So... This may be long but i found the reviews so helpful before i went, i wanted to make sure i passed everything along. I am a 40 y.o. male and traveled alone due to some last minute life issues.
Have been on the Gem twice so the layout was almost identical except for a few minor differences. First, i didn't realize it was still spring break. Lots of college age students on board. They were actually fairly well behaved and i did not see any major problems. The crew did cater to them, but it kept them busy and all in all it was very well organized. I did take notice there was some additional security which was great.
Smooth as can be. I am a Latitudes member and i got there around 11am, it was fairly empty but i was escorted right up to the counter, checked in and they were doing a coast guard full check on that day so it boarding was delayed about 15-20 minutes. Got on board and was in Tsars for lunch by 12:20. Food was very good, had spring rolls and fish and chips. That was the only time i ate in Tsars.
By far the best i have seen on a ship. I went to each of the major production shows.
1. The opening Variety was ok, the usual few song a dance numbers, intro to the magician\comic and others.
2. Band on the run production. Pretty good. I spent a lot of time in entertainment so i am critical at times. I usually find the singers fairly good and the dancers to be awful, everyone on jewel is pretty good. Not Broadway level but very entertaining.
3. Magician\Comic - JP was awesome. Very funny, engaging, toed the line very well for the college\older\and young crowds. Some people were annoyed by the pushing of swag after the shows but i totally get this. They are just trying to make a living, i don't mind that at all. His tricks and comedy were fantastic.
4. Hypnosis - Brenda K was great. Fun, the usual cruise line hypnosis show, but i enjoy this and an audience member right next to me was hypnotized in his seat. It was hilarious.
5. Duo Elegia and the Cirque show - Just ridiculously good. These have to be the best two shows i have ever seen on a cruise. I am amazed at the talent level here. Awesome job by NCL to get these and promote them.
6. Finally cruise Director Richard - He was literally everywhere on the ship. Was very engaging and catered to all audiences. Just awesome. He is a true asset to the company. The rest of the cruise staff was pretty good. Again having done some similar work i always find myself a little disappointed by the cruise staff. It always seems to me they try at times and just cruise through at times. This staff was about the same. Chris "Boston" had a great attitude and personality and Aussie Stephanie did as well, the rest seemed forced. I understand its a drain and hard to be on all the time and to talk to the same rubes every week lol, but the people cleaning my room were more engaging with the guests. I heard a lot of complaints about George, the assistant director. I thought he was ok, and funny at times, but i could see where some had issues in watching his interactions with some of the female cruisers.
This is where i love NCL over any cruise lines. Now, again i ate in Tsar's for lunch once and Azura once. I mostly do the speciality restaurants.
1. Le Bistro. Ate there three times, twice for dinner and once for the Jazz Brunch. Had beef tenderloin twice and it was phenomenal. For the Jazz Brunch i had shrimp and steak and it was excellent. The service was great as well.
2. Cagney's. Just excellent. Ate here twice. Filet and Rib eye and service was great as well here.
3. Mamas. Enjoyed it, had risotto, very good.
4. The Buffet. I ate breakfast here everyday and lunch as well. I had a pretty good sampling of Chinese, Indian and standard American fare and it was all good to very good. It's a buffet so my expectations are tempered as they should be.
5. Sushi and Chin Chin - Sushi was excellent, Chin Chin was just ok, but overall the food was amazing.
1. Look, i don't think anyone is going on this cruise for the itinerary. Its pedestrian at best, but you cant get too far from NYC in 7 days. For me sailing from NYC is a huge plus (no air fare as i live in philly). I cruise to relax and enjoy the entertainment so the islands are not a big deal. I would like to see a Bermuda Itinerary from NYC for NCL.
I'm not super outgoing initially so i had a bit of a rough time meeting people, but after a few days, i had made some great friends and overall this was an excellent trip. Jewel was great, very clean and again NCL exceeded my expectations.
The cruise critic meet and great was great. Meeting the key cruise staff members was nice and the captain Lars, was the most engaging i have ever seen. The weather was nice except the cold day 1 from NYC. mostly 70s-80s all week. Little rain in Nassau but overall excellent. I will be on Epic in November and probably Gem\Jewel again next spring.
The service overall was excellent. The room steward was great and really every person I walked by made me feel special. NCL may not have the eye popping promenande and may have a little less public room space but they are and will remain my favorite line!!!