We had a wonderful cruise thanks to the amazing cruise staff on the Pearl. The staff recognized us from the crowded Vancouver to LA leg of the cruise and made us feel special for the remainder of the cruise. The LA to Florida leg was was full of fun activities. I was originally concerned with the amount of sea days and how to pass the time. The Pearl's "free style" cruising is great for someone who's relaxed and casual. If you want a more formal and structured cruise you may be disappointed. You MUST participate in all the hokey trivia, games, and activities. The murder mystery, bowling tournament, and ports of calls were the highlights. The climbing wall looked fun but I never got around to it.
The food is the usual assembly line hotel/convention fare. The dining rooms were decent, the Blue Lagoon disappointing, and the buffet was better than expected. We actually had the buffet dinner one hurried night and was shocked to see pork tenderloin and salmon wellington being served. We didn't use any of the "Pay" restaurants but were told that they were good.
Overall the Panama cruise from NCL was great value for the money. The inside cabins were $300-$500 cheaper than those from Celebrity and Princess. We choose to use the savings toward excursions. NCL brought on-board an expert to "narrate" the 7 hours through the canal. We found that added extreme value to the Panama experience.