Firstly a bit about us. We are a couple in our fifties travelling with our teenage daughter from the UK to Miami to meet up with the Pearl.
We travelled 3 days before the cruise and stayed at The New Yorker Boutique Hotel in Miami. This is more of a motel than hotel but we found the prices to be very competitive and the rooms were very clean. Walter the owner was very nice and tries hard to keep his guests happy. We would go back there again. We also booked a day room at The New Yorker due to late flights back to the UK after disembarking the ship. We got a great price for that and a discount as we had stayed there previously. There is a shuttle service available to and from the airport and the Port.
As we had a suite, embarkation was quick and efficient. Our suite was really lovely. Spacious with a large bathroom. The second bedroom was quite small but was fine for my teenage daughter.
The Pearl is beautiful. The staff however are the real 'pearls' on this ship. Every single member of staff we came across went out of their way to be friendly, kind and courteous - really can't praise them highly enough. Special mention to Kharen Pili who was just a lovely person, great at her job and a credit to NCL!
This was our first time travelling as suite passengers and we loved it so much! Being able to dine in Cagneys for breakfast and lunch was great as well as all the other little perks like priority embarkation and disembarkation, having a butler (Maxi)and our lovely concierge Ana Maria Telea was a delight. We would rather cruise less often if it means we are in a suite from now on.
The meals we had on board were excellent with only a couple of minor complaints. Previously on the Jewel we loved the fish and chips from the Blue Lagoon however tried them a couple of times of the Pearl and were very disappointed. The chef really needs to use hotter fat/oil when frying the fish as it was soggy and unappetising on both occassions. Our other major disappointment was in the Lotus Garden chinese restaurant. We loved this restaurant on the Jewel but our first experience on the Lotus Garden was so bad that I had to speak to the maitre'd. A very long wait from a disinterested waiter, cold food etc was very disappointing. We observed others complaining too. We did go back again and the meal was absolutely fautless - loved it! The maitre'd came over and said that she had learned from our comments and passed it onto the staff and it showed!
The only other bug bear was room service - please NCL do something about this! The hot food was never, ever hot. It can't be that hard to get it right, can it?
The entertainment was quite good. I'm afraid Second City and Alan Kennedy the comedian left us UK folk cold - they just did not appeal to our sense of humour. However if you go to nothing else, you must see Sharkbait and Oh What a Night tribut to Frankie Valli - they were excellent.
The Teen Club was fine and my daughter made lots of friends who she was still in touch with.
We had a Meet & Greet for our roll call and had the opportunity to meet the ships officers. We made some excellent friends and had lots of fun including a slot pull, shared excursions and meals
Captain Lars is a very funny man and a good laid back style, we were very impressed with him too.
Details of our shore excursions will be posted in another review.
A great ship, great people and staff and a great holiday experience. Well done NCL!