My wife and I have long anticipated our NCL Norwegian Jewell vacation to Alaska. This was our first post-retirement cruise and our first experience with NCL. In addition, it was our first experience on the larger cruise ships of this century. Our past experiences were on Royal Caribbean ships for 800-1200 passengers.
Our first impression was the herding of cattle (passengers) on-board the ship. Getting so many passengers aboard in a few hours was pretty amazing. It would have been nice if they had some sort of signage for directions rather than follow the person in front of you.
Our room was ready for us and our room steward already knew our name when we entered the doorway. He did an excellent job, had a ready smile, and always greeted us whenever he was around. Of course, he was the only person to know your name on the ship. He got an extra gratuity over the $12 per person daily required service charge/gratuity.
I will omit most of the other things about the cruise as they were as expected and will only comment on a couple of things that NCL can improve on.
The first is restaurant staff training. They have so many people working in the restaurants partly because of inefficiencies and poor training. Some staff would stand around and make small errors on meals. Morning coffee with breakfast is one on my pet peeves if a refill is not offered in a timely manner. Most of the time, a carafe would not be provided nor refills without having to be requested. This was in the Tsar's Palace, their large flagship restaurant.
We did have one optional dinner in the Cagney's steakhouse restaurant ($25.00 each extra). The $8.00 add-on lobster tail was tough and overcooked. The steak was unremarkable. The shrimp cocktail had three large shrimp. The wait staff was less than expected. My wife enjoyed her end-cut prime rib, though. Lastly, the Idaho Baked Potato was very small; much smaller than a Yukon gold or red potato. Not what you expect when you are from the state that produces great potatoes.
Our cabin had paint peeling from several areas in the bathroom. This ship was built in 2005 and already refurbished. I was amazed that peeling paint was permitted or occurring. Apparently, the ship is so highly utilized that no time is available for this type of maintenance.
The entertainment was excellent. The magician and Russian acrobats did an excellent job.
One final thing, the Captain made the viewing of glaciers an experience to remember. He brought the ship to one large glacier and gave guests more than enough time to enjoy. In addition, he was never late to reach a port.