NCL Jewel - South Pacific Cruise Review : 10-30 October 2017
We are just returned from a package which included a 12-night cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line, Jewel, sailing the South Pacific and I will try to be as informative as I can ... Read More
NCL Jewel - South Pacific Cruise Review : 10-30 October 2017
We are just returned from a package which included a 12-night cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line, Jewel, sailing the South Pacific and I will try to be as informative as I can reviewing this cruise.
This was the first time that NCL has sailed the South Pacific (according to the staff) which is why we booked it. Apparently, they are unsure which way they will sail to reposition as they usually travel the Suez Canal and are still to decide whether to repeat this way and these destination. To be honest, I would say to NCL do it, the destinations are paradise.
We flew into Honolulu 3 days before we joined the ship and spent 3 nights in Tahiti before the long flights Home. This review will be on the cruise only.
The itinerary for this cruise was as follows:
Day 1 - embarkation in Honolulu, Hawaii
Day 2 - Kauai, Hawaii
Day 3 - Hilo, (the big island), Hawaii
Day 4 - 7 At Sea
Day 8 - Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Day 9 - At Sea
Day 10 - Fakarava, French Polynesia
Day 11 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Day 12 - Moorea, French Polynesia
Day 13 - Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia (over night stay before disembarking to our hotel)
We were lucky enough to have the Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP) and on-board spend with this deal, however, unless you drink like a fish and you have this package as part of your cruise deal, I would recommend paying as you go. The UBP cost was £850 per person, for this 12 night cruise; you HAVE to drink a lot to get the full benefits of this, bearing in mind that the cocktail of the day was $8.95 / a rose` wine was $6.50 per glass, we (light drinkers) may have had 2-3 wine and perhaps 2-3 cocktails per day each with some coke/lemonade as well, this was no where near the cost incurred if we would have purchased this packaged and only drink that much because we had the drinks package, usually, we would have iced water or juice from the cafe around the pool, during the day.
THE SHIP : Jewel is tired and needs modernisation.
The crew, as on all cruise ships, work extremely hard and have a LOT of difficult passengers to deal with but do this with smiles and dignity.
Unfortunately, as a lot of American ships are doing, the Jewel has also relaxed its formality to near extinction. You can now walk into dinner in shorts if you like without any challenge which for us was too relaxed and in our view, a mistake.
THE FOOD : Mediocre, is the only word I think I can use to describe the food. Even when we paid for the privilege in Cagney’s, we did not find the food to be as good as Jewels sister ship Jade.
THE SHOWS : if you like terrible American humour, Juggling, out of tune live singing and cheesy singing and dancing then this is right up your street, however, actually, we felt the shows were not worth the print to add it to the daily itinerary!
WI-FI : expensive, and eats minutes that you haven’t used, so visits to the Internet Manager is a must to reinstate what has been taken. Ensure that every time you log in you also log out when finished with the session. Ration yourself, 250 minutes for a 12 night cruise only equates to rations of 20 minutes a day, this is nothing when you are trying to take photos/videos off a go-pro to enable reuse for another day itinerary (although the go-pro has its own Wi-fi it still managed to eat the ships ..).
THE CABIN : We were staying in cabin number 4596, an outside (Porthole) room. What we didn’t realised was that this cabin was 2 cabins from the embarkation/disembarkation door where passengers are getting on/off the ship, blocking the doors to our room a lot. This was a bonus to us in some ways but had more inconveniences than conveniences.
Although we were lucky enough that we did not need to use the medical centre, this was also very convenient to us being right on the door step. However, the crew door was also situated right opposite our cabin door; we were woken daily at 4.00 am by the crew noisily getting about their early morning duties.
Most of the islands were tendered, so 6.00 am started the construction of the ladders and tender station that was right under our window. Also, and this is something we did not expect, the South Pacific was rough and windy, causing waves to be hitting our window constantly, this extended (apparently) to staterooms on deck 5 as well. The captain called the seas “moderate”, in 12 years of cruising the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, we have only ever had one cruise where the sun deck was closed due to adverse weather and not what we expected of this area at all.
One bonus to this cabin, it is Port side so every island visited could be seen from the cabin as we sailed in.
Day 1: Embarkation Day. Honolulu, Hawaii. This has got to be the worst, most unorganised embarkation that we have ever experienced (along side New York). We were collected from our hotel at 10.30 am and was not on the ship until approx 1.00 pm after 2 hours of unorganised chaos.
Day 2: Kauai, Hawaii. We purchased an on-board ship excursion, which is something we rarely do, this was due to time frames and getting back to the ship productively as we decided to go Mud-bugging and after extensive research found that due to the distance to travel to get to the ship we would not have been able to do this on our own. This was a great day, we got thoroughly muddy and had a lot of fun. Kauai ATV were fantastic guides and made the day really good.
They will supply you with a bandana, goggles, helmet and shorts and t-shirt. Recommendations for this trip, use their clothes supplied, and the locker, to leave anything you don’t want ruined behind. You will get REALLY muddy, the mud is a very red mud that stains you and your clothing and anything else that you take along with you. They do take you to a shop of theirs first, (reasonable priced) there you can buy a waterproof plastic cover for your phone if you want to take that with you. We used that for photos and left the camera behind, although did take a go-pro which is still stained! They also take photos during the trip and sell the group photos to you for $20 which was well worth purchasing.
Day 3: Hilo, (the big island) Hawaii. Unless you are doing a trip here, don’t bother! We came in on a Sunday and decided to walk to the town. We were told that it was 2 miles and approx 30 minutes walk, it was more like 5 miles and took us 1 hour each way in 32 degrees heat. When we finally got to the town, we found that most shops were closed (due to it being a Sunday) and the only real thing we took from this place was insect bites, which we had in abundance by the time we got back to the ship (with no warnings and did not feel/see anything biting), the only things we think the bites may have come from are the Nono (aggressive sand flies).
Day 4 - 7 : At Sea. The weather was not “great” for the first couple of sea days, although once the sun came out it was blistering and required shade, which the Jewel has limited amount of, the seas were rough the whole time travelling to the next destination.
Day 7 : the ship insisted that everyone coming into French Polynesia, attend an Immigration meeting with 2 French Polynesia Immigration Police. Again, absolute unorganised chaos. We spent 2 hours snaking around the Spinnaker Lounge, only to be told that as we were EU citizens, we did not need a visa stamp, we were only required to show our passports.
Surely, the obvious way of organising this would have had EU guests queue in one line and American/Other queue in another?
Day 8 : Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia. TENDER day.
Unorganised chaos to get tender tickets started at 6.15 am. The notice was that tender tickets could be collected from poolside at 7.00 am, however, this actually started by 6.15 am, by the time we collected our tickets at 8.00 am we were tender boat 17 off which did not get us off the ship until after 10 am!
The island itself was exactly what you would expect, a beautiful, un-westernised, cultural island. There was only 1000 locals living on this island, who welcomed the invasion of 2500 passengers with tribal dancing and singing, conk shell blowing and their handmade carvings etc, unfortunately, there was no way to explore the island as there was no taxis or other means of transport, but what we saw was beautiful, unspoilt and had the feel of modern tribe culture.
Day 9 : At Sea
Day 10 : Fakarava, French Polynesia. Another TENDER day. Another 6.15 am hand out of tender tickets (although should have been a 7 am start).
No trips to do (with or without the shore excursion desk). The ship docked at 8 am and left at 2 pm. Sunday’s (when we arrived), everything was shut and with the way that the tender process was the day before, we felt there was little reason to get off, although we did. We made our way to a beach, Motu’s are found all the way along the road (turn right at the dock). We walked about 15 minutes to a piece of sandy area where the sea was incredibly blue with patches of coral and beautiful fish swimming within. Sharks are in abundance and regularly pay a visit to where you are invading their “space”. The locals found it hilarious that the passengers from the cruise ship jumped as soon as shark was mentioned, they insisted that these sharks; “Sleeping/nurse” sharks, were harmless and would not hurt - actually when they called out shark, it was to let you know they were there not to ensure you got out of the water. They feed them regularly by hand. This was a beautiful spot to spend a few hours away from the ship with the wildlife.
Day 11 : Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Another TENDER day. We had a trip booked (with the ship) so got off without the queues! We arrived at 10 am and went straight to our trip, Black Tip Shark and Sting Ray Swim. Incredible. The crew on the boat were great fun and spent the whole time entertaining us with their singing and playing getting to/from the destinations we were taken to. The rays and sharks did not disappoint. A fabulous day, fully recommended.
Day 12 : Moorea, French Polynesia. Another TENDER day. By now the ship had got themselves organised and actually started getting this right. There were still the queues for the tender tickets that were being handed out earlier than they should have been although this did not affect us as we were on a trip. Humpback Whale/Dolphin watching with Dr Michael Poole. This was an amazing trip, we saw no dolphins as there seemed to be too many jet skis bombing about but the Whales made up for it. Although we were not that close we experienced 2 beautiful whales spending time in the waters. We did not get in the water with them but there are trips that do take divers to swim with the whales, they have described their singing and close up inquisitively incredible.
After we returned from this trip we met a local called Damon who ran his own tour company called Circle Tours, we spent 3 hours being shown his island; he took us liquor tasting, jam tasting, scenic spots, we even saw what the fishermen had brought in on their recent catch - a 300 lb Marlin that they had a job getting in their boat. In all, a fabulous day and a stunningly beautiful island.
Day 13 : Disembarkation for our 3 night stay in Tahiti before returning back to the UK.
Overall, a fabulous itinerary, great destinations, beautiful scenery and NCL was our way of doing this. Read Less