Travel – Cruise Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl – Part 1, Prepping for the Cruise

My youngest son and I decided to go on an Alaska cruise together. We wanted to go for one week. I had heard fantastic reviews about Norwegian Cruise Lines and I had been in contact with a lady who works for Norwegian. She could help us set everything up. Her name is Lynn. She is great. She has kept in touch with me for years.

There are Choices to be Made

My son and I decided on which ship we wanted to travel on. For our trip we chose the Norwegian Pearl.

A picture of the side of the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship with it's name painted on it.
The ship was beautiful

The Pearl would depart out of Seattle for our trip.

The space needle in Seattle, Washington, in the USA.
This is the Space Needle, in Seattle. I was able to capture this picture the day we left for our cruise.

I did some research and found out that one of the best times for the Alaska cruise is in September. In September, you aren’t plagued by mosquitoes as much as in earlier months.

Also, if you choose a departure date close to the end of the cruise’s scheduled season, you may catch some great shopping discounts. Merchants don’t want to hold stock until the beginning of the next season.

Even though at this point, we hadn’t left for our cruise yet, I’m going to show you a few pictures from our trip so you can see some of what I’m talking about.

When you go cruising on Norwegian, you have lots of choices you need to make before you ever get on the ship.

You need to choose a room size and type (that is anything from a standard room without a window to a suite with a balcony). You need to decide where on the ship you want your room to be (high or low), (forward, midship or aft).

You need to selected a drinking package. The drinking package we selected allowed us to have all of the water, milk, juice, tea and soda we could drink. My son and I rarely drink anything stronger than what we selected. We decided if we wanted beer, wine or hard liquor, we would pay for those separately.

You need to decide if you will do any specialty dining or will you just eat at the all you can eat buffets.

As seen at an all you can eat buffet restaurant on the Norwegian Pearl, a decoration showing representations of sea creatures and habitats, made with fruits and vegetables.
Even at the buffets, they go all out with presentation.

The food variety and quality at the buffets is amazing.

Amazing, delicious food that was selected from a buffet restaurant on the Norwegian Pearl.
Before you go, prepare yourself because you might put on a pound or two.

We never had a disappointing meal.

A beautifully presented desert that was seen and eaten, on the Norwegian Pearl in a buffet style dining restaurant.
Everything they make looks and tastes great.

Specialty dining is another package we decided to purchase through Norwegian. In addition to eating in the all you can eat buffets, four of the nights we would go to one of the many specialty restaurants that they have onboard.

One night we would eat in their Italian restaurant “La Cuchina”. Another night we would eat in their French restaurant “Le Bistro”. The final night we would eat in “Cagney’s steakhouse”.

One of the days would be totally at sea (they would not be stopping in a port that day). We decided to enjoy the Japanese restaurant “Teppanyaki” that night because the preparing and serving of that meal is a treat in itself.

The grill and the surrounding table at the Japanese restaurant "Teppanyaki" on the Norwegian Pearl.
The food was so very good.

You need to decide if you will go on an excursions at each port you go to (excursions can be purchased through Norwegian). You don’t have to go on any, or maybe you go on one or two. We went on five. We chose to go on the Mendenhall Glacier bus tour, we went Whale Watching, we went for two Hours of Horseback Riding, we went to a Lumberjack Show and rode in a Horse Drawn Cart around downtown Victoria in Canada.

You can take a chance and purchase an excursion when you get into each port. The only problem with that is, if you book outside of the Norwegian excursions, and something delays you getting back to port, and the ship has left, you have to find a way on your own to get back to the ship.

Comfort, Safety and Insurance

Part of our trip was insured. You can purchase trip insurance and some health insurance. Trip insurance is there in case something bad happens that causes you to miss your trip. Health insurance is also offered. You have to decide and pay for what if anything of these you want. They are offered when you choose your trip.

I am a stickler for comfort with safety (plus insurance), but at a price we could afford.

When it came to the cabin, we chose a cabin on a floor level that was just one above the deck where the life boats are. We selected a room that was close to a set of stairs, so in the event of an emergency, we had a better than average chance of getting to a lifeboat from our room.

The vibrantly colorful hallway that leads to the rooms on the Norwegian Pearl.
This was the hallway to our room. The whole ship was alive with color.

We selected an inner room midship with no balcony or window (not even a porthole). It wasn’t a huge room, but frankly it was less expensive and we didn’t intend on spending much time in there, so we didn’t care.

Most of our day we were off ship or out and about doing things on the ship. We stayed up late, often watching a late night movie on a gigantic screen in the main lobby. We would be up until 2:00 AM go back to our cabin and go to sleep. We would get up early, clean up, get dressed for the day and be down for breakfast by 7:00 AM.

A picture to give you an idea of the size of a two person cabin.
My son is dressed for dinner as we were heading for a meal in one of the fine dining restaurants. The room isn’t a suite with a balcony, but we didn’t care. We didn’t plan on being in this room much except to sleep, clean up and get ready for the day or evening’s events.

We chose a room that was in the middle of the ship because in the middle of the ship you feel less of the rolling of the ocean. If you did get seasick, this would be a place where you would feel as good as was possible on the ocean.

Neither of us had ever been on the ocean on a ship of this size. We didn’t know if we would get seasick, so we brought dimenhydrinate with us. Dimenhydrinate is actually an antihistamine. It is used to prevent and treat nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by motion sickness. It also helps to alleviate allergic symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, rashes and itching. This medicine can make you drowsy though.

We were hoping we wouldn’t need it, but we figured better to have it with us and not pay an inflated price somewhere on our trip. We also brought other things as a just in case (a small box of bandages, a digital thermometer, loperamide, cough drops, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and such).

We didn’t need any of the meds we brought and never felt seasick, Thank God!

You Might Want to Get a Special Passport Holder

If your cruise ship is going to stop in another country, a passport is one of the most important things for you to bring. If you want to stop and look around in another country, you will need one.

Now you may also be required to show some proof of your Covid-19 vaccination record before you are allowed to enter another country.

I found these great passport, credit card and Covid-19 vaccine record holders for foreign travel.

They come in a huge variety of colors and patterns. Here are just a few, but any of these links should take you to all of the colors and patterns they offer.

Luggage is Needed

People standing in line outside on the peer, waiting to be called in for the cruise check in on the Norwegian Pearl.
So, 2394 passengers in line…. all with passports and luggage. How does Norwegian do it?
Specific boarding times, that is how they are able to process that many people in just a few hours.
Make sure you get there in time for your assigned boarding time.

My son and I each needed a large and a medium sized suitcase with wheels and telescoping handles. I also needed a shoulder bag that could hold my purse, our passport/credit card wallets, our itineraries and such. I would carry the shoulder bag on as if it were a purse. It would stay with me. My two suitcases and my son’s two suitcases would be checked.

Note; You really want to have luggage wheels that turn 360° because you will be in line outside and inside of the port’s embarking and disembarking areas for at least an hour, walking in lines that serpentine sometimes.

It also helps if your luggage stands out a little for when it’s time to get your luggage (allowing you to spot it from all of the other sets of luggage when you disembark at the end of the cruise).

The luggage set that I had purchased some time prior, kind of looked like this luggage set that I found in Amazon, but mine were all black. My son only used the biggest and the smallest of the suit cases for himself. His set was expandable as is the one seen here (which is nice in case you want to bring home more things than what you left with).

Unfortunately the wheels on his set only rolled forward and backwards. This looks like a good set, but I do prefer the sets that have four wheels on the bottom of each case that can turn 360°.

The colorful set of luggage seen here are nice. They are expandable and they have wheels that turn 360°

I wanted a new set of luggage for myself. This isn’t the exact same set I bought, but it is similar. My luggage had four, 360° wheels on the bottoms of the two large suitcases. The ones I took were the same shapes and sizes as what you see here.

We Needed Luggage Tag Holders That Would Last

You can print the Norwegian luggage tags ahead of time for each of your pieces of luggage. We used luggage tag holders that would fit our “Norwegian pre-printed luggage tags”. Here are some luggage tag holders that work with printable Norwegian luggage tags.

Jackets Were Needed

Both my son and I bought heavy duty jackets. Because we didn’t know how cold it was going to get where we were going. We got jackets that could be broken down into lighter weight jackets.

Here is a woman’s winter jacket, (it has an inner jacket that can be worn by itself and an outer jacket that can be added for colder conditions). It comes in 10 great colors.

Here is a men’s winter jacket, (it has an inner jacket that can be worn by itself and and outer jacker that can be added for colder conditions). It comes in 11 great colors.

Gloves Were Needed

We each brought a pair of gloves that were both cold weather and water resistant. In addition to these qualities, the gloves I found on Amazon also allow you to use your touchscreen devices without removing your gloves.

You will need to decide what kind of clothing and shoes to bring, based on those excursions and activities you expect to attend.

Well, this post was all about planning, scheduling and prepping for the trip.

Now, go read the next post in this series titled;

Travel – Cruise Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl – Part 2, Up Through Our First Two Excursions“.

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