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I spent 4 days on the Norwegian Pearl with a group of 11 other college students. We chose this cruise for its price, and because it would allow those in our group who were under 21 to cruise without their parents (we would have chosen Carnival instead had they allowed it, I think). But this ended up being a really nice choice and despite some hurdles we all had a great time. The purchase and online check-in were pretty painless and straightforward. The cheapest option was to split our group into three groups of four in interior cabins. As Florida residents, we weren't interested in spending time in Tampa so we showed up close to departure. The check in process was pretty painless too, except for one member of our group who is in the US on a student visa. The check in desk bungled her process pretty badly and kept repeatedly telling her that her papers were expired even though she had everything together and it clearly said on the front of her papers that they weren't set to expire for quite a while. She spent a good half hour scared that she wasn't going to be allowed to get on the ship. When we got onboard we went straight to our cabins, which were a little cramped but still comfortable. Our room had two twin beds set up when we walked in and when we came back later our luggage had shown up and an attendant had set up a third bed in the middle and pulled a fourth bed down from the wall. Everyone had space to sleep but it was a little tricky managing four people plus four people's luggage in such a small area. It was a little disorienting to wake up at 10am and have your room be pitch black, but that comes with the territory of not having a window. The ship looks like it was decorated at least 20 years ago and some of the carpet is peeling but overall it was clean and nice to explore. The food is plentiful and pretty decent, and all the staff I met were very sweet. There are two pools on the top deck, and four hot tubs with a small covered stage in the middle. They blast music from there from 11 to 1 every day and it's a little obnoxious, but people have a pretty good time to it. The drinks are expensive and light. If you want a spot in a hot tub or a nice spot on the deck you have to get there early or fight for it. There are a lot of people who camp out in the hot tubs for hours and won't leave, and if there are too many in there a lifeguard will come over and tell you to clear out. They spend as much time doing that and patrolling the deck as they did watching the water, which peeved me a little as a lifeguard myself. There wasn't much going on in the pools, though, as they were pretty cold and the weather took a bit to warm up. Also, we didn't find out until we got onboard that this was supposed to be a Trailer Park Boys themed cruise that didn't sell out completely. That explained all the camo people were wearing. Probably about half the ship was there for that, a quarter were students on spring break, and the rest were families. The arcade was great fun and we played a lot of air hockey and guitar hero. We really enjoyed the rock wall too. Most of us only managed to attend one show on board - the magic show - which was cute but overall pretty mediocre. It felt a bit like we were just killing time. We showed up to the Spinnaker Lounge for a scavenger hunt event that seemingly never happened. The club is nice but the music is a bit iffy (a lot of Bruno Mars remixes, for some reason). So overall the entertainment provided was a bit scarce but we made our own fun. And there's plenty of room for it. The decks are great to explore and the ocean is really beautiful, plus you can play shuffleboard or giant chess while you're watching the horizon. The ship seems to shut down at night for cleaning so there are no chairs on deck or anything but the employees don't seem to mind if you're out there. As for the food, we had a dinner reservation at the Summer Palace dining room every night so we could all eat together. Every single night without fail they claimed that our reservation didn't exist. Luckily we had printed out papers that showed otherwise, but it was a bit annoying. We probably could have sat together on most nights without a reservation anyways since it seemed to be pretty empty. The food was pretty good but not great, but there was a lot of it and the staff were super sweet once we were sitting. We had lunch at Lotus Garden one day where the food was a bit disappointing, and had the rest of our meals at Summer Palace or the buffet. The soft serve machines sprinkled through the buffet were a big hit, as were the employees strumming a guitar at the entrance. We were supposed to hit Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island but got diverted due to weather. They automatically refunded our excursion reservations and we didn't have to do anything but wait to arrive somewhere else. We ended up spending about three hours in Freeport instead, where we took a taxi to the beach and had a great time. Most people were angry with how long it took to get off the boat (an extra 4 hours to get to Freeport, plus another 1.5 to set up the gangway) but I'm sure a lot of that was logistical considerations. It would have been nice if it had gone a bit more smoothly, but what can you do? Overall it was a nice first cruise experience and a really good time, especially for the price.

Didn't expect the Trailer Park Boys, but still great value

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by lutzd

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Bahamas
I spent 4 days on the Norwegian Pearl with a group of 11 other college students. We chose this cruise for its price, and because it would allow those in our group who were under 21 to cruise without their parents (we would have chosen Carnival instead had they allowed it, I think). But this ended up being a really nice choice and despite some hurdles we all had a great time.

The purchase and online check-in were pretty painless and straightforward. The cheapest option was to split our group into three groups of four in interior cabins. As Florida residents, we weren't interested in spending time in Tampa so we showed up close to departure. The check in process was pretty painless too, except for one member of our group who is in the US on a student visa. The check in desk bungled her process pretty badly and kept repeatedly telling her that her papers were expired even though she had everything together and it clearly said on the front of her papers that they weren't set to expire for quite a while. She spent a good half hour scared that she wasn't going to be allowed to get on the ship.

When we got onboard we went straight to our cabins, which were a little cramped but still comfortable. Our room had two twin beds set up when we walked in and when we came back later our luggage had shown up and an attendant had set up a third bed in the middle and pulled a fourth bed down from the wall. Everyone had space to sleep but it was a little tricky managing four people plus four people's luggage in such a small area. It was a little disorienting to wake up at 10am and have your room be pitch black, but that comes with the territory of not having a window.

The ship looks like it was decorated at least 20 years ago and some of the carpet is peeling but overall it was clean and nice to explore. The food is plentiful and pretty decent, and all the staff I met were very sweet. There are two pools on the top deck, and four hot tubs with a small covered stage in the middle. They blast music from there from 11 to 1 every day and it's a little obnoxious, but people have a pretty good time to it. The drinks are expensive and light. If you want a spot in a hot tub or a nice spot on the deck you have to get there early or fight for it. There are a lot of people who camp out in the hot tubs for hours and won't leave, and if there are too many in there a lifeguard will come over and tell you to clear out. They spend as much time doing that and patrolling the deck as they did watching the water, which peeved me a little as a lifeguard myself. There wasn't much going on in the pools, though, as they were pretty cold and the weather took a bit to warm up. Also, we didn't find out until we got onboard that this was supposed to be a Trailer Park Boys themed cruise that didn't sell out completely. That explained all the camo people were wearing. Probably about half the ship was there for that, a quarter were students on spring break, and the rest were families.

The arcade was great fun and we played a lot of air hockey and guitar hero. We really enjoyed the rock wall too. Most of us only managed to attend one show on board - the magic show - which was cute but overall pretty mediocre. It felt a bit like we were just killing time. We showed up to the Spinnaker Lounge for a scavenger hunt event that seemingly never happened. The club is nice but the music is a bit iffy (a lot of Bruno Mars remixes, for some reason). So overall the entertainment provided was a bit scarce but we made our own fun. And there's plenty of room for it. The decks are great to explore and the ocean is really beautiful, plus you can play shuffleboard or giant chess while you're watching the horizon. The ship seems to shut down at night for cleaning so there are no chairs on deck or anything but the employees don't seem to mind if you're out there.

As for the food, we had a dinner reservation at the Summer Palace dining room every night so we could all eat together. Every single night without fail they claimed that our reservation didn't exist. Luckily we had printed out papers that showed otherwise, but it was a bit annoying. We probably could have sat together on most nights without a reservation anyways since it seemed to be pretty empty. The food was pretty good but not great, but there was a lot of it and the staff were super sweet once we were sitting. We had lunch at Lotus Garden one day where the food was a bit disappointing, and had the rest of our meals at Summer Palace or the buffet. The soft serve machines sprinkled through the buffet were a big hit, as were the employees strumming a guitar at the entrance.

We were supposed to hit Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island but got diverted due to weather. They automatically refunded our excursion reservations and we didn't have to do anything but wait to arrive somewhere else. We ended up spending about three hours in Freeport instead, where we took a taxi to the beach and had a great time. Most people were angry with how long it took to get off the boat (an extra 4 hours to get to Freeport, plus another 1.5 to set up the gangway) but I'm sure a lot of that was logistical considerations. It would have been nice if it had gone a bit more smoothly, but what can you do? Overall it was a nice first cruise experience and a really good time, especially for the price.
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