My wife and I had an enjoyable cruise on the Jewel. A week or so before the cruise we were notified that due to a bearing problem the ship would have to travel more slowly and could not make the Corner Brook stop. We were offered the opportunity to cancel but did not. We did, however, complain and managed to get a somewhat better cabin out of it.
There was a long line at embarkation in New York, but it moved fairly quickly and we were onboard in an hour or so. We made a reservation for Mama’s Kitchen that evening. We had a beautiful day sailing out of New York. Mama’s Kitchen was quite disappointing. They don’t seem to have much of a clue about Italian food!. After that we stuck to the café for breakfast and lunch, and the main dining rooms for dinner. On the whole these were surprisingly good. One big plus is that Norwegian seems to have the best coffee of any cruise line we've been on. Some of the coffee machines in the Cafe even brew it in a minute or so from beans. On our previous experience with Norwegian in Hawaii they even had freshly brewed cappucino in the cafe, but, alas, now you have to pay for cappucino.
Free style dining is a mixed bag. We like the flexibility but missed the chance to dine with fellow passengers. We always had a late dinner, after the early show, and never had to wait significantly at either of the main dining rooms.
We were lucky and had good weather at all the stops. We didn’t do any of the Jewel’s excursions. In Newport, R.I. we took the bus from the Information Center to Marble House, then walked to Rosecliff and the Breakers. Then we took the bus back to the ship. We didn’t do the Cliff Walk per se, but you get a good idea of it from the “backyard” of the Marble House where it actually tunnels under the Marble House property.
In Halifax we rented a car from Enterprise, which is about 2 blocks from the pier. We took it to Peggy’s Cove, then back to the Citadel in Halifax, and finally back to the pier. All the Canadians we encountered were extremely friendly and helpful. Car rentals were very reasonable.
On the way in to Quebec city, we could see Montmorency Falls from the ship. The ship docks right in the lower city. We took the Ecolobus from near the dock up to the Parliament area. The stop is a little hard to find; we had to ask a passing Canadian where to find it. We were going to walk down the Governor’s Promenade stairs, but it was closed for reconstruction. We went to the Citadel, then walked around it and down to the Dufferin Terrace. Again, most of that was also under constuction. We wandered around the Frontenac and Place d’Armes. Then we looked for the Ursuline Museum, which again turned out to be closed for renovations. We wandered around the upper city for a while, then took the funicular down to the lower city.
Our stop in Sydney was shortened due to the bearing problem so we had to be back to the ship by 12:30. There’s nothing much in Sydney. Fortunately we had arranged a car rental, so we took a cab to the agency right away and drove to Louisbourg. We arrived there just before they opened at 9:30. We were able to see it pretty well in a couple of hours. We got back to the agency right before they closed at noon (on Sunday afternoon), and they drove us back to the dock. They do have a nice hall with many vendors of jewelry and handicrafts at the pier, along with the famous giant fiddle.
The entertainment on the ship was generally good but not great. The ship does seem to have an unusually large number of staff and they are mostly friendly and competent. With the free style dining you never get to know any of them. Even the cabin attendants never introduced themselves, but they do a fine job. The ship does charge $12/day per guest for service; this seems higher than other ships. Drinks seemed to be unusually expensive. The specialty restaurants are probably not worth the extra charge. There are essentially no cultural activities on sea days. All the presentations are essentially infomercials selling the spa, casino, excursions, bingo, etc. There were ballroom dance lessons but the instructor usually had no partner and seemed to be teaching the steps backwards.
On the whole we were quite happy with the ship and the cruise in general. The ship is well run, the staff is very friendly and attentive.