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1,107 Norwegian (NCL) Tampa Cruise Reviews

Overall, the cruise was pretty much nice. Most of the shore excursions, not so much. The package price and "Five for Free" and all that foofraw was intriguing until analyzed, and then not so much. Entertainment on ship was great, ... Read More
Overall, the cruise was pretty much nice. Most of the shore excursions, not so much. The package price and "Five for Free" and all that foofraw was intriguing until analyzed, and then not so much. Entertainment on ship was great, it was clean and well-maintained and had a smiling crew. The "suite" cabin was marginally better than a standard and nowhere close to my experience with other suites. Our reasons for choosing this particular cruise were that it was a two-week cruise, out of our home port Tampa, and visited some faraway places we can't see on a one-week from home. For the price, considering even the "Free at Sea", "Distinctive Voyages" and other so-called freebies, there were equivalent options, but not from our home port. So, we overpaid a bit for that advantage. I'm bothering to review mostly because the shore excursions left a lot to be desired. The cruise itself - on shipboard - was fine and certainly up to par. The shore excursions and package deals, not so much.If you book a similar cruise, be careful of those to items. The mini-suite, not so much. Details: Marketing Spin – We first signed on for this cruise based on the nearly all-inclusive nature of the offering, what with “Free at Sea” freebies and “Distinctive Voyages” and such. 120 days before departure, NCL requires final full payment (… ya gotta love how cruise lines have us over a barrel). It was after that – and this is on us – that we finally looked at the total package and compared this NCL trip with similar trips from HAL and RC. Theirs were a la carte for shore excursions subsidies, wifi, phone, beverage packs and such. We found out the other cruise prices were similar to lower, but selectable instead of a fixed package. An example: the beverage package, one of an oft-chosen (including us) “free” option in NCL’s marketing package. Turned out that NCL charges for the tips for the BevPak, though the drinks are included. If you calculate out the tips, it turns out to be about the equivalent of spending $88/day on drinks. Heavy drinkers – probably a deal. Casual drinks/sodas, not so much. We also got subsidies on NCL shore excursions – thereby encouraging us to book everything through the ship. Which we did – to mixed results. Some of them turned out to be net-$0 to us. However, as noted above, that subsidy seemed to be built in to the overall cruise cost. Moral: No matter how enticing the marketing freebies seem, NCL – and other lines, for that matter – don’t give nothin’ away. Embarkation - A disaster. Worst embark in my home port of Tampa that I've ever seen. An entry line at noon that wound around and down the block. People couldn't figure out how reiieve themselfves of bags and get in line too. Once into reception, it was quick. I’ve seen people take their own 24-packs of water onto their cruises. Not here. NCL security confiscated all my Bai flavored waters. We mused over where they went after we were at sea. Debarkation - Also a disaster. We had 2 1/4 bags each and had planned/rehearsed how to do a “walk-off” departure with the required one hand free (for the escalator, I guess). In spite of this my partner and I were shunted onto an elevator-only line along with all people with canes or wheelchairs. And additional wheelchairs always went to the front of the line. It took us an hour from the time we hit shore until we got down the one floor to passport and luggage. Activities: On board the Norwegian Pearl, we happily found that there indeed was a tennis court. And we played with new tennis friends on every sea day to our great enjoyment. Crew help getting the nets/equipment available to play was spotty. They also have two pairs of bowling lanes. Before you get visions of keeping your average up, the “house” balls were limited. More important, as a 40-year bowler, I was told that I couldn’t do anything to the surface or the left shoe so that one could slide on release of the ball. A bowler could get badly hurt expecting to be able to slide on the final step - and suddenly stopping like on a rubber mat. And $7/game – not a free activity. We enjoyed the trivia contests, except for the fact that there were no real prizes for winning – not even an NCL pin (like HAL does). We did a ring toss context in a lounge. Problem there was that there were no rules and the crewman seemed to make them up as we went along in an elimination competition. Again, no real prize, so I guess it didn’t matter. Food: Garden Café (equivalent of HAL’s Lido) – Wide selection, ready at hand. Often tepid to cool by the time you gather it all up and find an empty table somewhere within range of walking back multiple times to the service lines. Made me long for the old days when you could use a cafeteria tray instead of multiple trips. I made us stop eating breakfast here because of always having cold toast, muffins, pancakes, and eggs off of the serving lines. Instead, we went to O’Sheehan’s Irish pub restaurant, no extra charge, for most breakfasts and many lunches. Very convenient, uncrowded, generally warm and tasty food. Lotus Garden, no charge, oriental foods. Very good, very tasty. My favorite although my partner doesn’t have my taste for all foods oriental. Both main dining rooms – generally good service, fine restaurant style and atmosphere. What was wanting was tasty, interesting dishes. Everything was pleasant enough, just not eye-widening at all. We were doing a two-week cruise and there never was lobster! Are ships giving up on this? It used to be a highlight. We did get a record-setting prime rib on our last night! It was the thinnest-sliced prime rib dinner I’ve ever seen. I can say this, it was thicker than bologna. Maybe. Dress code of long pants for men and no tank-tops, tees, was mentioned in the Summer Palace MDR the first night, then, judging from what I saw, never brought up again subsequently. The Indigo MDR apparently did not have the same code. In later nights, I saw lots of “Drink Beer” type tees in both MDRs. Shore Excursions, all booked through NCL and with $50/person subsidy, part of our package: Grand Cayman – Reef & Wreck Snorkel. Large roomy boat, but few places to sit down to put gear on. (We brought our own snorkel packs.) As a long-time diver in younger years, Caymans were nirvana. Unfortunately, our boat stayed nearby in the harbor. The wreck was large and interesting, with few fish. The “reef” spot was all black and gray dead reef. A quarter mile away were a number of spots with living reefs and more fish, but I guess we were saving fuel cost. Without the shorex subsidy, we’d’ve booked on our own with a smaller boat that would go out to “real” reef. Conclusion: Mediocre. Jamaica – Bobsled Jamaica and Zipline. Only a mile from the dock and in the hills. The Good and the Bad. We took a high sit-on tram to the top of the mountain. Then got in line for the zip line. All five traverses of it. They had twelve, but were only using five on our day. It was pleasant, but with long lines at switchovers. Then on to the dry-track bobsled run. Except the wait was two hours. So we had the highlight of this shorex by buying our own lunch in the mountaintop and building-top restaurant. Fantastic views down the mountain and toward our cruise liner harbor. Even better with the view tower above the lunch spot. Once back to the bobsled run, the wait was now three hours. So, we bailed. Conclusion: Being worth it is being generous. Glad we didn’t pay the full $139 each. Santa Marta, Colombia – Quebrada Valencia Eco-Expedition. You understand when a shorex is described as “expedition” or “adventure” that it’s not the literal use of the term? The online description showed a beautiful view down a mountain valley. Not so much. Never did see that. Did get our shoes soaked by unexpectedly having to walk through a half-foot deep, 15-foot wide creek, SIX times on the way to seeing a little mountain waterfall. Where one could swim, if so inclined. Or wade, since our shoes were already water-logged. Conclusion: Full of water. Cartagena, Colombia – Exclusive Hop-on, Hop-off Bus. Took us around town and to the entry into old Cartagena. And back to the ship. Had no need to on-off since there was only one stop for old town. Got an including staring tour upon walk into old town district. Fifty bucks list price; zero with our subsidy. Worth the $50. Old Cartagena was one of the highlights of our shore diversions. Conclusion: One way or another, get into old town. Panama Canal – on-board viewing A second highlight of the trip. The Pearl goes into the first locks of the canal and then allows tenders to go ashore. Shore visitors re-connect with the Pearl later in the day when it’s gone back out of the canal and docked in Colon, Panama. Before that, seeing the locks in action, with another huge ship 100 feet away, is truly fascinating. No cost benefit and entertainment for this cruise. (Actually, based on info given us, we each probably paid about $200 of our cruise cost to Panama Canal Authority.) Panama – Shape of Panama bus tour We took advantage of the shore access tender and caught a shorex bus which took us from the Caribbean side locks down a super-highway to the Pacific shore in Panama City. Another highlight of the trip. A bus tour of 2mil-person PCity; tons of skyscrapers, lots to see; the Pacific Ocean; and then a walking tour of Old Panama City. A comfortable major highway trip back to the ship in Colon. Another highlight and worthwhile shorex. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica – Aerial Tram & Rainforest Adventure. There it is again, an “adventure.” Well, not so much. Two hours down a two-lane highway and then into a for-profit eco park “adjacent to a national park.” A lot of hoopla for flora and fauna. The tram ride was about an hour with a “naturalist” on board with a green laser point to show us the forest and animals. We did not see the grand mountain view and closed gondola that was in the shorex marketing materials online. We did see a lot of leaves. We saw one mountain far off on the horizon. We saw one spider. (Checkmark: fauna?) The included meal in the restaurant was tasty and nice. The two-plus hour ride back down the highway was cluttered with construction stops and pauses. We got to the ship a few minutes before departure. Conclusion: If you pay the whole $149, I hope you’re an optimist. We paid $99, and I’d like to time travel that decision. Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala – Livingston Explorer Fortunately, our subsidized cost for this was $0 (instead of $50). You ride an open “panga” outboard up the coast for an hour to Livingston, a land-locked town. Apparently part of the fun is to sit in open sitting and get beat up by the pounding bow as it races through the waves. I feared for my fillings. The town itself is an interesting view of lives and neighborhood in a remote city. I don’t know what our 45-minute guided perambulation through town was supposed to show us. We almost missed the boat back to the Pearl when our panga was inexplicably ready to go from a different dock and time then our guide told us. But as our guide said at the start when he “lost” two of us, “I guess it’s going to be one of those kinds of days.” Conclusion: Visit Livingston, but not in a panga. Harvest Caye, Belize – Private Island for NCL. Monkey River Eco tour I think I’ve figured this one out. Other cruise lines do this, it’s not just NCL. Buy an island and make it a playground for just your ship for the day. Declare that it’s on shore, so even though it’s all NCL and you can use your passcard to pay for things, it’s all separate charges. If you have the BevPak, you have to pay for drinks on the island. NCL recreation there, you pay. Equipment, you rent. We took a shorex that went down a river. Another panga-type boat beating on top of the waves for an hour to get us down to the Monkey River entrance. Our guide then pointed out lots of bird species – I think, because his Belizean English was almost incomprehensible to me and others – and a couple of monkeys. Half the boat was open and presented excellent sunburn options. On the return, he also took us to his house which, unsurprisingly, had items and food for sale. (Most of these kinds of trips have some souvenir/rest stop side trip that will result in compensation to the guide.) Then, a wave-pounding trip back to the ship. Conclusion: Our subsidized net of $49 would have been too much. Costa Maya, Mexico – Beach Power Snorkel. Well, not really. Not the provider’s fault, the weather did not cooperate. We were offered a conversion to a “beach recline and stare” with the same provider, since he wanted to hold on to at least some of our money. It was an enjoyable couple of hours lazing around, mostly because we had free drinks and no crowds. So, a ship’s excursion in all nine ports with mixed-to-mediocre results. Altogether, an average cruise. We had good times and good days, but much of that was due to our deciding to roll with (sorry) things. We won't buy again based on freebies and marketing. And as far as this cruise and "wouldn't change a thing" thoughts? Not so much! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise because we thought it would be fun and interesting. Traveling with four other people, two of which were in our suite. The suite was smaller than suites on other cruise lines but our cabin guy was very helpful and fun. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we thought it would be fun and interesting. Traveling with four other people, two of which were in our suite. The suite was smaller than suites on other cruise lines but our cabin guy was very helpful and fun. Embarkation seemed slow but manageable, but disembarkation was ridiculous. It took us 2 1/2 to 3 hrs to clear customs. After all that a piece of our luggage was loaded into another vehicle and sent to Bradenton, Fl (we live in Ohio but were staying another two days nearby). It took another day to get a hold of someone to find what happened to our missing bag. They had to ship it to Ohio, we were not able to pick it up before we left. The food on the ship was adequate. The food in O'Sheehans was the best, while the main dining room had no exceptional food (very little seafood at all). Also had our best service there (O'Sheehans). Most all of the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We ate in the buffet several times and most of the food was good. The entertainment was adequate but nothing spectacular. Two pools, four hot tubs and bowling you had to pay for. There was an exercise room and the girls at the spa were very nice and helpful. of course, the casino. The ports were shipyards, in at least 3 instances, not what we expected. We thought the beaches would be beautiful but the Grand Caymans beach was very rocky and on the beach in Jamaica you could go so far out before you ran into seaweed. The beach in Costa Rica was very nice and we loved Harvest Caye. Most people were upset that you had to pay for everything there but the beach and pool were beautiful We made our own fun and overall had a good time, but would not cruise on the Pearl. We did not realize that this cruise was a senior cruise but it seemed that it was. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I went on this cruise with my 8 year old daughter. I choose this cruise because it was port intensive, 9 ports in 14 nights. This was our first time on a 14 night cruise and our first time on NCL. We took this cruise in late November so ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my 8 year old daughter. I choose this cruise because it was port intensive, 9 ports in 14 nights. This was our first time on a 14 night cruise and our first time on NCL. We took this cruise in late November so unfortunately there were not a lot of kids on the ship maybe 10-15 total out of 2300 people. SHIP This is an older ship and well-kept up. All the common areas are nice. The ship was decorated for Christmas while we were on the ship so that was nice. The lighting on the ship is poor except in the elevators. The mirrors and lighting are great in the elevators. This is where i had to constantly check my makeup :). The one thing that i was disappointed about was the pools. There were 2 swimming pools. One was adults only and the other one was for everyone. The issue was that they were 4.8 feet deep. Im only 5 feet and my daughter is 8 years old. So even though she can swim, she had to wear a life vest in the pool because she could not reach the bottom and she would tire out. These are also salt water pools which i do not like. The layout of the ship is dumb! There are restaurants everywhere in strange places that take forever to find. There are not ship maps on every floor so we would have to go to random floors to find a ship map to find things. However we were on the ship for 14 nights so by the 5th night we new how to get to the main places fairly easily. There were some restaurants that we never found. Jodi the cruise director was great and so was the entertainment host. The were both beautiful, young, vibrant, full of energy, funny, super sweet and very approachable!!! CABIN We had an interior room and it was tiny!!! I am used to Royal Caribbean rooms that have a sitting area and table. This room did not have that. However the bathroom was great. I loved the shower. The room worked for what we needed it for. DINING I will start by saying that I am vegetarian and my daughter eats like a typical 8 year old. We did not visit any of the speciality restaurants. People that i spoke with really enjoyed the speciality restaurants. The main dining was OK! We mainly ate in the buffet and that was great. The Indian food was always excellent. There was always a great variety of food. The deserts were great also. They even made fresh crepes every night. My daughters favorite was the ice cream. They had an impressive selection of about 8 flavors of ice cream that they will scoop for you. My daughters favorite flavor was lemon. They also had self serve soft serve from the machine. We did not get the drink package as I do not drink alcohol and neither me nor my daughter drink soda. The water tea and juice that they provided was good. No complaints on the food. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on this ship was exceptional!!! Every show was amazing!!!! However and this is a huge however. NCL did a poor job of promoting the entertainment. Prior to the cruise you only know that you will have a "variety" of entertainment. The shows are at 7pm and 7pm. Additionally, you only find out the entertainment for that night when you get your newsletter the previous evening. This was problematic with scheduling dinner, downtime after ports and getting to the theater. This upset me a bit because the entertainment was so good and I missed a few. I would rather have known all the entertainment and been able to schedule it out. They should really do a better job promoting the entertainers on the site or their app because they were truly exceptional. ACTIVITIES Origami was my favorite. The girl that taught it was so sweet, helpful and patient. She would show a couple folds then go around to EVERYONE to make sure they were getting it correctly. And we all needed so much help. :) I think i participated in origami about 4 times. We also did towel folding, napkin folding and trivia. They were great also. My daughter did the rock climbing a few times and enjoyed it. This cruise was port intensive so were off the ship a lot and exhausted when we got on. So our activities were limited. KIDS CLUB My daughter loved it. There weren't a lot of kids on this cruise so sometimes they were completely empty and my daughter would just opt to go to the pool instead. However this was not their fault. They were a great group of staff there. They did pirate parades, circus shows, arts and crafts, video games and education during the transit through the panama canal. SERVICE hmmm...So There were some very exceptional staff on the ship and then were were others. No one was rude but some just could care less. The staff that were great were really really great. They work very hard and i will leave it at that. EMBARKATION This was appalling. DO NOT SHOW UP BEFORE NOON to get on the ship. Holy cow. So first they board all of their VIPs and Haven Suites. I kind of understand this but it seemed like it took longer to get them together and onto the ship. Then they board by floor. We were on the 8th floor so it took forever. There was about 100-200 people in the port and it took about an hour for them to let me and my daughter start boarding. This makes no sense. We are not animals, we are not going to trample each other. Im fine with them letting the VIPs on first but then just let everyone free board. There was no point to that. I will say that by time we got on the ship our room was open and ready. This was nice because we had flown all night. So that is the soonest I had ever been able to get into my stateroom on any ship. DISEMBARKATION I do not have many nice things to say about this. Me and my daughter did a walk off the ship. As soon as you walked onto the ship deck you were in a looooooong line. Apparently there were only 3 customs agents and 1 was doing VIPs only. It took 2 hours to get out!!!!! Did i mention it was raining!!!!!!! A good portion of the time we were standing outside in the rain. When we got in we were SITTING in line. We were not moving. This was the worst disembarkation that i had ever experienced. I was told that there was 2 reasons. One was the VIP line that NCL does. It slows everything down for everyone. They don't move any faster so its pointless. And the fact that there were not enough customs agents. HONORABLE MENTION The TV channels and movies shown on tv were great! We watched The Meg, Ant man and the wasp, Mamma Mia, here we go again, Mission Impossible fallout, Skyscraper, Pick of the litter, Teen titans go to the movies, Pacific Rim Uprising, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Oceans 8, Rampage, Ready Player One. Those are just the ones I could remember. We are making videos of our cruise and if you want to see them please view here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjyVKAz32N4-1Ere4B3GROw Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
14-Day Panama Canal Round-trip from Tampa November 25-December 9  Norwegian Pearl Embarkation We stayed just outside Tampa the night before and drove in Sunday morning. We parked just across from the terminal and ... Read More
14-Day Panama Canal Round-trip from Tampa November 25-December 9  Norwegian Pearl Embarkation We stayed just outside Tampa the night before and drove in Sunday morning. We parked just across from the terminal and got to the check in point around 10:30. These steps were all painless. We did wait a while with a terminal full of people to board the ship. When we did board with our carryons with the first group we went straight to Summer Palace for lunch. We checked our cabin right after and it was ready so we dropped the bags there and went up top. Cabin Our cabin was 9610, a balcony cabin. We were glad to have upgraded to the balcony with such a long trip. Our room steward was fine. He was friendly the first couple of days then very cool after that. I have no idea if we offended him in some way. We had zero special requests and I always tidy up on my own as much as I can. We always had clean towels, a perfectly made bed and towel animals every night. We usually have a relationship with our steward so this was different. Internet I bought 250 minutes which I thought was a crazy amount of internet time. Latitudes Gold added 30 minutes so I thought I’d be online plenty. The WiFi is insanely slow and some days I couldn’t accomplish anything at all while the minutes burned. We have 2 kids and I thought 2 weeks was way too long to be out of touch. If I did this cruise again I would buy unlimited or none at all. Live and learn, I guess. App Communication Package I hadn’t given the app communication much thought. We ended up getting it at 9.95 each for two weeks and it was well worth the money. My husband and I are rarely in the same place during the day so this was most helpful. You can call or text, even send pictures. That’s what I did when I got the where are you message. I’d take a shot of what I was looking at and it worked. If you were on this trip I was the one who always had a book with me. I sat in the window seats down the hall, in the library, even before the show in Stardust. Laundry We sent out a very full bag around the halfway point to be washed and folded for 19.99. We got half off with Latitudes so it was around 10 dollars. Well worth the money in my opinion. Ports This was a port heavy cruise. Most ports we walked around if there was an area close by. We did the trolley tour in Cartagena. Our favorite day was in Harvest Caye. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. Dining In the interest of full disclosure I am the pickiest eater I’ve ever known. That being said we both thought the food was very good. We had breakfast mostly in Summer Palace. One morning we went to O’Sheehan’s and three mornings we went to the Garden Cafe. Lunch was where I ran into trouble and it wasn’t the food but variety. We had ten port days out of fourteen so those days we had a choice of the buffet or O’Sheehan’s. I really liked the open faced turkey sandwich but not every day. Buffets are always tricky. I like only a handful of things so I usually had pizza and salad. The chicken salad was excellent. We ate in Summer Palace every evening except one. That night we went to indigo. It was fine. It had the exact same menu but we much preferred the atmosphere in Summer Palace. As a side note, I called the Garden Cafe ‘Survival of the fittest’ because people acted like NCL was going to run out of food. I hate the pushing and shoving and line jumping. A couple of mornings we went up early and very much enjoyed being able to choose food items in a calm environment. I’m not built for wrestling for food. Spa/Fitness We got the thermal spa pass for my husband and he thought it was the best money we spent. He especially enjoyed the view as we went through the Panama Canal locks. I had three spa treatments and they were very helpful. I used the treadmill in the fitness center a few days but mostly I walked on 7. I did Latin Fitness with Yvette by the pool on three mornings and the class was great. Entertainment This area is subjective so I understand not everyone will agree with this assessment. My favorite show was the Legends concert with Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Elvis impersonators. We also really enjoyed the acrobatic duo. I can’t for the life of me remember their names. We thought the entertainment overall was good. I understand why young people wouldn’t be crazy about some of it. Staff We thought the staff was top notch. We especially appreciated the Summer Palace staff since we spent so much time there. Debarkation We carried our luggage off and were called around 8:00 am. The line to get off was long but all things come to an end. We finally cleared the terminal after 9:00 am. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The ncl pearl has many varieties of activities for any age including bowling. At times multiple activities have been booked in the same venue at the same time. But the staff sorted it out and made applicable changes. The garden cafe has ... Read More
The ncl pearl has many varieties of activities for any age including bowling. At times multiple activities have been booked in the same venue at the same time. But the staff sorted it out and made applicable changes. The garden cafe has plenty of seating, however at peak times you may choose the italian restaurant for additional seating or choose the great outdoors. There seemed to be 6 hot tubs advertised, but 2 of the hot tubs are in the heaven suite area only and not accessible. However, for sun bathers there is plenty of room and many lounge chairs to choose from on deck 12, 13 or 14. The service is good, find your server in the main dining room you are happy with. We are thankful, that the main dining room (summer palace) had always the option available to have a table for two. We would have liked to find out more about this summer palace dining room "theme" as it resembled a touch of russia in 1905? We could not find details or missed that info on it. We have taken a fair amount of shore excursion and made ourself to mistakes. We do not drink, but booked the tour " a taste of caymen" which you will get many samples of beer and rum and some rum cake. Another excursion which we experienced was the "discover rio dulce" in santo tomas. If you like speed boating on the ocean sitting on a fibreglas bench than that tour would be for you. But than again a sore bum and some back pain come free. Our tour guide was a little bit to pushy as we came of the ship after lunch and he brought us within the hour to a restaurant in livingston were we supposed to have lunch; we guess he does not know some main features of taken a cruise. Again it still has been a positive experience, no complaints, but make sure you are in a fair physical shape to take the rio dulce excursion. we would almost say that the excursion in panama city " the shaping of panama" has been an eye opener. First you see all the very special architectural high rise buildings, but just around almost every corner you see the run down buildings or metal sheds which are inhabited by misfortunate panamanians either by choice or by the own outlook. However, they may be happy in their own way of life. So much for the differences we have in our lives. Coming back to the ncl pearl, as said before all was very well and we would go again on any regular sized ncl ship (we skip the very large once). Please one improvement needs to be done and should not be blamed on the hardworking custom officers at the disembarkation. It would have been appreciated, if jodie the cruise director would have come on the intercom to say that there is a delay of one hour or whatever applies. But instead we heard only around 11am the information that now all colours can disembark. As the fact stands: our time to get of the ship was 9.30am and we actual came off the ship almost at noon, just before the new boarding started. HAPPY CRUISING Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The Panama Canal cruise was on our bucket list. We are into our 70s and both have some chronic health issues, so we wanted to get this off of our list. We chose the aft facing cabin so we had a 180 degree view when going through the ... Read More
The Panama Canal cruise was on our bucket list. We are into our 70s and both have some chronic health issues, so we wanted to get this off of our list. We chose the aft facing cabin so we had a 180 degree view when going through the canal. This was a great choice and we loved sitting on our balcony and enjoying the view. Even was nice in some of the ports. Embarkation had some issues. The lady who was keeping track of those who required wheel chairs overlooked my name and I was one of the last wheelchairs on board. The gentleman who took me on board whizzed us through the ship and down to lunch in the Summer Palace, dropped us off, and our lunch was great. We had easy access to our daily dining there. However, there was a "burp" on the second night of dining. I was wearing shorts (everyday on board) and we took the elevator from deck 11 down to deck 6, which is the handicapped entrance to the restaurant. Deck 7 is the regular entrance with two flights of stairs required to get in. Well, on this night, we walked in on the handicapped ramp and were met by the Maitre' D who pointed to my shorts and said I couldn't come in, since I wasn't wearing long pants. He was very adamant about it and immediately called The Indigo Dining Room and said he was bringing us down there (no dress code there) and he escorted us (very quickly) through the Atrium and down another elevator to the Indigo, taking us right in (ahead of about 30 people in line) and seated us and with a "sorry", he disappeared. Then, about 5 minutes or so later, in comes the ships Restaurant Manager shows up with (I believe) the Hotel Manager and they both were very apologetic about what had happened and offered us a complimentary bottle of wine. They were classy in the way they handled the apology and they made sure to speak to us whenever they saw us on board. They did point out that there was signage at the entry to the restaurant regarding dinner dress codes. But, I pointed out that we never entered the restaurant on Deck 7 and there was no signage on Deck 6 (the handicapped entrance) They apologized for that, later, and said signage would be put on that entrance too. They also pointed out that the dress codes were printed in the daily Freeystyle newsletter. It was in there, but buried. Anyway, I screwed up and they screwed up and we were happy during the cruise. Another incident occurred during the Cruise Critic Roll Call Meet and Greet which was held in the Bliss Nightclub at about 11am. We arrived and were sitting with some others near the entrance of the club. The Norwegian Captain and Management team arrived and suggested we all move to the stage area. Well, the lighting was dim to dark and I nailed my shin on one of those small bolted down cocktail tables. It hurt, I almost fell, but we moved on up with the others and sat through the meet and greet. When we left, we went back to our cabin to asses the damage and I had quite the abrasion to my left shin and had bled through my compression sock. We bandaged it up (since I had those supplies with us for another issue) and continued on with our day. We went to the service desk to see if a report needed to be made. The gentleman there said no. However, later on we met with the Customer Relations Manager and she said she saw me hit the table and was looking for me later. She said to go to Medical and they would do a report and take care of the injury. Well, Medical is open from 7:30am to 9am and 7:30pm to 9pm. We filled our a medical report and while waiting to see the doctor, two security officers came in and it was like the "Norwegian CSI" They took another report, took pictures of my leg, what shoes and braces I was wearing, and my cane. Then, one of the took my wife back to the Bliss (3 decks up and on the other end of the ship and going through the Atrium crowd on the ship while he carried my wife's purse, we guess so she wouldn't run away?) He looked at what my wife thought was the right area (in the dark) and then came back to Medical. By then I had seen the good doctor and one of the nurses was bandaging my leg. I was already on an antibiotic and they said to monitor it. The next day we had a bottle of wine and a cheese plate waiting for us in our cabin. This did not include a bottle of wine that the Restaurant Manager gave us earlier. By the way, we did see the Summer Palace Maitre' D on numerous occasions and I think he tried to avoid us. All in all, it was a memorable cruise (in more ways than one) and one we'd highly recommend to anyone wanting to transverse the Eastern Locks of the Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Loved there were 3 combinable promo's which made this cruise very cost effective. The NCL staff and entertainment was phenomenal and the food was generally very good with a few exceptions. Some excursions were not worth the time or ... Read More
Loved there were 3 combinable promo's which made this cruise very cost effective. The NCL staff and entertainment was phenomenal and the food was generally very good with a few exceptions. Some excursions were not worth the time or money but some were fantastic so it was a mix. It's always good to experience other countries and cultures so I'm glad we took this trip but we'd skip going back to a few. NCL's island, Harvest Caye, in Belize had an amazing beach and pool, as well as many shops and even a small zipline. The only down side was that you had no ship privileges even though NCL owns the island so food and drinks are on your own. We had an obstructed OV room and, although a bit small, it was laid out to make use of space very well. In fact, it had more drawer space than we needed and this was a 14 day cruise! The only complaint would be that there is absolutely no soundproofing and you can hear everything being said in the adjacent cabins. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Wife and I had previously sailed on Pearl about 8 years ago and loved the ship. Found it just as nice now, if not better. Ten ports in 14 nights and sailing into Lake Gatun through the Panama Canal was a wonderful experience. Our balcony ... Read More
Wife and I had previously sailed on Pearl about 8 years ago and loved the ship. Found it just as nice now, if not better. Ten ports in 14 nights and sailing into Lake Gatun through the Panama Canal was a wonderful experience. Our balcony stateroom (Deck 9) was clean and comfortable but lacked a little in storage for a 14 night cruise. We had the Ultimate Booze Package and a 4 meal Ultimate Dining Package. Drinks were excellent. We ate 3 times in Cagney's (Outstanding) and once in Le Bistro (Excellent.) The entire shipboard experience was beyond expectations. Some ports, especially Columbia, had too many locals in your face to buy something or to give them money. We succumbed several times! There were very few young adults or children, which was fine. Average age possibly 50 to 60. Many singles and lots of planned activities in the Freestyle Daily newspaper. Great value for the money and we would definitely do it all over again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My husband and I took this cruise with his grandparents with the intent of having a lot of quality family time together. This was our fourth cruise, second with Norwegian. We had previously sailed on Norwegian Jade and actually came ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise with his grandparents with the intent of having a lot of quality family time together. This was our fourth cruise, second with Norwegian. We had previously sailed on Norwegian Jade and actually came away quite disappointed, but we were willing to give NCL a second chance, and we are VERY happy that we did! This has been our favourite cruise of the four we've taken (two now with NCL, one with RCI and one with Celebrity), and our favourite ship, as well. Knowing that Jade and Pearl are sister ships, we knew what to expect size-wise from Pearl. We were very happy with the size of the ship (we were told that all rooms were sold and we were at about 2300 guests on board). It's not too big that it feels daunting if you need to get from fore to aft Very rarely did we feel crowded or have to wait at a bar or restaurant. The refurb to the Pearl (in comparison to our experience on the non-refurbed Jade) is GORGEOUS. The room decor is beautiful, clean and modern, and the public spaces are generally stunning. Service across the board was generally excellent. Drinks were the best we've been served on a cruise line -- very high quality bar-tending! Loved the bar area at Magnums/Shakers/Maltings, great atmosphere and a lot of fun. We also spent a lot of late afternoons at the bar in The Great Outdoors, nice to be in the shade but still enjoy the weather! It was rarely busy at all up there, and my husband enjoyed watching football and soccer on their TVs. Overall the food and service in the MDRs, Specialty Dining, and O'Sheehan's was very good (with the exception of the spinach dip at O'Sheehan's.... just don't bother). We are not very much buffet people, but we did grab a plate of snacks now and then to eat at the Great Outdoors bar. Buffet food looked varied and quite tasty. We had one poor wait staff experience in Moderno, where we felt very ignored by our waitress, but we didn't let that ruin the evening. Wait staff in O'Sheehan's seem the least well-trained -- any time you go off-menu or make special requests, it seems like it is very difficult for them to process. For example: I prefer milk over cream or half-n-half for my coffee. Twice when I asked for milk, I was brought warm milk, which is.... weird? I learned to clarify after that! We also visited Teppanyaki (delicious and fun, definitely get the steak!), Cagney's (SO GOOD, an the giant chocolate cake is 100% worth saving room for!) and Le Bistro (very tasty, with excellent service!). I definitely wish there was some kind of "Brunch" option on sea days. I'm on vacation, I don't want to be up and dressed for breakfast before 9am, but a 10am-12pm sit-down brunch in one of the MDRs would be just perfect! We purchased the Thermal Suite pass for the two week cruise, and it was just WONDERFUL. Beautiful space to relax, rarely crowded. We especially loved the heated loungers and the Thalassotherapy pool, but I felt the sauna and steam room temperatures were a bit high. Really well located at the front of the ship, it was a great space to view our Panama Canal transit with it's panoramic windows and tons of loungers. We got mani-pedis at the spa, the nail technicians were great and we had a lot of fun. Embarkation in Tampa was a mess. Huge lines of traffic to get into the port. Lines everywhere with no clear signage or direction as to what the line was for. Not enough porters so huge mobs of people with baggage milling about trying to check their bags... Once we finally handed over our bags and got through the first round of security, things went more smoothly. Husband and I, being returning NCL cruisers, were able to check in to the Latitudes line, and were allowed to bring the grandparents with us, even though they didn't have Latitudes status, which was quite nice. Arrived at the port around 11am, were on board at around 1:30pm. Debarkation in Tampa was a total disaster. We had train tickets for 12:30pm departure (the train station is a 5 minute drive from the port) so we chose the latest debarkation time, 10:00am thinking we'd have plenty of time to collect our bags and get to the station. THIS WAS A HUGE MISTAKE. We spent over 1 hour in line ON THE SHIP before we could even swipe off the ship!!!. Poor grandma can't stand for this long, so at about the 45-minute mark we managed to flag down an NCL employee with a wheelchair for her. At this point, seeing the status of the lines, I spoke with several NCL and port employees about our train departure time, and asked could we be escorted through the lines quicker (as we had seen several other groups go!) but to no avail. We were told there were only two customs officials clearing our ship, which explained the long delays. Luckily the wheelchair got us into ADA lines which were shorter, and the gentleman pushing it for us just kept on pushing through! Another hour in line and we had cleared customs and were flagging a cab, and so made it to the train station with a few minutes to spare. I would allow a LARGE buffer of time for Embarkation and Debarkation in Tampa port, and pack your patience. It is a disorganized mess. Ports of call were generally wonderful. 1. George Town, Grand Cayman: We booked a beach cabana at Royal Palms beach club. Great beach, wonderful service. Did some jewellry shopping in the port and came away happy with the service and prices. 2. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We took a private cab who drove us through Fern Gully, to a few local merchant malls, and to some scenic lookouts, then to a beach for a few hours. Very friendly cab driver, beautiful scenery. 3. Santa Marta, Colombia: Again, we took a private cab who drove us to a scenic overlook and through the old town for shopping and to view the local architecture. VERY hot, we elected to return to the ship quite early. 4. Cartagena, Colombia: Another private cab day, with obligatory stop at an emerald shop. Merchants in Cartagena are VERY aggressive, you couldn't walk 5 feet without jewelry, tablecloths and knock-off sunglasses being waved in your face. The aggression really took away from our visit, it was hard to enjoy the beautiful city. 5. Panama Canal: We elected to remain on board for the day. Spent time relaxing and enjoying the view of the passage through the canal. 6. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: We booked a tour through NCL: Aerial Tram & Rainforest Adventure. It was PERFECT! 2h bus ride with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide teaching us all about life in Costa Rica. The tram ride through the rain forest was stunning, beautiful and wild and peaceful all at the same time. Lunch was delicious local fare, beans and rice and meats, with beer and desserts available to purchase. Bus ride home went WAY longer than expected due to construction and multiple accidents, but the ship waited about 30 minutes extra for our return. Would recommend this tour to anyone, and also recommend to take through the ship due to the distance to travel. 7. Santo Tomas, Guatemala: We had booked a tour through NCL: Discover Rio Dulce, but ended up cancelling it. Our excursion ticket came with a note describing the panga boats which we would travel in as being hard to get in and out of and not recommended for anyone with difficulty walking. Well... grandma can't handle that, so we cancelled. The description when we booked it called the difficulty level "1", but obviously this was inaccurate to the actual reality of the tour. All but one other excursion offered through the ship used these panga boats, so we elected to remain on board for the day. Watching other guests board the boats for their tours confirmed our decision, they looked very difficult to maneouver in and out of. Disappointing, but it was nice to have an extra day to relax! 8. Harvest Caye, Belize: BEAUTIFUL beach, great place to spend the day hopping in-and-out of the water. Obviously over-commercialized and expensive, but we expected that going in and just enjoyed relaxing in the sun for the day. 9. Costa Maya, Mexico: We booked a tour through NCL: Chacchoben Mayan Ruins & All Inclusive Blue Lagoon. Ruins are INCREDIBLE, but at all wheelchair-friendly. We struggled pushing grandma around. Unfortunately it poured rain the entire time we were at the Blue Lagoon; luckily there was a covered picnic area for lunch. The trip to the ruins was wonderful and worthwhile, but even in better weather I'm not sure how much value the Blue Lagoon added. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
It seemed obvious early in the cruise that there were a lot of people interested in trivia. It seemed that they adjusted the schedule to add more trivia and moved it to a bigger venue to accommodate the crowds. Well done! Our cabin ... Read More
It seemed obvious early in the cruise that there were a lot of people interested in trivia. It seemed that they adjusted the schedule to add more trivia and moved it to a bigger venue to accommodate the crowds. Well done! Our cabin was very comfortable and well suited for our needs. We tried many of the dining options and found them quite to our liking. The Brazilian Steak House was much improved over our previous experience there. We will return. We took part in many of the activities and enjoyed them all. The shows we saw were wonderful. The adult oriented shows were particularly crowded and overwhelmed the venue. They should be afforded more room. The Cruise Director, Assistant Cruise Director as well as our Cabin Steward and most of the Wait Staff were terrific. We really enjoyed the cruise. We were more relaxed than usual and found it to enhance the experience. We ate when we were hungry instead of trying to stick to a schedule. Forget the Trolley Town tour in Santo Tomas. It wasn't worth the cheap price we paid to go. It ran through pot holes the size of wash tubs, showed us little and finally at the end passed out the one can of warm beer. Panama Canal was really a grand sight to see. Disappointed that with all of the Millions of $$$ taken in each day that they had folks very nearby that lived in what looked like bombed out apartments with no electricity. Sad to see the little kids running around in that. We met a couple that we had been friends with for a couple of years that we didn't know would be there. Nice addition. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Panama Canal was on our bucket list and a dream. It was an amazing experience and a very humbling Embarkation was very unorganized and a nightmare. But finally was on the ship. Meet & Greet was nice even though not too many ... Read More
Panama Canal was on our bucket list and a dream. It was an amazing experience and a very humbling Embarkation was very unorganized and a nightmare. But finally was on the ship. Meet & Greet was nice even though not too many people showed up also had a follow up at the end of the cruise. Which was actually nice. Our reasonable Feed back was listened. Only thing I did not appreciate by our fellow cruiser was that staff should not free time and George Town Grand Cayman - Discover Cayman- Tender Port, it was pretty hot nice informative tour. Loved the turtle farm. Trip to hell and back was little spooky Overall view was nice. Felt safe walking around. Crossing street might have been the only challenge Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Ocho Rios Highlights- Visit to rain forest was very informative. Tally was really knowledgable. Rest was a waste of time. We were told that we do go to Dunn River Fallls - not true. Drove past infact most of the trip was just driving around. Coffee & banana bread was nice. Better not to shop at the place they take you. I was able to find the same thing cheaper near the port of Ocho Rios which was walking distance from the port and was safe. Santa Marta, Columbia - Highlights of Santa Marta- $99 is too much for this excursion. If I am ever here again, I would not leave the ship. As expected Hot hot hot. Very industrial port. In fact ship is docked next to all the Shipping containers. Vendors do not take no for an answer. Even a mom had an infant trying to sell something. Loved the trip to the Church. Beach was nice, Dancers beautiful. Cartagena, Columbia - Old City & Spanish Fortress- Beautiful and had an amazing place. Would love to visit again. Again as expected hot hot hot. Walk up to the fort was challenging. View was breath taking Cartagena had their great wall of 11 miles. Shopping was ok. Going thru the inquisition museum was so sad. Panama Canal / Gatun Lake/ Colon - The shape of Panama-Tender Amazing.Going thru the locks is a once in a life time (May Be) Experience every penny was worth this experience.Was not hot as expected. However rain jacket, came handy. Went to old city new city. Did a walking tour Jorge was a very informative guide. Ship did not go thru the locks till after 8:30 tour started 2 + hours later due to Ship not getting clearance and NCL was awesome about giving us extra time at Colon. Bravo. At Colon did some last minute shopping. Lots of ruins of churches and convents. Awesome Tour guide. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Banana Plantation : Scenic Drive & Shopping -waste of time. Except for seeing Banana plantation from the bus, all we saw was the cleaning and packing of Bananas. Appreciated the effort of guide trying to speak English. Shopping was like 1 overpriced store & 1 street vendor. Beef Patty for $1 was actually very good. Should have stayed on the ship Santo Tomas de castilla, Guatemala - Guatemala Highlights & Beach Resort - Highlight means taking you from the pier to this resort which had this pool and cheap watered bar & some overpriced Americanized food . Nachos were like $13 and waiter said he prefers the tip in cash. Tour guide is like what do you want to know. Pretty much everybody was in the bus before the set 3 hours. Bus hardly had air condition either. Once he started talking about caravan, bus was quiet . Guide was apparently a very educated person. He is a lawyer, accountant and a tour guide Harvest Cayes, Belize - Glass Bottom Reef Explorer - Disappointed. I was so looking forward however due to rain, Boat Captain recommended that it may be a rough ride so we ended up cancelling. Refunded the $ Costa Maya, Mexico - Salsa cooking & dancing w beach break. - Had an Awesometime. Got 2 blue margarita; learned to make 2 different salsa & Gaucamole. OMG those margaritas were strong… got totally drunk. Nice would like to do it again. Had fun Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Embarkation took us 3 hours standing in the sun. Because of that we all missed lunch. Almost every staff member was rude. The best was the steward. The room was so small but clean. Shower was clogging very bad but had it fixed within a ... Read More
Embarkation took us 3 hours standing in the sun. Because of that we all missed lunch. Almost every staff member was rude. The best was the steward. The room was so small but clean. Shower was clogging very bad but had it fixed within a day. Food in the main dining room was average. Buffet was actually Excellent. Went to medernos, the Brazilian steakhouse..... So horrible. Food was not good at all. All meet was so over cooked and chewy. Staff was so inattentive. Wasted money. Sushi was great! No surf and turf at all. It was like pulling teeth to just have some shrimp. Drinks were good. But drink package is ridiculously expensive. The ports made our trip enjoyable. Although everyone port except harvest key was only shopping unless you take a 30 min cab. This was the most expensive cruise we've gone on and compared to our past ones on carnival and royal, this is definitely our last time on Norwegian Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our first NCL cruise - we have been on 41 cruises. It was a promotion through our local casino. As we read about the ship we actually started to get excited. The specialty restaurants were enticing, the spa looked wonderful ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise - we have been on 41 cruises. It was a promotion through our local casino. As we read about the ship we actually started to get excited. The specialty restaurants were enticing, the spa looked wonderful and, we love the countries that we were to visit. Besides, it was a Casino at Sea so we planned to have fun in the casino. Our first warning was the embarkation. When we got to the terminal at 11:30, people were still disembarking. We found our Casino at Seas line at 11:50 - zipped right through security because of our scooter. Only one couple was ahead of us. We got on board at 1:50! Crazy. The ship was beautiful, the service (especially our room steward) was wonderful and the shows were great. But, that's where it stops. The menus were great but the food was mediocre at best. The Moderno Brazilian Restaurant's signature meat (Sirloin roast) was dry, tough and inedible. Cagney Steakhouse was good ... a step above Longhorn but not as good as a Ruth Chris (which Carnival's steakhouses are comparable). My biggest disappointment was Le Bistro, the French restaurant. Though the food was good, it was not French. Menu was French but not the food. I ordered their most expensive ($24.95) item (a shrimp dish). I've had more flavor and bigger and more tasty shrimp at Olive Garden, and trust me Olive Garden is not all that great. The main dining rooms also disappointed. Who fries stuffed mushrooms caps? Everything was just blah. The buffet was actually better than the main dining rooms. The Spa ... I prepaid for the Thermal Suite with its "therapy" pools. Well, I am 70 and have mobility issues. The two "therapy" pools are not accessible and there is no lift. You have to be able to climb a ladder. I have only been in three Thermal Suites (all on Carnival). Both the Breeze and the Splendor are wonderful. You can walk in on steps with solid handrails. The Vista was a joke ... easy to get into but smaller than a hot tub. When I discussed my problems with the staff, they were indifferent and said "they are working on that." The Casino - well, it was small, expensive ($10 minimum for tables) and had very limited variety of slots. There were a few tournaments (no discount for Casino at Sea folk) and no promotional games, except for one hour hot seat. Two of the four ports we went to were "fake" ports that have a handful of shops (no real native crafts, clothing or jewelry). But getting on and off was very easy. Disembarkation was weird. If you carry your own luggage you can get off willy-nilly. Causes quite a bit of congestion. We started to get off the ship at 9:45 (our group was suppose to be called at 9:15) and we got on the road about noon. Valet parking was very inefficient. NCL has beautiful ships, a caring staff and great shows. But that is the wrapping paper and Tiffany box. The food, ports of call, embarkation and disembarkation, is from the Dollar Store. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Disappointing experience overall. Started with embarkation in Tampa. Was there at time selected, 12pm, stood outside on line in sun and heat for over 2 hours. would not let us in to terminal, no water, no information. One older ... Read More
Disappointing experience overall. Started with embarkation in Tampa. Was there at time selected, 12pm, stood outside on line in sun and heat for over 2 hours. would not let us in to terminal, no water, no information. One older gentleman passed out, request for wheelchair by a woman was denied. Food overall was terrible. Low quality beef that could not be chewed, burnt or overdone pasta dishes, scallops that were so small they must have been embryos, shrimp so small they looked like the canned shrimp used for dips, veal in the specialty restaurant that was chopped veal not sliced scallopine, overcooked dry omelets. Desserts were the only good thing. No organization of tours, gangways crowded with people jumping lines, pushing etc. Long walks from piers to transportation with no help for people with walking problems. Had specialty dining package. was told didn't have to make reservatons before we left by NCL agent. Resulted in our not being able to use one of the discounts because they were booked until 9pm. Disembarking was slightly better than embarking but still disorganized with long lines and no staff to control or organize the process. Will not be taking this cruise line again . Cruising used to be a luxurious way to travel, sadly this freestyle cruising has taken that away. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We liked ease of leaving from our home port. This was a Thanksgiving Cruise. Aft balcony cabin on deck 11 was very large. There was a bathtub with sliding doors and a commode with a door. The balcony could hold a chaise lounge, two chairs ... Read More
We liked ease of leaving from our home port. This was a Thanksgiving Cruise. Aft balcony cabin on deck 11 was very large. There was a bathtub with sliding doors and a commode with a door. The balcony could hold a chaise lounge, two chairs and a table. The casino allowed smoking and that was a negative for us. The piano bar was lively. The shows were good but no large productions like those on Royal Caribbean. The real disappointment was the quality of the food. The food tasted very generic and lacked the wow of many other cruise lines. There was no escargot, lobster or baked Alaska. The servers in the dining room never brought over fresh black pepper or grated cheese. Only once in 7 days were we asked if we would like coffee after dinner. There was no music in the dining room yet there was a large piano. The ship was very clean and lots of washy-washy before entering the Garden cafe . The adult pool was very small and lots of kids in all the hot tubs. For the same prices, I will go back to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was a family cruise celebrating Thanksgiving and my husband and my 80th birthday. There were 10 of us. We choose Cagney’s Steak House for our Thanksgiving dinner. We had 5:30 reservations. It was 8:30 when the last bill was signed ... Read More
This was a family cruise celebrating Thanksgiving and my husband and my 80th birthday. There were 10 of us. We choose Cagney’s Steak House for our Thanksgiving dinner. We had 5:30 reservations. It was 8:30 when the last bill was signed and we could leave. 3 hours was pure torture to sit for dinner. It was obvious they were cooking for Moderno too. The waiters kept carrying large skewers of meat out of the place. Waiting forever between courses was not what we came for. This was our 4th time on the Pearl because we love that ship and have always enjoyed our cruise and the good service. It seems that ship has made new rules about where you can play cards. The 10 of us were at that fan tail restaurant about 3 pm the first sea day and some were eating and drinking and some of us were playing cards. We were told we could not play cards at those tables. We should go to the card room. We had been there and it was full. Asked where else on the ship we could go and play cards and there wasn't anyplace. We could sit at the table and eat and drink and visit but could not play cards. This was repeated a couple days later on deck 12 out by the swimming pool tables. Card room was full so we went there and were told “no playing cards”. This just does not make any sense to us. It’s our vacation and we aren’t bothering people or making a lot of noise so what is NCL thinking? I believe this was our 15th cruise with NCL and it will probably be our last. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Weren't sure what to expect on the Pearl, an older ship recently refurbished, after cruising on the newer ship, the Bliss. To our surprise, the completely sold out Pearl felt really comfortable. All common areas were well taken care ... Read More
Weren't sure what to expect on the Pearl, an older ship recently refurbished, after cruising on the newer ship, the Bliss. To our surprise, the completely sold out Pearl felt really comfortable. All common areas were well taken care of and the crews were fantastic. Entertainment much better than expected, kudos to the cast of Legend and the band for putting a great show. Service was fantastic whether at the bars or restaurants. Food was acceptable for the most part, except for the Moderno Churrascaria restaurant which was exceptional. All port of calls were good. Embarkation was a nightmare as it took us three hours to get on the ship. We were told this was no fault of NCL as arrival terminal was changed at the last minute. Overall, this was a quality cruise on a smaller refurbished ship which feels like a new ship. Will sail again on the Pearl. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My friend and I like the Pearl and enjoy the spa. So we always try to pick the Pearl after trying other ships in her size and category. We have not gone out of Tampa before, so we decided to give it a try. The Pearl was updated in 2017 ... Read More
My friend and I like the Pearl and enjoy the spa. So we always try to pick the Pearl after trying other ships in her size and category. We have not gone out of Tampa before, so we decided to give it a try. The Pearl was updated in 2017 and the whole of the ship looked much better and cleaner than the cruise we took on her in 2016. We spend most of our time in the spa, the exercise room, and Java bar. What we found was going out of Tampa was subject to customs slowing down the whole process, governed by too few agents who were trying to control too many people. As a result both embarkation and disembarkation was greatly delayed and made many on the ship angry. We won't go out of that port ever again. The food was excellent and the choices were good. We were in Madaro and Cagnes for two meals, the rest were in the Summer Palace or Garden Cafe. We hung out at the Java bar in the atrium, as the crew there were fast, friendly and helpful. They have hired actual baristas to make the great coffee there. The entertainment was up to Pearls usual good standards in the Atrium and only two of the stage show drew us in. The two excursions we took, the Tequila Tasting and the Mayan Wellness tour were excellent. Great people very informative and helpful in so many ways. We felt well taken care of and the tour was well worth the money. The shops and entertainment in Costa Maya were great too. Our cabin steward was great and responsive the whole cruise. We discovered the clearance sale toward the end of the trip where everything there was $10 and got a few Christmas Gifts there. Their craft crew were not well organized and kept many away as a result. Not the same as we have had before. We didn't hear or see the Captain but once the whole trip. Not the kind of Captain we like. We still love the Pearl and hope to go to other locations soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We tried the Haven for the first on the Norwegian Breakaway Baltic Sea Cruise and NO REGRETS! We loved it!!! I had my three kids ages 16 through 21 with me in a 2 bedroom suite. It was well worth the extra money. Patrick, the concierge, ... Read More
We tried the Haven for the first on the Norwegian Breakaway Baltic Sea Cruise and NO REGRETS! We loved it!!! I had my three kids ages 16 through 21 with me in a 2 bedroom suite. It was well worth the extra money. Patrick, the concierge, was awesome. Kumar, the bartender was so much fun!!! Enjoyed all the staff. We couldn't wait to cruise again with Norwegian and in the Haven. This time we chose a cruise in the Western Caribbean. This time we were on the Pearl. It was a great cruise, but not the same Haven experience. I missed the Haven bar and restaurant and the 2 story Haven pool area. The Moderno restaurant, one floor down, was OK, but there was no Haven evening meals there. I also missed the concierge desk in the Haven. Our concierge, Bruno, was sometimes at the desk one floor down outside the Moderno, but we usually had to reach him by phone. He was great though! This was a much warmer cruise and the pool area was a little stuffy, small and only had one hot tub, which was usually occupied by young kids. We ate lunch there on the last day and the service was very, very slow taking an hour from finding a clean table to actually getting our food. It would have been much faster and more comfortable (not as hot) to have gone downstairs to the Moderno. It was not near the added value as on the other ship. We had friends that stayed in the suites. They paid less, and had all the same perks, except access to the Haven pool area. Still a fun cruise and a nice clean ship, clean rooms, good food and best of all great service. Had we not had to eat in the main dining rooms in the evenings we would have not met Red. He was a fun waiter in the evenings and 'Mr. Washy-Washy' by day. You could him singing just inside the buffet as he sprayed guests hands as they entered to eat. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We needed an early escape from the upcoming winter season, and away from the hassle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t a bad escuse either ;-) The Pearl had been refurbished since our last sailing and they did a great job on the new ... Read More
We needed an early escape from the upcoming winter season, and away from the hassle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t a bad escuse either ;-) The Pearl had been refurbished since our last sailing and they did a great job on the new furnishings, especially the TV in the cabin. The housekeeping staff worked quickly and quietly (we saw our cabin person on the fist and last day, just like we love it). The buffet area, and the rest of the ship were always kept clean. The excursions were easy to order via the TV, and all ground teams were fantastic. We ate at Cagney Steakhouse on the last night, and the steak was very tasty, We especially loved the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the side dishes, and of course the decadent desserts. The shows were great, especially liked the Tina Turner performer! Great route for a low key week of FUN. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Love the specialty restaurants on NCL Had dinner 5 nights of the 7 night cruise in the specialty restaurants. Dined in the Le Bistro twice and each time it was excellent. We can't say enough for the Moderno, the selection of meats ... Read More
Love the specialty restaurants on NCL Had dinner 5 nights of the 7 night cruise in the specialty restaurants. Dined in the Le Bistro twice and each time it was excellent. We can't say enough for the Moderno, the selection of meats is outstanding. also dined in that restaurant twice. The other restaurant was La Cucina, again great food. NCL is much better than all the other lines we have cruised on when it comes to specialty restaurants. This was a cruise to just relax and as usual NCL was great for just that. Didn't do any excursions just took it easy and enjoyed. Boarding the ship was slow. We arrived at 1;30pm and there was a very long line. Usually when we arrive at this time there is a small line and boarding is fast. It took about an hour to board. Disembarkation was the one of the fastest we have ever seen. Short line and moved quickly through customs. We will cruise on NCL again. Of all the lines we have cruised on, Disney, Carnival and Royal we have found the NCL is a better value and better service and quality. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was my first cruise and we went with the Norwegian Pearl out of the Port of Tampa. Over the cruise exceeded my expectations. Staff was all extremely friendly and helpful and very entertaining. The port was awful, we waited two hours ... Read More
This was my first cruise and we went with the Norwegian Pearl out of the Port of Tampa. Over the cruise exceeded my expectations. Staff was all extremely friendly and helpful and very entertaining. The port was awful, we waited two hours to get on the boat and over and hour to get off the boat, very unorganized. We went to Harvest Caye, the island owned by Norwegian and it was very over priced and disappointing. All of our other stops were amazing and we enjoyed all of our prebooked excursions and tour guides in Cozumel, Honduras, and Costa Maya. The food and drinks were great other than the 24 hour restaurant. We were not happy with the daily gratuity charges of 14.50 per person per day. We also wish there were more hot tubs on the ship. Overall highly recommend to everyone trying to get away. Very great experience for my first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This is our 10th cruise with ncl and we all noticed a change for the worse with regard to customer service, dining, activities and general ship maintenance. From embarkation, which was disorganized and had 2000 people standing room only ... Read More
This is our 10th cruise with ncl and we all noticed a change for the worse with regard to customer service, dining, activities and general ship maintenance. From embarkation, which was disorganized and had 2000 people standing room only without water or chairs for two plus hours, to disembarkation, also unorganized, we found the cruise lacking from previous times. We were a party of 5 and all felt a lack of concern from the entire crew, who frequently complained about their job. It seems we waited in lines for 30 minutes for anything we needed from guest services to shore excursions and even dining (felt like we wasted a lot of our vacation time waiting). And when we did get to our turn they seemed rushed and unable to accommodate our needs. Also, seems that their budget is really cut for customer service, food quality, and activities and entertainment. Feel like it is time to try royal Caribbean or princess next time. Enrichment activities were origami, and watching officers compete in towel folding? Again, no budget for something really interesting. Casino just okay, again budget conscious and hit and miss with service. Also, I think this lower quality of service put other cruisers in a bad mood, people seemed a little rude to each other. Our room steward changed the towels and made our bed but otherwise not very friendly. Ports of call okay, some so impoverished and just constant solicitation. Enjoyed Cartagena and costa maya and Panama Canal even though we didn’t get off ship in colon (only 3 hours there and Didn’t seem like somewhere to go out at night) Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I chose this cruise because of the Norwegian reputation and the promotion offered. This cruise was one step above the worst ever!. The embarkation process was horrible as we sat an hour and a half AFTER the supposed boarding time with ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the Norwegian reputation and the promotion offered. This cruise was one step above the worst ever!. The embarkation process was horrible as we sat an hour and a half AFTER the supposed boarding time with people lines up outside and around the block. This was only made worse by the 3+ hours standing in line to disembark. Our cabin was OK, but for the money we paid for a Junior Suite it was not up to the standards of other lines we traveled on. Tee dining was OK, but the choices were not all that great, we ended up with the Classic Favorites over half the time. The entertainment was boorish, the service was so so; if it weren't for a cople of waitresses it would have been horrible. As to Ports - WOW, several were a waste of time and money. In Santa Marta we were parked in a huge coal, yes black coal, dock. We were told before shipping out we would be stopping in Belize CIty and made plans, while at sea change to the biggest waste, Norweigans own island, HA! nothing there to do. Colon, stores all closed when we arrived, opened for a couple of hours AFTER dark. Only good excusion was the Chocolate Excursion in Guatemala. We will cruise again, but I highly doubt it will EVER be on Norweigian again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
First had to wait 3 hours to board ship due to Coast Guard inspection of ship.Second,NCL put me on a cash only basis on the ship. This was due to a NCL foul up with my credit card at the pier at check in.Third there a NCL foul up with my ... Read More
First had to wait 3 hours to board ship due to Coast Guard inspection of ship.Second,NCL put me on a cash only basis on the ship. This was due to a NCL foul up with my credit card at the pier at check in.Third there a NCL foul up with my shore excursions and it took 6 people to straighten it out. This really got my wife upset, The fifth day of the cruise she got a severe nose bleed and went to the ships medical facility. The doctor said it was caused by high blood pressure caused by these problems. The ships doctor could not completely stop the bleeding and said we will be sent to a local hospital for treatment and return to the ship.This did not happen. Briefly what happened my wife spent over 2 days in a hospital where no one spoke English and had to stay in a hotel where no one spoke English. An interperter was assigned to use to translate.They kept running all sorts of tests on my wife and she had no idea what they were. We had no contact with the outside world where we were which was Santa Marta, Columbia.This made for a very uncomfortable feeling, NCL had not given us any info as hoe to catch up with the cruise, We had to fly home from Santa Marta to Bogota to Miami to Charlotte to Greensboro,NC, 15 hours in transit. Bottom line is $3,000 medical bill from NCL and $9,000 for hospital, hotel, taxi, ambulance and air fare in Santa Marta. After 14 cruises with NCL I expected some more help than what I received. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
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