We had an amazing time on the Jewel. Let me start off by saying that out of the group of 8 of us that went only my husband had been on a cruise before, so this was all new to us. We went to New York City on the Thursday before our cruise left to do a little site seeing and also in case we encountered any bad weather leaving Ohio.
The staff from the time we got to the pier to the time we left the pier were absolutely AMAZING! They were helpful, friendly, and just made everything easy!
Food -- we ate most days in the buffet for breakfast, lunch, and supper. We were able to find plenty of choices. We didn't mind having the same thing a couple times during the course of a week. I loved the nachos by the pool also! We ate lunch once and dinner twice at Tsar's. Each time we were sat promptly and service was good. The food was pretty good also. We did not try any of the restaurants that had a cover charge.
Embarkation -- We arrived at the pier between 10:15 and 10:20. Our bags were taken right away. We only had to wait about two minutes for one other couple before us to check in. We did the online check in so this check in was quick and easy. We showed our passports and gave our credit card and were done in less than 5 minutes. Going through the security was just like at the airport. There was no line and we were through in a couple of minutes. We were given a ticket to hold on to - #22. Then we were seated in the waiting area and told that because of the norovirus outbreak the trip before it would be around 1:00 before we could get on the ship. However, around noon they started calling numbers to board. They called numbers numerically, but it didn't seem like they were passed out numerically. There were people just getting there that got to board before those of us who had been there earlier. Oh well, we made it onto the ship fairly soon after the boarding process started. We headed straight for Tsar's to have lunch.
Florida -- we did the Cocoa Beach Shuttle. We knew we could probably get a cab cheaper, but it just seemed easier to do the shuttle. We had beautiful weather -- 86 and sunny! We went to Ron Jon's and Cocoa Beach. Some of the group laid on the beach for the afternoon, others of us walked to the pier and back. We all had a great time and headed back to the ship around 4:00 for some quiet pool time.
Great Stirrup Cay -- My sister and I waited in line for tender tickets at the pool, but then we realized that we didn't need them since we already booked the snorkeling. So if you have any shore excursions booked at Great Stirrup Cay don't waste your time waiting in line for tender tickets. Your shore excursion ticket will get you on the first tender if you are down there early enough. We walked down to deck 6 about 9:00 and waited in line for about 5-10 minutes before they called #1 tender tickets and anyone holding a yellow shore excursion ticket. We ended up on the first tender over to the island. Just a hint: the tender unloads from the bottom of the boat up front. We sat on the top of the tender and were able to see a sting ray in the beautiful blue water! We were on the island by about 9:15.
Most of us that went have very fair skin so my husband was able to find some shade beside the building where they pass out the snorkeling stuff facing the water. That shade lasted until about 1:00 on that side of the building. So we spent our time snorkeling and just enjoying the weather from the shade. The best place we found to see fish was to the right side of the beach in the opening where the big rock is. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it. Don't try to walk directly from the beach to the opening, the bottom of the ocean is VERY ROUGH through that part. Go straight out from the beach then swim over to the right once you are out a ways. Some of us ended up with bruised feet from the rough bottom.
We decided to head back to the ship once we lost our shade on the side of the building. The ship was so quiet and there were hardly any people at the pool!
Nassau -- We were up early enough to watch the ship dock. That was neat. We arrived earlier than what was planned. We didn't have anything planned for Nassau so we waited a little while to get off the ship. I think we got off around 9:30 or 10:00. We headed to the straw market and did a little shopping. Make sure to bargain for what you want. My sister got a conk shell for only $5.00! On the way back to the ship we found a sports pub called The Green Parrot, I think. We had a blast in there! The bartender was super nice and told us a lot about the island. From there we took a water taxi ($4.00 a person) to Paradise Island. We were glad we did this. We walked around a little while and then walked to the Atlantis Hotel. We caught the water taxi back to the Nassau and we got back on the ship by about 4:00 or so. Our balcony was on port side so we were able to watch the people running to catch the ship at 6:00. Needless to say we didn't leave on time that night!
We slowly started making our way back north. On Thursday we still had nice, warm weather! Friday was much cooler. That morning we had rough seas again -- 7.5 to 12 foot waves, but we didn't get sick this time. We started taking Dramamine Thursday morning just in case we had rough seas on the way home. We also wore the sea bracelets.
Disembarkation -- we chose the 10:40am time slot and put our luggage out the night before. We had to be out of our rooms by 9:00am then on Saturday morning. We hung out in bar city and waited for our color to be called. It was called by about 10:15 and we left the ship. We easily found our luggage, rearranged a few things for the flight home and went through customs. We were outside waiting on our shuttle by 10:45.
I have to say this was the best vacation we have had. I would definitely cruise with Norwegian again!