12 Barcelona to Europe - Western Mediterranean Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
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 July 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
We booked Air, Hotel and Cruise thru NCL from our TA. We splurged and went for the owners Our flight was from Toronto to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Barcelona. 6:00 p.m: We arrived at Toronto airport and received our Airline ... Read More
We booked Air, Hotel and Cruise thru NCL from our TA. We splurged and went for the owners Our flight was from Toronto to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Barcelona. 6:00 p.m: We arrived at Toronto airport and received our Airline Tickets which included both boarding passes to Amsterdam and to Barcelona. We flew to Amsterdam with no issues, when we arrived in Amsterdam that's where our problem started. Once boarding time started, went up with our boarding pass was told we cannot get on the plane without a ticket, I explained that the boarding passes was all we were given. After what seemed forever, the lady behind him called us over and said everything is now fine. She phoned someone in Toronto and they confirmed they didn't give us that tickets. she indicated that this happens all the time. We arrived in Barcelona and met up with a NCL rep where we had to wait for an hour or so for the remaining other flights. Once everyone was there we were told to board the buses based on the hotel you are at. We arrived at the hotel (Melia Barcelona) around 3:00 a.m (toronto time), I was dead tired, The Hotel was beautiful. I was too tired to explore so we just ordered food in and went to bed. A letter was given to all of us to meet up at 11:30 in the lobby. We squared off our hotel bill and went directly on the Bus which took us 1/2 hour to get to the ship. As we got into the warehouse, we saw the long long line to get onto the ship. Thank goodness I saw the sign for Suite passengers. No lineup! They took our passports and held onto it for the the entire trip(not sure if this was for non US Citizens only). Make sure you make a copy of it!. We met Alex (Concierge), and the butler(Karan). Karan escorted us up to the suite and showed us around (Pictures to follow). What a cabin, coffee maker, 1 1/2 baths (TV in one). Phones everywhere including the bathroom, 2 balconies (front and side). One huge coffee maker that even grinds beans. This was amazing. Our luggage even arrived within the hour. At 6:30 we were to meet up with the Cruise critic Meet and Greet in the Garden Villa. I would like to personally thank Karen (Swimgrl) for hosting the M&G, Gary(GaryCarla) for his unbelievable Website and Sdiver(Sandy) for assisting with the M&G. It was a pleasure to have met you and everyone else. I'm not sure how many were there but it looked to be over 100 CC. The ship was was beautiful, we ate mostly in the speciality restaurant and that was a choice we chose prior to boarding the ship. The food is excellent. We had lunch at the Buffet a few times, it got quite crowded and to find available seats was not easy. We took advantage of breakfast in Cagneys a few times and most times ordered Room service. No cooking, cleaning or working for 15 days was a real treat so I lived it up! We booked all our excursions with NCL and have learned from this trip we should have gone private as many who did from the Cruise Critic raved at their trip. We chose Rome and the Vatican excursion and found that to be very stressful. We had to stand in line for 3 hours to get in to the Museum where you walked in the museum for another 3 hours. The Vatican museum, sistine chapel was breathtaking. We that this excursion didn't allow time to shop The excursion was a 9 1/2 hours long but from ship to ship it took over 11 hours. We also booked A visit to Pisa and Livorno by Boat. We enjoyed the Visit to Pisa, it was well worth it. We also booked Eze and Monaco. We did a fair amount of walking but this place was breathtaking. I sure would love to live there. 2 of our other excursions were messed up so We ended up shopping at Gibraltar, Ajaccio, Palma de mallorca and portugal and just loved it there. The weather overall was just wonderful, warm and not too hot, it did get a little rough by the end of the week. The entertainment was amazing and a must to check out. The Casino was okay. I found they were not as generous as they were on the Sun. Last year I got comped for a meal and drinks. But not this time. Overall we had a good time. Now back to reality...work Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We were a party of 6 including 3 children 16,14 and 4 and a grandmother!  Travelling from UK. We arrived having booked our own flights.  I had asked NCL UK if it was possible to book a transfer through them from the airport but was told ... Read More
We were a party of 6 including 3 children 16,14 and 4 and a grandmother!  Travelling from UK. We arrived having booked our own flights.  I had asked NCL UK if it was possible to book a transfer through them from the airport but was told no, but maybe on the way back check on board ,at shore excursions.  However,I approached the NCL rep at baggage retrieval and was told we could at $20 per person.  A bit steep but we decided it was worth it as they took all our luggage.  We arrived at 1p.m and went straight on ,very small wait in Latitudes line.  Usual onboard photo and then straight on to ship via the FYZZ lounge probably the brightest thing on board and you hit it first!  But it was fine by me.  My teenage daughter has been on a few cruises and generally is unimpressed by most things but she did say wow the first time she saw the ship which I think says it all.  The ship is very clean and I was very impressed by the constant levels of cleaning. We were in KK grade inside staterooms,deck 10,small but adequate apart from drawer space.  Shower excellent. Service was excellent only encountered slow service once at Tsar's but service at Azura's and in particular Mama's was excellent.  Almost all staff were friendly and polite too. Food was good too buffet was very impressed by choice and quality.  In main restaurants we only had a couple of average meals most were excellent especially Mama's and 32 nights at Azura.  The crepe souffle is a must.  The best meals were definitely good restaurant standard. Entertainment was excellent I would say the Jean Ann Ryan Company are the best troupe I've ever seen on a cruise ship.  Cirque Bijou is spellbinding. Children's club was the only real disappointment. My daughter is 4 and goes 4 days a week to nursery so she is used to a similar experience.  However,when we went to register she saw all the play equipment but was told no you can't use it except at special times. We then took her for our first visit and wanted to stay a little while but were told under no circumstances was this possible as it unsettled the other kids.Yes I can understand this to a point, but the net effect was that Rachel got very upset as we didn't even get to say goodbye properly and she refused to go back.  That was poorly handled for me. Disembarkation-we opted for Express carrying our own luggage.  Express it wasn't.  There is a separate gangway on Deck 4 for people carrying their own luggage,but because you could come to it via 2 main stairways and lift blocks proper queuing went out of the window and it became a pushing and shoving routine.  Needs better organizing.  We decided to get a taxi back the queue was large but moved quickly but we had to get 2 taxis because we were 6 it was still cheaper than NCL transfer though which doesn't seem right. This was my first cruise on NCL (my Mum had been before on the Norway twice).  Cruising is something I love and have been on 20 odd with Cunard, RCCL, P&O, Princess.  I can honestly say it's one of the best I've been on,pluses and minuses.  Cunard has the best food by far but is a little stuffy.  I love the freestyle concept and would have tried more of the speciality restaurants if the kids hadn't been with us.  The food may not have been quite as good in the main restaurants as Princess but it wasn't far off. however,the shows were MUCH better more professional and fun. The staff were almost all friendly and very polite the only exception being reception but even there some of the staff were nice others just seemed too harassed. I think the biggest complaint would be alcohol prices.  The bars were empty surely they must know by now why and need to do something. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
We booked our cruise through an agency on the internet. They made many mistakes with flights not being confirmed both going and coming home. They are telling us that NCL made all the arrangements, but unfortunately, they are our agent and ... Read More
We booked our cruise through an agency on the internet. They made many mistakes with flights not being confirmed both going and coming home. They are telling us that NCL made all the arrangements, but unfortunately, they are our agent and we were not happy with how they handled things. This was a family vacation with my 79-year-old father. The boat is lovely. Clean, and kept in good condition. Staff was pleasant I am a foodie. I Liked the specialty restaurants for their value, but it wasn't very different from the restaurants in the States. Waiters were very accommodating. Took yoga one morning and we were charged 15% great. on top of the lesson. A little much. My sister ordered cake and champagne for my father's birthday to be given at one of the specialty restaurants, but the person taking the order put it in his room instead -- a big mistake. The preservationist was not willing to compensate for their mistake. The rooms were cleaned it seems twice a day. Even the bathroom sparkled. The Freestyle dinning in the Garden cafe had a very high noise level. We felt that the groups that were from Barcelona were very loud and sat at the tables for hours with all their kids. Myself, as well as staff members who I spoke to because there was always cutting of lines informed me that there is nothing they can do this is how they are. This was very upsetting since I was taught being out of your own country manners comes first. Toward the end of the trip many of the families were found at night sitting on the floor with their families and their kids playing. Something I did not expect... Nor did I find any cruise personnel telling them to get off the floor so people could walk. Excursions: Very well organized for leaving the ship. There were a few changes that should be made one is the Rome and the Vatican Tour with Mario was too fast. One person fell and hurt herself. None of the personnel had Band-Aids to help clean her up. Also, the restaurant Papa Rex was not what I expected for $189.00. We were greeted at the door with someone taking our picture which showed us they were only interested in our money. The main course was a disgrace to the ship. They served roast beef that was like shoe leather and thin with canned peas and old roasted potatoes. I traveled 3000 miles to get an authentic italian meal in an Italian restaurant. Many people were very put out by this you should change your restaurant, or change your main entree Something that is of higher quality and the restaurant makes well, and represents the region, and the ship. Florence excursion would have been even nicer if head sets were given. Again, a lot of walking and keeping up with the speaker who was not able to talk above the noise level on the streets. There were 738 kids on this cruise more than we wanted. Especially when you wanted to enjoy the pool and there was not enough space for the adults. Would I use NCL again, only if the cruise was for adults. I feel they let the Barcelona rule the ship.... and I am waiting for a response from the travel agency for the mess I had to encounter with 5 members of my family with tickets. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
This was my fifth cruise and fifth cruiseline. Overall, my husband and I had a wonderful time, but I have to say that this was not my favorite ship or favorite cruiseline. The ship -- In my opinion, the ship is average. I have been on ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise and fifth cruiseline. Overall, my husband and I had a wonderful time, but I have to say that this was not my favorite ship or favorite cruiseline. The ship -- In my opinion, the ship is average. I have been on some truly beautiful ships, and this is not one of them. Our room (10th floor balcony) was slightly below average and not spotlessly clean, as it has been on other ships. Service -- I thought this ship offered the lowest level of customer service I have ever had on a cruise. The staff was not especially friendly or accommodating and the service in the restaurants was often painfully slow and inattentive. Restaurants -- The freestyle dining concept was kind of strange. On the first day, my husband and I made reservations at Cagney's (very good) and Chin Chin (pretty good). The rest of the week we stopped by the restaurants (rather than making reservations) and got into every one of them. This mystified us because when we phoned for reservations, we were always told that they were fully booked; HOWEVER, when we just stopped by to see if they could "squeeze" us in, they always could. And every restaurant always had dozens of empty tables. Our guess is that this is some sort of method of controlling the number of diners per restaurant, but I imagine that passengers who couldn't get reservations would have been very upset if they had known that so many tables went unused! Odd. Ports -- For us, the trip was more about the ports than the ship, and the excursions that we took were all outstanding. Because our outbound flight was cancelled, we missed Barcelona :(, but we had been there before. In Messina (which we had also been to before) we took the "Godfather" tour. Lots of fun but, if you haven't been to Sicily before, I would have to recommend an excursion to Taormina and/or Etna. I n Naples, we took the "Capri/Sorrento/Pompeii" tour. It was a very long, busy day, but the sites were great. In Civitavecchia, we only took the bus transportation to Rome. This was VERY expensive, but it raised our comfort level about getting to/from Rome. The guide on the way in was fantastic and offered very helpful advice. In Livorno, we took my favorite excursion. Since we had already been to Florence, we took the "Cinque Terre" tour. The Cinque Terre is gorgeous and the tour is a lot of fun. Lastly, our least favorite port was Villefranche -- but that's because we love Italy so much! Overall, if you get a "deal", I'd recommend NCL and the Jewel, but there are better ships and, I think, better cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
My wife and I were treated by my grandmother on our first cruise. We were in a group of 8. We were excited it was to be to Europe which was also a first for us. I was more excited for the actual cruising experience and my wife was more ... Read More
My wife and I were treated by my grandmother on our first cruise. We were in a group of 8. We were excited it was to be to Europe which was also a first for us. I was more excited for the actual cruising experience and my wife was more excited for the places we would see. If I were to go that far again, I would stay at least a day in the embarkation city to recuperate from the long travel from the U.S. The ship's newness was quite noticeable. As the Jewel is approaching the end of it's first year one could tell that everything was still pretty unbroken in. The activities were fun. Plenty of stuff to do for any age. I am not a big fan of the Vegas type show, but the rest of the evening entertainment was pretty good. I even ended up going to the crew's talent show with little hopes for seeing some good talent, but was very impressed. I enjoyed that one more than their grand finale vegas type show. The service, I thought was very good. Most of the crew seemed eager to please and make you feel pampered. I enjoyed seeing their nation's flag on their name tags. Our rooms were very well taken care of each and every afternoon and evening turn down with a new towel animal and mints. The excursions were impressive. But if my grandmother were not the one paying for it all and wanting us to do it all sparing no expense, I would probably do a few of the ports on my own next time. I did not care for the restrictedness that most of the excursions had. And in each port, there seemed to be much better pricing for a smaller vehicle to take you around. We really enjoyed our day in Naples (Pompeii) and Messina through NCL, but Pisa and Villefranche through NCL were so low in value for what was given and or described in the excursion descriptions. My older grandmother ended up walking 15+ minutes to see the leaning tower of Pisa to only find a street right next to the entrance. If the big buses are not allowed there, that's all fine, but put that in the description for people who are not as able to walk can give it a second thought before they end up having to trek it out. She ended up being able to get a public city bus back to the bus. Again, communication is the missing factor. We went through shoretrips for our excursions in Rome and Barcelona. Our travel agent recommended it for Rome especially so we could see everything we wanted to and not be limited to NCL's itineraries. Well our guide, which turned out to be almost merely a driver, did not do very well. His English was poor and he couldn't master the driving and talking on the microphone about all the stuff we were seeing. Maybe that was for the better after seeing how people drive over there. He did get us back to the ship all safe and sound. Our large group didn't help things either with everyone wanting to do things from seeing the sights (imagine that), to shopping, to eating at a nice and quiet italian restaurant with a large LOUD group of uncultured Americans. But it was a good but overwhelming day. Shoretrips redeemed itself in Barcelona with a great guide and excursion. It was cut short by over 30 minutes, but the guide was great. Our stateroom was very nice. The dining was probably the biggest disappointment for my wife and almost for me. Of the 6 specialty restaurants, 3 of them were good and the other 3 were average or even poor. Stay away from Tango's. Cagney's, Chin Chin and Tepanyaki were the places we would go the whole week if we were going again. Being that they were the best, we still expected a tad better. In our group we had several who are regular cruisers and they too said that they thought that Princess had the best food. And I had read other reviews and knew I had to get reservations early at those better places to eat. If I had not we wouldn't have been able to eat there at all. Overall it was a fun week/trip. Just not enough time to see the historical sites when you're cruising. When I go back to Italy it will be on a plane and in a hotel to enjoy the experience more fully. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
We arrived early in Barcelona and were kept waiting at the airport for our transfer to ship. However, when we got there we were dealt with quickly and efficiently. We were boarded and in the Garden Cafe having lunch at 11.45am! The ship ... Read More
We arrived early in Barcelona and were kept waiting at the airport for our transfer to ship. However, when we got there we were dealt with quickly and efficiently. We were boarded and in the Garden Cafe having lunch at 11.45am! The ship is immaculate and very tidy and the staff were very hardworking and generally polite. There was a little bit of frostiness from a member of the reception team, when I arrived at reception to request a waiver form to sign as I wished to pay my own tips as opposed to having my shipboard account debited daily. The premium is $10.00 per person per day. There were 4 people in our cabin and I found this to be excessive, meaning that we were paying £25.00 per day in gratuities for housekeeping. Two passengers in my party were students, who were not able to afford this amount. I later learned of a number of other guests who were unhappy with this charge. However, the pools were lovely (saltwater), the food was very nice, if a little small in portion (in main restaurants). The buffet style in the Garden Cafe was nice, but the food there could have been hotter, most days I found the 'hot' dishes were lukewarm. The Tsars Palace and Azura restaurants were excellent though, we did not use any specialty restaurants. We bought the Soda package for a member of our party and this was $47, for the week, again, I thought this was a little high, having read a review for a trip the month before and was quoted as $20.00 for the same itinerary. Do NOT take the local bus tour in and around Naples, if you are not going to Pompeii. It is 20 Euros and not worth the money and the buses are not air-conditioned. Trip to Rome, using the ships coach transfer was good, on time, but there are not many public toilets in Rome and you will have to use a local cafe's ONE toilet before you set off. The owner will insist on you buying something before he will let you use his facilities. We will cruise with NCL again, (this was our first time). Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
My family (my parents and my sister) and I just got back from the 7 nights Western Mediterranean cruise with NCL on the Jewel. Since I really enjoy and appreciate all the reviews I read from this website I think its only fair that I ... Read More
My family (my parents and my sister) and I just got back from the 7 nights Western Mediterranean cruise with NCL on the Jewel. Since I really enjoy and appreciate all the reviews I read from this website I think its only fair that I should also share our experience with you. We started our trip to Barcelona two days before the cruise so we could spend some time in Barcelona and after reviewing the hotel options NCL offered, we decided to book our own hotel. I use tripadvisor.com for hotel suggestion and booked hotel H10 Universitat Hotel at Plaza Catalunya. The hotel is very nice but I am not sure if it is worth what we paid for ($215 per night per room). Barcelona is a very nice city and we had a great time explore it on our own. Two days was really not enough to see Barcelona but we did visited good potion of the city. Sergrada Familia by Gaudi was just absolutely magnificent; a must see in Barcelona; do go there early to avoid the crowd. Now on to the cruise, the embarkation was very fast (no wait) and the staffs are really friendly. We just walked right on to the ship without any line and they took our credit card info on the ship and sent us to our room and buffet up at the 12th deck. We booked two rooms for four of us, my sister and I stay in room 9074 with a balcony and our parents stay in an inside room just opposite our room (9073). The rooms are small but they do have a good size bathroom. The hair dryer was also surprise powerful. We loved the balcony in our room, and our parents spend a lot of time in our room so they could also enjoy the balcony. My sister and I both agree that we will never cruise without a balcony room, its just a must have for us because we like to stay in our room. After checking out our room we went up to the 12th deck for the sail away party/buffet which a big surprise was waiting for us. The buffet was not self-serve but served by the staff, you have to ask for everything even a cup of water. No explanation was given on why they change the format of the buffet instead we were told to sanitize our hands every where we go, it was very frustrating. After chatting up with some of the crews we found out that there was an outbreak of stomach flu couple weeks ago on other cruise ship and just to be safe they stop us from serving the buffet ourselves. It is now a big hassle to eat the buffet breakfast and lunch which my family enjoyed so much. All the staffs in the buffet area were also not well trained on handling serving the guests this way. Finally, after a couple days they stopped serving this way and allowed us to serve ourselves--still I think the damage is done, it just really decrease the free style experience. The ports that this cruise stopped at were mostly in Italy, our first stop is Messina in Sicily. We did not join any shore excursion; we just walk around the town ourselves and it was very relaxing. There are lots of taxi drivers soliciting for business at the port. Our next stop was at Naples and this time we joined an excursion to Sorrento and Pompeii. This is one of the excursions we really enjoyed because our tour guide is very good. We first stop by a cameo factory where the product and prices are very reasonable better than any other store we encounter later; they also allow us to use the restroom which was fairly clean. Our next stop was Sorrento and the drive leading to it was very nice. We also enjoyed a nice lunch (great cheeses) at one of the farms that grow lemon and olive trees. They also have a nice little gift shop. In the afternoon we went to Pompeii. It was really too big for us to see all of the ruins in one and half hours and it was so hot, dusty and crowded that we didnt want to stay too long. All in all we had a good time. The next stop was Rome (Civitavecchia) which is 1-1/2 hours away from the port). The excursions we joined were Classical Rome where they took us to the Rome Forum and outside of Colosseum in the morning and St. Peters Basilica in the afternoon. Both places were so crowded that it is really not a good idea to go with a tour guide, its almost impossible to follow the guide and especially our guide, we thought she was running instead of walking. Next time we go we probably will do a little more research and tour Rome on our own so we could see what we like to see and stop when we want to stop. Our last excursion was at Livorno which was the port for visiting the Florence. Since we have been on two full day excursions before we opted for only going to Pisa for half day instead of full day trip to Florence. We really enjoyed Pisa too, its just big enough for my parents and us to walk around and they did give us the option of exploring this place on our own. There were also plenty of souvenir shops around this place. The last stop was Villefranche at France and again we took it easy and just walked around the nice little town and we really enjoyed the Gold Coast scenery. As for the food, we did not try any of the specialty restaurants we only eat at the main dinning room either Tsars Palace or Azure. The food is really good with lots of choices but the portion is very small. We end up ordering two starter dishes every meal. The staff in the restaurants were friendly and nice but not very well trained; they are bite slow for me. That is my feeling for all the services on this ship, very friendly and nice but not very well trained/professional. Just a quick notes on the show, the band on the run and cirque Bijou are really nice, a must see. We also enjoyed the Second City comedy show. Overall it was a nice cruise and we did enjoyed ourselves but the only thing is there is not an extraordinary special space, meal or experience on this cruise. But, for the price we paid we think it is a good deal. We will cruise with NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
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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