This was my 5th NCL cruise and I am happy to report that they keep getting better!
The Jewel was a beautiful ship with lots to do for all ages.
Embarkation in NYC was easy. We arrived at 11:00 and wee on the ship by 11:30.
Rooms weren't ready yet so we went up to the buffet and had some lunch then walked around and toured the ship. It was cold that day so no swimming for anyone but it was nice to be able to look at the city and the weather was good for the giant chess game, ping pong, and using the basketball court.
Room was ready at 1:00PM and we headed down to check it out. I have had 2 other balcony cabins on NCL and this one definitely had it's pluses and minuses. The balcony cabins on deck 8 on the Jewel are semi enclosed which offers a nice ammount of privacy but unless you want to look at what is directly in front of you be prepared to hang on the railing. The bed was comfy and there was more than enough space for our things. Bathroom had standard NCL soap/shampoo dispensers and a new addition for me was the coffee maker in the room (well it heated water and you could add instant coffee or tea which was provided). It came in handy when you didn't want to wait for room service and you were not interested in leaving the cabin!
We did experience a problem on our 1st sea day as the ship lost an engine. The way they handled it was perfect and we didn't miss out on anything. We ended up having 2 sea days going due to slower speed and moved Port Canaveral to on the return trip.
We ate at the main restaurant Tzar's Palace 5 nights and had Cagney's and Le Bistro the other two. The food at all of the restaurants was very good and the service was always top notch. If you do want to eat at 7:30 in one of the main dining rooms expect a 30 minute wait...at least they gave out coupons for free champagne while you were waiting! Blue Lagoon (24 hr restaurant) had good food as well and always check out the BBQ at the pool around lunch time. In addition to hot dogs/hamburgers they have ribs, chicken, sausage, and a lot of other good stuff on rotation!
One of the best things about this cruise was the entertainment! The shows were FANTASTIC and the best I have ever seen on any cruise line. The Comedy Magic of Jean Pierre was hilarious and the acrobatic duo was INCREDIBLE. If you take this cruise you MUST attend this show! They also have "Le Cirque Bijou" which I won't spoil for you but is a MUST MUST MUST see (try to sit 6+ rows back). The ship bands were great as well and if you can make it to the Rock Night by the pool it is a great performance of live Rock Music from 1980-2013 which you don't usually see on a cruise ship.
There was always something fun to do on both sea and port days from line dancing class to trivia and art seminars. NCL has really stepped up in the activity department and you never felt like you had nothing to do!
In terms of what we did in port:
-Nassau: Dolphin Encounter at Blue Lagoon
WELL worth the cost. We got 30+ minutes in the water with the dolphoins and got to dance, kiss, hug, and feed them. To our surprise we were also able to use the beach on Blue Lagoon after the encounter so we got to sit and relax and have some drinks afterwards.
-Great Stirup Cay:
This was a true surprise. The beach was clean and sandy, water was crystal clear, and the food they served was good. Lots of lounge chairs available and bar servers offering drinks if you needed them. Water is shallow so you can stand for quite a bit and there are almost no waves. We went snorkeling around the beach and there were TONS of fish within 30 feet of the shore.
We did not get off of the ship here and opted for massages on board in the spa instead...good choice in my opinion!
My husband and I booked this cruise before we realized it was a Spring Break week and we were worried for nothing. There were lots of kids on the boat but with the kids activities, Nickelodeon shows, and the separate kids pool you never felt like you were crowded by kids or that you couldn't enjoy some adult time!
We got into NYC almost 3 hours later than planned due to the earlier engine issues but they were great about keeping the buffet open and making announcements so you knew what to expect. I love NCL's policy of letting you stay in your room until you get off the ship...so much more relaxing! We went with the easy walk off and even with the delay were off the ship and heading home at 9:45am.
All in all this was a wonderful cruise and I will definitely be sailing NCL again!