Well think about this: What is easier: Having an assigned time and table for dining or trying to keep track of your kids while you are waiting in line, carrying around a pager and scrambling to find a place to eat?
I have been on the Pearl and I do not recall any wait at all for any of the restaurants, while someone may have encountered a wait, that has not been our experience on any of our 4 NCL cruises.
If you feel your children may not enjoy a long drawn out formal dinner, you can always take the kids to the buffet at 6:15 for dinner and allow them to attend the kids club when it opens up at 7:00 (whether you choose NCL or RCCL) This strategy often works well for us regardless of which cruise line we sail.
Forgot to mention that the only freestyle restaurant available when kids are hungry has a $15 cover charge.
I am sorry, but this statement is patently untrue. You may choose to eat at either of the main dining rooms, Blue Lagoon (great wings and kid food), or the Buffet at no additional charge.
The charges for the speciality restaurants vary depending on your choices. I highly recommend the sushi and asian fusion options, as well as the Teppanyaki (the kids will love this)
I really enjoy both RCCL and NCL, they have strengths and weaknesses. I do feel that RCCL probably offers a more consistant product than NCL. However, NCL offers many more options and varieties of eating venues.
I do not recall a pool area on the Pearl that is covered and suitable for cold weather. The spa has a lovely Thallassotherapy pool but that will not accomodate the children. I do recall solarium pools on some RCCL ships, so if that is important you may want to do more research in that area.