On 28 April (Saturday), my wife and I left our home in Staten Island, and two hours later were getting onto the ship. Processing was quick and efficient. Met up with our friends from Delaware who had the cabin next door. I purchased the soda package right away. I also found a bottle of Merlot from Diana at Smartcruiser.com. We spent an enjoyable afternoon in the Spinnaker Lounge, watching NYC fall astern.
We ate about half our meals in Tsar's Palace, and half in the specialties, with 2X in Chin Chin, and Le Bistro. Let me eat every night in Chin Chin, and I will be happy, the meals are very good. (Think I had 3 appetizers and two entrees, each time we ate there. Relax, I went to the gym, and walked too.) I prefer Tsars to Azure, as the view is much better. The band in Tsar's was entertaining too. One of the wait staff who also performed could get a job as a singer, no doubt. Only little negative is that sometimes they wait staff in Tsar's was unsure what or how the regional special was. Food was actually very good wherever we ate. Every wait staff was super nice, and attentive.
Entertainment was good. The Jewel Singers/dancers were excellent. The magician JP, was a riot, as was the comic David Naster. Brenda Kaye the Hypnotist was talented. Amazing to me that people volunteer to be hypnotized! Our Cruise Director, Dan the Man was very good. Also a great singer too!
There were lots of non US folks on board, with probably the most from Australia. They are the most fun to be with!!! Always made announcements in English, German, French and Italian. I do wish some folks would stop talking when their language is not being spoken though, so you can hear what the announcement is!!!
I think there were only 23 kids on board, but still they would end up being in the jacuzzis by themselves sometime. However, I did see a crew member tell a kid that the adult pool was for adults. Attaboy!!!
Think there were about 8 sea days. Most days, we ate breakfast in the Garden Cafe. Mamas Restaurant was open to accommodate the overflow, a wise move.
We prepaid all our excursions, a good move, since some were closed out during the cruise. Also a better budgeting move, as ours cost about $900 total, for two.
The canal transit started at 5:45 AM on 5 May, Saturday. Amazing feat, given it was done in the early 1900s. Lake Gatun is remarkable, as those "islands" you see are really mountaintops. We had dome a river cruise with many lock last years, so were familiar with the process, but these locks were much much bigger. Lots of narration while we transited, plus Dan the Man and the ship photogs were on land videoing us as we went by in the locks. A nice touch. Plus, the captain opened up the crew area on deck 6 fwd, and that gave us great canal views.
A note on the officers: they were always around, willing to talk, very personable (not like on the Coral Princess 2 years ago, when you NEVER saw them).
Another small negative: about 1/2 way on the trip, the entire ship got noticeably hotter. I asked, and apparently some senior folks were cold so they raised the temp. Note to NCL: Give the folks with slow blood a sweater if they complain about the temp. You can only take off so much clothing, but you can put on a lot!!!
Our steward, Mariano, like the NYY pitcher, was very good, up there with the best we have had.
Finally, never saw any staff in the gym, and did see a passenger fall right off one of the treadmills and grabbed him from falling badly. Should be someone there, no?
Overall, a really god trip, very enjoyable. Not hesitate at all to jump back on the Jewel!!!