Just returned from a "Cruise to Nowhere" on the Jewel. I went with my sister and my twenty something daughter. I have traveled on two other cruise lines. Since I have taken nine cruises I think I have enough previous experience to judge the quality of a cruise. This was my first time on NCL. We wanted to just try it before booking a cruise to somewhere. There are both positive and negative things to mention.
Positives - 1. Embarking - We carried our small luggage directly to lunch. So we did not have to wait around for lunch service. Both sit down and buffet lunch were available. We chose the buffet. 2. We arrived at the port at noon and check in had already started. 3. We pre-registered online so check-in was quick and we waited to board the ship about 15 minutes. 3. Since this was a very brief trip we took a very basic room with a window. The cabin was very, very clean. 4. Staff was diligent in making sure to spray everyone's hands as they entered dining areas. 5. Exiting ship upon our Sunday morning return was a delight. We simply walked off and did not have to wait for numbers or letters to be called. So we were off the ship about five minutes after we left our cabin. 6. Shows were good. The 70's show was fun. The comedy act was just okay. But the Cirque show was great. I could easily see that again. 7. Bar service in the casino while sitting at the bar. 8. Elevators - Usually a very brief wait time, except immediately after a show. Also elevators were plentiful. 9. Cute gym. Nice equipment. Everything worked. 10. Common areas very clean. I did not see any worn carpet or worn chairs. 11. Bathrooms in common areas well attended to as they all were very clean.
Negatives - 1. Greeting upon entering ship was strange. No one really greeted us except the washy washy person. It was difficult to allow her to spray my hands as I still had my luggage , my purse and my key card in my hands. There was no one to tell us if we should sit down, check our luggage, go to lunch or go directly to our rooms. There was no one to ask. Many passengers were milling about looking just as confused as we were. So we finally went to the desk to ask. This was a bit annoying. 2. Lunch - There was a lot less to select from than on other cruises that I have been on. I walked around a bit so I could carefully select what I wanted to eat. Food was not attractively displayed as I have seen on all of my other cruises. So I ended up having a lot of salad and a small bit of tilapia. Most other foods just looked like cafeteria slop that I could get at any school cafeteria. My daughter just had some pasta and my sister had a small burger. None of us were satisfied with lunch. Dinner - We dined at Tsar's. That was a nice experience. We had surf and turf. Yes, the portions we small. But I was happy about that as that allowed me to room to have salad, a delightful mushroom soup, and ice cream for dessert. All three of us had the same. Surf and turf were what I expected, tasty . Breakfast - This was a horrible experience. Orange juice was watery. It tasted just like flavored water. So all of us chose to just have water. Coffee, just ok. Service, not good, had to ask for everything from salt, to cream to jelly for our toast. Scrambled eggs we barely cooked. They looked awful. Corned beef hash did not look nor taste like corned beef hash. Home fries were cold. It also took about 30 minutes for our breakfast to appear. My sister asked for a different breakfast consisting of an omelet and some toast. They were just ok. My daughter was so disgusted with her meal that she elected not to order anything else. The best part of this breakfast was the water. I had several glasses of this.
Dinner - The second night we again ate at Tsar's. Since our previous dining experience was nice we expected the same. The menu was mediocre, poached cod, shrimp with coconut, and some other horrible items I cannot remember. So my daughter and I selected a steak. We thought that would be safe. Wrong idea, tough , steak, hard baked potato. The best part of the meal was the salad and the green beans. The hard ice cream was pretty good. Don't have the soft ice cream at the buffet. The strawberry taste just like medicine. We all normal sized people who enjoy dining ( our sizes are size zero, size five and size nine). We did not get what we expected. I was so happy to get home and have some home made soup. Meanwhile, my daughter was happy to get home and have some eggs and toast.
Entertainment - There was not enough to do in the daytime. There were several activities that required a payment. So we did not do any of those. There was not enough to do in the evening. My experience on my other cruises has been just to much to do , not to little. But on this ship it seemed that you were expected to drink yourself silly or go to the casino after the shows.
Spa Area - The spa area looked very nice. We were taken on a tour. However, it cost 49 dollars for the two days. This was disappointing as my experience on other ships was that this was gratis. I usually sign up for other spa services that require a fee. But I did not as paying for use of the spa was a real turn off.
Motion sickness- I know this must be just a coincidence. But all three of us got motion sickness. This has never happened to any of us before. We had great weather, so who knows.
Crew - All were very pleasant. But there seem to be to few staff members around the ship. Our room steward was extremely nice. He even inquired about my sister's condition as she was experiencing motion sickness and offered to get whatever she needed. We were on the 5th level.
Will I ever travel NCL again? No, I will not. I would have appreciated more entertainment, edible food, less activities that require a fee and more staff members available to answer any questions or assist with dining services and services in the gym. (There was no one around to offer towels or water, or assistance with the equipment.) The desk was unattended in the gym. Neither I nor my sister or daughter are picky people. We made the best of our cruise because we enjoy each other's company. We will continue to cruise on other cruise lines. I will not recommend NCL to anyone.