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We recently returned from a cruise on Norwegian Pearl, May 11 - 25, 2019 from Amsterdam to Scotland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Le Havre France, Tilbury England and Zeebrugge and returning to Amsterdam.This was our 7th cruise on NCL. We choose it for the itinerary. I had been wondering why Norwegian has been slipping so much in cruise line reviews and was curious to see if there have been changes. The two I found were in the food quality, particularly meat, poor entertainment and price gouging. The cruise started with us being held back in the port and again onboard from our cabins while our ship underwent deep cleaning due to an outbreak of norovirus on the previous cruise and a decontamination being required. The library and games room were closed for much of the cruise. We were not aware on any illness while on our cruise, so the efforts seem to have paid off. Service in the main dining room, the Summer Palace, was spotty. Sometimes good, other times poor. However the major change I detected was in the quality of the meat. We went to the La Cucina one night and were advised that the steak was the special. It was not good, rather mushy and tasteless. Another evening we went to Cagneys. Even though the dining room was empty they tried to seat us at the worst table in the place. My husbands Porterhouse was good, mine was grissoly and fatty. I did not enjoy it and was most disappointed. Prime rib in the dining room was tough.Other meats and fish were o.k. Entertainment: There were a couple of great performers, but generally not up to the usual standards of previous cruises: Two separate couples performed on two nights and they were outstanding. The dancers did a great show but the rest of the entertainers were lack luster.One magician was so bad that I actually left, something I have never done before. Our hour of free internet service required a $4 US hook up free. Not free NCL! Doing your homework before the cruise can cut your excursion costs in half. Generally the cruise line uses a local provider and at least doubles the cost. You can find everything on the internet and by reading Cruise Critic reviews. Edinburgh. The cruise line was offering return bus fares to town for $21 US, but we were happy to take a locally offered bus fares for only 4 pounds directly from the pier. So basically NCL charge 5 times the local fare. We were able to tour Edinburgh on our own, going to Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House on foot, but we are fairly mobile seniors. Invergordon. We rented a car from Ken's Garage: morag.bremner@peugeotmail.co. a local provider. They delivered an almost brand new car to a location near the port. The cost for a standard shift car was $123 CAD. We toured the countryside including charming Dornoch and amazing Dunrobin castle on our own. Flam: we prebooked the Flam Railway trip which does sell out. Two minutes walk from the pier. There's not much else to do there, so best to prebook the rail trip rather than NCL prices. Bergen: easily toured on our own, can walk to the funicular for the trip up the mountain to enjoy the view. Several museums were closed because it was Wednesday Geiranger: walk off the ship onto a bus for a tour of the local scenery. No need to book with the cruise line, you can prebook with Panorama Bus: https://www.geirangerfjord.no/panoramic-bus-geiranger-2 Belfast: we took a very quick bus tour through town and down to the Giants Causeway. We had ample time to see the causeway, however the back of a bus is not the best way to enjoy the scenic coastal drive back to Belfast. Next time I would rent a car or go with a group in a van. https://irishtourtickets.com/ Dublin: We took a taxi from the ship to Dublin Castle and Trinity College. Lots of taxis at the dock. Though it was advertised as an overnight in Dublin, the cruise actually left at 2 am, so we did not get the expected two days in Dublin. Bait and switch. Le Havre: Cruise line tour to Rouen was a disappointment. We ran through the cathedral and town. A five hour tour included 3 hours travelling on the bus and two quick hours in town. We needed more time in the city, but they rushed back. Tilbury: we spent the day with friends, but I could see it was a very long walk to the train station to go to London. I did not see any buses going to the train. Zeebrugge: Bruges is amazing and you can do a self guided tour. Best to have a plan ahead of time so you know where to go once in town. The Church of the Holy Blood was closed at lunch time for an hour and a half. There are buses just outside the port that make runs into Bruges and back during the day. You can prebook on Viatour else buy your ticket there. Using the tram to get to the rail station did not seem like a good option, there were lines for the tram but they did not seem to run often.

Do your homework before you cruise to save on excursions

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by stan767

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We recently returned from a cruise on Norwegian Pearl, May 11 - 25, 2019 from Amsterdam to Scotland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Le Havre France, Tilbury England and Zeebrugge and returning to Amsterdam.This was our 7th cruise on NCL. We choose it for the itinerary.

I had been wondering why Norwegian has been slipping so much in cruise line reviews and was curious to see if there have been changes. The two I found were in the food quality, particularly meat, poor entertainment and price gouging.

The cruise started with us being held back in the port and again onboard from our cabins while our ship underwent deep cleaning due to an outbreak of norovirus on the previous cruise and a decontamination being required. The library and games room were closed for much of the cruise. We were not aware on any illness while on our cruise, so the efforts seem to have paid off.

Service in the main dining room, the Summer Palace, was spotty. Sometimes good, other times poor. However the major change I detected was in the quality of the meat. We went to the La Cucina one night and were advised that the steak was the special. It was not good, rather mushy and tasteless. Another evening we went to Cagneys. Even though the dining room was empty they tried to seat us at the worst table in the place. My husbands Porterhouse was good, mine was grissoly and fatty. I did not enjoy it and was most disappointed. Prime rib in the dining room was tough.Other meats and fish were o.k.

Entertainment: There were a couple of great performers, but generally not up to the usual standards of previous cruises: Two separate couples performed on two nights and they were outstanding. The dancers did a great show but the rest of the entertainers were lack luster.One magician was so bad that I actually left, something I have never done before.

Our hour of free internet service required a $4 US hook up free. Not free NCL!

Doing your homework before the cruise can cut your excursion costs in half. Generally the cruise line uses a local provider and at least doubles the cost. You can find everything on the internet and by reading Cruise Critic reviews.

Edinburgh. The cruise line was offering return bus fares to town for $21 US, but we were happy to take a locally offered bus fares for only 4 pounds directly from the pier. So basically NCL charge 5 times the local fare. We were able to tour Edinburgh on our own, going to Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House on foot, but we are fairly mobile seniors.

Invergordon. We rented a car from Ken's Garage: morag.bremner@peugeotmail.co. a local provider. They delivered an almost brand new car to a location near the port. The cost for a standard shift car was $123 CAD. We toured the countryside including charming Dornoch and amazing Dunrobin castle on our own.

Flam: we prebooked the Flam Railway trip which does sell out. Two minutes walk from the pier. There's not much else to do there, so best to prebook the rail trip rather than NCL prices.

Bergen: easily toured on our own, can walk to the funicular for the trip up the mountain to enjoy the view. Several museums were closed because it was Wednesday

Geiranger: walk off the ship onto a bus for a tour of the local scenery. No need to book with the cruise line, you can prebook with Panorama Bus: https://www.geirangerfjord.no/panoramic-bus-geiranger-2

Belfast: we took a very quick bus tour through town and down to the Giants Causeway. We had ample time to see the causeway, however the back of a bus is not the best way to enjoy the scenic coastal drive back to Belfast. Next time I would rent a car or go with a group in a van. https://irishtourtickets.com/

Dublin: We took a taxi from the ship to Dublin Castle and Trinity College. Lots of taxis at the dock. Though it was advertised as an overnight in Dublin, the cruise actually left at 2 am, so we did not get the expected two days in Dublin. Bait and switch.

Le Havre: Cruise line tour to Rouen was a disappointment. We ran through the cathedral and town. A five hour tour included 3 hours travelling on the bus and two quick hours in town. We needed more time in the city, but they rushed back.

Tilbury: we spent the day with friends, but I could see it was a very long walk to the train station to go to London. I did not see any buses going to the train.

Zeebrugge: Bruges is amazing and you can do a self guided tour. Best to have a plan ahead of time so you know where to go once in town. The Church of the Holy Blood was closed at lunch time for an hour and a half. There are buses just outside the port that make runs into Bruges and back during the day. You can prebook on Viatour else buy your ticket there. Using the tram to get to the rail station did not seem like a good option, there were lines for the tram but they did not seem to run often.
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