Disappointed on 9/18/11 NCL Pearl Sail to Alaska: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by sfgiants

Norwegian Pearl 1
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Disappointed on 9/18/11 NCL Pearl Sail to Alaska

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
3rd cruise, 1st on NCL. We won't sail with them again, as the plus of freestyle cruising did not overcome the many negatives. This review is detailed, so I've summarized by category, and then gone into details.

Ship: Tacky and Impersonal.

The ship is gaudy in decor, with tropical touches throughout. We were in Alaska. I realize they can't change the ship by port, but classy always works, and they would have done well go with that. There are very few areas to sit and watch the water or read or just relax, and most of those are in large public areas. The Spinnaker lounge has nice seating, but its a huge area and often filled with loud activities such as Bingo. The view isn't as good in the Star Bar, but it was quiet- when we were allowed in. The two pools and four hot tubs are all adjoining, and I prefer private smaller separate areas (Royal C Solarium was outstanding in the past). Our inside stateroom was fairly spacious and there were lots of nice storage spaces. More The shower door stuck, and the lack of conditioner was a let down. We were on Deck 5, and I'm not sure why, but it was often significantly colder than other Decks, which was fine with us. It also smelled sometimes like a restroom, which was horrific.

Food: Sub-par in flavor, eccentric in variety.

Buffet- The buffet had lots of options, but none of them were good. Dry roasted chicken, flavorless over-cheesed pizza with soft crusts, and school cafeteria grade hamburgers. For your best choices, stick to the fresh items like fruits and salads, or the items that don't suffer from sitting for so long, like the soups. The chocolate buffet fills the room, but duplicate items abound, and none of it was worth a second helping.

Main Dining Rooms- poor food and apathetic service made us feel as though they were pushing us far too hard to eat at the specialty restaurants. The low points were the wilted shrimp Caesar, the hamburger, the soggy chips, and this horrible mushroom filled pasta topped with three cheeses, including cheddar, that was both terrible to view and to taste. The highlights, such as they were, were the French Onion Soup, the Salmon/Shrimp Sandwich, and the Asian Firecracker roll. Special requests, no matter how minor (extra raspberry sauce with the cake) were met with blank looks, leaving us to guess as to whether or not they would be accommodated.

Specialty Restaurants- Cagney's Steakhouse/Teppanyaki: Better than the dining room, but perhaps not worth the $25 charge/pp.

Cagney's: We ate here twice and enjoyed it. However, I'll caveat by saying the second time wasn't prompted by the fabulous experience during the first. Rather, we couldn't face another meal in the main dining room. The appetizers were quite good, I liked the shrimp cocktail and the crabcakes. The wedge salad was good, the lobster bisque was not. I had the filet both times, and the first is was medium instead of medium rare, but still tasty. Dessert was a let-down, as the sampler plate only hit a homerun on 1/3 options, the brownie. I ordered a full serving of that the second time, and it was quite good- however, you'd expect more than a chain restaurant gooey brownie dessert for the price.

Teppanyaki- Edamame app was fine, didn't like the salad, enjoyed my shrimp/filet main course (though again, the filet was not medium rare, rather medium/medium well) and the butter or oil seemed a bit heavy. The green tea cake looked like a Twinkie gone awry (is that even possible) and I only had a few bites.

Service: Tired and Uncaring

It was abundantly obvious that most of the crew was sick of Alaska and ready to go. Some of them readily confessed to this fact, while others simply made it known by the way they did their job. Only our room steward Myrna was consistently friendly and bothered to ask and learn our names, but she dialed it in in other areas such as the towel animals, we only got one. The others said hi in the way that lets you know they are only doing it because they must. The dining room service was impersonal to the extreme. I realize you have a different table each night, but you could still chat briefly with your guests about the cruise to see if they are enjoying it. The spa was flat out rude when they let us know it was fully booked all week, offering no sympathy or options. The excursion desk left a VM at 11:09am letting us know our 11:20am excursion was partially cancelled- of course we were already well on the dock at that point. Overall, the pampering experience you hope for on a cruise was non-existent.


The announcements could not be heard in our cabin, so unless we got up and opened the door, we only heard muffled chatter. Thus, we had to plan our day using the guide, which was not well done in my opinion.

I realize the cruise wants to make money, but more free activities should be offered. I don't want to pay an undisclosed amount for a fitness class, or $5 for a game of bowling, or $15 for a salsa tasting, I just want you to give it to me as part of the fare. Make the fare higher if you must, but constantly weighing the cost puts a damper on my vacation. Also, the library was open 24/7, but you couldn't get to the books unless the person was on duty, which was only 4 hours a day. Is book theft that big an issue on the ship?

We saw two shows- Sharkbait and Second City Comedy, both had several flat moments.

Our best activity was the Pub Crawl ($25/pp) which got us 5 drinks, an hour of time with a staff member who actually tried to have fun, and a way to meet some of the less sedate cruisers on board. Definitely the highlight of our activities on board. Less

Published 09/30/11

Cabin review: IE5561 Mid-Ship Inside

Lots of storage space. Colder than the other decks, with an odd smell. Shower door stuck. Couldn't hear announcements without opening the door.

Read All Mid-Ship Inside (IE) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Bitterly disappointing, as we scheduled a whale watching excursion and got on the water for 20 mins, only to have them let us know they weren't able to get to the whales in our allotted time and turn around. They did refund us the entire amount, but the time spent getting to the boat and on the water didn't allow us to do another excursion in that time. Worse, we then heard stories later from other passengers about how their whale watching adventures went ahead as planned and yielded numerous whale sightings. They did take us to the Mendenhall glacier, which was nice of them. However, I won't recommend this as an excursion, as the glaciers in Glacier Bay are more majestic and seen free from the ship.

Also, if you want to buy souvenirs, this port had the best sales.

Read 1208 Juneau Reviews

I liked Creek Street, even though it was touristy, because of the harbor seals and the salmon swimming upstream. Our excursion here to George's Inlet was also a letdown, as the boat portion where we were to catch crabs was cancelled due to weather. However, the crab dinner was good, and the ladies at the lodge fun.

Read 1372 Ketchikan Reviews

We took the 7.5 hour bus/train ride into the Yukon, and were glad we did, as this allowed us to see some of actual Alaska, not just the touristy piers. Our bus driver Blake was the highlight, his witty commentary and knowledge throughout the drive helped make the trip short. I only wish he had been with us on the train, because their commentary was less educated and enlightening. Also, translate parlor car is BS, because even though its train, it looks like the inside of a school bus.

CarCross was nice to see, as it gave a sense of actual Alaska, and so was Emerald Lake. The place we ate the BBQ chicken was a wooden storefront tourist trap, but the dogsled ride was good (and cheaper than the ships at only $30/pp) and the museum actually had lots of animals.

Read 888 Skagway Reviews

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Member Since 2003
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