25 Norwegian Pearl British Columbia Cruise Reviews

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
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 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 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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Background: This is DH's and my 11th sail with NCL and we combined this little overnighter after taking Norwegian Star on her 7-day Sawyer Glacier cruise. We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn at Sea-Tac as we were flying back in ... Read More
Background: This is DH's and my 11th sail with NCL and we combined this little overnighter after taking Norwegian Star on her 7-day Sawyer Glacier cruise. We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn at Sea-Tac as we were flying back in from Vancouver (they allow up to 4 days parking with a one night stay and have a shuttle from the airport). We took a town car from the hotel to the pier ($45). We have sailed the Norwegian Pearl 3 other times: Glacier Bay, 5-day Coastal and 19-day Panama Canal reposition. So far Norwegian Star and Norwegian Pearl are our favorite ships and crews. Embarkation: Even though we were in a mini-suite, so no VIP check-in, we were whisked right to the Latitudes desk, checked in and were on board within 20 minutes. (We arrived about 11:00.) Our first course of action was to book dinner reservations and leave notes for friends at the front desk. Of course the 'drink of the day' was in order by the pool, but it was still chilly outside so we went to the buffet for lunch and sat in La Cuchina to eat where only a couple of officers were dining. Nice and quiet. Then we had another 'drink of the day' for a matching set of glasses (I'm kidding), on the aft deck where the sun was now shinging. It was then announced we could go to our cabins and we made our way aft to our mini-suite on deck 11, port corner. We met our Cabin Stewards and they fulfilled a small request and then said they'd be back about 8:00 for cabin turn-down. I like to shower before dinner, which I did, but the turn-down never happened and our calls were not answered, so downside is that I dried the next morning with a hand towel (more on that about the cabin). Cabin: We were in a cabin for the handicapped as DH has some physical limitations and we thought we'd give it a try. The cabin is extra large, has emergency call buttons everywhere (even on the headboard of the bed), has a ramp up to the deck which also has an extra railing to securely grasp. The deck door is operated by push button both inside and out; it's a little slow, so if it's windy it could be a problem. The closet has a pull down handle, so if you are wheelchair bound, you can still get to your clothing. There are 3 large drawers and lots of open storage. There is ample room to move a wheelchair or walker around and probably a Little Jazzy (or other brand) as well. Electrical outlets were everywhere to accommodate breathing machines, etc., so that was really nice for all of our electronics. Now the down side if you are not handicapped (that would be me): The bathroom is spacious, the mirror over the sink can be adjusted up or down and the toilet is extra high (I'm short). The real downside for me was the shower; I could never get water hot enough and even with towels around the drains the entire floor gets soaked. That's how I came to dry myself the next morning with a hand towel. Needless to say we did not leave a tip, but did leave an explanation as to why. Photos: So far Norwegian Pearl has the best photographers and we decided to dress for dinner and take advantage of the opportunity. We were not disappointed. On the way to photos we ran into Dave Lange, Safety Officer, whom we had dined with on our Panama trip last fall. He did remember us and we chatted for a few minutes. It was nice to see him again and I reminded him to 'mind his English' or he'd be in the naughty room (if you ever meet me, I'll tell you the story). He laughed and said he'd try! Dining: We were hungry for Cagney's and this is the nicest Cagney's on any of the ships yet. I had Oysters Rockefeller, a small salad and lobster, which was just delicious. DH had the salmon and King crab and said his was delicious too. The sun was just setting and the water was like glass; I believe we were sailing about 5 knots, so the view of the sunset over the Olympic Mountains was wonderful. After dinner we stopped by the Star Bar but nothing was going on, so I called one of my friends on board and we met in Star Bar for a drink while DH went back to the cabin. My friend arranged for us to have breakfast in Cagney's in the morning, which is always a treat. You know who you are and we thank you. Entertainment: By the time we made it for some jazz, it was all over, so we ordered a glass of wine and listened to Karaoke and I even gave it a try (big mistake—the guy that sang with me didn't know the song!)...which made it hilarious, to say the least. And then it was back to a cabin that had not been turned down. No fresh towels, nothing...and no one would answer their phone, including the front desk. Ah well...at least we slept well, listening to the beautiful wake of the ship. After a quick shower and packing we headed to Cagney's for breakfast. It was then about 8:00, when we were to disembark, but for some reason we were not cleared until almost 9:00. I stood in the lobby of Cagney's for a while and a waiter from the night before came up to talk to me and we danced a little mambo before he twirled me to the elevators with the promise to dance in February. Before disembarking I called my friend to say good-bye until our next meeting. Disembarkation was a breeze and we passed our past Concierge (Karan) on our way out. Now picture trying to hug as one is going down the elevator while the other is running up the steps! He finally gave up and came back down the stairs! We told him of our February plans and that fits with his schedule too. So...Karan, Denis and Captain Lars (we missed seeing you—that old jet lag again!), we'll see you in February! Getting home: DH is now a retired airline employee and all flights were booked or oversold until at least 8 p.m., so Budget needed a car driven to Seattle, which we did. Arrived SEA about 5:30 (long border wait) and then grabbed our car, a quick dinner and a big coffee for me (the driver) and headed to Portland, arriving 9:30 p.m. A long day, but good to be back home (even if the cat did yell at us all night!). All in all it was a nice little sail and moved us up a level in Latitudes before we sail again next month. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Background: This was our ninth sail with NCL, third on Pearl, and fourth this year. We previously sailed Pearl to Alaska in fall of 2007 and took her reposition from Seattle to Miami last fall. She is a beautiful ship and our trips aboard ... Read More
Background: This was our ninth sail with NCL, third on Pearl, and fourth this year. We previously sailed Pearl to Alaska in fall of 2007 and took her reposition from Seattle to Miami last fall. She is a beautiful ship and our trips aboard her never disappoint. Pre Cruise: We flew non-stop from Portland, OR, to Long Beach, CA, on Alaska Airlines. We had wonderful service and a smooth flight. We then took a cab ($45) from the airport to the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro and were upgraded to a suite.  We were meeting 3 other people and made phone calls to arrange a meeting place; we five were on the reposition trip last fall through the Panama Canal. We were anxious to make this 5-day trip up the coast and reconnect with our shipboard friends.  The hotel has a nice lounge and dining room with live music; the food is adequate and the rooms are clean and spacious. Embarkation: Due to the Jones Act we lost our suite, so sailed in a balcony cabin which was fine for 5 days. Our check-in took no more than 5 minutes and the wait to board the ship was about 15 minutes. We checked our bags next to the spa and went to Indigo for lunch. The service and food were fine, but we were all anxious to get to our cabins. After lunch the announcement was made (about 2:00) that we could go to our cabins, which we did, after collecting our bags. Our carry-ons were unpacked, we met our Cabin Steward Sheraton Parkinson and then received our cruise bags. We were totally unpacked before muster. Muster was quick and easy as only those boarding at San Pedro had to participate. We quickly made our way back to our cabin where we hosted a sail away party for our friends. We then went to dinner and met up with two more people I was connected with through NCL/Facebook. Our dinner in LeBistro was excellent, just like it always is. The Ship: Pearl is our favorite ship so far (we have sailed Sky, Star, Jewel and Pearl) with Star being a close second. She is a beautiful ship, constantly being maintained, and the hygienic standards are above and beyond. The state rooms are clean and fresh as are all of the public areas.  Behind the scenes the crew (like Energizer bunnies) work their magic to make sure we have a wonderful and safe journey.  I especially love to walk the Promenade in the morning and enjoy the smell of the fresh laundry wafting up on deck as I hit starboard, followed by the salt air as I round the bow and then head aft for the sound of the wake. Our cabin, for five days, was of adequate size and has great storage. We were aft on the starboard side which is usually the dock side, so we were able to watch Captain maneuver this big ship in and out of ports with the greatest of ease. He makes it look so easy... Cabin Stewards: We had great stewards, having our room clean and ready for us upon return from our breakfast each day and turn down done by the time we returned from dinner. We made a few small requests and they were fulfilled within minutes. In my opinion Sheraton Parkinson will make a fabulous butler one of these days. He is cheerful, helpful, but not suffocating in his quest to make things perfect for you. And thank you to Lanie for bringing us a beautiful fruit bowl; that was thoughtful and greatly appreciated (it was wonderful to see you again!). Prior to the Meet and Greet on Monday morning, we were reunited with both Capt. Lars Bengtsson and Hotel Director Denis Pgruda. I don't know who was more pleased to see whom! They are wonderful officers and terrific hosts. We later ran into our Concierge, Karan Arora, from our trans-Atlantic trip on Jewel last year. Before we knew it we were extended VIP status and had an invitation to join the Captain's cocktail party that evening (along with our 3 other friends). We had a marvelous time chatting with so many crew members we've come to appreciate and respect.   Restaurants: Le Bistro is always the first night choice and it didn't disappoint. The escargot are fabulous as is the cold seafood platter, lamb chops, French onion soup, etc. The service is impeccable and the dishes are presented beautifully. We were happy to see our favorite hostess, Reyhana Eads, and it was mutual—she nearly hugged us to death! We also ate one other night here, just the two of us, compliments of Denis Pgruda and we enjoyed a lovely dinner and bottle of wine (our toast was, of course, to his health). One comment on the quality of the lamb chops—this is the first time they were fatty and not that tasty. I think it was just a fluke as this has never happened before.  Mambos: We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with our 5 friends and had the fabulous lobster tacos (the first Margarita is on the house). We always enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of this restaurant and the service is always good. Blue Lagoon: Ah, the comfort food place to go when nothing else sounds good. The fish and chips, tomato basil soup, chips and dip, etc., are all you need to make you feel all cozy inside. The atmosphere is wonderful with the beautiful windows on both sides and the service is great. Cagney's: Breakfast and lunch are always a treat here...so much to chose from and yet not overwhelming. It's a quiet place to get away to and have a relaxed, no rush, meal. The service was not up to its usual standards (French toast delivered with no butter or syrup and it took forever to get it) and I was very disappointed that the chef would not accommodate my allergy to bell peppers in the potatoes except for one morning. What's up with that??? Dinner is Cagney's is always a treat, but more so when Captain invites you to a private dinner, as he did the five of us plus one other lovely couple. The oysters Rockefeller are indeed a favorite of mine as is the petite filet mignon. You also can't go wrong with those huge shrimp cocktail! We had an unforgettable evening, catching up on what's been happening with all of us since we were last together. How honored we were that so many remembered us after all the passengers that have been aboard Pearl since we last disembarked in October! Spa: My one indulgence on a cruise is the oxygen facial and I always have that done the first morning I'm on board. All the stress of getting to the port, hurry, hurry, hurry, just melts away. There was also a special on the products, which I use at home, so I scored from that end. The only thing that marred it was that I had booked a polish change and called to cancel it. There was no one answering the phones as we came into port and I was due to meet someone, so I had to leave the cancellation until that afternoon. That meant I was within the 24-hour cancellation time period and the gal on the phone informed me that if I didn't rebook they would charge me 50% ($9.00). I explained to her that Captain had invited us to The Bridge for coffee and I certainly wasn't about to miss that. She reiterated the 50% charge and I hung up. Thankfully there was no charge on my bill, especially as I had spent so much on products. Internet Cafe: I bring my mini laptop with me to keep notes and write my review on the way home. Without a suite there is no Wi-Fi, so it was imperative to use this service. I don't think the prices are that bad and I only buy the minimum as I'm using the service to book rental cars and hotels, etc., that I may not have already done. Plus, I like to delete junk mail on my home account so that I'm not overwhelmed when I get home. Shopping: As this is our fourth cruise this year, we were used to the merchandise that was available. Our shopping consisted of a bottle of cologne for DH. However, we saw that all the newbies were actively purchasing things to the point of a sale at Feline's! Entertainment: As I get seasick in the theatre (the only place I do), we do not attend the shows, but watch them the next day on TV. The Almost Newlywed Game is always a kick and dear Simon Murray, cruise director, makes this fun. We did stop by Spinnaker one night for the comedians and the volume was so loud that we did not stay. Our friends danced in Bliss and had a wonderful time. We did not bowl this time, but it is a really fun activity. I wanted to play Wii, as I have one at home, but the timing never worked out...next time! Ports: San Francisco is always a wonderful place to visit and this was no exception.  Due to the azipod problem on our last sail on Pearl, this port was dropped, so it was wonderful to sail under the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. We did the usual shops and I finally was able to find a pendant in Tanzanite that matches my ring from Old San Juan, purchased 2 years ago. The highlight of the port was meeting a cousin I had never met and sharing lunch with her at our fav place, Cioppino's. It was a lovely sunny day (once the fog lifted) and we had a wonderful martini sail away in another friend's cabin.  Astoria: As we are from Portland, this was a delightful stop, just down the road from home. The weather cooperated after a brief shower while docking. The bar was smooth both in and out of harbor and the pilot was lifted from the bow by helicopter which was quite the show. We did not book an excursion for obvious reasons, but rather shopped the craft booths that some of the locals had set up. Then we spent an hour in the local marine supply store as I'm hooked on all things nautical. All in all it was a great day followed by sail away in yet another friend's cabin. Disembarkation: Due to the Jones Act the second leg of our journey had to be cancelled and we were leaving Pearl in Vancouver. A sad situation to say the least. After stopping by The Bridge to bid our dear Captain Lars farewell we had a relaxed breakfast at Cagney's, collected our bags and proceeded to the Promenade. The lines looked awful and it was announced that only FOUR customs agents were available (we were one of three ships docking that morning).  However, a fifth agent was brought in and we were through customs and dockside in just under 30 minutes. We took a cab to the airport ($30) and were there in plenty of time to hook up with our non-stop Horizon flight home.  NOTE: There is a lot of construction going on right now due to the approaching Olympic Games coming to Vancouver next year. Be prepared for some delays. In conclusion: Many thanks to wonderful Captain Lars, Denis Pgruda, Karan Arora, and all of the other wonderful crew that we reunited with. You made our 5 days seem much more and we're sorry we had to leave you so soon. But...we'll be back. We're booking Pearl this coming week, so don't be surprised when we step aboard in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My wife and I along with two friends decided to take a weekend cruise to nowhere out of Seattle. The other couple we were with were completely new to cruising and my wife and I have only previously cruised on Disney. We thought it would be ... Read More
My wife and I along with two friends decided to take a weekend cruise to nowhere out of Seattle. The other couple we were with were completely new to cruising and my wife and I have only previously cruised on Disney. We thought it would be a great short get away to see what another line was like. When we boarded the ship I made a joke with wife that she needed to slap her wrist every time she started a sentence with "Well on Disney we did..." However, as the cruise progressed I realized just how superior service was on DCL. Overall I felt the ship was immaculate, the food was on par with other cruise lines, and the cabin was well appointed. The two major flaws with NCL were: 1.) Lack of information and abundance of misinformation. 2.) Freestyle cruising, while unique, lead to a lower level of overall quality service. The Website: A total waste of internet space. I find that the NCL website is completely unhelpful. At DCL you can check in for your cruise online, book shore excursions, reserve specialty restaurants, and even reserve kayaks at the private island. NCL only lets you print your edocs and reserve shore excursions. Embarkation: It was a complete nightmare. We arrived at port at 11:30 and started waiting in line. We eventually reached a sign that told us we were in the wrong line to check luggage and had to start our wait over again. After roughly two hours of waiting we were ready to board. The Cabin: We booked an oceanview knowing that it would most likely be far too cold to enjoy a balcony. The cabin was clean and well laid out. We had plenty of room and closet space for the two of us. The bathroom has a toilet that is separate from the shower, which makes it easier when multiple people that are getting ready in the morning. Our cabin steward was fantastic...but no towel animals? Really!? The Ship: The ship was extremely new, clean, and well constructed. Though I did not notice nearly as much maintenance going on as when I was on the Disney ship. at 93,000 tons, it was plenty big for us. Though, with cooler temperatures (more people below deck) and no ports of call, it felt very crowded at times. Bottom line, the Pearl was Beautiful. Dining: Some people love Freestyle and some don't. It's official - you can put me in the don't category. NCL makes Freestyle seem great. If I'm hungry, why not eat at the restaurant of your choice, perhaps with a minimal wait. How it actually goes - run around in the early morning to decide where you want to eat later and pray that you can make a reservation because the restaurants fill up to the point where you can't even wait for a table. I will say that some of the food we had was great and some...not so much. Cagney's fantastic and Mambo's was also very good. We felt like out visits to the buffet offered the same food every time and our lunch at the Blue Lagoon....terrible. Here is the biggest issue with Dining on Freestyle: tipping. On a non-freestyle cruise your server hitches their wagon to you and their tip depends on the level of service they give. Aboard the pearl we had some of the worst dining service on land OR sea. They were incapable of putting the right dish down in front of the right person. At one meal two of people in our party received their food around 10 minutes after the other. Ridiculous. I also was agitated that we had to hunt out where we had to make reservations for dinner. It changed every day. Why can't I make reservations at any kiosk? Summary: I am glad I got a chance to try another cruise line, but I most likely won't try NCL again unless we do an interisland Hawaiian. We'll stick with Disney when possible. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Let me start by saying that I much prefer to write a good review over a bad review. In the case of this cruise there were many things that did not the way we would like, so we left with a bad taste in our mouth. I decided that I would ... Read More
Let me start by saying that I much prefer to write a good review over a bad review. In the case of this cruise there were many things that did not the way we would like, so we left with a bad taste in our mouth. I decided that I would write about the good stuff first so that the review was not all negative. I will state up front that we will cruise on NCL again, mainly because we were on a repositioning cruise and not a regular itinerary so things may not have been normal. The Good Embarkation: Embarkation at Canada Place went considerably smoother then our last time at Canada Place. After we got off Amtrak we took the Skytrain to Canada Place walked in and found a relatively short line. We dropped off our bags and wandered into Gastown for a little over an hour then returned to an even shorter line then before. Once we got into line it moved quickly and only took about 20 minutes to get to the X-Ray machines, another 5 minutes to get to customs and we walked right up to the check-in desk for the cruise. Ship Layout: We noticed that a lot of people have said that they did not like layout of the ship. We on the other hand did. Activities and restaurants were spread over four main decks, but they covered the whole deck. While this meant a lot of walking, it also meant that it was easier to figure out where we wanted to go. Additionally this helped to counter one of the effects of cruising that some people complain about, the food. *Smiles* After eating a good meal having to walk around the ship to different areas helped to counter that sedentary effect that happens when everything is centered in one area of the ship. On that note we learned a lesson on cabin placement that we will be using when booking cabins in the future. On this cruise we booked an aft facing cabin and found that most of the activities and shows we wanted to do were at the fore of the ship. This forced us to walk the length of the ship several times a day. So we have decided that on future cruises we would book a cabin at the farthest possible point from the bulk of what we would be interested in doing so that we force ourselves to exercise more. Our Balcony Stateroom: When we boarded the ship the cabins were available and like almost everyone we made a beeline to our stateroom. On our way to the cabin our stateroom attendant spotted us and introduced herself. The layout was fine and would have been just perfect if there had only been two of us in the stateroom, but we were a party of three and discovered at night that three in a standard balcony stateroom made things very tight. The washroom was laid out in an easy to use way but was a little cramped. The room itself had all the expected amenities as well as a fully stocked mini-bar which we immediately unloaded and put away so that we would not touch it. The view from our balcony was amazing, especially once the ship departed. We had heard that we would get a lot of noise at the aft of the ship but we found the sound soothing, more of a white noise then anything distracting. We did have to request extra towels from the attendant since the room had been set up for two rather than three. Also, my daughter is a smoker and wanted an ashtray to use on the balcony; they initially gave her a glass ashtray which had broken so a little forethought on the attendants part would have helped since they replaced it with a plastic ashtray, which is what she should have been given in the first place. Our biggest problem in the cabin was the placement of the third bed, which I discuss further below, and the fact that the attendant did not empty the ashtray unless specifically requested to do so. Health Concerns Upfront: Before you board the ship there is a crewmember standing at the gangway directing everyone boarding the ship to use the Sanitizer right there. Throughout the ship there are sanitizers everywhere and outside of the dining rooms there is a crewmember there to remind you to sanitize your hands every time you enter. This raised concern about the possible spread of virus is something that other cruise lines would do well to emulate. They did recommend against shaking hands at group gatherings but most people, including us, ignored that warning. Dining Choices: We really liked the Freestyle Cruising idea and the choice of 12 different restaurants was a nice option. Without having to pay an additional service fee we had the option to eat in two traditional cruise restaurants, the Summer Palace, and Indigo, a Tex-Mex restaurant, Mambo's, an Italian restaurant, La Cucina, a 24 hour cafe, Blue Lagoon, a Bar-B-Q Buffet, The Grill, a second BBQ option, The Shy High Grill, two buffets, Garden Cafe and The Great Outdoors, and Room Service. For an additional fee we had the option of eating in the high-end steak restaurant, Cagney's Steakhouse, three Asian restaurants, The Lotus Garden, Sushi Bar, and Teppanyaki, a Mongolian Grill, Shabu-Shabu, and a French restaurant, Le Bistro. While we did not visit any of the specialty restaurants that had a fee (My family refers to me by a name that cannot be repeated in this review) we did visit most of the fee free options. Did I mention that having an aft cabin forced us to exercise? *smile* More on the good and bad of those later. Warm Salt Free Pools: Like most everyone we visited the pool & hot tub on board. On previous cruises the pool & hot tub had been filled with Salt Water pumped directly from the sea. On this cruise the water in the pool & hot tub was fresh water. It was nice to be able to take a soak and not come out with that salty feeling. Gift Shops: The gift shops were all grouped together in one general area of the ship with easy access from one shop to another. All of the shops were on one deck, so you did not have to go searching far. Martini Tasting: For the first time my beloved bride decided to try something new in the name of alcohol drinks and attended the Martini Tasting classes in Bar City. For those that want to try something new and get alcohol on a ship this is the most cost effective option, you get to taste with full glasses three different styles of the drink for $15.00. The bartenders in bar city were friendly and helpful answering questions about the drinks. Library and Game Room: The Library and Game Room on the ship were fully stocked and had a nice selection for anyone who visited them. The chairs in the library were very comfortable lending themselves to a nice relaxed reading session. Internet throughout ship: Internet service was available everywhere within the ship if you had a wireless card, including the staterooms. The cost of the internet service was on par with other cruise lines although we still felt it was higher than we were willing to pay, we just waited until we were in port and could use our cell phone as a modem instead. Bliss: Bliss is one of the lounges on the ship and had the unique feature of having a 4 lane bowling alley as well. I really liked the ambiance of the room and Bliss is where they hold Karaoke nightly. Mambos: Mambos is the one restaurant that we really liked. The service was good as was the food; the one dish that we were not impressed by was Il Popo. It sounded good, but when it was delivered it was dry. The presentation was terrific though. One hiccup service wise was with our dessert order, we ordered coffee with our dessert, the dessert and coffee cup were delivered, and the coffee was never actually served. Garden Cafe & The Great Outdoors: For buffet fare the food in these two buffets was reasonably good. In the Garden Cafe the food stations were grouped along the wall with a chef behind each station, food was prepared as it was needed rather than being prepared in advance in a main kitchen. There was a wide variety available through the stations and they had an ice cream stand that served hard scoop ice cream like you would get in a ice cream parlor. The food flavor and quality did vary but it was not any worse than a buffet restaurant land-side. La Cucina: The flavor and selection of the food at La Cucina was good, we enjoyed the seafood pizza and the entrees were terrific. The wait staff checked on us regularly and made sure we received what we wanted and had plenty of drink available, the waitress even got our daughter a cappuccino and fixed it up nice when she had only ordered coffee and giggled when my daughter was surprised with the extra effort. We were slightly disappointed in the delivery of the appetizer, it may have been because we were in the overflow section but they only brought an antipasto plate instead of bringing the appetizer cart as listed in the menu. Entertainment: The entertainment throughout the ship seemed to be minimal, like no pool band, but what was available was great, be it a band in one of the lounges, a piano player in a bar or entertainment in the reception area. Second City: The Second City Comedy Troupe was terrific, they did a mixed improv skit show that was entertaining and included audience participation, using the audience as a school band with no instruments and having us actually produce some music was something that we had not seen before and added a touch that we will remember for awhile. San Francisco: The only port of call for the cruise was San Francisco. This city is a great place to visit and passing under the Golden Gate Bridge is a great site, it looks so big when you pass under it and it is something to remember, passing by Alcatraz is interesting and one of the excursions available was a tour of Alcatraz. Wandering around the city on our own is a great way to spend the day and gives us a chance to taste a little of the flavor of the area. Debarkation: Debarkation was quick and painless; the biggest wait was waiting for our color to be called. Once it was called we joined the queue to get off the ship in which ship security was the only bottleneck, since we had already been through customs in Vancouver we did not have to wait for it, grabbed our bags and walked right out to catch our ride. For those of you who do not want the negatives you should jump to the end of my review now as I will now be hitting on the bad and ugly things about our cruise. The Bad Food Service, Food Flavor & Quality: We have been on enough cruises to know what to expect service and quality wise in the restaurants. We were severely disappointed by the food service and quality in several of the restaurants, especially in the Summer Palace. After 10:30pm the only food options available are the Blue Lagoon and Room Service, neither seemed to provide great service. Blue Lagoon: I visited the Blue Lagoon twice, in both cases I was ignored by wait staff. The first time it took 15 minutes before a bus boy brought me a menu, about 15 minutes after that the manager of the restaurant noticed me sitting waiting patiently and motioned a server to me, the server then walked away, I assumed that it was to get a notepad or something but they did not return, five minutes after that the manager again noticed me waiting patiently and motioned at the same server and they again left the area not to return, five minutes after that the manager again noticed me and physically pointed the server to me and they finally came to get my order. I ordered the fish cakes and when she brought me food it was fish and chips, not the fish cakes I ordered, so I had to wait even longer for what I did order. Fortunately I was not in a hurry and had reading material. The second time service was not as bad but it was still slow, it seemed that they had a minimal staff on hand because it was a port day and all other restaurants were closed. Summer Palace: Service and Food Quality in the Summer Palace was probably our greatest disappointment on the cruise. The waiters seemed overworked and did not care how quickly anyone was served. On our first night one server asked my wife what she would like to drink, she said water, he left the table and brought back two bottles of water for her to purchase when tap water was all she wanted, when she said that she only wanted tap water he left not to return, another server brought water then left again never asking my daughter or me what we would like. When she returned to take our food order I requested coffee and it was not served until after we received dessert even though I asked for it a few times. The flavor of the food was bland. The second time we ate in the Summer Palace for dinner the service was not any better however the flavor of the main dish was better, but that was because it was seafood extravaganza, hard to ruin the flavor of that. *smiles* Reservations were a joke, we placed reservations but people who did not have reservations were placed into the same queue making the wait for a table the same whether we had reservations or not. When we complained about what the use of a reservation was we were informed that a reservation only guaranteed us a table not a seating time. So why even have a reservation system. Room Service: The room service menu had a limited selection and when called for we were informed that there was a 45 minute wait and the food was not delivered for over an hour and when it was delivered it was cold. Casino: The casino was like most casinos in that most everyone in it was donating to the line, so that is normal, it did seem that the slot machines were tighter than most casinos, gambling is only interesting if you win occasionally. The biggest problems in the casino were that the staff did not seem to know how the games were played and more than once we had to tell a dealer what a payoff was or that they did not pay someone that they should have. Also, the rake on the Texas Hold-Em game was enormous, 10% to $25 per hand is extremely high, most casinos charge 10% to $3 or $4 per hand, I would have been happy with $5 per hand but seeing so much removed from the table with every hand is basically robbery of the poker players. Bingo: I know that bingo is a game where only 1 or 2 people actually win and the odds are against the players but what it costs should be reasonable. We played bingo twice, the first time was $25 for a single packet in the 2 games and the second time was $45 for a single packet in the 4 games but they were really pushing the electronic games for $65 and $110, stressing that the bulk of the winners were electronic, which proved to be true, especially since the pace of the game was faster than most people could keep up and in one of the games that we played two winners missed their prize because the next numbers were called before they could find the previous numbers on their cards and in the second session this happened twice. It was obvious from the prize amount that more than 50% of the packet price was being kept for the "Big Game" on the last night. I know that they really want to advertise a big prize for the last game but it should not be at the expense of earlier players, especially when the price of the game went up with each session. In previous cruises the games that we had played each session had a "Big Game" that would pay the full jackpot if hit in 45 numbers or less and a consolation prize of less if it isn't hit in 45 numbers then the final session had a "Must Go" game, this cruise only offered a portion of the jackpot if hit in 45 numbers or less until that final session which made it clear that earlier players were funding that big game entirely. Smoking locations: Personally I am not a smoker however my daughter is a smoker and she found it difficult to find a spot to smoke that was "permitted area" and she found this frustrating. Art auction: Or should we say the lack of an art auction. We like to look at the different pieces of art provided in the art auctions at sea and actually purchased some in the past but on this cruise there was not a single auction. Furniture made for looks not comfort: Most of the furniture in the reception area and many of the common areas was made for looks but not comfort. Trying to sit in a chair that looks like a curlicue was uncomfortable to say the least and in some cases looked silly. San Francisco Dock: There were three ships in San Francisco on the day we made port there unfortunately the San Francisco dock is not configured in a way that allows for more than two ships in the downtown area of the port. This placed our ship further south of downtown and away from the Embarcadero making easy access to the main tourist areas of San Francisco difficult. In order to get to the Embarcadero we had to travel first on the BART finding out the hard way that we had to pay for additional fares since we could not purchase the day pass at the station near our dock. Alcohol Service: I know that a cruise line really makes its profit through the extra stuff on the ship, especially the alcohol but the pressure to buy drinks at shows, in the pool area, at bingo, and in the casino seemed to be higher on this ship than on our previous cruises. It seemed like every time we turned around there was someone asking us if we wanted a drink, in one case just as we were saying no to one server a second walked up and asked the very same question. If we want a drink we will flag a server, we don't need asked every time we take a breath. If you tell the same server no every five minutes waiting for a show to start you start wondering if you shouldn't just leave. Once again, if you don't like negative it is time to jump to my conclusion because the following items really got in my craw and are the real complaints I have about this cruise. The Ugly Purser's desk: In all of the cruises that we have taken we have not met a staff at a pursers desk that could not answer a question without consulting someone else like we did with this cruise. On top of not being able to make decisions or even answer some simple questions they were often rude, when my wife had to have her key card replaced because it stopped working it seemed that taking care of this most common issue was an inconvenience and seemed to take forever. They also did not take time to communicate with us when there was an issue. Credit card companies often block charge activity when they think something is fishy going on, on this trip our card was blocked, rather than contacting us and letting us know there was an issue they just blocked our onboard account. We did not find out there was an issue until it was late in the evening and we were at sea, we tried to purchase some items in the gift shops and were told by them that our account was closed. When I went to the pursers desk they acted like I was trying to rip them off and demanded that I settle the account right then, which I couldn't do since the card I was using had been blocked, I couldn't call the bank because we were at sea and if I wanted to incur the charge for a ship to shore call I couldn't since our shipboard account was closed. I told them that I would take care of the issue as soon as we docked in Los Angeles and while they accepted that they did not seem happy about that. Then at 3:00am I got a phone call from the pursers desk telling me that the night before they could not process our charges and when I told them that I had already talked to them and told them it would be handled in the morning they told me it had to be handled right then, I contacted my bank and the hold on my card was released allowing the charge to be processed but I felt highly harassed by the staff regarding this. Because we were displeased with the service that we had received we decided that we wanted to personally tip the people who did serve us and I filled out a service fee adjustment form at the purser's desk asking that our fee be removed, we then tipped our servers personally. After we got off the ship we found that they did not give us the full adjustment that we requested and so effectively we paid the service fees and tips. Water Pressure: Water pressure in our cabin was poor, it was barely sufficient to take a shower and if we removed the shower head from its holder we lost all pressure. We mentioned this to our room steward but it was never corrected. 3rd bed location & comfort: Unlike the other cabins where the third bunk is a folding bed on the wall the third bed in the balcony staterooms is a folding couch right next to the balcony door. Once the beds were turned down we had to climb over the third bed in order to get to the balcony door. This made the cabin considerably smaller and difficult to move around in. The bed itself was like laying on an exercise mat on the floor, it was hard enough you could set drinks on it, bounce on it, and not worry that anything would tip over because it won't. Parental Consent Revoked: On NCL a young adult ages 18-20 can drink beer and wine with a parents' consent when the ship is in international waters. Well, that is at least what the cruise lines documentation and website says but is not always true. We filled out the parental consent form for our daughter and figured all was fine until later that evening. My daughter tried to purchase a Mocktail, a frozen non-alcoholic drink, and was informed that her card was not working, so she went to the purser's desk and was informed that her card was deactivated because they needed to replace her card because the parental consent was revoked because we would not be in international waters for the whole cruise. If this was true then the ships casino should not open since the same basic rule for the drinking age also applies to the casino. The casino cannot open until the ship is in international waters, defined as being 3 miles offshore, a young adult cannot drink until the ship is in international waters, defined in the form we signed as three miles offshore. Needless to say they did not keep the casino closed, so either they broke the law and opened the casino when it should not have been or they revoked permission for young adults when they should not have. If they had told us when we first filled out the form that they had decided against it for this cruise it would have been better but to change their mind after embarkation and permission had been given is just inconsistent. Lack of staff for Meet & Greet: We planned a meeting for members of the Cruise Critic forums on this cruise and the meeting itself turned out well but everyone was disappointed by the lack of reception the group received from the cruise staff. In discussing the meet and greet with other cruise critic members we expected that we would see some ship staff at the meet and greet, no one appeared, most of the cruise critic members were very disappointed by this. When I checked with the manager of the pursers desk about this I was informed that the staff had changed two weeks previously and that they were informed that the cruise Critic group would not receive any special consideration as a group. I don't know if this is specific to the Norwegian Pearl or to all NCL ships but I was very surprised that this is the case. Passenger Services Act of 1886: Most cruisers have never heard of this act and when they do it usually results in a lot of turmoil for them. It seems that there is a long standing law in the U.S. that states that a passenger may not take a foreign flagged ship from one U.S. Port to another U.S. Port. This act does not affect most cruises because they are round trip cruises or they are one way cruises that either originate or terminate in a foreign port. On this trip we learned a very valuable lesson regarding the PSA because we had planned to do a back to back cruise on the Norwegian Pearl taking the Seattle to Vancouver Dinner Cruise then taking the Seattle to Los Angeles Repositioning Cruise. We booked and paid for both cruises with no mention of the PSA from NCL, we only found out about it because of discussion on the Cruise Critic forums, when we contacted NCL to ask if this would be an issue for us we were initially told no, it was not until I escalated to a supervisor was I told that it would be indeed an issue and that had we boarded the first cruise we would be refused boarding on the second cruise because of this law. We should have been notified by NCL that this was a problem long before we found out on our own as it resulted in extra expenses, not only for us but for several other cruisers that we had been chatting with. Conclusion So, Will we cruise on NCL again? The short answer is yes, while there were a lot of problems on this cruise we did enjoy ourselves for the bulk of it and we believe that most of the problems most likely stemmed from the fact that this was a repositioning cruise rather than a regular itinerary. We did like the ship and hope to experience it again in the future. We even did the future cruise deposit which is a good deal. Were we disappointed in this cruise? Again, the short answer is yes, this cruise had a lot of high and low points. Will we refer others to NCL and the Pearl? Again, the short answer is yes, we realize that everyone's experience will be different and we may be a little critical, especially since as travel agents in training ourselves we will be sending people on these ships ourselves. We learned a lot on this cruise and we did enjoy it. Hopefully others will find my review helpful and will use it to help them make their plans in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Pearl September 24-28, 2007, Vancouver, BC - Los Angeles Repositioning Cruise This was our third cruise on the Pearl in less than 8 months. We really love this ship, her crew and the upbeat decorations. We originally booked this cruise ... Read More
Pearl September 24-28, 2007, Vancouver, BC - Los Angeles Repositioning Cruise This was our third cruise on the Pearl in less than 8 months. We really love this ship, her crew and the upbeat decorations. We originally booked this cruise so our 82-year-old dad could join us on his second cruise. Unfortunately, circumstances didn't allow him to cruise with us. We were in a quandary deciding whether to go or not go and at the last minute, decided he was in good hands at the hospital and with his blessing, off we went. Embarkation Day: We had a 6AM flight and decided the stay overnight in El Paso, TX, about an hour's drive from home. We purchased the transfers through NCL and signage at YVR was good. We also were to take part in the USDirect program, but we missed those signs and were sent through Customs with the hoards of other Vancouver travelers. The line went fast and we were on our bus (wondering if we'd ever see our bag again). Arriving at Canada Place about 2:30, we had a rapid check-in and went immediately to our OV stateroom. We picked up our life vests for muster drill (held in the Summer Palace dining room). Our luggage was received quickly so the USDirect transfer program worked perfectly for our luggage. Our Stateroom: Our oceanview room was kept clean and orderly. We had more enough space for our belongings (more so than in a balcony room). Of course, we overpacked - bringing way too many clothes. We had our beds put together and had a tiny night table on either side of the bed. The table barely held the telephone - I'd say it was about 12" across. That's how much room you have between the bed and the wall. Getting in and out of bed was cumbersome, as you had to dodge the folded bunk that used about half of the wall space - leaving about 6-8" of body room. The room had a stocked mini-fridge, flat panel TV, coffee maker, safe, 6 drawers, built-in desk, shelves and ample hanging room in the closet. We requested an eggcrate mattress topper and it was brought quickly. I suggest you remove about half of the hangers in the closet, as they are bulky. We always bring a folding hamper and it fit in the closet nicely. The closet had a lower fold-down shelf but I still couldn't figure out its purpose. A nice touch was the light in the closet that we kept on at night for a great nightlight. Our multi-pocket shoe bag hung on the inside of our closet door and was perfect to hold the odds and ends that accumulated throughout the cruise. The bathroom space was adequate. This time when I asked for a bar of soap, our cabin attendant immediately brought two bars of oatmeal soap "made exclusively for NCL". Upon arrival, we were treated to a bottle of wine and a fruit basket, compliments of Latitudes. We also had letters from the hotel director and concierge (Karin Goedecke, more on her later). Our cabin stewards did their work and were very pleasant. We found all staff willing to go the extra mile to make things right. Gatherings: Our Meet and Greet (held in LeBistro the first sea day (Tuesday) was arranged by a member of our group but it was disappointing no one from NCL attended. NCL did provide beverages and pastries. PokrTom organized one of the best M&G's with gift exchanges among participants and door prizes. VIP Guests: As Platinum members, we were invited to dine in Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. The VIP cocktail party was held Tuesday evening and we enjoyed talking at length with the cruise director, Simon Murray. Each evening we would receive "tasty treats" ranging from hors d'oeuvres to cookies. Twice in the four days, we received two plates of treats. The concierge, Karin Goedecke was apparently kept busy with the Penthouse passengers, for she ignored us (except for the letter the day of embarkment). As VIP passengers she said she made dinner reservations for us, but we didn't have reservations in one of the dining rooms when we went at our scheduled time. We decided to double-check on our reservation at LeBistro, and sure enough, we didn't have a reservation. No problem, we just made our own. Needless to say, this new concierge did not receive a tip from us at all; infact, we left negative feedback for her. Dining: As mentioned previously, we enjoyed breakfast and lunch in Cagney's. While they have the same specialty breakfast menu daily, the lunch menu varied. We had lunch once in the Garden Cafe and once in Blue Lagoon. Our evening meals were in Lotus Garden, Mambos, Indigo, and LeBistro. I enjoyed all the meals, only wishing they were served a little warmer. My new favorite entrEe was the teriyaki steak at Lotus Garden with the Braised Short Ribs/Tenderloin at LeBistro coming in second. A few times we went to the Garden Cafe just to have a bowl of the chilled fruit soups. Sad to say, LeBistro's chocolate fondue was no longer available. The chocolate buffet was held from 10:00PM-11:00PM on Thursday night. Do try the Chocolate Decadence; it was divine with the consistency of soft fudge. Entertainment: Shows on this short cruise included SeaLegs at Sea, Garden of the Geisha, a magician and Second City, which were repeats for us. Apparently NCL had negative feedback on the original SeaLegs costumes as the girls' bottoms were covered. Simon Murray was the CD on this cruise and did a great job and his new assistant was very entertaining. We enjoyed watching "the Perfect Couple" game show. No art auction on this cruise, Murder Mystery dinner or talent shows. As usual, the casino was smoky (but since it's one of the few indoor places smokers are allowed, that's understandable.) Several machines were available for those wanting to play for lower denominations. I noticed penny, 2 cent and 5 cent slots. For far less noise and no smoke, go to the Bliss lounge for some machine poker. A very few hardy souls used the pools and hot tubs. Most days it was too windy and cool to enjoy the water, even if it was heated. You still have to get in and out! Very few outdoor activities were scheduled, but the weather in San Francisco was "smashing" - it couldn't have been better. Lounge chairs were at a premium. Lounges, tables and chairs were also on the Promenade deck. Miscellaneous: We did tried to use the stairs whenever possible. When it wasn't too windy, we also made it a point to use the outdoor walking circuits. Ports of Call: Our one and only port of call was San Francisco. Pier 30-32 is not attractive with nothing but a tent set up at the pier. No one was selling tours, so we opted to walk and jump on a cable car to Chinatown. It was quite an experience! After observing the chickens and ducks hanging in the windows, we decided we would eat on board the ship! Onboard Shopping: Everything from a candy bar, cold medicine, inexpensive (or expensive) jewelry or a t-shirt is available on the Pearl. One thing I wish they would sell is long sleeve t-shirts. Something between a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. Very few bargains on this cruise - with the exception of some Alaska t-shirts. Disembarkation: We had VIP departure off the ship and it was very easy. We had breakfast in Cagney's, gathered our luggage (we also chose Express) and went to the Blue Lagoon to meet the concierge. She escorted groups of 6 or so to an elevator (used exclusively by VIP guests) and we were off the ship in minutes. Customs was a breeze and then it was off to our shuttle to LAX. We had prepaid for the shuttle service; I believe it was $16pp - or $18 at the pier. Since we were on SWA, we were at a tiny gate area with limited bathroom facilities, few dining choices, etc. Our flight was approximately ½ hour late for departure but we still were back in El Paso by 4:00 our time. To Summarize: The Pearl is a beautiful ship and the food and crew are wonderful. There have been a few changes to some of the menus (elimination of the Chocolate fondue, no longer have access to juices after breakfast in the Garden Cafe, etc.). Meals could be served warmer, entertainment was good, and guests were cordial with many first-time cruisers. It was a fun trip but the four days went by way too fast! I purchased another future cruise package for $250. That put $250 into my NCL account to be used as the total deposit on a future cruise PLUS I received an immediate $100 on-board credit to my account. Thus the $250 only cost $150. A great value if you enjoy NCL. We have an upcoming NCL cruise on the Sun in October 2008 but I'm sure we'll cruise NCL again in the meantime. Perhaps a European cruise is in our future. I would rate this 4 day cruise as an 8 out of 10. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Review: NCL Pearl 9-24-07 thru 9-28-07 Repo from Vancouver to Los Angeles The start of the cruise part of our vacation was a little rocky. This was our 10th cruise on NCL, and as Gold members of Latitudes, we were hoping for a little ... Read More
Review: NCL Pearl 9-24-07 thru 9-28-07 Repo from Vancouver to Los Angeles The start of the cruise part of our vacation was a little rocky. This was our 10th cruise on NCL, and as Gold members of Latitudes, we were hoping for a little better treatment for the embarkation process. Another ship, the Coral Princess was boarding at the Vancouver pier at the same time, and everyone on the pier was herded in the same line - a LONG line. Fortunately, it moved quickly, but we were still in a line, moving or not, for over an hour,with thousands of other passengers (5500 was a number I heard). It turns out that line was just for Customs. We didn't know that. Once thru Customs, we were split off from the Princess people and herded onto another LONG line. There was a special (short) line for passengers that had suites, but there was no mention of Gold members or higher (and that's supposed to be one of the perks of the Latitudes program). Finally, after 1 and a half hours in line, we finally got on board the ship. The staff behind the counter was very nice, but the ones acting as shepherds to all us herded cows were not. Not that they were nasty, but they were not interested in answering questions and just basically did their jobs which were to push us in the right direction. Once on board (whew!), things were fine again. We ditched our carry-ons in our room and headed out for lunch at the Garden Cafe. I personally like the food there. I prefer to eat mostly veggies, and there was always a wide assortment of them there, prepared in all kinds of ways. Due to the diverse nature of the passenger base on this cruise, it was apparent that the menu was diverse enough to try to satisfy as many as they could. There was always a selection of Asian stir-fry dishes, as well as Indian foods along with the comfort foods like mac and cheese, steamship style roasts and of course the typical hamburger and hot dog assortment, etc. Our only complaint is that because it is kept hot on steam tables, the food doesn't stay hot for very long, and by the time we found a table to sit at, got our drinks, etc, the plate was frequently quite cold. Don't know how that could be fixed, however. Our balcony stateroom was beautiful, impeccably clean. Man, I just wish that NCL would consult some women, especially those that go camping in rec vehicles when designing a cabin. ALthough there was ample space, it was organized in all the wrong ways. Cubby shelves were very large, and two of them were so high that they could only be seen into by NBA basketball players. My little 5'5" frame could not even reach into it. So it became useless. There was no desk drawer. NCL issues incredible amounts of paperwork in the forms of advertising or information,much of which I like to save, and there was no place to put it. It had to be left out on top of one of the tiny vanities. The hangers in the closet are very bulky and noisy. Because of their design, it is very difficult to remove them or to take clothes off of them without making a lot of noise. On long cruises, there never seems to be enough. I usually bring my own thin ones, which are much easier to use. I would also love to see a magazine rack on the wall of the bathroom next to the toilet, for obvious reasons. There's just lots of empty space It could even be a place to store all that blasted paperwork! Our Meet & Mingle was wonderfully organized (Thank you, Tom), and the company was fun. Very disappointed that there were absolutely no staff from NCL there. Such a difference from our previous Pearl experience where we met all kinds and levels of staff! Heard a rumor that Cruise Critic functions are no longer going to be considered any different than any other group and therefore require no attention other than the refreshments that NCL provides. That's unfortunate, really. It doesn't look good on the CC boards if NCL comes across as less caring than other cruise lines. But, if the executive decision has been made in that direction, then the chips will fall where they may. In general, we were satisfied with the food, both in the buffet and Summer Palace. Let's put it this way, we certainly never went hungry. I was, however, disappointed in the sugar-free desserts in the buffet. There were 2 or 3 offerings every day, but they were the same ones, every day. There is so much that can be done with Splenda, and fruit and even Jello, and with the products that are now available and the expert chefs that are on board, you'd think that they could come up with some pretty spectacular things. I wasn't looking for spectacular, necessarily, but the offerings they had (chocolate /strawberry mousse or "cheesecake") were bland and pretty tasteless. Day after day...... Once in awhile they did have a sugar-free ice cream, or a low fat or fat-free one. That was great. But it wasn't always there. I know that there are some ice creams that are fat-free with no sugar added that are out of this world, and cost the same. THAT would be great. We had nice surprises in our room just about every day, from canapEs to chocolate covered strawberries. Sometimes got treats from the concierge, sometimes from the manager of the Latitudes program for being Gold members. The first one was a bottle of wine with a fruit basket. The wine was a special treat for sure. The other treats (with the exception of the strawberries - yum!) were nicely presented, but too often went to waste because we were already full. Maybe food isn't the best Perk on a vacation that seems to already be centered totally around food. The shows varied greatly. Having been on NCL 10 times over the last 20 years, 7 of the cruises being in the last 5 years, (ah, the wonderful empty nest), we have seen the Jean Ann Ryan shows multiple times. The same show. We were on the Pearl 9 months ago when she was brand new and first started doing her Caribbean itineraries. The shows appeared to be the same this time, at least substantially. My hubby and I happen to be theater people, he as a sound and lighting professional and I as a costumer, so watching that aspect of the shows is great. But the content gets old after a little while. The cast is very talented and well directed, and still did a wonderful job, full of energy, which is key to a stage show like that. However, the guest entertainers are fantastic. We have always been so pleased. Second City delights us always, no matter how many times we see their shows (Some parts of their routines were the same too - but still funny) and the comedian (David Nasta) made us roar. He's truly a funny guy. He frequently strayed off his prepared routine and was able to ad lib funny comments on things he got from the audience. Enjoyed Bob and Sara Trunell also (again). They do a combined magic/illusion/comedy show that is very entertaining. With two of our four days being at sea, I was disappointed in the line-up of activities. There were many activities to be enjoyed, but they were not well distributed so you could enjoy many of them. There would be stretches of hours with virtually nothing except shopping or spa, etc. Then there would come a clump of activities, all scheduled exactly at the same time. Martini and margarita clinics were held at the same time in different bars, for instance. I had a hard time deciding which one to do, since I wanted to do both. Had they split them up, I could have participated in both and NCL would have made more money off me. I don't think it would be difficult to rearrange the schedule so that passengers could flow from one activity to the next. One activity that was very well received and that I happen to love is country line dancing. I attended the class one afternoon taught by an adorable staff member named Isabel, and for once, dancing had also been scheduled in the lounge the same evening! We were in our glory. Not only was Isabel there but many of the cruise staff were on the floor, helping newbies learn and interacting with all of us. I met some fabulous people on the dance floor that day, and we all felt like old friends by the time we saw each other that night. Too bad it was the last day of the cruise. If it had been the first or second day, and then repeated throughout the cruise, we could have made some "friends" that we could look forward to meeting at other times. HINT TO NCL. MORE COUNTRY LINE DANCING, MORE OFTEN. Those of us whose partners don't care to dance really appreciate the opportunity to dance without needing a partner. And it was terrific exercise! Another thing we thought was strange was the fact that despite two full days at sea, there was no pool band. They had one for sailaway out of Vancouver, but the band looked like it felt out of place, like they'd never played in that area before. The weather, altho chilly, was not rainy, so many people congregated outside. Brave souls (and there were quite a few of them) went into the hot tubs and the pools (which were heated fresh water), and the atmosphere could have been a little more charged if a pool band was there sometimes. Perhaps because of the short repo? We did notice that many of the staff seemed brand new and unfamiliar with things in general, so maybe they had a major staff shift..... Disembarkation was pleasant, sortof. We chose the latest time to disembark, since we had a 1:30 flight from Long Beach, and plenty of time. That part was great - walked off when we felt like it. The luggage collection lines were very small at that point, so we found our bag in about 2 seconds, literally, and strolled out to get a cab. That's where it got a little hairy. We had no reservations, and it seemed that even if you did, you were out of luck. Lines were long for the Prime Time and Supershuttle, and the cars were not returning quickly - I guess the traffic, as usual in LA was bad. So we did spend a lot of time waiting for a shuttle to come back. But the weather was decent and why be in a hurry to rush to an airport to just do more waiting? It worked out fine, in the end. I did not realize how long it took to get to Long Beach Airport from the pier - on the map it seems so close. Don't know if it was closer than LAX or not. But what a cute airport! Small and personal, it is simple and short to get your pass and get thru security. I love small airports, and this one's a keeper if we do this port again. With 2 metal hips, I always set off the alarm and have to go thru the full pat down routine before I can board. This can add a great deal of time and frustration at a major airport. Things have changed so much over the years. Freestyle cruising, as well as deeply discounted fares, has created situations that are not optimal for service and put more pressure onto staff. I've heard many people complain on many cruises that service just ain't what it used to be, and they're right. HOWEVER, with cheaper prices come staff reductions. The cabin steward that used to only have a handful of cabins to attend to would so frequently be in the hall folding towels or just generally working around, available to talk, available to be more attentive to our needs. The cabin load on the stewards has more than doubled over the years, from what I can see, and they barely have time to do the essentials. Being available for my every whim is just not possible any more. The newer ships also keep the stewards work areas sequestered in secret hallways, out of view, so we just don't see them as much anymore. So if it looks like the service is lousy, it seems to reflect on a bad attitude of the steward, but may in fact be a result of too much workload. I miss the days of conversing with my steward, finding out more about his/her homeland and family, developing a rapport. I think I caught a glimpse of my steward three times this trip as he was rushing around trying to take care of what he had to do. Conversation was just too much of a luxury. But when I did ask him for a top sheet (they use duvets which are much too warm for me) and an egg crate mattress, they were on my bed that night. Cabin make-up times and turn-down times were much longer than in the past. But I don't feel I can blame the stewards. Those people work extremely hard and get what seems to be very little for it. And some obnoxious passengers can turn their lives into hell very quickly. Same goes for the staff in Summer Palace. In the traditional dining experience, a waiter would have maybe 5 to 7 tables to take care of, all of whom would have the same passengers for each meal. He/she devoted himself to those passengers. Now, it appears that there are many more tables that become the responsibility of each waiter, and if all of them are full, he has to race around to take care of everyone. One of the downsides of Freestyle. On the whole, I enjoyed my cruise greatly. I always do. I find the experience to be delightful, relaxing, and very fulfilling. The food is plentiful and delicious, the staff very pleasant and helpful, and with just a few little tweaks here and there, could be downright perfect. 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Sail Date September 2007
This was my 12th NCL cruise in 18 months - my husband was supposed to come but broke a tooth three days before and couldn't make it. I booked an oceanview gty for my best friend and her 7 year old daughter at the last minute and they ... Read More
This was my 12th NCL cruise in 18 months - my husband was supposed to come but broke a tooth three days before and couldn't make it. I booked an oceanview gty for my best friend and her 7 year old daughter at the last minute and they were upgraded to a nice OV on 8! My partner in crime, King Marcus, arrived at LAX from NC, we picked him up and ran for San Pedro only to find that embarkation was delayed due to the need for a thorough detox because of Norovirus. We were delighted to find Alex Forbes and all of our butlers (we had both been on Pearl four times before this) in the concierge lounge, and the royal treatment began! The crowd was getting unruly, waving pitchforks and torches, as we were boarded first, even before the garden villa and deck 14 pax.  My bags were waiting at my door. Since this was a shortie cruise, we booked a disabled minisuite, a large lovely aft cabin. At 350 sf, it was larger than an AD penthouse. As I am not disabled, (DH is) I offered it up, in case it was needed but no one did....with Alex as concierge and with Platinum perks, and courtyard access, I found the services in a mini on Pearl to be superior to an owner's suite on Dawn! Our 7 year old, Evan, howled whenever we tried to take her out of the Kids Club! Her mom found herself planning the days around the open/close times! The activities are amazing and the care and love the counselors impart are truly awesome! We adults enjoyed daily trivia and arts and crafts as well as well deserved lazy NAPS! Marcus spent time on the sundeck "getting a healzy glow". Having been onboard before, I didn't go to any of the shows, but it was unanimous that we would have paid to silence the piano player/singer Terry Ayers in Bar City. We had had lunch in Summer Palace on embarkation day and it was antiheroic, so we took the balance of our breakfasts and lunches at Cagneys and dinners at Bistro, Cagney's, Mambo's. I even tried regular room service for the first time, and it wasn't bad! On the two port days, San Francisco and Victoria, I guided local travel agents around the ship and answered their questions, always the NCL ambassador ;) Alex got us off quickly and had us escorted through Canadian customs in a flash..we caught a "coach" to Seattle (NEVER AGAIN)and spent a night at the Edgewater Hotel, right on the waterfront, highly recommended! All in all, a good time was had by all- dinner with Captain Sven, Michael, Susan and King Marcus....Marcus' surprise birthday party....another bridge tour...excellent, excellent hospitality from everyone. As expected from the exquisite Pearl. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
I just wanted to give you all a quick review of my phenomenal "Pacific Coastal" cruise on the simply irresistible Norwegian Pearl. I took the 1st flight with US Airways on sailing date morning from Charlotte to Los Angeles and ... Read More
I just wanted to give you all a quick review of my phenomenal "Pacific Coastal" cruise on the simply irresistible Norwegian Pearl. I took the 1st flight with US Airways on sailing date morning from Charlotte to Los Angeles and had 6 hours of the worst First Class flying experience ever! What is wrong with those flight attendants...they should work on a ship and see how wonderful everything works there! After arrival in LAX my good friend Laurel (flyingpirate) who lives in L.A. had organized a Limo and we drove together to the Pier in San Pedro, which was a quick & comfortable ride down. There she was...this absolutely wonderful ship...my favorite in the whole wide world...The Norwegian Pearl! The luggage was unloaded quickly and porters took care of the rest. The check-in facilities are actually very nice at the San Pedro Pier and it was a breeze to check in. I got one of the PINK Concierge slips and was shortly greeted by the Concierge in the Concierge Lounge, where refreshments have been waiting for us. The Concierge (more to him later) apologized for a delay in boarding, since US Customs (it had nothing to do with NCL) had not cleared the ship. It was not too bad waiting there, since I saw many familiar faces and chatted my way through the hours of wait. It was a big "HELLO and Welcome Home, again!" when the whole brigade of Butlers arrived (it was already my 5th cruise on the Pearl and many, many others on all the rest of the fleet) and everybody offered me their services, especially since I only was in a Mini Suite, since it was a last minute thing and all the Courtyard Suites had been already taken. Simon the Cruise Director came out and took Laurel, me and her friend 1st through Security screening and on to the ship, before even the Villas and Suites! That is what I call NCL Super VIP Service!!! On board I went to my Mini Suite and it was actually a nice room for myself and had nothing to complain about, especially since I got granted the same amenities as the Villa Guests. Afterwards I went straight to the pool and had to have a stiff drink! For sure the whole brigade of Bartenders have knowing me as well and asked me if I would like to have my usual. Many drinks, laughs and familiar faces later, we left Los Angeles in to the blue Pacific Ocean and a magic Sunset! That night I had prearranged before already, a table for us in Le Bistro and we indulged ourselves for hours over the Chef's Menu and good wine with excellent company! Even the waitresses remembered me and just said the "Chateaubriand" would have been excellent again and not as it was the last time you had it. Unbelievable, how they can remember just so small things! After dinner I went to Bliss Ultralounge to do the usual…have wonderful drinks and dance the night away. Next day I went for lunch to "Cagney's" with a slightly headache and made it then to the pool! After I had returned to my Suite I found an invitation for the VIP Party and afterwards to dine with the Captain and Hotel Director. The VIP Party (I do not normally even go there anymore) was the usual…flirting with the Hotel Director, Handshake with the Captain and Cocktails and Canapes and more flirting. Captains Table was held in Le Bistro and was as wonderful as usual! We actually had quiet interesting table mates…The Captain, Hotel Director, a VP of NCL in Miami, The Empress (flyingpirate), The King (me), a very high Officer from the US Navy and "Who are you" a friend of Laurel. After many laughs and great food I felt like dancing again in Bliss (to burn down the calories), where I met some wonderful people, who I met the night before. We made it until almost 4am until we sailed under the "Golden Gate" Bride watching it from the Courtyard Sun Deck 15! By the way the weather could have not been better the whole cruise! In San Francisco I laid lazy in the sun and swam in the wonderful Pool, had lunch in the Courtyard and went in the late afternoon to the Sauna, what a great day that was, just to do nothing! I had dinner in Indigo, which was superb (also the following night). On sea day up to Canada, The Hotel Director invited the whole Cruise Critic Gang to bowling and free drinks, which was very generous of him. Everybody had a great time. In Victoria I celebrated my 26 (again) Birthday and just indulged myself on the ship. In the evening the Concierge invited me for drinks to the Star Bar. There was where the nonsense begun! Shortly after me, the ships Doctor arrived as well with his nurses for a drink. The Concierge told us both, that the Cruise Critic Members had organized a meeting to congratulate me for my Birthday and if he would like to join in. I was like "OH MY GOD"…since I hate situations like that! There we went down, a door opened and a room was filled with people and 2 wonderful Birthday cakes, one for "King Marcus" and the other one for "Queen (?) Pieter"!!! Everybody I have seen or met on the ship/trip was there (except CC members), open bar and wonderful cake. What a great surprise party for the doctor and me!!! We both had no clue and have been surprised to the maximum! We both have been as well invited from the Hotel Director to invite people to our liking for dinner at "Cagney's" on his compliments! I hard core dining and drinking experience occurred that night in Cagney's and at Bliss! The next morning it was time to say “Good bye” in Vancouver! The Concierge met the Empress and me at 10:15a to be escorted privately off the ship, he even took care of the long lines at Vancouver pier and we just cut them all. There it was, a said good bye to my loved ship, it’s phenomenal crew and home away from home. We took from there the Quick Shuttle to Seattle (never again), where I stayed overnight at the Seattle Marriott Airport Hotel (wonderful) and took the next morning a horrible First Class flight on Useless Air back to Charlotte. Verdict: I had a brilliant cruise, better then excellent food and service! I need to thank again Michael the Hotel Director for his going over and beyond to please two of NCL’s most valued Guests and Friends (flyingpiate and me). Now to the Concierge Alexander Forbes: He is the most stylish, wonderful, great, simply gorgeous, distinguished and magic Concierge in the fleet, him and Lisa (NCL Spirit) are really the best Concierges NCL has to offer, where no request is too much and everything is dealt in a timely manner with a maximum in professionalism! It must be an Australian thing! I can not wait to be on a NCL ship again (god thanks 3 more are already booked for this year!!! King Marcus Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This was my second cruise with NCL, I am a Platinum member with Princess (10 cruises). I much prefer NCL because of the outstanding service. If you are in the upper suite category you have a Butler, concierge and 2 stewards. I booked the ... Read More
This was my second cruise with NCL, I am a Platinum member with Princess (10 cruises). I much prefer NCL because of the outstanding service. If you are in the upper suite category you have a Butler, concierge and 2 stewards. I booked the coastal because I live in San Pedro-Los Angeles Harbor and only have to fly one way. This was perfect because I wanted To cruise on the brand new Pearl. Embarkation--Terrible but the cruise line is not at fault. Los Angeles does not do to much to promote and comfort cruise passengers. The facilities are BAD for such a big port. The Pearl had just come in from a 15 day Panama Canal cruise from Florida. The ship was here early AM and customs did not clear it until 2 PM So most of the passengers had to sit around for 2 hours before starting to board. The ship was scheduled to leave at 5 Pm but it left closer to 7 PM. Cabin--OUTSTANDING!!. We had a Garden Villa Suite. These suites are located on deck 14 where there is a total of 12 suites surrounding a private area that has a pool, jacuzzi, steam room, gym equipment, and an eating area where there are always snacks or you can give your butler an order from any of the restaurant menus and brought to this area. Your cruise card must be put into a slot in the elevator to get to this area. Very private and Beautiful. Dinning--Great pluses and minuses. The Premium restaurants Cagney's Steakhouse, Le Bistro.Tepenyaki etc have outstanding food. The Buffet is large with a good variety. Where NCL really fails-I made this same observation on the Norwegian Sun- their main dinning restaurants Indigo and Summer Palace. The food is average cafeteria quality. Main courses such as Beef Stroganoff low quality fish like tilapia. Itis if they have a $3.00 budget to feed the passengers forcing them to go to the premium restaurants to get quality. Entertainment---The normal cruise ship offerings. stage shows, bands by the pool, singers in the lounge. All very good, Activities---Bowling, rock climbing, basket ball, exercise equipment, jogging track, Bingo, Art auctions-something for everyone. Disembarkation--A breeze when in this category. The first escorted off the ship. A Beautiful ship with something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Norwegian Pearl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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