My husband and I have just returned from a cruise on the NCL ship Norwegian Jewel and there are good and bad about the ship. The ship itself was immaculate and the cleaning process was as good as any ship we have sailed on. Regrettably there were a great many cases of the Norwalk Virus but the ships crew cleaned every part of the ship to try to contain it and we suppose that to a degree they did so but it was a never ending job to continually keep everywhere sterile.
The food in the two main restaurants could not be faulted, it was served up as a plated meal and the portions were just right. The coffee was some of the best we have ever had on a cruise.
Now for the bad bits - there were eleven restaurants on the ship and only three of these could be used as part of the holiday cost, the rest had to be paid as an extra with prices ranging from fifteen to twenty five dollars per head, these also had a service charge of 15% per person. The cost of drinks was phenomenal and all had a service charge of 15% added to the cost. The tours were certainly overcharged and were at least double the cost of any English ships. As we went into St.Petersburg it was essential to have a visa, which most passengers did not have, this meant that you either paid around $225 each to go on an organized tour or you stayed on board for the two days that we were in port. When it came to exchanging currency there was a charge of ten dollars irrespective of how much or how little money you wanted.
When the ship docked in Stockholm it was a five kilometer walk into town and the ship did not offer a shuttle service and the cost to ride on a local bus was $9 each way, hence a lot of people did not see this beautiful town. Helsinki was not much better but a shuttle should have been arranged.
One thing that we missed most was the fact that there was nowhere that you could sit and relax or read as the restaurants took up most of the ship. The only place with any seating was the Spinnaker Lounge (or Crows nest) which, as it was the only place to hold things such as Bingo (at a charge of $20), there was always something noisy going on. Some of the shows were great especially the Cirque Bijou but others left a lot to be desired.
The service charge on the ship was $24 per day per person which was a ridiculous amount and many people including ourselves refused to pay so much and preferred to pay the individuals that had given us good service.
All in all unless we could get a VERY GOOD deal we will not be cruising with NCL again.