My wife and I just returned from the Norwegian Jewel's May 26-June 2 Alaska trip. While we were not bowled over by excellence, we thought the ship, crew, entertainment and food were all at least pretty good.
THE SHIP was somewhere in between the gaudiness of some Carnivals and the opulence that (I assume) the high-priced lines offer. All in all, an enjoyable place to spend a week. It's laid out in easy-to-follow fashion and seems to have about the right amount of space for everything. The casino's smokiness was noticable, but well contained. One complaint I had was the seating in the main theater, which I found awfully tight. Kind of like flying coach. I also thought it was unfortunate the giant windows in the up-front Spinnaker Lounge were difficult to see through because of trapped moisture and/or insufficient cleaning. A real missed opportunity for a dynamite view.
THE CREW was quite good, as it seems they usually are on cruises. They're human, so there's always a couple who seem preoccupied or who forget something, but nobody's perfect -- even me, my wife says.
THE ENTERTAINMENT was something we really enjoyed. We live in a rural area and don't have a lot of chances to see live entertainment, so this is one of the things we especially enjoy when we go on cruises. The showy song-and-dance nights were fun, and we also enjoyed Jean Pierre, the magician, and Brenda Kaye, the hypnotist. They both did demos and Q and A's around ship during the day as well as nighttime shows. But the big hit, especially for my wife, was Fire and Ice, a duo that played soul-Motown stuff almost every night somewhere. The female singer, with male instrumentalist, did tributes to Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Tina Turner. The singer is all energy and really into her music.
THE FOOD was mostly good, but there were a few flaws here. We never felt like spending extra money for the specialty restaurants, so I'll limit my discussion to the complementary chow. We thought the buffet was pretty decent for what it is. Perfectly good breakfast or lunch with lots of choices when you don't want to take time for a dining room meal. We never ate there at dinner, though. We ate more meals in the main dining rooms than anywhere else: several breakfasts and lunches and all our dinners. They were slow on a couple of occasions, but we had generally good service there. A couple of dishes missed the mark (a lukewarm soup, biscuits and gravy with hard biscuits and tasteless gravy). Most of the offerings were quite good though, especially the fish dishes. Had good salmon several times. Our only real disappointment on the food front was the Blue Lagoon, the supposed "comfort food" stop that's open 24 hours. They messed up my wife's order both times we ate there, and some of the servers seemed like they were there because they hadn't earned their trip to the big leagues or had been demoted for more seasoning.
DRINKS are priced so high, I actually think they'd make more money if they reduced the prices. Maybe some people don't mind paying $9 for a glass of pretty ordinary wine, but I think about how I could buy a whole bottle of the same wine for that back home. They want more than $8 (with the auto-gratuity) for one of those microscopic gin bottles in the mini-fridge? They can keep it.
GETTING ON AND OFF could hardly have been faster or easier. About 35 minutes from getting off the shuttle to standing on the ship. About 10 minutes from our cabin to the streets of Seattle at the end.
All in all, a great week (despite dreary weather). But next cruise we're taking Carnival to see if the food still as good as we remember it from a couple years ago. While most of the Jewel's food was good, there wasn't much that knocked our socks off as Carnival's did last time.
And while we enjoyed seeing Alaska, I think we'll go back to what cruising has meant to us in the past: lazing in the sun.