Wonderful Cruise Aboard the Pearl: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by hunnyboo314

Norwegian Pearl 5
Member Since 2011
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Wonderful Cruise Aboard the Pearl

Sail Date: December 2010
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
My boyfriend and I took our first cruise together in December of 2010 in order to escape the wintry mix here in NYC. Our cruise was a 7-night from Miami visiting the following ports: Roatan (Honduras), Belize City, Costa Maya (Mexico), and Key West.

Embarkation: We were over an hour early for embarkation but were pleasantly greeted by NCL employees and invited in the port to wait despite the fact that it was around 10:00 AM and we would not board until at least 11:30. Coffee, juice, and other refreshments were served in the main waiting room and people were lined up in order of their arrival. When the boat was ready at about 11:30, we were smoothly aboard the boat and our luggage was quickly checked until our room was ready.

Public Areas: Following our lunch in the Garden Cafe, we waited about 30 minutes for our balcony stateroom to be prepared well before the expected waiting peiod. All of the public areas, lounges, pools, and bars were very clean and beatifully More decorated. My favorite was the adorable bubbling champagne bar while my boyfriend enjoyed the 2-deck tall TV watching the New York Giants!

Stateroom: Our room was very bright and nicely decorated. We were greeted by the room attendants and given a rundown of the nights activites as well as the flyer for the following day every evening. The stewards were always very curteous and friendly, and always made a point of greeting everyone who walked past, even if they were busy.

Activities: There was NEVER a shortage of activies aboard the Pearl for all ages. We were by far the youngest couple on the cruise and were constantly busy aboard the boat even on sea days. It was also nice that Andy, the cruise director, constantly reminded eveyone of exciting activities via the accouncement system.

Dining: My boyfriend and I spent 5 nights in the Indigo main dining room, 1 night in the sushi restaraunt, and one night in the garden buffet. All of the dining facilities were very clean and neatly organized with a number of different stations in the buffet where the food was personally prepared. We never waited more that 5-10 minutes to eat because of the freestyle cruising, and were happy to see that in various points all over the boat there were real-time updates on how long the wait was in each restaraunt. The quality of the food was wonderful, and never had any issues finding a seat, even during the morning buffet rush. The outdoor poolside mini-buffet was a great idea, and we really enjoyed the cold salads and small snacks.

We opted to eat in the sushi restaraunt one night due to the fact that the main dining room served italian, steak, and seafood entrees, so we did not see fit to pay extra to eat in a specialty restaraunt where a similar entree would be included in the main dining room. The waitstaff remembered our faces evenwhen they were working at other posts, and made a point to remind us that it was lobster night, chocolate buffet night, etc. and would be seeing us later at Indigo. We really appreciated the personal interaction.

The only downfall about dining was the fact that there were no complimentary juices like other cruise lines. The only complimentary drink other than coffee ot tea was the iced tea, which even with a half-pound of sugar added to it, still tasted pretty horrible. The soda card was too expensive, so we snuck on a 2-liter from each port.

24 Hour service: We attended the 24-hour restaraunt, the blue lagoon, and were happy to find that it was not a serve-yourself type of buffet or food in a glass case, it was a RESTARAUNT with waitstaff members who were very friendly despite the fact that it was 4:00 AM. One night we ordered room service, and recieved our meal about 15 minutes later by a very friendly gentleman.

Dress Code: Norwegian made a point of informing everyone to dress comfortably at all times. There was no dress code in the Indigo main dining room, but cruisers were asked to dress a bit more formal to dine in the Summer Palace. I really enjoyed this relaxed policy as opposed to other cruises. As much as I enjoy the glitz and glamour of formal night, I wear a suit every day as a manager at a bank, so on a vacation in 80+ degree weather in the caribbean, I'd like to be comfy! Formal night was optional, and although I packed the expensive freshly-pressed gown, I opted for khaki shorts and jeweled flip-flops. :-)

Entertainment: One word - SHARKBAIT! This show was incredible, involved the crowd and was very exciting. For the first time on any cruise, people were allowed to meet and take pictures with the performers. We also really enjoyed the tribute to Frankie Valley, even though his music was well before our time, the production was great. We didn't enjoy the comedian too much, and chose to skip out on the show before it was over.

Ports of Call: We were on and off the boat within 2-3 minutes. VERY organized, I was really impressed. The captain was even able to dock over an hour early to Costa Maya despite the fact that someone had been airlifted off of the boat just the night before. All of the ports were beautiful, and we chose to do excursions that were offered by the locals in order to save a few hundred bucks. Costa Maya looks pretty unappealing from where the boat ports, but a 10-minute cab ride down the coast brings you to some beautiful private beaches.

On the cruise we noticed a number of people complaining about silly things: the lack of real flowers on dinner tables, crispy bacon not being "crispy enough", the bathroom soap being "too soapy", the bit of rust on the balcony from the salt water, etc. and to that I say - it's a vacation, relax. The point of freestyle cruising is to cruise your way, dressed your way, on your time, just as a vacation should be. You get out what you put in, and if you're looking for the negative in everything, you'll surely find it. Freestyle cruising isn't for everyone, especially those who have attended a number of traditional cruises will find it much different than what they are used to. We didn't experience any issues with anything on the Pearl, we had an amazing time al around and are looking forward to a vacation on the Norwegian Jewel from our hometown of NYC this winter. Happy cruising! Less

Published 03/01/11

Cabin review: BB10158 Balcony

Very peaceful, comfortable size, nicely decorated, small toilet space, very clean, decent sized balcony.

Read All Balcony (BB) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

As far as the port is concerned, the only area that was seemingly safe was the waterfront itself. Unfortunately, Belize is an extremely poor country, and as soon as you leave the port grounds it becomes very evident. We walked along the waterfront and found a tour company offering cave tubing for $35/pp ($99 if booked through NCL - they use the same company). There's only one cave tubing/rainforest trekking location, so no matter who you book with, it's the same place. The location itself was about an hour away in a bus ride but the grounds were incredibly beautiful. The tour guides were awesome and very knowledgeable about the rainforest, the history, the caves, and the foliage. The rainforest tour booked through NCL does not offer the chance to stop and discuss different types of plants encountered along the walk to the cave tubing enterance, and if you book on your own you walk for about 30 minutes more than those who booked through NCL, so you get about 20 minutes more worth of the cave tubing experience once you hit the water. The caves are breath-taking, there are at least two tour guides for every group so safety is assured. Beware - even though the temperatures are hot, the water is freezing! It's definitley well worth the money spent. On the cave tubing grounds you can sample locally made liquor and purchase a coconut filled with Belizean rum for $5 - very smooth and refreshing, and well worth the price!

After two days of physical activity on our other two ports, we chose Costa Maya to relax and enjoy the sunny weather. Although the location of where the boat docks is not very appealing, there are a number of beautiful and serene beaches not too far up the coast. The port itself is filled with wonderful small shops filled with handmade crafts not found anywhere else on the cruise. We walked for a few minutes and encountered a man selling tickets to a beach party with an open bar for $50/person. We were able to talk him down to $25 each, and took a short 2 mile bus ride to BOH beach which was located amongst a very busy tourist stip that faces the boat dock. The beach was beautiful, the water was crystal clear, and we were offered our own personal sunchairs and palapas for the price we paid for the open bar. The service on the beach was wonderful, we recieved a 45 minute massage for $20 right on the beach grounds, free paddleboats to enjoy the water, and the opportunity to rent snorkle gear or a banana boat. My suggestion for Costa Maya is to do nothing but relax on the beach and let yourself be pampered for a great price. Costa Maya is a very up-and-coming tourist area and had no shortage of activites to do by simply waking along the busy coast. There were free shots, free food, lots of craft vendors, and an all around beautiful beach scene.

Read 1761 Costa Maya Reviews

Key West was a pretty little coast city, but the one downfall is since it's located in te U.S., the prices for excursions are very pricey and non-negotiable. We visited the aquarium which was definitley a wonderful highlight of our entire trip - we visited the small markets and the Key West Mall, and really just took the opportunity to walk around and enjoy the scenery of the bustling town. We made a point of purchasing a slice of key lime pie from one of the award winning storefronts on Duval St. Unfortunately, time is very limited in Key West due to the fact that the cruise ships must leave by 12:00 PM. In Key West, sundown is celebrated each day, therefore the boats must be cleared from the port so the sunset can be seen.

Read 1377 Key West Reviews

Roatan was beautiful upon first sight. As said before, we chose to do our excursions not through Norwegian Cruise line as they were very pricey and not really worth the money. walking off the boat we were greeted by a 10-person percussion/dance team performing traditional Honduran dances. We stopped by a few of the duty-free stores, but found that the prices were surprisingly more expensive than some of the stores located in NYC where we live. We encountered a number of islanders offering different excursions in the very rainy weather and settled on an island tour for $20/person. On the tour we stopped at the monkey park for $5 ($50 if booked through NCL) and stopped to eat official island food on the West End. The West End was a very cultured part of Roatan, and obviously frequented by tourists because lunch prices at the restaraunts out on the sea docks were insane. We walked down the road and found a roadside taco BBQ and bar where fresh-made burritos were 3/$6 and the island's signature mudslide monkey la-la drink was $4. Delicious! The island itself has many activities to do, many interesting small shops will lots of hand-crafted materials and tons of places to eat.

Read 2443 Roatan Reviews

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Member Since 2011
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