We went to the NCL Star 3 years ago on a Mexican Riviera 9-day trip and we love every minutes of it. The food, the shows (We gave most of the shows a high rating), everything.
Now we are going to book an Alaska cruise for two of us and our 3 children (10,12,18) for the July 2008 Alaska trip. The Dawn Princess is 10-day and leaving from SF, which is 45min drive from our home. The NCL Pearl is 7-day cruise from Seatle. The costs are almost the same, after factoring the flights. We never been on a Princess Cruise before so we have no idea of the quality of the shows, the food and the extra activities for the children. Any help here is greatly appreciated.
We did Alaska on the NCL Pearl on May 20th, 2007 from Seattle. It was a great cruise. AAA+ rated. Can't comment on the Dawn, but after 3 times on the Pearl in one year, can't see how you can go wrong. Feel free to ask any questions.
the NCL Pearl is a little larger and newer than Dawn Princess, but Princess takes extraordinary care of its ships. I have cruised with Princess for 30+ years and never been disappointed. The entertainment and food are excellent. I can't speak for the childrens' programs from experience, but I hear from others that they are outstanding as well.
The way I see it, you will have a wonderful cruise either way; and as you say, the cost is about the same. So rather than pack the whole family and luggage on a aircraft, why not just drive to the port and sail away. Sailing out of San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate, is quite a thrill.
We are doing the Dawn 10 day in September. We do have to fly to SF, but living in San Diego, at least it is a short flight. You live so near SF, that for me it would be a no brainer. Flying can be such a nightmare these days, and it is so nice to cruise from your homeport. We were on the Dawn in December ( Mexican Riviera) and enjoyed the ship very much. The cabins are on the small side though; that was the one negative. the beds were new, and very comfortable. I have no idea about stateroom size on the Pearl. Everyone we talked to about the kids' programs thought they were very good.
Hi Opticguy, welcome to Cruise-Chat. We've been on both Princess and NCL. Not the NCL Pearl, however, but have been on the Dawn. Princess is our favorite cruise line, but you will have a wonderful time on either cruise line. To me, the food is better on Princess, as well as the entertainment. We haven't used the children's program on either line, but have heard very positive remarks from the one on Princess. I enjoyed the layout of the Dawn. She's a large ship, but not too large and very easy to navigate. The service on board Princess has always been superb and their ships are always immaculate. Either way, you'll have a marvelous time. Best wishes and once again, welcome aboard!
Please let us know how you liked Princess when you return. I do hope y'all have as wonderful of an experience as we've had aboard the Princess ships we've been on. We've sailed the Sea Princess twice, the Dawn Princess, the Sun Princess twice and the Emerald Princess. We'll be sailing the Royal, Lord willing, in December. Hope you have a marvelous cruise!
I just got off the Pearl on a 9 day Caribbean cruise...The ship was wonderful....I do have a small review on this site.....I've also sailed on the Princess Dawn....It's a smaller ship, and a few years older...you can't go wrong with either...I like the idea of a 10 days cruise, but don't know if your children will hold out that long....Either way, you will love Alaska...one problem is that the excursions are very expensive....but there is a lot of walking around shopping at every port....I'm leaning for the Pearl...the freestyle dining seems to work better for families...eat when you and the kids are hungry....and then there is always the buffet which kids seem to like much better than the large diningrooms...Going to Alaska in a canoe is better than never going at all...Flip a coin and then pick the Pearl;-).....