I cannot overstate how disappointing this cruise was, in comparison to others we've taken (especially RC)! We had a truly awful time - had we not been at sea, we would have left early.
The Norwegian Jewel is too overcrowded for the amenities on board. There are not enough pools, hot tubs, deck lounge chairs, elevators, or even seating at the buffet for the number of passengers this ship takes on board. Everywhere we went it was impossible to get near anything and there was no order to anything. We did not go in the pools or hot tubs once the whole time - we couldn't get near them. We were never able to get a table at the buffet that accommodated the 5 of us who were traveling together. And trying to get an elevator was frustrating (we were traveling with a baby in a stroller so couldn't use the stairs). The wait for an elevator was excruciatingly long and often when the door opened it would be so overcrowded there was no room to get on so we had to wait for another. This overcrowding held true on the private island as well - not enough lounge chairs or cabanas to accommodate the number of passengers.
The buffet is mayhem - very confusing with no natural order or "flow" and very little seating near it. The food is mediocre at best and seemed to be the same thing every single day. And, curiously, there are no trays in the cafeteria which made it extremely difficult to travel with a child. I had to make my daughter's plate, then go back up to get her milk, then go back up for my own plate, etc. The drink stations were - more often than not - out of coffee, or out of milk, or out of something.
The staff were not anxious to please. They were "OK" but definitely NOT the over-accommodating types I've encountered on other cruises. If you're used to being a bit "pampered" when you cruise, this ship is definitely not for you!
The Tsar's main dining room was the best choice for dinner, though with the "freestyle cruising" style there are often long lines and long waits. The food is just "OK" and often our orders were mixed up, or incorrect altogether.
As far as the specialty restaurants, we really enjoyed Cagney's Steak House. We had an excellent meal, which in my opinion was well worth the $25 per person cover charge! Conversely, the hibachi dinner was really not worth the cover - way too much garlic for my taste, and it takes over an hour from start to finish . .
Finally, the disembarkation process was utter mayhem! They offered a "walk-off" option for folks who wanted to just carry their own bags off the ship, rather than putting them out the night before. We decided to do this, thinking it would make the disembarkation process quicker and easier. WRONG!!! Once again, there was no order to the process - just 2,800 people racing to get off the ship. The elevators were absolutely jammed and there was no way to get one. There was not one NCL employee in sight - just hundreds upon hundreds of people pushing and shoving - it was absolutely unbelievable! My baby was in a stroller, and was hit in the head TWICE by people's baggage hanging off their shoulder as they push and shove their way through the line.
I cannot underscore enough what a miserable experience this cruise was due to the overcrowding.If you are considering the Norwegian Jewel, I highly recommend that you look for a comparable cruise itinerary on RC or another more upscale line.