Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Renee: Norwegian Jewel - Canada/New England
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Norwegian Jewel - Canada/New England
I just got back today from the October 10th sailing early this morning. I had an amazing time. I loved Freestyle cruising. It was such a different experience [read mediocre] from my only other NCL cruise on Norwegian Dream in 1998. Highlights for me included the specialty restaurants. I felt Cagney's and Chin Chin's Teppanyaki were the best. Le Bistro was a close second and their serving size of seared foie gras was enormous. I don't get that much in Manhattan for only an additional $8! I loved being able to make reservations for all the restaurants and we only ate in the Tsar's Palace twice and never in Azura (the two main dining rooms). I made most reservations on the first day of the cruise and it was easy to get other reservations later on too.
Embarkation was a breeze in a cab to the pier with no wait in line (arrived with an hour to spare). The only thing about the cruise which was really aggravating was the lack of advance information given about Bar Harbor. Nowhere More on their website did they say we would be tendering. (As another aside, NCL's website is really awful.) Everyone had to clear Immigration and get up at the crack of dawn to do so (at least 6am). We had to scramble as this was the only day we did not book their tour. We had a private car waiting for us on the dock and we were late. NCL could have warned people not to book anything for at least 2-3 hours after docking. They also preferentially let their tours go on the first few tender boats.
My dad went on the ship tour and tried to explain to me about their hydraulics for ship stabilization. I did get mildly seasick the first night but amazingly did really well overall - only needing to prophylactically use those accupressure wrist bands and take some Meclizine occasionally even when we were in a gale and the captain slowed the ship's speed down. Usually, I would be comatose in my cabin and miss dinner completely.
I loved the bright, fun decor of the ship. The staff were very professional and friendly. The buffet was pretty meager for lunch and dinner. They repeated themselves in the stations. Their bread puddings were excellent though. The Chocoholic Buffet was excellent but it seemed to have less choices than I recall on the previous NCL cruise I took. They could also put out their dinner menus earlier in the day for the main restaurants.
I went to more shows than usual. I loved the comedian, David Naster and also thought the Le Cirque Bijou was the best show I have ever seen on a cruise. Their Iron Chef competition was also fun but a little different from the show. Better get there early. I did my obligatory bingo but those handheld computers for some users slowed the game down as people kept entering in the wrong numbers. They also need to hold it in a bigger venue as often they ran out of room and people were standing in the back.
Another highlight for me was the Bora Bora Spa. I recommend everyone get the Cruise Spa Pass for $65. You can use the facilities for the entire cruise. I loved going from the steam room, to ice drench shower, to sauna, to the cold dip pool, to the whirlpool. They also had fruit and drink available. There is also a coed room with heated tiled lounge chairs and another kind of pool where you can lie on steel bars with air jets to relax more. You also have great views from the front of the ship.
The ports were very good. Quebec was my highlight. You can just walk to the Old City and do everything on your own. There is nothing to see in Sydney so sign up for a tour. The Ride the Rapids in Saint John was really fun but do take their recommendation of bringing a spare set of clothes as we all got totally drenched. Bar Harbor was so special because of Acadia National Park. We hired a car service which was wonderful as we could go at our own pace and make more stops than when you are trapped on a bus. Halifax - we did the Peggy's Cove Route which was really great too. Boston - it was disappointing that they charged $12 for a shuttle bus from the pier to Quincy Market. I have never been on a boat when they charged for that!
Overall, I had a fantastic, relaxing time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this ship and hopefully can take it again next year from Athens to Istanbul! Less
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