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Bob E

Age: 67

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 21

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pearl

Sailing Date: 01-18-2009

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise on the Pearl and found it to be just as enjoyable as the first time. We flew out of Minneapolis, were it had been below zero for almost 5 days..... After arriving in Miami, we boarded a bus to take us to the Pearl. We traveled with my sister and her husband and this would be their first cruise.....It also was my sister's birthday that day and I had called ahead and had her room decorated....GREAT job to the staff of the Pearl. The Pearl is a great looking ship and was just as impressive as it was last year. Boarding was a snap (well, the Latitudes and VIP lines get longer every year, in fact, it would have been quicker to go thru the regular lines) and soon we were on board drinking a welcoming glass of champagne. After finding our rooms, and checking out the birthday decorations, we headed up to the Garden Cafe and had our first of many snacks. The ship was held up for an hour because of a technical problem, but soon, we were sailing....It's always a fun to sail down the channel and wave at the people on shore. FOOD: The Garden Cafe has a wide variety of food to pick from...Meats, salads, breads, soups, ICE CREAM...The quality is on par for a ship buffet and I can't imagine anyone complaining about nothing to eat there....I prefer eating in the main dining room, but when called for the buffet is a great alternative....I did have a few breakfasts there and the made to order omelets were great....and all the FRESH fruits were outstanding. The Summer Palace is where we ate most of our meals. I like the service and attention. The menu seemed to be scaled down a bit from last year, but it still had many selections to choose from and we weren't disappointed on any meal. The overall food quality has taken a step down, but is still equal or better than most medium priced land restaurants. We did have a portion of lobster on two difference evenings, even though they were only half a tail, they were prepared very nicely. On one night the lobster was mixed in with shrimp, scallops and mussels....Very tasty....They do have some items on the menu that can be picked any time...mostly chicken, a small steak, pasta dish which works if you don't like any of the daily specials. We didn't eat at the Indigo, but it serves the same menu. I didn't try the Blue Lagoon (the 24 hour restaurant) but did hear some complaints on the service and food. The Great Outdoors buffet is a great place to grab some food and eat on the fantail of the ship....a scaled down version of the Garden Cafe. I didn't eat at any of the extra charge restaurants, by choice, but they did seem to always be full...and I did hear some complaints that they weren't worth the extra money...but then again, I heard raving reviews...so I guess it's a personal preference. The Ship: The overall appearance of the Pearl was outstanding. Sparkling clean but with some wear and tear showing. There a many places on the Pearl to just get away from everyone...Little nooks and crannies, but resting on the 7th deck lounge chairs seemed to be what I liked best....On the 3rd day out, Captain Lars made an announcement that there was a small outbreak of a GI virus and he was taking steps to contain it. The buffet was shut down to self-service and was manned by ships personnel. They did all the serving from that point on...even pouring coffee for everyone. "Wash your Hands" became a daily announcement and must have worked, because there never was a major outbreak of the virus thanks to a quick and well managed plan. Because of the shift of food staff to the buffet line, the service in the dining rooms did slow down, but the longer wait was well worth not having the virus spread. I really had to salute the Captain and the crew for the quick response and professional way they handled the outbreak. The Muster drill was the quickest and smoothest drill I've every had...We were in and out in less than 15 minutes....Very professional again....Shopping on the Pearl can be expensive...lots of high priced jewelry, my wife did look at a ring (Russian Alexandrite) for $45,000..NOT:-)...they did have their daily discounted items, so I guess there were things for everyone to buy... Entertainment: SHARKBAIT is a still one the best shows on the high seas....Funny, fancy juggling, old jokes, but very entertaining. They did two shows and then did a juggling class....Don't miss it... DAVID NASTER was the comedian. He did a preview show the first night and we really didn't like him... BUT...when he did his full show later in the cruise, he was fantastic....very funny and picked up on things that had happened during the cruise....which made it even funnier. SECONED CITY wasn't as good this year in my opinion....they lacked the funniness and quick wit that the group had last year. JEAN ANN RYAN COMPANY did the same shows that they did last year and I didn't like them then and they weren't as entertaining a second time around. The dancers were talented, but didn't have a very good show to perform. The productions aren't geared to the age of most of the passengers, the dancing seemed to be repetitious and lacked the punch that you get from a Jean Ann production. The husband/wife gymnasts were good, but how may times can you watch the same thing over and over....They did star in the Garden of the Geisha, but it got to be too drawn out.....Talented yes, but boring after awhile. The female singer was off key a lot and the male singer's voice kind of grated on the ear drums after a while. I was hoping they would have changed the shows after not liking them last year on the Pearl...But since I can't sing or dance, I guess I Shouldn't be so critical....NCL's shows have been suffering over the last 4 years...maybe it's time to take a second look at the entertainment.... CREW The crew of the Pearl couldn't have been more pleasant. From Captain Lars down to the pots and pan scrubber....People will complain that they didn't get good service at times....but I never felt like I wasn't getting my monies worth of attention...One complaint I had was that I didn't meet my room steward, I even went looking for him, but the room was always clean and we had towel animals almost every night...Our room steward did miss out on a $20.00 up front tip though (since I couldn't find him)....but of course he got his regular tip at the end of the cruise....We did have a most delightful young lady in the Summer Palace and couple of times and she got an extra tip also....The crew works hard and long hours and deserve an extra tip if they go out of their way to be of help and service. Ports Roatan: Roatan now has a Diamond International store right at the dock...It was their grand opening...like we need another one?....anyway, we did shop at the local flea market and was followed by the little kids begging for money. We did sit down to have a drink and one little boy followed us out to the end of the dock....The police were there almost immediately and dragged him away...But he was waiting for us when we came back into the street...He was supposed to be in school and wasn't allowed near where liquor was being served. There is a lot of new stores being built near the dock and I'm sure will hurt the locals that are selling there now. Belize: I did the Old Belize River and Al Tun Ha Mayan ruin....I've done it in the past and since my brother-in-law wanted to see some Mayan ruins, we spent the day on the river and ruins. We did get to see monkeys, crocs, manatees, Iguanas, bats, lots of birds so it was an enjoyable day. Cozumel: Shopping for Grand kids..T-shirt heaven...My sister and her husband did the Segway tour and really enjoyed it.... Great Stirrup Cay: A great way to relax and get ready to pack to go home. Get there early to get a decent chair and space. The ship served a nice picnic lunch and had one of the bands from the ship playing music. A nice walk around the island, wading in the water, grabbing a hamburger, and then getting back on the ship to pack the bags....a very relaxing day. Overall cruise: This was our 21st cruise and second time on the Pearl...I've always said, there is no such thing as a bad cruise, some are just better than others....well this was better than others...The ship was clean and well managed, the weather was great, the ride was the smoothest we've ever had, met lots of nice people, great memories, 7 extra pounds (which are disappearing). Cruising still has to be one of the best ways to travel...We will be booking for our 4th cruise to Alaska in 2010 or sooner if the right cruise comes along....Happy Cruising.

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