It had been three years since we had cruised on a Norwegian ship, and we are so glad we returned to Norwegian!
We had originally booked an aft penthouse suite, but two weeks prior to sailing, we received a call for an upsell to one of the two-bedroom family suites in the Haven and jumped on it. We had the suite next to it on our last Jewel cruise, and we like them so much that we have already booked a one-bedroom Haven suite for next fall.
The embarkation at Ballantyne Pier was the longest we've ever experienced, but none of it was Norwegian's fault. There were just too many ships leaving Vancouver on the same day and too few trained Port of Vancouver employees. The Port employee who took our credit card and gave us our key cards was brand new, as were the two on either side of him. Thankfully there were trained agents moving behind the scenes. I bet all of them were going to need aspirin and strong drinks at the end of that day.
The Jewel is spotless, inside and out. At one stop we saw painters touching up the bow painting where it hits the docks, and it looks brand new. The carpets throughout the ship looked perfect, and the furniture throughout the ship was in great shape, too.
At some point this year the old Tangos restaurant was replaced by Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse. If you go, go hungry! After the salad bar, I had the server leave small beef and pork ribs, then chicken. He came back with sausages, steak and lamb, none of which I had room for. It was very, very good, though. I love the location of Moderno, because it overlooks the Atrium. You get a front-row seat for whatever entertainment is going on there, and on our cruise the inimitable Fire and Ice (Rosie and Mac) were performing. Rosie sings and dances like, and has the energy of, Tina Turner. Fabulous! More on entertainment later.
We also ate in Mama's (Italian), Le Bistro (French), Azura (the smaller of the two included restaurants) and Cagney's (steakhouse). Every meal was memorable, beautifully plated and excellent. The service in all restaurants was very personable and efficient.
This was our first cruise at the Platinum level, so each of us was entitled to a free dinner for two and a bottle of wine at any of Le Bistro, Mama's, Moderno or Chin Chin.
We had one lunch in the Garden Cafe, and we should have stopped by there more often. I love the Jewel's buffet. On our first night onboard we were walking through the buffet, past the crepe station. I swore we'd be back during the cruise, just for crepes, but we never made it. We will NOT miss it on our Jewel cruise next September.
We were in a suite, so we ate all of our breakfasts in Cagney's and all lunches there, too, except for the one buffet lunch. Somehow we never got to the Great Outdoors Cafe, which has always been one of our favorite locations on Norwegian's ships.
We loved the food all over the ship, but then we have never been unhappy with any meal we've had on Norwegian's ships.
Entertainment: We went to Band on the Run, one of the production shows. We had seen this show (70's music/dancing) on a former cruise and liked it a lot. They had changed it just enough to make it seem new. We also went to the show by Duo Elegia (Rinat and Elena), a husband/wife acrobat team--an absolutely gorgeous performance. They also were an integral part of the other production show, Cirque Bijou. We had seen an earlier version of this show, too, but with the addition of Duo Elegia to the cast, this show was PHENOMENAL show. If you ever get a chance to see Cirque, DO NOT MISS IT. Sit in the center section of the theater, about 1/3 of the way from the stage.
We rented a car and drove down to Seaside and Cannon Beach. It was a gorgeous, warm day, and we got lots of photos of the beaches and Haystack Rock and had a nice lunch at a cute little Cannon Beach restaurant. The Town of Cannon Beach is so cute, so new and so clean. We're from the San Francisco area, but we had never been to Alcatraz, so we took an independent tour. I highly recommend it, especially since it leaves from Pier 33, which is right next to the one we were docked at, Pier 35. It was a cold, foggy, blustery day the day we were in San Francisco, and we almost pitied the prisoners who inhabited The Rock.
We participated in the very informative Behind the Scenes Tour that was offered free to Platinum cruisers. There is another tour offered on a sea day (I believe the charge is $55) for anyone who signs up in time. We did not get to go into the Bridge on our tour, but I believe the pay tour did.
We had priority disembarkation, so we met Ruth, the concierge, in Chin Chin and walked off the ship right after those cruisers who carried their own luggage. Our SuperShuttle van was waiting for us at the pier in san Pedro, and in about 30 minutes, we were at LAX.
Overall, this was another fantastic cruise on a gorgeous ship. We are already excited to be returning to her once again next year.