1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2016
We got a brochure that had an excellent price and a time frame we liked. We also liked that we could fly to Houston non-stop. The tips were paid by Carnival so that was another selling point for us. We also have wanted to see Paris and ... Read More
We got a brochure that had an excellent price and a time frame we liked. We also liked that we could fly to Houston non-stop. The tips were paid by Carnival so that was another selling point for us. We also have wanted to see Paris and this was on the itinerary. The shore excursions that we went on were wonderful. The train ride from Hamburg to Berlin was excellent. The restaurant where we ate had the best food of the whole trip. For Paris we took a bus that was very nice and the countryside was beautiful. The river cruise and lunch were great. The food was good and the picture taking was the best as you could walk all the way around the boat so you could take them from all angles. Our time on the ship was great. Our dinner companions were the best ever! The ship never seemed crowded and there was lots of fun things to do. We really liked tea time and happy hour with the "buy one drink and get the second for $1". This was the first ship we have sailed on that had excellent food in the specialty restaurants that we have eaten in. The main dining room had good food, but not as good as other ships. For us there was too much bacon and pork. I have a medium allergy to pork and too much will make me sick. Also they did not have many vegetables with meals. All-in-all that was the only down part and that was workable. Princess did a wonderful job on this whole cruise, in our opinion. Highly recommend it. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and the first freestyle one. We liked it very much. No overly dressy clothes to pack, just some nice pants/slacks, shirts/blouses did the job for dining. The rest was vacation clothes. However, ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and the first freestyle one. We liked it very much. No overly dressy clothes to pack, just some nice pants/slacks, shirts/blouses did the job for dining. The rest was vacation clothes. However, people who had no sense at all and tried to have lunch in the restauranst in bathing suits were stopped at the door and asked to put on some clothes. We liked that very much as freestyle does not mean tacky. The Jade is a bit dated, has knick and knacks here and there but the overall layout is very nice. It is big but not too big. Plenty of outdoor space, Nice library, card room, enough elevators just like a ship this size should be. Our cabin was a family suite. The age showed here also but as the Jade is going into dry dock in the winter to get an overhaul, we did not really mind. We know that she will be nice and shiny again next year. The balcony could have been a bit larger for this size cabin so that we could have had a lounge chair there. The master bath made up for it however. The spacious shower with the window to the sea was just amazing. We didn´t know what to expect from the butler service and were pleasently surprised. We were looked after by Omar and his crew very well, spoiled a little bit but we were not pampered. After the first day, we just enjoyed the quiet, friendly, extra service. Really nice. Dining was a pleasure. We had the "special dining every day package" and tried them all. Cagneys Steak House was for us the most exclusive one but they all had excellent food and nice specialties. With friends, who did not have the dinner package, we went to the open restaurants 3 times and dinner was very nice there too. It was a bit noisy and kind of dark in Alizar and Grand but we have no complains about the food. We did not participate in the entertaiment except going to the shows. The shows were all right, some good, some better, but that is really a matter of personal liking. What we missed and had on all our previous cruises was a lecture about the next town/country. Some of these lectures went on for several days and gave not just a view of the port or tour destinations but also about history, current situation, language, money etc. That was always very interesting and informativ. As everything, the entertainment on TV was dated also. It should be possible to show more that the same 2 movies, shows, series every day again and again. The service on bord was very good. We liked the cheerful "washy washy" and were immediately "happy happy" when we heard it. One thing to complain about was the stiff attitude when we did our cabin crawl. At the very last minute, the guy who had the inside cabin got an upgrade. When we asked to have a look at the now empty cabin, we were told that it has to be occupied for a cabin crawl. We (that is 60 of our roll call) felt, that somebody of the crew could just have occupied it for the 15 minutes that we wanted to look at it. It was the first cabin on our list, we would have been in and gone but several attempts were just denied. We could, of course, have gone to some other inside cabin, there were enough offers in our large roll call group of nealy 130, but our route would have been a lot more back and forth, so we skipped the first cabin. However, we all felt that it was a strange reaction to our request. The shore excursions were like on all the other ships, a bit pricey with a stop at some winery or souvenier shop or so but well organized, on time, friendly and interesting. We did one in every port and would do it again. All together, we had a wonderful time with our fantastic roll call group, with freestyle cruising and the friendly crew of the Jade. Oh, one last suggestion to who ever is in charge at Norwegian... Please do the changing of time from 2p.m to 3p.m like HAL does it. Everybody who experienced it before likes it much better than the short night, including us. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Even though the Jade is going in for remodeling, we loved the old Hawaiian decor. We thought it was really elegant and not gaudy. Service was excellent. The staff remembered our names and greeted us everywhere. Grand Pacific main dining ... Read More
Even though the Jade is going in for remodeling, we loved the old Hawaiian decor. We thought it was really elegant and not gaudy. Service was excellent. The staff remembered our names and greeted us everywhere. Grand Pacific main dining room had excellent food. All the specialty restaurants were also excellent. I have a severe food allergy and this is the FIRST time cruising that I did not get sick! Kudos to the Maitre Ds and special chefs! We loved having the beverage package. The only negative: We thought that there were not enough variety of things to do. The cruise director's comment was that it depends on what fellow cruisers bring with them--wrong! (But thank goodness we had a great Cruise Critic group that did add some activities.)This is our third Atlantic crossing and it is the first time we didn't find enough to happily occupy our time. (We got a lot of reading in!) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2016
This was my first cruise so I have nothing to say except it was outstanding. I cannot image anything better. The people, the games (LRC), and the rooms were large and comfortable. That being said, The food was great, but not up to my ... Read More
This was my first cruise so I have nothing to say except it was outstanding. I cannot image anything better. The people, the games (LRC), and the rooms were large and comfortable. That being said, The food was great, but not up to my standards, especially at the french restaurant. For example, the snails were not washed well (grit and sand) and they were soaked in plain butter without garlic. Also, the food was too much. They should offer smaller portions because we can get a second one if we want in most cases. So my only complaint is too much food and too much waste. I like wearing T-Shirts and jeans. I did dress up for a dinner or two, but I also went in a collared polo shirt.......very nice. I was not bored, but I could have done with more free activities. I like Bingo, but not gambling.I have many pictures of people whose email addresses I did not remember to get which makes me sad. I am a less is more kind of guy so I could have done without the towel animals, the refrigerator full of over priced booze, and the plate sizes. Next time I think I may just rest more instead of running around and meeting people. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Being Platinum Latitude members, we have sailed quite often to the Caribbean and Alaska, but our first transatlantic repositioning cruise on the NCL Jade out of the Houston port was simple and easy. Taking this cruise for the first time ... Read More
Being Platinum Latitude members, we have sailed quite often to the Caribbean and Alaska, but our first transatlantic repositioning cruise on the NCL Jade out of the Houston port was simple and easy. Taking this cruise for the first time was a great adventure. Some surprises, for example,how calm the waters of the Atlantic remained for most of the trip, made for an enjoyable crossing. The Jade is in need of some refurbishing in the public areas. Some of the chairs in the atrium are very uncomfortable and broken. In the Spinnaker lounge there are sectionals that come apart too easily. But the ship is clean and the staff is exceptionally dedicated and friendly. Our mini suite was spacious with plenty of storage. We were able to store all clothing and luggage easily. Our steward, J.B. was efficient and willing to do anything we needed done. All venues around the ship offered a variety of entertainments. We enjoyed going to the productions in the theater. Most were typical cruise ship entertainment, but they were enjoyable. There were two complementary main dining restaurants. The menus remained the same for the most part, either a few entree changes each night. We ate some of our meals there, but chose to eat in the speciality dining venues more than half of the time. There is also a buffet that is available, but we usually prefer to sit down to a quite meal in the evenings. We only ate at the buffet one time for breakfast. The food choices there were good and the quality of food choices was excellent. Some of our shore excursions were enjoyable. Our Funchal, Madiera, "Best of Madeira" was fun and enjoyable. Our tour guide made the excursion enjoyable. The activities chosen gave us a good idea of the life in Funchal. Taking the sky lift to the top of the mountains of Funchal and the 2km toboggan ride down the steep street was fun and exciting. So glad we were able experience that adventure. The excursion we chose to tour Malta was not as enjoyable. Too many drive-bys with no chance to get out and explore the historic places. We did get to spend some time at the Blue Grotto for some photo opportunities, and we did stop at a fishing village with an opportunity to buy souvenirs. Our guide talked too fast, and we didn't get much out of this excursion. We chose a private tour in Barcelona sponsored by Baecelona Day Tours. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would use this company again. The tour had a small group, and this made the tour more personable. This tour also included a tour to Montserrat monastery. It was beautiful with a breathtaking view. All places chosen by this tour company were educational and interesting. I would definitely use this tour group again. As the cruise ended, the only negative side would be the 6 times we had to move out clocks forward. It did cause our sleeping habits to change and we slept later each day, making us miss some shipboard activities during the mornings. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
My transatlantic cruise on the Jade was a lot of fun. I met some really great people the first day at the solo cruiser group as well as at night at bar city. Speaking of bar city, I thoroughly enjoyed having cocktails down here. The ... Read More
My transatlantic cruise on the Jade was a lot of fun. I met some really great people the first day at the solo cruiser group as well as at night at bar city. Speaking of bar city, I thoroughly enjoyed having cocktails down here. The entertainment that would play in the evening (they had two really talented guitarists) was very good. The main showroom entertainment as usual was hit or miss. Different strokes and all that. The casino was smaller, but was virtually empty the whole time so I did my very best to fund their staff for a few days. I didn't really win. I think my favorite place to hang out outside was the Bali Hai bar. It has a great view over the pool deck and is an excellent place to people watch or just listen to the music. And the burger bar at lunch time, even though I know it uses the same ingredients, just tastes better. My balcony room was nice. Rooms were smaller than Epics. But that is ok. Since it was just me there was no shortage of storage space and I had room to stretch out. My cabin steward Benson was amazing. He was on top of things and any time I had a request he too care of it but there is only so much that he can do. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Jade is showing her age a bit. Some of the paint in my room wasn't looking so hot, my shower had some broken tiles, and god help you if you had an inside cabin with two people in it since they looked like shoe boxes. I'm only hald joking since the insides were quite small. My friend had an aft suite and I think I may book one if I can for next year. I understand that the Jade is going into dry dock soon so I expect they will address the smaller issues like pain and tiles. Not much can be done about the insides though. Food! Yes, there is a lot of it. On my previous cruise I had only eaten at the upgraded restaurants. This time I had 4 nights of fancy restaurants and the rest were at the normal dining room. The two main dining rooms, Alazzar and the Grand Pacific, were very good. I don't think I had a bad meal in these places the whole cruise though I know some of my dining companions did but they were picky. Bravo. Great job. However, our upgraded dining took between 2 and 3 hours at both Cagneys and Le Bistro. It wasn't like it was torture since it just meant more time to enjoy our little groups company, but it was a bit on the long side. However, as usual, the staff was very accommodating and placated us with wine and drink while we had interesting and fun discussions and the food was fantastic. We only had 3 ports we were stopping in over this 16 day cruise. Miami, Charlote Amalie, and Funchal. I didn't get off in Miami since I had been there plenty and there wasn't anything I wanted to do. I did a tour in Charlotte St. Amalie of the whole island which was beautiful. In Funchal, myself and a group of the other solo cruisers took the cable car up to the top and road baskets down. It was.....memorable. I don't think I'd do it again. Btw, if you do this, take the taxi down unless you want to be walking for quite a while. It's a bit of a haul and all downhill. Really I only had two complaints beyond spending too much in the casino. :) They have to do with the beverage package and the bars closing very early. Let's start with the bar close times. I believe the first night they all closed around midnight. Now I understand that if there are only a couple of people having drinks it doesnt' pay to stay open but there were around 15 of us up in the Spinnaker lounge. But ok, I had been partying it up pretty good so I placated myself with some chicken wings and complained. The next night we had the same thing happen. The following night? 1 am I believe and so on. There was a growing group after we picked up more passengers in Miami that wanted to stay out late. Thankfully around day 5 or 6 they started staying open later and later still after as we lost hours because of the crossing. I guess my point is that for us night owls, it would have been nice to keep at least one of the bars or lounges open. It was suggested we go to the casino as they stayed open later. However the casino, due to a lack of business, also closed very early so we couldn't even go there for a drink so there was nothing. My second complaint has to do with the beverage package. Now, I am very much so a mixed drink and beer guy. Some of our group not so much. They were wine drinkers. When NCL came out with the beverage package last time I paid out of pocket for it. It was around $440 for a one week cruise but did include everything one the ship that cost less than $12 but for some reason excluded some types of liquor. I understood that as some liquor costs more but just price things accordingly. But I digress. At the time that $12 covered almost any drink on the ship except for some of the really high end stuff. This included almost every type of wine that was available by the glass. Fast forward a year and 3 months it now includes virtually every type of liquor and beer on the ship (good job) but cuts the bottom off the wine limiting it to only a few choices. Specifically their house brand wine. This made all the wine drinkers sad. Other than those two items I had a fantastic experience on the Jade. I am looking forward to next years April transatlantic on the Epic. I'm sure I'll need another vacation by then and look forward to hopefully seeing some of the people from this cruise on that ship. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2016
We had a blast on this cruise, before and after. Yes, the Jade is dated, but she is also do for a retrofit shortly. That said, we did not have any trouble with any systems in our cabin (5601), just things looking a bit worse for the ... Read More
We had a blast on this cruise, before and after. Yes, the Jade is dated, but she is also do for a retrofit shortly. That said, we did not have any trouble with any systems in our cabin (5601), just things looking a bit worse for the wear. The bathroom was actually one of the nicer ones that we have had, and felt far less cramped than some we've had. The ports were great (though we're rather tired of St. Thomas!) However, I find it ridiculous that a cruise company lets thousands of guests off in a foreign port without providing at least a basic port map. I know it seems to be the way things are going, but it is a bad direction, and goes along with the fact that cruise companies seem to be taking levels of communication to previously unseen lows. But we booked this cruise based on the ports and the opportunity for lots of sea days, not the company's communication skills. Ports: Houston: No longer a cruise port, so I won't waste my time. Miami: We wandered around and bought some forgotten items, then used the people mover to get to the Perez Museum of Art, which was a great choice. St. Thomas: We've been here so often we could probably draw a map, however, we had a great time at Coral World and Coki Beach. Booked through Shipmate for twice the time at half the price. Funchal: Fun and gorgeous, took a van tour, but chickened out on riding the sledge down through the city. Barcelona: One of our favorite ports on this cruise, so much so that we hope to return for a week or two. This is a gorgeous city, with some extraordinary sites if you are interested in architecture and/or history. Palma: nice HOHO, which was what we did, along with a visit to the cathedral. Valletta: we LOVED Malta, not just because some of our friends on the ship were natives and wrote a simple walking tour for us, but this tiny island has more intriguing history than almost any place you might go. Unfortunately, we found quite a few of the attractions were closed on the day we were there, but this is still a place we'd like to revisit in more depth. Venice: Venice breaks my heart, it's impossibly beautiful, and even more impossibly crowded. If you don't like crowds, you will HATE Venice. Best thing we have ever done there is jump on the HOHO (boat), and ride the loop. Get off at the stop before the port and find Campo S. Barnaba for the "Genius of Leonardo" exhibit. It was fascinating. If you must see the inside of St. Mark's or Doge's Palace, but a skip the line tour. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We chose the transatlantic cruise out of the Houston port on NCL Jade because it was the last time NCL would be embarking from Houston. The embarkation was fast and easy. My DH and I took the transatlantic cruise to Barcelona. The Jade ... Read More
We chose the transatlantic cruise out of the Houston port on NCL Jade because it was the last time NCL would be embarking from Houston. The embarkation was fast and easy. My DH and I took the transatlantic cruise to Barcelona. The Jade could use some updating, as it used to be a ship that toured the Hawaii islands and it is Hawaiian themed. Some of the chairs in the atrium are very uncomfortable and one even had a broken arm. One good thing, the ship is to go into dry dock in October and will get updated. Our trip across the Atlantic was wonderful. Even though there were a total of 12 sea days, it didn't seem that long and the time passed by quickly. Stopping in Miami, St. Thomas, and Funchal broke up the days and it didn't seem like a long time. We were never bored on the ship. There were always activities to keep us busy. We met several nice people and we visited with them in the spa, atrium and various bars throughout the ship. The ocean was calm and the trip was so relaxing. We stayed in a mini suite that was spacious with plenty of storage. It had a nice size closet, large drawers, and shelves. There was a desk and a full size couch. Our bathroom had a tub/shower combination and was a nice size. We didn't feel cramped in it. The deck had a lounge chair and 2 other chairs with one small table. Our steward was available and was quick to attend to any need that we had. The ship was clean and the staff was so wonderful. Everyone was friendly and courteous. We purchased the Thermal Spa package and we could go in to steam rooms, Jacuzzi and thermal pool whenever we wished. Also the heated lounge chairs were so relaxing. We purchase a dining package and ate in all the specialty restaurants, along with the complementary restaurants. There were several complementary restaurants and ones that had charges, including a steak restaurant, an Italian restaurant and a French restaurant. If we had not chosen to eat in specialty restaurants, we might have tired of the menus because they stayed about the same each night except for a few entrees that were different each night. Entertainment was good. The piano artist in the atrium each evening was more than outstanding. We enjoyed stopping and listening to him each evening. The production shows were good as were the magician/illusionist, and the gymnasts. Also each bar had excellent entertainment each night. We took time to leave the ship at Miami and St. Thomas just to explore the area. The ship excursion at Funchal, Madeira was excellent. We had a great guide and had so much fun riding the wicker toboggan 2 km down the hills of Funchal. It was a beautiful island, and had a great view as we took the sky lift to the top of the mountains. When we were in Barcelona we took a private tour with Barcelona Day Tours for an all day excursion into Barcelona and up to the monastery at Montserrat. Our guide was excellent and I would recommend this tour company for any tours in Spain. The only negative part of the cruise was the 6 times our clock was set forward. It was quite an adjustment to our bodies, and we would sleep longer and miss the morning activities. I would love to go again, but might consider flying over to Europe and returning to the United States on the cruise ship due to the many hours we had to advance our watches everyday. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
First, a caveat. I assume a lot of people like Princess. After two cruises, we do not. We are Celebrity Elite status cruisers and find Princess no match for Celebrity. So, maybe my comments will help others who are not sure what line to go ... Read More
First, a caveat. I assume a lot of people like Princess. After two cruises, we do not. We are Celebrity Elite status cruisers and find Princess no match for Celebrity. So, maybe my comments will help others who are not sure what line to go with, to make a decision based on this information. Getting on and off were fine. The food was good, except I felt the beef items from hamburgers to steaks were not top quality. The Horizon Cafe has a low ceiling and is not a very pleasant place to eat, nor is the way the buffet is laid out very convenient. The staff was fine - good, hardworking folks. #1 - The Fitness Center is above a deck of cabins, so one cannot use the treadmills until 8 am and must stop at 10 pm. #2 - Scoops Ice Cream only has runny soft serve. Traditional hard ice cream is not served. The place itself is not attractive or enticing. #3 - There are no veranda rooms with a third bed on the floor. Those rooms only have upper berths. You have to go to a mini-suite to have a 3rd bed. #4 - Smoking in the Casino wafts into the Princess Theater, stinking up the place. #5 - Milk, no matter where served, is not cold. They do not have stainless steel refrigerated dispensers. #6 - Cocoa packets are not offered at the coffee/tea/water bars. #7 - The TV was mounted kitty-corner on a shelf above the fridge. From sitting in the bed, you have to extend your arm to change the channel or turn off and on. The shelf impinges on the view of the screen. Also, the corner of the shelf is a hazard - if you bend down to reach into the fridge and stand up, you can easily bump your head, which I did twice. #8 - Good movies were shown on the outside screen. We were told they would be shown on the TV the next day. Finding out the times was impossible. Princes has an ancient TV system that runs an interminable scroll about what is on the TV. It is not updated promptly each day, and the outside movie was never on the scroll at all. Inquiring twice about the time of a movie, and planning to be in the cabin to see it, we were given incorrect information twice. #9 - The room was small and dull. The doors are very narrow, and upon entering the room is not at all inviting. Tiny bathroom. No couch, and a chair, table and nightstand had to be removed for a roll-away be to be used. (A lousy roll away bed, I might add.) [Our travel agent made an error on our booking. We needed 3 beds and specifically did not want an upper berth. Princess has no veranda cabins with a 3rd bed on the floor.] #10 - "You can't get there from here" - We hated the layout of this ship. Sometimes stairwells were roped off. Some elevators do not go to the deck you need, and you have to get off, go up or down on the stairs,across, and then reach your destination. Service elevators were in public areas, which we had never seen before. #11 - Adult quiet areas. Had to find unless you wanted to pay for "The Sanctuary". There was a tiny adult pool, but it had few loungers, and offered no shade at all. We will not be cruising Princess again, and regret the waste of money that this cruise was. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
21-28 February 2016 Caribbean Princess We have cruised many times and had experiences ranging from outstanding to deplorable. On occasion we find ourselves blessed with all possible favorable outcomes on one trip. Such was the case ... Read More
21-28 February 2016 Caribbean Princess We have cruised many times and had experiences ranging from outstanding to deplorable. On occasion we find ourselves blessed with all possible favorable outcomes on one trip. Such was the case on our recent Key West and Bahamas voyage with Princess Cruise Lines on the Caribbean Princess. We have just been aboard the Caribbean Princess in late November 2015. That voyage was not especially remarkable. In fact we considered it to be, on balance, slightly below par for Princess. Thus, our expectations may have been set lower on this trip. We arrived slightly early for prescribed our check in and boarding time but breezed through check in and went directly onboard and to our stateroom in about ten minutes time. The cabin was immaculate. We were greeted cheerfully by the attendant who, throughout the course of the journey, did an excellent job. Virtually everyone we encountered was helpful and polite. No issues. Our dinner attendants were among the best we have had on any cruise line. Polite, helpful and engaging. I am generally critical of cruise ship meals, but on this voyage it was obvious that Princess had taken the quality of their cuisine up a notch. Certainly one could pick a nit or two if one wanted, but quality, selection, assortment, preparation, presentation and variety were all at a good standard. The onboard entertainment was quite good. On this trip Princess had a “Voice of the Ocean” competition which we thought might be hokey but turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. We loved it. As far as the ports are concerned Key West is basically a box that we wanted to check off. Crowded, expensive, dirty and unappealing. The history is fascinating however, as is the Mel Fisher Museum which although pricey is a must. This was our first visit to Freeport and we were not impressed. Due to a diesel generator malfunction and choppy weather we diverted from Princess Key to Nassau. We had not been to that port in thirty years and found it to be crowded, unappealing and dirty. The brightly colored building we remembered were sporting the same coat of paint they had on thirty years earlier. We walked around the town for miles, down the crumbling roads and sidewalks and past derelict buildings. Surprisingly, however, everyone we met was pleasant, helpful and cheery. Our trek to the Bahamas National Art Museum was worth the walk. The docents were informative, pleasant and helpful. We highly recommend this stop. The return voyage was uneventful as was our disembarkation experience. We did the “walk off,” and when our elevator doors opened on deck 7 we simply merged with the line of passengers already exiting and proceeded to customs. The entire experience, including our walk to the car, took about fifteen minutes. Special acknowledgement is deserved by our Cruise Director, Lee Childress. Although a quick “Google” search might reveal some undeserved bashing of Lee, we feel he was a special gift. Choose ten people and one will get ten different opinions of a topic. We loved Lee. Thanks in part to Lee, Princess made time available each day for an interdenominational bible study hour. He also arranged, and led, a nondenominational worship service. Princess has a daily LGBT get together hour for those so inclined. They also have a Dr. Bob & Bill W. session every day. For those of us who are Christians it was a true blessing to have these few minutes set aside for worship. Good job Princess! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! The Jewel is a bit older, and seems geared to an older crowd. We chose a cruise that was after school spring breaks and of a length that most working adults could not get away: hence, it was nearly all retired people. While we are younger, that pace was ideal for us. We don't drink or gamble or need spectacular shows to keep us entertained: spending the day reading, talking together, meeting a few interesting people and having a menu of possible but not pressing events was just ideal. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but having a cabin steward make up our cabin every morning and return to tidy it before bed was heavenly! We had cute towel animals whenever we got out of the cabin for turn down. Some people have complained about the food on Jewel, and I will admit that one of the meals we had at Chin Chin during lunch time was cold: the tea was cold, the entree's were cold, it was like some piece of equipment had failed. However, everything--even the too cold food--was prepared artfully, creatively with fresh and appropriate ingredients, inventive recipes with influence from multiple cultural traditions. While I will grant that there were repeat dishes on the menus and buffet, there were many choices and specials to keep it interesting. It was also easy to eat a delicious and healthy diet--many fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar free desserts, multiple protein choices. While there were tempting desserts and breads, if you wanted to avoid them, there is no need to feel deprived. A few days into the cruise, we discovered that the Italian Restaurant next to the Garden Cafe is open for overflow seating during breakfast and lunch! So we took our buffet plates in there, where the tables are charming wood, the walls real brick arches, and the viewing of the ocean is ideal. We enjoyed long brunch conversations while watching sea turtles, porpoise, and flying fish go by. I enjoyed dragging my husband to the dance lessons offered most days. There were several kinds of linedancing, swing dance, waltz, square dancing salsa and merangue. The one thing I did wish was that the instruction was more geared to just dancing with a partner to music rather than doing a routine. Those teaching are show dancers and seemed to relate more to teaching a dance to perform rather than teaching how to lead/follow and a vocabulary of moves. I had heard that there would be sales at the store just before the last day but that did not happen. Rather, there were specials on various items throughout the cruise and not everything went on sale at any given time. I was also surprised that the number of things like games offered at the store was limited. However, if you wanted any toiletry, candy, t-shirt, underwear, clothes, luggage, etc it is a good (if expensive) option. I liked shopping there. We booked ship excursions in all but one port, where we had a private guide. You do lose a little time when the ship first docks when you choose to do this--you have to wait until the tour operators are ready for you, and wait your turn to disembark. This means an extra two hours on board sometimes. In Cabo San Lucas, we were able to grab an early tender and meet up with our tour at the pier instead of waiting to be dismissed from the ship with our group. This allowed us to do some shopping that we would not have had time to do. I loved that you just don't hear "no" on board. No one tells you when to eat or sleep or where to be or what to do, it is completely relaxing. The staff is laid back and friendly and really good at making you feel welcome. They have also apparently toned down some of the selling that perhaps has happened on other ships or in other times, because we did not feel pressed to buy drinks or anything. Yes, you can definitely spend a lot of extra money: but no one is going to make you feel bad if you choose something else instead. We stayed at the Best Western Suites in Seabrook before we boarded. It has a free shuttle to the cruise port and is a terrific place to be the night before a cruise. I wish there had been more educational opportunities on board, lecture series or the like. Don't miss the Spinnaker Lounge, even if you don't drink! It has the best views and the most unusual furniture. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
My husband and I have been on 12 cruises but February 2015 we took our first NCL cruise out or Houston on the Norwegian Jewel. We had an amazing time. Everything was so organized. They got us on and off the ship in record time. The staff ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 12 cruises but February 2015 we took our first NCL cruise out or Houston on the Norwegian Jewel. We had an amazing time. Everything was so organized. They got us on and off the ship in record time. The staff was knowledgeable and courteous. The food was always scrumptious. My favorites were the chicken pot pie and the buffalo wings at O'Sheehan's and the french toast and fresh made omelets we had every morning for breakfast. The entertainment was heart intense. Great shows. We really had an awesome time. The crew made it so hard for us to book a cruise with another cruise line. We are now fans of NCL. Thank you so much for a memorable time on the Norwegian Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Having taken four other cruises. (three of them with Carnival,) the selection of Princess brought a heightened expectation of better service, ambiiance and perception of value than the competition. This was not the case. To get the ... Read More
Having taken four other cruises. (three of them with Carnival,) the selection of Princess brought a heightened expectation of better service, ambiiance and perception of value than the competition. This was not the case. To get the particulars of this January 4th -11the voyage out of the way: Record cold was forecast for the region and it was quite chilly/windy in Houstion. Embarcation was relativly swift and the Bayport Terminal well-suited for the task. Lines moved quickly, alcohol possession was not checked, and we were exploring the ship by Noon, settling in and enjoying a leisurely lunch in the Horizon Court. Within hours after the hour late departure, we began to encounter the warmth of the Gulf. The first full day brought enough sun and heat to allow for a marginally acceptable "deck day," with many of our fellow travelers enjoying the plentiful lounges. Days two thorugh six brought heavy showers, thunderstorms, low temperatures in the 50's ,and 45-50 knot sustained winds, with gusts in excess of 60 knots. The 950 foot ship rode heavilly in the 20 foot plus seas, with several passenger areas closed. Day Seven brought some out to the first sunny day, in several. The following day was our arrival, with strong winds and temperatures in the upper 40's. In Cozumel, tThe excursion, to the Mayan ruins at Coba, cannot be recommended, as the participants travel in excess of eight hours, (including a 30 minute stop for shopping enroute,) to visit a signiificant archaeoiogical site for a 45 minuite visit and a 2 km walk. The tour guide, however, was excellent. As a result of the heavy weather, the stop in Roatan was cancelled altogether and the same caused the cancellation the tour to the Xuantunich ruin. While not Princess's fault, or responisbility, this certainly put a damper on the entire cruise experience. Note: There wer several bottles of alcohol purchased in both Cozumel and Belize and there was no effort to retain it for delivery pre-debarcation. Day Five bought an announcement that there was an outbreak of the Novo Virus on the ship, and "Condition Red" hygiene standards would be in effect for the remainder of the voyage. It turned out to be the symptoms of four, of the over 3,000 passengers, onboard. As others have reported, on other cruises, the fog delayed our entry into the port for 4 1/2 hours. with the ship's berthing at 11:30 AM. The debarkation, whiile not chaos, was disorganized, lacked efficiency and lacked real care for the passengers. Originally instructed to vacate the cabin at 8:AM, we remained there untill well after Noon and independanly deceided to go down to the Island Dining Room, indicated as being our earlier assembly point. In situ for 1 1/2 hours, we were directed to depart the ship and claim our luggage. This was easilly accomplished and a friendly porter secured. Transiting through cunstoms was quick, with no one's bag being checked and brief, cursory questions asked by the Customs Agent. Now about the experience with Princess: This cruiseline was selected, above others, even though there was a closer port, (New Orleans,) the destinations similar, and the price higher. Originally booked as a single, there was no discount to the fare and the resultant rate was the merely doubled "per-person" rate, (less $75 port taxes.) Other lines frequently add only a single supplement. At the last minute, an additonal passenger was secured and the $75 port tax fee paid. The balcony cabin was relatively small, clean, well appointed and adequate for this length of the cruise. Our cabin stweard was accomodating, eager to serve and pleasant. Unfortunately, the condition of the ship itself is below standard. The paintwork and varnish are in real need of attention and some of the interiors seem dated. With 3,000 plus people on board, the ship never felt crowded, but this comes at a sacrifice. Unlike other ships, the Caribbean Princess seems a bit claustrophobic, with many low ceilings. The noteable exceptions are the mid-ship Piazza (mid-ship deck 5 -7,) and the Princess Theater, (forward.) There are numerous "settings" above and below to read, excercise, be entertained, shop, etc. without feeling crowded. Our "anytime" dining usually occurred around 7, with minimal wait times. The food was, on average, "above average." The buffet usually good, the Coral Dining Room, up a notch from that, with the serrvice, in each pleasant and eager. The food/in the upcharged Crown Grill was exceptional and the experience recommended. Sabatinni's was universally disapointing with prefuctory service and pedestrian taste. Frankly, this was the biggest dissapointment the cruise. Entertainment was predictable, with the times short and the settings minimal, especialy in the Princess Theater. Much of the overall "entertainment" required passanger participation with bingo, trivia, a passenger singing chorus, an egg-drop and other similar events. This is a much older crowd, than some other curiselines, and it showed in the types of acivities as well as the "sidewalks" being rolled up at a way too early hour. We cannot recommend Princess, above what other cruiselies have to offer. As Princess is now owned by Carnival, the line between differences is quite blurred. As there is another port 4 hours closer to home, with more cruise options, future travel will likely occur there. Read Less

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