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Sail Date: September 2008
We were very please with our cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We traveled with our parents, another couple and most importantly our two year old. I was very please that the ship was a younger crowd and one that would not mind a toddler ... Read More
We were very please with our cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We traveled with our parents, another couple and most importantly our two year old. I was very please that the ship was a younger crowd and one that would not mind a toddler rubbing shoulder (ankles) with them. We stayed in the 3 bedroom Garden Villa and were treated very well. The embarkation process was extremely smooth as there was priority embarkation and debarkation with the suite. This is the only way to do it with kids. The service was also very top notch, especially for the price of the cruise and the crew/passenger ratio. The dining set up was also very conducive to having our son on board along with the fact that we are very non committal when it comes to when and where we have to be. The itinerary of the ship was fantastic and threw in a couple of days at sea which are needed when you really want to relax. We did not do any of the shore excursion through the ship. The atmosphere on the ship was fun and lively and service matched that. I would definitely recommend. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This was to be a trip of a lifetime, it was not our first cruise and our second on NCL this year. Weather in Boston delayed our flight into Logan and long story short we missed flight to Barcelona and had to fly into Nice the next day. Due ... Read More
This was to be a trip of a lifetime, it was not our first cruise and our second on NCL this year. Weather in Boston delayed our flight into Logan and long story short we missed flight to Barcelona and had to fly into Nice the next day. Due to our travel agency booking us as part of a group it made contacting NCL very hard as they would not speak to us directly and travel company had closed for the day. I am not pleased that internet agencies are booking people as part of group without our knowledge. The itinerary was to be Nice, Pisa, Rome, Corsica, Mallorca, Madiera , Gibralter with 5 days at Sea. This was changed due to a problem with the ship that was known to NCL all season long, Corsica,Mallorca & Gibralter were all shortened to 4 hours and Madeira was completely canceled. Making our time at Sea 8 long days. We arrived at Nice after the excursions had left so we missed our trip to Monaco, check in went well except the shore security was sending our luggage onto a Royal Caribbean Ship luckily my husband caught that. Front desk staff was lovely and we were shown to our cabin ,a balcony #10124 mid hall between the elevators very quite. We were exhausted and missed Monaco all together I had already been but not my husband. We had lunch on outer deck ,great outdoors by the pool, was fine burgers etc. Bought my soda card and watched Nice slide away as we sailed from port. I had had a fall in Boston and my knees and legs were in a great deal of pain and swollen. So I rested and we were in no shape to take excursion the next day as it had lot's of walking. I explained problem to excursion staff and they allowed us to get a refund as I was ill and trip included a great deal of walking. Took a private cab tour of pisa very nice 120.00 Euros for the two of us. Excursions were very high priced we were better just hiring a cab in most ports. Took Rome A Baroque City and it was terrible,our guide was not very good and by the time we got to the Vatican , there was rebellion. She just dropped us in line and told us to be at the bus in 45 minutes. There was no way we could even get thru the line at this point and we stayed and went in any way. Turns out all other tours guide stayed with them and took them into the building she just didn't want to. This tour was 159.00 a person and not worth it. Food on ship was susstandard and dysentery broke out, as did a respiratory infection and many were confined to their cabins. Main restaurants were terrible at best, Buffet was ok and variety was good, however people forget their manners and were touching food and then putting it back . Really gross, staff didn't seem to pay attention. Specialty restaurants were offering two for one but after 9pm only, we ate in Cagney's three times as it was the only good food on board. The Bistro was very bad, we have eaten in the Bistro on the Majesty and it was very good. Blue Lagoon had the best buffalo wings we have ever had, desserts were not very good. Chocolate buffet was same so-so desserts they serve all cruise long, chocolate sculptures were melting as buffet area got so hot. The shows we good and bad, Second City was funny as were David Merry and Lenny Windsor. Musically shows were good with the exception of the Original Drifters, there were no members of the Drifters in this group the only member of the Drifters that was in this group died in July and he had only been a Drifter for a few months in the 50's before the group had all the hits.They sang and were off key much of the time and constantly asked us to applaud them and there efforts. There was a second show we passed on it later in the cruise. The cruise director and her department failed us miserably on this cruise. We would have thought that since there was such a long time at Sea there would have been extra effort to keep us amused. There was not, they were constantly trying to sell us into the Spa,Casino or over priced Bingo. No BBQ's at the pool, no real daytime activities at all.All activities were informal which meant they dropped off boxed games and decks of cards in rooms and left. On another note the cruise directors wardrobe was completely overboard, she has a lovely figure but her nighttime clothes were way over the top and too tight. Her wardrobe was very revealing and sometimes my husband was embarrassed by it.  He wanted to cover her with a robe. The staff on most the most part was fine not very helpful but were constantly selling , selling , selling. Many bar waiters circulating the buffet trying to sell drinks. I felt on this cruise the soda card was a waist, too expensive 129.00, would not purchase it again on a long cruise. The respiratory infection circulating on the ship had many people sneezing, coughing and running fevers. I succumbed to a fever of 40 Celsius, which I didn;t know was 104 until I got home and did the math. It was about 250.00 for the ship's doctor and meds. Even with such a high fever I was not confined to my cabin, that would have required the outbreak to be reported to the CDC. The passengers on the ship were a mix of older people and only 3 little kids. By the end of the cruise the attitude was thank goodness it's over, most people we spoke with would never sail on NCL again and even as a Silver Lattitudes member ,I have to say it may have ended our run with them too. We sailed thru NOEL and had 12+ foot waves, level 7 winds which is near gale force. Lost ports and were only given a 100.00 shipboard credit nothing else.The shortening of the other ports to 4 hours was not worth it as so many people trying to get off ship took over an hour just to get off. At checkout many people were having the mandatory service charge removed as the service was poor in most areas. I think NCL owes the people on this cruise an apology Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This was our second time on the Norwegian Jewel. The first time was in September, 2007 and was an ok trip. Since we wanted to do a transatlantic crossing from Europe to America and wanted to visit Funchal Madeira Portugal we decided to ... Read More
This was our second time on the Norwegian Jewel. The first time was in September, 2007 and was an ok trip. Since we wanted to do a transatlantic crossing from Europe to America and wanted to visit Funchal Madeira Portugal we decided to give the Jewel another chance. BIG MISTAKE. Upon checking in we find that Funchal Madeira, Portugal had been taken off the itinerary. They said that it was due to an engine problem that had occurred in the last few days. That was a blatant lie since I had been reading about the problem on Cruise Critic Roll Call for week. However, NCL said that it would not effect any itineraries. I have since found out that some friends went on this ship in July, 2007 and that they were told of the engine problem at that time. We were given $100 onboard credit (we were in a mini suite on deck 11). This is the same amount given to people who booked an inside cabin on deck 5. At the first port we bought a bottle of wine at a local store. Upon returning to the ship the bottle was taken away from us. When we protested they said that if we paid a $15 corking fee we could have it back. Isn't that extortion? The food was terrible. Never had a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, cherries jubilee or Baked Alaska. I can get better food at a local diner in my hometown. A few waiters seemed interested in making the dining experience pleasant most seemed to just be doing a job that they disliked. The free style dining is a little misleading. You don't eat when you want you eat when they have room in the dining room. There was as much as an hour wait. Give me assigned dining anytime. We are Silver Latitudes members and did not get an invitation to the Captains's cocktail party. The only time that an (optional)formal night was mentioned was for a photo op with the captain. We docked so far from the towns that we had to take shuttles. Both times we had to pay to ride the shuttles. One time it was $8.00. They said that due to limited space you must purchase you tickets the day before we got to port. When some friends tried to purchase tickets the night before they were told that they were sold out, however the next morning we watched the crew selling tickets at the door of the bus while people in line with pre purchased tickets were ignored and not able to get on the bus. Return to ship via these shuttles was pure chaos. We watched some of the crew arguing with each other in from of the passengers. One night after the show the cruise director announced that all tours the next day would be leaving from the theater. Our tickets clearly stated that we were to meet on the pier. The next morning we went to the theater as she instructed when someone with the tour staff asked us why we were there. When we told her she said that we needed to get to the pier pronto. She told us that the cruise director did not have the authority to speak for the tour dept. We should not be involved in inter departmental spats and power struggles. I would like to say that our room steward was very good at his job and was very helpful and one of the few bright spots for this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We were on the sailing out of Barcelona on 2nd September to Istanbul. Boarding was a breeze, we had been in Barcelona for 5 nights prior so organized a taxi from our hotel to pick our group of 8 up at 1.30pm and within 15 minutes we were ... Read More
We were on the sailing out of Barcelona on 2nd September to Istanbul. Boarding was a breeze, we had been in Barcelona for 5 nights prior so organized a taxi from our hotel to pick our group of 8 up at 1.30pm and within 15 minutes we were at the docks, 20 minutes later we were on board! Our bags were down in our cabin within the next 20 minutes, our room stewards had introduced themselves and we were unpacked and ready to explore. THis review is mine and my partners comments only, not the whole group we were with. The ship was very clean and bright with staff everywhere welcoming us. This is how we found the ship and staff for the duration of our cruise. Eating: I LOVE freestyle and the fact you don't have to dress up if you don't want to, for me personally, that is what a holiday is about. We ate at the Garden Cafe and the Great Outdoors Cafe for the entire cruise with the exception of one night when we went to Cagneys Steak House. It was very nice for a change but the food at the other two places was exceptional and we were very happy to eat there. I don't believe that people can complain about the food! Cabin: Lovely cabin with balcony and I would definitely pay the extra for this level of cabin again, it was worth every penny. Deck 10 was a good location, no noise and handy to everything. The only grizzle I would have about this is that our group booked together through a travel agency and when we were allocated cabins, three were in a row and then there was another group in between us and the last couple, why? I don't know. Activities: We did not partake in many onboard activities, I played Bingo one day and thought it was a rip off so didn't return. Enjoyed 1 show in particular the Circ ? and went to another couple which filled in a pleasant hour in the evening. I Went to the library and swapped a couple of books I had read in their swap a book cabinet which is a great idea. We enjoyed the casino on more than one occasion and had fun trying to win! Bars: We mainly used the outside bars on Deck 13 or the Spinnaker Lounge which had fantastic views, we also used room service often and sat on our balconies while enjoying a drink along with a late afternoon snack from the Great Outdoors. Shore Excursions: After reading previous write ups I hired Romeinlimo for both the Rome and Naples stops and would recommend them to anyone. They were fantastic, professional, fun people and well worth the money. Possibly slightly cheaper than the boat tour and it's far easier to get around in an 8 seater van (airconditioned) than a bus. The drivers will do anything you want to and take you on your own itinerary if requested. The extra we paid to get a guide at The Vatican was worth every Euro, she was fantastic, all organized by Romeinlimo. Rome was a breeze with them, no queuing at any of the landmarks we visited, dropped off right at entrances to places and driver always waiting (with the air con on) when we returned. Naples was great too, driver waiting to pick us up as soon as we disembarked, straight to Pompei, ahead of all the bus tours and no queuing, on to Sorrento and then Positano before heading back to the boat, a fantastic day. The other nice thing about Romeinlimo is they didn't go to "their brother/father/uncles" shop to try and get you to buy things. Venice we did by ourselves, really easy to walk around and plenty of time with an overnight stay and another 1/2 day on shore if you wanted to go back. An easy place to get lost in but that's half the fun. Dubrovnik: Probably our favorite Port. It was beautiful, walked around by ourselves and walked around the town wall which is a must do. Would have liked more time at this port. Athens: Hired a taxi from the Port, were (over)charged?, I think we paid about 50 Euro each and we probably could have done better. We were taken on unscheduled stops to the brother/father/uncle shops and an overpriced dodgy restaurant where the service was shocking (but the location was fantastic) Drivers could not (or did not want to) speak very good English so spent their time on their cellphones talking to who knows who. Consequently no other sights were pointed out apart from the most common tourist attractions but we did get taken to the changing of the guard at Parliament House which was worth the 50 euro in itself for the spectacle. All in all, I'd just suggest you shop around as there were plenty of options portside and we possibly shouldn't have taken the 1st one we were offered BUT we did get to see all the major attractions so I don't regret it at all. Izmir: Loved this Port too. The Port itself is a lovely clean place with lots of information to get your bearings and choose what you would like to do. Just before you leave the gates outside there is a billboard set up with prices to the major/main attractions and plenty of taxis waiting. We decided to go it alone and walked outside and haggled our own price of 60 euro to go to Ephesus and HOuse of the Virgin Mary and then the Market on the way home. Driver didn't speak a word of English and we don't speak Turkish so it was very interesting but he was lovely and went out of his way to do all he could so we enjoyed our day enormously. We never did get to the market as we decided to do some shopping at Ephesus and then call in to a leather shop on the way home. THere was a bit of a panic toward the end when we didn't see any landmarks we recognized near the wharf and we were due to be on board in 1 1/2 hours but we underestimated our man and we were deposited safely with 1 hour to spare and an exhilarating day to talk about. Ephesus would be my favorite ruins (and believe me, we saw lots of ruins!) Istanbul: Last stop and one day on shore before disembarking. As we were staying an extra 4 nights we were in no hurry to do anything in particular here so just wandered until we found ourselves at the Egyptian Market which led to the Grand Bazaar where we spent the day being pursued by shop keepers! A fantastic experience,just go with the right attitude! I never once felt threatened in any way in Turkey, they just do business differently there and it's great fun. Would I cruise again? Not sure, my partner, definitely would. This was a very busy schedule and if we went again I think I would choose something a bit more laid back with less interesting Ports of Call. WOuld I change anything? Not on your life, we had a fantastic time and i wouldn't have missed it for the world. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I devoured Cruise Critic write up's for months before coming on the cruise and it helped enormously with the tours we chose and the what to see at the Ports we called at. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Background information: This was my seventh cruise, third one with norwegian cruise lines. I cruised with my husband, mom and dad, and my sister and her fiance. Embarkation: We flew from Boston to NYC, NYC to Paris, and then Paris to ... Read More
Background information: This was my seventh cruise, third one with norwegian cruise lines. I cruised with my husband, mom and dad, and my sister and her fiance. Embarkation: We flew from Boston to NYC, NYC to Paris, and then Paris to Barcelona on Air France. No problems with any of flights, however, we were exhausted since we flew overnight and there was a six hour time difference. We finally arrived in Barcelona with no sleep at around 12 pm. We took the local taxi to the pier which cost about 25-30 euros.They also charge a baggage fee. Be careful they do try to rip you off. We were on the boat by 1 and put our small bags in our room. You might want to put a bathing suit and tanning lotion in a small bag because the bags don't come to your room to much later. We then went to the Garden Buffet for lunch. Reviews in food section. The Boat: I thought the boat was nice. We traveled on the Dawn last summer and felt that the Dawn was slightly nicer. I like the glass elevator on the Dawn and the Jewel did not have a really great entrance. Other than that, the boat was nice, not the best, but good. I liked the idea of all the bars( such as champagne bar, martini bar, etc) all in one location. It was nice to sit here and listen to the piano after dinner. The pool area is very crowded but I expected this. We were never able to get 6 seats next to each other since by 10 am, all the chairs were already "reserved" with towels. Norwegian needs to make a better system for this. People leave towels for hours at a time. They did have 2 pools and 2 hot tubs although a lot of kids younger than 13 used the hot tubs without adult supervision. Entertainment: The entertainment on Norwegian is some of the best. Due to the very long days, we only went to 2 shows but both were fantastic. We wen to the Jean Ryan company performance and Cirque Birjoe( not to be missed). My husband and parents also went to see a magician named Sean that they loved. At night, there was a lot to do around the boat. They usually had a band playing in the Spinnaker Lounge and lots of other entertainment around the ship. We usually went to the show and then to the casino and called it a relatively early night since we were so tired. Excursions: The ports were the absolute highlight of my trip. Everyday we had an incredible time. We did 2 excursions by the boat and the remaining days we used ROMEINLIMO( more information to follow). In Messina, we did the Taormina and Sicilian Vineyard excursion. We went to Taormina and had beautiful views of Mt. Edna and saw the Roman theater. We then went to a beautiful vineyard and had incredible wines, that we bought, and a home cooked italian feast. It was so much fun. The next excursion we did via the boat was Monaco and Nice highlights. This tour was really worth it as we saw things that I don't think we would have been able to see on our own. The trip went to Monte Carlo. Nice and Monte Carlo are beautiful and not to be missed. The BEST part of our trip was using a company called ROMEINLIMO( www.romeinlimo.com). We had the best driver named CARLO. We used him on Wednesday to Naples, thursday to Rome, and friday to Florence. He had everything planned out for us including all the prearranged tours to Pompeii,Vatican, David,etc. If we wanted to do something else, he was very accommodating. For lunch he took us to some of the best places that were reasonably priced. Truly was the best way to see the ports in the limited amount of time we had. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! Food: The food on the Jewel I thought was very good to excellent. The garden buffet was okay for lunch the first and last day. Nothing to special but they did have variety. We ate breakfast most days in the dining hall before our excursions began. Breakfast was always good. For dinner, we ate in 2 of the speciality restaurants-Le Bistro and Chin Chin. Both meals were great although I did miss the chocolate fondue at Le Bistro. The main dining hall food for dinner was mostly excellent. Disembarkation: Big problems here but not the cruise fault. Another passenger mistook our baggage for their baggage so i was missing a huge suitcase at the end. Luckily, we and the other family were staying in Barcelona so we got it back later on in the night. Disembarkation overall was very easy. Barcelona: We stayed for four nights at Hotel Jazz in Barcelona. Incredible hotel and city. Loved Barcelona and hotel jazz. Highly recommend Salamanca for dinner in Barcelona. If you are a seafood fan, you will love all the food. Please feel free to email me with any questions.My email is dentistmel@hotmail.com HAVE FUN!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We are a married couple who have been on 15 previous cruises the seven last years, and this was our 3rd cruise with NCL. We embarked and disembarked in Barcelona, and we have never had a smoother and faster embarkation than on this ship. ... Read More
We are a married couple who have been on 15 previous cruises the seven last years, and this was our 3rd cruise with NCL. We embarked and disembarked in Barcelona, and we have never had a smoother and faster embarkation than on this ship. Upon arriving at the port, embarkation took only about 30 minutes until we were on the ship. It was also the best disembarkation ever, no hustle at all to leave your cabin at a fixed time, and no problem having room service breakfast, and it was also delivered on the requested time. Luckily we did not trust the warning given on board during the cruise, that it would only be a limited number of taxis available at the port with arrival, and that we therefore were advised to buy shuttle bus tickets to Barcelona Airport. From our color tag was announced about 8 am for disembarkation of the ship, and afterwards picking up our luggage at the terminal, the whole process took only about 35 minutes from we left our stateroom on deck nine, to we said goodbye to our taxidriver at Terminal B at the Airport. When disembarkation from Voyager of the Seas this May, also from Barcelona, we bought a shuttle bus transfer on board to the airport. This was with much more hustle than picking up a taxi on our own. Much faster was it also to take a taxi. Norwegian Jewel is a very nice ship. Our balcony cabin was nice and clean, and it was very well taken care of by our two nice cabin attendants from the Philippines. Comments about some of the restaurants and cafes on board: The Garden Cafe on the Jewel is redesigned compared to the Garden Cafes on board the NCL ship's Dawn and Star. On the last mentioned two ships, we found the Garden Cafes to be a very canteen look a like. On the Jewel it is placed separate food stations for different menu selections on the floor, which is a great improvement. We are however not a great fan of the Garden Cafe, it is still noisy and crowded. On the other hand we really loved the Ship's Great Outdoor Cafe. Coming from a place with long winters, we mostly loved to sit out in the open to eat lunch and breakfast. Fortunately the weather was warm and sunny during our whole cruise. The buffet menu at the Great Outdoors was limited, but it was easy to pick up more menu selections on the nearby Garden Cafe. We found the quality of the buffet food to be quite alright and with a lot of selections - not outstanding in the gourmet sense - but acceptable nonetheless. With the the exception of two, we had all our other dinners in one of the two the main restaurants, Tsar's Palace. There are two main restaurants on board with waiter service - Tsar's Palace and Azura (same menu). On this cruise we were unfortunately very disappointed with the menu selections for the main courses for dinner at Tsar's Palace and Azura. The choices were limited, and for instance if you are a fan of fish- and seafood, we only found for two days during the cruise that they had a seafood-/fish dish on the menu. The limited dishes offered was however mostly tasteful and with a nice presentation. The reason for the limited menu selections is of course that NCL wish to push their passengers to use the cover charge restaurants. We had two dinners in the cover charge restaurant Le Bistro. We find the food to be of a high quality and with a nice presentation. However, we were disappointed that they no longer had Filet Mignon on the standard cover charge menu to $15. Instead they could now offer a Chateaubriand on the special menu, for $10 in addition to the cover charge of $15. Strange enough, we also found the waiters in Le Bistro to be a bit more in a hurry, than we for instance experienced in Tsar's Palace. Except for one waiter, we were very satisfied with the waiter service in Tsar's Palace, both for dinner and breakfast. We were also very satisfied with the service from the wine stewards (yes, they have wine stewards in Tsar's Palace). The head waiters in Tsar's Palace were also attentive. Compared to the Dawn and Star, Jewel's Italian Restaurant is no longer a part of the Garden Cafe, but has its own interior, except for a few table at the Great Outdoors (not everyone was happy with the last point). A nice touch, we had no trouble at all getting a table for two for all our meals, not in anyone of the restaurants we visited on board. Some comments about the pools and the Jacuzzi on Pool deck: After our opinion, the Jewel has a lot of offers to kids concerning water activities, and though we are not travelling with children, we support that. There is a little kid's pool, with a Jacuzzis for the parents/parents with children. The children's/ youngsters pool are at the same size as the only adults pool. In addition they have two jacuzzier and also a waterslide, besides the pool. Nearby the children's/youngsters pool is the adult's only pool. Unfortunately, still with all this offers for water activities, the children's/youngsters are also using the adult's only Pool, and the two Jacuzzis for adults. We were very disappointed with that, and there were only a few times that the Pool/Deck staff prevented other than adults to use the Pool/Jacuzzis. We have seen much better Pool/Deck staff on other cruise lines. This is a huge lack of supervision/management. We think NCL does a good job with bands playing on Pool deck. However, we think the bands should rotate more. Most of the time there was a reggae band playing, and after a few days we had preferred another repertoire. This was a cruise in the Med. and not in the Caribbean! The itinerary: We are very found of the itinerary in the Western Mediterranean. We have only one complaint, it was all to short a stay in Villefranche on the Côte d'Azur. The last tender was already leaving Villefranche at 2.15 pm. The entertainment: We found most of the entertainment on board to be of a good quality. Conclusion: We really like the freestyle cruising concept, and we also find most of the crew to be very service minded. But as you will understand reading this review, my wife and myself find both positive and negative thinks on our cruise with the Norwegian Jewel in the beginning of August. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We were a party of a late-50's couple with an adult daughter. We had no problems in Barcelona, coming from Germany where we had spent the night with friends. Getting onto the ship was a breeze. Our bags were delivered promptly. Our ... Read More
We were a party of a late-50's couple with an adult daughter. We had no problems in Barcelona, coming from Germany where we had spent the night with friends. Getting onto the ship was a breeze. Our bags were delivered promptly. Our mini-suite was tight for moving around, but with plenty of storage. For three adults, the mini-suite, with balcony, was a plus. The bathroom was quite nice. Service to our room was fine. They kept us well-supplied with fruit and ice. We made the mistake of booking in August when many other nationalities were on holiday. There were tons of children running around, crashing into us, and not able/willing to read the signs in English about no children under 12 in the hot tubs, or in the adult pool. We were able to use the adult pool once. Complaints to the attendant helped minimally. He explained to us that most of the people on the ship did not speak or read English. Cultural differences were obvious in dress, smoking and demeanor. Other than that, we enjoyed the pool decks very much. We discovered Tsar's Palace early in the cruise and ate there every night. The dishes were well-prepared and interesting enough. Wine choices were what we were used to. Service was excellent. Families with children were well dressed (resort wear), and well behaved. Eating in the buffet area was very much like being in the pool area - children careened around like crazy! But it was very close to our stateroom and we enjoyed the convenience for quick breakfasts and snacks, and drinks. We appreciated the "free" tea, coffee and tap water. Another note about room choice: We were on the 11th. level, mid-ship. Excellent choice, being very close to the elevators, stairs, restaurants and pools. About the excursions: We were very pleased with the guides and transportation. There is no way we could have seen so much, in so little time, on our own. We recommend the Naples/Pompeii trip and the Taste of Florence. Don't buy gold jewelry from the stores recommended by the ship without comparison shopping. Listen to your guides - they know what they are talking about. The prices for the trips seemed reasonable. Note that the all-day trips are grueling even for people in great shape, as we all are. Several people complained, but they probably had not read up on how much walking and climbing was included. The weather was perfect, but very warm in Rome. The guides kept us in the shade as much as possible. Nice. The shows were enjoyable and it was nice to have something to do after dinner. We enjoyed the live bands around the pool deck. Disembarking was a breeze, too. We chose to carry off our own luggage, secure our own taxi, and it took no time at all. Having a late-afternoon flight out of Barcelona back to Germany, we went into the city of Barcelona and enjoyed a walking tour on our own. There were tons of people rolling their bags, too, so having our luggage with us was no problem. I cannot reiterate enough - pack light!! You won't need much. All in all, our family had a fabulous time! We expected to use patience with others and it helped! We expected to spend a lot of money and that helped, too. We expected good value for our money and we got it. We would highly recommend this ship and trip to others. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
My husband and I recently returned from a 1 week cruise on the Norwegian Jewel which we took to celebrate my 50th birthday. We had previously enjoyed two cruises on Celebrity ships. I am writing this review, in part, to alert others to the ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from a 1 week cruise on the Norwegian Jewel which we took to celebrate my 50th birthday. We had previously enjoyed two cruises on Celebrity ships. I am writing this review, in part, to alert others to the differences between the two lines. We left home a day early in order to have a night in Barcelona to explore. I would wholeheartedly endorse this ! Even though we lost some sleep, we did have a bus tour of Barcelona and some time to stroll. The city bus tours are great, but the tape and ear piece method of delivering the spoken parts of the tour were difficult to follow and hear. You have to be careful in Barcelona because there are apparently a number of pickpockets. We did not have any negative experiences. We stayed at the Tryp Apolo Hotel as provided by the cruise line. It was fine-not 5 star but great for one night. Buffet breakfast was very good and included in the price. Embarkation was very smooth and no wait. Our suitcases arrived very quickly. The ship is quite new and in great condition. This is where our comparisons to Celebrity really began. The room was nice, but not as nice as Celebrity rooms. The colors are a bit loud and the pillows were not comfortable. The room steward introduced himself and we rarely saw him again. I realize that this is deliberate but a couple of times I wanted to ask for things and the notes I left in the room were ignored. I think the practice of not directly tipping negatively affects room stewards, waiters,etc. I was spoken to rudely a couple of times on the ship. I don't think this would happen on Celebrity where tipping is personal. Pools and sports areas were well used because there were a lot of children on board. I am not used to seeing ships with so many kids, but since I don't use the pools, it did not matter. The kids were a bit noisy, but it did not bother us. Food is another area where NCL compares poorly. First of all, Freestyle Dining is anything but freestyle. Passengers in suites could book the whole week, but the rest of us could only book two days in advance. Much of one's time is spent scheduling meals. Since the show times are only published the day before, it is difficult to know when a good restaurant time is. Most of the time it was a scramble to get into an alternative restaurant. And an alternative restaurant is what we were after since the food in the regular restaurants was very ordinary. I don't think we should have had to pay extra on an already expensive vacation to get great food. All food on the Celebrity cruises was very good. The chocolate buffet was particularly disappointing. I had anticipated it for months and it consisted of some recycled choc statues and some ordinary cakes and breads. On a more positive note, shore excursions were a highlight. We took mostly ship organized trips and they were well organized, punctual,and interesting. We did not see many ways to take private taxis the way you can do it in the Caribbean. The itinerary on this cruise makes it very busy if one wants to see as much as possible. We are in our 50's and although we found it tiring, I would recommend seeing as much as you can because there is so much great scenery. Entertainment was very good with the usual variety of singers, dancers, magicians and comedians. The theatre was not as nice as that on Celebrity where there are little drink tables. I would agree with other reviewers about the practice of "nickel and diming" passengers. There were so many little ways in which passengers were asked for more money, such as being sold water at meals. I would rather have paid $100 more for the cruise and have water included. Disembarkation was smooth and uneventful. On the whole, I found that the NCL cruise fell far short of what I expected. I chose the cruise because Celebrity did not offer the same itinerary. I won't make that mistake again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
First, let me start by saying that you should not fly Iberia to get to Barcelona. I flew from Dulles/Madrid/Barcelona, and I am still waiting for my luggage 72 hours later; unfortunately, I found out to my dismay, after the cruise, that ... Read More
First, let me start by saying that you should not fly Iberia to get to Barcelona. I flew from Dulles/Madrid/Barcelona, and I am still waiting for my luggage 72 hours later; unfortunately, I found out to my dismay, after the cruise, that Iberia loses 17 pieces of luggage for every 1000 passengers. Now, onto the cruise. We embarked in Barcelona, 2 passengers in our 30s, with little trouble. Prior to embarkation, we did have to wait for the pre-arranged NCL bus that waited nearly 45 minutes to fill before we could leave from the airport. If we were to do it again, we would take a cab from and to the port; it would have been around the same price (if not cheaper), and easier than waiting for buses to fill up. Upon arriving at the port, embarkation took only 20 minutes until we were on the ship. Luggage, however, arrived much later to our room, with NCL replying that they had til 7:00PM to deliver it. Since this was our first cruise, we really have nothing to compare it to. The short summary is that the food was poor, the "freestyle" dining wasn't, the shore excursions were excellent, and we felt as the week progressed, service seemed to decrease as our bill increased. As the shore excursions were our favorite part of the cruise, and as the cruiser is given the least amount of "real" information about them prior to the cruise, I'll focus on the excursions. Keep in mind we booked all excursions in advance, and we saved about $30 dollars for each excursion by doing so. Taormina & Beach: In the morning, we took a bus to Taormina and briefly toured the town, the highlight of which is visiting the famous Teatro Greco theatre. It was quite amazing to view, but keep in mind, the first part of the tour includes much walking. For the second half of the day, we took the bus to a beach on the Mediterranean sea. The tour includes chairs, umbrellas, changing rooms, and a snack stand. You will need to get towels from the ship and take them with you, however. All in all, a pleasant start of our trip and worth the $79 each for it. Treasures of Naples: We took the tour bus for a brief tour of Naples, including a church and local city area, then took the bus to an authentic Naples' restaurant to make and eat our own wood-fired pizza. The restaurant was okay, the pizza was excellent, but the city of Naples was dirty, graffiti ridden, and felt like the most dangerous of all places visited, although still worth the $79 each we paid for it. I would not tour Naples on your own. Rome and Vatican: A long exhausting day, but one filled with visits to St. Paul's cathedral, the Vatican, and brief stops at the Coliseum, Circus Maximus, a local restaurant, and a brief city tour. The $199 each paid here was still worth the price as our tour guide was knowledgeable, and we got in immediately ahead of people who were waiting hours to get in. Be prepared to be exhausted as this is one of the longest days and much walking is required. Splendor of Florence: Another long exhausting day, but visits to see the "David", the Ponte Vecchio, gold and leather stores, and a walking tour of the city made the $189 tour worth it, along with another good tour guide with walkie-talkie listening devices (as provided in Rome) that made it easier to hear, see, and keep up with our guide. Again, another long walking tour, bear in mind, and you don't get to go to the Ufizzi Gallery on this tour. Also, by now, you will be most accustomed to the guides saying loudly for all to hear, "andiamo" (Let's go!). Highlights of Monaco and Monte Carlo: This tour takes you to Nice, Monaco, and Monte Carlo. It states that it's a brief walking tour, however it's 3 hours of walking. The areas are beautiful, but it's not much to look at other than being amazed at the wealth and opulence seen at Monte Carlo hotels and waterfront areas. Also, be prepared for the poorly working elevators at the Monte Carlo stop that took 30 minutes to get up and into both in and out of the tour area. Overall, I enjoyed the excursions far more than I did my visit on the ship itself. Our cabin was spacious enough, the bathroom for room 5024 is quite tiny, but the larger than port-hole sized window (an upgrade given to us later) made the cabin okay as the 5th floor is close enough to see out into the beautiful Mediterranean as you cruise. Frankly, I would not want to be on the 11th floor, as the Garden Cafe, pools, and children's areas (on the 12th floor) must have been quite loud if you were trying to sleep. One last odd but minor note. If you like soda, you will have to pay $1.75 per can that you have to get from the crew person, or pay $69 for a sticker to drink it all week (again, you will have to obtain the soda from a bar or waitperson). The sticker is not worth it, and I would not pay for it if I were you. In addition, the Garden Cafe had all the same food (except steak) as the sit-down restaurants, and you didn't have to book a time or dress up to get in them. While we may cruise again, with the exception of the itinerary and good shore excursions we experienced, there was nothing about the Jewel, neither the food, entertainment, or lay-out, that would necessarily make us automatically sign up for NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
This was our first experience on cruising and we just loved it. The ship was great and the "freestyle" is definitely our type. Not having to follow strict schedules and dress codes during vacation is very important for us and ... Read More
This was our first experience on cruising and we just loved it. The ship was great and the "freestyle" is definitely our type. Not having to follow strict schedules and dress codes during vacation is very important for us and this was exactly what we got aboard of the Norwegian Jewel. A very relaxed and joyful atmosphere aboard helped us very much to relax and really enjoy our cruise. We booked a mini-suite AG on deck 11. This is what they call a "Guaranteed" (GUAR) which means that NCL will assign the exact cabin for you. You only have the guaranty that you will have the type of cabin you purchased but you don't know the exact location of it in the deck. Therefore, these cabins are less expensive than the "regular" mini-suites but they are exactly the same. Only the location can vary. We were lucky (because we made an earlier reservation) and we got a technically AFT mini-suite which was really almost mid-ship. Good choice! In purchased the NCL transfer from the airport which worked very efficiently and was a very good option. As soon as we arrived a young lady took care of our luggage and guided us to the bus which was going to carry us to the pier. The check-in was smooth and very efficient, although not using the specific desks which were reserved for the suites passengers. We arrived at the airport by 1.30 pm and we were entering the ship at more or less 3.00 pm. Our luggage was delivered at the cabin by 6.30 pm. The cabin was just fantastic! Very spacious, with lots of storage (more than enough for our needs, but I must confess that we do not travel with lots of stuff...). We had two lower beds that were converted to a queen-size bed, a contiguous sitting area with a sofa, a mini desk and a TV set, a very nice private balcony with two chairs and a small table, and a quite luxury bathroom with bathtub/shower, lavatory and with a separate area for the toilet. The mini bar was ok and we also had an electric kettle which could be quite useful for tea. The air conditioning was very efficient and we must really slow it down at night so that we can reach a comfortable temperature for sleeping. We had just one small problem in the first night which consisted on a persistent "little noise" as if someone was tapping a sort of "Morse code" on the wall. You cannot imagine how this can be irritating when trying to sleep! I figured that the origin of this tapping was a sort of friction in one of the decoration panels of the cabin and managed to fix it by introducing a plastic card underneath the frame of the panel... Problem solved, excellent nights from then on! Our stewards (Indra and Mario) were very efficient and did a great job making us always very comfortable. In what concerns the restaurants we just used the buffet (at the Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors) and the main dinning room Azura. We found it both excellent! We felt no need to go to the speciality restaurants and pay an extra charge when we were receiving such a good service and food in the free restaurants. Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors are just fine for breakfast and lunch and Azura is perfect for dinner, with a cosy atmosphere and a more sophisticated menu. The bars and discotheque were excellent. In what concerns the bars we could always choose between 10 different types of ambiance and music, which was very nice. Drinks and beverages are rather expensive, but I believe that this happens with all the cruise lines... The shore excursions (we only used 3) were ok. The debarkation procedures were very well organized, allowing everybody to choose the most convenient moment to get out of the ship between 6.30 am and 9.45 am. Although we were "independent travellers", we asked for the NCL transfer to the airport. This implied that we let them handle our luggage the previous evening which was not very convenient, mostly considering that we had to pick the luggage once again at the pier after the debarkation... After seeing the kind and dimensions of the suitcases that most of the passengers were handling personally in the debarkation day [as if it were last minute luggage] I will never more let NCL pick up my two small trolley suitcases in the evening prior to debarkation day! Anyhow, we let them handle the luggage again between the pier and the airport, which means they took it into a sort of small truck which departed before our transfer. I was a little bit worried about this but with no reason at all. When we arrived at the airport our luggage was already waiting for us at the drop off point. In general terms, we can say that everything was very well organized and the staff was very friendly and efficient. We spend a very pleasant week aboard and we definitely will cruise with NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
A little background information; This was our 15th. cruise, 5th with NCL, 3rd on the Jewel. I sailed with my partner & we are in our 30's, from the UK. We flew in on the day of the cruise as it was only a 2hr flight. We arrived ... Read More
A little background information; This was our 15th. cruise, 5th with NCL, 3rd on the Jewel. I sailed with my partner & we are in our 30's, from the UK. We flew in on the day of the cruise as it was only a 2hr flight. We arrived at Barcelona airport at 10am & after retrieving luggage & taking a taxi (28 euros) we arrived at the cruise terminal. There were no lines at all, so we registered our credit card & handed over our cruise ticket & was told we would be allowed to board at 11.30am. Embarkation, easiest & quickest ever, we were in our cabin at 11.30am. The Cabin: An inside cabin that did seem small, but had enough drawers, hangers & wardrobe space to put everything. No need to bring your hairdryer as the one provided is near professional. Having the bed made up as a double does make the room smaller as you lose the walk up the middle you have if they are set up as singles. The pillows were hard & I did ask for feather ones. I got one, so my partner & I had to share. I do like NCL's bathrooms, although still obviously quite small, well set out & the shower with a sliding door is excellent. My 6ft 4" partner did not get on very well with the toilet placed at an angle though. We did decide that this would be our last inside cabin though, as basically because you have no natural daylight you could sleep all day & night & we did on a couple of occasions! The Ship: To me she is still very new looking & apart from a few stains on carpets here & there there was nothing to tell us otherwise. I love all the colors on The Jewel, I do not find them distasteful at all, as other reviewers have noted, only rich & interesting to the eye. I love the Fyzz Lounge where everything appears as bubbles, even the chairs. The Theatre is sophisticated with expensive wallpaper & dragonfly printed carpets to the entrance. Very good sight lines, although not as good from the balconies. I do miss a little drinks table though. The Spinnaker Lounge was my favorite lounge & we spent most nights there after whatever theatre show we had seen. The Food: I would say good to very good. We personally preferred the Azura Restaurant over the Tsars (regular restaurants), as it was more intimate & cosy. We received better service there also. We went to the Mexican Restaurant (no charge), this was very good, portions are big so beware. We also went to Cagneys & Chin Chin, which were both very good. These were both pay restaurants, but we took advantage of the daily happy hour 2 for 1 offer between 5.30 & 6.30pm. this was available at all the pay restaurants apart from Teppanyaki, Mongolian Hotpots & Sushi. Also excluded were Cagneys specials (ie. surf & turf) & Le Bistro tasting menu, although there are plenty of other choices on the menu, so do not let this put you off. This offer is available every day. I would suggest booking, whichever restaurant you want to eat in, even if you book on the same day, as there were queues on the days we did not book. Although the maximum we had to wait was 20 mins. The entertainment: In a word, excellent! The Cruise Director was John Ibrahim & was a very personable guy who was in that many places I thought there was at least 2 of him. His favorite word was, smashing! During the week we had 2 shows by the Jean Ann Ryan company, Band on the Run & Cirque Bijou. Both excellent, although I preferred Band on the Run. Very upbeat, great costumes & the cast looked like they loved performing it. They have some very talented dancers/singers. We also had a singer, Daniel Bouchet who I thought looked like a young Eulio Inglesius & certainly had the Spanish ladies swooning, as he sang in Spanish & English. Magician Shaun Farqhuar, very good & I normally do not like magicians & The Edge who basically was a juggler although he was not billed as this. He was very very funny & kept picking on people who came in late to the show. Also there was the Second City, who I personally did not think were as good as I have seen previously on the Jewel, I did not think one of the ladies was very good at improv at all, but again I still enjoyed there act. All this together with various musicians & bands etc around the ship meant that we were spoilt for choice, excellent! Staff: All staff without exception were very friendly, helpful & attentive & our cabin stewards Leah & Chris looked after us well. Fellow Cruisers: This cruise I think was full & there were lots of children. We were not used to this as we do not normally cruise at this time of year, but to say how many there were I do think they were quite well behaved. They did sneak into the adult only pool, but I did see a deck steward asking them to get out. There were quite a few nationalities on this cruise & many from Spain, so to accommodate them announcements & entertainment introductions were said in English & Spanish, which is only right, but again something we are not used to with NCL. Debarkation: We did the express debarkation as we had an early fly & just kept our luggage with us & walked straight off at 6.30am. No queues, no problem. So to summarize, this was a fabulous cruise on a great ship with wonderful entertainment & very good food. We will definitely cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Best advise I can give to anyone planning their first or umpteenth cruise is to research, research, research. I feel it has helped tremendously on having a better experience for any trip to any novice or frequent traveller. My husband and ... Read More
Best advise I can give to anyone planning their first or umpteenth cruise is to research, research, research. I feel it has helped tremendously on having a better experience for any trip to any novice or frequent traveller. My husband and I are in our mid-30s, and travel overseas often. However, this was our first cruise so I did not know what to expect. Visions of missing the boat, lost luggage and stormy seas were dancing around my head, but we decided anyway to give cruising a try. I booked thru our World Perks membership on Northwest Airlines, without much trouble. Thanks to cruisecritic.com and other valuable travel forums (or is it 'fora'?) online, we were counting the days with great anticipation. We arrived Barcelona a day before, which was welcome reprieve from the long and tiring 12+ hour travel. After a short nap, we changed into fresh clothes and took the metro to Poble Español, an artisan Spanish village where we had reservations for a wonderful flamenco-dinner show (www.tablaodecarmen.com). Embarkation was not until 1pm, so we went on a leisurely stroll along La Ramblas early that morning (when it's less crowded). We checked in at around 2:30pm which took less than 15 minutes. We were celebrating a wedding anniversary that week, so I ordered their Romance Package, which was a great deal. There was a nice bottle of red wine and a plate of dipped strawberries in our cabin upon arrival. Our room stewards from the Philippines, John and Shara, were awesome. We would return to a clean room within a hour every morning, after breakfast. They were not only fast and efficient, I've never seen such sincere, hard-working folks. Working in the hotel industry, I've learned that 'nice begets nice' - treat your server with respect and appreciation, and they will gladly go that extra mile for you. After a sip of the welcome bottle of wine, we decided to explore the ship as most would want to do. The main restaurant reservations is at Tango's (7th level) or by dialing 050 from your cabin. They can only accept reservations for up to 3 days, so it's best to call them every morning to book ahead, for the popular restos do get filled fast (Teppanyaki most especially). The Garden Cafe was the only place open on that first day, so it was PACKED with so much people, it gets frustrating to meander through the crowds. It's the place for breakfast and lunch as well, so practice much patience when you can not find any free table after you go through the long lines of buffet. The staff is quick to bus out and have clean tables as soon as guests leave, though, so it is best not to let this frustrate you. If you don't mind eating outdoors, it is best to head out to the pool lounge where there are plenty of clean tables to chow down. The buffet was varied and meant to suit every taste and preference. Food quality was alright - not outstanding in the gourmet sense - but acceptable nonetheless. The steak and lobster dinner on the optional gala night at Tsar's and Azura for me was the best deal for the no-cover charge restos. Le Bistro was pretentious as a "fine-dining" venue, since the servers' presentation was almost too comical to take seriously ("As they say in France, un doo twa and walah!"). Tangos Tapas Bar had a cosmo decor and ambience. Teppanyaki was fun and funny, as the crazy Filipino chefs seemed to have morphed this art of Japanese food preparation into a style uniquely theirs. Service in all the restaurants we went to are extra prompt - plates were cleared immediately after each course, but it never felt 'hurried'. Entertainment on board was phenomenal. The Jean Ann Ryan group, Shawn Farquhar and Chicago's Second City comedy troupe wowed us on the nights they performed. Had a Las Vegas flavor to it, which may be cheesy for some, but we loved every performance. We didn't take any organized shore excursions, though I would recommend those who are not as adventurous as us, to do arrange them. Our first port was Messina (Sicily) and we just explored the small town on our own, since Taormina and the Mt Etna expedition didn't really appeal to us. We took the local Italian train to see the ruins of Pompeii on the next day. It wasn't too bad, although the trains weren't too clean, but I've seen worse conditions before. The train trip to Rome and Florence the next two days wasn't too bad, but I would suggest waking up early so as to catch the earliest train from the port, since travel time is 1 hour for Rome and 1.5 hours for Florence. Villefranche was our favorite port, and the short 15 minute train ride to Monte Carlo was a pleasant one. We're not really fans of organized travel (which is why we chose the Freestyle Cruising of NCL) and with some advance preparation (I bought our tickets for the Vatican Museum, Uffizi Gallery & the Galleria Accademia on www.tuscanyall.com), a simple Italian phrase book, and a bold, adventurous spirit, we got to experience the real local culture and save money for more shopping! Shore excursions are expensive, but having the security of a tour guide and a bus to herd you along are important to you, then I suppose it will be a good value for you. For info on going and exploring the ports of call on your own, I found this website very helpful: www.europeportreviews.com It was over-all a wonderful experience for us. The Norwegian Jewel was a beautiful ship, one could see that no expense was spared in making this floating city a true gem in the Mediterranean seas. Cruising can be very expensive too, so be wary everytime you give your room card to be swiped for that fruity cocktail drink or earrings from the duty-free shop. We felt some schaudenfroide when we saw some of our fellow passengers get a near coronary when they requested for their bill on their last day (note to parents: your kids get an embarkation card, so they can swipe charges to your account!). The only thing we didn't like about the entire thing was the crowds. Although the ship's mantra was "Freestyle Cruising", some habits die hard. People still eat at the same time, swim at the pool, bask under the sun, and enjoy that cocktail drink at the same time as you, so it can get frustrating. But with a positive attitude (after all, it IS your vacation), we thoroughly enjoyed our freestyle cruising and can't wait for our next NCL experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Impressive ship, rather new and fully loaded (even with passengers). We took the 7 days West Mediterranean Route from and to Barcelona via Messina (Sicily), Naples (Capri), Civitavecchia (beachday), Livorno (leaning tower of Pisa)and ... Read More
Impressive ship, rather new and fully loaded (even with passengers). We took the 7 days West Mediterranean Route from and to Barcelona via Messina (Sicily), Naples (Capri), Civitavecchia (beachday), Livorno (leaning tower of Pisa)and Villefrance (beachday). Despite interesting ports/spots our destination was the NCL ship! Our inside stateroom on 9th floor was nicely decorated, almost clean (but don't look under the bed!) and had a comparable roomy bathroom (we often took advantage of the comfortable shower). The interior was functional but the illumination is definitely too dark, so you hardly see your personal belongings in the storage compartment/safe close at the door. Also some more compartments near the bed were missing. Nevertheless, we slept very well also caused by quite aircon and ventilation. Unfortunately the housekeeping was not introduced to us which underlines the rather unpersonal touch of bigger ships. The "garden cafe" is by far the most unpleasant location: loud, overcrowded and badly designed. A long floor and way to take a cup of coffee or helping yourself at the buffet. Unfortunately the freestyle cruise was often misinterpreted by unsuitable dress codes including muscle shirts or pure swimwear. We preferred the main restaurant TSAR's were you are served by friendly staff for breakfast and dinner. The special restaurants are polarizing. Our favorite was the sushi/sashimi bar, whereas the steakhouse didn't met or expectation esp. not price wise. The pool deck was always crowded and extremely loud. The animation program during the days at sea by the cruise director and his team was not our style. So we left the area immediately. Not even or 9yr old son was in favor such a "funny" program. We often asked ourselves, were are the wooden floor trim of the pool deck surface gone? The metal ground is rather unpolite at hot outside temperatures and pretty slippery when wet. The nightlife was always a highlight. We didn't miss any show. The musicians and dancers were mostly unbeatable. You should have your seat early and order your drink on time. A midnight buffet at the pooldeck is not presented at our trip. The Kids Management Policy is a simply not acceptable. Our son (9yrs/ 8mos)was not allowed to be in the same kids group with his friend (10yrs/1mos)due to strict age split (x to 9yrs and 10yrs +). We had to ask the German Cruise Management to explain this regulation to our irritated boys. Luckily the friendly officers (incl. the captain) were highly appreciated. Our summary: As for our next cruise we'll looking for a smaller ship which will meet our experiences from past cruises (e.g. NCL Dream/Windward) again. Less people, more familiarity, personal treatment. But nevertheless, NCL Jewel is an impressive ship, rather new and fully loaded. CU, Karsten, Birgit @ Felix Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Let me begin by noting that we first wanted a Silversea cruise that we were not able to make due to not being able to get seats on the right date. With that NCL was the only cruise line in the eastern med that had a great itinerary; ... Read More
Let me begin by noting that we first wanted a Silversea cruise that we were not able to make due to not being able to get seats on the right date. With that NCL was the only cruise line in the eastern med that had a great itinerary; Barcelona,Messina,Naples,Rome,Florence,Villafranche. Also I had cruised NCL once before on the Dawn and had a discount that ran out soon. So off we went.First the good; the Jewel is the newest of the NCL line and it shows-spotless, a new ship, the Gem is starting in October. But compared with the Dawn, which is showing the age of massive Caribbean cruisers, the Jewel is a Jewel. We booked an AG mini-suite and got a great rate. We spoke to others and they paid hundreds more. We boarded the ship in Barcelona, after a nice flight, and were able to get on at 11:30 am, our suite was ready at 1pm, so we had lunch at the Garden Cafe; one of the buffets, the food was ok, simply a fallback option when we could not eat at the other restaurants, and also most mornings, since the shore excursions left so early 6:30 to 7:15. We were told that Tsar's palace would be open at 6:30, but never was open before 7Am. If you have the time a nice sit down breakfast in this grande room, is wonderful, imitating the palace at St. Petersburg, right down to the malachite columns. The food here is again OK, with the usual smoked salmon, poor eggs benedict, but ok nonetheless; it beat the sheer lunacy and crowded conditions of 1000 people trying to eat before excursions. The Garden Cafe had one of the best dishes I had on the ship, The cashew chicken at the asian bar, superb. Also has a great crepe station. That said the food is overall a good cafeteria with plenty of starch, and selections for everyone. The specialty restaurants are in themselves a great idea, also that you can eat whenever you want, the best is Chin Chin, great asian, I had Korean ribs and satay, excellent. The best deal is the Sushi bar, which opens at 5:30, you need a res, but the sushi is by far the best I have ever had-rivaling Nobu, and had a vast selection, with my favorites-no kidding. Skip Cagney's-overpriced and I had a better steak on the plane. Le Bistro is very good, we got it free one night in our Anniversary package, nice quasi-French food. Mama's Kitchen was a poor excuse for Italian, also had a very loud basketball game going on above, after court supposedly closed- great for dining after a long day. I finally called security and said I will go up and stop it if security did not- they finally did after 8 calls by myself and the staff-just kids playing, sounded like construction over our table. Which brings me to the bad points of NCL. Like the situation above the ship caters to KIDS. There were 300 children on board-I asked. That is 300/2400 cruisers. I thought since it was over a Labor day, there would not be many kids-I was wrong, there were all European. This is one of the sore points of NCL. I understand the need to include families, but these were loud, unpleasant, rude, mostly teenagers. One time we were in a elevator where a Portuguese teenager was banging on a Bongo drum, until I threatened him to stop. I speak 3 languages, my wife 4, so communication was not an issue, just rude children running and screaming. The pool areas were small, the one Adult pool swarming with kids-"we can't stop them", was their answer. A child jumped off the side and landed on my head-pure chaos most times-thank God we were on shore excursions most days. Also the pool chairs were an issue. It sates in the first newsletter that you CANNOT reserve chairs. Our first day we took two chairs covered with towels, as were all on deck at 10am. The people that put the towels there came back at 11am and asked why we were in "their chairs". I told him the policy-in his own language-Spanish, and he began to harass us. I stood up and in no uncertain terms told him what he could do. He called security, and 2 security men came over and did not know the policy-whereupon I showed them the newsletter, and they went away. Cheesy action on the part of security, and a representation of the pushy, bucket touring, cheap dressing, low class, eurotrash that was aboard this ship. I could say it no other way. The shore excursions were nice, but pricey, if you can do it yourself do it. This was a last minute cruise, and we did the ship excursions. All were good, good guides,and on time. Skip Messina-stay on the ship, nothing to really see, unless you want to see Etna. I wanted very much to see Cinque Terre. The excursion included 2 boat rides, between the towns. On arrival to the first stop, we were informed that the boat rides were cancelled due to "rough seas". Having sailed for 30 years, I could not see the reason. The Med was calm and the weather perfect. No white caps, tranquil seas. Instead we took the trains, and we were told that we were "lucky" that we didn't have to take the boats; one of the reasons we took the excursions. They suddenly knew at 9am, that the boats were not running, the time we had arrived. The guide later argued with me concerning this issue, and we returned in a bus with no air-conditioning, in 95F weather. I complained at the tour desk, got a "so what" answer, and wrote a formal complaint, I later received a 20% discount-did not make up for the loss of the ocean views of Cinque Terre. Cruise ships in general try to bleed you dry with high drink prices, cheesy pictures, and mediocre excursions. Norwegian is no different. The prices of lower class cabins have to be made up somewhere. Also you can opt out of the "mandatory tipping" by signing a waiver on the last day of the cruise. I did, and we tipped well the whole week on our own to people we thought deserved a tip. The wait staff in Aqua was particularly bad, the head waitress could have been a prison guard.If the crew needs the tips so badly, maybe the cruise line should pay them more. I do not like to be asked to mandatory tip someone. Also a tip is included on the drinks. In short if you want a mediocre, hassled, lower class cruise option choose Norwegian. We will never cruise this line again. I will stick to more upscale cruise lines such as Silversea. The rates are high but you get a ship with only 350 passengers, all drinks included, with many other included amenities. This is your vacation, why waste the time and aggravation on a mediocre cruise? For some this was paradise, obviously people that don't get out much. we have been to 37 countries, are professional, and will pay for something much better. 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Sail Date: July 2007
OK, so here is my review of the beautiful Norwegian Jewel. Cruised 22nd July 2007. We flew with British Airways, and arrived at Terminal A. Unfortunately, our luggage was on the carousel in Terminal B, so we had to go back through ... Read More
OK, so here is my review of the beautiful Norwegian Jewel. Cruised 22nd July 2007. We flew with British Airways, and arrived at Terminal A. Unfortunately, our luggage was on the carousel in Terminal B, so we had to go back through security, as if we were checking in for a flight back out of Barcelona (crazy I know). This was very frustrating, as we (and many others) were just desperate to get out of the airport and get onboard. The transfer bus NCL used didn't have very good aircon, and we were a bit "wound up" by the time we embarked. Embarkation was an absolute breeze. No queues at the Latitudes desk, so we were onboard within 10-15 minutes. First impressions of the ship were very good. Everything was sparkling clean, and remained so for the entire cruise. We located our cabins on deck 9, which were nice and modern. They did seem to get smaller and smaller as the week wore on. We were just glad that we had booked two adjacent cabins for the five of us (three in one room, two in the other) because we had the benefit of two separate bathrooms. Our room was suitable for 4 people (allegedly) and had an extra Pullman bed which we didn't use, as well as an overhead bunk. God knows where the Pullman bed would have gone. There was barely enough room at either side of the kingsize to walk!! Maybe they make it up into one massive bed the full width of the room that sleeps three people? Our children had their room made up as twin beds, and although it was the same size, they seemed to have more space because of this. They also had an overhead bunk which they didn't use. We had plenty of storage space though, each room with double wardrobe and shelving area, and three drawers. Small fridge with minibar stuff, but room for your own things too. There are two US sockets and one European. Unfortunately, I only brought a US adaptor, so my UK hair straighteners didn't heat up properly. I'll remember that for next time. I have found that the sailaways with NCL are far superior to RCL or Celebrity. There was a party atmosphere at the pool, with crew and guests dancing to the band. A great start to the holiday! We enrolled the kids in their various kids clubs, however, I don't think they were that impressed. This is a very port intensive cruise, with only one day at sea, therefore, the clubs are only open in the evening on port days (unless you want to pay $5 per hour). This was a little disappointing, because the weather was over 40 degrees, so they could have done with a little time away from the pool during the day. I'm sure the kids wouldn't agree with that, because they just wanted to go down the water slide a million times!! Anyway, our two youngest boys only went to their clubs twice the entire cruise. The teen club seemed to be a bit more appealing for our oldest boy, and he met up with his new friends every night after dinner. They had supervised activities for teens until 1am. I'll not go into details regarding the ports of call, because they have been pretty well covered by other reviewers. NCL Jewel provides a very upbeat family oriented cruise experience. The pool bands were rotated, so that you didn't get constant repetitive reggae music. Although I love reggae, on past cruises, I've felt that the pool band played the same songs in the same order and it starts to drive me crazy by day two. This time, the pool band had a bigger repertoire, and were very enjoyable. Another good point, some days the band from the nightclub played at the pool, and they had loads of different "sets" from Abba to Motown. Most enjoyable! The freestyle concept is, in our opinion, a better option for families. We have cruised several times with RCL, Celebrity and NCL. They are all excellent for different reasons, but the flexibility really suits us. We managed to get into most restaurants without a reservation, but because we wanted to see particular shows towards the end of the cruise, we made reservations about 30 minutes prior to dining to guarantee our spot. This system worked very well. The food onboard is very good, and I felt was far superior to RCL (we cruised on Voyager of the Seas 6 weeks ago, see my review). On that cruise, we chose to dine in Portofino (pay restaurant) every night, because the dining room service was a bit disappointing. We had no complaints whatsoever with NCL. The cabins were nicer too.... The entertainment was very good as well. We didn't make it to all the shows, but the ones that we did see were of a higher standard than Celebrity or RCL. We were a bit disappointed that we didn't see all of Shawn Farquhar's show. We don't normally enjoy magic shows, but he was doing brilliant sleight of hand stuff, and I was gutted we missed the start. So, we had a fantastic cruise. Staff seem to be really friendly (better than RCL), and most pleasant. Ship is lovely (nicer than Voyager). The entertainment is excellent (better than Voyager). In a straight choice between RCL Voyager and NCL Jewel, who are both doing similar Med cruises from Barcelona, NCL wins hands down. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Just returned from 7 day cruise in the Med on the wonderful Norwegian Jewel after reading so many reviews i was a little worried but to my pleasure they were all wrong. Let's start by saying that don't believe everything you ... Read More
Just returned from 7 day cruise in the Med on the wonderful Norwegian Jewel after reading so many reviews i was a little worried but to my pleasure they were all wrong. Let's start by saying that don't believe everything you read, make your own opinions and always go with an open mind when you are on vacation. Embarkation was great we arrived the same day as sailing from Toronto and it only took us 20 minutes to get on the ship the transfers from the airport were very simple, I highly recommend using the ship transfers saves you alot of time and hassle book them ahead of time with your agent or through Norwegian. Our cabin was an outside balcony room 9060 very nice cabin well appointed and the bathroom was nice everything was fresh and still looking new, not just the cabin but the whole ship overall. Dining we truly enjoyed the Freestyle I don't think we will every go back to regular cruising as having choices of restaurant made you feel that you were in a 5 star resort with many options we tried all the restaurants and the food and service was excellent and whoever says that the buffet is not great than I don't know where they have been eating it offers exceptional quality for the amount of people they are cooking for and they always have plenty of everything and the staff are always very pleasant and courteous. Entertainment well we went to a couple of shows not bad the best is the cirque Bijou everything else is ok if you like that sort of thing. The casino is very nice and the dealers are pleasant as well. Shore Excursions be prepared to pay out alot of money but they are so worth it as some of the cities are far away from the ports. The Best shore excursions are in our opinion the Godfather tour in Messina, The Almafi Coast tour in Naples, Rome on your own gives you time to visit what you want and also time to do some great shopping just off the area of the Spanish Steps, Florence definitely take the exclusive tour it's so amazing as is the ufisi Gallery so worth seeing Botticelli's Birth of Venus, now after all of that packed in 4 days on your last stop we would recommend you do Villafranche or Nice on your own no need for a tour here it's a great little port to just hang out have lunch and visit the beach as you don't have much time. Overall this cruise is one of the best we have been on and we go on 3 cruises a year. Looking forward to cruising again in November and December. You will love the Norwegian Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Just returned from a wonderful 7-day Western Med. cruise on the NCL Jewel. July 13-22, 2007. We are a family of 5. Parents ages late 40's with 3 teens, 2 girls 17 and 15, boy 12y.o. We chose the Jewel because of cost and itinerary. We ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful 7-day Western Med. cruise on the NCL Jewel. July 13-22, 2007. We are a family of 5. Parents ages late 40's with 3 teens, 2 girls 17 and 15, boy 12y.o. We chose the Jewel because of cost and itinerary. We had never been to Europe and this was a great way for us to see so many places and not have to drag 3 kids thru tiny hotels in Italy. Barcelona was place on embarkation. We arrived 1 day prior to allow adjustment to the time change. We stayed at the Hotel Majestic which gave us 2 rooms (not adjoining) but was a perfect location and place for us to see Barcelona. We visited the Rambla, Bari Gotic, Gaudi houses before boarding the cruise on Sunday. Embarkation to the Jewel was easy. We arrived to the port around 2 pm and had to wait about 15 min to get our cabin keys and check in. We explored the cabin and had lunch at the Garden Cafe (my son and husband wanted "real food" as Barcelona is a real seafood place!) Then we went to our cabins and were greeted by 2 wonderful stewards (Mario and Indra) from the Philippines. Our luggage was there. We had 2 adjoining minisuites with a huge adjoining balcony, lots of closet and drawer space. My 3 teens were a little cramped with all their stuff so we were very glad we took the upgrade offered to us from the BA to AF balcony cabins. It was definitely worth the price. The bathtub/ BR was very spacious. The rooms were kept spotless. Every morning we had room service bring coffee and muffins early for us so the kids could sleep in a little. On the first day everything was open with their staff so you can book things and get to know what's available, e.g. the spa, workout room, kids clubs, etc. The spa pedicures and massages book up fast! Dining: Somehow despite reading this board just about every day for 2 mos. I still didn't get the "Freestyle". Somehow we messed up on getting this down until 2 days into the cruise. Here is what you need to know. There are 2 restaurants that have open seating daily, no surcharge, no reservations -Azure and Tsars. We liked Tsars better for atmosphere but the menus in both restaurants are the same on a given day but change daily. The new menus are posted daily, not in advance so it makes it hard to choose what days you want to eat there. We liked the Mon. and Thurs. menus for us. Tangos also is no surcharge, no reservation and the food is Mexican and very good. Tangos is the central reservation area also for the speciality restaurants. If you want to eat at Cagneys, LeBistro, ChinChin or Teppanyaki (surcharge) you must have reservations. For Mama's (no surcharge) you must have reservations too. We didn't realize this because there are boards posted that say which restaurants have seating, and wait times. So we wanted to eat at Mama's, which said "no waiting" on the board to find out that they were booked up for 2 nights. We were disappointed so we went to Tsars didn't care for the menu that night (Wed.) so the person at Tsars called up to ChinChins and arranged for us to eat there even though they were booked up. We were very happy that the NCL dining staff tried very hard to please us. You can make reservations 2 days in advance by phone or at Tango's. We liked all the restaurants. Each had their own personality. Our least favorite was Azure because it is too close to the Cigar Bar (Yucky smells in the hall) and it was dark and modern. Tsars is nicer and the water views were better. Chin Chins was my favorite but you should try them all. As for the other areas, the shows were fun. We loved Second City Comedy and there were 2 shows most nights so we went to the 9:30 shows. My teens went to some of the teen activities and thought they were kind of silly but I don't think my kids are the best of judge. They like to hang together anyway. The pools were pretty to look at but with the Temp. in Italy being over 90 each day the pool water was very warm, salty and not refreshing. Only my husband and 15 y.o. enjoyed them. The adult pool only pool often had kids in it and there was no supervision to keep the kids from jumping and splashing. The smokers were also not abiding by the rules and smoked around the pool although there is a designated area for them. Unfortunately, the NCL pool staff didn't enforce this which makes it very unpleasant for the non smokers. Disembarkation was very easy for us. We chose our own carry off so we could leave anytime before 10 a.m. We could have easily made a 10 a.m. flight home but being worried about it, we had arranged a night stay in Barcelona and left monday 10 a.m instead. Shore excursions were varied for us by port. We had arranged some private and some ship and some on our own. We are used to a fast pace so having to wait for the stragglers to board the bus was annoying (we had to wait 45 mins one day) and felt we saw so much more for less money on our private tour in Rome. The shore excursions we picked were Messina - "Taoromina and the Beach", loved Taoromina, the beach was nice, the kids enjoyed swimming in the Med., Naples- did Capri on our own. Rome with private driver, private Vatican guide- fantastic day, made it back to the ship over 1 hour before the tour buses and saw so much more. Florence- did "A Taste of Florence", museum walking tour of the outside, lunch on our own, shopping exploring on our own in the afternoon, Cannes-"St. Paul de Vence", ships tour tendered us in. Very easy and quick, loved St. Paul, great town, shopping was my favorite there, with over 1 hour to walk around Cannes before tendering back to ship. Overall, beautiful ship. Staff was very friendly and helpful. Would definitely recommend it. Have fun. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
NCL Jewel - Western Mediterranean Review I was on the 7/8/07 sailing of the Norwegian Jewel to the Western Mediterranean. This was my first taste of Free-style NCL (I last sailed with NCL way back in 1978). I am in my early 50's and ... Read More
NCL Jewel - Western Mediterranean Review I was on the 7/8/07 sailing of the Norwegian Jewel to the Western Mediterranean. This was my first taste of Free-style NCL (I last sailed with NCL way back in 1978). I am in my early 50's and single. This was my 14th cruise overall, with most being on RCCL, Carnival, and Princess. Overall, I was very satisfied with the Free-style and enjoyed it very much. The cruise was tiring because there was so much packed into a short cruise. I would recommend spending a day or 2 in Barcelona either before or after the cruise. Transportation Since I only booked the cruise at a late date, I booked my own air from JFK on Aer Lingus (through their website) with a change in Dublin each way. Both flights were pleasant and on time. For the first time in a long time, I had an empty seat next to me on every flight, so I was not squished next to someone. Once in Barcelona, I retrieved my bags quickly and went outside to hail a cab. There was some traffic getting into the pier and the fare ended up being $27E and change. I gave him $30E. This is after I tried to purchase transfers from the NCL rep at the airport for $25E who talked me out of it and told me the taxi fare is only $20E! This would not be bad if you had a traveling companion to share the cost, but I was traveling alone. Embarkation I arrived at the pier at approximately 12:00pm. Dropped off my bags outside and went in to the terminal to very long lines. The NCL personnel were not allowing anyone new to get in the lines and directed all to sit. It seems the computers were down and they couldn't check anyone in. At this point I still had some hope to try and see some of Barcelona, maybe on the hop on/hop off bus. After approximately 45 min. everyone started surging onto the lines in no particular order, so that people who just walked in ended up at the front of the lines compared to people that came first and were told to sit. It was a huge mess! Finally I just cut the line in front of huge family group who were trying to keep almost 30 or so people together. When I got to the counter they were still having problems and although I received my room key/ID card, they could not get any of my credit cards to register. They told me I would have to go to the front desk later in the day to straighten it out. They then told me to be back on board by 4:00pm, even though we were sailing at 7:00pm, because of the life boat drills! There went any hope of seeing Barcelona, but I guess it's my own fault for not booking an extra day there. Oh well, things could only get better and they did. Once past the main entrance, there are some small shops before the escalator up to the ship. Buy your water here! Huge bottles that the ship charges $3.95 were only $1E each here. I only bought 2, because I was carrying other items and went back later to purchase more and they had already closed for the day. I did have to return to the Purser's desk later that day to register my credit card and had to wait in another line. Stateroom I had an obstructed ocean view stateroom #8552, which had a rather small lifeboat outside, so the view was actually pretty good. The location of these staterooms is recessed under another deck, so the sun never shines in directly, which actually kept the room nice and cool. There also was some lighting at night, so it never got pitch dark, which is fine for me. The stateroom had plenty of storage areas and a mini-bar/refrigerator. When I asked my room steward to empty it he said I could just take out what I wanted to make room for my own items. Minor complaints; Although the bathroom at first glance appeared large, I think they could have done without the door between the sink and the toilet. It has striped clear/frosted glass so I doubt anyone would use it while someone else was at the sink or shower (which also had the same glass). I just think it would seem even larger without the wall. My only other complaint is that there was not enough lighting in the cabin. The vanity was a joke with only one tiny spotlight, which was inadequate. Even the overhead lights didn't do much. My luggage was delivered within an hour or so. During this time, my room steward came and introduced himself and then I never saw him again the rest of the cruise, but my room was "cleaned" (though somehow cleaning didn't include dusting) on schedule as long as I changed the "wheel" outside my room. The "wheel" has 4 colors; yellow; welcome, green; make-up cabin, red; do not disturb and blue; turn-down cabin. One night I was in a hurry for dinner and forgot to change this and never returned until after midnight and my room was un-touched so always remember to change the wheel! Ship The ship was very nice although not as pretty as the RCCL ships which IMHO are the best looking ships out there. I also thought the ship design was the most confusing I've experienced as some of the hallways did not always flow well and I thought there were a number of dead-ends but eventually found my way around well. Although I enjoyed the pool on several occasions, nothing was ever enforced as far as an adult only pool or hot tub. I really missed the enforced adult only solarium found aboard the RCCL ships. My favorite pre-dinner spot most evenings was Shakers Martini Bar where I sampled many of their special (pricey) martinis during the week. Dining/Food During the week I ate at Tsars twice, Chin Chin's Mongolian hot pot, Tangos, Le Bistro, Mamas and Azura. I had met up with friends on the cruise so we always dined together. I thought the main restaurants were terrific! The choices were fabulous and I have to say that the food was highly spiced and not the bland food one normally finds on most cruise ships. Saying that, the specialty restaurants were mostly even better! It will be really tough to go back to a regular cruise again. Tsars was the prettiest dining room and we ended up eating there the first night as well as Thursday. The first night I had smoked salmon appetizer, salad, leg of lamb (just ok) and a souffle for dessert. The second time we went there I had a spring roll, avocado & tomatillo soup, tabullah salad, a veal dish and chocolate mousse for dessert. Tango's was great, especially the tuna appetizer, red snapper, tortilla soup and seafood brochette and the fresh berries with cream for dessert were amazing! The Mongolian hot pot dinner produced a ton of laughs between our party of six (not recommended, too many people) but the food was rather bland (and you had to cook it yourself) just joking, we knew that going in! LOL On the 2nd night (which is the formal night if you want to dress) we ate at Azura, which had the lobster on the menu (I should have ordered 2 since they were really small) in addition to seafood cocktail and a dynamite chocolate crème brulee for dessert. We sampled Le Bistro on Friday and it was excellent. I had the seafood cocktail, escargot, cream of mushroom soup in a bread bowl, and a beef short rib/tenderloin combination which was outstanding and although I never normally order beef on a cruise because they never cook it the way I like, the tenderloin was cooked to my fussy (very, very rare, almost raw) standard. The only letdown was the Tarte Tatin (apple tart) which was just okay. Mama's on the last night proved better than I expected (I didn't really want to dine here since I get so much quality Italian food at home in NY) but the rest of my group picked it. The food was okay, first they serve an antipasto on the table, I then had pasta with carbonara (not the greatest) and veal and shrimp combo for the main course which was good. Desserts here were uninteresting to me so I skipped them. I ate breakfast most mornings at the buffet, which had more than enough choices to satisfy most, but my only complaint is that they had smoked salmon the first morning (which I love!) and then I never saw it again the rest of the cruise. Instead they had some other horrible smoked fish in place of it. Two of the mornings that I had very early shore excursions, I ordered room service (hang the card out the night before) and it was delivered early or close to the time I requested and always had all that I requested (limited menu though). One nice touch, they call right before they deliver, so that you are up and ready when they arrive. When I was on the ship for lunch, I usually just grabbed a burger or hot dog at the outdoor grill area near the pool. The buffet lunch never appealed to me. Entertainment I did not attend any shows mostly because the shows were at 7:30 and 9:30 and we usually ate dinner at 8 or 8:30pm. Not that I'm a big show person anyway. I do have to say that the vocal/musical group that played in the lobby and for Tango's restaurant were very good and the band by the pool was also pretty good. My main entertainment is the casino where I played craps almost every night in addition to a few slots. The slots were terrible to me, but I made it up at the craps table and ended up a winner by the end of the cruise. Shore excursions Since I was traveling alone, I booked all my excursions through the ship. I thought they were well arranged and the guides were fair to great. Messina - Picture Perfect Tindari I've been to Sicily before, so I already had visited Taormina and Mt. Etna, the big draws. However, I had not made it to Messina. Since my tour to Tindari did not leave until 1:00pm, I walked into town to view the Duomo. It was only a few blocks away and I found it easily. I then walked a few more blocks and found it to be pleasant but a fairly uninteresting city, architecturally. The trip to Tindari was about an hour and they made 2 photo stops on the way at scenic overlooks. Our guide was just fair, mostly because he was very hard to understand through his accent and his strange way of emphasizing certain syllables, that I just ended up tuning him out after a while. We climbed the steps up to the town area and then we toured the ruins of an Greek amphitheater, Roman villa and church. I then walked to the small town square and toured the lovely cathedral that was there. I also had time for a cup of fresh orange gelato, yummy! On the way back we stopped by a church/monument overlooking Messina and it's harbor for another photo op before returning us to the ship. Naples - Amalfi Coast and Pompeii This was an all-day tour that drove a good portion of the Amalfi coast including a stop in the town of Amalfi. Gino was our guide and he was great! It was a stunning scenic drive that lasted for hours! We then made our way to the ruins of Pompeii where we had lunch included on our tour at a large restaurant (can't remember the name) just outside the entrance to the ruins. Lunch consisted of unlimited wine, spinach cannelloni, chicken breast with vegetables and roasted potatoes and gelato for dessert. Very nice. Once fortified we then began our tour of the ruins, which were quite impressive and very fascinating. We toured many individual dwellings and saw mosaics and painted walls. Overall, it was my favorite day of touring and Gino made it very enjoyable. Civitavecchia - Art, Architecture & Flavors I previously visited Rome and although I would have liked to explore more, I did not want to deal with the heat and crowds, so I chose somewhere else to visit. This was a 4 hour tour to the Etruscan tombs and to the town of Tarquinia. The tour guide we had was uninteresting. First we went to explore the tombs themselves and then into town to visit the museum. We then had about ½ hour free time in town, during which we discovered 2 small charming churches up the main street. Then the best part of the tour took us to a farm (agrotouristic) for various tastings. We were seated on a lovely patio under a grape arbor and were able to taste many home-made products grown or produced by the farm including; several red and white wines, olive oils, brushetta, liver pate, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, honey, jams, bread, and also different liquors such as limoncello, amaretto, peach and rose flavors. We were here for over an hour with unlimited tastings. All products were for sale in a nearby building but no pressure was put on anyone to buy. I did purchase several bottles of wine as well as a can of olive oil to bring home. I was able to bring all aboard the ship without a problem and drank one of the bottles in my stateroom during the remainder of the week. Livorno - Pisa and Lucca I had previously visited Florence so again I chose to do something different. This was an all-day tour lead by the very vibrant Antoinella. She was great and had such enthusiasm for the Tuscany region where she lived. First we drove to the lovely walled city of Lucca where we had a walking tour of the major sites with about 1 hour free time at the end of the tour. Then we were off to Pisa. Pisa was a zoo! It was so crowded, but the buildings are still magnificent! We had about 1 ½ hours free for lunch before our guided tour began. We walked down the main street quite a ways until we came to Il Santo, a quirky decorated bistro. Two friends and I shared a carafe of wine, a mixed salami plate along with melon and procuitto for appetizer, then penne Bolognese and penne with pesto. Delicisioso! Last time I was there we didn't visit inside the Duomo, so I was glad this time we did. It was spectacular! Villefranche - Monaco and a Visit to Eze This was the only port where the ship moored off-shore and we had to tender into. There was no wait when departing on the tour. This was a 6 hour tour, our guide was Gilles, he was good. We were first taken to a beautiful overlook to snap a few pictures of the amazingly beautiful Cote d'Azur, then it was off to old Monaco where we had a walking tour of the old city, cathedral where Princess Grace and Prince Ranier were married and are now buried. Then we saw the palace and had about a half hour of free time where my friend and I stopped for a cup of coffee. I wish we had more time in this area, since there were many small tourist-type shops. We then passed the harbor areas with the many yachts and made our way to the Monte Carlo area where we were shown the famous casino and the ritzy Hotel d'Paris. We then had about 45 minutes of free time. It was too early for the famous casino but there was another casino for those that wished to gamble. We chose to check out the pretty nearby park and then stopped at a ice cream stand. I chose a strawberry sorbet. It was great! We then traveled to the medieval French mountaintop town of Eze, where the bus parked at the base of this walled village. Looking up, it looked like a long climb up, but once we started walking inside the pretty winding streets we were up to the top before we realized it. Gilles gave us a guided walking tour about ¾ of the way up. Located at the top is the Jardin Exotique (exotic garden) which required a $5E entrance fee. We paid the fee and proceeded to climb the rest of the way through a beautiful garden with many statues and art pieces. Once at the summit, the view was a breath-taking 360 degree view. We spent our entire amount of free time up here taking it all in. We couldn't believe later how many people chose not to enter the garden and make their way to the top because of the $5E fee. We thought it was worth every cent! The only down side to this port was the long line for tenders when we returned to the dock. We probably waited 45 minutes to an hour to board. On NCL's behalf, they did walk up and down the long line serving ice water or cold juice to those waiting. We should have just went over to one of the cafes along the harbor and waited there until the line went down. Overall, I was very happy with this cruise and the excursions, it was quite a lot packed into 1 week, but I got to see many different sights. I will definitely recommend the NCL ships and their free-style dining. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
It was our honeymoon and we decided on a cruise to Western Europe. The cruise began at Barcelona and spent the first day at sea, then it went through Messina, Naples, Rome, Florence (Livorno) and Villefranche. In other words, we visited ... Read More
It was our honeymoon and we decided on a cruise to Western Europe. The cruise began at Barcelona and spent the first day at sea, then it went through Messina, Naples, Rome, Florence (Livorno) and Villefranche. In other words, we visited three countries, six cities. It was overall a very enjoyable experience for both me and my wife. Embarkation began at 13:00 pm till 19:00 pm. We spent the earlier part of the day touring Barcelona and didn't board the boat until 17:00pm. The process was fairly fast and we were in our cabin within 20 minutes. The checked-in luggage took a while to arrive our cabin though. The ship overall was a beauty, with lots of restaurants and bars located all over. It was also fairly new and clean. Regarding the food, the specialty restaurants were all very good and we spent two nights in the Cagney steak house, and one each in Le Bistro and Chin Chin. We also tried Mama and Tangos (both no fee) and they both offered very satisfactory quality. For breakfast we often had the buffet in Garden Cafe and occasionally room service to save time. The first day was spent at sea and we spent the afternoon at Sky High Bar to enjoy the perfect weather and lovely ocean. For the rest of the trip we explored all the ports on our own as we were not particularly fond of guided tours. The first port was Messina, Sicily. Right after we landed there were lines of cabs offering round-trip tour to Taromina for 100-150 Euros or so. We had already done our researches before hand so we declined their offers. There were at least two means of public transport to Taromina. You can either take the train and then a cable car up the mountain or take the bus. We took the latter as it went all the way up the mountain. The bus terminal was right next to the train station. It was about a fifteen minutes walk from the port (turn left after you exit the port and walk along the shoreline, you may want to ask the pedestrian on the way). The name of the bus company was INTERBUS and their buses were blue in color. Round-trip ride cost 5.20 EURO and the bus left for Taromina on approximately 8:45am and 9:45am. The one-way trip was about an hour and a half going through a small town/village and some scenic roads along the coast (had to change bus once on both ways). There were lots of interesting small shops in Taromina. It was so hot up there so we didn't really have the appetite for lunch and ended up having two excellent gelatos. We took the return bus at 13:40 pm which seemed a little early but the one after that left at 16:00 pm or so, too late for the ship (Not sure if the train offers a better schedule). We arrived at Messina around 3:30pm and sort of wandered around the city but there were not much to see. The second port was Naples (Napoli) and we decided to go to Capri Island. We took the hydrofoil which was 15 Euro each way (The hydrofoil pier was right next to the port). There were multiple companies operating the jets and the one we took was called SNAV and our boat left at 8:10am. We also bought our return tickets just to make sure. The ride was about 45 minutes and was quite rough so a lot of people got sea-sick. We got off the boat and went into the tourist information center (right at the pier) and bought a map for 1 Euro (yes, they charged for the map there). Then, we took the short funicular ride up to the town. Once we came out of the station we saw lots of luxury shops out there but we were not particularly interested as we got all that in the city already. We decided to go to Villa Jorvis located on the North-Eastern part of the Island. The hike took about 30 minutes but was totally worthwhile as the view there was breath-taking. The entrance fee to Villa Jorvis was 2 Euro each and a map for an extra 1 euro (which we bought but didn't really use as it was not necessary). At around noon we headed back and went to the South side of the Island and went to the Garden of Augustine which offered very impressive view. We planned to continue down to the Marina but got exhausted from the walk and the heat so ended up staying in a nice cafe up in the hill for some excellent coffee. We headed back to the pier via the cable car again and took the hydrofoil at 14:40 pm (we needed to line up for the cable car as lots of people were heading back at the same time and nearly missed the ferry from the queuing). We walked around Naples a little bit but didn't really find much of interest. There were open-top city tour bus right next to the pier but we didn't have enough time. There were supposedly so much more to do at this port (Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast etc.) but we preferred to stay longer in one place to enjoy more, and lovely Capri Island certainly didn't disappoint. Next we arrived in Civitavecchia, the port near Rome. There were free shuttle bus taking us out of the port area and from there was a 10 min walk to the Civitavecchia (just crossed the cross-walk and walked along the coast). We bought the BIRG ticket which offered a round-trip to and from Rome plus the intra-city bus/subway in Rome (make sure you validate the ticket in one of those small yellow machines before you get on). We caught the 8:38am train and got off at Roma S.Pietro Station (closest station to the Vatican) at around 9:30am. We got the map of Rome in a nearby hotel along the way and toured around Vatican City. The artworks and architectures there were especially impressive. We wanted to go to Sistine Chapel right after but I misread the map and went the wrong direction. So we continued on to the Spanish Steps where abundance varieties of shops could be found. We walked around until we felt hungry and went to a cafe for an excellent pizza for lunch. We also went to a nearby Internet Cafe which charged a very reasonable 3 Euro per hour for ultra-speed connection (Located a few minute walk South-East of Piazza Di Spagna, also a McDonald nearby). We continued to walk around the area and then headed back at around three o'clock. We took the subway from Barberini station to Roma Termini and then the 16:38pm train back (Roma termini was actually quite big and complicated, took us quite a while to find the right train) Our next port was Livorno, we decided to go to Florence first and then go to Pisa on our way back if we had time. The journey from the port to the train station - Livorno Centrale was a bit complicated. We first took the shuttle bus to downtown Livorno and then the number 1R bus to the train station (we bought the 1R bus tickets and the round-trip train ticket to Florence at a convenient store right opposite where the shuttle bus dropped us off). We had just enough time to get on the 9:11am train to Florence (Given the hassle I would also recommend taking taxi from the port directly to Livorno Centrale and catch the earlier train at 8:11am, train schedule here: http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html). We arrived at Florence at around 10:40am. We first went to the tourism information centre to pick up a map. In the morning we visited Piazza Del Duomo (a wonderful cathedral) and Piazza San Lorenzo (small shops and open-air market, great for souvenir), both were within short walking distances from the train station and then in the afternoon we went to Ponte Vecchio and saw River Arno, then we took the 15:27pm train back to Livorno. Our last port was Villefrance, France which was essentially a small French Village. We had to first take a tender from the cruise to the pier; from there it was a 15 minute walk along the shoreline to the train station. We decided to go to Monaco and took the 8:44am train (also available were at 7:48am, 9:01am and 9:51am). The train ride was around 20 minutes. There were two exits at Monaco station and most passengers took the one located in the front of the platform. We decided to take the other one at the rear end of the platform and came out at the "quite part" of Monaco. We wandered around the small streets there and then walked along the shore to Monte Carlo, where we visited the glamorous Hotel de Paris and took some fabulous pictures. The casino opened at 12:00 noon with an entrance fee of 10 Euro (probably my first time to go to a casino with entrance fee), it was quite different from other casinos that I have been to but as it was still early in the afternoon there was not much traffic inside. From the casino was about a 15 minute-walk uphill back to the train station and we took the 13:11pm train back to Villefranche (also at 13:06pm, 13:32pm). There were beaches right next to Villefranche Sur Mer so we spent some time there before we headed back to the pier. On the final day the cruise arrived at Barcelona early in the morning at around 5:00am. Disembarkation was relatively smooth and we were the final group to leave at 9:30am. The taxi line was long as expected but we got into the city reasonably fast. It was July 1 and the summer sales just began so we were able to do some last minute shopping before we headed to the airport. In summary, it was a wonderful trip and my wife and I were both highly satisfy. Based on the good experience we decided that we will travel more on cruise in the future. A few brief tips for those going on NCL Jewel: ENTERTAINMENT: There were lots to do on the cruise and the night shows are all reasonably well performed. We enjoyed most the show by the Second City which was a comedy talk show. Also, the band in Java cafe/Crystal Atrium was very good and we spent at least three of our nights there. In the cabin there were also TV with CNN and BBC feeding reasonably updated news. INTERNET: The charge was US$3.95 for account activation and US$0.75 per minute thereafter. There were packages available also. In general the connection was expectably slow and I could mostly manage to check my emails there. SHOPPING: As expected the shopping galleria on board was not the greatest place to pick up a lot of souvenirs. Obviously, the selection was fairly limited compared to what was available off-shore. Some of the items were also priced quite high (we wanted to get another memory stick and a 512MB one cost US$80). SERVICE: The crew members were mostly friendly and enthusiastic, in particular the waitresses in the steakhouse and the cabin stewards. We were a little disappointed at the reception desk as most of the time they were not very helpful (at least we felt that way). LAUNDRY: There were laundry room on Deck 5, 9 and 11 (maybe more). Four quarters for a box of laundry powder while washers and dryers are free to use. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Preface My wife and I are both in our late 20's / early 30's and we have been on around 10 cruises together. This was our first trip to the Mediterranean and my wife's first trip to Europe. We traveled with another couple ... Read More
Preface My wife and I are both in our late 20's / early 30's and we have been on around 10 cruises together. This was our first trip to the Mediterranean and my wife's first trip to Europe. We traveled with another couple and made all of our cruise and flight plans through a travel agency. I arranged most of the shore excursions on my own. I have gone through our trip from the flights all the way to the disembarkation and post cruise excursions. I hope you enjoy the review as much as we enjoyed the trip! Thank you to all of the Cruise Critic members for your feedback and help while I was researching and planning for this trip. Flights Our trip got off to a bumpy start when we were delayed for over 4 hours in New Orleans due to high winds at our connection airport, Newark. Apparently this is a common occurrence when flying through Newark as I learned later. The delay caused us to miss our connection to Madrid. The Continental gate agent in New Orleans was supposed to put us on the late flight to Madrid, but upon arrival in Newark and after a marathon run to the gate, I was informed that in fact we were not on the flight. They proceeded to put 6 stand-by passengers on the flight ahead of us. I was not a happy camper! Thus, we had an unexpected detour and instead of staying in Barcelona we had deluxe accommodations at the Holiday Inn - Edison, NJ. We made the best out of the situation by spending the day in New York until our late afternoon direct flight to Barcelona. While I thought our trouble with Continental was over... boy was I wrong! After checking with baggage services multiple times in Newark to make sure our bags were correctly rerouted directly to Barcelona, neither of our bags arrived on the flight. After waiting in a long line and filing a claim for our bags, we hopped in a cab with the clothes on our backs and a few items in our carry on bags and headed to the ship. Embarkation The cab ride to the port was uneventful and cost around 35 euro. We were dropped off right at the front entrance at around 11:30. We proceeded to check in and noticed that a special desk was setup for lost luggage. Apparently this happens a lot! The NCL folks were very helpful at the desk and took a full report on our luggage situation. They informed us that since our first port of call, Messina, Sicily, did not have a commercial airport the first possible delivery point for our luggage was Naples which was Wednesday (this was Sunday). Boooo! NCL again was very helpful and offered us unlimited laundry service, a bag of toiletries and also gave us directions to a local mall where we picked up a handful of items. After filing our baggage paperwork, we breezed through the check in line in about 5 minutes and we were aboard. Ship The ship was in immaculate condition and the theme was very tasteful. It definitely had a more upscale feel to it. Room Our room was small, but nice. We chose an interior room to save money so that we could go all out on our shore excursions. This turned out to be an excellent decision. While we thought we would be unhappy buried on level 4 the location was superb as we were able to get off the ship first in almost every port. The room was also very quiet at night with no engine noise and very little movement at all. The only time we really spent time in the room was at night to sleep. It definitely served the purpose. Public Spaces The ship was well laid out with plenty of spaces to sit down and enjoy a quiet moment. We were especially impressed with the layout of the buffet area. Even though the space was servicing a majority of the 3,000 passengers on board it was laid out in a way where it flowed well and never seemed over crowded. We really spent very little time on the ship other than our first day at sea so a lot of the spaces on the ship went unused by us. Dining This was our first cruise with NCL and thus our first experience with "Freestyle Dining". We enjoyed the concept and felt that it allowed for more of a personal choice on each night. The way the restaurants were managed and the methods to inform the passengers of the current wait time, televisions throughout the public areas, was well conceived. We ate at the Tex Mex restaurant, the "regular" dining room, and the extra fee steak house. All of our meals were great. The only downside that I can see to the Freestyle Dining concept is that the service is a bit slower than your typical mass feeding style due to the fact that all courses are not being served at the same time. You also don't get the personal connection with your waiter as you would if you were dining at the same table every night. With that being said we preferred the choice and the freedom that Freestyle Dining afforded us. Ports Messina, Sicily Our first port of call was on the beautiful island of Sicily. I had prearranged a private tour for the four of us in our traveling party with Sicily Life. Alessandro from Sicily Life was waiting for us as we exited the ship. He was a very nice guy and spoke excellent English. We hopped in this van and were off for our first stop in Mt. Etna. Along the way Alessandro told us many interesting facts about the island and really seemed to know a lot about the history and culture of Sicily. We stopped briefly at a small village at the foot of Mt. Etna for a photo op and then stopped several more times on the way up the mountain for photos of the breathtaking views. Upon arrival at the visitor's center we climbed up one of the dormant craters. We then noticed a much higher crater and decided to make that climb as well. This trek was a bit harder than it looked and we all got our workout for the day. Be advised that it is very windy on the top of the mountain so keep hold of your possessions, such as hats. I speak from personal experience as I lost my hat at the top of the higher crater. As I mentioned before I still had no luggage so this was my only hat! Luckily a very brave Italian decided to save the say and literally slid down the side of the mountain to retrieve my cap. We offered him a "tip" but he declined and went along his way. After returning from our climb we grabbed a few drinks from the visitor's center, met back up with Alessandro, and headed down to our next stop Murgo winery. This was a small family owned winery in the foothills of Mt. Etna. Alessandro arranged for us to taste some wine and olive oil and after purchasing a few bottles we proceeded down the hills to Taormina. Alessandro took us to an overlook that offered awesome views of the town and sea below. Being from Taormina, Alessandro seemed to know all of the best routes to avoid the crowds. We took a few photos at this spot and then we were taken to lunch that we had prearranged with Sicily Life. The restaurant offered a great outdoor terrace and wonderful Sicilian selections. Our only complaint here was that it had really heated up through the day and at this point the temperatures were pushing 100 degrees. We still managed to enjoy our lunch and had some time on our own to wander the streets and shops of Taormina before being driven back to the port in Messina. Alessandro and Sebastiano, who we communicated with to book, from Sicily Life were both wonderful and I would not hesitate to recommend them. Naples / Amalfi Coast, Italy The ships next call was in Naples. Again I had prearranged a shore excursion this time through Drive Amalfi and Salvatore. Salvatore was waiting for us at the port doors as we exiting the ship and we all climbed into his van and headed out for the day. Salvatore is a very nice guy and really knows a ton about the area. He is originally from Amalfi and his family has lived there for generations. If you are looking for a reputable guide that knows his stuff he is your man! We hit a bit of traffic driving through Sorrento, but eventually made it to the famous Amalfi drive. Salvatore stopped at several locations to allow us to take pictures before driving through the small coastal town of Positano. As others have mentioned driving along the Amalfi coast can be a bit scary so we were glad we were in the good hands of Salvatore. We drove along the beautiful coast and made our way to Amalfi. After seeing Salvatore's son and brother along the way, we were dropped off downtown and we were given around 30 - 45 minutes to walk the town square and check out some of the local craft shops. We picked up some great gifts from a local stationary shop and met Salvatore for our drive to a lunch spot that he had selected. He took us to Ristorante Pizzeria San Giovanni in Pontone. They restaurant had a great terrace overlooking the Amalfi coast. The food was wonderful and reasonably priced. We enjoyed our lunch after our after lunch limoncello. After lunch we headed back down the hills for a stop in Pompeii. Since we had run into a bit of traffic earlier we didn't have as much time as we would have liked to explore the ruins, but we were still able to see a good bit albeit quickly. After Pompeii we met Salvatore and jetted back to the port in Naples. All in all, it was a great day along the Amalfi coast with Drive Amalfi and Salvatore. We arrived back to the ship and learned that our luggage did not arrive in Naples. Thanks Continental! I love wearing the same clothes! Rome, Italy For our stop in Civitavecchia (Rome) we decided to go it on our own. With some assistance from the Cruise Critic gang (thanks Hein!) we had great directions on catching the train from Civi to Rome. We boarded the train and got off at the first stop of San Pietro as I had faxed in our info and prearranged a guided Vatican tour for 10:30. The best move that we made on the entire trip might have been prebooking this tour as the line at 9:00 was unbelievably long! We skipped the entire queue and checked in with the guard at the front of the Vatican Museum. Within 10 minutes we were in the museum and paired with our tour guide. Along with a group of around 30 we toured through the museum and the Sistine Chapel. After seeing the overwhelming sights inside the chapel we headed over to St. Peter's. We took some photos and bought a few things from the gift shop. We found a small cafe along the way to the metro and decided to grab a quick bite to eat. After eating we took the metro to the Termini station, changed lines, and got off at the Coloseo stop to see the Roman Colosseum. The structure was massive and very impressive. We walked through the Roman Forum and took a few more shots. We decided since the line was pretty long at the Colosseum to forego the inside tour and to catch a cab to a few more sights before having to hop the train back to Civi. We got a cab over to the Pantheon and then took a short walk over to the Trevi fountain. After once again being overwhelmed by the history of the city we took a cab back to Termini and caught our train back to the port. We ended up seeing a ton of things in Rome on this day and in the end we were very happy, but exhausted! Upon return to the trip we got a pleasant surprise when we found our luggage waiting outside our door. Once again I want to stress how impressed I was with NCL's help with this matter. They kept us constantly updated on the status and were very helpful along the way. I cannot say the same for Continental since we were never contacted by the airline. I will be filing for reimbursement for our clothing and personal item expenses incurred during the 6 days we were without our luggage. Also for the first time ever I purchased travel insurance so whatever the airline will not cover will be covered by insurance. Livorno / Florence, Italy Our last stop in Italy was in Livorno. Once again I arranged a tour through Tuscany in my Pocket and Guido. For some reason we were a little apprehensive for this tour as there weren't as many reviews on Guido as some of the other tour guides. We were way off on this one! In all my years of cruising and after booking dozens of private tours, Guido was the best guide I have ever had. Immediately upon entering his van he had all of us cracking up with his catch phrase, "Mama Mia!" I thought that was only in the movies! He told stories and kept us all interested for the hour ride to Florence. Our first stop was the Duomo in the center of town... Wow! What an impressive and ornate site! We spent a few minutes there and then hopped back in the van over to the Academia Gallery to see Guido's friend, David. However, upon arriving at the gallery we were rudely greeted with a sign on the door stating that the gallery was closed for a few hours in the morning due to a "staff meeting." It turns out this was an unannounced strike. Welcome to Italy! Without missing a beat Guido brought us back to the car and took us to the Basilica of the Holy Cross. There was a long line to get in, but Guido brought us through the back door into the small leather shop. We were even treated to a private leather demonstration by the owner of the shop. We ended up buying a few hand crafted items and the shop keeper put our initials on the items in gold leaf. We toured the church and saw the final resting places of Michelangelo and Galileo among others. This was a great stop. After spending almost an hour in the church we headed back over to the Academia. When we arrived the place was in chaos. All those who had booked tours in the morning, including us, were jammed in the alley waiting at the door for them to open. Guido again took matters into his own had somehow communicating with one of workers. He then whisked us off to another door where that same worker came over, met us and let us in. The David was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Until you see it in person you cannot imagine the scope and precision of this work. It is truly a masterpiece. We walked through the rest of the gallery and then met Guido. He took us to one more stop at Michelangelo Park for some great views of Florence from the hills. After snapping a few photos we were off to the Chianti region of Tuscany. Guido had arranged for us to dine at and tour a small winery named Monagliari. This was also a wonderful stop and the beauty of the countryside cannot be explained in words. Since we had the unexpected "staff meeting" at the Academia we were running a bit behind so we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked touring the winery, but did enjoy a fabulous lunch. On the way back we talked and laughed with Guido about various topics from how Rome is great without the Romans to he and his son's love for Spongebob. Again Guido is a wonderful guide and I don't thing we would have had as memorable of a time if he was not with us. Villefranche, France The final port of call for our trip was Villefranche. We decided to book an excursion through the ship since this was a tender port and our time was very limited. We chose the Monaco and the View from Eze tour with NCL. We had seen a show on the Travel Channel about Eze and we were really looking forward to that stop. After meeting and tendering to shore we hopped in a bus and headed to Monaco. Upon arrival we stopped at the cathedral and saw the tombs of Princess Grace and Price Rainier. We then took the short walk to the Royal Palace and were given 30 - 45 minutes to explore on our own. We caught the changing of the guard and walked back to the bus for the short ride to Monte Carlo. We walked around the casino area and had a short time for personal exploration. After Monte Carlo we boarded the bus for the half hour ride up to the mountain village of Eze. Eze was a great village and offered some unique shops and quaint medieval charm. Our friends who knew very little about this village really enjoyed our choice. I was pleased with the NCL organized tour. I am sometimes wary of ship excursions because I hate being herded like cattle, but this tour was very relaxed and allowed for plenty of personal exploration time. Disembarkation and Post Cruise The disembarkation process was very smooth and uneventful. We chose the express walk off option so after enjoying a final breakfast on board we walked off and quickly jumped in a cab. We spent the rest of the day until our flight to Madrid at 8:00 p.m. exploring Barcelona on the HO-HO bus. We found this an efficient way to explore the city given our limited time (we were supposed to have an additional day at the front end, but due to our flight delays this did not happen). At the end of the trip we spent two days in Madrid and took a side trip to Toledo. I would highly recommend our hotel that our travel agent set up for us in Madrid, the Petit Palace Londres. It was a typical small, Euro-style hotel, but the location was unbelievable. We were on a street between Puerto del Sol and the Gran Via. All in all even with the flight/luggage issues this was the trip of a lifetime for us. We were glad we got to share the experiences with our friends. We all would like to thank NCL, the staff of the Jewel and all of our tour guides for making this trip so memorable! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
This was the second sailing on NCL and the first on the Jewel. We left Houston to fly to Barcelona, stayed overnight at the Tryp Apollo hotel, which was very nice and came with a full buffet breakfast. Transfers to the ship was on a ... Read More
This was the second sailing on NCL and the first on the Jewel. We left Houston to fly to Barcelona, stayed overnight at the Tryp Apollo hotel, which was very nice and came with a full buffet breakfast. Transfers to the ship was on a comfortable bus and the luggage went on a truck. Very comfortable. Check in went smoothly and did not take long. Our cabin was in top shape, although very small. The ship is nice, with a promenade deck on deck 7. The public rooms are small. The cabin steward was fantastic. Always clean towels and towel figures every other night and very accommodating if we needed something. The evening entertainment was the best I had ever seen. We have been on 12 previous cruises, and this was, by far, the best. Never wanted to miss a performance. The food was mediocre, to say the least. The wait staff hustled, but the food came out from the kitchens at a snails pace, even in the specialty restaurants. Cagneys steak house restaurant was the best. Mamas was good. Tangos for Tex Mex was ok. Chin Chin was unusual, but if you stuck to the menu items you knew, they were good. Make your reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you board, because they do not take walk ins and they book fast for the entire cruise. We didn't get in a few of them. Shore excursions were good. Overpriced, but good. Buses were waiting. If a lunch was provided, it was good. Not much free time because of time constraints. The cruise director and staff were fabulous. Very personable people and always with a smile. We played a lot of Trivia. They had a lot of activities for everyone throughout the days at sea. My husband was tired from going to the front and then back of the ship for all the activities. Bingo was expensive - very expensive. They now have electronic machines for bingo, which almost eliminates the paper bingo from winning. Come with a lot of money if you want to play Bingo. The casino had a good amount of slots starting at a penny. They didn't pay well, but it was fun. Free cocktails were served during certain hours of the day and a daily chance for a free pull to win a cruise was a big hit. the captain was very nice, eager to talk with you and was very personable. The bar service was good, but pricey. The gift shops were very pricey and were located in the back of the ship, with the exception of a small shop on the same floor as the pursers desk. The ship handled very good in rough seas. A small amount of rocking, but not as bad as other ships we've been on. When the cruise was over, debarkation went smoothly and fairly quick. The biggest problem was after you got your luggage and passed through Customs, trying to get on a bus to take you to the airport. We had to wait quite awhile and be pushy along with everyone else to get your bags on the bus and get seated. It was a little disorganized. Overall, the trip was wonderful. The ports were wonderful and the ship and staff were great. The only big disappointed was the food and the time it took to get to the table. Freestyle dining is good in one way. Eat when you want and where you want (as long as you have a reservation). On the other hand, you don't have the same waiter each night which is part of the fun when dining. For the price, it was a good trip. However, if you like to be more pampered, I would suggest another cruise line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2006
By way of background, my wife and I are a retired couple in our 60's, and have sailed on 20 cruises, the majority of them of 14-days or longer duration. We book balcony cabins, and over the years have sailed on Carnival, Royal ... Read More
By way of background, my wife and I are a retired couple in our 60's, and have sailed on 20 cruises, the majority of them of 14-days or longer duration. We book balcony cabins, and over the years have sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and NCL. This cruise represented our fourth cruise on NCL and our third on the Jewel, the first Jewel cruise being an October 2005 sailing to New England and Eastern Canada shortly after the launching of the Jewel. The 15-day, 10/21/06 sailing of the Jewel from Barcelona to Miami, is the subject of this review, although for us it represented the second leg of back-to-back cruises, the first part being a 12-day cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona originating on 10/9/06. A review of the earlier cruise has been previously posted on this forum. Most of my comments in the earlier review pertain to this sailing as well. Although the ports of this cruise were not as appealing to us as the Istanbul/Barcelona itinerary, we booked it primarily to experience the enjoyment of a longer cruise returning to near our Florida home, and also to enjoy additional Mediterranean ports, and to eliminate the long return flight to the US. In this review I will generally limit my comments to those aspects of this sailing that differed from the first. Our overall impression of NCL and the Jewel was once again favorable, although we found a significant and puzzling change in some aspects of the experience on this sailing. Because this was a repositioning cruise back to the US, the passenger profile changed quite dramatically from the earlier Istanbul/Barcelona cruise. On the earlier cruise, there were about one-half American passengers with the majority of the remainder being Europeans. On this sailing, the passengers were generally older and almost entirely Americans and Canadians. It would appear that this significant change in passenger profile had a dramatic effect on the overall restaurant operations of the ship. Americans tend to eat earlier than Europeans, and on several occasions we found the two main dining rooms swamped before 6:00 in the evening. This never happened on the earlier cruise. Also, there were some large groups on the ship, and on several occasions they almost entirely took over both dining rooms, leaving little space available for those not part of the groups. As a result, not only was it difficult to obtain a table, even at an early hour, but table service bogged down badly, with long delays before ordering and between courses. On several occasions we left the dining room without desert or coffee, simply to avoid another long wait and in order to obtain a seat for the 7:45 show in the theatre. On one occasion we were in the dining room over 1-1/4 hours before being served our entree. The long delays in service seemed to extend to breakfast and lunch in the dining room as well. Often these dining rooms were quite chaotic with high noise levels and harried waiters, to the point where we booked many nights in the specialty restaurants, simply to have a more pleasant and relaxing dining experience. In general, although we enjoy some of the features of Freestyle dining, it simply doesn't seem to work as well as traditional dining when there is a homogeneous passenger profile who all seem to want the same thing at the same time. With this major exception, this sailing was similar that that which was the subject of my earlier review. The crowded conditions extended to the laundry facilities and finally to embarkation which, at least for those of us who disembarked about in the middle of the pack, was the most chaotic I have seen in twenty cruises, although the final confusion in the port facilities seems to be the responsibility of the Port of Miami. Interestingly, I have seen this passenger profile in two transatlantic cruises, making me inclined to avoid these sailings in the future. Overall, it was an enjoyable cruise with interesting ports of call. My comment in the earlier review regarding the lack of interesting onboard activities applies even more to this sailing with the long Atlantic crossing. I will probably sail NCL again, although I must admit my enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat since the wonderful sailing to Canada on the Jewel in October 2005. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
This was our 5th NCL cruise and our friends first.  We flew to Barcelona and spent 2 nights at the Tryp Apollo booked by our agent at a lower rate. The hotel is central and the city has bus tours running every 30 minutes to all the famous ... Read More
This was our 5th NCL cruise and our friends first.  We flew to Barcelona and spent 2 nights at the Tryp Apollo booked by our agent at a lower rate. The hotel is central and the city has bus tours running every 30 minutes to all the famous sites. We did a harbour tour then ate in a small tapas bar close to the hotel. Embarkation was smooth and our luggage arrived quickly. As a new ship the Jewel is beautiful and has corrected some of the other ships problems. The theatre is a true theatre with clear visibility from every corner. The garden cafe has been expanded with stations for different foods reducing lineups.  We preferred the Tsar Palace and met our friends there often. We tried Cagneys, Mamas Chin Chin the Blue Lagoon and the sushi Bar.  We find all of the meals satisfying but do not expect outstanding. My husband is a great cook so we are spoiled.  I have a mobility problem and was very concerned about the shore excursions. I went to the Internet and booked private tours for Florence and Rome for a little more than the ships rates for 4 of us.  It was so successful I would do it again for every port. In Florence we had Thierry who took us every where we wanted to go including the local restaurant he goes to with his wife. Lunch there was 50 euros for 5 of us and was the best pasta we had eaten. John of Top Tours in Rome showed us the city then took us to Monte Mario to a beautiful hilltop restaurant. We enjoyed the ports without tours after that. Our friends took ship tours for every port and saw more than I did but I was satisfied. The weather was a surprise. Being a Canadian I think Nov. Cold .Not in the Mediterranean. It was sunny and warm except one day in Gibraltar where it poured.  Crossing the Atlantic we were swimming and enjoying smooth seas and sunny days. On the ship we found lots to entertain us. One member a golfer attended every golf clinic and felt the teacher Mike Vanye was excellent.  Of the 5 cruises I've been on the cruise director Mike from Cambridge was the best. His down to earth humour and sincerity shone through his interactions with the guests and his team.  The Karaoke contest of the staff was hilarious and the crew show not to be missed especially Fountains. You had to be there. David Naster is always a hit. I find the Jean Ann Ryan shows repetitious but energetic. High praise for the Cirque Bijou. It was great.  I played Blackjack for a week on $20 and ended up with $70.  The dealers were friendly and helpful. Being a large ship there is a lot of walking. I learned to pace myself and plan so that I was not going back and forth. Our cabin steward Boris was a kind efficient employee who took good care of us. This ship has ice cream makers in the garden cafe which were a big hit with this crowd. They started with the cones then moved on to bigger and bigger containers cups glasses and soup bowls. We did the express walk off and arrived at the airport with lots of time to do the endless lines for security. This was a great trip and I highly recommend the NCL Jewel. One of the friends had cruised on other lines but said she was sold on the freestyle dining. My best wishes to anyone looking forward to a cruise. Have fun. Sandy Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
Where should I begin? This was a nice cruise with fantastic ports of call. THE SHIP The Jewel is a very attractive and modern ship...........seemed very long from one end to the other. I always shortened the walk by going on the floors ... Read More
Where should I begin? This was a nice cruise with fantastic ports of call. THE SHIP The Jewel is a very attractive and modern ship...........seemed very long from one end to the other. I always shortened the walk by going on the floors where the action was to distract myself from the amt of walking. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the ship. It was spotless top to bottom. In all the eating areas, there was a new gizmo and a person standing there to see to it that your hands would be cleansed/sterilized. The staff is very congenial always and can't do enough for you. Rooms are decent enough and the bathroom I found to be larger than other ships; in particular the shower stall seemed double size. Mike, the cruise director, although only 28 yo does a very nice job with the cruise. Other staffers are good also. There are dining rooms galore. The new and added cost dining rooms seem to be all the vogue, although I don't believe in them. Maybe this ship I should have! On to................. THE FOOD Well if you are going for food, you will be sadly disappointed. The few times I went to the dining room, I was more than unhappy. Steaks/meat were of a poor quality, either too tough or too soft. They couldn't seem to get it right. I think I've been spoiled by the meat on Carnival ships which is always great! An example of a typical appetizer was coconut crusted.............chicken strips! Items you could get at your local Denny's. All shrimps were of the minivariety. I don't eat those at home and on a ship for sure not. So much for the dining rooms. People that went to Cagney's the steakhouse said that the food quality was great. However, service was always good. Lobster tail was only served once on a 2 week trip, first go round was good, 2nd one wasn't. Drawn butter was not served. The Buffet/Garden Cafe Bottom line...........this was good! Breakfast was a huge variety and items were freshly made according to how you like it. Eggs made to your specifications before your eyes, omelettes, fresh waffles, sigh. There were special coffee machines that people seemed to like preparing uniquely specialty coffees. And so many tea choices, WOW! But alas no hot chocolate. For lunch there were men preparing in woks, a mixture that you had concocted on your own. You put it on the plate and they cooked it up for you. There was always a large item being carved up every day of one kind or another, turkey, veal, pork whatever and might change as lunch wore on. Good news, the desserts were just as good as they looked. Seemed like there was always something that you might like for lunch or dinner which is more than I could say for the dining rooms. ENTERTAINMENT was good enough. Almost all the entertainers had a product for sale after their show. Now we have a new way for the ship and entertainer to catch some extra bucks. Exiting the ship seemed pretty simple. Luggage was there as planned and a short line for customs and it was all over. I must admit that NCL's dining whenever is a very nice thing. There is sometimes a short line or a wait, but still you are eating when you want. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
As background we're late 50's cruisers who've have run the gamut of cruise lines RCL, HAL, Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, and NCL to include sailings in the Western Med, Northern Europe, Alaska, Caribbean & Tahiti, and ... Read More
As background we're late 50's cruisers who've have run the gamut of cruise lines RCL, HAL, Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, and NCL to include sailings in the Western Med, Northern Europe, Alaska, Caribbean & Tahiti, and Transatlantic, now twice, on ships carrying from 700 to 3000 pax. We set up our own air from Florida overnight to Barcelona arriving on the morning of the cruise since NCL was not coming up with decent fares. We arrived at 8:00am for a 7pm sailing and had booked an NCL transfer to the pier, but we had a surprise mini-tour of Barcelona since NCL didn't want us for embarkation that early. It was as nice a tour as some you pay for. Embarkation was quick at noon in the Latitude Member line. Luggage came 3-4 hours later. Who cares it's there and we're there! The cabin: Verandah amidships (don't they seem to be getting smaller on the newer ships) was 170 or so sq.ft. plus 40 for the verandah,and was well designed ergonomically,with just enough storage space for two. The separate commode and shower with glass doors situated on either side of the vanity was novel. It was nice not having to get intimate with your shower curtain every evening. The bed was a true king-size also not two studio sizes pushed together to equal a queen as we've seen sometimes. And the mini-refrigerator actually kept the drinks cold! Bernard our steward and his assistant Mary Cris met us at the door. They were super the entire cruise (we've never had non-attentive cabin stewards on any cruise line). We think there's a hidden camera in the room so they know when you're out even for a short time. The first dining experience: Cattle call!! The buffet is always a zoo at embarkation and the Jewel was no different except this Chinese fire-drill (or if you will a typical day at Mickey-D's except it's adults) was to be a repeat every morning and most afternoons especially on sea days. Get your own coffee & juice and clean your own table spot. Picture 2400 passengers competing for 400 seats (the other side of what would be a buffet area on most ships was Mama's specialty restaurant) and you'll get the idea. However the buffet food we were to discover, was to among the best possibilities on this ship. At the 2 main dining rooms, lines were often long, food was sub-par and often cold. To add insult to injury a $6 glass of wine only fills 1/3 of the goblet (it's pre-measured). Scratch-off the dining rooms except for Captain's lobster dinner and forget about prime-rib on this cruise. Specialty restaurants: Take a sheet of paper with all your events/excursions/captain's dinner times with you and go stand in the reservation line on embarkation afternoon. If you don't, getting a reservation will be difficult. Cagney's $15pp cover ($7.50pp before 6pm) had excellent steaks and top notch service (aha!, so this is where all the waiters were), as did Le Bistro -$10pp(get the chocolate fondue dessert). Mama's was OK and quiet. Tango's Tex Mex (no cover) had pretty good fajitas and ribs. Excursions: We booked thru our travel group using Portside Tours which was a great outfit at nearly every port. Corsica, Mallorca & surprisingly Madeira Island were all terrific stops with both scenic vistas and villages and city shopping to do at much less cost than NCL's tours. Often we had one way receivers with ear buds so you could lag behind and still hear the excellent commentary. And your bus becomes like one big extended family after a few excursions. Hint: Go on your own in Gibraltar because if the weather closes in and the cable cars don't run, you still can shop for crystal! Entertainment: Other than the fact that each theater venue was packed as early as 45 mins. before showtime, this is NCL's high point, as we remember having excellent entertainment on the Sun, but this Jean Ann Ryan troupe was outstanding. Don't miss Cirque Bijou!! Around the ship: Except for the crowded buffets and entertainment venues, there seems to be plenty of room elsewhere on the ship. The small lounges with guitarists and pianists were quiet places for pre/post dinner drinks. Their pianist Vladamir Krevian outside Le Bistro was superb. We bought his CD and we never do that. There is a promenade deck circling the ship for walking off your excess food where 3 laps (ugh!) is 1.4 mis. Even in an Atlantic gale, this ship was stable enough to walk the promenade even if you did feel like a drunken sailor. Overall: All in all, if you keep in mind that NCL must have researched and discovered that fancy ship food is not the thing driving cruise bookings, but rather it's ports and entertainment at a more than fair price, then this transatlantic cruise did offer good value for the fare charged. However, we'd rather see both interesting ports and a quality product, so we're doing the Greek Isles on Oceania next. But we're not sending back our Latitude Pins yet because of one less-than-spectacular cruise on the Jewel. Dan & Cheryl, Debary FL Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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