Cruise Ship: Norwegian Pearl
Cruise Dates: May 20 - May 27, 2007
Cruise Destination: Alaska Glacier Bay
Guest Contributor: OceanDreaming2
This was our 5th NCL cruise. We have previously been on the Star, Jewel, Dream, and last February, the Pearl. While on the Jewel last year, we brought what was then called "Latitudes Bonus Rewards", whereby you would pre-pay for future cruises. (This program is no longer offered.) We paid the amount that would make us temporary Platinum Latitude members, but we have now been advised we have permanent Platinum status.
Embarkation Day: We decided to fly to Seattle one day prior to our cruise since we nearly missed the last cruise when we had air delays. We reserved a suite at the Holiday Inn Express SeaTac using an Entertainment Card discount for less than $50. We flew SWA and had no problem with connecting flights, meeting fellow cruisers in Salt Lake City. We shared the cost of a van with them, thus having transportation to a local restaurant and giving them the opportunity to purchase sodas and water to bring aboard. The HIE offered a decent breakfast, and we took a leisurely ride to the seaport, arriving at 11:00 or so. We had a rapid check-in and settled in to wait for boarding to begin. We were on board soon, leaving our carry on bags in our BD balcony stateroom and enjoying a lunch at the Garden Café.
Our SLC traveling friends suggested the chilled soups were special, so we made it a point to try the banana soup, and it was delicious. Our stateroom was ready for us when we returned and picked up our life vests for muster drill (held in the Stardust Theater). The only problem was our door was marked with one muster station location, and our vests said another. A comment card was left for the cabin attendants. Our luggage was received quickly with our boxed wine intact.
Our Stateroom: Our balcony room was kept clean and orderly. We had enough space for our belongings, but would think it would be hard to fit more than two people and their personal effects in that size stateroom. Of course, we overpacked - bringing way too many clothes. (It's hard to predict Alaskan May weather.) We had our beds put together, and had a tiny night table on one side and the foldout couch on the other. The table barely held the telephone - I'd say it was about 12" across. That's how much room you have between the bed and the wall. The room had a stocked mini-fridge (which we had emptied), flat panel TV, coffee maker, safe, 3 drawers, shelves and ample hanging room in the closet. I requested a robe and it was brought immediately. I suggest you remove about half of the hangers, as they are bulky.
We always bring a folding hamper and it fit in the closet nicely. The closet had a lower fold-down shelf but I couldn't figure out its purpose. A nice touch was the light in the closet that we kept on at night for a great nightlight. Our ten-pocket shoe bag hung on the outside of our closet door and was perfect to hold the odds and ends that accumulated throughout the cruise. The bathroom space was adequate. I asked for a bar of soap and our cabin attendant immediately brought a bar of Frances Denney.
We introduced ourselves to Alexander Forbes, the concierge. During the week, our butler from the February cruise, Amit, stopped by to talk. Auggie and Richard, our penthouse housekeeping staff also remembered us, and told us they were planning to be married when they return to the Philippines. (I felt like a matchmaker since I always teased them in February about getting married.) Our latest cabin stewards did their work, but were not as friendly. We found all staff willing to go the extra mile to make things right.
Gatherings: Our sail-away party was rained out. Our Meet and Greet (held in LeBistro the first sea day (Monday) was arranged by a member of our on-line group but she didn't attend the meeting, nor did anyone meet her on the cruise. We wondered if, for some reason, they missed the cruise. The Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director and other NCL dignitaries attended the M&G. NCL provided beverages and pastries. The NCL personnel left their cards with personal phone numbers and email addresses and asked that we contact any of them if we had any questions or comments. I asked about the Garden Villa and if it would be open for a tour, and we were invited to a showing the morning of disembarkation. The hotel director also invited the gang to a complimentary game of bowling along with an on-the-house drink. It was great fun and I came in 8th place in our little tournament. Of course, there were only 8 players, but it was still fun.
VIP Guests: As Platinum members, we were invited to dine in Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. The VIP cocktail party was held Monday evening and we were then invited to join Captain Sverre Søvdsnes at his table in LeBistro. We were among the 5 guests at the table. We enjoyed a steak and lobster - but the conversation was better. Besides the Captain, we were joined by one of the Jean Ann Ryan dancers, a travel writer working for About.com, (Angela Brown of Northwest USA Travel) and our neighbors (who were enjoying their first cruise). We were very pleased NCL gave our friends the same high quality service we received on this cruise. Each evening we would receive "tasty treats" ranging from tiny swan shaped cream puffs, to hors d'oeuvres to warm cookies.
A highlight of this cruise was a special invitation by Captain Søvdsnes to join him on the Bridge the day of the Glacier Bay cruising. We had exceptional views from the bridge and spent 1-1/2 hours admiring the sights of the magnificent glaciers. On our way back to reality, we walked past the cruise director's stateroom. He does not live in steerage; he appeared to have a penthouse. Last, but not least, was the parting gift from Captain Søvdsnes, two 8 x 10 glossy prints; one of the M/S Pearl and another of those of us attending the Captain's dinner. Captain Søvdsnes certainly did his part in making sure we'd book another NCL cruise. His personal note, commenting on our dinner and suggesting we try a Panama Canal cruise, was a very nice touch.
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