Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 364 out of 500
Accommodation: 145 out of 200
Food: 240 out of 400
Service: 272 out of 400
Entertainment: 66 out of 100
Cruise: 275 out of 400
Overall Score: 1362 out of 2000
Norwegian Pearl Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9342281
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: $390 million
Entered Service: Dec 2006
Length (ft/m): 964.8/294.1
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 26.9/8.2
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (39,000kW)/2 azimuthing pods
Passenger Decks: 12
Total Crew: 1,087
Passengers (lower beds): 2,394
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 39.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2
Cabins (total): 1,197
Size Range (sq ft/m): 142.0-4,390.0/13.2-407.8
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 540
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 27
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
A casual, family-friendly ship with multi-choice dining options
Overview. Plenty of choices, including many dining options, add up to an attractive vacation package, highly suitable for families with children, in a floating leisure center that provides ample facilities for enjoyment. The dress code is always casual - no jacket and tie needed - although you are welcome to dress formally if you wish.
The Ship. The ship’s white hull has a colorful, funky design on its sides featuring sparkling jewels. There are plenty of sunloungers - in fact, more than the number of passengers carried. Water slides are included for the adult swimming pools. Children have their own pools at the stern, out of sight of adult areas.
Inside the ship, you’ll be met by an eclectic mix of colors and decor that you probably wouldn’t have in your home, and yet somehow it works extremely well in this large resort ship setting designed to attract the young, active, and trendy.
There are 13 bars and lounges, including Bar Central, three specialty bars that are connected but have distinct personalities. Shakers Martini and Cocktail Bar is a 1960s-inspired lounge; Magnum’s Champagne and Wine Bar recalls Paris of the 1920s and the liner Normandie; and Maltings Beer and Whiskey Pub is a contemporary bar with artwork themed around whiskey and beer production.
Despite the company’s name, there’s little that’s Norwegian about this product, except for some senior officers. There’s plenty of lively music, constant activity, entertainment, and food that is mainstream and acceptable but nothing more, unless you pay extra to eat in the specialty dining spots. All this is delivered by a smiling, friendly service staff that lacks polish but is willing.
The ship is, however, full of revenue centers designed to part you from your cash. Expect to be subjected to a stream of flyers advertising daily art auctions, ‘designer’ watches, and ‘inch of gold/silver.’
The initial cruise fare is reasonable, but extra costs soon mount up if you want to sample more than the basics. A mandatory per person service charge is added to your account daily; 15 percent is also added for bar charges, and a whopping 18 percent for spa treatments.
Families. A good deal of space is devoted to children’s facilities, which are all tucked well away from adult recreation areas, at the aft end of the ship. Children of all ages will get to play in a superb wet ’n’ wild space-themed water park complete with large pool, water slide, and paddle pool. There’s a room full of cots for toddlers to use for sleepovers, and even the toilets are at a special low height. Teens, too, are well catered for, and have their own cinema, discotheque with dance floor, and hot tub.
More than 250 cabins have interconnecting doors - good for families with children. That means interior cabins can connect; outside-view cabins can connect; and outside-view and balcony cabins can connect. Also for families, many cabins also have third- and fourth-person pull-down berths or trundle beds.
Accommodation. There are numerous accommodation price grades, so there’s something for all tastes, from small interior cabins to lavish Penthouse Suites in a private courtyard setting - part of The Haven complex. Although they are nicely furnished and quite well equipped, the standard outside-view and interior cabins are quite small, particularly when occupied by three or four people.
A small room service menu is available; all non-food items are at extra cost, and a 15 percent service charge is added to your account. Bottled water is placed in each cabin, but you will be charged if you open the bottle.
Courtyard Penthouses/Suites. Two Garden Villas (each measures 4,390 sq ft/408 sq m), and 10 Courtyard Villas share a private courtyard with its own small pool, hot tub, massage bed, and fitness room - all in a setting that is distinctly Asian. They also share a private concierge lounge with the two largest villas, as well as butler and concierge service. These units enjoy exclusivity - rather like accommodation in a gated community - where others cannot live unless they pay the asking price. The two largest are duplex apartments, with a spiral stairway between the upper and lower quarters.
Deluxe Owner’s Suites. Two suites are set high atop all other accommodation, have stunning ocean views, and consist of a master bedroom with king-size bed, a dining/lounge area, a decent-size balcony, and access to the private courtyard.
Dining. Freestyle Dining has no assigned dining rooms, tables or seats, so you can choose which restaurant to eat in, at what time, and with whom. In practice, this means you have to make reservations for a specific time, so ‘freestyle dining’ turns out to be programmed dining. Ten restaurants and eateries are spread over two entire decks. Some are included in the cruise fare, others cost extra.
The two principal dining rooms are the 304-seat Indigo, with its minimalist decor; and the 558-seat Summer Palace, plus eight other themed eating spots. The 17 video screens around the ship enable you to check how long you’ll have to wait for a table at each dining spot. Pagers are available, so you can go bar-hopping while you wait for a table. The system works well, although on formal nights when you may want to see the show, congestion can occur. Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL’s) dress code states that ‘jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, and bare feet are not permitted in restaurants.’
Other dining options. Cagney’s House (for fine steaks and seafood), Blue Lagoon (Asian street food), and Le Bistro (French cuisine) are NCL favorites. Mambo’s is a contemporary spot with bright colors and Latin/tapas fare. Lotus Garden is an Asian eatery featuring a Teppanyaki Grill and sushi counter. A La Cucina Italian Restaurant is novel in that it has a long wooden table running through the room to create the ambience of a Tuscan farmhouse. For really casual (self-serve) buffet-style eating, there’s the light, airy Great Outdoors. Finally, the Garden Café incorporates an ice cream bar, and Kid’s Café, with its own kid-height counter, is wisely located opposite the children’s play areas. For coffee, head to the Java Café in the lobby - it’s a great place for people watching. Three of the specialty restaurants incur a cover charge, while others are free.
Entertainment. The 1,037-seat Stardust Theater is the venue for colorful Las Vegas-style production shows and major cabaret acts. It is designed in the style of an opera house, spans three decks, and has a steeply tiered main floor and port and starboard balconies.
There are two or three production shows in a typical seven-day cruise, all ably performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. These are all very colorful, high-energy, razzle-dazzle shows with much use of pyrotechnics, lasers, and color-mover lighting. By the end of the evening, you may well be too tired to remember much about the shows, which are nevertheless very entertaining.
A number of bands and solo entertaining musicians provide live music for listening and dancing in lounges and bars. In Spinnakers Lounge, a nightclub, a Pachanga Party is held each cruise (a Miami South Beach rave).
Spa/Fitness. Bodywaves is the name of the spa/fitness center. It is operated by the Hawaii-based Mandara Spa (Steiner Leisure), located in the front of the ship with large ocean-view windows on three sides. There are lots of facilities and services to pamper you, almost all at extra charge, including Thai massage in the spa, outdoors on deck, in your cabin or on your private balcony.
In addition, there is a 37ft (11m) indoor lap pool, hydrotherapy pool, two sit-in deep tubs, aromatherapy and wellness centers, and mud treatment rooms. There are 15 private massage/body treatment rooms, including one just for couples.
The fitness and exercise rooms, with the latest muscle-pumping equipment, are located not within the spa, but at the top of the glass-domed atrium lobby. Included is a room for exercycle classes. Some classes, such as Pathway to Yoga, Body Cycling Class, and Body Beat Class, cost extra.
Recreational sports facilities include a jogging track, golf driving range, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as four levels of sunbathing decks.