This was my second time traveling on the Jewel and I have to say this experience has out-shined the first experience (which was in January 2011).
Embarkation was unbelievably efficient. Traveling with my Mother who required extra assistance, we were whisked to the boarding area seamlessly. However, even without assistance, I did notice that clearing security and check-in for others seemed just as speedy and I believe this was due to the fact that we arrived at the port at 10:30am. Although it was noted check-in does begin at 11:00am, it seemed those who arrived earlier had an nicer experience. Last year, the embarkation process seemed more cumbersome.
We waited in the Java Cafe until the restaurants were ready. Mom and I headed to Tsar's where we dined on Caesar salad, calamari and sirloin steak. Everything was terrific. I must state for the record here that I don't quite understand the negative comments about the food served by Norwegian. I live in New York City and I dine out a lot. I'm also a foodie, meaning I know my way around a kitchen. The value and the context of cruise line cuisine needs to be assessed reasonably. That is to say, feeding over 2,000 passengers and staff over three times a day is no easy task. Having said that, the food on the Norwegian Jewel was decent, even better the second time around. And I should add the I dined mostly in the main dining rooms. People should have fair and reasonable expectations regarding food commensurate with value. And with freestyle, you could go from one restaurant to another if you were so compelled, if dissatisfied with your meal - this is something you wouldn't be able to do on any other cruise line so Norwegian gets major cool points for Freestyle as far as I'm concerned. The staff in the dining rooms were wonderful, attentive and flexible. Not one complaint.
The rooms were ready at 1:30 and our state room was clean. Claudia was extraordinary, ensuring that our needs were taken care of. Couldn't ask for anyone better - from ice twice a day to towel designs and even mints one day. No complaints. Even our suitcases arrived just before departing New York harbor.
The shows were were awesome. We avoided the comic act as I'm not a huge fan of comedy but the magician, the husband and wife duo, the bands - everything else was quite entertaining and I recommend taking it all in. We even enjoyed the early portion of the White Hot Party where people of all ages rocked out (but clearly the later it became the younger the crowd, which I thought was quite appropriate). The casino, the photographer, everything else was fine. Norwegian is in the business of vacations - so selling us photos, jewelry, upscale dining choices, etc did not bother me one bit. Just avoid those things you consider annoyances and enjoy your vacation. In my opinion, you just can't beat the value.
Overall, I will do another Norwegian cruise in a heartbeat. The only downside was disembarkation, which took a bit longer than expected unless you chose to drag your luggage off the ship yourself. It seemed like more than half the ship chose this option and it took nearly two hours for those folks to exit. A little nerve racking, but, for this to be the only downside of an otherwise pleasant vacation - it wasn't even a blip in the radar.