We took the Jewel to Alaska 6/9-6/16 2012 and it was great!
Ill just jump right into it!
We arrived late. Actually my sister in law was the very last person on board. The staff was still very friendly and helpful after a stressful day of checking people in.
The fire drill was early, so we had to run around like crazy people. Im not too keen on that fire drill, but if you miss it you have to do a make up drill the next day.
Food: Food is subjective, I know. But for us, it was wonderful! There were very few items we didnt enjoy. On the Pride, everything was gluten free(onions, pickles, mayo.. everything was labeled gluten free)and tasted like it. On the Jewel, everything was full on real.
They had a chocolate buffet! Seriously! Go to it. This is something totally unique and you wont want to miss it. Even if just to look.
HOWEVER, the chocolate buffet replaces the regular buffet. There is no food available there during service. For food, you have to go out to the rear buffet or a main restaurant. At this time, the rear buffet food is limited and packed full of people. Dont expect the usual choices, or a spectacular quality.
Cons: Buffet seating is pretty bad. I knew this beforehand thanks to CC, but theres no preparing for this. Seriously, there are times when there are exactly 0 seats. If its decent out, you can sit outside. In skagway, they actually closed the back buffet making things even worse.
They offer you seating at Mamas kitchen for breakfast, but I dont even consider that an option. I refuse to eat food from one restaurant in another. Thats just me. You can do it if you like.
I was asked why I dont consider this as an option. My answer? 1. Because Im eating at the Buffet, not Mamas. Therefore I expect to eat in the restaurant I chose. I dont have to be next to the buffet, just in the restaurant. 2. To get to mamas, you have to wade thru a sea of people waiting at the elevators who are not eating. Im not comfortable carrying my food thru a crowd.
The solution? this would probably be unpopular at first, but make the buffet like every other buffet in the world and put a hostess out at the busiest times. At least everyone gets a seat. I saw people eating off an empty buffet table one day! (It was the early risers buffet and was not in use)
The ship: Wonderful. Its clean and well kept and has a friendly crew. I saw a few scuffs from the dock on the hull, but otherwise its in really great shape.
Other passengers: 99% of the people we encountered were great. Even most of the kids we saw were good. (My sister in law had hers, and I have to apologize if anyone was disturbed by an upset baby from time to time).
However.. parents who go on vacation are not on vacation from disciplining your kid. There were quite a few unruly kids with no parents in sight. One kid ran up and down our hallway from about 6am until 11pm.
Occasionally the staff would stop them from going nuts, but they shouldnt have to.
the 1% of people that we saw seemed to have not planned well or were just nuts. If youre going to Alaska, the last thing Im going to think about packing is shorts. There was one guy in Skagway wearing camouflage shorts and a coat. Now heres the problem.. in Skagway its 50 with strong wind. (Skagway actually means windy bay, soooo) Wind chill is in effect and it felt cold!
Seriously, dress the part.
Conclusion: This was a great cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. The few problems we had were mostly just annoyances and not real problems or anything that NCL could control (except for buffet seating)