My husband and I are first time cruisers. We wanted to go on an amazing trip before we start having children. Our ship left from Vancouver. Our ports of call were Ketchican, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert and we finished in Seattle.
Being a first time cruiser, I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I was very pleased by what I saw. There were quite a few of us on the ship, but it never felt crowded (except the buffet). Our room was a good size. The bathroom had a split shower and toilet with a sink in the middle. There was a lot of closet/drawer space for all our clothes so once we unpacked our suitcases and put them away there was plenty of room to move around. The only drawback was when the ship was getting close to port there was a loud noise coming from underneath our room. I had read in a review before I left that this sound was to be expected so I was prepared for it.
There were tons of activities setup everyday and since it's freestyle cruising we chose what we wanted to do. We took part in several trivia contests throughout the week. The "prize" of playing/winning trivia is a signature on an activities card. Each signature equals a point and the points are traded in at the end of the cruise for prizes. We ended up with 14 points and got a frisbee and deck of cards.
The shows on the cruise were pretty good. There was a production cast which did two broadway type shows (the first was better than the second), a second city comedy group, a comedian, a four seasons cover group, and a juggling group called sharkbait. The second city group was my favorite. They had a large show in the theatre, 2 smaller shows in the spinnaker lounge and a murder mystery lunch ($20 per person charge). The only show I didn't really like was the juggling group, mostly because that's all they did for an hour. Juggling can't hold my interest that long.
The food was OK. I'd compare it to wedding food. There are a few restaurants you can pay a cover charge to eat at. We ate at two of those and they were the two best meals we had on the ship. We ate at La Cucina (Italian) and I had a pasta carbonara dish which was pretty good. The only thing I didn't like about the restaurant was the waitress. She was pretty rude. The good thing is that the waiters/waitresses rotate throughout the ship so you might not get her when you go! My favorite place we ate was the Lotus Garden (chinese). The chicken lettuce wraps were the best thing I ate on the ship! We ate at the Summer Palace a few times. It's a sit down option and was decent. The only time we ate at Indigo was for the murder mystery lunch and my food (meatloaf) was really good, but I don't think that's the normal menu. The buffet was the only place you could really get breakfast since we were in Alaska in May and the outdoor cafe was freezing (although there were a few brave souls there). My husband enjoyed the buffets 2 bacon option, chewy or crispy :o) The buffet was the only crowded place on the ship, so we did not eat there all the time.
Our excursions were what made our trip. We did a lighthouse, totem and eagles cruise in Ketchikan and that was fun. We saw a whole bunch of eagles and a few sea lions and harbor seals. There was only one lighthouse and the totems are in the yard of one lodge house, so it's really more about the wildlife than the other sights. In Juneau we went on a whale watch/Mendenhall glacier combo tour. That was the best excursion. We lucked into a pod of orcas and got to see really close views of a whole bunch of killer whales for quite awhile. We also saw a humpback, harbor seals and dahl's porpoise. The glacier was quite beautiful. It sits above a lake with iceberg-looking chunks of ice and it was great for photos. In Skagway we took a bus tour to the Yukon and drove through whitehall pass. The bus driver, Tom, was pretty funny. The views were breathtaking and it was nice to get some shots in the snow. We didn't do a formal excursion in Prince Rupert, but we walked around town and took pictures of some totem poles and even got a shot with a friendly Mountee.
The whole trip was awesome. There are endless pretty views. The vast majority of the staff on the Pearl was friendly and helpful and I definitely would recommend this trip to anyone.