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Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,374 Reviews

Back from Eastern Caribbean (April 06 to April 16 2015)

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by Roger_le_Frog

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2015
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

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


Roger_le_Frog's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Balcony

Not much to complain about the room, TV size is small, 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). No Minibar price list; bedding was good but a little bit soft. Room lighting can be improved. Our room steward was good, friendly and unobtrusive.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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.

View All undefined undefined Reviews
Catamaran Sail

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.

View All 123 Catamaran Sail Reviews

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)! The shuttle running on the pier did not operate in the afternnon

View All undefined undefined Reviews
Scenic Railway

Half of the tour is by bus and half via a narrow gauge train. While our bus Driver/guide was very informative, the rail part of tour was: informative (our guide did look alike Whoopi Goldberg ), in car service was very good (drinks including alcohol) and we had some entertainment (a group of singers going from car to car); we were on the upper deck. A took a lot of pictures.

View All 303 Scenic Railway Reviews
St. John Tour

We went to St John by boat from St Thomas and did almost a complete tour of the island using an open Taxi. Most of the island is a National park with wonderful public beaches. It definitively gives us a desire to visit again.

View All 195 St. John Tour Reviews

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Roger_le_Frog
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