Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by chipnchair: Love of Cruising Restored Again
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Love of Cruising Restored Again
This was our fifth cruise on NCL. We have enjoyed our previous NCL cruises. Our last two cruises were with family on other cruise lines.
Last year we did a 10 day Alaskan cruise, which -- truth be told, if it had been our first, we would not have likely went on another cruise again.
But our recent 7 day Western Caribbean out of New Orleans has definitely brought back the cruising bug as we have already purchased a Cruise Reward for our next one.
Pre-cruise/Embarkation: Cruising in and out of New Orleans was a breeze. The staff that run NCL check in are friendly and organized.
The ship crew was great. Always genuinely friendly and helpful.
Very good dining experiences in all of the specialty restaurants. We did the ultimate dining package and ate in different specialty venues every night. Service was excellent. We also had great experiences in the Blue Lagoon and the main dining room too.
One thing I really favored More about the NCL Jewel is the bathroom layout. We were in a balcony stateroom and the the shower felt larger than the ones we have had on balcony cabins of our last 2 non-NCL cruises.
Finding and enjoying time in the bridge viewing room on Deck 11 Forward. We would visit during the day to watch the officers on the bridge and at night to check out the instruments to see where the ship was and how fast it was going.
Just a minor nit. Our stateroom steward was not at the level of service we have experienced on ANY of our previous cruises. We don't require much interaction, but we literally saw him 3 times over the course of 7 days. Once because we sought him out for items he did not leave in the room.
No information about the programming on the stateroom TV. We understand watching tv isn't a big cruise ship past time, but it was very limited compared to previous sailings [ on NCL or other ships ]
Felt like there were fewer activities and/or presentations available. Could just be a destination/itinerary issue, but on previous cruises there would sometimes be talks about the culture or country information about ports on a sea day [ outside of shopping and excursion sales talks ]. Last sea day was good with the Q+A with ship officers and the crew talent show though.
Honestly, nothing really. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Jewel Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony Deck Eight
Our mid-ship balcony worked well for the both of us, plenty of room for our stuff [ though we didn't have much ]. Thought the layout of the built ins was well appointed.
Port and Shore Excursions
Belize is a tendering port so a lot of the time for the duration of the excursion is tied to transportation. It took about 35-40 minutes to get from the ship to the shore and then another 1.5 hours to get out to Altun Ha. The last part of the bus ride is on a "vintage" road, so those who are sensitive to bumps or motion sickness need to be aware.
We had two guides, one who talked about Belize. He was quite entertaining when pointing out various sites along the way. He even passed around Belizean money so we could see what it looked like. The other guide talked to us at the ruins site. He was knowledgeable about the Mayan culture and his best stories were about his personal observations visiting the site in the early days after discovery.
Unfortunately, the skies opened up and the rain drenched all of us from head to toe. Some were ready, some not so much. The guide warned about climbing the ruins in the rain [ you can climb the ruins here ] but a few of us did so with caution.
The ride back in our wet clothes was not great, but the weather is not something you can blame on the operator. At least we made it back to the ship. A bus in front of us was not so lucky as a tire fell off the bus and rolled onto the side of the road forcing them to pull over. This was on the "vintage" part of the road and it doesn't look like emergency services would be out there any time soon.
I have been reading a lot of threads on the Costa Maya port boards which will contradict my review, so take this with a grain of salt. I think our experience is a bit tainted because
a) we were the only ship in port this day
b) the weather was overcast, not a beach day at all
We cancelled our original excursion to the ruins and decided to hop on the $3 shuttle into Mahahual hoping to walk leisurely along the malecon and maybe do a little shopping and possibly have a meal.
As soon as we got off the shuttle, we were immediately swarmed by vendors. Despite a lot of "no, thank yous" we were followed down to the boardwalk area. We decided at that point to just walk the boardwalk area heading back toward where the ship is to see if we would feel more comfortable.
It never happened. After every store or bar or restaurant a new group of vendors would come upon us, at times from both sides. This continued until there was break where there were no more shops/restaurants/bars.
We decided we wanted to just leave and head back to the ship, so we decided to walk down to the lighthouse and then back on the highway and then the path down the road [ where you can walk in the middle of the divider on the road ].
The area closest to the lighthouse [ and around Senor Frog ] had some nice beaches though they were littered with a lot of trash. You get a nice view of the ship from there as well.
We understand vendors are just trying to make a living and when there is only one ship in port for the day, tactics might tick up a bit more aggressive. But it was just a bit overwhelming.
I suspect if there were more ships in port and if the weather had been sunny, the experience might have been less uncomfortable.
Did the 7 hour excursion to Tulum. It takes a while to get out to the actual site and because the excursion doesn't provide water/snack/ meal, it's best that you bring some with you. We didn't break until well after noon and the sun was out in full force so if you have blood sugar issues or worry about dehydration, prepare yourself.
That said, the guide was excellent and clearly very passionate about her job. She thanked us for picking a cultural tour as she knows many who travel to the Caribbean are likely seeking other excursions which include the beach, snorkeling, drinking ...etc.
The ruins are protected so there is no climbing at this location. They are located along the coast so there are no bug issues [ as there may be at other sites ]. There is also a beach area access too.
Small stop at shop for use of the bathroom and picking up snacks or water along the way. It's actually a nice break since it does take a little while to get out there.
By far the best excursion and best port for us this cruise. We want to return to Roatan on vacation at some point.
We did the hiking and archeology tour at the Mayan Eden Eco Park. Our guide on the smaller shuttle out there was very helpful and kind. She talked to us about Honduras -- the culture, people, economy, history and even the animals.
At the park, another guide led us around and did short talks at a butterfly lab enclosure, Mayan replicas and MOST FUN let us interact with various animals. We were allowed not only to take photos with kinkajous, monkeys and snakes, we could hold them too.
After we left the park we were brought to a nice bar in town on the water. It was easy to walk around town and people were friendly and we did NOT feel any solicitation pressure which sometimes happens with overeager vendors at various ports.
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