1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Norwegian Pearl
​Embarkation: Chaotic. We arrived about 12:30 p.m. to discover a stalled embarkation process. After standing in line on the street we finally entered the waiting room to find it full. Virtually every seat in every row was taken. There were long lines at the check-in counters. No one was moving. The agent who greeted simply said, "Go there." No direction was provided for "go there" was given. Fortunately we saw two seats open up in Row 2 and quickly took them. This was pure good luck. Otherwise we would have been on the other side of the waiting room standing. After about an hour there was an announcement stating that extra precautions were being taken for our safety. As it turned out there had been multiple cases of possible Norovirus among passengers who had just disembarked. The crew was giving the ship an extra cleaning. Eventually we made our way to the check-in counter and went aboard. Once aboard we could not go to our cabins because of the extra cleaning. We sat in the "O'Sheehan's Irish Pub" until about 5 p.m., still with no access to our cabins. People around us were stretched out and sleeping. Then came the muster drill. Finally, after the drill we were able to get to our cabin. We were worn out and just about everybody we encountered was exhausted, grumpy, and complaining. Disembarkation: Quick and easy. Once the ship was docked and cleared anyone wishing to walk off with their luggage could depart. That's what we did, making our way to Amsterdam Centraal to catch the train to the airport. The walk along the harbor front took about 20 minutes. Dining: The quality of the food in the complimentary restaurants was good, but not particularly outstanding. The wait staff's language skills varied widely. NCL's "Free Style Dining" means you can go to any of the restaurants whenever you wish. There are lots of tables for two, but you can ask for a table to share and find new friends. The first couple of nights there were long lines when we wanted to dine, but things settled down after a few days. There are two main dining rooms: the Summer Palace (huge pictures of the last Tsar and his family hang on the walls) and the Indigo (Peter Max-style wall decorations of American scenes) plus several premium dining rooms that we did not utilize. The dress code was not enforced in the dining rooms (too many tee shirts and generally sloppy attire by a few guests). 24-hour fare is available at "O'Sheehan's Irish pub," where we breakfasted and lunched several times. I loved the Chicago-style hot dogs. After a couple of meals in the larger Summer Palace we decided that we preferred the smaller Indigo dining room. For those wishing to avoid the "cattle car" atmosphere of the Garden Cafe for breakfast, it is available in the Summer Palace and a limited breakfast menu in the Irish pub. Because of the previous week's Norovirus scare, we stayed away from the Garden Cafe on Deck 12, which was always crowded anyway. The high alert to prevent another outbreak meant that tables in all venues were bare (table cloths in the two big dining rooms). Glasses and flatware were provided only after being seated. Individual salt and pepper packets replaced shakers. The usual menus were stored and paper ones replaced them. Public restroom doors were left open so that you did not have to touch handles. Everywhere you went they were spraying your hands and encouraging you to wash your hands. Dining venues and the bars returned to normal about halfway through the cruise. Entertainment: Good variety and outstanding. There are five music groups or individuals who performed at various times in several venues. We thoroughly enjoyed the "Stardust Theater" performances, which included top-rate entertainers, acrobats, and music. The finale, "Legends in Concert," was especially energetic and was a big crowd pleaser. Excursions: We took four NCL excursions: --The "Cawdor Castle and Culloden Moor" battlefield excursion from Invergordon was outstanding. If you luck out and get Ian Frasier as your guide you will be in for a treat. Because a bridge was out, we detoured along narrow country lanes through the highlands that gave us a great sense of the lovely Scottish landscape. There was plenty of time to tour the gardens after the castle tour before heading to the Culloden battlefield. We were a bit rushed there due to the loss of travel time while taking those country lanes. All in all, I'd give it an A. --The "Historic Rouen" excursion from La Havre was a big disappointment. It took an hour from the port to Rouen, then just an hour and a half touring before heading back to the bus. Our tour guide took up about an hour of that time, so there was virtually no time left to enjoy this wonderful medieval city. Even worse, our guide spoke heavily French accented English and was difficult to understand. This tour gets an F. Don't waste your money on it. --The "Legendary Leeds Castle" excursion from Tilbury was wonderful. During the half-hour bus trip to the castle our guide gave us a thorough and interesting history of the castle. The castle tour is on your own, although you can get an audio guide if you wish. After wandering through the castle and environs, we walked around the lovely gardens, which include a birds of prey exhibit, maze, and even a miniature golf course where one hole has a little Leeds castle to putt around. The amount of time was just about right, with no sense of being rushed back to the bus. This tour gets an A. The "Bruges in a Day" excursion was a packed experience. Three cruise ships were in port and the old city felt like a big Disneyland crowd. We broke off from our tour because too many people were causing the group to take bathroom breaks. We toured the places we wished, enjoyed two sidewalk cafes, and enjoyed strolling around on our own. At other ports we skipped NCL excursions and went out on our own. At Edinburgh (Newhaven port) we took the X50 shuttle bus to the town center (4 pounds round trip) and took the Hop On/ Hop Off bus to places we wished to explore. At Bergen, Flam, and Geiranger the ship moors close to all attractions. We were on our own for these ports. At Belfast we took the NCL shuttle to the center of town and took the Hop On bus to tour the town. And at Dublin we did the same. The NCL shuttle from the port to the city center was $30 for two passengers at Belfast and Dublin. They ran at 30-minute intervals. Tip: purchase your Belfast and Dublin shuttle tickets the night before and get to the head of the line early to catch the first or second shuttle. Otherwise you may have to wait for the buses to return to collect you. Beverage packages: Being occasional drinkers we did not opt for NCL's beverage packages. We bought "The Viva Vino" package so that we could have wine with dinner. We'd have half a bottle each night. The wait staff stored it for the next evening. Go to the Java Bar in the Atrium and ask for the list. It is not advertised or promoted. You have to ask for it. There are three packages available. Four, six, or eight bottles come with each level. They are "The Enthusiast" for $88, $132, and $176. The prices for "The Aficionado" are $98, $146, and $196. And the highest level, "The Connoisseur," runs $110, $162," and $210. All three levels provide red, white, rose, and champagne. The first level includes such names as Chateau St. Michelle, Woodbridge, Hogue and others. The second level features wines like Cunundrum, Louis Jadot, Berringer, and similar mid-scale wines. The third level has finer wines such from Chandon, Louis Raynald, Spellbound, and others. The 20 percent gratuity is added to each package. We bought the six-bottle package and enjoyed wine every night at dinner. NCL's "house" wine is $9 a glass (plus 20 percent gratuity). Bottled beers are $7 (plus gratuity). Internet: Slow and expensive (and unavailable when we were in the Norwegian fjords). We opted for the 250-minute package for $100, which was fine for checking email, posting on Facebook, and getting news. Warning: Be sure to double check if you've signed off or you will use up your minutes accidentally. On-board activities: The "Freestyle Daily" gets delivered every evening. In it there's a posting of the ship's daily activities. A few notes about life aboard. There are two golf nets, four bowling lanes, one tennis court, rock climbing, and the like. The library and card rooms, however, definitely have a "plain Jane" decor and the "Internet Cafe" is tiny. We especially liked the Spinnaker Lounge on the top deck with windows on three sides and "O'Sheehan's Irish Pub" (where you can get a quick breakfast).

A positive experience after the first couple of days

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by Nouwenfan

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
​Embarkation:

Chaotic. We arrived about 12:30 p.m. to discover a stalled embarkation process. After standing in line on the street we finally entered the waiting room to find it full. Virtually every seat in every row was taken. There were long lines at the check-in counters. No one was moving. The agent who greeted simply said, "Go there." No direction was provided for "go there" was given. Fortunately we saw two seats open up in Row 2 and quickly took them. This was pure good luck. Otherwise we would have been on the other side of the waiting room standing. After about an hour there was an announcement stating that extra precautions were being taken for our safety. As it turned out there had been multiple cases of possible Norovirus among passengers who had just disembarked. The crew was giving the ship an extra cleaning. Eventually we made our way to the check-in counter and went aboard. Once aboard we could not go to our cabins because of the extra cleaning. We sat in the "O'Sheehan's Irish Pub" until about 5 p.m., still with no access to our cabins. People around us were stretched out and sleeping. Then came the muster drill. Finally, after the drill we were able to get to our cabin. We were worn out and just about everybody we encountered was exhausted, grumpy, and complaining.

Disembarkation:

Quick and easy. Once the ship was docked and cleared anyone wishing to walk off with their luggage could depart. That's what we did, making our way to Amsterdam Centraal to catch the train to the airport. The walk along the harbor front took about 20 minutes.

Dining:

The quality of the food in the complimentary restaurants was good, but not particularly outstanding. The wait staff's language skills varied widely. NCL's "Free Style Dining" means you can go to any of the restaurants whenever you wish. There are lots of tables for two, but you can ask for a table to share and find new friends. The first couple of nights there were long lines when we wanted to dine, but things settled down after a few days. There are two main dining rooms: the Summer Palace (huge pictures of the last Tsar and his family hang on the walls) and the Indigo (Peter Max-style wall decorations of American scenes) plus several premium dining rooms that we did not utilize. The dress code was not enforced in the dining rooms (too many tee shirts and generally sloppy attire by a few guests). 24-hour fare is available at "O'Sheehan's Irish pub," where we breakfasted and lunched several times. I loved the Chicago-style hot dogs. After a couple of meals in the larger Summer Palace we decided that we preferred the smaller Indigo dining room. For those wishing to avoid the "cattle car" atmosphere of the Garden Cafe for breakfast, it is available in the Summer Palace and a limited breakfast menu in the Irish pub. Because of the previous week's Norovirus scare, we stayed away from the Garden Cafe on Deck 12, which was always crowded anyway. The high alert to prevent another outbreak meant that tables in all venues were bare (table cloths in the two big dining rooms). Glasses and flatware were provided only after being seated. Individual salt and pepper packets replaced shakers. The usual menus were stored and paper ones replaced them. Public restroom doors were left open so that you did not have to touch handles. Everywhere you went they were spraying your hands and encouraging you to wash your hands. Dining venues and the bars returned to normal about halfway through the cruise.

Entertainment:

Good variety and outstanding. There are five music groups or individuals who performed at various times in several venues. We thoroughly enjoyed the "Stardust Theater" performances, which included top-rate entertainers, acrobats, and music. The finale, "Legends in Concert," was especially energetic and was a big crowd pleaser.

Excursions:

We took four NCL excursions:

--The "Cawdor Castle and Culloden Moor" battlefield excursion from Invergordon was outstanding. If you luck out and get Ian Frasier as your guide you will be in for a treat. Because a bridge was out, we detoured along narrow country lanes through the highlands that gave us a great sense of the lovely Scottish landscape. There was plenty of time to tour the gardens after the castle tour before heading to the Culloden battlefield. We were a bit rushed there due to the loss of travel time while taking those country lanes. All in all, I'd give it an A.

--The "Historic Rouen" excursion from La Havre was a big disappointment. It took an hour from the port to Rouen, then just an hour and a half touring before heading back to the bus. Our tour guide took up about an hour of that time, so there was virtually no time left to enjoy this wonderful medieval city. Even worse, our guide spoke heavily French accented English and was difficult to understand. This tour gets an F. Don't waste your money on it.

--The "Legendary Leeds Castle" excursion from Tilbury was wonderful. During the half-hour bus trip to the castle our guide gave us a thorough and interesting history of the castle. The castle tour is on your own, although you can get an audio guide if you wish. After wandering through the castle and environs, we walked around the lovely gardens, which include a birds of prey exhibit, maze, and even a miniature golf course where one hole has a little Leeds castle to putt around. The amount of time was just about right, with no sense of being rushed back to the bus. This tour gets an A.

The "Bruges in a Day" excursion was a packed experience. Three cruise ships were in port and the old city felt like a big Disneyland crowd. We broke off from our tour because too many people were causing the group to take bathroom breaks. We toured the places we wished, enjoyed two sidewalk cafes, and enjoyed strolling around on our own.

At other ports we skipped NCL excursions and went out on our own. At Edinburgh (Newhaven port) we took the X50 shuttle bus to the town center (4 pounds round trip) and took the Hop On/ Hop Off bus to places we wished to explore. At Bergen, Flam, and Geiranger the ship moors close to all attractions. We were on our own for these ports. At Belfast we took the NCL shuttle to the center of town and took the Hop On bus to tour the town. And at Dublin we did the same. The NCL shuttle from the port to the city center was $30 for two passengers at Belfast and Dublin. They ran at 30-minute intervals. Tip: purchase your Belfast and Dublin shuttle tickets the night before and get to the head of the line early to catch the first or second shuttle. Otherwise you may have to wait for the buses to return to collect you.

Beverage packages:

Being occasional drinkers we did not opt for NCL's beverage packages. We bought "The Viva Vino" package so that we could have wine with dinner. We'd have half a bottle each night. The wait staff stored it for the next evening. Go to the Java Bar in the Atrium and ask for the list. It is not advertised or promoted. You have to ask for it. There are three packages available. Four, six, or eight bottles come with each level. They are "The Enthusiast" for $88, $132, and $176. The prices for "The Aficionado" are $98, $146, and $196. And the highest level, "The Connoisseur," runs $110, $162," and $210. All three levels provide red, white, rose, and champagne. The first level includes such names as Chateau St. Michelle, Woodbridge, Hogue and others. The second level features wines like Cunundrum, Louis Jadot, Berringer, and similar mid-scale wines. The third level has finer wines such from Chandon, Louis Raynald, Spellbound, and others. The 20 percent gratuity is added to each package. We bought the six-bottle package and enjoyed wine every night at dinner. NCL's "house" wine is $9 a glass (plus 20 percent gratuity). Bottled beers are $7 (plus gratuity).

Internet:

Slow and expensive (and unavailable when we were in the Norwegian fjords). We opted for the 250-minute package for $100, which was fine for checking email, posting on Facebook, and getting news. Warning: Be sure to double check if you've signed off or you will use up your minutes accidentally.

On-board activities:

The "Freestyle Daily" gets delivered every evening. In it there's a posting of the ship's daily activities. A few notes about life aboard. There are two golf nets, four bowling lanes, one tennis court, rock climbing, and the like. The library and card rooms, however, definitely have a "plain Jane" decor and the "Internet Cafe" is tiny. We especially liked the Spinnaker Lounge on the top deck with windows on three sides and "O'Sheehan's Irish Pub" (where you can get a quick breakfast).
Nouwenfan’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Norwegian Pearl price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BA 10064
​Our balcony cabin (10064) was large, cheery, and comfortable. The bathroom was a bit bigger than other cruise ships we have been on. There was plenty of storage and everything was in order. There was a hair dryer as well as a coffee maker. The sockets are for North American 110 volts. Our room attendant, Cheryl, did a stellar job and was friendly too. By the end of our cruise we had decorated our cabin with her towel animal creations.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins