Ranked #2 Norwegian fleet
Ranked #40 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
One of the better, older Norwegian ships, Eclectic decor, many dining options, good entertainment ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #2 Norwegian fleet
Ranked #40 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
One of the better, older Norwegian ships, Eclectic decor, many dining options, good entertainment ...Read the CruiseMates report
NORWEGIAN PEARL NOVEMBER 27TH 2011 This was our 7th cruise, the first one on Norwegian and we were looking forward to experiencing the difference between them and Carnival and Princess, the other two lines we have sailed on before. Check in was very similar to all the other check in’s we have experienced, long lines and waiting, so nothing new there. I did like it that the Ship’s officers were waiting onboard to greet us as we stepped onto the ship and walked along the deck to the atrium doors. The atrium was much smaller then any we had seen before, this wasn’t necessarily bad or good, just different. We made our way to the Lido deck, I know the deck was called something else but to me it is always the Lido deckâ€¦lol. Pearl, my wife and I sat down and enjoyed a burger and fries, delicious! My first thought was, if the burgers are this good, I can’t wait to try the rest of the food. After my cousin Tom and his wife, Christine and son Christian joined us we went sight seeing. As a foot note, Tom andhis family didn’t know we were coming on this cruise. We wanted to surprise them and we were hoping they had boarded before we did, but they caught us as we stood at the boarding counter at check in. The layout of the Pearl was different then any of the other ships we had sailed because it wasn’t associated with Carnival Corp. like Princess and Carnival are (Basically same designs). The ship, while not gaudy in colors, was beautiful to behold and the dÃ©cor was amazing. The Bliss lounge was my favorite, it had a oriental flare with seating that looked like beds and 4 bowling lanes, 2 on each side of the lounge. The Stardust Theater, while roomy was cramped for leg room and if you sat in the middle of a row you could forget about ordering a drink as there was no room for the bar staff to walk to you and deliver your drink. The Spinnaker lounge was uniquely designed, but there wasn’t really a bad seat in the room. Bar City was a big area for watching sports and having drinks with your friends. The casino was spacious and easy to walk through. I didn’t have any luck in the casino and it seemed there were very few big winners. The Lido deck had 2 swimming pools and 3 hot tubs. There was plenty of seating and I liked it that there were very few places here for sun bathers, they were up 1 deck, so it was easier to walk thru the area. The one thing I wanted to do but never got around to was try their big water slideâ€¦it looked fun! Our room was a ocean view, a first for us, 8590. It was a obstructed view cabin having a lovely view of the lifeboatâ€¦lol. I did like the lay out as it was side ways from what most cabins are. You walk in and the bed is on the right and the closet and bathroom is on the left. Plenty of storage room in the closet and vanity, no problems there and the bathroom shower was amazing. I’m 6’3” tall and weigh 300 lb’s and normally I can just soap the walls and spin around in most showers to suds up, this shower actually had a door on it and plenty of room to move, ahhhh so nice. The toilet was a different story. I have already stated my size! I barely had room in the toilet area, another area with it’s own door I might add, but I barely had room to bend over andâ€¦well you know what I mean, I actually used a public toilet down the hall a short piece instead of our own toilet when I actually had to sit down on the toiletâ€¦if u catch my drift. But over all the bed was comfy and the room was of good size. Our room steward, Mike, did a okay job. The biggest problem we had was getting our beach towels replaced each night but other then that he was very responsive to our needs and remembered our names from day 1. What we really loved about the room was it’s location! It was on the 8th floor not 25 feet from the elevators and the Blue Lagoon dining room. This dining room was the best kept secret on the ship for breakfast for most of the cruise. It had most of the selections of the main dining room for breakfast but it was really less crowded and the service much faster. We never did eat there for lunch or supper because it just served comfort food and the food was so good elsewhere. Since I am on the subject of diningâ€¦..There are two main dining rooms on the ship. One, The Summer Palace, was huge and grand! It looked like somewhere a King would dine. The 2nd main dining room was called Indigo, which was much smaller and reminded me of dining in a nice restaurant somewhere. Both served basically the same menu, however, service was much faster and better, in my opinion at the Indigo then at the bigger Summer Palace. It was at the Indigo that we met our servers Budi and Julie. We enjoyed their service very much on the first night and then found out that we could ask for them every time we ate and they would serve us, NICE!! Â Budi and Julie even came and served us even when they were not scheduled to work or were on standby, how cool was that! We had figured that with Freestyle cruising we would miss having the same people waiting on us in the main dining room like we had on Carnival and Princess so to us, this was like having your cake and eating it too. We also was surprised as we never had to wait to be seated. We did make reservations the 2 times we ate in the pay for restaurants. We ate in the Italian restaurant, La Cucina and the Japanese steakhouse Teppanyaki. LaCucina was very good and the portions very nice. The nice thing here it was only $10.00 each to eat here. Teppanyaki had come highly recommended from another couple we had talked to in the elevator. They told us the show that the chefs did alone was worth the $25 dollars we paid to eat there. I guess that couple had never ate in a Japanese steakhouse before because it was the same old same old and I didn’t think the food was all that good. The food in the Indigo was awesome! I can tell you right now, I have never had better food on any cruise ship! Everything we ate was delicious. The buffet, The Garden Caf’e was very good and we ate breakfast there once and lunch and late night snacks a couple of times. There was also a grill at the rear of the ship and also out by the pool area that had really good burgers, dogs and fries. They even had a BBQ grill set up twice cooking Burgers, dogs and chicken that was fabulous. The entertainment on the ship was also very good. From the singers to the dancers to the comedians, all were excellent. There wasn’t a big production cast or orchestra like we have seen on other ships. What Norwegian has is a small troop of dancers, some very good singers and the Second city Comedy group to entertain you as well as a juggling act called Sharkbite who were super good and funny and a stand up comedian who was very good... There wasn’t a piano bar pianist leading songs but there was a guy playing a guitar called Tino who was very good and was fun to be around in the lounges where he played. Â There was also a Mexican singing group who played latin music and another group who played the 70’s and 80’s dance parties. There is also a huge screen T.V. in the atrium. This T.V. must have been 20 ft tall and they had the NFL games on there on Monday and Thursday night. They also played Wii on this big screen with players 3 timed your heightâ€¦cool. My cousins son, who is 15 didn’t think much of Norwegians teen program. There were very few kids on the ship and fewer teenagers, so he was kinda bored. We all did do the bowling together and let me tell you, if you think bowling is easy on a rocking ship, you have another thing coming. You could have a ball headed right for the pocket and all of the sudden it would veer right or left, whichever way the ship rocked. Either way it was fun! Christian, as we all did, loved the free icecream, whether it was from the machine or hand dipped. We visited Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, MX. We enjoyed the beautiful beach at Great Stirrup Cay. There is still a lot of building going on but it didn’t interfere with all the fun. Norwegian had 3 big tender boats so tendering was a snap. We visited Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios Jamaica. We had been there before but wanted to visit with my cousin and his family. This time we brought our swim suites and enjoyed the pool and waterslideâ€¦.nice. We were real lucky at Grand Cayman. The water was too rough for ships to tender where the cruise ships normally tender from so we moved to another part of the Island where we was able to tender. This area didn’t have many tenders though so the Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships who were there too were not allowed to stop there and had to cancel that port of call. We did the Dolphin encounter and sting ray excursion through the ship and had a blast. I really enjoyed being up close with the Dolphins and sting rays and would highly recommend this excursion. At Cozumel, Mexico, our 3rd visit there, we did the X-rail excursion thru the ship and had a great time. These X-rails are not easy to drive with standard steering and a small steering wheel that can be ripped from your hand at anytime when u hit a rock. The wife and I really had fun driving it though and we also visited a secluded cavern and went for a swim in the crystal clear water there. I will warn everyone nowâ€¦you will get muddy and the shower off area is less then desirable back at the main building being pvc pipes with holes drilled in them outside with no privacy. We were sad to see the cruise end as this was definitely our favorite cruise we have been on. Debarkation was easy, the only problem was there was a lot of foreigners on this ship so customs was really slow. We definitely will sail Norwegian again. We loved the freestyle concept and would like to see it continue to expand industry wide. The overall crew was wonderful. Not overbearing but catering to your needs and wants and they seemed genuinely happy, unlike many cruises we have been on.
"No booze in the stateroom"
We've travelled over ten cruises before this one with Norwegian Cruise Lines, so we're well aware of the restrictions that are in place regarding the bringing on board of liquor. All the previous cruise lines we have travelled with have, however, turned a blind eye to liquor packed in checked luggage.
Not NCL. On boarding, I waited for five hours for my checked baggage to arrive; eventually, I got a note telling me that I had restricted contents in my bag and that I would have to go to a certain location to have my bag searched. Proceeding to that location, I found a queue of about two to three hundred angry passengers in the same situation. After a long wait and a humiliating search, my checked two litre bottles were confiscated for the duration of the cruise.
During the lineup, I had plenty of opportunity to commiserate with fellow passengers about this appalling lack of consideration for customers on the part of NCL. One guy had brought along a bottle of his favorite Kentucky whisky which he knew would not be available on just about any cruiseship, but it was taken anyway. Without exception, all were vowing that this would be their last cruise with NCL.
So, why do they do it? Well, it must be partly because of the liquor prices. NCl charged consistently charged a couple of dollars or so more per drink than on the cruise we took with a competitor immediately following theirs. I even asked for a bar menu and the standard drinks were listed, but no prices! Clearly, NCL is aware of their predatory pricing and can't bring themselves to admit it, and do all they can to maximise their liquor profit.
Another problem is with the "free style dining." Firstly, you don't get the opportunity to get to know dinner companions in the same way that traditional cruise dining gives you. Although we were prepared to accept that, what we were not prepared for was the 20 to 30 minute wait for an available table at dinner. It was possible to make an advance reservation (at least several hours in advance), but even then you had to wait 10 minutes or so. Furthermore, if you got into the restaurant after 8.30 pm or so, in the hope of avoiding the crowds, the waiters were clearly agitated at having to serve so late, bringing on courses before you had finished the previous one.
The food itself was generally poor. At dinner, I did get excellent roast pork loin once, other times not so good. For instance, once I ordered "rack of lamb," only to be served with a couple of extremely tough regular individual lamb chops, not the delicate small juicy ones you normally associate as a rack.
There are numerous premium-priced "specialty" restaurants on board, which again tells you something about NCL's eagerness to extract yet more money from its customers. For instance, there is "Le Bistro," a restaurant offering French cuisine for an extra $25 per person. But what most diners don't realise is that once inside, to order any item you wish from the extensive menu may cost you $10 more. Check the menus carefully prior to using these establishments.
What can I say to be positive? Well, the standard of entertainment is very high and presented in a beautiful theater. There is lots to do daytime with plenty of interesting and fun activities. We had a very spacious penthouse suite with the services of a butler and a concierge fresh flowers and a welcome bottle of champagne, etc. The concierge was particularly helpful. The balcony was huge, but being forward (just below the bridge) was almost always unuseable when the ship was in motion due to the high wind.
Beware of some of the shore excursions. We went on a snorkelling trip at our Belize stop and the boat we were taken on was totally unequipped for this; no rear platform for easy access to the water and the rental snorkel gear was defective. "Lunch" consisted of dried-up roast chicken with rice and beans, worth all of $3. In fairness to NCL, after we complained about this to NCL our money ($109 per person) was completely refunded.
In summary, although NCL offers some very attractively-priced cruises, they more than make up for it once you're on board. And, because of the outrageous liquor seizure, We will never sail with NCL again.
The Pearl is a newer ship and now it is our favorite. We have been on 12 cruises and the Pearl was the most enjoyable, beautiful and well run ship we have been on in a long time. No lines anywhere, 12 ( I think) restaurants, even the buffet was amazing. They even had a juice station where you could pick whole raw carrots, celery, fruits, etc to have fresh juice made. 4 made to order omlet stations, pasta stations, too many choices to list. Quality of food was also very good. We really enjoyed the French Bistro.
So much to do too. A lounge on an upper level was laid out with sofas, beds, etc in small semi private cubbys with a stage for entertainment and 4 bowling lanes & casino slot machines. The lobby atrium has a huge floor to ceiling film screen that runs Wii games during the day inbetween movies. Great entertainment on the stages, and in the lounges.
We stopped at NCL's private island and couldn't believe how much nicer it was than Carnivals. Palm trees gave lots of shade for all the rows of beach chairs,hammocks strung between the trees, the beach lunch was on the beach not a half hour walk inland. The beach was clean and water clear, a craggy rock outcrop had many different fish to feed and snorkel around.
This is a great cruise and wonderful cruise ship.
My husband (75) and myself (65) just returned from the cruise to Alaska. Our cruise was terrible. The entertainment was a disaster. Not approriate for family oriented cruise. The service was not good. Our room attendent Sherton was very good and helpful and kept our room perfect. He is the only one that I can say was very attentive.
Children were running in the hall and I spoke to the personnel about this because they bumped into me three different times.
I have an artificial hip and if they had knocked me down I would be in a wheel chair because I cannot have any more surgery on my hip. The personnel told me they could not do anything about the running in the halls and in the resturant. We have travel with Norwegian before and had excellent service. We had planned to make this a yearly anniversary trip on their ships. Now we will never travel with Norwegian again and I will advise anyone else not to.Also too many hidden fees and having to buy our cokes all the time. This is rediculous.
Here's link to my review.
We arrived at our cruise ship early, at around 11:00, as we wanted to enjoy the ship prior to sailing. We found this to be a great idea as we were onboard by 12:15.
Once onboard we found the ship to be extremely clean and well kept.
The staff were friendly and were happy to see the new passengers.
After exploring the ship and grabbing a bite to eat, we were allowed to our balcony room 10140 at around 2:00. We found this room to be well appointed and the balcony just the right size for my wife and I. Sunrises or sunsets are best viewed from balconies.
The food on the ship was fine, with the Summer restaurant more then adequate for a sit down meal. Breakfast in the Summer restaurant was very good. The food at the buffet was fresh and fine for a quick meal if that is what you wanted.
If you wished a change of menu for dinner you could pay a fee for one of the specialty restaurants. We did eat at three of these venues and found that the extra cost was not worth it. Ourmain concern about the specialty restaurants is that if you pay extra for one of the venues, the service and selection should move up a notch. We did not find this happened. We did enjoy the Freestyle dining and had no trouble making reservations just be flexable.
The entertainment on the ship exceeded our expectations. Top notch.
The port of Roatan was our best adventure by far. We attended a small daytime resort -- Fins and Flippers -- and found the beach, pool, service and snorkeling fantastic. The price was right at $20 per person, with food being around $5 per person and beer $2 each. I found it on the internet as it is not ship-sponsored.
The other ports, Belize and Mexico, we just walked around the pier and shopped, selecting this as our choice of activity.
Norwegian Cruise Line does attempt to extract money from you at every twist and turn of the cruise ship. You do receive water, coffee and tea, but if you expect anything other then these refreshments at non-dining hours you are charged a fee. You can purchase a pop card, which we did, for $50, but this card does not include juices. You can bring pop and juice aboard at no cost or hassle. It's just nice to know what you can and cannot receive on the ship so that you can prepare accordingly.
My wife and I really enjoyed our cruise with Norwegian Cruise line and have placed a deposit for a second cruise with them in the near future. I guess signing up as repeat customers says it all.
This was our 8th cruise, the 2nd on NCL. The first NCL trip was in 2001 to Alaska on the Sky. Since then we have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean & Carnival. Every cruise has had its pros & cons, so I'll just give you those.
CONS No champagne at arrival as we were told there would be.
We had an inside stateroom. The storage space was barely adequate. There was a corner desk area, but it had no drawers. On the other side there was a corner shelf that held the TV, but under that was a square table with a chair & you could not get around the square of the table to that side of the bed. The table had a tray with a coffee pot , coffee, cream, sugar, cups, etc., so most of the space was taken up already. There were 3 drawers, a closet and then some open shelving. There was only room for our underwear in the drawers, not enough hangers for all our clothes, so most of our clothes we stacked on the open shelves.
No ice the first night. Called thedesk, waited half an hour, then called again to be told they had delivered it, was I in the room? Ice arrived half an hour later.
First dinner in the Summer Palace dining room. Arrived at 6:30 pm, with another couple & were seated with one other couple. Service was terrible. Bread on table, no butter. Waited half an hour just for someone to take our order. By 8:30 we still had no dessert (we left). One gentleman from our table got up 3 times to get someone to wait on us. They were told (after we left) to come back tomorrow & it would be better. I asked at the reception if it was normal to have such a wait in the dining room. Her answer was that "it was the first night." Maybe for me, but not for the staff!
In the buffet areas, the tables were not cleared off promptly & sometimes you couldn't even see anyone doing that job. It appeared that they had to clear tables, put it on a big tray & walk it someplace else.
Constant "pushing" of the "specialty" restaurants, shore excursions, raffle tickets, bingo, etc.
NCL raised their "service charge" aka "tips" to $12 per day per person.
If you didn't want to hang around the pool in the sun, not much organized activities.
Forced use of hand sanitizing. I understand, but it was annoying.
PROS Only had a camera aimed at my face 2 times, once during embarkation and once at dinner the first night.
The buffet area's food was excellent, with a lot of choices, including a very large assortment of ingredients for salads. We are not into dessert much, but they had a very nice hand scooped ice cream bar, with at least 8 different flavors, plus toppings, not including the soft serve machine, with no upcharge for ice cream as we have seen on other ships.
The entertainment was the best fit for us of any ship we have been on. David Nastar was the comedian, "Sharkbait," another comedy act of jugglers, and Second City, an improv group. Also 3 shows of dancing and music from the Jean Ann Ryan Co.
The theater itself holds over 1200 and is very steep in design, so you could see very well.
Went to dinner in the Indigo dining room on Friday night, had good service, although the menu is limited.
The ship was very clean and well maintained.
Once we met our cabin steward & asked for ice we always had it.
OVERALL We made a conscious decision on Sunday night to not let our unmet expectations ruin our vacation (no champagne, poor service for dinner, no ice, etc.). We basically got what we paid for (the cruise was cheap). The weather was wonderful, over 80 degrees and only 16 when we left home. The only specialty restaurant we went to was Mambo's (the TexMex restaurant). They had 2 for 1, so it was $10 for 2 of us and you each get a "free" margarita. I feel like I already paid for dinner, so I shouldn't have to pay again. Hardly anyone dressed up, so we were happy we had decided to forgo formal wear.
I'm not sure if we will sail with NCL again or not. If the price and itinerary are right we might. As long as you go into it not expecting a lot, you should have a good time.
Gentlemen: Please pass on Cruise passenger advice:
Ready to cruise??
I wish to pass on something that needs to be told, ESPECIALLY IF YOU OR FRIENDS GO ON CRUISE SHIPS.
When passengers arrive at the ships dock, they encounter union longshoremen, whose job (for which they are well paid, with benefits) is only to place your baggage on rolling racks that roll to the ship. Your cabin attendant then takes your bags to your cabin.
Here's the rub: Those longshoremen LIE to you when they say they will take good care of your luggage and take it to your cabin. They further intimidate the passengers by saying they need some compensation to assure them nothing will happen to their luggage, i.e., a TIP.
As cruise passengers know, all gratuities are automatically included in their final bill from the cruise line. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THEIR TACTICS.. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF DAMAGE TO YOU BAGS. Cameras are everywhere. Tell security if you feel threatened.
suggestion: Call your cruise line ahead of time to verify this::: Have a great cruise!!
Please pass this on!!!! Thank You!
In December 1966 the Norwegian M/S Sunward sailed into the newly constructed Miami Port. All 8,600 tons of her carried 558 passengers and her itinerary was biweekly round trips to the Bahamas. The Sunward was the first ship of the new Norwegian Caribbean Lines (NCL). Now, after 40 years the burgeoning cruise industry is graced with the N. Pearl, 93,000 tons and carrying 2,732 passengers this cruise, with an average age of 58 years: there were a lot of young people, both single and with families consisting of both youngsters and grandparents --- a wonderful mix! NCL has a high ratio of crew members to passengers. On the N. Pearl there are 1,154 crew headed by the nicest gentleman sailor: Captain Lars Bengtsson.
The Pearl was launched in 2006 and has Emmy Award winning TV personality Rosie O'Donnell as her Godmother. On board there are 12 Restaurants, 11 Bars & Lounges, a 4 lane Bowling Alley, A Rock Climbing Wall, plus Basketball, Volley Ball, and Tennis courts. There are Courtyard Villas and two 4,390 sq. ft. Garden Villas. NCL has introduced "Freestyle Cruising" to the industry, which frees passengers from strict schedules todining anytime, anywhere on the ship. Cruisers can be as formal or as informal as they like; make reservations in one of the specialty restaurants or just go to the buffet. Choices include the following: Cagney's Steakhouse, Le Bistro (French cuisine), Lotus Garden (Asian fare) & Sushi Bar, Teppanyaki (Japanese), La Cucina (Italian), etc. Dress up, dress down, it's whatever "your" lifestyle dictates!
The Hotel Director Dallas Easterly (yes, he was born in Dallas, Texas) is very knowledgeable and acquainted with all 13 decks in detail. He told us that the Pearl runs not only on fuel, but also on rice --- these are the two most used commodities on board. By way of explanation, the crew is mostly Philippine and rice is their staple food. We should all eat more rice, because we noticed the polite manners and happy faces of all the crew around us.
Embarkation Sunday, driving from our house in Boca Raton to Miami is painless because traffic is light. We arrived at the Port at 12:30pm, and after a wait for someone to push Vincent's wheelchair we were on by 1:00pm. We had lunch at the Indigo Restaurant and avoided the crowd at the Buffet, and were in our mini suite by 1:30pm. Rooms are not ready for passengers until 1:00pm, so unless you want to carry hand luggage around, try not to get to port too early. We had no need to check on our dinner seating arrangements, since they would change daily. Boat Drill was at 3:30pm, a bit too early for those flying in who hadn't had time to eat. Our muster station was in the Summer Palace Main Restaurant Deck 6 Aft. We saw this as a potential problem, since there is only one elevator to Deck 7 Promenade, where the life boats are located. After the drill there was a bottle neck, and a long wait for handicapped passengers. In case of a real emergency, it would be better to put the muster station for the handicapped directly on Deck 7 and thus avoid having to transfer them up one deck. We were told that four crew members were assigned to each wheelchair passenger and that we needn't worry.
As we boarded, we met our old friend Concierge Carlos Zarate, with whom we sailed around the Horn in S. America in 2002. What a warm welcome we got on our arrival! Carlos made our cruise terrific.
Ship The latest NCL ships are decorated on the outside very colorfully. What was once referred to as the White Fleet is now unique among cruising ships, with their gaily painted hulls. The Norwegian Pearl has a string of colored pearls painted on both her sides going from stem to stern with a colorful banner. There are 13 Decks which all display the clean lines of Norse influence. The many open spaces are a welcome sight. The first three Decks are all for crew.
Deck 4 has the medical center and staterooms.
Deck 5 has staterooms and forward the Stardust Theater with a stylized peacock on the magnificent curtain. Very nice, each seat has a clear view of the stage.
Deck 6 forward has the Summer Palace Main Restaurant aft. This high ceiling, open, airy, room calls to mind the Malachite Room of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Malachite Green columns are only surpassed by the rows of crystal chandeliers and the walls filled with charming portraits of the last Tsarist family, the Romanov. Pictures of small children all in their white sailor dresses and suits are especially poignant considering their brutal end at the hands of the Communists. Another unique touch is the faux Faberge eggs on the balustrades.
On this deck is the Indigo Restaurant with its Asian influences. Midship there is a string of bars: Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar, Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar with bubbling windows, Corona Cigar Club, and Shaker's Martini & Cocktail Bar. Next, towards aft is Le Bistro French ($15) specialty restaurant. Finally, there is the Pearl Casino and the next level of the Stardust Theater.
Deck 7 aft has the Bliss Ultra Lounge, Nightclub with its four lane Bowling Alley and an odd melange of sofas, canopied beds and seating. It does qualify as an "Ultra" lounge. Midship is the Crystal Atrium with its crystal stalagmites or icicles on the ceiling, and the blue and ice glass blown sculpture by Dale Chihuly --- an interesting, intricate series of graceful tubes. Here are the Java Cafe, the Reception and Shore Excursion Desks, and a huge multimedia screen. Toward forward are the Lotus Garden Restaurant ($15), Teppanyaki Room (Japanese cuisine) ($25), the Sushi Bar ($15) which make up the Asian complex of specialty restaurants.
Toward the prow are the Trade Routes Boutiques with again the usual fare. It seems that most cruise lines have the same brands of goods available. Deck 7 forward is the balcony of the Stardust Theater. Here in the rear are wheelchair reserved seats.
Deck 8 forward and aft are staterooms. Midship are the Blue Lagoon (snack type foods such as soups, wings, fish and chips, etc., and desserts such as the chocolate brownie sundae) and also located here is Mambo's Latin Tapas Restaurant ($10).
Decks 9, 10, and 11 are all staterooms.
Deck 12 aft has the Great Outdoors Buffet, then the Garden Cafe with buffet style dining, which opens for breakfast at 6:30 am (7:00 am on sea days), and La Cucina Italian Restaurant ($10), nice appetizer cart, soups (Pasta e Fagioli and Minestrone). Entrees were varied but NCL needs a real Italian Chef! With our Italian taste buds, we were a bit taken aback by the mountain of grated cheese on the lobster Ravioli --- Italians usually don't put cheese on seafood, since it overpowers the delicacy of the dish. It is better to ask the diner before drowning the entree in cheese.
Midship are the Kid's Cafe, Video Arcade, Kid's Club, Topsider Bar & Grille, Tahitian Pool Hot Tubs, The Library (open only 2 hours daily) and forward is the S. Pacific Spa & Fitness Center. Deck 13 aft has the basketball/volleyball/tennis court, jogging/walking track and Cagney's Steak House ($20): this is excellent and well worth it. Forward is the Sky High Bar, the Chapel and the Spinnaker Lounge.
Decks 14 & 15 have the Rock Climbing Wall, and the The Courtyard Villas.
All in all, the ship is lovely, spacious and well set up. Her decorations are modest but tasteful.
Food & Service Since we covered the various food venues in detail in our N. Jewel Review (2006) and NCL has made them homogeneous across its fleet, we want to discuss "Freestyle" cruising in general. Those of us who have cruised for many years see the various innovations as welcome. Where just a few years ago, passengers were summoned to the formal dining room by bells or carillons and if you were 15 to 20 minutes late you found that the dining room doors were closed. Now, you may opt for the same table every evening at the same time. But, if you find this boring, instead you may choose one of twelve or so venues anytime from 5:30pm to as late as 10:30pm.
You are offered formal settings, Japanese style dining, Casual Buffet, room service with simple soups, salads or sandwiches --- whatever makes you happy. NCL has new controlled portion sizes, which is welcomed by us. No more wasting food and there is more always available for those who want it.
The menus offer several appetizers, some always available, like shrimp cocktail. There are salads of just fruit or the mixed green type or Caesar's salad always available. Soups are hot or cold and quite good; try the cold fruited ones like berry smoothies. Entrees range from Vegetarian, to fish, fowl, beef, lamb and veal. There are Asian, European, Latin and American offerings. This week on board one third of the passengers were non US citizens. Latitudes had several parties for NCL repeaters where the drinks were abundant and the hors d'oeuvres included caviar.
The food on board is good, ample and everywhere. Lots of fresh fruits, tropical and berries. The desserts were made from scratch and many featured fresh fruits. There were usually one or two hot from the oven like almond souffle or an apple bread pudding. Food can be an adventure on board the Pearl. Hotel Director Dallas has seen to every passengers needs --- service is fast, excellent and pleasant.
Cabin Mini Suite #11654 is in the rear of the ship with an excellent view of the ship's wake and the sound of rushing water, when the balcony door is open. There were two chaise lounges and two chairs and two tables on the roomy balcony which has an automatic electric door opener.
When entering on the right is the large bath with a 4'X4' shower with fold up seat and safety rails all around. There is a tilt mirror and a sink with two shelves for toiletries. Next, there is a king size, high bed flanked by two night tables and reading lamps. Then, there is a desk with three drawers and a mini fridge.
When entering on the left is a double armoire and two sets of shelves and a private safe. There is another set of shelves with a TV, and a table with a coffee/tea set up. Next, there is a sofa, quite firm. The rug has the watermelon pink, lime green and blue colors of other NCL ships; and the Maple wood furnishings are lovely. There are two small pictures and one large, all similarly showing palm trees and beach settings.
Entertainment Cruise Director Linda Minnikin is a ball of fire. The Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers did production shows including The Show Girl Revue with the music of Sinatra, Beyonce and Timberlake. The singing seemed in need of a sound check. The dancers were terrific. There was also the comedy of Chicago's "Second City" improvisation comedy troupe. Bud Anderson had the audience rolling in the aisles with his "physical" comedy. It cannot be described, you must see it!
There are many events to occupy passengers, from musical groups like Trio Los Hernandez, whom we saw in the Crystal Atrium playing requests. They were exceptional at Elvis tunes and Latin sounds. Tzachev was also excellent at piano. There was also Bingo, Casino Games, Raffles, Trivia, Darts, Ping Pong, Shuffleboard, and Golf. NCL pulls out all the stops to give passengers a good time.
Ports of Call Day 1 -- Miami, FL -- Sail Away. Day 2 -- At Sea Day 3 -- Roatan, Honduras -- Arrive 8:00am, Depart 5:00pm Day 4 -- Belize City, Belize -- Arrive 8:00am, Depart 5:00pm Day 5 -- Cozumel, Mexico -- Arrive 8:00am, Depart 5:00pm Day 6 -- At Sea Day 7 -- Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas -- Arrive 9:00am, Depart 6:00pm Day 8 -- Miami, FL -- Arrive 6:00am, Debarkation
Debarkation This was for us one of the best organized debarkations. Concierge Carlos Zarate gave us VIP tags for our luggage and wheelchair assistance off the ship through customs and out of the port. He made this one of the fastest and smoothest exits. Thanks Carlos for all your thoughtfulness.
Conclusion The Freestyle Dining is a major difference between NCL and other cruise lines. We do enjoy both Freestyle Dining, which allows more flexibility on when, where or with whom you'll dine, and the traditional style, which assigns a specified table and time in the main dining room. The first one gives more freedom in the choice of venues and dining time; the second has the advantage of knowing and being known by the wait staff, usually resulting in better and more consistent service.
We did enjoy this cruise and we are going to cruise on NCL ships again (we have already purchased a future cruise, yet to be determined); however, we would like to see some improvement of certain entrees in Specialty Restaurants, mainly the use of appropriate ingredients and recipes to meet the expectation of a gourmet's palate; i.e., Ossobuco served in La Cucina did not taste "Italian." Happy Cruising!
We just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the NCL Pearl. Unfortunately, this was, by far, the worst cruise experience we have ever had.
CONS Communication with most staff members was weak at best. Our cabin steward was not attentive at all and we had to beg for him to do the simplest of tasks; i.e., cleaning out the coffee pot, replacing used towels, removing dirty glasses, etc. The majority of the ship's crew were not accommodating either. Yes, we did voice complaints which fell on deaf ears.
The food was borderline edible in all venues. We primarily dined in all of the specialty restaurants -- Cagney's Steakhouse, Lotus Garden, Teppenyaki Room, Le Bistro, etc., with each one equally as bad as the other. Whenever possible we opted to eat in the various ports. Pretty sad when we couldn't even get a decent cup of coffee anywhere on the ship!
The onboard entertainment was terrible.
The ship was not well maintained and this made for an overall horrible trip that was quite costly.
PROS Just one: Our mini suite cabin which had a great bathroom for a ship. That's the only goodthing we have to report about the NCL Pearl.
We were a group of 20 and not one of us would recommend this ship to our worst enemies!!!!!!!!