My husband and I are considering a trip on the Pearl in Oct. This is our 2nd cruise; our first was on RCCL Voyager of the Seas. We weren't all that thrilled with RCCL and want to try freestyle cruising.
Can anyone answer some questions for me:
1. Does NCL have a "lost towel" policy like RCCL does? RCCL charges you $20 if you happen to lose or misplace your pool towel, which I think is really penny-pinching and stupid. Like someone wants their stupid, cheap towels.
2. In the main dining room, can you ask for a table for 2 if you so desire? And what are the cover charges for the specialty restaurants?
3. RCCL had a big absence of daily activites, i.e. lectures, dance lessons, etc. and most of the [good] entertainment started after 10:30pm (I'm on my third dream by then.) Does NCL have more activities during the day? Can anyone download one of the daily programs?
4. How are the rooms? We had a very comfortable balcony stateroom on VOS, but I heard the rooms on NCL were larger. True?
2. There is not a "main dining room", with freestyle you choose where you want to eat and when. There are 10 dining room options. 5 included and 5 more that require a sur-charge ranging from $15. - $20. per night, per person.
3. I'm shocked that you found the entertainment lacking on RCCL, especially on a Voyager Class ship. The entertainment choices on most of the mainstream lines is comparable. I wouldn't say one has more or better than another since all such comparisons are each passengers opinion and preference. I'd rate NCL, RCI, CCL and PCL all very good, but they will vary on specific ships/crews/sailings.
4. The balcony cabins on Pearl range from 162 to 167 sq ft in the BA to BE Categories with a 38 sq ft balcony. The VOS E class balcony cabins are 173 sq ft + 47 sq ft balcony. Their D class balcony cabins are 202 sq ft + 50 sq ft balcony.
We have sailed extensively on NCL and the last 6 cruises were all NCL, taking 3 cruises in the last 9 months. Answers to your questions:
1) NCL does NOT have a "lost towel" pay policy. In the open pool areas, NCL maintains large bins were passengers pick up the pool towels at their own leisure. There are no staff members available to record number of towels or stateroom numbers. Passengers just get up from their pool deck chairs and leave, then NCL pool/deck staff pick up the towels in large laundry bins for cleaning.
If you are going off the ship, and require a towel for the beach areas off board, NCL will THEN record the stateroom number and the number of towels and you are required to returned them and have them checked back in. I do not know of charges for non returned towels. There may be some as TrlPro has suggested.
So the policy defers from on-ship towels to off-ship beach towels.
2)If your on a ship like the NCL Pearl, or Jewel, they have two main dining rooms. On the NCL Pearl they are Indigo and Summers Palace. These are considered the "main" dining rooms. Then there are other "no cost" restaurants like, Mambo's (Tex-Mex),La Cucina (Italian), Garden Cafe (Buffet), Blue Lagoon (Lunch Casual), Outdoor Adventure (lunch-dinner casual outdoors on the back deck),that have no cover charge.
Specialty restaurants are "cover charge:. Just an example, NCL Pearl..Lotus Garden (Asian) $10.00 per person, Le Bistro (French) $20.00 per person. Sushi (Asian) $15.00 per person, Shaba-Shaba (Asian) $15.00 per person, Cagney's (Steakhouse) $20.00 per person, Teppanyaki (Asian, Benihania style) $20.00 person.
The ships will offer either early bird 2 for 1 specials in speciality restaurants usually between 5:30 & 6:30 PM, some offer 8:30 to 9;30 PM.
We also were provided a 2 for 1 special coupon on the first night of the cruise the day we left port of Seattle. We choose Lotus Garden for a total of $10.00 for 2 people. Ask your travel agent for a NCL Coupon Book.
We have found that all specialty restuarants are a good value as related to the cover charge.
3)Day time activities are plentiful depending on the NCL ship that you are on. Bingo, lectures, Art auctions, art history, Trivia games, Wii Video games, movies. I can send a copy of the recent Freestyle Daily from the NCL Pearl Alaska May 20th cruise if you like directly to you.
4)Size of the rooms are clearly listed on the NCL website depending on category choosen. We had a Penthouse Suite #9500 on the NCL Pearl in Feb, 2007. The outside balcony was larger than the suite. We could have entertained 20 guest easily. On NCL Pearl recently to Alaska we had a port balcony #9020 and balcony had 2 chairs and can seat 2 comfortably. We had 4 on our balcony standing for viewing purposes.
You had good questions. We are very loyal fans of NCL, and have always been treated exceptionally well, with VIP service.
This last cruise to Alaska on May 20th, 2007 we were treated like Royalty or Arab Shieks. It was simply awesome.
Richard and Mary, Thanks for fine tuning my post. I was pretty sure if anyone knew the specific ins and outs with NCL it would be you. By the way, did you see they're giving away a free NCL cruise on the site now? When I saw it, I thought of you, hope you win.
I saw the contest and surely registered immediately. I know whoever wins the cruise they will have a great time with NCL. With the selections in place, if we win, we have already choosen to be the NCL Star once again. We love the ship also.
I didn't register since I get a few freebees per year offered through work and can't usually take them because of time frame or other restrictions. I get a few more offered as FAM's but they won't allow me to take my wife when they offer them (agent only) and they make you follow thier daily itinerary schedule when you accept.
I book and pay for my own cruises just like everybody else. With some lines/ships I don't even get a price break. But I love cruising like everyone here.
Out of curiousity, have you done an NCLA in Hawaii yet? If so, was it as favorable as your other NCL experiences?
Thanks so much for your info. Yes, I would love to see a daily program. You can email it to me at email@example.com.
And yes,the entertainment was extremely lacking on the RCCL cruise--mostly because it started way too late. I'm only in my mid-40s but not a night person. Usually, there is an early show at 7:30 then a later show. RCCL had shows starting at either 9:30 or 10:30.
Good to hear that NCL doesn't have that stupid "lost towel" policy!
We have not done NCLA, because I really don't like having to fly direct to Hawaii.
We have booked the Diamond Princess for 14 days from L.A. and back. I really like the days at sea, which are my favorite for really relaxing. We will have 4 days at sea going, 5 days at the Islands, and 4 days back which I will really love.
We leave Dec 3rd, 2007 on the Diamond Princess, which I have sailed before to Mexico. It's a beautiful ship.
If NCLA had a real L.A. to Hawaii cruise, they would have been our first choice.
Richard & Mary, same to you on your upcoming Hawaii cruise. I'm envious of that one. I can only take a week at a time or I'm completely burried at work when I return. Kinda defeats the purpose of the vacation. There are so many longer itin's I've wanted to do and the west coast round trip to Hawaii is one of them, I love the sea days too.