Sail Date: November 2018
14-Day Panama Canal Round-trip from Tampa November 25-December 9  Norwegian Pearl Embarkation We stayed just outside Tampa the night before and drove in Sunday morning. We parked just across from the terminal and ... Read More
14-Day Panama Canal Round-trip from Tampa November 25-December 9  Norwegian Pearl Embarkation We stayed just outside Tampa the night before and drove in Sunday morning. We parked just across from the terminal and got to the check in point around 10:30. These steps were all painless. We did wait a while with a terminal full of people to board the ship. When we did board with our carryons with the first group we went straight to Summer Palace for lunch. We checked our cabin right after and it was ready so we dropped the bags there and went up top. Cabin Our cabin was 9610, a balcony cabin. We were glad to have upgraded to the balcony with such a long trip. Our room steward was fine. He was friendly the first couple of days then very cool after that. I have no idea if we offended him in some way. We had zero special requests and I always tidy up on my own as much as I can. We always had clean towels, a perfectly made bed and towel animals every night. We usually have a relationship with our steward so this was different. Internet I bought 250 minutes which I thought was a crazy amount of internet time. Latitudes Gold added 30 minutes so I thought I’d be online plenty. The WiFi is insanely slow and some days I couldn’t accomplish anything at all while the minutes burned. We have 2 kids and I thought 2 weeks was way too long to be out of touch. If I did this cruise again I would buy unlimited or none at all. Live and learn, I guess. App Communication Package I hadn’t given the app communication much thought. We ended up getting it at 9.95 each for two weeks and it was well worth the money. My husband and I are rarely in the same place during the day so this was most helpful. You can call or text, even send pictures. That’s what I did when I got the where are you message. I’d take a shot of what I was looking at and it worked. If you were on this trip I was the one who always had a book with me. I sat in the window seats down the hall, in the library, even before the show in Stardust. Laundry We sent out a very full bag around the halfway point to be washed and folded for 19.99. We got half off with Latitudes so it was around 10 dollars. Well worth the money in my opinion. Ports This was a port heavy cruise. Most ports we walked around if there was an area close by. We did the trolley tour in Cartagena. Our favorite day was in Harvest Caye. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. Dining In the interest of full disclosure I am the pickiest eater I’ve ever known. That being said we both thought the food was very good. We had breakfast mostly in Summer Palace. One morning we went to O’Sheehan’s and three mornings we went to the Garden Cafe. Lunch was where I ran into trouble and it wasn’t the food but variety. We had ten port days out of fourteen so those days we had a choice of the buffet or O’Sheehan’s. I really liked the open faced turkey sandwich but not every day. Buffets are always tricky. I like only a handful of things so I usually had pizza and salad. The chicken salad was excellent. We ate in Summer Palace every evening except one. That night we went to indigo. It was fine. It had the exact same menu but we much preferred the atmosphere in Summer Palace. As a side note, I called the Garden Cafe ‘Survival of the fittest’ because people acted like NCL was going to run out of food. I hate the pushing and shoving and line jumping. A couple of mornings we went up early and very much enjoyed being able to choose food items in a calm environment. I’m not built for wrestling for food. Spa/Fitness We got the thermal spa pass for my husband and he thought it was the best money we spent. He especially enjoyed the view as we went through the Panama Canal locks. I had three spa treatments and they were very helpful. I used the treadmill in the fitness center a few days but mostly I walked on 7. I did Latin Fitness with Yvette by the pool on three mornings and the class was great. Entertainment This area is subjective so I understand not everyone will agree with this assessment. My favorite show was the Legends concert with Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Elvis impersonators. We also really enjoyed the acrobatic duo. I can’t for the life of me remember their names. We thought the entertainment overall was good. I understand why young people wouldn’t be crazy about some of it. Staff We thought the staff was top notch. We especially appreciated the Summer Palace staff since we spent so much time there. Debarkation We carried our luggage off and were called around 8:00 am. The line to get off was long but all things come to an end. We finally cleared the terminal after 9:00 am. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We needed an early escape from the upcoming winter season, and away from the hassle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t a bad escuse either ;-) The Pearl had been refurbished since our last sailing and they did a great job on the ... Read More
We needed an early escape from the upcoming winter season, and away from the hassle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t a bad escuse either ;-) The Pearl had been refurbished since our last sailing and they did a great job on the new furnishings, especially the TV in the cabin. The housekeeping staff worked quickly and quietly (we saw our cabin person on the fist and last day, just like we love it). The buffet area, and the rest of the ship were always kept clean. The excursions were easy to order via the TV, and all ground teams were fantastic. We ate at Cagney Steakhouse on the last night, and the steak was very tasty, We especially loved the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the side dishes, and of course the decadent desserts. The shows were great, especially liked the Tina Turner performer! Great route for a low key week of FUN. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Weren't sure what to expect on the Pearl, an older ship recently refurbished, after cruising on the newer ship, the Bliss. To our surprise, the completely sold out Pearl felt really comfortable. All common areas were well taken care of ... Read More
Weren't sure what to expect on the Pearl, an older ship recently refurbished, after cruising on the newer ship, the Bliss. To our surprise, the completely sold out Pearl felt really comfortable. All common areas were well taken care of and the crews were fantastic. Entertainment much better than expected, kudos to the cast of Legend and the band for putting a great show. Service was fantastic whether at the bars or restaurants. Food was acceptable for the most part, except for the Moderno Churrascaria restaurant which was exceptional. All port of calls were good. Embarkation was a nightmare as it took us three hours to get on the ship. We were told this was no fault of NCL as arrival terminal was changed at the last minute. Overall, this was a quality cruise on a smaller refurbished ship which feels like a new ship. Will sail again on the Pearl. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Embarkation took us 3 hours standing in the sun. Because of that we all missed lunch. Almost every staff member was rude. The best was the steward. The room was so small but clean. Shower was clogging very bad but had it fixed within a ... Read More
Embarkation took us 3 hours standing in the sun. Because of that we all missed lunch. Almost every staff member was rude. The best was the steward. The room was so small but clean. Shower was clogging very bad but had it fixed within a day. Food in the main dining room was average. Buffet was actually Excellent. Went to medernos, the Brazilian steakhouse..... So horrible. Food was not good at all. All meet was so over cooked and chewy. Staff was so inattentive. Wasted money. Sushi was great! No surf and turf at all. It was like pulling teeth to just have some shrimp. Drinks were good. But drink package is ridiculously expensive. The ports made our trip enjoyable. Although everyone port except harvest key was only shopping unless you take a 30 min cab. This was the most expensive cruise we've gone on and compared to our past ones on carnival and royal, this is definitely our last time on Norwegian Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We liked ease of leaving from our home port. This was a Thanksgiving Cruise. Aft balcony cabin on deck 11 was very large. There was a bathtub with sliding doors and a commode with a door. The balcony could hold a chaise lounge, two chairs ... Read More
We liked ease of leaving from our home port. This was a Thanksgiving Cruise. Aft balcony cabin on deck 11 was very large. There was a bathtub with sliding doors and a commode with a door. The balcony could hold a chaise lounge, two chairs and a table. The casino allowed smoking and that was a negative for us. The piano bar was lively. The shows were good but no large productions like those on Royal Caribbean. The real disappointment was the quality of the food. The food tasted very generic and lacked the wow of many other cruise lines. There was no escargot, lobster or baked Alaska. The servers in the dining room never brought over fresh black pepper or grated cheese. Only once in 7 days were we asked if we would like coffee after dinner. There was no music in the dining room yet there was a large piano. The ship was very clean and lots of washy-washy before entering the Garden cafe . The adult pool was very small and lots of kids in all the hot tubs. For the same prices, I will go back to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Disappointing experience overall. Started with embarkation in Tampa. Was there at time selected, 12pm, stood outside on line in sun and heat for over 2 hours. would not let us in to terminal, no water, no information. One older ... Read More
Disappointing experience overall. Started with embarkation in Tampa. Was there at time selected, 12pm, stood outside on line in sun and heat for over 2 hours. would not let us in to terminal, no water, no information. One older gentleman passed out, request for wheelchair by a woman was denied. Food overall was terrible. Low quality beef that could not be chewed, burnt or overdone pasta dishes, scallops that were so small they must have been embryos, shrimp so small they looked like the canned shrimp used for dips, veal in the specialty restaurant that was chopped veal not sliced scallopine, overcooked dry omelets. Desserts were the only good thing. No organization of tours, gangways crowded with people jumping lines, pushing etc. Long walks from piers to transportation with no help for people with walking problems. Had specialty dining package. was told didn't have to make reservatons before we left by NCL agent. Resulted in our not being able to use one of the discounts because they were booked until 9pm. Disembarking was slightly better than embarking but still disorganized with long lines and no staff to control or organize the process. Will not be taking this cruise line again . Cruising used to be a luxurious way to travel, sadly this freestyle cruising has taken that away. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This was our first NCL cruise - we have been on 41 cruises. It was a promotion through our local casino. As we read about the ship we actually started to get excited. The specialty restaurants were enticing, the spa looked wonderful ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise - we have been on 41 cruises. It was a promotion through our local casino. As we read about the ship we actually started to get excited. The specialty restaurants were enticing, the spa looked wonderful and, we love the countries that we were to visit. Besides, it was a Casino at Sea so we planned to have fun in the casino. Our first warning was the embarkation. When we got to the terminal at 11:30, people were still disembarking. We found our Casino at Seas line at 11:50 - zipped right through security because of our scooter. Only one couple was ahead of us. We got on board at 1:50! Crazy. The ship was beautiful, the service (especially our room steward) was wonderful and the shows were great. But, that's where it stops. The menus were great but the food was mediocre at best. The Moderno Brazilian Restaurant's signature meat (Sirloin roast) was dry, tough and inedible. Cagney Steakhouse was good ... a step above Longhorn but not as good as a Ruth Chris (which Carnival's steakhouses are comparable). My biggest disappointment was Le Bistro, the French restaurant. Though the food was good, it was not French. Menu was French but not the food. I ordered their most expensive ($24.95) item (a shrimp dish). I've had more flavor and bigger and more tasty shrimp at Olive Garden, and trust me Olive Garden is not all that great. The main dining rooms also disappointed. Who fries stuffed mushrooms caps? Everything was just blah. The buffet was actually better than the main dining rooms. The Spa ... I prepaid for the Thermal Suite with its "therapy" pools. Well, I am 70 and have mobility issues. The two "therapy" pools are not accessible and there is no lift. You have to be able to climb a ladder. I have only been in three Thermal Suites (all on Carnival). Both the Breeze and the Splendor are wonderful. You can walk in on steps with solid handrails. The Vista was a joke ... easy to get into but smaller than a hot tub. When I discussed my problems with the staff, they were indifferent and said "they are working on that." The Casino - well, it was small, expensive ($10 minimum for tables) and had very limited variety of slots. There were a few tournaments (no discount for Casino at Sea folk) and no promotional games, except for one hour hot seat. Two of the four ports we went to were "fake" ports that have a handful of shops (no real native crafts, clothing or jewelry). But getting on and off was very easy. Disembarkation was weird. If you carry your own luggage you can get off willy-nilly. Causes quite a bit of congestion. We started to get off the ship at 9:45 (our group was suppose to be called at 9:15) and we got on the road about noon. Valet parking was very inefficient. NCL has beautiful ships, a caring staff and great shows. But that is the wrapping paper and Tiffany box. The food, ports of call, embarkation and disembarkation, is from the Dollar Store. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Love the specialty restaurants on NCL Had dinner 5 nights of the 7 night cruise in the specialty restaurants. Dined in the Le Bistro twice and each time it was excellent. We can't say enough for the Moderno, the selection of meats is ... Read More
Love the specialty restaurants on NCL Had dinner 5 nights of the 7 night cruise in the specialty restaurants. Dined in the Le Bistro twice and each time it was excellent. We can't say enough for the Moderno, the selection of meats is outstanding. also dined in that restaurant twice. The other restaurant was La Cucina, again great food. NCL is much better than all the other lines we have cruised on when it comes to specialty restaurants. This was a cruise to just relax and as usual NCL was great for just that. Didn't do any excursions just took it easy and enjoyed. Boarding the ship was slow. We arrived at 1;30pm and there was a very long line. Usually when we arrive at this time there is a small line and boarding is fast. It took about an hour to board. Disembarkation was the one of the fastest we have ever seen. Short line and moved quickly through customs. We will cruise on NCL again. Of all the lines we have cruised on, Disney, Carnival and Royal we have found the NCL is a better value and better service and quality. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This was a family cruise celebrating Thanksgiving and my husband and my 80th birthday. There were 10 of us. We choose Cagney’s Steak House for our Thanksgiving dinner. We had 5:30 reservations. It was 8:30 when the last bill was ... Read More
This was a family cruise celebrating Thanksgiving and my husband and my 80th birthday. There were 10 of us. We choose Cagney’s Steak House for our Thanksgiving dinner. We had 5:30 reservations. It was 8:30 when the last bill was signed and we could leave. 3 hours was pure torture to sit for dinner. It was obvious they were cooking for Moderno too. The waiters kept carrying large skewers of meat out of the place. Waiting forever between courses was not what we came for. This was our 4th time on the Pearl because we love that ship and have always enjoyed our cruise and the good service. It seems that ship has made new rules about where you can play cards. The 10 of us were at that fan tail restaurant about 3 pm the first sea day and some were eating and drinking and some of us were playing cards. We were told we could not play cards at those tables. We should go to the card room. We had been there and it was full. Asked where else on the ship we could go and play cards and there wasn't anyplace. We could sit at the table and eat and drink and visit but could not play cards. This was repeated a couple days later on deck 12 out by the swimming pool tables. Card room was full so we went there and were told “no playing cards”. This just does not make any sense to us. It’s our vacation and we aren’t bothering people or making a lot of noise so what is NCL thinking? I believe this was our 15th cruise with NCL and it will probably be our last. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This was my first cruise and we went with the Norwegian Pearl out of the Port of Tampa. Over the cruise exceeded my expectations. Staff was all extremely friendly and helpful and very entertaining. The port was awful, we waited two hours ... Read More
This was my first cruise and we went with the Norwegian Pearl out of the Port of Tampa. Over the cruise exceeded my expectations. Staff was all extremely friendly and helpful and very entertaining. The port was awful, we waited two hours to get on the boat and over and hour to get off the boat, very unorganized. We went to Harvest Caye, the island owned by Norwegian and it was very over priced and disappointing. All of our other stops were amazing and we enjoyed all of our prebooked excursions and tour guides in Cozumel, Honduras, and Costa Maya. The food and drinks were great other than the 24 hour restaurant. We were not happy with the daily gratuity charges of 14.50 per person per day. We also wish there were more hot tubs on the ship. Overall highly recommend to everyone trying to get away. Very great experience for my first cruise. Read Less
Norwegian Pearl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.0

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