We were on the Pearl Sea Great Lakes Cruise from August 23 to August 29th. We boarded in Midland after a three hour bus ride from Toronto. Trip was around the Great Lakes to Chicago.
Our Cabin was one of the five “suites.” The extra size was the empty space area behind a stairway furnished with a chair. Balcony was OK but required opening a water tight and secure door, which my wife was unable to open.
Ship itself holds about 200 passengers. It is advertised as new but is actually much older than that. Design, furnishings, cabin furniture, decorations, TV, and even the equipment on the Bridge are all very dated. Actual age is certainly more than 10 and perhaps 20 yrs old.
No amenities like an exercise room, laundry, pool, or even a hot tub. Library was as fancy as it got. TV reception very poor on an old, small TV.
Food was mediocre at best. Meat was never fresh – very dry and tough - strongly suggested it had been frozen. Several times did have Lobster Tails which were excellent. Variety at breakfast buffet very limited and simple. Overall variety at meals very repetitious.
Wine served at meals was extremely cheap and poor quality though variety selection was OK. Mixed drinks were available in the lounges for one hour only before dinner with a very limited selection. Two small lounges with very crowded sofas.
Staff themselves were very polite and helpful. Most were from the Philippines and very amiable.
Passengers were very pleasant and heavily elderly. No one under 65 and many over 80. Large numbers of wheel chairs, walkers, and canes.
Ports of Call were simplistic – as there were only small cities on the route. Information talks given on night before only talked about times, etc but included virtually nothing about the sites themselves or what to expect to see. Informational talks on Great Lakes were good but few and very short.
Entertainment was only a two man instrument show – very simple and cheap – not at all entertaining.
Docks themselves were clean and nice EXCEPT for Chicago. The cruise advertised originally that we would dock at the Navy Pier. That was then changed to a horrific dock about 20 miles south of the city near the violent areas of Chicago. It was a very large cargo storage area protected by large barbed wired fences, and entry guard gate, and required an escort for transportation in and out. The gangplank was onto dirt onto a canvas tarp. Transport trucks and freight cars were constantly coming and going. We were told that the Navy Pier was closed to Cruise Ships but when we finally got to the city several large ships were indeed docked there. Bus transport to the city got lost on city streets (in South Chicago!). They had to use my iPhone with Google Maps to figure out where they were!!
In summary, despite the fact that the cruise was priced with the major high class luxury cruise lines; it was very cheap and poorly organized. Although advertised to be almost new, the ship is dated. Food was just OK. Wine horrible. Chicago dock was an abomination.
Overall a very poor trip for the price, and a disappointing trip at any price.
Our Cabin was one of the five “suites.” The extra size was the empty space area behind a stairway furnished with a chair. Balcony was OK but required opening a water tight and secure door, which my wife was unable to open. TV reception very poor on an old, small TV.