A quick and brief report on our Alaska Inside Passage cruise on the Norwegian Pearl:
THE SHIP: This was our second Norwegian Cruise Line cruise--we had previously taken a Hawaii cruise on the Norwegian Star (with which we played pier tag for most of this cruise). The Pearl is a newer than the Star and was very satisfactory in all respects. We prefer Princess and Norwegian as we find them more casual without being sloppy and we love the open dining arrangements.
FOOD: Ate dinner in the main dining room just once----typical hotel level quality and par for the course for Norwegian. Had dinner at two specialty restaurants--the Italian restaurant which we found to be very good--it is located in its own distinct area on Deck 12 the same deck where the buffet is found. The steak restaurant was a huge disappointment--steaks were not prepared as ordered and the service was generally ragged. Twice during the time we were there a waiter dropped a tray of food. Need a little work in this restaurant. Our other dinners were in he buffet area as we were often too tired after a day off the ship to want to do anything other than refuel. We found the buffet to be very good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
SERVICE: Generally found the staff to be very helpful and courteous. For some reason our cabin always seemed to be the last one to be cleaned--usually at 1 p.m. which seemed a little late.
PORTS: The standard--Juneau (we took the tour of a hatchery and Mendenhall glacier which was very good and had the bus driver let us off in downtown Juneau for shopping and a hour at the Red Dog Saloon which was touristy and fun); Skagway (where we took the White Pass train excursion which we enjoyed and was very convenient as the trains come right to the cruise dock---I found Skagway itself not to be much and the day we were there it was very cold), Ketchikan (we only had a few hours here so we walked around the town and shopped-we liked it!) and Victoria (loved this place--we walked around the downtown--there was a lot going on Saturday night and took a 1 hour horse carriage tour around the city--beautiful!!). The day cruising Glacier Bay was awesome--between glaciers we would go to a ranger lecture.
GETTING ON AND OFF THE SHIP: Embarking on the first day was made very easy by Norwegian--we were on by noon and waited in the buffet restaurant for our cabin to be ready. The last day was equally easy--we took our own luggage off and were off the ship by 8 a.m. There were plenty of taxis waiting to take us to the Seattle airport.
In addition to playing tag with the Norwegian Star on this cruise we also saw the Star Princess, another ship we have cruised on. It's like seeing old friends!
Norwegian Cruise Lines has a new ship soon to be cruising which looks fantastic--the Epic. We hope to cruise on it in the 18 to 24 months.