This was my 13th cruise but my first time on NCL. I found the Jewel to be gaudy and not up to the aesthetics of other ships I had sailed. I also found it to be crowded. I attribute this to Norwegian's free style cruising. It seems everyone on ship tries to do the same thing at the same place at the same time. In traditional early/late seating only half the passengers do the same thing at the same time. The breakfast buffet was especially annoying with the crowds and the fact that there are no waiters to serve you coffee and juice. Also no trays to carry your food. By the time you get your food and then the coffee and juice and find a table everything is cold. Every other cruise line I have been on served you coffee, etc. Adding to the crowding is the fact that there are 7 specialty restaurants. These had to take up space that was formerly occupied by other facilities, such as lounges. There were too few lounges resulting in overcrowding. Also the quality of the main lounge group "Next Stage" was below par. Fabrizio in the piano lounge was also below par and there was no intimacy in the piano lounge nor a dance area. 3 bars are squeezed into an area called bar city. At best it seats maybe 150 people in this entire area. To accommodate the entire ship this is ridiculous. To Norwegians credit the food was above average. Not great but always decent. The specialty restaurants were hit and miss. I could not even chew my T bone steak in "Cagney's" the steak house specialty restaurant. Yet "Modernero" was excellent. The noise level in the Tsar's Palace MD was upsetting and the service was bad. They were definitely understaffed as the staff was busting their butts, but failing. Yet in the other MD, with the same menu, the service was better, but not good. Also the Stardust theater had some of the best acts I've ever seen on a cruise ship.
The bottom line is I've never experienced a bad cruise and this was not bad either. But I would rate the ship below most for spaciousness and decor. The crowding caused stress, not relaxation. However for the price we paid it was an excellent value and we did enjoy ourselves. If you keep your expectations low, you will enjoy yourself too.