This is our second time on the Jewel. First time cruising for my family was from New York in 2011. This one went from New Orleans. We arrived in New Orleans and had a blast touring the city. My wife is Filipino and had never been to NOLA. She was in awe of the food there. Unfortunately this kind of spoiled the dining on ship! I have to say having cruised on the Jewel before we knew what to expect for dining, but I also feel the quality and variety has diminished since our inaugural cruise 3 years ago. Same restaurants but food was not as impressive. I won't go so far as to say it was awful or we hated it but it was a bit unimaginative and boring compared to what we remembered. Oddly enough this time around I found the buffet to be more interesting and the two dining rooms less so. We usually ate at Azura both cruises and found this time it was quite ordinary. We did try Moderno one night and it was a nice change, though not phenomenal.
This trip we opted for a balcony room and I was very happy we did so. Much nicer than any of the inside or window rooms to have both the extra open feeling and the fresh air. From now on I will always book a balcony! The room size was very adequate. There were three of us sharing the space and it worked out ok. Steward was terrific as usual, and all the Filipinos on ship were great. I found this trip that the non-Filipino staff were less friendly than what we were used to but still NCL seems to focus on service.
We booked one shore excursion (Altun HA in Belize) and it was a complete waste of time and money. Never again. Alternatively in Roatan we booked an independent tour guide from Roby's Tours nd it was the best experience we ever had. They provided us with a private can and guide and they were at out disposal all day for $125. It was great and the highlight of the trip. We unfortunately had our stop at Costa Maya cancelled due to weather and safety and that not only kept us from one more shore opportunity but cause an extra sea day which tend to get a bit boring. In addition the seas were a bit rough and my family started to feel the consequences.
We opted for the walk off disembarkation and found it to be the right decision although the majority of the ship did also so it was a bit time consuming. All in all it went pretty smoothly however. We were off the ship and through customs in less than an hour.
I would like to try a little higher quality cruise line like Oceana or Regency or Celebrity for a future cruise, but for now we are booked in November on the NCL Spirit in Europe so I will give NCL one more chance to impress!