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We haven't been on a cruise in 15 years mostly because I didn't have fond memories of the last one we went on (also a Norwegian cruise), but we wanted to see Alaska and couldn't think of a better way to see it. This has cured me of wanted to go on a cruise again. And, this was not an inexpensive vacation, so it was overall disappointing. First, I will say the staff and crew work incredibly hard to make sure you are comfortable and entertained. It's just that the entertainment was mostly designed for an older crowd and centered around selling, selling, selling you Norwegian products. I felt like I was in a 7-day time-share sales pitch. Or, an episode of Golden Corral R Us. You are stuck on the boat for 1 and a half days to start out with activities like shuffleboard, bingo (for a cost), knitting/crocheting, learning the foxtrot, a casino, and tips on booking your next cruise. Then again, at the end of the cruise, you are stuck for another day with more of the same. We had a mid-ship mini-suite with a balcony, and the room was the best part of the cruise. It was not super-spacious, but didn't make us feel claustrophobic. Plenty of storage. The bed was horrifically firm, so my back was not happy about that. But, our cabin steward was wonderful and did a great job cleaning up the room.. So, there were a lot of older people on this cruise, which is fine and expected, but most of them, it seems, had purchased the ultimate drink package, and they fully intended to get their money's worth. Seriously, some of these people started drinking the minute they boarded and proceeded to say soused the entire time - some got meaner and more aggressive the more they drank. Dining was an experience. Most people chose the Garden Café for breakfast and lunch as it had a buffet and was the easiest choice. While they had plenty of options on the buffet, it seemed to be leftovers from the previous night's dining choices. I realized they were feeding over 3000 people on the ship, but the food wasn't great in the complimentary dining venues. And the decorum of some of the passengers left a lot to be desired - people were up there in house slippers and onesies. Plus. there was never enough seating in the Garden Café for all the people who were in there at a time, so we mainly opted to carry our food back to our room to eat. We tried 3 of the specialty restaurants - Teppanyaki, La Cucina, and Moderno. They were actually quite good and much better than the main dining rooms. Moderno was probably the busiest, so I'd suggest making a reservation before you embark. We would have like to have had more time in a couple of the ports. Seems like we had the longest amount of time in Skagway, which was the least impressive as far as the actual town. Ketchican and Victoria, BC, were both more interesting, but we had half a day in Ketchican and didn't arrive in Victoria until 6:00 at night. For shore excursions, we chose the Whale Watch and Glacier tour in Juneau. The whale watch was good, but I don't think you need the glacier part since you see lots of glaciers when the ship goes into glacier bay. In Skagway, we chose the 4x4 mountain driving that was the highlight of our trip. However, keep in mind that you have to take a 45-minute ferry to a small town, then a 25-minute bus trip, to where you do this excursion. So, you are only driving the 4x4 for about an hour. They do feed you an excellent lunch, though. In Ketchican, we chose the Lumberjack Show - it was like a Disney version of lumberjacks, and you should save your money. In Victoria, we paid a taxi driver to show us the island (not cruise-sponsored), and he did an excellent job of hitting the highlights and suggesting a wonderful dinner restaurant. THat was well-worth the $180 he charged and enabled us to see lots of the island before it got dark at 8:30 or so. We were glad we got to see Alaska and Victoria, BC, and we enjoyed our short stay in Seattle prior to the cruise. However, we would not go on this cruise again, and probably not any cruise in the foreseeable future.

Geared for an older crowd

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by bobjenky

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
We haven't been on a cruise in 15 years mostly because I didn't have fond memories of the last one we went on (also a Norwegian cruise), but we wanted to see Alaska and couldn't think of a better way to see it. This has cured me of wanted to go on a cruise again. And, this was not an inexpensive vacation, so it was overall disappointing.

First, I will say the staff and crew work incredibly hard to make sure you are comfortable and entertained. It's just that the entertainment was mostly designed for an older crowd and centered around selling, selling, selling you Norwegian products. I felt like I was in a 7-day time-share sales pitch. Or, an episode of Golden Corral R Us.

You are stuck on the boat for 1 and a half days to start out with activities like shuffleboard, bingo (for a cost), knitting/crocheting, learning the foxtrot, a casino, and tips on booking your next cruise. Then again, at the end of the cruise, you are stuck for another day with more of the same.

We had a mid-ship mini-suite with a balcony, and the room was the best part of the cruise. It was not super-spacious, but didn't make us feel claustrophobic. Plenty of storage. The bed was horrifically firm, so my back was not happy about that. But, our cabin steward was wonderful and did a great job cleaning up the room..

So, there were a lot of older people on this cruise, which is fine and expected, but most of them, it seems, had purchased the ultimate drink package, and they fully intended to get their money's worth. Seriously, some of these people started drinking the minute they boarded and proceeded to say soused the entire time - some got meaner and more aggressive the more they drank.

Dining was an experience. Most people chose the Garden Café for breakfast and lunch as it had a buffet and was the easiest choice. While they had plenty of options on the buffet, it seemed to be leftovers from the previous night's dining choices. I realized they were feeding over 3000 people on the ship, but the food wasn't great in the complimentary dining venues. And the decorum of some of the passengers left a lot to be desired - people were up there in house slippers and onesies. Plus. there was never enough seating in the Garden Café for all the people who were in there at a time, so we mainly opted to carry our food back to our room to eat.

We tried 3 of the specialty restaurants - Teppanyaki, La Cucina, and Moderno. They were actually quite good and much better than the main dining rooms. Moderno was probably the busiest, so I'd suggest making a reservation before you embark.

We would have like to have had more time in a couple of the ports. Seems like we had the longest amount of time in Skagway, which was the least impressive as far as the actual town. Ketchican and Victoria, BC, were both more interesting, but we had half a day in Ketchican and didn't arrive in Victoria until 6:00 at night.

For shore excursions, we chose the Whale Watch and Glacier tour in Juneau. The whale watch was good, but I don't think you need the glacier part since you see lots of glaciers when the ship goes into glacier bay. In Skagway, we chose the 4x4 mountain driving that was the highlight of our trip. However, keep in mind that you have to take a 45-minute ferry to a small town, then a 25-minute bus trip, to where you do this excursion. So, you are only driving the 4x4 for about an hour. They do feed you an excellent lunch, though. In Ketchican, we chose the Lumberjack Show - it was like a Disney version of lumberjacks, and you should save your money. In Victoria, we paid a taxi driver to show us the island (not cruise-sponsored), and he did an excellent job of hitting the highlights and suggesting a wonderful dinner restaurant. THat was well-worth the $180 he charged and enabled us to see lots of the island before it got dark at 8:30 or so.

We were glad we got to see Alaska and Victoria, BC, and we enjoyed our short stay in Seattle prior to the cruise. However, we would not go on this cruise again, and probably not any cruise in the foreseeable future.
bobjenky’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11078
This cabin was in a excellent location. Right down the hall from the mid-ship elevators. On the 11th floor, so a quick walk up the stairs to the Garden Café where most people eat breakfast and lunch. Easy to access O'Sheehans (8th floor) and the Atrium (7th Floor). Plenty of storage for 2 people and lots of electrical outlets. Can't imagine having more than 2 people in this room, though. The bathroom had a small bathtub/shower, which was nice, but the side of the bathtub was incredibly high and might be hard for someone with a disability to use. This room must have been built right under a water pipe as you constantly heard water flowing.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Glacier Bay
    You are on the boat the whole time -so no opportunity to do a shore excursion. Very scenic views of the many tidal glaciers in the bay. A park ranger gives descriptions and information over the ship's speakers to narrate the journey
    View All 746 Glacier Bay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Glacier Bay Cruise Port Review
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    The Mendenhall Glacier part was just OK. They have a 25 minute hike up a hill/mountain/25-minute hike down, but you only have 1 hour there. You can just view the glacier from the bottom and then take an elevator to the gift shop and movie.
    View All 889 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Whale Watching
    The whale-watching part was good. We got to see several whale feeding and diving. The boat operator was experienced, and there was a naturalist on board to explain what we were seeing and give information on whales and other sea life. The bus ride to the board was about 25-minutes. The boat had comfortable indoor seating with windows all around for maximum viewing, and a concession stand with hot food, snacks, and drinks (coffee and donuts were complimentary).
    View All 841 Whale Watching Reviews
  • Lumberjack Show
    So, the cruise description said this was steps from the boat, but in reality it was several city block from where we docked. Not a hard walk, but not what was described. Also, from the pictures, this looked like you were out in the woods watching this, but in reality it was all staged and Disney-fied. I would not go to this again.
    View All 302 Lumberjack Show Reviews
  • 4x4 Tour
    This was very fun. however, you have to ride on a 45-minute ferry to and from Haines, AK to do this, and then another 25 minute bus ride to and from the site. So, you are only on the 4x4s for about an hour. It's mostly up and down a mountain with scenic views - no wildlife. The tour operators feed you a wonderful lunch at their lodge about half-way up. This was a highlight of our cruise.
    View All 33 4x4 Tour Reviews
  • Victoria
    We got a taxi from the port, and he offered to show us the highlights of Victoria for $180 in cash. Since the cruise docked at 6 pm and there was only a couple of hours of daylight, this was a good choice. He was very personable and knowledgeable. He stopped when we wanted to take photos and even dropped us off at a nice restaurant for dinner. Since there wasn't much time, we opted not to go to Butchart Gardens, but he would have dropped us off there if we had asked. Highly recommend doing your own thing in Victoria.
    View All 12,983 Victoria Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Victoria Cruise Port Review