This cruise exceeded my expectations. I’ll admit I read lots of reviews of the ship and prepared myself to not expect much. I have to say I wonder if some of the people were even on the Jewel.
Embarkation was a piece of cake. DH and I cruised out of NO before and I enjoyed NO so much that when we had an opportunity for a second cruise out of NO we jumped at it. We pre-booked our parking at the Fulton street garage and took the trolley to Café Du Monde enjoyed some beignets and had a leisurely walk back to the garage to get our luggage and head to the port by shuttle around 12:45. Shuttle dropped us off and we basically walked right on the ship.
The ship was nice, and easy to navigate. It took a day or two to figure out where everything was and the best way to get from place to place but that’s part of the fun!
The first sea day we had a CC meet & greet. We had a great turnout and it was nice to meet all the folks we had been chatting with over the months leading to the cruise. We had a gift exchange of gifts that were unique to each person’s home state. That was lots of fun and we learned a little about some of the states too. NCL went out of their way to make us feel like they appreciated us sailing with them. I don’t remember exactly how many officers came but there were a lot. They talked a little about the ship and themselves and answered our questions. They give us a card with their phone numbers and seemed sincere when they said to call if we needed anything. They had a sign-up sheet that we could sign up to have dinner with an officer. DH and I didn’t sign up but talked to CC friends who did and they really enjoyed it. We saw several of the officers during the cruise and they remembered us which surprised me with the number of people they encounter every day.
The food was good for the most part. The steak did leave something to be desired in the dining rooms but then again I think my expectations may have been high. We ate several of our evening meals in the dining room and enjoyed the specials each night. The desserts in the dining rooms were lacking but there was always something good at the buffet if we really wanted something sweet. The buffet was surprisingly good and the Blue Lagoon was good. We especially liked the wings at Blue Lagoon. We don’t usually pay extra for the specialty restaurants but did try Cagney’s this time. It was as good as I expected.
The nightly entertainment was good overall. Some better than others but then again we all have different tastes and expectations. I always remember I’m on a cruise ship, not Broadway, not Las Vegas, etc. There are inherent limitations based on the venue.
There was always something to do. The activities staff worked hard to make things fun. There was lots of trivia, name your tune, quiz type games during the morning and afternoon. Sin was our cruise director and watching him act out the clues made it worth going just for that. The evening “game shows” were lots of fun and laughs too. My DH who usually just tolerates the game shows when I drag him with me joined in and had a great time.
Here’s a little advice - Look at the daily and you’ll find lots to do that doesn’t cost a cent. Go participate, meet new people, who cares if you don’t know anything about Broadway show tunes or movie lines. As one of the activities staff said – who cares you’re never going to see these people again, have fun. Don’t forget to pick up your activities card and get it signed when you participate in an activities staff event. The more you play the bigger the prize!
Special kudos to the officers and staff when we were in Cozumel. As we were walking back to the ship there was loud dance party music playing. We turned the corner and it was a party. We got to walk (or dance in most cases) the red carpet. The red carpet was lined with officers and staff welcoming us back. The kids got to dance with Sponge Bob or other Nickelodeon characters. There was a Carnival ship sharing the dock and I had to laugh when I saw Carnival staff members sneaking over to get their pictures taken with Sponge Bob.
Disembarkation was pretty smooth too. We carried off our luggage and were eating beignets at Café Du Monde before we knew it.
Overall, I’d have to say this was the best cruise I’ve been on so far. We’re planning on cruising next to Alaska and we enjoyed the Jewel so much we’re looking at booking the Jewel for Alaska too.