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Lam

Age: 54

Occupation:manager

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Pearl

Sailing Date: 2011-09-30

Itinerary: Panama Canal

We had a "rough" start to the cruise as we did the Coastal leg from Vancouver to LA. We have taken the Coastal on two other "smoother" occasions. The weather turned nice once we hit San Francisco and remained nice till we docked in Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale. The staff on the Pearl made this one of the best cruises that we have ever been on. The Panama Canal was the second leg of our journey so the staff recognized us from participating in the activities on the Coastal leg.

Due to some of the "negative reviews" I feel I must make the following comment. I have cruised with Celebrity, RCL, and Princess in the past (they all have pros & cons) but I find the value to be the best on NCL. I cruise because I want to see as many ports of call as I can. The ship becomes my home for the duration of the trip and I choose to spend our money on excursions rather than extras. While shopping for the Panama Canal cruise, I found Celebrity and Princess were charging $300-$500 per person more with 1 less port. (I can have a lot of fun with $600-$1000 extra dollars or eat at the specialty restaurants!)

The food is on par with the other cruise lines as they are all assembly line "hotel/convention" type meals. The food was adequate in the regular dining rooms, just okay at the "Blue Lagoon" cafe, and better than expected at the buffet. We were surprised to see salmon wellington one day on the buffet line. We did not use any of the "user pay" restaurants but was told by many the food and service was excellent.

The stateroom attendant was excellent and very patient with us. We didn't keep regular hours and at times slept in, took naps at odd hours, showered before and after port days. He kept our room maintained so well that I felt obligated to tip him extra at the end of the cruise.

The onboard activities include the usual "silly" games shows, trivia, rock climbing, etc. The secret to having a great cruise is to participate no matter how hokey you think it is. It is a great opportunity to get to know your cruise staff, fellow passengers and vise versa. Avoid the "port chats" as they are just pushing shopping opportunities. The "Bowling with the NCL stars" is a must even if you don't bowl. I'm told this tournament only happens on the Panama relocation cruise as it runs 3 days. You will "really" get to know the cruise staff.

Ports of call:
Cab San Lucas, a resort town with your usual tourist shops and activities. (just okay for me)

Acapulco, went to Tehuacalco Astro-Archaeological Zone, in Guerrero, is an ancient Yope ceremonial center, one of the few seigniories never dominated by Aztecs. The site includes the remains of a ball court, residential space, and a holy temple. (I enjoyed it)

Huatulco, a resort town with your usual tourist shops and activities. (just okay for me)

Puerto Quetzal, took a tour to Casa Santo Dominigo and the city of Antigua (I enjoyed it)

Puntarenas, took the "Rain Forest Skywalk" tour and hung around the port afterwards (I loved it)

The Panama canal passage was great as NCL brought onboard a Panama Canal expert to narrate the complete crossing. It was educational as well as beautiful. A fantastic day!

Cartagena, took the tour of "Magnificent Cartagena" (I enjoyed it)

In summary, The ship was nice and the ports of call were great! It's a holiday and beats working! You will like NCL if you are an easy going casual type of person. You will not like it if you expect a more "formal" and structured type of cruise. I can go either way but the "ports of call" selection and "cruise value" means more to my family. I will do this cruise again after they complete the canal expansion.

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