Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by kwahl1: Just off the Pearl's Panama Canal journey
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Just off the Pearl's Panama Canal journey
4-17 check in not so fast, 45-50 min. Paid $15 corkage fee on each bottle of wine. In processing. Waited in Bliss bar 40-45 min. On ship @ 1:25. Grab a bite @ buffet. Room ready @ 2. No coffee cards available, paid $3.25 for ice mocha. Made reservations for Le Bistro, 2 for 1 tonight is the first night on the cruise. Want to buy water on the ship? 6 large bottles of Aquafina water $21.95. Not I. Toured the ship to get a lay of the land. Got back to room and there was a note to go to the naughty room to claim one piece of luggage. 5 bottles of Coke for secondary inspection. My 600 ml of rum in the RumRunner made it OK in another piece of luggage. Prior to our trip we had also purchased the bar set up for $63 for a liter of rum, "just in case" First night sampler at Starlight Theatre, Buzz good, Blues lady good. Off to 8pm LeBistro. Good duck & great filet, small portions. Attire was everywhere such as; shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, tennis shoes, plus some nice dresses. Meal More
portions small but plenty of places to supplement if you don't get enough. Signed up for internet service, 270 min for $100, includes the 20 min bonus for signing up first day, iPhone worked logged in, down load messages, log out. Be sure to log out with smartphones.
4-18 Worked out, some waiting to get on the treadmill, but it's only the first day. Used the thermal suites; hot tub, steam room, hot loungers, showers, robes, and lockers. Went to breakfast and too many people to truly enjoy. Read some up on the very windy Sun Deck. Went to CruiseCritcs meet & greet got our nametags. Went to lunch and still too many people had to sit in the kids cafe. Enjoyed some more sun. In the evening participated in the Brenda Kaye hypnotist show. Ate late, 3 cheese w/wild mushrooms macaroni in the buffet was great. Went by the Spinnaker to watch The Dating Game. Took a walk & ended up getting a soft serve ice cream. In a very short time today I got a mild sunburn. Warning watch that first day sunshine.
4-19 Time change today has got me all twisted. Breakfast at the back of the ship biggest Summer Grill. Same as the main buffet, just fewer choices. The has got to be better way to feed 2000 people! I found the main buffet a complete zoo. Don't get your food before you find a table. Your food is going to get cold while you search for a table. Or your salad is going to get warm walking around looking for a table. Why do salad plates have to be hot in the serving line? Food is OK, but getting it to your table is a chore in itself. Will try Blue Lagoon. And don't expect orange juice. Its orange cocktail flavor and if you remember TANG, this will bring back memories. Went to the Captain's talk and presentation and was very informative and packed. Worth it, free. Went to the Cruise Critic cabin crawl, but like I said the time change messed me up, an hour early. We did chocolate and poker. The 5 cabins we visited range from suite to super two bedroom beauties. Some nice rooms compared to our outside cabin. Chocolate was great and too much! The garden suites are beautiful with a mini bar, espresso machines. And their own pool! Did the $15 beer tasting and I should have known, it was the brands they were pushing on the ship for $6.94 per bottle. We tasted 5 brands, about 6-8 oz, XX, San Miguel, Tse Tsao, Sapporo, and got to choose a full beer as number six. Boddington for me. Saw the Singer Janye Powell that night, good soul-oldies. Did the Main dining room for the first time twenty-five minute wait and short ribs were good. Done for the day.
4-20 Arrived in Cartagena at 7 AM and caught an independent tour at 8. Saw the fort on the hill, did some shopping and had lunch at a nice place. Five+ hours and I thought of the area as just third world poor. Venders trying to sell you something constantly. Want a picture of a slough, 2 bucks. Back at thx ship, all 2400 wanted to eat at once. Relaxed in the spa area. Why aren't their spa areas full of aroma "therapy"? A nice pleasant smell for the place. Going to the Panama history presentation. Tradewind cruise? Went to Buzz Johnson comedy show and it was very good. Warned that everything starts early tomorrow, transiting the. Canal Mob scene at the Summer palace dining, just too many people in line, up the stairs and out the hallway. So settled for the Buffet again, pizza. Topped off with a martini. Went to the not so newlywed game. A lot fun.
4-21 Up early as we approach the first lock of the Canal. Many many people up on the 14th deck playing "bumper cars" with the lounge chairs, trying to get that ultimate camera shot. The t-shirts are for sale @ 6am on the 12th deck. The canal passage was the highlight of the day! Seems all you are jockeying for a spot to get those photos. It was a 10 hr passage. Some of our best shots came from the spinnaker lounge or the German suites. Big windows, but at times you're still jockeying for position for photos, Caution if you are going to be outside. Bring sun block and something to drink. The eighth wonder of the world is not to be missed. The narrator NCL brought on board was very good. By 5pm you'll be exhausted. Went to Second City comedy show and worth skipping, Dash over to What's my Line, you'll enjoy it more, Ate buffet again and OK (fresh salad on warm plates). Tried twice today to us the Internet with limited success, SLOW. Takes roughly 13 minutes to log in. So if you want spend all your time waiting and burning up your 250 in 13- minute increments, don't sign up for the Internet service. We put in a written notice, so we'll see off they act on it.
4-22 Early morning jog on the treadmill, then realized another time change to deal with. Answers the question on why the spa is closed. Search around for a cup of coffee. Lots of reading this morning and sun. Trying real hard not to burn like the first day. Music is good around the pool. Ate this morning at the Blue Lagoon, very quiet and friendly staff. Mid-morning stopped by for some fruit at the garden cafe, on warm plates. Spent most of the afternoon reading in the sun with a rum n coke in hand. Occasional dips into the adult's pool, salt water. Buzz Sutherland called bingo game. @4. Ate a good meal of prime rib in the Summer Palace. The French onion was not like I know. Just broth w/ a couple onions and a stale cheese bread thing on the side. Went to comedy in the Spinnaker with a Buzz and Joe.
4-23 Arrived in Punta Arenas Costa Rica at 6am. Disastrous breakfast in the Garden Cafe. Tried to get an over medium egg, cook broke the first egg yolk cracking the egg, fished it out of the pan, proceeded the break 2nd yolk on the flip and burned heck of the third yolk. I showed head chef standing at the door. Chef looked and placed it right there at entrance for all to see, on the Bull bar. Dumb. Went and got the warm gravy and cold biscuits. Not edible. Then the announcement was made that the gangplank was going to be moved and that created general chaos in the halls, as the crew was not even aware of what floor the gangplank was being moved to. Got off at 9:20 w/ Capt Lars there to meet everyone on the rickety gangway. Sounded like they were going to
Move it again. Took the tour called the Real Coffee Experience, 8.5 hrs long. Had to drive up to the mountain for this tour. Naranjo espitotu santo was the name of the coffee plantation. Included lunch. Search is the city for lunch. Both places for souvenirs were very reputable. If you get a chance, see the craftsman in the rear of the building with his equipment powered by water wheel and a series of belts and shafts. Returned to the ship at 4:15. CPT Lars had to wait for one lady, 45 minutes. She received a standing o as she came up the gangway. For the heck of it, went to see guitarist Fabio Zini and was an amazing one man show. Went to see Brenda Kaye for her Adult Hypnotist show. Sam Adams beer $5.69. Show was fun, maybe PG rated.
4-24 Happy Easter. Good two mile run in the fitness center to start the day, except the toilet was out of order so I have to scramble on the 12th floor to find the potties. Head to the Garden Cafe to maybe get that over easy fried egg. Greeted at the door by the same guy whose nametags says CHEF. "perhaps you could fix me an over easy egg?", but that was met with strange looks. So I brush him off as "no understando" and head over to get what looked like egg Benedict w/ the hollandaise. sauce. At last perhaps that runny yolk I yearn for. Wrong. Hard boiled but it tasted very good. Again stopped at the coffee shop to get a finely crafted of coffee from the very nice lady behind the counter. And I wonder, "why is it that everyone is served their coffees in paper cups, but nobody's coffee is 'to go'"? Porcelain cups must be special order. My latte was good, but I had " to go", as this lady was engaged in a conversation on why her husband was depressed on the Pearl and didn't need to hear this. Off to relax at the thermal suites. And that I did! Very warm today. Sitting her in the aft cafe and spoke briefly with the executive chef. Nice guy. Explained in the buffet they use the induction stove tops that are very hot and it's hard to do that on the line and he recommended the main dining room for breakfast. Thank you so much! Lounged around and napped and tanned and read. Ran into Cruisecrtic, Cruisejoy (Elaine) and her DH are ending their cruise in Guatemala as DH broke his leg while in his room. No details. Tried Mambos
tonight, Tex-Mex with a Filipino twist. Fajitas great, the rest OK. Meal comes with a small margarita. Plenty of food for $10 each. An absolute "don't miss" is the show Shark Bait. Great. Went up to the White Hot party and great to see everyone, young and old, crew and guests dancing.
4-25 Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Alas! The over easy egg has been laid in the Summer Palace. Enjoyed a quiet breakfast there before our trip to Antigua. Trip was very informative and the town of Antiqua is about 90 min. from port. Lots of jade and history there. At the dock be sure to check out the drinks among the kiosks, $3 beers!!! Rested up a bit before a dinner at Cagney's. Well-presented and the food was "just good", not excellent. Cpt Lars and officers were celebrating Lars wife birthday tonight. Went to the 9pm show The Beatles Celebration. Pretty good and the crowd got into it.
4-26 Not feeling the best this morning but ran the treadmill anyway. Been trying various things with cabin temperature while sleeping, but each morning we wake up with a dry irritated sore that, but it is usually better by noon. The cabin air is simply too dry and I thought of running the shower all night for that moisturizer effect, but I'm afraid of flooding my room. See I've asked four times to get the drain in the shower fixed. Maybe today it'll be better. I have noticed a number of people with the same dry cough! Really conscience of it in the Garden Cafe when you're carrying a plate of food to your table and someone is hacking. A little rain as we approach Huatulco, Mex. Boy that was quick. Expected to arrive at noon. Coffee is cold in the thermoses at the Topsiders Cafe. I kept an eye on the guy behind the serving line for 5-10 and never refilled the thermoses with fresh coffee. Simply didn't care. Or no comprende cafe fresca. Finished my book " The Girl Who Played with Fire". Off the ship at 2pm. Hot! Huatulco I don't think appears on any map. Very small community on a bay, a few hotels, tourist shops galore and how the cruise industry came to find this oasis is a mystery to me. Hot! Dead trees along all the hillsides, rocky cliffs and two beaches along with a marina. Complete with armed sailors at the end of the dock and a few sailors sailing in the harbor. Didn't buy anything except a beer and that's the way you get to use the free wi-fi. And that was limited. Ate at the Indigo for the first time and it was good. No waiting, which I dislike even on land, but it was a little noisy. Well staffed too. Went to another Fabio Zini show. Then went to the Chip Romero comic-magic show. Very funny and entertaining.
4-27 Slept outside for 4 hours and seemed to help my sinuses. One of the deckhands woke me up at 4 am, cleaning so decided to my cabin to get some more sleep. yes it's the air in the cabin, too dry. Acapulco time. Really didn't want to do too much here. We walked outside the dock area and you are greeted by hoards of wheeler and dealers. We couldn't shake this one, he kept with us, kept at our side. "I take you to my mother's shop". In old town and what a dump to get there! Bought one thing and señor led us back to the ship. Relax by the pool and Wifey can hit the thermal suite. The bleu cheese dressing in the garden cafe is thinner than skim milk. Ranch not much creamier. But salads are what you make of them. Today the mariachi band played pool side. A lot of relax and nap time and a beautiful sail away. Did Indigo tonight, eggplant parmesan good. No show tonight. The Pearl performers don't get us excited. So we lounge outside for a while and I go to enjoy my Columbian cigar and a glass of red wine.
4-28 at sea. A very good night's sleep with no sinus problems and only a slight tickle in the throat. A good start to a lazy day at sea. In the Garden Cafe a lady in her bath robe, way too funny, if not disgusting! And the unthinkable at the lunch buffet. They ran out of plates before a load could be washed. Funny watching diners as well as staff scurrying about. "Plates, plates"! More relaxing this afternoon. Ate at the Summer Palace for dinner and the braised lamb shank was excellent. Kindly asked for a couple of wine glasses to take to our room and this young man oblique so we could enjoy a nice bottle of wine in the room. Went to the "Oh What a Night" production. Very good show. Chocoholic buffet tonight. Too many people, but got us a few sweets for a night cap.
4-29 Woke to sound of the anchor dropping in Cabo San Lucas Bay. This is a tender port. No cruise ship dock. What a beautiful bay with the sunrise. Did the morning treadmill and went for my coffee at the Topsiders Cafe. Cold coffee again so done with this place. The Great Outdoors is always a good place to go. Andy the cruise director announced last night he is leaving to ship today in Cabo to go to the Epic. Reassignment. Went into to Cabo, pretty clean city compared to where we have been the past 12 days. Lots of money in Cabo, tourists and ??? Bought a few things, not high pressure like Acapulco. Back to the ship be noon, sail away at 2 pm. Someone got ill so we were delayed leaving by a hour but Cpt Lars says we can make it up at full speed, 22 knots. Had a very informative talk with Sean and Max of Shark Bait on circus life and now, life on the ships. Dinner good in the Indigo. Tonight's show a little earlier than normal, The Spy Who Spied Me had some good parts in it. Then the cast and crew of the entire ship came out for a finale. Great. This evening they are showing the Royal Wedding in two locations and following that with a wedding party. No thanks.
4-30 Last day at sea as we bob up n down in 3' -12' swells. Just finished another book, " The Burning Girl" from the NCL library. Crowded breakfast as the final time change has got people moving early. Big drawing this morning for a free cruise. No such luck for me today. Probably 20 degrees cooler this morning with the marine layer hovering above us this morning. Sitting by the covered pool this afternoon, very few people out here and they have certainly bundled up to warm up.... Long sleeves, jeans, and hoodies. Try some bingo, final session. No luck. Had the garden buffer tonight, nothing special. Ship's common area very crowded, cabin fever and people anxious as we get close to Los Angeles. Final show tonight will be Shark Bait and Oh What a Night. Great show. All packed and the luggage is outside the cabin for pick and delivery to the port.
5-1 Made it into Los Angeles on time, 7 AM. Shower stall is still clogged and runnning slowly. One final breakfast and wait to clear customs by 8:30. "Attention there has been congestion in the terminal and we have had to suspend disembarking for the moment". Problems free styling? Seems there are only 8 Customs agents working today. Sunday with the Federal workers. We are out of there and on the bus by 12:45 and are off to LAX. Not NCL's fault.
As I reflect, it's been a once in a lifetime cruise, glad I did it, and I really can't let those little annoyances bother me. Resting and relaxing made it all nil. I enjoyed doing very little! Staff really tries hard to make you enjoy your cruise and I appreciated that. I enjoyed the Freestyle myself, but also think cruising still has a little more elegance to it, and I saw very little semblance of that the past two weeks. True I could of dressed up each evening as many did, but the enchantment just isn't there if you look left or right in the eating establishment and how the others dress. Entertainment was very good for the most part. We didn't do late evening events so couldn't comment. Food was hit or miss, and palates of 2400 people can speak for this issue. Internet and the iphone was a 'miss' and I don't recommend.
I miss my bed. Our dogs. My home. Less
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Outside obstruted view, which did not bother us. Shower did not drain properly. Enough room to move around and relax. Read a lot in the bed. Check behind the doors how filthy that one spot is. See housekeeping props the door open daily and NEVER EVER vacuums or sees behind that door. Rooms tend to collect dust too in 14 days. Adequate closet space, nice little light in there. The neighbors were noisy, loud talking and slamming drawers. Coughing too.
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