We booked this cruise for the itinerary, even though we had visited most ports of call before. We did hesitate about booking with NCL, as we are big fans of Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.
We still have mixed feelings about the Freestyle Dining. It is great to have the choice of restaurants on the Jewel and to be able to turn up at either of the main dining rooms at any time in the evening. However, we found that we didn't get to meet many people because frequently there was only a table for two available for dinner, even though we indicated that we'd be happy to share. The food was of usual 'cruise ship' standard, perfectly fine and service in the dining rooms was good.
We don't usually take in many shows on cruises but we made a point of seeing the Cirque Bijou show (based on Cirque du Soleil) and it was fantastic.
Previous reviews have mentioned bad organization for disembarking at ports and this continues. Also if you don't take NCL's shore excursions, More
you are given virtually no information and a sketchy map only. We weren't warned about the distance from the dock to the town center at Corfu, for example. Taxis were very scarce and it was a 4-5 km walk in hot sun. We felt that shuttle buses should have been available there and at a couple of other ports, I'm sure passengers not on shore excursions would have been happy to pay for them. Bizarrely for our two-day stay in Alexandria, the daily newsletter said 'stay on ship's time' but didn't tell you what the local time was.
We liked the bathroom in our cabin, which had a sliding door to separate the toilet, plus a transparent sliding door on the shower, which works much better than a curtain. The tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin are a great idea, pity our stewards never replaced our teabags and coffee even when we asked. There was ample storage space, however the cabins are small. We had an outside with porthole, which worked OK with the twin bed setup that was incorrectly done for our arrival. When made into a queen configuration, there is only room on one side of the bed to get in and out. I either had to crawl over the bed or slide from the other side through the three inches of space between the overhanging edge of the dressing table top and the bed. That maneuver would have been impossible for many people, lucky that I'm small and slim. Some people that we met inspected our cabin and said that their inside cabin was even smaller. The lighting was shocking, very dim.
Our cabin stewards were the laziest we've ever come across in the dozen or so cruises we've taken. They didn't bother to introduce themselves at all; we rarely saw them and they did the minimum amount of work. Some days they missed our cabin altogether and we had to call Reception to get it made up.
The 'Activities' were pathetic, there were very few, even allowing that this was a port-intensive itinerary. We've never seen the opening hours of the Kid's Club, Library, Spa and Internet Cafe listed as activities before, they were obviously there to plump up the list. I went for one of the few scheduled fitness classes, only to have the instructor not turn up, so I didn't bother to try any more but did my own workout. The gym is very well equipped.
In summary, we feel that overall the Norwegian Jewel doesn't come near RCCL and Celebrity standards and doubt that we'd cruise with them again. Less
Norwegian Jewel Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean