3 Dover to Europe - Western Mediterranean Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

My husband and I were lucky enough to be on the 13 night inaugural voyage of the Norwegian Jewel around the Mediterranean this summer (August 2005). An easy, swift and orderly embarkation procedure at Dover was soon to be followed by the ... Read More
My husband and I were lucky enough to be on the 13 night inaugural voyage of the Norwegian Jewel around the Mediterranean this summer (August 2005). An easy, swift and orderly embarkation procedure at Dover was soon to be followed by the materialization of the colourful ribbons and jewels that adorned the Norwegian Jewel herself. (We had some idea of what to expect - yet only artist impressions of the ship!). On first inspections we were amazed by the vivid and modern interior throughout the ship that was highlighted with contemporary armchairs in many of the bars and restaurants. On closer scrutiny we started to notice however subtle accents of 50's and 60's in some of the furniture choices in the bars. Outside there was an energetic feel around the pool area incorporating the theme of the circus that appealed to the child within. There were also many large colourful palm trees that bejeweled the jewel at night. The interior theme throughout the stateroom decks incorporated mahogany wood and turquoise that flowed effortlessly into the staterooms. We resided in a category JJ inside stateroom which was designed with storage as top priority. There were seven ample storage shelves, and a roomy wardrobe. Of course other features were a separate dressing table with hairdryer, safe, fridge, a well laid out bathroom and TV (although not flat screen as in the more superior staterooms). All over the ship there were many strategically placed flat screens displaying information about all of the ten restaurants and their occupancy - rating from busy to full. This proved vital in avoiding the rush at the Garden cafe (buffet style restaurant) and to generally gauge busy eating times. As Norwegian Cruise Line prize themselves on their freestyle cruising we attempted to sample some of the ten restaurants - ranging from Cagneys steak house, Mama's Italian kitchen, Le Bistro French restaurant and the Chin Chin Asian restaurant (including a sushi bar!). The booking of the desired restaurants proved easy at first using the reservation desk at reception, however as word got out amongst fellow guest there were many queues and block booking of meal times over the two weeks. Another point to make here is that many of these speciality restaurants had a cover charge ranging from $10-$15 which would have to be considered with large groups. These cover charges had been reduced by $5 per person from the original printed prices on the menus. Overall the speciality restaurants provided excellent service, using more experienced and efficient staff. Only on one occasion the booked dining time of 8.00pm was made later due to large numbers and hence we were offered a complimentary bottle of wine which pleased us. The main dining restaurants differed in design from being modern as in the Azura restaurant and grand as in Tsar's palace. Both were equal in terms of broad taste/themed menus and good service. The chocolate buffet was the best that we have ever experienced on a cruise and we were stunned by the artistry shown in the chocolate "Big Ben clock" and ice sculptures. The bars and lounges were regularly called upon throughout the two weeks and we were most impressed with the efficient and friendly service throughout. Most drinks were reasonably priced however some of the speciality cocktails and alcoholic smoothies were over $9. "Bar city" on deck 7 compromised of many of the Jewels unique bars - Malting's beer and whisky bar, Shakers Martini cocktail bar and our favourite -Magnum's Champagne bar which offered a deluxe range of champagnes to be indulged on formal nights. However the night always ended in the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13 which had live music and then a DJ. Overall the entertainment from many of the performers around the bars and lounges was excellent and could not be faulted. The dance company produced two impressive shows with acrobatic expertise. There was a hugely talented comedian on board and some great lectures provided during the day. There were a good range of activities provided during the day and many art auctions to tempt you to part with cash. The assistant cruise director had a jovial personality and created many quiz nights (jeopardy, Mr & Mrs, The weakest link etc.) for guest participation - which were hilarious. There are very few if any negatives that we can find with the Norwegian Jewel. Given the fact that this was the inaugural voyage and lots of mistakes could happen we and NCL we fortunate. It was clear that there was good management and swift action throughout to prevent any guests from having a good holiday. We would wholeheartedly recommend the Jewel to fellow cruisers and hope you have an enjoyable time as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
The reason I'm writing this review is that there is only one other review presently for this ship, and it is so positive, I can only think they went on a different Norwegian Jewel to the one my family went on! Don't take me ... Read More
The reason I'm writing this review is that there is only one other review presently for this ship, and it is so positive, I can only think they went on a different Norwegian Jewel to the one my family went on! Don't take me wrong, there were very strong positive points about the ship itself; however, the way it was run, and the fellow passengers that had been attracted to this cruise, due to incredibly reduced prices for booking last minute, rather spoiled it for my little family. We ourselves had a very nice time on the Jewel on its' Maiden"ish" Voyage, but truly only because we did our usual thing of spending a lot of time on our own balcony during the day, and going to areas such as the Atrium/Promenade Deck where few passengers were attracted. Unlike some British travellers, we go into a holiday determined to have a good time, whatever the circumstances. Let's face it, we came away from last year's holiday saying we'd had a good time, having been stuck in our villa for a total of 5 days with 2 hurricanes going by! Truthfully, there were numerous faults with the facilities (for us). I know others we spoke to felt the same, so I don't feel I'm whinging or making comments that are consistent across all NCL ships. 1) Getting food at anywhere other than the Garden Cafe was a nightmare from about day 3 onwards. All of the prime times got booked up (for the whole cruise booked ahead), leaving dining times of 5:30pm or 10pm in some restaurants; others were consistently fully booked. Luckily we caught on to this early enough and booked at T'Sars for the whole cruise, which is basically the only place we ate other than a couple of nights in Mama's Kitchen. 2) The Buffet Restaurant was in terrible condition. Bits of food everywhere, tables not being cleaned, food ground into the floor, etc. In addition, compared to Carnival, we found this food quite "School Dinner" like, with dry burgers, grotty sausages, and burned pizzas. 3) NCL did something rather foolish. Having been unable to fill the boat just one month before the cruise, they opened it up to the British at bargain rates, including children for free! Unfortunately, that attracted a type of person on to the ship that I wouldn't normally share a bus with! I've been on a number of cruises out of Miami, where Carnival have opened it up to very poor people from Southern Florida. However, I can't say I've ever met an American who is at all disrespectful, and certainly nobody as scummy as some of the people on board the Jewel. By the way, I'm British myself, and am completely ashamed of some of the antics I witnessed onboard, such as one 10 year-old child who was walking down the corridor wiping the chocolate cake from his feet into the carpet, creating a chocolate mark several metres long, laughing as he went! How the chocolate cake got there in the first place I didn't want to know! Basically, out of 500 children onboard, 100 were signed up to Kid's Club (including our daughter), the other 400 being allowed to run riot round the ship, day and night! 4) The staff in T'Sars were very badly trained. The food wait times were ridiculous, very few of the waiters spoke sufficient English, the food was often not very hot, the wrong drinks were usually delivered, etc. 5) The Garden Cafe is extremely badly laid out, so that you pick up your food and then have to walk miles for a clean table. This gets worse of course when you've inevitably forgotten something or can't carry everything at once. 6) The state of Deck 12 (created because of point 3) made it unusable, with teenagers hogging the pools and Jacuzzis, not to mention the fact that there was food squashed into the deck, and drinks spilled everywhere. Disgusting! 7) Most of the stops were very good, but Almeria was horrendous. My advice is if you're doing a cruise there, don't bother getting off the ship! The place stank and the roads were stacked high with rubbish (unto 3m high - I'm not kidding!). One of the crew I spoke to said that his little group were attacked verbally by locals, and people were later in the streets smashing bottles, kicking passing cars, and generally acting drunk and disorderly. 8) Ice cream machines – These broke down after about 3 days, and were replaced by a member of staff serving scooped ice cream. This was fine in some ways, but they did not run it as regularly as they would have with the machines. We often found it to be unavailable, such as before 1pm and after about 5pm! 9) Splashdown Kids Club – Despite only a fifth of children being signed up, this was too busy really. My wife works in childcare, and she feels that if kids are shouting and all excitable 100% of the time, she's failed. Kids in big groups need to be kept calm, and that certainly wasn’t the case at all. Amy had nightmares regularly during the cruise due to simply being over excited, and it got so noisy that she refused to go a few days, as she just wanted some peace and quiet! 10) Employee relations – During my cruise, I witnessed about 10 tellings off of employees by senior managers. I do not expect to have this sort of thing going on around me during a so called luxury cruise. Managers should take employees off to offices or quiet areas in order to do this sort of thing. Anyhow, it ended up we felt, with employee relations becoming very bad, and staff were quite obviously working to rule. And yes, I had to agree with them. 11) Disembarkation – We booked a long while ago at a high price, for a balcony room. However, that seemed to make very little difference to the disembarkation process, and we were actually the last colour to leave the ship. People who have booked onward travel with NCL get preferential treatment, closely followed by people flying out, even if that flight isn’t that same day! The next to leave bizarrely were decks 4 & 5 who had been the troublesome crowd throughout the cruise, and were then able to join the queue for the buses ahead of all of us people who had paid 3 times as much for our cruises. 12) Dover – If you can avoid a cruise in and out of Dover, do so. There were over 400 people waiting for buses to get to the car park, and they were only managing 2 buses per hour (they claimed every 15 minutes, but I only witnessed two go by during our walk). We were at the back of the queue, so we walked 2 miles with all of our luggage, having been unable to get a taxi also! However, on reaching the car park an hour later, the car park was still jam packed of us Jewel cruisers, and I suspect some people would have waited another 2 hours beyond that! So in conclusion, were these problems the fault of NCL or the people onboard? I guess it was NCL that invited them onboard by reducing last minute prices ridiculously, and then did very little to encourage these people to supervise their children, nor did they do much to tidy up after them. Also, I think the whole Freestyle cruising attracts a type of British person onboard (irrespective of price), who would not normally go on a cruise at all. Would I sail with NCL again? No chance! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
My husband and I chose a cruise for our honeymoon, and it was a dream of ours to cruise the Med. It was an amazing experience being on an inaugural cruise in the Mediterranean on our honeymoon! There were some wonderful aspects to cruise. ... Read More
My husband and I chose a cruise for our honeymoon, and it was a dream of ours to cruise the Med. It was an amazing experience being on an inaugural cruise in the Mediterranean on our honeymoon! There were some wonderful aspects to cruise. The embarkation was a breeze, the quickest that I had ever encountered. We had splurged and got a room with a balcony which was incredible. We were very happy with our room. The cruise director's staff was amazing, they really kept us entertained. The excursions were fantastic, it was really hard choosing, you could not have gone wrong with any of them. The staff at the excursion desk were very helpful and professional, and knew what they were talking about. The spa was very professional and what a treat! Well worth it! (just make the appointment well enough in advance, especially on a sea-day). The entertainment was spectacular, especially their 'Cirque Bijoux' show. Very talented performers were on board. The decor on the ship is beautiful, very colorful, each area being very unique. There was not a wide variety of artwork however, mostly photos. I found that there was always somewhere to go and something to do. We had spent a lot of money on this trip, especially coming all the way from Canada, it was disappointing to hear that there were discounts given to other passengers. My husband and I noticed a lot of young children on-board. We figured since it was holiday season, that we just picked to cruise at the same time as several families. What was unfortunate was the behavior of some of the children. I had to yell at two young boys to stop throwing their shoes around on the staircase, they could have hurt someone! Their father was at the elevators totally oblivious to the fact that his kids were acting inappropriately. The cruise staff it seemed were helpless to do anything either. It was difficult getting a reservation to the specialty restaurants i.e. Mama' Kitchen and the Tepanyaki, you pretty much had to make the reservations on the first couple of days on the cruise. A suggestion to NCL would be to work on improving the service and food selections in the main dining rooms. However I have been on an NCL cruise before, this wasn't the case, therefore this might be just something that will work itself out with experience. Since we were on our honeymoon, and spent quite a bit, it was disappointing that the cruise line didn't do anything to help us celebrate our honeymoon. My sister bought us a honeymoon package, but if it wasn't for that, you would have never known that we were on our honeymoon. No upgrades what-so-ever on the plane; NCL hotel; cruise itself. And no special "little somethings". It was on our second last day on the ship that we discovered that there was a laundry room with an iron. There was absolutely no mentioned of this ANYWHERE. Not even a sign outside the door. What would help is if NCL mentions this on their website, or includes in on their floor-plan! We ended up paying for ironing services! In the end we figured that since this was their first sailing, that all of the wrinkles still needed to be ironed out. However, since it was our honeymoon, it was difficult to get angry. We pretty much had smiles on our faces the whole trip. :) I would recommend this ship to anyone considering it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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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