13 Helpful Votes
Be aware, what NCL advertises is not what you get on your cruise with the Pearl. Some rather surprising mess-ups included:
1. Tendering back to the ship in Astoria was a 2 hour wait, as only 4 boats were in service to transport ... Read More
Be aware, what NCL advertises is not what you get on your cruise with the Pearl. Some rather surprising mess-ups included:
1. Tendering back to the ship in Astoria was a 2 hour wait, as only 4 boats were in service to transport the ~2,000 passengers waiting in line to return to the vessel. Later the captain would announce the "distance" from the ship to the shore was "out of their control", but the number of boats they opted to deploy for tendering certainly was a decision they failed to make correctly.
2. A 5:15am ship-wide (i.e. direct-to-cabin) announcement of "code bravo", repeated three times, which we later learnt was code for fire (albeit a small one quickly put out). Again the captain deflected fault (time time to an over-eager crew member), but it was the captain who announced this un-welcomed wake-up call.
3. Specialty dining in the Bistro restaurant, at a $20 per person charge, was an absolute disaster. We watched at least three other tables receive a starter "compliments of the chef" that never arrived at our table. While in the middle of taking our order, another waiter came up to our table and began a conversation with our waiter. The main course, the Fruits de Mer, contained exactly two small cubes of lobster (for which they charged an additional $10), and not much else. Definitely not recommended.
4. All pictures and descriptions of the Pearl note the pool-side waterslide. There is no waterslide on this ship.
5. The daily activity guide referred to the buffet's hours of operation as open until midnight. The buffet closed at 10:00pm. While we certainly had no need to eat between 10:00pm and midnight, don't tell your guests something will be open if it is not.
6. On the first day you can sign up for a spa tour and enter to win a $500 gift certificate for spa services. Even if you don't win, they also give away a number of other $75 gift certificates. Don't be fooled - these certificates only apply to their "specialty" services - which are not defined anywhere. In order to use these certificates, you'll be required to sign-up for a $150+ treatment. If you want a $50 treatment? Too bad, can't use it. To add insult to injury, if your name is drawn for such a certificate they make you dance for it in front of a room full of fellow passengers. I'm not your monkey, NCL.
7. Hot food in the inclusive restaurant was twice served cold and had to be sent back.
8. Drink servers operate like vultures, constantly asking you if you want to order a drink. On one occasion drinks had been ordered from a server and between the time of ordering and the time the drinks arrived, *four other servers* had approached the table inquiring about bar service.
Beyond the screw-up in item 1. and the disappointing experience of 3., all of the others were relatively minor and didn't detract from our overall cruising experience. On the whole, though, it does leave me wondering if NCL is the best choice for future cruises and we'd likely select a different cruise line as a result.Read Less
My husband and I took our first cruise in about 20 years on the Pacific Coastal Cruise, 9/ 20-25/2014). Since we were from the Los Angeles Area, and the cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, it was almost embarrassing at first to answer ... Read More
My husband and I took our first cruise in about 20 years on the Pacific Coastal Cruise, 9/ 20-25/2014). Since we were from the Los Angeles Area, and the cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, it was almost embarrassing at first to answer the question "Where are you sailing to?" But we learned right away not to say Los Angeles, but that it was a Pacific Coastal Cruise. Embarkation was a breeze, in that our Vancouver City Tour shuttle delivered our luggage directly to the cruise line and it was waiting for us just outside the cabin.
The food was marvelous, especially in the specialty restaurants. The buffet was good, but not great. Teppanyaki was a marvelous restaurant, even though it cost a little more, because the food was delicious, plentiful and the chef put on a great show. Cagney's, was good, the steak humungous, we couldn't finish. The star restaurant of the ship was Tzar's Palace. Situated on the stern, if you can get a seat by the windows you get a great view. We ate there as we departed San Francisco, and got great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. It was exciting to see the Golden Gate bridge come into our view over our heads, I have always wanted to sail under it.
The entertainment was good. Especially the first and second nights. The comedian, Russ Rivas was a stitch, and his "naughty" show late night was also hysterical (with no four-letter words, thank you very much!). Fabio Dini was great as well, although I was not too keen on the 70's shows, I guess I'm too old for that! The tour from Astoria, Oregon entitled Ultimate Oregon Coast was great as well, although there weren't too many airplanes in the Air Museum any more. The service was remarkable, the crew very congenial. The cute young man at the Java Café asked me every day about the name of the color of my outfit each day, and said he was tickled to be learning about new colors. (Boysenberry, Turquoise, etc.) What a great memory this will be.Read Less
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was ... Read More
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, CA with stops in Astoria, OR and San Francisco, CA. The entire cruise was marked with excellent weather. I traveled to Vancouver the day before and got a small hotel room within walking distance of the ship at Ballantyne Pier. The hotel was an older one in a part of Vancouver where you did not want to be out at night, but it was okay as a transit room. The day of the cruise was uncommonly sunny for Vancouver, so I walked to the ship. My first view of the ship was incredible. I was one of the first people to queue up to check in at the pier and had to wait about a half an hour, but the check-in started right on schedule. Security wasn't as onerous as I was anticipating, so check-in went smoothly. The crew of the Jewel were still getting setup for embarkation, so there was not much going on. The Garden Buffet was open and I had some time to kill before my interior stateroom was ready so I went up to get some lunch. The amount of food was incredible, and it was good quality. The staff was attentive but went about their duties unless called for. I probably ate more than I had intended, but after walking about exploring the ship my stateroom was ready. The view of cruising under the Lionsgate Bridge leaving Vancouver was incredible.
The next day, our luck with the weather held crossing the Columbia River Bar and the sea was calm. Astoria is an interesting port; I took the Historic Astoria and Fort Clatsop tour that went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum (a great stop if you're interested in history), the Astor Column (not for those afraid of heights) and Fort Clatsop (where the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered over in 1805-1806 until leaving that spring to return to Missouri). The departure from Astoria was just as calm.
After Astoria was the first full day at sea. The first somewhat noticeable waves started today, but the Jewel easily kept steady. There was plenty to do, even if all you wanted to do was walk about the ship and see what was going on. The ship's schedule was provided to each cabin the previous evening, so it was easy to mark out what you wanted to do. I participated in the trivia challenges and attended a display of the cooks form the main premium restaurants. That evening was the Formal Evening for those who wanted to dress up. I did so and had an excellent roast beef dinner in the main dining room.
We pulled in to San Francisco early in the morning, but there was no fog so the view of the Golden Gate Bridge still lit up at night was incredible, as was the San Francisco waterfront early in the morning. On our way in we passed the fishing vessels that provide the fresh seafood San Francisco is known for. I had spent more money than I had allowed for getting to Vancouver, so I spent the day on board ship. Even being in port there was still plenty to do. I had made a reservation for La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on board, and had the best Chicken Parmesan while the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. A moment to remember, always.
The fourth day was spent cruising off the coast of Southern California. I attended an art lecture given by the senior auctioneer who was the head of the art auction later that afternoon. I kept my hands in place and admired the art I liked. The auction house, Park West, gave free prints for attending the auction. The Jewel pulled into Los Angeles in the Port of San Pedro early the next morning. We woke up to find ourselves moored right behind the USS Iowa museum. Very cool. I would have toured the old battleship if I didn't have a reservation for the bus from the pier to LAX that morning. Disembarkation was simple; my bags were waiting for me on the pier, and clearing US Customs took only a few moments. I found my bus and was soon on my way home.Read Less
The Pearl is a good sized ship with enough lounges and other seating areas in around that it never felt too crowded. We were really glad that we purchased the Thermal Spa package as they only sell 84 of them and we felt with the ... Read More
The Pearl is a good sized ship with enough lounges and other seating areas in around that it never felt too crowded. We were really glad that we purchased the Thermal Spa package as they only sell 84 of them and we felt with the unlimited times you could go, it was well worth the $119 for the five days. There never were more than 6 other people there anytime we went. With the variety of the heated beds, spa pools, sauna & steam room, it was much better bang for our buck than a couple of massages would have been.
Overall, the food was decent but not great. We ate in 3 specialty restaurants, La Cuchina, Le Bistro & Teppinyaki. We enjoyed the French & Japanese, but thought the Italian was just horrible. The pork scallopini marsela was worse than a frozen microwave dinner with a little dry piece of pork covered in salt, which explained why it was always empty. We really enjoyed the curries on the lunch buffet in the Garden Cafe, mild and very tasty. We found the great outdoors or the tables by the pool much quieter than eating right in the always busy Garden Cafe.
Our cabin was a balcony on deck 9 and the very last one on the starboard side. We found it to be very quiet and though a bit of a hike to get to the front of the ship, it was a good deck for taking the stairs up to 12 or down to 7 which were the main two decks where everything was located.Read Less
First off, I have to mention how disappointed we were when NCL cancelled the advertised port city of San Francisco shortly after we made our final payment and could no longer cancel. That port was the whole reason we chose this cruise. ... Read More
First off, I have to mention how disappointed we were when NCL cancelled the advertised port city of San Francisco shortly after we made our final payment and could no longer cancel. That port was the whole reason we chose this cruise. They substituted Seattle instead, which meant that we ended up in Seattle twice within a couple of days, since we also flew into Seattle. This was a really big deal to us, very upsetting, and we still believe it was handled poorly. However, because of this change, the prices dropped a lot, and we were able to upgrade to a balcony cabin for what we originally paid for an inside. So that helped a little.
With that said, we did enjoy the cruise. Our cabin and cabin steward were nice. The bed was very comfortable. We loved having a balcony. We were able to watch the ship being docked early in the mornings from our balcony, and that was interesting to see. We were able to go on a bridge tour with our Cruise Critic roll-call group, and found that extremely informative. The officer giving us the tour was really great and didn't seem to mind the intrusion.
We ate only in the buffet and the MDR's; we did not feel the need to try any of the premium restaurants. We thought the food was good. I think the food is a little better on Holland America line than NCL, but we still found plenty of things to enjoy on the Pearl. I had heard horror stories about terrible service and/or food in the MDR, but that was not our experience. Most of our meals were timely and we thought the service was fine. The only meal that took 2 hours was the time we were seated with some friends as a party of six in Indigo, and we understand that it takes longer for a larger group. Service was faster in the Summer Palace than in Indigo overall.
We ate breakfasts in the Garden Cafe buffet and in the MDR's for lunch and dinner. The buffet was great for breakfast. There was always plenty of bacon. :-) I most enjoyed the French toast that I paired with the yummy banana compote. As far as ice cream, the soft serve was not good at all, but the hand-dipped ice cream was good and there seemed to always be someone there available to serve it. Seating was a challenge in the buffet, but there was always room outside in the Great Outdoors.
This cruise ended in Los Angeles, and we took an NCL excursion that included an overview of the city, ending at the airport. It was a good idea, but the tour guide was terrible. I guess that's a hit-or-miss kind of thing.Read Less
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