Norwegian Pearl ~ 11/27 – 12/4/2011
Embarkation – When we arrived at the Port of Miami about 12:10 pm we saw several different check-in lines – Latitudes, Casino at Sea, Regular Check-in, etc. As we were ready to head to the Latitudes line the check-in clerk said, “It doesn’t matter, they’re all the same,” which we found to be strange since it was still so early in the check-in process. The lines were very long and slow-moving. Once we made it to the “staging” area, the guys working there were not very organized and we waited an additional 20 minutes to get on the ship. Overall the process was close to 70 minutes.
Pool Area – They had some of the most comfortable deck chairs and there were plenty of them. You could check out extra towels by the pool which was convenient. During the day they kept the music light and happy and not too loud. David played the steel drums most days by the pool which was nice. It seemed that you could always find a deck chair somewhere, even on sea days.
Cabin – We had ocean view cabin #5058 located midship between the front and middle elevator cores, which was very convenient. This particular cabin is configured to be a quad occupancy cabin. There was one upper bunk and one trundle bed under the regular bed that could be pulled out. With the two lower beds configured as one queen, it was difficult to get in and out of bed. On one side, there was only a six inch gap between the edge of the bed and the edge of the desk. On the other side, the upper bunk stuck out of the wall about eight inches leaving only about six inches of clearance between the bed and the upper bunk. Luckily, I only banged my shoulder once before learning the proper technique for getting out of bed. There was plenty of storage with six large drawers, plenty of shelves, medium sized closet and a safe large enough to hold a laptop. Bathrooms had separate doors for the shower and the toilet areas. Showers had strong water pressure and were roomy. Towels were thick and plush, but not very soft. Beds were reasonably comfortable with duvets and oversize decorative pillows in addition to the regular pillows. The balcony cabins are definitely more spacious with a separate loveseat sitting area, but had fewer drawers and less shelf storage.
Included Dining – We enjoyed several meals in Indigo and a few in Summer Palace, the main dining rooms. The food quality was above average which was a pleasant surprise for us. The buffet was our choice for breakfast and lunch most days. The breakfast items did not change, but the made-to-order omelets were available in many stations throughout the buffet so there was never much of a wait. The remaining choices were the standards. Lunch items included made to order pastas and burger stations offering veggie and turkey burgers upon request. Fruit and salad options were plentiful but the items didn’t have much variety from day to day. That being said, there were plenty of choices available so as not to duplicate if you chose not to. Buffet food quality was very good. Servers were quick to clean tables and they provided assistance at the beverage stations. For a very special feature, on the last day they offered an Austrian/Bavarian lunch buffet on the back buffet (the Executive Chef is from Bavaria) where they served spaetzle, schnitzel, and few kinds of wursts in addition to several regional specialty dishes. It was a real treat!
Entertainment – Lots of choices for entertainment. The first production show, “That’s Entertainment,” was nothing to write home about, but the specialty acts of “Oh What a Night” (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute group) and Sharkbait (comedy, juggling) were very entertaining. The Second City troupe seemed a little “off” during their first night and they used many of the same sketches that we’ve seen on previous Norwegian cruises but with much less laughter from the crowd. Throughout the ship the entertainers were “fine” – nothing “wow” about Tino the one man show or the others. Roots Link (reggae band) and David (steel drums) were both good when they were playing.
Activities – Plenty of things to choose from if you wanted to participate! Lots of trivia, dance lessons, Botox seminars and shopping and port info. They no longer give out silly prizes for the games on this ship. Instead you get a card where you have to earn points for participation. You then redeem the points for various Norwegian logo items at the end of the cruise.