Alaska on Norwegian's Pearl and Kosherica: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by baruchgershom

Norwegian Pearl 5
Member Since 2011
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Alaska on Norwegian's Pearl and Kosherica

Sail Date: August 2012
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
My wife and I decided to treat ourselves and sail to Alaska on Norwegian's Pearl (Aug. 12, 2012 departure) through Kosherica -- a group tour company that makes sure that all meals for group members are strictly kosher. We cringed at the cost -- about double the normal price. The price is not just higher food costs, but you're paying for a rabbi to supervise the kashrut, four mashgichim (for a crowd of less than 80 Kosherica guests), a group organizer, and a guest speaker -- a distinguished rabbi (Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the Rabbinical Council of America) and his wife, a reserved room for classes, lectures, and prayers, and prayer books and a Torah scroll. For our smallish group, Kosherica had to reserve 4 chefs from the Pearl to make things happen nearly around the clock. The food was great, especially compared to the frozen kosher meals provided to us by Norwegian on past trips. Eating with Kosherica has its bad points, though, besides the cost -- you cannot take More advantage of NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept where you can eat when and where you want. You are tied to a time and a table. Too bad. When we ate frozen meals on a previous cruise with our children and grandchildren, we had the ability to catch an early show, run to the room to babysit the grandchildren, allowing our children to catch the late shows.

The Alaska exeperience was amazing. I have tremendous photos of grand landscapes and glaciers, and photos of humpback whales and orcas. I saw an eagle or two, but they were too fast for my camera. We saw bears near a distant glacier with our binoculars, but they were too small for my camera. No moose, though. We were extremely fortunate with the weather. It was warm and clear at all times except our first day sailing to Juneau (when it didn't matter). At Juneau we took the excursion for whale watching and a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier. The whale watching was amazing. We saw more than a dozen humpback whales and 5 or 6 orcas. The humpbacks were bubble-net feeding -- an amazing method used only by some whales, but taught to others (google the topic, it's fascinating). We also saw 7 or more orcas rapidly swimming past our balcony, obviously on the hunt for something, and clearly working together as a team. Note that the this combo leaves precious little time to see the glacier. In Skagway we took the train to Canada and saw Liarsville on the way back by bus. The scenery from the train is gorgeous. My photos would have been better had I stood by the railing between cars. Liarsville is cute and the put on a nice short show. In Ketchikan we saw the Saxman native american village -- very educational -- and attended the lumberjack show, which is a definite must-see. We skipped Victoria as our arrival was during Shabbat, and there was little time after Shabbat to go ashore.

NCL is known for its entertainment. Frankly, we enjoyed the shows more on the Gem in December. The Frankie Valli tribute group, "Oh What a Night," was fair. One singer -- whoever took the lead on "Sherri," had some "pitchy" moments, which isn't good for a vocal group that needs to be harmonically perfect. The writing is also a bit stiff. Juggler Charles Peachock was very good, but his performance paled in comparison to his own highlight reel he showed before the show featuring his performances on America's Got Talent. Why get us expecting the spectacular when the live performance will be something less special? The comic, though, was very funny. I didn't remember his name, which is a shame. I should have bought his DVD.

All in all, I went for the Alaska experience. The entertainment was not a priority. The Cruise Director, Julie, is OK and perhaps very good compared to most. But I've been on ships with Sinam Ulucay twice, and I'm totally spoiled. Less

Published 08/28/12

Cabin review: MA11576 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

If you are on the few suites on Deck 11 portside just aft of the midship elevator well, be warned that your room will be directly below the youth area. All day long you will hear a lot of noise -- mostly the thumping of what I guess were basketballs. I will never take 11576 again. Shoot for 11568 and lower if you want the port side.

Read All Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony (MA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Mendenhall Glacier

Beautiful sight. I wish we had more time to see it. The whale watching combo left us with little time

Whale Watching

They guarantee that you'll see at least one whale. Instead we saw nearly a dozen humpback whales, including a rare sight of them bubble-net fishing, and six or so orcas.

Lumberjack Show

A lot of fun for the whole family. If you have young children (5-10), save room in your luggage for a large chip of wood given out as a souvenier.

Saxman Native Village

If you want to learn about totem polls and native American culture, this is where you need to be.

Gold Panning

We went on the Liarsville gold panning. We were more interested in the show than finding gold. The show was cute.

White Pass Scenic Railway

Beautiful vistas. Be sure to sit on left side of car for the best views going up. Best photos will come if you stand on the railing outside the car.

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