Ship: Despite being an older ship, the Jewel is gorgeous. Everything I came across was in working order. They layout was easy to navigate with plenty of activities to keep busy and places to walk and explore.
Room: Our cabin (9124) was everything I expected, with the exception that the bathroom was larger than I thought it would be. My husband is 6' 3" and 270 lbs. He fit in the sink and shower area comfortably. The toilet area was a little cramped for him but he survived. The bed was not hard and uncomfortable like I had read in previous reviews, it was just fine. Despite multiple settings on the thermostat the room only had two temperatures; Arctic or Hades. Our room steward was friendly enough but he kept removing the beer buckets we were trying to save and also he took my souvenir cup I paid for. Never saw him after the first few days so I could ask for it back. He provided clean towels and straighten out the bed sheets, that was it.
Ships' temp: before leaving on my cruise I tried finding out what the average temp of the public places on the ship were like. All responses said "The ship is climate controlled. The inside temp will be the same whether you are in the Caribbean or Alaska." I am here to tell you THIS IS NOT TRUE. If you are under 125 lbs. have circulation issues or issues regulating your temperature you will get cold. The only time I was not cold was after a few drinks and shaking my booty to a few songs in the Spinnaker Lounge late night. And those cute "little old lady" sweaters don't cut it. Bring a lined hoodie sweatshirt or even a light lap blanket to all public venues.
Main dining/Buffet: Most of it was edible. None of it was great. Some of it was a mystery. The first day I was excited not to have to cook. By the third day I felt like I was on "Survivor" scraping by trying to find some plain rice and toast. (Ever hear of a person LOSING weight on a cruise? Yep, I did.) This food should be simple and good but NCL somehow manages to take regular dishes and add strange spices, grease or seafood to it to make them disgusting. Sure have some seafood rice, but offer some plain rice next to it please. And how does one screw up pizza? When grease is an option for an extra topping its not hard to see why.
Tepanyaki: Worth every penny. Best food I had on the ship. We have a Tepanyaki at home and it costs way more than $25 a person to eat there so getting the same great taste and quality on the Jewel for that price seemed like a bargain! Side note the room gets extremely loud when all tables get going at once. Guests with hearing aids may find this atmosphere uncomfortable.
Moderno Churrascaria: Disgusting. You couldn't PAY ME to eat this food. Calling this place a Churrascaria is a joke if you've ever been to a real one. It didn't matter what animal they brought or how it was seasoned every single piece of meat we got from this place was pure FAT. The ribs, the chicken, the filet, the garlic beef were all 90 to 98 percent FAT. AWFUL. This place should be shut down as it is a scam to charge guests extra for this "joke".
The Blue Lagoon: is an out of the way place to eat on deck eight. Unfortunately for us we didn't discover this place until the fifth day. I definitely wouldn't have come home 5 lbs. lighter had I found this place earlier. EAT HERE! Best food included with your fare!
The coffee: Over the week the coffee in the Buffet was described as "Acid." "What it would taste like if someone really warmed up a cup of mud." and my personal favorite "This coffee taste like all the reject coffee beans took a warm dump in my cup." Do not be fooled by what the servers tell you. The coffee in the main dining room is DIFFERENT! Don't be afraid to take in your clean soda mug and ask your server to fill 'er up! Much better than paying $4 a pop for a latte or choking down "acid" all week long.
Entertainment: The entertainment staff on the Jewel was the hardest working staff I saw all week long! They were awesome!
Band on the Run was sexy and fun, yet cute enough for the elders and families to enjoy. I had Abba stuck in my head the rest of the trip after dancing in my seat to this show!
Cirque Bijou was phenomenal! If you're familiar with the "Cirque" shows in Vegas you won't be as impressed by this as it is a sampling of what those shows offer. However, I loved the fact that the cruise line staff went above and beyond the regular singing and dancing to perform this act. They didn't bring in special acrobats, it was the same people we had watched and loved all week long and they did a fantastic job! Cruise line entertainment has come a long way since I last cruised.
White hot party was an absolute blast! I can see how this even may vary from cruise to cruise though due to the different crowds that may be cruising at the time. Lucky for me we had an excellent group of partiers! The dancers dressed up as angels could have stuck around a little longer than 10 minutes though. NCL would be wise to use the entertainment staff like Sandals uses their "playmakers" to get the party going, keep it going and keep the alcohol flowing.
Matt the cruise director: was the only aspect of the entertainment staff that was lacking. He acted way old for his age, wasn't around much and when he was it felt stuffy and boring. On TV he even talked about how he hates crowds. Really? A cruise director that hates crowds? Someone may want to re-think his position as it is my understanding directors are supposed to be super social and outgoing. I've had 60 year old women cruise directors before who ran marathons around the ship compared to what Matt did. Patrick the assistant cruise director more than made up for Matt's stuffiness. Patrick was always around, always enthusiastic and always had an infectious smile! We saw him every day, several times a day and he never hesitated to shout "Hi guys!" to us.
Guests: Our fellows guests were overall, polite and friendly. The exception is with a few unsupervised teens running amok. (No problems with babies, small children or even school aged kids the TEENS need more supervision!) I was knocked to the ground getting off the elevator by a teen twice my size. I wanted to report him but my husband talked me out of it after I put he fear of God in him threatening to sue his parents. Another time a teen jumped into my cabin screaming "RAAARRRRR!" when I opened the door to hear announcements. Good thing he had quick reflexes as my fist of fury came within centimeters of his nose. Also abundant snotty teen girls wearing shorts barley long enough to cover their private parts (which I actually saw several times when they would sit down or bend over. Disgusting!) I did not go thought the trouble of arranging eight days of babysitters so I could come on a cruise and put up with OTHER people's ill mannered, spoiled brats. Put your teens on a leash people! A cruise is not a free-for-all, other people paid good money to relax and have fun too!
Rough seas: Last but not least I was told by a few people who had been on this itinerary before how smooth the seas were and that seasickness patches were not necessary. WRONG! With the exception of a Transatlantic cruise, this was by far the roughest cruise I've been on. Bring your patches and seasickness meds!
This was the experience of a lifetime! When we first went out we saw three or four humpback spouts. Captain Gary asked if everyone saw them then announced the whale guarantee was up. Utter disappointment as I realized I signed up for this for the next 5 hours. Then Captain Gary got a strange call over the radio using some code words. Stealthily we slipped away from the hoards of other whale watching boats and were the first to come upon not one, not two but three resident Orca pods! I bet we saw over 50 different Killer whales! Little babies, huge bulls, we saw their faces their teeth their tales, you name it! At one point four Orcas breached in synchronization, one, two, three, four perfectly timed and spaced apart. It was like seeing Sea World in the wild! Amazing! Breath taking! After whale watching we hiked for a bit in the rain forest learning about all the amazing plant life. Arriving at Mendenhal Glacier our guide, Sarah a native of Juneau, told us about her childhood and how much the glacier has receded since then. When she described where it would be in the next three to five years, I cried! Yes I cried! I am glad to have experienced this glacier and am saddened that my kids may not be able to.
We did Eagle Creek zip line and had an absolute blast! Our guides Kramer and Mocha were professional, knowledgeable, friendly and fun! They did an excellent job helping those in our party with a fear of heights ease into the zipping experience (without making them feel like sissies). All while maintaining an exciting, fun atmosphere for those of us with more adventurous spirits! Just hanging out on the tree stands was an experience in itself.
Pike's fish market was awesome! A must see! Also the stadiums are cool to look at too.
This tour is THE most fun I've ever had on a scheduled excursion. The guides, the Jeeps, the terrain, the scenery, the wildlife and the history were all fantastic! That being said, this tour needs a HUGE disclaimer BEFORE people sign up. The Jeeps they use are two door, hard top and they expect them to hold at least four people. If you've never had the pleasure of sitting in the backseat of a two door Jeep let me enlighten you. If you are over 6' tall you will not fit. If you are over 150 Lbs. you will not fit. If you have had any surgeries or things limiting your ability to contort yourself like a circus performer, you will not fit. If you are of smaller stature you will be expected to sit in the back the entire time. If you are claustrophobic you will NOT like the backseat! We lucked out and the couple riding with us straight up quit before the tour even began as the wife was afraid of tight spaced and the husband would not physically fit into the backseat of the Jeep. I was adamant that just because I fit in the backseat I was NOT riding back there the entire trip. Just because I am small doesn't mean my money isn't worth as much as yours.
This place was uppity and boring. I could not bring myself to pay $75 for a self-guided tour of the gardens. Wish we had skipped this port in favor of another sea day or day in Juneau.