CruiseMates will be attending the official inaugural ceremonies on Norwegian Pearl December 16. But for now, here is a preview with the full report to come after our first-person shipboard experience.
Right now, the newest ship from Norwegian Cruise Lines, Norwegian Pearl, is sailing in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, from the Meyer Werft shipyards in Germany where she was built towards her inaugural debut in the Port of Miami, scheduled for this Saturday, December 16 at 5 p.m. The ship's godmother will be television personality Rosie O'Donnell.
Pearl is a sister ship to the previous NCL ships of the Jewel class so her floor plan is familiar. The 93,000-ton, 2,394-passenger ship has 12 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges. The atrium decor and that of many public rooms is composed of blonde woods and satin-shiny teal fabrics that are all easy on the eyes. Seashell and coral reef patterns are found in many of the carpets and fabrics. There are eggshell cocktail stools and coffee tables that look like inverted seashells.
Innovations: The news about Norwegian Pearl, however, is in the ground-breaking innovations for NCL and for the cruise industry as a whole. Personally, I never thought I would see the day, and have even made jokes about it in the past, but Pearl actually has the first bowling alley at sea. Though not exactly metro-sized at just four lanes, everything else about it is regulation bowling from the pin setters to the width and length of the lanes and the weight of the bowling balls.The first bowling alley at sea. Nedcruise.com©
Another first is a set of suites called Garden Villas that are unlike any passenger accomodations I have ever seen. The two Garden Villas are each 4,390 sq ft., twice as large as the average family home, complete with living room, dining room and three separate bedrooms. Each bedroom has either a king- or queen-size bed and a private, luxury bath. One bedroom also features a full bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower. Each Garden Villa also has access to an exclusive concierge lounge and private courtyard area complete with swim-against-the-current lap pool, hot tub, male and female steam rooms and a small fitness area. Access to this private courtyard is also granted to the Owner's Suites and the Courtyard Villas4390 sq foot Garden Villa - an NCL first.
As a first for NCL, this ship boasts a rock-climbing wall. But that is just a small part of a huge sports area including a multi-function court for regulation tennis, volleyball and basketball, complete with spectator stands. There are numerous pools and hot-tub spas, including one at the front of the fitness center overlooking the bow of the ship.
Fun for the Entire Family Pearl has all the elements to be a great ship for families, with plenty of activities for all ages. For kids, there is the Aqua Kids Club, decorated in a friendly tropical sea creature theme with a cinema, a computer center and an arts and crafts area. For the very young, or simply exhausted, there is a nursery and sleep/rest area.
Teens are granted exclusive access to the very exotic looking, graffiti/New York-inspired Metro Center Teen's Club with a dance floor and DJ facilities.
Older kids, teens and more active adults can enjoy the video arcade, the bowling alley and the sports deck with tennis, basketball, volleyball, swimming pools and the rock-climbing wall. For the less active there is a card room, library, bingo, art auctions, a complete spa facility, shopping or just laying out by the pool.
|Aqua Kid's Club pool||Metro Center Teen's Club|
Adult Entertainment For purely adult games there is a huge casino with video poker, craps, blackjack, roulette and hundreds of slot machines. There are 13 bars and lounges on board to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail, and listen to one of the ship's many entertainers. One innovation first introduced on Norwegian Jewel is the "Bar Central" area which features a martini bar, a champagne and wine bar, a beer and whiskey bar and a cigar bar all connected but touting distinct personalities:
- Corona Cigar Club, an art deco cigar club with hand-rolled, premium cigars, cognacs and spirits; accommodates 11.
- Shakers Martini and Cocktail Bar, art deco inspired with a large screen behind the bar depicting James Bond inspired graphic silhouettes of funky images from 60's and 70's; accommodates 48;
- Magnum's Champagne and Wine Bar, French art deco inspired with elements reflecting grand old cruise liner The Normandy. It features art work that reflects Paris in the 1920's. The back bar has a bubbling, backlit water feature to look like champagne; accommodates 83;
- Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar, contemporary bar-lounge with low seating and tables along with mood lighting that complements the backlit artwork, themed around famous whiskeys of the world.; accommodates 40
Culinary Variety When it comes to dining options, no cruise line outshines NCL. Like her sisters, Norwegian Pearl features 10 restaurants including guest favorites such as Cagney's Steak House, Blue Lagoon and NCL's signature restaurant, Le Bistro. In addition, Norwegian Pearl also features:
- Summer Palace - Located on deck 6; inspired by the grandeur of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the era of Russian Tsars. White and gold ceilings, green marbled pillars and 24 carat gold-coated chandeliers adorn this very detailed dining room; accommodates 558;
- Indigo - Located on deck 6; a contemporary restaurant inspired by a modern boutique hotel clean lines and color combinations of blues and shots of orange as an accent. Features pop art backlit in glass; accommodates 304;
- Lotus Garden - Located on deck 7; a modern Asian restaurant touting the graphically illustrated traditional female costume and dance of the Far East. Tibetan flags fuller along the railing next to the traditionally carved entrance; accommodates 108. The restaurant features popular Asian dishes, a sushi bar and a Teppanyaki area seating 32;
- Mambo's Latin/Tapas Restaurant - Located on deck 8; contemporary and bright, featuring hot and spicy Latin and tapas selections; accommodates 96;
- La Cucina Italian Restaurant - Located on deck 12; casual Italian eatery reflecting a village trattoria or traditional farmhouse kitchen; accommodates 96;
- The Garden Cafe - Located on deck 12; indoor buffet featuring prepared-to-cook omelets, waffles fruit, soups, ethnic specialties and pasta; accommodates 390. Includes a special "kids only" area with smaller tables and chairs; accommodates 52;
- The Great Outdoors - Located on deck 12; an outdoor eatery with alfresco dinning; accommodates 259.
In addition to her dining offerings, Norwegian Pearl features NCL's innovative Freestyle Dining information system. This computerized, shipwide dining reservation system allows guests to view all restaurants on board and make reservations for the entire cruise or just a specific night and restaurant. Plasma screens placed in high-traffic areas around the ship and outside each restaurant illustrate the table availability status of each restaurant. Indicator bars reflect when each restaurant is "full," "moderately busy" or "empty."
Godmother Rosie O'donnell Rosie O'donnell, the television personality, has chartered NCL vessels four times for her own charitable organization to support non-profit programs for disadvantaged children, For All Kids Foundation. Her first charter (2004) on Norwegian Dawn was the subject of an HBO special called "All Aboard, Rosie's Family Cruise." It was a heart-warming montage of what might be called non-traditional family life.
On December 15th, the night before the official inaugural, Norwegian Pearl will host a one-night benefit for Rosie's foundation with prices starting at $250 per person for an inside cabin. NCL is donating all food, beverage and shipboard entertainment for the one-night sailing with 100% of the ticket revenue going to Rosie's charity.
Norwegian Pearl's Future Itineraries: From Dec. 22, 2006 through 5, 2007, Norwegian Pearl will sail an unusual five and nine-day Western and Southern Caribbean schedule. Ports of call on the five-day Western Caribbean itinerary include Cozumel, Mexico and Belize City. The nine-day Southern Caribbean route includes Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; St. John's, Antigua and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
The ship then repositions to Seattle as home base for a summer of seven-day Alaska Inside Passage cruises with calls in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska; Glacier Bay; and Victoria, British Columbia. In the fall of 2007 through the spring of 2008, Norwegian Pearl resumes her alternating five and nine-day Western and Southern Caribbean sailings with a change in itineraries: on the five-day, Georgetown, Grand Cayman replaces Belize City, Belize; and on the nine-day, Samana, Dominican Republic replaces Roseau, Dominica.
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