Freestyle Cruising Has Its Drawbacks

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review to Alaska - Inside Passage

Experience: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 0

Overall Rating:

2 out of 5
7 Night Alaska Glacier Bay (Seattle Roundtrip)
Sail Date: August 16, 2015
Ship: Norwegian Pearl
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Cabin Number: 8622
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Reviewed: 2 years ago

The cruise to Alaska was my third cruise and first with NCL.  The actual destination and ports were worth the trip but the cruise line and ship were a disappointment.  I had never tried NCL "freestyle" dining and activities.  In theory, it is a great consumer value proposition; however, the actual implementation on a ship is very hard to do while maintaining a high customer service level.  Even after some planning and making restaurant reservations, every day I often had to queue up for activities and dinners as there were never enough NCL crew to process the "waves" of people going after the same event or dining venue.  NCL can't be blamed for 100% of the issues but they did not do a good enough job to anticipate and mitigate the surge of people for popular times and activities.

In regards to the activities on the NCL Pearl, the ship did not have enough outdoor facilities when compared to other ships and due to weather, often were closed (e.g., rock climbing wall, golf swing cage, etc.).  Additionally, my daughter was disappointed with the kids club as the facility was not very big nor had enough activities and staff for her to do her own thing.  The Disney kids club is on a totally different level but she even said Royal Caribbean's kids club was better.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip to Alaska but will not be trying NCL in the future as "freestyle" cruising makes the cruise experience more stressful with the crowds, especially for popular activities. 

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
I tried all the specialty restaurants and all were great. However, NCL should stop trying to make an extra buck by charging an extra fee for the "premium" dishes. The paid "cover charge" should cover all menu items.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5


1 out of 5
The NCL Pearl had a single theater and if you did not get there 30 minutes ahead of the popular show, there would be no seats left.

Children's Programs

1 out of 5
The daily check-in and check-out process is very inefficient. NCL should study how Disney Cruises does it as they were light years ahead.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Cruise Glacier Bay

5 out of 5
3 out of 5
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