After reading months of Jewel reviews, I was prepared to be a little let down based on the comments of so many. Boy was I wrong! My wife and I are experienced cruisers including working for Cunard. I will try to keep my comments about the ship and crew and not the ports of call.
Embarkation was relatively painless, although the construction around the terminal made for a huge traffic jam. Arriving on the ship we were greeted by music and a very welcoming cruise staff, and there was never a let down in the enthusiasm and courtesy for the rest of the cruise. The entire cruise staff had such a positive helpful attitude! Being a cc member I attended a meet and greet and the entire hotel management team showed up. We were given their personal phone extensions and asked that we call with any issues. I don't think they got a call all week! After meeting them I was amazed how often I saw them all week mingling with passengers or overseeing their people to ensure everything ran smoothly.
We were a party of seven from 15, 19 and 22 to 50's to 80's so this is a "consensus" review. We had two balcony cabins and one inside cabin. The balcony cabins we big enough for two comfortably, but the third person made for cramped quarters when the sofa bed was out. We will try to get a cabin that has a fold down bunk the next time. There is literally no way to get to the balcony without walking on the bed! Storage was just enough for three. The baths were big, but we felt the glass door for the toilet wasn't needed. In fact the inside cabin was slightly smaller and didn't have the toilet divider and actually felt bigger. Our cabin steward was always available and ready to help with anything.
OK - the food. After reading some really bad review we were a little nervous. We ate our breakfasts at the buffet and it was always good and fresh. There was everything you could want including museli( a cruise ship tradition) . Granted, the hollandaise sauce was not what one would get at a nice restaurant, but they are cooking for 3,000! And the ship was full of passengers who seem to develop a feeding frenzy when they hit the buffet. Having sailed NCL before we were familiar with the specialty restaurants and ate six of seven dinners there. We did have one meal in Tsars dining room and I guess our only real let down was the food there was not as good as we hoped. I agree with the previous review that mentioned the canned peas and carrots. I wasn't bad food, it just wasn't the "wow" we wanted it to be. We believe that part of the NCL experience is going to the specialty restaurants. Our review- le Bistro was wonderful. Great food, top drawer service (Budi was our waiter- he doubles as the breakfast "washy washy " guitar player). We ate there twice. The Italian was the most pleasant surprise. Everything was delicious. The osso bucco was outstanding. Again great service. The Churriscaria was a culinary adventure ! Cagneys was a great steak dinner as well. I strongly recommend you plan to spend the extra money and treat yourself to these great restaurants. It will make your cruise so much more memorable. There is very good snack food at the Blue Lagoon.
The entertainment was the most pleasant surprise of our cruise. A very funny comedian, a not- to- be missed magician, and production shows that had great dancers. We had a cocktail every night in a different bar and and each one had a unique atmosphere. Prices ranged from $5.25 to $10.00 depending on the drink.
The Jewel is not as fancy as some other ships, but has a very relaxed charm. Although a little tired, she is kept clean and tidy by an industrious crew. It was the most stable ship we have ever been on, with very little movement. It was very easy to get around, and even though the ship was full, the layout spread everyone out so we never felt cramped.
Our only real negative experience was the staff in the store. They seemed a bit rude and put off if one needed help.
In summary we say book your cruise on Jewel. You will be treated wonderfully! Just plan on spending the extra money and enjoy the specialty restaurants. You will have a wonderful time.