We have been regular cruisers, having cruised about 10-15 times. We are in our mid-sixties and really don't participate in a lot of activities. We are just happy sitting out on the balcony; reading and watching the world go by. Being in customer service fields, we look forward to cruising to see examples of good customer service. Over the past few cruises with Celebrity, we have seen a decline in the quality of service and were looking for something more. The Haven concept on NCL intrigued us, and we booked a four-day repositioning cruise (Pacific coastal) on the Jewel as a short getaway. The ship was in A-1 condition throughout. Very little wear and tear. As expected, NCL quality (but not service) was a step downward from the other lines that we have cruised on recently. Everyone was smiling and greeted us throughout the ship, something like Crystal does. Some even learned our names.
Prior to the cruise, we stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, which was very nice. We noted that almost all the cabs in the area seemed to be Prius' and we were concerned about fitting all our bags in one cab. We asked Eric, the bellhop to arrange a town car to drive us to the cruise ship terminal. It worked well and we arrived curbside at the terminal in 15 minutes for $30. Our bags picked up, we headed inside at 11 AM. After some computer glitches (this was the embarkation crew from San Diego as NCL doesn't usually go out of the Port of Los Angeles), we were escorted to the holding room for suite passengers. Unfortunately, the incoming cruise had some immigration issues and boarding was delayed about two hours. Ruth, our concierge, did her best to keep us comfortable and informed. Once the ship was cleared, we went right on and were escorted to Cagney's for lunch. While in the restaurant, the announcement was made that the rooms were ready.
We chose a two-bedroom suite in the Haven, one of the nicest laid-out rooms that I have seen in over 20 years of cruising. The decor was a little kitschy, but was not overtly obnoxious. Teodoro, our butler, came in shortly to introduce himself. He turned out to be great -- never missed a request, always wishing he could do more (we're pretty self-sufficient). Later our room steward, Edgardo, came in. Quietly efficient and always smiling. He kept the room in tremendous condition. Kudos to a great team!
Since the weather was cloudy and windy most of the time, we abandoned our plan of vegging out on the balcony and instead spent most of our days in the Haven. They kept the roof closed all days but one when they cracked it open about 10 feet. Lovely and peaceful. Got more reading done than on most seven day cruises. Thanks to Teodoro, Edgardo and Ruth, we got into "cruise mode" quickly and relaxed as much on this cruise as on longer ones.
We had been concerned about interlopers sneaking into the Haven and interrupting the serenity there. There were three couples that came up a few times from non-suite cabins, to join with a friend who had a suite. They were mildly loud but usually left in an hour anyway. Still, there was plenty of space for all of us.
The bar menu seemed a little limited, consisting of name brands mostly. I drink straight, high-quality vodka and my wife drinks gin. The offerings were mostly only well-known brands with nothing unusual or special to try. Some other cruises offer one or two boutique brands, making interesting choices.
After reading several Cruise Critic reviews about the mediocre food in the regular dining venues, we made advance reservations in Cagney's and once we found a server we liked, we stayed with her throughout the cruise. Heidi gave us very refined, unobtrusive service. She was terrific! We only ate at the main dining room once and were served warmed-over eggs that were gelatinous and rather unpalatable. The server there was very attentive.
Disembarkation in Vancouver was flawless. With three other cruise ships at Canada Place, we had to use the alternate pier, Ballentyne. Things moved without a hitch. We left our room around 9 and were in a cab by 9:30 (not a Prius). Our hotel (another Renaissance) room wasn't ready, so we strolled the city and met some old friends in the interim.
All in all, a great cruise. Would gladly sail with NCL again!