Alaska is Beautiful! First Time on The Jewel by a veteran cruiser: NCL Jewel Review (Jun 22-29)
Background to review:
With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. On this cruise, we booked a penthouse suite on deck 8 aft, Room 8132. We enjoy the extra amenities of eating breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s restaurant, the services of the concierge, and especially using the Mandara Spa (cost is $119 for the week and well worth it).
Not that everything on the NCL Jewel was the best in the cruise industry, but the combination of the ship, the crew, the entertainment(outstanding), the excursions, the food, the friends we met, and of course the SPA, made for a great week.
Overall Evaluation: (more detail comments appear below)
• Our suite was very comfortable with a great view (first time in an AFT suite)
• Food quality was superb everywhere, not just in the specialty dining areas like on other ships. We ate three nights in Tsar’s, 2 nights in Le Bistro (highly recommend….not crowded, excellent food and service), 1 night in Cagney’s, and one night in the Café.
• General dining room (Tsar’s) offered a good variety, with excellent quality, but sometimes the service was inconsistent.
• Entertainment was excellent. Probably the best dance group I have seen on any cruise line. Do NOT miss Le Cirque Bijou…..OUTSTANDING.
• Thermal Spa was great. The heated tile chairs looking out over the front of the ship were relaxing and provided a great view.
• The staff was friendly and helpful and our Concierge, Leah Rodriquez, was outstanding.
I booked a Penthouse Suite on deck 8 at the back of the ship at the recommendation of the NCL representative. He was correct about the great views we had in Alaska.
A perk for suites owners is access to Cagney’s restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Service is exceptional and the food is superb.
Some people criticize anytime dining but I prefer it. It allows me to control when and where I eat based upon the day’s activities. Other people may prefer traditional dining because they are able to meet other cruisers and develop a relationship with them.
Besides breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s, we ate at the buffet in Garden Café, Cagney’s, Tsar’s, Le Bistro, and the Blue Lagoon. I have absolutely NO complaints about the food at any venue. I could have eaten at the buffet every night and been happy; it was that good. Le Bistro was outstanding. It was NOT crowded and provided a great dining atmosphere with great food and service.
Do NOT miss the “Chocoholic Buffet” held in the Café. The entire café has various types of deserts and sculptures made of various kinds of chocolate. I can summarize the dining experience by saying “The food was EXCELLENT everywhere.”
MANDARA SPA: OUTSTANDING and worth the $119 for the week if you are looking to relax, get away from the crowds, and just enjoy the great views from the heated tile chairs. This is one area of the ship I frequent often. The exercise room has the typical equipment.
Access to the Thermal Spa costs $119 per person but it is SO WORTH it. You get access all week from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm. The Thermal Spa has:
• Relaxation areas for men only, women only and a unisex relaxation area. All areas overlook the front of the ship and have a great view through the large glass windows on deck 12.
• The unisex room has a hydrotherapy pool and heated tile lounge chairs that will put you to sleep…..these alone are worth the extra money. They also provide juice, water and assorted types of hot tea.
• Large male and female locker rooms with ample lockers, shower, hair dryers, steam room, sauna, hot tubs, and a flat screen TV.
The shows in the Stardust theater were OUTSTANDING. Two shows are definitely labeled as “DO NOT MISS”: Band on the Run and Le Cirque Bijou. Do not miss the final Farewell Variety Showtime on Day 7. It provides a great emotional high and a fitting tribute to a great cruise.
Ketchikan: Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Some other reviews talked about long lines but I did not experience this. Two gangways were used and the ship docks right in town. Easy access to all shops. Great little port. We did not do any excursions here but shopped and ate in a local tavern.
Juneau: Where the Jewel docked is quite a walk to town. Make sure you take the SHUTTLE. It looks close but you have to go up, around and down a hill to the town. That is the only way and it is not easy if you are not fit. We rented a car from Juneau Rental which is one-half mile from the ship. We were able to disembark, get the car and beat all the buses and traffic to the Mendenhall Glacier. We then drove up to Auke Bay Harbor to see the whales. We did not take the Tram up Mt. Roberts because my wife does not like heights but it is the first thing you come to in town.
Skagway: Easy walk to downtown. We also took the White Pass Railroad Train. Well worth the money. We booked the 12:55 train hoping the weather in the afternoon might be better than in the morning. Worked our perfect since it was foggy in the morning and the people did not have a great view. We had an excellent view. Our waiter told us to make sure we sat in the FIRST car behind the engines on the left side of the train going up. On the way back, the engines moved to the other end of the train and we had a wonderful view standing on the back platform of the last train car.
Victoria: GREAT, CLEAN CITY. We walked from the ship to the waterfront. Easy 20 minute walk (just follow Oswego street) through beautiful neighborhoods to the waterfront and the Empress Hotel.
DISEMBARKATION: Could not have been easier. Also, there are plenty of $12 shuttles to the airport. We took the Shuttle Express from the airport to the ship and from the ship to the airport.