I am 55, Mary is 56. We were on the NCL Pearl for the 9 Day Southern Caribbean on Feb 2nd, 2007 Penthouse #9500. It was great trip and you can see my photoshow of the trip at:
Then we went back on the NCL Pearl to Alaska May 20th, 2007 balcony room #9020.
We are NCL Platinum members, their highest awards honor. We have always been treated royally and all the bad things I read about NCL here on this website and others, I just can't justify. Yes, you can have a bad time on a cruise. Pre cruise expectations usually run very high due the anticiption and excitement. It is only natural. You need to be opened minded. We have found both the food and service to be outstanding on all NCL ships that we have sailed. The Pearl is the newest with the Gem ready to hit the seas soon. So your cruising on one of the best on the seas. We will cruise again Sept 24th for a repositoning as the ship heads to LA and back to Miami. We will have my 83 year old father, it's a 4 nighter, so this time, it's an inside cabin. As Platinum members we will be treated royally again. So we know the ship well, know several of the executive staff and wait staff and that really helps.
As for reservations, NCL Pearl has chnaged the way they handle reservations. Try to plan your restuarants ahead of time. There is always the Garden Cafe Buffet which is really good if you miss a specialty restaurant or free restuarant.
You will only need a reservation if you eat at premium times like 6:00 to 7:30 PM. It is suggested that you make one. Before 6:00 there are special bargains for speciality resturants. After 8:00 PM there is no problem just walking to the hostess to get a table. If your selecting Le Bistro, call ahead one day in advance as well as any other specialty restuarant. I suggest the following free restaurants for dinner......Indigo ( Main Dining ), Summer Palace ( Main Dining ), Mamba's ( Tex-Mex ), La Cucina ( Italian ) and of course the Garden Cafe Buffet ( Deck 12 )....you will find many of the items served in the free dining areas on the buffet. You get what you want, when you want, and the Garden Cafe has several food stations were the food is freshly prepared. Many passenger under estimate the garden Cafe. Open 5:30 to 9:30 PM
Specialty restaurant suggestions....Le Bistro ( Cover charge ($15 per person) for fine dining atmosphere, and service. Desert...Chocolate Fondue...it's not on the menu, you have to ask for it.
Lotus Garden Deck 6 for Asian Food cover charge ( $10 per person ) great selection of oriental foods.
In Lotus Garden if you really want something different try the Shabu-Shabu...it's a table dinner. You get a steaming hot cooking pot with fresh oriental foods and your the cook. Cost
$10 per person).
Teppanyaki...($20), just like Benihania, but this one I feel is OVERPRICED for the quanity of food given. You are paying for the show.
Cagney's Steakhouse Deck 13, for premium beef steaks and seafood. ($20 per person).Excellent atmosphere, selection and service.
For the premium restuarants you will need the reservation. Call the reservation desk from your room the night before. Planning is the key to fighting the crowd.
Breakfast after 8:00 AM in Garden Buffet can become a human zoo. You may have to share a table with others if you don't mind. Signs on tables politely ask that when you are done, to leave the table so another passenger can sit.
Lunch....Blue Lagoon Cafe Deck 8 for comfort foods. Great Outdoors for lunch and Topsiders Bar for Outside Grill.
Plenty of room for lounging by the pools, lots of towel racks, and NCL does not the idea of hogging lounges. They have pool staff always picking up towels. Bring a book and swim bag and keep on your chair or lounge.
Inside cabin for two will be OK. Just no natural light. More than two, I won't do it myself.
Hope this helps. Anymore q's...just ask.
Richard & Mary
Las Cruces, New Mexico USA