Glorious 10 Day Cruise to AK
We really enjoyed our 10 day cruise on the NCL Pearl to AK. The food was good as was the service. This was my 10th cruise and 2nd with NCL and my husband's 7th cruise and 1st with NCL.
We flew in the night before to Vancouver and stayed at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa. It was a nice hotel and close to the port.
Embarkation: We arrived at around 11:30am. In total from arrival until the time we were on the ship took about an hour. Our ship wasn't anywhere near full. We were told by a crew member that there were only 1,700 passengers. It was obvious for sure that the ship was undersold.
Cabin: We had a mini suite on the 11th deck, 11058. It was plenty large enough for the two of us but it was smaller than the mini suites on the Carnival and Princess ships we've been on. Because it was an AK cruise, we chose this cabin but be advised it is below the pool deck (called Lido deck on other lines). We were under a seating and walkway area. It was mostly quiet in our room but we could hear some chairs scraping and heavy footsteps in the morning and when we were getting ready for dinner. It wasn't too bad but I imagine traffic picks up more on cruises to warmer climates. Our room steward was nice but our room wasn't as clean as we have liked. He worked ninja fast to get our room ready everyday and I think this is why. Some of our towels smelled bad and had stains on them (we didn't use these). Our room was dusty and there were fingerprints on all of the cabinets and closet doors. There was a face print on the mirror above the bed that was there when we first got to our room. It stayed nearly the entire cruise until I couldn't take it anymore and cleaned it myself. I told him about it on the 2nd day and it must have slipped his mind. The location was perfect for us. It's fairly close to the elevators and is one deck down from the pool area, Garden Cafe, Great Outdoors and just down the hall from the bridge viewing area. The balcony is a nice size and we had plenty of room out there to take in the AK scenery. This would be a great room for those with kids. Overall I'd give the cabin 3 out of 5 due to the lack of cleanliness. Thankfully I brought Clorox wipes and travel Lysol.
Ship: I found the ship very easy to roam about. The deck plans were fairly easy to memorize. Despite our cabin, the ship itself was well kept and clean. The decor was cruise standard but not overly garish. I give the ship a 5 out of 5
Food: We chose the Ultimate Dining Package free with our booking. We ate in every venue except Lotus, Indigo and Sushi. Our favorites were Cagney's, La Cucina and Teppanyaki. Le Bistro in our opinion was somewhat pretentious for no reason. Our meals were good though. We just didn't care for it as much as some of the others. Garden Cafe is a standard cruise buffet and we typically found something we liked but it was difficult to find a seat. People often saved seats and or stayed after they were finished eating to play cards or just sit and talk. Not a huge deal but it was cumbersome to have to walk through the entire length and then back to find somewhere to sit. We sometimes went out to Great Outdoors to get away from the crowded Garden Cafe. They would usually have some of the same food selections but offered specialty items such as their Beer Fest which featured German Fare. It was pretty good. We ate at Summer Palace for breakfast and lunch only but the food and service were good. The watermelon salad was amazing!! The menus for breakfast and lunch are the same every day here. O'Sheehan's served breakfast and lunch as well as some specialty items that they changed up here and there throughout the cruise. We had breakfast and lunch there a few times and it was good and also a nice reprieve from the Garden Cafe crowd as well. I give the food 5 out of 5
Entertainment: We aren't really into this part. We saw the comedian and he was funny but not overly so. My husband caught the violinist on a and juggler act on a night I turned in early and said it was OK. we love lots of trivia and there really wasn't that much going on. The steel drum player was great as was the band in the champagne bar. Other than that the entertainment was so, so from what we saw. We left the doo-wap style show because it just wasn't for us. It seemed a lot of the entertainment was geared towards an older crowd. We are in our mid and late 30's and were often a little bored. Thankfully we met some wonderful people on board and enjoyed spending time with them.
Itinerary: We sailed out of Vancouver, BC to Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Icy Straight Point (Hoonah), Ketchikan and Victoria, BC. All ports were great in my opinion. I had gone to AK back in 2000 and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. The only place we booked an excursion was in Icy Straight Point (Hoonah) which is a very short (5-10 minute tender ride). We did the Cultural Legends and Tribal Dance. It was very moving and informative. I as well as others I met onboard who had been to AK before hadn't been to this pot before. Hoonah is basically an old salmon cannery that has been remodeled into various sections that held local artist shops, historical displays and a small museum. You basically can walk around the "campus" where there are walking trails, a rocky beach, fire pit gathering area and a boardwalk. There's also various eateries on the premises. We had awesome grilled salmon at the zip line eatery. Yum. the zipline looked awesome but the price was too much for us. It's a 45 minute drive to go up the mountain and then 90 seconds to zip down. Many people did it and we enjoyed watching them come down. A few whales came up to the beach area and everyone got a free show. The scenery here was wonderful and pretty much everywhere we went was a photo op. We had wonderful weather just about the entire time which the locals all said was highly unusual. It was awesome!
Juneau: We simply got off the ship and went to one of the stall outside the port to buy a shuttle ticket to Mendenhall Glacier. One huge tip: Each of the vendors offer the same price ($20.00 per person) to the glacier. Once you buy the ticket, they direct you to stand in the area near the parking lot out front and that it would take 10 minutes. Each vendor has their own shuttle weather it be a bus or vans. They will tell you which color to type of vehicle to look for as this is what your ticket is for. We did as instructed and wound up waiting over 30 minutes. Once the shuttle arrived people that were behind us and hadn't waited as long as us surged the group and pushed us out of the way. They actually knocked a few people down trying to get on. I couldn't believe the rude audacity of grown people pushing each other out of the way. I'm pretty sure this was a group of about 20-30 that were together that didn't speak English. They were pretty much this way the entire cruise. It was disgusting how they acted. Because of this, we had to wait an additional 30-40 for the next shuttle from the vendor we purchased out ticket from. Please be aware of this if you go to the glacier. Catching a cab might be more convenient but it will cost quite a bit more. The glacier was amazing! There's a beach area and a hiking path that will take you closer to the glacier and a waterfall should you choose. There's a visitor's center where you can pay $3.00 per person to get in and view the glacier in their observation area. There are park rangers there to answer questions, they also have exhibits, clean restrooms, gift shop and a short movie in a little theater at the end.
Skagway: Is a cute little town and pretty much hasn't changed since the last time I was there. We went out to town in the morning and walked around. We pre-booked a privateafternoon tour prior to the cruise through Alaska Tours. They met us at the dock and were very nice. We did a small tour of the city and then went up the White Pass Summit. This was much, much cheaper than the train and we were at a higher elevation allowing us to see more. We also drove through Liarsville and went to the cemetary. The scenery here was also beautiful and lots of photos were snapped about every 30 seconds.
Ketchikan: We walked up to Creek Street which was pretty close to the pier and did a little shopping. My husband who's a pilot met up with a pilot friend who's in Ketch working for the summer with Seawind Aviation and they went up in a plane for a lovely tour of the Misty Fjords. I stayed in town and walked around. great weather again!
Sitka: We hopped the free shuttle offered at the pier got dropped off at the visitor's center and then walked around town which we felt was easy to do. There are many shops and restaurants to enjoy. I bought some local art at the co-op and some of the little galleries. It was a really nice day.
Victoria, BC: We met some folks on board and decided to spend the day together at this port. We got in a cab at the port and drove to The Empress Hotel. It was $10.00 Canadian for all 5 of us. We snapped photos at the hotel, went to the convention centre attached and then went to Miniature World as our friends had their 5 year old with them. We were pleasantly surprised at this place. It was actually fun! We then walked all around downtown and enjoyed BBQ lunch at a restaurant called Pig. There are TONS of shopping areas here. I was in Heaven. My husband not so much. We took one of the water taxis to the area close to Parliament and snapped more photos. We really enjoyed Victoria. It had a very cool vibe with a European influence.
We felt debarkation was pretty smooth. We were in the red group. It didn't take long to get off the ship for us. We stood in the cab line for about 15 minutes and made our way to Sea-Tac. fairly simple and painless.
Overall the cruise gets a 5 out of 5. You are on a cruise, if you have a bad attitude and do not keep an open mind, that's your fault. We loved the cruise and will definitely sail with NCL again. We put down a deposit for our next one! Woo!
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received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Pearl cruise review - Glorious 10 Day Cruise to AK
received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Pearl cruise review - Glorious 10 Day Cruise to AK
shared a quick tip for Norwegian Pearl "Try the watermelon salad in Summer Palace at lunch. Delicious! "
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