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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely ... Read More
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely presented. Excellent waiting staff. The newspaper excerpt (which is provided to guest every morning at the Lido deck ) is too leftist, I think if it is replaced by something more centrist,it will be better. As a Conservative, I do not need to read the news with criticism about the President every morning at breakfast ! Shore excursions are a little overpriced. We only book two tours but the one I was really excited about, Dolphin Encounter in Cayman Island was canceled because Cayman stop was canceled due to bad weather condition. At Ports of call, we mostly used taxi for sightseeing. On this cruise, we enjoyed mostly going to the beach and shopping, especially for exotic fashion. I think we will cruise with this company sometime in the future,when we get older. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, we chose a 10 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Pearl. It was my husband and I and another couple. My husband and I are 40, very laid back and just love the cruise life! Embarkation in Tampa went ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, we chose a 10 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Pearl. It was my husband and I and another couple. My husband and I are 40, very laid back and just love the cruise life! Embarkation in Tampa went smoothly, we arrived early (9:30-ish?) and were on the ship before noon with Mojitos in hand! Having sailed on the Dawn and the Epic, the Pearl is similar to the Dawn. So far we prefer the ease of navigating the smaller ships and think they feel less crowded. There were very few times we felt overwhelmed with people. Highlights of the ship for us were the Spinnaker Lounge with all the windows overlooking the sea, the promenade on deck 7, and the Great Outdoors located on deck 12 aft. The Pearl doesn't have a lot of the bells and whistles the newer larger ships have, but we don't need those things anyway. We like to rest and take it easy while on vacation. Our cabin, 4551, was a basic inside cabin located forward on deck 4. We liked the location of the cabin due to it's proximity to the gangway, easy and quick on and off at the ports! We had the specialty dining package for the first time and ate at La Cucina, Cagney's and Le Bistro. While we enjoyed our meals, we didn't feel they were worth the up charge even though they were a little higher in quality than the MDR. The food in the MDR is always enjoyable, because I don't have to cook it or clean up, so no complaints there! We love NCL freestyle dining being able to eat when we want. I particularly enjoyed appetizers and dessert, sometimes I would just eat appetizers instead of a main entree. My husband and I regularly shared 3 desserts because, well, we're on a cruise. I had one breakfast in Summer Palace, and I highly recommend eating breakfast there if you can get out of bed in time (we slept in a lot!). Buffet is perfectly fine, but I really enjoyed having breakfast served. There is salmon mousse on the buffet, but you can get sliced smoked salmon in the dining room, which I prefer for breakfast. Buffet in the Garden Cafe was good, we ate our lunch and snacks there. Sometimes we would fill a plate and head to the Great Outdoors to sit. The Great Outdoors also has food so you don't have to carry food from the Garden Cafe. (I particularly enjoyed the chilled fruit soups located at the end of the Great Outdoors, I think I ate a bowl almost every day with added watermelon chunks.) We enjoyed the comedian and the acrobat show, Duo Quintessence was amazing! We HIGHLY recommend Legends in Concert as well, the performers portraying Tina Turner and Michael Jackson were wonderful! We also frequented Peter James when he was performing with his piano, singing along with every song. The service was great, sure there were times it was a bit lacking, but it's better than the service I get at home, which is none of course. We didn't have to make too many trips to the bar, for the most part someone would come around and get drinks for us. Our room steward, Francis, was great. We are low-maintenance and only requested the fridge be emptied and extra pillows, both requests were met. All staff we encountered were friendly and kind and we truly appreciated each and every one of them. Ports: Key West - It was my first time here, we walked to the Southernmost Point, visited an art gallery, toured the Hemingway House (we're cat people so that was a highlight for us!) and had drinks at Sloppy Joe's. It was a great day! Tortola - We took an NCL excursion to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. It was beautiful! Be sure to wear good shoes or prepare to go barefoot.You will be climbing (watch your head!) and the rocks are slippery. It was quite an adventure we will never forget! Antigua - If you like to relax, I must recommend the Catamaran, Snorkel, and Beach excursion! (We went through NCL) My friend and I stayed on the boat and enjoyed the sun while our husbands snorkeled. After snorkeling was complete they offered alcohol (non alcoholic drinks as well) and a snack and we sailed to a beach. They served us a delicious lunch and we had some beach time before sailing back to the port. We all agreed it was one of the best days of our cruise. St. Maarten - Hopped off the ship and walked to the taxi dispatch, we chose the 3 hour island tour, they got 6 other people to join so the price was only $25 per person. My husband and I like tours like this, we circled the island and visited various spots. It was informational and I liked all the views we saw, it is a beautiful island. Puerto Rico - We walked through the streets of Old San Juan and visited Castillo San Felipe del Morro (one of the forts). Please note if you have mobility issues it may be challenging to get around Old San Juan with the the cobblestone streets and I think everything is uphill (lol) We had lunch at Punto de Vista Rooftop Restaurant, did some quick shopping and headed back to the ship. We hope to cruise out of Puerto Rico in the future, the picturesque streets were beautiful. We had a total of 4 sea days which were spent lounging around the ship and playing games with our friends. (FYI, Bliss Lounge has beds everywhere, during the day it's pretty quiet in there, maybe a foreign language lesson or something along that line. My friend and I actually crawled on one and took a nap, lol!) I guess the only complaints we had were that we wish there were more chairs on the promenade for lounging. Also we REALLY WISH they would ENFORCE the rules for saving chairs (chair hogs). The day I spent poolside, I went out on deck around 8 am, there were several chairs already saved with towels. In particular there was a whole row of at least 8 chairs with towels on them already when I got there, I never saw a single person use those chairs for over 3 HOURS. That was ridiculous.I saw an attendant go around and put stickers with the time on some of the chairs around the pool but he never came back, I think he was just doing it because people were complaining. We did walk-off disembarkation, there was a bit of a line to get off the ship but it moved along quick enough. I think we were off the ship and in an Uber on the way to the airport by 9:30 am. (This may not be typical but was our experience) Being that this was a longer cruise in the middle of January, it was an older crowd (someone said the average age was 75) but it made no difference to us, we had a wonderful time and met great people. We would do this cruise again and would definitely cruise on the Pearl again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Love NCL as a general rule. Did not want to go on large ship. Had sailed on Pearl previously .this cruise was not what we had hoped. Quality of food has significantly declined from previous cruises. Specialty restaurants are not up to par. ... Read More
Love NCL as a general rule. Did not want to go on large ship. Had sailed on Pearl previously .this cruise was not what we had hoped. Quality of food has significantly declined from previous cruises. Specialty restaurants are not up to par. Steakhouse was not equal to local chain, fillet was dry and tasteless. Took just shy of an hour to receive food with ghost of server who did not bother to appear or apologize. We tried to get change in order to tip above what was already included in our drink package. Was surprised to see small charge on tab for ordering what might have been specialty drink. They offer a Premium drink package, they must be attempting to upgrade for more bucks. Past cruises offered big sales on cruise merchandise, everyone loves a bargain. Lattitudss with gold standing offered discounts in NCL merchandise but guess what? They have taken pains to remove Norwegian from most merchandise. Now shirts say Sea something or other. Why tout this as big deal when there is not much to buy to take advantage of this perk. Daily itinerary stated hig sale including t-shirts but there weren't any, not a single shirt. Sale in gift shop was to include tshirts but once again, nine were on sale. Prices were inflated, $28 for ordinary shirt. Disembarking was a mess. Passengers ended up being traffic cops, telling passengers getting off elevators, go this way or that. One employee standing at dar end by door did not make for smooth exit. Sorry you see cut backs in quality, used to brag on food but can do so no longer. One couple traveling with us will not be back. Losing customers is never a good idea, especially if they've sailed with NCL 6 times. Smaller ship meant less entertainment. No real headline acts to draw people in. Entertainment was sub par. The ship has been refitted in last few years, we had no complaints as far as our cabin was concerned, mini-suite was perfect for two. Had a few small issues first day which were quickly resolved. I would prefer visiting foreign ports rather than Florida, Key West was nice but island would be better. I believe we will cruise again, on NCL, like the freestyle method, eat when anx where you want, no forced time of table assignments. If you have never cruised NCL dont be discouraged by this negative review, NCL offers lots of plans and freedom to choose, they actually do more right than wrong. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Background Info: My girlfriend and I were on the January 17-26 Eastern Caribbean 10 Day sailing of the Norwegian Pearl out of Tampa. We are in our early fifties and are seasoned cruisers with well over 20 cruises between us. This was my ... Read More
Background Info: My girlfriend and I were on the January 17-26 Eastern Caribbean 10 Day sailing of the Norwegian Pearl out of Tampa. We are in our early fifties and are seasoned cruisers with well over 20 cruises between us. This was my 2nd cruise and GF’s 1st cruise on the Pearl. Other NCL ships include Escape, Sun and Dawn. We have also sailed on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. This was our 1st cruise with Platinum status and we took advantage of all the perks. The itinerary was Thursday to Saturday with four sea days and five ports of call: Key West, Tortola, Antigua, St. Marten and San Juan in order. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Tampa Wednesday afternoon arriving around 3:30 p.m. We live in Michigan so flying in a day early is a must. We caught a taxi to the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk. Cost was $35 including tip. The Barrymore offers a free shuttle, but we opted for the taxi. The ride was about 25 minutes due to rush hour traffic. The Barrymore is located on West Fortune Street about 2 miles from the cruise port in the heart of downtown Tampa right next to the Riverwalk. You have access to several bars/restaurants as well as a CVS to pick up any last-minute needs (sunscreen, snacks, etc.…). The Barrymore is an older hotel that has been refurbished and is in good condition. The room was clean and the bed comfortable. Someone said it is an old Holiday Inn. There is a lobby restaurant in called the Waterworks Bar and Grill. We didn’t eat there but the cocktails were delicious. There is free coffee in the lobby for a morning wake up, but it is weak. There is a Starbucks nearby for your hardcore coffee drinkers. The price of the hotel was $143 including taxes. I booked directly with the hotel about 3 months in advance using a cruise special. I would absolutely stay there again. Lastly, a member of our roll call set a up a pre-cruise meet and greet at Taps Bar and Grill not far from the hotel. About 30 folks showed up and got the party started a day early. Embarkation: We caught the free hotel shuttle to the port about 10:00 am. There were many cruisers heading to the port, so the hotel brought out the large bus to accommodate everyone. It was a quick a 10-15 minute ride. We arrived at the port, gave our bags to the porter, flipped him a $10 bill and walked into the terminal. Check-in was a little slow but not too bad. Once you got through security the process was a breeze. Boarding started about 11:30 am. After the Haven folks boarded, we were next along with Platinum Plus and Ambassador levels. The waiting area was packed and there were way more butts than seats. A minor annoyance but nothing to get worked up about. We were eating lunch in the Summer Palace by Noon. The crew directs you to the Garden Café but we much prefer the dining room as the buffet is chaotic. In general, the Port of Tampa seems to be more chaotic than Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and is my least favorite to sail from on a cruise. Cabin: We stayed in cabin 10041 which is an inside forward cabin. We chose an inside for two reasons: 1)We don’t spend much time in our cabin 2)Inside cabins are so dark that we sleep very soundly. The 10th deck met our main requirement of being sandwiched between two other decks that are exclusively cabins to minimize any noise disruption. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom functional. We brought an over the door shoe rack, so the bathroom counter was free of clutter. We also brought magnetic clips that stuck to the walls. Perfect for hanging the NCL Dailies, belts, hats, etc.… The air conditioning worked great. Closet/drawer space was plentiful. It was cramped but more than manageable for two people. My girlfriend also utilized packing cubes for the 1st time and now swears by them. One tip for those that experience issues with cabin dryness due to the air conditioning (i.e., sinus issues, snoring) is to bring a travel humidifier. Bough it on Amazon for $25 and it worked great. We had no issues at all. Dining Our Platinum status allowed us two free meals. We had our choice of Cagney’s or LeBistro and Moderno or La Cucina. We chose Cagney’s and Moderno. The remaining dinners were at main dining restaurants (Summer Palace and Indigo), Lotus Garden (Asian Fusion) and O’Sheehan’s. Moderno – With all apologies to Arby’s, Moderno has the meats. Moderno is a traditional Brazilian steakhouse. Diners use two-sided color cards to communicate with their gauchos (waiters): Green indicates "keep it coming," and red tells them “enough”. First you start with a trip to the salad bar loaded with various types of lettuce, cold salads deli meats and cheeses. There also are a couple of soups: Seafood Chowder and Black Bean. I had the seafood chowder and it was terrific. Try not to fill up on salad and soup because you want to leave room for the meat. Next the gauchos start bringing the meats to your table. They carve the meat which is on a long skewer and you use tongs to put the meat on your plate. Here are the meats I remember being offered: filet mignon, garlic beef, chicken breast, marinated chicken leg, picanha (sirloin with Brazilian spices), chorizo and lamb. I’m sure I forgot a few. The meats come in no order. If you want more of a meat just ask and they will bring it back to your table. We asked for additional filet mignon. You also get four sides that are brought to your table on a tray: buttered rice, sautéed mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and deep fried yuca. A basket of Pao De Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) is also brought to your table. The deserts, as is generally the case, were disappointing. Cagney’s – As usual, Cagney’s did not disappoint. The food was amazing. I had the lobster bisque (I could have eaten a bucket of the stuff) and shrimp cocktail for starters. GF had the lump crab cakes and iceberg wedge. We each went with the filet mignon (5 oz.) for our main course. We both request medium but mine was medium rare. The sides are all good so you can’t go wrong. We tried the mac & cheese, onion rings, and au gratin potatoes. We also shared a couple of desserts, caramel butterscotch cheese cake (very good) and seven-layer cake (not worth the calories). Service was quite slow at the beginning as we sat for nearly 10 minutes before we were approached but was fine for the rest of the meal. We did get the old “you get one starter, one main course, one dessert with the platinum voucher” speech. We ordered all the sides and starters we wanted and when the bill came it was $0.00 Bottom line…Cagney’s is still #1. Lotus Garden – This is a complimentary Asian Fusion restaurant. We ate dinner there twice and had great experiences both times. They do not take reservations, it is first come, first served. The first time we waited about 15 minutes for a table while on our 2nd visit we were seated immediately. We both enjoyed the Harvest Spring Rolls and Pot Stickers for appetizers. Hint: They only bring you one spring roll with your order so be sure to order two. The main courses are your typical Asian fare in my opinion. I had the Combination Fried rice both times and GF had the Orange Peel Beef. All were very good. We skipped dessert. Main Dining - Of the two main dining rooms, we preferred Summer Palace. Indigo felt crowed and loud. The Summer Palace is also open for breakfast/lunch and was our preferred venue for the quality of food and relaxing atmosphere. The food was generally good in the main dining room. GF had fish just about every time and enjoyed them all. I had mostly chicken dishes…some were better than others. We really enjoyed the appetizers. Some of our favorites included: squash soup, French onion soup, spring rolls and shrimp louis. The desserts? Don’t bother...save your calories for booze. Garden Café – In general, we try to eat as few meals as possible in the Garden Cafe. Not that we don’t eat there, it’s just we prefer a more relaxing dining experience whenever possible. Finding a seat can be very challenging during peak breakfast and lunch times. We only ate breakfast there a few times and it had the usual items: scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, oatmeal, meats and cheeses, cold cereal, fruit, hash brown potato cakes (my personal favorite) and more. There also are stations where you can get omelets and fried eggs cooked to order. The line can get long so be patient. We had lunch at the Garden Cafe a couple of times and found the variety and quality somewhat disappointing. The food ranged from bad to good. Lunch included premade sandwiches, lasagna, hot dogs/burger bar, French fries, mac and cheese, salad bar, fish sticks, Asian station. Particularly bad is the pizza. It’s just not worth the calories. Salad bar and fish selections are high points. We did not have dinner at the Garden Café. O’Sheehan’s Bar and Grill – I know O’Sheehan’s has its share of detractors but I’m just going to come out and say it “I LOVE O’SHEEHAN’S”. We ate there 6 times including a couple of late-night stops at 1:00 am for wings and nachos. The food was mostly good. Don’t get me wrong, they have some losers, but we enjoyed most of it. Here are some of our winners and losers: Winners Nachos with bacon, cheddar cheese and jalapenos Wings…duh! Caesar Salad with Salmon Chipotle Grilled Chicken Sandwich Losers Grilled Reuben on Rye (corned beef was chewy) Chicago Style Hot Dog (bun was so dry it literally fell apart when I bit into it– tried it twice) Desserts – all of them O’Sheehan’s also serves breakfast and is a great option. It is not crowded, and the service is quick. The menu is reduced but you can easily find something you like. So much better than standing in lines and battling the crowds in the Garden Cafe’. Room Service – We used it several times to have coffee, fruit, yogurt and pastries delivered to our stateroom. There is no charge unless you are having a hot meal delivered (i.e., eggs, sandwiches). You hang a tag on the cabin door before you go to bed with your selections checked. You also, select a time range (i.e. 8:00 am – 8:30 am, 8:30 am – 9:00 am, etc.…) Be forewarned, they will arrive at the front end of your chosen range (maybe be even 10 minutes early). A couple of times we were still in bed when they knocked on the door and announced, “Room Service”. That will wake you up better than coffee. And speaking of coffee, the room service coffee was inconsistent. Some mornings strong, some mornings very weak. Don’t forget to tip the delivery person a few bucks! Entertainment Cruise Director: Some guy named Ferdie was the CD for our sailing. I didn’t see much of him other than at the main shows in the Stardust Theatre. I can’t recall seeing him out and about at all. I’d give him a “meh minus”. Most of the shows in the Bliss Lounge were hosted by the Cruise Director staff and they did a good job for the most part. Comedian: The main comedian was Jay Reed. I liked his main show very much. He was funny but not offensive. I really wanted to see his adult show in the Spinnaker Lounge, but it was held the last night of the cruise at 10 pm. Production Shows Pure Variety – Like the name implies there was a little of everything…country, funk, disco, etc. It featured a wide range of artists including multiple songs by Abba and Billy Joel. A very good show that is sure to make your toes tap. Legends in Concert – This show featured tribute artists of Elton John, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson as well as the production cast. Each artist performed a 20-minute set of the artist’s hits. Each one was good, but the Michael Jackson performer was outstanding. Don’t miss this show! Miscellaneous Entertainment: Lady Luck – A trio of talented female vocalists who performed two shows during the cruise. The first show was Vegas standards by Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack. This show was kind of Vegas cheesy but not terrible. Their 2nd show was far superior. It consisted of crowd-pleasing songs from artists such as Shania Twain and Abba. Matt Marcy – A unique act that mixes comedy and magic. He doesn’t do big illusions but is more of a traditional magician. There is lots of audience participation. Probably the best magic act I’ve seen on a cruise. Get there early and enjoy the preshow…it’s a hoot! We also enjoyed Sing Along with Peter in Magnums almost every night. His play list wasn’t deep but what he played was well done. I swear he played Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” twice every night. Duo Quintessence – This was an acrobat/gymnast show in the Stardust Theatre. We did not see their main show but did see them at the Welcome Aboard show. They are talented for sure……but once was enough for us. Ultimate Dance Clash – This is a takeoff on "Dancing with the Stars" type show featuring ship dancers and passengers held in the Spinnaker Lounge. This is always one of our favorite shows on any NCL cruise ship. It was a lot of fun. Surprisingly, it was not well attended. This show has been packed on other NCL cruise ships in which we have sailed. Innovation – A house band that put on several themed shows in the Bliss Lounge. The music was good, but I have never saw a such an unhappy group of performers. They rarely smiled while performing. There was just a weird vibe on stage. Chances are if you show up in the Bliss around 9 PM, Innovation will be playing. Roxy – She performed acoustic sets of various hit songs mostly in the Atrium. What a snore-fest! Every song sounded the same. Having trouble sleeping? No problem...just go to one of her shows for ten minutes. Overall, I felt the entertainment was below the standard I’ve become accustomed to on other NCL ships. I was never bored, not by a longshot. Just a little underwhelmed. I think the NCL mega ships have better entertainment. Fitness Center The fitness center is not large but does have a good variety of equipment. In terms of cardio equipment, there are treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes and rowing machines. There are both free weights and machines. It is extremely warm in the fitness center with little air movement. A nice touch is the cold towels. There is no charge to use the fitness center. However, if you want to use the sauna/steam room/showers you must purchase the spa pass. Warning: Extreme caution should be used when using the treadmills on sea days. The rocking of the ship can easily throw you off-balance and result in injuries. I witnessed just such an occurrence on the last sea day. A middle-aged man was clipping along, the ship lurched, and he face planted right on the treadmill. In the blink of an eye he was thrown off the machine. He was not wearing the safety clip, so the belt continued to spin with his arm still on the belt. I ran over and hit the emergency stop button, but the damage was done. He had about a six-inch abrasion on this wrist/forearm that was darn near down to the bone. Not the way you want to end your cruise. So be careful and wear the safety clip on the treadmill. Ports of Call Key West, Florida – We have been to Key West several times, so we just walked up and down Duval Street to get in some steps. We did stop at Kermit’s on Greene Street for a slice of key lime pie on a stick. It is dipped in chocolate and worth every calorie. Treat yourself…you’ll be glad you did. Tortola, British Virgin Islands – CALLING ALL BEACH LOVERS! If you want to visit one of the greatest beaches in the world then take the NCL excursion “Escape to Jost Van Dyke”. It is a 45-minute catamaran ride aboard the Rebel Yell from the port in Tortola to the White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. They drop you off right by the Soggy Dollar Bar which has free beach chairs and serves the most delicious beach drink...the Painkiller. The sand is soft and fluffy. Pictures do not do this place justice. You must see it for yourself. We've been to many beaches in our travels, but this is #1 so far. The only downside is you are at the beach for just slightly over 2 hours. Rum punch is served on the ride back to port to put the exclamation point on a fantastic excursion. We were last in Jost Van Dyke in November 2016 and like others were saddened by the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma to this lovely island. We were absolutely amazed at the recovery. Don’t get me wrong, they have a long way to go but you couldn’t help but be impressed by their recovery to date. This excursion sells out very quickly. Book it as soon as it becomes available or you will miss out. Antigua - We spent the day at Valley Church Beach enjoying sand, sun and drinks. The Bar/Restaurant was called The Nest. A $20 bill gets you two chairs and an umbrella. A bucket of 6 beers was also $20. We did not eat there. One thing to note, there is a 1-2 foot drop off about 10 yards into the water. We saw more than a few people stumble on their way in and out of the water. There were 6 ships in port, so it was crowded but you still had room to move about. The interesting part of the trip was we took the bus to and from the beach. I’ve done it before, and it was easy. It is about a 10-15-minute walk to the bus station and completely safe. Cost is $1.50 pp each way. A taxi ride would have cost $25 each way. When you compare $50 vs. $6 it is an easy decision. I'd be happy to share the details on how to take the bus. Just send me an e-mail. Address is at the end of this review. St. Maarten – After much research we decided to visit the Karakter Beach Bar and Restaurant on Simpson Bay Beach (pronounced care-actor). We were not disappointed. Not only was the beach nice but the food, drinks and service were outstanding. Beach chairs and umbrella are no charge so long as you are buying food and/or drinks. We had 8 beers and an order of nachos and our bill was $31 excluding tip. The euro is the official currency of St. Maarten, but they accept US dollars at par value (1 euro = 1 dollar) so it is a great deal if you have US$. It is located right next to the runway of the airport. The planes do not take off and land over your head but rather to your side. The views are magnificent without the chance of death. They were more than happy to call us a taxi for the return trip to the port. San Juan, Puerto Rico – We did the San Juan City and Bacardi Factory Tour through NCL. The highlight of the city portion of the tour was a stop at Fort San Cristobal. This is part of the U.S National Park system and was open despite the partial government shutdown. We spent about an hour touring the fort and that was about all the time you needed. We re-boarded the tour bus and headed over to the Bacardi factory. They provide you with a welcome drink as well as a ticket that can be redeemed for another drink at the end of the tour. The factory tour was interesting and lasted about 1.5 hours. You learned about the history of the company and the process of making rum. It was a pleasant way to spend the day. Cruise Critic Meet & Greet I would estimate there was about 40-50 people at the Meet and Greet. It was held in the Bliss Lounge on the 1st sea day (Saturday). NCL served coffee, water, juices and as well as pastries. It was attended by the all the department heads including the Captain. They were all very nice and professional, but in all honesty, I’ve become bored with the meet and greets as it has become repetitive. We bolted for the door as soon as the officers were done speaking. The pool deck and UBP were calling. Random Thoughts • The bowling alleys in the Bliss are a waste of space. They didn’t seem to generate that much participation. That space could be better utilized for seating at it can be tough to get a seat in the Bliss. • The Great Outdoors is nice place to enjoy a sailaway drink with your Cruise Critic Group • This cruise had the oldest passenger base in which I’ve ever sailed. I’ve been on a few 10 day cruises before and it has always skewed older, but this was another level. It’s great seeing everyone out enjoying life no matter their age. I hope to do the same. • The new NCL app is much improved. Very easy to set up and use. Nicely done. • Chair hogs were not a problem. • Stardust Theatre Seat Hogs were a problem. We came in 15 minutes before a show and a gentlemen told us he was saving eight prime seats. We just sat down and when he protested, I just said there is no seat saving. Witnessed multiple instances of this behavior. • The pool decks were crowded but you could always find a chair. We just went up to the sundeck in the forward of the ship. It was a little windy a couple of days but not terrible. You did have to walk down one deck for drinks as there was not wait service up there. • The deserts in general are meh at best, regardless of dining venue. They are great on the eyes and disappointing in the mouth. • You should get late night snacks from O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill at least once.... you’re on vacation. • Mandatory lifeboat drill was quick and painless • Book your specialty dinner reservations early (pre-cruise if possible). The prime dining times book early.... unless you like dining at 9:15 pm. • This was one of the 1st cruises after the changes in the drink package. I’m happy to report everyone survived! • Since San Juan was our last port and therefore also our entry into the United States of America. All guests had to go through immigration inspection in the Terminal. Nobody could board the ship until EVERYBODY was accounted for. It started at 7:30 am and was complete by 10:00 am. It was very organized and efficient. • NCL should just stop serving pizza if it is going to be that bad. • The Officers were very visible and friendly. I saw them engaging passengers several times though out the cruise. • Significantly less photography intrusions on this cruise. Being interrupted at dinner is a pet peeve of mine. • Premium coffee is served in the Atrium for those needing a caffeine fix. • Casino……. who knows? We only walked through it on our way to someplace else. • Attend the Q&A session with the Captain and officers if you can. It was quite interesting. It was our last sea day. • Disembarkation was a little slow due to a medical emergency that occurred during the self-assist process. Overall it resulted in a 25-minute delay. Our flight was not until 2:30 pm so no worries. Summary The level of service was excellent for the most part. Nobody was rude. However, I sensed less enthusiasm for the work. Perhaps it is due to staffing levels. Perhaps it was an anomaly. Not a complaint, just an honest observation. No cruise is perfect......but overall it was another great cruise on NCL. We made many new friends. NCL continues to be our cruise line of choice. I’d be happy to answer any questions or elaborate on any of the above comments here or feel free to send me an e-mail at LD_Silver_Cruiser@Yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We try to cruise out of Tampa whenever we can because we live so close. We were on the Pearl before and chose it again because we enjoyed it so much. The crew is just the best,so friendly, so helpful, so much fun. We especially like ... Read More
We try to cruise out of Tampa whenever we can because we live so close. We were on the Pearl before and chose it again because we enjoyed it so much. The crew is just the best,so friendly, so helpful, so much fun. We especially like O'Sheehans, good food and great service. The ship is older, but in very good shape, very clean. The staterooms are nice with plenty of space for clothing and the showers are so much better and larger than other cruiselines that we have been on. I actually could enjoy the shower. The layout is easy to navigate and there is plenty of outside space to enjoy the views. We hope that they bring the Pearl back, so we can do it again soon. The only downfall was Le Bistro. We were so disappointed in the food. I had the scallops which were so rubbery that I couldn't eat them and my husbands duck was terrible...smelled awful and did not taste like duck. But, we don't expect everything to always be perfect and we won't be dining at Le Bistro again. All in all, a great cruise. I definitely would recommend The Pearl to anyone who enjoys cruising. ayaou won't be disappointed Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Usually an RCCL cruiser but found a good deal on this cruise. Inside room was much better than my RCCL experiences. Not a fan of the Freestyle dining though. No reservations, different crew and table mates every night. No real chance to ... Read More
Usually an RCCL cruiser but found a good deal on this cruise. Inside room was much better than my RCCL experiences. Not a fan of the Freestyle dining though. No reservations, different crew and table mates every night. No real chance to make friends. JMO The food was very good and the service in dining was excellent. Service in the cabins was spotty as the room was ready in the evening about half of the time. Seemed like the crew got a late start or had too many to do to have everyone turned down at the appropriate time. The entertainment was as good as I have seen on any cruise, with some very good talent. This ship has had a recent face lift and it shows. All venues were clean and modernized. The bathrooms in the cabins were small but with shower doors instead of curtains. Much better planning. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 12th cruise with NCL and we had a great time. We spent a couple of days in Tampa ahead of our cruise and were able to check out the riverwalk, downtown and Ibor City. The ship was very clean and well maintained. Our room ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise with NCL and we had a great time. We spent a couple of days in Tampa ahead of our cruise and were able to check out the riverwalk, downtown and Ibor City. The ship was very clean and well maintained. Our room steward, Irwin, did a fabulous job and the room was always made up and ready for us. We breezed through embarkation and were on the ship in no time with drink in hand and relaxing. The weather in Tampa was a little on the cool side but once we got to Key West all was good. We did have bad weather (rain and cold) on the last sea day and when we disembarked in Tampa. I still noticed that people reserve pool loungers very early in the morning and if you aren't up there by 7:00 you may not get one, not right especially since they reserve the loungers and then don't show up until much later. I know that it says you can't but everyone does and noone enforces it. Enjoyed the entertainment especially Peter the Piano Man!!!! We had an excellent steak @ Cagney's and two fantastic meals at Teppenyaki along with all the other areas to eat on the ship. Most of the time we ate on the back of the ship having done the buffet. We enjoyed all the ports especially Key West which is my Wife's and my favorite. I already have cruises 13 & 14 booked and really looking forward to it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We arrived a day early and stayed at the Barrymore in Tampa. Other than the great bottle of wine from the bar, our meal at the restaurant we have nothing good to say about this old, run down hotel. We went on the Dawn last January 2018 and ... Read More
We arrived a day early and stayed at the Barrymore in Tampa. Other than the great bottle of wine from the bar, our meal at the restaurant we have nothing good to say about this old, run down hotel. We went on the Dawn last January 2018 and thought of doing the same time this year, just chose a different ship. We like the smaller ones so we stayed in the jewel class, choosing the eastern Caribbean this year. We absolutely loved NCL from our last trip, not so much this time. Embarkation was very smooth and quick, as well as disembarkation. It’s the in between we were disappointed by. Rude people, dirty pool deck and food were our issues, which pretty much sums up how our time was spent. Breakfasts at the cafe is where we went for an omelette every morning. We didn’t do lunch very often, just a snack wherever we were. We were going to try main dining-once being turned away because my husband was in shorts, other times because I heard Indigo was nothing special. Cagneys was very good as well as o’Sheehans. We mostly ate dinners at the buffet because we always had luck finding salad, soup, and whatever else looked good. There was entirely too much Indian and Mexican food, not enough variety and no comfort foods ie., mashed potatoes. One days entrees were made with last nights leftovers. I did not have one desert worth mentioning other than jello. Even the whip cream for the desert wasn’t real. If you weren’t on deck by 8 am, sea days by 6 am you didn’t get a lounge chair for sun bathing, which we enjoy doing a lot. lol. The issues continued out there as well. 2 beverage servers for the entire deck (we ended up standing in line at the bar because it was quicker), crap floating in the pool (straws, bandaids, dirt), dirty floors, overcrowded sitting areas-need I say more?! The entertainment was sub par. Legends in Concert was awful-including “Elton John” and “Tina Turner” who couldn’t carry a tune. But “Michael Jackson” stole the show. The so called “Cirque du Soleil” entertainer juggler was mind numbing. OMG, the 4 girls were so off tune my ears hurt. I had an opportunity to visit the spa for some pain management acupuncture with Dr Jin- she is amazing with a capital A! Our room steward Rosario was very attentive and greeted us every day. If you have the opportunity to go on NCL, just choose a different ship. Unfortunately after this trip my husband is considering other cruise lines. We do have a trip in the works on the Dawn next year, let’s hope they delight us as much as 2018!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Sailed 8 times with NCL before. Garden Cafe( cafeteria), food variety less than seen before. Sitting design frustrating clogging felt squeezed all the time.They have to improve the availibility and accessibility of gluten free and soya ... Read More
Sailed 8 times with NCL before. Garden Cafe( cafeteria), food variety less than seen before. Sitting design frustrating clogging felt squeezed all the time.They have to improve the availibility and accessibility of gluten free and soya products. Coffee is better than ever. Dinning room, good but small portions, have to order 2 apetizer to be satisfied. Speciality restaurant booking: always no availability beetween 6 to 9 but in fact the restaurant is empty. The food quality equal the dinning room so, not worth the price. Good shows of different style. Miss a bit of classical or lounge music. Very easy to find a quiet space on decks because the music is almost everywhere and loud. Staff friendly and kind. The ship is very clean, cabins and public rooms too. The shore excursions are too expensives. We found very easily tour on shore for less than half price they asked! They have a lot of different promotions and doing a lot of sollicitation for it: spa, photos, duty free shop, cruise next. It is too much, feel harassing. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This cruise was a last moment decision to get some sun in the middle of January Weather in Minnesota. This was our 18th cruise on NCL and our 2nd time taking the Pearl to sea. We are currently Platinum Plus members on NCL's ... Read More
This cruise was a last moment decision to get some sun in the middle of January Weather in Minnesota. This was our 18th cruise on NCL and our 2nd time taking the Pearl to sea. We are currently Platinum Plus members on NCL's Latitudes Reward system. Tampa & the Barrymore Hotel: We flew into Tampa Wednesday morning, from Minnesota. We requested a taxi in the baggage claim area of the Tampa airport and it picked us up immediately and took us to the Barrymore Hotel. I gave the cab driver a $10.00 tip as he was of Moroccan decent and was a true delight during the ride. The Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk is a funky run down motel with an O.K room that served the purpose of being close to the cruise dock area cheaply. Restaurants are not in easy walking distance and the Hotel Restaurant breakfast service was very poor to non existent. So if you are walking challenged, staying at this Hotel may be a poor choice for you. The Hotel Shuttle to us to the Port at 11:00 AM on Thursday and we immediately checked in. *** People in the Embarkation waiting area need to understand that you will board the ship in a rotation determined by your Latitude level so it was chaos when individuals at lower levels were arguing with security about boarding first.*** The Pearl was: - Clean The Staff was; - Outgoing, - We had three favorite waiters/waitresses immediately. - Our Cabin Stewart (Rotessa), was very friendly, a hard worker and a delight to be around The Interior Cabin, 10105; - a Clean, Well Located, Regular sized inside cabin that made our routine on the Pearl convenient. Specialty Restaurants: - Cagney's 5 stars. (Service and food was impeccable). (2 evening meals) - La Cucina 4 Stars. (Service by "Francis", (our Waiter), is always the best). Menu is less desirable than Cagney's in my opinion. (1 Evening meal). - Le Bristro 5 Stars. Menu was extensive, Food was prepared and served flawlessly my Mary Jane and the meal was a delight. (1 evening meal) Regular Resturants: - Summer Palace. A great breakfast place. Sit and watch the sea go by and you wake up with a good cup of coffee. - Indigo was our choice in the evening. It was adequate. - O'Sheehan's; Needs a more extensive menu and add more waiters. The Menu is limited and it took over an hour to get served at lunch time. - Garden Cafe Buffet; I would recommend staying away from eating in the Buffet unless you are ready to be run over by a starving passenger that just needs to get to those french fries before you do. Food is adequate. Table cleaners are friendly, though seating capacity is limited so a table for two is at times hard to find. Casino: - Staff is very friendly and the machines, while not giving back large jackpots, kept my wife and her allotted limit in the game until Day 9. Shows: Entertainment was very limited on this cruise. Ports of Call: - Key West: Antigua: Tortola: ST Maartin: San Juan, Porto Rico: All of the ports were non eventful. No excursions were taken as I been there-Done That on [previous cruises. Did several long walks in the different Ports. Most of last years Hurricane damage has been fixed in the tourist areas. Disembarkation: - Orderly, Efficient and Well Managed. Used NCL to shuttle us back to the Tampa Airport and I was through security at the airport by 9:45 AM. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I was highly dissatisfied by this cruise. I will never sail with nor recommend Norwegian again. The people on the ship were less than helpful and seemed to be miserable working there. The food was disgusting even in the dinner venues. I ... Read More
I was highly dissatisfied by this cruise. I will never sail with nor recommend Norwegian again. The people on the ship were less than helpful and seemed to be miserable working there. The food was disgusting even in the dinner venues. I could have paid extra to go to a specialty restaurant but shouldn’t be forced to by the less than great food in the included choices. The shore excursion folks had absolutely no knowledge on the excursions I had questions about. Not sure why they were even there. I could have just booked on the app. Stabilizers were broken making for an uneasy experience. I have never been sea sick before and still 5 days after being home feel like I am rocking with a queasy feeling. Cruise director was nearly absent the entire cruise. Other cruises keep you updated on the days events and where to go and when to get off the ship at ports. This was not the case on this cruise. The only thing good I can say is that the ports of call were amazing! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We took this cruise because of itinerary, perks and price. We travelled with a group of 13. It was a nice January getaway in the sun and a good value. Experienced cruiser and was expecting an average cruise. It exceeded my ... Read More
We took this cruise because of itinerary, perks and price. We travelled with a group of 13. It was a nice January getaway in the sun and a good value. Experienced cruiser and was expecting an average cruise. It exceeded my expectations. Nice ship, has been updated. Kept very clean. All staff are VERY FRIENDLY, kind and accommodating. Entertainment was excellent. Drinks were excellent. We had free drinks and took advantage of our perk. It was nice to have options for dining. Both of the main dining rooms were nice, food about a B, very good but not high end. Service in both dining rooms inconsistent. No organized protocol for service....waiter recommendations, ladies served first, courses served at the same time, needs some work. The pub was open 24/7 and was a nice change for a good pub meal or snack with good service. The Lotus Garden was exceptional with good food and service. Disappointed with specialty restaurants which is very unusual. Italian was a C, Brazilian was a D, French was an A. Could not get reservations at the Steakhouse, full. Make your specialty restaurant reservations b4 your cruise. This was our 4th on NCL. I think NCL has improved over time and has a niche in the marketplace. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise for the itinerary. We had ages 18 - 81 in our group of 7. 81 y.o. on a travel scooter worked out perfect. All ports were at the pier so she was able to come with us at each stop. The staff and guests all helped her get ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary. We had ages 18 - 81 in our group of 7. 81 y.o. on a travel scooter worked out perfect. All ports were at the pier so she was able to come with us at each stop. The staff and guests all helped her get around the ship with grace and ease. A couple minor medical mishaps along the way with 26 y.o. and 81 y.o. were well taken care of with special care by the medical staff. All the servers and stewards were wonderful, happy and attentive. My only complaint is the room lighting. It is very dark even in an ocean view room you definitely need a lighted makeup mirror to see. Perhaps LED bulbs in the staterooms or a makeup mirror in the bathroom would improve this. Food was good and always available. We did not go to any specialty dining on board unless it was included. We used all the main dining and buffet areas, Lotus Garden and O'Sheehans. Enough variety for everyone. We enjoyed the entertainment all over the ship everyday. Port stops were fabulous, on time arrivals and departures with expeditious disembarkation. Overall a great trip!! Thank you to the wonderful staff!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
This was our eighth cruise with NCL, several of which have been in the Caribbean. We chose this cruise because it offered a different itinerary than most available on NCL. We had already been to many of the usual ports that NCL stops at ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise with NCL, several of which have been in the Caribbean. We chose this cruise because it offered a different itinerary than most available on NCL. We had already been to many of the usual ports that NCL stops at (at least once). Also, we had been on the Jade several years ago when it was still the Pride of Hawaii and thought it would be nice to revisit. We had never sailed out of Tampa before so that was also of interest. Embarkation was smooth, although there didn't seem to be any advantage to being a gold Latitudes member in this instance. Disembarkation was pretty slow with lineups stalled for long periods. We enjoyed revisiting this ship. It seemed well cared for but it was obviously in need of updating (which is scheduled for March, I believe). We were satisfied with the ship overall, including our inside cabin. We didn't indulge in the extra cost of specialty restaurants and were quite happy with the buffet and free restaurants. We enjoyed most of the nightly entertainment in the Stardust although some of the singing/dancing gets a bit racy for our tastes. Most of the musical entertainment around the ship was fairly good. I thought the main show band was pretty rough at the beginning but got better (maybe they were just thrown together before the cruise?). One area I was disappointed in was how some of the excursions were handled. NCL typically takes all the uncertainties out of these but in Grand Cayman we were left behind when our group went ashore, even though we were at the meeting point early. When we did arrive on shore they just told us to catch up with the group, which was walking to the attraction. After some confusion we did find our group but it added some stress to the experience. As usual, I was disappointed with the wifi service. They really need to improve and decrease the cost of wifi. It isn't a luxury for most people anymore; it is a necessity. All that said, we enjoyed the cruise, appreciated the hard work of the crew and staff, and would have no reluctance to cruising with NCL in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We just returned from the 12 Day NCL Caribbean January25-Feb 6th cruise. After a dozen cruises on Celebrity, we found this itinerary and decided to give NCL a try. We have always chosen the longer itineraries and this one seemed perfect ... Read More
We just returned from the 12 Day NCL Caribbean January25-Feb 6th cruise. After a dozen cruises on Celebrity, we found this itinerary and decided to give NCL a try. We have always chosen the longer itineraries and this one seemed perfect for us, and it gave me the chance to leave the suit at home and try Freestyle dining. Embarkation: Well, this wasn’t the best start of the cruise as we showed up at Tampa pier around 11:30, which seemed to be peak time. It was rather chaotic and the lineup to pass our bags to the porters disintegrated into a mass mob of people clamoring to dump their luggage. The fact that there apparently were not enough porters for the volume did not help. Anyways, not NCL’s fault and in total it took us about one hour from curbside to board the ship. Like most recent cruises from Tampa, we were also informed that our departure would be delayed until 10:00 PM for what they called “diving operations”. I also noticed that the crane on the loading dock was lifting goods (dry-dock related??) onto the higher decks until late in the night. It would have been nice to experience sailaway during daylight, but again it just wasn’t meant to be. I was dinged on taxes for any drinks we ordered while spending our extended time in Tampa, which I’ve never experienced before. Cabin – we had a balcony room mid-ship on the 9th floor. By comparison, our past similar cabins on X were a bit larger, and I feel X had a bit more storage places available. Our cabin steward was excellent, took the time to learn our names, and was always very friendly and efficient at his job. Pool- Past experience with X told us to hit the pool area early on our first sea day to claim our chairs, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a fair selection still available at 9:00 am. Of course, there were still chair hogs who claim a chair (or six!) and we didn’t see them return for hours. As with X, nothing was done to deter this from happening. Sea days later in the cruise saw the pool level area fill up faster. There seemed to be a limited availability of chairs on the level overlooking the pool at most times. We really enjoyed listening to the daily vibes of the reggae band that played. On the second last day of the cruise we were surprised to see the larger pool drained and netted over. I’m not sure why this happened, but it caused some tension on the deck due to the lack of communication as to why this was happening and also the fact that there were now kids in the main pool which was supposed to be adults only. Food – OK, first, I found the food options on Celebrity to be a bit better, but secondly, we didn’t starve. I was happy with the breakfast selections from the Garden Café (two trays of bacon selections- soft and crispy!!) It was challenging at times to find a table even for two of us. The staff were excellent and diligent clearing off plates and tables, though. Most dinner meals we ate in the Alazhar Dining Room were OK. This was our first experience with Freestyle Dining after past cruises with set times/tables and we both really enjoyed this. The fact that I didn’t have to put on a suit to eat a meal was fine by me. We ate at around 7:00 each night and never had to wait for a table for two. My only beef (no pun intended) with our nightly meals in the Alazhar was that depending on what section we sat in, service from start to finish ranged from 45 to 90 minutes. A couple of times we skipped out on dessert in order to make the 8:30 entertainment in the Spinnaker. the self-serve soft ice cream was great, and late night snacks at the Great Outdoors (pizza, nachos, cookies) were good. No issues with bar service. We had the UBP and visited a fair number of locations during our cruise and never had too lengthy of a wait and found the service to be friendly. Casino- I really enjoyed the fact the X casinos are non-smoking, and personally the Jade casino was too smoky for me to visit. On the other hand, I probably saved a few bucks. Too bad NCL couldn’t have offered 1 or 2 non-smoking nights in the casino. Entertainment – We took in some of the theatre shows. “Elements” was probably one of the best I’ve seen- fascinating from beginning to end. The acrobatic couple were also excellent. “Showdown” and the juggler were also good. Personally, I found the illusionist and comedian more “meh”. On most nights we caught the 8:30 entertainment in the Spinnaker Lounge, which was standard cruise fare- Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game, Jeopardy, etc, nevertheless a good way to pass time before the 9:30 theatre show. The White Hot party in the Spinnaker was a blast, though rather crowded. Barry in the piano bar was also a fun venture. Disembarking: - This went painfully slow. The self-disembarking group took a long time to complete, so that delayed the process down the line. We were only ½ hour late getting our color called, but it was another mass exodus when they called our color plus another at the same time, and then another color shortly thereafter. If there were one main reason I’d cruise NCL again I’d say it would be for the people. I found my fellow passengers that much more relaxed, talkative and friendly than previous cruises. Our table for two in the dining room quite often resulted in great conversations with other couples seated on either side of us, and it was easy to strike up a conversation whether in the elevator, by the pool or most anywhere on the ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
ANOTHER GREAT NCL JADE CRUISE Just returned home from the 12 night NCL Jade Caribbean cruise that departed from Tampa January 25. It was FANTASTIC!! This was our 8th NCL cruise - 2nd on the Jade. We picked this cruise, in part, ... Read More
ANOTHER GREAT NCL JADE CRUISE Just returned home from the 12 night NCL Jade Caribbean cruise that departed from Tampa January 25. It was FANTASTIC!! This was our 8th NCL cruise - 2nd on the Jade. We picked this cruise, in part, because of the fantastic experience we had on the Jade on our 2014 Mediterranean cruise and that the same Hotel Director (Jovo) was HD on this cruise. He and the staff were exceptional on that cruise and even exceeded our high expectations on this (2017) cruise. It is interesting other recent reviews mention that the crew on the Jade seems friendlier (ie. more customer service oriented) than other NCL ships (which, in itself, is a pretty high bar to surpass since we've always had generally good service on NCL ships). We have to concur and much of the credit has to go to the Hotel Director for setting a positive example and tone for all staff to emulate. It was not uncommon to see Jovo or his assistant Janel frequently at the gangway, strolling through the Atrium and mixing with the passengers. In fact, we did not have any "bad" encounters or service with staff in any area of the ship. This was a 12 night Caribbean cruise stopping at 7 ports. We opted for beach time in 4 of the ports (we left with 18 inches/45 cm of snow in our yard and returned with much more). In Ocho Rios, we had a FANTASTIC day with Michael Foster (michaelfoster71@yahoo.com/876 405-5248) who took a number of us on an area tour, then dropped (and later picked up) those who wanted to visit Dunn's River Falls before taking the others to the Blue Bamboo beach for a couple of hours. He was interesting, very flexible in taking those to areas they wanted to see and very reasonably priced. Highly recommended. In San Juan, we took a 3 hour walking tour by Margarita Reyes (MRL1213@hotmail.com/787 446-2698) which was informative and thorough. She was very good and we also highly recommend her. Two tours that disappointed were the private Shore Excursioneer Group Cayman Islands beach day (which they cancelled WITHOUT NOTICE after we waited almost an hour on shore for them because they didn't have enough participants - as they did with another tour) and the private Tortola Road Town Shore Excursion: Beef Island Beach Day which kept us waiting 1 1/2 hours and had to be called 3 times before showing up. We got full refunds from both for the VERY POOR service. Suggest staying away from those operators. On the ship, we ate mostly at the Grand Pacific Dining Room (which was always good) although we did enjoy the specialty dining room, La Bistro, 3 times where the food and service was excellent! We had no trouble getting loungers on one of the decks overlooking the pool ( a little less busier for reading ) just a short stroll when we wanted to cool off. Our Cabin Steward, Lodson, was perhaps the best we ever had. Ioana (Hostess, Grand Pacific), Vesna (Food + Beverage Manager), Zakeriya (Maitre D' La Bistro) were exceptional. Jovo (Hotel Director) and his staff were great beyond words and set the extremely positive tone throughout the ship. We purchased 2 Future Cruise credits so that should serve as a strong indicator how satisfied we were with the Jade AND NCL. We cannot come up with a "bad experience" while on the ship. Thank you Jade, thank you NCL and, specifically, thank you Jovo for running a fantastic cruise! Well done. We will be back, NCL. David and Cheryl Canada Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
My son recommended this cruise, because he'd been sent the info by our local Travel Agent. So we went to see them. They were excellent in sorting out all the details. We cruised around the Caribbean from Jan 25th to Feb 6th 2017. This ... Read More
My son recommended this cruise, because he'd been sent the info by our local Travel Agent. So we went to see them. They were excellent in sorting out all the details. We cruised around the Caribbean from Jan 25th to Feb 6th 2017. This was our first Cruise so we booked the official NCL official shore excursions. We had an outside cabin with a picture window (the balcony cabins were too expensive). Our Cruise started in Tampa, and then visited Cozumel, Mexico, Cayman Island, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Tortola (our favourite shore excursion by far; great views, a good tour operator and a lovely couple of hours on a beautiful beach), San Juan and Key West. First the positives: The evening entertainment was very good. Most evenings we went to the main theatre. A good varied programme throughout the 12 days. Our cabin housekeeper was very friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble for him. The food was good and varied. We mostly used the Pacific Restaurant. We saw no need to use the extra-cost restaurants. There was plenty of room on the decks for sunbathing and swimming in the small swimming pools. We had the "ultimate" Beverage Package which was a good deal (as long as you didn't want bottled water -more on that later). The staff were well trained, helpful and considerate. Many of our fellow passengers were regular cruisers. They were only too happy to help and share their experiences. We made some real friends during our time on board. The NCL shore excursions were a good way of getting a flavour of the countries we visited. As first-time Cruisers we weren't confident enough to go it alone ashore. The only downside with this is that the shore excursions are quite expensive (we spent over £660 on six shore excursions for the two of us). At least we had the knowledge that the ship wouldn't leave without us! Some of the "areas for improvement" Norwegian Cruise Liners policy towards water!!! You can drink water when served by the glass at the table. When you go on a shore excursion, you need bottled water. For this you have to pay over $5 a bottle!! On two occasions during our Cruise a bottle of water was left in the cabin. Given that it wasn't put in the drinks fridge, which you have to pay for, we assumed it was complimentary. Wrong!! At the end of the Cruise we found we had been charged over $12. We challenged this without success. So it seems that if you want to avoid dehydration on your shore excursions you need to take a hip flask of (free) alcohol!! WiFi. We had 250 minutes of "free" wifi as part of our package. This, with careful usage, just about lasted us the 12 days. Had we needed to top up with extra wifi it would have cost us about $1 a minute. Our solution? Whenever we went ashore we found the nearest FREE wifi and used that. It was also usually faster than the ship's Wifi. On both the above I have no problem with NCL making a profit; it's the profiteering that I dislike. Would we do another Cruise with NCL? We certainly would. We found the size of the Jade (about 2400 passengers) was just right for us. I hope this brief resume of our time on the NCL Jade Cruise is of help to others. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Love to get out of New Jersey in January-February. Our dream cruise would take us to sunny, warm waters all of February. NCL fits us so well as we really like the free style dining and generally casual atmosphere. The Grand Pacific ... Read More
Love to get out of New Jersey in January-February. Our dream cruise would take us to sunny, warm waters all of February. NCL fits us so well as we really like the free style dining and generally casual atmosphere. The Grand Pacific was our favorite though we usually like the slightly less formal dining rooms on other NCL ships. Garden Cafe had the best food station layout of all the ships that we have been on, hope that doesn't change after the dry dock refurbishing. We enjoyed Le Bistro, La Cucina was not as good but we live in an area that is rife with Italian restaurants, so maybe that's not a fair review. This is the first pool deck band that didn't blast our ears out with overly loud music. Pool side should be relaxing and this time it was! Didn't go to much of the evening entertainment in the Stardust theater, so we won't comment. The game shows that we attended in the Spinnaker Lounge were great fun. Despite the upcoming music venue and scheduled ship dry dock time, the Jade was in pretty good repair. On that subject, hope some of the fantastic Art Deco ceiling lights and wall art, especially on deck 7, aren't all removed in the "redo." We will know as we are already booked for 2018 on the Jade. Excursion to Dunns River Falls was hot and steamy but all who went in the water seemed to really enjoy it. Tour of San Juan City was informative, Castle was well worth visiting. A funeral at the capital building added to traffic problems and cancelled a photo op, but that isn't a controllable event. All our other ventures were on our own; love walking around Cozumel, Key. West port area on a Sunday was okay but did like the little aquarium there. We are looking forward to our next cruise on the Jade in 2018. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
just returned from 12 nights on the ncl jade... beautiful ship.. not to big, not to small, just right. we had a mini suite 11544 with plenty of storage space and nice size balcony.. I had a deck chair delivered and enjoyed the quiet time.. ... Read More
just returned from 12 nights on the ncl jade... beautiful ship.. not to big, not to small, just right. we had a mini suite 11544 with plenty of storage space and nice size balcony.. I had a deck chair delivered and enjoyed the quiet time.. the only negative on cabin was 2 calls for toilet problems, which was corrected...we ate most meals in grand pacific and blue lagoon, which were all good.. was not fond of the buffet area or the food there, always too crowded..disappointed that ncl has stopped serving shrimp cocktail, not once on the menu...no lobster nite without paying extra $24.95...we found the ship to be very clean everywhere.. never went in to any public bathroom that wasn't spotless.. look forward to cruising on the jade again after refurbish.. would love to see more 12 nite cruises...we had a great trip... cant wait to cruise again on the ncl jade... Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
We enjoyed our first cruise on the Jade. The crew was great and the concierge was the best I have ever encountered. He made 3 visits to the suite and greeted us daily. His name was O'mar. Specialty dinners in Cagneys were good. I ... Read More
We enjoyed our first cruise on the Jade. The crew was great and the concierge was the best I have ever encountered. He made 3 visits to the suite and greeted us daily. His name was O'mar. Specialty dinners in Cagneys were good. I wish they would have had more fish options but steaks were great. We ate breakfast here almost everyday. We enjoyed a meal in LaCucina and Tepanyaki. The show for Tepanyaki was great with Eric as our cook. We ate one time in a main dining room and the food was fine. Having a reserved seating area for the shows with the suite was great and we enjoyed all entertainment. We did not have any wait time and could just walk in and have good seats in a balcony area just for the suites. We enjoyed all ports we visited but only took one ship tour in the Cayman Island which included a rum cake store, rum production and beer tour. Beer tour did not operate on Sunday's so with complaint, ship adjusted. The rum cake was just a store visit rather then tour. We were involved with private tours for all other ports and they were great values and enjoyable. Getting in the ship in Tampa was the worse I have ever encountered and a real joke. Luggage drop off and lines were unorganized. No preference for suites or Latitudes. A lot of wasted time and disappointment. Disembarking was late but went smoothly once it started. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
The shows were VERY disappointing. We are platinum cruisers with Carnival, but haven't cruised with them for about 5 years. The singers voices didn't blend. After attending two shows, we tried the comedy club. Better ... Read More
The shows were VERY disappointing. We are platinum cruisers with Carnival, but haven't cruised with them for about 5 years. The singers voices didn't blend. After attending two shows, we tried the comedy club. Better entertainment, but the room was too small. The comedy was the best night time activity so everyone arrived early and didn't leave--standing room only! The food was actually better than we remembered from our last Carnival cruise. Good variety in the main dining room. We really enjoy the sea day brunch--best idea in cruising! Also, "Guy's Burgers" were a real treat--some of the best burgers at sea! The matre'd was OUTSTANDING..He had a wonderful personality and sang every night. He had the best voice on the ship--they should have paid him extra and had him on the main stage. Our main dinning room servers were delightful. The cabins and service were average, but up to our past expectations. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We live about an hour north of Port Tampa. Twelve of us went on this cruise. We contracted for Barracuda Transportation to take all of us to the port together. We would definitely use them again. We did our own thing during the day and ... Read More
We live about an hour north of Port Tampa. Twelve of us went on this cruise. We contracted for Barracuda Transportation to take all of us to the port together. We would definitely use them again. We did our own thing during the day and met for drinks and dinner at night. We met in Magnum's Bar each night, as one of our couples was 80 plus. It was centrally located to the casino, restaurants, and the theatre. We enjoyed the game shows in the Spinnaker Lounge on the 13th deck in the evenings after the shows. The size of the ship is just right, about 2400 passengers. The Buffet on deck 12 was excellent. We had breakfast and lunch up there for most of our cruise. The Grand Pacific restaurant has wonderful windows for a gracious dining experience. The Alizer restaurant had lower ceilings with smaller windows and many banquettes for seating. We found the food to be just average - nothing to write home about. I was surprised that there were two very small pools. There was an area of the pool deck that was not in use during the entire cruise which was a bit inconvenient. We enjoyed the ports - Antigua, St. Johns, St.Maarten, San Juan, and Key West. We took no excursions as we decided the local taxi service would be cheaper in getting us to the beaches. San Juan is a hilly city to walk, but the old architecture is worth walking a few blocks from the ship's pier. Loved the blue brick/cobblestone streets! The Jade is going into dry dock during March of this year. I have friends that booked a cruise right after she returns to Tampa. Hopefully the refreshing of the Jade will be welcoming and enjoyable by all. The Jade was formerly a Hawaiian Islands ship with décor to match. The new décor should be more updated with new colors. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
We had a great time in all the ports on this cruise and liked the size of this ship and all the different dining options. The food was satisfactory, but the deserts were a little lacking except for Cagney's. The steaks and sides ... Read More
We had a great time in all the ports on this cruise and liked the size of this ship and all the different dining options. The food was satisfactory, but the deserts were a little lacking except for Cagney's. The steaks and sides were excellent in this restaurant. Our food was never hot either with the exception of the specialty restaurants.  We learned to ask for our food extra hot in the dining room, but that didn't solve the problem in the Garden Cafe. The pancakes and waffles were so cold the butter wouldn't melt.  We were always in the Garden Cafe when they open for breakfast too.  I was also disappointed that outdoor cafe didn't open until 7:30 AM. Why? We like to eat outside and watch the sunrise and would like to see this changed. Dining Room service was not what we expected.  I had a hard time getting my Diet Pepsi, and our water glasses sat empty a lot. One time I even got up and attempted to refill our water glasses.  That got the server's attention. The wait time for them to take our order was extremely long too. Casino- you have to pay for coffee!  Yes, regular plain coffee that is served for free all over the ship.  Why? This policy makes no sense and needs to be changed.  You are making money off of us in the Casino, but want me to buy coffee? Pool Deck - the pool deck, was under repair the entire time we were on our cruise.  We had access to both pools on sea days, but not on port days.  The repairs being made were extensive and should have been reserved for drydock. Furthermore, the first sea day it was very windy.  My husband and I had been in our chairs from 6:30  AM until lunch time.  There were a ton of people that had put towels and other belongings on chairs and had not returned since they "reserved" them at 6:30 AM. Since the wind was so bad, we left our seats for less than 30 minutes, and our chairs and clips were taken from us while the other chairs that had been left for over 4 hours were not.  When I inquired about where my towel clips were, they found one set, but couldn't find the other.  While they were looking for my clips one of the employees said you can't reserve chairs.  I pointed out all the reserved chairs and told them they had been empty for 4+ hours and not taken away.  He said they had been stickered and would within an hour, but they never were.  I also told him I had been gone for less than 30 minutes and he said you were gone an hour and you can go to guest services to review the security footage.  I challenged him on his time keeping skills and he then said he wasn't the one who took our chairs.  I asked to speak to the person that did and he wouldn't let me.  20 minutes later we had our clips and were on our way to find other chairs.  If you are going to make us follow the rules you should make all the passengers!  This issue was frustrating and didn't leave me with a warm and feeling. We spent most of our time in the Casino because all the entertainment options start too late.  Why not have dancing and other entertainment earlier for the early risers that don't want to stay up late? We loved all the ports and would like to return to them one day.  We enjoyed a walking food tour in Key West and a beach break with lunch in Saint John.  We felt like the excursion to Maho Beach in Sait Martin was too long, as it is not a beach to relax at and spend the day.  The bar is very crowded, and you can't get the wifi to work because so many people are trying to access it.  Everyone should see the jets landing at the airport but just take a cab.  Our cab ride back was $8.00 a person. There is also a beach named Blue Beach that is a 10-minute walk from the cruise port, and there are great shops in this port.  We didn't do anything in Tortorla and I regret that.  There is not much to do in port, but the island is beautiful.  You can get off the ship and take a trolly ride around the Isle for $20.00.  They pack a lot of people in that trolley, so if crowds are not your thing, book an excursion through the ship.  I did purchase a beautiful pottery bowl in this port. It was the end of Christmas in San Juan, and there was a big street festival.  It was a bonus for us to be in port during this time.  Walking around Old San Juan, seeing the forts and shopping was time well spent. We had four specialty restaurants with our package.  We loved Cagney's and went there twice.  We enjoyed the Brizzialn Steak House but didn't care for the Japanese place.  The food isn't the same as the Japanese food at home I will look for a literary like this again.  Ten days is the perfect length, and the ports were very crowded but well worth it.  We would cruise on this ship again if given the opportunity even though there were a couple of issues for us.  We did put a deposit down for two future cruises and are looking forward to our next adventure. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
Easy embarkation. Excellent staff, good ports, relaxed atmosphere. Relative lack of hawking for extra paid services. Good value for the price. Happy to see the library and card room are not joined together. Sorry to see the Hawaiian ... Read More
Easy embarkation. Excellent staff, good ports, relaxed atmosphere. Relative lack of hawking for extra paid services. Good value for the price. Happy to see the library and card room are not joined together. Sorry to see the Hawaiian decor to be replaced next month. Dining room service was variable. If you find a server you like, request her/his station each time you dine. Prohibition of bringing aboard water and soft drinks said to be "for safety" is an obvious veiled attempt to increase bar revenue by selling beverage packages and bottles of water. Redemption of “prizes” for participation in onboard activities was disappointing due to poor quality and poor selection (limited inventory). On disembarkation day, breakfast in the Grand Pacific dining room was excellent. We had taken our luggage to breakfast in order to allow our cabin steward to have earlier access for turnover. But after breakfast, a staff member was controlling the aft elevators. She locked out deck 6, so we were unable to use the elevator to get our luggage to deck 7 for disembarkation. When I went to her to ask for help, she suggested using the mid-shop elevators. She didn’t seem to understand that from the Grand Pacific dining room there was no other way to get luggage to another elevator. She was no help and seemed annoyed at my request to send the elevator to deck 6. Read Less

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