My buddies and I chose this cruise as our annual Spring Break vacation. We're all in our mid-20s and enjoy trips with plenty of action mixed with some relaxation time. This cruise was perfect for our vacation needs. Even though the ports of call were touristy, we still made the most out of our trip. Excursions we chose included the Maya Lost Mayan Kingdom waterpark in Costa Maya (an awesome experience), kayaking in Harvest Caye (not worth it), and A Taste of Cayman in Georgetown, Grand Cayman (well worth the price). We rented motor scooters from Captain Van's and explored West End in Roatan.
We snagged the 3 free-at-sea offers during one of NCL's promotional periods - free unlimited WiFi, 3 free specialty dining nights, and of course the unlimited open bar. The beverage package alone made the trip worthwhile. Any drink up to and including $15/drink is the BEST drink package on the cruise market. Top shelf liquor (Grey Goose, Patron, Jameson Caskmates, etc.) were all included in the package. Unlimited drinks, and you could order two at a time. You can't beat that! Our cruise agent threw in an extra free-at-sea offer, so we chose the $50 per cabin per port excursion credit.
The ship's entertainment was fair, but the comedian was outrageously funny. Avalon, the ship's band, was super talented, but we quickly realized that they kept playing the same songs over and over again.
The food in Indigo, O'Sheehan's, Lotus Garden, Moderno, Cagney's, and Le Bistro was outstanding. They even had matzoh ball soup on the menu in Indigo! We did, however, eat in Russian Palace one evening and I was disappointed with the taste of the Italian dishes. Everything else was great.
Service from the staff was top notch. Every staff member wanted to make sure you had the best cruise experience possible. Our cabin steward, Sharon, was a delight.
The main reason I didn't give this cruise 5 stars was the issue with O'Sheehan's bar. O'Sheehan's is an Irish-themed bar with a 24 hour restaurant located on deck 8 right above the Atrium. We stayed on deck 8 mid-ship, so we were happy with the convenience of a bar close by to our staterooms. We made friends with the bartenders and other deck 8 neighbors. O'Sheehan's quickly became our favorite hangout spot. On day 3 of our cruise, maintenance had hung white sheets all around the bar and proceeded to produce an enormous amount of noise that sounded like taking a chainsaw to sheet metal throughout the whole day. The bar was closed for the entire rest of the cruise. No warning, no explanation. I made a point to note this inconvenience in my review to NCL, but still have not yet heard a response or an apology.
I would absolutely cruise with Norwegian again, but on a different ship. The Pearl is a smaller ship, so she didn't have as many bells and whistles as her newer counterparts. Plus she's starting to show her age. Norwegian's service is outstanding, and their drink package is the best at sea. I'll be back on Norwegian soon! Cruising on Celebrity Infinity in August, so it'll be interesting to compare these two above-average cruise lines.
P.S. a note to cruisers over the age of 60: if you plan to travel on a cruise during Spring Break dates, expect a little rowdiness from some of the younger travelers! I was astounded by the amount of "experienced" cruisers on a Caribbean cruise in the heart of Spring Break season who were unhappy with the number of Spring Breakers.
Our obstructed oceanview cabin still had a small view of the water and ports of call. The amenities were average. We especially liked how the toilet was separated from the rest of the bathroom. Plenty of storage space. Our vanity light was broken at the start of our cruise, but a call to maintenance fixed the issue. One thing to note about this cabin: the life boats were docked right outside our window. On tender days, depending on which side of the ship is facing port, you may be woken up to the sound of crew members unhooking and lowering life boats to be used as tendering vessels. This happened to us in Roatan.
We rented kayaks in Harvest Caye. The expectation was to have free reign to paddle all around the island. Nope! They limited us to one small inlet of water that was only about the length of half of a football field. DO NOT rent watersport equipment in Harvest Caye. Also everything was overpriced on the island. A beer was $10! And no, the drink package does not carry over to the island.
If you're not interested in seeing Mayan ruins an hour's drive inland, I would definitely recommend the waterpark. We were the second ship to dock in port, so there weren't many people inside the park. Right before we left the waterpark, two more ships had docked and sent hundreds more people to the park. If your ship docks later in the morning, you may be waiting in longer lines than normal for waterslides.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Lots of food and shopping in the port area. We rented motor scooters from Captain Van's rentals and explored the west part of the island. It was a fun adventure!
A Taste of Cayman is well worth the money. We were transported to the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory and sampled rum cakes, then toured a rum distillery with unlimited samples of their liquors, and finished off the excursion with a local brewery tour. Awesome!View All 34 Brewery Tour Reviews