15 San Diego Norwegian Pearl Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise due to the trip through the Panama Canal. Most of the food was mediocre with some good food at the specialty restaurants. All service staff were very congenial and helpful. Many smiles and always ready to help. ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the trip through the Panama Canal. Most of the food was mediocre with some good food at the specialty restaurants. All service staff were very congenial and helpful. Many smiles and always ready to help. Nightly entertainment was excellent. The bed gave backaches to my wife and I. Even though we saw many new mattresses loaded onto the ship and saw them in storage while waiting in line for an hour to get off the ship, we were only provided a foam egg crate mattress topper, which helped, but did not fully satisfy. When I again requested a new mattress, our request was ignored. I reported some maintenance issues, such as several loose safety handrails in the hallways, paint fume odors 3 times in our stateroom, welding fumes on our stateroom, extremely loose steps in the hydro therapy pool, and jets not working in the spa hot tub. It makes me wonder what maintenance issues are lacking in areas not frequented by passengers. We had to miss the first port, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico due to a hurricane; but the ship provided entertainment and activities to pass the time. On the day we arrived in Guatemala, our first stop, no coffee cups or bowls were available for breakfast and plates were hard to find. We were docked, so we were able to get off the ship in good time. Our tour of Antigua, Guatemala was interesting and informative. the tour guide was very good. The next day, we arrived in Nicaragua, where the ship had to anchor and use tenders to get us ashore. We were supposed to leave the ship at 10:15 for our tour but, allegedly due to rough water, the tender service was not in full operation, so we did not leave the ship until after 11:30. It appeared that the crew had not used tenders before or they should have been able to get people off the ship in a timely manner. When working at water's edge, personnel should be required to wear life jackets, in case they fall in. This was standard practice on other cruise lines (and a US requirement) but only about half of the crew were wearing life vests or safety belts while working at the ship/tender departure points. Due to a late departure for our tour, we traveled 3-1/2 hours for a 45 minute tour and a 15 minute grocery store break to obtain snacks for lunch. We returned at 4:35 and the last tender was supposed to return to the ship at 4:30. However, after we returned, we saw a sign showing that the last departure was changed to 6:00; so we could have had a more leisurely tour if that had that decision been made before we departed. At least we were not on the one tender that was stranded in the ocean for 15 to 20 minutes due to engine failure. Another example about inadequate maintenance and poor management. We saw the tender sitting still in the water when we went ashore but at the time, did not know the problem. At my request, my wife and I received a 20% discount on the tour, after losing at least 1/2 of the scheduled time in town on the tour. We enjoyed Peter James singing and playing the piano, which helped smooth things over.Our tour in Costa Rica was a well run tour of a Botanical Garden. The tour guide was excellent and he gave us a good run down about life in Costa Rica. He knew the plants in the garden and aptly answered all questions and gave good discussions. Comedian Tim Kaminski put on a very good show. I had never heard of him, even though he is in the Comedy Hall of Fame. In Cartegena, Columbia, we took a guided tour in rough native canoes operated by boatmen using poles to push the boats. The bus tour guide had such a heavy accent that he was difficult to understand and it was hard to follow his narration. The boatmen did not speak English, which made it difficult for us to get much out of the mangrove boat tour, except on rare occasions when the tour guide was audible. When we arrived at the Grand Cayman Island, we tendered into town in boats provided by the Cayman Islands. The tenders were well organized and got us off the ship in a timely manner, even though we used the same number of ship departure points as we did during the mass confusion of tendering in Nicaragua. We had a nice self guided walk around George Town, Grand Cayman and a leisurely lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. We had a very good meal at the Grand Palace Restaurant aboard ship. The next night, we had an excellent dinner in the Moderno Restaurant on board ship. When we arrived in Tampa, I was happy to easily find our luggage and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everyone went through Customs. Then came the Tampa Hell tour. We were supposed to have a tour of the city and arrive at the airport in a timely manner. Two people on our bus were concerned about making it to their flight in time, as guaranteed when they made their tour reservation. To make matters worse, after departing the airport, the bus driver pulled over and parked at the curb, with no explanation given. We ended up losing a total of 1-1/2 hours getting away from the cruise terminal. Then the bus finally continued on the way. No narration was provided - a very strange way to take a tour. We finally figured out that we did not have a tour guide and the bus driver did not say a word. After a 10 to 15 minute ride, the bus driver made a u-turn. A few minutes later, he made another U-turn. Since there was no tour guide, or other narration, we presumed that he was lost. We eventually arrived at the University of Tampa, where the bus driver ran over a curb and ran into a signpost. Someone came on board the bus to explain that we were to take a tour of part of the University campus. I asked if we were going to have a tour guide for the rest of our tour. She was just as surprised as us, to find out that we did not have a tour guide. We had a tour of a building that was originally a hotel, although we could not hear much of the tour guide's narration due to the large crowd of attendees. When we got back on the bus, the confusion continued with the bus driver again running over a curb on the way out of the campus. However, we at last had a tour guide on board. Apparently, the bus P.A. system did not work because the tour guide used a small speaker attached to his left hip. When turned toward us, we could hear him. When he turned away we could not. As we followed some other tour buses in our group, one the buses ahead of us was making a u-turn when the bus driver ran up onto the curb and got the bus stuck in the grass and on the curb. We went further down, made a successful u-turn and went past the stranded bus, listing toward its right side, with passengers standing outside and the driver on the other side of the road speaking on a cell phone. The guide said we were about 15 to 20 minutes from the airport. At that time, I said to the guide that we should just head to the airport, while we were still alive! We then proceeded back, passing the cruise terminal and continued on the city semi-tour. Our window was defectively foggy, so that it was difficult for us to clearly see out. We finally made it to the airport where the luggage was eventually off loaded for a rental truck; another mass confusion arrangement that took several minutes to locate all our luggage. Once inside the terminal, our trip continued as planned. trip Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I have cruised with Norwegian in the past. I like their "Freestyle" format. There is no set dining time, but you may make reservations for most of the restaurants. The buffets are more than enough to keep you satisfied, but ... Read More
I have cruised with Norwegian in the past. I like their "Freestyle" format. There is no set dining time, but you may make reservations for most of the restaurants. The buffets are more than enough to keep you satisfied, but the "Pub" and dining halls are complementary and a nice change. This cruise was more sea days than port days due to a storm, 5 ports for a 14 day cruise, we had to miss Cabo, but of all the ports we were scheduled for, it was the one I was least likely to get much from. Public area seating was generally good, a couple of activities underestimated the passenger response, but they made adjustments for later activities. I took an inside cabin of the smaller size, mid ship on deck 8. It was just about right for me and my wife, a third person (in the bunk) would have been too much for the size of the cabin. It IS possible to take the cruise and not spend any money on board, if you don't drink alcohol or soda. But you are likely to want to at least get laundry done ($20 for a bag full) and maybe get a souvenir mug with an alcoholic beverage. If you do drink, do the math and figure if the beverage pass is really worth it for you, you have to buy the package for all of the people in your party even if only one of you intends on using it. I, for one, couldn't consume enough liquor to justify the full price of the pass, but YMMV. Hotel staff are great, my cabin attendant was friendly and called me by name every time we met. Room maintenance was prompt and unobtrusive when needed. Entertainment staff was attentive and made it a point to remember you and greet you with a smile.The free activities I attended were craft oriented and included origami, napkin folding, and paper crafts.They also had a couple of liquor "Classes" that you could purchase and listen to a discussion of whisky or bourbon while sampling the wares. I only took one shore excursion but was very happy with it. There was some kind of delay in departure, it didn't affect our port calls, but it did seem to upset some of the passengers, our rooms were available when expected. When boarding in San Diego, the terminal was serving 2 ships at the same time and apparently a bag ended up on the wrong ship and the queues were long. Due to rough seas (4-6 foot swells) at a tendering port, our shore time was delayed from 10 AM until 1 PM, the captain made arrangements to delay departure to allow for more time on shore and for the excursions to have enough time to fulfill their expectations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
ABOUT MY CRUISE: SHIP/NCL - PRE-BOOKING ITEMS - DON'T DO IT. As items you book are charged diectly to your card at time of booking the item(both excursions and fixed priced dining). I had thought it would all go thru my onboard ... Read More
ABOUT MY CRUISE: SHIP/NCL - PRE-BOOKING ITEMS - DON'T DO IT. As items you book are charged diectly to your card at time of booking the item(both excursions and fixed priced dining). I had thought it would all go thru my onboard account... WRONG. So it quicly got confusing when onboard I canceled my reservation for Moderno. They had no problem canceling. But only becaused I asked, did they refund (to my shipboard account) what I had pre-paid prior to trip on my charge card. Once again - I would recommend NOT PRE-BOOKING anything where you are prompted to input your charge card as this means you will have some charges on visible on your charge card statements while others show in you onboard account. As I had used multiple charge cards it got very confusing very quickley as to what I had already paid for and what I needed to do to get a refund. i had thought that many excursions and things were fully booked so I booked pre trip. But in reality, the day of the departure they open up all excursion/dining. So as long as you book day one you should be able to get what you want. SHIP FOOD ATTRIBUTES- Disappointing in lack of tast, quality, and variety. The main dinning set menu variety was limited and quite bland. Meats dry and medium temp. SHIP FOOD OPERATIONS: Very, very, limited hours/seating for sit down breakfast Very, Very, Very limited hours and available seating for sit-down lunch. To that extent I now call them flash breakfast and flash lunch. Lasting about only 1 to 1.5 hours meaning here and gone before you know it. . The main(free) sit down dining rooms: Note: both have the same menu as each other. The Indigo dining room is small seating around 150-200. Lacks spacionous and windows. More like a indoor mod cafe with no views. The summer palace is more like one would expect. Located out of the way in the back of the ship it was always available for walk up. It is well decorated, airy, and has big windows and floor to ceilng wall on windows on the back. BUFFETS: The Garden Buffet was below average in quality and taste and most importantly tempature. Most items looking well aged and dry. Greatly disappointing for grab and go items such as burgers or sandwhichs. Only hamburgers, dogs, and very limited selection of cold meats(typically a mince meat item-salami and swiss cheese) . Did not see cooked chicke breast or sliced turkey, ham. roast beef, american, or cheed sliced cheease.). I think that to control cost the cooks move at snails pace in reactivley restocking items rather than pro actively. For example, middle of luch rush out of sliced cheese... cook placing cheese one slice at a time on the buffet rather than having full plates of sliced cheese ready to go. Food management did not seem to attend to making sure items were stocked and fresh at all stations during meal times. Main meat carving station- very dispointing quality and selection of entree. Only had prime rib once. Had dry turky, dry pork... and even had meat loaf as a entree. i laughed.. meat loaf and an entree at a carving station!! COOKIES - VERY VERY LIMITED. Only avaible at great outdoors cafe during snack hours 3:30-5. SHIP ENTERTAINMENT: Below average in variety and quality, Some headline acts/performers where repeated over 3-5 days where as typically it is one day(2-3 shows) SHIP DRINK SERVICE: Not really attentive or soliciting drinks. Especially lacking indoors. One must hunt down a server to walk up to bar to really keep glass from being empty. TIPS: SUMMER PALACE FOR SIT DOWN MEALS - INCLUDING BREAKFAST AND LUCH. Seems most people did not know it was there. COOKIES: Bring a zip lock bag and grab a bunch for your for your room from great outdoors cafe snack hours. Be careful as they stop restocking around 4:30. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
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
After cruising on the ncl pride of America in Hawaii I said I would never use nick again. On that cruise I felt the staff thought we were doing them a favor. I only took this cruise because if fit our time frame and iternary. Glad we gave ... Read More
After cruising on the ncl pride of America in Hawaii I said I would never use nick again. On that cruise I felt the staff thought we were doing them a favor. I only took this cruise because if fit our time frame and iternary. Glad we gave nick another chance because this crew and staff we fantastic. We spent our 50 anniversary on this cruise and loved every minute. The only complaints we have is our kids gave us a dining package and we were never notified about it. We found out by accident. And one other thing. We got no advanced notice about the Halloween party or the white hot night so we were not prepared. But overall we loved the cruise and will never forget it. Loved the complacently drink package Althing if I had to buy it I think it is to expensive. I would purchase the dining package again Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My parents and I cruised this repositioning itinerary from San Diego to Tampa primarily because 1) we live in Tampa, and a one-way airfare was appealing, and 2) we had the opportunity to go through the Panama Canal. We also had three other ... Read More
My parents and I cruised this repositioning itinerary from San Diego to Tampa primarily because 1) we live in Tampa, and a one-way airfare was appealing, and 2) we had the opportunity to go through the Panama Canal. We also had three other couples join us, so we had a group of 9 in its entirety. This is my third NCL cruise, and all three trips have been on The Pearl. Embarkation was a nightmare at San Diego until our concierge found us in line and accelerated us through TSA and check-in. We were late leaving San Diego apparently because miscommunication between NCL and union work time and break requirements for dock workers. We didn't get our bags into our room until after we returned from dinner. Not a huge inconvenience, but we do like to get settled ASAP into our room shortly after boarding. Disembarkation at Tampa was extremely easy because we handled our own bags. I understand those waiting on bags to be released in the Tampa port had to wait awhile. We stayed in the Jade suite (2 bedroom/2 bath) as we have done previously. It works perfectly for us - great space, clean, comfortable beds, privacy. Next time, we'll move to deck 10 rather than 11 because of noise (like water flowing) coming from spa area above us. Staying in a suite provides benefit of a concierge and butler. We had the best concierge (Bruno) on the planet. He took complete care of us - including ensuring we had dinner reservations for the 9 of us in combination complimentary and specialty dining, priority embarkation and disembarkation at ports, and other niceties. Our butler (Renato) checked in on us daily, and delivered nice snacks each afternoon. Suites also provide breakfast and lunch access to a specialty restaurant for sit-down, exclusive menu and seating. Avoiding buffet lines and crowds is worth the price of a suite. We had four specialty dining meals. Cagney's is bar-none the best dining experience on board The Pearl. We also enjoyed Moderno and La Cucino. If we could eat every night in a specialty dining restaurant, we probably would. Instead, we had several evenings split between Summer Palace and Indigo. I assume the nightly menus are different between those two complimentary dining options. We enjoyed the food in both restaurants; however, we felt the service was better in Summer Palace. Indigo was often slower. On board evening entertainment was fine - comic acts and aerial artists were great, hypnotist OK, Barricade Boys were good. Daily activities like trivia, bingo, etc. were typical cruise fare. I participated in some of it. Skip the beginner bridge classes - too many people and confusing teaching approach. Fitness center is nice, often crowded, yoga and pilates are offered with a class fee. Spa is overpriced, and I heard from others that the quality was so-so. Due to a hurricane, our first stop at Cabo was dropped unfortunately, but safety obviously needed to take priority. I took the level 3 hiking the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala. I about died. Its VERY rigorous going up, and the 6-7000 ft altitude doesn't help. Coming down was absolutely treacherous with unprepared trails, rocks of different sizes, ash, etc. I wasn't prepared for this level of effort - and I wasn't alone. Many people needed to pay for horse rides to get to the lava field. I provided feedback to the shore excursion manager that the excursion description in no way accurately described - and set expectations - for the climb. My parents took a bus tour to a town in Guatamala. They were very disappointed with the excursion - lack of restrooms, very rough roads/driving. They also weren't alone in this assessment. One tour was three hours late in its return to the ship. Our stop in San Juan Sur, Nicaragua, was surprisingly delightful. We had high winds upon arrival which delayed tendering operations causing delays. We weren't greatly impacted with this because of our priority disembarkation. We enjoyed our bus tour to Rivas and Lake Nicaragua. I also enjoyed walking the beachside town of San Juan Sur. Locals are very friendly. We didn't take any excursions in Costa Rica because we had been there before. Instead, we walked and taxiied the port area of Puntarenas, a popular tourist destination for Costa Ricans. Cartegena, Colombia was absolutely lovely. We both liked our excursions, particularly enjoying the Old City, fortress, cathedral, etc. Cartegena deserves another visit. Our final stop was in the Caymans, and you can tell that they have a ton of experience dealing with cruise ships and tourists. Their excursions are planned to the T. I enjoyed Sting Ray City. Our highlight was the day going through the Panama Canal. The Pearl's bow was opened and supplied with beverages, cold towels, etc. A tour guide provided audio description of what we were doing and seeing during the entire transit. An absolutely fascinating experience. Here are my additional tips for NCL/The Pearl: 1. Very cool is the Bridge Observation Room, Deck 11, port side. During the day the window blinds will be open and you can see on to the bridge. Plus, there’s ship history, crew pictures, radar screens, charts and so forth to keep you busy for a few minutes. 2. There’s a bunch of onboard duty free shopping available when you're at sea – booze, jewelry, make up, accessories, clothing, perfume, etc. There’s also a small area for sundries you might have forgotten – toiletries, medications, batteries, etc. It is expensive. I had to pay $15 for a box of Nyquil. Try not to forget anything. 3. Guest Services is available in the Atrium. It operates just like a hotel reception. Go check your ship account every few days to make sure your bill is reflecting as correct. That way you don't have to stand in amazingly long lines the last day of your cruise to correct an error. 4. An alternative to waiting in long lines at the shore excursion desk are to 1) fill out an order form and submit through the mail slot or 2) place excursion orders at automated kiosks (hanging on wall throughout the ship). In either case, tickets will be delivered to your room – placed in the slot above your room number on the door frame. 5. Your bathroom is stocked with large dispensers in the shower for body wash and shampoo, small bottles (hotel style) of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, Kleenex, retractable clothesline, and enough bath towels/hand towels/wash cloths to serve an army. A hair dryer is either in your room or bathroom, but situated in front of a mirror. I found enough shelving in the bathroom to store my toiletries. I had plenty of sockets (American plugs) to operate and recharge devices. You will have pool towels in your room that you can bring off the ship (for beach excursions) and drop off as you reboard. 6. Wifi is the one luxury I purchase - unlimited for duration of the cruise. Its expensive, but works fine. Only one device per room can be on the wifi, however, so you just coordinate with others in your cabin when you're kicking them off. You might want to get International service activated on your smart phone if you want to make phone calls or have internet access (without wifi). I didn’t get any texts in or out, but emails just fine. Rather than pay for onboard minutes, many people will just go to dockside restaurants at ports to get free wifi – they all give it to you if you eat or drink in their establishment! In any case, you can coordinate technology needs with the IT manager onboard. I found him very easy to work with. 7. Trying to find quiet is a challenge. The Atrium area is ridiculously loud in the late afternoon to the evening with music acts - makes working with Guest Service, Shore Excursions or CruiseNext office very difficult. Go see them earlier in the day. The Library is quiet, and sometimes Spinnaker Lounge early in the day and in between ship activities. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Chose the cruise because we could see friends and relatives in the San Diego area, sail thru Panama Canal as I have always wanted to do, and then be back home in Florida. Came in a week early to see San Diego, but there was to much too ... Read More
Chose the cruise because we could see friends and relatives in the San Diego area, sail thru Panama Canal as I have always wanted to do, and then be back home in Florida. Came in a week early to see San Diego, but there was to much too see. Pacific Ocean was choppy, and so was the Caribbean, most than usual in Caribbean. Hurricane in Pacific prevented us from stopping at Cabo San Lucas. Embarkation was okay, felt like you were in a warehouse, not a "real" cruiseport. Ship was delayed because of the Dockworkers changing shifts. Norwegian did not care for San Diego port. Our cabin was dim, we like brighter lights. Also you had to get out of bed to turn off the overhead lights, there was not a turnoff at the beds. No place to sit except on the beds, no chair or sofa, really no room. I did have a shower chair which was great. Also like the shower door instead of the curtain. The TV was nice, but the channels were often weak or scrambled. Also it was several days before we even know who had won the World Series. College football was not carried on any sport or regular channels. Room service breakfast was fine, and early on most mornings, chocolate croissant were great. But they usually forgot something once it was our cereal. The Entertainment was good especially liked Duo Quincennesce, the aerialists, Michelle Murlin, the broad way singer, and especially Brenda Kaye the Hypnotist. The staff was also great. Room stewards, the wait staff were all good. My favorite was an African man from Zimbabwe who worked in Tides. He had the nicest smile and we a little each day. I wish I would have got his name, he was so good to talk to, we made some kind of connection. The food was mediocre, not hot when it should be, but lukewarm or cold, this was in the buffet and main dining room, the Summer Palace. But again the wait staff and esp., Annisha who was in charge of special diets tried to get my husband vegetarian meals. His favorite in the Summer Palace was two scoops or mashed potatoes and two little ears of corn on the cob. Some breads and desserts were good, I especially liked the bread pudding at the buffet. The carrot cake in the Summer Palace was esp. good. Over all an average cruise with not enough things to do on sea days. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We are returning customers. Our previous experiences help us deciding to take this trip also. Are we disappointed this time or what. Room is clean. Shows are ok. The restaurants are not what they promoted. There's no free style. ... Read More
We are returning customers. Our previous experiences help us deciding to take this trip also. Are we disappointed this time or what. Room is clean. Shows are ok. The restaurants are not what they promoted. There's no free style. No shorts. No caps, no sleeveless shirts for man but ok for women. Food is unacceptable. Some of the crew members are great. Some look down to you if you order coffee or water. We traveled with Celebrity, MSC, Holland, Princess, Carnival and Norwegian. An advise for the entertainers, stay away from political jocks. Not nowadays. The people are already divided politically as never before. We're on the cruise to get away from this issues. Please, don't build up tension anymore than it already is. Buffett has a large selection of culinary cuisines but the quality is absent. Sugar free sweets are not offered. We hope that the rest of this trip will be fine. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Amazing opportunity to cruise through the Panama Canal. Great job by everyone on board. The bartenders were oustanding as well as the waiters and maitredee. From the time we placed our feet on the deck until we left the crew made sure to ... Read More
Amazing opportunity to cruise through the Panama Canal. Great job by everyone on board. The bartenders were oustanding as well as the waiters and maitredee. From the time we placed our feet on the deck until we left the crew made sure to create a wnderful experience. The loss of one of our shore excursions was made up by the great service from the staff. The entertainment was first class from Peter at the piano to the many great shows in the theatre. We were kept well informed with a daily handout that kept us busy for the day. Once in the canal, we were provided with commentary that was very informative. My wife enjoyed the shopping experiences especially the opportunity to win great prizes. The transfer to shore was also handled in a safe yet curteous manner. Too bad both the entry and exit from the ship was horrible. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I always wanted to go through the Panama Canal, its history fascinates me. I also wanted an extended cruise for a bit of "R&R". The price point was good but the on-board costs were disappointing. I feel NCL was in my ... Read More
I always wanted to go through the Panama Canal, its history fascinates me. I also wanted an extended cruise for a bit of "R&R". The price point was good but the on-board costs were disappointing. I feel NCL was in my pocket for every little thing.... a 1 liter bottle of Dasani was $6.60!!! Yes, $6.60 - outrageous. Kids video arcade games are $1.30 per game. Food was okay in the complimentary restaurants and buffets but don't bother with the complimentary steak dinner - the meat quality is less than average which I think is done to encourage cruisers to use their "specialty" (for a charge) Cagney's Steakhouse. The entertainment was merely average. However, the staff couldn't have been nicer - pleasant, friendly, courteous... excellent all around. My major complaint is the embarkation/disembarkation process. Really this needs major attention. The boat left San Diego 2 hours late. I delivered my luggage at 11:15 BUT it was not delivered to my cabin until 8:15. NCL tenders were terrible and have too little capacity to handle excursions. First day, excursions were delayed two hours because of various NCL issues. Cruisers were truly annoyed. It got worse when disembarking at final port. The instructions from staff were contradictory; the bridge communications from Vincent, the cruise director, were just terrible. Very poor communication resulted in delays, misdirection and anger. I am unsure if I will cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our fourth time travelling with Norwegian and for the first time we came back a little disappointed. Service, food and cabin were fine but we were particularly disappointed with the entertainment on the ship. We felt the groups ... Read More
This was our fourth time travelling with Norwegian and for the first time we came back a little disappointed. Service, food and cabin were fine but we were particularly disappointed with the entertainment on the ship. We felt the groups and singers round the ship were nowhere near as strong as others we've been on and while the "specialist" entertainers were mixed to say the least. Some were excellent - The Quintessence Aerial duo and The Barricade Boys - some were ok, and some just poor. In particular the woman singer was dreadful and I wasn't impressed with the comedian Tim whose act was very dated and consisted of making members of the audience do stupid things. Also a lot of the acts did two or even three shows during the cruise.The game shows seemed tired and ill thought out. And there were some odd things about the ship itself. Who thought it would be a good idea to put four lanes of bowling in the middle of a lounge?!!? And why was the trivia usually held in the Atrium where there were never enough seats and you had to compete with people visiting guest services etc.? We enjoyed the ports and most of the places visited - San Diego and Cartagena in Colombia especially but compared with the cruise we took with Norwegian to Hawaii last year on the Jewel, the Pearl was a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal and found a deal with Norwegian (our favorite cruise line) from San Diego to Tampa. This was our 9th cruise, and we found the San Diego terminal to be the most chaotic. Once ... Read More
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal and found a deal with Norwegian (our favorite cruise line) from San Diego to Tampa. This was our 9th cruise, and we found the San Diego terminal to be the most chaotic. Once onboard, though, we were back with our Norwegian 'family'.....even ran into some crew members that we had met on a previous cruise on the Pearl..........The Cruise Director, Vincent, was hard-working and attentive to our needs. The Front Desk was very helpful. The Excursion Desk members were great. Our first stop, Cabo San Lucas, was cancelled because of Hurricane Willa. That was okay with us. We had other stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Cartagena, and Georgetown. We had great excursions at all stops. We always book an Inside cabin---we are only there at night, so we're happy to save money for other things........like excursions. We eat most of our meals in the Garden Cafe. The food is great.......always a great variety. Staff members are great, so sweet and friendly. Entertainment was great. We 'followed' Peter James, in the Piano Bar! We attended most shows in the Stardust Theatre. My favorite was the Aerialists, Megan and her fiance. We don't do the spa, the casino, the bars, the shopping, the photos. We cruise to see the world, to meet people (passengers and crew) from all over, and to learn about new cultures and new countries. Plus, I love the Ocean! I could spend all day standing on the rail watching the waves and the endless sea! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was a once in a life time deal to sail to the Panama Canal and see what it was all about. We have sailed on RCL and Princess in the past. Lots of factors involved in deciding on this cruise but location, timing and price where major ... Read More
This was a once in a life time deal to sail to the Panama Canal and see what it was all about. We have sailed on RCL and Princess in the past. Lots of factors involved in deciding on this cruise but location, timing and price where major factors. Not sure if "price point" is where NCL fits in but I somehow thought in my mind that we were signing up for a top notch cruise and we were both very excited. The start of the cruise might have been some clue as to what we were to encounter. The boarding process had been moved to San Diego for some reason ??? Los Angeles has a beautiful terminal that can handle large crowds and do it smoothly. Right from the beginning it appeared that it was rookie status. Simply unloading baggage was confusing and unorganized. "Is this the first time they have done this" seemed to be a common question in regard to handling logistics with this ship and cruise line. The terminal in San Diego is in a nice area with lots to see and do but the process to get on the ship was terrible and I would not recommend it to anyone. Not sure they could screw it up any better???? Next up was the birthday surprise for my wife from my adult children. My son tried to use NCL's website to send a BD gift to my wife and our friend on the ship. The website crashed while he was in the process and had to start over, which ended up causing him to be double billed. There was never an acknowledgement of the gift by NCL to my wife or our friend, just a credit on our bill??? "Is this the first time they have done this"??? Missing Cabo San Lucas was not NCL's fault and I did'nt mind the extra sea days but stopping in Pueto Quetzal was not what we thought it would be. It was nice to get off the ship for a few hours (again the unloading process seemed like a new concept to the staff). Would not go back to Guatemala. The tendering process was worse in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. The captain said it was because the swells were going one direction and the wind was going another,"Is this the first time they have done this"??? The meeting in the Stardust Theater was not organized and just seemed like rookie status. Part of our group finally made it to a tender only to have a motor fail. They floated around in the bay for 1/2 hour while other tenders went by trying while tender 10 captain was trying to restart the motor???? "Is this the first time they have done this"?? We just spent at least 4 days at sea did anyone think to check all of that stuff out to make sure it was ready to go???? Both Guatemala and Nicaragua are disgusting places to visit and really not sure why we stopped there. We did sign up for the Zip Line in Costa Rica and again the boarding process was a mess but the Zip Line Operation was dialed in. Very well run and organized and able to handle the 4-5 buses full of us needing a break from the ship. The Panama Canal was interesting but it might have been more interesting to visit Panama City or Colon while going through the Canal instead of the first two. The locks are amazing and the process was very cool. The history behind this area is incredible and worth investigating. I thought Cartagena Columbia would be a breath of fresh air after the disappointment of the first two stops but..... We signed up for the catamaran transfer to the old city. The city is amazing looking from the water going in. On the way in the catamaran captain warned us about the street vendors. He said just say, "No Garcias" and they will leave you alone. Almost before the boat docked, the vendors were shoving stuff inside the boat trying to get us "rich Americanos" to buy their crap. This continued for a block and half where the entrance into the old city is found, then inside the beautiful old city. As we walked along the streets it continued. The only way to get away from them was to duck into a shop and take a breather. Someone suggested that the street vendors are not locals but from Venezuela as their economy crashes??? Not sure, but what could have been an awesome experience walking around the old city and enjoying the nice people, turned into a battle to avoid a fight with the street vendors because we would not buy from them!!! The shop keepers inside the old city were very nice and very accommodating to us, get rid of the street vendors and I might go back. Next stop was George Town in Grand Cayman. The one bright spot in the cruise. We loved this little island and will find a way to get back there someday. The Rum tour was awesome, our guide was awesome and the people there were great. The sea days weren't bad on the Pearl but they just seemed to lack that extra little something we had experienced on other ships. The Halloween costume party was totally lame and the group that had gone above and beyond to dress up got tossed in the first round, again my thoughts were "Is this the first time they have done this"??? We really wanted to watch the World Series which involved the Dodgers but were told that the ship would have to pay a royalty to get the games and Miami (the head office) wasn't going to do that. So we got days and days of World Cup Soccer instead (not a fan). The best the ship could do was to post the score (only once) on the ships channel. Really, "Is this the first time they have done this"??? The unloading (disembarkation) process in Tampa was an absolute joke. We were given instructions and followed them to a T, but the ship began giving out different directions which conflicted with the pervious instructions. We were supposed to disembark by 0845 but did not leave until 1030. If you are not a fan of waiting for ever in long lines do not unload in Tampa (I am sure it was a combination of the boat staff and the terminal staff, long lines in each area). They tried to say it was everyone else's fault (customs, dock handlers, etc) but I watched as handlers and shore personnel were standing around, "Is this the first time they have done this"?? On previous cruises, it seemed, that as soon as the dock lines were secured the ramps went down, stuff started flying off the ship??? In the past we were actually disappointed to get off the ship and did not want it to end, in this case we were happy to be off and on our way to our next activity. Not sure how this happened but, the one thing NCL did get right was the service staff. From the bartenders to the cabin steward, these hard working people have a clue and were the one thing that would put a smile on our faces. The food was good and the specialty restaurants were nice but, it was hard for them to make up for the deficiencies of the rest of the ship. We were looking for an adventure and I guess that is kinda of what we got. Next time, I think we are booking with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
There was a lack of information provided prior to embarkation. Shortly after making the reservation, it was changed from a 15 day cruise to a 14 day and the embarkation port was moved from Los Angeles to San Diego because the Acapulco stop ... Read More
There was a lack of information provided prior to embarkation. Shortly after making the reservation, it was changed from a 15 day cruise to a 14 day and the embarkation port was moved from Los Angeles to San Diego because the Acapulco stop was cancelled. We understand that was for safety reasons, but there was no explanation for why we had to lose a day of vacation or had to alter plans to accommodate moving from LA to SD to leave. At embarkation, we were handed a flier that stated we would not be stopping in Cabo San Lucas because of weather. We had all been watching the weather down there for a week and knew what it looked like. This decision could have been made much earlier and notifications could have been sent well before the last minute. We have now lost 1 full day of travel and 2 port stops before even leaving and since this was booked. No other compensation was offered for losing the Cabo stop and there was no mention of attempting to add a different destination to make up for it. We then did not actually set out from SD until several hours after we were supposed to leave and there was no explanation given. As we were told many times from different crew members, the ship had been loaded with new employees for this trip as training experience. It was obvious in multiple ways. Many of the staff members at bars would actually roll their eyes at you for asking for a glass of water as though it was a waste of their time. The wait staff in the main dining rooms was horrible. Our standard time in the Indigo room was running nearly 2 hours for a meal because staff was so slow. We had one night with a 7:15 reservation and we did not get out of there until 9:45. Multiple times we did not even order dessert because it was taking so long to get our food. We also left one night after ordering coffee with dessert and getting everything for the coffee (cups, sugar, and cream) and getting our dessert without ever actually getting any coffee in the cups. On the other side, there were some excellent standout employees. Specifically, our room steward was excellent. Also, there was the waiter at O’Sheehan’s Pub, Ankit (sp), who was always friendly and helpful. Also, the bartender Mo (Mohammed D.) who worked most often in the Casino bar was a major highlight who always greeted us by name, remembered our drinks, and was an overall great guy. All of the staff we interacted with in the specialty dining restaurants were very professional and helpful. We found the buffet to be very boring and lacking in options during the dinner hours and the food quality was average. The main dining room dinner menus were horrible. The options each night were very poor and repetitive. There was always a dish of overcooked beef slices prepared a litle different, there was always a basic white fish that was grilled or broiled, and always a vegetarian dish. The only thing that stood out was the one night for the standard white fish entrée was Tilapia. That is not a compliment. Tilapia should never show up on the menu of any decent restaurant. It is a completely worthless fish with absolutely no flavor or nutritional value. It is primarily used as a base because the only flavor is from the other ingredients it is prepared with. On other cruises I have always looked forward to eating in the main dining room for the quality and variety of the dishes offered. This trip left me disappointed every night. All of our group felt as though the poor menu options and horrible service was a backhanded way to push us into going to the specialty restaurants and paying for a meal. When we boarded the ship our group met for a celebration drink. The bartender informed us that they were required to charge tax while in port. Totally understandable and not an issue at all. What was an issue, or more of an annoyance, was that the ship was scheduled to leave at 4 PM and we didn’t actually leave port until several hours later. We were charged tax on drinks the entire time. While that couple of dollars makes no real difference to us, no announcements were made to explain why we were still in port for hours after we should have left and NCL should have paid those taxes just for the inconvenience. It was another example of poor hospitality. The tender service in Nicaragua was a disaster. Yes, the water was rough and choppy, but that did not explain why only one tender was being used while 5 others were sitting in the water off to the side. We were supposed to be able to leave starting at 10 AM. No announcement was even made until after 11:30 AM to explain that only 1 tender could be used because of the rough seas. That explanation made no sense because the other tenders were clearly visible sitting off to the side of the ship and the water was just as rough when they did finally commence service just before 1:00PM. Also, when they did start service, they only assigned a few people to assist with the transfer of people from the ship to tender. It was dangerous without more employees to help guide people over the step. So we were unable to get off the ship until 3 hours after we made port, but the cruise director made an announcement that they had permission to extend our port stay 1.5 hours. That does not make up for anything and he shouldn’t have made it sound like we owed them a debt of gratitude for getting part of the time back. The biggest complaint we have is in regard to the large amount of money we paid for a balcony stateroom that had a barely usable balcony. The reason for this is because they pressure washed the balcony while we were in port. They blew paint chips all of the deck and furniture on our balcony. They did not clean up the paint chips at all and they were stuck to the chairs. The chairs could only be used if we draped a towel over them to sit on. Also, the pipes above our balcony continued to flake paint chips for the rest of the cruise so even sitting on the balcony was difficult because chips would land on you and any drink/food you had out there. We paid over $2500 extra dollars for that upgrade and it was a waste of money. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Cons -old cruise ship; framework inside hasn't changed -resulting from old design, passengers cannot navigate as easily as on modern ships - traveling portside corridors will not land you at the same places starboard. -soda ... Read More
Cons -old cruise ship; framework inside hasn't changed -resulting from old design, passengers cannot navigate as easily as on modern ships - traveling portside corridors will not land you at the same places starboard. -soda package is a rip off. Soda will come from the bar fountain and at stations without a fountain, cans are used. However, you often get an old can (flat soda) because only slightly half a can pours into one of their cups. So, if the person in front of you orders a Pepsi and then, you're the next guest 15 minutes later to order a Pepsi, you get whatever was leftover in the can from the prior guest. Pathetic policy. -Stardust Auditorium (theatre on the ship) is extremely outdated. The seats are fold down and low to the ground. Very uncomfortable. -Thermal Spa chairs are positioned inside the center of the spa; they should be ideally facing out to the front forward the ships windows. Pros -This is a classic cruise ship; which makes it easily convertible to what an affinity group customizes it to be. This ship is one of the most chartered ships in the US today. -the Filipino staff will cater to your every ask -food is slightly above average; good spread Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Norwegian Pearl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 1.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.1
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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