We recently traveled in a party of 15 on the Jewel to Alaska, with members of our party ranging in age from 4 to 76. Ports of call were Ketchikan, Juneau, a spectacular cruise down the Tracy Arm, Skagway, and Victoria. Embarkation in Seattle went smoothly, although it was a little sluggish. Our cabins were fine to very good. This was our first time on NCL, and we were impressed to be greeted with free bottles of wine in each cabin along with plates of chocolate covered strawberries. All of our cabins were on Deck 9 with three interior cabins and two adjoining balconies. The cabins were comfortable, and we loved the relative privacy of our balconies. I highly recommend a balcony cabin for the Alaska route. We were able to sit on the balcony early in the morning and late at night to enjoy the scenery without having to find a rail elsewhere on the ship. This helped us spot several whales, pods of dolphins, and even the occasional sea lion.
The beds in the cabin were fine, and we were happy that they were standard sizes, not smaller like you get on some cruise lines. A twin was a twin, two twins pushed together made a king. We had two problems of significance. One of the interior cabins had a very bad bed -- my sister-in-law got no sleep at all the first night. It turned out that the bed had its supports bent out of shape, and they had to replace the bed entirely. That fixed the problem. My parent's cabin, on the other hand, had a bathroom that smelled like sewage. It appeared to be coming from the shower drain. They complained daily, and the ship sent a variety of people down to attempt to fix the problem, but by the 7th day (Cruise started and ended on a Saturday; this was Friday) the problem still wasn't fixed. So the ship offered my parents a new cabin -- with ONE night remaining on the cruise! They refused to change cabins with less than 24 hours remaining in the cruise. This was the one instance during the cruise where Norwegian dropped the ball. They gave my parents a $75 shipboard credit, but that was poor compensation for spending a week in a room that smelled of sewage.
The balcony cabins had a hot pot with instant coffee and a couple of tea bags. We emptied the mini-bar refrigerator in each room and were able to have space to keep water and other items cold. The bathrooms in all of the cabins were decent sized so they didn't feel claustrophobic.
We ate in several restaurants on board, including the main dining rooms. Service was slow in the main dining rooms, sometimes painfully slow, and food was sometimes served cold. We ended up eating in the Garden Café most of the time, where the service was friendly and phenomenal, the food was always hot, and there was endless variety. The only problem with this restaurant was that everyone seemed to agree with us, so it was always crowded and often hard to find a seat. We thought this was the best restaurant on the ship (we didn't pay extra for the special dining), and they had great ethnic food too.
The service at Guest Services was prompt but rather indifferent. Stewards were good, but ours seemed grumpy by the end of the week, probably because of the ongoing problem in my parent's cabin.
Several of the kids in our party used the kids programs and loved them. Our teenagers were not impressed, though, and the offerings for teens were not as well thought-out as they could have been. Entertainment was typical cruise ship material, but the comedian was hysterical and we really enjoyed his performances (I can't remember his name, unfortunately). The final show of Cirque de Bijou was excellent. Other entertainment options were somewhat lacking, since we don't gamble/dance/drink a lot/or play bingo. But we definitely enjoyed the constant entertainment off our balcony, looking at the scenery go by.
We only used the fitness center once, because it was crowded and people were waiting to use the equipment. I was distressed to see that many people didn't bother to clean the equipment after themselves, and there didn't appear to be an attendant paying attention, so I had to clean it before and after I used it.
We didn't book any excursions through the ship, so I won't address our shore experiences here. Disembarkation at each port was very easy and lines (when they existed) moved very quickly.
Overall, in spite of the shortcomings, we loved the cruise and would definitely consider a trip on NCL again, although we would probably try a different ship and route. If you are considering a trip to Alaska on the Jewel, we highly recommend it. For the price we paid, it was a very good experience overall.