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Norwegian Pearl Review

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
2311 reviews
6 Awards

Excellent cruise, if you don't need solid structure.

Review for Norwegian Pearl to the Panama Canal & Central America
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2-5 Cruises • Age 50s

Rating by category

Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Oct 2018
Cabin: Mid-Ship Inside
Sunrise off of Guatemala
Sunset off of Mexico
Looking aft over the pool deck at night.

I have cruised with Norwegian in the past.

I like their "Freestyle" format. There is no set dining time, but you may make reservations for most of the restaurants. The buffets are more than enough to keep you satisfied, but the "Pub" and dining halls are complementary and a nice change. This cruise was more sea days than port days due to a storm, 5 ports for a 14 day cruise, we had to miss Cabo, but of all the ports we were scheduled for, it was the one I was least likely to get much from.

Public area seating was generally good, a couple of activities underestimated the passenger response, but they made adjustments for later activities.

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Inside

Cabin IB

Good enough for 2, a bit small for 3. I would like a plug in near the head of the bed for my medical equipment, but I have an extension cord in my kit. I would much rather have had the extra shelf space than the minibar refrigerator. But on the whole it was more than an adequate space for us and what we needed a cabin for. I couldn't hear sounds from the neighboring cabins, just the background of the ships equipment.

Port Reviews

San Diego

Smaller boarding center, serving 2 ships. A little small for the purpose.

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

The normal cruise ship pier for this port was being repaired, so we were at an industrial dock area. There was a free shuttle to the "Tourist Center" with a nice park and the normal hawkers accosting you for t-shirts and the like. Prices were acceptable.

San Juan del Sur

This is a tendering port depending on your ship's tenders, not as nice as Grand Cayman, but workable. We had rough seas here (about 4-5 foot swell) and while we were delayed in going ashore, arrangements were made to extend our stay a few hours. Once again, with the usual hawkers in a pavilion as we came ashore, but walk about 20 meters away and the prices drop to about a third. Passport stamps can be found to the right as you leave the tendering pier in the fenced compound.

Walk North along the shoreline road and you will find bars and restaurants with $1 beers and free WiFi. Buy food from the restaurants, not the street vendors, I saw more than once a person filling beverage bottles and re-sealing the caps.

Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)

More beggars here than any other port on this cruise. I found the older buildings interesting, but the sales were more aggressive here than anywhere else. The further from the dock, the lower the price.

There was a woman at the beach end of the pier that did passport stamps at the waiting area for the shuttle. (It's a long pier.)

Cartagena (Colombia)

While you may want to take a trip into the old town for the history. I was content with the "Oasis" that they have set up just south of the pier. A nice gift shop with jewelry, t-shirts, and souvenirs is there, but just the the right of the shop entrance is "Juan Valdez Coffee", The frozen coffee is a wonderful refresher, but get the freeze dried coffee with cocoa, if the crew hasn't bought it all first.

A small nature preserve is on site with more parrots than you can count.


Deboarding started about an hour late, and the location is not good traffic wise. Reasonably close to the airport.

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