I title my review "better than expected" because after reading some of the recent reviews of the Jewel before I departed I was expecting a mediocre or subpar dining experience, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised as the dining options and the quality of food were well above average in all of the free dining facilities including the buffet. My wife and I preferred Azura over the Tsars main dining room because it had a more relaxed feel and the kitchen was adjacent so the soup came out piping hot, however we had excellent meals in both. I have been on many cruises prior to this one including a couple before on Norwegian and the embarkation/debarkation process went as well as any of the prior cruises.
The ports of call were great, albeit a little rainy at times, the best shopping was definitely in Ketchikan and Skagway, my one tip for Victoria B.C. especially for those on a budget or with younger children is the Beacon Hill Park (no entrance fee) as it has a petting zoo More
and beautifully maintained grounds and gardens to relax in, and a bandstand with a pretty good band, at least the day we were there.
The main showroom entertainment was a little lacking, the one female comedian was marginal and the magician/comedian was not much better, the production shows even though they did have a couple good singers were a little on the amateurish side at times except for the Le cirque bijou which was the only true professional production. The staff for the most part were very helpful and polite, however FWIW there was something a little odd on this cruise that I am a bit reluctant to mention in this politically correct age we live in and that is many of the staff that ran the activities on board were more than a little over the top flamboyant (gay). I didn't think much of it until the 4rd or 5th day while at one of the trivia sessions when a couple teenagers were making wisecracks about the cruise member running the trivia game extreme effeminate behavior, then a couple that I had met on the first day of the cruise that were sitting next to me mentioned that this was apparently a "gay friendly cruise" mentioning the friends of Dorothy meetings on board every day. I had seen in the daily rundown of activities things like the friends of Bill W will meet here or the friends of Ruth X will meet here and also the friends of Dorothy, but I thought they were just large groups that had booked and were throwing private parties, I learned from them that the friends of Dorothy is apparently a gay/lesbian group. My wife and I have no problem with this, but then again our kids are all grown up, that's why I say FWIW since there may be future cruisers with children that may want to look into this before booking? All in all I give this cruise a solid 4 star rating, had the entertainment been a little better then it would have easily been 4.5 or 5 stars. Less