1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We are two 50 something sisters on our first trip to Asia. The Jewel was perfect for us with many activities on board that appealed to each of us. One sister is a Vegan and we were introduced to our pre-order contact the first night. ... Read More
We are two 50 something sisters on our first trip to Asia. The Jewel was perfect for us with many activities on board that appealed to each of us. One sister is a Vegan and we were introduced to our pre-order contact the first night. Joy was fantastic and although he had many special diet parties on board, he took the time to customize our pre-orders. The only bad dish we had was in La Cucina and it was the risotto dish from the menu - it was so salty it was inedible. We've read the other reviews and were not dissapointed in this cruise at all. The service was fine. The shore excursions we took were fine and we took advantage of the Shore-ex credit and the beverage package. With the hot weather, we did buy a lot of bottled water - which does add up cost wise. Embarkation involved several lines, but check in with NCL went quickly. The Singapore immigration line moved at a snails pace which of course is out of NCL'[s control. We had lunch in the MDR and our room was ready at about 1:00pm. One of our bags didn't show up before dinner so I went looking for it. It was in a holding room because my contact lens liquids were thought to be cans of beer - ha! Previous Cruise Critic reviews and our roll call were both a wealth of information - so we were not surprised by the charges for the Vietnam and Cambodian visas. We chose not to get them directly from the California embassies. We also knew that Ha Long Bay was no longer a tender port because a new international pier had opened several months ago. We also knew that Koh Samui was the only tender port and that 2 other 2,000 passenger ships were in that day. When NCL cancelled the shore excursion we had booked, we found a private tour and were concerned about meeting on time. Again, Cruise Critic helped us out. We went to the Meet & Greet the day before and were informed that there would be 6 lifeboat tenders. A member from the previous cruise from Sydney asked about Latitudes assistance and the officers contacted Cruise Next staff to make it happen. We met early and this is the only reason we made our private tour and were back just before the return tender problems. The tender problems in Koh Samui were very poorly handled. When we saw local tenders and ship tenders still coming back at 6:30, we knew it was bad news. What we heard from others was terrible. Standing in that heat on a pier for 3 hours is inexcusable. As others have noted in their reviews, the Captain didn't address the issue until two nights later and basically said it was up to the port, not his fault. And that at our last port we would stay an extra hour until 9:00pm. Ridiculous. On our second Thailand shore excursion, we went to Pattaya where the main attraction is the Sanctuary of Truth. It was good, but we had to endure a local guide instead of our shore ex guide. Then we were taken to a jeweler mall to shop. This should have been disclosed. It was a complete waste of time, but was air conditioned. The shore ex manager's response was that all Thailand tours go to jewelry malls just like carpet factories in Turkey. Huh, we were on a tour in Bangkok the day before and no jewelry mall. Singapore and Ha Long Bay were the highlights of the cruise. We took the ship junk cruise excursion and thought it was a great value. We also had a fantastic local guide on the boat. The junks met up at the ship instead of on the pier. We went in the afternoon, which seemed to be a bit less hectic than what we saw in the morning. Best tip for this port, is to be up early when the ship sails through the bay - magical. As others have mentioned, the production show were great. The Thai show was good as was Frenchie Davis. Karaoke was fun the first couple of nights. The other music acts in the bars were not as good as on other NCL ships, but the show band was quite good. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
NCL Jewel South East Asia March 2019 - 12 day cruise. We are a couple from Montreal, Canada and travelling with a 6-yr old who enjoys adventure and travel as much as we do. This is not our first cruise, but first time on an NCL cruise. ... Read More
NCL Jewel South East Asia March 2019 - 12 day cruise. We are a couple from Montreal, Canada and travelling with a 6-yr old who enjoys adventure and travel as much as we do. This is not our first cruise, but first time on an NCL cruise. TRAVEL AGENCY We booked this cruise through a travel agency thinking that there could be some benefits that we could not otherwise access. None that I can see, but $100 to open our files. Once I gave my credit card info, my stateroom was booked, at the very front of the ship ( yes - the bow, and steps further ahead you are in the ocean) without my knowledge. I have just read an interesting article going over one of the most exciting step in the cruise is finding and booking the stateroom. Well not for us, and could do nothing to change it, without paying extra. This is a 294m ship long, with the buffet restaurant at the other end of the ship, and most other activities in mid-ship. This became, by default, our daily walking exercise. The last 2 days of the cruise, the ship was going through rough seas and I can tell you that it was not pleasant to be at either end of the ship. We opted to prepay the ship service charge and going for the unlimited beverage package, to avoid the pressure of thinking twice before ordering drinks. This package does not include freshly pressed fruit juices, bottled water or alcoholic drinks over US$15. RESEARCH I must have spent 100's of hours planning, researching and documenting to plan for this NCL South East Asia cruise. Info that I extracted from internet is very fragmented, incomplete, and at times contradictory. Many coming from some arrogant contributors. SOME TIPS Things that we brought along 1. Travel Adaptors (Canada uses 110-120V, Far East 220-240V) Just make sure that your electronic devices are dual voltage. The Adaptor is just a device to make your electronics fit in the holes. Adaptors are not power converters. 2. Battery Chargers (must be with your carry on, NOT allowed in checked-in Luggage) 3. Spare unlocked smart phone (used as hotspot for other devices and laptops to connect to ) 4. Photocopy Passport ( 40cs colour copy at Office Depot). NCL keeps all Passports and return them on the day prior to final destination. You will need a copy of your passport if you buy a SIM card. If crumpled, difficult for the SIM card cashier to scan to complete your purchase). If offshore and requested by local authorities, you need to show your room card key and a govt picture ID. This is where the copy passport also comes in handy. 5. Deet Insect Repellent. We got bitten just once (luckily!) close to the docks at dusk. 6. Roll of toilet paper (off shore excursions). 7. Singapore $300 in cash (CAD306) for 2 days. 8. Thai Bhat 8,000 in cash (CAD365) for 2 days 9. Hong Kong $4,000 in cash (CAD706) for 4 days. We did self-guided tours for Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. You can certainly use less cash and more credit. We used credit cards for hotels/lodgings and higher value purchases in reliable establishments. Canadians do not need visa for these 3 countries above. For Cambodia and Vietnam, while self-guided tours are possible, if you stay close to the Port, we opted to book local tour guides to play it safe. PRE-PLANNING We online ordered a SIM card (Smart Comfort - SIM Card Asia) from SIM OPTIONS for US$39.90 + 9.90 = US$49.80 (CAD$68.45) delivered to our Hotel in Singapore. This gives us 12GB internet, 3G+ connection, valid for 30 days from first use, plug and play and valid for Singapore, Vietnam and Hongkong. The card will barely work where the ship docks, with fluctuating on-off signals. On land, and just simple emails, you would be ok. I am used to 135Mbps download speed at home, and that SIM card speed is nowhere comparable, but nevertheless acceptable and useful when on shore. If you find the speed too slow, relatively easy to buy sim in all 3 countries above. Singapore sells the 3-day sim at 7-11 convenience store (they all speak English) for S$13. I bought a sim in Phu My, Vietnam at a phone store, 10 mins taxi ride from the cruise port, for 140,000 VD (CAD$8). I wanted their fastest data SIM card for minimum of 3 days. Could not get myself understood, even with the help of Google Translate on my phone. My taxi driver with his very limited English, rescued me. They did not accept payment in US$. Once again, driver came to the rescue and lent me local money. HEADING TOWARDS CRUISE From our hotel in Singapore, we took a taxi to the Marina Cruise Centre. If you let Hotel concierge book the taxi for you, they do not tell you that there is a S$2 fee to your cab fares. Lots of taxis coming in to drop passengers off, all the time, that we took instead. We arrived at the Cruise Centre just after 2 pm, with a huge line up, with a good number of NCL staff to welcome and guide us. We left our tagged luggages at the entrance, and got them later just outside our stateroom. We got in the queue while filling up our profile forms and authorization for NCL to charge for Cambodia and Vietnam visa. (No Thailand visa required for Canadians). When we completed our forms, well over 200 people had joined the queue after us. US$89 per person for visa to go ashore in Sihanoukville, Cambodia is crazily expensive, given that this is only a one day (actually only 6-7 hours since ship leaves at 5pm) offshore excursion and total ripoff by NCL US$69 per person for visa to go ashore in Vietnamese ports is equally brutal in price. For a family of 3, the cost of these 2 visa would be a hefty US$474 (CAD640) We will now include this visa factor when evaluating costs for future cruises. Internet research to procure a visa for these 2 countries revealed it is easier said than done, as there are misleading, contradicting and incomplete information in any cruise forums/Trip advisor, and even "official" site. NCL takes advantage of this visa situation to make some good easy money from us all. Some reliable post claims that Celebrity cruise charges a single digit visa fee per person. Besides the very long wait in the queue, actual check-in was painless and our pictures were taken that would be used when embarking and disembarking the ship. We were told that NCL would use these same pictures taken for visa purposes. We downloaded the NCL app to view features of the ship and facilities offered. The app is only focused on advertising for their paid restaurants and offshore excursions. The rest is totally useless. No other pertinent information that’s worth hanging on to the app. 2 hours later, we finally went onboard. Our stateroom was ready when we got on board, reasonably clean and fully equipped. 2 single beds - Let housekeeping join them together to make a queen size bed, or the beds will somehow separate by next morning! Child wall overhead foldable bed 30” Flat TV Shower stall, toilet & sink. Shower gel and shampoo dispenser Soap bar, body lotion. Bath towels and beach towels Tissue paper Toilet paper (Dollar store quality) Safe (did not work), hair dryer, hangers, ice bucket. 2 bottled water labelled $5.50 each Mini fridge Room thermostat. Shelves to store stuffs. Two pouffes Two night tables with lamps. Three outlets on each of the 2 mini workspace: For laptop, double usb and a 3-prong. We used our travel adapter on the 3-prong outlets for charging other dual voltage devices. As we moved the night table around to maximize space, we found a pair of sunglasses behind, which we handed to our housekeeper. This therefore tells us that the room is not necessarily spick and span, as one would have liked it to be. Housekeeping is done daily. Twice daily actually. At about 5pm there was a mandatory drill regarding safety protocol where everyone has to attend (staff updating attendance register to ensure everyone attended) for about 30 mins. Ordering drinks at the bar was painless as our adult card keys were marked with the prepaid beverage code. We only needed to show 1 card to order for our 2 drinks. Long line up on the very first day. ONBOARD INTERNET NCL has a number of options, all crazily expensive. - Unlimited WIFI US$25.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$29.99) No VPN, no streaming. - Unlimited WIFI with VPN and streaming US$29.50 per day online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$34.99) - 250 Anytime minutes for US$105 online purchase prior to cruise (Otherwise US$125). No VPN and no streaming. Need to log out when done, to stop the minutes counter. Note that for the unlimited options above, you will have to pay for the entire duration of the cruise, as there is no pro-rata charge. You therefore cannot purchase for a few days only, as I originally thought I could do. It's all or nothing unlimited package. After the 4th day of the cruise, the unlimited options are no longer available. Signals strength is best in common areas, but works to a lesser degree in the stateroom. Our first day on the ship was very promising and eager to start our adventure ... On the second day, a sea day, at 6am we were surprised that the Garden Cafe, and other restaurants were not open. Later in the same morning, we went to the restaurant reservation and politely enquired about opening hours of restaurants, to plan our offshore excursions. Arlene, on the customer service, raised her ducky squeeky voice to reply with such an attitude that took us all by surprise. For sure one of the worst staff we have ever encountered on any cruise ship. Ever. She sometimes worked at Chin Chin restaurant that my 6-yr old avoided like the pest. Seriously! We then realized that many of the staff, in general, on board the NCL Jewel are either ill-mannered or totally did not give a . Very cold treatment at the Tsar restaurant before we got seated. On the eve of the last day, on Friday Mar 15, at 7.54pm, I ordered a Scotch at the Atrium and the barman stated that he will give me a premium Scotch. I responded, that as long as I do not get billed, since I have a prepaid package. He stated that he will key in a lower grade Scotch. Another barman called vmal murmured, loud enough for me to hear: "Why such a fuss? This is the last night of the cruise" and turned his back on me without me having a chance to respond. I am flabbergasted with these kind of remarks. They sometimes forget that we are the customer. CRUISE REVIEW 1. The itinerary to South East Asia is splendid. 2. The ship itself has been renovated recently and feels like new. 3. Our stateroom was small but descent and contains everything one would require. 4. Staff attitude is perhaps one of the triggering point in liking or not liking a cruise line. While there are many lovely and polite staff on board, there is an equal if not more unpleasant staff on the NCL Jewel. Too many. 5. Process for check-in takes way too long. 6. The charge for visa is grossly exaggerated. 7. There is limited upfront information to a lot of things. The actual location where the ship docks at each port seems to be kept in secrecy. I arranged for a driver to pick us up in Phu My, Vietnam (as indicated on all documents we have) and have a nasty surprise that we docked at Cai Mep and had difficulty to contact the driver for this new location. In Sihanoukville, Cambodia we walked from the docks to the gate to meet our guide. In fact, there is a free shuttle to the gate but it was not advertised. What was advertised was $15 shuttle from docks to the City. 8. Going ashore using tender (In Ko Samui, Thailand) is a nightmare. Chaotic and totally disorganized. 9. Everyday struggle at the Garden Cafe Buffet to find a table, as the restaurant is too small to cater for the number of passengers. 10. Only a couple of good night entertainment show, and the rest is mediocre. Overall, the worst cruise line experience we have had. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I’ve travelled a lot, but this was my first cruise. And it may well be my last. It was the worst vacation I have ever experienced. I chose this mode of travel as I am single and have a deadly allergy to all nuts and peanuts. After ... Read More
I’ve travelled a lot, but this was my first cruise. And it may well be my last. It was the worst vacation I have ever experienced. I chose this mode of travel as I am single and have a deadly allergy to all nuts and peanuts. After several emails, medical questionnaires and a phone conversation with Norwegian, I was advised that they could safely handle my special dietary needs. I was very excited, as I didn’t think I could ever visit these countries; countries rich in nut and peanut products. Well as it turned out, my allergy was just one of many issues I encountered while on the Norwegian Jewel for 2 weeks visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. On a positive note, I found the ship and my cabin to be very clean and comfortable. There were plenty of staff everywhere, greeting and cleaning as they went. In fact the ratio of staff to customers was incredible at almost 3:1. However, the efficiency and productivity of the Jewel’s team was very low and their customer service was appalling. In fact, Guest Services’ attitude was…”if you don’t like it, there’s the door. Let us know when you are leaving on your way out”! That’s exactly what they told some friends I met, who had booked a room for 4 but only got beds for 3! My experience at Guest Services wasn’t any better. Even though I had a letter advising that on arrival the Executive Chef would meet with me to discuss my special dietary needs, they snarled at me with a look and tone of voice that was shocking. They told me the chefs were very busy and could not attend to any special needs. It took me hours to sort through that one, but as it turned out…I think they were right!! Eventually I was able to pre-order my meals so they could be prepared nut free, but I worried about everything I put in my mouth. I couldn’t trust them from one meal to the next, as it was clear they didn’t understand or didn’t care about cross contamination. Luckily I only had one minor incident. Besides the safety of the food for me, the overall dining experience was very poor. There was always a team of restaurant staff close by to remove your dirty glass or fork before you even put it down, but it took forever to have a request like ketchup, tea or a glass of wine fulfilled. The food started off very good, but deteriorated to very bad as the days went by. The last few days it was almost inedible. More people than not were returning their meals. It made for a very unpleasant dining experience. Customer service at the Excursions desk wasn’t any better. It didn’t matter that I’d pre-paid for one of their expensive excursions every day. They seemed to treat everybody in line terribly! The Manager was no better. At least I didn’t mind the 2-2.5 hr highway drives from the pier to the destinations (one way), as I got to see some of the countryside, but it wasn’t great travel time. In my opinion, leadership was sadly lacking on this ship. Management’s response to everything was “it’s not our fault” and as a result they took no responsibility for anything. In turn, they took little to no action in resolving anything. Communication between departments was totally absent and communication with customers wasn’t much better. Things often don’t work out in business the way we planned, but I think how you handle such incidents is critical and very telling. The team on this ship avoided and deflected issues coming at them. They simply didn’t seem to have the ability to problem solve on their feet. And that attitude and lack of training cascaded down throughout the entire organization. It was very evident on the pier at Ko Samui during our first excursion. People were passing out in the blazing sun for hours with no shade, water, proper line ups or communication, while we waited for tendering that went awry. A mob mentality almost took over as people struggled for basic survival and Sr. Officers stood by chatting and laughing amongst themselves. It was utter disorganization and disbelief for passengers, as many could be heard wondering out loud how this crew would handle a disaster at sea. It was no wonder people laughed out loud as the Captain addressed the ship’s passengers some 3-4 days later about that incident, saying that safety was his #1 priority. These are just a few examples from my trip with the Jewel. It was a stressful vacation. When I wasn’t sorting out my own issues, I was listening to others vent about their own terrible experiences on board and others who even called Head Office to no avail. I was happy to get off that boat. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the dates and the itinerary. We started in Singapore which turned out to be the highlight of the trip. What an amazing city! The food options were wonderful and there was so much to see and do. Gardens ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the dates and the itinerary. We started in Singapore which turned out to be the highlight of the trip. What an amazing city! The food options were wonderful and there was so much to see and do. Gardens by the Bay and the "Night safari" at the zoo are musts. We could have easily spent more than 3 days here. There were good things about the ship other than the very nice cabin. The ship was very clean and attractive. The crew with the exception of the captain and the shore excursion people were very nice and helpful.The dining options were outstanding and the dining staff were wonderful. I am a vegetarian and never lacked for options. The restaurants with no extra charge were delightful, particularly the Tsars Palace. It was so elegant and we felt special eating there. There was also a very good library with nice seating and a good variety of books. The entertainment had something for everyone with a few outstanding performances. Mary-Jess was wonderful and the circus was spectacular. On sea days we found very little to do other than watching the amazing watermelon carving chefs. The bad: the embarkation was a very long queue which lasted almost an hour. It was the longest we have ever gone through on a cruise ship. Getting off the ship however was the fastest we have ever encountered. The shore excursions with one exception were awful and overpriced. We had been to some of the destinations before so opted for Bangkok and Pattaya on your own. We were told that we would be given a map and ideas on what we could do. On the Thailand excursion we we told "welcome to the country of "ladyboys" Our options were to accompany the "guide" to get a suit made, get a massage or buy some jewelry. Luckily, someone else on the ship had done some research and we were able to do something. On the bus to Pattaya no suggestions were offered. On another excursion there was a bus to a market where we were dropped off at a supermarket with no idea of where the market was and no one to ask. The National Ream Park by Boat was very expensive $159/per person. We were supposed to see some wildlife, etc. The boat was a rickety fishing boat in poor condition. Pulling away from the dock was a sign of things to come. The "crew" started the motor and then seemed to forget that thy had started it. We came within inches of another boat. The driver ran up to the bow and threw an anchor overboard. We were in the middle of the river and never saw any wildlife on shore or even any birds flying over us. However this can happen. What we didn't expect was for the engine to die. O.K. they tried the other engine, That would not start so we sat there waiting for a passing boat to have pity on us. Eventually, another boat stopped and towed us. We were told we were going to see a school. We were not told that the walk was 1/2 mile on a cow pie littered narrow path. It was nice to see the school and visit a resident of the village. The bus was waiting for us but it broke down and there was another wait. The Ugly: One of the stops Ko Samui required a tender. As we left the ship, my husband noticed that the ship was stirring up sand although we were a mile offshore. We visited a local site, had a meal and went to the pier waiting to be picked up. There was already a long queue which just got longer until there were many hundreds of people in line. Suddenly, someone from Norwegian announced that we had to go to another pier. Everyone left with the result that the people in front were now in back. At the new site, hundreds more joined us and then it was announced that due to the low tide the tenders couldn't carry their full capacity. We waited at least 2 hours in the hot sun with no water and some people waited longer.. At one point someone in crew uniform asked us to form a single line. Luckily no one attacked her. We spent time trying to figure out what our compensation would be. $500 off the next cruise? free drinks? When we were all finally on board the captain made a very lame half-hearted apology. Our reward - an extra hour in the another port. Bad call. We arrived an hour late in Bangkok cutting short our activities there. We will not go with Norwegian again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Chose this cruise line/ship for the itinerary. Never sailed NCL before and never will again. We have sailed many, many times with Celebrity, Royal, Carnival and princess to name a few and this cruise line fell far below each of those. ... Read More
Chose this cruise line/ship for the itinerary. Never sailed NCL before and never will again. We have sailed many, many times with Celebrity, Royal, Carnival and princess to name a few and this cruise line fell far below each of those. Complete disorganization with tours to the point we waited over 4 hours in the hot sun for a tender to the ship because the crew did not realize low tide was coming in. There were no announcements in fact it took the crew from ANOTHER CRUISE LINE docked there to try and assist. Saw a few of the crew laughing and thought that this was funny....no apologies from NCL - they could care less. Really, are you not a cruise line? The ship was older and no bells or whistles at all. The crew was just average with no one going "out of their way" and while the food was OK, we were not impressed at all. The only positive was the entertainment on the ship which was surprisingly very good. Cabin was typical and again nothing impressive. I would choose Royal or Celebrity in the future and never sail NCL again. Paid quite a bit of money for a disappointing cruise in Asia. In reviewing the actual ship, I would again say it has no bells or whistle. No outdoor movie screens, small grand entrance. Cabins are what you would expect and one feature that I did like was the ability to close a door to the toilet (even though it was clear). Pillows were much nicer then previous cruises. The staff was average but most seemed to just "do their job" and not go above and beyond. While some did have the approach of being super friendly, the majority did not and when they did, it seemed very forced. The entertainment was outstanding. They had shows that you would see in Vegas and I was very impressed that they were able to carry these out on a ship. I would say, this cruise probably had the best entertainment with the exception of Allure of the Seas. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We've sailed with NCL a number of times, and this one was rough around the edges, as if the crew had never done it before. Only four tenders running from the ship, causing huge backups in departure A total nightmare on the ... Read More
We've sailed with NCL a number of times, and this one was rough around the edges, as if the crew had never done it before. Only four tenders running from the ship, causing huge backups in departure A total nightmare on the return dock, where they moved the line from one dock to another and all hell broke loose Only two people handing out departure cards for 1000 people. You can imagine how long that took. Service in specialty dining and regular dining was spotty...at least four occasions in which we had to ask for something (bread, butter, water) four times Running out of things mid cruise (yes, a Caesar salad needs anchovies) Service folks in Garden Cafe never gave passengers right of way...plowing past guests I think NCL is better than this. On the positive side, cabin steward was excellent and the variety of offerings in Garden Cafe was nice. All in all, it felt like this was a practice run for the crew. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Had a wonderful cruise with many good memories. Thanks NCL !!! Our room was perfect for our needs. Clean and organized and the beds were very comfortable. Excursions were very well organized and evening ship activities were great. Had ... Read More
Had a wonderful cruise with many good memories. Thanks NCL !!! Our room was perfect for our needs. Clean and organized and the beds were very comfortable. Excursions were very well organized and evening ship activities were great. Had lots of fun ! Loved the Karaoke and made many new friends. Evening entertainment in the Stardust Theatre was a nice way to start the evenings and dancing to the great bands on board was a perfect way to end our evenings. Enjoyed relaxing with a cocktail in the many lounges. Loved the fact that no formal dress code was required. Lots of restaurants to choose from with delicious food. The buffet had a huge variety of food to choose from. Loved the washy washy staff. Took advantage of the spa. Nice treat ! Bar waiters were great. Days at sea were warm and relaxing. Just what we needed. Thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. Would definitely recommend NCL to others. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We've been on a few cruises but consider ourselves newbies. We book a SE asia cruise on Norwegian Jewel. I don't know if my comments are strictly about Norwegian but about cruising in general. Our primary concern is the lack ... Read More
We've been on a few cruises but consider ourselves newbies. We book a SE asia cruise on Norwegian Jewel. I don't know if my comments are strictly about Norwegian but about cruising in general. Our primary concern is the lack of complete information upfront. Costs exceeded our expecttions. When we booked our cruise I looked at the price and decided it was within our budget. We saw some promotions being offered and liked them. However as we got deeper into the purchase we discovered a number of surprises: 1. onboard credit was advertised as $1,000 but found it depended on the price of the cabin. 2. the $500 credit only applied if we had a mastercard. I had to find a relative to supply. 3. beverage package was "free" but added a charge for "gratuities". The gratuity charge would pay for a month of drinks in most bars. 4. bought an independent tour and was unable to use it because the tender time was over 20 minutes and priority was given to "frequent flyiers" and tours purchased from the cruise line. 5. paid for medical support but was still charged $480 for a visit when my wife got sick. 6. $29 per day for room charges (2 people) should have been included in the purchase price or made optional. 7. visas were required for Vietnam and Cambodia but there web site indicated that the cruise ship was taking care of it. Almost $400 was added to our charges. 8. no easy to find email address to send questions into the cruise line. instead we had to wait 30-45 minutes to talk to a live person. since we booked through expedia instead of the cruise line directly. we got transferred to a different person each time. 9. disclosures about how long it would take to get to cities should be listed on web site. it was 2 hours to Bangkok, 2.5 hours to Saigon and over 3 hours to get to Hamoi. If we forget all the "surprise" charges for inexperienced cruisers the trip was enjoyable. and the low tide which prevented the tenders from returning to the ship as planned probably wasn't the fault of the cruise ship (unless they checked with the tide timetable).. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a couples cruise to Asia covering Singapore (2 nights Pre-cruise) Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & Hong Kong (2 nights post cruise) as part of celebrating my retirement Positives include quality of the ship (Refurbished in ... Read More
This was a couples cruise to Asia covering Singapore (2 nights Pre-cruise) Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & Hong Kong (2 nights post cruise) as part of celebrating my retirement Positives include quality of the ship (Refurbished in 2018), quality of the food & choice of restaurants and shows performed by the ship’s cast were of a very high standard Negatives & where NCL really need to up their game are 1. Lack of organisational skills especially on-shore excursions. We booked 2 thru NCL & both times there was considerable delays in getting bus numbers allocated & getting all guests ashore. Worse was on Koh Samui where tenders were required & NCL only used 5 to transport around 2000 people over a journey that too 20 minutes each way. No surprise that we were 3 hours delayed on leaving port that night!! One other complaint about staff were those involved in teh excursions team. It is normal that they will have local knowledge & experience of the various local ports as well as fact sheets that help guests doing their ‘own thing’. NCL staff had neither & could only provide detail on the shore excursions that they offered 2. Costs - altho NCL came in around the same package cost as other cruise lines the fact they offered extras in the form of on-board credit & internet access anything that had to be paid for on the ship was way more expensive than experienced with other cruise lines. Average cost per excursion was €99 some of which we could have done ourselves at a fraction of the cost. We were also forced to purchase a Visa for Cambodia even if we were NOT going on-shore & staying on the ship. I enquired Pre-cruise & the embassy could provide this @ €35 per person it didn’t state that we would need a visa if we were not disembarking however, NCL billed us €99 per person. Considerable admin fee in my opinion 3 altho the ship’s cast provided excellent shows the acts brought on-board were less than impressive. In fact out of the 5 acts only one, Mary Jess, provided the standard of performance experienced on other ship’s 4. The locations visited were part of the reason we booked the cruise however, was surprised that the ship docked in what can only be described as container yards or working shipyards with the majority miles from the locations that we wanted to visit. For example, in Da Nang it was a 30 minute shuttle bus transfer (@$15pp) to the town/beach & that was the best/closest. Worse was Bangkok (2.5hr drive) & Hanoi (3hr drive) Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Was booked on Voyage of the Seas out of Singapore but as friends pulled out of the holiday, we cancelled our RC cruise and booked with Norwegian as the dates matched our flight times.....wished we hadn’t now. We’re big fans of ... Read More
Was booked on Voyage of the Seas out of Singapore but as friends pulled out of the holiday, we cancelled our RC cruise and booked with Norwegian as the dates matched our flight times.....wished we hadn’t now. We’re big fans of Norwegian hence why we swapped to this trip. We couldn’t fault our previous cruise on the Breakaway so we had high hopes for our first cruise to the Far East. Firstly, let me say the places we visited were excellent as were the people and our only complaint would be that we didn’t have enough time in them so we are planning to return and spend a few days in each as one day in Bangkok for example just isn’t enough. But as for the cruise itself.... we weren’t happy. The good parts.... as mentioned, the itinerary was great, the frontline cruise staff (waiting staff, cabin steward, bar staff etc) were all great, polite and lovely as they usually are. Food in the Garden Cafe buffet restaurant, Chin Chin’s and Cagney’s speciality restaurant was excellent. The ship’s public areas were nice and smart due to a recent refurb and the ship itself was a smooth sailer. Now for the bad/frustrating elements...... the food in the main Azura restaurant (other than the meal on the last night) wasn’t great and neither was Cucina, Le Bistro & Moderna speciality restaurants. I had a filet mignon in Le Bistro that was so dry, I had to take mouthfuls of water just to swallow it. The oceanview cabin we had was probably the smallest we have ever had with a tiny, weird offset toilet and a bed where we couldn’t walk down the sides to the bed as the overhang of the unused pull down bed meant I had to climb over the bed each night to get into it. As part of the refit, the cabins have been largely left but they’ve replaced the old square tv’s with flat widescreen ones but when open, they overhang the narrow walkway to the door and/or bathroom so it’s easy to unexpectedly walk into at night. The onboard internet was a joke. You don’t need an internet package to access the NCL app functions but the WiFi wouldn’t hold the signal unless I activated our minutes package so I was effectively using up internet minutes to access onboard info. Sometimes it would but most times, it wouldn’t stay connected? In the main, the ship seemed understaffed. Hardly any drinks waiting staff around the ship for example on the pool deck or the buffet so you end up going to the bars, which in itself isn’t a problem. But when you get there and there are often 8+ customers waiting to order various drinks and cocktails and there is only one guy serving? The big single issues.... Embarkation was a nightmare. We were in group 1 as we were amongst the first to check in and despite being Latitidues members, it seemed your status wasn’t as relevant as the queue you started in as the latitudes queued people were given different group identifiers (colours as opposed to number) and were called forward before anyone else. Then the lady with the mic finally called out Group 1, exactly the same as she had called the other groups, so we all stood and started heading towards the ship before she then said ‘don’t go yet....just get ready’?? So we had all moved off our seats whereby newly checked in passengers were now coming through and sitting in them and she’s telling us not to go but to get prepared. Then she said it again and held us in limbo. It was like she was winding us up. Eventually, we get told to go towards the ship. All in all, we had our paperwork checked 6 or 7 times from the time we entered the terminal before going aboard. Why? Completely unnecessary and time consuming as people had put away their documents and just retained their sail away cards and then had to keep retrieving them so someone else could check them.... just wasting time. The first port was Koh Samui which was a tender port. We obeyed the cruise directors instructions to be actually ready to leave the ship before getting a tender ticket. Big mistake..... they didn’t launch enough tenders and we waited for over 2 hours to be called and it was 2 hours 40 minutes before we got to Koh Samui. There were big gaps in calling groups forward. Tenders were taking roughly 10 minutes to load, 20 minutes to cross and approx 5 mins to unload before returning to the ship for the next group. They only had 6 tenders running. So we didn’t get to Koh Samui until 11.40 ish and the last tender was scheduled for 4pm which meant we would only have 3-4 hours in port. Anyway, we headed back around 2.45pm as we didn’t have enough time to go exploring and there was already a long queue on the pier. Instead of loading 2 tenders at a time (as there was 2 loading/unloading points when discharging passengers earlier), NCL was only boarding from 1 point for some reason? The queue was getting longer and longer behind us and people were getting tetchy as some passengers seemingly decided that queuing wasn’t for them and pushed past everyone towards the front, which caused upset for some who were queuing in the hot sunshine. We watched as the NCL crew were seemingly messing around with one of the tenders and after 20 minutes or so, they had to throw a line onto it and tow it. At first we weren’t sure what was going on and thought it had perhaps broken down but it became apparent the tender had run aground as the tide was going out and the NCL crew hadn’t anticipated this. Then all the waiting tenders (there were 4 waiting by this point) turned around and sailed off. Bearing in mind we were watching this fiasco and had no idea what was happening as in typical fashion, we weren’t being told anything. We were towards the middle/front of the queue and didn’t hear anything informing us of what was occurring but we noticed that the queue behind were all moving back down the pier and we could see a mass of people heading towards another pier. So we followed and realised they were changing the boarding location of the tenders to where the other cruise ships (Tui and Aida) we’re boarding from. It was chaos with people rushing and we ended up in a mass crowd near where we think the tenders might now be boarding from. The reason I say that is that we still hadn’t any info from NCL so we were following everyone else like sheep without direct info. There must have been over 1500 people all crowded in. It was very hot, chaotic and a nightmare. We didn’t get back on the ship until 6.20pm (3 hours 35 mins after we joined the initial queue). So all in all, we spent something like 6 hours and 15 minutes waiting for and on a tender. It was a complete joke where we wasted loads of time instead of enjoying the actual port we wanted to visit. The ship left much later than planned..... Tui and Aida didn’t seem to have any problems. In Cambodia, when we got to the pier, there was a line for the shuttle bus. We had to sign up for the $15 tickets so boarded the bus to the town where we ended up hiring a Tuk Tuk type taxi. What we didn’t know was there was a free shuttle bus to the port gate, which is what we would have taken to get a Tuk Tuk, but this wasn’t signposted. When we got to the next port (Phu My), we opted to hire a taxi to go to Saigon. Our relatives decided to take the shuttle to the local town again at a cost of $15. So they went to the desk on the pier exactly as we did at the port before but they, along with everyone else, were told they had to go back on board and get tickets from Reception?? So people were going back and forwards as the procedure kept changing. At the next port, it was tickets on the pier again?? Just disorganised and chaotic. Now with regards to Cambodia, we need a visa for entry and you can get them on arrival. This visa is around $30 so when passengers were being charged $89, they were kicking up. Prior to us leaving the UK, we were told by NCL that visas for different countries could be between $29 and $89 and passengers from different countries may have different visas levered upon them. NCL didn’t specify the prices for different ports. It would be logical to assume that different countries have different charges but to charge $89 for a $30 visa is criminal. NCL are charging almost twice the price of the actual visa for printing out a form that we could have filled out ourselves but they didn’t give us the option. Some people had applied for an online e visa but it didn’t apply to the port of Sihanoukville. It applied to Sihanoukville airport down the road but not the sea port? So some passengers had paid for one visa ($30) and then got charged $89 by NCL regardless of whether they got off the ship or not. Loads of people were complaining at reception and removing their onboard gratuities. One receptionist was even advising it?? And this was for just one day in Cambodia and due to Sihanoukville being subjected to mass building works across the city amongst severe poverty, some cruise ship staff were even advising against bothering to go ashore as they said ‘it wasn’t very nice’?? You couldn’t make it up. We went to a few of the theatre shows. Whilst watching shows, we often had to get up and down multiple times as guests were arriving 10 minutes, 15 minutes and then 20 minutes after the show had began. Personally, I think it’s discourteous to arrive so late and interrupt passengers trying to watch a show but there obviously wasn’t anyone from NCL stopping people from entering the theatre so late so it continued unabated. I saw people across the theatre from us getting up to let people in 30 minutes after the start time?? Lastly, at disembarkation in Hong Kong, we had flights departing at 14.25 so thought we had loads of time to kill in the morning as on pretty much all cruises we’ve been on, disembarkation is usually pretty swift. But no, just to finish the cruise in the same manner the rest of the disorganised chaos had been, we came off the ship and into a departure hall that was chock full of people in a huge, meandering queue where you couldn’t work out where the end of the line was. It took 2 hours to get out of this and into another long queue for taxis. So despite having what we thought was loads of time, we ended up rushing to make our flight. Luckily, we ended up seeing a limo driver who was touting for fares and pulled us out of the queue and into his MPV in the car park above. We headed off to the airport where we just made our check in. If we had stayed in the taxi queue, we wouldn’t have made it. There were no NCL staff around and despite seeing this chaos, NCL on the ship didn’t think to change tack and call passengers who needed to make flights as a priority. The whole cruise from start to finish was a disorganised mess. It felt like the managing senior staff on the NCL Jewel hadn’t operated on cruises before as pretty much every aspect was disorganised and dysfunctional. In that regard, I felt for the front line staff who had to put up with passengers complaints and sour moods when it wasn’t their fault. In my opinion, it seems to me that NCL are trying to have a presence in the Far East as it looks good when advertising how far and wide their ships sail. They achieve this by having one ship doing multiple itinerary’s in far off places BUT they aren’t operating in these various regions all season so do not know the peculiarities of each port and end up in distant berths and having other problems. NCL need to decide if they want to run these routes and if so, do it properly or maybe with a senior crew who are capable of adapting to changing and varying ports/conditions as opposed to ones who are perhaps used to going through the motions in ports they visit week in, week out. For us in the future, we will have to weigh up the likelihood of a positive experience on NCL on far out routes versus an alternative cruise line with more experience in the region. It might be a better option?? Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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