We stayed in New York a few days before the cruise - what a GREAT city! Loved it. Need to go back! Central Park, Top of the Rock, open top bus tour, Lion King on Broadway, Time Square...
Embarkation : Just OK. Reasonably quick. Our 3rd NCL cruise so we were in the priority line - but so was everyone else! Something like 90% of passengers had sailed with NCL before, so also had priority boarding. Perhaps it would have been quicker in the other line... Sailing out of New York was awesome.
Ship : Pretty much as we remembered it 3 years ago. Brightly colored carpets everywhere, nice stateroom and balcony.
Food : Only OK. Service not great - we were only offered drinks ONCE in the restaurant! Also the main dining room were able to cope with special dietary requirement (gluten free), but the other restaurants weren't so good. We spent so much time trying to get hold of gluten free food outside the main restaurant we gave up trying. Would have been nice to have eaten somewhere else once in a while... such a shame when the Jewel has so many other eating options available.
Entertainment : This has definitely improved. Saw a couple of great productions from the resident team, a good comedian and some acrobats in the main theatre. The pianist in the Champagne Bar area was fantastic with his Elton John, Beatles and request evenings - as was the guitarist.
PORTS OF CALL:
Sydney, Nova Scotia - Took NCLs Scenic Cabot Trail excursion. $139 for around 8 hrs sat on a coach - which included a 5 min stop for a photo, 15 mins to queue for a toilet, 30 mins in a Bikers Diner for soup and a DIY sandwich (NCLs excursion description very misleading here - thought we were going to be eating in the Keltic Lodge...) and finally 10 mins at the beach near the Keltic Lodge. Overcast weather didn't help here.
Halifax, Nova Scotia - Spent the morning walking around the beatiful harbor and citadel in Halifax, then took NCLs afternoon tour to Peggy's Cove & Titanic Cemetery. This tour was half the price of the last one, and one hundred times better! Peggy's was beautiful, the Cemetery was moving, and our tour guide (an ex History Teacher) was fascinating, telling us all about 5 disasters which had impacted Halifax. An excellent day - and beautiful weather too :-)
St John, Bay of Fundy - Problems mooring lead to us disembarking late. Had considered booking the Ride the Rapids tour direct with the operator. So glad we didn't, as we would have missed our time slot. Paid twice as much to do it with NCL instead. Overpriced - but we had a blast! And yes, you WILL get wet, no, SOAKED, so wear as little as possible!!
Portland, Maine - Oh, how disappointing. It was soooo foggy, we couldn't tell if Portland was pretty or not... so we took a local bus ($10 return) to an out of town shopping mall. Nice, but would have liked to have SEEN something of Portland.
Disembarkation : Sailing back into New York, was once again AWESOME! We decided to walk off with our own luggage after enjoying a leisurely breakfast overlooking Concorde located on the Intrepid on the adjacent pier - lovely :-) However, it was a big mistake to delay our departure as it was absolute chaos by the time we left, and probably took the best part of 3 hours to get to the taxi rank! Not a great ending to the cruise... but hey, at least we had another few days in New York. Pier 17, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall St, 9/11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island... A-MA-ZING :-)
Summary : Would DEFINITELY go back to New York. But New England? Been there - don't need to go back. Probably won't be back on NCL either - destinations are getting more and more limited... Shame. NCL Jewel in the Baltic 3yrs ago, and NCL Sun in Alaska 4yrs ago were great.