Have you ever considered going on a cruise from Boston to Bermuda but weren’t sure if it’s worth it? I had previously been avoiding this cruise despite the fact that Boston is the closest port to where I live. I have cruised to Bermuda before out of New York City on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. I absolutely love Bermuda and had a fabulous time on Anthem of the Seas. The idea of going on a smaller and older ship did not appeal to me. However, with gas prices at an all-time high, soaring hotel rates, and increasing food cost this cruise was starting to look like the most economical summer vacation choice. Cruising out of Boston would drastically minimize most of those costs. So, we decided to give it a try – this was our experience.
Expense. It cost our family of four $3,500 for an inside room, drink package, one specialty dinning, and all gratuities for a week vacation. This may not seem like such a low number, but when you consider that all food, accommodations, entertainment, and transportation to Bermuda and Maine are included it’s actually not a bad price for four people. We were savvy about parking in the Boston cruise terminal by asking friends/family to drive us one way and taking an Uber to a much cheaper parking location. Rates to park for a week at the cruise terminal is $175. We paid $75 doing it this way. We spent money on the island for taxi’s, jet ski rentals, and drinks & appetizers twice on the island. This was a personal choice for us. On the ship, we spent money on a spa service and a second specialty restaurant – but again could be avoided if you are budget conservative.
Ship. The Norwegian Pearl was better than I had given it credit for. It is not overly impressive in any way, but it’s fine. It was clean and we had plenty to do all week. The ship was launched in 2006 and accommodates 2,394 passengers. Although there are only two small pools onboard, we never had any trouble finding a pool chair (even on sea days). There are no fun water-slides or anything like that but plenty of pool parties. The entertainment was not as good as other top-quality performances that I have seen on other ships, but it was good enough. Rooms were small, especially inside rooms. I would highly recommend not getting an inside room for four people on this ship. It is the worst I have ever seen as far as configuration and space. Essentially, it would entail three people sleeping in one extended bed and one on a top bunk. I honestly don’t know how Norwegian gets away with this because four people DO NOT fit in this room. A friend of mine got a balcony room and it was quite nice. The complementary food wasn’t spectacular but wasn’t horrible either. Service in the main dining room was especially slow (over two hours) but I suspect this may be due to staffing shortages as they recover from the effects of the pandemic. Specialty restaurants were very good! My favorite was the Japanese hibachi. The food was amazing and the performance done by the chef is different than previous hibachi places that I am used to. The casino is small. Only one roulette table – my personal favorite – but I was able to get a spot at the table. A friend traveling with us won $5000 on a slot machine so there is luck on the ship! The spa was especially nice too. Quality of service was top notch and they have a thermal suite that you can buy a pass to spend the day at. We did not buy this pass, but it looked worthwhile.
Bermuda. The destination of Bermuda is the highlight of this trip. It’s beautifully tropical, safe, and not poverty stricken like many of the Caribbean destinations.The ship offers many fun excursions, but you can enjoy this destination on your own very easily and can save a lot of money. There are many things to do just outside the ship such as restaurants, shops, and a beach with amenities. Snorkel Park Beach is a short 5-minute walk off the ship that is complete with a bar, restaurant, rentals, chairs, umbrellas, and music. Entry fee is $15 per person. There are also plenty of taxi’s, bus shares, ferry options, and an inexpensive bus system. Immediately off the ship there are jet ski rentals, fishing tours, catamaran tours, snorkel tours, scooter rentals, etc that you can reserve yourself. I would recommend booking ahead online or going first thing in the morning as most vendors sell out. Since the ship is docked here for a few days it’s easy to explore the opposite side of the island as well. It’s equally as beautiful and so much to do!
Bar Harbor, Maine. I love Bar Harbor. It’s a charming quaint little coastal town and is also home to Acadia National Park. I highly recommend visiting. As much I love this destination, I will share that almost everyone on the ship commented that they would have rather spent the extra time in tropical Bermuda. This is likely due to the fact that ninety percent of the passengers aboard the Norwegian Pearl were New England natives and Bar Harbor is a driving destination for most of them. Another consideration is that it is a very chaotic morning. Since this is the first US stop after Bermuda, every passenger must go through border control even if not planning to get off the ship. It was a fairly smooth process that is done on the ship. What got chaotic was that after going through customs, everyone that wants to go off the ship to enjoy Bar Harbor must get tendered off in small boats. The entire ordeal of both events happening at the same time led to crowds, confusion, and ultimately frustration.
Overall, we had a great vacation and I would do it again. If this is your first cruise and you are skeptical of cruising I would not recommend this being your first cruise – it does not do cruising justice. The waters can be choppy and the Norwegian Pearl is a smaller ship so if you are prone to motion sickness you may want to ask for a prescription patch from your doctor – they work! Most of the people on this ship were either people that don’t like to fly (and live in the area), or people looking for an easy inexpensive vacation like we were. Booking far in advance almost always gets you the best price. There were a couple of people that considered joining us last minute but the cost was close to $1,000 more than what we paid for the exact same thing. Early and late in the season also offer lower rates.