Freestyle Fun with a New Twist
Norwegian Pearl offers Bowling at Sea!
If you thought rock climbing, shopping malls and skating rinks weren't enough at sea, never fear. Now, you can go bowling on the new Norwegian Pearl.*
By Kay Showker
Would you like to sail on a ship that’s cool and cheerful, both inside and out? Then check out Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) new Norwegian Pearl. Outside, the 93,530-ton ship is adorned with NCL’s trademark hull décor of colorful streamers and bubbles. Inside, the 2,380-passenger ship boasts fun and prolific dining and activity choices for guests.
Christened in Miami in late 2006 during NCL’s 40th anniversary celebration, the Pearl also happens to be the line’s most innovative mega-liner to date, with new features and enhanced ones first seen on earlier ships.
The new Norwegian Pearl, which sails from Miami in fall and winter, is a feature-filled floating resort.*
Bowling and Rock Wall Climbing
For starters, the 15-deck Norwegian Pearl fields the cruise industry's first bowling alley at sea. It also features NCL’s first rock-climbing wall and first thalassotherapy pool, along with a full tennis court.
Art lovers can gaze at Dale Chihuly’s fanciful glass sculptures. Cruisers on the go also will like “action stations” for a la minute food preparation.
And if you’re in the mood for love, the Norwegian Pearl has a number of features you ought to know about. These include new “romance” suites, three spa treatment rooms for couples, and lounging beds in some of the ship’s quietest corners.
The Pearl’s Deck 7 is action central, centered by the Crystal Atrium, which is dominated by a floor-to-ceiling screen with changing scenes. To one side of the atrium, Bar Central is made up of three connected but very different venues: a martini bar, a champagne and wine bar, and a beer and whiskey pub.
Aft is the Pearl’s most distinctive feature: the Bliss Ultra Lounge & Nightclub. By day, Bliss is a funky sports bar, with a four-lane bowling alley ($5 includes a 10-frame game and bowling shoes) and flat-screen TVs tuned to the day’s top sports events.
In the evening Bliss is transformed into a hip, high-energy “ultra-lounge,” with day beds and plush turquoise, purple and red crushed-velvet banquettes. The plasma screens blare hot music videos. The bar and dance floor attract large crowds. And mood-lit bowling mixes into the vibrant ambience. You may even wonder if you've wandered into Paris Hilton’s playpen.
Bliss is a high-energy, ultra-lounge in the evenings. Couples can enjoy drinks while sinking into daybeds or relaxing on plush chairs with soft velvet fabrics.*
The ship’s show lounge, spanning three decks without obstruction, is another winner. One of the Pearl’s several new shows, entitled Tubez, is an edgy—some might say over-the-edge—musical interspersed with daredevil stunts on bikes, skateboards, and in-line skates against a hip-hop set.
The ship’s 13 other bars and lounges include a casino, a cigar club and a sake and Asian beer bar. The Spinnaker Lounge, a large observation lounge with colorful décor and unusual mod chairs and sculpted settees, hosts bingo, dance lessons and other activities by day, and a cabaret in the evening. The Pearl has three meeting rooms, shops, a library, card room, wedding chapel and an Internet café, plus Wi-Fi and cell phone-at-sea capability.
Diverse Dining Choices
The Summer Palace, NCL Pearl's main dining room, boasts a grand entrance.*
Extending NCL’s trendsetting Freestyle Cruising concept — which casts away dress codes and strict dining hours — the Pearl has 11 restaurants that range from traditional to exotic. The Summer Palace, the ship’s opulent main dining room, dazzles with white- and gold-trimmed ceilings and 24-carat gold-coated chandeliers. The dining room offers open seating or six-course dining with the same wait staff throughout the cruise.
Indigo, a contemporary-styled second dining room, features a lighter menu.
The redesigned Garden Café, an indoor/outdoor food court, has “action stations” preparing made-to-order omelets, waffles, pasta and other specialties; an extensive buffet; and an outdoor grill. To one side of the Garden Café is the kids’ café, which provides small seats and low tables. On another side is a dinner-only Italian restaurant.
The food options also include a Tex-Mex café and a 24-hour bistro. These six restaurants have no surcharge.
The Lotus Garden ($12.50 to $20 per person) comprises three restaurants in one: an all-you-can-eat sushi bar, a teppanyaki room (reservations required) and an Asian fusion restaurant. Also requiring reservations and a cover surcharge are the handsome Cagney’s Steak House, NCL’s signature restaurant, and Le Bistro, serving French cuisine.
Among the Norwegian Pearl's specialty dining venues is Cagney's Steakhouse.*
NCL’s new electronic billboards makes reserving easy. Seventeen screens, placed strategically around the ship, show availability and/or waiting time in each restaurant. When you select a specific restaurant, you’re given a beeper that buzzes you when your table is ready.
This eliminates the problem of long lines waiting for alternative restaurants, which NCL had at the outset of Freestyle Cruising. Now, the whole process is smoother and generally hassle-free for guests.
The Norwegian Pearl’s cabins and suites continue the high standards that NCL set in earlier ships. Guests enjoy plenty of amenities in all cabins, such as a sitting area, refrigerator, tea/coffee maker, flat-screen TV, hairdryer and safe.
Almost 80 percent of the ship’s cabins face outside, and over 70 percent of these have balconies. Many interconnect to create two- to five-bedroom family units.
A Category BB cabin with veranda on Norwegian Pearl is shown above left, while one of the line's more spacious A1 Villa bedrooms is shown above right.*
Atop the Norwegian Pearl you’ll find a fantasy world like no other, as two ultra-luxurious, three-bedroom Garden Villas create a “ship-within-a-ship.” At 4,390 square feet, each has a living room with a baby grand piano, private terrace, sumptuous baths, garden with a hot tub, and seating for indoor or open-air dining.
A Garden Villa can be all yours for a mere $26,000 for five days in the Caribbean for two. Of course, you could bring along several couples, making it a real bargain, given the butler service and spaciousness and views from the accommmodations.
For the utmost in privacy, the Pearl also features two new restricted-access Deluxe Owner's Suites at the very top of the ship.
However, more affordable luxury is also available, as 10 suites are grouped around a courtyard with a swim-against-the-current lap pool and hot tub at the center. Eight of these suites have separate children’s bedrooms. And there’s an entire deck of spacious minisuites with balconies.
The Courtyard on Norwegian Pearl is a semi-private enclave available to guests in just 10 suites.*
Four “Romance” suites with balconies at the stern provide dreamy sea and sunset views through floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Top suite categories have butler service, and all suites have access to an exclusive concierge.
Accommodations throughout the ship are brightly decorated in orange, fuchsia and teal. If you have trouble remembering which direction is forward or aft, corridor carpets are designed with fish swimming forward.
Sports and Fitness
Sports lovers might head for this top-deck sports court for a set of tennis, and afterward, the line's full-service spa awaits.*
The Pearl provides many choices for those seeking to stay active at sea. The Sports Deck has a rock-climbing wall, a driving range, a spectator stand, and a multifunction court for regulation tennis, volleyball and basketball.
There are also two swimming pools. One features a circular slide and a kids’ wading pool.
And, if you want to relax after an exciting game of basketball or a fitness regimen, head for the ship's full-service Mandara Spa.
Norwegian Pearl Itineraries
This summer the Norwegian Pearl is operating seven-day Alaska cruises from Seattle. This fall through spring 2008, however, the ship will sail from sunny Miami offering unique nine- and five-day Caribbean cruises. Those cruises break the traditional seven-day pattern.
The nine-day Caribbean route visits Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Tortola, B.V.I. The five-day itinerary calls in Cozumel, Mexico and Belize.
For More Information
Ready to book? Or need more information? Contact your travel agent or NCL at www.ncl.com.
Tennessee native and Florida resident, Kay Showker has covered the cruise industry as a journalist for several decades. She is the author of The Unofficial Guide to Cruises and the Caribbean Ports of Call series, and is a long-standing member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the America Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of Norwegian Cruise Line. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.