Relaxing Pearl!: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by deetravel

Norwegian Pearl 5
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Relaxing Pearl!

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
My Hubby, and I (previously sailed on the NL Dawn, and an RCI ship) took my 70 year old Mother in law on her first cruise, and our first vacation together. We had experienced a little stress the preceding 2 weeks, first with Hurricane Sandy, and then my husband being in the hospital, and actually canceled our original cruise on Nov 4th and re booked a week later on the Nov 11th sailing. We visited GSC, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.

Arrived Miami via Delta from NY on Sat afternoon, and stayed at the JW Marquise; we got a really good rate via AAA, and an upgrade via Marriott Rewards to a fantastic Bay View corner room. This hotel is absolutely fantastic, and we would not hesitate to stay here again! We had 2 rooms one for myself, and my husband, and one for my Mother Inlaw. Spent the afternoon at the Bayside Market place, and had dinner back at the hotel.

Arrived at the pier at 12:30pm, there was already a line around the outside of More the building, but it moved really fast & NCL seemed really organized. After completing our health questionare, and going through check in we were on the ship by 1:00pm.

As we boarded in the Deck 7 Atrium we parked the parental and visited the shore excursion desk to book clamshells for Great Stirrup Cay. And the restaurant reservations desk to book dinner later in the week at Le Bistro, & Cagney's. We then went up to the pool deck where we enjoyed lunch before going to our room at 2:00pm.

Mini Suite 11122:
We decided to share a room with the parental, and booked a Mini Suite for the extra space. The room worked out well in terms of size, storage, and sleeping arrangements. My inlaw had the fold out sofa, and my hubby and me had the bed. There is a curtain that divides the bed area from the sitting area which was great for privacy. When we arrived the room smelt like someone had been smoking, we immediately called guest services and they sent our room steward over to freshen up the room and clean the carpet. This was the only problem we had with the room, and it was addressed and fixed very promptly by NCL. This cabin was in a great location, right across from the aft stairs/elevators we had easy access to the buffet, and pool. We heard absolutely no noise either from above or from the stairwell/elevator bank.

The Pearl:
The Pearl is a really nice ship with a great layout; the ship was full but never felt crowded, and we never experienced lines or long waits for anything. The only oddity was the Atrium, which is a little different to the Dawn, and RCI ships we have been on. In that the atrium is only one level, and there are no glass elevators. This was not an issue just something we noticed. Our favorite spot on the ship was the Great Outdoors, this is an outdoor buffet area at the very back of the ship. As it was only one deck up from our cabin we could easily walk up the stairs and be right at the Great Outdoors for breakfast within 1 min. It was never crowded, as I don't think a lot of people knew it was there. We had breakfast here everyday, and lunch on sea days.

The Food:
We thought that the food on the Pearl is the best we have experienced on a cruise ship. My Mother Inlaws favorite spot was the Buffet. We found it to be good quality, with a good range of selections for each meal but my hubby and I got tired of it pretty quick...We did like the Pool BBQ's where they grilled steak, hot dogs and corn out by the Pool.

As well as the Buffet we ate at Le Bistro, Cagneys, Blue Lagoon, and Summer Palace. We tried to get into Indigo but the wait for 3 people was always 45 mins no matter what time you went.

Le Bistro: I love French food, and the food at Le Bistro was probably the best on the ship. I had fantastic Escargot, and Duck. The only negative is the location of Le Bistro really detracts from the restaurant ambiance. Its right in the middle of Bar Central, where all the noise from the bar areas. The ambiance in Le Bistro on the Dawn was much nicer.

Cagneys: All the staff on the ship were excellent, and friendly but the service in Cagneys exceeded the service experienced anywhere else on the ship. I had the Fillet Mignon, and my hubby the NY Strip. Having easy access to NY steak houses the food was good but nothing to write home about! However I don't know anywhere else you can get a multi course, steak dinner for only $25pp. It was definitely good value.

Summer Palace: We ate here once to get a break from the Buffet (the only place the inlaw wanted to eat) I actually had one of the best meals on the ship here, the Lamb Shank was superb. However the service was the worst we experienced on the entire ship.

We all purchased Spa passes for the week, which gave us access to the Spa Thermal suite. I liked the Spa, and fitness area on the Dawn better but the Pearl was still nice, and defiantly worth it. We used the Spa on Sea Days, and when we got back to the ship early a few times. I got my nails done, and my Mother InLaw her hair at the Spa. The service was fine but a little pricy.

We gave Bowling a try, and played Air Hockey in the Bliss Lounge which was fun. We took the parental to all the shows, we liked the Pearl Players, and the comic Bud Dearborn but the magician was lame. Overall the quality was good. We also caught the not so newlywed game, this was not done as well as on RCI but was mildly entertaining. We went to the Casino only once as the smoke was to much for us and won $100 on Roulette. There seemed to be plenty to do on the Pearl, and we were never board.

We had 12:00pm flights so got up early, had breakfast and carried our own bags off as we were worried about making our flight. We had heard that it can take an hour to get off and go through immigration; In hindsight we did not need to rush so much, we were off the ship and through customs/immigration in 5 mins and at the airport by 9:00am. We could not get on an earlier flight to had to sit around the airport for 3 hours. Less

Published 11/27/12

Cabin review: MB11122 Mini-Suite with Balcony

Great location, no noise from above, perfect size for 3.

Read All Mini-Suite with Balcony (MB) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Culinary Tour

We booked the Mexican Cooking Experience at Playa Mia. The Pier was well organized and we took a 10 min bus ride to the Play Mia beach club. The cooking class was supposed to take 2 hours, followed by lunch and a few hours to enjoy the beach. When we arrived the previous class was running late, so we started late. Then the class took 3 hours and we had no beach time. If we return to Cozumel we would book a beach break here but skip the cooking class. The food we prepared was not very interesting, and the dessert was inedible. I expected something a bit more traditional then grilled fish with pre made tamarind sauce, and shrimp in a Tortia. I would not do this excursion again.

Grand Cayman was our favorite report; we had booked a beginners Scuba

Scuba - Beginner

Grand Cayman was our favorite Port; we booked an excursion to try Scuba Diving which didn't really work out; however that didn't detract from a good experience in Grand Cayman. The tender from the ship to the Island went fast and we did not have to wait in line at all! Once ashore we easily located the shore excursion desk for the third party agency we had booked with. They gave us a map and sent us off on a 5 min walk along the water front to the Dive site. Once there we were checked in, and started the safety briefing and were told all about the scuba equipment etc. From there things went down hill, the guide only had the 2 of us but didn't seem to be prepared for complete beginners even though the excursion was billed as for beginners. I had done a lot of research, and called the excursion company to confirm that the Beginners Dive offered was a shore dive, and suitable for someone who had never dived before. Instead of the shallow water I was expecting that we would walk/swim out to deeper water, we were close to the Pier and pretty much jumped off a ladder in to 30ft of open water. Not ideal for 2 beginners who have never been in a scenario like this. Once in the water we found the current to be really strong, with big waves crashing against the rocks, my husband was given to many weights, and pretty much sank as soon as he was in the water...this caused some panic and resulted in us not finishing the dive. I think we will try diving again but in calmer waters! Even though this was not the best experience, we still had a great time. After recovering a little we walked around George Town, did some shopping, and visited their national museum. Which was really interesting. We asked a local for a lunch recommendation, and they recommended Coritas Copper Kettle. Coritas is a tiny little cafe slightly off the main shopping streets and serves cheap authentic Cayman food. It was full of locals and we loved it. Coritta recommended that we take a bus around the ISland, and pointed us in the direction of the bus stop. After going around the ISland we headed back to the ship.

2nd Visit to GSC, we were really excited to hear about all the enhancements to the Island, and had originally booked a Cabana. However due to Hurricane Sandy we had to push our trip back a week, and there were no Cabanas available on the new sailing. We ended up getting Clam Shells instead, and were glad we did. They were right by the water, near a bar and the snorkeling hut, and provided the perfect amount of shade. When we saw the location of the Cabana's we were not at all disappointed, and would opt for Clam Shells over Cabanas again. The Cabana's are really out of the way, we could not even see them from the beach. Clam Shells were defiantly a better value at $29 vs $300. Due to Sandy passing through 2 weeks before the beach was badly eroded, and the visibility for Snorkeling was really bad. Last time we were here we had fantastic snorkeling and saw all kinds of fish and sting rays. This time the water was cold, and cloudy and we could not see anything. We gave up and spent the day on the beach. We were a little disappointed, but NCL can't control the weather. The lunch buffet on the Island was really good, with lots of choices.

Jamaica for a Day

We were a little concerned about Jamaica, as we had read a lot of worrying reviews about Ocho Rios. We booked a day at the Jewell Dunns River Resort. For $65 we got access to the entire resort facilities, including food and beverages all day. We booked through an online agency that specializes in these types of trips. One mistake we made was to not book the optional roundtrip bus transfer from the pier to to the resort; this turned out to be a mistake. The pier in Ocho Rios is very chaotic, and the staff there make it really difficult to get a taxi or arrange your own transportation. They seemed really concerned when they found out we had a resort booking but had not booked the transfer. We could not get a taxi to take us, and the Pier staff ended up radioing the excursion driver to come pick us up, and we were able to pay him cash for the transfer. They really didn't seem to want you wondering around, or negotiating cab fare on your own. The Jewell Dunns River was fantastic, the beach is small but the Sand is lovely and the water warm. We had no trouble finding a shady spot on the beach. The staff were great coming around to offer drinks, and Spa treatments, towels were provided and the food at both the Buffet, and beach grill was really good. The Pools were really nice, and seemed to have a lot of fun activities. We liked it so much we did not want to leave, and are thinking about booking a stay here in the future.

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