We had originally booked our much anticipated cruise around Alaska on Celebrity and were arriving 10 days before. The cruise was leaving from Seattle and we were wondering what we should do while making our way from LA. Instead of catching a few domestic flights we thought "why not cruise our way along the coast." What a wonderful idea this turned out to be. We found an NCL Pacific Coastal cruise on the Pearl that departed LA the day after we arrived from Melbourne and finished in Vancouver 2 days before our next cruise started.
The 7 day cruise included the ports San Francisco, Astoria Oregon, Nainamo BC, Victoria BC and Vancouver.
We thought the embarkation at LA went smoothly with only a short wait however the Americans must expect a quicker process as they seemed disappointed and a bit upset that they had to wait a couple of hours. We later heard from the Captain that the authorities would not let the passengers onboard from the Panama Cruise leave. The only other cruise we had been on was Dawn Princess in May 2009 at the height of the Swine Flu and we didn't board until midnight, so this time seemed a breeze.
As the prices are absolutely fantastic, we had a balcony stateroom 9080 which was midship. The room was lovely, very clean and modern. The bathroom was also modern with sliding screens dividing the toilet, vanity and shower. No shower curtains was a smart idea. Another good idea was the coffee maker in the cabin. As serious tea drinkers who had brought their own teabags from Australia we had boiling water whenever we needed. All we had to do was call Room Service and they would send up a couple of cartons of skim milk. A tip to have more space on the clothes line in the shower, use bobby pins as pegs.
Our stateroom attendants were very approachable, quick and always around when needed.
We ate in the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner almost everyday. Freestyle dining was wonderful. It was very easy to get a table for two and if the dining room was full, they would give us a a pager and we would be called within 20 minutes. Even though we didn't have the same dining staff every night, we got to know most of the dining staff by name and viceversa. The menu was delicious and came very quick. Amazingly quick. The only thing we didn't like was the photographer that came around every night, even when you had a mouth full of food. A quick "no thanks" was all that was needed.
We didn't attend the evening entertainment, so I can't comment on that. We would sometimes have a snack in the Blue Lagoon cafe which was opened 24 hours and listen to the comedian/music/lectures in the atrium and they all seemed good.
The Pearl was very modern and clean with no signs of obvious wear. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful all the time. They have a laundry special halfway through the cruise. $20.00 for a large bag. They lost one of my items worth 40.00 but then didn't charge us for the laundry and took 20.00 off our account, so we came our even. Being a bra they knew I would have to replace it.
I don't know if the cold coastal weather deterred most people venturing onto the upper decks at night or if they all ate later than us but we would often go up to the hot spas (x4) on the pool deck and sit in their for a couple of hours.
We didn't book any shore excursions through the ship. We loved exploring all of the ports ourselves and found it easy to get around.
I had read to expect rough seas going up the coast but we never felt any movement. We had prepared by taking Kwells every night but honestly it was so smooth. The Captain Lars Bengtsson was so funny, we loved his announcements that would come at anytime. He is a real character and had everyone laughing. You could tell he loved his job.
Disembarkation was a breeze. No waiting for your number to be called. Everything about Freestyle cruising seemed to work on this cruise.
We booked this cruise mainly to get from LA to Vancouver (then train to Seattle) so having such fantastic ports was definitely an added bonus. We loved every one of them, especially San Fransisco. This cruise definitely exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend both the Cruise line/ship and itinerary to anyone looking for a reasonably price holiday in the US.