Norwegian Jewel Family
Norwegian Jewel rolls out the welcome mat for families, with amenities like interconnecting cabins, a kids-only pool and water slide, and an appealing Splashdown Kid's Club. In addition to a children's menu, young passengers can enjoy the Kid's Corner buffet with mini stools, low tables, and kid-pleasing fare like hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Families can gather in the card room for a game of Monopoly or Clue or sing together during family karaoke night.
The Kid's Crew program is organized by age group: Junior Sailors (2 - 5), First Mates (6 - 9), Navigators (10 - 12) and Teens (13 - 17). In addition to the play room, the Splashdown Kid's Club features a kid cinema and video arcade. Age-appropriate activities range from lego-mania and silly songs for the younger crowd to a sports afternoon and survivor night for tweens. Club Underground is the teen hangout, with a juice bar, touch-screen jukebox, Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles, disco nights, socials and movies.
The facilities are superb, but what I hadn't realized at the time of booking was that the kids' clubs are not free, except on sea days. Until 7 p.m. on all port days, there is a charge of $5 per child, per hour ($8 for two siblings), whether parents are ashore or onboard; it seems unsatisfactory in a destination like the Baltic where families may only be ashore for half of the day (St Petersburg, for example, where the ship spends two days). Clubs are also not segregated into age groups when the ship is in port. On sea days, there is only a charge in the evenings, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Unlike many other at-sea children's programs which start at age 3, NCL takes tots as young as 2. Appreciative parents are issued beepers for diaper changes and other emergencies.