June 2015 - Norwegian Pearl to Alaska - Inside Passage
It's important to note that the reservation process through United Cruises was delightful; my rep was very helpful. The embarkation and disembarkation process on NCL was one of the most seamless processes that we've experienced when cruising.
The photography staff and the art auction staff were both wonderful. They were engaging and entertaining and met all of our needs during the vacation.
But... that's where our relaxation ended. The NCL Pearl was a nice ship with adequate amenities for the guests, but this cruise line is just not for us.
1. The food in the main dining room was awful. We dined there for lunch on embarkation day. The fish & chips were hard and cold. My son spilled cranberry juice and no one helped us clean the table or offered to move us to another table, although there were only 20 tables occupied in the Summer Palace. We experienced very poor service in addition to terrible food.
2. So… if the main dining room doesn’t work, there’s always the buffet, right? That’s a great theory, but there was not enough seating in the buffet area. Guests were arguing over tables and it was difficult to move through the seating area to find a place to eat due to the way the sections are configured. When you're carrying a plate a food, a drink, utensils (forks and knives are provided at the tables, but not spoons), and a child, it creates a very negative experience. After 10 minutes (or more) looking for a table, your food is cold, your child is cranky, and your patience is gone – that’s not a vacation.
3. On Day 5, we celebrated a birthday in our stateroom and I had a cake delivered. We called 2X to have the remainder of the cake removed from our room - we called on Thur and Fri. It was not removed until Saturday night before disembarkation.
4. The room was not clean. When we first arrived in our room, there were old candy wrappers in the bed, hair in the murphy bed where our son was to sleep, and crackers scattered under the bed.
5. We ate dinner only at the specialty restaurants. Le Bistro (French), Cagney's (steakhouse), and Teppanayaki (hibachi) were good; however, the service in La Cucina (Italian specialty restaurant) was exceedingly slow -- so much so that our son fell asleep before he received his food and we missed the entertainment show that night as a result of the slow service. The food was mediocre -- I'd rather eat at Olive Garden than pay extra for La Cucina.
6. The dining staff is clueless about dealing with small children and the vessel is not equipped to serve them drinks. The drinking glasses are not suitable for a child -- the glasses are wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, causing them to easily tip over when lightly touched by little hands. I had to come up with my own solution, so I kept having to ask for the porcelain coffee mugs so my son could drink juice or water. Additionally, the straws are not 'bendy' straws, so for a child to use them, they have to kink them, which somewhat defeats the purpose. Why don’t they have plastic cups with lids onboard? Or simply shorter glasses with wider bottoms for the kids?
7. We attempted to watch shows in the theater twice. Both times, one of the seats that we sat in was broken, so that we tried to sit down and just landed on the floor the first time; the second time, we tested the seat – yep, broken. There was not one person visible for us to inform them of the broken seats. Really?
8. We visited the Splash Academy for our son, who is three years old. It seemed like a great deal of fun, but there were always lines out the door and long wait times, so we can't comment on the quality of the children's programs.
9. Our entire trip, 1 of the 4 elevators in the elevator bank near our room was out of commission. If you've ever been on a cruise, you know how frustrating it can be to get an elevator to stop on your floor -- try that with one elevator out of commission.
NEVER AGAIN! I spent thousands of dollars on a stressful "vacation". I will never cruise with NCL again and I'll make certain that my friends and family stay away from this cruise line. Freestyle dining and battling over tables, dirty rooms, sub-par service and poorly trained staff, and extra stress may make for a great vacation for some people, but not for us.