The Pearl was our 3rd ship sailed. My review was short and sweet and limited to only 1 post back then and only 6 pictures total. You talk about hard to figure out which pictures to share. LOL This was also Kendras first cruise with us.
HERE is the link to the online review and comments if interested
My picture link within the review is no longer valid, so click here to view all of them
My extensive Pearl review with pics and SURPRISE
PEARL CRUISE MARCH 18, 2012
CHECK IN: We arrived at the port of Miami and there was already a LONG line to get in to customs. It pretty much wrapped around the side of the building back and forth before getting inside. I have to say this is the first time we’ve ever experienced this here. It was about an hour long wait before we ever made it inside. Once checking in with customs, we were off to get in the next line to check in…another half hour wait. We did see another line that said latitudes members (which we are), but the line in it was just as long as the first line we came to.
After finally getting up to the counter to check in, the representative behind the desk told me to hold on and went back (I thought) to get our room/ship cards. He came back out and whisks us back to where we first came in and told us we were VIP and should have never stood in line. They escorted us all the way onto the ship and straight to Cagney’s to have lunch. It was pretty awesome. We were introduced to our Concierge and the hotel manager and then we were off to try to find my oldest daughter (who checked in prior to us) and explore the ship.
The Pearl is a beautiful ship and I didn’t realize how much bigger it was than the Spirit (that we were on 6 months prior to this cruise) until we were parked beside it in Cozumel, Mexico and the Sun, which was parked beside us in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Now on to my thoughts/experiences about the Pearl.
She’s a beautiful ship and we thoroughly enjoyed her. Loved the décor and I was excited to see a Chihuly creation in the atrium. A little disappointed that there was not a “grand atrium” but it was nice. I just miss the glass elevators with winding staircases up the side, fountains and so on. This ship was just like any other NCL, they were always cleaning and keeping her in tip-top shape. We witnessed them painting and staining several times as well. Everyone was friendly and always spoke or ask if you needed anything. We have never had anything but excellent service on any of our NCL cruises and in my opinion, they are awesome!
They have some really neat chairs and areas on the ship. In the Spinnaker area you will find some “odd” looking places to sit and also in the Bliss Lounge some odd rooms with chairs and beds. They were pretty neat and made a good photo opportunity.
The outside of the ship was painted according to what happened to be located on the inside.
ROOM AND SERVICE: Our room steward was the best. He was always asking if we needed anything and even left extra pool towels. We learned that they didn’t keep track of them for some reason like they do on the other ships. We had a towel animal every night but the first and last of course. He always spoke and called us by name. He always asks if there was anything we needed. I guess he didn’t realize we were VIP on the first 2 days and delivered our NCL robes that day and kept saying over and over “I hope you are not mad at me, please forgive me. I hope you will not get me in trouble.” Aww, I would never do that. He was AWESOME.
The hotel director was always saying hello and leaving snacks nightly and so did the concierge. I loved the treatment. We loved the way the room was (last ship you opened the door and the door hit the bed and you had to shut the door in order to get around the room). This was the traditional open the door and you are in the “hallway” with the bathroom on one side and the closet area on the other before getting into the bedroom area. (We stay in the inside cabins). LOVED the décor. Everything looked like wood, even inside the showers on the walls. However, this was the first time we’ve ever booked a room on the VERY front of the ship and I have to say it will probably be the last. The ship was really rocking and both my 3 year old and 23 year old both got sick and that usually doesn’t happen.
MAIN DINING ROOMS: We only ate in one of the main dining rooms, Summer Palace, and the food was WONDERFUL. The only problem we had was the waiter was really slow for some reason (not that we were in a hurry or anything and enjoyed our time there hanging out and taking pictures). The people that sat at the table right beside us came in about 10 minutes after us and was served their appetizers and their main meal before we ever had our appetizers. I also noticed they didn’t seem to enforce the “dress code” policy. The people next to us had on shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops (the guy). So… (and it was diner, not lunch too).
We also ate at Cagneys for breakfast several times and loved it. The food was great!
SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: We ate at the Lotus Garden and it was fabulous. Our concierge got us in after they were already closed (he said) and we were the only ones in there. Loved everything we had. NCL’s site says that the price for this is $15, but they only charge $10 for some reason and it’s a lot of food.
Teppanyaki-NCL’s site says $25, but they charged $28. I’ve been to a lot of these restaurants at home and really enjoy them. However, there wasn’t too much of a “show” there. He did flip the egg into his hat and out of the bed of rice he split it to make it look like a heart, then put his spatula under in to move it and called it a beating heart. The food was good, but we didn’t really care for the appetizers in the beginning. A little different than most places I’ve had. Every cruise I’ve said I wanted to go here, so now that I have, I probably won’t do it again. In my opinion, not worth the $$. Lotus was better and a lot more food.
BUFFET AREAS AND 24/7 EATERY: I’m not a very picky person when it comes to food (except that I don’t eat much red meat and I don’t eat chocolate). So, there was always something I could find that I liked at the buffet. The only “complaint” I would have would be the last 4 days of breakfast, the eggs were very runny. I’m not sure why. It didn’t start off this way. For lunch or diners there, I always found something different. I hate when people come on and say “they were forced to eat the same thing every night of the week and were sick of the food”. There was always something different and you always have the main dining rooms as well. I found my crepes the first day and I was in heaven! I had my very first crepe on the Epic in 2010 and have loved them since. I did find that when we were on the Spirit last year, they did not have much of a selection for things to go inside or toppings. However, I discovered this cruise that you can ask for just about anything and they’ll have it or get it, even if it’s not out. For instance I saw him pull out a banana once for a filling for someone. I tried it and the rest was history…YUM! Also they can get other toppings (they had chocolate and the whipped cream) but he could also get things like caramel too. Double yum! Also I thought the “flow” of the buffet area was weird. When you first come in, this is where you would find all the food. Then the rest of the ship to the outside back eating area was just places to sit and eat. If you didn’t get a seat near the buffet area, you could get stuck walking pretty far back to get your next plate. It just seems like it would have made more since to have the buffet in the middle section instead of at the end.
There was a “kids” buffet area, but we didn’t see it open very often. I would saw it open twice for breakfast and the kids club took the little ones “out to eat” one night there. But most of the times we passed it, there was nothing out to eat and no one sitting in that area. Maybe it was because it was at the VERY end of the dining area and the adults would have to walk so far to the other end in order to get their meals??
There was a place to eat on the back of the ship (The Great Outdoors) that seem to always have buffet type food during the day and late evenings as well. You will never go hungry here. I never did see the Lobster night mentioned on the cruise or in the dailies. L So I guess we missed that.
The 24/7 place (Blue Lagoon) had good food and even made my husband a “to go” order and wrapped it up for him to bring back to the room one night.
ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to see a couple of the shows. They have a Deal or No Deal show and the audience participates. You buy $20 cards and play along with one of the lucky members of the audience they call. It’s just like the game show, however, never making it high enough to win any “big” money. You have to match the contestant’s money behind their suitcase. The highest paid out during both times we watched was a free photograph or something like that.
We also watched the staff “fountain” production during the talent show. It was HILARIOUS! They themselves could hardly keep from laughing. Mr Washy-Washy has a great voice as well!!
We went to the comedian show (he was from my home town, so we just couldn’t miss him) in the Spinnaker Lounge. He did the normal spill about “couples” and life. Things you already know, but still make you laugh because they are so true.
BOWLING at BLISS: We bowled twice during the cruise and had a great time. However, the machines seem to always have a problem and we were always running to get one of the staff members to reset it for it to work. I swear my score was due to the rocking of the boat and not my ability to actually bowl. :wink:
POOL-We found that you had to be 5 years old in order to go down the pool slide (big disappointment for my 3 year old) alone. But she was allowed to go down with us. The water from the pool slide was a lot warmer than the pools were. They only seem to be open here and there and was disappointed several times when we wanted to “slide” and they were closed. We also found a lot of older people in the “family” pool with no kids. Then they would make a face if they were splashed by any kids playing in the water. Weird.
They also have a closed off area for little ones that is shaded and has a slide. On a side note-families with children in diapers in the pools were around all the time. I never once seen anyone say anything to them.
I went exploring one day when the entire family was taking a nap and found a “water works” type thing on one of the decks that looked like a circus. The wall was painted and there were knobs on the wall and things inside the area and if you hit the button, water came out of a huge faucet looking contraption hanging over it. However, it didn’t look like it was being used and they had a bunch of tables stacked in it. But, it still worked. I've just never seen anyone mention it on here, nor had I seen pictures. Even NCL doesn't have it "listed" on their deck plans, but you can tell where it is located by the drawing.
Pool decks-Didn’t see too many available lounge chairs around the pool area, but if you were in the covered areas around the pool, there were tons of chairs to be found. Also up on the next deck you could always find a chair as well. (Not that we ever get a chair and sit in it. If we are around the pool area, we are there to swim). They had several times that they had a BBQ out on the deck and they always had a breakfast and lunch out there. I did notice, and I’m still trying to figure out why, they would randomly stack up chairs and put them away during any given moment. I noticed around 2pm right on the deck beside the bar (Sky High Bar) when people would get up, staff would start staking the lounge chairs. Why? There was a bunch of people sitting on one of the top decks on the front of the ship the day we were in Cozumel (we left late and were all watching the sunset and taking pictures) and if you moved for a minute, they would grab the chair and stack it. I would see others come along and take a chair off and sit down. I still can’t figure out why they would randomly do this with people still sitting out there. Especially if it was the middle of the day??? They always seem to have a band playing and my little one was always dancing. The only problem was during sailing away from the islands, they played so loud that you couldn’t hear the announcements and I really wanted to video sailing away with the horn blowing. It never happened.
WHITE HOT PARTY: This started at 10:45 on the pool deck. It was very crowded at first and within a hour or so, there wasn’t hardly anyone left on the actual dance floor. All the staff with the “angel wings” were gone and just the passengers were dancing on the stage. I didn’t realize it until after we returned home that after a certain time they have an “after party” and it moves inside to one of the lounges. But, we still had fun. However, I like the party better when its actually inside and they have the black lights so that your “white” will actually glow.
CHOCOLATE BUFFET: We got a VIP invitation to go to this prior to letting everyone else in. Since I don’t like chocolate, I went for the pictures. They had it set up in the buffet area and to me, it didn’t seem too “special” or elegant like other cruise ships that have had them in a main dining area and very extravagant. But, I managed to get my pictures before the roaring crowd came crashing in and demolished all of the gorgeous looking food. Ha ha
SHOPS: It had your average souvenirs and clothing and I always like to get a tee-shirt with whatever ship I happen to be on. The only tee that I could find that I liked came with a baseball type hat. I had ask the staff one night if you could just buy the shirt and of course they said no. When I ask the price, they told me $15. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t buy it that night because when we returned the next night, the staff member (a different person) told me the price was $24. Yikes. Not sure what happened there. But, it was the only issue I had. I enjoyed getting my latitude discounts there and in the photo area.
BABYSITTING (Aqua Kids Club): Hmm, the first day you get to view the kids area and sign your little ones up. I’m not sure if we got to view the entire area, but it just seem to be a big open space with a jungle gym/pit ball/slide area in the back. There might have been more to it, I’m not sure. The staff learned my daughter’s name quickly (she has a unique name) and whenever we would run into them anywhere on the ship they would stop and talk to her or say hello. Most of them seem friendly although we did hear an employee getting a little “snippy” with one of the kids several times.
My daughter ended up a little sun burned on her arms at Great Stirrup Cay and when they painted her that night, I found it hard to get off without hurting her. We ask them to not paint her arms and not to use any dark colors on her face because they were too hard to get off. For some reason, they decided not to let her do any of the painting the rest of the cruise???? I finally ask them toward the end what was going on (I could just picture my little one pouting and wondering why all the other kids were able to participate in the face painting).
They did make things during the cruise because she came back the last night with a folder with things that she had made. (I was beginning to wonder if they were doing anything in there). However, I guess I was so impressed with the way the kids club was ran on the Spirit last year that this one fell short of my expectations. The Spirit staff was amazing. They would hang the children’s projects up all over the place and display it with great pride. They were just in a league of their own.
It was brought to my attention in another thread that they possibly take the children out of the kid’s area without you knowing. I never knew this. I did give my permission on this cruise and the last cruise for her to go “out to eat” with all her friends and the staff. However, there was a pirate night and I guess the kids all marched around in the buffet area in a line one night. They never once mentioned this to me or told me that they would be taking her out of the area. I only know about this because my older daughter happens to be in the buffet at the time this happened and she told me about seeing her sissy there that night. I guess I’m kind of shocked that they take them out without telling you. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, if they had told me. I would have also liked to have known for the fact that I would have liked to been in the area to take pictures of their “march”. Next cruise, I’ll ask about this type of thing.
ISSUE/COMPLAINT: The only time we have EVER taken advantage of the after-hours sitting is this cruise. We knew in advance that we would be using their sitting services for the white hot party. We signed her up and told them where we would be at. It was 1) posted at the kids club 2) posted in the kid’s dailies given to you at the beginning of the cruise with a breakdown of what they do each day and 3) online with NCL the times that they offer these sittings and the pricing. We dropped her off at 10:30pm, when the sitting started. At 1am the music stopped playing at the white hot party and the DJ announced our names telling us to go to pick up our child at the kids club. First of all, how embarrassing and we couldn’t understand what was going on. My husband went to pick her up and I guess she was the only one left in the kids club. The staff reprimanded him and told him he was late and everyone else was gone and they were closing. He said “I thought you guys were open until 1:30am and that’s when we were supposed to pick her up”. They replied “everyone else was gone” and then charged him $18 for the sitting. $6 an hour for 3 hours…which we didn’t even get. We kept a close eye on our watches to make sure that we would not be late. Well, we definitely wasn’t about to be late with them making us pick her up early because there wasn’t any kids left in the club. Kinda ticked me off. I mean she was asleep and all. My husband said that he felt like they were only closing early because everyone else was gone. I still don’t think they should have charged me full rate if that’s the case then and they definitely shouldn’t advertise sitting from 10:30pm until 1:30am if they are not actually going to do it. Ok, off my rant now.
CASINO!!!: I love my slot machines. We always buy the NCL coupon $20 worth of slot play for $10. Then we also buy the slotplay coupons online $50 of play for $25. I found “my” slots that I love and have been on the other ships as well and played those most of the time. Let’s just say I always manage to walk away with a lot more than I ever sank into it. I was VERY happy with my winnings. I didn’t manage to win any jackpot this time, but I play smart and if I double my money, I cash out and walk away and come back later. I won several hundreds off $5 several times and was more than happy those times too.
Anyone who loves slots…the Gold Fish games in the middle were always hitting. I won pretty good on the middle machine. They have a Gold Fish on one end, a penguin game, a Gold Fish game ßalways hitting, a penguin game, Gold Fish game, then penguin game on the end. The Gold Fish in the middle was always hitting good and getting the bonus rounds. The Penguin game right beside it (to the right if you are sitting in the chair) was always getting bonus rounds and hitting good too.
The other game that I did really well on the Spirit and managed to find it on the Pearl too is Cave King. It’s one of those machines that have 4 different games on it and you have to hit the “more games” button to find it. It’s normally set on a different game and you had to change it. I won several hundred twice on it. Not bad for my investment.
MEET AND GREET: I set up our meet and greet and it happen to be the day that both my girls were sick. We went to breakfast and my 3 year old ended up vomiting all over the dining room floor in the Garden Buffet area. My 23 year old didn’t even make it out of bed until about 5pm that day. We ended up back at the room to clean her up and let her lay down for a little bit. So, I ended up missing our meet and greet. We had a very “special” guest there and I was kicking myself about missing it…Mr Kevin Sheehan himself!!! Yep, he showed up to the meet and greet. My concierge let me know that he got on board in Miami and then was departing when we get to Jamaica the next day.
I had passed him out back at the Great Outdoors and just “knew” it was him or a very close look-alike. Turns out it WAS him and another couple from the meet and greet also spotted him out there as well on a different day.
Well, I was on a mission to find him after that…and I did. I was kicking myself for about an hour after finding out that he was at the meet and greet and knowing that I had missed out on meeting Mr Sheehan. I knew he was eating at one of the restaurants and I was determined to find him. I got up enough courage to ask one of the staff at one of the restaurants I had seen some of the “important” staff going in, if he was there. Then I found out he was at a totally different restaurant. My husband knew that we would sit in the lobby outside the restaurant all night if we had to in order for me to meet him, shake his hand, and get a picture with him. He knew what this meant to me. I caught him coming out of Moderno (he was having dinner with the Captain that night) and had stepped out to go to the restroom. I was like a school kid fumbling on my words and I know I must have been shaking to death when I approached him and spoke with him. He was such a lovely and kind man and very thankful for supporting NCL. He was happy to have a picture taken and joked about my husband still sitting on the chair in the waiting area not budging too quick or showing enthusiasm to “take that picture” (when in reality he knew how important this “meeting” was for me and was letting me have my space). He was thrilled to be able to shake Mr Sheehans hand and said it was a moment that we would never forget…and boy was it! I mean how many people can actually say they’ve met the CEO/President of their cruise line of choice and of course Mr NCL Undercover Boss himself. Yep, that’s right, I can. It makes cruising with NCL even more meaningful and hopefully someday I will run in to him again.
DISEMBARKING: Since we had VIP status, we opted this time to set our bags out (with their easy walk off with help program). They took our bags a little after midnight. We got up and ate breakfast, took a few last pictures and went to the VIP lounge (The Star Bar) and were escorted off the ship. By then they had made at least one announcement that I heard before we left where they had to post-pone people getting off because the lines were backed up. When we got off, the lines were completely backed up on the ramps and long lines were on the ship as well to make it off.
We only probably waited for maybe a half hour after grabbing our luggage just inside the building and getting in line to go to customs. Customs was quick and easy and he was nice (unlike our previous experience in Miami from the Epic were the lady was completely rude and had an attitude).
As always, we had a MAGNIFICENT cruise and can’t wait for our next in 8 months.
Port reviews coming shortly.