First, let's just preface up front what we WANTED in our cruise. As a family, we were looking forward to the simple things: 1-The incredible soft, plush, yet firm beds that we experienced on our last cruise (with Carnival) ~Didn't happen~. 2- The absolute BEST lemonade available 24/7 at poolside -FREE! (Again, Carnival, had this and also juice and water 24/7).~Didn't happen~ 3- TOWEL animals and mints each night (come on -for the kids!!) ~Didn't happen~ 4- A cartoon channel on T.V. just because (Only cartoons in the A.M. for an hour or two) ~Didn't happen~. 5- A coin-operated laundry! (Carnival had this)~Didn't happen. 6- Conditioner and hand lotion free ~Didn't happen~. 7-Robes to use in the rooms ~Didn't happen~
O.K. now before it sounds like I am complaining, I just wanted to set the stage as to where we were coming from as far as expectations. We just want to RELAX!
Here's what we found.
Getting on the ship went smoothly, quickly, although I must say I prefer the port out of Tampa a bit better. The people seem more friendly, less serious/all business. But it was fine and once you got talking to the people they were friendly enough.
We got on the Pearl around 12:00. Our room was not ready. We checked our bags in a restaurant that had been assigned as a temporary baggage drop-off spot until the rooms were done. I don't think everyone knew about this option. We just found out about it by asking. Compared to the number of people on the ship and the little number of bags in this area, either a.) most rooms were ready, which did not seem likely according the ship's announcements or b.) not many knew about this baggage drop off spot or c.) there was another baggage drop-off spot at another location (Which seemed unlikely given how things were laid out)So tip: If your room is not done when you embark, ask where you can put your luggage. We retrieved it without a problem at 2:00 when all the rooms were ready.
We ate at the grill by the back of the ship. A PLUS: The food was better on the Pearl than on the Carnival. More variety and foods that took a lot of time to prepare.
We got out bags and went to the cabin. We met our two cabin stewards right away. They briefly said "hi" and were on their way. They seemed not as happy as the workers on the Carnival, seemed overworked, maybe tired. We got in our room-noticed that the double beds were not pushed together to make a large single (Carnival had this done already). We asked the steward if he would do this and he said tomorrow. Our remote quite working at one point, we called down and asked for it to be repaired (needed new batteries, I think) and it was taken and never returned. We had to call back down (to the steward, I think? We called the front desk who would connect us). It was returned about 3 hours later. Just a bit odd. Not that we watch so much T.V. on a cruise, but it's great to have as you get ready for dinner and the kids can sit and watch for just a bit.Also, we only had 2 beach towels and took us 2 days to get the 3rd.
Also~ NO TOWEL ANIMALS and NO MINTS at night! What? The young ones REALLY look forward to this! It's sort of a highlight of the cruise. We had two animals the whole time and no mints. And the stewards knew our room had kids in it! DISAPPOINTING.
Front Desk staff: Hit and Miss. At one point we needed an ice pack. The lady at the front desk literally asked 8 times for one to the person at the other end of the phone. I am not sure WHO she called but from our side of the conversationit sounded like this: "An ice pack. Ice pack> Yes, you have one. Can I talk to your supervisor. A pack to put ice in..." This went on and on. This same lady from the front desk called our room later to see if we had received one yet. We said no. In about two minutes the cabin steward came down with one.
Helpfulness of these staff: Sometimes my husband said that he felt that they would try to use a language barrier to their advantage, like they did not understand you fully or, more often, not answer your question clearly.
That was another thing. POOR COMMUNICATION.
We never know if housekeeping or the room steward was in charge of getting things to us. What category did "ice pack" and "T.V. remote" fall under? We often just called the front desk and let them get us the right people.
Another example, the night before the last night, there was some sort of farewell to the staff going on in the main theater. We looked at our (the Freestlye Daily) and nothing had been posted.
Shows: Poor. NOT child friendly nor family friendly. One night some guys were juggling bowling pins. Yes, sort of neat. Then they started to have them hit the other guy in the crotch. I mean, come on! Is this the best talent a cruise ship can provide? It's just juvenile humor. One of the shows was called "Sharkbait". We were not impressed.
Music poolside: Ragae band was great by poolside. The band with the lady in it not quite as good.
Accomodations: Beds: HARD. Pull down bed unbearably hard. No soft fuzzy bath robes to use like Carnival had. No conditioner or hand lotion like Carnival had (I am pretty sure they had hand lotion...); here we had shampoo and body wash only. Short on towels to start. No Laundry bag or laundry form in the room. We had to call down and ask for this as well.
We were on deck 10 and there was a smell sometimes when we got off the elevator. It was not a pleasant smell~sort of like toilet, but not as strong as to say it was sewer if that makes sense.
Laundry: Overpriced. No self serve laundry. Hard to figure out drop off and return times. We needed some clothing done and paid $17 for a few things. Later, we were charged $25 for a bag. It seemed like there were two bag sizes as well. One in the hall looked like a large military bag size. The bag we got was more like a flat paper bag from a department store. Carnival cost $2 a load, I believe. Here, we spent almost $45 for just a few things. Thinking back, it seemed like our room was not really ready for us: lacking towel, no laundry bags.
What was good? "Washy-Washy!!He is the guy (or gal) by the door of the main buffet with a hand sanitizer sprayer, who sprays your hands before you eat! It's so great! He says "Washy washy! Happy happy! Smiley smiley!" Great variety of foods. If you go to eat, you'll be pleased.
Liquor? Wouldn't have a clue.
Food Service: Beverages? Who would pay that extra fee for a week's worth of soda? (appx $50) Carnival had FREE lemonade and juice and water poolside 24/7. Here, only juices available at breakfast. And other meals in the little kiddie eating part. We didn't eat there but would bring our kids there to get juices for all because these juices were just for kids. Go figure. I heard rumor that Carnival may have given up its free juice. Please, Carnival, don't take the lemonade away, too! Food service staff were hard working. Some more fun than others. Did not seem to be laid out 100% as some of the walkways were also cart zones.
Activities:I rock-climbed. Great guy (the shorter one)doing this! Positive and encouraging. I line-danced~Fun! I learned Salsa~Fun, but too short of a class! Jogging track I thought was badly placed right above the pool area. A lot of people just walking and not really noticing this was for joggers. Bingo was fun. Liked the quiet card playing rooms.
Kids club: We go on a family vacation to be together as a family so we don't can't report about these. I was a little disappointed again, when we saw it advertised that the Pearl had a Wii game to use, but that area was a "Non-parent Zone" and we could not enter. So IF we had utilized these services, parents would not be allowed in at all. Always, a day care provider should have an open door policy and not a prohibitive one. This was also a little warning flag to us.
Bowling Alley: Another event we looked forward to. Thought it was free. (Two for one at times) I thought it was cool to bowl~ a unique experience.
Water slide: Kids said hard to go down as the salt water made it "sticky" and not really slippery. I did not try. The hot tubs were wonderful (and freshwater).
Other cruisers: Met some great people. Most were very heavy-set and loved to eat so much as to be pushy about it! At one point, my husband had someone bump him over to take the cookie tongs out of his hand so he could get cookies! A lot of older people. A lot from the Midwest or North.
Staff: Seemed overworked. Not as happy and fun-loving as Carnival, overall. (Except for "Washy Washy"!!) Oh, and the guy in the gift shop from Romania! Wonderful! And that lady who got us the ice pack at the front desk.
Tip: Don't let Norwegian charge the tipping back end- on the last day of the cruise. Instead, hand the tip over to your servers directly.Some say that they don't really receive that money. I don't know if Norwegian takes it and distributes it or not, but I think prudence says to pay them directly. We did not have enough cash on hand to tip them directly, but I think that would be a great idea!
Norwegian seemed to nickel and dime everything.
Rating out of 10? I'd say a 3.5 to 4. Disappointing.
Hope this was helpful!
~Living By The Sea