Norwegian Pearl is a fantastically fun ship from its imaginative decor (blown-up photos of wild animals or foreign landmarks in stairwells, jewel-tone carpeting, a Victorian/steampunk-style vibe in the nightclub) to the variety of onboard activities.
There's even more fun to be had if you're on one of the wild and wacky charters the ship sails with Norwegian Cruise Line Holding's theme cruise arm Sixthman (The Rock Boat, Cayamo, Chris Jericho Rock N Rager). Most of the sailings that take place during "theme cruise season" -- most of February and early March before Spring Break -- take place on Norwegian Pearl.
The size of the ship -- not too big, not too small, with plenty of bars and venues -- is what makes it great for these theme cruises. Outside these sailings, you'll find lots to do onboard.
With a maximum capacity of 2,394 guests and a length of 964 feet, this is not a small cruise ship. However, one of the things that struck us during our cruise is how easy and comfortable the flow is on Norwegian Pearl. There aren't many instances of "you can't get there from here," which is, of course, wonderful. Another thing we really enjoyed is the usability of the atrium on decks 7 and 8. Norwegian chose to make this area two stories tall, rather than create an atrium concept with towering empty space. So, in this case, the atrium, with crystal lights hanging from the ceiling, is comfy and cozy, while still being expansive and airy.
Cabins are spread across seven decks. The ones that are least subject to noise are those on decks 9, 10, 14 and 15, whereas most of Norwegian Pearl’s cabins to avoid are on decks 5, 8 and 11. These are located right below or above noisy public spaces such as the pool, the theater or restaurants. Those seeking a little extra luxury can book a room in The Haven, an exclusive area with its own suites, pool, and services, all located on the top decks of the ship.
Norwegian Pearl is a social ship, and half the fun is getting to know your fellow travelers. Pearl's atrium is one of the most happening spots on the ship, functioning primarily as a place to commune. Nightlife is vibrant with Bar City (a stretch of four bars along a single corridor), the place to hang out. During the day, kids and teen spaces keep the under-18s busy, while the outdoor sports court and pool deck give families and friends the chance to get together for a game of hoops or a dip in the pool.
The most recent Norwegian Pearl refurbishment took place in 2017, as part of the cruise line’s ‘Norwegian Edge’ renovation program. During the drydock period, staterooms and public spaces were updated, bringing the ship in line with its more modern sister vessels.
Norwegian Pearl offers more than a dozen dining venues, quite literally accommodating all tastes. It's a ship that brings people together -- whether through bands or pop culture on a charter, or for a short vacation -- and it does it well, with cabins across a number of categories (many keeping families in mind) that aren't on the edge of modern, but feel just roomy and comfortable enough.
Overall, Norwegian Pearl doesn't strike us as the kind of ship where people spend a ton of time in their room. If you're not singing karaoke, dancing at a silent disco (headphones only), snacking at O'Sheehan's or enjoying life at sea (sometimes with the top names in music or television), you're probably asleep.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Norwegian Pearl, please refer to Norwegian’s Health and Safety protocols. You can also use Cruise Critic's guide to health requirements on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.
· Meals in two main dining rooms and at Lotus Garden, O’Sheehan’s pub, the Garden Cafe buffet and Topsiders Grill; also Continental breakfast room service
· Main theater production shows and live music in various venues
· Most onboard activities, except as noted
· Use of the fitness center (excluding most classes and training sessions)
· Use of the sports deck
· Splash Academy kids club
· Daily service fees (amounts vary depending on cabin category)
· Drinks, except water, tea, coffee and select juices from the buffet
· Gratuities of 20 percent on beverage, spa, salon and specialty dining purchases
· Room service (waived for suites and continental breakfast orders)
· Most specialty dining
· Spa and salon services, plus access to the spa's Thermal Suite
· Most fitness center classes
· Select daily activities including bingo, alcohol tastings,bingo, and games like Deal or No Deal
· After-hours kids supervision programs at the Splash Academy
· Shore excursions
Pearl is a ship for all ages, which works well since it attracts people from across all generations and demographics. It's hard to nail down who wouldn't be on a Pearl cruise; the crowd runs young and old, from all states (and countries, for that matter) -- you name it. These diverse demographics are largely influenced by the many theme cruises the ship hosts. Fans of bands, celebrities and special groups featured onboard span interests and generations. The ship mostly sails shorter, Caribbean itineraries, opening it up to vacationers looking to squeeze in a warm long weekend.
Daytime: Norwegian's carefree attitude carries over to its dress code, which basically allows for anything. During the day, it's all casual, with swimsuits, shorts and T-shirts poolside and in ports.
Evening: At night, there's generally no formal dress code, though there's a no-shorts rule at some of the more upscale restaurants (Cagney's and Le Bistro, for example). Otherwise, khakis and Polo shirts are the norm for men in the evening, while women wear sundresses or blouses with capris, slacks or skirts. Norwegian doesn't have a true formal night, though passengers are encouraged to dress up for Norwegian's Night Out once per cruise. Few people actually don their fancy duds, but those who do wear suits (for men) or cocktail dresses (for women).
Not permitted: The only prohibitions are tank tops for men, flip-flops, baseball caps, ripped-up jeans and swimwear. These are permitted in the Garden Cafe, though cover-ups or shirts and shorts must be worn over swimsuits and bare feet are not allowed.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Norwegian Cruise Line.
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Very satisfying - would rate 4 1/2 stars if I could