2,395 Norwegian Pearl Cruise Reviews

Overall cruise on the Norwegian Pearl was very enjoyable and the staff was wonderful and very attentive. Our biggest beef was that wifi is advertised to be free, which typically means (at least in the USA) that you are provided with ... Read More
Overall cruise on the Norwegian Pearl was very enjoyable and the staff was wonderful and very attentive. Our biggest beef was that wifi is advertised to be free, which typically means (at least in the USA) that you are provided with unfettered access to the internet, but on the cruise free wifi only provides access to NCL internet site, this complicated our communication with family back home when issues arose. Our other issue was with the extra pay restaurants, the 'Le Bistro' in particular, which costs an additional $20/person to dine at, and on top of that there were some menu items that had an additional charge (i.e. $10/entree written in small typeset) beyond the $20 cover charge, all entrees menu items should have been available for the original $20 additonal charge. Our recommendation would be to stick with the covered dining options as the extra charge restaurants were not a good bargain ($/quality). I think NCL is the best cruise option out there, but there is always room to get better! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Based on our previous experience on the Norwegian Pearl to the Western Caribbean, we selected the same ship for our Eastern Caribbean adventure. The cruise prior had experienced the norovirus with apparent significant impact on crew and ... Read More
Based on our previous experience on the Norwegian Pearl to the Western Caribbean, we selected the same ship for our Eastern Caribbean adventure. The cruise prior had experienced the norovirus with apparent significant impact on crew and passengers. Some CC members had been advised by various methods of the situation, however, as we were already in transit, we did not receive any notification. Only through the CC Roll Call did we learn of the problem. Overall, our cruise experience was as we expected with certain limitations and items worth commenting upon. We enjoyed the trip and would choose the Pearl again in a heartbeat. I will attempt to categorize my comments for each area. Embarkation. We knew that the check-in would be delayed and arrived at the terminal shortly after 12 P.M. Needless to say, there were many who were already there. The security screening was relatively fast and it was only when we joined the check-in line that a slowdown was encountered. It came to a grinding halt for a reason that was not apparent to us. We still aren’t aware of the cause. After about 20 minutes, it started up again, however, no announcements were made as to the reason for the delay or when it would start again. Once we did get to the counter, check-in went smoothly. Upstairs, there was mass confusion. When ship boarding commenced, nobody was really aware of what was happening. One young staff member attempted to provide information, however, her voice did not carry well through the din. Not her fault but there should have been PA announcements. On board, lunch was available at the Garden Café and Great Outdoors. They eventually became very crowded as rooms were quite late being readied for the new occupants. Restrictions. Lunch was our start to the restrictions which were put in place for the duration of the cruise which I’ll briefly try to describe. There was no direct handling of cutlery, plates, beverage facilities, or anything. For example, buffets were not self-service; no table condiments including salt, pepper, etc.; no glasses, coffee makers, bathrobes in the cabins. Washy, washy everywhere. (Insert smiley here). Although somewhat inconvenient, it was totally understandable and most tried to make the best of it. The staff were overworked, and, although they tried to remain upbeat, it was evident that the long hours was taking its toll. Our hats are off to them for everything they did. Due to the required cleaning and preparation, departure was delayed by four hours and various events were impacted to some degree. As you ventured throughout the ship, it was evident that additional hand sanitizing stations had been set up. These appeared to be well-used by everyone as far as we saw. CC Meet and Greet. Held in the Bliss Lounge we had a good turnout of members and crew. Due to the restrictions, there was not the usual juices, sweets, etc. Understandable. The crew provided us with as much information as possible about the problem and processes that had been established. It was well received by all. Latitudes Reception. Information was provided that, due to the situation, the reception would be delayed. It was eventually held in the Spinnaker Lounge on the second last sea day. Totally understandable. Also, since a second reception would not be held, a free drink coupon was given to members. Ports. On this cruise, we stopped at Tortola, BVI, St John’s Antigua, Fort de France Martinique, Basseterre St Kitts and St Thomas, USVI. At Tortola, ships tenders were required due to dock repairs. We did not encounter any problems with this procedure. We docked at all other ports. We found Tortola to be the least enjoyable due to the cleanliness and obvious poverty. Martinique, a French colony that uses the Euro, was a pleasant surprise and the island is making every endeavour to accommodate visitors. St Thomas and St John’s were the most pleasant. On all islands, we found the people to be quite pleasant. Accommodations. We were in a mini-suite on the port side. The only downside to this cabin was that access to the closet was limited and one of the doors would not completely open. As previously mentioned, amenities had been removed, but, on request, we got glasses and a coffee maker. Our steward, Christopher, was good and worked hard. All stewards were obviously tired from the effort to sanitize the cabins and the long hours required to make our cruise as safe as possible. Hats off to them. Carpets were being replaced in our hallway throughout the cruise and the maintenance staff made every endeavour to limit the disruption of passenger’s daily activities. Future passengers need to look for the red herring in the carpet. Dining. During the cruise, we ate at the Great Outdoors, Garden Buffet, O’Sheehan’s, Indigo, Summer Palace, Cagney’s and Teppanyaki. At all venues, the staff was very pleasant and accommodating. Except for the pancakes one morning at the Great Outdoors, all food was the right temperature. The menus provided good variety and, overall, we were pleased. The Outdoor Grill was closed for the duration except for a BBQ on the last two sea days. Entertainment. We attended most of the shows in the Stardust Theater. The Pearl Production Cast was very good in all of their appearances including the SWING production. Hypnotist, Brenda Kaye was okay, but her results lacked somewhat. Juggler Tuey Wilson was probably the least entertaining. Although he had some excellent parts to his act, for someone who had been in the business for as long as he has, he made some simple errors. Magician and Comedian, Matt Marcy, was very entertaining and had some unbelievable parts to his act. We really enjoyed the two appearances of the Flashback Four, a singing group featuring songs from a few decades back. Comedian Bud Anderson was fairly decent. Legends in Concert included Elton John, Tina Turner and Madonna impersonators. We had previously attended a performance in Las Vegas and so were familiar with the group. Of these three, the Madonna impersonator was the best. Throughout the ship, various groups and individual entertainers rotated each evening. We saw most of them and they were entertaining and fairly good. Cruise Director, Dan Olsson was very enthusiastic and, I might add, sang quite well himself. Pool/Hot Tubs. These were used extensively and, on most days, a lounger could be found, but mostly on the upper deck. People were “reserving” loungers contrary to normal cruise line policy. To us, this is very inconsiderate not respective of others wishes for a few hours in the sun. I observed an attendant marking loungers but whether he freed them up for others I could not tell. Cruise lines need to be very proactive in this endeavour to make the facilities equally accessible for all. The Outdoor Grill was not regularly open for this cruise but a BBQ was held on the last two days. Cruise Critic Wrap-up. This was something we had not experiences on previous NCL cruises, but it was very worthwhile. We had a meeting with the Hotel Director and Senior Staff on the last day in the Barcelona Meeting Room. We were informed to what extent the norovirus had been contained and that the restrictions would remain in place for the first couple of days on the next cruise. Everyone in attendance praised the staff for how the problem was handled and were thankful that appropriate measures had paid off. Various comments were passed on to the staff who made notes for review and potential action. Well done. Disembarkation. Disembarkation was done by colour coding according to the time you wished to get off. As we were in no hurry, we chose a 9 A.M. departure. We were not hurried and it took us less than 45 minutes from leaving the ship to getting our baggage, going through immigration and getting to the airport. A breeze. Summary. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. Reviews that I have seen on other sites don’t seem to agree, but I guess not everyone can be pleased. This could have been the “cruise from hell” given the situation, but all staff and crew members worked long and hard to make sure this didn’t happen. Hats off to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My wife and I are just past 70, both of us retired; we sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on the April 6, 2015, cruise out of Miami. This was a an eastern Caribbean 10-day cruise to Tortola, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas with ... Read More
My wife and I are just past 70, both of us retired; we sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on the April 6, 2015, cruise out of Miami. This was a an eastern Caribbean 10-day cruise to Tortola, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas with two days at sea each ways. I chose this cruise mainly because it went to islands that, with the exception of Martinique, we had not visited before. This was our fifth cruise with Norwegian. The embarkation was very chaotic; boarding was delayed due to health issues on the previous cruise (need to sanitize the ship). NCL contractor running the terminal was overwhelmed by the amount o people in terminal (some people were given group number, some others not), refreshment were not offered. It was almost 3PM when we were authorized to board (we arrived at noon), it took another hour before we were authorized to go to our cabin (balcony on deck 10). Not much to complain about the room, no ice bucket: it came back toward the end of the cruise; I’m assuming that the absence was related to the need to sanitize the ship after the last cruise problem. Same applies to the Coffee machine (not a problem for us as we don’t drink coffee). Room lighting can be improved. Our room steward was good, friendly and unobtrusive. The ship finally left port past 7PM. Since the last cruise had an outbreak, all food was served by NCL employees including at the buffet or at the Great outdoors. While I prefer to be safe, it just takes longer to get be anything. We ate breakfast either at the Buffet or at the Great Outdoors. Lunch was either at the Great Outdoors or O'Sheehan's (when not having lunch ashore). We had dinner at la Cucina. Lotus Garden (disappointing) and most of the days at the Indigo, we were never able to secure a reservation at “Le Bistro”. Overall food was good but pastries choice was limited. We had cocktails almost daily at the “Spinnaker”, it used to have a drink list (and should have one as per the cruise director), never seen one. During the day, the Spinnaker Service quality was not as good as we had experienced on previous cruises (items from previous customers left on tables or on the floor or on tables for a long time). Most of the time, I had to pick up our drinks at the bar. We did not used the Gym but my wife went to the SPA (overpriced in my opinion!). We noticed that NCL quality of Service had slipped a bit. The shops area is filled with unneeded shops (there is the same shops in very port of call) and the Norwegian shop is now minuscule with very limited list of items. Port information was very limited, other than the usual map leading you to Diamonds International, Colombian Emeralds and other "recommended" shops ; nothing , nothing on Fort de France (Martinique). Entertainment had both good and not so good. We don't gamble and went only through the casino on our way to the theater. Debarkation - wee chose to take our own luggage off the ship and were gone by 8:15 AM; NCL offers a cheap bus ride to Fort Lauderdale airport (26$ per). Shore Excursion: We did have to tender in Tortola (the new pier is not ready); it took forever to get ashore (long wait in the Stardust theater and then in the concourse on deck4. Tortola is surprisingly a very poor island, only the schools seems to be in good shape, our tour was a bit disappointing (best of Tortola) with a minibus designed for midgets (4 passengers in row on seats more suitable for two, max 3); at reservation we were promised an open air safari type vehicle (not so). Pussers landing stop was too short (30 mn); I was able to grab something to eat (overpriced). Long Beach was nice but there were no beach seats for rent despite what we had been told. In Antigua we had reserved a Catamaran & Lobster Lunch cruise. This was definitely the high point of the five shore excursions we took. We had the opportunity to view the coast from the sea (including the house of a famous Italian designer), to really sail (being underway with engine OFF on a big catamaran is really fun), drinks were served during the whole tour (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), the lobster lunch was great, we had two stops at very nice beaches and our crew was knowledgeable but also very FUN. Fort de France, Martinique was a big disappointment; the port area in under construction with a lot of shops boarded up. After our tour we tried to explore a little bit on our own. It was Saturday and almost all the shops were closed, streets were dirty with uncollected garbage. Our tour: St Pierre a Historical Capitol was a big disappointment, not much has been kept of the former historical Capitol after it was destroyed by an eruption of Mt Pelee; the small museum was OK but the ruins were encumbered by temporary structures. The tour did not go the the Volcano observatory. The high point of this tour was the DEPAZ rum distillery (nice setting and very informative). The return via the west coast was without any interests (only one stop at a closed church)! Basseterre, St Kitts - St Kitts Scenic Railway: Half of the tour is by buss and half via a narrow gauge train. While our bus Driver/guide was very informative, the rail part of tour both informative (our guide did look alike Whoopi Goldberg ), in car service was very good (drinks) and we had some entertainment (a group of singers going from car to car); we were on the upper deck. St Thomas, US Virgin Islands: We went to St John by boat from St Thomas and did almost a complete tour of the island. Most of the island is a National park with wonderful public beaches. It definitively gives us a desire to visit again. Conclusion: NCL should pay attention to what did work in the past Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The most unorganized embarkation ever. We were in the Haven and are Platinum as with the rest of the cruise our conceige (Envira) was NO WHERE to be found. The lady who led us to the ship past the masses trying to board had no idea where ... Read More
The most unorganized embarkation ever. We were in the Haven and are Platinum as with the rest of the cruise our conceige (Envira) was NO WHERE to be found. The lady who led us to the ship past the masses trying to board had no idea where she was going. Never saw the conceige the entire time except when she was sitting at her desk on deck 13. Never came up to the Haven at all. Needless to say I've had much better . Hopefully won't get her on my next cruise. The Butler Teresa and the room stewards and haven attendant (Oliver) were awesome. They saved our cruise. Since the last cruise had an outbreak (week before) all food was served by NCL employees in all venues. Which in my opinion is better then people grabbing all the food themselves. It just takes longer to get anything. Had dinner at Modeno's, Le Bistro, Teppanaki 2X) , the Asian place,the Italian place, O'Sheehan's (Wonder if they will rename that now that Kevin O' Sheehan is gone from NCL). Also ate at Aqua twice, the buffet, Great Outdoors. Food was good but nothing to write home about. Desserts were a HUGE disappointment. No pies at all ever in the buffet or the speciality places , only about 4 different types of cakes that all tasted the same. (Not good). The only saving grace was they still had the homemade crepes at the buffet at night. We heard that the CDC person was on board the cruise and looking at everything maybe that had something to do with the cutbacks. NCL has done away with the Chocolate buffet, the coffee in the Haven which used to be available at 6:00 AM every day, and the candy etc. they used to leave out in the Haven. Now if you want anything you have to call room service which was not so fast, about a 30 minute wait time for morning coffee. Feeling like I'm not getting the bang for my buck as in past cruises. Also gone was the gold and platinum Latitudes cocktail party which NCL gave us two free drink coupons to make up for that. (Not so sure that was equilvalent) Used the gym which was nicely appointed. Went to one show the hypnotist (female) which was boring. Left early. As far as the other shows mostly the NCL troupe, nothing special. NCL seems to have also left out some good entertainment not sure why that is happening. No more acrobats, no more Second City, etc. Ports of Call: Tortola (Beach day, awesome, Martinque: new port, not very nice, shopping was not too good, St. Kitts, beach day/shopping - very nice picked up some local Mango Rum to take home, Carombola beach club, St. Thomas- shopping of course, and Antiqua- land of beautiful beaches went to Cane Bay beach good snorkeling, restaurant but wi fi was sporadic. Chairs and Umbrella as 10 each for the day. Cab ride 8 per person. We never take ship excursions, mostly do our own thing. Got new geocaches on Martinque didn't have any from there. Leaving the ship was easy as we do express walk off. Off the boat by 7:30 AM on day of departure. Already booked our next cruise but hopefully things will improve by then. I feel that NCL is cutting back in the wrong areas considering how much things cost. I see a decline now that Kevin O'Sheehan is no longer at the helm and that's too bad. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Thumbs down for the Pearl! This was our first cruise on NCL and most likely our last. Was very unimpressed with the food. The buffets were the same every day, the main dining rooms were very boring plus the service was somewhat slow. We ... Read More
Thumbs down for the Pearl! This was our first cruise on NCL and most likely our last. Was very unimpressed with the food. The buffets were the same every day, the main dining rooms were very boring plus the service was somewhat slow. We did enjoy the French restaurant and the Italian was ok. Cagney's, was hoping to get a surf n turf, but did not have it. I know it's a steak house, but there was only one fish on menu (see bass), which wasn't very good. The Chinese dining was awful. I've been on ships that have a Chinese Wok and hot deli. The Pearl had neither. Most of the desserts we had looked good, but were very bland. The biggest joke was the way the Stardust Palace was set up. There is only one way to get in/out of the left & right sections. Were always getting up & down to let people in and out. Very distracting. The Carnival ships we been on had lots a leg room plus tables to put your drinks. I was charged $15 corkage fee before we even boarded. I've been on other cruise lines that only charge it if they open it for you. I know there was a sanitation clean up problem going on, but we all waited in line for 2 hours with no information. The captain barely had any communication with us once we were at sea. A positive: the staff did a great job during the cruise adapting to the novo virus problem from the previous cruise.... They were lacking in all the little things that Carnival provides for their guests. The pools were good size. The spa was way over priced. Our housekeeper (Wilber) was very good. The dining service wasn't too good. Sometimes the bread came a round, sometimes he didn't. Same for the bar service at the dining rooms. While departing, one of our suitcases were misplaced and we waiting on the airport shuttle for an hour with no explanation. Don't think I'll be sailing with NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
There was indeed and issue with the preceding cruise. we did have to wait an extended time to board and before we were allowed access to our rooms. For me this was understandable. At times the inability to serve ourselves beverages and ... Read More
There was indeed and issue with the preceding cruise. we did have to wait an extended time to board and before we were allowed access to our rooms. For me this was understandable. At times the inability to serve ourselves beverages and in the buffet was an inconvenience but again understandable. Tortola, Antigua, and Martinique were new ports for us and some of the best times. 5 1/2 hr. catamaran "Antigua by sea" was fabulous. Clement rum distillery (Martinique) was a great tour and the tasting room was fun. no bad ports IMHO on this trip. Room stewards seemed slow. On board entertainment was just okay. The unlimited liquor package was perfect for us. I would cruise this ship and this itinerary again without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We just returned from a cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. The cruise was 10 days on relaxation and great food. We got the package that included the specialty dining restaurants and were delighted we did. The food in each of these was ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. The cruise was 10 days on relaxation and great food. We got the package that included the specialty dining restaurants and were delighted we did. The food in each of these was excellent. We had a balcony stateroom and found it to be roomy and very well laid out. The crew as tremendous and the ship was great for relaxing. If you want a cruise ship that has lots of glitz and and big events or lots of kids events this is not the ship for you. If you want a relaxing cruise with lots of small areas for entertaining and great food this is the one to choose. The staff is wonderful, pool areas nice and entertainment very good. We will cruise on the Pearl again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We cruised this ship from Mar.26 to Apr. 16, 2015. Although there were issues on the first part of the cruise, the staff of the ship, worked very hard to accommodate everyone and make the best of a serious health issue on board. During ... Read More
We cruised this ship from Mar.26 to Apr. 16, 2015. Although there were issues on the first part of the cruise, the staff of the ship, worked very hard to accommodate everyone and make the best of a serious health issue on board. During the turn around on the 6th of April, the back to back cruisers were given the option of having a tour of Miami at the ship's expense. This was appreciated by ourselves and we had a good time and saw a lot of Miami, that we otherwise would not have seen. The second leg of the cruise was also very enjoyable. The staff on this ship are excellent and very friendly and accommodating. The only staff we encountered that were less that top notch, were the servers in the Summer Palace. We were practically ignored by our server and others had to take on his duties. This left the service wanting. The entertainment, was at best, moderate. Some acts were really good, others not as good. But in all we enjoyed most of the shows, however on the second leg of the cruise, it was basically repeat performances. This was a really nice cruise and we would most certainly use Norwegian again. WE did not take any shore excursions offered by the ship, so cannot comment on that aspect of the journey. We also do not partake in any fitness, recreation, or enrichment activities, so again no comment on those either. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We truly enjoyed our 10 day Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Pearl from April 6 to April 16 2015. The cruise was 10 days of amazing relaxation, beautiful sights, and awesome delights. We felt very pampered aboard the Pearl, with a ... Read More
We truly enjoyed our 10 day Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Pearl from April 6 to April 16 2015. The cruise was 10 days of amazing relaxation, beautiful sights, and awesome delights. We felt very pampered aboard the Pearl, with a wonderful, caring staff, perfect weather, and the beautiful islands we visited, the trip was magical. I tell you honestly, The WHOLE staff made us really feel welcome from the time of boarding until we disembarked!!! Very friendly staff! NCL Pearl is a truly beautifully appointed cruise ship with a crew whose total focus is on their passengers. The ship is not too large or too small. The ship is well laid out, and is easy to navigate. The Pearl offers Non stop entertainment-trivia games, movies, stage shows. There was a juggler, comedian and hypnotist. Lots of fun and lots of laughs. One of the things we really like about NCL is their Freestyle Dining plan, which means no fixed dinner times and you don't need to dress up fancy, unless you want to. Hubby never had to wear pants- he just wore shorts the entire time. Ok, let's talk food, shall we? NCL has since eliminated the cover charge for its Asian restaurants. We loved the Lotus Garden Asian restaurant- they have awesome sushi and delicious shrimp and chicken noodle bowls. The Garden Cafe/Great Outdoors is an awesome buffet style restaurant. The buffets on-board were out of this world!! The Pearl has the 'action stations' of the newer NCL ships, and the layout is very good. The food in the Garden Cafe/Great Outdoors is delicious, and there are a large number of choices. If you can't find something good to eat here, you have not tried very hard. I love the sticky rolls and made to order omelets! Breakfast is served here until about 11:30am, which is great for us late sleepers. You can also get breakfast items at O'Sheehan's, which we did one morning, but it was not the best quality food-did not repeat dining there. In addition, they did a lunch time cookout on the pool deck that was quite a hit. Dinner on this ship is full of choices. There are about 11 different choices when you count room service. YUM! Delicious, fresh and abundant. We ate most often in the Indigo dining room. Again, a very attentive staff and prompt service. One very cool thing to use onboard- NCL provides the iConcierge app., which uses the ship’s wifi network to provide access to information about the ship, activities, shore excursions,and account info- very cool! We had an inside stateroom and I was really pleased with it's size and space. The same for the bathroom. Even though the size of the bathroom was large enough with a nice large sink and plenty of shelves for storage, a shower big enough for two people, the toilet was oddly positioned so that you had to sit side saddle to avoid hurting your knees on the wall. There was plenty of room in the bathroom for drying off and dressing, and décor was very nice. In the bedroom section there was room enough to store our belongings as well as room to dress and get ready in the mornings. The bedding and pillows in the cabin were super comfy, and the cabin was extremely quiet. This made for some great sleeping! On sail away day we did not sail out from Miami until almost 9 PM. We knew before boarding that there was a virus on-board- but great precautions were taken to handle that. Lots of "washy washy happy happy" crew with sanitizer spraying guests constantly- small inconveniences really. We had a very cool "sail away" party in an owners suite. April 6, 2015 Our first day at sea, we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle. We had a great turn out of approximately 80 people. NCL's Meet & Mingles are the best at sea, as we had about 10 officers, including the Captain, introduce themselves and be available for questions. In addition to the Meet & Mingle on the first day, the officers held a follow-up meeting during the last day of the cruise on April 16, 2015 to get feedback from our cruise critic group. This was attended by about 35 guests and 6 crew members. My darling husband Michael was surprised at this meeting to learn the captain knew his name! The crew just loved him! These 2 meetings show that the crew on NCL's ships really care about making their guests experience the best it can be. We had a great time on this trip, in part due to the crew and the itinerary, but mainly due to the great people that we sailed with and met during our cruise. We met our wonderful new friends John and Ivan from Canada! And in the end, that's what makes a vacation special!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Let me start by saying I have been on 6 NCL ships and have NEVER had or experienced the problems I had on the Pearl. I saved the worst for last. 1) Lack of coordination for embarking due to flu outbreak ( we called it contagion). ... Read More
Let me start by saying I have been on 6 NCL ships and have NEVER had or experienced the problems I had on the Pearl. I saved the worst for last. 1) Lack of coordination for embarking due to flu outbreak ( we called it contagion). Delays is a understatement, I was not notified of outbreak and delays prior to arrival on pier. Packing of all passengers into common areas for hours was not only hazardous but very uncomfortable. Rooms were not ready for hours after embarkation and delayed sailing departure by 4 hours. 2)The contagion precautions became dreary and a overbearing part of the cruise. 3) The food in all "free" areas was lackluster in my opinion, very low quality. The actual "no touch" policy didn't bother me, it just took forever. 4) My stateroom 11592 flooded ruining most of our clothes.This was not handled with priority or urgency. I am still very upset and have contacted corporate.The total incompetency of housekeeping staff during the flood issue in my stateroom was stunning. They ruined the remaining clothes that were not affected by flood water with cleaning agents, it was just unbelievable! The SMELL/ODOR from my stateroom was HORRENDOUS and that doesn't even describe it. The smell actually permeated into the hall. The hall was also flooded and carpet was replaced the entire length of hall the next day, BUT NOT MY SUITE! They tried to mask it with room freshener. I was moved for the night into a lower deck cabin, to allow my stateroom to "air out". All in all my vacation was ruined. I don't know if I will ever go on another NCL ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have had 18 cruises, this was our fourteenth cruise on NCL. This cruise had problems we had not experienced before on Norwegian. We had a hint that something was amiss when we received several calls advising us that embarkation would ... Read More
We have had 18 cruises, this was our fourteenth cruise on NCL. This cruise had problems we had not experienced before on Norwegian. We had a hint that something was amiss when we received several calls advising us that embarkation would be delayed. Arriving at the port we were notified that the previous cruise on the Pearl had an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus and measures were being taken to prevent another. Embarkation was not short of chaotic. We had been on a previous Norwegian cruise when an engine failure required a change in port itinerary, leaky pipes everywhere and the crew managed to set the ship on fire so we were ready to deal with some inconvenience. This cruise did not have the same feel that we experienced on previous cruises. There is a new management team in charge of NCL and like old hound dogs men love to mark their territory. We hope this does not alter the things that appealed to us about NCL cruises. As we expected food was served one dollop at a time in the Garden Cafe and the Great Outdoors. It took a long time getting your meal because you had to stand in line while servers dished up food, one grape tomato at a time for example. We expected this to end after a few days if there was no virus problem but it continued to the last day of the cruise. The captain never bothered to explain why this was required for the entire cruise. We had several dinners at the Italian restaurant that were excellent with great service by the staff. Curious though that an 18 percent gratuity was added to the bill since Norwegian adds a daily per person gratuity to your on board account. In order to control the virus the captain ordered that no ice, coffee or glasses would be allowed in the cabin. That means if you want water to take your medicine or rinse your mouth after brushing you had a problem. I guess the captain meant for you to fill the wash basin and lap up your water like our golden retriever. Since people naturally took glasses from the dining areas back to the room even the captain realized how absurd this was and loosened his stringent rules. Another of this captains annoyances was his limit of deck chairs on the promenade deck. His limit of 12 chairs on port and starboard created a rush to claim a chair every day. His reasoning was that the chairs would create a hazard in an emergency situation. No other NCL captain in our experience saw this as a problem. Our cabin was kept in good order by our steward who was overworked to the point that we never found how who he was. We guessed that our steward was responsible for taking care of more rooms as others were reassigned to serving ketchup or salt in the dining areas. In spite of all of this cruising the sunny Caribbean trumps freezing in Michigan anytime. We are already booked on our next NCL cruise and expect it will be like the great ones we have enjoyed previous to this one. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Our recent (April 6, 2015) cruise on NCL was not a pleasant experience. I will lay out the pros and cons of this cruise. Pros 3 out of 5 of the islands we visited were nice. St Kitts, St Thomas and Antigua were nice stops and ... Read More
Our recent (April 6, 2015) cruise on NCL was not a pleasant experience. I will lay out the pros and cons of this cruise. Pros 3 out of 5 of the islands we visited were nice. St Kitts, St Thomas and Antigua were nice stops and offered some very pretty beaches and interesting historical sites. The bathroom of the mini suite that we stayed in was very generous and had nice amenities. The cabin had some nice appointments and very generous storage. The weather was very nice, high 70’s to mid 80’s everyday. Cons When we arrived at the ship we were given a letter that indicated that 5.78% of the passengers on the previous sailing had come down with acute gastroenteritis (about 125 people) and if we didn't want to travel on this cruise we would be given a credit on a future cruise (we flew in from California so that meant we would forfeit our airfare and have to buy another airfare if we were going to take their credit). Because of this problem we were allowed to board the ship about 2:00 PM, but no one was able to go to their cabins until they were thoroughly cleaned. We got in our cabin at 5:00 PM. I assume this means they disinfected all the cabins. Over 2,000 people were on the ship and could not go to their cabins and were trying to get lunch. You can only imagine the chaos. Due to the need for sterilization throughout the entire cruise you couldn't touch anything when you were getting your food at any of the cafeteria style restaurants. You were handed a plate and utensils and you had to stand in line while waiting for the staff to dish up your food. As an example if you wanted catsup on your fries or burger you had to stand in line so the person manning the catsup bottle could squirt catsup on your food. If you were in one of the up scale restaurants and wanted salt you had to wait for your waiter to bring a salt mill over and they put the salt on your food. I can understand the need for sanitation but this was carried to the extreme. While the cabin was roomy and clean the couch was one of the most uncomfortable things I ever sat on. It had about 2” of foam on top of a board and when you sat down you would always hit the board. The glass on the veranda was very dirty and was never cleaned. (I’m sure that the person who was supposed to clean the glass was handing out catsup in the cafeteria!) The service in the restaurants was OK at times and very poor at other times. It seemed like the entire focus of the cruise was SHOPPING. There were presentations on how to buy precious gems, watches and art but not ONE presentation about the islands we were visiting or any information about the Caribbean. Our last cruise was to Alaska on Holland America and we had many presentations on the wildlife of the area along with presentations on the locations we visited and glaciers etc. The only thing we could find out on this cruise was where we could buy diamonds and watches on the islands we visited. The NCL shore excursions we booked were spilt 50/50 we had one fairly good on and one fairly bad one. The excursion to the Virgin Gorda Baths on Tortola was a real bust. The rocks were neat but the snorkeling was terrible. No coral, no fish and the boat was a joke. Their idea of refreshments was to throw a case of bottled water on the counter on the way back to the ship. The two stop snorkel in St Thomas was nice but too short for my liking. We only had about 25 - 30 minutes to snorkel at each stop. The excursion cat was very nice and good refreshments but as we were coming back to port the captain informed us that the crew worked for tips and the recommended tip was $15 to $20 per person!!! The Shore excursion we booked ourselves in Antigua was with Scenic Tours Antigua and I would highly recommend them. Very informative and pleasant. It was a great tour of the island. As for the other islands Tortola was hard to get on and off of because you had to use tenders. It was a long and uncomfortable experience. Martinique is an island they could very easily skip. You are docked in what has to be the ghetto part of the island. We asked for directions to a grocery store from a port official and the last thing he said to us was “BE VERY CAREFUL” and I know why. While nothing happened to us, the surroundings made you very nervous. It was not nice. Tipping. You are assessed a $12 per person gratuity per day on the cruise, that was $240 for us for the cruise. We had the Ultimate drink package and an 18% tip was included in the package for every drink BUT there was still another place on the bill for an additional tip. Every up charge for a restaurant had a place for an additional tip. I think that gratuities have their place but this cruise took it to a new level. In summary Freestyle cruising is not necessarily free, informative or fun. The focus of the cruise was buy buy buy and tip, tip, tip! Buy your duty free liquor, watches, diamonds, tanzanite, and art at prices that are not that good and if you don’t buy on the ship, we will tell you where to buy them on shore (the same vendor that was on the ship). I happen to be in the market for a watch and most of the watches I looked at could be purchased cheaper at Costco even including taxes. My recommendation is to stay away from NCL and go with a cruise line like Holland America that caters to educating you about the places you are going not trying to pull more money out of your wallet. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We too experienced all the woes of embarkation but understood it was necessary to keep us all safe from getting sick which would have kept us confined to our cabins on this beautiful cruise. This was our first sail on the Pearl and our ... Read More
We too experienced all the woes of embarkation but understood it was necessary to keep us all safe from getting sick which would have kept us confined to our cabins on this beautiful cruise. This was our first sail on the Pearl and our 7th cruise with Norwegian. We had a great time on this Eastern Caribbean cruise which was much like the Southern Caribbean we took a few years ago. We enjoyed the shore excursions and the time we shared with our new friends. The Tortola Party Tour was our first excursion. Our driver, Ray, was very kind and probably never has a boring day! This was our first party tour - it definitely kept us entertained, the tour of the island was beautiful and we quickly became friends with others on the tour. The Catamaran & Lobster tour in Antigua booked through the ship was one of favorites. The site seeing was beautiful, the crew was so attentive to all of us, the lobster lunch was amazing, and the water and beaches were just what I dreamed about. Dennis and Jo Ann, our new friends from the party tour, just happened to be on this excursion as well. We learned later that their cabin was just three down from us. Fort de France, Martinique was our least favorite tour; however, our tour guide from Iowa was very knowledgeable. We visited a nice beach on our tour and was a great photo stop. While in St. Kitts, we took the 4x4 Island Safari & Beach tour as we had already done the scenic railway tour on a previous trip. This was a fun tour and very scenic. The 4x4 vehicles were amazingly comfortable given the rough roads on this tour. We drove through a pretty and lush forest, old sugar fields, saw beautiful views of the ocean, and visited a nice beach towards the end of the tour. The color of the water at Megen's Bay is very dramatic. The beach and grounds are very crowded though. It is very much worth the visit if you haven't been there before but we have visited other beaches that compare favorably. The entertainment was very good. Avalon was my favorite band followed by Roots Link. I wish I could have purchased a CD of Avalon but was told they have not recorded one. The entertainment in The Stardust Theater was very good. We very much enjoyed "Swing"; the show band; variety show, Flashback Four, Legends in Concert including the tribute to the officers, staff and crew; and the Crew Talent Show! Our cabin steward was so good to us and we looked forward to seeing the towel animals he made for us each night. Our only serious pet peeve is those that save pool deck chairs. This is a problem on every cruise so this is no surprise, just annoying. Hello to Tom and Kat and Dennis and Jo Ann! Hope to be back soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My wife and I who are both 68 and semi-retired and another similar couple sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on the April 6, 2015, cruise out of Miami. This was a 10-day cruise to Tortola, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas with four ... Read More
My wife and I who are both 68 and semi-retired and another similar couple sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on the April 6, 2015, cruise out of Miami. This was a 10-day cruise to Tortola, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas with four days at sea. We chose this cruise mainly because it went to islands that we had not visited before. None of us are foodies and we go on a cruise escaping Michigan for the convenience of seeing new places from a floating hotel in nice weather. This was also my wife and my third cruise on NCL and our tenth cruise overall having cruised on Oceania, Costa, Azamara, Renaissance and Royal Caribbean. The week before our cruise, the Pearl had the misfortune to be hit with a gastroenteritis outbreak so our cruise was very cautious about having any sanitary issues. You were never allowed to touch anything related to food or drink and there was never salt, pepper or other condiments on the table. Everything from plates, silverware, water and buffet items were handed to you by a crew member. Although it was somewhat inconvenient and took a bit of extra time, we appreciated the concern for our safety. Lots of washie-washie. We're were in an aft mini-suite on deck 11. This was a perfect location to enjoy the large outdoor venue called the Great Outdoors just above us on deck 12. Why more cruise ships do not have aft-facing fantail eating areas is beyond me. That was also a main reason we chose this cruise - outdoor seating for breakfast, lunch and cocktails are a must for us! Fortunately, most of the other passengers decided to confine their dining habits to the overly crowded and (at least to us) very unappealing main buffet on the same deck. We never failed to find a lovely table outdoors overlooking the sea or the port in which we had arrived and there was a small, but very nice, breakfast menu buffet - including made to order omelets - in that venue. It also served a limited menu of meal items at lunchtime and in the early/late evening. For dinners, we ate all but one meal in the Summer Palace main dining room. All of us thought the food and service in that dining room was great. We also ate there for lunch on two of the sea days. The other complimentary dining venues were not to our liking in style or location. We never had any issue finding a table for four in the Summer Palace no matter when we arrived. We did eat once in the French specialty restaurant, Le Bistro, and all felt it was no better than the main dining room - a nice diversion but not at all worth the $20 upcharge. However, we all noticed that NCL had slipped a bit in service and in amenities. So much of the ship was devoted to overpriced and unneeded shopping venues and gone were lots of the features that we had experienced in prior cruises. There was no - I repeat - no port information other than the normal map leading you to Diamonds International, Colombian Emeralds and other "recommended" shops. I know that NCL wants to sell shore excursions and get their cut from their sponsored cruise port shops, but why not a page on the highlights/history of the destination for the passengers not wanting to use the NCL excursions or who just want to walk around and see the port? Or, maybe furnish passengers with a page containing daily news/sports updates? We've always had that type of info before on other cruises. It also seemed that the service in some of the bar and dining areas was less enthusiastic, that there were fewer cabin stewards (but those we saw worked their butts off) and that there were less activities for passengers. Gone were the poolside cookouts on sea days. It's hard to describe why with particularity, but all four of us felt that the crew was overworked and there was just not a fun feeling/happy atmosphere on board the ship. And because of that combined with the loss of almost all amenities and the poor entertainment, the four of us all felt that we would probably not cruise on NCL again. It seems to have lost something. This was a wholly different feeling than the feeling that the four of us had when we finished our 7-day cruise on the Dawn out of Tampa two years ago. We really enjoyed that one and felt it was almost as good as our prior Azamara and Oceania experiences. Not this one though. We did our own thing in each port and did not take any NCL excursion. With four of us, it's easier doing research on what to do beforehand and doing it ourselves - as well as being a lot less expensive. In Tortola we took a chartered boat to the Baths, in Antigua we rented a Jeep and toured the island ending up at a beach resort, in Martinique we shopped in town and had lunch, on St. Kitts we went to a really nice beach club for the day, and in St. Thomas we hired a taxi for a quick island tour and had lunch in a small alleyway restaurant in Charlotte Amalie. The entertainment on board the ship was, well....awful. A mediocre piano player/singer, a too-loud and off-key band, and that's about it. Not that we really care about the entertainment, but if we did, we really would have been disappointed. One comic we saw was OK but the Flashback Four singing quartet doing 60s songs were about the worse show we have ever seen. We did watch one movie on a sea day but went to nothing else. And, the theater seats in the Stardust Theater were extremely uncomfortable and after 20 minutes you saw the entire audience all shuffling position trying to find some relief. The casino was good-sized and the casino staff seemed happier than the rest of the crew. I don't gamble a lot but did overhear lots of players complaining about the cutback in comps from what previously had been available to them. My only complaint is that they allow smoking. Yuk. So, in sum: THE REALLY GOOD Our mini-suite stateroom had a really large balcony with comfortable chairs and a chaise lounge. And lots of storage and a huge bathroom with a tub/shower combo. The bed was ok. The room was a bit dark but very comfortable with tons of storage. I would rate it 9/10. Its location aft on deck 11 was 10/10. The Great Outdoors venue for breakfast/lunch/snacks/drinks was wonderful. 9/10 The food and service in the Summer Palace was good. Only two bad desserts that we should have known not to order. The food was not gourmet but we never had any issue finding something to order that looked really good on paper - and in practice matched its description. 8/10 Embarkation/debarkation - we had an overly long wait to board because of the gastroenteritis on the prior cruise and were two plus hours late in leaving port. Other than that things were OK. We chose to take our own luggage off the ship and were gone by 8:00 am. 9/10 Parking in Miami was a bit of a pain because I didn't want to pay $20 a day to the Port of Miami. Instead, I used Premier Parking USA (8300 Parking) and despite a host of bad reviews on Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor, it worked out just fine for us. I dropped off our group at the pier and drove to the lot about 5 miles from the port and parked the car. Their brand new air-conditioned shuttle got me back to the port in less than 30 minutes. Coming back after the cruise, the shuttle was waiting for us right at 8:00 am and we were on the road without a hassle having saved $100. The car was waiting and ready to go when we got back. 10/10 THE GOOD/OK The ports we visited were interesting. We did have to tender in Tortola because they were working on the pier and it took forever even though we were in the first group off the boat. We were all surprised that both Tortola and Antigua were very poor islands with crumbling infrastructure and considerable poverty except for the resorts. Martinique was charming in a crumbly sort of way and both St. Kitts and St. Thomas were places we would be happy to revisit. 6/10 Overall service from wait staff, bar staff, housekeeping and crew was just OK. 5/10 The pool areas were - as always - really overcrowded and all 'good' lounges saved by passengers by 7:00 am. 4/10 The rest of ship and its common areas were just OK. The bar/lounge areas were all a bit dreary and uninviting. 3/10 THE BAD Communication was the worst I've ever encountered on a cruise. The only announcements were about bingo and a daily location update by the captain. No news, no port info, just advertisements for NCL sponsored shopping. 2/10 Any type of on-board amenity was non-existent. No toiletries, no bottled water, no cold towels when boarding the ship, no nothing. 2/10 MY OVERALL RATING OF THE CRUISE WOULD BE 7/10. (Note that without the Great Outdoors, our mini-suite with its large balcony and the quality of the food in the Summer Palace, my rating would have been 3.5/10.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The cruise started off on the wrong foot. NCL called us and asked us to not show up before 1 pm. We obliged, only to have to wait in a ridiculously long line and be told that this was the penalty for coming after 12. Apparently there had ... Read More
The cruise started off on the wrong foot. NCL called us and asked us to not show up before 1 pm. We obliged, only to have to wait in a ridiculously long line and be told that this was the penalty for coming after 12. Apparently there had been cases of gastroenteritis on the cruise before us, so we were all forced to constantly be sprayed with some sort of antiseptic. Even if you had just done it at one door, they'd make you do it again at another. They'd even refuse to give you a plate at the buffet if they didn't see you sanitize. In another apparent attempt at sanitation, we all lined up at the buffets like school children and had our food spooned onto our plates. We couldn't even grab drinks or condiments on our own. Don't try doing anything yourself....you will be swatted. We decided maybe a sit down in one of their complimentary restaurants would be best. The first we tried was Indigo. Horrible service. We waited about an hour and a half for our food. Now, most items on the menu state whether or not they have alcohol in them. Had we not asked before hand, we would not have found out that they don't label if there is alcohol unless it is above a certain percent. If you do not consume alcohol for religious or personal reasons, or have kids, you are out of luck. We sat down at Indigo to give it another chance only to find that on the entire menu, the only thing that did not have alcohol in it was the salad and the rice pudding. The maitre d' was very rude when we asked why there was so much alcohol, saying that if we were cultured we would know that their kitchens would use alcohol. Unbelievable. The head of food services never got back to us, but thankfully his manager was helpful. Also, this cruise seems geared towards senior citizens. Not enough activities for younger folks. And the entertainment sucked. We've done Royal before, and we rarely had a moments break. Honestly, we were never in our rooms but to sleep! Not the same for NCL. They really need to up their entertainment. Room service is free but rather slow and made a lot of mistakes. Embarkation and disembarkation at Tortola was a mess. Zero organization on this cruise. On Royal we knew so much of the staff, even the captain. NCL is more reserved. Overall, I was stressed more than relaxed the entire time. Would not recommend or cruise again. Sticking to Royal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This is a review of a Norwegian Pearl Southern Caribbean cruise that my wife and I took on 3/26/15. This was an 11-night cruise from Miami, with stops in Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas, and 5 days at sea. This was ... Read More
This is a review of a Norwegian Pearl Southern Caribbean cruise that my wife and I took on 3/26/15. This was an 11-night cruise from Miami, with stops in Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas, and 5 days at sea. This was our second NCL cruise together — our last one was a Boston to Bermuda cruise on the Norwegian Dream in 2008, which was just okay. This one was much better. EMBARKATION We live in South Florida, so we drove to PortMiami and parked in Garage C across from Terminal B, where the ship was docked. We arrived around 10:45 and had no trouble finding a spot in the garage. This was our first trip to PortMiami since they opened the new port tunnel, and the tunnel made access to the port much easier. Once in the port, they had signs showing how to get to the different terminals, but there was nothing indicating where the NCL Pearl was docked (there was, however, a sign for the Carnival Glory). We dropped off our two suitcases and waited less then 10 minutes in the line to go through security (the line was much longer by 1:00). We carried in a sealed 12-pack of water bottles, which security inspected very carefully, shaking the package of bottles (good thing they weren’t soda cans :-) and taking one bottle out and examining it closely (they made us throw away the open water bottle we were carrying). Once through security, the check-in process was very quick, and we proceeded to a large waiting area and were given a boarding group number. A short time later, around 11:30, they started boarding passengers by groups — we probably waited at most 20 minutes before boarding. Once on the ship, we headed to our cabin, only to discover that the cabins weren’t ready yet (the hallways were closed off and marked with signs). There were nothing to indicate the cabins weren’t ready as we boarded, but later on we heard announcements about this. Since we couldn’t go to our cabin, we brought our stuff to the Summer Palace dining room and had lunch. Although it was mostly empty, we had to wait about 5 minutes to get seated. Some cruise lines don’t advertise the fact that the main dining room is open for lunch on embarkation day, but on the Pearl it was mentioned during some of the announcements. While at lunch, they announced the cabins were ready, so after lunch we headed to our cabin. At 3:15 they did the muster drill, and when we got back to our cabin our first suitcase was waiting for us, and our second one arrived a short time later. Unlike every other muster drill we’ve done, you weren’t required to bring life jackets with you. The drill was a bit disorganized, because people were crossing paths as they were heading to different muster stations, and the crew wasn’t doing a great job directing people. You had to provide your room number when arriving at your station, they didn’t have cruise card scanners. However, the drill was over very quickly. 
CABIN We were in cabin 10072, a mid-ship balcony room on the starboard side of deck 10, which was a convenient location for us. The cabin was nicely decorated but smaller than comparable cabins we’ve had on other ships; if we were going on the Pearl or one of the other Jewel class ships again, we would probably spring for a mini-suite. The balcony was small and private (completely covered), with two chairs and a tiny table (about 10” x 10”). The room looked clean, but some of the surfaces felt dirty; the balcony was dirty and didn’t get cleaned often. For storage, the room had 4 shelves below a mini-safe next to the door and another shelf above (the bottom and top shelves were occupied by bedding), a closet about 3.5’ wide, 3 drawers and a shelf under the minibar/fridge and one shelf above, and shelves above and below the TV. There was one small nightstand with a shelf but no drawer. We asked the cabin steward to empty the minibar/fridge so we could store water there. The mini-safe was large enough for an iPad with plenty of room to spare; our safe was locked when we arrived, but they came and unlocked it shortly after I called about it. The bathroom was divided into 3 sections: a large shower with a sliding glass door (that came off its tracks easily) on one side, a sink in the middle, and a toilet with another sliding glass door on the other side. The wall surfaces (including in the shower) were covered with fake wood “paneling.” The shower had good water pressure and a handheld shower head. The sink countertop was small but there were 3 small shelves on the adjacent wall. The toilet “room” was very small — I wouldn’t have been able to sit in there with the sliding glass door closed. The glass door was not completely opaque so it didn’t really offer much privacy. The towels were nothing special (same for the pool towels). A couple of different times during the cruise the toilet stopped working (the first time it wasn’t just us, don’t know about the second time). The bed was very comfortable, especially the pillows. The quality of the linens was adequate but not great. The room was pretty quiet, except for the morning we arrived in Curacao, when the captain broadcast his “welcome to Curacao” message at around 8:00 throughout the ship instead of in just the public areas (I assume that was unintentional, since it didn’t happen again). Also in Curacao, some crew members were doing maintenance outside our balconies in the morning, which meant they could see into your cabin if your curtain was open (as it would be in most cases). Usually cruise lines warn you ahead of time if they’re going to be working outside so you can keep your curtains closed for privacy, but that didn’t happen here. The TV was tiny, the screen was no larger than 12”. I couldn’t find a channel guide anywhere, but it had the usual assortment of ship channels with some cable news stations (including BBC World News but no CNN) and other cable stations. Changing channels was painfully slow even when using the buttons on the TV. We generally only turned on the TV so we could hear public announcements and see the ship’s position. One quirk we noticed — on the channel that shows ship’s position and current information, the current time was correct when it was shown in digital form, but the analog clock they showed was always 5 minutes behind. Hopefully the bridge clocks had the correct time :-) SHIP AND PASSENGERS The Pearl is a medium-sized ship, accommodating 2394 passengers at double occupancy, although we had 2472 passengers on this trip (according to the CDC, more on that later). The ship is laid out well, with interesting artwork throughout, and didn’t feel too crowded for the most part, except by the pool. We like to sit in the sun, and with 5 at sea days, we had plenty of opportunity to do so. We also like to sleep in, so we generally didn’t get outside until about 11:45, but we always found chairs on the Sun Deck (deck 14 forward). The main pool was on deck 12, and decks 12 and 13 were crowded (yes, there actually is a deck 13 on this ship). The Sun Deck was very windy on the first 3 at sea days, not as bad the last two days. There were passengers from all age groups, though it seemed the majority were older and there were few young children, neither of which is unusual for a longer cruise. Because of the relaxed dress code on NCL, people were generally dressed more casually than they are on other cruise lines, which we like but some don’t. If you enjoy dressing up and like others to do the same, NCL is probably not the right cruise line for you. The Freestyle Daily newsletter provided the usual information about activities. The only port-related information that appeared in the Daily was about shopping, which was a bit disappointing — some other cruise lines provide an overview of the port with useful information about the culture, currency, getting around, etc. One interesting spot on the Pearl you should check out is the Bridge Viewing Room on deck 11 forward, which you probably wouldn’t find unless you were looking for it. This room is right behind the bridge and offers a pretty good view (the bridge was larger than I was expecting). There’s also a model of the Pearl on display, some navigation displays, and other interesting information posted on the walls. STAYING CONNECTED The ship has wifi throughout, and you can purchase various internet access plans, including a pay as you go plan for $0.75/minute. I didn’t have any trouble getting wifi anywhere I tried (most often from my cabin), but internet access was painfully slow, so when deciding how many minutes to buy, plan accordingly. I bought a 100-minute plan plus 10 bonus minutes (for $55), but that only lasted about halfway through the cruise, and I generally only checked e-mail. Note that in St. Thomas I had access to my AT&T wireless service without roaming, so I didn’t have to pay for internet access there — other US carriers are probably the same. Note also that I was able to access ncl.com without connecting to the internet, so don’t use minutes to access that site. On the at sea days, I seemed to have access to the ship’s cellular service throughout the ship, though I didn’t make or receive any calls. NCL also provides the iConcierge app (I used the iOS version), which uses the ship’s wifi network to provide access to information about the ship, activities, shore excursions, account info, as well as access to calling and messaging services (those cost extra). The information about daily activities is not as detailed as that in the Freestyle Daily. For me, access to my shipboard account info was the most useful feature, so I could track charges to my account in real time rather than figuring it all out at the end of the cruise. The shore excursion information would have been useful, except that all the tours for all ports were listed as Aruba tours. I didn’t use the calling or messaging services. DINING One of the things we liked about NCL is their Freestyle Dining plan, which means no fixed dinner times anywhere, and men can wear shorts to dinner anywhere except the Summer Palace dining room and Le Bistro specialty restaurant, though they both allow jeans. As I noted earlier, this means you’ll see people dressed more casually at dinnertime than on other cruise lines. Overall the food was good, typical of mainstream cruise lines, with some meals better than others, and the service was typically very good. As on many cruise lines, you can have breakfast delivered to your cabin by hanging an order tag on your door the night before, which is what we did each morning (no extra charge for this). The choices include the typical continental breakfast choices. Note that if you order 2 coffees, you’ll get a small pot that holds about 2.5 cups, so if want refills, order accordingly. You can select delivery times in half hour ranges from 6:30-7:00 through 9:30-10:00; our breakfast always arrived within the range or several minutes earlier. The tiny table on our balcony was too small to eat at, but we moved the larger table in front of our sofa outside for breakfast. For lunches, we tried the following venues: Summer Palace dining room: We ate here once on embarkation day. This dining room is large and open, formally decorated, with a high ceiling. The rear wall is a floor-to-ceiling window offering a nice view aft. We noticed the tablecloths were a bit worn, the one on the next table had a hole in it, which was unusual for a venue like this. Topsiders Bar & Grill: This is an outdoor self-service venue next to the pool on deck 12, with grilled items, salads, fruit, and maybe a few other items. We ate here on our first at-sea day and tried some of the grilled items (hot dogs, burgers, and fries), which we didn’t like much because they had been sitting out for a while, so we didn’t eat here again. Sky High Bar & Grill: This is another outdoor venue on deck 13 under the Sun Deck. They only have burgers, hot dogs, fries, and a specialty grilled sandwich (varies from day to day), but they make items to order (for the most part) so they don’t sit around as long. It’s a limited selection but okay, we ate here 3 times, mainly because it was convenient. There are some tables next to the grill, but they’re hard to get because people camp out there even if they’re not eating. Garden Cafe: This is the standard indoor buffet venue on deck 12, which we tried for lunch once. The food and variety was good, but we generally avoid the buffet because it’s often crowded (and we tend to eat too much :-) It wasn’t crowded the one time we ate there because we were in Aruba (we had lunch after a morning shore excursion). We tried to eat an early lunch here again before an afternoon shore excursion in Curacao, but when we arrived at around 11:20 they were closed, because they were transitioning from breakfast to lunch. The Great Outdoors: This is an outdoor covered buffet on deck 12 aft. When we couldn’t eat at the Garden Cafe for an early lunch in Curacao, we went here instead, but they were still serving breakfast food, so we had a second breakfast for lunch. The food was good. O’Sheehan’s: This indoor restaurant on deck 8 (above the Atrium) is meant to be like an Irish or British pub, offering various beers/ales and a limited menu of comfort food items, none of which are really Irish/British except for the fish and chips. We ate here on our last two days, mainly because the outdoor venues by the pool were closed (because of the virus, more on that later). It wasn’t crowded on either day and so we had no trouble getting in. I had the chicken pot pie one day and the meat loaf the second, and they were both good. My wife had the buffalo chicken sandwich one day and the buffalo wings the next, and she liked both. Oddly, there was no sign anywhere showing the name of the restaurant. For dinners, we tried three of the specialty restaurants, each of which had a cover charge — Cagney’s Steakhouse ($30/pp), Lotus Garden ($15/pp), and Le Bistro ($20/pp). We ate at the Indigo dining room the remaining nights. I made the specialty restaurant reservations online before the cruise, before they started adding an 18% service charge to the cover charge. Here’s a summary of each venue: Indigo: A completely different atmosphere from the Summer Palace, not as formal, laid out more like a land-based restaurant, with interesting art work on the walls. We arrived at various times ranging from 6:30 to 8:30, and in most cases we were told it would be a 20-30 minute wait and were given a pager and a coupon for two free glasses of champagne to enjoy while waiting — the actual wait was rarely more than 10 minutes. We always sat by ourselves, and the wait time wasn’t reduced if you were willing to share a table — in fact, it seemed that it was harder to get a shared table than your own. Most times when there was a wait at Indigo, you could get seated immediately at Summer Palace, if you were dressed appropriately (my shorts disqualified me :-) The tables we were seated at were typically large enough for 4 and reasonably private, we were never sitting too close to anyone else. The food and service was generally very good. As in the Summer Palace, we noticed the tablecloths were a bit worn during our first couple of meals here, but not afterwards (not sure if the tablecloths improved or we just stopped noticing). Cagney’s: This steak house is on deck 13, adjacent to the Moderno restaurant. Both restaurants share the same reception desk, and the Cagney’s kitchen cooks some (or maybe all) of the food for Moderno. My wife started with the shrimp cocktail and iceberg wedge salad, and had the gorgonzola-crusted 16 oz ribeye (medium) with port wine jus, truffle fries (which we shared), and green beans. I started with the shrimp cocktail and grilled beetroot and red shallot salad, and I had the 8 oz filet (medium well) with caramelized red onion and green peppercorn sauce, and roasted mushrooms. The steaks were cooked exactly as we requested and all the food was very good, although my filet was tiny (I asked if I got the 5 oz filet by mistake), and it had a piece of twine wrapped around it (I thought it was gristle at first). Both the port wine jus and green peppercorn sauce looked and tasted the same, so I think we both got the peppercorn sauce. Unlike my steak, my wife’s ribeye was huge, she couldn’t finish it. They also served some focaccia rolls with dinner that were very good, though one of the staff insisted they were sourdough rolls (they weren’t). We skipped dessert. We also shared a bottle of wine. The service was excellent. Lotus Garden: This Asian restaurant is on deck 7 adjacent to a Sushi/Sake Bar and separate Teppanyaki restaurant. You can order sushi in the Lotus Garden (we didn’t), but at extra cost (a la carte) — you could also do that at the Sushi Bar, but without the cover charge. For dinner, my wife started with the vegetable dumplings and hot ’n sour soup, and had the Cantonese vegetable Chow Fun noodles and the Chengdu spiced lamb. I started with the steamed barbecue pork buns and hot ’n sour soup, and I had the Singapore noodles and Szechuan braised beef. For dessert, my wife had the flight of oriental creme brûlée, and I had the warm banana pancakes. We also shared a bottle of wine — we were originally planning to order sake, but the “Sake Bar” had only two selections. Both the food and service were good but not great. There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and most of the other diners were crew members. Note that NCL has since eliminated the cover charge for its Asian restaurants. Le Bistro: This French restaurant is on deck 6 next to Magnum’s Champagne & Wine Bar. My wife started with the escargot and Salade Gourmande, and had the beef filet for dinner. I started with Les Quatre Cornets (4 small waffle cones each with different fillings) and cream of mushroom soup, and had the pork tenderloin for dinner. For dessert, my wife had the chocolate Napoleon cake, and I had the warm apple tatin. We also shared a bottle of wine. The food was very good and the service was excellent, this was probably our best meal of the cruise. Although there weren’t as many crew members eating here as in the Lotus Garden, the captain, his first officer, and chief engineer were eating at a nearby table. BAR SERVICE The bar we frequented the most often was the Shakers Martini & Cocktail Bar on deck 6, which was in between (and connected to) the Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar and the Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar. Unfortunately the service there was consistently subpar, except for one bar waiter (I think his name was Carl) who was very good and always remembered us and our order. We always had to wait to get attention, even the one time we sat at the bar, and in most cases at least one of the two vodka martinis we ordered was made incorrectly (we always ordered the same thing). The only reason we kept going back is because we liked the location (with sunset views out the windows on certain days), we liked Carl, and we wanted to see if things would improve (they didn’t). The service at the adjacent Maltings Whiskey Bar seemed better, but our only experience there was claiming our complimentary glasses of champagne while waiting to get seated at Indigo. We also tried getting a drink from the Atrium Café & Bar one afternoon in port. We sat a cocktail table near the bar, and although two different people behind the bar acknowledged us, no one ever came to take an order, so we gave up and went upstairs to have a drink at O’Sheehan’s instead. It’s not that I mind walking over to the bar to order drinks, but the fact that they just left us sitting there was annoying. NCL allows you to pre-order bottles of liquor for your cabin before the cruise. so we decided to do that. They charge about triple the normal retail price, plus a $3.00 service charge per bottle, but it’s still cheaper than ordering drinks from the bar. I think the bottle prices are about the same if you order them from room service, but then you pay an 18% service charge. The bottles were waiting for us in the cabin, along with some cans of tonic water and Sierra Mist (mixers I assume, we didn’t ask for them). One of the bottles I ordered was Crown Royal Special Reserve (the only Crown Royal listed on the order form), but I actually received regular Crown Royal, which is much less expensive than Special Reserve. I suspected this might happen, based on the price they were charging, so when I ordered I asked them to confirm that I would be getting the Special Reserve rather than the regular Crown Royal, and they confirmed that I would. When that didn’t happen, I called the person I had ordered from, and after checking with the bar manager, she told me they didn’t have any Special Reserve on board. When I pointed out that Special Reserve is more expensive than regular Crown Royal, she said the ship charges the same price for both (which I don’t believe). However, she provided us with 3 1L bottles of water as compensation for the mistake (after I asked about swapping the mixers they gave us for water). By the way, I’m perfectly happy with regular Crown Royal (that’s what I drink at home), but if they tell you you’re getting the good stuff, that’s what you should get. Note that the prices for liquor in the duty free shop onboard are pretty good in some cases, so you might want to check those out, especially if you’re not flying after the cruise (you’ll have to check in your liquor if you’re flying). The store lets you pick up any duty free liquor purchased there starting at 6:30pm on the last night of the cruise. We didn’t consider the UBP (Ultimate Beverage Package) because we wouldn’t buy enough bar drinks or wine to make it worthwhile, and we don’t drink soda (just water, which isn’t included in the package). 

ENTERTAINMENT 
 We didn’t go to many of the evening shows, but we did see Carl Andrews Mental Comedy, The Hilarious Comedy of Chris Pendleton, and Michael Paul Ziegfeld. Carl was entertaining, but I felt some of his tricks must have been done using audience plants, so I wasn’t that impressed. Chris was very funny, and she did a second different show where she played fiddle, which we didn’t see but heard was very good. Michael was very entertaining, especially the ventriloquism bits. The band Rootslink that played by the pool was very good. When we hung out at the Shakers Martini Bar we would sometimes hear “Music & Humor with Jim” happening at the adjacent Magnums Champagne & Wine Bar — he was entertaining and seemed to be pretty popular (he played piano). PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS We visited 5 ports on this cruise, Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas. We were in port from 8:00 - 5:00 for all of them, so there was plenty of time to explore the islands. The only NCL shore excursion we did was in Curacao, where we did the afternoon Curacao Yacht Lagoon Tour, operated by Adrenaline Tours. Unfortunately, this tour didn’t go as planned. It was supposed to be on a 50-foot two-level luxury yacht, cruising around looking at expensive homes on the water, followed by some time at a beach for swimming, and then another stop for snorkeling. The tour included snacks and soft drinks, no alcohol. Here’s how it actually went: Those of us on this tour and a different Kayak Tour (also run by Adrenaline) were put on two buses to take us to the marina (we were on the second bus). After about 30 minutes of driving, mostly through stop and go traffic, our bus got a flat tire (I don’t know if the driver ran over something or it was a tire maintenance issue). Fortunately, we were close to the marina and the first bus had just unloaded its passengers, so we were able to transfer to that bus almost immediately. When we arrived at the marina we were informed that the luxury yacht wasn’t available because of mechanical issues, and we would be going on a very spartan fishing boat instead; the people on the Kayak Tour took a separate fishing boat similar to ours. We cruised around looking at the luxury homes, and then met the other boat at a beach. Everyone on both boats was given the option to either stay on the beach or go snorkeling, but you couldn’t do both — the water a little choppy, the operators felt that anyone who went to the snorkeling spot but stayed on the boat were likely to get sick, so they only wanted to take one boat with the people who were actually going to snorkel. Before we went snorkeling, they brought out the snacks, which included watermelon and a skewer with what looked like a piece of uncooked hot dog, a pineapple chunk, a piece of cheese, and a pickle (my wife and I passed on the skewer). Our boat went out to the snorkeling spot, which was at a sunken tugboat and quite good. We had about an hour to snorkel, and then went back to the beach to pick up the others and return to the port. I will say our guide Patrick and his assistant Cornelius were excellent, and Patrick provided a lot of information about Curacao and was very attentive to our needs. Overall, we enjoyed the tour, despite the mishaps, but we felt we didn’t get what we paid for, which at $109/pp was a lot. I went to the Shore Excursions desk the next day to tell them about this and ask for a partial refund. The agent was already familiar with the issue (others had complained), but he claimed that the operator had given us the option to cancel the tour when we were told that the yacht was unavailable and we all agreed to proceed anyway, which was definitely not true. The agent said he would review the information and get back to me within 24 hours. I received a voicemail later that day saying that they would refund half the cost of the tour. I was disappointed that NCL didn’t take more ownership of the problem and provide an immediate resolution. We did 3 other tours arranged with local operators, all of which we enjoyed: Trikes Aruba, Jalousie Beach Break on St. Lucia with Spencer Ambrose Tours, and Sail and Snorkel & Nevis Sail Away on St. Kitts with Leeward Island Charters. I will be writing reviews for each of those tours on TripAdvisor. In St. Thomas we went to Magen’s Bay on our own, which we always do there. The Magen’s Bay beach bar is one of our favorites, and we were really looking to enjoying their killer rum drinks, so imagine our disappointment when we learned they were only serving beer and wine until 4pm that day because it was Good Friday! I’ll make sure I don’t repeat that mistake on our next cruise. :-)
 STOMACH VIRUS Our cruise had an outbreak of a stomach virus, but the crew did a good job keeping it under control by stepping up sanitation procedures. According to the CDC report posted on http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/outbreak/2015/april6_norwegian_pearl.htm, as of April 3 (the last update, 3 days before the cruise ended), 107 passengers and 7 crew members had reported symptoms. We first suspected something was going on when we started seeing signs of increased sanitation procedures about halfway through the cruise — more encouragement by the crew to wash hands frequently (“Washy Washy Happy Happy”), more hand sanitizers on board (including in the elevators), removal of salt and pepper shakers from dining room tables, serving rolls at dinner individually rather than leaving bread baskets on the table, and so on. The captain made an announcement about the outbreak a day or two after we started seeing changes, but we couldn’t hear what he was saying because it’s hard to hear public announcements from certain areas of the ship (including our balcony). In the ensuing days there were additional changes, including the removal of ice buckets, drinking glasses, magazines, and some extra blankets from cabins, and closing down the outdoor grills near the pool (the bars remained open). Surprisingly, the hot tubs by the pool remained open the entire time. The crew did a great job trying to contain the outbreak, and aside from some inconvenience, passengers who weren’t sick were largely unaffected by the outbreak. However, the one area where I think the ship should have done a better job was updating passengers about what was going on. Rather than relying on one or two announcements that some people didn’t hear, I would have expected a notice delivered to each cabin indicating what was happening, what changes were being made and why, and what passengers could do to help avoid catching or spreading the virus. Most of what I learned about the virus came from other passengers and the Cruise Critic message boards. 
DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation instructions were delivered to each cabin on the second to last day of the cruise. Unlike other cruise lines that assign you a specific departure group, you could decide which departure group to use and then go get the appropriate color-coded tags for your luggage (people with shore excursions were assigned to a group). The instructions referenced a US Customs form that was not included in the materials, but the custom forms were delivered the next day (after we already picked one up from Guest Services). One of the options, and the one we always choose if available, is self disembarkation, where you can leave the ship before anyone else if you’re willing to carry all your luggage with you. In addition to getting off the ship earlier, it means don’t have to leave your luggage outside of your cabin before you go to bed. The instructions said self disembarkation would start at around 7:30, and NCL encouraged people to use this option. I don’t know if they always encourage that, or were doing it in this case because they wanted to get people off the ship earlier to they could sanitize everything before the next voyage. Disembarkation was the easiest we ever experienced, partly due to good timing. At around 7:10, we decided to go down to the disembarkation deck (7) and wait there. because we needed to use the elevator to get our luggage downstairs. We figured once they announced that people could disembark, the wait for an elevator would be really long. We had no wait for an elevator, and when we got down to deck 7, the crew directed us towards the gangway. As we were heading there, the ship had just gotten permission to let passengers disembark, so we were allowed to go even before they made an announcement. We just walked off the ship with about 8-10 other people, the first group off the ship, went through customs without waiting, and walked across the street to the parking garage (fortunately the ship was docked nearby, at Terminal C). We were in our car and on our way home by 7:30, it was wonderful. 
IN CONCLUSION... 

 Despite some issues, we enjoyed our cruise, and the weather was great the entire time (except for a few morning showers in St. Thomas). We liked the Freestyle aspects of the cruise, especially the dress code, and would definitely consider NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We were first time cruisers... Me, my husband, our 11 year old daughter, and my almost 70 year old mother. Had connecting mini-suites (11588 & 11590). These rooms were wonderful, convenient to the buffet, splash academy and the pool ... Read More
We were first time cruisers... Me, my husband, our 11 year old daughter, and my almost 70 year old mother. Had connecting mini-suites (11588 & 11590). These rooms were wonderful, convenient to the buffet, splash academy and the pool deck. They also have covered balconies, which we liked so we could be shaded from the hot sun. They are under the teen Entourage area, which could sound like a herd of elephants above you at times, but always quieted down by 10 or 10:30. I'd like to say people in general complain too much. We found very little to complain about the whole trip. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch daily and the food was good to very good. And it was a buffet, if you didn't like something go get something else. We ate in the mdr for dinner (one or the other) half the nights and the other half we tried a different specialty restaurant. All were very good to excellent. Dinner tended to take 90-110 minutes... Never a full two hours. We all ordered different things and never had much to complain about. One night my steak was a little on the fatty side for me, so ate around the fat and didn't order that again. The variety of desserts was really good, and the desserts were much better than I was led to believe they would be. Food as a whole was very good, service better than average, and we never went hungry. Splash academy for the 10-12 year old group was spot on. The theme game nights were perfect for what this age group is in to. The counsellors were fantastic. My fairly shy daughter hardly wanted to leave! We did have to eat dinner early--5:30, and explained that we needed her to get her entree when we got our appetizers (she skipped the appetizer each night to speed up dinner for herself), we were accommodated everywhere but teppenyaki where that isn't really possible. This way our daughter could get to splash academy by 7 or 7:15 for the nighttime activity. For a spring break cruise there were only about 100 kids on board. I think this was due to it being more than a week long cruise. We did attend a couple of the nighttime shows and those were enjoyable. Especially the Living Legends show... The girl that played Madonna was awesome. We also attended a couple of the game shows, very fun! My daughter climbed the rock wall a couple of times, what a scary and fun challenge! The pool(s) are a little small, not sure what people expect to be able to fit on a ship. But after dinner was the best time to go in them... No people! Not much shade on the pool deck, and we were all burned in Aruba... So we stuck with the lounge chairs along the jogging track on deck 13... Could still hear the pool deck music, less crowded and shaded :) Our steward was fantastic, both rooms were kept very clean and we saw him multiple times a day either in our room or nearby in the halls, he always had a kind word and wanted to make sure we were having a good time. Went to three tastings... Whiskey, mojitos, and margaritas. All three were lots of fun and very worth the $15 pp price. Kids virgin drinks are pricey, we only allowed our daughter one a day... But $5.31 including the service charge for a virgin piña colada is too much. I wish NCL would do something about that. There was an outbreak of Noro on our sailing. Well, we washed our hands like crazy anyway, and did even more when we learned of the outbreak, and none of us got sick. I have to applaud the way the ship handled the situation. I actually preferred the buffet once no one was allowed to serve themselves... It moved much quicker and seemed more organized. After seeing the ship in action dealing with an outbreak, I would not worry in the future. I know you can get GI illnesses from anywhere, but the ship's crew did an amazing job containing it to just over 100 people we were told. The ports were great and the islands were varied. Loved the amount of time we had each day in port. Had no issues getting on or off the ship. We booked our own excursions privately and did not use ship excursions. Things I saw that made me shake my head... People putting their dirty room key between their lips to hold it so someone could spritz their hands with disinfectant. People putting 3 chairs together and laying on the middle one with their hands and feet on the ones on either side of them. People taking an extra lounger to put their stuff on next to them... Not to reserve it, just to hog it. People complaining about the repetitiveness of the buffet... Umm. Eat elsewhere then... There are many free choices. Overall most people were friendly, the crew was top notch, customer service was spot on. We would cruise the Pearl again in a heartbeat. Things I am glad we brought: little battery operated tea lights for the bathroom at night. Not too bright and easy to pack. Boca clips to hold the towel to the lounge chair... It was windy often... They also came in handy to clip wet things to the deck chairs to dry overnight (better than the line in the shower.). A cheap water proof watch, that we hung on the beach bag, so no one had to wear a watch or bring their phones. Vitamin waters and sodas. The water on the ship was fine, but it was nice to have some flavor without paying for the sodas. Plus we could refill our vitamin water bottles from the tap if we needed to. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our third cruise on the Pearl, and our longest cruise, so far! We loved it! Met some very friendly people, both in CC, and aboard ship. The itinerary was great, since we visited five different islands. We opted for the ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Pearl, and our longest cruise, so far! We loved it! Met some very friendly people, both in CC, and aboard ship. The itinerary was great, since we visited five different islands. We opted for the onboard credit instead of the food or drink packages, and that was fine with us! The regular restaurants have improved their menus, and as Platinum members, we ate at Le Bistro, and La Cocina on two evenings. Again, we enjoyed the food, and the servers were all very gracious. When it became necessary to follow strict measures due to the health issues, our servers were very helpful and accommodating. We visited the beach at Aruba, and took a bus to gain access at Amsterdam Inn. At Cuacao, we took a tour from the port, which we had not booked ahead. The guide was very helpful, and we enjoyed the air conditioned bus ride. We got off in town, and took the ferry back across. It was a lovely day. We had pre-booked with Spencer's at St. Lucia. It was really a great day, seeing all of the sites from both land and sea. The personnel were very helpful, and the sites were breathtaking! I highly recommend this tour. We took the train at St. Kitts. We sat inside, and it was probably more fun to be on the outside. People waved to the train as it passed through the center of the island. Drinks were offered free of charge, and it was a pleasant ride. At St. Thomas, we went to Cokie Beach, and rented chairs there. It was pretty there, but a little too crowded. We enjoyed the sea days, as well, and the entertainment was very good every night. All in all, it was a cruise to remember for us both! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The Pearl is not one of the newest ships. It was refurbished in 2013. The cabins were adequate (we had a an outside large window). The dining rooms were good (we loved the Summer Palace(we did not have to pay extra for it) and we never had ... Read More
The Pearl is not one of the newest ships. It was refurbished in 2013. The cabins were adequate (we had a an outside large window). The dining rooms were good (we loved the Summer Palace(we did not have to pay extra for it) and we never had to wait more than 2 minutes to be seated. We also ate in the Indigo (we had to wait 15 mins. to be seated, but they gave us a free drink while we waited), The Moderno restaurant ($20 charge per person) was a great restaurant serving all different types of meat (worth the money. The Sugar Cane Bar served the best Mojitos we have taste (and we are Cubans!). The entertainment was very varied. There were always shows in the Sunburst theater (music, comedians, ventriloquists, dancing) in the bar/lounges there was always different types of musician/comics playing the piano-singing, electric guitars, or a group called Avalon that sang a variety of musig. By the pool there was always music playing: a live DJ, live groups, at night they had different dances for all ages culminating with the White Hot Party!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first 11 Day cruise and second time on The Pearl. Every other cruise has been 7 days. We picked this cruise specifically because of the unique ports of call... Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. The ... Read More
This was our first 11 Day cruise and second time on The Pearl. Every other cruise has been 7 days. We picked this cruise specifically because of the unique ports of call... Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. The longer cruise did attract a more mature passenger which we had never encountered on NCL. My wife and I are in our early 40's and we really felt like we had found the fountain of youth. Old people are fun but be mindful they seem to eat earlier and like going to the early shows. The entertainment seemed to cater more towards the older folks too... lot's of 50's, 60's and 70's themes. The ship did experience an onboard illness that impacted about 100 passengers. Extra sanitation protocols were implemented. Aside from some extra Washie Washie and the kitchen staff serving you at the buffet the entire crew did an amazing job dealing with the extra workload. The Ultimate Beverage Package bonus we received when booking was awesome. Unlimited drinks for 11 days made this cruise a true all-inclusive experience. Julius in the Sky High Bar makes the best drinks on the ship. Try his Frozen Ultra Margarita made from scratch with no sault. He has been on The Pearl for over 6 years. Our only disappointment on this specific cruise was the entertainment. NCL has always has always delivered the best onboard entertainment experience. This cruise fell short. I suspect that the longer cruise makes it harder to secure quality entertainment. I hope this is the case as NCL has always had the best onboard entertainment. Flashback Four was the worst show I have ever experience on a cruise. People literally got up and walked out. They sang out of tune and had zero choreography. You should never hire them again. I was disappointed you did not have a Second City troop on board. I really enjoy NCL. We will be back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We just got back from our 11 night cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl to the Southern Caribbean. We chose this trip due to the itinerary and also to celebrate 2 milestone birthdays. Hopefully my review will cover most aspects of our ... Read More
We just got back from our 11 night cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl to the Southern Caribbean. We chose this trip due to the itinerary and also to celebrate 2 milestone birthdays. Hopefully my review will cover most aspects of our trip. Embarkation - I am a little disappointed in the way NCL does their embarkation in Miami. We had a suite, and suite gets are supposed to get VIP check-in and boarding. However, when you arrive, everyone goes through the same security checkpoint before you get to the check-in process. By the time we got to the terminal, the line was quite long. Since there was no VIP line to go through security, we had to wait in this line with everyone else, which took at least 20 minutes. So much for VIP check-in. NCL used to check you in BEFORE the security checkpoint and then would usher suite guests through the security checkpoint immediately after the VIP check-in. I know it sounds picky, but if NCL is going to promote this as a perk for suite guests, it's not really accurate. As a suite guest, once you get through the security checkpoint, you are ushered into a separate room for check-in. Once check-in has been completed, you are escorted on to the ship and taken directly to Cagney's for lunch, which is a nice suite perk. Cabin - Our cabin was on Deck 10 aft, cabin 10166. This is a category SF stateroom, which is known as a Penthouse. The cabin size is great at approximately 290 square feet and with about a 100 square foot balcony. The bathroom was very nice, and is the same as what you would get in the mini-suite category. It was broken down into 3 'compartments'. There was the toilet on the right, the sink in the middle, and a bathtub with a very nice shower head on the left. The bathroom is probably about 54 square feet alone. The toilet and the shower both have nice sliding doors, but since they are clear glass, there really is no privacy if 2 people want to use the bathroom at the same time. High quality soaps, shampoo and conditioner are provided and refilled as necessary. Someone at NCL clearly has a sense of humor, as there was a scale in the bathroom. No good can come from getting on a bathroom scale during a cruise. The bedding and pillows in the cabin were super comfy, and the cabin was extremely quiet. This made for some great sleeping. The balconies for the SF Suites on Deck 10 are the largest of the AFT cabins, but you generally pay a hefty premium for this category over the AFT mini suite or AFT balcony cabins. Some of the nice perks of this category stateroom are that you have a Butler and a Concierge. The Butler brings a snack to the room every evening around 5pm. The other notable things the Butler did was she delivered breakfast to our room on several mornings, including debarkation. Since we were in a Suite, the room service breakfast menu was expanded compared to the lower category staterooms. For example, you could order almost anything that is available at the buffet. We also had plates of food delivered from O'Sheehan's (formerly the Blue Lagoon) all week during our sail away happy hours. The concierge is available to help with tender tickets (if necessary) and priority reservations for dinner. NCL generally allows you to only make dinner reservations for the same day or the following day. With the concierge, you could actually make all of your reservations on the first day, if you knew where you wanted to eat that far in advance. The Concierge actually was able to make reservations for our large group of 13 on several occasions, so that was a great help to us. Our stateroom was well taken care of, and we had several towel animals during the week. The crew always had a smile on their faces and took time to say hello to us every time we saw them. Other Suite perks include... - You can order room service from any menu on the ship, rather than the normal room service only menu, as long as the restaurant is actually open. In other words, you can't order dinner from a restaurant at 1am, if the restaurant closed at 10:30pm. The only exceptions to this are Tappenyaki and Sushi, which you cannot order at any time in your cabin, for obvious reasons. You still have to pay the same fee for the specialty restaurants even if you have it delivered to your cabin. - Upgraded towels and robes. The terry robes were nice, but too heavy for the Caribbean. We actually asked the Butler to bring us the waffle robes that they have in the Mini-Suites, as they breathe much better. She obliged with no problem. The towels are huge and very plush. - The Moderno restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch for Suite guests only, so it is not extremely crowded, and a nice quiet alternative to the buffet. It is free of charge for breakfast and lunch, and the meals here were excellent. This is one of my favorite suite perks. - A larger TV in the room with a selection of DVDs that can be obtained from the Butler. There is a list in the room of about 80 available movies for no charge. - A Lavazza coffee/espresso machine in the room. Making coffee and espresso was a piece of cake as this system uses pods, which are restocked every day by the Butler. Meet & Mingle - Friday morning, our first day at sea, we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle. We had a great turn out of approximately 80 people. NCL's Meet & Mingles are the best at sea, as we had about 10 officers, including the Captain, introduce themselves and be available for questions. The Pearl also has a random drawing to allow guests to dine with an officer, which makes for a memorable dinner. In addition to the Meet & Mingle on the first day, the officers held a follow-up meeting during the last day of the cruise to get feedback from our cruise critic group. This was attended by about 35 guests and 6 crew members. These 2 meetings show that the crew on NCL's ships really cares about making their guests experience the best it can be. I am not so sure the executives in Miami share that same vision. Food - Ok, let's talk food, shall we? The Garden Cafe/Great Outdoors is a decent buffet style restaurant. The Pearl has the 'action stations' of the newer NCL ships, and the layout is very good. The food in the Garden Cafe/Great Outdoors is very good for the most part, and there are a large number of choices. If you can't find something good to eat here, you have not tried very hard. Breakfast is served here until about 11:30am, which is great for late sleepers. You can also get breakfast items at O'Sheehan's, although since we never tried it, I can't comment on the menu or quality. Dinner on this ship is full of choices. There are about 11 different choices when you count room service. We did not eat in all of them during this cruise, but here are the details of the ones we did get to experience. We ate at 3 of the 'Specialty' Restaurants that have a cover charge. The first one was Le Bistro. Le Bistro is the French restaurant on the Pearl and has an upcharge fee of $20 per person. We had a table for 11 and the service was quite slow. While the appetizers came out hot, most of the dinners, including my steak, came out warm at best. This is usually one of my favorite restaurants, but I left disappointed for the first time in all the times I have eaten at Le Bistro on NCL ships in the past. The next specialty restaurant we went to was La Cucina. La Cucina is the Italian restaurant on the Pearl and has an upcharge fee of $15 per person. We had a table for 13 to celebrate a milestone birthday, but the service was painfully slow again. Once again the appetizers were good but more than half of the dinners came out cold, and in the case of my pasta, cold AND dry. La Cucina is usually my favorite restaurant on the ship, and the last time we did an 11 night cruise, we actually ate there 4 times. In this case, once was more than enough as we had a reservation to come back a couple of days later and ended up cancelling the reservation. For restaurants that carry an upcharge, this is unacceptable and was VERY disappointing. We did call the restaurant manager and explained the issues with the food. They ended up comping our meal, which gives you an idea of how disappointed everyone was. Again this is totally opposite of our past experiences in this restaurant during previous cruises. We also ate at Moderno. Moderno is a Brazilian Steakhouse on the Pearl and has an upcharge fee of $20 per person. There is a salad bar which had a lot of excellent choices to choose appetizers from. Once you are done with the appetizers, the meat fest begins. There were about 10 different types of meats from sausage to chicken to steak to ribs. There is also an incredible pineapple that is always a favorite. This is an all you can eat restaurant and they will keep bringing meats to your table until everyone has had enough. They top off the meal with dessert, but by the time the meat fest was over, I passed. Once again we had a group of 12 to celebrate another milestone birthday, and this time the service and food were spectacular. In fact, in all of our past experiences at Moderno on NCL ships, this was definitely the best. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the restaurant manager knew of our poor experience from the night before and made sure they took good care of us, or the fact that Moderno is now on Deck 13 next to Cagney's and perhaps closer to the kitchen. In any case, this was a very memorable meal. Indigo is one of the 2 main dining rooms. It is not like a traditional dining room on a cruise. Most ships main dining rooms are large, brightly lit rooms. This restaurant had nice subdued lighting, and was broken up into sections more like a traditional land restaurant. The menu changes each night, although they do have a selection of entrees that are available every night as well. The menus were varied enough that there was often several entrees that appealed to me. Our meals in this restaurant were generally excellent, and we ate here about 6 times during our cruise. My only disappointment was the last night of the cruise, which was Easter Sunday. They had a very limited menu, and the steak was not very good. Chandra, the Maître D' in Indigo, and the rest of his staff, treated us like kings. The service was great and friendly, and our meals were definitely satisfying. Summer Palace is the other of the 2 main dining rooms. It is more of the traditional cruise ship restaurant, very large and brightly lit. We ate 2 dinners here (1 with the Captain), and our meals and service was also very good. 1 night for dinner and a couple of lunches were spent at O'Sheehan's, which used to be called the Blue Lagoon. I am not sure why they bothered to change the name, as there were very minor changes made to the area. In fact, if you have been on NCL's newer ships and been to O'Sheehan's, you will probably be a little disappointed as this is not really a pub/sports bar like it is on the newer ships. O'Sheehan's is open 24 hours a day. There is a limited menu here, but you can order as much as you want, and there is no charge. Chicken wings, hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches were all very good. In addition to the standard menu, each night they added a signature dish, such as prime rib or a chicken dinner. This is the only restaurant that is open very late, so if you are hungry after 11pm, you have limited choices; O'Sheehan's or room service. Since we were in a suite, we also took advantage of the expanded Suite breakfast menu. This was great on those mornings when you will be doing excursions off the ship, and do not want to spend time going to the restaurants. You hang the card on your door at night with the choice of items you want, the time you want them delivered, and you are done. It is very nice to sit on your balcony first thing in the morning enjoying breakfast. Our meals were delivered by the Butler and were always hot and tasty. One last option to mention for food is the pool deck. There is an area at one end of the pool deck called Topsiders. They have some burgers, hot dogs, chicken and pork sandwiches, as well as some types of salads. In addition, they did a cookout on the pool deck that was quite a hit. Pool Deck - The pool area was very nice, but unfortunately very crowded. There are 2 pools here and 1 is designated as adults only. Each pool has a nice wading area around it, so you can sit in 6 inches of water if you just want to get wet without going into the pool. Oddly enough, the crew starts taking the deck chairs off the deck at about 6pm, so the pool deck all but closes down early. The pool deck band was excellent, but they did not seem to play long enough during the day, and the breaks lasted too long. This seems to be the same on all NCL ships. I don't understand how the pool band plays for only about 2.5 total hours (if that) during sea days. In addition, I wish they would have played at night, perhaps in the Spinnaker Lounge, since they were quite good. Casino - The casino is nicely colored, and a decent size, but WAY too smoky. Since we did a slot pull early in the day, the smoke was not as big of a factor, but it was tough to get to the main shows and back to bar central as you have to walk right through the casino, which is not an ideal layout if you want to avoid cigarette smoke. Miscellaneous venues - As far as the bars go, there are several on this ship, but there seems to be almost a non-existent night life on this ship, unless you were 20 and like hip hop music. The entertainer in the bar central lounge ended by midnight or earlier every night. The Spinnaker lounge hosted a few shows during the week including 'Quest', but was underutilized during the late evenings on most nights. The only entertainment on the ship after midnight is the Bliss Lounge, which does not really cater to the clientele of the ship. In my opinion, the DJ's on the NCL ships are horrible. It would have been nice for the Pearl to use the Spinnaker lounge for a DJ that would cater to the 35-55 crowd and leave Bliss to the 18-35 crowd. Unfortunately, they do not do this on any of the NCL cruises we have been on. The Pearl is definitely not the ship for you if you are a late night person looking for activity. The pool deck closes very early, except for the night of the deck parties. The specialty bars all seemed to be closed by midnight, and if you stayed up past midnight, there was very little to do on this ship. This was very disappointing, but par for the course for NCL. One of my pet peeves on NCL ships, which I told the staff about, is the fact that the Freestyle Daily (the ship's newspaper) lists things like bar hours and bowling hours as such: "5pm to CLOSE", for example. The problem is, 'CLOSE' is never defined. One night we were bowling and at 11:40pm, the crew member told us he was closing in 10 minutes, so that ended our bowling game. On several nights we had a group of 10 to 12 in bar central buying drinks, and yet they still closed the bars at 11:45pm. Things like this are frustrating and disappointing as you never know what time 'CLOSE' actually is going to be. I think 'CLOSE' is whenever the crew feels like closing, rather than the guests dictating the hours. I read recently that NCL wants guests to spend $4 more per person per day to help them fund their new ships and other upgrades. They make it difficult to do this when so many things close so early on this ship. One last part of the ship to talk about is the Stardust Theater, which I have commented on in past reviews of the Jewel Class Ships. This is the main theater for shows and is fairly large. However, there are several problems with this theater. First, this is the worst design of a theater I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The seats are like an old movie theater, not a cruise ship or Vegas style lounge. The seats are very narrow and have no leg room. It is very difficult to get into a row without stepping on other people. The 'wings' on the outside of the theater have no aisle along the walls, so you have to climb over everyone to sit in the outer sections of the theater. The seats along the outside edge of the theater are useless anyway due to obstructed views, so they would be better off removing those seats in favor of another access point for these outer sections. In addition, don't dare sit up in the balcony sections, as the views are absolutely horrible. Whoever designed this theater should find themselves out of work, as this is absolutely the worst flaw of an otherwise well laid out ship. I wish NCL would totally redo this theater one day when the ship is in for refurbishment. The other complaint I have with the theater is that on most nights, the show times were at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. In my opinion, this is just way too early, with very few activities to do after the shows are over. There needed to be more 10:30pm shows for people who wanted to eat between 8 and 10. Otherwise, you cannot make either show. And one last point here. NCL should prevent people from entering the theater once the show begins. Nothing is worse than people climbing over me in the dark and interrupting me even though I managed to make it on time. Ports - We went to Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. The days in port were very good. We were lucky that for all 5 ports we were docked rather than having to tender. One of the biggest disappointments for our ports was that our NCL catamaran trip in St. Kitts was cancelled. This was supposed to be a 6 hour trip with lunch and drinks for $119. Since it was cancelled, NCL did not have anything equivalent. In fact, they tried to offer us a 3 1/2 hour catamaran with no lunch for $99. It was basically half the tour and no lunch for only $20 less. Needless to say we did not do an NCL tour in St. Kitts. In fact, their tours in St. Kitts left a lot to be desired. The other disappointment about this tour being cancelled is that since we had a group of 12 going, we all paid for this tour via credit card a couple of months before sailing so we could be sure no one in our group would miss out had we waited to book once onboard. Since the tour was cancelled, we assumed the charge would be credited to our credit cards. This is not how NCL does business. They actually credited this $238 (for 2 of us) to our onboard account and we were told by the reception desk that if we did not spend it onboard, it would be credited back to our credit card on the day of disembarkation. This is a lie. On the day of disembarkation, we got a letter saying a check would be mailed to us; however it gave no timeframe so I called NCL. They told me it could take up to a month to get our money back. This is unacceptable. They have now had our money for over 2 months and earning interest on it, and now we have to wait another month to see our money. They won't take a check from me, so it's an insult that I have to wait for one from them. Due to this fact, I will NEVER pre-book an NCL excursion again. If it's not available when we board, we will choose something else or do a non-NCL excursion, which are usually much better values. Disembarkation - Disembarkation day on NCL is done very well. Breakfast was being served in the main dining room, as well as the buffet. This is a far cry from Royal Caribbean or Carnival, which throw you off the ship early in the morning with very few food choices. NCL is first rate here, and guests were not completely off of the ship until after 10am. Since they do the disembarking in stages, there is not too much waiting around. As Suite guests, we had VIP disembarking privileges, should we choose to use them to get off the ship early if we wanted to. We chose not to, but our luggage was easily found in the VIP area. A few last points about our trip on the Pearl... - Kudos to the crew of the Pearl, especially Captain Paul, Cary (The Hotel Director), Oscar (The Restaurant Manager) and Tony (The Food & Beverage Director). They were all fantastic and really went out of their way to make sure our entire group was well taken care of. If you are lucky enough to have dinner with Captain Paul one evening during your cruise, you will be sure to enjoy it. Captain Paul and his crew are one of the biggest draws for the Pearl and one of the main reasons we sailed it 2 years in a row. - The elevators were pretty quick, compared to other ships we have been on, especially the larger RCCL ships. - There are cameras EVERYWHERE on this ship. We always joke that they were keeping track of all the food we ate so they could bill us a food surcharge at the end of the cruise. - There are LCDs around the ship to tell you the status of any restaurant on the ship with regards to availability. They would show which of the restaurants were open, and how full they were. This was pretty informative. - There is no interactive TV in the guest staterooms. On other lines, you could check your onboard account balance, as well as order excursions, etc. I know they have this on the newer NCL ships, but hope they add this to these older NCL ships in the near future. - About midway through our cruise, we had an outbreak of some type of sickness on the ship. At this time it has yet to be determined what the cause was. However, this affected several things aboard the ship. In the buffet line, the crew was forced to serve you as you could no longer touch anything. Ice buckets and glasses were taken from staterooms. The Latitudes party for past guests was cancelled. Announcements for some of this were made, but communication in the form of a letter explaining everything would have been beneficial. I guarantee not everyone is aware of how sickness, such as Norovirus, is spread. - Although the Pearl was built in 2006 and refurbished in 2013, it is extremely well maintained, and the crew was constantly cleaning the common areas all week long. They do a great job keeping the ship looking good. We sailed this ship last year, and while it has aged, it has done so gracefully. 99% of the crew we interacted with was extremely friendly and pleasant. - The main shows on the Pearl were good, but overall, nothing was outstanding. Again, the Pearl does not compare to the newer NCL ships regarding entertainment options, which is another reason why it should not be priced as such. I'm not sure if it was related to the illness onboard, but they did not do the farewell show on the last night of the cruise as we have been accustomed to. They did it last year when we were on the Pearl and on all of our NCL cruises I can remember in the past. I hope they only cancelled it due to the illness onboard, as I would be disappointed if it was permanently cancelled. - Keep in mind that NCL handles tips differently than some other lines. They automatically add a $12.95 ($14.95 for suite guests) per person per day 'Service Charge' to your onboard account to cover tips for your stateroom attendants and waiters. Also keep in mind that if you are in a Suite, these automatic service charges DO NOT cover the services of the Butler or Concierge, so you need to tip them separately according to the services they provide. - And then there are the Photos. In my opinion, NCL's photo prices are too high, especially given the fact that they are not shooting film, but rather digital photos. Perhaps it was the lack of quality or the high prices that resulted in thousands of pictures going unsold and thrown away. I saw this firsthand on the very last night of the cruise before the photo shop closed. Maybe if the prices were more reasonable, and the quality was better, they would sell more photos. In addition, this was such a waste of so much paper, that you would think NCL would come up with a way for people to view their photos on a monitor before they printed them out, as they have done on their newer ships. No paper is wasted this way, and the benefits of doing business this way would save lots of money on paper and chemicals. I hope NCL adopts this type of system on their older ships in the near future. It would be more economical as well as more environmentally friendly. - And finally, one thing I did not agree with Kevin Sheehan on was that he was trying to make NCL a premium line. This has been reflected in the steep price increases during the past year. In fact, our 11 night cruise on the Pearl next year in the exact same cabin has gone up in price by 50%. At this rate, we probably won't be able to sail with them in a suite much longer. I understand that costs go up, and I have no problem with NCL wanting to make a profit. However, they are trying to price cabins on the Pearl the same way they are pricing cabins on their newer ships that have far more amenities and choices for food and entertainment. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the advanced technology on the newer ships is not available on ships such as the Pearl. There is no way I feel that a 50% increase in 1 year on a 10 year old ship is justified. However, if things continue at this pace, we will be forced to abandon NCL in the not too distant future. I sure hope that is not the case, as it really is our favorite cruise line. Final thoughts - Overall, we enjoyed our cruise very much. Our cabin was incredible with a fantastic view from the balcony. The ship is well laid out, and is easy to navigate. The food was excellent and never left you looking for anything with all the choices there were. However, the lack of evening entertainment and night life was disappointing, as it has been on our past Norwegian cruises. We had a great time on this trip, in part due to the crew and the itinerary, but mainly due to the great people that we sailed with and met during our cruise. And in the end, that's what makes a vacation special to me. Good Luck and Bon Voyage!!! A special thanks to....Marnie & Hunter (Munter), Diane & Tal (Dal), Sharon & Jack (Shack), Chris, Richard & Emily (Chrichard), Shirley & Allan (Shallan), the Slot Pull crew, and of course, my Foof. You guys made this trip unforgettable!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was the second time on the Pearl. The first time was Alaska. This cruise felt completely different. NCL really know how to give you a good time. Everyone on the ship really goes out of their way to please you and make you feel ... Read More
This was the second time on the Pearl. The first time was Alaska. This cruise felt completely different. NCL really know how to give you a good time. Everyone on the ship really goes out of their way to please you and make you feel really good. The staff never complain snd always wear a smile. It's like a big family. We had perfect weather. Everything was on time and appeared to run like clockwork despite the GI outbreak. We enjoyed the entertainment. Some of it was a bit difficult to understand as it is tailored for Americans and we are in the minority being british. We enjoyed swimming. The pools were just right and not overcrowded. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We just returned from our sixth Norwegian Cruise. Two on the Pearl, Two on the Sun, one each on the Spirit and Sky. After taking cruises one four other lines we decided that the Norwegian is for us. When they say free style they mean it. ... Read More
We just returned from our sixth Norwegian Cruise. Two on the Pearl, Two on the Sun, one each on the Spirit and Sky. After taking cruises one four other lines we decided that the Norwegian is for us. When they say free style they mean it. First of all you dine when you want to and don't have to select an early or late dining time and sit with the same eight or ten people every night. On the Norwegian there are two main dining rooms that are complementary and several premium restaurant that you pay a small cover charge. The menu was always great with several choices each night just like going to restaurants for every meal. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. They made you feel special and not try to fit you into a rigid agenda. There are two pools with entertainment every day and a vast amount of other activities onboard as well as a good choice of excursions to choose from that has something or everyone and appealing to people of all ages. We made friends with several people and were constantly doing something with them. As far as we are concerned Norwegian is our cruise line and I can't wait for our fall foliage cruise. Our embarkation was very easy and disembarkation very organized and quick. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first experience with Norwegian and although not disappointing it was definitely at the bottom end of our cruising experiences. Previous reviewers had it right about this cruise line.... they try hard but just can't get ... Read More
This was our first experience with Norwegian and although not disappointing it was definitely at the bottom end of our cruising experiences. Previous reviewers had it right about this cruise line.... they try hard but just can't get it quite right. Embarkation Very smooth...the process was quick and painless. There were no delays getting on the ship and we actually got into our cabin earlier than scheduled, however the bad news was it took a very long time to get our luggage. We could not enjoy the pool, hot tubs or even go to the formal dining room because we did not receive our luggage until almost 7:00pm. A Cabin We have sailed on Celebrity and Princess before and all in inside cabins. Norwegian inside cabins are definitely the smallest insides we have experienced. Not unmanageable, simply inconvenient. Nicely laid out and comfortable. C Dining As a prelude to this part of the review it should be noted that the ship was hit with a bout of gastro-enteritis half way through the voyage which put a damper on guest and crew alike. It therefore may have affected some aspects of the following reviews. Garden Cafe - for a buffet it was well laid out and we never had to wait in to long of a line to get our food. Selection was good, but pretty much the same everyday. Desserts were just okay with a very bland european flair to them. C Summer Palace - Food was average with the one exception being the Chateau Briand which was fabulous. Service was a crap shoot at best. Some tables provided great service, while at others were horrible. We had one occasion in which we had to wait 15min to be served and then the server had no idea what to do with the sour cream and bacon bits for a baked potato. C Brazilian Steakhouse - We decided to try the one specialty restaurant because i really enjoy this style of dining. Service was very good and attentive. The side dishes were alright. The meat options were varied, but it really felt as if they brought the cheaper cuts of meat around twice as often as the choice cuts. Overall not worth the cover charge. B Entertainment What a contrast. We experienced some high and some terrible lows. The broadway singers and dancers were very good. They had one particular performance titled "Swing" that was one of the best performances we had seen anywhere. The comedian Chris Pendleton was funny but surprisingly an even better musician. The magic act was average at best and the juggler was definitely entertaining. However the "flashback 4" were absolutely the worst, most amatuer act we had ever seen. They sang off key, their choreography was laughable and their audience interaction embarrassing. We actually got up and left the performance because it was so bad. Jim Badger was the only one of the lounge acts that was truly entertaining. He was very talented, funny and loved to interact with the audience. He had standing room only every night. Cruise Director - Dan the Man ... he was enthusiastic but i wonder how much say he had in the choices for entertainment. Very questionable. C- Ports All of our stops (Aruba, Curacao, St. Thomas, St. Kitts & St. Lucia) were all very similar stops with their own particular feel. We decided to do island tours for each. My only advice would be to take a taxi not a bus tour and select your driver carefully. We had a very interesting fellow in Aruba and a hack in Curacao so be wary. B Service As stated earlier the Pearl crew definitely try hard and gave a good effort, but it was still inferior to our other cruise experiences. C Disembarkation The fastest we have ever had. Since we took care of our own luggage we were able to walk off immediately with no wait time. A+ Summary We chose this cruise for its destinations not for the ship. It was half the cost of other cruises in the caribbean and as the saying goes .... you get what you paid for. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our 3rd time on the Pearl. We are Platinum members and have always enjoyed NCL. This time there was a definite difference in service standards ( I am really not too fussy). On several occasions our room wasn't cleaned until ... Read More
This was our 3rd time on the Pearl. We are Platinum members and have always enjoyed NCL. This time there was a definite difference in service standards ( I am really not too fussy). On several occasions our room wasn't cleaned until after 2 Pm although we were out of cabin by 8AM. When we requested items like an extra pillow, the request was either not met or done a few days later. Service in unpaid restaurants was very slow.. ex: 15 minutes to get a coffee in Summer Palace at 8 Am when there may have been 50 people in the entire dining room. We had 1 fantastic bartender at Sky High Bar , but the rest didn't bother to come out from behind the bar. I think the automatic 18% tip may have something to do with this. We travelled with some friends. One couple stayed for the first component(11 days) and then went to the Sky for a 4 day cruise. They said the difference was dramatic. On the Sky everyone was smiling and service was great. What is happening on the Pearl that is affecting the staff in such a negative fashion? This is the first time in years that we did not purchase a Future Cruise Credit. I was a loyal customer.. not so sure any more Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Norwegian Pearl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Norwegian Pearl Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click