My Husband and I had the pleasure of sailing aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) Pearl for the third time to celebrate Christmas & New Years. We are an active middle aged couple we are avid cruisers (50+ cruises). We have sailed on most major cruise lines over the past twenty years. As we live in South Florida, we arrived at the Port of Miami about 11:30 AM via shuttle and breezed through embarkation. Although no reflection on NCL the TSA employees at the port could be better trained when dealing with the public.
We chose an Obstructed Oceanview Cabin on Deck 8 which we have stayed in the last 2 times on board the Pearl due to it being a very quiet deck. The cabin was appointed with all the normal necessities. Storage Space is quite good. The shower has a shower door which is always a plus. My wish list for this Cat cabin would be maybe a shower shaving bar for the ladies, better lighting (remember we are over 40) and maybe a lighted magnifying make up mirror.
NCL is on the move again with a "New Attitude". The New Attitude starts from the moment you board the ship. The crew and Officers were out an about ready and willing to assist with a smile. These are a few examples of our experiences;
Janet, a hostess in Cagney's & Summer Palace actually remembered that we had inquired when was Lobster night in the main dining room and called our stateroom personally to let us know...AMAZING;
Sunil, a cabin steward down the hall from ours no matter what time day or night would appear out of nowhere to say hello. It was like he had xray vision.
Last but not least, the ship's officers on NCL no longer hide behind their office doors, they are out on the piers seeing passengers off the ship for the days journeys and explorations and still there when you return welcoming you home. We joked with Kaj Turunen, Hotel Director that we were going to call the Guinness World Book of Records to have them count how many passengers (NCL & Other Cruise Lines who ships shared the pier we were docked at) he welcomed home each day. It had to be in the thousands as he was standing there when we left the ship (as it was raining) and was still standing there when we returned in the afternoon. When we returned from our days adventure, NCL crew were serving cold towels to freshen up and cold beverages waiting at the pier. That was a very nice touch especially after being in Cozumel where temperatures were soaring. We noticed several other key officers on the pier as well. This was a VERY friendly ship.
NCL has made changes to it's Latitudes Rewards program. Instead of eliminating benefits like some of the other cruise lines they have actually added benefits including Concierge Service. We have attained Platinum Latitudes member status and were treated like VIP's. Our concierge Anoop Bhanu took care of everything again.... with a smile!
We ate mainly in the Specialty restaurants as we have enjoyed the variety over the years and looked forward to visiting them again. The food is very good but, I have to say Le Bistro & Cagney's are our favorites. We did have late lunches in the Garden Cafe on several days and found everything you could possible want. NCL keeps the lunch buffet open later than normal on port days so that when you return to the ship there is somewhere to get something to eat. Other lines that we have sailed with keep to their normal schedule regardless of the itinerary. Also, the Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours a day. For the coffee lovers, NCL has fresh ground coffee machines in the rear of the Garden Cafe. They do not use Coffee syrup as some of the other cruise lines have opted for. Kudos....
Activities & Entertainment:
As we have cruised many times we actually enjoy the peaceful areas on the ship. We did see a few of the shows which we found the quality had improved with the new company on board. We loved the Deal or No Deal game maybe because I won $200 which i quickly bought a memento from Colombian Emeralds! There is a nice variety of musicians on board.....something for everyone. The New Year's party on deck was a lot of fun however, we did miss the countdown celebration on the large screen in the atrium that we were accustomed to from previous years. Maybe they can project the different countries celebrations on a screen out on deck?
Port & Shore Excursions:
Great Stirrup Cay is one of our favorites. It's a great way to spend a day relaxing on the beach. We have been many times and when we were first married we leaned how to snorkel here. We have spent hours snorkeling. Be careful of the large boulders on one side of the beach. The island suffered damage several years ago from one the Hurricanes that passed by which has NCL has taken this opportunity to make improvements. Since we visited the island last year, we have noticed many new buildings, new docks, new paths to explore and slides for the kids. We look forward to seeing what's new next time we visit.
No problem getting off the ship. Delay in Customs.........No reflection on NCL.
We had a GREAT time on board the NCL Pearl. It was great to see old friends from cruises past and meet new ones. NCL made us feel like family coming home. We will definitely cruise with NCL again as we look forward to the arrival of the NCL Getaway and Breakaway in 2013. Cheers! The Tusa's