Just got back from a 9 day cruise on the Jewel. Embarkation in Miami was ridiculously easy. We rented a car from Alamo at the Miami Airport and they had a shuttle that took us right to the door. We were probably in our cabin within 30 minutes, and our bags arrived within hours.
Public Rooms were alright. I was disappointed that there was no central atrium on the ship, and I wasn't really overly impressed with any of the rooms. It was amazing to me though that we were always able to find a quiet private place with 2000+ people on board.
Our Cabin on Deck 5 was small but extremely functional. We had a ton of luggage and everything fit in this room. The bathroom is an ingenious design. We really had no complaints. We never met our room stewards but they were very good. They have a knob on the outside of your door that allows you to tell them when you're ready to have your cabin made up or turned down, and it was always done when we wanted it.
We went into More
the fitness center and it looked very nice (didn't use it of course). They had pools, hottubs and a water slide, but we never got in any of them. They were usually fairly crowded but looked nice.
We love NCL because of freestyle dining. There were 2 main dining rooms: Tsars and Azura. Tsars was fancy and Azura was more contemporary. We liked them both. The food was never outstanding, but was never bad. We never expected gourmet food, so we were good. We also ate at Tangos, which was OK, and the Buffet for breakfast almost every morning. (Selection became a problem, but can you really complain about this on a 9 day cruse? There's not that much in the way of breakfast food to choose from). Also, we got room service a few times, and it was always prompt. Once, I was super sea sick, and my wife called room service for crackers and ginger ale, and they brought it. Some of the restaurants charge a fee. We ate at Chin Chin which was very good. Great service. The other place was Cagney's. Probably the lowlight of the trip. Horrible service, fair food.
Entertainment on the ship was great (surprisingly)! We loved Second City Improve and Edge the Juggler. The Cirque Bijou was good (but not as good as everyone thinks). There's also some interesting things around the ship. We did county line dancing one night, and that was a blast. (Mostly we ate and slept though). Of course, there are movies playing in your rooms all the time, as well.
Again, service was always great. With the exception of maybe 2 people, EVERYONE on the ship was kind and attentive.
Samana: We took a boat across the rough bay and went to Los Haitises State Park. Bird Island was cool, as was the mangroves and the caves. By the time we got to Cayo Levantado beach, though, most things had closed down. The excursion was much too long.
Tortola: Took a big ferry to Virgin Gordo, then a safari bus to the Baths. This was very cool. We hiked in the caves, and just basically enjoyed the beach.
Antigua: Finally, we didn't have to tender! It was not fun the first 2 days. Here, we were able to walk ashore and do some souvenir shopping. A bus took us to a beach, where we boarded mini speed boats. They took us to this deserted island and hiked up to the top of the hill for a spectacular view. Really tiring day.
Barbados: We did the Tiami Catamaran. This was OK. Most people loved it, but we found it to be very hot. Since I don't swim very well, I panicked a little in the water while we were swimming with the turtles. We only saw one, so it really wasn't worth it. We also swam at another beach and had a buffet lunch. Fun day, but too long on the catamaran.
St. Lucia: Our favorite port! We took a bus ride through the island and saw the villages and really got to know alot about the island. Our guide, Vivian was hysterical. She even stopped on the side of the road and got us all some yummy fresh bread. The Pitons are breathtaking. The whole country is just really beautiful. We then transferred to (another) catamaran for a ride up the beach and back to the boat. This was not fun, as we had just done this the day before, but seeing St. Lucia from the sea was worth it.
Overall, 9 days was too long for us. We had 2 days at sea at the end with rough waters that made us really look forward to getting to Miami. But, how can you really complain? Who wants to get back to reality? We had a great time, and are looking forward to taking another (shorter) cruise. Less