After having been on European, Mexican Riviera, Caribbean and Bahamas cruises, an Alaskan cruise was one we have yet to go on. We left from Seattle and it was definitely more convenient than flying to say NYC, Miami or Europe as we live in California. The Jewel was actually our 7th NCL cruise (my parents are loyal to NCL) and we actually just got back from the Jade not too long ago. For starters, the Jewel is a sister ship to the Jade and the layout is completely the same except Jewel has an O'Sheehans (the 24 hour complimentary spot) now while Jade still has Blue Lagoon.
Check-in was pretty fast for us as my parents are Gold Latitude members and this allows for priority checkin. we had a balcony room at the forward of the ship and the room was decent even though it can feel cramped at times due to the lack of space for walking.
I thought the food was ok-decent at the buffet even though as predicted, it's always the same recipe but with different meats (think curry chicken, fish in curry, curry beef etc). It was very interesting how unlike the other cruises I have been on, they have a designated ice cream server for you. I am guessing they do this on the Jewel because people (guessing little kids) would waste a lot of ice cream or something. We only went to the sit down restaurant once (I believe it was Azura) and the grilled shrimp was delicious. The waitress was enough to put the grilled shrimp with my sirloin steak. For breakfast and lunch, I actually ate at Moderno's as my parent's Latitude Gold allows us to dine there for free for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, there's French toast, waffles, 2 eggs any style with sausage and bacon, petit steak and eggs, a lobster and shrimp toast dish and others. There's also a buffet of pastries, fruits, cereal, and others and I know I love the chocolate croissants. I thoroughly enjoyed the steak and eggs and the waffle with berries. We also ate at Moderno's for lunch everyday and just about every day, I had the steak with fries and they were delicious. For dessert, I tried the banana cream pie, brownie with pecan ice cream and marinated berries. I recommend all 3! The sword fish burger was okay. I also tried Moderno for the first time ever and I really enjoyed it. I really like the filet mignon, the bacon-wrapped chicken and garlic beef. The salad bar was also good although I like to think it was a ploy to try to get you full before you get to the main course. I think I was already 30% full from the salad and soups.
As for the staff, it was a mix bag. The concierge Bruno Dentone was an awesome guy that always greeted my parents and I when we went to Moderno's for breakfast and/or lunch. Some of the Moderno servers were also nice to us and would chat with us also. On the other hand, besides our housekeeper, none of the other ones ever greeted us as we passed them. I though the waiters in the casino were also meh as they never seem to smile or say much of anything when I ordered a drink with my free drinks card. It's like I feel like I was bothering them or something.,,and I always smiled and said thanks also. I also thought some of the rec staff was meh as well. During events at the Spinnaker Lounge, it's like the staffers would hope that people stay on the dance floor but yet they either don't even interact with anyone on the dance floor (with the exception of talking to girls) or they just stand near the bar and chat with fellow staffers or they are on the dance floor for a couple mins and then hang out in the back to chat with staffers. It's like...how you gonna be encouraging people to get on the dance floor when you, as a staffer, don't even go on it?
For the stops, it rained when we were at Ketchikan and Juneau. This obviously made walking around town a little difficult. There's also a free shuttle that takes you to downtown shops in Juneau. According to the locals, rain was typical. It didn't rain when we were in Skagway and Victoria. For Skagway, there's a shuttle (costs $2/person one way) that takes you downtown but you can just walk there if you want to exercise. For Victoria, you can take a shuttle ($10/person roundtrip) that takes you downtown and you walk around town. We went to Chinatown and also the Empress Hotel and the harbor area. That area was beautiful.
I thought the Jewel was a nice ship (tho it doesn't have a rock climbing wall!!) and the food was decent but staff was meh at times.
And no, there was no lobster in buffet or in Azura or Tsar's dining room.