7 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Caribbean - Western from Houston

My husband and I are avid cruisers. This was our 23rd cruise, our second with NCL. I was very hesitant to go on another NCL cruise because my first experience (2006) was not that great. However, NCL was offering great deals, so my we ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers. This was our 23rd cruise, our second with NCL. I was very hesitant to go on another NCL cruise because my first experience (2006) was not that great. However, NCL was offering great deals, so my we decided to book at the last minute, and I am glad we did. Our incentives included a free Ultimate Beverage Package and $100 shipboard credit. It was too good to pass up! Embarkation: We live very close to the cruise terminal, so we had friends drop us off. We arrived around 11 AM and by noon we had dropped our bags in our cabin and were sitting by the pool. The weather was a little dreary, but still warm/dry enough to hang out. Cabin: Since we booked at the last minute, we didn’t select our cabin. Dining: We only dined in all of the complementary dining rooms (O'Sheehan's, Chin Chin, Asura, Tsar’s Palace, Topsiders, and the Garden Café). We ate breakfast at both the main dining room and O’Sheehans where both were pretty good. We ate lunch at Topsiders and the Garden Café, and alternated dining rooms for dinner. The dinner food was OK, nothing special, but not bad. Our only disappointment was there was no “lobster night”. In order to have lobster you must dine in one of the specialty restaurants which is at an additional cost. Receptions: We attended the Cruise Critic reception which was very nice. The cruise director, Julie, along with the many of the ship officers also attended and it was a nice personal touch. We also attended the Latitudes (Past Guests) cocktail party which we really enjoyed (again the senior staff was in participation.) On formal night, the captain was available for photos, which was nice. (We haven't seen that happen in years on other cruise lines.) Ports of Call: We didn’t do any excursions because we had just visited the exact same itinerary a few months back. However, the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed just walking around the pier. Debarkation: Wasn’t bad at all, we were off the ship and home before 11 AM. It was wonderful cruise, the ship was beautiful, the staff was friendly, and our room was nice. We are already looking into to booking our next NCL cruise when the Jade comes to Houston this fall. (Please forgive any typos as I am typing on a very small screen :-) ) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I feel a little guilty only giving 3 stars - since we had a great trip. But I just finished the Norwegian survey and realized that there was really more wrong with this ship than I thought. Every cruiser feels they are an expert - I read ... Read More
I feel a little guilty only giving 3 stars - since we had a great trip. But I just finished the Norwegian survey and realized that there was really more wrong with this ship than I thought. Every cruiser feels they are an expert - I read most reviews from this trip and disagreed with much of the criticism - so really - you need to keep an open mind when you read the reviews. Keep in mind your own expectations, experiences and preferences and then weigh in our comments. This was our 12th cruise. 5th on a Norwegian. I would have to say - this was probably my favorite ship. Least favorite? Breakaway - too damn big. But I will agree with a previous review - Rock of Ages was a GREAT show as was all the entertainment on the Breakaway. Entertainment on the Jewel - eh.....not great but still worth watching. I love a smaller ship - and this was smaller but large enough where you didn't feel too crowded. The negative - there were lines at times - especially at the bars. Yes - bar service was mostly horrible - especially at poolside. We had the ultimate beverage package (UBP) and had to wait an inexcusable amount of time for service. Even extra tipping in cash didn't help. Drinks were severely watered down and smaller. BUT - you get what you pay for and in reality - you paid for unlimited so if you are disappointed in your drink - throw it out and find something else. Food - it was okay. Not like the olden days when food was everything - presentation, selection, taste, etc. But again - you get what you pay for and when you pay for freestyle - your experience takes a hit. Never have I cruised where I went to an open dining room (Azure) and had to ask for a server. Nor do I understand how the other open dining room (Tsar) would not let you in with shorts. Same menu, service, etc. I can guarantee my husbands shorts and Tommy Bahama shirt cost more than most diners in the room - but that is a bit caddy so I apologize. Food was still good and plentiful. We also ate at Cagneys - Super good and the Italian (La Cucina??) - which was very good but too much food. Spa - I had a decent hot stone massage and facial while in port in Honduras. Be aware - even though you may spend $200+ on a spa treatment - that still does not give you access to the actual spa. You need to pay extra for that and I thought that was absolutely outrageous. It made no sense to me and I let them know it. PORTS - LOVED Cozumel - and if you like to bar hop - you must choose the Cozumel Bar Hop (not an excursion offered by the ship - you need to search for activities from the island). This was a very well organized, CHEAP, and fabulous day. We went to the opposite side of the island and went to out of the way bars with beautiful views, great drinks and really great staff. A definite must. Belize - We didn't sign for an excursion this time because we wanted to see the city on our own. Big mistake - if you can't handle locals in your face trying to get you in their cab - then book an excursion. Honduras - Banana Coast - this was the last time Norwegian would ever be at this port so I will leave my comments to myself. So - now you see why I chose an average rating. BUT - I would still choose this ship again - but only with different ports. It was still a wonderful and relaxing vacation! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
my wife and I sailed on the Jewel for the second time this year and found it just as good as the first time we sailed on her. During the entire trip we had no issues with any one or anything on board. the meals were above average to great ... Read More
my wife and I sailed on the Jewel for the second time this year and found it just as good as the first time we sailed on her. During the entire trip we had no issues with any one or anything on board. the meals were above average to great and this covered room service all the way to the paid restaurants. the staff, from room stewards, bar staff and senior staff were the best we have encountered in all of our cruises. I found that anyone who got upset about the washy washy part of eating has never been sick on a ship. once they experience that, they would never be bothered with it again. We would sail on the Jewel again and intend to! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my husband and I's first time aboard any of the Norwegian boats and our second cruise. Our first cruise was with Carnival Pride and we sailed with a group of friends. On this particular cruise, we sailed alone. This review ... Read More
This was my husband and I's first time aboard any of the Norwegian boats and our second cruise. Our first cruise was with Carnival Pride and we sailed with a group of friends. On this particular cruise, we sailed alone. This review will be a comparison and overall review of our time aboard the Jewel. We flew in the day of the cruise and had some friends pick us up from the airport so I cannot comment on the cost of transportation roundtrip from the airport nor can I comment on hotel accommodations/parking. The ship was much larger than Carnival's Pride boat and there was much more available in terms of entertainment. The downside to that however was that many of the activities available we not of interest to us. Much of the concerts/live music/music in general catered to country or rock music. Considering we are more pop and r&B lovers, we did not enjoy much of what they had to offer. That was very disappointing especially when you have two back to back at sea days. What we did enjoy was the comedy show featuring JP and the Le Cirque Bijou (both presented in Stardust) and two of the adult only games in Spinnaker. During the at sea days we spent most of our time in our room sleeping, watching the new release movies or relaxing in the sun. My advice to the activity coordination team on the Jewel would be to diversify entertainment options. Because of this, I would not recommend the boat to other couples who like us are very active, enjoy diverse experiences and are traveling alone on the boat. On the brighter side, the passengers were very, very friendly. We met really nice, easy going people on the boat and it was not hard to strike up conversation. I know you cannot guarantee this on each sail, but it was very welcomed considering this was not something that we found on Carnival's boat. The food was just okay. We did not dine at any of the specialty restaurants because we knew that if we wanted anything that was offered, we could easily find those things at home. We did opt for the Chef's Table since it occurred on our anniversary night so when you have a chef preparing dinner for you, you know it has to be GOOD! The Chef Table did not disappoint, but we did find out from another couple that the menu is the same regardless of which boat you sail on with Norwegian. I do not know how true that is, but if we decide to cruise with Norwegian again, I'll be sure to look into it. My husband and I personally felt that the food offered on Carnival's boat was very diverse, different and exciting. We tried things we normally would not try like alligator, shark, frog legs, ect. When we saw a more Americanized version of dinner being served EVERY night in the main dining halls, we were very disappointed. The breakfast at the Garden Cafe could use refreshing as well. I grew tired of the breakfast options after Day 2 of our 7 day cruise. Our Cabin was pretty good for the most part. We stayed in 8073 and although the room appeared very clean we noticed a few issues. Our sheets had black marks and stains on both the sheets and the comforter. We immediately called to have them replaced along with the pillows. We also had a problem with the toilets backing up or not being able to be flushed atleast once a day. It was very annoying to have to call once per day to have someone fix the issue. I should also note that when you enter the hallway from the elevators or O'Sheenans and you first pass cabin 8093, I smelled a sewage-y smell that did not last the entire cruise but was present for the first 2-3 days. I can only assume many of the toilets in my cabin area had toilet issues as you would see the plumbers accessing the toilet pipes outside the cabin throughout the cruise. In terms of the staff, I would definitely give them average or below average scores. The crew at Carnival really made us feel appreciated, welcomed and knew us by name. I was so touched and connected with them that I cried when our cruise came to an end. With Norwegian, we barely saw of cabin stewards, the staff never went above and beyond and we truly felt like just another number. That was a feeling I could have done without. We noticed that our last two days on the boat (which were at sea days) room service nor the reception desk would answer our calls. When we finally got through to room service (they actually called us back) they patched is through to room service and they picked up immediately. I should also note that room service was VERY VERY slow with food arriving cold at best. Embarkation was not as bad as disembarkation. When we embarked, the lines were long, move pretty swiftly, but the hostesses did not provide us with a map. For disembarkation, we felt that the customs process could have been smoother without the longer than normal wait lines. Overall, I would not cruise on the Jewel again, but I would not rule out cruising with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Having cruised a few times before, we were very happy with the NCL JEWEL. An older ship, but has been remodeled/updated recently. The ship holds around 2500 guests and about 1000 crew, I think. There are 14 decks.. But most of the ... Read More
Having cruised a few times before, we were very happy with the NCL JEWEL. An older ship, but has been remodeled/updated recently. The ship holds around 2500 guests and about 1000 crew, I think. There are 14 decks.. But most of the activities is on 6-7,12-13. Embarkation was fine..standard security ,etc.. No real problems in Houston. Our room was fine..see below.. Food was good..and Plentiful! The Garden Cafe buffet had decent food..not fantastic..but they did vary the menu with themed nights. Tsars palace and Azura ..main dining rooms were fine also.. Freestyle cruising..eat anytime..never really had any long wait times to find a table. o'sheehans pub was also a nice change of pace diner..all those are included in price.. their Premium restaurants are nice! We only ate at Cagneys Steakhouse, on our anniversary.. Food there was Great! Highly recommend. The ship has a lot of options in eating. The lounges/bars were nice too. spinnaker lounge had great views of the water..and was spacious ! Some great game shows,etc.are held there! Dont miss the white hot party..tons of fun..and wear white! But the highlight of our trip was the Amazing shows in the Stardust Theater.. Don't miss one, if you go, because they are high production events. The Cruise Director, Jamie walker, is fantastic! She is very personable, helpful,funny, and amazingly she seemed to be at most events during the day! Great asset to the Ship! The pool area was nice, although I'm surprised it's not larger, as a lot of people congregate there during the day.. Ports were fun, especially the NCL Party atmosphere when boarding the ship! All in all, we had a Fantastic Vacation! Highly recommended for first timers, families, and those wanting to get away from the stress.. the. Jewel is Not a ship for those looking for lavish living, although I heard the Haven Suites are amazing! We will cruise again on NCL, for sure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Our trip started as an adventure in booking a timeshare. We couldn't find anything and airfare is so expensive, so we decided to try a cruise again. It's been 3 years since a week cruise on Carnival so we looked for something 2-3 ... Read More
Our trip started as an adventure in booking a timeshare. We couldn't find anything and airfare is so expensive, so we decided to try a cruise again. It's been 3 years since a week cruise on Carnival so we looked for something 2-3 weeks away. We have only cruised Carnival before and enjoyed each one. The thought of going through the chaos in Galveston was not a pleasant thing. So we search for a cruise out of the Houston Baypoint Cruise Terminal. We focused on Norwegian and Princess. We opted for the Freestyle! We booked a mini-suite, bought a romance package and had some credit onboard. This ended up only being a 55 minute drive and very easy parking. Embarkation was easy. My first impression was it seemed to be all "seniors" on the ship. That wasn't the case but since I'm part of that group, it was ok! Overall this was a great trip. The Norwegian staff did a great job. We relaxed and partied. The excursions were plentiful and in all price ranges. Buffet food was perfect for what it was. I would recommend taking water as it's not always available in large quatities. Part of the Romance package included dinner for 2 at Cagney's and Le Bistro. Both meals were very good and service was attentive and not rushed. Food in the main dining rooms Tsar Palace and Azure was okay. The last night was Prime Rib. My only gripe was that the meat was barely a quarter inch thick! It must have been because we ate late. The last 3 nights ended up in the Spinnaker Lounge which had activities from Newlywed Game, White Out Party and Live DJ, Bands and dancing. We only made one show in the Stardust Theater so we can't comment on the talent. The best part of the cruise was meeting people from all over the country and Europe. I could not find anyone from Houston! For all those folks from out of state, I'm sorry you have to see the ugly side of Houston in order to get to the ship. But if you had to go to Galveston you would quickly forget the ugliness and think what a beautiful cruise terminal in Houston! We will cruise with Norwegian again and hopefully a lot sooner than 3 years. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Embarkation went smooth. Upon arriving at our Cabin 10050 we discovered someone elses luggage. The steward told us to go to the front desk. After waiting in line 30 minutes they told us to go back to our cabin and someone would meet us ... Read More
Embarkation went smooth. Upon arriving at our Cabin 10050 we discovered someone elses luggage. The steward told us to go to the front desk. After waiting in line 30 minutes they told us to go back to our cabin and someone would meet us there. After wasting another 20 minutes it turned out that someone had mistook their room number while the steward was cleaning and had left their luggage. For the most part the Crew was great. Food was mostly pretty good. We learned that if dinner was bad at the restaurant that O'shehans had good Burgers and desserts. The breakfast buffett seemed to be the same every day. There was not nearly enough seating and your food could be cold by the time you found a seat. We found out that you could eat in the Italian restraunt where their was plenty of seating and quiet. For the first 2 days the entertainment that we like (comedians,magic) was lacking. It got better further into the cruise but did not compare to other cruises we have been on. There were only 4 Hot tubs that were around the main pool. It appears there were more Hot tubs that only the Suite rooms had access too. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
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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