I have always sailed RCCL in the past - have done the Vision, Voyager, and Oasis class ships. Recently, I decided to sail NCL and choose the Pearl (Jewel class). I prefer this size ship and now am only sailing NCL due to butler/concierge in the suites. The mega ships are beautiful but due to size, I do not find enjoyable. I understand and I am amazed at the operation of the mega ships. On RCCL Allure: embarkation was very long process, long lines, and reservations were not available for shows or specialty dining. At times there were very long lines to enter the comp dining facilities so it was not the relaxing cruise experience I desired. Imagine moving 5,000+ passengers (amazing feat) but those same people that want to eat at the same time, travel elevators, see shows can be overwhelming...However, it is mitigated if you upgrade to suite level cabins. I have to say that if you are willing to splurge suites make the difference.
I sailed on NCL Pearl (Garden Villa) and it was a 5 star experience for me. The service was stellar. The ship is dated but it will get a refurbish soon. The complimentary dining was very good and the specialty restaurants were also very good. All staff we encountered were great and always had a smile. I also liked that there was not a photographer pressing constantly to take pictures. I find that annoying since we all have cameras today and they still charge a lot of money for pictures that we might buy if the prices came down a lot. I also enjoyed NCL free style cruising because some days I may want to eat early and some days late. I prefer to be more spontaneous and not tied to a dining schedule. I like the perks of a suite - priority embarkation/debarkation; daily snacks, personal requests, great dining reservations, assistance and guidance on shore excursions without waiting in lines to discuss. Left messages for concierge if busy and they followed up immediately. Celebrating birthday, anniversary, or special occasion? Your butler/concierge will make it special. We celebrated last minute birthday and they arranged all the food and decorations in the suite and that was such a special touch. They all made us feel special and welcomed and now I am hooked on the "suite life"!!! I have to say the ports were nice but I enjoy the aspect of cruising, dining, relaxing just as important. I never felt cramped on the ship and no overwhelming crowds. Many restaurants, bars, library, entertainment and decent fitness area to keep me busy. Just booked the same ship for 12 day trip in October.
Fantastic and oh so roomy...I like that the bedrooms are on opposite sides of the living room space. Separated by large foyer and two hallways. The room has large dining table, bar with barstools, large U-shape couch and automated blinds (lots of windows that surround living space). The room overlooks the entire pool area so great people watching. There is another large dining table outside and private hot tub, exterior couches and a 2nd level private sundeck with loungers, beds, hammock and another table and chairs. You have access to Haven area but do not need it with this room. Master bedroom is nice size and master bath very large with separate large walk-in closet. The other two bedrooms slightly smaller and the baths are also smaller (I think the other two rooms similar to PH suite and they have large balconies). The master bedroom does not have balcony since it opens to the outside patio - but lots of windows. This room made all the difference and I booked the same room for a 12 day Panama trip in October. H1 cabin so the butler and concierge were terrific. If I had any issues I just called the concierge and she fixed it. Even though the ship was dated I loved the decor and wear and tear was minimal in the villa.
Interesting self guided tour; I love old historic buildings and especially the way people lived and dressed in the past!
very bustling city made use of the mass transit and walked around and ate at some great restaurants!