Norwegian Jewel Entertainment
Boredom is not an option onboard Norwegian Jewel. The challenge is choosing from among numerous daytime activities that include foreign language, cooking and dancing classes, trivia contests, lectures on handwriting, perfume seminars, bingo, art auctions, arts and crafts, volleyball, ping pong, tennis and human chess play, as well as checkers, bridge and Scrabble. There is also a martini clinic and margarita tasting for $15.
The Stardust Theatre is the main entertainment venue for nightly Broadway- and Vegas-style productions, comedy and magic acts, and a Cirque du Soleil-style aerial thriller -- Cirque Bijou. The fearless troupe includes gymnasts, acrobats and bungee jumpers. They played to a packed house.
In addition to the evening extravaganza, live guitar and piano music is performed at various venues. For night owls, there are late parties with themes like White Nights (attendees dress all in white), Caribbean and disco.
Karaoke and Nintendo Wii are available, both at the futuristic FYZZ Lounge and the private red, green or blue karaoke rooms at no extra charge.
Among the 13 bars and lounges is a central hub called Bar City, which consists of a Champagne and wine bar with pink art deco neon signage and a see-through wall decoration that features water bubbling throughout it. Also located there are a martini bar with zebra-striped chairs and large screen displaying James Bond-like female silhouettes, as well as a whiskey and beer pub. Despite the stylishness of the watering holes, some passengers grumbled about the cost of bar drinks. A beer runs $3.95 to $6.50. The cocktail of the day is $7.95. Fruit smoothies cost $8.95 with alcohol, $6 without. The cheapest glass of chardonnay -- Alderbrook from Russian River -- costs $6.50.
The Jewel Club Casino offers gaming lessons and slot machine, blackjack and poker tournaments. Passengers also watched the Super Bowl on a big screen TV and placed bets. Games include one penny to $100 slot machines, baccarat, roulette and blackjack.
From adventurous canopy zip-line tours (in the Caribbean) to sedate sightseeing trips (in the Baltic), shore excursions cover all the bases, including a new level of ultra-exclusive tours by private car or minibus. For security reasons, all bags go through a metal detector on return to the ship, and any duty-free items acquired are confiscated until the end of the cruise.
While the morning tender to Great Stirrup Cay -- NCL's private island in the Bahamas -- was well-orchestrated with timed tickets, the afternoon wait to and from the island on one large tender proved achingly slow. On the Baltic itinerary, there aren't any tender ports, so this wasn't an issue.
Norwegian Jewel Public Rooms
There's nothing subtle about the Jewel's public rooms. Imagine "Finding Nemo" meets "Austin Powers." After a couple days of sensory overload, your brain adjusts, and the decor starts to look normal. Smoking is not permitted in the show lounges or indoor restaurants, but it is allowed in the casino, Corona cigar club and on outside decks. Fortunately, there are helpful directories inside and outside the three elevator banks.
Deck 7 is home to the bustling shore excursion and reception desks, Internet cafe, art and photo galleries, and enormous galleria and port of call retail space for duty-free items. The Crystal Atrium features a trendy Java Cafe and elegant, white, baby grand piano.
The Internet cafe, open 24 hours a day, has eight computer stations. After an account activation fee of $3.95, the basic charge is $0.75 per minute. Frequent users do better with package rates: 250 minutes for $100 or 100 minutes for $55.
The Library's wood burl shelves are lined with a good selection of self-help, sports, travel, science, history, fiction and children's titles in multiple languages. Passengers can check out three books at a time (except travel and reference). Despite stunning views, gold decor, floor globe and orchids, most guests find the straight-backed, box-shaped chairs simply too uncomfortable. There's also a DVD library (a well-kept secret) for passengers in suites, although we brought our own portable DVD player and were allowed to borrow from it.
Norwegian Jewel Spa & Fitness
The popular pool deck has two pools, four whirlpools with colorful awnings, and a bright yellow waterslide for kids.
Body Waves Fitness Center, Deck 12, is open 24/7 for gym rats. With glorious ocean views from floor-to-ceiling windows and individual televisions, you can almost forget you're exercising. The fitness center sports the latest weight machines, cardiovascular equipment and free weights, plus a separate room for fitness classes. Aerobics and stretch classes are gratis; step, Pilates and yoga cost $15, and in the Baltic, four 55-minute spinning classes cost $40.
Bora Bora Health Spa & Beauty Salon, Deck 12, is a tranquil place to enjoy exotic treatments -- from algae detox and lime and ginger salt glows to coconut rubs and milk ritual wraps -- at exotic (a k a expensive) prices. The hard sell of skincare products following treatments can rub you the wrong way. Robes and towels are supplied; bring your own shower sandals. In the changing rooms, there's a sauna, steam room, rest area and showers with an abundant supply of Elemis shower gel and shampoo.
Other recreational options include a jogging and walking track and a versatile sports deck with bleacher seating that accommodates basketball, volleyball and tennis. There are also two golf driving nets, a shuffleboard court, ping pong tables and a pair of life-sized "Alice in Wonderland"-like chess sets.