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This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid back. As usual, our every need was met and our every expectation was exceeded. This trip was with 5 dear friends that were brave enough to take me to cold weather!! Yes indeed it was cold and wet, but how could you really notice with the amazing scenery and things that we saw! To experience the Inside Passage with American Eagles flying by leaves me without words to express. The ships high standard of cleanliness was as evident as ever. Everywhere you go are crew members diligently attending to every detail. We arrived at the pier in Seattle about 12:30 and with our pre-registration in hand we sailed so quickly thru check-in I hardly remember stopping for the picture! As I've said before in my reviews, the key really is to come as early as you can. The lines are shorter and things move quickly. As the day passes and more people arrive, it will require a bit of a wait, but not a long one. Suite and above folks have a private check-in, and Latitudes members can process quickly as well. Be sure to PRE REGISTER online and that will save you some time at the counter. Our room was ready and spotless. We chose a mini-suite to be able to take in the Alaskan vistas right from our cabin. Even the lifeboat drill seemed relaxed this time, especially since the new rule of not having to tote those bulky life preservers with you! Making dinner reservations are very easy. In cruises past I could only book a day or two in advance, but this cruise allowed me to book my entire weeks worth of reservations in on shot! That is a dream when you are making dinner plans for a group of 6. Reservations were available most everywhere with the exception of Le Bistro and Teppenyaki. Those two places filled up fast. So make your selections for those early. Sometimes we had to juggle our times here and there, but the crew bends over backwards to accommodate you. I can't say enough about the food. We did the Garden Cafe for breakfast (free) and some lunches (free) but most dinners we dined at the specialty restaurants. WELL worth the added fee. Don't let those fees scare you off, it's TOTALLY worth it. I will say this, since this is an Alaskan cruise most folks won't venture out to the poolside buffet or the Grill Buffet in the back as they are outside. This fact makes the inside Garden Cafe Buffet PACKED. So plan on a bit more time to eat if you are dining there, and be patient for a table. The crew is vigilant about cleaning tables quickly and finding you a seat. Things you MUST eat: BBQ Pork Ribs, Dirty Noodles, Lamb Medallions - Lotus Garden Restaurant Escargo, and anything on the menu - Le Bistro Lobster, monster shrimp cocktail - Cagney's Chocolate Buffet - Watch your FreeStyle Daily The spa prices are pricey as always. But watch your Freestyle Daily for specials. Also physically GO to the spa and talk to the spa crew. They will work special combo deals for you that are listed on the menu of services. Best Spa Deals: the 10/20/30 plan - 10% off first treatment, 20% of 2nd, 30% off third...combine those with bartering at the counter for a freebie. The other thing I would HIGHLY recommend is the Spa Pass. You pay a flat rate (was $119 per person for the 7 day cruise) and you have access to the mineral baths, hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam room, stone therapy lounges, cold plunge and the private locker area for the entire cruise. You also have access to the very restful lounge area that sits at the very FRONT of the ship with full glass panoramic views out the bow. Likely my only complaint this cruise was that there was some paint peeling in the hydrotherapy pool. The entertainment was fun, but I sure miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company. It seems the Pearl is handling it's own "stage show" performances now and they simply don't have the edge that the JARCo did. This is not to say its a bad show...it was enjoyable, but just not the Vegas quality that I've enjoyed in the past. SharkBait Duo was outstanding! The Bliss Ultra Lounge is amazing, be sure to see it. Not to mention you can go bowling ($5 per person, per game). I have to say I'm not thrilled now that the Spinnaker Lounge is "family" til all hours now. Before underage kids were allowed til 10pm then asked to leave the club to the adults. Now they are allowed until closing at midnight. From there the party would move to Bliss until their closing at 2am. However, since the Spinnaker is at the front of the ship and the Bliss is at the back, most folks seem to simply call it a night and find their cabins. Watch your Freestyle Daily for specials in the Duty Free Shop. Great deals on liquor on certain days, plus free tastings! Always, always, ALWAYS mention you are a Latitudes member and get an additional 10-20% off anything you purchase in the shopping area. Just cuz it says Latitudes on your card, doesn't mean you'll get the discount. So ASK for it! Most favorite crew members: Annalissa in the Lotus Garden and Gede in the Java City Cafe (ask to see the 7 ball juggling act). Another all time favorite is Carlos the Concierge. Even though we weren't in suites, he always took the time to say hello. The highlight had to be the cruise of Glacier Bay National Park. The captain gave us plenty of time on both sides of the ship to view the Glaciers. We saw otters, seals, porpoises and WHALES! We even saw a large chunk of glacier fall into the bay with a thunderous crash!! One thing we did this cruise that I've never done before was to take advantage of the BAGS program. It is AWESOME! You pay $20 per person to enroll in BAGS. The night before, just like everyone else you put your luggage outside your cabin. Now, in the morning as you are leaving, everyone else will have to wait their turn in line to get off the ship, go wait in line at customs, and fetch their luggage. Then drag them to a cab, drag them to check-in at the airport ,and FINALLY your hours as a pack mule are over! BUT if you enrolled in BAGS you can get off the ship anytime you want, walk past the customs line and right out to the taxi stand. You simply walk to your gate at the airport and get on the plane. For your $20 the BAGS folks will automatically take your luggage to the airport, check it for you, and you won't see it again until you arrive home. They will even print your boarding passes off for you, and deliver them to your cabin the night before. Well worth the $20 and made NCL's usual disembarkation day even more care free! I had been saying before this cruise that it was a "once in a lifetime" cruise for me. A "bucket list" item so to speak, as it was something I wished to experience but would never choose to do a second time. How wrong I was! I would cruise to Alaska again! The whole experience was awesome. If you want to know anything specific, I'm happy to answer questions!

Visiting the Alaskan Frontier Aboard NCL's Pearl

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by BeadBabe

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2011
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid back.



As usual, our every need was met and our every expectation was exceeded. This trip was with 5 dear friends that were brave enough to take me to cold weather!! Yes indeed it was cold and wet, but how could you really notice with the amazing scenery and things that we saw! To experience the Inside Passage with American Eagles flying by leaves me without words to express.



The ships high standard of cleanliness was as evident as ever. Everywhere you go are crew members diligently attending to every detail.



We arrived at the pier in Seattle about 12:30 and with our pre-registration in hand we sailed so quickly thru check-in I hardly remember stopping for the picture! As I've said before in my reviews, the key really is to come as early as you can. The lines are shorter and things move quickly. As the day passes and more people arrive, it will require a bit of a wait, but not a long one. Suite and above folks have a private check-in, and Latitudes members can process quickly as well. Be sure to PRE REGISTER online and that will save you some time at the counter.



Our room was ready and spotless. We chose a mini-suite to be able to take in the Alaskan vistas right from our cabin. Even the lifeboat drill seemed relaxed this time, especially since the new rule of not having to tote those bulky life preservers with you!



Making dinner reservations are very easy. In cruises past I could only book a day or two in advance, but this cruise allowed me to book my entire weeks worth of reservations in on shot! That is a dream when you are making dinner plans for a group of 6. Reservations were available most everywhere with the exception of Le Bistro and Teppenyaki. Those two places filled up fast. So make your selections for those early. Sometimes we had to juggle our times here and there, but the crew bends over backwards to accommodate you. I can't say enough about the food. We did the Garden Cafe for breakfast (free) and some lunches (free) but most dinners we dined at the specialty restaurants. WELL worth the added fee. Don't let those fees scare you off, it's TOTALLY worth it. I will say this, since this is an Alaskan cruise most folks won't venture out to the poolside buffet or the Grill Buffet in the back as they are outside. This fact makes the inside Garden Cafe Buffet PACKED. So plan on a bit more time to eat if you are dining there, and be patient for a table. The crew is vigilant about cleaning tables quickly and finding you a seat.



Things you MUST eat:



BBQ Pork Ribs, Dirty Noodles, Lamb Medallions - Lotus Garden Restaurant



Escargo, and anything on the menu - Le Bistro



Lobster, monster shrimp cocktail - Cagney's



Chocolate Buffet - Watch your FreeStyle Daily



The spa prices are pricey as always. But watch your Freestyle Daily for specials. Also physically GO to the spa and talk to the spa crew. They will work special combo deals for you that are listed on the menu of services. Best Spa Deals: the 10/20/30 plan - 10% off first treatment, 20% of 2nd, 30% off third...combine those with bartering at the counter for a freebie. The other thing I would HIGHLY recommend is the Spa Pass. You pay a flat rate (was $119 per person for the 7 day cruise) and you have access to the mineral baths, hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam room, stone therapy lounges, cold plunge and the private locker area for the entire cruise. You also have access to the very restful lounge area that sits at the very FRONT of the ship with full glass panoramic views out the bow. Likely my only complaint this cruise was that there was some paint peeling in the hydrotherapy pool.



The entertainment was fun, but I sure miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company. It seems the Pearl is handling it's own "stage show" performances now and they simply don't have the edge that the JARCo did. This is not to say its a bad show...it was enjoyable, but just not the Vegas quality that I've enjoyed in the past. SharkBait Duo was outstanding! The Bliss Ultra Lounge is amazing, be sure to see it. Not to mention you can go bowling ($5 per person, per game). I have to say I'm not thrilled now that the Spinnaker Lounge is "family" til all hours now. Before underage kids were allowed til 10pm then asked to leave the club to the adults. Now they are allowed until closing at midnight. From there the party would move to Bliss until their closing at 2am. However, since the Spinnaker is at the front of the ship and the Bliss is at the back, most folks seem to simply call it a night and find their cabins.



Watch your Freestyle Daily for specials in the Duty Free Shop. Great deals on liquor on certain days, plus free tastings! Always, always, ALWAYS mention you are a Latitudes member and get an additional 10-20% off anything you purchase in the shopping area. Just cuz it says Latitudes on your card, doesn't mean you'll get the discount. So ASK for it!



Most favorite crew members: Annalissa in the Lotus Garden and Gede in the Java City Cafe (ask to see the 7 ball juggling act). Another all time favorite is Carlos the Concierge. Even though we weren't in suites, he always took the time to say hello.



The highlight had to be the cruise of Glacier Bay National Park. The captain gave us plenty of time on both sides of the ship to view the Glaciers. We saw otters, seals, porpoises and WHALES! We even saw a large chunk of glacier fall into the bay with a thunderous crash!!



One thing we did this cruise that I've never done before was to take advantage of the BAGS program. It is AWESOME! You pay $20 per person to enroll in BAGS. The night before, just like everyone else you put your luggage outside your cabin. Now, in the morning as you are leaving, everyone else will have to wait their turn in line to get off the ship, go wait in line at customs, and fetch their luggage. Then drag them to a cab, drag them to check-in at the airport ,and FINALLY your hours as a pack mule are over! BUT if you enrolled in BAGS you can get off the ship anytime you want, walk past the customs line and right out to the taxi stand. You simply walk to your gate at the airport and get on the plane. For your $20 the BAGS folks will automatically take your luggage to the airport, check it for you, and you won't see it again until you arrive home. They will even print your boarding passes off for you, and deliver them to your cabin the night before. Well worth the $20 and made NCL's usual disembarkation day even more care free!



I had been saying before this cruise that it was a "once in a lifetime" cruise for me. A "bucket list" item so to speak, as it was something I wished to experience but would never choose to do a second time. How wrong I was! I would cruise to Alaska again!



The whole experience was awesome. If you want to know anything specific, I'm happy to answer questions!
BeadBabe’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11602
11602: A mini suite on deck 11 towards the rear of the ship. The cabin was actually quite spacious. It was enough away from the elevators and stairwells to not hear the noise, yet close enough that it wasn't a major trek to back to them. As always, never enough electrical outlets but that is why I bring a power strip!
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Juneau
    My port rating for Juneau is a 2 simply because there was not much to it. The ship docked and there was a parking lot. Albeit everything was clean, there just wasn't anything there except a coffee stand.
    I used a great local tour operator in Juneau. What a wonderful organization!! They were prompt in replying to my emails and were more than happy to work a special arrangement for my group of 6. They were scheduled to pick us up right at the dock, but we got a wild hair to walk into town first. I phoned them to say we'd be walking around but would head back to the dock and they said "no way! Have fun! Where are you and we will come to you! " So they met us at a location in town and took us to the airfield. It was about a 30 min van ride away from the dock. At the facility, we were briefed and weighed. Yep weighed, as they arrange seating in the copter by size and weight. They also supply over garment rain gear and boots. So dress WARM and LAYER, and then they will fit you with rain gear. SPECTACULAR trip!! The helicopter ride was FANTASTIC and the dog sled adventure was truly once in a life time! Everyone in our party had a turn at driving the team. These people love Alaska, and their jobs, and treat the dogs like they are real children.
    View All 1,559 Juneau Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Ketchikan
    Ketchikan was the largest of the ports but still merits only a three for average. It was spotless and quaint, but mostly imported good and the usual pier fare.
    In Ketchikan I used another local company. Wow what great folks! Picked us up right at the dock and took us about the 20 min ride to the harbor where their planes are. We were welcomed and seated in our plane and off for the Misty Fjords!! It's breathtaking!!! We landed in the water near a remote island and were blessed with seeing several Alaska Black Bears feasting on the spawning salmon. The pilot let us take our time and didn't rush us at all. Now there was one black bear that wanted to rush us and gave us the evil eye, but we kept our distance. This is the real wilds of Alaska folks!!
    View All 1,791 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Skagway
    Skagway gets a 3 because it was your average cruise ship port filled with cute looking shops all selling the same souvenirs. Accompanied by the myriad of jewelry stores that seem to make up pier villages.
    In Skagway I took a day van excursion with a local woman. She partners with her son, so depending on your group size will determine who you go with. Smaller groups in Becky's SUV and larger ones in Kev's big van. What a fun day!! Becky or Kevin will spend SEVERAL emails talking with you about what you want to see. Is wildlife your thing? Hidden bays? Gold? The Yukon? Wanna see it all? They will custom design a tour from 3-6 hours for you and your group. The best part is as you are traveling along, you'll hear historical and hysterical accounts of the history and lore of the Yukon Territory.
    View All 1,129 Skagway Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Victoria
    Victoria is a charming town, but the port gets a 2 as it's at the far end of town with nothing there. You need a ride to the down town or anywhere.
    Our excursion to Butchart Gardens was the one ships tour we took. I have to say it was awesome and a well organized and well oiled machine. We got right off the boat, and were directed to our motor coach. The Gourmet Picnic was delicious!! Although I must say, considering we didn't’t arrive in Victoria until 6pm, if I had to do it over again…I would eat on the ship and spend the extra hour wandering the Gardens. There simply wasn't’t enough time. The musically coordinated fireworks display was lovely! The tour guide was wonderful and gave us a driving tour of Victoria on the way back to the ship.
    View All 1,320 Victoria Cruise Port Reviews
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