623 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

I tried to keep this short but there is so much to rave about! Travel Day We opted for the NCL air and a pre-cruise stay in Barcelona. The flight on Lufthansa was uneventful although it was touch and go until boarding time as to whether ... Read More
I tried to keep this short but there is so much to rave about! Travel Day We opted for the NCL air and a pre-cruise stay in Barcelona. The flight on Lufthansa was uneventful although it was touch and go until boarding time as to whether we would have seats together. The Lufthansa gate agents came through in the end, though, and gave us revised seat assignments just before boarding. We changed in Munich and arrived in Barcelona around noon. One word of caution with arrivals at the Barcelona Airport: there are signs for baggage claim for both Terminal A and B. We headed to the baggage claim that we thought was nearest the gate at which we arrived and found ourselves in Terminal B  outside the secure area. We had to backtrack to Terminal A outside and then go through security to get to baggage claim. We felt like idiots and chalked it up to jet lag until we realized that everyone in line for security was doing the same thing! So, just watch the signage carefully and make sure you know which baggage claim area you need to go to  theres no backtracking if you make a mistake. After the luggage adventure, we met the NCL rep at arrivals and were in a taxi to our hotel within 10 minutes. We stayed at the Tryp Apolo which was fine but nothing special. It was a short walk to La Rambla but the neighborhood is transitional  a little bit industrial and working class. It didnt seem dangerous but were used to city life so others might be a little put off. Nevertheless, we enjoyed sightseeing in Barcelona for the day. Transfer to Ship -- The next morning, we had breakfast, squeezed in a little more sightseeing and then waited for the bus to the ship  along with a lot of other people. It seemed a bit chaotic and some folks were getting irritated but most had our attitude: were on vacation and theres no need to get undone. One way or another, theyll get our luggage and us to the ship  which they did. We got through embarkation in a breeze (a huge line from the bus transfers moved through in less than 20 minutes) and were in our stateroom by 1:00. Our bags arrived a little bit later, allowing us just enough time to tour the ship. The ship is beautiful  from the pictures online, it seemed a little gaudy  but it is actually very attractive. And our stateroom with a balcony was perfect. As recommended by CC, we headed up to Tangos and made some specialty restaurant reservations for the week. We then parked ourselves by the pool and enjoyed the sail away party and meeting our fellow CC members. We all had a wonderful dinner together that night in the Tsars Palace Restaurant. DH had a steak and I had Paella, which was delicious. Day at Sea -- Well, we were, apparently, more jet-lagged than we thought and somehow managed to sleep until noon. After we dragged ourselves out of bed to a beautiful day at sea, we had lunch at the buffet and, again, parked ourselves in deck chairs. It was tough to find two free ones but we managed on the sun deck, at the front of the ship. Later, we moved closer to the pool to listen to the live band, which we really enjoyed. They may have been better suited for a Caribbean Cruise (a comment I read somewhere else) but we thought they were great. We had dinner that night in Cagneys and were incredibly impressed. It was as good as any of the fancy chains (Ruths Chris, Flemmings) that we have in our city and the service was impeccable. It was well worth the additional charge. One note: this was Formal Night and truly anything went. I wore a cocktail dress while DH went resort casual in linen button-down and slacks. We saw very few tuxedos and as many suits as not. For ladies, it ran the gamut from sequins to Capri pants. If you want to dress up, you can go right ahead and not feel out of place while those who want to dress down can stay in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops and go to the buffet. Messina, Sicily We opted for the ships excursion on half day the Godfather tour to Forza DAgro and Savoca. Our tour ticket told us what time to be in the theater and they moved all of the tours out fairly quickly. The tour was fun and laid-back  just two stops with plenty of time to look around the tiny villages and an exciting ride up some very steep hills. There wasnt too much waiting around and everyone on our tour was very prompt. Also, it seemed that there were 3 full buses doing the tour but they timed it so that no more than one bus was ever in the village at one time  very impressive! I highly recommend the tour if you are looking for an off-the-beaten path intro to Sicily. We had dinner that night at Mammas and we, again, quite impressed. While the entrees are kind of like standard Olive Garden fare, we started with a delicious antipasto and finished with fantastic tiramisu and cappuccino. The only downside was that our reservations, which we had dutifully made as soon as we got on the ship, were lost. Fortunately, the hostess was able to get us in and said that she was putting our final reservation back in the system. The highlight of this evening (maybe of the entire trip!) was sailing right by Stromboli as she erupted. As the ship sails toward the active volcano, you can see ash plumes coming from the top. As you go along side of it, though, you can see straight into the crater and watch the eruptions every coupe of minutes. It was tremendous! Naples For Naples, we hooked up with two other couples from CC and had a private van tour with Alberto from AP Tours (www.aptours.it). I cannot say enough about how fantastic Alberto was! At Albertos recommendation, we started towards the Amalfi coast with a drive up and over the mountains to Ravello. We then headed down the coast to Amalfi and Positano, which are breathtaking. Alberto brought us to an amazing Trattoria, overlooking Positano for lunch. We opted for the antipasto and pasta, served family style, then a variety of desserts and espresso. Between the view and the unbelievable food, it was as close as one can get to a meal! After lunch, we continued up the Amalfi coast and then went to Pompeii. DH was getting tour-weary so we decided against the listening devices and just used the map to go around the city. The others in our van used the listening devices but only saw about half of what we saw but I wouldnt say one way was better than the other. Back on the ship, we had a quick dip in the pool to cool off before heading to the buffet for a light supper. Civitavecchia/Rome -- For Rome, we got together with two other couples from CC and had a private tour with John Fiore from Top Tours in Italy (www.toptoursinitaly.com). John was incredibly efficient and very serious about getting us to see everything on our wish list, which was quite long. Thanks to Johns experience, we got to see everything and then some! I was showing my photos to a co-worker who lived in Rome for 6 months and she could not believe that we saw all that we did in one day. John is a professional guide (not just a driver) so he was able to give us a tour inside St. Peters and the Vatican Museum. I highly recommend both as John gave us tons of information and knew all kinds of great shortcuts and ways to beat the crowds. For lunch, John brought us up to a great restaurant, which overlooked the city. The pasta was good but the view made the lunch that much more memorable. We made it back to the ship with plenty of time to spare and had a wonderful day. That evening, we had dinner at the buffet and checked out the comedy show  it had some enjoyable moments and was pretty fun. Livorno -- Having been to Florence before and after two long days of sightseeing, we opted for the ships half-day tour of Pisa. Again, the tour crew was very organized and we didnt have to wait too long for our tour to leave. It was a short ride to Pisa, but the buses have to park about a 10-minute walk from the Field of Miracles. We all walked together to the meeting stop and then had about 45 minutes free before our half hour tour. The guided tour wasnt that great so we left after about 15 minutes and roamed around on our own until it was time to meet the group to walk back to the bus. It was wonderful to see Pisa and the surrounding buildings but this tour really felt like herding cows since there were so many of us. After returning to the ship, we headed straight for the pool to cool down. Since most people were on a full day tour to Florence, the ship was delightfully quiet so we hit some golf balls in between lounging at the pool. Thankfully, I also had time to check on our reservation at Tangos, which, like Mammas, had also mysteriously disappeared. After explaining the situation, the hostess re-booked us for 8:00. We also really enjoyed this meal. The service was really good and very friendly. DH had an enchilada and I had fajitas  both were excellent. Villefranche -- We opted again for a ships tour or Nice and Eze, due to the short amount of time in port. With the tenders in this port, the excursion crew seemed a little less organized than on previous days. We waited quite a while to leave and then stood around waiting in a parking lot for 15 minutes while all of the other buses left. When we finally boarded the bus, we waited again for some last-minute stragglers to arrive although our bus was only half full. So, we had the benefit of being a small group, although we had to wait at least 30 minutes before leaving the parking lot. Our first stop was Nice and, unfortunately  but to hilarious results  our tour guide lost control of our group. She explained the meeting time and place, and apologized for only being able to give us 45 minutes in the market and then opened the door to the bus. Naturally, everyone assumed that we had 45 minutes of free time and started to wander off. The guide had intended to keep everyone together and give us a walking tour so she was quite alarmed that half the group walked away. She spent the next 15 minutes scolding those of us following her about the ones who left! We stuck with her for a while to hear about Old Nice and then wandered off on our own to watch a Bocce tournament on the beach. Everyone showed up on time to leave and no one seemed upset to have missed the tour  except the guide herself! The bus then wound its way up to Eze, a medieval, fortified town that was built high on the cliffs. It was truly a sight to behold and fun to explore the artisans shops that line the tiny streets and alleys. We then made our way back to the ship and, again, parked ourselves by the pool to enjoy the sun of the Riviera. We went back to our balcony to watch the sail away from Villefranche, which seemed to have been delayed by stragglers who were brought out the ship by a small boat from Villefrance. Our last dinner was in the Tsars restaurant where I had a delicious Coq au Vin and DH had a steak. We headed to the casino afterwards but had to turn in by 12:45 to get our luggage out for the 1:00 am pick-up. Disembarkation -- We had a 6:45 am disembarkation call, which ran only about 5 minutes late. We got off the ship, found our bags on the carrousel and then had to carry them out to truck for transfer to the airport. We then boarded a bus for the (very quick ride) to the airport where we had to wait for and find our luggage again. It was a quick process and not too inconvenient, just strange that one has to find the luggage twice. Our British Airways flight to Heathrow was delayed an hour and the air conditioning in the waiting area was not working well, so we ended up taking turns wandering around the airport shops for almost 3 hours. When we finally boarded the BA flight, the air conditioning was not working at all and the plane was stifling. The woman in front of us almost passed out but the flight attendant brought her some water, which she literally poured over her head. I felt terribly for her but was (selfishly) relieved that she didnt pass out as I can only imagine what kind of delay that would have caused! We had a 2.5 hour layover in Heathrow but after traveling from Terminal 1 to 4 and having some lunch, we only had about 40 minutes to wait at the gate. Unfortunately, we had neglected to check our boarding passes and only noticed as we were in the massive line to board that we were not sitting next to each other. To add insult to injury, BA does not use microphones nor do they call rows for boarding so it was a mob scene getting on the plane, plus we both were in middle seats. We were so exhausted from sitting around airports for 6+ hours already that we didnt even make the effort to try to switch seats. If I had it to do over, I wouldnt fly British Airways and/or I would have tried for better connections for the flight over. All in all, though, it was a fantastic vacation and the grueling trip home did not detract from the wonderful memories. The only thing I would have changed (other than the flight home) was to pack a second swimming suit. I only brought one, as I had no idea that we would have time to go to the pool everyday. Also, I did a lot of planning for appropriate clothes for sightseeing in and around churches and most of it was unnecessary. One only needs to cover ones knees and shoulders in St. Peters and, on the hot day we were there, they werent even enforcing the restrictions. For all of the other ports and excursions, shorts were fine. One final thought on packing: he most important thing to bring is comfortable walking shoes! Read Less
Sail Date July 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
My husband and I, some friends and my sister decided to take a cruise for my 50th Birthday. We picked the Norwegian Jewel because it is a new ship and it was our first cruise. We flew from Memphis to Miami. The plane ticket cost almost ... Read More
My husband and I, some friends and my sister decided to take a cruise for my 50th Birthday. We picked the Norwegian Jewel because it is a new ship and it was our first cruise. We flew from Memphis to Miami. The plane ticket cost almost as much as the cruise. We spent the night before our cruise at the Hampton Inn which is very close to the port and was very convenient. We arrived at the port about 1130 am and were able to embark immediately. There was plenty of help to check us in. It went very smoothly. After boarding the ship, we went to our interior stateroom that was small but nice. When I arrived, my husband had arranged for balloons, a cake and a banner with "Happy Birthday" in the room. I was "totally" surprised. I had heard so many people talk about the food on cruise ships. The atmosphere in all the speciality restaurants was nice but I wouldn't say the food was anything outstanding. We did enjoy Cagney's steak house. Our waiter Furtoso Gonsalves was very entertaining. He recommended the chocolate dessert which he stated looked like "Ding Dongs" and they did. They were great! My friend and I got a massage the first day at sea. It was very relaxing and the people who worked in the spa were very nice and it was worth the money spent. The service on the ship was outstanding!I can't say enough about these people. They work such long hours but always have a smile on their faces and are eager to please. I would like to thank Ricardo Cobos, the bartender in the Star bar and a very, very special thanks to Alina D'Silva, who also works in the Star bar. Alina went out of her way to make us feel special. I would like to also say the our cruise director, Paul, was fun and made us laugh a lot. He does a good job. The only people I could complain about is the reception desk (very unfriendly) and the workers in the gift shop (Ryan).The entertainment on the ship was great some nights and not so great other nights. Cirque Bijou was the best. The shore excursions were okay but nothing great or the ones we went on. I enjoyed San Juan and St. Thomas but really don't ever care about seeing Antigua again. St. Thomas is beautiful! The worst part of the whole trip was the disembarkation. We had a late flight so decided to get off the ship last (which by the way is 930am) You could get off as early as 600am but our travel agent had told us not to book an early flight. If I had this to do over again, I would get off first and book an early flight. Apparently, lots of people had been told the same thing because the lines getting out were terrible and there was so much luggage, we couldn't find ours. It took us over an hour to find our luggage. The port in Miami blamed the cruise ship for our long wait. It is true that the drinks are too expensive and 15% on every beverage is added. So watch your bill. All in all, I had a great time and would go again tomorrow. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Ok here it goes. My family and I (father, 50, mother, 45, sister, 20, brother, 17, sister 16) traveled on the April 16 cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Norwegian Jewel. Overall, it was a cruise, what can I say. Embarkation: ... Read More
Ok here it goes. My family and I (father, 50, mother, 45, sister, 20, brother, 17, sister 16) traveled on the April 16 cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Norwegian Jewel. Overall, it was a cruise, what can I say. Embarkation: I'll start before that. When we arrived at the airport, we had to ask the representative from Carnival if she knew where we could find anyone from Norwegian Cruise Line. 45 minutes later we found the NCL help desk at the other end of the airport. We asked why they were not going around with the signs telling people like us where to go. They then responded..they did not know people were coming, only luggage. On their official papers they only had that we had 11 pieces of luggage, no people, so they were not looking for us. You did not want to know my mom after that. We then had to wait 45 minutes after that to wait for the bus to take us to pier. We didn't get onto the ship till close to 3 p.m. when our flight came in at noon. Let me get back to embarkation. My mom is handicapped so we didn't have to wait in regular lines. Cabin: I don't want to sound like a whiner, yet the cabins were quite small. I had to keep my luggage in our other room because the girls could not fit their luggage and bodies in 1 room. Also, you could not open the closet and the outside door at the same time, for fear of squished body parts. Bathrooms were adequate for what we had to do in there. Oh ya, it seemed the cleaning people were always cleaning someone's room, and always had their cleaning carts in the hallways, making it very difficult for my mother, who has a hard time walking, to walk through the hallways without tripping over cords and carts. Dining: One word of advice: reservations. I knew to do this because of these boards, yet did not make them for fear of the $5 charge if we missed them. It was nice to just get dressed and go, yet if you did not have a reservation, you could not do this. We tried to just get dressed and go, and we ended up waiting till 9:30 to get seated. Overall the food was OK compared to the other cruises we've been on. There was nothing special except for the chocolate parfait thing through room service. Some of the waiters acted like their mothers were making them work there. They were at times downright rude, and one Romanian waitress threw things after my sister changed her order. We did not do any charge restaurants. The buffet was the best part of the dining experience. Most of the time when we did not feel like dressing for dinner, we took a skip over to the buffet, and was most of the time better than the restaurants. The Blue Lagoon is a must try. The food was normal, yet hit the spot at 1 am when we were hungry for mac and cheese or soup. Also, my father was soo looking forward to eating a lot of shrimp and seafood, and was told they did not have shrimp cocktail or much seafood except what was on the menu. Entertainment: After a full day of sunbathing or shopping most of us were to tired for shows, yet some of us went and were satisfied. As most of you had heard, Cirque Bijou was out of this world, as was the talent show's finale of Fountains. Also the improve show Second City was very funny, if you like Drew Carey's show Whose Line. They did have a 50's, 60's 70's and 80's themed dance party. Shore Excursions: We booked these while on the ship and had no problem doing so. My parents did the horseback riding and swim in Jamaica, and they said that they loved it and the staff was very considerate of the fact that my mom is disabled and was having a hard time with the horses. The other 4 of us did the canopy tour in Jamaica and had a good time with it, though it was very painful and I still have the bruises from it. Let me give you a mental picture of the ride up the mountain: the Columbian tragedy with the senior citizens plunging off the mountain cliff on the tour bus. These roads going up the mountain did not have enough room for 2 cars to be on either side of the road, there were no guardrails, and if you look over the cliff it was a non-stop flight to the bottom of the mountain. Scariest ride of my life. This even surpasses Space Mountain. Once there, we must have walked half way back down the mountain just to get to the first platform, then we had to wait for 40 people to go though the first zipline just to do the second one. This excursion is only for the physically fit because there was also the 15 minute walk back to where the bus was waiting after the excursion was over. Fun though Ports: First we stopped at Honduras. This is a poor country, yet they do work for the money that they earn. We rented a car with a driver who took us anywhere we wanted to go, and stayed with us the whole day for $20 pp. Very beautiful country, yet there was not a stop sign or traffic light to be seen. Cayman Islands: We had to tender to this port which was such an inconvenience because we didn't have much time on the island the waste it was. We did not have anything to do this day but roam, which was ok. We got a lot of shopping done this day. Anything within walking distance was all shopping, so if you are looking for other, rent a taxi. Jamaica: The port we docked at was so smelly, you had to put your shirt over your your nose to walk by it. Also, when you think of Jamaica, you think of beautiful scenery and such. When we got to port we docked at a run down sugar mill that was field with rusty parts. Yet we did not have to tender. After getting off of the ship, we opted to walk to town before our tour. Woah, the hustlers. Good thing we were four in a group because we were able to walk fast and scare them off. Actually, after our tour, we went shopping again and a woman asked to walk with us because she did not want to walk alone through the groups of people selling junk. Overall, it was a cruise and better than being at home with cold and rain, yet we all agreed that we would probably not sail the Jewel again. the staff wasn't very talkative, nor friendly, and it was like pulling teeth to get something extra, unless they were getting something out of it. Also the $10 pp per day tip that they get was getting in the way of great service because they automatically get that tip at the end of the month. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
For us, embarkation was quick and smooth. We arrived rather late (about 3pm) at the port and had no problems boarding the ship. The ship is very nice, clean, and the staff was very friendly and courteous the entire trip. This was our ... Read More
For us, embarkation was quick and smooth. We arrived rather late (about 3pm) at the port and had no problems boarding the ship. The ship is very nice, clean, and the staff was very friendly and courteous the entire trip. This was our first time for freestyle cruising. It has pros and cons. You can't just go to dinner whenever and wherever you choose. If you don't plan ahead for the whole week, you cannot get reservations in the specialty restaurants. The menu in Tsar's Palace was fairly good the first few nights, but after that was very mediocre. We did have the opportunity to eat at Tango's (the Mexican/Latin cuisine) two nights and at Cagney's (Steakhouse) on our last evening of the cruise. We really liked the food in both of these specialty restaurants. Overall, the food was good and we had plenty to eat. Other passengers we spoke with said that Mama's Italian kitchen was quite good. Our biggest disappointment are the desserts. They always look good, but are not very tasty. Hardly worth the calories! We enjoyed the evening shows. The comedian, Peter Sasso and the Jean Ann Ryan dance company were very good. Don't miss LeCirque Bijioux show, it was excellent!! In St. Johns, Antigua we took the Kayak/snorkel tour. It was very enjoyable. The kayaking was fun and the snorkeling was okay. Overall, I would recommend it as an excursion for this port. While in St. Thomas, we went on a daysail that we had booked independent of the ship. We sailed on Highpockets, with Kathleen as our captain. She fixed us drinks, a very nice lunch and rum cake for dessert. It was a great day. Snorkeling was also included in our trip. Due to high seas on our last day, we were unable to stop at Coco Cay for our private island day. We were disappointed, but understood that it was canceled for the safety of the passengers. One other note about the freestyle cruising that is somewhat confusing is the gratuities. NCL automatically charges you $10 a day per person to your onboard account. When you order drinks a 15% gratuity is automatically added and they also have a place on the ticket for you to add more gratuity on top of that if you wish. It is also this way in the specialty restaurants where you are charged a surcharge for dining there. I just wonder how much of the automatic charges we pay are given to the crew members. The alcohol drinks on this ship are quite expensive. At $8-$9 each plus gratuity, it can really add up. The frozen drinks were not that good and had almost no alcohol. One beer costs over $4 with gratuity. Overall, we had a good time with good service and will probably cruise NCL again sometime in the future. Although, I would not rate this cruise any better that Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We have just returned back to reality after having the most amazing time on the Norwegian Jewel. Both hubby & I were slightly nervous as I had read mixed reviews about this ship and peoples experiences, but I have to say that my fears ... Read More
We have just returned back to reality after having the most amazing time on the Norwegian Jewel. Both hubby & I were slightly nervous as I had read mixed reviews about this ship and peoples experiences, but I have to say that my fears were unfounded. We flew from Dublin to Heathrow and then Heathrow to Miami the day before our cruise and stayed in the Raddison Hotel, Downtown Miami (great hotel, not so great location). We were met at the airport by friendly NCL staff and things were very straight forward. The following morning we were again collected from the hotel by the same friendly NCL people and taken to the port. Embarkation was fine. We had to queue, but I must admit it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We finally got on board after about 40 minutes (that takes into consideration 3 different lines and 2 photo opportunities!) Our cabin was lovely. We had a disabled access cabin, even though we are both able bodied, which was larger than average. If I could choose again I wouldn't have a disabled cabin though as the ramps stopped us being able to sit together on the balcony and there was no seating in the cabin. There was loads to do on board, although I have to confess we didn't see any on the shows (bad I know) as we like to dine at the same time. My only suggestion would be to have a later show to allow for more people to see them. We didn't pre-book dinner reservations other than for the 1st night, as in my opinion that defeats the object of 'freestyle cruising'. We didn't have too much trouble getting tables other than 'at sea' days when we had to eat a little later than normal (9pm). All the restaurants we ate in were fantastic, and we tried most of them! Hubby's favourite was Tsars and mine was Cagneys. All the waiting staff were great and very attentive. The only problem we had was sometimes the language barrier, but other than that, nothing and let's face it you are in a foreign country! We did 3 shore excursions and loved all of them. We went horse riding in El Yunque (Puerto Rico), Fascinating Forest & Island Drive (Antigua) and Skyride to Paradise (St Thomas). We were lucky enough to experience the carnival in St Thomas which was amazing. I have been to Notting Hill Carnival on many occasions but this was much better as it was all locals having a ball! Disembarkation was just as easy as embarkation. It was all done on a coloured ticket system, which you collect the night before. As we were staying on in Miami for a further 3 nights our bag tags were delivered to our Stateroom. We were met off of the ship and transferred to our hotel, again with no problems. All in all, I am very impressed with NCL and will definitely be looking to cruise with them again. I have already pre-ordered the 2007/2008 brochure! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We just got back from our 7 night cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. There was a high level of anticipation from us to see this new ship. Since this is a new ship, the demand has been quite high, so accordingly, the prices of the staterooms is ... Read More
We just got back from our 7 night cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. There was a high level of anticipation from us to see this new ship. Since this is a new ship, the demand has been quite high, so accordingly, the prices of the staterooms is high as well. Embarkation in Miami was pretty straight forward. We arrived at the Pier via the Cruise Connection bus at around 1:30pm. Since we are past NCL guests (known by NCL as Latitudes members), there was a separate line for check-in. Check-in was pretty easy, and we were only on line for about 15 minutes. Once we checked in at the desk, it was on to the luggage x-ray, and then on to the ship. All in all, from the curb to the ship took about 30 minutes total. Not bad at all. When you board this ship in Miami, you board it on deck 6 between the Stardust lounge, and the casino. To us, this was very odd, as most ships bring you in through the Grand Atrium, something this ship really does not have. In fact, there are no glass elevators, no main staircase, and no large central point to the ship. Deck 7 and 8 have a scaled down atrium of sorts, but it is far what you would expect on a brand new ship. There is definitely no WOW factor here. Our cabin was on Deck 11, mid ship. The hallways on deck 11 are a classic styling. Lots of wood, subdued lighting, and nice teal stateroom louvered doors. You always knew which way was Forward on this deck based on the carpet. The fish swim toward the front of the ship. We had a category AF stateroom, that is known as a mini-suite. The cabin was very nice, but for a mini-suite, and the cost of the stateroom, I do not feel it was a good value compared to our balcony room on the Norwegian SUN last year. The room is slightly larger than a regular balcony room, but the main differences here are the bathroom and the balcony. The bathroom was very nice. It was broken down into 3 'compartments'. There was the toilet on the right, the sink in the middle, and a bathtub with a very nice shower head on the left. The bathroom was probably about 54 square feet alone, which is probably 3 times the size of the one on the SUN. The toilet and the shower both have nice sliding doors, but since they are clear glass, there really is no privacy if 2 people want to use the bathroom at the same time. The balcony for the mini-suite is about 2 feet deeper than the normal balcony stateroom. We had nice comfortable deck chairs on the balcony, one of which actually reclined. Almost all of the mid ship mini-suites have about a 6 foot overhang above the balcony from Deck 12. In addition, the balconies now use a glass wall along the rail instead of the traditional bars on the older ships. This makes it easier to look out on the ocean from the balcony, but between the overhang of Deck 12, and the glass wall, there was an unusual amount of echo when talking on the balcony. It was the loudest balcony we had ever had. The only negative I could say about being on Deck 11 is that since the pool deck in on Deck 12, you could actually sometimes hear people running around above you when you were in your room. It was not overly loud in our room, but definitely noticeable. However, other people we were sailing with said they had quite a bit of noise over there room, so I am sure this depends on where your room is located on Deck 11. Since our stateroom was midship on deck 11, we were in an absolutely ideal location. It was literally about 40 steps up to the Garden Cafe buffet restaurant, or the pool deck. The Garden Cafe was a very nice buffet style restaurant. The Jewel has changed from the typical buffet line to 'stations' of food. The great part of this concept, is that you can go right to the station where the food is that you want, rather than waiting in a long line to get to 1 item. It sped up the process tremendously, and even during peak times, I never had to wait in line to get anything, except maybe an ice cream cone, of which there are even 2 of those machines, one on each end of the restaurant. The food in the Garden Cafe was very good for the most part, and there is a large number of choices. If you can't find something good to eat here, you have not tried very hard. The Great Outdoors cafe in the Aft part of the ship is not air conditioned, but has a huge awning over it to keep most tables out of direct sun. A scaled down version of similar food from the Garden Cafe is served here. It was very nice to sit out here in the evenings as well. Dinner on this ship is full of choices. There are about 11 different choices when you count room service. We did not eat in all of them, since this was only a 7 night cruise, but here are the details of the ones we did get to experience. Azura is one of the 2 main dining rooms. It is not like a traditional dining room on a cruise. Most ships main dining rooms are large, brightly lit rooms. This restaurant had nice subdued lighting, and was broken up into sections more like a traditional land restaurant. Our meal here was very good. We had shrimp cocktail, a very good prime rib, and a fabulous souffle with a chocolate sauce. A very good dinner to start the cruise. The next night was at Le Bistro. This is one of the 'specialty' restaurants on the Jewel, and has a $10 per person cover charge, although I believe if you are an early bird, the fee is cut in half. This meal was well worth the $10 per person charge. The escargot was very good, and we all had the filet mignon, which is one of the best you will probably ever eat at any restaurant anywhere. The meal was topped off with a great Creme Brulee and a Chocolate Fondue complete with pieces of fruit for dipping. If you go to Le Bistro, don't miss the Chocolate Fondue !!! The scenery and atmosphere of this restaurant were first rate. You would never even think you were on a cruise ship, but rather, a fine restaurant anywhere in the world. All in all, a meal like this would probably run you about $100 for 2 in any fine restaurant, so at $20, it was well worth the extra charge. Other nights for dinner were spent at Tango's, Blue Lagoon, Mama's Italian Kitchen (twice), and back at Azura for a Murder Mystery Dinner. Tango's is a variety of tex Mex items. We had several tasty appetizers, and some ribs and fajitas which were very good. If you visit this restaurant, try the Sangria as well, which was very good. The restaurant does not have a surcharge, but of course the Sangria does, and a pitcher will set you back about $31 with the auto gratuity...ouch. The Blue Lagoon is open for the most part 24 hours a day. It claims on the screens around the ship that it is 24 hour service, but there was a time or 2 that we saw it was closed. There is a limited menu here, but the chicken wings were pretty good. You can order as much as you want, and there is no cover charge. This is the only restaurant that is open very late, so if you are hungry after midnight, you have 3 choices, the Blue Lagoon, the Casino for light snacks, or room service. Mama's Italian Kitchen is also considered a specialty restaurant on this ship, and reservations are recommended. However, if you don't have a reservation, you can get in pretty easy late in the evening. We went 2 nights at 10pm with no reservations, and got in with no wait at all. This restaurant is open until 11pm. The decor in this restaurant is not like what you would expect on a cruise ship. It has touches of brick all around the restaurant, and if you eat early enough, a view of the ocean. There was a very nice menu and the calamari and fresh mozzarella appetizers were very good. The lasagna during our first visit was not the best I had, but it had a lot of spinach in it, and I am not a huge fan of spinach, so that might explain it. The next night, I had a Shrimp and Basil Linguini that was excellent. The Tiramisu dessert was also very good. Although this is a specialty restaurant, there was no cover charge here either. We ate a Azura a second time as well for the Murder Mystery Dinner. This was fun to do, and maybe not what you would expect, but nevertheless, if you sign up for it, you will probably have a good time with it. Dinner this night was very good as well. We tried room service on a couple of nights, both for late night snacks. The food was nothing fancy, but pretty decent overall. We tried some grilled cheeses, PB&Js, and some salads and cookies. The other thing that room service is great for is on those mornings when you will be doing excursions off the ship, and do not want to spend time going to the restaurants. You hang the card on your door at night with the choice of items you want, the time you want them delivered, and you are done. This serves 2 purposes. Coffee delivered right to your door along with fruits, cereals, etc., as well as serving as a wake up call. Room service calls your room right before they deliver the food, which is a nice touch. It is very nice to sit on your balcony first thing in the morning enjoying breakfast. The pool area was very nice. There are 2 pools, 1 is marked as adult only. There is a slide for the other pool. As usual on any ship, the chair savers were everywhere. People like to reserve chairs by putting towels on them, only to never use the chair, but prevent others from using them as well. The pools have a nice wading area around each one, so you can sit in 6 inches of water if you just want to get wet without going into the pool. oddly enough, the crew starts taking the deck chairs off the deck at about 6pm, so the pool deck all but closes down early. There is some very good food served at 'The Grill' by the pool deck. The burgers and chicken were very good. The casino was nicely colored, and pretty large, but seemed to lack a personality to it, if that makes sense. maybe it is too bright in there or something, but it just seems different than other ships casinos. The other places on the ship to comment about were the galleria on the ship, and some of the other bars and lounges. The galleria was very large, but out of the way in the aft part of Deck 7. Most ships force you through the shopping area every which way you go, but this ship is laid out differently. As far as the bars go, there are quite a few on this ship, but most did not seem to be very utilized. There were very few people in the majority of the bars. The only exception was the Spinnaker lounge, which was the ships disco. This lounge usually had quite a few people in it early in the night when the music was geared toward folks in their 30s to 50s. As the night progressed, the music got progressively worse, geared mostly toward 20 year olds that like rap. Once this music would dominate the play lists, the Spinnaker lounged cleared out repeatedly of all but a handful of people. The Jewel is definitely not the ship for you if you are a late night person looking for activity. The pool deck closes very early, except for the night of the deck party. The specialty bars all seemed to be closed well before midnight, and if you stayed up past midnight, there was very little to do on this ship. This was very disappointing. One last part of the ship to comment on is the StarDust Theater. This is the main theater for shows and is fairly large. However, there are several problems with this theater. First, this is the worst design of a theater I have ever seen. The seats are like a movie theater, not a cruise ship or Vegas style lounge. The seats are very narrow and have no leg room. It is very difficult to get into a row without stepping on other people. There are no drink holders, or room for anything for that matter. The 'wings' on the outside of the theater have no aisle along the walls, so you have to climb over everyone to sit in the outer sections of the theater. The seats along the outside edge of the theater are useless anyway due to obstructed views, so they would be better off removing those seats in favor of another access point for these outer sections. In addition, don't dare sit up in the balcony sections, as the views are absolutely horrible. Whoever designed this theater should find themselves out of work, as this is absolutely the worst flaw of an otherwise well laid out ship. I would not be surprised to see NCL totally redo this theater one day when the ship is in for refurbishment. If they were smart, this would be sooner than later. For a brand new state of the art ship, this was not what you would expect. The other complaint I have with the theater is that on several nights, there was only 1 show time. For a ship with this many people, and with the concept of 'Freestyle Cruising', this does not make sense. It forces you to decide when to eat so you can see the show. Every ship that we have sailed other than NCL always had 2 shows from what I remember, and some of them were later in the evenings. I think all but 1 of NCL's shows were over by 9:30. This is just way too early, with very few activities to do after the shows are over. The days in port were pretty good. The only negative is that the Jewel has to tender in to every port, including their private island. This means that you cannot just walk off the ship and be at the port, you have to take a small boat (usually the ships lifeboats) to the destination. Of course, this takes time. There is time spent waiting for the tenders, and time spent on the boat ride in to the dock. If you have a tour excursion that you purchased through the ship, you get priority so that you won't miss your tour. If you do not have a tour with the ship, you have to wait for the others to disembark first. You also need to get a tender ticket so that you can disembark when your ticket is called. NCL's private Island was nothing special. It was a small island with a beach, volleyball, a lunch buffet, some hammocks, and a few small souvenir shops. You must bring cash for those, since they are not part of NCL. If you have been to Disney's Private Island, or even RCCL's Island, Coco Cay, which is right next door, you will find NCL's Island, Great Stirrup Cay, to be a step below both. Disembarkation day on NCL is done very well. Breakfast was being served in the main dining room, as well as the buffet. The times were stated until 9:30, and the buffet restaurant was very busy. There was plenty of food to be had, and they were still cooking omelettes after 9am. This is a far cry from Royal Caribbean or Carnival, that throw you off the ship early in the morning with very little food choices. NCL is first rate here, and guests were not completely off of the ship until after 10am. Since they do the disembarking in stages, there is not too much waiting around. A few last points about our trip on the Jewel... - Paul, the cruise director was pretty funny and enjoyable with his announcements. - The elevators were pretty quick, compared to other ships we have been on. - There are cameras EVERYWHERE on this ship. We joked that they were keeping track of all the food we ate so they could bill us a food surcharge at the end of the cruise. - There are cool LCDs all around the ship to tell you the status of any restaurant on the ship. They would show which of them were open, and how full they were. This was pretty informative. However, they should tie these to the staterooms somehow so you can see this info from your room as well. - The mini-suite concierge service is a joke. Don't expect any benefits in this category other than your robe in the room. As the concierge, Ruth, clearly pointed out, there are about 132 mini-suites on the ship, so it's too many for them to provide concierge service for. NCL should either remove this from their category descriptions as a selling point, or hire a few more people. You pay a huge premium for the mini-suites, so you should get something besides a robe to wear in your room. - Since I booked this cruise through a travel agent, NCL would not even talk to me to add extras to my room. I ordered a Birthday package to have the room decorated when we boarded the ship. Of course, this was not done. When I talked to the reception desk, they had NO record of this order, even though NCL had already charged me for the service from a month earlier when I ordered it. I had to call my travel agent before we left port. They in turn called NCL, who claimed they had no idea why the ship did not have a record of this order. This was very disappointing and ruined a nice surprise. NCL might have avoided this had they taken this order directly rather than forcing me to go through my travel agent. Hopefully if you order something, you will have better success than I did. - The ship is extremely well maintained, and the crew was constantly cleaning the common areas all week long. They do a great job keeping the ship looking brand new and beautiful. - And finally, a comment about the liquor prices. Last year on the Norwegian Sun, they sold a 'bucket' of beer, where you got 6 beers for the price of 5. At that time, a bucket of Corona's was about $19. The bucket deal is now gone, and 6 Corona's now will cost you just over $31 after gratuity, making them cost about $5.18 per beer, which is ridiculous in my opinion, and an outrageous price increase in just 1 year. Overall, we had a very nice time on the ship. Our room was very nice and in a perfect location to everything on the ship. The ship is laid out well, and is easy to navigate. The food was excellent and never left you looking for anything with all the choices there were. However, the lack of entertainment and night life was disappointing, as it was on the Norwegian SUn last year. Since the Jewel is brand new and the demand is high, you are paying a premium for this ship. While the Jewel is a very nice ship, the Norwegian SUN has been going out of Miami for the last few months as well due to Hurricane Katrina. You can get a much better deal on the SUN than you can get on the Jewel. The SUN is only about 5 years old, and unless the quality has dropped since last year, your money would be better spent on that ship unless you want to say you sailed an almost brand new ship in the Jewel. You would not be disappointed with either ship, but the SUN is definitely a better value, and given that, if I had the choice to sail again tomorrow with the current prices, I would choose the SUN. Good Luck and Bon Voyage !!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
This was our 4th NCL cruise (previous  Sky & Sun), and our first on the Jewel. The previous NCL cruises were great, well above our expectations. There were a few glitches but nothing serious. We had expected more from this bigger ... Read More
This was our 4th NCL cruise (previous  Sky & Sun), and our first on the Jewel. The previous NCL cruises were great, well above our expectations. There were a few glitches but nothing serious. We had expected more from this bigger ship, the Norwegian Jewel but, this cruise was quite disappointing. We did have a great time because you learn to overcome any problem(s) and enjoy your vacation. There were some good points and some bad points, Ill elaborate: Embarkation to the ship. This was done quite well considering the vast number of people that had to be processed. The lines were long but the operation was well managed. The luggage was delivered to our stateroom in an acceptable amount of time, no problem. Stateroom. We took an oceanview stateroom on deck 10 with a balcony, the same type of stateroom that we had on the Sky and the Sun. There was a bit less storage room for clothes BUT by a redesign, the bathroom was bigger. No cocoon-type shower with that infamous circular shower curtain. Here, we had a stall shower with a sliding door. That was a nice surprise. Pool Area. Heres a big problem. With 4 hot tubs, a waterslide, and a bandstand all around the pool area, it made for a very congested area. The lounge chairs were placed right next to each other with no room in between chairs. On the Sky and the Sun, they had little tables in between each lounge chair. The entire pool area is very, very congested. When they did an ice sculpture in front of the bandstand, they had to remove several lounge chairs to make room; to the dismay of several guests. On the Sun and Sky, they had a BBQ every afternoon, they also had a waffle and an omelets stations set up by the pool and a cold food station. Waiters at Poolside. If I got a dollar every time a waiter asked me if I wanted anything from the bar, or a beverage or a drink I could have had a free cruise. I know what those guys and gals that walk around the pool area wearing red colored jackets, carrying a tray are there for. If I want a beverage, Ill ask for one; so get out of my face. Jogging Track. The jogging track on the sports deck is a joke; its so tiny and short, youd be better off on the promenade deck where they have a walking track. Garden Cafe. Heres where the Jewel falls flat on its face. First, there are no trays for you to carry your food to the table. Id like to see anyone carry a dish with your main selection, a salad or fruit dish, a cup of coffee and a beverage all at the same time. You have to get one dish and a beverage (for example) and find a table, then go back to get whatever else you would like. On the SKY and the SUN, the Garden Cafe is set up like a cafeteria; you have two lines starting at two different points in the cafe, and you walk through all of the selections that they are offering. You place all of your (plated) food on your tray and when youre done, go sit down and eat. With the food stations that the Jewel has designed, you have hundreds of people scurrying around looking for what they want to eat. It just makes for an unorganized, congested mess with people scrambling around getting into each others way. TZAR Restaurant. Heres a beauty; a classic example of staff not knowing how to run a restaurant. There was a 45-minute wait for a table; that was understandable, because we went there without a reservation. People got beepers that have a working range throughout the ship. So when they were told that there would be a 45 minute to 1 hour wait, they decided to go walk around the ship. After a few minutes the receptionist said, We are not using beepers at this time, we have tables available, first come first served. Wow, what about all those people that went for a walk around the ship and never got an indication on their beepers? What about the people who came after these people (those with beepers) and got immediate seating while those others were still walking around the ship waiting for their beeper to go off? TZAR and AZURA Restaurants. We ate at both of these restaurants because we could not get any reasonable reservation at any of the other specialty restaurants. The food at both restaurants was excellent. The quality was superb. The only drawback was the portion size. We felt that we were given Weight Watchers portions. So, the next time we ate at one of these restaurants, we both ordered two portions, (grilled chicken AND the salmon). Problem solved. Food. On the other ships, (Sky, Sun), there was food available all day long. If you wanted a snack, you could go into the Cafe and you had a nice selection. In the afternoon, everyday, they had a BBQ; not on the Jewel. Many times we wanted some fruit and the Cafe was closed either for cleaning or preparation for the next meal. The only choice you have is to walk to the very end of the ship and then maybe youd find something left over. The food selection in the Garden Cafe was very limited and quality of the food very poor. They had some dishes that were simple foul; the only dish that I found exceptionally tasty was the Cornish game hen; excellent. On the Jewel they have an ice cream machine that you can have vanilla or chocolate ice cream that you serve yourself. On the Sky and Sun, they had an ice cream station where you could select from many varieties; they even had a sugar free ice cream. There were a couple of days where at lunch, in the Garden Cafe, there was no soda available. You would have to go outside to the pool-side bar to get a beverage and then carry it back to your table. Someone told us that they had a peach cobbler for dessert. Great, now you would think that the peach cobbler would be by the dessert station, right? Wrong! Who would think that the peach cobbler would be at the pizza station? Hey, you could have fooled me. They had a nice selection of breads and rolls in the Garden Cafe. But, you had to search high and low to find where they hid the butter bowl. You would think they would put it next to the bread and rolls, but hey, you could have fooled me again. On the Sun and Sky, they had a dessert table display that would knock your socks off. At least a dozen different desserts were displayed every day. The dessert selections on the Jewel were quite lacking. The chefs on the Jewel should talk to the chefs on the other NCL cruise ships. When you tasted one of the deserts that were offered on the other NCL cruise ships you were blown away. On the Jewel, the desserts were simply OK. Entertainment. Fantastic! Every one of the shows that we took in was great in performance and quality of entertainment. Staff. Overall we found the staff not as friendly or personal as the staff on other NCL cruise ships. As a matter of fact, one staff member was quite rude and had an attitude. Were not saying that all of the Jewels staff fit this description but we did notice a definite difference. Debarkation. They got this down pat. Easy debarkation, run well with no hang-ups. The Bottom Line. We would consider another cruise on NCL but not on the Jewel. Bigger doesnt always mean better and the other NCL cruise ships that we were on put the Jewel to shame. The Jewel needs a bit more polishing in order to be an enjoyable venture. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
Our overall experience on the Jewel was excellent. The ship is attractive, well laid out, and the staff was exceptionally friendly and responsive. THE FREESTYLE CONCEPT -- The reason we chose NCL was the Freestyle cruising concept. We ... Read More
Our overall experience on the Jewel was excellent. The ship is attractive, well laid out, and the staff was exceptionally friendly and responsive. THE FREESTYLE CONCEPT -- The reason we chose NCL was the Freestyle cruising concept. We were not disappointed, and wish more cruise lines would adopt this. The ability to dine when you want and to have such a wide variety of dining venues is excellent. EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was very efficient. We arrived by car just after noon and were onboard within about 20 minutes. Supposedly, embarkation begins at noon for Latitudes members and 1pm for everyone else. From all indications, they opened the doors to everyone at 11:45am. When we disembarked at about 10am, we saw people already lined up at the doors to begin the boarding process. We understand that between noon to 2pm can get VERY busy and backed up. If you drive, there is a parking lot right across from the ship that costs $12/day, paid in advance. Since there is not a parking garage, I would recommend getting a set of sunscreens for your windshield to keep the hot sun out of the car while youre away. STATEROOM -- We were in a mini-suite (category AF) which was roomy and very nicely decorated. There was plenty of storage (a roomy closet with plenty of hangers and numerous drawers, suitcases go under the bed). The room has a small safe, a hair dryer (at the desk, not in the bathroom), dual thermostats (one for the pull-out couch area, which can be divided off with a curtain) with excellent control of the temperature, a minibar that has plenty of excess room to store your own beverages, and a coffee maker with coffee and tea. The balcony had two fairly comfortable chairs and a small table. The bathroom was roomier than I had anticipated. There is a separate toilet area with a sliding glass partition, a soap dispenser at the sink, a shower gel and shampoo dispenser in the shower, a shower in the tub with a sliding glass door (the shower has plenty of pressure and a nice Grohe shower control), a pull-out clothesline in the shower, three glass shelves at the sink with plenty of room for toiletries. There is also an extra towel bar next to the sink that made a great place to hang a toiletry bag to give some extra room. The bathroom is large enough so that if someone is at the sink, the other person can easily maneuver around them to use the toilet or shower. I peeked into the bathroom of an inside stateroom and noticed that they did not have a separate toilet room, but the shower was about the same size as the mini-suite. There is a dial outside each stateroom that you can use to indicate Welcome, Make up room, Do not disturb, and Turn down room. This was handy to let the room steward know when he could come in to service the room or make his animals out of towels (which were quite clever). One great tip: ask your room steward for feather pillows and a top sheet. The feather pillows are far superior to the standard pillows, and the top sheet is nice in the event the duvet is too hot. HEALTH AND FITNESS -- The fitness room has a number of excellent cardio machines and weights. The treadmills are fully booked in the mornings, but open up in the afternoon for the remainder of the day. There are yoga and Pilates classes ($11.50/session including automatic gratuity) that my wife says were worth the cost. If youre a runner or a walker, skip the fitness club and head out to the promenade on Deck 7. There are plaques on the wall that indicate one lap is 668 yards. This equates to 2 2/3 laps per mile. Dont bother with the jogging track on Deck 13  its narrower and shorter (5.5 laps per mile), and youll spend a lot of time dodging other people. (NOTE: there is a wooden plaque in the forward port quarter that gives different measurements than the metal plaques. The wooden plaque in not correct). Spa treatments are $20 off if you book them the first day of the cruise. Most treatments are 50% off if you get them while the ship is in port. DINING -- Overall, I would rate the food as good, but its certainly not the highlight of the cruise. We primarily ate in Tsars. One night we went to Azura (same menu as Tsars, but its a smaller place and the service seemed just a little faster). Another night we went to Mamas Kitchen, but decided not to go back. We ate at one specialty restaurant, Chin Chin, but were disappointed in the taste of the dishes. The Chocaholic Buffet was held on Friday afternoon in Tsars, and was better looking than tasting. On my last cruise I gained 5 pounds; this cruise I gained nothing. Most nights we skipped desert at the restaurant and got a cup of soft-serve ice cream (self-serve) at the Garden Cafe (I recommend using a cup for the ice cream versus the cones  if you see what happens to those cones throughout the day, youd understand). They have sauces for the ice cream, but only at the machine in the forward part of the Garden Cafe. The juice machine serves apple, cranberry, and orange. If you want something else, like tomato, you can ask and they will get it for you. I recommend that you make dinner reservations for the entire week as soon as you get on the ship, even if you plan to eat at Tsars or Azura. At about 7pm to 8pm the restaurants get crowded and there is a wait (they do use pagers, so you dont have to stand in line). If you have a reservation, youre in right away. You can change the reservations at any time (except that specialty restaurant reservations must be cancelled 24 hours in advance or youll get charged $5). Its good to have the reservation as a fallback plan. The service in the restaurants was excellent, but the meals still took a very long time. You can count on an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes for either lunch or dinner in Tsars. Specialty restaurants are 1/2 off (cover charge only, not any of the a la carte prices) from 5:30 to 6:30 every night. ENTERTAINMENT -- I would have to say that the shows were, well, entertaining. None of them are going to win any awards. I dont think Id classify any as dont miss, but they are a good way to spend the evening. Cirque de Bijou is probably the best  the performers clearly have some exceptional physical capabilities. Most shows have two performances  one at 7:30pm and one at 9:30pm. If youre not a drinker or gambler, there is little to do after the evening show. It would have been nice if there was a movie theater with continuous show times (there are movies in cabin, but its not the same as having a theater). DISEMBARKATION -- Because we were able to wheel our luggage out on our own we were able to get off the ship when we wanted. From 7:15am until about 8am, only those without checked baggage can leave the ship. We decided to eat a leisurely breakfast in the Garden Café and depart later (they will drag you off at about 10am). This was a mistake. Since everyone is waiting to get called off the ship, theyre all up in the Garden Café and the place is mobbed! It was difficult to get a table. I might recommend that if you do want to adopt a leisurely pace the last morning, head to Azura for your breakfast (Tsars was closed that morning), or get room service. MISCELLANEOUS -- The service overall was excellent. We did not run into one crew member that was unpleasant. Everyone was friendly and very accommodating. There is a Freestyle Sundeck a couple of decks above the Sky High Bar that has a frosted glass railing and allows Freestyle sunbathing. As far as I could tell, the sodas offered are: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, and Ginger Ale. So, for those interested, Sprite Zero is the diet, caffeine free alternative. We did not take any shore excursions, so I cant comment on these. As for port stops, I have noticed that there are generally two types of Caribbean ports: upscale and downscale. On this cruise, Roatan and Ocho Rios were definitely downscale, while Grand Cayman and Nassau (weather prevented us from going to Stirrup Cay) were upscale. If youre planning to just walk around, its generally not worth it in a downscale port (as youll be incessantly nagged by peddlers). There are automatic hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance to all restaurants. Thankfully, we saw a lot of people using these. Even so, its best to carry along a small bottle of Purel! Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
Norwegian Jewel  Western Caribbean  March 19th  26th 2006 Mini Suite  Deck 11 Hi all, Ive been reading some of the reviews here and have seen that usually if 60% or so of the reviews are positive, I seem to have a good time on ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel  Western Caribbean  March 19th  26th 2006 Mini Suite  Deck 11 Hi all, Ive been reading some of the reviews here and have seen that usually if 60% or so of the reviews are positive, I seem to have a good time on the ship. Its pretty much human nature to overly criticize when writing reviews. Jewel was our 3rd cruise so far. My last cruise was on Pride of America out of Honolulu and that ship really had problems! Jewel was almost exactly the opposite experience for my wife and I. We are both in our low 50s. We love gourmet foods and first class experiences. Jewel provided. We opted for a 2 night Pre-Cruise that NCL organized at the Holiday Inn South Beach Resort in Miami. The hotel was less than fancy and I wouldnt recommend it unless you are on a budget. We accidentally booked for Saint Patrick's Day and it was also the beginning of Spring Break for the students so the place was loud and rowdy. We managed to have dinner at Emerils Restaurant in the St. Moritz Hotel the night before the cruise. Saturday, we went out to the Everglades Tour and did an airboat ride, petted Alligators etc. Very neat place to visit. Sunday -- Embarkation went smoothly, but was a bit slow. We are latitudes members so we got to use the Latitudes line. I doubt it was much shorter than the normal embarkation line. We were on board in 20 mins after reaching the pier. Jewel is a lovely ship. The sail away party is fun on Sunday about 5 PM. Go up to the top forward deck for sail away. The view of Miami is amazing and with a little wind and a stiff drink, youll have a blast (especially when the Captain blows the Horn leaving Miami). Our cabin was a Mini-suite and we simply loved it. My wife and I always get a balcony as I smoke and we both love sitting out and watching the sea at night. Jewels mini-suites are larger than any I have encountered on Pride of America, or Carnival Ecstasy. Equipped with a Bathtub, separate toilet area, the Bathroom is spacious. The Balcony is larger than I accustomed too as well. We were very please with the cabin. 2 Air conditioner/Heater controls worked well and quickly. Very nice beds and Duvets. Ample storage space for 2 people. Room could sleep 4 if cozy enough. Hair dryer in the room. The stewards kept our cabin clean, making up the room 3 times a day. Turndown was always prompt with towel animals and chocolate on the pillows. We normally tip the steward about $20 on the first day and they usually do a nice job after that. We also usually need 2 Ice buckets to keep our wine cold and have ice for drinks through the night. The suite does have a refrigerator w/mini-bar. As far as dining is concerned, we ate mostly at the specialty restaurants. Chin Chin is NCLs usual Pacific rim type of fusion restaurant. The sushi was great. We didnt try any of the rolls however, just sushi. The main menu at Chin Chin features some really interesting blends of oriental fare. Caution however, each dish that is marked with a red pepper on the menu is supposed to be medium hot&I eat a LOT of Chinese and Thai food and this stuff is Hotter than medium! Delicious however anyway. Le Bistro is an attempt at French cuisine. Good food, but nothing for the record books. Our Favorite dining was in Cagneys Restaurant. We had dinner there twice. Excellent appetizers and great steaks, and the staff is really well trained and fun. We tried Tzars, one of the main dining rooms, once and it was good. No long lines to get in. Good food and pleasant staff. Reservations not needed but a good idea. The Garden Buffet was great, by the standards I have seen on other ships. Lots of variety, Great omelettes for breakfast, and they never seemed to run out of anything. Good Pizza too. Good for Bkfst and Lunch. CAUTION: Your very first trip out of your stateroom, once you have boarded, should be to deck 7 and the Restaurant Reservation desk. All the specialty restaurants will fill up for prime dining times by your first night on board. Get your reservations made immediately. Western Caribbean itinerary. We found this cruise to be a blast! Day One is at sea. Time to relax, lay around listening to the reggae band by the pool, organize the luggage, read a book, surf the web, explore the beautiful ship. Do an art auction, check out one of the destination lectures or whatever. About 1PM on day one, I was sitting with my wife at the restaurant outside at the stern of the ship, just looking out too sea. Way out there was a small dot. Another passenger noticed it first and I followed her direction to see it for myself. Sure enough, it was a small boat. A ships officer was out here with us and noticed it as well. We were pretty far out to sea and a boat that small didnt belong. The Captain checked it out through his Binoculars and decided to stop the Ship and to investigate. It took 15 mins to turn the ship around, and slow to a full stop, right next to the small boat. 6 Cubans, bailing out water from their boat, waving white flags, blowing us kisses, waving and cheering. Security took them on board and they were given medical checks and refuge below decks until they could be dropped in a friendly country. I was so impressed with the Captains actions here. That night the wind rose up to about 60 miles per hour, a Force 10 Gale, with seas up to 15 feet. I am certain that this little boat with its refugee passengers would not have survived the night at sea. Its certain that the Captain saved these peoples lives that afternoon. BRAVO! A note about the Seas. Our first two nights were in fairly rough seas. Night 2 was a force 10 gale. My wife is very sensitive to motion. She was uncomfortable but not sick. I found the gentle rocking to be soothing and slept really well. The ships stabilizers do an amazing job of keeping the ride nice and smooth. No cruise is complete unless you lose a little money in the Casino. I accomplished that mission on the first day at sea. The casino is well equipped with many slots and a good variety of table games. My wife and I also had a one hour massage in the onboard Spa. It was fantastic. A good deep relaxing massage is a great way to start a cruise. Entertainment was offered each night in several locations. We went to 3 shows. I recommend the '70s music show, the comedian and you cant miss the Cirque Bijou show. They were all really terrific.Day Two on Roatan: Did the Jolly Roger Catamaran and Gubalimba Beach Tour. Catamaran ride for about 45 minutes to the West side of Roatan for snorkeling. Pretty good location with lots of sea life. After snorkeling, on to Gumalimba Beach Park. What a neat place with lush jungle, tropical plants everywhere and a great beach. They have a monkey sanctuary there and the monkeys will climb all over you. It was really fun! The bus rides too the boat and back to the ship were a bit scarry with slim roads and steep cliffs. Also no A/C on these old rickety buss was a disappointment. Day 3 at Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island: Took another rickety hot old junker bus out too a dock where we boarded an old rickety boat to get to Stingray City. This is a must see on Grand Cayman. Hundreds of large southern stingrays will play at your feet. The water is about 4-5 feet deep here and the rays are everywhere. The guides will lift the rays out of the water and you can pet, kiss, and hold the rays. We hand fed them fresh squid and they were grateful. A really great photo opportunity. Then on to a reef snorkel experience that was a bit disappointing. The boat just went about 1000 feet from Stingray city to a sand bottom area. The snorkeling there although beautiful, was no where near the potential of Caymans waters. I guess the cruise line and tour company are being extra cautious with the passengers. Still, Cayman has such underwater beauty that it would have been nice to be able to see it on a high priced Shore Excursion. The tours Lunch on the Beach after this excursion was a waste of effort and time. If I go again, I will avoid the ships excursions and hire a tour at the Pier. Just FYI, the N Jewel was anchored right next to the Star Princess that day at Grand Cayman. You probably heard that the Star Princess caught fire that night in route to Jamaica. Day 4: Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We did the Dunns River Falls and Dolphin Swim Tour. It was great except that it is a bit confusing knowing when and were to go at the Dolphin cove. Swimming with the Dolphins was nice and we got to touch and hug them. Dunns River falls is great too&a good hike for a 50 year old guy and gal, but we made it! Fabulous pictures here. Recommended. We also decided to stroll around town afterwards and we DID NOT experience any negatives from the natives. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, some of the roads and buildings are very shabby. The Jamaican people are very friendly and warm. There will be a beggar now and then but we didnt feel at all threatened, or intimidated here. It is a poor country after all, and visitors need to be aware of this and to make accommodations in their expectations. Jerk chicken and good reggae more than make up for it. I love Jamaica. Very beautiful country. Plus, Jamaican Blue Mountain (Jablum) coffee for only $20 pound! I love it. Day 5: At Sea Day 6: Nassau, Bahamas: This stop was unscheduled as seas at Great Stirrup Cay were too high for safe tendering operations. THANK GOODNESS! Great Stirrup is a private island owned by the Cruise lines. Basically just a beach and a chance for the Cruise line to charge you for more drinks, towels, snorkeling equipment etc. etc.. Always in your pocket. Plus, NCL doesnt even let you snorkel unless you wear one of their life vests which makes surface diving, one of the best parts of snorkeling) impossible. What a rip off! Ive been a scuba diver and a Dive Master for over 20 years, and you can rest assured that I dont need some 20 year old barely diver telling me I need a vest to be safe. Forget that. Instead, we docked at Nassau and everyone seemed delighted with the change. We visited the Paradise Island Atlantis Resort which is one of the top 10 resorts in the world. What a place! Amazingly fancy. Great Casino. Unbelievable Indoor Aquarium. Other than that, we just spent the day walking around town and shopping. Day 7: Sunday Miami & Home. Debarkation was easy. We had white tags and were off the boat by 9:30 AM. About 15 mins to get the bags, clear customs, and grab a bus to the Airport. Once again, we had a nightmare return flight but thats another story for another day. I Loved the Norwegian Jewel and will gladly recommend her to other cruisers. Just be ready for NCLs unceasing commercialism and money grabbing techniques, such as the daily Bonus Rewards Program sales pitch. Email with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
This was my first time sailing NCL and my 4th cruise overall, having sailed RCL, Princess, and Carnival. I would say it was a great success. The ship itself: The Jewel is a lovely ship. It was clean, the decks are easy to navigate, and ... Read More
This was my first time sailing NCL and my 4th cruise overall, having sailed RCL, Princess, and Carnival. I would say it was a great success. The ship itself: The Jewel is a lovely ship. It was clean, the decks are easy to navigate, and it had lots of places where you could simply sit and watch the ocean as you sailed (something I really enjoy). At the very end of the ship is semi-covered outside dining area that was never crowded and was a favorite spot of mine to dine. The size is not huge or small.. just right. Staterooms  We had an inside stateroom that was comfortable for two people. It had plenty of storage and drawer space, was nicely furnished, and the beds were in great shape. The shower was especially good. It had strong water pressure, a hand-held shower head (excellent for getting sand out of your hair) and could hold two people (if you really like each other). The only negative about the cabin was that the ships theater was directly below us. That meant no naps during the day when the theater was in use for rehearsals, and forget about going to bed before the end of the last show at night. The music and pounding sounded like it was coming from inside the room! I have to laugh though, because the friends we were traveling with inadvertently got a room above the Karaoke lounge. Theres nothing like hearing bad singing in your room until 2am. So I cant complain too much since others had worse. Also, there was a horribly loud sound (loud enough to wake us) on mornings when we docked. I assume it was the anchor, but whatever it was it was LOUD. I will be more careful in selecting a room location in the future. Otherwise, the inexpensive inside cabins were plenty good! The balcony cabins looked nice, but at almost twice the price Id rather take a second cruise with the money. The public rooms/spaces  Clean, never too crowded. The flow of people really worked on the Jewel. The ship didnt feel jam packed like some others Ive been on. Some of the music was best suited for an older crowd (I'm in my late 30s), and hearing endless tunes crooned in heavily accented Filipino was interesting experience. Overall, though, NCL did a good job here. Activities  There were surprisingly few activities for those who didnt want to lose a bunch of money playing Bingo or gambling. Still, we enjoyed the scavenger hunt, and a murder mystery dinner that we happened to hear about and sign up for on board. It was worth a few hours of time and allowed us to meet some new people. I would have liked to have seen more educational lectures, information about the region, etc, and less time with people droning on and on about shopping. Entertainment  There was good and there was bad. I thought the singing and dancing shows lacked a theme that made sense. The effort was there, but the presentation was lacking. The acrobats and magician, however, were great fun! Overall  above average. The food  Excellent. The alternative dining rooms had especially good service and selection. I loved Tangos. My husband especially enjoyed the Asian cuisine. The steak restaurant was good and worth the extra money (if you go before 6:30PM you get in for ½ price). The italian restaurant was a solid choice and something almost everyone in the family would like. The main dining rooms werent as great. The dEcor was fun, but they needed more dining selection and the food could have been better seasoned. Plus, and I think this about every cruise, where are the fresh veggies?! The buffet was adequate. Not great, but not bad either. Its hard to make buffet food awesome. But there were plenty of choices and the food was hot. The deserts werent the best (except for the cheesecake in the specialty restaurants which was wonderful). Alternative dining is the way to go. If you make reservations early in the cruise (we spent about an hour in line the first night making reservations  they never picked up the phone to take them that way) you can breeze into dinner for the rest of your trip. Something I found odd was that I saw the staff enforced the no shorts rule in the main dining rooms but not the alternative restaurants. Overall  the best food Ive experienced at sea! The ports  We did the Fort and Beach tour in Antigua and enjoyed it a lot. I recommend going on an excursion there as there isnt much to do on your own. Our friends ventured off alone and came away with a much more negative impression of the island then we did. We took the pricey catamaran and snorkel tour in St. Johns. St. Johns was beautiful but the snorkeling was too crowded. Its hard to snorkel when youre getting kicked in the face and bumping into the person next to you. At least 3 other excursions were parked within yards of our boat. The catamaran ride was fun, however, and the service on Castaway Girl was great. On NCLs private island we didnt do any excursions. The beach there is very pretty and the water is gorgeous, but again it was far too crowded. I mean REALLY crowded. I missed the extra space found on RCLs private island. The luncheon on the private island was okay but not as good as RCLs. The pools  the pools were clean and people seemed to be enjoying them. I swam once and the water was cool but nice. If you want a deck chair youve got to be out on deck in the early morning. Otherwise, you have no chance against the rude people who get up early and lay down a towel and a book and just leave (hogging the spot). Frankly, I think the NCL staff should have simply removed the left items and tossed them in the trash. NCL needs more space around the pool and some lounge chairs in the shade would be a welcome addition too. The kids around the waterslide seemed to be having lots of fun. Oh, a note about the kids, I heard that there were hundreds of kids on board, but rarely saw them except around the pool. The staff appeared to do a good job of keeping them under control and entertained. Not an easy feat! Overall  I would highly recommend this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
NCL Jewel Mar '06. The embarkation was longer for non US. Once onboard the fire drill was confusing - why would we go further into the bowels of the ship with no doors that open. Cabins were not properly cleaned - 3 couples ... Read More
NCL Jewel Mar '06. The embarkation was longer for non US. Once onboard the fire drill was confusing - why would we go further into the bowels of the ship with no doors that open. Cabins were not properly cleaned - 3 couples travelling together and we all found something under our beds in 3 separate cabins. Had to ask for sheets to be changed. Hope it was done from the previous guest! No robes to use as was the case with Carnival. Shower OK size but toilet in a corner that you could hardly sit in - knees would touch the wall in front of you. Balcony door hard to pull open as well. Entertainment was so-so. Crew were on a few nights. Late evening snacks were hard to find. Meals in Tzar's OK - did not meet my expectations. Had beef three time and don't usually eat beef. I'm sure the best service was in the pay extra restaurants - which you can't get in unless you book them all the first day. I already paid for the cruise - why should I have to pay more to have good service. Complained about breakfast one morning - asked for coffee 3 times and did not get syrup for pancakes until meal was almost over - although we asked. We were given 1 bottle of wine for 6 people at dinner that night and 1 extra server. The maitre d' did not come to see if everything was OK after he seated us. No comment cards on the tables after the 3rd day - I wonder why? Ports were very nice. Took our own tours. Drinks very expensive. Watch the minibar bill after you leave - they charged us for things we didn't use. Couldn't reach NCL by phone - always on hold forever. Overall a disappointing ship. Won't be travelling with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
This was our 4th Caribbean cruise, our third on NCL. We looked forward to this one as our first was on the Dawn shortly after it went into service. The Jewel was touted as a sister to the Dawn...identical in many ways. We had loved the ... Read More
This was our 4th Caribbean cruise, our third on NCL. We looked forward to this one as our first was on the Dawn shortly after it went into service. The Jewel was touted as a sister to the Dawn...identical in many ways. We had loved the Dawn. We, and the other couple we travel with, book our cruises directly with NCL by telephone. Usually no problems but this time it took much longer to change or add items like insurance and ground transfers after the initial booking. There seemed to be a language barrier that the NCL staff had in not understanding our requests or being able to converse fluently in our country's language. We were disappointed that points earned from our new NCL MasterCard were not allowed as onboard credits on this trip. Embarkation was a breeze as we arrived at the Port of Miami before noon, having spent several days in FL prior to the cruise. The lines were long, but we accidentally discovered the line for Latitudes members and found it to be much shorter and faster. If you have cruised with NCL in the past, always look for the Lats lines. No help from the staff directing the lines as they pointed everyone to the main pile-up. Our cabin, an AF mini-suite with private balcony, was ready for our arrival and in excellent shape. We were disappointed to find the fridge packed with mini-bar stuff at exorbitant prices and were never told that one bottle of water ($4.50) was on the house. I didn't want to take the chance. Due to choppy seas we later discovered an annoying noise in the patio doors that woke us often during the night, as well as slamming doors across the hall which were used by the crew at an extremely annoying frequency. I asked the crew members there to please close their door quietly and found no improvement. Housekeeping was barely O.K. as on several nights the beds had still not been turned down upon our arrival after 10 p.m. The price of drinks, as well as wine in the dinner venues was outrageous. We budgeted plenty for this item but still thought we did not get our money's worth, especially at the Sky High bar where pina coladas seemed almost virgin. Good pina coladas were had at the bar in the great outdoors aft. Dining on the Jewel was really good. We always enjoyed the breakfast buffet and breakfasts in the Tsar's Palace. Food quality was at least good and service in most venues was good. We additionally dined in the Mamma's Italian Restaurant and wondered how in heck they decided to put a restaurant under the basketball court: thump, thump ad infinitum. Food was good enough to make up for it. Also had reservations in the Tex-Mex venue and found selections average. The experience here, as in most dining venues, was spoiled by many very young children and parents who did not make an effort to quiet them. A word here about family friendly cruising and our opinion: if you need to use a double-stroller, block the hallways with it, or have babies that belong in the church's cry room, STAY THE HECK HOME!!!! This cruise was badly in need of some adults only retreats! We love babies too, but took pains not to inflict them on other people, in church, restaurants, or other public places. Thank God pets were not allowed as I believe many would have tried to bring them too. We found entertainment to be superb!!!! After Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas painful attempts last year, NCL's Jean Ann Ryan's cast were beyond expectations. Never have we seen a more energetic, coordinated, and entertaining group of dancers and singers. The Cirque on Friday was awesome and lived up to the week long hype. The newlywed game and other entertainment in the Spinnaker was the perfect way to end an evening. We took shore excursions at every port of call. The Roatan tour and beach club was interesting at the iguana farm and beach, but this one we would scratch the next time around. Roatan is definitely "third world" and the many "pistoleros" we saw guarding businesses in town discouraged us from independent exploration. Grand Cayman's snorkel/Stingray City combo had transportation problems with excessive waits for buses. Otherwise the reef snorkeling, stingray kissing and beach club were superb. Even if you're a shorebird, don't be afraid of this one...the stingrays were like a group of friendly puppies! Ocho Rios is a challenge if you stray beyond the pier. We tendered in early to see the city and buy gifts but beat a hasty retreat to the shopping village after being accosted every ten feet by offers for rides and tours. Caution: my wife agreed to hair braiding at the rate of $2.00 a braid. It didn't take long before there were 20 braids and a hefty bill - bargain for less. Overall, tendering to each port was less desirable than itineraries we simply docked. Disembarkation was also a breeze as we found our luggage and bus to Ft. Lauderdale in ample time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
NCL Jewel review Western Caribbean Feb 5, 2006 EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was fast and smooth, but the people we dealt with were not very friendly or nice. They just wanted to do their job and get us on the ship. STAFF -- But once we ... Read More
NCL Jewel review Western Caribbean Feb 5, 2006 EMBARKATION -- Embarkation was fast and smooth, but the people we dealt with were not very friendly or nice. They just wanted to do their job and get us on the ship. STAFF -- But once we on the ship, the staff was extremely nice and pleasant. Everyone always said hi with a smile. Also a large part of the staff are European and they were extremely friendly. I give NCL the highest marks for this, the staff couldn't have been any nicer. SHIP DESIGN The ship is very nice and new, but lacks the large center atrium most ships have today. We found ourselves walking back and forth between the front and back of the ship many times per day to eat, go to the shows and playing sports. NCL should learn about ship design from the other cruise lines and put everything in one central location, instead of having everything spread out all across the several decks and the front and back of the ship. Also with our 3 days at sea, we had to skip Cayman because of weather, it is very clear that the pool area is just too small for 2000 people to try to fit into. They were numerous people complaining because there was no place to sit on either the pool deck or the deck above. This was the same situation on the private island, with 2000 people trying to sit on a 500 ft beach, it just doesn't work. NORWEGIAN JEWEL: GOOD MORNING AMERICA'S GIRLS' WEEK OUT -- Unfortunately, this was also the week of Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out. Where they had over 300 females and Good Morning America's broadcasting from the ship. Not only did they broadcast from the ship, they took over the whole ship. Most of the non GMA passengers said if they would have known about it, they would not have sailed that week. That is why NCL did not advertise it or let any of the non GMA passengers know about it, until we were on the ship. Most if not all of the Girls' Week Out people were very rude, arrogant and disrespectful of the other passengers on the ship. WE WOULD NOT HAVE SAILED IF WE HAD KNOWN about Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out. As one person called us "regular" passengers, she should have called us "2nd class passengers". That's how we were treated and that's how we felt since NCL was so glad for the free publicity from GMA, they forgot about the non GMA passengers. DINING -- We only ate in the main Tsar's Palace dining room twice. The first and second night of the cruise. The first night we had escargot which were excellent, clam chowder which had no taste and prime beef which was also very good, but the portions were very small, so I had to order 2 prime beef dinners. The second night was the Captains Welcome dinner. They had lobster on the menu, but it was the worst tasting lobster I have ever had. I was very disappointed. The lobster was very hard and had no taste or flavor. We did go to the dining room again on Friday night which was French Night, but they didn't have anything French on the menu, no escargot or onion soup. In fact they had nothing that interested us on the menu. So we left and went to Tango's for dinner. I would say the main dining room food was about the same as a casual dining restaurant. The service on both nights was outstanding. There is only one formal night one the ship and you have to go to the Tsar's Palace dining room if you are dressed nicely. One person went to the Azura dining room and wondered why no one was formal. There is also the Garden Cafe, which is a buffet restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. As you would expect, the food is the same as any good buffet restaurant. With one exception, one day for lunch they had a roasted pork, which is absolutely the best roasted pork I have ever tasted. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS -- NCL has several excellent specialty restaurants. My first feeling on this was that I am not paying extra to eat on a cruise ship, but the food was well worth it. In order of the taste of the specialty restaurants are Tango's Tapas free, Cagney's steakhouse 15.00 but 7.50 before 6 30 PM, Le Bistro 10.00 but 5.00 before 6 30 PM, Blue Lagoon free sushi bar 5.00, Mama's Italian Kitchen free. Tango's Tapas has absolutely the best food on the ship with the nicest atmosphere with live music and singing from the reception area and it's all free. The onion blossom is nice and spicy, the best onion blossom I have ever had. The large chili and the hot and cold tapas are also excellent. The cheese sticks and the jalapenos were only ok. For dinner we had the ribs, which were excellent, tender and tasty, the steak and shrimp fajitas which were very good and the fish which had no taste. None of the desserts here are worth mentioning. The service was outstanding. Cagney's Steakhouse -- The atmosphere was not as nice as I had expected. How many nice classy steak restaurants do you know of that has a very loud and unattractive open kitchen, well this one does. Also many of the GMA females were also eating here. They were all very loud and drunk, yelling and screaming throughout dinner. We had the jumbo shrimp cocktails which were excellent, the French onion soup very good and the onion rings excellent. For dinner we had filet mignon which was good and rack of lamb which was excellent. The best steaks we had were at Le Bistro. As can be expected, the portions were very small, so I had 2 rack of lamb dinners. For dessert I had the cheese cake, this is absolutely the best cheese cake I have ever had. They serve the same cheese cake at Le Bistro. Much better that cheesecake factory. The service was outstanding. Le Bistro -- The atmosphere at Le Bistro is much nicer than Cagney's and there is no open kitchen noise. We started with a salmon appetizer which was good, then a tuna set in a salad, which we didn't like. The tuna was slightly cooked. We then tried the escargot, we can easily say this was the worst escargot we have ever tasted. Not only that, when they brought it out, it was so hot that it hurt to eat it. We saw people all over the restaurant shooting the escargot out of their mouths because of how hot it was and the waitress didn't say a word about the heat to anyone. That is the main reason I rate Cagney's higher than Le Bistro. Bad tasting escargot that is too hot to eat. But dinner did improve. We ordered the sea bass which was excellent and the filet mignon with foie gras and wine sauce. This was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. I had 2 of them. For dessert we had the awesome cheese cake. The service was very good. Blue Lagoon -- This is the 24 hour restaurant. It is very nice sit down service, not a buffet. The chicken wings with hot sauce were excellent, so were the fish and chips. We tried several other items on the menu, but those 2 were the best. The service was outstanding. Sushi bar -- The sushi bar was fast and efficient. We ate there for lunch, but its the same for dinner. The sushi was good, but extremely limited in selection as they have only tuna and salmon. For people that like sushi, I would recommend you try it once, as we did. The service was good. Mama's Italian Kitchen -- This is the only restaurant I would not eat at again, even though its free. The atmosphere is not nearly as nice as the other restaurants. Its located right across from the buffet. The food was not as good as the main dining room. The only food I liked here was the selection of antipasto as an appetizer. The beef and cheese were excellent in the antipasto. For dinner we had the small shrimps and the lasagna, neither was any good. None of the other foods are worth mentioning including the desserts. Its also here we got the worst service from a waiter that just didn't seem happy with what he was doing. But his attitude did improve when his superior gave us a rating card for the restaurant. The service was ok. Overall I would rate the food on this ship as very good. But it really depended on where you ate and what you ate. We had food ranging from the worst we have ever tasted to the best we have ever tasted. Fortunately we had more of the best we have ever tasted. Also that was the first private island I have ever been on that they didn't serve ribs for lunch. ENTERTAINMENT -- The first night, which was Monday night we had Band On The Run Show. It was a very good singing and dancing show, unfortunately none of the guys in the show could sing and all the girls sang superbly. The second night we had Second City comedy, which had some good parts to it. The third night we had a magic show. It was easily the worst magic show I have ever seen. The fourth night we had an excellent comedy and magic show, this was of course with a different magician. On Friday night we had a nice French circus show, which was followed by a Second City comedy in the disco. This again is where Good Morning America's took over the ship as Mike Barz volunteered for the comedy show. He was on stage for 5 minutes, but he couldn't follow one direction he was given. They would tell him, say one word as the second person in line. He repeatedly kept saying full sentences that made no sense and worst of all he had no idea when he was to speak, even though he was the second person in line and he was supposed to speak second. Eventually Diane Sawyer had to go on stage and remove him, because he was making such a fool of himself. He spoiled the whole comedy show. On Saturday night they had a talent show for passengers trying to get a contract with NCL, please skip that one. Overall it was a nice enough cruise despite Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out, but it would have been much nicer without them on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
This was our second sailing with Norwegian and we were looking forward to another great cruise on this line. My mother always said say something "nice" before being critical. The Jewel's bright colors were exceptional. Very ... Read More
This was our second sailing with Norwegian and we were looking forward to another great cruise on this line. My mother always said say something "nice" before being critical. The Jewel's bright colors were exceptional. Very vibrant and cheerful. It is a BIG ship! Get out your walking shoes to board the Jewel! We walked straight through boarding and continued walking that seemed like a half mile on the RAMP to get to the gangway. We boarded forward and our cabin was midship, needless to say we were exhausted by the time we got to our cabin. (Same thing in reverse as we debarked.) The cabin was beautiful and spacious. We had a tub so the bath was pretty large. Not too much storage space though. The only place I could find a comfortable place to sit was in the piano bar. The cabin furniture was put in for durability, not for comfort. The bed and bedding was good, only two chairs & a small table on the balcony. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. It was very difficult to get to the main dining room as you had to get off the elevator on the 7th deck, walk all the way back to the aft elevator (stairs)to go down to the 6th deck only to walk down another set of stairs to the dining room. Dining room food left a lot to be desired. The selection was sparse and instead of being able to order a steak and baked potato if you did not like what was on the menu, you could pick grilled chicken. This chicken choice must be an attempt get you into the steakhouse huh? (If you go to a special restaurant it is half off for early dining) No one in our party of 4 ever asked for seconds, not even on the desserts. The buffet was good and had a good selection, breakfast was always good and plenty. They even had GRITS! It is true you have a pot to heat water for instant coffee or tea, YUCK. Room service was excellent. The chocolate buffet was beautiful and tasty and very crowded. The ports we visited all had docks, only at the Great Stirrup Cay did we have to be tendered. The on board entertainment left a lot to be desired. Everywhere you turned there was advertisements, buy this, do that, most merchandise on board was over priced and a poor selection. It was not my favorite cruise experience. All in all the staff was great, we really like "freestyle dining", we enjoyed the ports but I probably will not sail the Jewel again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
First, we are a family of four with 8 and 12 year old girls. This was our first cruise. Cruisecritic.com provided me so much information that improved my cruise experience, I feel compelled to write this review to do my part for the ... Read More
First, we are a family of four with 8 and 12 year old girls. This was our first cruise. Cruisecritic.com provided me so much information that improved my cruise experience, I feel compelled to write this review to do my part for the community. General: The ship was pretty full. The cruise director said we had about 750 kids on board (winter break), but it didnt feel like that many kids were running around. This was not a cruise for people looking to pick up pretty people. The vast majority of passengers were middle-aged and overweight (like me). The benefit to this (for the passengers, not the cruise line) was less drinking and very few drunks misbehaving. Pre-board: Heres a little tip, we flew the redeye from Seattle to Miami (only direct flight) which landed at around 6:30 am on cruise-day. What to do with the time before boarding? Take the free Marriott shuttle to the Airport Marriott, have breakfast and then lounge by the pool until you take a cab to the port. I caught a nice nap while the kids played in the pool. This was not sneaky, we called the Marriott in advance and they approved this request. Embarkation: Arrived around 10:45 which was relatively early for a 5:00 PM departure, but embarkation was in full swing. We shot through with ease. Cabin(s): We booked a BB balcony and an inside across the hall. My wife applauded this decision many times throughout the trip. 4 in a single cabin would have been an unmitigated disaster. Each cabin was fine in size and appointment. The design of the bathroom should win an award for space efficiency. Im a big guy and would have liked a little more legroom on the john and when drying off from the shower, but those are my only complaints. Ship in General: The Jewel is in excellent condition and is maintained perfectly. It has something for everyone, but is balanced. The gym was nice, but we didnt use it. The Spinnaker Lounge on the top deck is a wonderful place to steal away a quiet moment with a marvelous view while in port or during the day when its not being used for bingo, etc. Programs: Too much cheesy sales going on. Who goes on a cruise to buy a Turkish rug? You wouldnt believe how much hype (public announcements, daily newsletter, etc.) was dedicated to stuff like this. I think it cheapens the experience. They should do more meaningful stuff like more cooking classes, etc. Theyve morphed bingo into something expensive and not very fun- turnout reflects this. Shows: Only went to one, which was Cirque de Bijou. It was excellent and not to be missed. Seats were available almost all of the way up to show time, however, the prime ones were gone 20 minutes prior to the show. Pool Experience: Our kids did not like the salt water pools. It bothered their eyes. In fact, the kids pool was not used all that much. The small slide was kind of cool in that it used real warm fresh water and doesnt dump you into the pool, but instead into a catch area. It was used quite a bit. The bands that played between the pools were great and added to a great mood around the pool area. Drink service was pretty good. My biggest grip about the whole cruise is the reserving of chaise lounges. I know many feel the same way, but nothing seems to be done about it on any cruise line. I calculated that if the reserved furniture was freed up, there would have always been enough furniture in the prime areas. Food: We followed the advice on the Cruise Critic boards and made dinner reservations for the week right after arriving on board. Used the telephone to expedite matters even further. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Garden Cafe (main buffet). Im not sure why people complain about this venue. Yes, its not exciting, but there are many choices and food stations, so you rarely have to wait for anything. Sit outside out back for a nice change of scenery. We also took the kids here for dinner several times and let them eat alone. They liked that very much and it freed up the wife and me for romantic dinners. We ate dinner only in Mommas (Italian and free!), Le Bistro (French) and Cagneys (Steak house). All were very good. Even the lobster, which some people were complaining about on the boards during the two months leading up to our cruise. Were early people and were rewarded by only paying 50% of the cover charge for reservations between 5:30 and 6:30. This applied to everyone on the ship for the entire cruise. I do believe that NCL has reduced the menu choices since last year based upon my reading on Cruise Critic and my experience on board. Food at these restaurants was good, but choices were not as many as you might expect (not bad, but not great). Service at Le Bistro was first rate with both a waiter and assistant pouring over you. Steak there and at Cagneys was great. My wife thought the spinach salad at Le Bistro was the best salad shes ever had. BTW- the menus for the main dining rooms didnt look very good. It seems NCL wants you to eat at the specialty restaurants. Kids Club: They do a good job of dividing the kids up by age groups. The counselors were great (please tip them well), but the program was minimal in my opinion and the activities and facilities were limited. My kids have been privileged to attend kids clubs at land resorts before and always raved about the fun. On the ship, there were shrugged shoulders a few days on whether or not they wanted to go back. That said, they were really bummed when they were punished for bad behavior on the last day of the cruise by not being allowed to go to the pajama parties at the kids club that night. Ports: We did the exotic Western Caribbean itinerary. Did the private tour with Victor Bodens company on Roatan and that was nice. Tendering on Grand Cayman was not difficult, even with 4 other big ships in port before us. Snorkel tour to Stingray City (which does not really go to Stingray City, but instead Stingray City Sand Reef) was cheesy due to too many other boats, but the kids liked it as a novice experience. On Jamaica we hired Orville Taylor as a private guide based upon Cruise Critic input. He drove up in a minibus that could have held 25 people and welcomed the four of us. I thought I was being scammed at first and thrown into a group situation, but I was wrong. We had to do the waterfall at Ocho Rios and were happy we did. One important note- Exit the way you came in, even if the guard points you to the main exit. The main exit forces you to walk through a long maze of very aggressive sales booths. One saleswoman grabbed my wife and wouldnt let go. Bad experience. We also did the river tubing on Jamaica which was fun, but quite thrilling. One person got hurt and my oldest daughter was very frightened when her tube got stuck on a branch in a section of whitewater. Orville took us to a friend for some shopping. My wife said she was scammed there, even though she gave the person a generous tip as charity. After that we went back to the ship. Even though both Roatan and Jamaica had a lot of poverty, Jamaica was much more scary and the people of Roatan nicer and more friendly. The first not-great weather of our trip arrived on our last full day at the private island (GSC). We stayed on board the Jewel to enjoy a quiet pool area. Staff on the Jewel: First rate all around. Disembarkation: Smooth, however, if its a hot day, you may want to do express disembarkation early in the morning to avoid having to stand in a 15-20 minute line in a metal building that is not air conditioned and was very hot on a 75 degree day. Overall: We are now sold on the cruising thing and will do it again, however, next time without the kids. Not sure we can leave the freestyle cruising thing and go to the standard cruising dinner protocol on other lines. I hope this review helps you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Embarkation  Very smooth. We arrived at Miami port about 10:45am and were onboard by Noon. One surprise, I didnt expect to have to use my passport, but had brought it in case, and it was required for the Bahamas (their private island). ... Read More
Embarkation  Very smooth. We arrived at Miami port about 10:45am and were onboard by Noon. One surprise, I didnt expect to have to use my passport, but had brought it in case, and it was required for the Bahamas (their private island). Cabin  Wonderful. It was a mini-suite on deck 11 with a balcony. Plenty of closet/storage space, large bathroom which is extremely well laid out, good strong hot shower, nice seating area w/small coffee table in front of the TV. Balcony was certainly large enough to be comfortable and the chairs are mesh, not plastic, as we had seen on most other ships. Nice touch. We were expecting a DVD, but didnt have one (must not have been the right cabin category). Laundry was four doors down and we used it twice. Bring your own detergent, and softening sheets, or quarters $1.00 per box and there is no dollar changer. Service  Cabin steward and helper were outstanding. We requested them remove the hot water pot, and empty the refrigerator the first day so we could have cold water and soda (leaving a $20 for their effort). Extra pillows and a top sheet and we were happy campers. They were always ready to assist with pleasant good mornings and smiles. Three mornings my DF went up to get us breakfast and the steward was already at the door to open it when he came back with both hands full of plates of food. Now, thats service! We never found one special bartender, but most were good at remembering your drink after the first few days. Entertainment  The musical extravaganza was exceptionally good, but not for children. Magician was funny, and we also enjoyed the Cirque show. Of course, one favorite is Karaoke, and the game shows (Almost Newlywed, & Family Feud) were hilarious! Good job by the crew on these also. Freestyle Dining  Is certainly for us. I made reservations by 4PM on Sunday after arriving at our cabin. No problems getting our 8pm reservations. We enjoyed them all, and found the service was as good as at the main venues. I did hear people complaining about not being able to get reservations, however there were always empty tables when we went, so not sure whats getting jumbled up. Restaurants  SNAFU at Teppenyaki, ended up leaving because they could not understand we wanted our lobster tail (Monday formal night) with our order. When we asked the waitress she looked totally lost and disappeared for twenty minutes. We were the only two people at a table for 8, and still hadnt placed our order when others seated down at the same time at another table were getting their salads. Ended up at Tangos and was very pleasantly surprised. Mamas Kitchen was good, Cagneys was outstanding, and we liked the variety from the Cafe. It was usually crowded, but we just sat down where available chairs were and met some wonderful people and had good conversations over breakfast! Only complaint was the eggs, which were runny  but they had an omelet station so we were fine. Best breakfast by far was at Tsars. I really enjoyed Azura dEcor and layout, also excellent food. Coffee was horrible, very strong, but we had brought our own coffee pot for the room, so even that wasnt a problem. I will say the room service menu was extremely limited. One secret we discovered was the Blue Lagoon restaurant. It is closed when the specialty dining rooms are open, but it is open all other times. We only discovered this the last day, and I was truly sorry. I sincerely appreciated the sanitizing stations everywhere on the ship. In fact, before actually walking onto the ship you are asked to use their sanitizer, the restaurants have them at every entry, the casino, everywhere! Ports - We opted for independent shore excursions and enjoyed our time. Pool  Area was beautiful, but not as user friendly as it could have been. Both pools are joined and there really could have been better separation between the two. Live music in the afternoons was enjoyable and we did like sitting at the Sky High bar and watching the activities on the pool deck! Rarely saw an available chair, but many with just towels. Spa  DF said the $60 for use of the sauna and hot tub was well worth it. The hot tubs at the pool deck are not kept as hot as that in the spa. He went at least twice a day. Ship  Is a jewel. I wasnt sure about the color scheme, but it really works! Everywhere you look inspires a happy feeling. Debarkation  Again went very smoothly. It took us less than one hour from start to driving away from the port. In conclusion, we loved NCL and will definitely travel with them again. We will probably try some of their other ships, but would not hesitate to go on the Jewel again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
We left Christmas day from Miami- the transportation from Ft. Lauderdale was fine - the embarkation process took over an hour- but the boat was almost to full capacity so it was crowded. We had a balcony room mid ship on the 10th floor- ... Read More
We left Christmas day from Miami- the transportation from Ft. Lauderdale was fine - the embarkation process took over an hour- but the boat was almost to full capacity so it was crowded. We had a balcony room mid ship on the 10th floor- room was very small. Two adults and two children barely fit- we had taken a Disney cruise 3 years ago- the same category room on the Disney ship is MUCH larger- Every evening the couch and murphy bed were made up for the kids- the problem is that once the beds come down- you can't get out onto your balcony- so we thought we would enjoy the "fresh air" at night once the kids went to bed, but we never once made it out there at night- The Disney cruise staterooms are longer so when the beds come down they are vertical leaving walking space around the cabin. There were only three small drawers for four people, but the closet was a good size, and there are four cubbies behind the door- the bathroom was extremely nice- the shower was always hot with good water pressure-always clean and the staff assigned to our room was outstanding!!!! The concept of freestyle dining had its pros & cons- the nice part is that you could eat whenever you wanted, but unfortunately not where you wanted- we tried to make reservations for the week at 4pm and most places were already booked- we had pretty good luck calling at 5pm and getting cancellation spots. The food was good- mostly a european flare- we loved the soft serve ice-cream. The scrambled eggs were the worst we have ever had- really runny and curdled- but there was a fresh egg station for fried eggs and omelettes The pool area was also disappointing- not great for kids- the water both pools starts at 4 feet 11 inches- unless your kids are great swimmers, they can't even swim in the pools- only two pools on board- one for kids one for adults- most chairs were claimed by 9am so we didn't even get to sit down on the days at sea. The entertainment was fair- most not appropriate for kids- the magician was good/ the band on the run show was risque as well as the cirque bijou- these are not geared towards families at all- The is beautiful- the staff was friendly and helpful- lots of extra charges- be careful- 15 percent gratuity on all drinks- the spa was beautiful but just to go to the relaxation room you had to pay $60 for the week just to step foot in the door! A massage averaged $110 on tod of that! they claim that staff shouldn't be taking tips, but many deserved a little something here and there. The excursions were all excellent- organized and efficient- we got off on all of the islands with the children and had a great time- felt safe everywhere we went- Overall it was a good experience- not sure if we would cruise NCL again until the kids are either older, or we go alone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our first trip on NCL and our last ! This has to be the most unorganized cruise line in the history of cruises. As this was our first and last exposure to "free (means PAY) style its was most unfavourable. The Buffet.. the ... Read More
This was our first trip on NCL and our last ! This has to be the most unorganized cruise line in the history of cruises. As this was our first and last exposure to "free (means PAY) style its was most unfavourable. The Buffet.. the food was cold, the choices limited.. the breakfast - the same everyday cold as usual. The lunch ... same as the breakfast limited and cold. The Dinner ... The "all you can eat sushi" for $5 was limited to about 5 items that truthfully I wouldn't serve to my dog ... In fact My wife was so upset it almost ruined the night but the Executive Chef JP saw how upset she was and got us a table at Chin Chin and we had a semi decent meal. the only other "pay restaurant the Le Bistro was a mediocre meal at best worthy of any Carnival Main dining room fare at best certainly we questioned whether it was worth the $40 bucks we spent as we could have spent that at the Outback and had a better meal without spending $2600 on the cruise. All in all we felt and many other passengers that this was one of the worst cruises we had ever been on. The destinations -- Antigua was awful the rest were just normal. St. Thomas, PR the worst stop of all was the NCL Island in the Bahamas. Can you imagine 2000 odd people crammed onto a beach designed for 500.. I had told my mom to expect some of the best BBQ .... hahahhahah NOT we ended up with HOT DOGS and HAMBURGERS YUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The good -- Our cabin staff were the best the poker was great. This cruise line is to be avoided like the plague.. ( and they put half our luggage in the wrong place so it took an hour to find all our stuff).  The entertainment was mediocre at best in fact the magician one night should be doing bar mitzvahs not cruise ships (the babe he had was hot though). Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We cruised on the Jewel from Miami returning on Christmas day with a group of 12 including 5 under the age of 18. Was one of the best vacations we've had ever! The kids did not participate in the kids programs, but had some fun ... Read More
We cruised on the Jewel from Miami returning on Christmas day with a group of 12 including 5 under the age of 18. Was one of the best vacations we've had ever! The kids did not participate in the kids programs, but had some fun anyway. St. Thomas was the best snorkeling ever, Coki Beach is GREAT! Lots of fish, be sure to get dog biscuits and feed them when you are there. The kids loved the ice cream machines... lots and lots of cones last week! I was a bit disappointed in the food as we have sailed Princess before and I must say, the Princess line has spoiled us. If you plan on eating in any of the 'speciality' eateries, be sure to make reservations as soon as you get on board. Salt water pools kinda suck, as the kids are not used to salt water in the eyes, be sure to bring goggles. Last time we cruised with Princess it was fresh water and we love that feature. The rooms are a tight fit for 4, but it was just fine since we did not spend much time in the room. Plenty of storage for luggage and such. Entertainment was amazing! Cirque Bijou was the best show on the sea! Paul Baya is a great cruise director and has a great team, although I would have enjoyed more pool games on the days at sea. Nice selection of slots in the casino and the tables are well run. Our group came away with around $50, without spending too much time or money. No clocks in the rooms, if you don't want to be late, bring one. Also might consider a night light as the rooms are very dark with lights out. Bathrooms very roomy, shower was nice sized and hot with good water pressure. Bring water bottles to refill as the barstaff seemed annoyed when we asked for glasses of water. If you are going to play bingo, spend the big money for the machine as your chances greatly increase. The ship was nice and clean, but seemed to be neglected a bit as the week went by. Mama's kitchen was nice, but overall the food on the ship was just good. Not excellent. Was a wonderful vacation, but we will cruise Princess next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 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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