Since we covered the various food venues in detail in our Norwegian Jewel Review (2006) and NCL has made them homogeneous across its fleet, we want to discuss "Freestyle" cruising in general. Those of us who have cruised for many years see the various innovations as welcome. Where just a few years ago, passengers were summoned to the formal dining room by bells or carillons and if you were 15 to 20 minutes late you found that the dining room doors were closed. Now, you may opt for the same table every evening at the same time. But, if you find this boring, instead you may choose one of twelve or so venues anytime from 5:30pm to as late as 10:30pm.
You are offered formal settings, Japanese style dining, Casual Buffet, room service with simple soups, salads or sandwiches --- whatever makes you happy. NCL has new controlled portion sizes, which is welcomed by us. No more wasting food and there is more always available for those who want it.
The menus offer several appetizers, some always available, like shrimp cocktail. There are salads of just fruit or the mixed green type or Caesar's salad always available. Soups are hot or cold and quite good; try the cold fruited ones like berry smoothies. Entrees range from Vegetarian, to fish, fowl, beef, lamb and veal. There are Asian, European, Latin and American offerings. This week on board one third of the passengers were non US citizens. Latitudes had several parties for NCL repeaters where the drinks were abundant and the hors d'oeuvres included caviar.
The food on board is good, ample and everywhere. Lots of fresh fruits, tropical and berries. The desserts were made from scratch and many featured fresh fruits. There were usually one or two hot from the oven like almond souffle` or an apple bread pudding. Food can be an adventure on board the Pearl. Hotel Director Dallas has seen to every passengers needs --- service is fast, excellent and pleasant.
Norwegian Pearl Cabin
Mini Suite #11654 is in the rear of the ship with an excellent view of the ship's wake and the sound of rushing water, when the balcony door is open. There were two chaise lounges and two chairs and two tables on the roomy balcony which has an automatic electric door opener.
When entering on the right is the large bath with a 4'X4' shower with fold up seat and safety rails all around. There is a tilt mirror and a sink with two shelves for toiletries. Next, there is a king size, high bed flanked by two night tables and reading lamps. Then, there is a desk with three drawers and a mini fridge.
When entering on the left is a double armoire and two sets of shelves and a private safe. There is another set of shelves with a TV, and a table with a coffee/tea set up. Next, there is a sofa, quite firm. The rug has the watermelon pink, lime green and blue colors of other NCL ships; and the Maple wood furnishings are lovely. There are two small pictures and one large, all similarly showing palm trees and beach settings.
Norwegian Pearl Entertainment
Cruise Director Linda Minnikin is a ball of fire. The Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers did production shows including The Show Girl Revue with the music of Sinatra, Beyonce and Timberlake. The singing seemed in need of a sound check. The dancers were terrific. There was also the comedy of Chicago's "Second City" improvisation comedy troupe. Bud Anderson had the audience rolling in the aisles with his "physical" comedy. It cannot be described, you must see it!
There are many events to occupy passengers, from musical groups like Trio Los Hernandez, whom we saw in the Crystal Atrium playing requests. They were exceptional at Elvis tunes and Latin sounds. Tzachev was also excellent at piano. There was also Bingo, Casino Games, Raffles, Trivia, Darts, Ping Pong, Shuffleboard, and Golf. NCL pulls out all the stops to give passengers a good time.
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