Since no one has yet posted a Review of the 11/4 NCL Jewel Cruise, let me be the first!
We arrived at the pier around 12:30. The Non-US Citizens go to a line on the left and all others, including Latitudes, go to the right. There were already many people there by 12:30 so you may want to arrive earlier to avoid the crowds. It took about 40 minutes to get through this line and on to the next room where you receive your key cards. You are then grouped together to begin going through the x-ray machines and then it's on to the ship.
Once aboard, we headed straight to our room. The first thing we noticed was how bright and colorful the ship is (both inside and out). We stayed in an interior room (5571) on the 5th floor and were pleasantly surprised with the room. The room was about 1/3 bigger than our room on the Majesty and had a fabulous layout. Once the beds are put together, they are in the middle of the room instead of one side being up against the wall. It just More
made it a lot easier to get in and out of bed. They were 5 huge shelves right behind the door which held all of our clothes. The closet is a nice size and there are 3 more drawers on the other side of the closet. There is also a nice little table area under the TV (great for laying books, change, sun glasses, or whatever you might need within a finger tips reach). There was also a full length mirror. The bathroom was nice. The toilet was a little close to the wall when you sit but I can't complain. The shower water would go from warm to extremely hot every minute or so be careful. I wrote this fact on my comment card so maybe the water temperature will be adjusted before long. The water pressure was great and the shower had liquid soap and shampoo dispenser (just in case anyone forgets theirs).
The first day at sea was fabulous. Got up early and ate breakfast (as we did every morning) in the Garden Cafe. We went to deck 14 and had no problems getting a lounge chair (this was around 10 am). Plenty of waiters around to bring you drinks but none were every pushy or overbearing. Many people left towels in the chairs for hours without ever losing their spot. There were also some European women who felt it was not necessary to go to the "Free Style" (topless) area to sun bathe topless (this is just to warn people who may have kids). It was also very windy most of the time but I don't think that can be controlled. It wasn't so bad that it ruined the days but you did have to tie your lose articles to the chairs so they wouldn't blow away.
I didn't swim in the pools but the hot tubs were a nice place to go on the first night when we encountered a brief squall. We were the only ones there and had all the hot tubs to ourselves. However, after about 10 minutes, we began to get cold as the water was not very hot. The Garden Cafe serves the same breakfast every morning…runny scrambled eggs, sausage, tater tots, fruit, pancakes, etc. They also have an omelet station, waffle station and an egg station (where you can get eggs cooked anyway you want them). The Garden Cafe also has a separate Vegetarian Section. The Vegetarian Section looked very good but I am such a picky eater that I don't think I tried anything new. There is also a self serve ice cream station towards the rear of the Garden Cafe. The have vanilla, chocolate and swirl ice cream and it can be topped with chocolate sprinkles, colored sprinkles and jelly beans. There's another cafeteria section at the very back of the Garden Cafe. They offer the same food as the Garden Cafe but it's usually less crowded and serves breakfast later than the Garden Cafe does (by about half an hour).
We also ate in two of the dining rooms, Azura and Tsar's. They both serve the same menu but we enjoyed the atmosphere more in Tsar's. Tsar's is absolutely gorgeous with Russian themes and artwork throughout the restaurant. One night we had to wait to be seated but we only had to wait about 10 minutes. The desserts are fantastic. The ice cream is always great but on Saturday night, I had an Italian dessert that was fantastic. It was vanilla ice cream stuck between two Italian pastries smothered with chocolate syrup. MMMMM.
We also ate in Cagney's Steakhouse and was a little disappointed. The service was very slow and we were in there for almost 3 hours! I had the Filet Mignon with Rice Pilaf and potatoes. They also have several other steaks (like a porterhouse) which they charge and extra $10 on top of the $15 cover charge ($25 total). Several in our group ordered those steaks and although the food was great, the slow service detracted from our overall enjoyment.
Of all the places we ate, I enjoyed Mama's Italian kitchen the best (and it's not because I am Italian…). We had to make a reservation to get in as they were booked almost every night on the cruise. So make your reservations early! The service is fantastic and the food was wonderful. I ordered a pizza (which is about the size of a small pizza you would order in any restaurant) and Chicken Parmigiana. Absolutely fantastic!!!
In San Juan, we took a taxi to El Morro. We then walked through the city back to the ship. We even past a McDonalds and a Walgreens. I really enjoyed stopping in the little shops but everything was more expensive than I thought it would be. T-shirts were between $20-25. I guess I expected it to be cheaper like Cozumel.
In Antigua, we went to Dickenson Bay. We got there by taxi ($20 round trip) and enjoyed a wonderful day the beach. We rented an umbrella and beach chairs ($22) for the day and you could rent jet ski's or just lay back and enjoy the sun. I played some locals in a game a pool and won…that was the highlight of the trip as the bartender had bet the locals $100 that I would win and was more than gracious by providing me with free Rum Punch after I was successful.
I would recommend you find an excursion in St Thomas. We walked to downtown (a few miles walk) and got rather bored after about 2 hours. There's nothing but shopping in the downtown district. Others that I cruised with found local tours that took them by open air taxi's for tours around the Island and had a wonderful time. They said the views were unbelievable. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see more of the Island. I believe we were the fist ship to visit NCL’s private island since the Hurricane. The tender lines were VERY long so be sure to get an early ticket. There were still tender lines at 11:30 am (we docked at 9 am). We ate at the Garden café as I thought I was being thrifty by not spending money to eat on the island. Little did I know that NCL catered their own food to the Island. They had hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, corn on the cob. It looked so good that I wanted to eat again, but I refrained. Some of my friends went snorkeling but stated there wasn’t much to see. The water was also colder than I was used to but that didn’t deter us from enjoying the day. A sunny, beautiful day in the Bahamas with the FMOT is better than any day at work!
Disembarkation was a little frustrating for me. Since I had an 11:30 flight, I planned on carrying our luggage off and taking advantage of the early disembarkation. However, since my BF is Russian, all non-us citizens have to wait until EVERY single non-us citizen has been cleared by immigration before leaving the ship. That means that if some people don’t pay attention or don’t understand English, one or two people can hold up the disembarkation of all non-us citizens. We were finally allowed to leave the ship at 9:30 am (we still carried our own luggage).
All others leave the ship according to the colored luggage tags that are delivered to your room. You can always go to reception and ask for earlier tags if requested.
If you need a taxi please follow this advice!!! After leaving the staging area, we were advised to go to the right and stand in the taxi line. By this time, there were about 100 people already in line. They were only allowing 2 taxi’s at a time to pick up these passengers. At this rate, I knew we would never make our flight. I asked a policeman if there was anything I could do to get a taxi so I wouldn’t miss my flight. He advised me to walk in the opposite direction and pick up a taxi. About 30 taxi’s were waiting on the side of the road because for some reason, the people directing the traffic were only allowing two taxi’s in at a time. Advice = after clearing customs and walking outside, go to the left about 50 yards to pick up a taxi. Otherwise, you could be waiting in line for who knows how long.
I’m sure some of you have many questions that I have not answered. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer your questions if I can. Less