Free to wait and wait in lines from the buffet to the main dining rooms. During these tight times extra pay restaurants are a hard sell. Especially when you do not get that much better food or service so..... expect long lines at the regular restaurants. 30-45 minute waits were common most evenings. Trying to plan dinner times so you could also get to the shows was futile we missed several or got to the theater to find it full. One of the advantages of traditional dining is a show just for your dining time. The food was passable in the main dining rooms mostly tasteless. We did 4 early bird half price dinners. Tango, not bad food wise but we both ordered two appetizers and no soup or salad the waitress brought them both at the same time???? Was one to sit and get cold while we ate the other??? Sent one back. Le Bistro nice atmosphere had the extra cost Cote de Beouf for two. Very nice beef but I can have wonderful Prime rib on Celebrity for free. Mamma's very nice Osso bucco service was very nice but we were the only people in the place??? Tapenyaki the food was good not great didn't really need some guy throwing eggs around though. Why is it they have a 24 hour restaurant The Blue Lagoon but it is not open at 6am for breakfast??? And the Tsars Palace opens at 7:30am even when in port with tours starting at 8am???? We were in Lock down from Norovirus from the previous cruise for three days. No salt, pepper, sugars you had to find a server to get you some. The lines in the buffet were unbelievable. Two people serving coffee and juice from 6-6:30 the two more from then on for 2300 people. Please!!! Why didn't they go around with tea carts and help serve people at tables like on Celebrity? I was in a wheel chair and with a cane for the cruise due to a broken foot. Did any staff help??? NO!!!!! On Celebrity, Holland America a waiter would help with your try and plates etc. Absolutely the worst service ever on a cruise.
We just are getting back to normal after the cruise on May 10th. Loved all of the ports. Can't say I care much for the NCL Jewel this was our 2nd sailing on her with the 1st being last Sept on the transatlantic. The service on board is the worst of any ship I have sailed on. So I thought I would spread a little advice about the cruise.
Beware if you are taking a private tour in St. Petersburg. Getting off is an ordeal. We got in line on deck 5 center at 7:30 and didn't get through customs until 9. NCL trys to blame it on the Russian customs but.....They are no worse then US custom in fact they didn't finger print us as the US now does, it seemed to me to be largely NCL's fault for selling too many tours at the same time to try to get them all off the ship at once. they told us the ship was sold out but for one room but a large number of singles were on board putting the head count at 2300 with nearly 2000 on NCL tours. At one point the Hotel manager tried to get those of us on private tours to get out of the line. We were on the pier at that point and some did but we got them back in line. And then NCL was telling their tour guests to cut in line. We were in the customs building nearly done after almost two hours of standing and me with a cane due to a broken foot. NCL was telling them their bus would leave without them. Total mess. NCL needs to get their act together. Stagger their tours. Make sure their tour guests fill out their forms correctly so they do not slow the lines. And why is it the only place to eat breakfast on these days was the buffet. The Tsars Palace did not open until 7:30???? For who since by that time most everyone was in line trying to get off the ship. Even the so called 24 hour restaurant the Blue Lagoon was not open we got there at 6 and they told us they didn't open until 6:30. So much for open 24 hours!!! And with two staff persons trying to serve coffee and juice to hundreds. What a total mess.
So be careful and enjoy. If you haven't yet booked tours in St. Petersburg try Den Rus. We did their value tour and it was the best. It is only $295 they covered everything with the best tour guides. You are Guarenteed a tour no need to find other to lower the price. The company has a US base in Florida you use a CC and are charged in US dollars. We had wonderful meals included with wine and champagne. No need to deal with packed restaurants we just walked in and were seated and treated to great food in very nice restaurants. We heard the horror stories from some on the NCL tours so do your home work and you will have a great time. Hop on Hop off buses worked great in Copenhagen and Tallinn we got city bus passes in Helsinki and Stockholm. The train to Berlin is a long ride 3 hours each way so plan ahead it is only an 8 minute walk from the pier and only 168 euros round trip for two. In Berlin get a Hop on Hop off with the headphones like Tallinn and Copenhagen. The live tour on ours was hard to hear and understand with the accent of the guide. It wasonly 10-15 euros in Berlin. The highlight in Berlin, the old Parliment building with the glass dome it is free and a wonderful sight and views, Copenhagen, Tivoli. Tallinn the old city is a delight with very nice people. Helsinki we took a ferry boat ride, free with our one day city bus pass to the island with a fort, just beautiful. Stockholm, the old city and Vasa and the ride in and out of the port. These have to be the best port I have ever visited!!!