Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review
April 28th - May 25th, 2019
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Voyage 01: Transatlantic Eastbound (13 Day) April 28th - May 11th, 2019
NYC -> Cobh, Ireland -> Dun Laoghaire, Ireland -> Paris (Le Havre), France -> London (Tilbury), England -> Ghent (Zeebrugge), Belgium -> Amsterdam, Netherlands
Voyage 02: Northern Europe (14 Day) May 11th - May 25th, 2019
Amsterdam, Netherlands -> Newhaven, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom -> Invergordon, Scotland, United Kingdom -> Bergen, Norway -> Flam, Norway -> Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway -> Giant’s Causeway Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom -> Dublin, Ireland -> Rouen (Le Havre), France -> London (Tilbury), England -> Brugge (Zeebrugge), Belgium -> Amsterdam, Netherlands
My words of wisdom for cruising with NCL:
Don’t treat the crew like crap. The crew are people too.
Check your onboard account daily.
Listen to announcements and read the freestyle daily for information.
I’m Platinum latitudes and this would be voyages 08 & 09 with NCL. I originally reserved this B2B voyage while I was on the Gem sailing (NY - Quebec, Sept 2018). Although I had this B2B under 1 reservation number, the Cruise Consulate was actually able to use 2 Cruise Next certificates to secure this booking. We had a previous good relationship as he also remembered me from previous voyages on the Breakaway. Originally I reserved an IB (Inside) category cabin for the 27 day voyage but I used 30,000 BoA NCL MC WorldPoints to upgrade to an OC Category cabin. Also at the time, since I booked an inside cabin I selected the 1 free offer of 4 speciality dining. I would complete the upgrade from IB to to OC as well as payments with my USAA TA.
Once my upgrade was completed and I got my cabin assignment a bunch of things showed up in my account. That I didn’t expect, and I didn’t know what to make of it.
What showed up is available in my (AMENITY INVOICE)
An onboard spending credit of $200.
Free $50 USD On-Board Credit Certificate Non -Refundable, QTY 2 Specialty Dining Package, QTY 2 Internet Package (250 Minutes or 1GB), QTY 1 Shore Excursions Promotional Credit, QTY 1 Latitude Reward program 30 min internet, QTY 2 120 Min Ship to Shore Phone Calls, QTY 1
In addition, I’m also an NCL Stockholder and I submitted my shareholder benefit application.
$250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 15 Days or More.
$100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 7 to 14 Days.
However, on paper I received 2 ($100) on board credits instead of the $250 for a 27 day voyage. I called NCL to see if I could get the $250 credit but the person I spoke with said that their computer saw my reservation as 2 voyages although it was under the same reservation. He did also say that he would see what he could do when I ended the conversation.
Built in 2006 and refurbished in 2017, this would be my 1st time on the Pearl, 3rd TA crossing and my 2nd east bound voyage and the last of all 4 of the Jewel class vessels in the NCL fleet (Jewel, Jade, Gem, Pearl). I would also be bringing along my Citizen Miami folding bike which I had done on previous voyages.
Cabin review below.
I found the food overall on this voyage to be very good. From the behind the scenes tour I found that they are on a 14 day rotating dinner menu.
Typically I would start my day with breakfast in the Summer Palace MDR (4 juices (2 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 cranberry), oatmeal, then a rotating entree choice). For lunch I would vary having lunch in a different restaurant location. For Dinner I alternated every other day in a speciality restaurant or the MDR Indigo and dining only once in the Lotus Garden. The food wasn’t bad in Lotus Garden but it wasn’t Chinese either. I was telling my cousin who joined us for the 2nd voyage that I think most of the food is 10% authentic and 90% cruise ship, meaning that don’t really expect german food when they say it’s a german buffet or when it’s a specific theme night with the exception of the Indian food in the buffet which was really surprisingly really good.
I found all the shows to be entertaining. The aerialists on board were my favorite. I did get to see the NCL Pearl’s main production cast of singers and dancers perform their main acts 3 or 4 times. If you are going to see the same show, for a different perspective I suggest sitting in a different location then you sat in from the previous show. I also brought this up with the Production manager during the ship tour on ships entertainment outside of the production cast seems to be broken down to: magician, juggler, comedian, musician or hypnotist. She agreed that seems to be the entertainment spectrum. The lecturer they had on board during the TA was to talk about Ireland but was not really that interesting but good try.
This ship in general I found to be in good condition. There were no major areas of the ship that needed to be worked on and I did all kinds of wandering around the ship. For a quite space to watch over the water head up to the Sun Deck, Deck 14, starboard side of the ship, and can be access only by 1 staircase. To get to the Sun Deck start yourself at the rock wall on Deck 13 and follow along the starboard side while walking towards the front of the ship then go up the stairs at mid ship. This area doesn’t get used a lot. The other quite place on board the ship is Deck 11 Port side and forward which is the “Bridge Viewing Area”. The “Bridge Viewing Area” is the same location on all Jewel class ships in NCL’s fleet.
April 28th, 2019 - Boarding in NYC
There were also 2 other NCL ships in NYC that day (NCL Jade & Escape). I remember I was walking with my bike in the ship terminal when I got to the checkin desk and handed my documents over. I’ve previously gotten questions about the bike, but the person behind the desk asked me if he had rented me a car from Avis a week ago, which in fact he had done. This was his 2nd job. I thought that encounter remarkable.
Boarding in NY (April 28th) went pretty smoothly and we ended up having lunch in the O’Sheehan’s. They also turned Lotus Garden in to a baggage storage area so I was able park my bike there until our rooms were ready.
Boarding in Amsterdam (May 11th) was a huge mess for everyone but me and perhaps those others doing the back to back (B2B). The crew did this huge cleaning and sanitizing when the ship arrived to Amsterdam. But since I was on a B2B voyage and in the same room they gave me a B2B sticker so I didn’t have to do anything and just skipped the boarding process in the terminal. I didn’t even wait for the all clear for rooms to be ready as my room was the same room and it was already ready. My cabin steward as well as the cabin steward next to him knew what was up when they saw me. While my Aunt and cousin who were boarding the Pearl in Amsterdam did have to wait in line to check-in, after biking around Amsterdam and returning to the ship I went back to my room and took a shower and a nap. I did take anything they didn’t want to hold while waiting in line back to my cabin. I believe the crew took extra time cleaning the ship so there was a long delay in having all the rooms ready which was unfortunate but necessary.
April 29th - May 04th, 2019 - Sea Days
We had our CC M&G in the Bliss Lounge and it was a pretty good turn out. I also did the behind the scenes ship tour which included trips to the MDR, ship laundry and theater which was very entertaining and I also assisted with the slot pull. There was an outbreak of either AGE or Noro Virus on this 1st voyage but I didn’t catch it. I always used the hand sanitizers when ever possible or appropriate but from previous voyages I knew to do that before, hence why I don’t thin I got sick. By day 4, the ship did implement their upgraded containment procedures to keep passengers safer as people didn’t seem to either listen or take it seriously. As a result in the MDR, silverware, napkins and menus were brought to the tables only after you sat down. In the buffet you could no longer server yourself, instead a crew member had to serve you the item, this included the beverage areas too. I didn’t have a problem with this. They were also able to do the immigration inspection for Ireland on day 5 in the Spinnaker lounge however on my previous TA crossing they did that too.
Over the course of the voyage I also did as many activities as possible and like to think I came to know the CD staff on this voyage pretty well.
CD Pedro & Assistant CD Tiara
CD Staff: Paul (Transferred from the Jade on April 28th), Cathryn, William, Gabby, Firat, Monica, MariAnna, Taz, Tracy, MariAnna, Katerina (on 2nd voyage which was her very 1st voyage), Facia (on 1st voyage but not 2nd) and Yasmine
By random chance, I kept on running in to Captain Paul at dinner in the speciality restaurants, he and his party kept being seated at the table next to mine. Captain Paul von Knorring now calls Florida home but is originally from Helsinki, Finland. On the 2nd to last day of the 2nd voyage in Zeebrugge (May 24th) I ran in to Captain Paul on land. Captain Paul was with his wife and they were dressed like any other tourist from the ship but we recognized each other right away. Captain Paul remarked that he was impressed to just find out that I had brought my bicycle with me all this time.
On May 05th, upon arrival to our first destination Cork, Ireland, I had booked a NCL ships excursion to visit Blarney Castle. It was a good excursion and yes I did kiss the Blarney stone. That all being said the next day, I was going over my onboard account and noticed that I got double the Shore Excursion Credit ($50 * 2) for the excursion. I couldn’t figure out why that happened. But then it happened again in Lehavre, France (May 08th) and again in Zeebrugge, Belgium (May 10th) for the NCL excursion. So even if the excursion was less then $100, NCL still gave me $100 per excursion.
Unfortunately that was only on the 1st voyage. On the 2nd voyage I think the Shore Excursion people caught on to that mistake and only gave me the regular single $50 credit for each NCL excursion. Towards the end of the 2nd voyage, I stopped by and asked the shore excursion people why I was getting double shore excursion credit on the previous voyage and they also couldn’t figure out why but left the double credit in place.
My ending balance on the 1st voyage was around -$223.40 and I was worried that negative balance wouldn't transfer to the next cruise so I went to the casino and charged $195 to my onboard account. The casino charges 3% for the transaction but I ended up winning an additional $130 playing ultimate texas holdem so that worked out.
On May 06th we were in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, which is a suburb of Dublin. This was a tender port and May 06th happened to also be a holiday (Mayday). I had nothing planned that day but I did have my bike. I had been to Dublin in May 2017 and also planned to visit Dublin on our next voyage (May 20th). But I’d never been to Dun Laoghaire before, so my plan was to ride around Dun Laoghaire on my bike. Apparently, while the ship was scheduled to arrive @ 8:00AM, people thought that they could get off at 8:00AM and as such began queuing up in the stairwell before 8:00AM. There were numerous, NUMEROUS announcements to not queue in the main stairwell and that they were also passing out tender tickets. I had gone to get one but being platinum I knew that I didn’t need one, but I also knew that I should not try to be the 1st one off of the ship.
No one that was standing in the main stairwell paid any attention to any of the announcements from CD Pedro nor did they follow any of the instructions from NCL staff present. Around 10:00AM I went to have a look at the main stairwell, walking up from deck 5 to deck 7 and found the queue which began on deck 4 and went all the way up to deck 7 and then extending towards the Lotus Garden both impressive and disturbing. While I didn’t count, it was literally wall to wall people compressed together trying to be the first off. I think each tender will hold 100 people and each tender takes 1 hour to complete it’s journey. You can do the math.
What I realized was that for tendering operations NCL will give priority disembarkation in the following manner:
01) NCL Ships excursions 02) Haven guests 03) Gold and above latitude members
04) General Tender ticket holders (01 - 50)
Rather then wait in a queue on the stairs I just did normal stuff (breakfast and then trivia @ 9:15AM) until I heard the announcement that (Anyone) could get off which was around 11:00AM.
I believe and understand that for the majority of the people on this voyage that:
- they were unaware this would be a tender port,
- they were unaware this would not be in Dublin city,
- this was there only chance to visit Dublin,
- they had booked their own shore excursion and were planning on meeting their guid/group at a certain time,
- it was a 30 minute tender trip from the Pearl to land and then 30 minutes to get from land back to the Pearl
I too was also unaware that May 06th was a holiday (Mayday), or that every tender from the Pearl was required to also have a local escort for each tender from the Pearl to the harbor and then escort the tender back out of the harbor.
At 11:00AM I heard the announcement from CD Pedro that I could get off so I went back to my cabin, got my bike and changed to my riding gear. By 11:15 I was on a tender with my bike and by 12:00PM I was on land and riding around Dun Laoghaire. I had a great time in Dun Laoghaire. I followed the heritage trail to the James Joyce Tower and Museum
which also happened to be free admission that day so I went in and up.
I then rode on to the Obelisk on top of, Killiney Hall Park
On my way back to the harbor from the Obelisk, I stopped at a red light when a huge group of hundreds of cyclists passed by me. They were all on a family fun ride so I just joined them and they ended up showing me the bike paths of Dun Laoghaire which happen to run parallel to the train tracks. 4 hours later I was back at the tender pickup point. I had a great time in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
I had a very good time on this 1st voyage but a great time on the 2nd voyage. There was a lot of negative energy on the 1st voyage. There were many also many sea days. On the 2nd voyage that included a similar itinerary but aded 4 stops in Norway the negative energy that was present on the 1st voyage seemed to have gotten off in Amsterdam and we had really perfect weather for every stop on the 2nd voyage. There were also very few sea days.
Our only tender port on the 2nd voyage was in Edinborough, Scotland (May 13th) but that went smoothly as they were using tenders from the port and it also wasn’t a holiday.
I got a lot of use out of my bicycle on both voyages and highly recommended you giving bringing a helmet and bicycle on your next voyage. Holland America is the only line that has a ban on all bicycles.
Our one bad NCL ships excursion was in Rouen (Le Havre), France where it would have been much better if the guide had provided or used a microphone and wireless headset system as they had been used in the other ports.
Lastly, since I’m platinum I’m entitled to a free bag of laundry, per voyage. However on my 2nd voyage I needed to go down to the front desk to have them correct the laundry charge for that voyage.
In general I had a great time. The 2nd voyage was better then the 1st and I really enjoyed most of the destinations we went to and would do it again. The crew did a fantastic job and it’s always good to see relatives that I don’t get to see often.
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My cabin for these voyages were located on the starboard side, Deck 5 and we had the same cabin steward (Emmerson) for the entire 27 days. Emmerson was friendly and competent. I had sailed in cabin with this layout 2 months prior. One thing that I liked that I had not seen before on other Jewel class vessels and I’m guessing was added during the last refurbishment was the USB port and 2 extra AC outlets built in to the TV panel in the cabin. The 220v outlet was still available under the fridge but also connected to a 220v multi plug outlet. So there were additional ports available.
NCL excursion to Blarney castle. Kissed the stone. Noticed that I got double the shore excursion credit of $50.
Dun Laoghaire (Dublin), Ireland I took my bicycle around Dun Laoghaire
Train Tickets and Information:
Le Havre Train Station
Saint Lazare Train Station, 13 Rue d'Amsterdam, 75008 Paris, France
Intercités 3108, 8:02AM Le Havre - 10:15AM Paris St Lazare (2Hr 13m Direct) 2 Pass ($36 USD, 2nd Class)
- Coach 006, Seat 018 (Aisle)
- Coach 006, Seat 012 (Window)
Intercités 3115, 2:50PM Paris St Lazare - 4:55PM Le Havre (2Hr 05m Direct) 2 Pass ($46 USD, 1st Class)
- Coach 005, Seat 023 (Aisle) (Club 2)
- Coach 005, Seat 025 (Window) (Club 2)
Total: $89.95 USD ($7.95 Ticketing Services + $82 fare)View All 65 Paris Reviews
Took bicycle in a clockwise tour of London starting at Sky garden, then the Tower of London, then tower bridge, then London Bridge, then Borough Market, then Shakespear's Globe, then the london eye, then westminster bridge, then Buckingham palace, then wellington Park, then hyde park, then marble arch, then the apple store, then kings cross then back to the tower of london.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Midevil Ghent with NCL Ships excursion.View All undefined undefined Reviews