Overall the cruise was very enjoyable and we visited places we had not seen before. The ship’s common rooms and staterooms are cleaned daily and kept in tip-top condition, the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable, and the daily food menus are varied and leave very little to be desired. Another surprise was that complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks were available for lunch and dinner AND in addition complimentary drinks were served during each evening’s 5:30pm cocktail hour as well as during the after-dinner entertainment. Finally, the guest speaker (Barry Lane) was a virtual encyclopedia concerning the available tour destinations.
There were four things in which I was disappointed:
1. The Pearl Mist is a noisy ship. Our cabin was in the aft section and when the ship was underway at speed the engine’s thumps and bangs were almost unacceptable. Additionally, when docking or leaving port the stern thruster really grinds and vibrates the whole ship so much so that at breakfast the china and table items shimmy and slide together. Therefore, only book a cabin in the forward section.
2. I thought the tours were somewhat expensive particularly the additional $50 for lunch at the Grand Hotel as part of the Fort Mackinac carriage tour.
3. Internet access is a bit of a problem in that there are only three ship’s computers available for 200+ passengers. Use of personal equipment is limited to one continuous hour daily with the next available time starting at the end of the previous day’s session.
4. The final straw was that shortly after boarding everyone was advised that the ship could no longer dock at Navy Pier (the final overnight destination) located in Chicago’s mid-city but would be mooring at the Illinois International Port, a cargo storage area located some 40 miles away from anything. Frankly, I believe they should have advised everyone beforehand however this might have resulted in some cancellations - a classic bait and switch situation. Although Pearl Seas did offer some complimentary transportation options, this is a very secure area which meant that the passengers were literally captives on the final night of their cruise.
Surprisingly, more room than I have experienced on larger vessels. However, the balcony was made smaller than others on the ship by a partition to enable the crew to work from the stern deck.