Girls Cruise on Norwegian Pearl

Friday, January 25, 2019
When I moved to Tampa in 2011, my best friend Keri and I made a pact to take an annual girls trip together. We decided to stop buying each other random gifts for Christmas & Birthdays and put that money towards experiences. I mean, what can you possibly get one another after exchanging for three decades? Due to our close proximity of multiple Cruise ports, there is no question that cruising is the best value and to date, we've been on more than 10 girls cruises together.
On our most recent girls cruise, we went on the Norwegian Pearl out of Port of Tampa Bay. Crazy enough, this was my first time going out of my home port! I used to live 1.5 miles door to door from the port. I know the exact mileage as terminal 2 was my turn around point when I went on 3 mile runs.
Sparkman Wharf Tampa
Although the port was down the street from me, I usually cruise out of Port Canaveral or Miami as there are more cruising options. Tampa is limited on the size of ships to the Skyway Bridge. The huge newer ships can't fit under the bridge. The Pearl was in town for a limited time and we took this opportunity to finally sail out of Tampa Bay!
Cruising under the Skyway Bridge
When we started planning this years trip, we decided to look into the Norwegian Cruise Line after I had such a great experience with them last year. One of the many great things about cruising on Norwegian is their Free offers. They offer different perks throughout the year and your free choices is based on the cabin level you book.
Keri and I have always upgraded our cruise experiences by adding specialty dining and unlimited beverage packages. We were able to add both of those free of charge by booking an ocean view cabin. Almost too good to be true, our specialty dining package included three nights at any restaurant of our choice along with unlimited beverages for the duration of our cruise. We did have to pay gratuities on both ahead of time. It was truly like going on an all exclusive trip - but 100x better.
Double  Fisting Veuve Clicquot
When we got on the ship, we quickly learned that our sailing was the first Norwegian ship to offer the Premium Plus Beverage Package. We already had the Premium Beverage Package included so for a small upgrade, we added the Plus Package to basically have any drink we wanted. I'm talking Veuve Clicquot. I broke down the difference between the Norwegian Drink Packages here. I can proudly say, we were one of the - if not the - first two people to upgrade to this package, fleet-wide. I still feel like I should get a trophy or something!
One of the reasons we chose the Norwegian Pearl was the itinerary. I fractured my foot in late November and didn't want a super long cruise. I was stuck in flats the entire cruise and couldn't wear flip flops!! Packing was interesting to say the least. On this sailing, we went to our two favorite ports, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Although I have been to both locations many times, we truly love visiting both locations and it made it super convenient that Gabe could drop us off at the port.
7 Mile Beach
In Grand Cayman, we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where for a small fee, we had access to a pool overlooking 7 mile beach, a restaurant/bar and beach chairs. If you are looking to visit 7 mile beach and have a beach day, I 100% suggest going to RPBC. This was my third trip to Grand Cayman, and it was perfect for us as we were able to enjoy the gorgeous waters and without being surrounded by hoards of people.
In Mexico, we experienced one of the coolest excursions ever. A private Jeep tour where we were able to curate our own day and had a dedicated tour guide who went with us. You can read about our experience here. When we find ourselves back in Cozumel, we will be doing this adventure again.

Overall, I was very impressed once again with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The specialty dining options were a nice break from the main dining room and the drink package upgrade to Premium Plus was a very unexpected addition. For the most part, the staff was polite. The decor on the ship was clean and not gaudy - in fact, Dale Chihuly sculptures were found all over the ship. I really liked the freestyle cruising and not being on a schedule. The week prior to going on this cruise, I found out I had Stage 1 Melanoma. Then while on the ship, we found out a childhood friend suddenly passed away. For the first time in my life, I decided to take it easy. I needed to relax and was in serious need of "me time". Due to this, I didn't take a ton of photos of this trip. I made myself a priority and it was much needed after getting that phone call from Pathology, then hearing the news we lost someone we were once close to at way too young of an age.
Matching Anchor Ankle Tattoos!
When we got home, Keri and I did something we had talked about doing for years and got matching tattooes. We got tiny anchors on our ankle which represent our 30+ years of friendship.

I did want to mention a fun fact about the Norwegian Pearl - this ship is frequently used for Norwegian Theme Cruises which is why she is always found in different ports. In August, the Pearl will be home to Jon Bon Jovi's Runaway to Paradise cruise. Did you know he's also a wine maker? It's actually really good and offered on NCL ships. The group that that got off the day we boarded were part of a Southern Rock Cruise. I grew up listening to many of the bands that played on that ship, but Lynard Skynard is close to heart. My Dad grew up with the original band members and remained friends with them after they became famous. They nicknamed him Breeze... to this day, I will never know if it is Ironic that he shares a name with one of their hit songs. I met their drummer Artimus Pyle a few years ago and told him I was Brian's daughter. He looked at me and said, "I heard about Breeze passing away" and the fact he remembered my Dad, that many years later - and heard about him passing will always stay with me.

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