Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard the NCL Pearl this week. Here’s his latest update:
TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Dec. 16, 2009 – Above the dive-friendly, turquoise waters here a playground of another kind beckons.
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl is a world unto itself, epitomizing Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where passengers enjoy a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules, dining times or even dress codes to adhere to.
As such, during this seven-night Eastern Caribbean swing port calls to the Dominican Republic, neighboring U.S. Virgin islands and even this idyllic British outpost where the local airport is too small to accommodate large jets, seem almost secondary.
Pearl features 12 restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, a spa, fitness center, sports court (basketball, volleyball and tennis), four hot tubs, two swimming pools, a kid’s pool, internet cafÃ©, casino, library, card room, jogging/walking track, shuffleboard court and movie theater.
The biggest onboard wow factor — clearly — is Bliss, a sports bar by day and a high-energy lounge at night complete with the industry’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Look for multiple flat screen televisions featuring sports events and arcade games during the day and music videos at night. There’s even a spacious dance floor, full bar and mood-lit bowling in the evening.
When not playing under these Caribbean waters, or above them, guests are also enjoying a ship that is relaxing. Pearl features 10 accommodation categories.
There are 360 balcony staterooms — each a comfortable 205 square feet — complete with two lower beds and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony. Look also for a sitting area, rich cherry wood finishes, flat screen televisions, mini-bars, tea and coffee makers and internet connection and bathroom.
Mini suites, 134 in all, measure 284 square feet and include floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony, two lower beds that convert to a queen size bed, sitting area with convertible double sofa, bathroom with shower and bathtub, plus balcony stateroom amenities.
There are 416 inside staterooms, each 143 square feet, and 243 ocean view staterooms each 161 square feet.
For passengers seeking larger accommodations Pearl, too, is a treat.
Look for 24 penthouse suites (572 square feet); 10 courtyard villas (572 square feet); four owner’s suites (823 square feet); two deluxe owner’s suites (928 square feet); four romance suites (460 square feet); and two, 5,000-square foot Garden Villas offering panoramic views of the ocean.
Each villa features a roof terrace and private garden, three separate bedrooms with king- or queen-size bed and private luxury bath, multiple TVs with CD/DVD players, open-air dining, whirlpool, steam room and private sunning/relaxation areas plus a living room with a piano, state-of-the-art BOSE entertainment center with CD/DVD library, computer access with internet connection and WiFi. There’s a refrigerator, wet bar, tea and espresso/cappuccino coffee maker, butler and concierge services plus access to a private concierge lounge.
Passengers will enjoy a sea day tomorrow en route to NCL’s private island — Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas — Friday.
Later this week: We’ll look at Pearl’s amazing array of culinary options.