5 Night Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Sail Date: April 08, 2007 Ship: Norwegian Pearl Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 11 years ago
My husband and I returned a few days ago from a 5 day cruise to Mexico (Cozumel) and Belize (Belize City). We had a great time, and wanted to share our experience with others. To put this review in perspective, I'm 24 and my husband is 33 and we've cruised twice before, on Royal Caribbean (Serenade of the Seas) and Celebrity (Summit). On this cruise with NCL, we cruised from Miami. The ship is spotless, very new, and the staff (for the most part), is very welcoming, accommodating and friendly. The entertainment at night was great, the food was fresh and plentiful, and the ports of call were beautiful. Overall, a really amazing cruise, one we'll recommend to all our friends.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The Freestyle Dining really differentiates NCL from other cruise lines. We loved that we could eat whenever, wherever and dressed however we wanted. For the specialty restaurants, reservations are required and some charge a fee (from $10 to $20 per person for dinner). We should have made a few reservations in advance, but the restaurants we visited were all really good. The dining choices include French, Italian, Asian Fusion, Sushi, Steakhouse, Tapas/Mexican, two main dining rooms, Hibachi, the buffet and a 24 hour quick bites cafe. Definitely something for everyone. By the way, the Chocoholic Buffet is an NCL staple, and while it's nice, it's really not much to write home about...
3 out of 5
Entertainment was very good. We loved the Improv Comedy troupe that was on our ship, and the Broadway-style shows were also entertaining. The comedian and magician left a little to be desired, but overall, the entertainment was good. We especially liked the acrobat team (Arthur and Leticia), whom we saw a year ago on Celebrity. Their acts are amazing, truly awe-inspiring. If you get a chance to see them, you won't forget them. We also really liked the Act Auction and Art Presentation, and bought a great painting as a memory of our cruise. We wished there was more to do during the day, as on Royal Caribbean, we really liked the miniature golf, billiard tables, and movie theater. The Pearl has a bowling alley, but the lines were huge and we never tried it. Still, very good entertainment.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
Some members of the staff were more hospitable than others. The director and Art Auction manager were great, and kept the guests entertained. Some of the dining room staff went above and beyond, while others didn't try at all. We thought this was a "hit or miss" since on other lines, the staff works for your tip, and on NCL, the tip is automatically deducted from your account, regardless of how the service was.
5 out of 5
The ship is really great, one of the best we've been on. It's just a few months old, the crew works tirelessly to keep it spotless. It has 14 decks and is about 90,000 tons (which helps with not rocking as much as smaller ships). The only downside in the design was that we couldn't find any outdoor areas with lounge chairs in the shade. On sea days, your options were to stay indoors (where most of the areas were well air-conditioned) or bask in the sun. This is the only design flaw we found and hope that it could be fixed.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We booked an Oceanview Guarantee stateroom in class HH (4th deck, front of ship), and were upgraded to a stateroom on the 5th deck in the center of the ship. Though the room was small, it was very well-designed, with plenty of closet space, a nice bathroom (with a Grohe shower), and a flat-panel TV. The decor was tropical, and everything was very clean so we were really impressed.
We went on the ATV Beach Adventure in Cozumel, and really enjoyed it. The ATV part was great (make sure you wear something you don't mind getting dirty, because you will be covered in dirt from head to toe). The beach at the end was extremely rocky and river shoes are a must. I couldn't enjoy that part of the tour without them, but my husband went swimming and loved it.
In Belize, we went on the Lamanai Jungle Tour and Mayan Ruin Exploration. We also really enjoyed this, and the only tip is that the bus and boat ride to get to Lamanai is very long (about 3 hours each way). If you don't mind it, the end result is well worth it.
Pros: New ship (nice stateroom), great food, Freestyle Dining
Cons: Not as many activities as on bigger cruise ships
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