Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Coeptus: Wizards, Sea Lions, and Hammocks Oh My!
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Wizards, Sea Lions, and Hammocks Oh My!
After getting married in April and gutting/rehabbing our new house from January through July, me and my wife decided to finally take our long overdue honeymoon. It was my first cruise, and my wife had been on one other cruise previously with her family (Norwegian Spirit from Boston to Bermuda). We chose the Norwegian Jewel based on the ports and the price. It left from NYC, and visited Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau.
The ship was in fairly good shape, with the usual wear and tear of a relatively older ship, but there were never any broken elevators, noisy repairs, or unsightly work crews that some people have complained about. We had an inside cabin, which was very small, but this was not an issue for us as we were out and about from when we woke up to when we went to sleep. The room stewards were very good, in fact we very rarely saw them, but we always had towels and sheets and anything else that we needed.
The crew and cruise staff were very friendly More and the amount of activities offered throughout the day was at some times overwhelming. Luckily you get the "Freestyle Daily" each night, NCLs own daily newspaper with a schedule of events and specials, so that you can have a good idea on what you can do for the next day. The nickelodeon cast was on our ship, so there were a good amount of children, but we never felt overrun or outnumbered.
The food was kind of hit or miss for our cruise. Most of the specialty restaurants were very good (but you do have to pay extra), and I would definitely recommend Cagney's if you ever take a Norwegian Cruise. The buffet was as expected, it had a large variety of food which was on the better side, but it was very crowded during the main meal times. The main dining rooms were a nice compromise between the buffet and specialty restaurants. We only went there on the last day, but would definitely go more often on our next cruise as the food was very good, the service prompt, and best of all it is included in the price.
I think my wife's favorite part of cruising is the shows, and Norwegian put on some top notch performances. There are two shows a night, which makes seeing them much easier, and we saw everything from Magicians, to comedians, to a Cirque du Soleil-esq acrobat act. The cruise staff was also very good at incorporating the acts into other everyday activities, like late night game shows and up close magic performances. Overall the entertainment on the Jewel gets an A++.
As for the ports, we chose this cruise for Port Canaveral, because the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios had just opened and my wife and I are both huge nerds and couldn't wait to see it. The park was AMAZING, and the excursion to the park was OK, be prepared to take an hour long bus ride there and back. You also only have about five hours in the park...so you should know exactly where you are going to get the most out of your time.
Great Stirrup Cay was a very nice beach day, and the water was super warm. The tendering process can take a while, and I would recommend going to the front desk in the morning and getting a tender ticket so you can get to the beach and secure a nice spot (I would recommend the hammocks that they have set up in the trees).
In Nassau we did the Sea Lions Encounter excursion (in the same place as swim with the dolphins) and I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this trip. You get to meet the sea lions, see them do some tricks, hug them, feed them, and play with them. We also purchased a painting done by one of the sea lions, and the proceeds went to rescuing sea creatures in need. The port of Nassau left something to be desired. The town was very crowded and busy, so unless you really like to shop an excursion was your best bet.
Overall, the Jewel was an amazing experience. It had plenty of activities to keep you entertained all day long (And at night), but there were also plenty of spots on board where you could just curl up and catch some rays or read a book. I am already planning my next cruise with NCL and would highly recommend this cruise line to anyone looking to "Get Away" (I know that is Southwest Airlines but it works) :=P Less
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