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Embarkation began at about 11:30 am so I would not recommend checking in before 11:00. We checked in at about 11:00 and got onto the ship about 45 minutes later. There are a few free activities but many of them try to sell you something such as $200 insoles. I did attend stretching and abdomen fitness classes (~20 minutes each at 7 am) that were pretty good. Bingo costs $39 for 3 cards to $69 for 8 cards and a t-shirt. The evening entertainment was okay (comedian) to great (Legends concert) and lasts about 45 minutes. I don't have any children but the supervised children's activities were listed to only go only a few hours in the evening (during the show times). There was one 1/2 hour play session for children under 3 and their parents each day. We did 3 of the ship's shore excursion since we had the $50 off (per room) promotion. Most of the ports had 4 cruise ships docked at one time so while it may be possible to purchase an excursion when you get there, we wanted to know ahead of time when the excursion would leave. A note about the 'all you can drink' promotion: you will be charged $200 gratuity when you book it. We saved $150 off the excursions which was credited correctly and spent way less than $350 for drinks. Bottled water, can soda, and wine bottles are not included in the package. We purchased a water bottle package before we left and the bottles were in our cabin when we got there. We had our cabin steward take away the mini-bar stuff and used the small refrigerator for our water. A bottle of water bought after you get onto the ship is $5.50. You can go to a bar to get a drink but I didn't see anyone serving drinks in the buffet or in the lounges. The water in the cabin tastes like chlorine. The buffet had flavored water and lemonade which were good. Several years ago a friend tried to smuggle some wine in her checked suitcase on a Norwegian ship and got sent to the 'naughty room' for suitcase inspection. I believe that they still x-ray all checked and carry-on luggage. You are not allowed to bring any beverages on board (even an open bottle of water) and all packages are x-rayed each time you get onboard at all ports. There are many ships that go to Alaska in the summer. The reason for the short times in the ports is they usually have 4 ships there and 2 groups of ships every day. The Pearl had an early time to be in Glacier bay and we were there for several hours. We did not get very close to the glaciers but could certainly see them. I did not see any wildlife except some birds. We were the only ship in the bay but another ship was cruising in as we were leaving. The food was about as I expected. I sailed on the MSC Divina a couple of years ago where the food was very cheap and not so good (cruise was also much cheaper). There was a good variety in the buffet and the food in the complimentary dining rooms was good, but not great. At the buffet there was always seating for our large group toward the back in La Cucina restaurant (open for buffet people to use for breakfast and lunch). There was no kind of chicken soup and the pecan pie was so bad it could not be eaten. I ordered steak twice in the complementary dining rooms and the cuts were poor for the type of meat listed on the menu. However, most of the food I tried was good. Don't expect any crab legs, lobster, fancy fish, or anything like baked Alaska, just plain food with some extra garnishes and fancy names. We ate once in a restaurant where we paid extra and the meat there was excellent. While most of the staff was very accommodating, we did have a problem with the photographers. On all cruises, photographers are always trying to take a photo so we let them but don't usually buy them. We were a family group of over 20 people ranging in age from 1 to 88. We decided to get a family group photo one afternoon because in the evening we have dinner, go to the 7:30 show, then the older ones retire to their rooms. We showed up at the photography area on the ship (where there are photography backdrops) at 4 pm. Although there were 2 photographers there, they said they don't do photos until the evening. They said they couldn't take our photo because they didn't have a camera and would not take one with our phones. I don't blame the photographers and think Norwegian has a lot of rules the staff has to follow. But this one doesn't make any sense. Needless to say we did not allow them to take anymore photos and we certainly didn't buy any. We ended up having others take our photo since everyone was together and had gotten ready for the photo. Our cabin steward, Rolley, was friendly and accommodating. One thing everyone should know about the cabins. They don't use mattress pads or pillow protectors, only sheets and pillowcases. I got a nasty cold about 4 days into the cruise (yes, the ship is germy in spite of the washy washy guys) and cough into my pillow and in the room for 3 days. I am not a germaphobic but I use a mattress pad and pillow protector in my home where the same people sleep in the beds every night. No egg crate mattress pads are available on the Pearl although I had ordered one when I booked the cruise. However, the mattress was not real hard and okay to sleep on. Disembarkation went smoothly. I think you need to be out of the cabins by 8:30 am and off the ship by 9:30 am. Alaska has great natural beauty and is a place everyone should see sometime in their lifetime. A cruise is a great way to see a little bit of it.

Alaska was beautiful, ship was okay

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by cruiser241

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2017
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Inside
Embarkation began at about 11:30 am so I would not recommend checking in before 11:00. We checked in at about 11:00 and got onto the ship about 45 minutes later. There are a few free activities but many of them try to sell you something such as $200 insoles. I did attend stretching and abdomen fitness classes (~20 minutes each at 7 am) that were pretty good. Bingo costs $39 for 3 cards to $69 for 8 cards and a t-shirt. The evening entertainment was okay (comedian) to great (Legends concert) and lasts about 45 minutes. I don't have any children but the supervised children's activities were listed to only go only a few hours in the evening (during the show times). There was one 1/2 hour play session for children under 3 and their parents each day. We did 3 of the ship's shore excursion since we had the $50 off (per room) promotion. Most of the ports had 4 cruise ships docked at one time so while it may be possible to purchase an excursion when you get there, we wanted to know ahead of time when the excursion would leave. A note about the 'all you can drink' promotion: you will be charged $200 gratuity when you book it. We saved $150 off the excursions which was credited correctly and spent way less than $350 for drinks. Bottled water, can soda, and wine bottles are not included in the package. We purchased a water bottle package before we left and the bottles were in our cabin when we got there. We had our cabin steward take away the mini-bar stuff and used the small refrigerator for our water. A bottle of water bought after you get onto the ship is $5.50. You can go to a bar to get a drink but I didn't see anyone serving drinks in the buffet or in the lounges. The water in the cabin tastes like chlorine. The buffet had flavored water and lemonade which were good. Several years ago a friend tried to smuggle some wine in her checked suitcase on a Norwegian ship and got sent to the 'naughty room' for suitcase inspection. I believe that they still x-ray all checked and carry-on luggage. You are not allowed to bring any beverages on board (even an open bottle of water) and all packages are x-rayed each time you get onboard at all ports.

There are many ships that go to Alaska in the summer. The reason for the short times in the ports is they usually have 4 ships there and 2 groups of ships every day. The Pearl had an early time to be in Glacier bay and we were there for several hours. We did not get very close to the glaciers but could certainly see them. I did not see any wildlife except some birds. We were the only ship in the bay but another ship was cruising in as we were leaving.

The food was about as I expected. I sailed on the MSC Divina a couple of years ago where the food was very cheap and not so good (cruise was also much cheaper). There was a good variety in the buffet and the food in the complimentary dining rooms was good, but not great. At the buffet there was always seating for our large group toward the back in La Cucina restaurant (open for buffet people to use for breakfast and lunch). There was no kind of chicken soup and the pecan pie was so bad it could not be eaten. I ordered steak twice in the complementary dining rooms and the cuts were poor for the type of meat listed on the menu. However, most of the food I tried was good. Don't expect any crab legs, lobster, fancy fish, or anything like baked Alaska, just plain food with some extra garnishes and fancy names. We ate once in a restaurant where we paid extra and the meat there was excellent.

While most of the staff was very accommodating, we did have a problem with the photographers. On all cruises, photographers are always trying to take a photo so we let them but don't usually buy them. We were a family group of over 20 people ranging in age from 1 to 88. We decided to get a family group photo one afternoon because in the evening we have dinner, go to the 7:30 show, then the older ones retire to their rooms. We showed up at the photography area on the ship (where there are photography backdrops) at 4 pm. Although there were 2 photographers there, they said they don't do photos until the evening. They said they couldn't take our photo because they didn't have a camera and would not take one with our phones. I don't blame the photographers and think Norwegian has a lot of rules the staff has to follow. But this one doesn't make any sense. Needless to say we did not allow them to take anymore photos and we certainly didn't buy any. We ended up having others take our photo since everyone was together and had gotten ready for the photo.

Our cabin steward, Rolley, was friendly and accommodating. One thing everyone should know about the cabins. They don't use mattress pads or pillow protectors, only sheets and pillowcases. I got a nasty cold about 4 days into the cruise (yes, the ship is germy in spite of the washy washy guys) and cough into my pillow and in the room for 3 days. I am not a germaphobic but I use a mattress pad and pillow protector in my home where the same people sleep in the beds every night. No egg crate mattress pads are available on the Pearl although I had ordered one when I booked the cruise. However, the mattress was not real hard and okay to sleep on.

Disembarkation went smoothly. I think you need to be out of the cabins by 8:30 am and off the ship by 9:30 am. Alaska has great natural beauty and is a place everyone should see sometime in their lifetime. A cruise is a great way to see a little bit of it.
cruiser241’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Mendenhall Glacier
    The glacier was beautiful. We chose to walk to the waterfall area so we didn't have much time for the visitor's building.
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  • Mount Roberts Tramway
    The view at the top of the mountain was wonderful. We went in the afternoon and there was a very long line to take the tram down because there were four ships in the port. The line went down after we were there for a while. A shuttle bus takes you back to the ship.
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  • Duck Tour
    The duck tour was fun and included going on the roads to see some of the town and in the water.
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  • Seattle
    We did this after we got off the ship. I did this tour several years ago and wanted to do it with my husband. Unfortunately, it has gone way down hill. Although they say the areas are connected (and they are) we had to go above ground and cross streets about 3 times during the tour. We were in the below ground areas only a short amount of time and very little was said about the artifacts and areas. The beginning of the tour where everyone was in the same room was the best part and told about the great Seattle fire. The rest of the tour was less than 45 minutes for our group (one out of four) and the guide said more about what was in the gift ship that the last underground area. Really disappointing.
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    View Cruise Critic's Seattle Cruise Port Review
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    We took the railway one way and saw several different climate zones. There is a lot to see although I didn't see any wildlife. I wore a lightweight down coat, hat, and gloves (in July) so I could stand outside for much of the trip. This is one of the best railroad trip a person can experience.
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  • Yukon Suspension Bridge
    The bus ride from the end of the white pass scenic railway include a stop at a suspension bride for about an hour. There is a lot to see there including a replication of an Alaskan miner's cabin. The bus driver gave a good narration of the history and sights along the road.
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