We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had sailed previously on the Pearl and knew we loved this ship. We enjoyed every detail of every day onboard the Pearl! From our captains ( Captain Paul went on vacation mid cruise and Captain Gio took over), General Manager (Cary Turecamo, who showed us such kindness and kept all aspects of the ship running smoothly), Jana (Group Sevice Coordinator), Alex (Concierge, who graciously helped us with so many questions), and Claudia Ungureanu (CFA, who we loved getting to know and was so generous with her kindness to us) we were taken care of so very well!
We had free air travel as one of our perks and all went smoothly. We flew from JFK on Delta to Amsterdam and KLM on our trip back to the states. Both flights were smoother and we were served 2 meals, along with free wifi and current movies. We arrived at the airport Saturday morning and found a representative for our bus transfer easily. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze for us.
The entertainment was varied for many interests. They even had local group come on board to entertain in Ireland. My favorite show, though, was the Crew Talent Show. This crew is a wonderful group of caring people and it was so fun to get to see them shine in their talents!
Our food was delicious. We ate in the main dining area most nights and ate in Le Bistro and Cagneys also. For breakfast and lunch we were blessed to dine in Modernos! Oh, my! The staff there were wonderful and the food was excellent! We were spoiled! We also ate in O'sheehans and at the buffet. Needless to say, we didn't miss a meal.
There's a great coffee machine on the back near the Great Outdoors dining area....freshly ground beans. Excellent regular or decaf. The Great Outdoors is the perfect place to eat with wonderful views off the back of the ship.
We had a very full itinerary visiting Scotland, Ireland, N Ireland, Norway, France, England, and Belgium. We cannot decide which port was our favorite! We had wonderful weather ( a little rain off and on on one of our days in Scotland), but all other days were beautiful! Do take a rain/windbreaker. I had mine daily and used it for times that it was breezy. We saw such varied beauty in each port that it was breathtaking each day! Wonderful!
Our port excursions were as follows:
Woke @ 5:30...upstairs to see sail in. Tender over was nice. Caught hoho very near port. Easy and a rep helped us with ticket exchange. Bus at 9. Rode several stops and changed to green bus for live commentary. Fun knowledge. Beautiful day...sunny and warmer than we"d hoped. Did the route our on the bus and got off to walk Royal Mile...and find Greyfriars Bobby.bar and cemetery. Ate at Biblia for fish & chips and soup. Very good and cute place with good music and wifi.
Shopped some then finished the route and back to ship. Tender back was a "TRIP"!!! Wavy and in a lifeboat...what a ride!!! Rocking and rolling.
Off to meet Wow Scotland tour. Nice new van holding 30? Graham..driver, Sandy was tour guide..he was wonderful.. very witty and knowledgeable. We went to the Edinburgh castle first, with stops for talks along the walk there. The castle was outside-only viewing but gorgeous views of city and River. Back to the bus for a trip to the Monastery...beautiful area with huge trees and gravesites. On through the highlands with beautiful green vistas of mountains, water, fields of barley for whiskey...yellow fields of canola, pastures of cows, sheep, llamas, pigs, even long haired Scotland cows (coos). Many babies...cows, sheep, swans, chickens, and sea birds. We had cloudy skies and cold winds but everything was still breathtakingly beautiful. A yellow Bush, that has stickers but smells like coconut, was everywhere. Unbelievably lush rhododendron just taking over the sides of roadway ... not native but thriving and invasive. Thistle just looks brushy, as does lavender...blooms in August but has slight purple hues, not overwhelming like photos appear. Made it along winding country (1car) roads to Loch Ness ...it is a huge lake, can't see it all! Didn't see Nessie but we did see rain! It was an off and on rain all day but didn't overwhelm and we had raingear. It was never hard rain, just slight drizzle but pesky. We went to a battlefield and I didn't walk out to it since raining and very windy/cold. I did listen to info, then shopped in gift store. Next was Clava Cairns...beautiful and interesting displays of rocks, along with great info of history and folk tales which surrounds them. Very interesting day with unforgettable scenery!
Back onboard ship by 3 to depart at 4. We were serenaded by an 8-10 piece Highland band...bagpipes & drums. Played until we were almost unable to see them. Wonderful send off from Invergordon!
Out on deck while docking. Beautiful. Off at 11.
Free shuttle into town center where we caught the city bus 210 to Skudeneshavn. It was a beautiful 90 min ride. We passed thru smaller towns, saw homes, fields of sheep (Rocks piled in lines to form borders between properties. Many little fishing boat hamlets. So pretty. Skudeneshavn was so beautiful. Rows of white houses and buildings with shops and restaurants. All along the most beautiful seaside scenery. The sun came out and we took off jackets...not sure temps but would guess 70s. I walked a trail through a wooded rocky area and saw the Moon stone...local lore is that a meteorite fell but geologists say 800 million years old and think it washed up there with shift from the melt. Interesting. Caught bus back and had the cutest driver...very nice to us, and very professional to be so young. Back in Haugesund to shop and walk around. Much to see and not much time but enjoyed. Shuttle back to port at 5. Got windy and cold.
Awake 5:30...up to watch entry thru fjords to Flam..breath taking scenery. Quiet and majestic. Off by 8...very easy disembark straight to RR sta. Stood in line to make sure but already had tickets printed via internet. The ride was great! Scenery amazing. An hour to top with quick stop for pics of huge waterfall and dancing maiden. Got video. Many people got off to stay a bit...some rode bikes down. Sun came out b4 we got to top. On decks to see sail away. Late again due to late passengers..2 this time. Backing out of port no room to turn yet. Turned on a dime! Amazing! Hated to leave the outside.
Breakfast to wonderful views of fjord. A few passengers got off in Hellesint. Then we cruised on thru Geiranger Fjord, the longest fjord.Highest waterfalls. Outside to take pics of 7 sisters and Suitor Waterfalls. Very breezy and cold but surreal. So quiet and majestic. Sitting for great view in Moderno area with chairs. Nice music. Perfect. Watched Norwegian moving pier...their design. Like a folding measurer... scissors out to boat...didn't have to dock at pier or be tendered. Great invention. Off before 11. Beautuful sunshine..warm temps...no jacket needed and by end of day...long sleeves too warm. No internet here...had it but never connected for us. I walked a path that went around the water and wound by a school, old folks home, church and camp ground. Many people camping....mainly small campers and many tents. Lovely area right at base of waterfall. I walked along to near the top of waterfall. Beautiful, forceful and so clear. Back to shop some b4 tour at 1. Big bus that went on hairpin curves all the way to top...took an hour with 2 viewing stops. Beautiful...in the snow at the top but not windy and we were warm. Buses and cars must stop to take turns making curves. Amazing driving by our driver. We saw so many views of waterfalls, a huge frozen lake and many places to stay overnight. Saw no wildlife. The top had many photo ops and we stayed half an hour. They're working on a bldg up there so will change soon. The road closes in early Oct ...impassable. Has to thaw in late spring b4 any travel on it. There was an avalanche leading into Geiranger in Dec and they were stuck for 10 days with no transport other than the ferry to Hellesint...takes an hour. We then went to another overlook that had views of 7 sisters waterfalls from different angle. Also a glass area that a waterfall flows over so u can see thru it. Back onboard at 4. Cpt speaking now saying we'll be late because some tour cruise excursions are running late.
Belfast, N Ireland...Giants Causeway Tour was excellent!
Driver, guide. FUNNY! David. This tour was great! We covered Dunlace Castle, Giants Causeway, 2 more castles, old town Belfast with history and reasons. Saw walled off areas and gates dividing streets and neighbors. Sad time for them. But he was SO happy that Belfast has changed *miracle* and growing. Seeing things they would never have seen in the 70s. So many deaths and devastation. Saw Titanic memorial... also saw new area of downtown Belfast. Thru the days we drive through moors, seaside cliffs, beaches near water, farmlands full of sheep and cows. We also went thru many glens and saw the beauty of so many different kinds of terrain. Throughout the trip, he talked of folklore and history and made everything so interesting. Never a dull moment. We heard of trolls, banshees, giants. Best tour guide ever and certainly worth the price for a day full of beauty and knowledge about Belfast. We ate at a pub at Giants causeway...fish and chips..very good and cute pub. 13.75 pounds. Order at bar and tell table # ...they serve you. Also bus had wifi and a bag in each seat with water, chips, a frig magnet, and postcard. Great welcome gesture. Back to the ship just in time to board with a few min to spare. No shopping near port so wasn't tempted to linger.
Got off easily in port..just went on our own. Took shuttle to city centre $15 pp... pick up right off ship. Then dropped at Stop 10 (Merrion Square) of hoho...got green bus with live commentary. Jokes getting a little off color...not for kids. Got off at
Ha Penny Bridge for pics, then walked 2 blocks to pubs & shops. Wandered around. Ate fish & chips at Leo Burdocks..neat little pub where many famous folks have eaten. Used to use coal for fuel to fry fish and chips. Cod very fresh, white, crisp crust. Chips wonderful thick sliced French fries. Went to St Stephens Park..huge with tons of tourists enjoying nature. Also went to Trinity College. Looked a bit more and found bus to head back at 5. We lucked out on weather AGAIN. Few sprinkles for few min but we weren't out in it.
Le Havre, France...
Off ship at 8 to nice clean port bldg. Nothing but a place to buy shuttle to town centre. 5 Euros for all day riding. Gift shop closed still. Rainy looking. Going prepared with umbrellas and rain coats. Le Havre is beautiful but we had plans for Hon Fluer. We walked around for a couple of hours and saw many statues, beautiful churches and buildings. Le Havre was destroyed during WW11 and was rebuilt to reflect its former glory. World Soccer being held here...US womens team plays tomorrow...they won! 11:00 bus to Hon Fleur for 3 hours. Half hour ride over on Bee Le Havre. Already had tickets from online. Hon Fleur was so pretty. Beautiful old buildings, churches and a fortress surrounding a port area. Picturesque views in every direction. It was windy and cool after our 30 min shuttle from Le Havre. But in just a few min the sun was out again and jackets came off. We watched a pirates ship getting ready to sail and when it started away from shore, fired cannons 4 times. There were many different plaques and memorials to those who died in WW2...including American soldiers. Among other nationalities. We shared a jambon baguette and frites for lunch ..deja vue moment from 1973. Really nice to be back in France together. After walking around to see everything and a little shopping, it was time to head back to the ship. Rain held off for our day until we were walking from the shuttle to the ship. Got a little wet but our raincoats helped.
Docked at 9. Walked to train station from port...15 min. Brisk walking along nice sidewalk. Bought tickets easily since we beat 1st shuttle bus to station.
( free shuttle)
40 min train ride to Fenchurch station. Nice train...commuters. off to the Sky Garden. Had free tour tickets for 11:30. Went thru security before allowed to go up to 35th floor. Elevators fast and continuous run up and down. At top were wonderful views of London and Thames River. Going up more stairs gave views of 360. Different views highlighted on windows with titled bldgs.
Down to catch hoho. Got yellow line with live commentary. Rode to see all around, then swapped to blue line to go by Kensington and Buckingham Palace...mainly can only see gardens...slight/quick view thru gardens. Rode until time to walk back to Fenchurch by 5 to catch train. No problems. Walked back to ship. his trip was a dream trip for us!
We had a shuttle from ship to port building. Then we took shuttle express to Brugges...it took about half an hour. We were glad to have pre purchased because they were full. It was 20 each. The ship offered one for 15 but only took folks to the train station, then they had to get from there to Brugges. They can't deliver to city center so we all walked to town ...took about 30minutes to the square. We looked around a bit and decided to take a horse drawn carriage ride. We shared with a couple from Australia and paid 25 euros per couple for a 30 min tour around the old part of the city. (50 Eu for carriage) It was nice on the cobblestone streets. There are so many old beautiful buildings! She took a 5 min break to feed and water Adeline (horse)...we took a pics of swans and surroundings. Finished our tour and went to find canal boat tour. There was quite a line, but a beautiful day and well worth the wait! Our "captain" was young and very well spoken in English ...also knew so many details about the sites we saw. The ride was half an hour and we saw so many places and heard the historic details of them. He was a very good guide. Also, I sat next to him so had a great view and could hear perfectly. We went to find Belgian Waffles. YUM! Strawberry and whipped cream on a freshly made waffle from Chez Albert. So delish..sat on the steps to eat it. We bought frites from a stand...also very good. The streets were crowded with people enjoying the day, shopping, listening to street music, eating, loving life. SO many people! I shopped a little more then we headed out on our walk back to the shuttle. Stopped for a quick walk in Minnewater Park. Beautiful! Could stay there for hours! So many enjoying the beautiful weather with friends and family. Many locals riding bikes...many school children on tours. Back on shuttle to ship was perfect timing.
This cabin was quiet, had adequate storage, roomy shower and was the perfect location fir our needs. Every port disembarkation was on deck five or six so super convenient for that. Also, we were midway between aft (dining) and forward (entertainment) so it was easy to reach elevators/stairs for either end of ship. Our cabin attendant was Christy. She was amazing! She took such good care of us and met every request promptly and with the sweetest smiles! We had cute towel animals each night, which I loved! The air temperature was easily controlled in this cabin, also. We enjoyed the darkness of our inside cabin especially since the days at some locations were about 20 hours long. Midnite sunsets are great but when you have an early morning wake up it's nice to have darkness for rest. We will choose this cabin again on future cruises!