Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by MrLTrizz: Transatlantic
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I'm a 29yr old male who chose this cruise and brought my girlfriend as well as went with another couple of the same age. The price was right (~$750pp) for a balcony which was then upgraded to a mini-suite due to additional reductions in price. No matter what is said below - you can not beat the pricing of this cruise; inside cabins went for as low as $339pp.
I booked online and while they were easy to get a hold of, very accommodating and gave better pricing than NCL themselves - I found their service not to be forthcoming with information and when they did information, it was not always correct. One example would be that I asked which airport was closest to our disembarkation port of Dover, England. I was told Heathrow which is not true - Gatwick is 30 minutes closer but I did not find that out until I was on the ship (after I had already booked my return flight home). They were also unable to tell me when we would be getting off the ship in More Dover and NCL would not talk to me because I had booked online. I had to guess when to book my flight and ended up in a bit of a time crunch when heading to the airport.
Now on to the cruise. Getting onto the ship was relatively painless since we did receive some special treatment due to having a mini-suite. However - NCL's efficiency at routing lines and placing signage is very poor. For example - they had two lines going into the port, both of which needed to go through metal detectors. When you got to the end of the lines, there were three metal detectors off to the left and only one off to the right. The guy directing the lines would let three people from the line on the left go over to the three metal detectors on that side and only one person from the right line go over to the metal detector over on the right. This resulted in the line on the left moving 3x as fast as the line on the right. Would it not make more sense to simply alternate the lines and send two people at a time from each line to occupy all four metal detectors instead of only allowing people from the left line head over to the three metal detectors on the left while only letting people from the line on the right go over to the metal detector on the right? Such a simple concept but the guy directing traffic simply smiled at me when I suggested this to him and continued to allow the left line move 3x as fast.
I was very surprised at all the additional fees on the cruise. I had not cruised with NCL in the past, only Carnival. Some of these fees included $12/day for gratuities for cabin stewards and waitstaff and $7/day for soda. Personally I prefer a price with everything included however, I did not find out these fees until well after I had already purchased my tickets for the cruise. I was also under the impression there were laundry facilities on the ship which were available to guests. This was not the case - we could only have our laundry cleaned if we paid for a service. This was a bit upsetting because something as simple as a white undershirt would cost $5 to have washed while it cost me less than that to purchase in the first place.
Due to being a transatlantic cruise, we had a couple of rough days at sea but it was not too bad. However, we always had high winds so the pool deck was barren. The pools were closed on several days and very few people were out on the deck, in general. This led to my group paying close attention to the events available on board. Unfortunately we could only endure trivia, bingo, social cards, etc so many times. I would say we ended up spending most of out time in the casino. I did well in the casino but not everyone in my group had the same good fortune. However, none of use had a good experience in dealing with the dealers. The dealers were very impersonable and showed no consideration for their players. From neither smiling nor conversing to not saying "Thank you" when players gave them tips - the dealers proved to the the least friendly staff on the entire ship. The single best casino employee was a guy named "Louren" who was a "Slot Attendant." He remembered names, went out of his way to build rapport with guests and generally had a pleasant demeanor. Also - be wary of the progressive blackjack tournament. They raked in over $2,000 across 11 days and only paid $500 to the winner. 2nd-6th place received a Tshirt and 2nd & 3rd received a bottle of champagne which I felt was insufficient considering the money they had pulled in.
Some bartenders were "ok" while other bartenders were very unaccommodating. The waitstaff was decent in the main dining rooms but did not compare to the quality of the waitstaff in the majority of restaurants that required a cover charge. The absolute best staff/crew on the entire ship were the cabin stewards. Not just mine but the stewards for my friends as well proved to be extremely accommodating and excellent at making guests feel at home.
The entertainment was decent. From a comedian, to hypnotist, to dancers - the big show each night had something to offer. However - the best attraction was the "Skinny German Juggle Boy." This guy was hysterical and extremely entertaining. He ended up doing two shows which were different from each other and both were worth attending.
I preferred the food setup better on Carnival. While Carnival may set dinner times, they also offer a lot more options all day and late at night than NCL's alleged "freestyle" cruising. The buffet was almost exactly the same day after day and the food quality in the dining rooms was sub-par on most nights.
Another aspect of this cruise to be careful of is the demographic. I believe I only ran into ONE unpleasant person so everyone was friendly and happy to converse. However, this was a cruise for retirees and other people in that age range. While I thought the low price would attract a younger crowd - it turns out this cruise was quite the opposite. I heard somewhere that the average age on the ship was 57 but I thought it was actually higher than that. This resulted in very early ending nights. The casino would close around midnight because of a lack of players and while there was one lounge scheduled to have events as late at 11:30pm, almost nobody showed up. I am more of a night out so we spent many late nights awake in our cabin watching movies. By the way - the movie selection offered on television was fantastic.
On to our ports of call - we only had three including Dover, England where we had to get off of our ship. This was a minimal # of ports considering the length of the cruise but certainly acceptable considering the price. However, we only spent 5 hours at the first point & 7 hours at the 2nd port but we got off the boat at 7am when there was nothing to see and had to be back on in the very early afternoon. This was okay in the Azores islands but we stopped in Vigo, Spain on a Sunday so it was not until it was almost time to get back on the ship that any stores or restaurants actually opened. I highly recommend avoiding a cruise that arrives in port in the morning, while only staying for a few hours on a Sunday. The shore excursions were not very enticing although I did hear mediocre feedback from those who did sign up for them.
One last item to note is that we were required to go through the immigration process a day or two prior to actually disembarking from the ship. If you followed the schedule provided, you had to wait in line from 45min to 1.5 hours. If you simply waited until the end of the day, there was virtually no line at all and you could breeze through. Regardless - this was a MUCH better experience than having to go through the immigration line during your actual disembarkation.
Overall the price for the length of the cruise was unbeatable but the quality of the cruise was sub-par. This is great for anyone who is looking to do a long cruise on a budget and does not require luxuries such as drinking soda or eating good food. Also keep in mind the age demographic - older folks know this type of cruise attracts and older crowd which is great but if you are looking for a younger crowd to stay up with you late at night - this is not the cruise for you. Good luck and happy cruising. Less
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Cabin review: MA11582
Full bathroom, good sized balcony - the last cabin towards the aft has a 33% larger balcony than the other mini-suites and does not have the same overhang as the rest so the view is incredible - highly recommended. The mini-suites are very comfortable with plenty of room. I highly recommend the larger room & balcony if you prefer to spend time in your cabin or on your balcony. However - the balcony does not have complete privacy so if you are up towards the railing, you can see all the other balconies on your deck and your neighbors can see you as well.