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Age: 70


Number of Cruises: 25

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pearl

Sailing Date: 2011-05-22

Itinerary: Alaska

Washy Washy, Happy Happy¦. This was the catch phrase on the Norwegian Pearl on our trip to Alaska on May 22. The Pearl is still a sleek and and sexy lady, but showing some signs of aging. A few nips and tucks are in order and she will be back to her original splendor. We flew into Seattle from Minneapolis early in the morning, hopped an NCL bus and were at the Bell Street Pier by 9:30¦..We dropped our baggage off at the airport and didn't see it again until it showed up in our room around 2:30. We boarded the ship around 11:30 and the room was ready at 1:30. Lunch at the buffet (which was crowded of course) but finally did find a table. This was my 3rd cruise on the Pearl and 4th trip to Alaska. The one sad note was that Captain Lars had left the ship so no more early morning jokes over the PA system. The new captain wasn't seen around the ship much, but I guess his main job is to get us to where we were going. Went to the Critics Meet and Greet and met some really nice people. Julie, the Cruise Director, introduced some of the officers and we had a nice chat. One thing we noticed right away was that there wasn't a whole lot of announcements, which at times can be annoying. The crew couldn't have been nicer. All were ready to do what it took to make the cruise a pleasent trip. Our room stewards were outstanding. I always give a nice tip upfront and it kind of set the stage for a very nice cruise. This was our 10th cruise on NCL and sorry to say, some things weren't what they use to be.

We've noticed a drop in the quality of the entertainment over the past 3 or 4 cruises. On this cruise, it seemed to have dropped even more. The "Oh What a Night" takeoff of the Jersey Boy's, was done very well and the two shows that they did do, were worth watching and listening to them. The juggler/comedian was just ok. He did have the audience going by having them throw rings that he caught (or tried) to catch with his head. It was funny to point. The main production numbers were a step above high school productions. Some nice singers, but not that entertaining. NCL seems to have loaded up the entertainment on the Epic and skimped on the other ships. One thing that was nice in the theater, a whole row of a wide aisle were set aside for handicap and special needs passengers. This was also true for the Garden Cafe where there were 2 tables had handicap markings. With the average age of this cruise, they could have had more.

The food overall was good. We ate either in the buffet or the Summer Palace. The buffet really doesn't change much from day to day, but still has many choices to choose from. My only concern was that many of the items that were supposed to be hot, were only lukewarm but the quality was very good. One of the best buffets on any ship. The Summer Palace quality has dropped off somewhat. Usually only 2 new selections every night, but there was a side menu which had permanent selections to choose from, so there was no shortage of food to choose from. No chilled soups this time. Still can't figure out how some people say they couldn't find a thing to eat on a ship.

It was my 70th birthday on board so we booked a dinner at Cagney. So sorry to say this but, it wasn't worth the extra $25 each. The crabcakes were great, but I ordered the New York Strip steak. It was the same cut of meat I had down in the Summer Place. I had expected a nicer steak. It was ok, but I was hoping for something better. I did get a birthday cake and a serenade from some of the servers. Would I go there again? I don't think so.

We've been to Alaska 4 times, but how can you not love this cruise. Every time we've cruised there, we've seen new things and I will probably go back again. In Juneau we went for an evening whale watcing and of course we saw whales. But over the course the whole cruise, we saw whales every day. Some far away, but some very close to the ship.

Glacier Bay is always spectacular, but over the course of 12 years of sailing to Alaska, we've noticed that the glaciers are not as big. We've compared pictures that we have taken and you can see the difference. Many others on the ship made the same comment. As we sailed into Glacier Bay, we did get a chance to see Brown Bears, Sea Otters, Sea Lions and Whales. What a great day.

We took our 3rd ride up the White Pass Railroad and it's still a grand excursion. I went King Salmon fishing in Ketchikan where of course it was cold and raining. I hooked a small King which had to be released, the only fish we saw. But the four of us on the boat all said that there were guys back working at their jobs that would switch places with us in a heartbeat.

The Buchart Gardens in Victoria were almost in full bloom and were wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone that loves flowers.

Overall, the cruise was a nice relaxing time. The ship needs some TLC. The food was good, but not outstanding. The crew though, was outstanding. I've sailed on many other cruise lines, but NCL is still a favorite and I will sail with them again.

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