NCL Pearl—Sailing Round Trip from Seattle to Alaska in May

The Pearl, one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Jewel Class ships, is a comfortable size for sailing to Alaska. It is large enough to have a variety of dining and entertainment options, and small enough to walk around comfortably. In fact, nearly every day I was able to walk around Deck 7 several times early in the morning. For me, it is my favorite form of exercise—walking through sunrise time. The deck was usually nearly empty of people, except for a few walkers and a couple of crew washing down the deck and railings.
There is a nice pool, amid lighted “palm trees”. A bit incongruous when seen next to the wild mountains and glaciers of Alaska, but they make for a fun contrast. There were even a few people who braved the cool weather to use the hot tubs/spas. Once you get into that warm water, it’s not so bad—just ask my nephew, Keith!
You can have breakfast and lunch in the Summer Palace (main dining room), the Blue Lagoon (café) or the Garden Cafe, the buffet offering too many options to enumerate. I found the food good and the service friendly.
Speaking of “friendly”, it became somewhat of a joke that during meal times, there was always a person at the doorway with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer, saying “washy, washy, happy, happy!” There were always the hand sanitizer bulbs available near restaurants. But the spray bottles of sanitizer in the hands of a friendly person made it seem a bit rude not to use it. What a clever way to encourage better health! Yes, it requires a bit of extra work and friendly people, but well worth it in the end.
One of the specialty restaurants (a fee is charged to have dinner there), Cagney’s Steakhouse, is also used as a breakfast/lunch option for those who have booked Penthouse and Suite cabins. There is a nice buffet of cold options, as well as a standard daily menu. It’s hard to beat the smoked salmon appetizers and scallop and shrimp eggs Benedict!
Though there are several specialty restaurant options, we chose to have just one dinner away from the main dining rooms of the Summer Palace or Indigo. We have eaten in Le Bistro (French—obviously) before on other NCL ships and liked it. Because we were part of a group, as a travel agent I was able to arrange the reservation earlier than normal 45 days in advance . It’s not a large venue and this gave us our choice of times. The food is excellent. The service could be considered “European”. The Europeans generally like to eat their meals over the course of an evening, so if you choose this option, do not expect to finish your meal in less than two hours. Also, just so you know, the “drink of the day” pricing does not apply once you step in the door and wine can be a bit pricey. We did enjoy our dinner, but it is good to understand what you are getting for your $20 per person cover charge. They do have “extra special” items like lobster, for an extra price if you would like to order those. We dressed up a bit (no jeans) but ties were not required nor did our men wear them–the ladies either, by the way.
Evening entertainment was usually a show at 7pm and then repeated at 9 pm. Because I am an early morning person (remember the deck walking at sunrise?), I prefer to eat early and go to the early show. The entertainment goes through the evening and late into the night at a variety of bars and lounges for those who prefer that. While at sea, you can make use of the casino as well. I did, and shocked myself by coming out a little bit ahead!
A couple of regrets—I did not make use of the spa or go bowling–next time! That would have been fun. You can make appointments ahead of time for the spa. It’s a good idea to do that unless you are really flexible or don’t plan to go ashore on a port day. Days in port are when you get good pricing on spa treatments and better availability for appointments.
During the day, the Spinnaker Lounge is a great place to relax with a book or watch the scenery from a comfortable chair or couch. The Library is another place to sit with a book and on sea days, the Game room is busy as well. While I did not see the little Chapel being used, it looked very nice for a small wedding.
There is a lot that could be said about this ship and our fun cruise, but I’ll let some pictures do the talking.


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