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When and where: We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on a 4 night cruise out of Miami on December 9th. We made one stop at Costa Maya and had two days at sea. Who: This was my 11th cruise, 8 of which have been on Norwegian Cruise Lines. This was actually my third cruise on the Pearl. I sailed with my Mom (68), who is retired with my dad and takes 1-2 to cruises a year, mostly on Princess. I also sailed with my sister-in-law (45), who has only cruised a few times, this being her second time on Norwegian. The fourth member of our party was my cousin (33) who is an avid cruiser who has no allegiance to any cruise line and goes with the best deal whether it be NCL, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean. We had two connecting mini-suites. This cruise happened pretty much because I found an amazing deal and mentioned it to my mom who in turned told these other ladies in my family. We hadn't been looking for a trip but we couldn't resist this deal and went for it. The package included airfare, beverage package, dining package, 100 minutes of internet, and $50 shore excursion credit. The deal truly was amazing. We originally booked balconies but the price kept dropping so we were upgraded to mini-suites. NCL Air program: I know a lot of people wonder about this so I wanted to mention that we were very happy with the flights NCL put us on. We flew on American Airlines from Chicago to Miami the morning of the cruise, with a flight leaving at 5am. While that was stupid early, we knew it meant we shouldn't have a problem getting to the ship on time. Our return flight was from Fort Lauderdale and departed at 11:54am. Absolutely perfect times, no complaints. Embarkation: Thanks to our very early flight, we were at the pier before security even opened. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before they started letting people through, I think it was 10am. Check in was a breeze and we were in the waiting area before they even set up the photo backdrop. It was very hot so we all changed our of our Chicago winter clothes in the bathrooms while waiting. We were boarding group 1 and we were allowed to board at 11:30. The sheet we had been given told us that the dining room would be open for lunch so we headed there after dropping off our luggage in the Bliss. Unfortunately the dining room didn't open until noon and we hadn't eaten anything all day so we went to the buffet instead. Besides that, embarkation was a breeze. Our rooms were ready at 2pm and our luggage arrived by 3pm. The Cabin: My mom and I were in room 11050 while the rest of our group was in 11052, which was a connecting stateroom. We found it interesting that the connecting doors are locked and you have to have the steward unlock them. Once we did, those doors stayed open the entire trip so it was like we had a two bedroom/two bathroom suite. I had sailed on a regular balcony suite last time and I think the balconies on the mini suites were larger. After sailing the Getaway last time, I was so happy to see these balconies where you can actually stretch out. Our balcony had a lounge chair on it, like one of the ones you find pool side. I don't think it was supposed to be there as that and the two chairs and table made it crowded out there. We still used it. The other balcony did not have the lounge chair. The suite was very spacious, plenty of room for me and my Mom. We didn't use all the drawers or hangers. The bathroom is that split style that I love and it had a tub. The sides of the tub were VERY high. I'm in my 40s but I still had to us the handle to get in and out. I did have knee surgery last year and I was kinda worried about re-injury getting in and out of the tub. The handle was a huge help. Our steward was fine, we only met him once. My only complaint is that I actually like to use the cabin and prefer the balcony to the pool side but he didn't make up the room until very late in the day. Once it was 3pm and he still hadn't come by. I thought that was kinda weird. I would sit on the balcony so he could see me and not accidentally lock me out while cleaning. The Ship: Obviously I like this ship, or I wouldn't have booked a 3rd trip on her. She had had an refresh since I last sailed in 2016 and it was all positive. Everything was clean and looked great. My only complaint was that they got rid of the ridiculous colorful sofas in Spinnaker and replaced them with sensible tables and chairs. I loved to read on those silly couches during the day so I missed them but I get why they were replaced. Moderno had been moved and O'Sheenan's added since my last cruise. Besides that, she still was the same great ship. I love her layout and find her very easy to navigate. The crew is all amazing. Absolutely no complaints about any of the crew. The bartenders and wait staff were friendly and had no issues with the beverage package. I think it helps that they no longer have to have us sign the receipts. They also had figured out the system and would often bring us two drinks when we ordered just one so they could mark it as two and get double the gratuity. I had no problem with that. Or if you ordered a drink, they'd give you a double which technically is over the $15 limit but they would enter it into the system as two separate drinks so there'd be no charge. We never had a problem getting drinks. All the waiters in the restaurants were wonderful. Everyone greeted us with a smile and was always very happy to help. Wonderful crew on the Pearl. Food and Drink: We ate two breakfasts in the dining room and two in the buffet. Food was great both places. We ate 2 lunches in the buffet and 1 in O'Sheenans. All great (love the fajitas in O'Sheenans.) For dinner, we ate twice in the Summer Palace dining room, once in Lotus Garden and once in Le Bistro. For some reason, the other dining room, Indigo, always had a 30 minute wait while Summer Palace was always instant seating. There seemed to be a lot of new-to-cruising passengers and I can only guess they thought Summer Palace was too fancy or was a charge restaurant. One dinner we ate in Summer Palace was amazing while the other was downright horrible. The appetizers were always good (mmmm, bruchetta) but the main dish on second night was overcooked and inedible (three of us ordered it and it was the same for all of us). That was the only bad meal. Our food in Lotus Garden was so good. And Le Bistro was absolutely amazing. The mushroom soup was to die for and the steak I had literally melted in my mouth. Absolutely perfect. I really like that if you ordered a glass of wine, they would leave the bottle nearby and fill it as often as needed. So we still were only billed by the glass so it cost us nothing with the beverage package. The Norwegian Red Blend is a really good wine. It's obvious the mixed drinks are watered down but still tasty. I'm a big fan of the Miami Vice or the Mango Meltdown. The drink called Grass Clippings is great too, though one of my bartenders had to pull out a guide sheet on how to make it. Some bars pour wine glasses heavier than others but the serving was never too little. Overall, the beverage package was great for us and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Fellow Passengers: It was clear that a lot of the people on this cruise were newbies. That wasn't a problem, just something I noticed. There were barely any kids and I didn't see any college aged people either. It seemed to be mostly older people, like my age and up. And everyone was incredibly friendly. I never talked to so many random people on a cruise before. It was really nice and fun to meet so many people. There were for sure some people who had enjoyed their drink too much but nothing crazy happened. Overall my fellow passengers were all great. The sign at the front desk said the ship was sold out but it never seemed crowded anywhere to me. Finding a seat by the pool was never hard to do. Costa Maya: For our one stop at Costa Maya, we had booked a excursion on our own through Native Choice. We had to walk to the bus which was a bit of a hike but nothing bad. The tour was to a Mayan ruin and then to a Mayan house for lunch. The tour was amazing and everything we hoped for. There were 4 ships in port so the ruins were very crowded but it was still well managed. The lunch we were served was incredible as well. Our tour guide Enrique and our driver Edgar were great. After the tour, we tried to shop in the port but it was just too crowded. One of the ships in port was the second largest cruise ship in the world so that made it even harder. Days at Sea: It was kinda weird having 2 days at sea for a 4 night cruise but it was part of the appeal to us. We just wanted to relax and these days at sea made that more possible. The second day was an adventure as it was super windy. Deck chairs were blowing over, as well as drinks. It rained and hailed for a bit and they closed the upper decks after that. The wind was insane but that didn't ruin the day for us. We did the wine and chocolate pairing as well as the wine and cheese pairing (both had an extra cost but were well worth it). As I stated above, the ship never felt crazy crowded even on the days at sea so that was nice. We didn't do any of the other activities (bingo, art shows, etc). Entertainment: The live music by the pool was very good, better than I've heard on other ships. The Not-So-Newlywed show was hilarious as always. We did see the comedian and I hate to say but he was really bad. Made some off color jokes that had people walking out of the theater. I actually fell asleep during the show too. Disembarkation: Things seemed a little crazy for getting off the ship. We were doing self walk off and started our trek around 8:30. By then, they hadn't called any colors yet which was kinda odd. I saw a few people complaining that they had a flight to catch, why weren't any colors being called? I still don't really know what happened with that but we got in the line full of people doing self walk off. The line was long but moving...until suddenly it wasn't. We were standing on the deck with a full view of the terminal and I could see the fire alarms flashing. I mentioned this to my family but they all thought I was wrong because we could see people still slowing walking through it. After about 15 minutes, they announced that in fact the terminal's fire alarm had gone off and they were stopping disembarkation until the fire department could check the building. Our flight was at noon out of Ft. Lauderdale so this had us in a bit of a panic. People were cutting in line and demanding special treatment to get off the ship as soon as possible. I felt like the crew could have pushed back on these people more but instead were sticking with their friendly dispositions. It was probably 45 minutes before they opened the terminal back up and we were quickly sent through customs and on our bus and at the airport in plenty of time. The fire alarm was obviously not NCL's fault so I have no complaint. I'm glad we hadn't left our luggage for NCL to take care of as that seemed to not be going well but I really don't know. Overall: We had a great time. We relaxed, we drank, we ate, we had fun. We never felt nickel and dimed for anything, I still don't understand why people complain about that. The only charges on my bill were for things I bought in the gift shop and taxes for the drinks I ordered while we were docked in Miami and the daily service charge. Was never pushed to pay for anything else. I still love NCL and would love to sail them again but with all the price increases going on, I'm not sure I'll actually be able to. We'll see.

The ladies of my family took a getaway on the Pearl and we had a great time!

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by Pacclady

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
When and where:

We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl on a 4 night cruise out of Miami on December 9th. We made one stop at Costa Maya and had two days at sea.

Who:

This was my 11th cruise, 8 of which have been on Norwegian Cruise Lines. This was actually my third cruise on the Pearl. I sailed with my Mom (68), who is retired with my dad and takes 1-2 to cruises a year, mostly on Princess. I also sailed with my sister-in-law (45), who has only cruised a few times, this being her second time on Norwegian. The fourth member of our party was my cousin (33) who is an avid cruiser who has no allegiance to any cruise line and goes with the best deal whether it be NCL, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean. We had two connecting mini-suites.

This cruise happened pretty much because I found an amazing deal and mentioned it to my mom who in turned told these other ladies in my family. We hadn't been looking for a trip but we couldn't resist this deal and went for it. The package included airfare, beverage package, dining package, 100 minutes of internet, and $50 shore excursion credit. The deal truly was amazing. We originally booked balconies but the price kept dropping so we were upgraded to mini-suites.

NCL Air program:

I know a lot of people wonder about this so I wanted to mention that we were very happy with the flights NCL put us on. We flew on American Airlines from Chicago to Miami the morning of the cruise, with a flight leaving at 5am. While that was stupid early, we knew it meant we shouldn't have a problem getting to the ship on time. Our return flight was from Fort Lauderdale and departed at 11:54am. Absolutely perfect times, no complaints.

Embarkation:

Thanks to our very early flight, we were at the pier before security even opened. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before they started letting people through, I think it was 10am. Check in was a breeze and we were in the waiting area before they even set up the photo backdrop. It was very hot so we all changed our of our Chicago winter clothes in the bathrooms while waiting. We were boarding group 1 and we were allowed to board at 11:30. The sheet we had been given told us that the dining room would be open for lunch so we headed there after dropping off our luggage in the Bliss. Unfortunately the dining room didn't open until noon and we hadn't eaten anything all day so we went to the buffet instead. Besides that, embarkation was a breeze. Our rooms were ready at 2pm and our luggage arrived by 3pm.

The Cabin:

My mom and I were in room 11050 while the rest of our group was in 11052, which was a connecting stateroom. We found it interesting that the connecting doors are locked and you have to have the steward unlock them. Once we did, those doors stayed open the entire trip so it was like we had a two bedroom/two bathroom suite. I had sailed on a regular balcony suite last time and I think the balconies on the mini suites were larger. After sailing the Getaway last time, I was so happy to see these balconies where you can actually stretch out. Our balcony had a lounge chair on it, like one of the ones you find pool side. I don't think it was supposed to be there as that and the two chairs and table made it crowded out there. We still used it. The other balcony did not have the lounge chair. The suite was very spacious, plenty of room for me and my Mom. We didn't use all the drawers or hangers. The bathroom is that split style that I love and it had a tub. The sides of the tub were VERY high. I'm in my 40s but I still had to us the handle to get in and out. I did have knee surgery last year and I was kinda worried about re-injury getting in and out of the tub. The handle was a huge help. Our steward was fine, we only met him once. My only complaint is that I actually like to use the cabin and prefer the balcony to the pool side but he didn't make up the room until very late in the day. Once it was 3pm and he still hadn't come by. I thought that was kinda weird. I would sit on the balcony so he could see me and not accidentally lock me out while cleaning.

The Ship:

Obviously I like this ship, or I wouldn't have booked a 3rd trip on her. She had had an refresh since I last sailed in 2016 and it was all positive. Everything was clean and looked great. My only complaint was that they got rid of the ridiculous colorful sofas in Spinnaker and replaced them with sensible tables and chairs. I loved to read on those silly couches during the day so I missed them but I get why they were replaced. Moderno had been moved and O'Sheenan's added since my last cruise. Besides that, she still was the same great ship. I love her layout and find her very easy to navigate.

The crew is all amazing. Absolutely no complaints about any of the crew. The bartenders and wait staff were friendly and had no issues with the beverage package. I think it helps that they no longer have to have us sign the receipts. They also had figured out the system and would often bring us two drinks when we ordered just one so they could mark it as two and get double the gratuity. I had no problem with that. Or if you ordered a drink, they'd give you a double which technically is over the $15 limit but they would enter it into the system as two separate drinks so there'd be no charge. We never had a problem getting drinks. All the waiters in the restaurants were wonderful. Everyone greeted us with a smile and was always very happy to help. Wonderful crew on the Pearl.

Food and Drink:

We ate two breakfasts in the dining room and two in the buffet. Food was great both places. We ate 2 lunches in the buffet and 1 in O'Sheenans. All great (love the fajitas in O'Sheenans.) For dinner, we ate twice in the Summer Palace dining room, once in Lotus Garden and once in Le Bistro. For some reason, the other dining room, Indigo, always had a 30 minute wait while Summer Palace was always instant seating. There seemed to be a lot of new-to-cruising passengers and I can only guess they thought Summer Palace was too fancy or was a charge restaurant. One dinner we ate in Summer Palace was amazing while the other was downright horrible. The appetizers were always good (mmmm, bruchetta) but the main dish on second night was overcooked and inedible (three of us ordered it and it was the same for all of us). That was the only bad meal. Our food in Lotus Garden was so good. And Le Bistro was absolutely amazing. The mushroom soup was to die for and the steak I had literally melted in my mouth. Absolutely perfect. I really like that if you ordered a glass of wine, they would leave the bottle nearby and fill it as often as needed. So we still were only billed by the glass so it cost us nothing with the beverage package. The Norwegian Red Blend is a really good wine. It's obvious the mixed drinks are watered down but still tasty. I'm a big fan of the Miami Vice or the Mango Meltdown. The drink called Grass Clippings is great too, though one of my bartenders had to pull out a guide sheet on how to make it. Some bars pour wine glasses heavier than others but the serving was never too little. Overall, the beverage package was great for us and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Fellow Passengers:

It was clear that a lot of the people on this cruise were newbies. That wasn't a problem, just something I noticed. There were barely any kids and I didn't see any college aged people either. It seemed to be mostly older people, like my age and up. And everyone was incredibly friendly. I never talked to so many random people on a cruise before. It was really nice and fun to meet so many people. There were for sure some people who had enjoyed their drink too much but nothing crazy happened. Overall my fellow passengers were all great. The sign at the front desk said the ship was sold out but it never seemed crowded anywhere to me. Finding a seat by the pool was never hard to do.

Costa Maya:

For our one stop at Costa Maya, we had booked a excursion on our own through Native Choice. We had to walk to the bus which was a bit of a hike but nothing bad. The tour was to a Mayan ruin and then to a Mayan house for lunch. The tour was amazing and everything we hoped for. There were 4 ships in port so the ruins were very crowded but it was still well managed. The lunch we were served was incredible as well. Our tour guide Enrique and our driver Edgar were great. After the tour, we tried to shop in the port but it was just too crowded. One of the ships in port was the second largest cruise ship in the world so that made it even harder.

Days at Sea:

It was kinda weird having 2 days at sea for a 4 night cruise but it was part of the appeal to us. We just wanted to relax and these days at sea made that more possible. The second day was an adventure as it was super windy. Deck chairs were blowing over, as well as drinks. It rained and hailed for a bit and they closed the upper decks after that. The wind was insane but that didn't ruin the day for us. We did the wine and chocolate pairing as well as the wine and cheese pairing (both had an extra cost but were well worth it). As I stated above, the ship never felt crazy crowded even on the days at sea so that was nice. We didn't do any of the other activities (bingo, art shows, etc).

Entertainment:

The live music by the pool was very good, better than I've heard on other ships. The Not-So-Newlywed show was hilarious as always. We did see the comedian and I hate to say but he was really bad. Made some off color jokes that had people walking out of the theater. I actually fell asleep during the show too.

Disembarkation:

Things seemed a little crazy for getting off the ship. We were doing self walk off and started our trek around 8:30. By then, they hadn't called any colors yet which was kinda odd. I saw a few people complaining that they had a flight to catch, why weren't any colors being called? I still don't really know what happened with that but we got in the line full of people doing self walk off. The line was long but moving...until suddenly it wasn't. We were standing on the deck with a full view of the terminal and I could see the fire alarms flashing. I mentioned this to my family but they all thought I was wrong because we could see people still slowing walking through it. After about 15 minutes, they announced that in fact the terminal's fire alarm had gone off and they were stopping disembarkation until the fire department could check the building. Our flight was at noon out of Ft. Lauderdale so this had us in a bit of a panic. People were cutting in line and demanding special treatment to get off the ship as soon as possible. I felt like the crew could have pushed back on these people more but instead were sticking with their friendly dispositions. It was probably 45 minutes before they opened the terminal back up and we were quickly sent through customs and on our bus and at the airport in plenty of time. The fire alarm was obviously not NCL's fault so I have no complaint. I'm glad we hadn't left our luggage for NCL to take care of as that seemed to not be going well but I really don't know.

Overall:

We had a great time. We relaxed, we drank, we ate, we had fun. We never felt nickel and dimed for anything, I still don't understand why people complain about that. The only charges on my bill were for things I bought in the gift shop and taxes for the drinks I ordered while we were docked in Miami and the daily service charge. Was never pushed to pay for anything else. I still love NCL and would love to sail them again but with all the price increases going on, I'm not sure I'll actually be able to. We'll see.
Pacclady’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11050
Very spacious with lots of storage. The balcony was very large. The bathroom was split which was great. But the bathtub had very high sides that were a bit of challenge. Great location. We were right below the pool deck and once heard some noise but nothing bad.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins