Just returned home from my 2nd Western Caribbean cruise on an NCL ship in 9 months. Four of us sailed on the NCL Star last April and loved everything. This time it was my Mom & I, our first mother/daughter trip.
Embarkation was smooth, the folks in New Orleans have got it mastered. We were dropped off at curb and having lunch in Tzar's about 30 minutes later. Room was ready, and luggage was all there. Balcony room #9650, was perfect, right by the aft elevators. So far, so good.
We purchased the Ultimate Dining package ($117) a few days earlier. They affixed a little seal on our cards so we never had to bother with anything, could eat in any speciality restaurant for the duration of the trip. I've sailed 60 days on NCL during the past two years and cannot abide the buffet. The free dining rooms are fine, but the waits can be quite lengthy. In the past, the specialty restaurants have been superb ... great food and exceptional service. Not on the Jewel. Except for the Italian restaurant, the service was sub-par. One night we went to the Chinese restaurant "Chin Chin" at 7:30. Only a half dozen tables were occupied. I told the waiter that we wanted to be finished in time to go to the 9:15 show. Naturally we were not. My Mother was quite disappointed as that was the only show she wanted to see for the entire cruise. To be fair, the manager, Carena, was very apologetic and brought us complimentary Bailey's on ice.
I found all of the speciality restaurant servers to be quite rude and surly. On the other NCL ships I've gone on it was quite the opposite. Management does not even make an appearance. Not sure if it was because we had pre-purchased the ultimate dining package so they wouldn't receive the automatic 15% gratuity NCL tacks on, but I always leave a cash tip - $10-20.
The ship was fairly clean. The bathroom in the casino was filthy.
The port stops are not too inspiring.
Loved our room, housekeeper was awesome.
Can't pinpoint exactly where it missed but it did. We're going on a 9 day Baltic cruise in May on the Star, have a 2 bedroom suite. I hope its a good as the previous Star cruise, which was perfect...