Great Family Vacation on the Pearl: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by bmjpwig

Norwegian Pearl 5
Member Since 2011

Overall Member Rating

Great Family Vacation on the Pearl

Sail Date: February 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
Overall, we had a great vacation and the Norwegian Pearl exceeded our expectations. We booked adjoining mini-suites for ourselves (included our daughters, ages 2 and 3) and my parents. It was our 3rd cruise (1st with Norwegian) and my parents first. We loved the itinerary for this Western Caribbean cruise and the weather was great throughout.

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

Published 03/14/11

Cabin review: MA11086 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

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Port and Shore Excursions

In Belize, we booked the Bannister Island/snorkeling/Manatee Watch combo through Coral Breezes. We almost missed the tour because the tender process took much longer than expected, but thankfully they waited for us (don’t think the other folks were too happy, but oh well). Booking independently with Coral Breezes worked out very well, especially on Bannister – when we showed up the place was a zoo and there wasn’t a beach chair to be found, but within an hour the island had cleared out as the ship tours headed back and we had the place to ourselves. I was the only one to snorkel in our group, but it was a great time – beautiful crystal clear water to explore the reef and the marine life. Mr. Bigs did a nice job leading the small group of 5 snorkelers around. The best part of the end of our tour (Manatee Watch) was the 2 dolphins that came right off the side of the boat and swam with us for a while. It did however, become a bit hot on the boat towards the end – so be prepared with plenty of hats/sunscreen.

In Costa Maya, we booked a Chacchoben Mayan ruins tour through the Native Choice that included a stop at Laguna Azul. Once again, we thought this was an excellent tour. Frina, our tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable and did a great job explaining the Mayan culture and the significance of the ruins. Our group was small (5 total), so she was able to steer us away from the crowds of 30+ on other tours in such a way that we were often the only ones at a particular site. The resort on Laguna Azul after the ruins was also wonderful. Roberto, the owner, was very gracious. We enjoyed lunch, a few cold beers, sitting on the dock by the water…even took a kayak out for a spin on the lake. We got back to Costa Maya with enough time to do a little shopping in the port area. Overall, it was a fantastic way to spend the day and a highly recommended tour.

Read 1767 Costa Maya Reviews

In Key West, we didn’t plan any tours but once we walked a little bit around town we decided to take the Conch Train tour. This was a 90 minute ride all throughout Key West. It was great for both the kids and the adults.

Read 1393 Key West Reviews

In Roatan, we booked an island tour with Victor Bodden. Our tour guide, Ronald, was fantastic. He was a pleasure to talk to and really went out of his way to show us a good time. After driving around the island for an hour, we went to Victor's monkey business (which our kids loved), ate lunch at Half Moon Bay (very nice and relaxing), and then spent the rest of our time at a resort in West Bay (great beach area, but even better pool). It was really a perfect tour, and at a great price too.

Read 2447 Roatan Reviews

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