After reading the many negative reviews of this ship and cruise company, we were very concerned about doing this extended trip, particularly after having extensive (2+ years) ocean/river cruising experiences on ultra luxury smaller cruise ships. We were very much interested in the specific itinerary. Our Pearl Mist cruise experience was outstanding and we found that the majority of the negative reviews were false. The cruise was luxury, simple and not elegant. All aspects of the ship were very nice and well maintained, no old or dirty carpet! There was not the glitz and gambling of the big ocean cruse ships. The ship is a cross between a ocean cruise ship and a riverboat.
The officers, Filipino service cruise staff and the American Cruise Directors were all excellent. The Hotel Director was outstanding. The receptionists were very helpful. The entire crew was very friendly. The servers had many years of experience on ultra luxury cruise ships and years with Pearl Mist. Breakfast room service was outstanding every day, the best we ever experienced. The menu choices were excellent with always available menu alternatives. Early dining at 5:30PM was great. There is a limitation of only 1 table for 2, but there are some tables for 4 instead of 6 or 8. The food preparation, presentation, proportions and delivery was very good. Coming early for dinner made for prompt service.
The cabin (514) was very nice and roomy with a nice bathroom and shower and good balcony with furniture. The HVAC for the room was outstanding and very individually controllable - the best ever in any ship. The cabin was very quiet with blackout drapes. The cabins on deck 4 and 5 are similar. However, the cabins on decks 2 and 3 do not have glass doors to the balcony, only a window and solid door. The nominal internet wi-fi can be a challenge due to slowness because of passenger capacity - however if one plans well and uses it in the evening when folks are at dinner or the show or in the early morning or when folks are off ship on excursions, it is reasonable and acceptable.
The lounges are nice and comfortable, more living room style. The historian who made the daily presentations was absolutely outstanding. The Cruise Directors did an excellent job of organizing, planning and managing the daily schedule and activities on a very timely basis. Other nice benefits include free laundry service, free shore excursions and liquor as well as always available drinks and snacks. Only in 2 ports was there poor docking locations - Montreal and Quebec City. Otherwise, the docking locations were outstanding - right downtown! The entertainment was just adequate, but not great. The exercise equipment was new and located in a protected area outside. The passengers were generally older and retired. There are 3 smaller quiet lounge areas as well. The dinner dress code is very casual and not strong enforced. Our only negative experience was a serious transfer issue with 6 other passengers from Chicago to Milwaukee, which did finally get resolved with us taking the initiative to make it happen.
Overall, an excellent experience on a wonderful itinerary which we would highly recommend.
Excellent cabin, bathroom and balcony. Very quiet, excellent HVAC controllability, blackout drapes - very comfortable and roomy.