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57 Norwegian (NCL) British Columbia Cruise Reviews

This was the third cruise on NCL for my husband and me. Previously we've cruised aboard the Pearl (our first-ever cruise, in 2010) and the Jewel (in 2011). We would've rated both of those ships excellent. We are a bit ... Read More
This was the third cruise on NCL for my husband and me. Previously we've cruised aboard the Pearl (our first-ever cruise, in 2010) and the Jewel (in 2011). We would've rated both of those ships excellent. We are a bit concerned that either the Sun has not been maintained to the level of those other two ships, or the entire maintenance of NCL has slipped in the intervening four years. The Sun shows some obvious "wear and tear" and a lack of some good thorough cleaning in the public areas (like around the gorgeous panoramic lifts on deck 8, where the carpet was very dusty and the hallway was used as a staging area for housekeeping's linen carts and cleaning supplies). The observation lounge on deck 12 shows some serious damage at the very forward set of seating, looking out over the bow, where the wood at foot level is broken and chipped in several spots. All that said, we LOVE the freestyle cruising and all the options aboard any NCL ship. The food is really excellent, whether in the main dining rooms or the Garden Cafe. (We don't use the specialty restaurants because of the cover charge.) The staff in every area and venue is friendly, always smiling and greeting us (the cabin steward called us by name from the first day, and recognized us in the halls!) The spa is great, and I enjoyed my exotic hand ritual from Mandy. The entertainment choices were awesome. We especially enjoyed Amber Strings, a trio from Poland who played several times a day in the Atrium on Deck 5 - an amazing range in their repertoire, and all of it just excellent. We submitted a commendation on them, and purchased a CD. We also enjoyed Into the Drift, playing in the Observation Lounge. Our shore excursion to Icy Point Strait, Hoonah, AK, was just simply awesome. We took a whale watching tour on the American Eagle, and saw a pod of whales. Incredible. They also had a Tlinget cultural historian on board, Kevin, who gave an excellent talk on his people and the history of Hoonah, Icy Point, and how the Native corporation that owns Hoonah achieved a place on the cruise ship ports of call. Our opinion: this is the BEST port of call in all of Alaska, with a Zipline, ATV and wilderness cruises, boat cruises, excellent shopping (all Alaska products and local artisans), delicious food, nature trails in the rainforest and on the beach, Tlinget history and culture -- just can't say enough about this port of call. We spent more money here than in any other port on any other cruise, getting our holiday shopping done 6 months early with good value for our money and nothing "made in China." This cruise was coupled with a land tour of Denali National Park first, and that 4-day excursion was also excellent. We had a great NCL tour guide for the entire four days, Michael Krudwig; were housed at three very nice lodgings in Anchorage, Denali, and Girdwood; and had several great excursions associated with this (an 8-hour wilderness tundra tour with an Alaska resident, Lisa Frederic, who was full of interesting facts, history, and knowledge, including having run the Iditarod once; a visit to an Iditarod kennel owned and operated by Martin Buser, an Iditarod champion; a visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center; a tram ride to the top of Mt. Alyeska.) Altogether, this would have been an excellent cruise rating were it not for the maintenance issues we observed on the Sun, and they did not markedly detract from our enjoyment of "cruising like a Norwegian." Of two cruise lines with which we're familiar (Princess and NCL), we will choose NCL again without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My second cruise with Norwegian, I love the freestyle dining idea. The food was very good at the beginning of the trip. Towards the end they changed the menu for the Alaskan run, I did not like that menu much. Seemed to be mostly fish ... Read More
My second cruise with Norwegian, I love the freestyle dining idea. The food was very good at the beginning of the trip. Towards the end they changed the menu for the Alaskan run, I did not like that menu much. Seemed to be mostly fish and seafood, very little choice if you are not into things from the sea. I ate mostly in the buffet after that. Cagneys Steak house was excellent, but I thought a little to pricy. We had a complimentary dinner there, we never would have eaten there if we had to pay the cover charge. We did eat in the Bistro as well, for a Jazz Brunch. Excellent food, and the music was exceptional. My score is reflective of an issue we had with our room. We did not know when we booked the cruise, but our fourth floor room was right over the engine room (4256 I think). The noise was deafening, and it was impossible to sleep. When we complained we were given ear plugs and a promise it would quit once we hit the canal. We had 3 days at sea before the canal. As promised, it did stop for that leg of the journey, but when we hit the Pacific Ocean it was back! We did not have smooth sailing on this trip, (from San Fransisco on it was very rough), the noise seemed to worsen as the seas were rougher.We complained a few times, the hotel sent wine, chocolate covered strawberries, and various staff members to have a listen each time we complained. Finally on day 10 they changed our room, and gave us the complimentary dinner. We then found out our neighbours had also complained and because they were first they moved first. 10 nights of restlessness spoiled what should have been a great holiday. What really irritates me is that nowhere did Norwegian warn travelers about the noise! We paid for what should have been a good stateroom where we could sleep. Next time we will check what is above and below us, and for anyone travelling on the Sun do not book rooms on the fourth floor aft end of the ship! The Sun is a smaller ship and swimming pool deck chairs were hard to come by. People would "save" their chairs all day, leaving pool towels to hold their spot while they ate or attended functions. We didn't manage to get a poolside chair for most of the trip until evening, and then staff would put the chairs away so there was no enjoying an evening under the stars! I found this irritatingl, especially since we could enjoy quiet in our rooms we would have loved to sit outside later in the evening. I could understand during the rough seas, but while we were in the Carribean it would have made sense to leave chairs out later into the evening for people to enjoy. Some days into the cruise deck chairs began appearing on deck 6 where the walking track is, and we were able to grab a couple of those. The entertainment was good, probably not as elaborate as Celebrity or Princess, but enjoyable! We attended most shows, skipping the magician, and the "adult comedy" show. Bingo is stupidly expensive, we would have enjoyed a few games if it wasn't so pricey. There is loads of nightly dancing, some sing alongs, lots of different styles of bands, and entertaining game shows. Something for everyone! I do like Norwegian, we really had great times and not so great on this cruise...a bit of a mixture. Will we do Norwegian again?? Well probably, but with caution. I guess this will apply to any cruise lines, I will ask questions about room locations for sure. For the Panama I would really recommend a larger ship, there is only one outside forward deck where the view is really good, The other forward outside deck has plexiglass which makes it difficult to see through. The ship behind us had about 4 decks at the front, making it really nice for the Panama transition. We got up early to secure a spot (5:00 am), but by 7 there were so many people crowding in we went down to deck 6 and watched from the sides of the ship. The staff are great, very friendly and helpful. Professional. The ship is comfortable and easy to find your way around. Most of the tours we did were very informative and fun, except for LA. Again we booked onboard for Beaches, rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. Once on the bus we were told buses could no longer stop on Rodeo Drive and drive through Beverly Hills. We let the cruise staff know about this, and were given a comp bottle of wine. Our travel companions did the same tour except they were downtown La and Rodeo Drive, they were refunded their money when they complained. These tours should be cancelled, they are not what they say they are! Book smart....and your trip with Norwegian will be awesome! Oh, the spa, they are great, but heavy on the sales of oils etc. I let them know up front I wasn't buying anything but a message..it was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
THE SHIP:  My wife and I and 2 friends of ours cruised on the Pearl from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC....stopping in San Francisco and Victoria, BC along the way. We got on the ship about 1.5 hours before it sailed, so we were literally ... Read More
THE SHIP:  My wife and I and 2 friends of ours cruised on the Pearl from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC....stopping in San Francisco and Victoria, BC along the way. We got on the ship about 1.5 hours before it sailed, so we were literally the only people in line. So obviously, that all went fast. When we got on, we immediately noticed this ship was SO much nicer than any of the Carnival ships we had been on in the past. I have cruised Celebrity and Carnival, but my wife had only been on Carnival. She was extremely happy about the obvious difference. The ship itself was EXTREMELY clean and we did not meet a rude employee the entire cruise. The layout of the decks were great. We did not need a ship map and never got lost. All of the elevators had informative deck plan placards, and there were occasional placards posted on the walls throughout the ship. The pool area had 4 hot tubs and 2 pools. 1 pool was for kids and 1 was for adults. They were both labeled and enforced. Each pool had 2 hot tubs connected to them. The pools were small, but no smaller than other ships. Who really swims in cruise ship pools anyway? CABIN: Our cabin (9132) was a balcony room which had plenty of space, a couch and a good sized balcony. The only complaint about the room was the limited drawer space. A nice surprise was a pay mini bar in the room and the selections were the same prices as up on deck. Our Room Steward (Cristian) was attentive and friendly. SPA: The spa had everything you need; hot tubs, sauna, steam bath, heated loungers, relaxation area and locker rooms. The spa employees were very nice. My wife gets cold easily, so she spent a lot of time in the warm spa. DINING: The food in all of the restaurants was amazing, except the sushi which was dry and obviously not freshly made. We ate in 3 specialty restaurants; La Cucina (Italian), Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) and Lotus Garden (Teppanyaki). All were add charge restaurants, but Lotus Garden had additional charges for certain items. I did not realize this until our bill of $80 was presented at the end. My wife saw the additional charges on the menu, but I did not....so my bad there. La Cucina was the best of the three. We ate in the regular dining rooms as well, which had as good or better food than the specialty restaurants. When we cruise NCL again, we will probably just eat in the regular dining rooms. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on Pearl was focused at an older crowd. Most of the cruisers appeared to be in their 60's, 70's and 80's. We are in our mid 40's, so the music was not to our liking. However, there was a very entertaining juggler in the main auditorium (Stardust). One night we went to the Spinnaker Lounge to watch a comedian who was horrible beyond belief. Even though the crowd was older, we enjoyed their company throughout the cruise. Everyone was having such a great time that the age gap was not always noticeable. The casino was awesome! Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps and plenty of slot machines. My wife actually hit the jackpot on a quarter slot and took home $600. I enjoyed hours of $5 Craps and $5 Blackjack on just $40. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Prior to cruising, we booked Alcatraz tours directly through the Alcatraz people. We paid $35 per person instead of the higher rate through NCL Shore Excursions. This turned out great because the Alcatraz tours left from the dock right beside where Pearl docked. I would recommend this for future cruisers. As for Victoria, the four of us couldn't agree on a shore excursion so we took a cab into town ($5.50) and walked around the Legislative Building, Empress Hotel and the adjacent shopping district. The Canadian people were so nice. From the shop employees, to the food servers and bartenders. It was such a breath of fresh air to talk to nice people. Not Los Angeles people (aka: Angelenos) who are so bitter and nasty. Unfortunately, the nastiness becomes normal when you live there and nice people stand out when traveling. We stopped for a couple drinks in a little place called "The Local" and highly recommend the bar to anyone looking to relax and enjoy a few drinks with friendly bartenders. The experience was so nice that we gave a 100% tip. CLOSING: We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise! The Freestyle Cruising concept fit us well, the ship was immaculate and the employees were top notch. The tipping system was a bit of a confusion for us because you have no set waiter and such, except your Room Steward. We were unsure of what cut Cristian got of the $12 per day, so we left a little in the room for him. I almost wish NCL would go to a percentage tip for each meal as you eat, and a set amount for the Room Steward. This would be more clear for cruisers who want to make sure their Room Steward is taken care of. I have seen bad reviews of NCL, but we did not experience any problems and look forward to our next cruise with them. We have a Caribbean cruise planned on RCCL, but had so much fun on Pearl that we are thinking of switching it to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our cabin was awesome and we really enjoyed having a balcony. Entertainment in the theatre was really quite good, and the group that played every night in the Observation lounge were excellent, but the rest of the music was only fair, ... Read More
Our cabin was awesome and we really enjoyed having a balcony. Entertainment in the theatre was really quite good, and the group that played every night in the Observation lounge were excellent, but the rest of the music was only fair, especially the guitar player and the piano player. I enjoy Free-Style Dining, but Free-Style Cruising is too much ! Jeans and stained Auto-Body T-shirts in the dining room should not be acceptable. I am on a luxury liner and would like to feel that I am on a luxury vacation. I don't need formal nights, but insisting on smart casual would be far better than what we saw on this cruise. I am not a snob, but I really felt this was inappropriate. We sailed Norwegian in the Baltic a few years ago and loved it. Whether Norwegian has gone down-hill, or just this ship, I am not sure. The food was passable only, with few choices and mostly the same choices every night. I do not go to the specialty restaurants as I feel the main dining rooms should be wonderful as well, and up to this cruise, which is our 10th cruise, I have previously been very satisfied. This is the first negative review I have ever written about a cruise. The port of Astoria should not be a port that cruiseships stop at. Waste of time. Why not Seattle ?? We also had to line up for 1.5 hours to get onto the ship - terrible - never experienced that before, either. Hopefully Norwegian will pull up their socks, but I will never know, because I won't sail Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We left Los Angeles on a cold and dreary day (highly unusual for us). We were in a Balcony Room 9618.. The room was very clean and our cabin steward was always there to make sure everything was just as we liked it. DH and I are very ... Read More
We left Los Angeles on a cold and dreary day (highly unusual for us). We were in a Balcony Room 9618.. The room was very clean and our cabin steward was always there to make sure everything was just as we liked it. DH and I are very relaxed cruisers and we just take life as it comes - never been on a cruise we did not enjoy. Sure issues come up - but heck that's life...and I don't have to cook or clean (always a plus). Towel Animals are back - we did not have them on our last few cruises (note- not on NCL) and our cabin steward always surprised us with different animals. My personal favorite was the monkey swinging from the middle of the cabin. We enjoyed the Free Style Dining - we never made reservations and always got right in except for one time, and that was our fault for going right at the main dinning time. At which time we decided to try one of the Pay for Restaurants - La Cucina.. again we did not have reservations and at first we were told there were no tables available, would we like to make a reservation for later - we declined and stated that it was no problem we would just try another restaurant - at which time the lady at the front desk said she would try and squeeze us in - and yes you guest it - we got in.. Excellent service and great Food. In addition we also tried the Teppanyaki dinner with our new friends from Roll Call. Thanks Cecilia for setting it all up. Good food and good new friends. The main dining room had great food. I don't understand why some people complain that there is never enough different dishes on the menu. Each night there were at least 5-6 different dishes on the menu plus different appetizers and desserts. What do people expect? Buffet - lot's of different dishes and in order to try them all you would have to be on at least a 30 day cruise (oh please let me try)...Again don't understand the complainers that state the Breakfast Buffet does not have everything that they want. I would love to know what is actually missing? Casino - yes folks there is smoke in the casino, it is after all a casino and if you go to Vegas there is also smoke in the casino. My DH and I are non-smokers but do like to play the slots so we just move away from the machines that have the heavy smokers on them - we really did not find it that bad. Thanks to Lori, our group of Cruise Critic Members had a Slot Pull - I think maybe 50 people (guessing here) showed up and we had a great time - did not win the main prize but had a blast. Again thanks Lori for setting it up. Oh and I also played the slots the following night - $10 bucks into playing I won $231 and walked away... Yeah for me.... Meeting people on a cruise is always fun but it was even more fun because we got to have a Meet and Greet with about 100 people - already we had a head start with meeting folks and when walking around the ship got to see these nice folks and talk to them. Cecilia did an excellent job in setting this meeting up and fun was had by all. Of course having the top brass coming by to meet us was the highlight of the meeting and the Captain offering us a private Bridge Tour... Awesome. The ship was very clean and folks were always cleaning away to make sure it stayed that way. (wish I could have brought some of them home to take care of our home). Our favorite place to hang out before dinner and also after dinner was the Martini Bar.. The Bartender Romeo was terrific and so were all the other folks at the bar. We met up with a couple of Cruise Critic folks - thanks Deb and Tammy for making this some of our best times. A small observation - folks complain about the pricing of bar drinks but I really found that the price is about the same as nice restaurants or bar prices in Los Angeles. Services was awesome by everyone - no complaints here. We usually do not go to many shows - we only saw one which was ok... and we went to two game shows which where hysterical...The Newly Wed Game and the Perfect Couple... If you plan to go and see something go see these - they are sure to make you laugh. DH and I had been to most of our ports before but managed to get off on all of them for at least a walk around. Disembarkation was the best we have ever had in Vancouver. We chose to walk off with our luggage and did just that at 9 A.M. Walking off and going thru customs took us all of 5 minutes... Easy, Easy Easy... We had a wonderful cruise and were reluctant to get off but there is always next time. So if you are trying to decide on whether to cruise on the Pearl, my recommendation is Definitely do it... Great Ship, Great Crew and Great Food... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first NCL cruise, and we had a wonderful time. I have found that the most useful reviews give more information and less opinions, although is it hard to sometimes separate these, but I will try my best here. We arrived ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise, and we had a wonderful time. I have found that the most useful reviews give more information and less opinions, although is it hard to sometimes separate these, but I will try my best here. We arrived at the port of Los Angeles at 11:00. By 11:30 we had been checked in and were waiting in the departure lounge. It was very smooth and well organized. There was plenty of seating in the lounge, even though we had received several automated phone calls from NCL over multiple days preceding departure, that we should not arrive before 13:00 due to limited seating. Seating did not appear to be an issue. We had arrived early, so we were part of boarding group 1 and we were on the ship by 13:30. We had a 10th deck balcony cabin (first time for a balcony for us). The cabin was adequate in size but had lots of nooks and cubby holes for our things, so it made the cabin seem larger during our trip, since luggage, clothes and souvenirs were never in the way. We found where our cabin was, took a brief look around the ship and ate lunch in the Summer Palace dining room. We spent some time after lunch exploring the ship. In the Crystal Atrium, they were selling an "all you could drink" soda package. This was well worth it for us, as we did not care for the flavor of the Iced Tea on board. Since this was a 7 night cruise with 2 days at sea and visits to ports were had previously visited, we decided that on this cruise we were going to take advantage of the spa... something we have not done on previous cruises. The spa is clean, bright, and has many features. There is a charge to use the spa facilities. While some reviewers have complained about the fee, we found that the $125 fee for use of the spa for a full week was well worth it. We visited the spa at least once if not twice every day (1-2 hours per average visit). Over the course of the week, we each had several massages, the wife had a facial, and also got her hair styled. They run a special called 10-20-30, where if you sign up for 3 treatments, each one gets a progressively larger discount (10%, 20%, then 30%), so make sure you choose the most expensive treatment as your third one so the largest discount applies. As with all ship board services, the spa treatments were not cheap , but we felt like we got our money's worth with each one . We booked our first massage (hot stones) for the day of departure, and they threw in an extra 15 min (from 60 min to 75 min), and did this for the two of us in a couples massage room at no extra charge. Our only complaint with the spa was how often and how forcefully products were being pushed at us (if you liked the massage you just had, then you should buy this year long supply of massage oil that is the same oil we just used. And it's very special oil that you can only get from us.) Once we discovered that every treatment came with a pitch, we were able to adjust our attitudes. We had many treatments, and did not buy any of the products we were pitched. We just kept saying that we would think about it. Over the course of the week, we saw many of the shows, and participated in many ship board events. Overall we found the entertainment to be superb. The shows were divided into 2 categories... professional entertainers, and ship staff entertainers. The saw Sharkbait (comedy jugglers), Les Lankhorst (Sinatra style singer) and several of the Second City shows (Improv comedy). These were all top notch professionals. We also saw 2 shows with ship staff entertainers (singers and dancers). We have found many of these shows on other ships to be cheap and cheesy, but not this time. The productions were much better than what we have seen in the past, and we enjoyed all of them. We also spent time in the Crystal Atrium listening to Arvin and Emily (lounge singers), whose shows we enjoyed. We also participated in Bingo twice and an audience participation version of Deal or No Deal. We never won, but we had fun. Bingo on 2 of the sessions was at a discounted rate, due to low attendance (days in port). Another event we attended was the White Hot Party. This didnt have very good attendance, and seemed to break up early we didnt stay long. During our trip, we had planned to mostly eat in the main dining rooms. But as the trip progressed, we soon found that the food quality jumps significantly in the specialty restaurants. In the main dining rooms, the right side of the menu never changes with 5-6 starters, entries and desserts. The left side of the menu changes daily where they add echefs selections¦ 3-4 starters, entries and desserts. The food quality in the main dining rooms was very good, but we found that many of the offerings were uninspired . Fish and chips, Classic turkey dinner with dressing, grilled fish, steak and baked potato... these are items I can find at the local caf in my neighborhood. The offerings would be improved with a little creativity (special sauces, spice options, creative side dishes, etc.). Again, the quality of the food was very good its just the variety that was uninspired. The service in both of the main dining rooms was very slow. We had 1 lunch and 2 dinners where service took over 90 minutes from the time we sat down until we were done eating, and on one of the dinners, we waited almost 30 min between when they took away our plates and when dessert was served. We joked at our table that maybe our waiter fell overboard. As for specialty restaurants, we ate in the Teppanyaki restaurant, the Churrascaria, and twice in the Italian restaurant. The offerings are greatly improved over those in the main dining rooms (many more upscale ingredients like scallops, jumbo shrimp, lobster, Angus steak, etc.). We had shrimp and scallops in the Teppanyaki restaurant, Lobster Fettuccini in the Italian restaurant, and wonderful cuts of meat in the Churrascaria. Each specialty restaurant has a different fee. By coincidence, not by design, we mostly ate at those with lower fees. The Italian and Churrascaria restaurants always seems to have little to no wait, so they are good options if you do not have a reservation. We also never saw a wait in the Asian restaurant either. Teppanyaki fills up fast due to limited seating, so it is best to make a reservation here. We also ate several breakfasts and lunches in the Garden cafe (Buffet). In general, the food was just okay. We only ate here when we were limited on time or wanted to eat at a time that the main dining room wasnt serving. For both breakfast and lunch, the menu is mostly the same every day. The Breakfast menu was adequate, but again, uninspired. Scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, breads, cereals and fruit make up the majority of this buffet. You can have an omelet cooked to order, but the filling options are plain (onions, sausage, bacon bits, cheese, tomatoes). There is also a station where you can get fresh juices for a fee, but we did not take advantage of this. The lunch choices left something to be desired. Clearly geared for families with teens and kids, (lots of finger foods, pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers), this was our least favorite option for lunch. This was also the only venue where some of the food didnt look all that appealing. Our biggest food disappointment by far was the Chocolate Buffet. This is the first cruise we were on, where this was held in the buffet restaurant and not in the main dining room. On all other cruises we have been on, this has been an upscale event with fruit and vegetable carvings, ice carvings, and added decor. Here there were only 7-8 types of desserts (repeated at 5-6 stations). And the presentation was sorely lacking. NCL didnt do much to dress up the venue. This event has always been a highlight for us, but NCL really let us down on this one. Disembarkation was very smooth. We placed our luggage in the hallway the night before departure as instructed. We were part of the Purple tagged group which had a departure time of 10:00, but they actually called the purple group about 15 minutes early. By the time we walked down to the luggage storage area on the dock, our bags were already there. Overall we had a great trip. The ships crew was wonderful, we liked how the ship was laid out, and we felt like we got a great vacation and good value for the cost. This was our first NCL cruise, but Im sure it will not be our last. It is easy in a review to dwell on the negatives, and that is not my intent here. I hope you will take the negative items in this review as lessons learned by us so that if cruising on the Pearl or with NCL, you can use our experience to better prepare yourself for what you might expect. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I have cruised many times and this cruise tied for last place. I traveled with my adult daughter on this 7 night repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Nainamo, and Vancouver on ... Read More
I have cruised many times and this cruise tied for last place. I traveled with my adult daughter on this 7 night repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Nainamo, and Vancouver on the Norwegian Jewel, rated 4.5 stars by my travel agency. We made our own travel arrangements and they were fine. The ship, in my opinion, was highly overrated. It had few amenities and what amenities it offered were generally an additional fee. The ship had two central, open air pools and hot tubs, all of which were generally filled with families with children. The only option was the spa facilities which cost an additional $30 per day per person and were only available if you booked a spa appointment. Our stateroom (balcony category BD on deck 10) was tiny. It had a refrigerator but was filled with expensive "mini bar" products so it was really of no use. To its credit, it had the best bathroom I have ever seen on a cruise ship with separate toilet and shower facilities with sliding glass doors. Activities were generally fee based and expensive. There were a few dance classes and deck games, but everything else was costly. We ended up spending a lot of time in our cabin watching very limited television. Service was generally poor and we found guest services staff to be particularly rude and dishonest. The ports and excursions were the highlight of the cruise though not without drawbacks. Tour guides were excellent and we enjoyed a bus tour of Cannon Beach and Seaside in Oregon and a winery excursion on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, the Oregon tours were on school buses. Dining was a real problem. The free dining rooms had waits of 40+ minutes (no reservations accepted for parties of 2) and service was very poor. I received my food in a free dining room more than 10 minutes before my daughter's arrived and when we complained the server didn't seem to understand that the dishes should be served at the same time. Service in the fancy dining room was not much better. We avoided the buffet after being greeted by loud music and door guards with hand sanitizor spray chirping "happy happy washy washy." Entertainment was very mediocre except for one comedian who was excellent. The production cast was set to disembark in Vancouver, so perhaps that explains their performance, but the musicians were not much better. The embarkation and debarkation process were good and ahead of schedule. No criticism there. In sum, I will avoid Norwegian in the future and do more research on the ship I am selecting. I ended up with sticker shock and a sense that my week's vacation could have been spent much more happily elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our fourth NCL cruise and the one that we were most DISAPPOINTED in. The staff of the ship from the Captain down seemed to be lacking in friendliness and not very customer driven. There were not a lot of smiles on the faces of the ... Read More
This was our fourth NCL cruise and the one that we were most DISAPPOINTED in. The staff of the ship from the Captain down seemed to be lacking in friendliness and not very customer driven. There were not a lot of smiles on the faces of the crew members and many seemed to not enjoy their jobs as in my past cruises with NCL. The cruise director and his staff were NOT very "engaged" as I have experienced in past cruises. When we arrived our state room was VERY dirty (floor in bathroom had splatters of something on it and it went up the wall, it was very dusty on the shelves etc., the floor appeared to not be vacuumed etc.)-- that being said when we called it to or room Stewarts attention, she took care of it pretty quickly and did a good job after that. NCL has some work to do with comforts in the state rooms- the bed is not that comfortable and the pillows are TERRIBLE. When you are travelling, the last things you want to have to bring with you are pillows. Most hotels, even inexpensive ones have decent or even very good pillows on the beds. Service in the main dining rooms was hit-and-miss. The last evening we had a great waiter in the main Garden dining room (I wish I could remember his name) and good service but overall service in the dining rooms was not very good. There was one waiter that was particularly poor and inefficient- his name will not be published here - He needs some training in customer service and not taking advantage of his co-workers by "slacking-off". In closing, I would have to say that if this had been one of my first experiences on NCL, I would not have returned. Hopefully this is not going to be representative of NCL's cruise experience moving forward. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first Norwegian experience and our last. The free style dining is reminiscent of a night out at Applebees...with long lines and pagers as you wait to be seated with a different waiter each night in the main dining ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian experience and our last. The free style dining is reminiscent of a night out at Applebees...with long lines and pagers as you wait to be seated with a different waiter each night in the main dining room(especially problematic for someone with food allergies). The food was subpar with many desserts looking like they were taken out of a box from a store and cut up in slices. The calzone appeared to be microwaved and pre-made. The prime rib was grilled and dried out...the shrimp also appeared to be pre-cooked and microwaved. The buffet was the same food every day and overcrowded, with no trays to juggle your drinks and plates on. The chocolate night also had the same appearance of store bought brownies and store bought cakes and pies. There were no cookies or finger sandwiches offered. If you wanted a fresh berry of any kind you were out of luck. The food was so marginal we hesitated to try an upscale restaurant to see if it might be better. The boat had old tvs that had very limited channel selections....on other ships you could rent movies or go to a movie theater...not so here. The ship has no indoor pool so if the weather is bad you have no other option. The jacuzzis were crowded and allowed children in them (something I have never seen on any other cruise line). There was no full menu for room service and there was a definite language barrier with the cabin steward. The entertainment was fairly good, but having seen ice skating shows, acrobats and other variety show options on other cruise lines sit still did not measure up to other experiences. The ship was clearly overcrowded and the center atrium area reminded me of the old elementary multi-purpose room .... guest service, the tour excursion desk, the future cruise office, coffee shop....central meeting area...night club...gift shop and outside tables were all crammed into a small space. Upstairs on the floor above there were 2 restaurants that spanned the walkway so you had to walk through them to get from one side of the ship to the other....during the day one doubled as an arts and craft area. The real telling level of concern about your Norwegian experience was that there was no client feedback survey at the end. So it appeared that this line doesn't want any feedback to use to enhance the future traveler's experience. My advice...if you are looking for a bargain and don't care about having more elaborate food or entertainment experience than ...you can give it a whirl...but be warned....you may still be disappointed. As for us...we will avoid this line...opt to not cruise like a norwegian and choose others that we have been more than happy with. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our 3rd NCL cruise and we absolutely loved the Pacific Coast ports. The ports were great and we found something fabulous to do in each port. The smaller ports (Astoria; Nanaimo) put so much effort in helping passengers with ... Read More
This was our 3rd NCL cruise and we absolutely loved the Pacific Coast ports. The ports were great and we found something fabulous to do in each port. The smaller ports (Astoria; Nanaimo) put so much effort in helping passengers with local information and getting around the port, their volunteers are to be commended! We loved the Pearl and all the amenities. Our balcony room was spotless, and the bed was comfy. Most staff were super friendly, sure you might get the odd unhappy person, but this was the friendliest ship I have ever been on! We were disappointed with the speciality restaurants, where we usually dine. We like to book in advance and hate the crowds, but after 3 evenings that were mediocre -- we cancelled the rest of the reservations and ate in the Summer Garden -- where the chef's specials were excellent. Loved the meals and the variety -- everything we had was delicious. Would not bother booking a specialty restaurant again. We used the gym and did the stretch classes, yoga and spin classes -- all were great! The shows were excellent, and were a good mixture of different entertainment. We met so many nice CC people and thank you to Lori for the slot pull. Thank you to Cecilia for organizing the meet and greet. Not sure who organized the bridge tour but THANK YOU, definitely a highlight Our major complaint was with guest services. We like to pay cash and keep close tabs on our account (please NCL provide the ability like Royal Caribbean to check your account on your TV, so much easier) we put money down every other day, and on the last morning received a refund...or so we thought. When we were disembarking we were pulled off by security as our account was apparently in arrears. Seriously? We had been given our refund less than an hour earlier. We made our way back to guest services were we were treated basically like criminals. We had the final statement delivered the night before (indicating a credit), we had our statement from an hour before indicating our refund. After a considerable amount of time they told us we had originally been given a larger onboard credit than we deserved. After 7 days and about 6 trips to guest services they figured it our when we were disembarking? We promptly paid the amount, but never once did they admit it was their error, until I pressed the guest service representative. He was rude and continued to make us feel like the error was our fault. He assured us that the payment was processed...but guess what? When we were trying to leave the ship for the second time we were pulled off by security as our account was in arrears. I showed them the receipt from 10 minutes previously, but they would not accept it, and told us we had to go to guest services. That's when I lost it. Finally security agreed just to call guest services, and after a 10 minute call we were allow to leave the ship. After that fiasco, we would have been done with NCL, but I had (foolishly) purchased a latitudes reward for a future cruise (as the cruise was fabulous until the last 45 minutes). We will have one more cruise with NCL then we are back to one of the other cruise lines we have used in the past. An apology would have gone a long way ..... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Let me first say that I am a firm believer that there is rarely ever a BAD cruise - I'm away from work, not having to cook or clean and getting to see places that I've never seen before. I have sailed 3 times with Princess and ... Read More
Let me first say that I am a firm believer that there is rarely ever a BAD cruise - I'm away from work, not having to cook or clean and getting to see places that I've never seen before. I have sailed 3 times with Princess and this was our 3rd time with Norwegian. My husband and I normally travel with friends that we met on our first cruise and this cruise was no exception. I have to say that all 4 of us were disappointed. I knew going into this cruise that it was a repositioning cruise and a trade-off for the lower price would possibly be some concessions on excursions to pick from at ports that don't get alot of cruise travel except for repositioning time. I have to say that I will think long and hard before booking another repositioning cruise. You need to keep in mind that some things that are advertised as a ship feature or part of their normal cruise package may not be available on this special voyage. For example - I was really looking forward to being able to attend the murder mystery lunch. I'm sorry - not being done on this cruise. The weather didn't help this cruise - unseasonably cool several days which also happened to be the sea days.....Not very many activities planned for all the people that thought they were going to be able to spend their sea days outside. I found myself laying on my bed in the room and watching TV or napping the whole day. This was our first time in Los Angeles and not knowing the area, booked our pre-night stay with Norwegian at one of their hotels they are partnered with. A few months before the cruise - we received notice that the hotel had been changed. The hotel stay was OK - the rooms were fine - but I had originally booked a hotel close to the beach and lots of restaurants and activities close. This hotel was an airport hotel - only the high price restaurant in the hotel to choose from with a few Taco Bells, McDonalds, etc a few blocks away. The rest of the area was more of a commerical, warehouse area so nowhere to walk or entertain yourself. With the hotel reservation also came a transfer to the ship. We received a letter from Norwegian in our room telling us the procedure. Leave our bags in the room at 11:00AM, they would be picked up and brought to the lobby where we could verify they were there and then would be put on the bus for our transfer. At 11AM we went to the lobby to wait, and to wait, and to wait until finally a lady with a Norwegian scarf finally showed up with a clipboard and was wandering the lobby. We went to her, she crossed off our names and told us to go to the bus. Still no signs of our bags. Finally we got a bellman to go to our room to check on the bags because of course we had checked out and turned in our room keys.......there they sat......no one picking them up and I'm sure would still be sitting there if we hadn't checked. We lugged them downstairs and to the bus ourselves. There were several other guests wandering the lobby also wondering what to do, who after seeing us get our luggage ended up doing the same thing. The Norwegian representative just laughed and said everything would definitely be an improvement from here which I didn't find very professional or funny under the circumstances knowing that if we hadn't checked - we would have sailed away with no luggage. Normally I find Norwegian's check in process quick and painless. This time we waited and we waited because the computers went down several times......Previous to sailing we had received 2 or 3 phone calls asking us to not be there before 1PM to help with congestion. I'm thinking that CAUSED more congestion having everyone arrive at once. After standing in line again after checking in to get on the ship - they were letting people get on the ship with group numbers.......half the people waiting had not been given group numbers so confusion and unhappiness was everywhere. The Pearl is a beautiful ship - I think it is the prettiest ship I have sailed on. The colors are beautiful, the artwork in the halls are attractive and just the feel of the whole ship is nice. The other Norwegian ships that I have sailed on are the Spirit and the Epic so this ship was nothing like them and a little hard to get used to. One of the reasons that we had made the switch from Princess to Norwegian was the entertainment. We had found that the entertainment on Norwegian was just a notch above Princess except for the Epic which of course was head and shoulders above anything we had seen on Princess. The entertainment on this ship was overall average to a little above. The Norwegian singers and dancers were a little painful to watch and listen to sometimes but they were trying hard. Sharkbait was great - I would have watched their show again and again. Les Langhorst(spelling) was a very enjoyable show. I slept through Second City and the comedian was not very good but in his defense - was not getting alot of help from the crowd. We ended each evening listening to Arvin and Emily. I remembered them from the Spiriti and just as enjoyable on this ship with a good following each evening. When cruising on the Spirit and Epic - the cruise director was seen everywhere, even on the immense Epic everywhere I turned I found him - chatting with cruisers and making himself available. On this cruise, I saw Pedro after each of the performances in the theatre - that's it. Dining - We love freestyle dining - we like to be able to eat whenever we like with whomever we care to eat with. This was the first Norwegian cruise that we had been on that actually it was asked by the dining room staff whether you minded being seated with others. I remember on the Spirit and Epic - we had mentioned one evening that we wouldn't mind sitting with others and they looked at us like we had said something crazy. This is the first time ever on a Norwegian ship we had to wait to be seated with the pagers. We like to dress for dinner so always went to dinner in the Summer Palace since that was said to be the dining room for people who wished to dress a little more formally. The way the Summer Palace is arranged - their front doors are located at the bottom of a flight of steps with the dining room people standing at the top with their stand and pagers to be handed out. Also right here was the public restrooms, elevators and the stairway so no matter where you stood you were in the way. The dining room food was fine - we can always find something that we like and this was no exception. One night we ate in La Cucina and enjoyed the food there immensely. Breakfast we always ate in the buffet - typical cruise buffet food with the crowds of people milling everywhere and tables hard to find. For some reason I felt that there were alot of inconsiderate, rude cruisers on this trip. Maybe it was just me and not enjoying the cruise at the level I normally do but I saw alot of butting in line, not stepping aside when you met them in the hall and walking 3 across, etc. We ate lunch in the Blue Lagoon once on one of the sea days. I felt sorry for the dining room staff - they were running as fast as they could but still not giving very good service. The food was mediocre so we never went back. Our state room was a balcony room that adjoined our friends room. Rather small as balcony rooms go but ok - it helped we kept out adjoining room door open alot of the time to make it feel bigger. Our steward was good - always friendly when we met in the halls and the room was kept clean as needed. That is one comparison that I have between Princess and Norwegian. It seemed on Princess that your room steward was always found in the hallway waiting for any requests you might have and if you left your room for a few minutes - they would run in there and tidy while you were gone. I have noticed on all Norwegian ships that you get your morning cleanup and your evening turn-down but you normally don't find your steward roaming the halls in case you need anything special and there is not extra cleaning done other than the norm. The biggest reason for the cruises we pick are the ports. I've never understood the people that travel all the way to Europe to stay on the ship the whole time and enjoy it because they have the ship to themselves. These were all ports that we had not been to so was excited to get off the shp and explore. Los Angeles - Embarkation........We hired a private tour guide that picked us up at the airport with our baggage and gave us a 6 hour tour of LA with all the normal tourist spots. None of us had been to LA before, we covered lots of ground and then was delivered to the hotel that I mentioned earlier. San Francisco - We hired a private guide for that day. Again - we covered alot of the San Francisco highlights with a trolley car ride - Lombard street - Golden Gate bridge and Bay Bridge ( we ran across the bridge to visit Berkley and see the area where our friends had gone to school 35 years ago), downtown area, lunch at Tommy's and a visit to Coit Tower and Fisherman's Wharf. It was a good day with good weather and we enjoyed it. Astoria - We took a Norwegian excursion to Seaside and Cannon Beach. We enjoyed the excursion and felt it was worth the money even though it was basically just a bus ride to the various areas with the guide telling us a few things as we drove. Victoria - We did the CVS Hop on/Hop Off bus. We hit the highlights of Victoria, walked around the Empress Hotel area, ate lunch and shopped. Another good weather day and enjoyable. Nanaimo - This is a port that probably shouldn't be scheduled by Norwegian. It is one of those places where the people try really hard but there just isn't much to see there in my opinion. We took the Norwegian excursion that went to the Cranberry farm and then the downtown gallery just basically because we couldn't find anything to do privately that we thought we would enjoy. I learned alot at the Cranberry farm - dropping us off downtown to go to the gallery was rather a waste of time because they didn't give us enough time to really do anything. We were back at the ship after the excursion by 1PM - could have ridden the bus back into town to wander around but we had seen nothing that intrigued us enough to want to do that. Disembarking in Vancouver was very easy - we just did the walk off on your own - grabbed a cab which took us to our hotel that we had again booked through Norwegian and then took a city tour of Vancouver the rest of the day. Was very impressed with Vancouver and would go there again. I did have one spa treatment on the ship the afternoon of the Nanaimo port. It was the advertised 20/20/20 special which I enjoyed alot and have to say that I didn't feel like the spa staff tried to hard sell me on product as much as I have had in the past. Going into this cruise - we all thought we would book the thermal suite for the week. Right after we embarked - we went to the spa to check it out and see if we wanted to do it. I asked if we could look at it to make our decision. Don't do that! You will be stuck taking a tour of the whole spa and fitness area with a stop and small lecture in each room that took over an hour. After looking at the thermal suite we were afraid that it would be hard to find loungers for all 4 of us in the coed area so we decided against booking. The next day was a sea day and we were so bored - we went back there to look again to decide if we had changed our mind. 3 ladies were leaving as we were standing at the desk who had bought the package and told us that it was the usual "chair hog" saga that is normally found around the pool but now moved to the thermal suite. I think if you were with a group of people all the same sex where you could use the male or female side of the suite it might be worth it. Those areas didn't seem to be busy. The coed section with the heated tile loungers, pool and hot tub seemed to be full most of the time with the usual towel and book thrown over the chair to "save". As I mentioned before - there is normally never a BAD cruise but this cruise definitely ranks in 6th place with the other 5 cruises that I have done. Maybe it's time for me to try another cruise line and see if I will appreciate Norwegian more after an absence. They still have alot of good things going for them - this cruise just didn't hit the mark for overall enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Boarded the May mini cruise with high expectations. I think this is where I went wrong. Ship was very crowded. Went to our "Freestyle" dinner at Tzar the first night. As it happens so did everyone else. We stood in line for 15 ... Read More
Boarded the May mini cruise with high expectations. I think this is where I went wrong. Ship was very crowded. Went to our "Freestyle" dinner at Tzar the first night. As it happens so did everyone else. We stood in line for 15 minutes only to be greeted by a hostess who handed us a pager and told us to return in a half an hour. Once we got into the dining room it was very loud and crowded. The service waa less than spectacular. Picture your average hotel wedding reception service. The food was average and took forever to be served. We left before desert since we couldn't stand to sit there a minute longer. We took the rest of our meals at the crowded buffet who's food was no better but was faster and the variety better. If you want to find good food on this ship head to The Grill for lunch.I mentioned the bad service to a NCL rep upon our return and he claimed that the service and crowd control is better on te 7+ day cruises. How is this possible when our same staff cleared us off the ship and started a 7 day cruise the same day. Do they magically start offering the new cruisers better service? I think not.When we arrived our room steward knocked and entered our room no less than four times the first hour. We finally put up the Do not disturb sign. Then we had a strange male steward knock on our door twice saying our friends ordered us a pillow. We had no friends on the cruise. Our steward also pushed our suitcases to the back and hid a plastic bag of fresh linens under our bed. I guess she wanted to save time when we left.We were on a tight budget and were happy to have the $35 on board credit. We only had one cocktail and had to leave behind some precious photos in the gallery because of the cost. When we went to leave I looked for my final statement since I knew I went a little over. I could not find the statement so I called te front desk. She informed me that we had a $46 CREDIT!! I asked her how was this posible. Apparently the cruise line had charged the three of us $23 per person Alaska tax even though we were not going to Alaska. Somewher along the way they put the credir on our account and never told us. I was in tears...we passed up so much, the drinks, better meals in the nicer dining rooms and of course our photos were now gone forever. They would not give me the credit back but said they would be mailing a check. It's been 11 days and still no check.Please don't believe the easy disembarkation process. We were told not to get in line due to a delay in customs. We stood in line for an hour only to find the delay was not with customs but the single NCL employee trying to check everyone off the ship. I don't understand the reason to lie to us about it. I would suggest to anyone using NCL to hold onto your bags and walk them off yourself. It's much faster and safer if you are hoping to catch a flight.On a positive note we took our 8 year daughter who lived in the kids club. The staff is very professional and she had a great time. Ports of Nanaimo and Victoria were wonderful.Will think long and hard about using NCL again. A cruise should be a luxury experience not the type of service you would have gotten if you would have just stayed home. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We flew to LAX the morning of the cruise (all other times we have flown in the evening before). Representative met us at baggage claim, coach arrived soon, trip to ship was fine. Embarkation went well. Our mid-ship balcony cabin was ... Read More
We flew to LAX the morning of the cruise (all other times we have flown in the evening before). Representative met us at baggage claim, coach arrived soon, trip to ship was fine. Embarkation went well. Our mid-ship balcony cabin was spacious and appealing - except for the dirt. The only surfaces that were not dirty were sticky. The room was never adequately cleaned. My wife tried to clean the balcony door herself to no avail. Just over halfway through the cruise the HVAC stopped working right and the room became very cold. The first solution tried by maintenance was to shut off the system and hope we did not notice. We noticed. The next solution was to tell us to live with it. This typified the attitude of the hotel staff - passengers were a bother. We had sailed 18 months earlier on the NCL Dawn and were delighted. Our interior stateroom on the Dawn was kept in top shape. Lounge and entertainment staff were attentive. The Dawn was kept clean. Public areas on the Jewel repeatedly had trash left out for twelve hours or more. I drank no alcohol on the cruise; perhaps that explains why on the Jewel my drink orders were routinely forgotten. The Dawn had no such issues. The lounge musicians, with the exception of Michael Masci at the piano, were forgettable. Not bad, just not up to the standards of a lower-tier cruise line. We ate twice at Mama's Italian Kitchen and once at the Oriental Fusion specialty restaurant. Food and service were excellent. In those two restaurants the staff had a service attitude and attention to detail. The main dining rooms were another story. The Azura Main Restaurant was chaotic with service that would not be tolerated at most fast food restaurants. We ate there once and vowed never again. Our first dinner at Tsar's Palace was a delight. The waiter was personable and helpful. His menu suggestions were excellent and he went above and beyond what we expected. Our second dinner there we requested the same waiter at the check-in desk. The hostess assured us she had passed on the request. When escorted to our table we were told that the only description that had been passed was "Some Indonesian guy" and it was too general. The waitress was adequate, but we still left disappointed at the lack of attention to detail. We ate one evening in the buffet; it was infinitely better than Azura. We made frequent use of the Blue Lagoon 24 hour restaurant for snacks and drinks. The restaurant was always clean and the staff always on their toes. We loved the port call in San Francisco. The Hop On/Hop Off bus tour was well worth the money. We could have stayed there longer. Astoria, Oregon, was a bust. We took the Seaside/Cannon Beach tour, which included a very very very short stop at a magnificent group of tall rock spires used for migratory bird nesting. Right back on the bus and into the two towns for shopping. The tour guide recommended all sorts of pedestrian places to shop, owned by his friends. These are small towns with small town attractions and establishments. A waste of time. We toured Victoria on our own. It is truly beautiful. Nanaimo was a pleasant surprise. We took one of the typical "Best of.....plus underwater basket weaving and nuclear weapons design" tours. Pleasant people, pleasant countryside, well organized tour, the cranberry farm proved far more interesting than we could have expected. Disembarkation in Vancouver went well. We chose to carry off our luggage and go directly to the bus to Seattle for our flight. The bus service was comfortable, quick and pleasant. How two ships in the same fleet could differ so much is astounding. The Dawn was just short of crisp; the only thing crisp we found on the Jewel was leftover French Fries matted to the floor. The ship was dirty, the staff had no service orientation, and in general the hotel staff failed to perform. We might give NCL another try, but it will be several years. This Jewel simply did not sparkle. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We chose NCL for our first cruise September 2012 because of the "Free Style" spirit and the ports of call. We don't want to have a set time for meals, don't want to dress up and don't want to be paired up with ... Read More
We chose NCL for our first cruise September 2012 because of the "Free Style" spirit and the ports of call. We don't want to have a set time for meals, don't want to dress up and don't want to be paired up with people we don't enjoy. Our first trip was on NCL Dawn and we LOVED every minute of it, even in the smallest, inside cabin in rough seas. The staff was absolutely wonderful. No complaints, couldn't have asked for more. Our second trip with NCL was aboard the Jewel. This time we went with an aft-facing suite because of the added space, the view, and the little "extras" advertised as perks -- concierge to get seats at the shows we wanted to attend, etc., and a butler! "What would I do with a butler?" I thought. Turns out, the butler was fabulous! He personally delivered room service each morning (we are early risers) with a great smile and lots of hot coffee. Anything we might want, he was there to provide. Superb service. The concierge, it turns out, was useless. His entire focus was on those in the larger suites (too little of him to go around, perhaps, or he assumed we were not excellent tippers?). The few times we asked for help with seating, he said he would check and get back to us, which he never did. On one specific occasion, he asked us to meet him in the theater so he could seat us in the VIP section. We waited, and waited and waited until 5 mins after the show started and then found seats for ourselves, not together and not reserved. I've never felt "less than first class" in my life. Thanks for rubbing that in. We would have been happier in the inside cabin with the friendly staff. Oh, and the butler got a very substantial tip at the end of the cruise (equivalent to two days' passage). The "entertainment" in the theater was awful: Band on the Run. They should be on the run and not aboard a cruise ship. It felt like a high school musical forced to use the second or third string players. Horrible. The staff throughout the ship was just not as crisp, as friendly, as happy, as those on the Dawn. They appeared tired, overworked, unappreciated. We are booked on an upcoming cruise on the Pearl and another on the Star. If we can't get that loving feeling back (as we received on the Dawn), we'll be looking elsewhere.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We travelled on the Jewel from New York to Vancouver. The cruise was 24 nights. We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal transit. Our longest cruise to date had been 14 nights and we were interested how we would manage with so many ... Read More
We travelled on the Jewel from New York to Vancouver. The cruise was 24 nights. We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal transit. Our longest cruise to date had been 14 nights and we were interested how we would manage with so many sea days. We really enjoyed this cruise but have decided that shorter cruises/less sea days are more appropriate for us. We enjoyed all the ports except Puerto Chiapas where we took our only ship booked tour, Mangroves. It was very disappointing. Everywhere else we either booked tours privately or took taxis. Our balcony cabin was on deck 10 forward. The motion of the ship was not a problem even when we had rough seas. The cabin was fine and there was plenty of storage. Having travelled on the Star last year where I hadn't really enjoyed the food I was concerned that the same issues would apply but I found the food to be good. We usually ate in the main dining room and while sometimes we had a pager we found the wait was usually less than 20 minutes. Service was usually good, our only issue was with the lady at the entrance of the dining room who was brusque and failed to acknowledge us on many occasions. We also ate in the Garden Cafe and while it was certainly crowded we always found a table towards the back of the ship or in the Great Outdoors. The food was varied and everything we tried was good. We never found the pools to be crowded, there were so few children on the ship we rarely saw them. There were always loungers available by the pools whenever we needed them. We didn't go to many shows but enjoyed the live music playing around the ship. Reading previous reviews proves that the same cruise can be different for different people. We had a lovely time and never felt pressured to spend, spend, spend. I would certainly travel with NCL again if the itinerary was right for us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We have been regular cruisers, having cruised about 10-15 times. We are in our mid-sixties and really don't participate in a lot of activities. We are just happy sitting out on the balcony; reading and watching the world go by. Being ... Read More
We have been regular cruisers, having cruised about 10-15 times. We are in our mid-sixties and really don't participate in a lot of activities. We are just happy sitting out on the balcony; reading and watching the world go by. Being in customer service fields, we look forward to cruising to see examples of good customer service. Over the past few cruises with Celebrity, we have seen a decline in the quality of service and were looking for something more. The Haven concept on NCL intrigued us, and we booked a four-day repositioning cruise (Pacific coastal) on the Jewel as a short getaway. The ship was in A-1 condition throughout. Very little wear and tear. As expected, NCL quality (but not service) was a step downward from the other lines that we have cruised on recently. Everyone was smiling and greeted us throughout the ship, something like Crystal does. Some even learned our names. Prior to the cruise, we stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, which was very nice. We noted that almost all the cabs in the area seemed to be Prius' and we were concerned about fitting all our bags in one cab. We asked Eric, the bellhop to arrange a town car to drive us to the cruise ship terminal. It worked well and we arrived curbside at the terminal in 15 minutes for $30. Our bags picked up, we headed inside at 11 AM. After some computer glitches (this was the embarkation crew from San Diego as NCL doesn't usually go out of the Port of Los Angeles), we were escorted to the holding room for suite passengers. Unfortunately, the incoming cruise had some immigration issues and boarding was delayed about two hours. Ruth, our concierge, did her best to keep us comfortable and informed. Once the ship was cleared, we went right on and were escorted to Cagney's for lunch. While in the restaurant, the announcement was made that the rooms were ready. We chose a two-bedroom suite in the Haven, one of the nicest laid-out rooms that I have seen in over 20 years of cruising. The decor was a little kitschy, but was not overtly obnoxious. Teodoro, our butler, came in shortly to introduce himself. He turned out to be great -- never missed a request, always wishing he could do more (we're pretty self-sufficient). Later our room steward, Edgardo, came in. Quietly efficient and always smiling. He kept the room in tremendous condition. Kudos to a great team! Since the weather was cloudy and windy most of the time, we abandoned our plan of vegging out on the balcony and instead spent most of our days in the Haven. They kept the roof closed all days but one when they cracked it open about 10 feet. Lovely and peaceful. Got more reading done than on most seven day cruises. Thanks to Teodoro, Edgardo and Ruth, we got into "cruise mode" quickly and relaxed as much on this cruise as on longer ones. We had been concerned about interlopers sneaking into the Haven and interrupting the serenity there. There were three couples that came up a few times from non-suite cabins, to join with a friend who had a suite. They were mildly loud but usually left in an hour anyway. Still, there was plenty of space for all of us. The bar menu seemed a little limited, consisting of name brands mostly. I drink straight, high-quality vodka and my wife drinks gin. The offerings were mostly only well-known brands with nothing unusual or special to try. Some other cruises offer one or two boutique brands, making interesting choices. After reading several Cruise Critic reviews about the mediocre food in the regular dining venues, we made advance reservations in Cagney's and once we found a server we liked, we stayed with her throughout the cruise. Heidi gave us very refined, unobtrusive service. She was terrific! We only ate at the main dining room once and were served warmed-over eggs that were gelatinous and rather unpalatable. The server there was very attentive. Disembarkation in Vancouver was flawless. With three other cruise ships at Canada Place, we had to use the alternate pier, Ballentyne. Things moved without a hitch. We left our room around 9 and were in a cab by 9:30 (not a Prius). Our hotel (another Renaissance) room wasn't ready, so we strolled the city and met some old friends in the interim. All in all, a great cruise. Would gladly sail with NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The Entertainment in the Stardust Theatre and the Spinnaker was great! We went to all the shows and was pleasantly surprised at the production value of the entertainment. There were a few misses here and there but for the shows that was ... Read More
The Entertainment in the Stardust Theatre and the Spinnaker was great! We went to all the shows and was pleasantly surprised at the production value of the entertainment. There were a few misses here and there but for the shows that was well rehearsed, it was clear that the cast was very talented. I had a lot of issues with this cruise but it might have been isolated. Our balcony room had a door that didn't lock properly and one night it popped open slamming itself against the frame. Guest services said someone would take a look at it but no one fixed it and at the end they said I should have told them right at the beginning as if ship maintenance was my responsibility. The mini fridge was also lock on arrival, no bathrobes in the balcony and one night we found sand in our sheets even though we didn't travel anywhere with sand. The food was really disappointing. We went on a the Jewel sailing out of NYC a year ago and was pleasantly surprised at the creativity, variety and the quality of the food by the chef at both the MDR and the buffet. There was none of those things to be found on this cruise. The food was disappointing across the board and we found ourselves hungry most of the time and settling for a PB&J sandwich on a cruise. The staff around the ship was friendly and helpful when needed. The cruise director Richard was entertaining and excited to be there. The live music was pretty good around the ship except for the one group with the flute and violin, they were not well rehearsed and was simply not very good with their instruments. Food is one of the reasons why we cruise. We should not be hungry on a cruise. Its hard to get over that unfortunately and will probably not sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We are older Cruiser, who are some what experienced. We have sailed on many different cruise lines and have enjoyed them all until the Pearl. Just did not do it for us. We had a balcony stateroom that was very small, the bathroom ... Read More
We are older Cruiser, who are some what experienced. We have sailed on many different cruise lines and have enjoyed them all until the Pearl. Just did not do it for us. We had a balcony stateroom that was very small, the bathroom was a closet. It was hard to sit on the toilet. They have just really cheapened the experience. The food was rather poor. Service even poorer. I felt sorry for the servicers because they were under so much pressure. The first night we had to wait one and a half hours to get into the dinning room. The next night the hostess told us there was a 25 to 30 minute wait, so we went to the buffet. The food, was poor quality, Chicken or ham. At the Latitudes meeting the Captain said if you have a problem talk to some one. So I talk to Tony Rosa the Food and beverage manager. He called me a liar when I told him of the wait time. then he insulted us by suggesting we were first time cruisers. They catered to the many alternative life people on board. My wife and I enjoy dancing before or after dinner. The only dancing was line dancing that we really can't get behind. Not for us. I can't recommended this line to my friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
I am a Gold Latitudes Member and really love a lot of what NCL has to offer: great service, Freestyle Cruising, nice cabins, fantastic entertainment,etc. My husband and I cruised out of Los Angeles to Vancouver on the April 29, 2012 ... Read More
I am a Gold Latitudes Member and really love a lot of what NCL has to offer: great service, Freestyle Cruising, nice cabins, fantastic entertainment,etc. My husband and I cruised out of Los Angeles to Vancouver on the April 29, 2012 sailing of the Pearl. We were extremely pleased with our balcony mini-suite stateroom and the overall layout of the ship. We sailed previously on the NCL Epic which we majorly disliked due to the fact that it doesn't feel like a ship. The Pearl has an old-time ship feel to it, and we liked that you can walk around the entire ship. (The Epic doesn't have this and feels like a Las Vegas carnival) The ship needs updating, the artwork is not up to NCL standards, but this was minor for us. What doesn't make sense is the poor quality and presentation of the food. It is almost like no one has given thought to the menus and doesn't care about how the food is presented. We were appalled that the afternoon "snack" in the back of the ship was macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and some bready sandwich. Much of the food doesn't taste fresh. The service is lovely and accommodating, but the wait staff should not be blamed for the food. The entertainment on this cruise was superb, especially the Tribute singers for Frankie Valli. We bought the extra spa package that allowed us use of the indoor pool and Jacuzzis, this was a real plus. However, it is true that on NCL you have to pay for everything extra, and this package was $119.00 per person. In summary, it is possible to have a wonderful time on NCL if you do not care about food as much as the service, prots, entertainment, and relaxed atmosphere of this type of vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was our 10th NCL cruise and was going to be our last. The wife and I had purchased a cruise reward and needed to use it, otherwise we would not have booked this one. Wife and I are both in our 50s, early 50s that is, and have cruised ... Read More
This was our 10th NCL cruise and was going to be our last. The wife and I had purchased a cruise reward and needed to use it, otherwise we would not have booked this one. Wife and I are both in our 50s, early 50s that is, and have cruised a lot, but try different cruise lines. NCL has been our choice most of the time but we were getting put off by the constant nickel and diming. Every time we turned around lately it seemed like someone was trying to sell us something. It was a constant 'No thank you." all over the ship. So we had vowed that this would be our last. We stayed at the Queen Mary pre-cruise and were told by our daughter and daughter in law not to because it was supposedly haunted. Didn't see any ghosts and loved the ship. It had a feeling of stepping back into history. My wife said it was like sleeping in a museum. We flew into long beach early and left ourselves an extra day to have of guided tour of LA. This was our fourth time on the Pearl, mainly because she is positioned on the West Coast in the summertime and we live in Washington State, so it is convenient for us. She was our favorite ship the when we sailed her the first time, but has been replaced recently by and Royal Caribbean ship. Boarding was a breeze compared to some of our other experiences. We got there early and we delighted to get past security and get checked in even before they started boarding the ship. We were happy to sit and wait, rather than standing in line. They let us on and we headed straight for the Summer Palace to eat. Activities were good, they kept us busy, and instead of being bored between the things we wanted to do during the day we had to hurry to the next one. We had seen a huge improvement in service. We were delighted by this. It seemed like they were putting an emphasis on this. The staff went out of their way to be helpful. Entertainment was both hit and miss. The "Oh What a Night", comedian and the hypnotist very good, but second city and Pearl Productions were just so so. The food was, well, it's NCL. They have improved over our fall cruise, but still serving Alaskan Meatloaf, which was by far my worst meal I have ever had on a cruise. We were so delighted about some of the improvements that they have done, we will take another cruise with them in the future. Service was so much improved. We even got chocolates on the pillow, something we have not seen in a long time Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Pearl was literally all over the map. It started in sunny, 86-degree Los Angeles and ended in cloudy, 50-degree Vancouver. Inbetween we hit the bigger cities of San Francisco and Victoria and the ... Read More
This repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Pearl was literally all over the map. It started in sunny, 86-degree Los Angeles and ended in cloudy, 50-degree Vancouver. Inbetween we hit the bigger cities of San Francisco and Victoria and the small towns of Astoria and Nanaimo. Our shore excursions ranged from dim sum in Chinatown to a visit to a cranberry farm on Vancouver Island. Mom played lots of bridge, and I had lots of two-for-one drink specials in Star Bar with the other "Friends of Dorothy." But the one consistency in our cruise was the friendliness of the Pearl crew and the virtues of NCL's popular Jewel-class ship.Embarkation in Los Angeles was a nightmare. Everyone thought so, novice and frequent cruiser alike. It took two hours of standing in line to get on the ship, but it was a small price to pay to get aboard.Our interior stateroom was comfortable and clean. The bed was set up as a queen rather than two singles, but our stewards reset it while we were at dinner. Once we unpacked, there was plenty of room. This cabin had the largest cruise-ship shower I've ever been in, and it had as much hot water as I could use.We dined entirely in the "free" dining rooms, including the Summer Palace, Indigo, and Blue Lagoon. The food was very good, and the service was excellent. We ate fairly early, so we never had to wait, but there was often a short line for the Summer Palace when we left. We also frequented the champagne bar to listen to the piano player, who was very good. I'd recommend the bellini.Most evenings I went to Star Bar for their two-for-one Svedka vodka special. Pia Amanda, Star Bar's excellent bartender, is an perfect example of the friendliness of NCL staff. She remembered my name after the first night, what I drank, and how many I drank! I'll remember Pia for a long time. The Pearl hosted an event for LGBT passengers almost every night, and these were well attended. No NCL staff attended, but it's nice that they actually thought to include us on the schedule.The entertainment was fun. The Pearl Production Company put together two nights of Vegas-like dance numbers. Oh What A Night was a four-man singing act similar to Jersey Boys, and they were just as popular. Second City Comedy was more cerebral than bust-out-laughing funny, but I enjoyed them. And the jugglers of Sharkbait were suprisingly entertaining.The shore excursions ran the gammut. The San Francisco city tour and dim sum lunch was a 6-hour value for the money. Tea at the Empress in Victoria was an elegant experience that exceeded expectations. However, the tour in Nanaimo, which included a visit to a rural art gallery/garden and cranberry farm was a disappointment. Nanaimo looked like a very nice town, but there was no excursion focusing on the town.The ship-board experience was comfortable and fun. The ship was essentially full, but it never felt crowded. I met lots of new friends in my two hours a day in the hot tub. Mom and I only shared a table once, but we struck up many conversations with folks and neighboring tables. And all the folks who hung out in Star Bar, gay and straight, were super friendly. A middle-aged mom from Nanaimo talked me into going down the water slide. I went down head first, and it was a blast.I really wanted to do a Carribean itinerary so I could get some sun, but this was my 70-year-old mom's first cruise and she wanted to stay close to home. This was also my first non-RSVP Vacations cruise, and I expected it to be a lot less fun. Thankfully, I can say I had a blast, I met a lot of nice people, and I'd do the whole cruise all over again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
About UsDH and I are in our early 40s, have two sons (11 & 15) and live in Oregon. This cruise was to celebrate my 40th birthday. We've cruised twice before on HAL (Mexico in 2008 and Alaska in 2010) - both times with my ... Read More
About UsDH and I are in our early 40s, have two sons (11 & 15) and live in Oregon. This cruise was to celebrate my 40th birthday. We've cruised twice before on HAL (Mexico in 2008 and Alaska in 2010) - both times with my parents, my sister and her DH. This was the first time we've ever taken a week-long vacation ALONE: no kids, no parents, no other family. ALONE!! We chose the Pacific Coastal Repositioning because of the lower rates, the ease of travel and especially the chance to spend a day in San Francisco. We also were able to get the last aft-facing balcony cabin, which clinched it for us when we booked last August. We're much more about the ship than the ports.Pre-Cruise Travel and EmbarkationWe flew down to Los Angeles early Sunday morning and caught a Super Shuttle to San Pedro Harbor. We checked our luggage with the NCL porter and wandered around the waterfront until a little before noon. The various check-in lines were long and didn't move too fast, but we were in no real hurry. It took about 45 minutes to get our key cards and move into the...HOLDING PEN! As others have mentioned in their reviews, there was a lengthy delay in boarding the ship due to customs and immigration issues. We also heard a rumor that some passengers wouldn't leave their cabins. Who knows? Again, we were in no hurry, and we had a deck of cards. Many hands of gin later they started letting us board. It was highly amusing to see the hordes of people huddled like refugees in front of the bathrooms, clutching their boarding numbers, just waiting...and of course ignoring the repeated requests from the crew that the area remain clear. Once boarding commenced it was very swift and easy, and we were on board a little before 2:00 p.m.The ShipIsn't she lovely?! I'd heard the Pearl was beautiful, and it's true. Very bright and clean. We made it our mission right from the start to explore the Pearl stem to stern, which we did while everyone else was having lunch. We wanted to see the various bars and eating venues and get a general feeling for where things were. Very quickly we were acclimated with the layout and knew how to get around. I really loved that there were so many public areas - and people took advantage of them! You could always find something going on. The pool deck was a fun place and, despite the sometimes cloudy weather, was always in use. We only went in the hot tub once, but we saw kids and adults alike on the water slide every day, and there were even some brave souls in the pool one night when the ship was rocking and sloshing the water all over the deck. The muster drill was different from what we've experienced in the past. Rather than go to lifeboat stations we reported to assembly areas (assigned on the key card) and checked in with crew members. The drill itself was conducted much like an airplane safely demonstration, with instructions issued over the loudspeaker while crew members showed how to put on life vests. The drill itself didn't take very long - maybe 10 minutes - but waiting for all the passengers to make their way to the various assembly areas and check in took a LOOOOONG time. Once it was over we checked back to our cabin and found the luggage had all arrived.The CabinWe've only sailed on HAL's Dam ships,so we don't have much with which to compare. Our cabin on the Pearl definitely had fewer drawers, shelves and closet space. We were able to fit our things in no problem, but there's no way we would have managed if the boys had been with us. I really liked the layout of the bathroom. Yes, the toilet closet is smallish, but neither of us had issues fitting in. I especially liked the sliding glass shower door. Genius! The bed was ridiculously comfortable; we slept great every night, lulled to sleep by the ship's rocking. The balcony was plenty big and completely covered. We spent a lot of time out there. Even when it was drizzling we stayed dry, and there were no issues of any debris falling on us. I'd read that the aft cabins on 8 get a lot of noise from Bliss Ultra Lounge directly below. Yes, we could hear music - mostly the bass - on some nights, but it wasn't intrusive and didn't interfere with our sleep at all. Just as the ship's rocking was soothing at bedtime, the bass line's thud-thud-thud proved conducive to sleep as well.The Food (and Drink!)Isn't this what everyone wants to know about? I've heard and read so many different opinions about cruiseline food. HAL's is supposed to be some of the best, and I will admit we thoroughly enjoyed the food on the two previous cruises, but we didn't approach NCL with any preconceived notions. The Garden Cafe (buffet) food was plentiful, and there was a nice variety of offerings. We normally had breakfast there and never starved. We only ate one lunch in there and no dinners. We had chicken wings at Blue Lagoon twice (heck, it was on our deck - we had to!), and they were indeed delish, as I'd heard. On our first sea day the Sushi Bar was offering all you can eat sushi and sashimi for $10 per person from noon to 1:30 p.m., so we checked that out. The offerings were from a limited Ginza menu and were fine. But not stellar. Now that we've done it we don't need to do it again. With the exception of a special dinner at Cagney's (yum!), we had all our dinners at Indigo. We tend to eat later, and we never had a problem walking in at 8:30 p.m. or so and getting a table. The food ranged from wonderful (duck!) to just so-so (mahi-mahi...meh). We love to try different things and would usually order a couple of appetizers to taste. For those wondering about the difference between food in the MDR and surcharge venues, here is an example: the crab cakes at Indigo were made with Blue Crab lump meat, were mushy and not overly seasoned. That didn't stop us from enjoying them! Meanwhile, the crab cakes at Cagney's were larger, made from Dungeness and had a wonderful flavor to them. So there were hits and misses - which happens everywhere - but we were more than satisfied. The one icky incident was on embarkation day, when I went to the poolside grill to get a burger. The buns were all moldy, and I had to point it out to the crew member who was putting them on the buffet. Now I understand the Pearl had just come through the Panama Canal, and it's possible that the heat and humidity caused the bread to spoil quickly, but moldy buns are NOT an appetizing way to start a cruise.So the bars - we hit 'em all. And enjoyed ourselves. Very quickly we were know among the bar staff as that couple who likes to play cribbage, have afternoon cocktails and peels off singles with each round. Permod and Tiger in the Spinnaker Lounge were especially wonderful, and Shem was a friendly youngster who liked to chat with us. Pia in the Star Bar (Tiger's girlfriend!) took good care of us in the evenings when we'd come in to listen to the string quartet. The drink prices were the same (and sometimes even less) than on HAL. My only issue was sometimes we'd ask for well vodka or gin and end up with a call. True, it was only ever a difference of 25 or 50 cents, but it happened enough times to become irksome.Entertainment and ActivitiesWe went to Encore in the showroom (I like musicals) and especially enjoyed the dancing. Three of the four singers were wonderful. The fourth was excessively shrill. We watched part of Sharkbait one night but didn't stay for the whole show. What we did catch was great. On the last day Sean and Max from Sharkbait conducted a juggling workshop. What a hoot! We bought a set of their juggling balls, and I've been practicing every day. I guess I'm getting a little better. We'd hear (and see) Tino in the Atrium as we passed through, but we never stayed for his show. Likewise with the pianists. The quartet was very talented and were able to take requests (go Dvorak!). Cruise Director Julie and her staff were fantastic. We participated in Trivia, Karaoke and The Quest and had a ball watching dance classes, Bingo and other programs, plus we spent some time at the White Hot Party. The on board band was very talented too, and we liked the music selections throughout the ship. We did frequent the casino most nights and didn't do too badly. Little wins here and there plus a nice streak at Three Card Poker kept us pretty even. Even though we didn't have the boys with us we checked out the Kids' Club and had a nice conversation with one of the directors. We saw lots of kids on board having a great time in various activities One counselor even took a group of youngsters for lunch at Blue Lagoon. We were very impressed with how she and the children carried on a long conversation during the meal in a very civilized manner.The CrewFriendly! Wonderful! Helpful! Patient! Shall I rave some more? Every crew member was always smiling and exchanging a hearty salutation. We loved Captain Lars and his humor. Every time we heard the gongs and his voice we'd stop what we were doing to listen. We got to meet Mattius and some other senior staff at the CC Meet & Greet our first sea day. We really appreciated Mattius' presentation and no-nonsense approach to how he and the crew want to make each cruise experience special. We didn't interact with our cabin steward very much, but any requests were quickly taken care of (may we please have robes, for instance), and the ice bucket was constantly replenished.The PortsAs I mentioned, we're more into the ship than the ports, but San Francisco was special. We hit Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, took the Cable Car to Chinatown for a tea tasting and out of this world Dim Sum (Great Eastern - check it out!) then a walk through the Financial District - past a protest! - to the Ferry Terminal. Talk about a Foodie's Paradise! Lots of shopping then a nice walk along the Embarcadero back to the ship at Pier 35. We had plenty of time to sit on our balcony and look out at Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge since there was a two hour delay in leaving port. Apparently a crew member went AWOL onshore, causing a sizable immigration/customs snafu. Captain Lars kept us updated and entertained the entire time. Sail away under the bridge was magnificent. Since we're from Oregon the stop in Astoria wasn't a big deal. We did go ashore and visited the Maritime Museum to see the Naval Tattoo exhibit - very interesting. The friendly volunteers in Astoria made us very proud of our fellow Oregonians. Sail away was made very thrilling by the helicopter retrieval of the bar pilot. In Victoria we simply walked into town for a little souvenir shopping and pub hopping. And in Nanaimo we were honored to be the first ship through their brand new cruise terminal. I'm pleased to say that despite Oregon's reputation as being so wet, the only real rain we encountered was in British Columbia!DisembarkationAnd then we were docked in Vancouver, BC and had to leave our beloved cabin. We chose to carry our own bags off, so we had a nice (albeit sad) final breakfast then disembarked. We caught the Translink train to the airport and then sat around with our luggage until noon to check it through (our flight wasn't until 3:00 p.m., and you can't check bags too far in advance). No worries - out came the cribbage board again.OverallSo did we have a great time? I think that's obvious. We went ahead and put deposits down for a future cruise so we can take the boys on a trip. We found NCL to be more our style than HAL. Yes, there was still a large demographic of older cruisers (we were one of the youngest couples on board without children along), but there was an energy on the Pearl that we hadn't felt on either of the Dam ships. It may have been the larger cruise staff, or the additional dining venues. Or just the Freestyle attitude. Whatever it was, we liked it a lot and are looking forward to the next NCL adventure. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We had originally booked our much anticipated cruise around Alaska on Celebrity and were arriving 10 days before. The cruise was leaving from Seattle and we were wondering what we should do while making our way from LA. Instead of catching ... Read More
We had originally booked our much anticipated cruise around Alaska on Celebrity and were arriving 10 days before. The cruise was leaving from Seattle and we were wondering what we should do while making our way from LA. Instead of catching a few domestic flights we thought "why not cruise our way along the coast." What a wonderful idea this turned out to be. We found an NCL Pacific Coastal cruise on the Pearl that departed LA the day after we arrived from Melbourne and finished in Vancouver 2 days before our next cruise started. The 7 day cruise included the ports San Francisco, Astoria Oregon, Nainamo BC, Victoria BC and Vancouver. We thought the embarkation at LA went smoothly with only a short wait however the Americans must expect a quicker process as they seemed disappointed and a bit upset that they had to wait a couple of hours. We later heard from the Captain that the authorities would not let the passengers onboard from the Panama Cruise leave. The only other cruise we had been on was Dawn Princess in May 2009 at the height of the Swine Flu and we didn't board until midnight, so this time seemed a breeze. As the prices are absolutely fantastic, we had a balcony stateroom 9080 which was midship. The room was lovely, very clean and modern. The bathroom was also modern with sliding screens dividing the toilet, vanity and shower. No shower curtains was a smart idea. Another good idea was the coffee maker in the cabin. As serious tea drinkers who had brought their own teabags from Australia we had boiling water whenever we needed. All we had to do was call Room Service and they would send up a couple of cartons of skim milk. A tip to have more space on the clothes line in the shower, use bobby pins as pegs. Our stateroom attendants were very approachable, quick and always around when needed. We ate in the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner almost everyday. Freestyle dining was wonderful. It was very easy to get a table for two and if the dining room was full, they would give us a a pager and we would be called within 20 minutes. Even though we didn't have the same dining staff every night, we got to know most of the dining staff by name and viceversa. The menu was delicious and came very quick. Amazingly quick. The only thing we didn't like was the photographer that came around every night, even when you had a mouth full of food. A quick "no thanks" was all that was needed. We didn't attend the evening entertainment, so I can't comment on that. We would sometimes have a snack in the Blue Lagoon cafe which was opened 24 hours and listen to the comedian/music/lectures in the atrium and they all seemed good. The Pearl was very modern and clean with no signs of obvious wear. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful all the time. They have a laundry special halfway through the cruise. $20.00 for a large bag. They lost one of my items worth 40.00 but then didn't charge us for the laundry and took 20.00 off our account, so we came our even. Being a bra they knew I would have to replace it. I don't know if the cold coastal weather deterred most people venturing onto the upper decks at night or if they all ate later than us but we would often go up to the hot spas (x4) on the pool deck and sit in their for a couple of hours. We didn't book any shore excursions through the ship. We loved exploring all of the ports ourselves and found it easy to get around. I had read to expect rough seas going up the coast but we never felt any movement. We had prepared by taking Kwells every night but honestly it was so smooth. The Captain Lars Bengtsson was so funny, we loved his announcements that would come at anytime. He is a real character and had everyone laughing. You could tell he loved his job. Disembarkation was a breeze. No waiting for your number to be called. Everything about Freestyle cruising seemed to work on this cruise. We booked this cruise mainly to get from LA to Vancouver (then train to Seattle) so having such fantastic ports was definitely an added bonus. We loved every one of them, especially San Fransisco. This cruise definitely exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend both the Cruise line/ship and itinerary to anyone looking for a reasonably price holiday in the US. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Just some background on us as a family: this was a family cruise, two of our daughters, our son in law and our other daughters partner plus us. We have cruised over 20 times. our daughter and son in law about 15 and our other daughter, is ... Read More
Just some background on us as a family: this was a family cruise, two of our daughters, our son in law and our other daughters partner plus us. We have cruised over 20 times. our daughter and son in law about 15 and our other daughter, is a virgin cruiser, so we have all levels of comparison. Those of us who are veterans have sailed most mass marketed lines and a few that are now in ship heaven or should be. We come from all areas of the country, us from Arkansas, our daughter from Texas and our other daughter from Portland, but we met in Los Angeles. We spent 2 days in the L.A. area prior to sailing as we were originally from Los Angeles and wanted to visit friends, family and see the sights we hadn't seen for many years. We choose the Holiday Inn Express at the airport. It wasn't upscale but comfortable, inexpensive and offered a great location for those who have a rental car and want to do some driving around. the staff was friendly and helpful, the location was near Westchester, which is good for dining and any last minute shopping and the beds were as good as they come. Like all Holiday Inn Expresses breakfast was included though it wasn't much. Saturday we returned our rental car and took the rental car company's shuttle to the airport where we met with a few others on our cruise and shared the Super Shuttle to the pier. This was a great way to get to know a few cruisers. I set the shuttle up ahead of time, because we had a full 9 passengers the cost was only $11 per person including gratuities. Arriving at the pier all 3 couples went their own way for a while, our one daughter, who hadn't cruised got into the main line, our other daughter the latitude line and we had VIP service (don't know why, but who is asking)? We were escorted to Cagney's for lunch, the other 4 ate in the Summer Place main dining room, all of us were impressed with the food and service. Just prior to 2pm the cabins were ready for occupancy, before that, you could drop off your carry on luggage and enjoy touring the ship. After unpacking, reading the freestyle daily and going to the muster drill we were on our way to the Star bar for a meet and greet that had been set up. About 30 people attended. This was the start of our fun with new friends. After a couple of glasses of vino it was off to La Cucina where we had reservations at 6:45pm. Dinner was all we had hoped for the the service was outstanding. We started with antipasto, followed by salad and our entree. I choose Salmon that was cooked to perfection. It was moist, tender, tasty and served with Italian beans (those I could do without) what Italian dinner would be complete without tiramisu? Dinner lasted too long for us to do a show so we split with some going to listen to music which was being offered in several locations and the rest of us headed for the casino. The casino was clean, a great size and I was impressed with the circulation. You could not smell the smoke like in some casino. We smelled it for the first few minutes, that was it. There is a great selection of penny, 2 cent, 5 cent and higher slots, poker machines, plus Texas holdem, poker, blackjack and craps..at 11am we had our official meet and greet with several staff members including Andy, the cruise director. About 60 people attended. Sunday was a sea day so we were free to do whatever. I did think the choice of activities has gone down some but there still were things to do: trivia, card games, tournaments with the staff, exercise equipment, and a few other activities, all are free, there are other things with a slight charge and don't forget the beer, wine, martini and whiskey tasting throughout the week. early in the afternoon was the first latitude party followed by a game show, similar to jeopardy. Hubby came in second, that was fun. When all that was over it was time for progressive trivia. That night we all split for dinner. We decided to eat in the buffet (I think in 20 plus cruises we have only done this two or three times, but there was a long wait at the main dining rooms and we wanted to see the show. Monday we ventured into San Francisco on our own. All of us did our own thing, but met some old friends for lunch at Aliotos. Aliotos isn't the greatest place to eat or the cheapest, but it brought back memories. After that we walked around and eventually headed back to the ship for martini hour. At 6pm martinis were 2 for 1 in the Star bar. We did not find the cost of drinks expensive at all. 2 for 1 marities were from $7.50 to $8.75, standard low ball drinks ranged from $5.75 to $7.75 and fru fru drinks, higher of course, but there were daily specials. House wine was $6.25 a glass. Tues was another sea day, with the usual, we hit the casino, did some reading, played trivia, would have gone to the pool but it was quite nippy so we choose to stay inside. We did catch up on reading like on most cruises. In the early afternoon some of our group choose to see the movie. There was a new one offered just about every day and they were first run. That night 4 of us ate in Indago dining room. The food and service left nothing to be desired. Everynight there are 6 "always available" entrees, plus 2 or 3 specials of the day. Lobster and grouper were one choice that night. After dinner it was off to the show and time for bed. One of our favorite ports a call was Astoria, Or, though it was raining a little and a bit cool we were able to catch the shuttle bus that was an on again, off again coach so we were able to see the sights of this delightful and friendly little town with its victorian houses, beautiful flowers and delightful downtown district.. Thursday we docked in Victoria. Though we didn't do much except venture into town (we had been there before) our daughter and her partner toured Bouchant Gardens which is a must. Another fun tour is the high tea and the Empress hotel. Friday we tendered into Nanaimo in British Columbia. This was the Pearls first time visiting the seaside village. Some, who did tours like the cranberry farm loved it, most of us thought it wasn't a place we would return to, but at least it wasn't windy like Vitoria. I reflect back on the week that has past, the service with the exception of one night in the MDR was as good as we have even had. Our cabin stewards could not have been more accommodating,even calling us by name. The food was almost perfect. Of course we managed to eat one dinner in Le Bistro which is never to be missed. We were lucky to have access to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch, but we did eat in the buffet a few times. Most of our dinners were in the MDR, we preferred Summer Place to Indigo as it is smaller and more hassle free. One night the wait was quoted at up to 45 minutes but if you had a beeper you could go to bar city and get a drink for 20% off. We did just that and the wait was only about 20 minutes. The rest of the nights we had no wait or not more than maybe, 5 minutes. So don't let those words "up to" scare you off. We managed to see 3 shows, all were top rate, no, they are not Vegas quality, but the entertainers are not paid Vegas wages either. We didn't stay up for any of the late night entertainment though we heard it was all fun and worth missing sleep. I can honestly say, this was one of the best cruises we have had in the past 5 years or so, clean, beautiful ship, wonderful crew (in fact a few times I wanted to say, stop smiling, it can't be that good) and the food was better than we had expected. The biggest disappointment was Blue Lagoon, the service was very slow. Of course both times we ate there were rush times and the kitchen is quite small, really not able to handle a full house. Now, we are home, we have to finish the laundry, I have to go back to cooking and dreaming of our next cruise. Our daughter, who hadn't cruised before wants to go again next month if not sooner, we said, how about next year? Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Norwegian Pearl - Cruise Critic Review - April, 2010 Four of us took a week-long repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC. I have done the US West Coast repositioning cruise a couple of times, including trips on the ... Read More
Norwegian Pearl - Cruise Critic Review - April, 2010 Four of us took a week-long repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC. I have done the US West Coast repositioning cruise a couple of times, including trips on the Norwegian Sun and the Coral Princess. NCL cruises, and especially the repositioning trips, are often lower cost than similar length on other lines. However, this means that there are more charges on board and also that there will be more attempts to sell you things (like drinks). Overall, I would say this a very good value. Our Trip: Our trip was one of the best cruises I have experienced. This was due to a number of factors. One was the wonderful travelling friends, another was the truly great work of the crew. We were lucky in having more contact with the ship's officers, and also in being upgraded to VIP status, but even crew members who did not know of our status were polite, efficient and knowledgeable. I would like to especially acknowledge the work of the Hotel Director Dennis Prguda, and Restaurant Manager Jorge Martinho. Both were outstanding examples of staff members who truly were enthusiastic about their jobs, and who wanted to get the job done right. This was evident not only in their interactions with us, but also in the way they treated their staff, and the genuinely happy responses they received from their staff members. Cabin We had a BB class balcony stateroom on deck 9. It was a bit smaller than some I've had, but there was enough storage room for both of us (bring bags which you can store under the bed). We really appreciated the sliding door for the shower, so there was no fights with shower curtains! Our room stewards were very helpful and efficient. I appreciate service when it is effective, but unobtrusive, and this is what I felt I received. The ship itself was clean, cheerful, and fun to be aboard. We particularly enjoyed dancing in the Spinnaker Lounge, and the different bar choices. Fellow Passengers: We had a variety of ages on board. Because schools were in session there were not too many children aboard, which was, quite honestly, nice for the adults who wanted more of a chance to relax. There were a fair number of retirees, and a mixture mostly of Americans, and Canadians. Restaurants and Food: We ate in a variety of the specialty restaurants (Teppenyaki was especially fun). We really enjoyed two dinners at Le Bistro. On our trip we found it very easy to get reservations at the specialty restaurants, and really enjoyed the extra-special experience. We had one dinner in the Summer Palace (main dining room), and found the food and service to be very good. NCL is known for it's flexibility in dress code. Although one "Formal or Not" evening was held, only a limited number of people dressed up. The only announcement which was made about the "Formal or Not" night was in the ship's paper. Some people did wear jeans to the restaurants (main dining room and specialty), but "Resort Casual" was probably the best description or what most people were wearing. NCL offers Freestyle dining. This means that you have the choice to dine when, where, and with whom, you like. Some people love the flexibility of this, while others miss the relationship you might develop with your wait staff on board a "traditional" dining ship where you dine with the same people, at the same time, each evening. Entertainment: There was a wide variety of entertainment, from live music in the atrium (very pleasant to listen to), to lively bands in the bars and more formal shows in the theater. Andy, the Cruise Director, was lots of fun and we enjoyed the tribute to the Four Seasons very much. Final Thoughts: If you're looking for a chance to get away for a week, and unwind aboard a beautiful ship, with some good time at sea, then the West Coast repositioning cruise is one you should seriously consider. It was wonderful to walk the decks in the early morning hours, enjoying the feeling of the ship steaming at a good pace northwards, enjoying the quiet sounds of the ocean and the smell of the sea. The seven day repositioning cruise has all of the amenities of the traditional cruise - including the chocolate buffet! :) - but with a much lower cost. However, you're not going to exotic ports of call, and do spend more time at sea. NCL has a style and approach that we enjoyed. The emphasis is on fun, and informal, while still providing very good service. Spend some time looking up hints and ideas on the CruiseCritic Boards. We learned some useful things: ask for robes and slippers (no longer automatically provided), check out the bridge viewing room on deck 11, and try the great ice cream in the Garden Cafe. Thanks to the crew of the Norwegian Pearl for a wonderful week! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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