Named after precious stones, the four ships that make up Norwegian Cruise Line's Jewel Class (Gem, Jewel, Jade, and Pearl) debuted between 2005 and 2007, and they're quite similar to -- though larger than -- the Dawn Class, which preceded it. The class represented the largest ships in the Norwegian fleet until 2010, when the line launched Norwegian Epic. The mid-sized sister ships carry around 2,400 passengers and remain at the core of the Norwegian fleet.
Norwegian's Jewel Class takes a traditional approach to cruising and relies on scheduled activities and tried and true amenities, such as basketball/volleyball courts, golf driving nets and large sun decks to keep things lively. Also onboard the Jewel-class ships are large casinos, multiple main dining rooms, always-sold-out thermal spas and a toddler splash pool.
Although you won't find Broadway hits onboard, evening performances on these ships are top-notch. Whether it's rock and roll revues, magic and comedy shows, acrobatics, or NCL's signature "White Hot" party nights, Jewel-class ships know how to entertain when the sun goes down.
When it comes to dining, there's plenty of variety with five extra-fee specialty venues: Cagney's Steakhouse; Le Bistro, an upscale French eatery; and Teppanyaki, a sizzling Japanese hibachi restaurant. You'll also find more free dining venues than on many other Norwegian ships, with three main dining rooms, a pan-Asian restaurant, a traditional buffet and O'Sheehan's pub.
The four Jewel-class ships were the first ships in the fleet to be outfitted with The Haven, an exclusive enclave of premium suite cabins and suites-only pool and sundeck spaces.
Nearly identical, NCL's four Jewel-class ships have just a few of subtle differences. Namely, Norwegian Gem has a couple more active options than its sister ships, boasting both a climbing wall and a water slide at the pool. Norwegian Pearl also has a climbing wall, but it does not have a waterslide. Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Jade have neither.
Norwegian's Jewel-class ships are best suited for cruisers who don't need a lot of high-tech activities, as you won't find go-karts, ropes courses or big water parks on these ships. The class is also ideal for cruisers looking for a real freestyle experience -- one that doesn't require lots of reservations for entertainment, the way the line's newer ships do.
Foodies will be drawn to the large variety of dining venues onboard, covering a range of cuisines and a nice mix of included and extra fee spots. And cruisers who like the suite life will love The Haven experience, with its private pool deck and sun deck.
Jewel-class ships are also priced lower than the line's newest vessels, so they're good for budget-minded travelers and families, especially those who can be satisfied with six complimentary dining spots. However, as with all Norwegian cruise ships, Jewel-class ships do have a number of extra-fee venues and should be avoided by anyone who wants a true all-inclusive experience.
To learn about other Norwegian Cruise Line ship classes, see Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes.