Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by adaisy12: Norwegian Jewel - Western Mediterranean
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Norwegian Jewel - Western Mediterranean
This was our 4th NCL cruise and we have been pleased with all of them. We booked it for the price and destination. Since price was a consideration, we booked an inside cabin and rarely spent much time there. The Jewel was everything that we had hoped for and was simply beautiful. This was also our third cruise booked during the time of 9/11, our first being the week of the tragedy. One of the things that was really nice on this trip was the remembrance service on 9/11 on board the Jewel with the entire crew of officers in full uniform behind a wreath of white roses. There weren't a lot of people that attended that, but, we thought it was very special.
Embarkation: Other than problems with gate changes in Atlanta, the whole thing went very smoothly. Luckily, we weren't in a group that came through Heathrow, Gatwick, or Paris. There were multiple bad stories of luggage lost, delays, searches, etc. We were also lucky in that we were not in the group of 100 cruisers who never More received their luggage the entire trip! From talking to them, NCL tried to help in a lot of different ways from taking them to a city to buy clothes and then washing/drying them free of charge every other day to reimbursing them for some of the loss.
The embarkation at Barcelona was very smooth for us, with luggage arriving relatively promptly and porters and buses ready for us when we arrived. We had hoped to be able to take a tour of the city before boarding the ship, but, were hustled out to the ship quickly without a chance to make other arrangements. So, we only saw some of the city from the port-to-ship ride.
Stateroom: It was little and cramped, but we had expected that. Like I said, we spent so little time there that we made do with it. We had a bottle of wine waiting for us upon arrival and that was nice. The refrigerator was stocked with candy, water, beer, soft drinks, wine, etc., upon our arrival. That was also new to us, since that wasn't the case on previous trips. We had brought our own water bottles for the 12 day cruise and we used the refrigerator for storing those. My husband appreciated have FOX channel on the TV instead of just movies and ship info. Our 2 cabin stewards were outstanding!
Dining: We ate in all of the regular dining venues as well as Mama's Italian Kitchen. I was disappointed in Mama's because we had reservations and still had to eat outside with the regular diners from the Outside Grill. I felt that it took away from the good comments we had heard about the food and atmosphere because we were only two tables away from the same place we ate most every morning on deck! I am an early riser, so the Garden Buffet was usually the only thing opened when I ate. I liked it, but got tired of eating there so much. We really liked Azura's and Tsar's Palace. We requested a specific waitperson each time we were at Azura's and the service was wonderful! I thought that this helped in the overall satisfaction that we had with the restaurant. Since the Captain's Gala was the night of the first full day of sailing, and the menu included lobster, we dined at Tsar's Palace that night and had a great time! The food was good all of the time and sometimes it was exceptional.
Shore Excursions: We took one in every city, an expensive thing to do, but we reasoned that we might never be back and wanted to see as much history as possible. Most of them were excellent. The biggest problem we had was in Venice with a second day Walk the Heart of Venice tour. First of all, the tour was basically St. Mark's Square period. If I had known that from the beginning, we would have skipped it and gone to Murano. Our guide was a soft-spoken older woman who forgot to turn on her microphone, who was more interested that we pronounce the Italian artists names correctly, and whose pace could only be described as SLOW! We spent so much time just getting there--ship was docked 15 minutes from the Square and she took almost 35 to get there--that we missed the tour of St. Mark's Church all together! Her comment that our tickets were good for 3 months didn't help at all! The Doges Palace was lovely, but, that was all we saw!
Our favorite tours were in Dubrovnik, Croatia--Croatian Riviera--was wonderful! The guide and the restaurant by the waterfalls were excellent!--and Ruins of Ephesus in Izmir and Nuevo Ghetto in Venice were also outstanding!
We had tried to get information before the cruise from the website on exactly what was included in some of the tours, but it was no help. In calling NCL in Florida with the same questions, there was still no help. I was trying to find out if the Athens' tour--Taste of Athens-- went to the top of the Acropolis. No one knew. It was only the night before the tour that I finally got an answer. The excursion sheet never said yes or no, just that it was one of most photograhed places and that walking might be difficult! As we found out, it DOES go to the top and walking wasn't difficult, just a little steep, and expect 1000 persons visiting the place at the same time! Having 2-3 cruise ships in all these ports at the same time made crowd control awful. However, I thought that the NCL tours handled it well, even when people got lost!
OnBoard Entertainment: Anything that the Jean Ann Ryan Company did was excellent! There were 3 shows and all were fabulous! We attended almost every night show in the theatre and felt that most of them were well worth the time. The exception was Edge that I thought was not very good and not very appropriate for audiences with children. Second City was great and the parody of ship life just hilarious. The tenor Chris Riggins was magnificent! The Norwegian Jewel Show Band was outstanding every time they played. The show-stealer of the cruise was the Crew Talent Night and the hilarious finale of that, the Fountains! The entire audience was laughing so hard they were crying!
Cruise Life: NCL goes overboard with photographs! When you arrive in a port, when you dine, when you play, when you are walking, swimming, etc. There is a photographer in your face all the time..and the pictures aren't cheap! We finally got to the point we just said no, thank you, and went on our way. Yes, we bought the formal portraits, but we said no on almost every thing else. It is easier to keep collecting your pictures in one place--we chose the formal shots--for the entire cruise and then making your decision on pictures during the last full day or two than to try to choose and buy as you said along, or so we decided. I loved the library with the daily Sudoku and Word Find puzzles and the quietness you could find there almost any time of the day or night because it was open most of the time, even though there wasn't a crew member there. We also liked the Internet Cafe, coming to realize that when everyone else was eating was the best time to find an empty spot! Disembarkation: We knew the procedure about the luggage tags and the luggage outside your room before midnight from previous cruises. However, since we were supposed to be leaving the ship at 5:30 a.m., and we weren't called until 5:48, and only then because I kept calling the main desk to find out why we were delayed, I wasn't too happy. It is a 30 minute ride from dock to Istanbul airport, and at that hour, it went smoothly. The mess began inside the airport. There are 5 passport checks from the door where you walk in until you board the airplane. What no one told the airport was that 2 or 3 cruise ships would be dropping off about 700 passengers bound for Chicago on a 10:00 a.m. flight at the same time! The line was awful! There were 3 ticket check-in stations for these two Turkish Airlines flights to Chicago and about 600+ passengers waiting in line. It took us 3 hours and 20 minutes just to check-in, then two more passport checks just to get to the gate which was hidden and not marked in the concourse aisle! At 10:00, there were still a lot of people in line for this flight and, of course, the flight was late taking off. After waiting in line for 3+ hours, then waiting another 45 minutes to get on the plane, and then an 11+ hour flight to Chicago, was very exhausting! And to leave the waiting area at the gate meant that you had to go through another passport/ticket check to get back in! If you are traveling with children, and many were, be prepared! The Istanbul airport was, by far, the worst experience we have ever had. I realize that it wasn't NCL's fault, but, there should have been some forewarning about the wait time. It might have helped.
Yes, we will travel with NCL again. We really have been treated like family on their ships and we appreciated the service. Less
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