Didn’t Disappoint

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 31

Overall rating:

4.5 out of 5
Norwegian Pearl

14 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (Los Angeles To New Orleans)

Sail date: October 07, 2017

Ship: Norwegian Pearl

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 9526

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 years ago

Review summary

Loved the cruise, am glad we went on it and would recommend it to anyone. The ship was wonderful, but you should remember that this is not a cruise for partying. We are seniors, but felt at times like we were on a nursing home excursion. We had a hard time adjusting to the snail pace of the corridors and how many people were just unaware of how they blocked halls by congregating to talk to each other. Seemed worse on this ship for some reason even though it happens on all ships. The size of the ship is helpful with limiting crowd sizes I think. We like the smaller ships. If you can keep your own attitude in check, these minor issues do not hamper a great cruise. We found that we like itineraries that are more port extensive. 7 sea days was a bit much for us.


5 out of 5
Port was easy to navigate. Well organized embarkation, wish people would not congregate right inside the entry, but that is another issue.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
We ate in the MDR or specialty dining almost all meals. Food was hot, delicious and staff was attentive and friendly. The one issue I had was the menu in the MDR was the same almost everyday. They have 2 lunch menus that alternate. They are only open on sea days at lunch, so depending on how those fell determined what menu. Was still good food, just my own issue. Cagney was marvelous, as always. Modern was a protein overload, too much to eat but good food! Bistro was good, just not my favorite menu. The cafeteria was nice, food was good when we had it, we just prefer to not have to deal with crowds, used it more for snacks and coffee and the occasional quick meal.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
The pool deck was annoyingly the same as all ships, people hogging chairs and tables with belongings, but not sitting there. I truly am ready to start moving belongings. We walked a lot, did not use the fitness center. The rock climbing was busy a few days, as were the tennis court, basketball court and some guys were using the soccer goal. The other issue I have is cigarette smoking. Half of the pool deck is set up to for smokers, even though there are fewer smokers on board. There were a,ways tables and chairs on that side of the pool area. Makes it impossible to enjoy the area while you are being choked out by smoke. The casino is the same way. It stinks and we go way out of our way to avoid even walking through it. The halls in the elevator stairwells smell like smoke and cigars. I think it is time to limit smoking on ships. Or, create a smoking area that is comfortable away from the “public areas”. Don’t mind walking by a smoker outside, but I do not want to have to sit in the middle of it.


4 out of 5
We went to the shows in the evening. Entertaining for the most part. Similar to other NCL ships. The lecturer on the Panama Canal and other history of the area was well done and very interesting.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
I cannot say enough about the service and staff. All staff that we had contact with was very willingly to accommodate our requests, were friendly and efficient. We enjoyed talking to many food service staff about many topics, they are delightful people. We never had to wait for a table in any of the venues, other than the traditional wandering game in the cafeteria area.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
We found the ship to be very well kept, clean and in good repair. We had an incident with a small backup in the bathroom. I called the desk and they sent staff up. They fixed the problem and the bathroom was spotless when we came back. Granted, it as minor, but well handled. There was even a follow up call asking about our satisfaction with their response. We had a lightbulb go out by our bed, it was fixed shortly after we let our steward know. They DO respond to issues quickly.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Exact same layout as all of the balcony rooms we have had. Bathroom is fine, bed was comfortable. We had everything we needed, and if we did want or need something our room steward was accommodating and always with a smile! Wish there was a bit more choice on TV, but that is not a big deal. Plenty of storage space for our belongings.

Ship tip

Enjoy it!

Ports of call

San Pedro (Los Angeles), California

5 out of 5
The port was easy to navigate and well organized.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

3 out of 5
We did an excursion here, one that went out on the water and then a bus ride. The water tour was gorgeous. The people aboard made it not fun all the time. The bus ride was okay, nothing to write home about. Am rethinking these kinds of tours. Some ports are better than others I guess. Because we had an excursion through the ship, we tendered first, so am not sure how that process worked for those that did not have an excursion.

Acapulco, Mexico

3 out of 5
Again, we had a bus excursion that was ok. The hawkers are horrid and it seems the bus tour people are complicit in making you have to engage in that. The one redeeming thing is most take no for your answer and do not stick around long. The cliff divers were fun to watch. The view from the Flamingo was astounding.

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5
This port stop was a revelation. The city is wonderful, spotlessly clean and not a “tourist trap” destination. We did another bus trip, we had time to do a bit on our own at this stop. Tour guide was helpful with personally showing us where we could get great coffee. There was a bit of the typical tourist shopping stops here, but not on the annoying level.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

4 out of 5
Did another bus tour. Good in most ways. We got to see the area which was nice. Our bus driver stopped at one moment to have the tour guide get off and grab a banana flower, which was a revelation. A bit funny with all the ants that were on it! Shopping was the same old same old tourist stuff. We got rained on a bit at the end of the little show done by the school.

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
The true highlight of this entire cruise and the reason we all were there. I was amazed at the clean water and facilities. The process of the canal was amazing and would recommend all to do it. It was special for me as my grandfather had gone through the canal 100 years before me. Lake Gatun was beautiful I thought. The experience was a good one. We were disappointed that the aft part of the promenade deck was closed off, we were not sure why, but it would have been nice to have been able to have seen that perspective, too. We had a balcony on the port side and went through the starboard side locks, so we had a great place to watch from. There is no way to know which lock you will go through, so you cannot bank on booking a specific side for the transit. We were outside for times, on the Promenade deck and up top, crowds were not massive anywhere. A great, HOT day!

Cartagena, Colombia

4 out of 5
Parts of our bus trip were nice, many were not. Cartegena is an interesting city. By far the worst with hawkers. Never has been as bad as this city. We did a walking tour, not a good choice even though what we saw was great. It was SO HOT I cannot describe it. There was way too much time spent at tourist shopping traps. Not enough time was spent at the one place where there were actually something other than T-shirt’s, hats, magnets. There were 2 of those stops. The history parts of the tour were nice. I do not think I would plan to go back here though. Just TOO HOT, seemed that was the topic of the day in this port. I think this port would have been difficult to see without an excursion. heard many many complaints about the HOHO bus there. The city itself is very interesting.


5 out of 5
We walked off the ship with minimal delay. The worst part of that is all the people that are in the way when they are waiting for a later time to get off due to luggage claims. Customs took very little time even though the lines appeared very long. They had a separate line for people not from the USA so that may have helped us. The port was pretty easy to navigate, with one exception. The transfer bus pick up area was very very confusing, but we figured it out eventually and were on the bus with very little waiting. Not enough staff there to direct people. One sign that no one followed, so we ended up appearing to cut in line, when in fact we were in the right place, they were not. Minor issues and easily resolved when people stay sane.
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