Great Family Vacation on the Pearl: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by bmjpwig
Overall Member Rating
Great Family Vacation on the Pearl
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation was very easy. We walked on with little to no line at 12:30. Onboard it was very crowded in the pool area, which is to be expected before the staterooms are ready. We were, however, able to find a good spot to settle down and I would say the only drawback was how loud the band was (which seemed to get a little better later on in the cruise).
Rooms were ready around 2:00. The setup of the adjoining staterooms worked great for us. We weren't "locked down" once the girls went to bed since we had the flexibility to use the other room/balcony. Our room stewards were fantastic and always chatted with the girls. More
The dining on the Pearl was better than I expected. We ate 4 nights at the specialty restaurants and 3 nights in the Main Dining Rooms. In particular, we thought Mambos was fantastic and ate there twice. Much better than many Mexican restaurants you can find on land (and we lived in Tucson for some time) and well worth the price. Le Bistro was also very good. The Sushi was fine - our only real nitpick was that there wasn't a great variety. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch and thought the selection and quality was very good. We ate at Indigo twice and the Summer Palace once - the food there was decent (found the appetizers very good and the main courses just ok). We also had lunch at the pub one day and thought the fish sticks and wings were very good. We also loved the ability to dine when we wanted to - this was key with 2 young kids. Overall the dining exceeded my expectations - just understand the business model and factor in that you will have to pay a little more for a higher quality experience.
The bars and clubs we visited were all very good - much better than other cruises we've been on (maybe because our other cruises were Alaska/Med with Princess/HAL). We particularly enjoyed the 2 for 1 martinis during happy hour at the Star Bar and evenings at Bliss.
The entertainment that we saw was top notch. On previous cruises I considered the entertainment as a throw-in - nice maybe but something I would never go see if I weren't on the boat. Sharkbait and Oh What a Night in particular were much better than that and we really enjoyed their shows. We saw the Second City comedy improv show on the last night and that was very good as well.
Our daughters went to the kids' club several times - mainly to either allow us an adults' dinner or give an hour here or there for a workout or relaxation. One of the factors in deciding on Norwegian was that their kid's activities included 2 year olds. Having said that - I don't think they were really geared for that. Other than the night when she ate with the other kids, our youngest daughter didn't seem to love it. Not the fault of the staff - I just think the predominance of kids was older (even in the 2 to 5 group), so the activities are geared to them. Our older daughter did have a good time and was excited to play with the other kids. So overall, not perfect, but it did afford both parents and kids some needed breaks.
The ports of call I reviewed separately, but we really enjoyed them all.
Overall, we had a great time on this cruise. The Pearl is a very nice ship to travel on and the itinerary was great. The staff was extremely friendly (with the exception of 1 waitress in the Main Dining Room) and really went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. I would not hesitate to book a cruise with NCL again. Less