Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by KSinger
- Sail Date: March 2019
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Family Balcony
I have waited to write this letter until I could convey my thoughts and feelings devoid of the anger and disappointment I felt at the end of the cruise. I want this letter to inform and enlighten rather than just rail at the inadequacies of the cruise. However, it is difficult even now after sixteen days to put perspective on our very bad experience.
Admittedly this was a last minute booking and by the time we decided to book the mini suites were no longer available so we settled for family balcony rooms that cost more than the sale price for the mini suites. We booked and thought that was that but within days we received emails saying we could make bids to upgrade our rooms. The problem was we couldn’t because it wouldn’t guarantee that both couples would get the upgrade. This coupled with the idea that we would now pay even more money for the mini suites (that were not available when we booked) was pretty crass. This bidding program is just ugly and beneath NCL. It really makes NCL stand out as a cheap cruise line.
We arrived for the cruise and the embarkation process was very smooth, especially since we are Latitudes members. Kudos to all involved in the process. Actually, I will say that with everything that wasn’t good about the cruise the staff on and off the ship stood out as professional, courteous and gracious, to a fault. I have nothing but good things to say about the NCL staff.
We boarded and that’s when reality settled in that we found ourselves booked on a cruise with a very large number of guests all belonging to one group. I believe it would be called a partially chartered cruise since in this case there were more than 800 guests who were there for an affiliated event. A group that no one in my party would choose to be affiliated with yet now we found ourselves in the midst of wherever we went on the ship. This group had a definite agenda and they were there to enjoy themselves as were we. They were often in costume and they many were observed smoking on decks and by the pool and hot tubs. They monopolized every space. Most disturbing were the number of security personnel I observed which made me feel unsafe walking alone on the decks for exercise.
The other group that I also need to mention were the number of spring breakers. They also were jockeying for space and so the areas around the pools and hot tubs and bars were simply not available to anyone else. I was heartened to see a family in a hot tub on the last day. I don’t know how they managed to secure it but I’m happy they did. The four of us were just trying to find quiet places where we could play cards and that was difficult to come by too! Even the card room next to the library was being used to sort shirts and was not available to use for its intended purpose.
We decided to play cards in the café after meal service was over each evening. We just wanted a table and some quiet away from the craziness. This is also a pass through area from one end of the ship to the other. On two evenings we were treated to verbal altercations and threats between and among passengers. I am not a prude but their language was way over the top and disturbing. One evening was volatile with verbal threats of “I’m going to kill you”. So much for quiet space and playing cards.
We were looking forward to the beach day at Great Stirrup Cay and a chance to swim and lay in the sun but due to rough seas they were unable to tender the passengers to shore and the ship was diverted to Freeport. We were offered three possible shore excursions, all at substantial cost. Now if we wanted to go to the beach it was going to cost, I think, $89.00. What was to be part of the cruise was now a paid gig. Add to that it was after 2:30 when passengers were allowed to disembark and it wasn’t worth the time or money and Freeport is an unpleasant little port.
From beginning to end this cruise was just unpleasant. Even the entertainment was changed! We were expecting “Legends In Concert” but they never performed. There was a singer one evening, an acrobatic duo who were quite good on another evening. Otherwise the theater was occupied with the 800 members of the group and their TV idols.
Finally, I expect that at the very least the ship is going to be clean inside and out. Our rooms were clean and the inside spaces of the ship were clean (if tired) but the windows, the balconies and the rails were filthy as were the clear walls in the outside spaces. Again, I have been on other NCL cruises and never found this to be a problem. We were also dismayed to see how much trash was left by fellow passengers in the elevators, on the stairs, in the hallways, and on the decks (cigarette butts).
So, this was a cruise monopolized by one group. They were drinking heavily and many were smoking. The cruise seemed to be tailored to their needs. I have always avoided theme cruises and anything that smacks of a chartered cruise but I didn’t have the opportunity to opt out and that’s just not fair. NCL took advantage of me and others to fill up their ship knowing full well this was a charted cruise. Shame on you. Other cruise lines advertise their “special” cruises and I know to stay away. You can and need to do better NCL!
So, what can you do? Be honest with customers from the beginning and tell them if the ship is partially chartered; provide quiet spaces on the smaller ships for people who want to play cards or games. If you are going to continue the after the fact bidding system then find a way to make it work for passengers booking more than one room and inform customers about the bidding system on your website. Finally, wash your ships!
So I find myself a Latitudes member no longer enthused about being a member or taking another cruise on NCL. This review doesn’t address everything and the words really don’t convey how bad this cruise was. It’s hard to put it all down but this cruise impacted my relationship with NCL and you lost two prospective Latitudes members. This was their first and last NCL cruise. It was great on the Dawn and the Getaway and I had expectations that it would be great on the Pearl, but it wasn’t.
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