Decided to book on the Pearl with a few friends for birthday celebrations. At first glance she shall we shall weathered and is not that impressive. The attempts made by P&O to spruce her up were fairly well done, but there were shortfalls.
Embarkation did not see us board her through the Atrium, but on the promenade deck 7 near the rear of the ship. Not really a complaint, but would have been nice to see that first. Ventured up to pool deck for a look around and went for lunch in the plantation, all in all so far so good. Went for a drink on the pool deck after that and watched the rest of the passengers file on board. Went to the cabin after that and our luggage was waiting for us,as it was my partners birthday we had a lovely balloon decoration on the door and a happy birthday message.... a nice touch. Entered the cabin and yes they are very dated, but spacious enough. Decided to check out the bathroom and unpack and this is where I was not impressed. The bathroom was very dirty, luckily we had brought on some antiseptic wipes so we gave it the once over. The drawers also had a few remnants of the previous occupants. When we had unpacked and decided to put the suitcases under the bed a pair of women's shoes was discovered along with a few condoms...... Need I say more!
The Salt Grill is a must do and we had dinner there on the first night. The plantation is very much hit and miss, but the food was relatively good. No real temperature problems, but I did hear from friends that room service was lousy and the food was cold. The staff around the ship are not as friendly as I was expecting. Most seemed tired, overworked and occasionally rude. Service was very slow in the public bar areas, however was very good at the waterfront.
Toilets in the public areas were a problem and locating them when first on board was a problem. No toilets in the Oasis so you have to walk through the deck mid-ship and then down a level to the ones either side of the waterfront. I found this to be a real inconvenience. Did not experience problems with blocked toilets, but the cabin one did play up once. The lifts were a nightmare and it was much quicker to take the stairs.
The pool area is quite good and the movie screen a nice touch. Was good at sail-aways and with the circus show. I liked the fact they played music and the film clips, but would have been nice for the film clips to match the music being played. Movies poolside were good too. The Oasis is a nice area of the ship, but the spas are far too hot and were not working properly. Staff were asked to help, but seemed non plussed and disinterested in helping and told us to just play with the buttons.
The dome was a nice enough area, but again no toilets near by being a problem. The music was not to my tastes, but I'm sure others enjoyed it. The Mix bar is very nice and my favourite of the ship. The Orient I liked as well, but did not think much of the Connexions. The shops are not that good and the duty free is terrible in my opinion. It was not that much cheaper than the shops at home.
Don't get me started on the tendering process. They need to use all tenders when going to ports where they are needed. Waiting for 90 mins to get off the ship made for some cranky passengers!
I feel that the ship is definitely catered to the younger crowd or people in the late teens and twenties. I am not sure if it would be entirely suitable for young families.
Overall I enjoyed my time on the Pearl, but I think improvements are needed and that it is for first timers who don't have anything to compare it to. For seasoned cruisers I would try a different line.