We just returned from 9 glorious days on the Jewel. As a background, this was our 7th cruise, 4th with NCL. Pre-Cruise Hotel We stayed at the LaQunita Airport East because it had free shuttle from airport to hotel and from the hotel to the port, plus a free breakfast. We booked it online on their website at $125/night. As the date got closer the price lowered, so I just "updated" my reservation with the new price...ended up getting it for $85 the day before we left. The hotel was nice enough and the shuttle was easy to use (sign up for a time slot when you check-in). took the 11:00 shuttle to the port.
Embarkation We got to the port about 11:20, signed the noro card, went through the scanners, paid my corkage fee for my wine, checked in, went upstairs and waited and waited until we were able to get on-board at about 12:30. Got our free champagne and went to our room. It was not ready, but asked our room steward if we could put our carry-on luggage in the closet and he More
said yes. Our room was ready about 2:30...got checked luggage at various times between 3:00-6:00.
The Ship The Jewel is a beautiful ship, but pretty large. The main hubs of activities are Decks 6-8 and Decks 12-13. Takes a while to get from one end to the other so plan accordingly. The pool deck is very small and it is very hard to get chairs on sea days. We had the best luck on the Sun Deck 14 all the way forward. Kind of windy, but the breeze kept us cool. The bar service wasn't quite as good up there, but we had chairs!!
The Activities I was disappointed in the amount of activities offered. Typically there are organized pool games and fun stuff to do, but not too much was really offered on this ship. The cruise director was Rich and the ONLY time you saw him was at the shows and the beginning of any of the organized parties (White Hot Party, 70s night). His staff was always out in full force and they did a great job, but he was rarely seen or heard.
The Food The main dining rooms are nice, but the food was not as good as we have previously had. The dinner service was also pretty slow...expect to be there about 1-1/2 hours, so plan accordingly if you are going to a show. The buffet was good, for the first 4-5 days...then we were sick of the food (especially breakfast...always the same thing). The soft serve ice cream was always good. Loved the banana bread and pound cake on the lunch buffets. You have to have the pretzel rolls at the dinner buffets. Wings and potato wedges at the Topsider bar were very good. Chilli Dog at the Blue Lagoon as a midnight snack was also very good. We only ate at one pay restaurant (Tango's). The cost was $10 per person and you received a small margarita. The food was great and full-size margaritas were only $4.95. I would definitely recommend going here!
Samana, DR We tendered in to just look around the port, I had read on this website that there wasn't much to do...They were right. Unless you have an excursion, don't waste your time getting off. If you want to "shop" there are some local vendors with stands not far from where the tender docks. The "stores" and "casino" are about a 10 minute walk.
Tortola We got off the ship and took a cab to the ferry station (we should've walked, it's not that far). Took the Speedy's 10:30 ferry (it didn't leave until almost 11) to Virgin Gorda (it's about a 35 minute ride). Got off and Speedy's had shuttles for us to take us to the Baths (about 10 minute drive). There is a $3 fee to get into the Baths and it's a rocky walk down to them. At the Baths is a small bar where you can eat and drink, a small beach and the Baths themselves. The Baths were awesome, a must see. You crawl, climb and snake your way through them. I definitely recommend bring water shoes and a water camera!! When we got back to Tortola we stopped at Pusser's Pub (across the street from the ferry) had some drinks and food. Very good. Try the painkiller...it's a doozy!!
Antigua Took a cab to Dickinson Beach (about a 20-30 minute drive). Have the driver drop you off past the Sandals Resort by Sneaky Pete's. There are 2 bars right there where you can eat, drink and rent chairs & umbrellas. You can also rent jet skis or go for a banana boat ride. Right by Sneaky Pete's is an open air market with cute things to sell. After our day at the beach we had one of the workers call us a cab and went to the downtown area for a little shopping. It was a very nice day. Barbados Walk outside the port area to grab a taxi and it will save you about $2-$3 per person. We went to Rockley Beach...Not really much to do here. A few vendor huts and a small shopping center about 2 blocks away...not much there.
St. Lucia We ended up tendering to port, which we did not expect to do. Booked with Cosol Tours before we left for $65 per person. Cosol was waiting for us inside the port terminal. Yellow Bird (Cosol's brother) was our tour guide. He did an excellent job. We saw the entire island and tried a ton of different local foods all throughout the day. They advertise that there is a mobile bar that goes with you, but it only meets you twice during the trip. Take a small cooler and at the first food tasting grab a few beers/water/pops to take with you...they are more than happy to oblige. I would definitely recommend this trip if you want to see the island and everything it has to offer. A word of warning...the roads are winding and you are changing elevations, so take your motion sickness medicine if you are prone to problems. Yellow Bird did a wonderful job explaining everything about the island and answering our questions. He stopped whenever we asked him to and was very accommodating to us!
Disembarkation We had an early flight (11:10 in Miami), so we did the self-disembark. We took our own bags off and got in line on Deck 7 at 7:15. We were probably about 100th in line. They started letting us off at 8:20 and we got through customs, out of the terminal, got a cab and at the airport checking in by 9:20. In retrospect we probably didn't need to do self-disembarkation (normal disembarkation tags started to be released at 8:30...those tags are available self-serve at 3:00am the day before you leave). Disembarkation went very smooth. Getting to the Airport There are shuttles and cabs right when you get off the ship. A cab ride to the airport is $24/cab. The shuttle bus is $10/person. Less
We tendered in to just look around the port, I had read on this website that there wasn't much to do…They were right. Unless you have an excursion, don't waste your time getting off. If you want to "shop" there are some local vendors with stands not far from where the tender docks. The "stores" and "casino" are about a 10 minute walk.