My husband and I chose the Pearl to go to Alaska. We usually cruise in suites which we initially did. We bid on a Haven Owners Suite and won the bid. I contacted pre-concierge for new luggage tags and while I was on the phone, the very ... Read More
My husband and I chose the Pearl to go to Alaska. We usually cruise in suites which we initially did. We bid on a Haven Owners Suite and won the bid. I contacted pre-concierge for new luggage tags and while I was on the phone, the very nice NCL lady asked what we wanted to be in our room when we got there. From past experience, I know that doesn't always get done but I gave her my list anyway.
We flew to Seattle on Friday, stayed at the Mayflower Park Hotel and toured the city for two days which was great! Seattle has so much to offer. The Mayflower was located in a great spot but I wasn't a fan of the hotel itself. The staff was rude and made us feel like we were putting them out by being there. Sunday was embarkation day and we were more than excited! Dropping luggage off was a little confusing. Usually when we get to a pier, the porters are more than willing to help us. This time, they were kind of all standing around talking and not paying attention to any of the passengers. My husband asked one of them if he could help and he did. We walked down the street and followed the signs to check-in. The woman at the door asked if we were VIP guests and escorted us to the separate, much shorter line go go through the scanners. That only took a couple minutes. From there we were escorted to the Haven/Suites check-in. We were all set and sitting having coffee about 20 minutes after arriving at the pier.
Anoop, the best concierge we've ever had, came over to introduce himself to us and said he had something for us. The one change I asked the pre-concierge woman to make on our dinner reservations had been made and was all set. We were escorted to Cagney's at around 11:15 and had lunch. Rooms weren't ready until about 1:00 but that was ok. We knew the layout of the ship after being on the Dawn and the Gem so we walked to The Great Outdoors and had our first beverage! When we heard the announcement that rooms were ready, we headed to our room.
The pictures we had seen of the Owner's Suite didn't do it justice! It's a huge space. There are two bathrooms, one is quite large with a toilet, bathtub, double sink, shower, and the dressing room off of that. The other is a smaller bathroom as you first walk in to the room with just a toilet and sink. The living room has two double sliding doors looking out onto a sheltered balcony. There was a sofa, chair, television, large table and four chairs, and bar/coffee area. The 3 bottles of liquor that I ordered with pre-concierge and comes with an Owner's Suite, was waiting for us along with the juices, soda, and water that is all free. The bedroom has a king size bed, a chair and ottoman, two large night tables, a television, and the door to the big balcony at the front of the ship.
We met our room Steward, Norbie, who was great the whole week. We aren't very needy but he did anything we asked of him, like extra towels or shampoo. Next we met our butler Lingling. In the past we haven't had any luck with butlers. We never got a suite for that perk at all. We felt like we hit the jackpot with Lingling though! She asked what kinds of snacks we liked and we told her we really didn't have a preference. Every day she would bring a couple different snacks so we could choose. On the third day she asked us why we weren't having breakfast delivered to our room. We told her we didn't want to bother her (which is how we felt with past butlers) and that we had been having breakfast in Moderno. She frowned and said that is what she is there for and would we like breakfast delivered the next morning shaking her head yes! We did order for the next day and she brought that plus what she thought we might like for a snack later that morning.
One of the perks of being in an Owner's Suite was having access to the Haven Courtyard. For us, it wasn't convenient at all. We were on deck 9 and the courtyard was on deck 14 (which you need your keycard in the elevator for). It was nice there with a small pool, jacuzzi, steam room, shower/changing room, and bathroom. There were loungers and chairs, tables and chairs with menus that we assumed you could order from the Haven attendant (which we never did), coffee, juice, water, cookies, M&M's, and gummy bears all the time. Upstairs was the Haven sundeck which I'm sure is great when you are going to warm climate ports but for Alaska, I only sat up there once and it was too chilly for me. We didn't use the pool or jacuzzi at all because there were 4-5 kids that kept running from one to the other. Sitting there to relax wasn't very easy either with all the yelling from them. Being a teacher, I love kids and think they need to have fun and exercise but in a setting like that, there needs to be some control. Just my opinion.
The crew of the Pearl were great. There wasn't one time when we didn't get a good morning, or good evening from someone we passed in the hallway, in a restaurant or getting on/off the ship at the different ports. For us, this was probably the best crew we have been with on a cruise.
For entertainment there really wasn't much going on if you don't want to play Bingo or Deal or No Deal. Even the entertainment at night was just ok. It didn't really matter to us, we had a great time anyway. We did go to the hypnotist expecting to be entertained and instead heard about the woman's seminars she was giving for the rest of the cruise and how she has programs you can buy to help you lose weight, etc. Personally, I thought that was in poor taste.
We ate at Cagney's twice, LeBistro, Moderno, and Teppanyaki. Teppanyaki was a lot of fun. The chefs were pretty funny and we got with a big group of people that made us feel really welcome even though we were the only ones in two tables that weren't in their group. The food was amazing and probably one of the best meals we've had on a cruise. Cagney's steak can't be beat but their sides are just ok. LeBistro was really good but for some reason, it always takes well over an hour to have dinner there. We waited over a half hour for our soup because the chef didn't like how it came out so he started a new batch, which is what we were told. LaCucina was good. Nothing great but definitely not bad at all. We spent a good amount of time at the Great Outdoors and got food from the buffet there for a few lunches. We couldn't always sit out there because of the temperatures and especially the wind. The Garden Cafe had many choices and we did have lunch there one day. My husband loves the pretzel rolls and sticks so we would wander through and get a few of those for him just about every day!
In Juneau, we tendered at a first and had the opportunity to walk around and see downtown Juneau. One of the places we went to was the Alaska Shirt Company which is right across the street from the pier. We got all our souvenirs there and really didn't have to shop anywhere else. Prices were great there. We did the Mendenhall Glacier and Evening Whale Watch excursion through the ship. Unfortunately, it was pouring while we were at the glacier so we didn't get great pictures but it was beautiful none the less. On the whale watch, we saw eagles, sea lions, and whales. I actually got a great picture of the whale's fluke, something I've never been able to do before! There was a naturalist onboard and she told us all kinds of useful information about the wildlife around that part of the country. There was also a delicious buffet along with coffee, tea, soda, and water that came with the price of admission. You could also get adult beverages for a reasonable price.
In Skagway we did the White Pass and Yukon Railway ride through the ship which was great. It follows the path the people who were going to look for gold during the Gold Rush took. It was amazing to think of those people in such harsh conditions traveling on a small path just to maybe find gold. The other excursion we did (not through the ship) was the Red Onion Good Time Girls and Ghost Tour. That was one of the most fun excursions we have done in a while! We were met by a "Good Time Girl" and led around the town while she explained how life was in Skagway during the Gold Rush times. We ended the tour at the Red Onion Museum which was pretty interesting. After the tour we went in the Red Onion which we hadn't been able to do before because there were so many people waiting to get in. It was less busy at this point so we went to the bar and got a Duck Fart which is a shot that had been recommended to us by a few people. You should try it, it was delicious!
The next day was Glacier Bay day and probably one of the most awe inspiring days I've ever had. It was sunny and cold (like 30's cold) and Marjorie Glacier was magnificent! That honestly doesn't even describe what it was. We saw some small calving which was interesting to watch but all of a sudden we heard a crack and a huge chunk of the glacier fell into the ocean with a big boom! The waves from that came all the way to the ship. We saw kayakers near the glacier and that let us know exactly how massive the glacier was. There were a few other glaciers on the way in and out of the Bay but I don't remember their names. Everything was so beautiful. I took many, many pictures!
Ketchikan was the next day. We did the Alaskan Lumberjack Show and Totem Bight excursion through the ship. The Lumberjack Show was entertaining and what you would expect from a lumberjack show. On the bus ride to Totem Bight, we saw a lot of bald eagles. Our tour guide, Braden would point them out and explained how to tell the difference between a juvenile and a full grown eagle. Totem Bight was interesting and Braden was very knowledgeable.
I wish we had more time in Juneau and in Ketchikan and less time in Skagway. When we go back to Juneau, we will do our own thing at Mendenhall Glacier and be able to spend a lot more time there.
Saturday was Victoria, BC, Canada day but unfortunately we didn't get to see it, I got sick very early Saturday morning. I'm pretty sure I had norovirus even thought I was extremely careful with the Washy, Washy and washing my hands. We also missed out on another day of touring Seattle. We stayed at the Hyatt House Downtown Seattle which was right across the street from the Space Needed so at least I got to see it but not go to the top of it.
Other than being sick, this was probably the best vacation my husband and I have had in our 40 years of marriage. Before we went on this cruise, we said we would splurge a little because we'd never do it again. We did splurge but we are doing it again! Maybe a different itinerary but definitely Alaska! Read Less