I am not a professional reviewer, and this is just my opinion. My wife and I are no big fans of mega-ships, so we thought we'd give Pearl Mist a try. We chose to sail from Portland, Maine, to Québec City in the fall so we could enjoy the vaunted fall foliage. The Pearl Mist is a small, intimate ship with a maximum of 210 or so paasengers, and on that voyage we were a total of 189 people. There is no assigned seating at any time, so we were able to meet different people at mealtime, make new friends, and avoid some passengers.
Our cabin featured a balcony, and it was spacious enough for us. There was enough storage space for our clothes - but we pack rather light. The furniture is not secured for ocean cruising, which caused drawers to open and close during a particularly stormy night - some passengers actually had their dresser tip over, thankfully no one was hurt. There is no safe box in the cabin, a glaring omission in our opinion. The bathroom was small but adequate for our needs. Lighting uses the now old-fashioned "curlicue" neon bulbs, the company may want to switch to LEDs.
The ship features two large, comfortable lounges which allow passengers to take a good look at the surrounding ocean and scenery. The dining room was very well sound-proofed, and that allowed conversations to be sustained without having to shout (as on Viking boats). This was the first time we were on a cruise where there was no buffet, save for a smallish one at breakfast. The system of pre-ordering lunch and dinner is smart, there's much less waste. The food was generally fine, and if one was not satisfied with the size of the portions, it was always possible to order two of the same, or basically whatever was on the menu. This is not a "foodie" cruise line, so people who are so inclined should look elsewhere. Dining room service was superb - almost all waitstaff is friendly, fun-loving Filipinos.
There is no bar anywhere in the ship, but a nice touch was the cocktail hour (before dinner) where free drinks were offered, as well as after dinner. Wine was complimentary with meals, and the wines featured were quite decent. If there is a weakness in that picture, it's the entertainment, or rather the lack of. There were a couple of guitar-toting singers, one of them had her voice drowned by the conversations - because she was not very good and had a repertoire of mostly 70's folk songs. Pearl Seas should take the example of Star Clippers, who employ good musicians with a keyboard - allowing them to sound like an small combo - who provide a nice, intimate background music. There was no talent show - which is something that both passengers and crew always enjoy participating in. There was a trivia contest, only one, with questions so obscure that our team - the winners - only answered six out of 30.
The excursions were generally fine, our only complaint was the lack of photo opportunities - buses did not stop often, and taking pictures through the windows does not work very well. Embarkation and disembakation were generally well-handled, with only a few glitches. In sum this was a fine cruise, not the best we've taken, but not the worst either by far. With a little fine-tuning, Pearl Seas could turn out to be a terrific cruise line for those who don't like megaships, or don't want to spend a lot of money on hoity-toity cuisine and incidentals.