had massages in the Spa, as well as facials, all of which they raved about. We relaxed poolside throughout the cruise and always found sufficient lounge chairs for our group of 6. Guests, for the most part, were considerate and didn't try to "reserve" lounge chairs for others. On 1 or 2 occasions there were guests who disregarded posted signs and smoke in "non-smoking" areas and, although they weren't happy about it, moved their seats or put out their cigarette when we asked them to.
Reserving suites so as to received concierge service is well worth the additional cost as the benefits of priorty embarkation and disembarkation was well worth it, especially when in ports of call. Carlos was wonderfully attentive and made us all feel special and welcome.
The Pearl is a beautiful ship and always kept immaculate by its staff. I never saw any area of the ship that was not kept spotless, even in the most busiest areas when we were at sea. Our stewards, Jose & Jay, were very accommodating and always kept our ice bucket full and we loved the towel animals on our bed in the evening. It was amazing that they were able to remember each of their guests by name within the first day!
We attended the NCL "White Hot Party" and although we enjoyed ourselves the music is geared to a more "youthful" crowd than our group was. Having said that, wear your "whites" to the party....it's a great time!
The shows are a must see as they are fabulous! Try and make your dinner reservations early enough so that you have time to get to the show and get settled in for an evening a great entertainment.
Our days at sea were relaxing and an opportunity to really check out all that the Pearl has to offer, especially the informative gatherings where you learn about the ports of call as well as numerous other areas of interest. There's always something going on to keep you busy......or not.
No matter what you choose to do, cruising with NCL is the absolute best way to vacation and we can't wait to plan our next cruise w/NCL. The toughest part is deciding where to go next.....Hawaii or Alaska? Thank you NCL for making our cruising experiences so memorable! ;)