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We chose this cruise mostly because of the date (Saturday - Saturday over Christmas), and the starting location of New Orleans was easy for our whole family to get to. We were traveling with a group of 8, some first-time cruisers, and some cruising pros. Everyone was satisfied with our experience on board the Pearl. I had read that embarkation at New Orleans can be difficult, so I was concerned about that, but everything went smoothly. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on Julia St, so it was only about a 10min walk to the cruise terminal. The entire process from bag drop to waiting area probably took about 20 min. The Pearl was beautiful, and everything looked new. The Spinnaker Lounge had also just gone through a complete makeover. The ship was easy to navigate, and we found plenty to do. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin, which was an Inside Stateroom. The decor featured multiple mirrors, which I think helped to make the space feel less cramped. The bed was also surprisingly comfortable - I wanted to take the pillows home! We never saw our room steward but our cabin was always ready for us when we returned, and was turned down every evening. Our group chose not to eat in the specialty restaurants, so we made reservations for the main dining rooms (Summer Palace and Indigo) as soon as we got on board the first day. For smaller groups, I don't think reservations would be necessary, but for 8 we definitely needed them. We found the food to be good, and enjoyed the variety of the changing menus. We had a couple of strange service moments when ordering wine at dinner, and it seemed like the servers weren't used to groups of our size ordering individual glasses rather than bottles. However, we all had the Unlimited Beverage Package as a booking perk, so we wanted to stick to drinks that were included! As other reviewers have stated, desserts are a weak point on the menu. For example, Cherries Jubilee was an option the first night, but it was just warm cherries and ice cream in a bowl. Nothing on fire. It tasted ok, but was a ultimately disappointing. The shows were entertaining, but just ok. Each night, there was a game show between the two main shows, and these were hilarious - the Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Game, the Perfect Couple, Battle of the Sexes - I would highly recommend these. We also participated in trivia, a salsa dance class, and a few of the themed parties, which were fun. All of the crew were incredibly friendly and helpful, and we never experienced bad service. The ship was decorated for Christmas, with trees and garland all over. Many of the crew were also wearing Santa hats for the first few days. We booked shore excursions at each port, and were happy with all 4. I would recommend any of them to future cruisers. We did the Atlantis Submarine in Cozumel, South Shore Zipline Adventure in Roatan, Cave Tubing & Rainforest Trek in Belize City, and Catamaran Cruise & Snorkel in Costa Maya. We had originally booked Tulum for our day in Cozumel on 12/25, but were notified 10 days before sailing that the excursion had been cancelled due to the holiday. This was frustrating since the Christmas holiday should not be a surprise, and we felt that NCL should have known this sooner. However, our second pick, the Atlantis Submarine, was an amazing experience! Overall, this was a great Christmas cruise!

Amazing Christmas Cruise!

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by basicprincess24

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside
We chose this cruise mostly because of the date (Saturday - Saturday over Christmas), and the starting location of New Orleans was easy for our whole family to get to. We were traveling with a group of 8, some first-time cruisers, and some cruising pros. Everyone was satisfied with our experience on board the Pearl.

I had read that embarkation at New Orleans can be difficult, so I was concerned about that, but everything went smoothly. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on Julia St, so it was only about a 10min walk to the cruise terminal. The entire process from bag drop to waiting area probably took about 20 min.

The Pearl was beautiful, and everything looked new. The Spinnaker Lounge had also just gone through a complete makeover. The ship was easy to navigate, and we found plenty to do.

We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin, which was an Inside Stateroom. The decor featured multiple mirrors, which I think helped to make the space feel less cramped. The bed was also surprisingly comfortable - I wanted to take the pillows home! We never saw our room steward but our cabin was always ready for us when we returned, and was turned down every evening.

Our group chose not to eat in the specialty restaurants, so we made reservations for the main dining rooms (Summer Palace and Indigo) as soon as we got on board the first day. For smaller groups, I don't think reservations would be necessary, but for 8 we definitely needed them. We found the food to be good, and enjoyed the variety of the changing menus. We had a couple of strange service moments when ordering wine at dinner, and it seemed like the servers weren't used to groups of our size ordering individual glasses rather than bottles. However, we all had the Unlimited Beverage Package as a booking perk, so we wanted to stick to drinks that were included! As other reviewers have stated, desserts are a weak point on the menu. For example, Cherries Jubilee was an option the first night, but it was just warm cherries and ice cream in a bowl. Nothing on fire. It tasted ok, but was a ultimately disappointing.

The shows were entertaining, but just ok. Each night, there was a game show between the two main shows, and these were hilarious - the Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Game, the Perfect Couple, Battle of the Sexes - I would highly recommend these. We also participated in trivia, a salsa dance class, and a few of the themed parties, which were fun.

All of the crew were incredibly friendly and helpful, and we never experienced bad service. The ship was decorated for Christmas, with trees and garland all over. Many of the crew were also wearing Santa hats for the first few days.

We booked shore excursions at each port, and were happy with all 4. I would recommend any of them to future cruisers. We did the Atlantis Submarine in Cozumel, South Shore Zipline Adventure in Roatan, Cave Tubing & Rainforest Trek in Belize City, and Catamaran Cruise & Snorkel in Costa Maya.

We had originally booked Tulum for our day in Cozumel on 12/25, but were notified 10 days before sailing that the excursion had been cancelled due to the holiday. This was frustrating since the Christmas holiday should not be a surprise, and we felt that NCL should have known this sooner. However, our second pick, the Atlantis Submarine, was an amazing experience!

Overall, this was a great Christmas cruise!
basicprincess24’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Inside
Cabin IA 10109
We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin, which was an Inside Stateroom. The decor featured multiple mirrors, which I think helped to make the space feel less cramped. The bed was also surprisingly comfortable - I wanted to take the pillows home! We never saw our room steward but our cabin was always ready for us when we returned, and was turned down every evening.

One odd thing was that the toilet in the bathroom was turned at an angle, as though it was really too large for the small size of the bathroom.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cave-Tubing
    This was a great excursion. The tubing site is about an hour away by bus, but it was a nice charter-style bus, and our guide provided information about the sights for the entire hour, including the history and culture of Belize. Throughout the day, you'll move through the site as a bus group. Once we arrived at the site, the group transfers to an old school bus for a brief 1 min ride over a steep, muddy hill (thrilling!). There are lockers available for a small fee, as well as restrooms and changing rooms. I believe most groups go right to the river for tubing, but there were a lot of guests coming through the day we were there, so our bus had lunch first. The food was delicious - stewed chicken, rice & beans, and cucumber cole slaw. Belizean beer and Coke products were available for purchase, and so were tacos if you wanted some extra food. After lunch, we were divided into groups of 8 and assigned a cave guide. The bus guide also serves as the final cave guide for the bus group, so no one gets left behind. Your cave guide fits you for a helmet, life jacket, and inner tube, and you begin the rainforest trek portion of the experience. You do carry your own tube for the walk, which takes about 30 min. You cross the river (no bridge!) then walk through the jungle on a dirt path until you reach the entry point. The guide will tie all 8 tubes together, and pull the group through the cave. The water is refreshing, and mostly slow-moving so it is a pretty relaxing experience, but there are a lot of people in the cave at once, so it was hard to hear our guide at times. We were late getting back to the ship, but since we booked through NCL they held the last tender for us.
    View All 334 Cave-Tubing Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    We booked the "Catamaran Cruise & Snorkel." Your snorkel guides greet you as pirates when you arrive at the pier, which was a little odd. The catamaran ride out to the snorkel site takes about 45 min, during which time you receive your mask, lifejacket, and brand new packaged snorkel, which you can take home. This is a nice touch. They split everyone into three groups, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Our family of first-timers were in the beginner group, which stayed closest to the catamaran. Our guide, Michelle, was amazing, making sure everyone was having a good time and not having any problems. We had three people who couldn't snorkel on their own, so Michelle let them hang onto a life preserver that she pulled around so they could still enjoy the excursion. We saw a lot of fish and coral, and the water was so clear and beautiful! On the ride back, the guides offer complimentary beer and Mexican Coke products. The Catamaran ride was a little rough, so those prone to seasickness should be aware.
    View All 78 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Submarine Tour
    The entire experience was very professional and organized. The tour meets at the pier, and then the group takes taxis to the Atlantis submarine office for a safety briefing. After taking a photo (available for purchase for $12), you board a small boat for the ride out to the submarine. The boat docks to the submarine, and then you board the submarine. There is quite a bit of movement on the boat while docked to the submarine, so those prone to seasickness should take dramamine or similar. The submarine is quite comfortable, and every two people have a port hole to see out of. We saw a lot of fish, and 3 sting rays! We also saw a lot of coral, the drop off, and a ship wreck. We went to a depth of 100 ft! A great excursion for all ages, but must be mobile enough to climb down a ladder into the submarine. Complimentary rum punch was provided for the return boat trip from the submarine, and we were provided with taxis back to the port.
    View All 84 Submarine Tour Reviews
  • New Orleans
    We took this walking tour the day before embarkation. The tour guide was very informative and it was really neat to see the cemetery and learn about the unique history of burial in New Orleans.
    View All 13,197 New Orleans Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's New Orleans Cruise Port Review
  • City Tour
    Tour guide was a New Orleans native with lots of information to provide and personal stories to tell. Mostly on a bus, but also included a stop at City Park for beignets and a short walk though St Louis 3 cemetery. Ended at the airport.
    View All 45 City Tour Reviews
  • Ziplining
    An awesome first zipline experience. 11 ziplines - the first is short, and not too far off the ground, which is great to practice the technique. The final line is about 1000 ft long and pretty fast! The guides were professional and fun, and were careful to ensure everyone's safety. There was a smaller child in our group (probably about 9 yrs old), so our guide did every run with him so the child wouldn't get stuck in the middle. They also offered to do a trick run with you, where the guide would flip you upside down for one run! You could see the gorgeous ocean over the trees as you zipped.
    View All 167 Ziplining Reviews