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Overall, I gotta tell ya, this was a great cruise experience. The incredible crew, delicious foods and wonderful entertainment. We are both retired, in our 60s, excellent health and have many years of international travel experience. We booked this cruise at the very last minute to celebrate my birthday and to get away for the Christmas holiday as we'd done last year. Having cruised once before with Norwegian on the Baltic Sea and another time with a different cruise line on the Aegean Sea was the limit of our cruising experience. We arrived at Miami International on a morning flight out of JFK. Retrieving our luggage was fairly simple and right there was the Norwegian representative with whom we had made transportation arrangements to the ship. $16 per person was well worth the 10 mile or so ride to the pier for embarkation. Our bags with the tags attached indicating our cabin number were swiftly taken and we got on the end of a quickly growing line in the broiling sun. In short order, we were inside the terminal headed towards the check-in counter. No problem with that and in what seemed like fifteen minutes or so, we had already dropped off our carry-on in our cabin and were seated up in the Garden Café on Deck 12 having lunch! At 4:00pm presicely, it was anchors away. We had a forward cabin on Deck 8 (balcony) on the port side. You do feel the sea a bit more in forward cabins, but neither of us minded. A few of the sea days were rough, too. Our room steward introduced himself to us and was very nice, polite and accessible during the entire cruise. I must say, though, that I did have to ask for the nice bar soap I liked on more than one occasion, it appeared that the sheets and pillowcases had not been changed during the entire cruise and that everything in the room was covered with a layer of dust that I had to clean off with the Lysol wipes I had thought to bring along. Also, the balcony floor had the toenail clippings of the previous tenant waiting there to greet us and there was what appeared to be the remains of cheese on the little table. There was only one balcony chair and it was not until day four that we got the second one after I'd asked nicely many times. The balcony is only 30 sq ft and not someplace you'd hang out for very long. The real perk was being to open the sliding door to change the stale air. Other than the aforementioned, the room was basically just for sleeping. We didn't hang out there much, although we did return for a power nap on a few afternoons. The rooms are small and definitely gives you great appreciation for those who have spent time in a spaceship! The TV was small, but adequate. We really didn't watch much. There is a channel for ship-related news and, thank God, FOX News was available 24/7! Sleep came easily and deeply. There was no discernible noise during the night and little during the day. If you do choose a balcony, just be aware that if you go on it and talk at more than a gentle whisper, your neighbor will hear every word! Food: Make sure you down the Norwegian app and, if you plan on eating at any specialty restaurants, make your reservations early in the cruise. Of course, if you like dining at 10:00pm, don't worry about it. We failed to do so on this trip and missed out on some of the specialty dining experiences! We did eat in Le Bistro and La Cuchina and the food was ok, the service was better and the atmosphere was great. The serving were not so big, though, and a few times we found ourselves;vets in the Garden Café afterwards! So, in my opinion, you're not necessarily paying for the food, you are paying to get away from the maddening crowd at the complimentary places! Definitely worth the price of admission! For complimentary venues, we ate at mostly the Garden Café on Deck 12 and secondly at the Summer Palace on Deck 6. The former is buffet-style; the latter is sit-down and order from a menu. The Garden Café was outstanding, but crowds make walking a challenge (especially with food in hand) and finding a table sometimes even more challenging. I guess it depends on ones' timing. I had a nice custom-made omelette every morning and crepes at night. The food was bountiful and quite delicious; there was always something different from the day before. You will definitely be eating on this cruise! Activities: there is definitely plenty to do on this ship' something for everyone. I didn't go inside, but we walked past the library every day up on Deck 12. It was always filled with people plying board games or just reading. Immediately outside is the pool. Me? I do like to swim and consider myself to be a good swimmer, but honestly, I'd feel as if I were swimming in a Petri dish! The pool was often packed with all types of humanity and the adults-only hot tubs often had three foot children in them, so I did not enter the heavily-chlorinated waters (even though dared to do so). There's another sun deck above the pool area and I did go up there a day or two, but didn't feel liked getting burned to a crisp on this trip. Lounge chair hogs, as on all cruises, abound and unless you're up at 6:00am, you don't stand a chance of seeing a lounge chair in the pool area. People will clip their towels to the chair and then disappear for hours. There were a number of 'seminars' like acupuncture that included a 'free 15 minute consultation,' leading to a $155 session! All the seminars are nice and can be informative, but the one and only real reason for being is to sell you, so, buyer beware. Every evening in the stateroom there is left a newsletter for you of the following days events. Surely, there is something for everyone. Casino: yes, there is a casino. Having earned an A in probability in college, I know that your odds of being struck by lightening under the Caribbean sky are better than are winning anything substantial in a casino. If you enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke or like it when it lingers on your clothing for days afterwards, then by all means go. Otherwise: bet with your head, not over it! For high rollers, there is a $3,000/ day limit on your key card. Entertainment: unbelieveable! Can be Broadway-class entertainment. They had a comedian who turned out to be very funny, a stage production with singers and dancers and even a hypnotist. Nadeen, the Undisputed Queen of Hypnosis had the best act of all. Google this lady or check her out on Facebook or YouTube. Great act/great lady. The workers on board the ship possess some incredible talent as well. What a really wonderful group of people. One guy in particular is called Red. Watch for this guy...he's not only the nicest guy you'd ever wanna meet, but has incredible signing talent. On the second to last day, he belted out the song 'One in a Million You' to a packed audience in the Stardust Theatre who gave him a standing ovation. Red, he works in the Garden Café and the Summer Palace. Look for him - he's one guy that should quit his day job! Excursions: We travel extensively with a group called Gate 1 Travel, so that is my experience with this kind of tourism. Honestly, the excursions don't come close. We go out on all of them (otherwise, we can't rightly claim the countries on our list of visits), but I gotta tell ya: if you don't have a list of countries visited or don't care about such things, you can easily save $1,000 by not leaving the ship. Not to mention that you can enjoy the absence of your fellow shipmates and maybe even get a poolside lounge chair! Sometimes the spa has special sales on port days as well. Just saying. Reminder: it seems that (with the exception of Aruba) port areas appear to be run down, neglected havens of potential criminal activity. If you think they won't make you as a mark or stupid American tourist, please think again. Don't ruin your vacation by wandering off on your own! Cruise lines will not advertise about their crime victims for obvious reasons, but if you do a little research you can easily see for yourself. Leave you stuff in the safe, keep your wallet in your front pocket and ladies, hold on to that purse. Bring out only what is absolutely necessary, don't advertise (flash money) and by all means be completely aware of your surroundings. You wanna go on a nice guided tour, check out Gate 1. Disembarkation: they give you color codes for getting off the ship. Do you think anyone abides by them? Getting off can be a madhouse. We had code blue and there were people standing in line way in front of us with colours they had not yet called. Now if they made a Color line (blue stand here, red star there) or if they sent people back, well, that might just do the trick. We weren't in a rush, though, as we had plenty of time. We'd booked transportation back to MIA for the flight home. The worst part of the trip was all the laundry we had to do after we'd settled back in at home. Bottom line: this is a great way to have a vacation. I only wish I had discovered cruising decades ago! Just be patient, exercise good judgement and never forget that a representative of every type of person that we share our space with is on board this boat. Some are more obvious than others. Have fun and don't forget your sunscreen!

Dec 19 Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by jmd718

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Overall, I gotta tell ya, this was a great cruise experience. The incredible crew, delicious foods and wonderful entertainment. We are both retired, in our 60s, excellent health and have many years of international travel experience. We booked this cruise at the very last minute to celebrate my birthday and to get away for the Christmas holiday as we'd done last year. Having cruised once before with Norwegian on the Baltic Sea and another time with a different cruise line on the Aegean Sea was the limit of our cruising experience.

We arrived at Miami International on a morning flight out of JFK. Retrieving our luggage was fairly simple and right there was the Norwegian representative with whom we had made transportation arrangements to the ship. $16 per person was well worth the 10 mile or so ride to the pier for embarkation. Our bags with the tags attached indicating our cabin number were swiftly taken and we got on the end of a quickly growing line in the broiling sun. In short order, we were inside the terminal headed towards the check-in counter. No problem with that and in what seemed like fifteen minutes or so, we had already dropped off our carry-on in our cabin and were seated up in the Garden Café on Deck 12 having lunch! At 4:00pm presicely, it was anchors away.

We had a forward cabin on Deck 8 (balcony) on the port side. You do feel the sea a bit more in forward cabins, but neither of us minded. A few of the sea days were rough, too. Our room steward introduced himself to us and was very nice, polite and accessible during the entire cruise. I must say, though, that I did have to ask for the nice bar soap I liked on more than one occasion, it appeared that the sheets and pillowcases had not been changed during the entire cruise and that everything in the room was covered with a layer of dust that I had to clean off with the Lysol wipes I had thought to bring along. Also, the balcony floor had the toenail clippings of the previous tenant waiting there to greet us and there was what appeared to be the remains of cheese on the little table. There was only one balcony chair and it was not until day four that we got the second one after I'd asked nicely many times. The balcony is only 30 sq ft and not someplace you'd hang out for very long. The real perk was being to open the sliding door to change the stale air.

Other than the aforementioned, the room was basically just for sleeping. We didn't hang out there much, although we did return for a power nap on a few afternoons. The rooms are small and definitely gives you great appreciation for those who have spent time in a spaceship! The TV was small, but adequate. We really didn't watch much. There is a channel for ship-related news and, thank God, FOX News was available 24/7! Sleep came easily and deeply. There was no discernible noise during the night and little during the day. If you do choose a balcony, just be aware that if you go on it and talk at more than a gentle whisper, your neighbor will hear every word!

Food: Make sure you down the Norwegian app and, if you plan on eating at any specialty restaurants, make your reservations early in the cruise. Of course, if you like dining at 10:00pm, don't worry about it. We failed to do so on this trip and missed out on some of the specialty dining experiences! We did eat in Le Bistro and La Cuchina and the food was ok, the service was better and the atmosphere was great. The serving were not so big, though, and a few times we found ourselves;vets in the Garden Café afterwards! So, in my opinion, you're not necessarily paying for the food, you are paying to get away from the maddening crowd at the complimentary places! Definitely worth the price of admission!

For complimentary venues, we ate at mostly the Garden Café on Deck 12 and secondly at the Summer Palace on Deck 6. The former is buffet-style; the latter is sit-down and order from a menu. The Garden Café was outstanding, but crowds make walking a challenge (especially with food in hand) and finding a table sometimes even more challenging. I guess it depends on ones' timing. I had a nice custom-made omelette every morning and crepes at night. The food was bountiful and quite delicious; there was always something different from the day before. You will definitely be eating on this cruise!

Activities: there is definitely plenty to do on this ship' something for everyone. I didn't go inside, but we walked past the library every day up on Deck 12. It was always filled with people plying board games or just reading. Immediately outside is the pool. Me? I do like to swim and consider myself to be a good swimmer, but honestly, I'd feel as if I were swimming in a Petri dish! The pool was often packed with all types of humanity and the adults-only hot tubs often had three foot children in them, so I did not enter the heavily-chlorinated waters (even though dared to do so). There's another sun deck above the pool area and I did go up there a day or two, but didn't feel liked getting burned to a crisp on this trip. Lounge chair hogs, as on all cruises, abound and unless you're up at 6:00am, you don't stand a chance of seeing a lounge chair in the pool area. People will clip their towels to the chair and then disappear for hours.

There were a number of 'seminars' like acupuncture that included a 'free 15 minute consultation,' leading to a $155 session! All the seminars are nice and can be informative, but the one and only real reason for being is to sell you, so, buyer beware.

Every evening in the stateroom there is left a newsletter for you of the following days events. Surely, there is something for everyone.

Casino: yes, there is a casino. Having earned an A in probability in college, I know that your odds of being struck by lightening under the Caribbean sky are better than are winning anything substantial in a casino. If you enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke or like it when it lingers on your clothing for days afterwards, then by all means go. Otherwise: bet with your head, not over it! For high rollers, there is a $3,000/ day limit on your key card.

Entertainment: unbelieveable! Can be Broadway-class entertainment. They had a comedian who turned out to be very funny, a stage production with singers and dancers and even a hypnotist. Nadeen, the Undisputed Queen of Hypnosis had the best act of all. Google this lady or check her out on Facebook or YouTube. Great act/great lady. The workers on board the ship possess some incredible talent as well. What a really wonderful group of people. One guy in particular is called Red. Watch for this guy...he's not only the nicest guy you'd ever wanna meet, but has incredible signing talent. On the second to last day, he belted out the song 'One in a Million You' to a packed audience in the Stardust Theatre who gave him a standing ovation. Red, he works in the Garden Café and the Summer Palace. Look for him - he's one guy that should quit his day job!

Excursions: We travel extensively with a group called Gate 1 Travel, so that is my experience with this kind of tourism. Honestly, the excursions don't come close. We go out on all of them (otherwise, we can't rightly claim the countries on our list of visits), but I gotta tell ya: if you don't have a list of countries visited or don't care about such things, you can easily save $1,000 by not leaving the ship. Not to mention that you can enjoy the absence of your fellow shipmates and maybe even get a poolside lounge chair! Sometimes the spa has special sales on port days as well. Just saying. Reminder: it seems that (with the exception of Aruba) port areas appear to be run down, neglected havens of potential criminal activity. If you think they won't make you as a mark or stupid American tourist, please think again. Don't ruin your vacation by wandering off on your own! Cruise lines will not advertise about their crime victims for obvious reasons, but if you do a little research you can easily see for yourself. Leave you stuff in the safe, keep your wallet in your front pocket and ladies, hold on to that purse. Bring out only what is absolutely necessary, don't advertise (flash money) and by all means be completely aware of your surroundings. You wanna go on a nice guided tour, check out Gate 1.

Disembarkation: they give you color codes for getting off the ship. Do you think anyone abides by them? Getting off can be a madhouse. We had code blue and there were people standing in line way in front of us with colours they had not yet called. Now if they made a Color line (blue stand here, red star there) or if they sent people back, well, that might just do the trick. We weren't in a rush, though, as we had plenty of time. We'd booked transportation back to MIA for the flight home. The worst part of the trip was all the laundry we had to do after we'd settled back in at home.

Bottom line: this is a great way to have a vacation. I only wish I had discovered cruising decades ago! Just be patient, exercise good judgement and never forget that a representative of every type of person that we share our space with is on board this boat. Some are more obvious than others. Have fun and don't forget your sunscreen!
jmd718’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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