We sailed with 10 family members on the Jewel to Alaska June 16-23, 2012 in 2 mini suites and 2 inside cabins. Our balcony mini suite, deck 11 aft, was perfect for me and hubby plus hubby's adult sister. The over sized queen for us was very comfortable, the pullout sofa for sis was as well. We liked the heavy curtain that was pulled between us at night. Never heard a sound from the other side and provided really nice privacy in the AM as she was a very early riser. The whole family-including the inside cabins-felt they had the best week of sleep in a long while. There was plenty of storage for 3 with suitcases under the bed for dirty laundry. The room was set up with enough towels and amenities for the 3 of us from minute one-never had to ask for anything, even ice in the bucket every afternoon! When our 'Jose' saw that I had gotten a head cold on our second day, he even put out an extra tissue box by the bed for me!! Our location, just below the buffet, was perfect for our 20-something 'kids' and really nice to eat a meal, then quickly return to the room to prepare for the rest of the day's activities. Never,ever heard a sound from above.
Our favorite spot to relax was 'bar city', the area on deck 6 by the martini bar. Nice late afternoon, early evening music and fun mid day games in comfortable chairs and waiters that quickly knew our names and favorite libations! All the lounge areas were very comfortable with good to great views.
We all commented on the cleanliness of the entire ship, not even a dust bunny in the elevators! On a cruise to a spot like Alaska, where the views are never ending, it was nice not to have to be in the dining room at a certain time. If we wanted to sit on the open deck on a perfect Alaskan early evening, we could continue a wonderful family time without worrying about dinner reservations. That being said, it is a trade off to give up having the same wait staff each evening-we did miss that special attention!
The food in Tsars was very good-not great-but tasty, nicely paced, and good portion size. Azura was a poor substitute-wonder why the difference? The buffet was fun, we had plenty of options at breakfast and lunch-learned to love Indian food!-so we didn't get bored as some have suggested. The hot food could have been a better temperature-sometimes it was pretty room temp-but all was tasty. We especially loved the grilled food in pool area at lunch time and since the weather cooperated in ports we always came back to the ship for lunch and sat outside. The wait staff in the lounges and restaurants were fun to talk to, eager to share their obvious love of their jobs and their families.
The entertainment was top notch all the way from the Bernie Martini to the stage show and acrobatic acts in the main theatre. We think they are better than most Las Vegas lounge/main stage acts. You could always find music somewhere-we loved searching out different groups during the week.
We never thought we'd do another cruise after 2 to the Caribbean on another line but NCL and Alaska may have changed our minds! Our entire family highly recommends it!