41 Norwegian Pearl Fitness Cruise Reviews

My BF and I were short on time but desperate to get away so the 5-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Belize and Mexico was perfect for us. We booked just prior to Christmas and got a great price. Food: We generally ate in the buffet ... Read More
My BF and I were short on time but desperate to get away so the 5-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Belize and Mexico was perfect for us. We booked just prior to Christmas and got a great price. Food: We generally ate in the buffet in the morning because we wanted to control our portions and wanted lots of choice. The aft outdoor location (Great Outdoors) was perfect and since we were up and at it early, it generally wasn't busy. This opened at 7:30 but sometimes we would grab specific items on the inside location and just take our plates outside. Overall the food would get a 3.5 - 4 out of five. We are super fussy, however I always found something to enjoy and generally was very pleased. My only complaint is watching people feel the need to carry two stacked plates at a time. We ate in Le Bistro at additional charge and it was well worth it. It ran about $100 CDN for two, gratuities included for three good courses. Cagney's was fully booked so we didn't get a chance to experience it. Indigo was very good and the atmosphere was much nicer for us than the main dining room (Summer Palace). If you do the buffet for lunch, don't miss the Indian/Indonesian food station. Some of the better butter chicken I've had, made very well and super fresh. Entertainment: For me, I would give the entertainment 5/5. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the performers and shows. Big kudos to Orly Penate and Alex Ortiz as well as the NCL person responsible for booking them. Absolutely fabulous! The final evening we took in the Legends in Concert show in the Stardust Theater. Great acoustics and lovely set up, comfortable seats. This show also wowed me in the quality. Don't miss it! Staff: Overall, the staff was very good. I think when some people think they are poor quality, they don't understand that for some, there is a bit of a language barrier and their job is incredibly hard. Eight months on, two months off is a tough gig. I wonder if NCL should consider different options or opportunities if they can find a cost-effective way to manage. Activities: If you can't find something to do that interests you on this ship... it's you, not them. I was disappointed in some of the guests and their need to do nothing but sloth by the pool, drinking too much. However, we found a great location every day and very much enjoyed the sun. We also signed up (at extra cost) to have full access to all of the classes at the fitness centre. Big shout out to Jared and Suynesh (sp?) for their attention, professionalism and knowledge. We very much enjoyed our interactions with both and it was worth the extra cost. Shore Excursions: For me, this is the chink in the armor on this trip. I found both ports to be pretty much a waste of time because I like to experience the authentic side of a country. They are overly commercial and a bit of a money grab. We did enjoy both beaches however and in Costa Maya we took a taxi to Mahahual where we found a great stand for empanadas and sopas. We ended up going back to the ship early and very much enjoyed how quiet it was on board lol. Overall a very nice experience with great people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First Class, it provides a unique perspective. Our 1st cruise on the Pearl was to Alaska Labor Day week 2017. We booked this cruise shortly thereafter. I was also the CC Coordinator on both Pearl cruises, we had over 70+ couples who joined us on this San Diego - Tampa cruise via the Panama Canal. Staff Officer/Hotel Director Cary (previous experience was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Director in NYC) is the only NCL Hotel Director that hosts an end of cruise meeting with myself and other CC members that would like to speak to the senior staff. I interacted with many passengers during this 2 week cruise regarding their experiences which enabled me to share some comments/feedback to the Pearl Staff - in addition to my own observations. I won’t be commenting on the day to day of what we did/eat/excursions, etc., but rather comment on our overall experience. I must say that NCL has improved greatly over the past few years and their FreeStyle is refreshing from some of the other cruise lines offerings. The main dining rooms to the specialty restaurants are indeed a treat. Never did we find a menu that was boring or repetitive during our 2 weeks on board, nor were we served anything that wasn’t fresh and tasty. I can’t say that about some of the finer restaurants in America. Even if NCL didn’t have any specialty restaurants, the Main Dining rooms would be superb. But, the specialty restaurants do add a unique experience in ambiance and taste, so if you would like a special evening, you can’t go wrong with whichever one(s) you chose to try. The Pearls staff are top notch, to say the least. The Captain (airplane or ship) sets the tone for the crew and it shows. I observed Officers picking up garbage on the pool deck, and other Officers rearranging lounge chairs in the clubs. The crew observes this so they in turn go the extra mile to serve us. Like I mentioned previously, NCL has risen in the ranks these past few years in my book and I can’t say enough good things about their staff. From the Cabin Stewards/Stewardess’, Pool Bar Servers to our Wait Staff and Bus Boys to the crew that we never see. As the CC Coordinator for this particular cruise, we organized a Halloween Costume Pub Crawl after we left Cartagena, Columbia. We had a lot of CC participants and as a bonus, the Pearl hosted a Haunted House in the Bliss Lounge. That was a fun memorable evening for all. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise! The Cruise Director and staff did a marvelous job of keeping us entertained for many sea days. NCL’s entertainment was top notch, plus a seasoned speaker/expert on the Panama Canal. Yes, we are booking with NCL again and the Pearl in particular. To me, that is the best write up/endorsement that I can make. Thank you NCL Pearl for being the ultimate Vacation Hero! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We sent out laundry and it came back missing several pieces. Tried to get reimbursed at guest services but were told nothing they could do and gave me a card to contact ncl insurance claims. Called them to find out they couldn't see ... Read More
We sent out laundry and it came back missing several pieces. Tried to get reimbursed at guest services but were told nothing they could do and gave me a card to contact ncl insurance claims. Called them to find out they couldn't see my booking because the number I got through travelocity wasn't in their system. Not sure what to do about it now, $300 worth of clothes are gone. The room we paid for cost twice as much as a single because we had 2 small kids with us, all we got was a fold down bunk bed. Ports of call were a joke, only shopping to do if we didn't want to pay extravagant prices for an excursion. Felt like a tourist trap everywhere we went. We were told when we booked the trip that the price included $300 of onboard credit. When our final bill was presented, no credit was shown. Guest services knew nothing about it. When I checked my confirmation email at the very bottom of a long paragraph of fine print I see a link to fill out a form for the credit that must be submitted 21 days in advance. Why??? Nobody said a thing about this while booking and why would that be necessary anyway? We paid the price assuming we would have that credit, we were told we would have the credit, we got no credit whatsoever. Overall very unsatisfied with the trip and feel like we were scammed. The food was good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I had the greatest experience on my first cruise, this was a Mother’s Day gift and I enjoyed every second of it with my mother. I would do it again and again and again :) Service, entertainment, quality of food, professionalism, ... Read More
I had the greatest experience on my first cruise, this was a Mother’s Day gift and I enjoyed every second of it with my mother. I would do it again and again and again :) Service, entertainment, quality of food, professionalism, cleanliness, everything was amazing, I would probably suggest to add WiFi as part of the package and not for a price.. WiFi now days is free everywhere we go :) , also transportation from ship to airport should be a courtesy service that would eliminate worries and would allow more time to enjoy the time on the cruise rather than stressing over it, the same way the ship offers to deliver luggage to the airline of choice, transportation should be included. This was a major concern right at the end of the cruise, getting in to a cab or Uber and are we going to make it to the airport on time? Also shire excursions are a little too expensive. Thank you Norwegian for an amazing time!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We have been on quite a few cruises and I always say that a cruise is what you make of it. Most of the time we know what to expect. This cruise was very very good. Embarkation was well organized and smooth. Our balcony cabin was ready by ... Read More
We have been on quite a few cruises and I always say that a cruise is what you make of it. Most of the time we know what to expect. This cruise was very very good. Embarkation was well organized and smooth. Our balcony cabin was ready by 1:00 PM. Every member of the staff, from the room stewardess to the waiters were always smiling and helpful. We didn't realize that there were quite a few young people on spring break on the Pearl. They were well behaved and didn't disrupt us in any way. My hats off to them! We had the dining and drink packages on this cruise. You can make your specialty dining reservations one month in advance of the cruise on the NCL website. If you do, be sure to confirm they were taken and print a receipt. We made reservations online and then three weeks out, they were gone from the website. We had to settle for late dining times. Not happy with this, but it did not distract from the good time we had. We had one night in the Summer Palace where the service was not so good. Everywhere else was great. We ate at Cagney's steakhouse, Le Bistro and La Cucina. If you like lamb, have the rack of lamb at Le Bistro. Awesome! We liked the freestyle concept, but we think people should dress appropriately for dinner. We don't dress up, but we don't wear shorts and t-shirts in the dinner dining rooms. The shows were average for a cruise ship, but we don't cruise for top rated entertainment. We only did two organized excursions. The sightseeing tour and beach at Roatan and a beach break at Costa Maya. Roatan was very crowded with four cruise ships in port. If we went again, we would probably take a taxi somewhere. We walked around San Miguel in Cozumel. We have been there before. We thought Harvest Caye in Belize was like Disneyland and very expensive. We took the ferry over to Placencia to see the real Belize. We found a great beach bar and hung out there. Prices were much better and we got to meet some locals.(English is the main language). The beach break in Costa Maya (Mahahaul) Mexico was good. Nice clean beach. Lots of drinks and great fish tacos. Disembarkation was great. We carried our own bags off the ship and by 9 AM we were off the ship, in the car and on the Interstate headed home. Very happy with this cruise and we would definitely go again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise as a winter break trip for a group of college senior girls who play lacrosse together. New Orleans was closer than Miami for us to drive. We stayed at the Marriott Convention Center as it is directly across the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a winter break trip for a group of college senior girls who play lacrosse together. New Orleans was closer than Miami for us to drive. We stayed at the Marriott Convention Center as it is directly across the street from the port. We parked our car at neworleansparking.com--secure and again walkable from the port. Last time we cruised out of NO, we stayed at Holiday Inn Superdome, which included parking, but was comparable in price to Marriott plus the price we paid for parking. I would stay at Marriott again. Went to Bourbon street the day before and, of course, Cafe DuMonde. Awesome! We had 9:30 embarkation, and got on the ship around 11:00. Quick and easy. I went directly to dining reservations because we had such a large group. Our rooms were ready by 1:00. Ate at O'Sheehans for lunch and met our favorite bartender who took care of us the entire trip. Just a reminder, the ship must charge tax on your drinks even if you have UBP until they get out of the Mississippi River. My husband and I have cruised 5 times on NCL, 3 times on RC, and 2 times on Carnival. We love NCL's Ultimate Beverage Package as it is not unusual for us to each have 5 drinks throughout the day. The bill we got on the other cruise lines was pretty hefty. DINING: We dined in Indigo the first night, but preferred Summer Palace overall--although no shorts or flip flops in this included dining. We had 3 upscale dining in our package and the service was much better than the included restaurants, but the service in the main dining wasn't bad. Our favorite foods included Beef tenderloin, lamb, and lava cake! We enjoyed Moderno although I am not a meat lover--I loved the pineapple and salad bar and the filet mignon--the experience and service was exceptional. Cagney's service was excellent too, but our favorite was Teppanaki! I would ask for the funniest chef as he had us in tears laughing and the food was outstanding. We loved Lotus Garden and went there 2 evenings as well--awesome potstickers, calamari, kung po, and soups! We ate at O'Sheehans often for lunch--awesome wings, fajitas, artichoke/spinach dip, and I loved to get the side salad with the fajita chicken breast. We also love the Caramel marshmallow brownie cheesecake!! ENTERTAINMENT: We missed the opening show, but loved the Cirque show, the impersonator show (Michael Jackson was awesome), the comedy show, and 80's show! All good! Not Broadway quality like RC Oasis and Allure, but better than many I've seen. Also, we saw the crew talent show during the day because it was raining--super funny! They did a great New Year's Eve party! Pretty much anything they did at night by the pool was great dancing. Otherwise, we headed to Spinnaker (which is nice to go during the day to look out the front of the boat). We missed having the Quest show on this ship--NCL usually has it on every cruise. ONBOARD: Basketball tournament was fun, Sexy legs contest, and the golf cages! Great fitness center--busy, but I could always get on a machine when I went between 8:30-9:00. PORTS: COZUMEL: We usually shop at this port, but it was New Year's Day, so we headed to Hooters to see the Bowl games and get free wifi..ugh. Some did an excursion through the ship to a beach which they loved. GRAND CAYMAN: Love this port to go swim with the stingrays--it was our 2nd trip out with Stingray Sailing (see trip advisor), and while the ship changed docks, times, and everything, they found us, and made sure to accommodate us. Captain Chip and Captain Chris BOTH took our group out, and it was a fantastic time--we couldn't do the sailing because the ship required us to get back early. Snorkeling was great, and the equipment was perfect. ROATAN: Last time we were here, we went to the numbered excursion booths you see when you get off the ship, paid $15 pp for the shuttle to a resort where we paid another $10 pp to use the pool, beach, bathrooms, etc for the day. Loved the snorkeling there! This time, it was pouring rain, but we did it again--but they took us to a resort that was further from the reef and weren't honest about the price. We decided to head back and get our money back, but our van broke down! We had not cell service and the guys pushed the van up the hill through a questionable part of the city!! YIKES! It was an adventure and we saw the island and got our money back--still tipped the driver though. Would do it again, but maybe reserve ahead through bananorama ($30 pp), but you don't have to haggle and nicer transportation. BELIZE--private island It felt like a beautiful all inclusive resort, but nothing was included but the beach chairs. We packed some fruit and waters for the day and enjoyed swimming in the ocean and the abundant beach chairs. The pool had a nice swim up bar, but the water was colder than the ocean..enjoyed our time here! COSTA MAYA We've been here several times, but never went to Mahahaul beach--WHY? It was awesome! $3 pp trolley ride there and $2 pp cab back. You can catch a cab there and save $1, but you have to walk a little ways. We reserved chairs at Tropicante, and I would highly recommend--no charge, but a great walkable beach, with amazing food (guacamole--and nachos--so authentic-yum!) massages $20 for a 1/2 hour and $30 for an hour plus tip. For 5 of us, we got 12 beers, 3 half hour massages, chips and guac, and nachos for $100 for the day--awesome! Overall, I was pleased! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this cruise to do an Adult only cruise with 3 other couples. We planned this cruise about 2 years ago and wanted to on a cruise without the kids to enjoy some adult time. We wanted to go to place that we all have never been ... Read More
We chose this cruise to do an Adult only cruise with 3 other couples. We planned this cruise about 2 years ago and wanted to on a cruise without the kids to enjoy some adult time. We wanted to go to place that we all have never been before. We wanted to stay out late and enjoy some adult entertainment including dancing. Enjoyed the entertainment show (Ventriloquist, Angles and Legends). Didn't care for the comedian. Enjoyed the dance classes by the entertainment staff and the night time DJ dancing. We got the package with the specialty dining included. All the restaurants were very good. My favorite was the steakhouse and the teppanyaki. If we didn't get the specialty dining package included, I would have probably not gone to any of these restaurants. The food in main dining was just as good. Enjoyed the gym and took some classes. The fitness instructor was very good. Took the total body condition class (wish they offered this class more than 1 time during the cruise) and TRX (same wish they offered this more than 1 time). Pilates was good too. Enjoyed the spa. Bought the day spa package (which I think should be free with an order of a spa service, wasn't worth buying). No one was there and didn't use it. I got the hot therapy stone massage package and enjoyed it very much. Rose did a great job. We wanted to be able to do excursions that usually we wouldn't been able to do without the kids. The excursions we did were amazing and highly recommended. We did Sea Kaying in Juneau, Ziplining in Skagway, Fishing in Ketchikan, and the Gardens Tour in Victoria. The excursion teams offsite were great! Overall good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Chosen by time and locations. This New Years Day cruise went to Mexico, Belize, Roatan, Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia. We chose an interior cabin for comfort and price. Ship was clean and well maintained. Crew and Captain were ... Read More
Chosen by time and locations. This New Years Day cruise went to Mexico, Belize, Roatan, Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia. We chose an interior cabin for comfort and price. Ship was clean and well maintained. Crew and Captain were friendly and personable. Dining was good and occasionally excellent with several complimentary dining locations and food options available. This made dining affordable and pleasant. Buffet dining was used occasionally, and vegetarian options were available. Steward service was excellent. The entertainment varied from good to barely tolerable. This is an excellent choice of ports, and the excursions were all good. A very good trip and a very reasonable price. Much appreciated point: This is a diverse crew and was a very diverse passenger group. Also it was quite varied in ages as well as origins. Not just a cruise for old people or party types, this was a well rounded group and felt very comfortable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Norwegian Pearl is a pearl of a ship, she is clean, friendly and full of really good vibes. We went on a 12 day cruise and just returned today. I have learned that having a good cruise is having a great ship not just the port of calls. ... Read More
Norwegian Pearl is a pearl of a ship, she is clean, friendly and full of really good vibes. We went on a 12 day cruise and just returned today. I have learned that having a good cruise is having a great ship not just the port of calls. The staff on this ship could not be better friendly and always smiling. The ship is a great size it has everything you want on a ship and is set up so that if you don't want to walk many miles a day you can still get to what you want with ease. Dining is located all over the ship aft and mid ship, and there are more bars then I could count. This ship is a bit older then the super sized ships out there so I think the cabins are a bit larger and they all have drawers ( Great ) If you can book a suite do so it is well worth the price. Butler and Concierge,priority check in and check out and a private restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The Panama Canal is amazing you have to see it to believe it, finished in 1914 and it still works. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I was looking for a cruise through the Panama Canal that ended in Los Angeles. The Norwegian Pearl was the only cruise ship to start in Florida and to end in Los Angeles with free style dining. My husband does not want to cruise on a ... Read More
I was looking for a cruise through the Panama Canal that ended in Los Angeles. The Norwegian Pearl was the only cruise ship to start in Florida and to end in Los Angeles with free style dining. My husband does not want to cruise on a ship where you have to eat at a specific time and at a specific table. I would have preferred a cruise that stopped more in ports before the Panama Canal such as Aruba and less stops in Mexico. Embarkation was okay but was very crowded. It is important to arrive early. Disembarkation was very easy eventhough we chose to have our bags taken off for us. I wish the activities on the ship had included more zumba exercise type classes that were free. There were a few "cardio salsa" classes but these classes were very "light" on the cardio and only 30 minutes in length. The service in the restaurants was great. The staff remembered our preferences after the first evening. We had a balcony cabin which was very nice. My husband likes to keep the doors open, but this was not possible due to the high temperature and high humidity until Mexico. We signed up for the "behind the scenes tour on the ship for $80 per person. This did include a picture in the galley in a very nice folder, but my husband was disappointed in the tour. He wanted to see more of the "guts of the ship." He was interested in the engines and the de salinization process on board, which was not included. I might consider another cruise with Norwegian as this was our third cruise with Norwegian. Price will definitely be a determining factor. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
For months we looked at reviews and wondered what our experience with NCL would be. There is something I saw a while back that summed it all up: There is no such thing as a bad cruise. Catastrophes aside, this is true. No matter the ... Read More
For months we looked at reviews and wondered what our experience with NCL would be. There is something I saw a while back that summed it all up: There is no such thing as a bad cruise. Catastrophes aside, this is true. No matter the weather, or misfortune, you’re not at work. You’re one of the relatively too few privileged enough people to afford a vacation, and a cruise at that. I’ll also note that I’m not ignorant of the ridiculous hours and months long shifts the hard working folks on these ships endure, I don’t want to sound arrogant or ungrateful when I point out the flaws. Having seen some of the attitudes and requests of some other cruisers I would hate life too at this point in the season lol That said, here are my afterthoughts on our Alaskan NCL cruise aboard the Pearl. Forgive any repetitiveness, our only other cruise was on Disney so that’s the only thing we can compare it to. Dining: Ultimate Dining Package: The upgraded restaurants ranged from satisfactory to very good. I do not think we would have enjoyed this cruise anywhere near as much as we did had we not had the option to dine at all the specialty restaurants. Moderno is no Texas de Brazil, but it’s good. Same goes for the others. I’d say Teppanyaki was our favorite for food, service and atmosphere. Cagney’s served a decent cut of meat as did Moderno. What was definitely lacking save for two nights, was the service. Most servers were very impersonal, over worked and painfully repetitive. When we left our Disney cruise last year my wife and I commented that the best service we would ever receive at a restaurant back home would never compare to the level of service we got while on that cruise. The opposite can be said for our experience on NCL. There was no polish to their service. Some nights the service was mediocre and other nights it was pretty bad. This ranged from servers at the restaurants, clerks at the stores and personnel around the ship. The only consistent exception to this rule were the Splash Academy Staff. More on them later. Kids Area: Being that school was back in session, coupled with the fact it wasn’t Disney and it was an Alaskan cruise which tend to be heavy on the seniors (not a bad thing), we were a little concerned that our 7 year old would not enjoy the kids area. We could not have been more wrong. While there were relatively few kids on the cruise (around 100) our daughter honestly enjoyed herself more that the Splash Academy than she did at the kids area on our Disney cruise. The ability to pay ($6 an hour) for after hour care (1030pm-1am) was awesome and something i wish Disney offered. The couple times we used it, we needed it. This is due to the awesome staff. I honestly cannot emphasize enough how great the staff were with the kids. Particularly Ozzy and Fruit Loops (they use funny names instead of real ones there). There exceeded every expectation we had and our daughter never wanted to leave. If NCL could fill their ranks with people like Fruit Loops and Ozzy I would absolutely cruise NCL as much as possible. Unfortunately they were diamonds in the rough. My only complaint about the kids area were the hours. I understand it’s down season but closing for two hours here, and two hours there is kind of a pain. I am not sure how many extra staff they’d need to have in order to not close throughout the day, but it was the only thing that was negative about it. Ship: It was nice. Like many other reviews will say, you can see her age in some places. Sun beaten outdoor items with faded paint, a poor paint cover up job here or there. I think the ship was nice, the atrium was modern, the room was satisfactory, the restaurants were kept up very well compared to other areas. Again, the age was evident in spots around the ship and in others the ship looked brand new. Entertainment: The shows and comedians were better than we expected. They were good. Unfortunately (as was expected) the weather never allowed for us to use the rock climbing wall or brave the pool. I understand that NCL needs to make their money but it was overwhelming the number of pitches they send your way. Announcements AHEAD of time about which floor to go to to disembark the ship at next port? Outdoor activities finally opening? Nope. But you got a dozen annoucements a day about "buy bingo cards, special presentation on port shopping, art auction etc..." I get it, if you limit number of free activities folks are more likely to go spend time and money in other places on the ship. But it was over done. When we sailed disney, between the numerous channels in the statement playing kids and family movies all day, the movie theatre in constant rotation and many other activities, there was only down time if you wanted it. On this cruise there were numerous times were we just had nothing to do (save for spend more money). Now we're not stiffs. We did paid things like the bowling, casino, shopping, bars etc... but they desperately lacked some other activities. We used a lot of the free stuff too. The card room for family board games, used the gym every day too. Also bought a daily spa pass too. Fitness/Spa The Fitness room was well equipped and clean. I used it every day in an attempt to not fall too far off the path of healthy living. I used the treadmills as well as the work out room for crossfit type exercises. While the two staff members there were only interested in you if you wanted to try their foot assessment, body detox sales pitches, the actual facility was excellent. I purchased the daily spa pass in order to be able to hit the sauna and other facilities after work outs. I thought it was worth the money. Had, I not worked out every day and needed the R&R I don't think it would have been anything to write home about. But given the workouts I tried to keep doing, it was a much appreciated and very much used indulgence. Staff at the spa was on par with gym, mostly only interested if they could sell you something else. Summary: I think a lot of the complaints I have read were from folks who were unprepared or ill advised. You have to do your homework. You can’t complain about crappy weather on an Alaskan cruise this late in the season. Or being late to a port because of a storm. But I will complain about the service. Most often is was Wal-Mart esque, sometimes as good as Target and on rare occasion it was right up there with Disney (mainly at Teppanyaki, two of the Splash Academy employees and one server who’s name I wish I had remembered). Like I said when I started, there is no such thing as a bad cruise. Did we have a good time? Absolutely. Alaska was marvelous all on its own. I am glad we took this cruise and did enjoy it. The cruise itself, the experience on the ship was just ok. For what we paid i'd say it was worth the money. Wasn't the greatest but also only cost a fraction of Disney. For us to cruise NCL again it would have to be such a good deal and worth it, since we now know what to expect. I think if and when we can afford it, we will do Disney. And if we are looking for something more affordable, we would give another cruise line a chance to see if they fall somewhere below Disney but above NCL. Hope this helps Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have had 18 cruises, this was our fourteenth cruise on NCL. This cruise had problems we had not experienced before on Norwegian. We had a hint that something was amiss when we received several calls advising us that embarkation would ... Read More
We have had 18 cruises, this was our fourteenth cruise on NCL. This cruise had problems we had not experienced before on Norwegian. We had a hint that something was amiss when we received several calls advising us that embarkation would be delayed. Arriving at the port we were notified that the previous cruise on the Pearl had an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus and measures were being taken to prevent another. Embarkation was not short of chaotic. We had been on a previous Norwegian cruise when an engine failure required a change in port itinerary, leaky pipes everywhere and the crew managed to set the ship on fire so we were ready to deal with some inconvenience. This cruise did not have the same feel that we experienced on previous cruises. There is a new management team in charge of NCL and like old hound dogs men love to mark their territory. We hope this does not alter the things that appealed to us about NCL cruises. As we expected food was served one dollop at a time in the Garden Cafe and the Great Outdoors. It took a long time getting your meal because you had to stand in line while servers dished up food, one grape tomato at a time for example. We expected this to end after a few days if there was no virus problem but it continued to the last day of the cruise. The captain never bothered to explain why this was required for the entire cruise. We had several dinners at the Italian restaurant that were excellent with great service by the staff. Curious though that an 18 percent gratuity was added to the bill since Norwegian adds a daily per person gratuity to your on board account. In order to control the virus the captain ordered that no ice, coffee or glasses would be allowed in the cabin. That means if you want water to take your medicine or rinse your mouth after brushing you had a problem. I guess the captain meant for you to fill the wash basin and lap up your water like our golden retriever. Since people naturally took glasses from the dining areas back to the room even the captain realized how absurd this was and loosened his stringent rules. Another of this captains annoyances was his limit of deck chairs on the promenade deck. His limit of 12 chairs on port and starboard created a rush to claim a chair every day. His reasoning was that the chairs would create a hazard in an emergency situation. No other NCL captain in our experience saw this as a problem. Our cabin was kept in good order by our steward who was overworked to the point that we never found how who he was. We guessed that our steward was responsible for taking care of more rooms as others were reassigned to serving ketchup or salt in the dining areas. In spite of all of this cruising the sunny Caribbean trumps freezing in Michigan anytime. We are already booked on our next NCL cruise and expect it will be like the great ones we have enjoyed previous to this one. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
After 40 seven-day or longer cruises on various lines, 4 of us (USA & Canada) decided to try NCL Free Style cruising. The Dec. 1st NCL cruise preceded our annual 11 day Costa cruise Dec. 11th.. Happy we made this choice! We were ... Read More
After 40 seven-day or longer cruises on various lines, 4 of us (USA & Canada) decided to try NCL Free Style cruising. The Dec. 1st NCL cruise preceded our annual 11 day Costa cruise Dec. 11th.. Happy we made this choice! We were pleasantly surprised to find one of the friendliest, happiest ship staff ever encountered, Excellent & varied foods were available 24 hours a day ( 24-hr. pub on deck 8, formerly Blue Lagoon). The staff is very attentive to cleanliness (hand spraying with singing by staff) before entering public venues performed at every opportunity. The Pearl itself, in our opinion, needs their 2 main lounges re-furbished....they have seen better days. A huge inside flat screen is the focal point of the main atrium. Football fans were able to watch favorite teams close-up with popcorn to order. Movies were shown on the big screen throughout the cruise.. Our balcony cabin was much like those on Princess, small but efficient. T.V.s are smaller flat screens but as we are rarely in the cabin, this was not a concern. Our cabin was cleaned & towels changed twice daily by a pleasant & efficient cabin steward.. One complaint was the configuration of the Pearl's bathroom. We are not tall or large people & the area between toilet & the wall directly in front would pose a problem for some....example: knees touching wall in front? The shower was nice with its sliding door eliminating the usual wet floor but it was also small. We had made reservations online for each night in one of the 2 complimentary restaurants. This is the way to go if you do not want to wait in lines or do not intend to dine in pay restaurants. We chose Indigo, the smaller restaurant of the two comp. restaurants. Indigo is more casual & provided excellent service, 6:30 every night, no wait. We did not feel rushed to leave our table as you often do with earlier cruise dining. The comedian on board was excellent as was the hypnotist. If you are a dancer, there is little variety to be found. One of the lounges does provide a Latin D.J. but there is no large ballroom or regular dance venue. We knew this pre-cruise so were not disappointed.. Must mention that most Pearl passengers were some of the friendliest, outgoing people we have met on other cruises. We had brought tuxes & fancier clothing for our following Costa cruise but no need to wear them on NCL Free Style. We would definitely cruise NCL Free Style again. We may try a newer NCL ship next time but nothing but praise for the Pearl's energetic & helpful staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were really excited about visiting Alaska and wanted to try sailing NCL for the first time. The first day it was ok, visiting the ports and their options for excursions were good. I do recommend Yukon Territory drive and visiting ... Read More
We were really excited about visiting Alaska and wanted to try sailing NCL for the first time. The first day it was ok, visiting the ports and their options for excursions were good. I do recommend Yukon Territory drive and visiting mendelhall glacier and whale watching in Juneau. You should save for excursions because the ports they visit are small and there is was nothing to do except shopping. Skagway was the smallest. Now to the ship. First, food, it was good and at the buffet a large variety but what a mess to find a table! There were lot of rude passengers that did not like to make a line. We dined one night at the Italian restaurant and was nice, quite affordable, $15 p/p and food was good. Unscheduled dining is good when you get good service, but when you have to wait more than fifteen minutes for the next course, then it is terrible. You waste too much time dining. The entertainment, what a disaster! Night shows were the most boring, the first three nights my husband and I fell asleep. Many people left before the shows were over. The only thing that saved our cruise experience was the Soccer World Cup transmission. I won't cruise NCL again.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My wife and I have cruised several times in the past 4 years and find it the best vacation value around. We have tried four differnet lines during that time and see where each has its pluses and minuses. As noted in the title, we were very ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised several times in the past 4 years and find it the best vacation value around. We have tried four differnet lines during that time and see where each has its pluses and minuses. As noted in the title, we were very pleased overall with the quality of this cruise and put a deposit down for a furture cruise while on board. The only very notable short coming was the slow service experienced at the restaurants. First - For anyone looking at balconies, the rear facing (aft) locations are unbelievable and will be where we try to go from now on (Cabin 9170 for us). We tried a Suite for the first time and have to say, it is an easy category to get used to. We also had a butler but only saw him 3 times and did not fully utilize his services - but that was our doing. We just weren't sure what was expected and we are low maintenance (or so we think anyhow). The room was perfect and the tub/shower was awesome compared to what we were used to on "regular" rooms. Our ports of call were the private island, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel. We did our own excursion to the falls in Ocho Rios and Cayman but purchased the Tulim (Mayan Ruins) trip which was very nice. As the ports go, we were pleasantly surprised by Jamaica as we expected problems with the street vendors based on previous reviews. It appears jamaica has made an effort to keep things in check and not ruin the tourism trade. We actually did the water fall climb twice before heading back to the ship - a lot of fun! A note here - we did our own climbs and worked our way around the people in groups. Otherwise, it would have been painfully slow as it gets VERY crowded at the falls. At Cayman, we asked the Visitor's Office where we could snorkle and she made an excellent recommendation just a 10 minute walk away. The ship was very nicely laid out and have no complaints whatsoever there. The staff was unbelievable and always around, even eating a the buffet often (normal meals) and engaging the customers for feedback. They even had question-and-answer sessions and everything was fair game and nothing avoided. We were truly impressed with the staff. It is unfortunate that the restaurant service was so slow. The food quality was excellent overall and almost excuses the service. The staff in the restaurants were friendly and always pleasant / professional. I don't know if they were trying not to rush anyone but there is a difference between not rushed and down-right slow. This was also a common experience with other people we met and it alos interfered with trying to get to some shows. Bottom line - Very Good value, will definitely cruise with NCL again (note the deposit), and will hope for a perfect experience next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I have been on 5 Cruises, this being my 5th. DH this was his 1st. I have previously sailed with Carnival, and decided it was time to make a change. So glad we picked the NCL Pearl! I picked an SF Aft Penthouse Suite, due to the fact that ... Read More
I have been on 5 Cruises, this being my 5th. DH this was his 1st. I have previously sailed with Carnival, and decided it was time to make a change. So glad we picked the NCL Pearl! I picked an SF Aft Penthouse Suite, due to the fact that DH in a little claustrophobic. We LOVED the Suite and the Perks that went with it. When we arrived at the dock, we were wisked away from the long lines and were sitting in Cagney's eating lunch I swear in no more that ten minutes. Our room was ready by 1:00pm, and I was sitting on the balcony drinking coffee from our Lavazza Machine by 1:30pm. The Pearl is showing a little age, but she is still a Beautiful ship. Very clean and Very well kept. The Staff is great, and we loved the Washy Washy Girls. Our Concierge Patrick, Butler Dilip and Room Steward Roy were very good and efficient. If we asked, we got it..pronto! I requested that one of the lounge chairs on the Balcony be removed because I thought four chairs for two people were a little much and kept us from leaning on the railing due to space issues. I swear that I blinked, and it was gone. Yes..that good! I have read here on CC about food issues. We ate 3 Breakfasts at Cagney's and the rest at the Garden Cafe. All had very tasty food, and yes, even the Garden Cafe's food was GOOD! We ate at 2 specialty restaurants, Moderno-EXCELLENT and Le Bisto-Good. DH is a non-alchohol drinker, but I like mixed drinks and had one or two nightly. I thought the prices were fare, but they were light on the alcohol portions I thought. The Entertainment I would have to say was ABOVE Average. Oh What a Night was really good, boy can they sing. Jeff Hobson the magician was very good, and so was Michael Ziegfeld the Ventriloquist. Went to the White Hot Party in the Spinnaker, it was fun. Actually went to quite a few shows in the Spinnaker Lounge, all very entertaining. We did not do any Bingo, Deal or No Deal or Trivia games. Not because we didn't want to but just because we scheduled poorly. The Casino was nice, small..but nice. Both DH and I entered the Slot Tournament, and I came in 3rd or 4th in the finals. DH on the last day of our cruise actually won a Progressive on a penny slot "Quickhit" machine. There goes my theory that NO ONE wins big on a cruise! Port's..Juneau was nice, we did Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon bake. Note: def do the trek to Nugget Falls, yes it's a long hike, but worth it. Salmon Bake, the food was good. DH loved it. Skagway-Favorite port, we did White Pass Railway 3.5 hr ride. Scenery made the trip. Note: 3.5 hrs was pretty long, can't imagine doing the 8 hr ride. Grizzly Falls Zipline- by far the BEST excursion I have ever been on. Start to finish it was GREAT! Guides were very good, and always made you feel comfortable. Ketchikan- Deadliest Catch Tour- it was OK. The crew was nice and informative, but idk it was just meh... Victoria BC- We just caught a shuttle into town and walked around for a couple hrs. The Town is pretty, and very touristy. All in all...we had an AWESOME cruise. The weather was perfect all week. I did a pretty extensive review on the NCL site here on CC with pictures. I will not hesitate to book with NCL again. In fact I am booked on the Gem for this Dec. 2013, this time in a 2 Bedroom Haven Suite. I enjoyed NCL from their Staff and Crew to the beautiful Pearl and would def recommend it to EVERYONE! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Now, although the cruise was nice it just isn't as nice as Royal or Princess. Almost in every way Royal or Princess is just one notch better. We tried a NCL back in 2002 and at the time we thought the same thing but we decided to ... Read More
Now, although the cruise was nice it just isn't as nice as Royal or Princess. Almost in every way Royal or Princess is just one notch better. We tried a NCL back in 2002 and at the time we thought the same thing but we decided to give NCL another try. We won't be doing that again--unless for some reason NCL is the only line with a particular port. We get on the ship and notice that the ship is very beautiful. If you are only interested in the beauty of the common areas of the ship then NCL might be for you. We head up to the buffet and find the crowds hard to fight through--we try to find the other buffet and find that there is only one (besides a small area on the back of the ship which acts like a mini-buffet). The other lines we have been on always seem to have another place to go if one side is too busy--this just wasn't the same on Norwegian. We found the place on the back of the ship but it was limited in it's selection and the problem is that the selection in the larger buffet area was already lacking. The food was sometimes good but sometimes just fair. Overall food was one notch better on the many Royal and Princess cruises on which we have been. The anytime dining doesn't accept reservations unless you are a very large party and we only had 5 people. We wanted to make reservations since my daughter is 5 and keeping her entertained in line isn't an easy task and coming to eat at 8 p.m. is also difficult because she is needing to sleep and gets crabby. The first couple of nights were painful since they kept recommending we come at the time the dining room opened but there was always a very long line and they just couldn't get the people through as fast as Royal or Princess. We did learn, however, that if you arrive about 45 min after they open the wait isn't nearly as bad. The food in the dining room seemed to be overall one step below what we have had on Royal or Princess. We considered Norwegian this time because they seem to be one of the lines that caters to children. The kids center did seem to entertain our daughter very well but when she was 4 she never would let us drop her off. So, we can't really compare the kids center to any of the other ships since this is the first time we really used it. But it was nice. The pool area, however, was less than spectacular. The 2 pools are crammed together on one deck and there really is not much of an area to sit by the pool. The stage is between the pools, they grill on one side of the other pool. There is just no area close to the pool. There are chairs a little further away from the pools but it just was a step below what we have had on Royal or Princess (do you see a pattern here yet?) It's not like we are Royal only people--we have tried several lines but would probably not use Norwegian again because it just doesn't measure up. The day we came on the boat from Cozumel the security line was packed (like always) but they didn't keep it organized. Some other guests were in front of me and they were waiting to put their stuff on the scanner. Then they rush in front of me--so my stuff comes out first and I can't get to my stuff. I grab my three bags I always carry--I thought my wife grabbed the bags we just purchased. We walk about 20 feet away around a corner and realize we don't have our newly purchased t-shirts and bag of 31 necklaces for my daughter's class at preschool. My wife goes back (1 or 2 min later at the most) and they are gone. Security comes to our room and says we see you entered the boat at 4:21 and 37 seconds and we will check the video. But still even though my wife gave a perfect description of the bags and the contents and they know who exactly got on the ship right before us and right after us they were unable to find our missing items. The security officer was nice to stop by our room to take the report but it didn't appear like they really cared to find the stuff and were just hoping that someone would realize they accidentally took it and bring it back. The way the people acted by the scanner make us believe that it was on purpose--but looking back it's easier to see that now. I just wish security would have worked it as a intentional act. One week after our cruise is over there is a 12.06 charge on our credit card from NCL. We did not use any of the items in the refrigerator. But they claim that must have been it--but it didn't appear the next day it was 1 week later. On the ship my credit card was charged on the day we left and posted the next day. So, if I HAD used any of the items on board it should have showed quicker than that--it makes me feel like NCL is trying to sneak more money out of people. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Some background on us. We've cruised 25+ times on 7 cruise lines. We're middle aged, having cruised on average once or twice a year for many years. Since we had kids 9 years ago, we've cruised only on the NCL Norwegian Sun. ... Read More
Some background on us. We've cruised 25+ times on 7 cruise lines. We're middle aged, having cruised on average once or twice a year for many years. Since we had kids 9 years ago, we've cruised only on the NCL Norwegian Sun. We've loved the freestyle cruising. Wonderful for kids. We always have a great time. This time the Sun was unavailable so we decided to try out the Pearl. The most important part of the ship to us is the outside open spaces. Top sides, pool side, wrap around promenade is an absolute must. I had expected the Pearl to be an even larger version of the Sun, but I was disappointed in its layout. Overall, it feels cramped and crowded. There too little open space anywhere in three dimensions. I'm short and have never had to worry about head clearance, nor can I usually touch the ceiling no matter how hard I try. Yet on this ship even the floors are squished with low ceilings. Twice I could easily touch the ceiling. On the Promenade deck I could easily touch the lifeboats. They're right over head. In the big multi story lounge, I was on the top level and walked up a little ramp for handicap use. I was surprised that I could spread my fingers above my head while standing flatfooted and touch the ceiling. Let me repeat. I am short. The ceilings are sometimes quite low. But the ship feels small in every direction. This ship is substantially bigger than the Sun, yet it felt smaller to me. Much of the added space is devoted to specialty restaurants. The idea is ok, but cover charges of $10-20 seems excessive on the cruise where food was supposed to be included. With a family of 4 spending an additional $40-80/meal isn't worth it, so we didn't use them, hence lots of space we didn't take advantage of. Back when the Titanic was around and ships were the only way to cross the Atlantic, ships had three classes. At some point, cruise lines decided that having multiple classes was bad and it was better to open the entire ship up to everyone. The world rejoiced and no one had looked back. Alas, the days of classes while cruising is making a come back. On the Pearl, there are two floors just aft and above the public pool which are special decks reserved for suites. Again it feel that a big portion of the ship, especially the desirable top side, it off limits. I personally don't relate to special sectioned off areas for suites passengers. Seems that they get stuck with a smaller confined albeit more private space. Other areas of the ship felt cramped as well. Whereas many other ships have two corridors or paths going through the deck with main lounges, the Pearl has only one meandering path for all passengers through the main deck. Even the pool deck is broken up with pillars, water slide, stacks of chairs so that its hard to get good sight lines. Its hard to find a spacious feeling place. The decks above are similarly broken up into various sections. The inside atriums are much smaller than on the Sun, with two areas only two stories tall. If you can get over the cramped feeling, or don't notice it, the ship can be lots of fun. We enjoyed the water slide (too slow), rock climbing wall, air hockey table, pool(s), shuffleboard, deck chess set. Bowling was an interesting idea but seemed too expensive. Ping pong felt too crammed into a tiny space so we didn't try it. I found the food to be very good, especially in the buffet. It helps (a lot) if you like Indian food (which I do). Food was plentiful, almost always available and usually fresh and good. Sometimes some items would get to looking old, but overall quite good. The crew in general was excellent. Going out of their way all the time to have happy passengers. We had several crew members volunteer to get us special items when they ran out, which sometimes entailed running up and down several decks and another time ended up as room service. They didn't need to do that. It was just very nice of them. Overall we had a good time. However I can't give a review without describing the most disturbing experience. When we embarked I thought I was getting over a cold, but apparently the process was taxing on me and I ended up quite ill that first day. I had a fever and all I wanted to do was sleep. My wife and kids ran off to check out the ship. When they came back my wife at some point shouted and jumped to my rescue as a bed bug was crawling on the pillow next to me heading towards me. In all our years cruising and traveling we have NEVER seen a bed bug. Some people confuse them with dust mites which eat your dead skin that falls off. That is not a bed bug. Bed bugs are more like ticks that bite you and suck your blood. Except they're very stealthy. There's rarely just one, usually tons of them. They reproduce very quickly and are very hard to eradicate. This was definitely a bed bug. My wife proceeded to tear up the bed sheets and found more bed bugs albeit dead ones. We were very tired, I was ill and we were fairly freaked out. To their credit, various hotel staff quickly came over, confirmed the bed bug, found us another room and helped us move. Luckily they didn't seem to get into our luggage because we saw no sign of them in the new room nor for the rest of the cruise. I'd like to think this is an isolated case but I'm not so sure. The cramped feeling of the Pearl extends to the cabins as well. Four of us crammed into the smallest cabin I've been in since the Norway. The only thing spacious on the ship is the shower. It has its own little room. The cabin was so crammed that the table extended over the bed because there was no room for it. We literally had no room to put extra pillows the steward brought us. Particularly in the first cabin we had, 9024, it was simply too crowded. There were many layers of sheets, blankets and I think a memory foam layer on the bed. Too many places for bed begs to hide and lodge themselves. A convoluted pull out sofa was used as the extra bed. The sheets for it were thrown inside, almost on the floor, next to a cushion with tons of lint on it. Overall didn't seem like an easy place to clean. You cant move the sofa around to vacuum under it. Having sheets inside it makes it hard to eradicate the bed bugs. I tend to think this likely isn't an isolated instance. Once the Pearl gets bed bugs, it seems easy to spread and hard to stop them. However, our second cabin had no signs of them. It was at the other end of the ship, port side aft. While the crew was helpful, they didn't seem as shocked as we did. I would have thought they'd try to upgrade us to a nicer cabin. Some mild form of compensation, gift card, sorry card, anything. We're considering going on another cruise soon and have trouble thinking of going on another NCL because of the bed bugs. Luckily we don't seem to have brought them home. Regarding ports, I usually don't like talking about them much because they seem separate from the ship we arrived on, but I will mention that we loved Paradise beach on Cozumel. The kids loved the huge pool. They had wifi (although very slow). It was generally gorgeous and well kept. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Our Stateroom: We stayed in the Forward penthouse with extra large balcony (9500). The view was incredible and our balcony was used even on sea days. It was quite breezy on days when we were underway, but still quite doable. There is a ... Read More
Our Stateroom: We stayed in the Forward penthouse with extra large balcony (9500). The view was incredible and our balcony was used even on sea days. It was quite breezy on days when we were underway, but still quite doable. There is a very thick, sturdy metal door that seems to airlock when closed. There is a sign that said for safety purposes to keep it locked when underway. For the record we did not, and neither did our neighbors. Also important to note is that after sunset, your curtains have to be closed to the window to block any light going out on the front of the ship. We did not mind. Our stateroom was well equipped with a sitting area, a table and 4 chairs, king-size bed and full bathroom with tub and shower. A separate vanity for putting on make-up, doing hair etc was also included. The drawer space was more than adequate and the closet was very roomy. There were two safes in the room. We had a fancy coffee maker and nice bar set up. The balcony held two full lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a small table. There was plenty of room on top of that. We also had a refrigerator and a DVD player. A doorbell to the suite is a nice touch. The bed was very comfortable. We had pre-ordered three different types of pillows and they were brought to the stateroom the first night. We also had two bottles of champagne waiting for us with chocolate covered strawberries. Also a box of Godiva chocolates which was a very nice touch. I had also ordered a bon voyage basket including wine and fruit. That was not delivered to the stateroom until late, well after sail away. We had two Latitudes pins and received chocolates at turn down. We also had snacks brought to our room daily. We also requested a pitcher of water be put in our suite and it took an extra day to get it straight, but Carlos finally came to understand my husband's expectations and he offered us complimentary water and kept it on ice. I think our butler, Carlos was stretched a bit thin; he seemed a bit rattled at times. We saw him at the most one time per day. Very nice, but our butler on the Epic was better. Our concierge, Monica, on the other hand was quite lovely!!! She helped us with shore excursion reservations and dining reservations. I waited until I was on board to book everything and there was no problem. We received everything we asked for. I was surprised that they did not have the interactive tv showing you your reservations like on the Epic. I missed that feature. Embarkation: The process was very smooth and we were on the ship by 12:00 noon. We were eating in Cagneys when they announced that our staterooms were already accessible. Cagneys is a great perk for Suite and Haven passengers. We ate breakfast and lunch there several times. After lunch, we dropped our carry-on bags in the stateroom, met our stateroom steward Jovell, (he was the best I have ever had on NCL) and headed up to the Mandara Spa. We took the spa tour and signed up for the week-long pass for the hydrotherapy suite. There is a limited number of them so go early if you want one. (Price is $119.00 per person) The hydrotherapy pool , Jacuzzi and heated ceramic chairs are all found in the unisex portion and then there are separate men and women's steam rooms, saunas, hydrotherapy tubs and cold plunge pools as well. The new electronic locks on the lockers were a constant annoyance and did not work correctly. Next we signed up for shore excursions; just to let you know there are some excursions offered on board that were not offered on the NCL website. Next came the lifeboat drill, our station was Stardust Lounge and next the sailaway party. The seas were rough and it was very windy. It was amazing that I was never once asked if I wanted to order a drink!!! Unheard of on NCL. I purchased a bucket of beer from Topsiders and we enjoyed the DJ and all the people dancing. I particularly loved the re-mix of the NCL "LET's GO" song and we heard it several more times throughout the week. You would hear people singing and humming it including passengers and staff. Our first night dinner was at Cagney's and we used our facebook coupon for a free bottle of wine. I had prime rib, and David had the filet! Excellent dinner!!!! We saw the welcome aboard show at 9:30 which showcases the talent you will see throughout the cruise. The seas were rough and in the front of the ship you do feel the motion much more. David had to take Dramamine, so we called it a night soon after. Day 2: Great Stirrup Cay (private island) Room service was on time and Carlos, our butler brought breakfast. In the suites you get a full breakfast menu and we always take advantage of eating our breakfast on the balcony. We used priority tending with Monica. The seas were very rough and tendering was a bit difficult. This is the first time I have been to GSC since the improvements. The negative is that there has been a lot of clear cutting and vegetation destroyed from the original state. It has lost some of its charm. The island was very crowded. We found chairs and used them all day. Rafts could not be rented as it was way to windy. Many people swam but it was a bit cool for us, so we worshipped the sun all day. Live band played reggae music and we picked chairs in close proximity so we could hear. We walked the island to some of the more secluded places and it was beautiful. Noticed that the cabanas are way out of the way from the main areas so be ready for a bit of a walk if you have reserved them. The buffet lunch was lacking in fruit and drinks. Later, we found out that the ship was having difficulty keeping the island stocked for its guests. We bought a bucket of beer; tendering back was even rougher than when we came over to the island. We returned to our room and no shore excursion tickets had been delivered or no ice water in a pitcher per our request. I called Monica who told me the shore excursion tickets had been printed and delivered to our room; after I told her that was not the case, she ordered a re-print and told me they would be delivered shortly. Finally David called Carlos who arrived at our cabin at 6:45 p.m. with excursion tickets, VIP captain party invitation and treats. He apologized that he was supposed to have delivered these much earlier. That is why I believe he was stretched thin. We also went to the spa and it was lovely as always. Dinner that night was Le Bistro. It was complimentary from Latitudes and included a free bottle of wine. Food and venue was perfection! I had the onion soup, escargot, beef tenderloin and crème brulee ( orgasm in a cup). We booked spa treatments for Thursday; they were normally priced at $269pp marked down to $139 pp. 75 minutes included full body massage, moisturizing facial, scalp massage and feet and ankle reflexology. Went and saw the show "That's Entertainment" and it was average. Day 3 Sea Day We started our day eating at Cagneys. We went to the gym afterwards; David worked out and I attended a health and wellness seminar on Detoxification of the body. After that we got changed and went to the general Latitudes party. This party has certainly cut back in what it offers. A few snacks and quantity and quality of drinks have lessened. It was also scheduled at the same time as the bar hop. Wish we had done that instead at 1:00 in the afternoon. Next, it was up on deck for some sun worshipping and listening to the band. Then on to the Blue Lagoon for a quick lunch about 3:00...then on to the spa and back to the cabin to get ready for the Captain's VIP party. Also it was formal night. The captain's vip party was in the Bliss Lounge and we met some very nice people! Quality of drinks was superb and musical entertainment was provided. Next was our dinner at Teppinyaki! First time I had tried this restaurant and it was very good! That night we attended the show "Oh what a night" a tribute to Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons....it was an awesome show!!! I highly suggest attending this one! We then went to the 70's disco party and enjoyed the crazy antics up there. Called it a night about 12 Day 4 Jamaica No tendering today! YAY!!! Our shore excursion was early so we had early room service breakfast and was on the dock by 9:00 am. We did the Bamboo Beach Break shore excursion. It was simply going to a local beach, where there was an open bar and lunch was served as well. Our guides were very sweet Jamaican girls, Tiffia and Teniqua, and they promised to be our mommas for the day. The beach was very nice with comfy chairs and there were bathroom facilities. Also a dj who played a variety of music. We drank beer all day , Red Stripe! After a while, I decided to go for a swim. WORD OF CAUTION!!! Wear water shoes because once you drop off the sandy beach it is all sharp coral and you cannot stand. I let the waves crash me back on to the beach where I managed to get back up on my feet and return to my chair. More beer and I was feeling no pain...everything was IRIE mon! Our girls served us several different courses to our chairs. We wanted for nothing! I had jerk chicken, a must in Jamaica. Finally, I did a little dancing, Cupid Shuffle and The wobble. GOOD TIMES!!! We got back to the port by 2:00...did a little shopping and then stopped at the small bar on the waterfront. More Red Stripe and reggae music. The locals were quite nice. Back on the ship, we went to the spa and then back to our stateroom for sailaway and wine and treats on our balcony. We went to Summer Palace for dinner and it was good, but service was slow. We were on vacation so no problems! After that we strolled the outer promenade deck and skipped the show. Overall very nice day.Day 5 Grand Cayman (Thanksgiving) It was a rough night on the ship! We rocked and rolled and had an early shore excursion at 8:00 am. We went to The Garden Cafe for breakfast! Yummy and not crowded. Made to order omelets, smoked salmon and crème cheese, along with fresh fruit! Washy Washy, Happy Happy!!! Tendering was again very rough and when we got on shore we found out that the Port Authority had ordered the reefs to be closed due to heavy seas and gale force winds. No excursions for us as we were supposed to go snorkeling and then Tiki Beach. We were never charged for the excursions so no problem with having to get refunds. So...change of plans....we shopped for a while and by 10:30 found ourselves in Margaritaville drinking strong margaritas and watching The Macy Day Thanksgiving parade from NYC...LOL!!! I think I have started a new tradition. Got a good buzz then decided to head back to the ship and eat lunch at Cagneys. We had our spa treatments that afternoon and they were wonderful! Then on to the hydrotherapy suite. Finally back to our cabin to chill and lay on our balcony. We had the second Latitudes party that night in Bliss Lounge for Silver, Gold and Plaitinum members. Great drinks and entertainment! We ate Thanksgiving Dinner at Indigo (main restaurant) and it served a great Thanksgiving dinner with pumpkin cheesecake to end it off. I had two Mojitos and they were served with lots of love!!! We both went and crashed at 9:30 and missed the White Hot party. Oh well... Day 6 Cozumel Wow what a day! It was beautiful sailing in to Cozumel . We started our day at Cagneys and I had steak and eggs. I mention this because it filled me up so much I did not want to eat for the rest of the day. Service was somewhat slow, so after eating, we went returned to our balcony to watch the arrival into Cozumel. Our arrival was scheduled for 11:00 and we had a shore excursion at 12:00. There were numerous ships already there including the NCL Star and NCL Dawn. I was more than excited to know there were three NCL ships in port; how cool. There were two other RCCL ships and three Carnival. It was a packed port. We docked alongside the Star. The camaraderie between the two ships was obvious from the beginning! How much fun was this day going to be? Our excursion took us to PlayaMia...it was a huge beach with many different activities to choose from. It had lunch included and an open domestic bar. It was really crowded at first but as other tours that had been there from earlier hours began to leave, it became much more pleasant. We found some chairs directly waterside, the music played from the DJ and the beer began to flow. Then it changed over to pina coladas and they were made with lots of love!!! David ate lunch; I wasn't hungry but I continued to drink pina coladas. They were awesome. We went swimming and the water was beautiful!!! It was a glorious day! Met lots of really nice people as well. By the time we boarded the buses to return back to the ship, I was feeling no pain to put it nicely. The walk back to the ship was extremely festive, a real party atmosphere. Cruise director Julie was up on stilts and the rest was just a crazy blur. We made it back to our stateroom to watch the sunset and the Star sailaway. Remember how I said I had not eaten since breakfast? Well it caught up with me and I took a very long nap that extended 12 hours into the next morning. We missed our reservations at Moderno Churrascaria and the Chocoholic Buffet...oh well...It was a great day!!! Day 7 -- Last sea day After my 12 hours of sleep, I awoke to the sunrise off of the coast of Cuba. This is one thing I love about cruising...always something new! We went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast and custom made omelets along with smoked salmon and crème cheese with fresh fruit. There really is something for everyone! It was extremely windy so we decided to hang out on our balcony. For some reason, the force of the wind was not as bad there as other places on deck. I had a few errands to do like buying my next cruise reward so off I went to the cruise consultant's office. While there, I think I sold two couples on booking Breakaway and convinced another couple to move to South Carolina. LOL!! Stopped at the shops to enter a raffle on the way back to the cabin. Then we spent from 10:00 until 2:00 on our balcony. It was glorious and we ordered room service for lunch and had lunch with champagne. We decided to go up top afterward to listen to the band one more time but it was very windy so we opted to go to the spa for one last time instead. The only thing that irritates me about the spa btw is the people who camp out for an hour on the heated ceramic chairs....Ughhh!!! One last time to the gym to have our basic metabolic rates tested and a health/wellness program assessment for us to follow at home. I loved Ryan who was a personal trainer! Great information from him and he gave me his e-mail to follow up. He is from England and should be back home as his contract was up on the Pearl the following week. Back to the room to start to pack and get ready for our final dinner on board. We chose Le Bistro because is it my favorite. NCL was generous enough to provide us with another complimentary dinner with wine. Of course I had to have crème brulee one last time. We went to the final show which showcased the talent of "Oh what a night" The final farewell from the staff was great. Time to leave: We do walk off with our luggage so we don't have to worry about luggage tags and putting our luggage outside the door at 12:00 a.m. We had a flight leaving from Fort Lauderdale at 11:20 am so we were off the ship first thing. We had priority disembarkation with our concierge Monica and were off the ship by 7:50 am, through customs and on the pier to wait for SAS transportation. Easy as pie! FINAL THOUGHTS: The Pearl has aged a bit since the last time we sailed her in 2008. The decor in the suites need updating and having the interactive tv channel should be a must for post drydock. There was an overwhelming odor of sewage in the hallway going from the front of the ship to the front elevators. It wasn't there all the time, but more than enough to get noticed. Unfortunately, we were unable to use the casino due to the heavy fog of cigarette smoke. It literally makes my husband ill and ventilation needs to be improved. This was our first time in a front balcony and for those who get motion sickness, the front of the ship does move significantly more than the middle. I loved the large front balcony which made up for the excessive motion. I thought the food in both the specialty and included venues was top notch. Our room steward Jovell was stellar in the service he provided and I tipped him extra and above the regular service charges we had applied to our account. I always tip the butler and concierge extra as well. The trip was fun, relaxing, entertaining and made me feel like I was home for the holidays. I would highly recommend the Norwegian Pearl and I can only imagine what she will be like after her drydock and facelift!!!!! She is my second favorite in the fleet only behind the Epic! Make sure to include her on your list of ships to try out!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My husband and I sailed on the NCL Pearl on June 17. We are from Louisiana, both in our 30's and this was our first cruise together, but we each have sailed before - me on Carnival and Royal Caribbean; he on NCL and RC. My primary ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the NCL Pearl on June 17. We are from Louisiana, both in our 30's and this was our first cruise together, but we each have sailed before - me on Carnival and Royal Caribbean; he on NCL and RC. My primary purpose was to see Alaska and have a nice, relaxing vacation without having to worry about hotels, transportation, etc. I hope this review is helpful to anyone who is considering sailing on NCL. OVERALL IMPRESSION: NCL has some positive points and some negatives. I think some of the negatives are just inherent with any cruise line (annoying kids, crowded buffets, sales pitches, etc.). We did have a great time; Alaska was beautiful, the excursions fun, and the ship well maintained and very pretty. However, I would probably not sail on NCL again since "freestyle" cruising is not my style and it is by no means "free". EMBARKMENT: Having sailed out of New Orleans and Miami, I have to say this was the most well organized, easiest process I have experienced so far. We checked in online (this is VERY important if you want to expedite the process) and the moment we arrived at the port, our bags were taken by a porter, we were directed to the check in desk, and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. The only funny item at the check-in was that NCL required you to fill out a health survey. Neither of us had been sick, but I wonder what would happen if anyone checked "yes" to any of the symptoms. STATEROOMS and SHIP: We had a mini-suite on Deck 11. I loved it; the room was pretty with lots of wood trim, a good-sized balcony, and a huge bathroom for a cruise ship. I really enjoyed having a bathtub. We were underneath the Garden Cafe, but I heard very little noise. Part of that may be because I'm an early riser. My husband complained about kids running up and down after 8 am. If you sleep late, you may want to consider a different deck. The bed was very comfortable and there is plenty of storage. Our room steward was very friendly and efficient; he introduced himself on the first day and called us by name whenever he saw us in the hallway. The ship itself is very pretty with lots of wood and is not nearly as gaudy as the Carnival ships I have been on. I do miss the huge atriums on Carnival ships, as the Crystal Atrium on the Pearl always seemed cramped and crowded. I also hated how the Atrium was always being used by the spa staff and shopping guide to promote certain items. I am sure the NCL shopping guide is getting kickbacks from Diamonds International. Who really goes to Alaska to stock up on diamonds? The "seminars" are basically sales pitches and you are subjected to them every time you want to sit and have a drink in the atrium. Again, I think the sales pitches are an annoyance on all cruise lines, but doing it in the most public place on the ship really made NCL cheap. If I want to shop, I will seek out the shopping seminars on my own. The shops on the Pearl also lacked essentials if you forgot to pack something -- no lotion, lip balm, etc. There were only a few cold medicines and some toothpaste available in the liquor store. PORTS and EXCURSIONS: The weather was beautiful considering Southeast Alaska is normally very rainy. Definitely pack rain gear; it looks like the ship and the port shops cash in on tourists who forget to bring a good jacket. We only had rain in Juneau and that was just in the town. Once you got up the mountain, it was only cloudy. I am pretty fit and love to hike, so I took the guide's choice hike near Mendenhall Glacier, which was my favorite excursion. The temperate rain forest is beautiful -- lush, green, and pristine. On the way down, we had great views of Mendenhall Glacier. Our guide was good and set a good pace while pointing out some of the different types of vegetation -- we even saw bear tracks! My husband doesn't like to hike, so he took the tram up the mountain and walked around town. He wanted to rent a motorcycle as he had done a few years before, but the old rental place was no longer there. In Skagway, we rented a jeep from Green Jeep Tours (not through NCL) and drove up to Carcross and Emerald Lake. This was a great decision as we had the jeep from 8 am to 7 pm for $160. Guided jeep tours through NCL were $259 per person. The Green Jeep folks packed us some snacks and gave us a map and CD. The scenery was awesome, the sun was shining, and we made stops at the Tormented Valley and the Suspension Bridge. Carcross was interesting-it was basically just a crossroads, but we met with some colorful locals who ran the general store and jewelry shop. I bought some beautiful earrings and a bracelet made from "Alaskan Diamond", which I think is actually hematite. However, it is native to Alaska and handmade by the lady who ran the shop. My husband got a burger at the burger/hotdog stand, which was probably one of the best sandwiches he had on the whole trip (see food review down below). In Ketchikan we went on the Level 3 zip lining tour (Rainforest Zipline). This was so much fun! The crew was funny and very meticulous about safety. We were lucky enough to see 3 black bears underneath the last zip line. There were several zip line tours available, all at the same location, but different courses could be selected based on your ability, fear of heights, etc. The "Bear Creek" Level 2 tour seemed to be the more kid-oriented selection. Afterwards, we walked around Ketchikan, bought a few souvenirs and ate lunch at the Alaska Fish House. The grilled halibut tacos were outstanding! As usual, one of our best meals was in a port. In Victoria, we took the bus to Butchart Gardens. The gardens were beautiful, but there was not enough time to see them properly. We only had 1 hour and 45 minutes and I estimate it would take at least 3 hours to tour the entire facility. One thing I loved about the gardens and Canada in general was that leashed dogs were welcome everywhere. When you visit Canada and other parts of the U.S., you see how very unfriendly the Southeast is towards dogs and pets in general. My dogs would have loved to walk the gardens with me! FOOD: Okay, here is the first really big negative. I read the reviews before I left and knew the food would not be the best. We ate in the Summer Palace, Blue Lagoon, Cagney's, La Cucina, the Sushi Bar, and at the buffet. I actually cancelled reservations at Le Bistro based on the experience in Cagney's. A few reviewers seemed to really like the food; I can only guess they were all from the Midwest or New England where the typical diet is plain meat with only salt for seasoning. I do not eat red meat, so I can't comment on the steak, but I found the fish and chicken to be bland and/or dry and the vegetable dishes uninspired. My husband did like the steak at Cagney's and in Summer Palace. Believe it or not, some of the better items were on the buffet (except the scrambled eggs that came in plastic bags) where it seemed the cooks were able to add some of their native dishes to the selection. Some of the curries and rice dishes were good, as were the soups. The daily selection of fresh fruit was a plus. The only good thing at La Cucina was the pizza; the pasta was way undercooked and the risotto was over-salted. Even Cagney's was not good considering the $25 surcharge. I had ordered house-smoked salmon as an appetizer and was horrified when I received a hunk of STEAMED salmon with a few herbs on it. It was basically a hunk of cooked salmon and in no way could it be considered smoked. I also had to pay an extra $8 on top of the $25 because I wanted lobster instead of steak, which was really annoying. That being said, I did not go on an Alaskan cruise only to eat, but considering the cost per person and the numerous surcharge restaurants, it should be better. Carnival and RC do this MUCH better than NCL without the constant surcharges. SERVICE: I had no problems with the service except in the Sushi Bar where it took 1 hour to get one roll and a bowl of noodles at lunch. The crew works their butts off feeding and cleaning up after a 2,000+ messy people for very little pay. Keep this in mind if your plate isn't cleared the minute you finish eating. If NCL paid better, they might get better chefs in the restaurants -- just sayin'. GYM and SPA: The gym on the Pearl surpasses the fitness facilities on any of the ships I have been on so far. Yes, it was crowded during peak hours, but if you went at 6 am or waited until after 9 am, there was plenty of room. Lots of elliptical machines (Precor), treadmills, rowing machines, free weights, and even a couple of free motion machines. I only did one yoga class for $12, which was a joke to anyone who practices yoga regularly. The instructor, although very nice and enthusiastic, did not do the basic poses correctly. This tells me NCL just makes their regular fitness instructors teach anything, qualified or not. I thought about the TRX class for $20, but when I found out the class was only 30 minutes, I didn't think it was worth the price. I did purchase the VIP spa pass for $119 and this was pure heaven. This is the one surcharge that was well worth the price. I loved getting a little time to myself every day after a workout. The area was a quiet, uncrowded space and the best part -- NO KIDS ALLOWED! The steam room, sauna, and whirlpools were all clean and well maintained. I did get a pedicure, but considering the $30 pedicure two blocks away from my house includes a hot stone massage and paraffin wax, $65 for a basic pedicure (no hot stones or wax) was ridiculous. ENTERAINMENT: The entertainment was average, but there was a good variety at least. Oh What a Night was good (note they are not NCL employees), but as other reviewers said, the Pearl Production performers cannot sing. I think NCL just hires dancers and tells them they have to sing, talented or not. The juggler was good and Second City was only okay -- some of the skits were hysterical while others were way off the mark. I don't play games or bingo, so I can't comment on those. I did appreciate the lack of constant bingo announcements, which was an annoyance on Carnival. We caught the end of a dance lesson while waiting for the Glacier Bay presentation and it looked like the participants were having a blast. I also really enjoyed Jana, who sang mellow songs in the atrium almost every night. It was a nice way to wind down from the day. In contrast, the piano player in Bar City couldn't play or sing to save his life. They need to put Jana in Bar City and the other guy in the atrium where he will be drowned out by the sales pitches. Overall, I enjoyed myself, but I think I would rather pay a little more on a different cruise line and receive more comprehensive service. It is easier to budget upfront and be less bothered by the surcharges for food, coffee, and fitness classes during my vacation. The "this is extra, that is extra" are constant distractions and do not promote a relaxing, carefree atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
As only a second time cruiser and a first timer to freestyling we can't wait to go again, its not hard to see why so many people are converted. Food and entertainment were definite pluses on the Norwegian Pearl and while we ... Read More
As only a second time cruiser and a first timer to freestyling we can't wait to go again, its not hard to see why so many people are converted. Food and entertainment were definite pluses on the Norwegian Pearl and while we didn't love two of our ports of call most particularly the Norwegian owned, Great Stirrup Cay which looked like a former nuclear testing sight that had been bulldozed into a beach. The ports got better as we went along. While we thought service in the restaurants was a tad basic we mentioned this to the Hotel Director and there was a massive change in the friendliness and warmth of staff. Our room steward Cheryl was lovely, couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. Kudos's to the Entertainment director Julie, who managed to mix contemporary entertainment with family fun. But we absolutely loved Harald the head maitre d who went above and beyond to rectify our concerns and was an example of what real service was all about perhaps that's why he has 30 years of service under his belt. Loved the state of the art gym (disappointed by the detached staff) and it was certainly worth the $120 to access the spa, sauna and steam for the week. Wouldn't hesitate to go on a Norwegian ship again although the Pearls restaurants looked like they were ready for a refurbishment and please get rid of the plastic flowers. Our tip is if you are not happy with something don't just put up with it and get off disappointed, you will find staff will make every effort to make it a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
I am a Gold Latitudes Member and really love a lot of what NCL has to offer: great service, Freestyle Cruising, nice cabins, fantastic entertainment,etc. My husband and I cruised out of Los Angeles to Vancouver on the April 29, 2012 ... Read More
I am a Gold Latitudes Member and really love a lot of what NCL has to offer: great service, Freestyle Cruising, nice cabins, fantastic entertainment,etc. My husband and I cruised out of Los Angeles to Vancouver on the April 29, 2012 sailing of the Pearl. We were extremely pleased with our balcony mini-suite stateroom and the overall layout of the ship. We sailed previously on the NCL Epic which we majorly disliked due to the fact that it doesn't feel like a ship. The Pearl has an old-time ship feel to it, and we liked that you can walk around the entire ship. (The Epic doesn't have this and feels like a Las Vegas carnival) The ship needs updating, the artwork is not up to NCL standards, but this was minor for us. What doesn't make sense is the poor quality and presentation of the food. It is almost like no one has given thought to the menus and doesn't care about how the food is presented. We were appalled that the afternoon "snack" in the back of the ship was macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and some bready sandwich. Much of the food doesn't taste fresh. The service is lovely and accommodating, but the wait staff should not be blamed for the food. The entertainment on this cruise was superb, especially the Tribute singers for Frankie Valli. We bought the extra spa package that allowed us use of the indoor pool and Jacuzzis, this was a real plus. However, it is true that on NCL you have to pay for everything extra, and this package was $119.00 per person. In summary, it is possible to have a wonderful time on NCL if you do not care about food as much as the service, prots, entertainment, and relaxed atmosphere of this type of vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Since we disembarked the Epic from an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Saturday morning we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express Doral overnight. It was $25 from the dock by Taxi to the hotel; it was extremely hard to get a ride if not going to the ... Read More
Since we disembarked the Epic from an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Saturday morning we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express Doral overnight. It was $25 from the dock by Taxi to the hotel; it was extremely hard to get a ride if not going to the airport. The hotel staff was very helpful, the hotel was clean but if your room is facing the front it will be noisy early, internet connection horrible. There is a grocery store a mile away thru a neighborhood; not a bad walk for water to take on the cruise. Rising early we ate the free breakfast which is limited to the normal fare. We sat outside waiting for the van to come costing $10 pp to the dock. We rode with another group who were going on Carnival Cruises. Our driver dropped us off and the luggage man appeared and tossed our cases up on the metal carrier and waited for his tip. We then joined the long but fast moving line thru security. Once thru we saw the V.I.P. lounge for suites on the left where our ship card was issued and we joined the group departing to the next lounge since we were too early too board. This new area was up the escalator and larger with beverages, cookies, and chocolates. About 12:30 p.m. we were escorted up to Cagney's and offered lunch but we declined having packed our suits in the carry-on we went down to the public restroom and changed then put our carry-on's by our chairs and headed for the hot tub, ahhhh so nice. Many folks were sitting in the shade eating burgers and hotdogs since the cafe was now open along with the pool area eatery. When we had our fill of the hot tub we took turns getting our food. Had our hunger satisfied and now, 1:30 p.m., it was time to see if our room was open. Sure enough it was ready and in comes the butler to introduce himself; Roland. We make our requests for three cartons of milk each day to make cappuccino using the room coffeemaker, and asked for fruit instead of meat/fish snacks. Roland was outstanding especially when we ordered the in room pizza (16 inch across) delivery at the cost of $5, cheap for how great it was, also one day after walking in the heat, sandwiches were waiting for us in our room. Next we met the concierge, Anoop, he was very helpful in changing out one of our pre-booked excursions and ordering two more. Anoop is the person you contact to get priority disembarkation in all ports and when tenders are used, unless you have an excursion booked and must meet in the theater. We didn't do this on one port and we were very sorry standing in the long hot line, going down the stairs for nearly an hour. Anoop takes you down an interior freight elevator and takes you right to the scanning podium. This is what makes NCL stand out above all the other cruise lines in suites, in our humble opinion. Randolph was our room steward and he kept the place in good order with a few animals to boot. Cabin: I love this style of Courtyard Villa it is so cozy, the bed is sectioned off with a thick curtain to block the light. There is so much space to store things many were left empty and we had three packed suitcases. The bathroom is very spacious and love, love, love the multi jet shower with floor to ceiling window. There is an oval shaped tub with small TV over it but we never used it (would be nicer if it had hot tub jets). There are two sinks with plenty of counter space. There is no way to improve on this design; I wish it was on the Epic. The toilet area is a bit smallish with telephone that I clipped repeatedly with my elbow until I accidentally hit the panic button and a voice started talking to me from the ceiling asking if I was alright. The living room is a bit tight but comfy and we enjoyed a couple of movie nights since movies are free for suites. There is a nice sized balcony but sadly there is an awning below this room that blocks the water view so you do not see the wake from the ship. Also while sitting outside you constantly hear voices below under that cloth awning since it is the main walkway. We could hear noise from above from the public sundeck and one night at 11:30 p.m. someone was jogging around in circles, note always take your earplugs. The dining area has a good sized table with four chairs, two of which we stored in the spare bedroom. Each time they serve you a meal they put down a white table cloth and set the table so nicely. Much easier than sitting in the noisy dining room waiting for 90 minutes for lukewarm food. Next, the counter which has all your glassware and cups albeit small ones, we brought our old NCL mugs. They use capsules in the Lavazza Blue Coffee machine, if you like foo foo coffee, such as cappuccino, ask the butler how to steam the milk. There is a small fridge, items are NOT free in here but they leave enough space to store items like yogurt if you take them in the morning at breakfast and eat them at night. Spare bedroom was good sized had a bed and a pull down bed on the wall someone said a child has to be ten to use it. The bathroom was quite large in this room and there are three drawers and two hanging areas for clothes. There is a foyer from the entry door to the cabin so you can close the doors inside to make it quieter from hallway noise or privacy if two couples using the two bedrooms. The courtyard was like our favorite place on the ship. With the glass ceiling the sun shone in and we lounged in the hot tub nearly every day and took short laps in the little pool. Sherwin was the butler in here and very interesting person to talk to. He kept the coffee, orange juice, gummy bears, M & M's, and cookies stocked till 5:00 p.m. You can also eat meals in here but we never did. There is a stairwell on the wall by the hot tub that leads to the private sundeck with hammocks and lounge chairs. With the suites you are allowed to eat for free at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. We were very unhappy with the cooks since they just could not cook a steak medium to save them. Burgers were dried out and way overcooked. I think they prioritize the room orders or courtyard orders over the people who are actually in the restaurant. The place was near to empty but for some reason they put my husband's plate of steak and eggs in an oven for ten minutes; of course both items were so overcooked we opted to go to the Garden Cafe the next day. Cagney's staff was blase they smiled but very little interaction other than Karin the hostess, she was always fun, happy and talkative. Casino: We basically like to play the slots spending about ten dollars each over a few days while waiting for events to start or to fill short periods of time. On the Epic the machines are in the middle and the air is filtered constantly so not really bad unless you get between two smoking machines. Sadly on the Pearl it was stifling. We tried to play but eyes burned and sinuses acted up. Then the machines were not at all friendly and many were twenty-five cents to $10; ridiculous. We played two bucks each and left. Dining: We ate in the Indigo the first night on board, the food was alright but the waiter seemed preoccupied constantly surveying the room like he was waiting for someone. Next night we tried Summer Palace, very opulent in design and we were sat facing the aft but it was too dark to see the water. It took so long to be served, even water, but we were patient. Then we noticed surrounding tables eating their main course when we did and they came in long after we had been sitting there. The food was nothing unusual seemed pre-plated so what was the hold up? The noise was unbelievable; much was the staff with dishes. We did have a singing with twirling of napkins which was fun. The next night we tried the Indigo again. Our waitress was very nice and smiling but again we waited forever to get served our meal by various people while our waitress was now handling a table of eight or more people. We had ordered dessert but gave up and walked out. What a nightmare! The whole evening for three nights spent trying to get a meal. We opted for dinner in our room the rest of the cruise. One show we did manage to go to was basically the Cruise Director giving a talk about the cruise and introducing the shows...waste of time. Again the cool thing with NCL is the suites get special seating in the balcony to the left of the theater. Not the best seats in the house but if you're late you don't have to stand in line. We loved the promenade deck for walking only with a textured surface except where the shuffleboard was and it was nice to see people still playing the sport. Down side was again the smoking. One man had a cigar and smoked for a good twenty minutes but what can you do? In Cozumel they do this welcoming line and we really enjoyed dancing our way onto the ship. Next door to us at the pier was the NCL Star and they were in competition with us and they ended up making their own welcoming line too. Excursions: Cozumel, Mexico: The Dolphin Swim 8011 was pretty cool. They have you wear a small life vest and you just need to be able to get to the middle of this pool to do the one trick but nothing scary. If you can't swim to that point they can set you up to do another trick on the little platform we all waited on instead, water is waist high. I loved this; only down side is the photos are only their photos and they charge a very, very high price. They don't say one price for the package, they make you pick the photos, more photos cost more, and video is separate also. Take cash or a credit card it is over $100 for both. Some folks brought family to film them but observers are only allowed on this overlook and they had us facing away from that platform while performing the tricks like being kissed or kissing the dolphin, giving it a hug, or holding onto the fins and being pulled along, so the observers could not take the photos. You also can rent a locker $3, no jewelry and if you can't get your ring off they tape over it on your finger. You can't wear any type of shoes in the pool but up to the pool you can. Bring a towel. There is a changing room and when the Taxi drops you off on the main street afterwards you can go directly to the shops, but the shops are very overpriced, postcards are $1.50 each instead of 30 cents some will haggle but not too much. Georgetown, Cayman Islands: We did the Stingray swim. Wow, this is awesome. We first went to Hell, yes that is a place. It is basically a couple of buildings and an official post office around this sort of rocky looking lava rock pit that they call Hell. You can get your passport stamped here officially, which I wished we had known. They also have a couple of small shops nothing much, and a cute little boy with an iguana, for $1 he will let you pose with it, hubby helped out this little entrepreneur. Then to the rum cake shop and they sell these good dough meat-filled pastries called "pasties" on the left side of the shop inside, go early if you want chicken they sell out. Then the next stop is the stingray swim. You have to take everything with you on to the crowded boat from the bus so be cautioned and don't forget to bring your towel. You cannot wear any type of shoe not even aqua shoes because of the baby stingrays. Do NOT shuffle your feet like the guide on the bus tells you or you will cut your feet on conch shells, walk normal. The water was up to my chin in some places and I am 5'4" and if there was a swell it hit me in the face. They offer life vests if you cannot swim. We are told to make a circle and the guide holds this huge stingray so you can touch her or pose with her. I could not make it to the circle the swells kept knocking me backwards and I found myself surrounded by four huge stingrays. Don't keep freaking out like me just stay still if you can. You are given squid to feed them and instructions to keep from getting your thumb sucked on. We were in there a good amount of time and then he sounded the horn for all to return to the boat. We motored back to the original location about twenty minutes and then back on the buses. The ride to the ship is very short and if you take the 11: 20 a.m. tour you have very little shopping time so I recommend the earliest one. Last tender leaves at 3:15 p.m. Ocho, Rios, Jamaica We did the Bobsled Run. You are picked up at the pier and taken by air conditioned van a short distance, then dropped off at the ski lift which carried you up the mountain. I was quite scared due to the winds blowing us and we were above the tall trees. Once at the top there are bathrooms, eatery, small shops selling paintings, wood carvings and jewelery. There is a line for the bobsled but in no time you board your own car which can be attached to another which makes it go faster, with the front one controlling the speed using the brake. Hubby was in charge of this and let her rip causing me to scream all the way down the hill. The guys up top will take your photo with your camera before going if you ask and they also take one mid ride and sell for I think it was less than twenty dollars. If you do the zipline also they sell tshirts saying you survived all their rides. If we go to this port again I have been told we are doing this again including the zipline...oh boy can't wait (sarcasm) ha. Ports: Great Stirrup Cay (GSC)-the island owned by NCL was fantastic! At first I thought we would stay for an hour or so and go back to the ship. I am not a sandy seaweed kinda person; give me a nice clean pool any day. Well we were on the second tender and Wow! It is sooo pretty on the island! We got a couple of chairs up front no problem under some palms. We left our gear on our chairs once we had a couple of neighbors and saying hi, we took our new casing for our camera making it waterproof now to check it out. Needless to say it was pretty rough but so much fun. I got knocked around a good bit laughing so hard from the waves. Camera worked great and hubby did some snorkeling nearby the rocks and saw a few fish photographing them. I actually did not want to go back to the ship. We had a chicken sandwich, pizza, and some salad; there were the regular barby fair and great desserts. There were a couple of small shops that require you take cash if you want to buy something your ship card does not work for them. There are bathrooms of course but no showers except as you enter the tender they have small foot showers to clean off your feet. Wear shoes because aqua shoes didn't really work if vented, sand filled them up so sandals or flip-flops might be better because there are rocks and bottle caps on the ground. Don't forget your towel. The regular pool area on the ship, other than the very first couple of hours, is so crowded with sunbathers you can barely get thru to the other side. Hubby tried the slide the first day and could barely get down it. No it wasn't his size; we saw a child was having the same problem later. The staff was very nice when it came to the M&G that Kathy set up, thanks Kathy. This was my second and not even half the people showed up who signed up. I don't think I will be attending anymore M&Gs due to the reaction of one member who made a negative comment when I thanked the staff for how they treated the suite guests. I am not ashamed of being in a suite, and I want to make sure that the NCL staff knows that I appreciate how they accommodate us. Also the meeting was commandeered by two women with complaints that did not need to be made; complaining about bottle caps on the ground in GSC, come on just wear shoes. We have already signed up for another cruise with the Pearl going to Alaska but staying in another suite that does not have the awning interfering with our view of the water below. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
After all the excitement of counting down to my first cruise, I was finally aboard for a fulfilled trip to LA. Traveling with my sister as part of a Zumba fitness group, we decided to leave Victoria on our own by taking the economical ... Read More
After all the excitement of counting down to my first cruise, I was finally aboard for a fulfilled trip to LA. Traveling with my sister as part of a Zumba fitness group, we decided to leave Victoria on our own by taking the economical transit route, putting the money saved towards our cruise expenses. After almost not setting sale due to a storm overnight, we were lucky the ferries didn't cancel and the ferry itself was packed with cruisers heading to various ships for the repositioning cruises. We boarded packed a transit bus, transferred to the skytrain to Waterfront station then transferred to a bus for all of $2.50. We met another couple on the way and the 4 of us walked 3-4 blks thru a shady part of town and only encountered one panhandler. The path to the port however required us to haul our luggage down 4 flights of stairs. No exception! Next time we will call a taxi from waterfront for the ease as they drop you off right in front of the doors. Worth the $6 IMO As we arrived at 12:30 we had an hour wait to board the ship and were immediately directed to the stardust theatre for a freestyle dining presentation and chance to win dinner for two in a specialty restaurant. We were told our cabins would be ready by 2 so we headed up to see it and drop off our stuff. Our cabin had a lovely view of the lifeboats but as this was an upgrade from an inside we were pleased. We only planned on sleeping here anyway. We then headed off to the sailaway party and won free drinks. We met the rest of our group at the Summer Palace for dinner. Throughout the cruise we were able to get reservations at Summer Palace and Indigo that accommodated 20+ of our group though not always at one table but 2-3 tables together. We ate as a group at La Cucina ($10) in which we actually found the main dish-risotto-undercooked and starchy but the service was great. Would have sent it back but wanted to get to a show so didn't bother complaining. We loved the shows- Oh what a night, sharkbait, broadway, the ventriloquist and the finale was wonderful. The games in Spinakers lounge were hilarious and music by Odessy was good but a bit repetitive by the last nights. The white Hot Party was great too. Julie is a great cruise director and all the staff. Unfortunately we hit one of the worse storms overnight on the first night amd the port of Astoria was closed. Kudos to the housekeeping staff as the had many messes to clean as almost 1/2 the passengers were down with seasickness along with many experienced crew. Bowls of crackers everywhere and they were giving away gravel and gingerale as this storm went on for 22-24 hours!! Our TA has sailed 59 cruises and said it was in his top 5 of worse storms ever! The ship came up with a new freestyle daily later with more options as we now had another sea day. We were rewarded with a glorious day in San Fran to make up for it. Disembarkment was smooth and easy as we booked the LA OVERVIEW excursion ending at LAX. This was the biggest disappointment of our trip. The first words out of our tour guides mouth was that this excursion was impossible to complete in three hours and she asked if anyone had a flight before 2:30. One hand shot up that had a flight at 2:30 so she(Mary) decided we would have to skip parts to make it by 12:30. Many many protests from all as this was not acceptable. Without any chance to change buses( our friends on same tour were on the next bus) we were off. We drove past the universities and every highschool and elementary school was pointed out including Mary's daughters. - did I mention Mary was a retired teacher?? She also pointed out where her dad bought his first car!! We were then allowed off the bus at Olivera for our promised stroll as per the description from NCL. By the time were got off the bus we has a sprint of 10 min and barely made it back on the bus. We rushed off to grommannsand after parking 1 1/2 blocks away, he had 20min to run back to take pics. We did have the option at this and the prior stop to follow Mary and she would show us where the bathrooms were. We opted to skip that as that would take the full 20 min. After arriving back at our meeting spot we waited 10 for the bus to return. We then went to Farmers market for our time to shop and enjoy lunch. NOT!!! 15 min to which many frustrated passengers have up by now and just stayed seated. We then specked to Lax and made it there by 12:45. It wasn't till 2 that our friends arrived and raved about their excursion. Same price but they had ample time as their tour guide skipped farmers as it was out of way and wasted time. That would be fine with us. All this proved to me was NCL excursions were a rip off. They need to either check who they hire or correct their descriptions. I've taken shuttle buses more informative and funny for a fraction of the cost and less expectation. All in all though, I can't wait to cruise again and NCL is a great choice minus excursion. And as q PS, we got an unexpected $15 credit for missed port. Not a lot but still, not expected. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid ... Read More
This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid back. As usual, our every need was met and our every expectation was exceeded. This trip was with 5 dear friends that were brave enough to take me to cold weather!! Yes indeed it was cold and wet, but how could you really notice with the amazing scenery and things that we saw! To experience the Inside Passage with American Eagles flying by leaves me without words to express. The ships high standard of cleanliness was as evident as ever. Everywhere you go are crew members diligently attending to every detail. We arrived at the pier in Seattle about 12:30 and with our pre-registration in hand we sailed so quickly thru check-in I hardly remember stopping for the picture! As I've said before in my reviews, the key really is to come as early as you can. The lines are shorter and things move quickly. As the day passes and more people arrive, it will require a bit of a wait, but not a long one. Suite and above folks have a private check-in, and Latitudes members can process quickly as well. Be sure to PRE REGISTER online and that will save you some time at the counter. Our room was ready and spotless. We chose a mini-suite to be able to take in the Alaskan vistas right from our cabin. Even the lifeboat drill seemed relaxed this time, especially since the new rule of not having to tote those bulky life preservers with you! Making dinner reservations are very easy. In cruises past I could only book a day or two in advance, but this cruise allowed me to book my entire weeks worth of reservations in on shot! That is a dream when you are making dinner plans for a group of 6. Reservations were available most everywhere with the exception of Le Bistro and Teppenyaki. Those two places filled up fast. So make your selections for those early. Sometimes we had to juggle our times here and there, but the crew bends over backwards to accommodate you. I can't say enough about the food. We did the Garden Cafe for breakfast (free) and some lunches (free) but most dinners we dined at the specialty restaurants. WELL worth the added fee. Don't let those fees scare you off, it's TOTALLY worth it. I will say this, since this is an Alaskan cruise most folks won't venture out to the poolside buffet or the Grill Buffet in the back as they are outside. This fact makes the inside Garden Cafe Buffet PACKED. So plan on a bit more time to eat if you are dining there, and be patient for a table. The crew is vigilant about cleaning tables quickly and finding you a seat. Things you MUST eat: BBQ Pork Ribs, Dirty Noodles, Lamb Medallions - Lotus Garden Restaurant Escargo, and anything on the menu - Le Bistro Lobster, monster shrimp cocktail - Cagney's Chocolate Buffet - Watch your FreeStyle Daily The spa prices are pricey as always. But watch your Freestyle Daily for specials. Also physically GO to the spa and talk to the spa crew. They will work special combo deals for you that are listed on the menu of services. Best Spa Deals: the 10/20/30 plan - 10% off first treatment, 20% of 2nd, 30% off third...combine those with bartering at the counter for a freebie. The other thing I would HIGHLY recommend is the Spa Pass. You pay a flat rate (was $119 per person for the 7 day cruise) and you have access to the mineral baths, hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam room, stone therapy lounges, cold plunge and the private locker area for the entire cruise. You also have access to the very restful lounge area that sits at the very FRONT of the ship with full glass panoramic views out the bow. Likely my only complaint this cruise was that there was some paint peeling in the hydrotherapy pool. The entertainment was fun, but I sure miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company. It seems the Pearl is handling it's own "stage show" performances now and they simply don't have the edge that the JARCo did. This is not to say its a bad show...it was enjoyable, but just not the Vegas quality that I've enjoyed in the past. SharkBait Duo was outstanding! The Bliss Ultra Lounge is amazing, be sure to see it. Not to mention you can go bowling ($5 per person, per game). I have to say I'm not thrilled now that the Spinnaker Lounge is "family" til all hours now. Before underage kids were allowed til 10pm then asked to leave the club to the adults. Now they are allowed until closing at midnight. From there the party would move to Bliss until their closing at 2am. However, since the Spinnaker is at the front of the ship and the Bliss is at the back, most folks seem to simply call it a night and find their cabins. Watch your Freestyle Daily for specials in the Duty Free Shop. Great deals on liquor on certain days, plus free tastings! Always, always, ALWAYS mention you are a Latitudes member and get an additional 10-20% off anything you purchase in the shopping area. Just cuz it says Latitudes on your card, doesn't mean you'll get the discount. So ASK for it! Most favorite crew members: Annalissa in the Lotus Garden and Gede in the Java City Cafe (ask to see the 7 ball juggling act). Another all time favorite is Carlos the Concierge. Even though we weren't in suites, he always took the time to say hello. The highlight had to be the cruise of Glacier Bay National Park. The captain gave us plenty of time on both sides of the ship to view the Glaciers. We saw otters, seals, porpoises and WHALES! We even saw a large chunk of glacier fall into the bay with a thunderous crash!! One thing we did this cruise that I've never done before was to take advantage of the BAGS program. It is AWESOME! You pay $20 per person to enroll in BAGS. The night before, just like everyone else you put your luggage outside your cabin. Now, in the morning as you are leaving, everyone else will have to wait their turn in line to get off the ship, go wait in line at customs, and fetch their luggage. Then drag them to a cab, drag them to check-in at the airport ,and FINALLY your hours as a pack mule are over! BUT if you enrolled in BAGS you can get off the ship anytime you want, walk past the customs line and right out to the taxi stand. You simply walk to your gate at the airport and get on the plane. For your $20 the BAGS folks will automatically take your luggage to the airport, check it for you, and you won't see it again until you arrive home. They will even print your boarding passes off for you, and deliver them to your cabin the night before. Well worth the $20 and made NCL's usual disembarkation day even more care free! I had been saying before this cruise that it was a "once in a lifetime" cruise for me. A "bucket list" item so to speak, as it was something I wished to experience but would never choose to do a second time. How wrong I was! I would cruise to Alaska again! The whole experience was awesome. If you want to know anything specific, I'm happy to answer questions! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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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