This was a first cruise to Alaska and as an introduction to Alaska it was awesome. Our group included my wife and me, our two young adult sons, and my 83 yr. old mother-in-law (who was on her first cruise). It is hard to find anything to criticize. The overall experience on the Norwegian Jewel is geared to a family traveling together. There are activities for young children and if there is a demographic group that may be not well represented it is young adult singles.
We did not avail ourselves of any of the specialty dining options, prefering to dine in the Tsar's dining room and Azura, with the occasional foray to the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon. The menu selection in the Tsar's and Azura are varied with several changes as the cruise contiues. Presentation and quality are very good and, of course, you can add extra entrees if you are hungry!
Since we cruise for the total experience, we book interior staterooms rather than balcony rooms. Our cabin, though small (143 sq. feet) provided everything we needed in sleeping and bath facilities. It was clean, comfortable and very quiet. Don, our steward was attentive and kept the cabin well supplied and clean (even though we were somewhat cluttered with our "stuff").
Embarcation was quick and easy. I suggest that anyone driving and parking use the Republic Parking service across the street from Pier 66 in Seattle.) We arrived at noon on the day of sailing and had a very nice lunch in the Garden Cafe and followed that up with a tour of the ship to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the ship. We then went topside and took in the downtown Seattle skyline views and Puget Sound views. Cast-off took place on-time and it was a wonder to watch this large ship navigate through a very busy harbor scene with a lot of pleasure boats running around.
A few notes about the shipboard experience. NCL entertainment is well produced and thought out. The entertainers a first class and the shows are well worth it. Comedian/Magician Jeanne Pierre was very entertaining and funny. Cruise Director Jaime de Souza was very personable and made us all feel like we were members of the family. The entertainment was first class and appropriate for all ages. The Cirque de Bijou show in the Stardust Theater was the highlight of the cruise. The other shows were excellent and varied! As a counterpoint to the Stardust Theater productions the various lounge acts were very good and we enjoyed that experience when we wanted less of a "production" experience. The entertainment is appropriate for all ages and parents will not have to worry about any raunchy shows.
The ship is clean and well maintained. The staff and crew were very courteous and friendly and really appear to enjoy their jobs.
If I was traveling with young children or grandchildren, I would not hesitate to take a cruise with NCL. There are activities onboard ship that are staffed from early morning until late evening and the kids we saw were having a great time.
Hope this helps! Enjoy the experience!