629 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

Going through the canal was an interesting experience. Hard to believe they have been using them for over 100 years and still working like clockwork. The film about the building of the canal was very enlightening. Colombia, Costa Rica, ... Read More
Going through the canal was an interesting experience. Hard to believe they have been using them for over 100 years and still working like clockwork. The film about the building of the canal was very enlightening. Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala were all different and we enjoyed our excursions in each port. Catamaran and walled city in Cartagena was a hilite for me. The coffee plantation in Costa Rica a close second and I don't even drink coffee. We had been to Acapulco and Cabo before, so enjoyed returning! The staff is amazing, always smiles, good mornings, etc. Especially want to mention the washy washy staff, who played guitar and sang us into our breakfast and lunch each day with smiles and squirts of hand sanitizer. The entertainment was amazing and varied. Jeri Sager has a truly great voice, thoroughly enjoyed Jean Pierre's magical comedy. Chris Pendleton is truly funny, David Naster was good. The hilite for me were the performances by the Russian aerialist duo and Le Cirque Bijou where the jewel cast of singers and dancers joined in for a cirque du soleil like performance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We wanted to experience a full transit of the canal and booked this trip with friends. We had a great time and the canal experience was unforgettable in every way. The ship is beautiful and the staff was very good. NCL has some ... Read More
We wanted to experience a full transit of the canal and booked this trip with friends. We had a great time and the canal experience was unforgettable in every way. The ship is beautiful and the staff was very good. NCL has some opportunities available to improve on management of large numbers of people (embarkation and tender days were not the best for managing the flow of people). The shows were very good.We enjoyed all of the ports (we book private tours in ports and have always been satisfied with them!). The weather was good but hot. The food in the buffet and the restaurants was very good (the buffet was not always the hottest food but far from cold and very enjoyable). The one small "hiccup" we had with bar service was handled very professionally and we were very satisfied. All-in-all an excellent two weeks. We have always enjoyed our NCL cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears ... Read More
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears are more concentrated than ever on making money. the prices for photos have been raised, the prices of drinks has been raised and are measured out exactly. NCL had a reputation for giving an outstanding cruise for a reasonable price. however those deals seem to be drying up. the food remains very good, the service by the crew excellent, the entertainment and activities remain good and the shore excursions were outstanding. jewel class ships are so easy to get around on. we were more than lucky with the weather. embarkation went very well, but disembarkation was in a little bit of disarray. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
10 friends celebrating one our friends birthday. Some of the group have cruised before but it was our first big cruise. We really enjoyed our experience on the Jewel. The staff made us feel very special, and were so perfessional and fun ... Read More
10 friends celebrating one our friends birthday. Some of the group have cruised before but it was our first big cruise. We really enjoyed our experience on the Jewel. The staff made us feel very special, and were so perfessional and fun to be around. We did an excursion at every port using both private and ship excursions. We got to see so many differen and wonderful place, people, architecture, and animals and we felt safe doing so at every port, which I was concerned about before we sailed. Most ports had a little sample of the culture set up so if you didn't want to venture to for off the ship you didn't have to. The food and entertainment on the ship was very good and plentiful, you could always find something to eat and do at most times of the day. Our home was an inside cabin, which is what it is. It had everything we needed but we were only there to sleep. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were ... Read More
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were quite willing to answer questions from the very basic to the very technical. The food set up at the buffet provided a good flow with multiple food islands. Lines were minimal, even during peak hours due to this setup. The ship was exceptionally clean and the staff, with few exceptions was very attentive to the passengers needs. Our cabin on the 8th deck was quiet and well laid out. The showers were better than other ships I have cruised on. My only complaint with the Jewel was the fitness center. None of the upright exercise bikes worked properly. The seated bikes were Technogym brand, which, in my opinion are not nearly as good as Life-Fitness products. The gym was also to hot during most of the cruise. On the bright side, the weight equipment included dumbells up to 75 lbs., incline benches and older life fitness machines (better than the newer designs in my opinion), all of which was well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
It was our 25 wedding anniversary, we chose going through the Panama canal. This was our first cruise. We disembarked on every stop. We enjoyed the sunshine, the itinerary was geared to the older folk, but we found things to do in the ... Read More
It was our 25 wedding anniversary, we chose going through the Panama canal. This was our first cruise. We disembarked on every stop. We enjoyed the sunshine, the itinerary was geared to the older folk, but we found things to do in the sports part of the ship. The entertainment was good until the nights with the two Russian circus couple, they were the highlight and wished for more. The main buffet was also a good feature but towards the end of the cruise, we picked O'Sheehans as our place to go for wings. We loved the freedom to eat when we wanted to. We enjoyed meeting all the staff from different countries. I would have enjoyed a tour of the ship, and only found out later that they did have a tour. More information could have been put on the ships wedsite on our tablet, time change/current time; our port and excursions etc. It would have been nice to have a digital clock in the cabin to see the time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
For our fiftieth wedding anniversary, we decided to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. We had done a round trip partial transit ten day cruise several years ago, but this time decided to do a full transit. We embarked on the cruise ... Read More
For our fiftieth wedding anniversary, we decided to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. We had done a round trip partial transit ten day cruise several years ago, but this time decided to do a full transit. We embarked on the cruise in Miami, FL. We are wintering in Apollo Beach, FL, near Tampa, so we and the other couple cruising with us rented a car and drove to Miami the day before the cruise. We stayed in the Best Western in Kendall overnight, turned in the car at a lot near the cruise port, and took the free shuttle provided by the rental car agency (Budget) to the port. We arrived at the port at around 12:00pm. We had a fairly short wait outside before the line started moving, and once the line started moving, we were onboard by about 12:45, and our room was ready for us. We had a mid-ship balcony cabin, 9068, so we were very centrally located for everything on the ship. The cabin wasn't as large as others we have been in, but it was sufficient. It could do with some new carpeting and new drapes. There was a king size bed, a couch that could be made into a single bed, a table, and a chair. The table was under the TV, which was on the wall, a flat screen LCD TV. The on/off button on the remote didn't work, so we had to turn the TV on manually, but all the other buttons worked. TV is very limited - MSNBC, FoxNews, BBC News, CNBC, a sports channel, and several NCL channels where they showed movies, TV shows, and the game shows that were played in the Spinnaker Lounge in the evenings. It was not interactive like on some cruise ships. Our room steward was very nice and very accommodating. We had to ask for robes twice before we got them (on other cruises they were already in the room). There was also a refrigerator that was full of booze and sodas that you had to pay for. Also, in one of the closets, there was a safe for valuables. There was plenty of storage space, hangers, drawers, and shelves, so we could unpack our suitcases for the 2 week trip and place them under the bed to get them out of the way. Part way through the cruise they gave us an offer for laundry - fill one bag with laundry and they would wash it and fold it for you for $19.95. It's a great deal and was good for the whole trip. We only had laundry done once. We had the six night dining package, so we ate in five of the six specialty restaurants, and they were all wonderful! Teppenyaki is a Japanese hibachi grill where the chef prepares the meal right at the table. You could have steak, chicken, fish, or any combination of them all. It was wonderful!! Moderno is a Brazillian steak house where servers come to your table with several different types of meat - chicken wrapped in bacon, beef, sausage, pork ribs, beef ribs, and lamb. Plus some delicious grilled fresh pineapple. La Cucina is a delicious Italian restaurant with wonderful food. Le Bistro is a great French restaurant, and Cagney's is a wonderful steakhouse. We ate in all of them, and the food was exceptional! We made reservations in all the specialty restaurants before we got on the ship, and I'm glad we did, because the restaurant reservation desk lines were always very long. We also got the times we wanted by making our reservations early. One restaurant that always seems to fill up quickly and is a favorite is the Teppenyaki hibachi grill. It has very limited seating and is very popular. For lunch, we ate in Tsar's Palace several times because we really liked being served rather than standing in line and then looking for a table. Another nice sit-down place is O'Sheehan's Irish Pub with pub food. We ate there a few times (it is complimentary). The only problem with it is that the menu is the same every day. At Tsar's Palace, it changed from day to day. One place we found our last couple of days on the ship was La Cucina for breakfast and lunch. It is open for both meals, and is very quiet and out of the way. I wish we had found it earlier in the cruise! For dinner, we ate in the specialty restaurants, in the Azura main dining room, Tsar's Palace main dining room, O'Sheehan's, and up in the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe periodically had themes - one night was Asian food, and one night was Caribbean food, etc. We loved the freestyle cruising, where we could go to dinner any time and anywhere we wanted. Entertainment was some of the best we have seen on a cruise ship. The Jewel singers and dancers were extraordinary, and they had a wonderful Broadway singer come sing for us, a comedienne who was hilarious and included her 8 year old daughter in her final performance on the ship (they both play the violin), and a fantastic Russian acrobatic couple who did all kinds of acrobatics using trapezes and long pieces of fabric. There was also a magician and a hypnotist. The cruise director, Iain, was hilarious and ended every show with a "joke of the day." He also hosted silly game shows, and in the afternoons, did Q&A's with the entertainers. The itinerary was fantastic. We saw four places we have never seen before - Cartagena, Colombia, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Corinto, Nicaragua, and Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala. Plus, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, where we have been before. Not to mention the whole Panama Canal, which was spectacular. We had a narrator that spoke about the workings of the locks, the history of the canal, and about Panama. We also saw a National Geographic documentary on the making of the Panama Canal the day before we got to the canal. They showed it on the big screen in the Stardust Theater. My husband and I both said that our favorite part of the canal was seeing the "Culebra Cut" where they had to blast through the mountains to get the canal through. All the shows were held in the Stardust Theater, a huge theater on decks 6 and 7. They also showed big screen movies in there on sea days and held port and shopping talks in there. Plus, anyone who went on any NCL excursion in any of the ports, met in the Stardust Theater and went off the ship as a group to get on their buses. It meant much less pandemonium on the pier. The game shows were held in the Spinnaker Lounge, a lounge at the top front of the ship. During the day you have beautiful views of the sea or ports of call. At night there is always something going on in there. Also, on sea days, Spinnaker is called a "quiet zone" for most of the day, so if you want to go up there and read a book or rest in a comfortable chair, that's the place to go for peace and quiet. Drinks on this ship are the most expensive I've ever seen on a ship. A glass of Chardonnay was $8.95, or $11.50 if you wanted a large one. A single shot of "bar" whiskey was $8.50. If you wanted single malt Scotch, it was $10.95. Many people had the Ultimate Beverage Package as their booking bonus, so there were lots of drinks being passed out. On other ships, we've seen 2 for one drinks in certain bars, but not on this one. The only special was the drink of the day, and that was $7.95. They did have two Martini tastings, with different Martinis at each one, and they had several wine tastings - we did one of them. They also had a Mojito tasting which we didn't do, and a Margarita tasting, which we also didn't do. All of the bar waiters are extremely friendly and accommodating. Service was excellent. Shore excursions were great. We did one in all but one of the ports. The guides were very informative, spoke very good English, and were friendly and funny. In Cartagena, we did the Magnificent Cartagena shore excursion. We saw a beautiful church and we also walked through a section of the old city that was beautiful, and went in two museums. In Puntarenas, Costa Rica, we saw a nice folk dance show put on by children, and they even got my husband and brother-in-law up and dancing with them! In Corinto, Nicaragua, we saw two beautiful and totally different looking churches. In Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala, my husband and I didn't do a shore excursion because nothing offered looked interesting to us, so we just got off the ship and walked around the thatched-roof "Palapa." There were lots of things for sale, but I just bought a magnet. In Acapulco, we went to see the cliff divers and had a spectacular view of them, then were taken to a couple of places to shop. In Cabo San Lucas we did the Snorkel and Sail to Santa Maria Cove. It was a beautiful trip. My husband snorkeled and I stayed on the boat. It wasn't a sailboat, which was a little disappointing, but it was a nice, comfortable boat. My husband is a jogger, so he spent a lot of time up on deck 13 on the jogging/walking track. He also went to the fitness center and used the treadmills and lifted weights. There is a walking area on deck 7 where you can walk all the way around the ship, which we would do from time to time. They ask that you walk only, not run or jog on that deck. Disembarkation was wonderful and perfectly smooth. We were flying out the day after we got off the ship, so we signed up for an excursion in LA. We did the excursion that took us through LA, to Hollywood, and then to the Farmers' Market for lunch, then to the airport. We got off the ship, went through customs, went to the black zone to pick up our luggage, and went to our waiting tour bus. At the end of the cruise, we were dropped off at the Southwest terminal where we printed out our boarding passes, then went to the bus stop where the hotel vans stop. It was so easy! My husband and I were both concerned that a fourteen day cruise would be way too long and we would both go stir crazy, but that wasn't the case. We both had a wonderful time! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I wanted to see the Panama Canal. We have been on several jewel class NCL ships and like them. The layout of these ships works for us. I can't stand the smell of smoke and find it easy to avoid it on these ships. We sailed on the Sun ... Read More
I wanted to see the Panama Canal. We have been on several jewel class NCL ships and like them. The layout of these ships works for us. I can't stand the smell of smoke and find it easy to avoid it on these ships. We sailed on the Sun a few years ago and could not stand being in the atrium (adjacent to the casino). We dined in several specialty restaurants. The service and food were all very good with the exception of terrible service one night at La Cucina. The service in the dining rooms was also very good. The entertainment was top notch. I really like the production shows. My favorite is La Cirque Bijou. That show is outstanding. The comedy shows were also very enjoyable. One thing I wish NCL would address is crowd control during disembarkation at ports. When anything happens to slow down the flow of passengers the line to get off turns into a mob. It seems that it should be easy to better manage the flow of passengers (see pictures below). This problem also happened at all ports on the NCL Sun. The shore excursions were good but overpriced. The embarkation process was very slow. At one point it was so backed up they stopped letting people into the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our 1st cruise on NCL and it was great. The service is outstanding. We really enjoyed meeting new people, going to the nightly shows, watching movies, being able to choose from a variety of dining options and taking part in some ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise on NCL and it was great. The service is outstanding. We really enjoyed meeting new people, going to the nightly shows, watching movies, being able to choose from a variety of dining options and taking part in some of the activities. What did we do besides relaxing at the pool? We took part in trivia contests, bingo, deal or no deal, origami classes, Q&A sessions from entertainers and from officers, played slots, watched cooking demos and ice sculpture demo. And of course, the Panama Canal is an amazing experience. The shows were all good and some were wonderful. We did 2 shore excursions through NCL and 4 that were private tours with 10-12 people. Some reviewers complained that NCL tours are pricey. All cruise line tours are pricey. When you book a tour from a cruise line, one of the things they are selling is peace of mind. If they are late getting back to the ship, the ship waits for them. If you are late back from a private tour, they leave without you and you have to meet the ship at the next port. Spend time reading reviews of shore excursion on this site and on Tripadvisor. This was our 3rd cruise. In talking to people on the cruise, you'll be surprised at how many cruises people have been on. It ranged from 8 - 24 from the people we talked to. Many of them had been on NCL several times. Would we do another cruise with NCL? Absolutely. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was a Panama Canal through transit from Los Angeles, Ca, to Miami, Fl. It was on my wife's and my bucket list. The boarding process was easily done. There was only one hiccup. Actual boarding was delayed for three and one ... Read More
This was a Panama Canal through transit from Los Angeles, Ca, to Miami, Fl. It was on my wife's and my bucket list. The boarding process was easily done. There was only one hiccup. Actual boarding was delayed for three and one half hours. This was not the fault of NCL. The Coast Guard pulled a surprise safety inspection so boarding was delayed until the Jade was cleared. The excursions were quite nice. Both of us enjoyed them immensely. We both particularly enjoyed the dining. We ate all our breakfasts save one at the Tsar's Palace. The wait staff there was superb. They were eager to please but not intrusive. The food was fresh, served at appropriate temperature, delicious, and served in a timely manner. My wife and I particularly enjoyed the fresh croissants and cinnamon twirls. After one meal the staff there knew what we liked to accompany our breakfast - outstanding! We only ate lunches in the buffet. The food was fresh, tasty, and had a very varied and interesting number of choices. For dinners, we ate in either the main dining rooms or, for six nights in the specialty dinning rooms. In all cases, the food was great. Staff in all dining areas were unobtrusive but attentive. We did not use the fitness and recreation areas except we did sit in the pool area and read. But then, both my wife and I are avid readers, and this is one of our preferred ways of relaxing. The Canal transit was worth the trip. There was a guide on board who provided a history of the Canal and all sorts of interesting facts and trivia about it. It was fascinating to watch the locks in operation and to travel across the terrain wnd watch ships pass in the middle of the mountains. Disembarkation was relatively easy and quickly accomplished. U.S. Customs and immigration was really quick. Hurray, Would we sail with Norwegian again? In a heartbeat. Their ships are comfortable and their style of service and quality is precisely what my wife and I like. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Destination was to travel through Panamal Canal...great experience! Long day, but worth it in every way. A smaller ship which we love...easy access to activities and some variety...a few more activities would be great...good variety of ... Read More
Destination was to travel through Panamal Canal...great experience! Long day, but worth it in every way. A smaller ship which we love...easy access to activities and some variety...a few more activities would be great...good variety of bars and restaurants and times open are great...no sign up for games in card room...had to find your own partners, sign up sheet would be nice for bridge or other games. A little pricey in gift shop...expected to a degree, but 4.99 (US dollars) for small tube of toothpaste is too much. Only sold limited souviners for Panama Canal and not until day through canal and leftovers afterwards...very disorganized and had a few probably 25 hats for sale for 2200 people...they could have sold a lot! People were not happy. Overall great cruise but needs tweaking...nice, very clean ship. Rooms comfortable and easy access to elevators and many public restrooms. Would recommend highly...fun and would do it again. Hope to travel with Norweigan again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We cruised the Canal 29 years ago and were anxious to do this cruise again. We had a very good experience. There was a 2 hour delay at embarkation as there was a surprise Coast Guard inspection so the cruise did not get off to a great ... Read More
We cruised the Canal 29 years ago and were anxious to do this cruise again. We had a very good experience. There was a 2 hour delay at embarkation as there was a surprise Coast Guard inspection so the cruise did not get off to a great start. But once we got on, all was well. While the entertainment was pretty typical cruise ship entertainment, the quality was very good. All I know is that I left every show very much entertained. Comedy, magic, song and dance - all very high quality. The Cirque du Bijou show was the one exceptional show and is their best overall show. The cruise director Ian was all over the ship and helped make the cruise entertaining. Some of his humor was corny but heck we're on vacation and I laughed. Pretty good magician too. While not the newest of ships, the Jewel holds up just fine compared to other ships of similar size and age. It's a great ship to transit the canal. I was able to wander the ship during the canal transit and there were numerous quality vistas. We had a mini suite and I'm not sure that we'll cruise in anything less in the future. The extra space in the cabin and bathroom was much appreciated. I remember the old days of the standard inside/outside cabins where we had to walk sideways to go from one end of the cabin to the other and the tiny showers with the butt hugging shower curtains. It was nice to actually have a bath tub/shower. Food was average at the main dining rooms. Sad to say they no longer serve lobster tails as one of the dinners. Fortunately we got the 6 specialty dining restaurant bonus and took full advantage. Cagney's was excellent - try the 29 oz. Tomahawk Chop rib-eye. Moderno also very good. While not cheap, the shore excursions were pretty good. We did whale watching in Cabo and saw numerous whales. The Rum Distillary tour in Nicaragua was very informative and we did buy some. The Bus, Boat and Train tour in Costa Rica was fun and enabled us to see much of the country in 5 hours. Disembarkation was very slow. We had a tour and still were stalled getting off the ship and getting to customs. As we finally got close to customs, an agent came to our line, took all of our declarations and told us to walk through and not stop at the customs counter. Needless to say, he did not have to tell us twice. Don't know how back ninth line he went. Overall one of the better cruises that we've taken and it was our18th (6th with NCL). Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL. We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we ... Read More
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL. We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we had a shorter flight home at the end of the trip. We flew in a day ahead and stayed at the Doubletree San Pedro. Nice, generic hotel but a bit more isolated that I would have liked. Taxi from LAX was about $70 with tip. The hotel had a van to the port. Drinks at the bar were priced ok during happy hour, but the margarita was not that good. Embarkation went smoothly, once it started, but the ship had an unexpected inspection upon docking, so we were delayed getting on board. We had an aft balcony, 9674. Great location, cabin was smaller than I remember NCL cabins to be. On the ship drawing, this one did look smaller that other afts, but I didn't see that until the day before we sailed. There were some minor age related issues with the drawers, but it was clean and the bed fairly comfortable. Our cabin steward was great. The passengers were generally older, 50+, with a few exceptions and very few children. The staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be there, especially the cruise director's staff. Iain Bagshaw was the CD and he did a great job. Shakin' Shirley deserves to be promoted, she was always on, remembered peoples names and where they were from and made everyone her friend. The shows were good, with Cirque Bijou the best. I didn't like all the musicians on board, but the show band, Rockaway Duo and Tropical Four were our go to evening entertainment before dinner and after the show. JP the magician and Pat the comedian were our favorite entertainers. We ate most breakfasts and not specialty dinners at Tsar's Palace. We found one waiter we really liked, Julius, and tried to sit in his section whenever we could. We always asked to share a table and met lots of great people and shared our experiences on board as well as life in general. We met people from Sweden, England, Scotland, Germany and Canada, and a few other Americans. Political conversations seemed to be inevitable with a new president, but they were polite and educational. Julius made menu recommendations and the food was generally good. Hint: on nights that you don't want dessert, ask for the cheese plate. It is not on the menu and is very nice. We used to like to have a cappuccino with our dessert, but the ship used boxed milk, which I don't like the flavor of, so we saved some money and did not have it after the first night. We ate at Cagney's twice, liked the steaks and the service; La Cucina once, which was once too many. OK food and just barely OK service. Le Bistro was our valentine's day dinner. Service was less attentive than we expected, but the place was busy all night. The food was good, but I liked Cagney's better. We ate at Moderno once, and as in the past, we felt like we rolled out of there, even when we went to sharing meat servings. Service was good, but the food came too fast. We should have said "not yet" more frequently. We had the UBP and felt we didn't drink much more than we would have without it. Exceptions were when we tried something we didn't like, we got something else without buyers remorse. Bar service was always good when we were at the bar, and staff service was usually good in the bars, but less so outside by the pool. I do think they jacked up the prices with so many people using the UBP. What used to be $7.95 is now $10.95. And forget about trying top shelf liquor, they are all off limit with the plan unless you want to shell out another $5 per drink. And the wine selection is VERY limited. But we found a Cabernet and Chardonnay that we liked and stuck with those. The highlight of the trip was the day spent going through the Panama Canal. So impressive. There was an authority on the Panama Canal onboard giving commentary all day so we knew what we were seeing. As recommended I went all over the ship taking photos from the bow, the sides and the stern of the ship. Due to work commitments, I did not do as much research for the other ports. Instead I joined other CC members on their excursions to Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We booked off ship for a whale watch in Cabo San Lucas and with the ship for Acapulco and Guatemala. The whale watch at Cabo was less impressive than I had hoped, but we had a good time and enjoyed lunch at a place recommended by some ship staff. I would go back to Cabo to explore some more. Acapulco was not a favorite port. We did the "historical, picturesque and cliff divers" tour through the ship. It was all ok. We saw a bit of the city. We stopped a few times and went to the cliff divers show. After we were treated to a "free beer" in a store across the street from the cliff divers. In Guatemala I took the "Casa Santo Domingo and Antigua" tour through the ship. Casa Santo Domingo is an old convent that is now a five star hotel. very beautiful and the lunch was delicious. But the guide spent only a few minutes with us and then said "follow the signs, there are some museums here" without giving a tour. We spend a bit of time walking in Antigua, but I would have liked more time with a guided tour and less time for shopping. We booked with CC favorites Julio tours in Nicaragua, Gio Tours in Costa Rica and Dora in Columbia. All did a good job. Our favorite port was Costa Rica and would gladly go back. One of the surprising flaws of the trip was disembarking at the port of Miami. We did walk off and due to some scheduling issue we were lined up outside on deck 7 waiting inline to get off for about half an hour while the excursion folks were getting off. They seemed to have called us all at the same time. And then we had to walk through the terminal past all of them trying to find their luggage on the airport style conveyor belts. Once outside we went to find where to pick up the shuttle to Budget to get a rental car, and the van pulled into the excursion bus area instead of where the sign was for the rental car vans. If I hadn't caught seeing it we would still be standing there! Overall rating of the cruise 4* Would I go again, no. but no fault of the cruise. I just don't do the same vacation twice. Too much in this world to see. Would I recommend it? I would recommend the Panama Canal, but wouldn't say it HAD to be this ship/itinerary. But if asked specifically about this one, I would say sure, I had a great time and you might too! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Having been through the Suez twice, we wanted to do the Panama, & were really pleased that we choose the 'Jewel". We had 3 days in Long Beach, staying at the Hyatt Regency, which was great, prior to boarding, which was a ... Read More
Having been through the Suez twice, we wanted to do the Panama, & were really pleased that we choose the 'Jewel". We had 3 days in Long Beach, staying at the Hyatt Regency, which was great, prior to boarding, which was a disaster. There was no organisation at all by the port authority, & was where you learnt that you can lose a suitcase if you do not pay a 'gratuity' to the handlers quayside. ( one passenger lost a case, which contained their medication, & was told at quayside " that is the last time you will see this case ", & it was! Once on board we were offered a lunch in the buffet, which was excellent, & when we got to our inside cabin on deck 9, were very happy with the bathroom, especially the shower ( with sliding door ) but less so with the toilet, which you had to sit sideways on, as you would only fit on it if you were legless ( very bad design ) We had the majority of our meals in the Tsar's restaurant, which we found to be excellent, & the stall excellent. We had a number of light lunches in O'Sheehan's Irish Pub, which were also excellent, especially the 'Fish & Chips', & again the staff were excellent. The couple of times we had anything to eat in the buffet, the food selection was excellent, & tasty, but the "bun fights" getting it, & finding seats, was not to be tried by the faint hearted. We did not go on any of the cruises excursions, finding them to be expensive, so did our own thing ashore, which was fine. The entertainment on board in the theatre was excellent, & really appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My husband and I along with two other couples booked this Panama Canal cruise. My husband and I have been on a lot of cruises (17 for him and 19 for me). My husband is 63 and I am 58. We were excited about this cruise because every port ... Read More
My husband and I along with two other couples booked this Panama Canal cruise. My husband and I have been on a lot of cruises (17 for him and 19 for me). My husband is 63 and I am 58. We were excited about this cruise because every port was a new port for us. Also, crossing through the Canal was on our bucket list. We normally sail with Carnival. This was only our second Norwegian cruise. We booked the UBP because we didn't want to be nickled and dimed for every little thing. Some days I almost got my money's worth in just sodas. I was initially upset about the new bottled water policy but we both brought on a Brita water bottle that filters your water for you. Even the days we had water straight from the tap, it wasn't bad. We had an inside on the 11th floor. Some mornings there was a little noise above our room. We may have been above the kitchen. It never did wake me up, but if you were awake, you could definitely hear it. The food was very good (probably not as good as Carnival's in my opinion) but definitely a lot of choices. We ate in the main dining room for 12 of our 16 nights on board. We did like the buffet food and thought it was a little better than Carnival's. We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, but we did have sushi at the sushi restaurant a couple of times. There were plenty of activities on board. Some of my friends were participating in 5 or more activities every day. I did go to most of the shows in the evenings but other than that I only went to about 5 other activities the whole 16 days. My husband and I like to just relax and read. We did get off at every port but other than Guatamala, we booked all our excursions on our own. I would have to say (for me) the Mexican ports were my favorite. Overall, I enjoyed my cruise. In fact, we have another 16 day cruise booked for next January on Norwegian from Sydney, Australia. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and ... Read More
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and supplying a paper elevation plan on-board was not much help when trying to find best wheelchair routes on an asymmetric ship! Also scant information was provided on ports of call unless it was for franchised shopping. Even beforehand, their UK helpline couldn't even tell us whether there were one or more showtimes each evening, nor when, in order to plan mealtime bookings in advance (since my wife is disabled, we didn't want to be so casual as to have to hang around waiting for a table). Maybe this is only a first timers problem. Boarding and disembarkation always seem to be chaotic and though we checked-in quite quickly, we were then held for over an hour and a half because staff said that the port lift (Miami) was not working, and promptly forgot about us (we missed the ship intro tour). Again, even with timed departures in LA, this took more than an hour in the accelerated wheelchair lane, and for many it must have been over two hours shuffling in endless queues along elevated walkways alongside the ship (Should an emergency occur during this time, like a fire in the port hall or on the ship, one dreads to think what might happen as thousands of people have nowhere to go quickly.). That said, once on board ship, staff were incredibly helpful and patient when necessary, almost always with a welcoming smile. Disabled facilities were generally good and though we booked too late to get a disabled room, our inside cabin on Deck 8 was adequate (save the struggle to get into the loo through a 17" wide doorway(could easily have been 19-20" wide entry with no need for another door inside the small bathroom). Our other minor gripe was that some of the floor strips at ship bulkheads across public corridors were raised above the level of the floors maybe 1/2 ", which would bring a wheelchair to a jarring halt if not anticipated - but only some and it was not always apparent which! So NCL, please can you feather all your floors at bulkhead joints to provide a smooth passage for wheels? On the up side, from people we met, it appeared that singles are well catered for by NCL too. We thought that for mass catering the food was generally good, though there could have been a little more variety in the casual restaurants' evening menus. We used the Garden Cafe for very good breakfasts and sometimes lunch, after one disastrous attempt to have a served breakfast in O'Sheehans, which took forever and the eggs still came very undercooked. In the evenings we sampled Tsar and Azura almost equally, finding Tsar to have the best service (especially if you requested something slightly different), though with one exception of one excellent waitress in Azura. One downside of the casual dining was that you had to remember to ask every time if you wanted to share a table and meet with other passengers, and also that you generally had different waiting staff every time, with less chance to build a relationship which might encourage one into additional tipping. Sometimes we did think that the food descriptions on the menus might have been written by the Entertainments Director rather than the Chef, but so long as you didn't have fixed expectations of what would turn-up, labelled as a classic dish, all was well. If you want to go for more than one experience of a speciality restaurant, it makes much sense to purchase a fixed-price multiple dining pack. We chose the baseline of three, selecting Cagney's steakhouse, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The food was excellent (best probably filet mignon in Cagneys and lamb rack in Le Bistro), though rather too noisy a display in Teppanyaki and also too rushed to attend to supporting service (drinks etc.) - but if you were there just for the show -fine maybe ....!! (thankfully there were no Japanese guests to be appalled). Sadly, the ultimate drinks package (UDP) wasn't, as many common spirits attracted a premium payment, and normal lattes and cappuccinos were not included, unless you had some alcohol in them! Outside the restaurants you had to buy bottled water at an extortionate price too, and are not allowed to bring any back to the ship from excursions. Ship-booked tours were a plenty, but pricey, and generally OK, having the advantage that it was their responsibility to get you back to the ship before it departed (but forget the"scenic Pacific" train ride in Costa Rica and just go for the Tarcoles river trip, unless you want a diesel shunter to pull you through the garbage back-yards of a no-where village, when they can get it working!). We went independent with Julio tours to Leon (Nicaragua) which was excellent on all counts. The daytime sail through the Panama Canal was fascinating, even for those not technically-inclined, and it was worth watching the film about its construction beforehand (just a pity they didn't show the more recent tv film about the new cut, too). Having a historical interest, the old colonial cities of Cartagena, Leon and Antigua are all worth a visit, though the latter two are a bumpy and sometimes challenging ride for wheelchairs! (OK with Nike attitude!). Though there are always a fair number of different activities on ship, we didn't overall rate the main evening shows that highly, with a few exceptions, like Cirque Bijou and a member of the galley crew whose singing got a standing ovation - he was definitely employed in the wrong department! Also sound quality was very muffled in several parts of the main theatre, especially on the upper deck (7), and sound-levels were often set so-high that parts of singers' voices appeared to have been clipped-off in the equipment. Otherwise, the variety of musicians on board were generally good and often appeared at their best in the numerous smaller venues and events around the ship. In all, a memorable and generally very satisfying cruise, with a good balance of on and off ship activities and itinerary, and a canal trip which truly shows it as a wonder of the world. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My husband has always wanted to traverse the Panama Canal so this was a "bucket list" cruise. Overall, the Jewel is a great ship - easy to navigate, friendly crew, good food, excellent shows and a comfortable cabin. We had ... Read More
My husband has always wanted to traverse the Panama Canal so this was a "bucket list" cruise. Overall, the Jewel is a great ship - easy to navigate, friendly crew, good food, excellent shows and a comfortable cabin. We had cabin 8010 with Gede as our steward. He did a wonderful job and other than a light bulb going bad in the bathroom in the middle of the night (no one's fault) and a leak outside our door (quickly fixed), we were pleased with both the cabin and the service. We ate dinner most nights in Azura and tried to sit in Karin's section. She is a wonderful server! The food was generally good all over the ship - main dining rooms, buffet, grill and O'Sheehan's were the places we ate. Drinks were good everywhere except the Sky High Bar and after 3 attempts to get a Mojito that was made correctly, we gave up on that one. We enjoyed all the shows we attended, especially a commedian/magician named JP, male singer - can't remember his name, the variety shows, crew show and especially Cirque de Soleil type show. We enjoyed all of our excursions except one - the Hop On/Hop Off tour of Cartagena Columbia. We have done other hop on/hop off tours in other places and have always been pleased. This one, however, was a disappointment! The guide for the "walking tour of the walled city" was much more interested in taking us by everyone she knew that was selling or doing something for tips than she was in letting us learn about the walled city. Definitely would not recommend this one! Overall our experience was very good and we are glad we took the cruise. This was our 5th NCL cruise and we'll come back when we're ready for another trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My wife and I had never been to the Panama Canal and some of the other ports. This was a bucket list trip. We went with a group of 54. Norwegian's subcontractor for port transfers SMS Shore Operations did a terrible job at both LA ... Read More
My wife and I had never been to the Panama Canal and some of the other ports. This was a bucket list trip. We went with a group of 54. Norwegian's subcontractor for port transfers SMS Shore Operations did a terrible job at both LA and Miami. It took us about an hour and a half to get from LAX to the ship (most of the time was at LAX awaiting transport). Our group had to be split into several buses. You would think they would provide a dedicated bus for such a large group. Also, you would think the bus would be waiting after the plane arrived. The transport in Miami didn't go much better. Again, we were split between two buses. Once we were loaded on the bus, the bus driver discovered a problem that prevented him from going to the airport. We had to transfer to another bus. The Jewel was a very clean ship despite how old she is. The room was spacious for a cruise ship of this size. Entertainment was very good. Randon Lauron was outstanding and every time he performed in the Magnum lounge it was packed. He should be part of the main entertainment in the Stardust. The Jewel Band was also outstanding. The first night of dining at Tsar was not that great but got better thereafter. Ate at Cagney's twice and once at Le Bistro. Both were outstanding. Recommend purchasing the specialty meal package. It is well worth the money. The internet was very slow and ate up the time very quickly. We went on an excursion at every port. Cabo San Lucas was not that spectacular unless you are looking to purchase a condo or time share. Acapulco was very interesting and well worth it. We were the first bus to the cliff diving at La Quebrada and had fantastic views. The views from Hotel Las Flamingos and the Fort of San Diego were fantastic. Wish we had more time at Antigua, Granada and Cartagena. The best shore excursion was Discover Costa Rica. Rolando was the best guide we had the whole trip. He was very knowledgeable and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We just finished our Panama Canal cruise. It was our ninth cruise, 4th with NCL. I would like to share some tips for those traveling on the Jewel through the Panama Canal, full transit. If you are traveling from LA to Miami a cabin on ... Read More
We just finished our Panama Canal cruise. It was our ninth cruise, 4th with NCL. I would like to share some tips for those traveling on the Jewel through the Panama Canal, full transit. If you are traveling from LA to Miami a cabin on the starboard (right) side will get you a better view, especially of the Panama City skyline. As mentioned in another post, if you are on deck eleven the starboard side is better as the Garden Cafe kitchen is on the port side. We were in cabin 11610, port side aft under the kitchen. Although not a show stopper, we could hear carts rolling on the floor above us early in the morning and at bedtime. The fish on the carpet pointing toward the front of the ship is helpful in finding your way but you can't tell that when you get off the elevator/stairs. So, look at the ship floor plan sign on both the left and right wall as you exit. The outside cabins are marked in yellow for one side and green for the other. For us, all we had to notice which sign had the yellow color on top. That told us in a glance which way to turn. I hope you found this helpful. Happy Travels. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise as it was calling at ports we had not visited before and wanted to transit the Panama Canal from the other direction (Pacific to Caribbean) as we had been through the canal in the past from Caribbean to Pacific Ocean. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was calling at ports we had not visited before and wanted to transit the Panama Canal from the other direction (Pacific to Caribbean) as we had been through the canal in the past from Caribbean to Pacific Ocean. We have also sailed on the Jewel before in September 2009 as well as other NCL ships, so were well acquainted with life on board. Embarkation at San Pedro, California was seamless (we did have a penthouse suite!) Far easier than progress through arrivals at LAX!!! We stayed two nights in San Pedro at the Double Tree Hotel prior to this cruise; not the best of areas as not much to see or do there. Hotel was quite good with complimentary transfer to the port. The hotel does offer a free shuttle bus to local areas too. Our aft penthouse suite (10166) was a little disappointing in size with a small bathroom leading off a very narrow short corridor separating it from the wardrobe. The wardrobe was accessible from both sides though. The bathroom itself, though small in area, was well equipped with lots of towels. The tap (faucet) over the hand basin was too long and did not swivel, so you could possibly hit your face on it whilst washing. There was a large, comfortable bed with curtains to surround it if required. Although the wardrobe was a good size, drawer spaces were a bit small. There were two safes in the suite plus a flat panel TV and coffee machine that would supply a variety of hot drinks. The balcony was provided with two sun loungers and a small table. Occasionally we experienced smut landing on the area. Service from our Concierge (Bruno) was impeccable and the Butler (Rofino) and room maid (Mary Ann) did a great job of looking after us. We like the freestyle dining offered by NCL and there are other specialty venues available. Generally we were not very impressed with the overall dining during this cruise. We used the French "Le Bistro" restaurant twice, that was quite good. We did not enjoy the "Teppanyaki" at all, nor the Brazilian "Moderno" (awful!) "Cagney's" was fine. Then there are the two main dining rooms, "Azura" and "Tsar's Palace", we ate in "Azura" a few times and that was quite good. Other options include the "Garden Cafe" (the general, self-service buffet) which is pretty good in most areas. Then there is "O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill" (I did enjoy my hot-dog there!), "Chin Chin" (did not use), "La Cucina" (Italian that we did not venture into) and finally "Sushi Bar" again, not experienced. I would certainly be reluctant to pay the cover charges for some of these venues, but we had four complimentary options to use included in our package along with the "Ultimate Beverage Package" (that does not allow you to obtain a can of soft drink, nor a bottle of water or specialty coffees & teas). Also included was 250 minutes of Wi-Fi use plus some on board spending credit. Entertainment was very good indeed, never disappointed with NCL in that respect. Lots of activities to choose from, but we took a relaxed approach to those. We took two shore excursions with NCL (Cabo San Lucas, up close whale watching by Zodiac boat, great!) and a coach trip to the town of Antigua in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Also, we booked independent excursions in Acapulco (apart from watching the cliff divers we do not recommend Acapulco at all), Puntarenas (very disappointed with the excursion we chose to visit Turubari Eco Park (saw some animals, but only in pens, and the aerial tram ride lasted just a few minutes in each direction. No wonder there were very few other tourists about!) and Cartagena (we had a car with driver and guide who showed us around the city, stopping for photo opportunities and wandering about. Very good indeed, a lovely place that we enjoyed thoroughly.) The area from the ship's dock to the outside of the port was incredibly with lots of birds, monkeys and other wildlife roaming free where my wife was hand feeding parrots, toucans and small monkeys with fresh mango pieces. So much better that the expensive visit to the eco park!!! There is a large souvenir area there, too, where you can buy and post your cards along with food and drink outlets; very pleasant indeed! Disembarkation at the Port of Miami took an interminable time, we were directed to the slow lane, it seemed! Then spent one night at the Hilton Hotel, Miami Beach, where the included buffet breakfast was appalling! We will not be returning there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was me and DW fourth cruise together. We've been on RCCL and Carnival. So I have a lot of comparisons to make. All of the ships hold the same similar sizes, designs, and gross tonage of around 65-93,000. Pre-cruise info: ... Read More
This was me and DW fourth cruise together. We've been on RCCL and Carnival. So I have a lot of comparisons to make. All of the ships hold the same similar sizes, designs, and gross tonage of around 65-93,000. Pre-cruise info: we flew from SFO to LAX and stayed over a night at the Westin LAX. I gave it a 4 star rating because they upgraded my room to a suite and treated us great. Minimal complaints, but I could see why some may give them low scores or low star ratings. I used free points for the stay, so I was pretty laid back. On Embarkation day, we popped back to LAX and took the transfer bus using NCL for $25pp. It worked great and allowed us to skip the bag porter line once we got to the pier. Check-in took a solid 30 minutes and it seemed slightly chaotic as we entered, but they eventually got all the people through. The internet router hanging from a rope 12 ft in the air was enough to raise an eyebrow, but hey..we were about to get on a cruise, so no biggie. Once on board (around 12:30/1pm), our mini-suite was ready-with comped chocolate covered strawberries and comped wine waiting for us. See more details about cabin below. Food: Generally, the food was from fair to good. From the buffett, to the specialty restaurants, it was all ranging between 6-8 in a 1 0f 10 score. Of course YMMV. We did Cagneys on night 5. I got the Filet and DW got a NY steak. Both were really good. No complaints, but nothing life changing happened to our tastebuds. This was our best "experience" with the food on board. We also did the Italian style restaurant (La Cucina I think). This was pretty much a sit down restaurant that serves plated Italian food you could find sometime throughout the week in the buffet. My lasagna was cold for a few bites (like it wasn't fully cooked all the way through). I got brochette and asked for no anchovies. Guess what, they put them on anyway. Service, even in a up-sell paying restaurant, is coming from staff members dressed up in nicer outfits. There is still a language barrier issue which commonly caused confusion. For us, we just took it in stride and were happy to be on vacation. Although, we were lucky. Ive read other previous reviews and it sounds like if something goes wrong, the ship is not very helpful. Customer Service: There is a large gap between NCL and RCCL in customer service. The upsell around the ship was almost robotic. At one point, I was at the bar grabbing 2 glasses of champagne, and the bartender asked why I didnt just buy a bottle of Dom for $200. I mentioned my UDP and how it was all free and pre-paid. He just generically said, "no, a bottle is better for you, you should get it". I also splurged on some acupuncture and the sales pitch was strong as we walked out of the treatment room. I just said No and she stopped asking after 2 more times. Ship: Jewel is old, but doesnt seem that old compared to some of the ships I've seen before. Most of the carpet in the public areas looked new. The cabin carpet looked a bit more worn, but not too bad. The wifi was slow and the prices per package/per minute were crazy. Oh well. I just used it less. Casino: Big suprise, lost money. I generally play slots in vegas and other casinos. These slots seemed like airport slots you find in LAS. Tight, but still payout occasionally. I had some luck, but only after losing a bunch. I was never up, always chasing the dragon until I ran out of my budget. I did get into the finals for the slot tourni, but lost the final and got a tshirt as a prize. Oh well again. Unlike the OCT cruisers, we went to all the ports with no issue. All I will mention about the excursions is not to do the ATV and Boat nature Excusion. That was a mistake. From 8am to 2PM they only fed us chips and salsa, then on the way back to the dock in the moldy smelling bus from the 1980's, the "tour guide" kept upselling the "best place to eat in Mazatlan". The only bathrooms on this excusion did not have toilet paper. That was for both the mens and womens room. This led to an angry wife using her shirt. The tour had an hour lectuare about turtles, but only in Spanish then translated into Spanglish. It was horrible. Oh, I got yelled at in spanish for having fun on the short 30 minute ATV ride. Nothing dangerous was going on, but since the guide only spoke spanish, he could only make hand guestures. Very confusing. I spoke with NCL desk and they gave me a partial refund, which was good enough. 1 Star for not killing us in the sketchy bus. We didnt go to any shows. So no opinion on that. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview ... Read More
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview on deck 5 and was OK. No problems there either. The entertainment was actually very good, which I've noticed is common across the Norwegian line. Highlights were the Magician Greg Gleason and the Russian Acrobat couple. Service was very good, Everyone we encountered were friendly and had smiles. (some we talked to were on their last cruise before vacation). Since we are Silver Latitude members and guests of the Casino, we were invited to a couple private events plus drinks on the house, which is always appreciated! We took one shore excursion which was the Las Caletas Beach Hideaway in Puerto Vallarta. This place is fantastic with a wide variety water sports, free drinks and the best Mexican buffet lunch I've ever had. I actually can't wait to go back to this place. Well worth the money. Mazatlan was a little more laid back, we ate at Poncho's Restaurant in the Golden Zone, which has a very nice view of the beach and great food. Our favorite was Cabo San Lucas. The local cuisine in this city is simply awesome. The only draw back on this cruise was the overall dining experience. The Chin Chin Asian Restaurant was awful. Not even closely resembling anything Chinese or Asian. My wife and I got up and walked out with food still on the table. Yes, it was that bad. Another bad experience was Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse, Maybe i'm spoiled by the memories of eating at a real Brazilian Steakhouse on land. This place was just not good. Le Bistro and La Cucina were much better food options if your are going to spend the extra money to eat on board. The Tsar main dining room was average at best. Very small portions. The Garden Cafe buffet was good as we had all of our breakfasts and lunches there. Food was hot and you can expect the same selections everyday. Despite the food experience I would take this ship again and this itinerary. Next time I'll try Cagney's Steakhouse and the Teppanyaki. I'll keep my fingers crossed on those. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
One thing that surprised me that is dramatic different from the Royal Caribbean cruise is the ballroom dancing music perform by the bands. Each band only perform an hour so we always had to switch from one band to the next. It's like ... Read More
One thing that surprised me that is dramatic different from the Royal Caribbean cruise is the ballroom dancing music perform by the bands. Each band only perform an hour so we always had to switch from one band to the next. It's like we always had to search around for the availability which is a torture. Also, the restaurant Chin Chin was not even up to standard Chinese food. they got to change standards, soon. When we book the cruise, the agent tells us that only "Casual dress" is for this freestyle cruising and no need to bring formal clothes. But, that isn't the case as a handful of passengers in suits or cocktail dresses on the ship's one (very optional) formal night. Shorts are allowed in all dining venues except the Tsar's Palace main dining room and Le Bistro French restaurant. Overall, it is a very good trip and I enjoyed the hospitality that I received from the crews members. I definitely will take it again in the future! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
My wife and I decided to take a long holiday cruise vacation this year since our adult children were going to be staying with their partner’s families. While we usually prefer NCL’s style of cruising and passenger makeup we were also ... Read More
My wife and I decided to take a long holiday cruise vacation this year since our adult children were going to be staying with their partner’s families. While we usually prefer NCL’s style of cruising and passenger makeup we were also looking at other line’s offerings due to what we perceived as a recent diminishing of value in NCL. We were interested in a longer 12 to 20 day relaxing itinerary and after a bit of looking decided this recently added 14 day Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles was being offered at an exceptional value. Inside guarantees were $899pp, and actually dropped to $649pp at about 30 days out. I felt part of this value and lackluster bookings may have been due to what I considered some poor ports on the itinerary or that the cruise was just at the very beginning of the better season for canal cruises, but after a few price drops the ship filled quickly and sold out. We live in the central East Coast, USA and found very reasonable flights to and from Delta’s hub in Atlanta, GA. We actually flew into Fort Lauderdale airport one day early and rode Uber to the Hilton Garden Inn at Miami South Beach. The fare was $28 and the hotel was about the same cost as those near the FLL airport. The hotel did have an extra fee restaurant, but many better dining options were within reasonable walking or a short $3 ride away. Lincoln Road Mall offered a wide variety of things to do. In addition to providing a safety cushion for flight travel plans, the extra day in Miami provided a nice beach stop and gave us a chance to visit the city, as we were last there in the mid 1990’s. As there were no scheduled arrival times for this cruise we arrived at the port about 9:45, a little earlier than normal, but I was afraid getting a ride to the port might become more difficult as the morning progressed. There were five ships embarking at the port of Miami that morning. I felt better about it when first on board around 11:45, I looked out to see both the MacArthur Causeway and Venetian Way between Miami Beach and access to the port in a terrible traffic jam. We were among the first 200 people lining up for the security check to open, which began around 10:00. There were two unusual incidents at embarkation. One was unfortunate as a young boy got his arm caught in the rollers of one of the x-ray machines (I met his parents later in the cruise – after a day in the Miami hospital they were all able to catch the ship in Cartagena and the boy was expected to fully recover). This incident caused a lengthy complete shutdown of all the security lines and created a very long line outside the terminal building. This is port security, mainly looking for contraband, and not like a security breach at an airport so it seemed a little of an overreaction to me, but everyone found it hard to complain when a child was injured. This may have been a factor in our late sail away, but was probably also because the ship had a lot of provisioning to do as it had just come from a two week cruise going right into another. The second quirk at embarkation was with check-in and had to do with priority suite check-in. Jewel class ships have both Haven and regular suites, but the newer ships that normally embark at this Miami terminal only have Haven suites. After passing through security I looked for the suite check-in area and noticed the area with a sign that said “The Haven”. I entered the room and asked the agent at the desk if this was also the check-in for the other non-Haven suites, clarifying we had a two bedroom family suite not a mini-suite. She replied “No, all non-Haven suites must use the regular lines”. A little put off, we went on only to find they were funneling all check-in into the same line, no Latitudes preference, no suite preference, nothing. Luckily we were early and it only took about 15 minutes to get to an agent who took our pictures and credit card info then he asked why we were in this line rather than at the suite check-in. He then had to take us back to the “Haven” room to get our sail away cards. After admitting her error the “Haven” check-in lady went out to find several other passengers she had misdirected. We enjoyed some snacks, met some fellow cruise critic roll call passengers and were moved to another suite holding area then escorted onto the ship about 11:30. It is hard to give advice about cabin choice because it is a balance between personal preferences and budget. I’m willing to track cabin prices and research which cabins to avoid as I tend to like having a cabin I can retreat to from the crowds you can experience on a ship, yet we do have limited funds for cruising so suites are not always an option. I am picky about what cabins I book, as I am a fairly light sleeper, and hate noise in the early morning or late in the night. I originally had booked an ocean view picture window on deck five forward under the meeting rooms. Later, to take advantage of better promotions and a price drop, I moved to an aft deck eight ocean view above the shopping gallery. At the time the cruise was not selling well and we hoped for a late discounted upsell to a better cabin, but if not we would be okay with what we booked. As the cruise became close it was apparent the only budget upsells I would take were going to be to a balcony, which is not a real increase in cabin size. I was unwilling to take a mini-suite as they were all below the pool deck, buffet or kitchens. The only suites left were several non-Haven two bedroom suites, and only three were in good locations as several were under the fitness center. After much discussion with my wife and a significant price drop we did a full paid upgrade to the two bedroom family suite. Moving to this room doubled the cost of our cruise, but we went from 155sqft to 546sqft plus a balcony and all of the suite perks, beverages, dining, internet, and paid gratuities. We had the small extra bedroom set up as a bed in case someone really started snoring and the second toilet came in handy on more than a few occasions. We had several meals in the room and the table and dining area were large enough for additional guests. The bedroom and master bath area can be divided from the living room with a sliding glass door letting late sleepers do their thing away from early risers. The living room couch could be made into a decent bed for two but would be at the mercy of the night owls and early risers. On a two week cruise we decided the expense was worth it as I feel this cabin is pretty close to the ultimate cabin for two people – I like it better than any other penthouses and most of the owner’s suites. The only bad thing about this cabin was it is under the hard floor hair salon section of the Mandara Spa, a couple times we heard someone in high heels walking early in the morning. You could also lightly hear them vacuuming the Library a few rooms over early each morning. Overall, the condition of the ship was better than what I was expecting. Jewel went through a modest refurbish in 2014 and does show her age if you look for it, some worn carpets and bubbling paneling in public places. There were propulsion problems on earlier cruises in Alaska and the Mexican Riviera that affected a couple cruises before us, we had no problems. Having sailed on a few of the larger, newer ships I am willing to overlook these flaws and forego the big ship attractions in exchange for fewer passengers and a less crowded feeling. Based on the itinerary and passenger demographic I think the ship was at normal capacity around 2376, averaging two per stateroom. I did not ask the total passenger count, but do know the cruise was sold out cabin wise. We never felt crowded or had trouble getting into events/areas. Get to the theater early as late comers will find there is a reason those seats in good areas are unoccupied, there were several that were broken and uncomfortable. If you think you will get two poolside loungers at 9:30 on a sea day think again, but there were always plenty just a little further out or on the overlooking deck. The ship now has all the standard NCL dining and entertainment options for this size vessel. I was disappointed the TV system was not updated to the newer standard as they still use DVD players rather than on-demand movies and are not interactive with ship information. The iConcierge app for cell phones/tablets was useful for viewing dining and activities but would display totally erroneous billing information. NCL’s decision to retain the Spinnaker as a forward observation lounge (lost on the Dawn class and newer ships) was a good one for passengers. The Fyzz lounge was underutilized and would be great if used like on the newer ships for a “Howl at the Moon” piano bar and/or small comedian venue that I missed from other NCL cruises. While we have not noticed a change either way in the complimentary restaurant food quality we do prefer to eat at the specialty restaurants as they tend to have higher quality offerings. Our initial booking gave us the beverage package and pre-paid gratuities as the promotions so we purchased a ten meal specialty dining package as it’s more reasonable per meal. Once we moved to a suite we received four specialty meals so I backed our paid plan to six meals. I get bored with the repetitive lunch menus and I assumed they would open specialty restaurants for lunch on sea days as on other ships, but this was not the case on the Jewel. We only ate in the Tsar’s Palace MDR and found the food fairly good while service was hit or miss as there seemed to be a large amount of servers in training. I assume Azura MDR was similar. Finding a good meal there requires some common sense, when you have an Indian executive chef you can bet those dishes are going to be pretty good. Vegetarian lasagna rolls are never going to be good, even the vegetarians have a lot of better choices. The Garden Café buffet had several tasty offerings in addition to the old standard hot dogs, hamburgers, etc… but the food could lose temperature and freshness quickly. Seating would get crowded at expected times. We went a couple times for lunch on sea days. I noticed a lot of people tend to use the buffet seating area near the windows as a lounge, reading books or on their computers. We always could find room at the aft Great Outdoors area or if we wanted to stay inside we would just ask to sit with others that have room at their table. We met several very nice people that way. O’Sheehan’s had basic pub comfort food and was never crowded. French fry quality was hit or miss. We would just ask for another batch if we got cold ones and they happily accommodated. We would only rate Chin Chin Asian restaurant as fair because the food was overly salty and lacked genuine flavor. It was rarely busy. Specialty dining restaurants were generally of higher quality in both food and service. We ate at them all and my favorites were Teppanyaki for the seafood and Cagney’s for the steaks. All dishes on the menu at Le Bistro were cooked to order, I particularly liked the Lamb. Moderno was good and we enjoyed the buffet bar more than the meats, if you want something cooked towards rare you have to make a special request. La Cucina was the only restaurant we felt not worth paying extra for as I think the food quality was the same as that of the buffet, based on locations that may be true. Service was mostly outstanding in the specialty restaurants however one meal in Le Bistro took over two and a half hours, with us waiting 15 minutes before meeting our obviously new waitress, the restaurant was not crowded at the time. I feel that due to people getting the promo of only four specialty meals on a 14 day cruise was why most specialty restaurants were fairly empty. The exceptions were Teppanyaki, which often showed fully booked even though they were only using two of the four grills and Cagney’s on the last two days. We made reservations 90 days before the cruise but had no problems making changes, even when not through the concierge. This itinerary had six sea days plus a day on the ship in the Panama Canal. When we looked at the Freestyle Daily there was a deluge of activities listed, however that is one point I will call a flaw with this ship. It might just be that I’m not into activities like towel folding, origami, ping pong, dance classes, etc… and have no desire for the thinly veiled emerald, herbal remedies or Peter Max “seminars”. NCL did have a Panama Canal authority member broadcasting narrative information on the day we passed through. We are not gamblers and do know the odds on cruise ships well enough to keep it a seldom used entertainment source. I knew the itinerary would give us a lot of time on board so one “activity” we did pay extra for was the thermal spa access. We have used the spas on most of NCL’s ships. While the price was reasonable at $179pp for the two weeks I felt it was barely worth the money primarily due to the spa’s design. I much prefer the ships that have mostly co-ed areas with only unisex changing rooms. The men’s and women’s separate areas were too large and totally underutilized. Frequently we were the only two in the thermal spa co-ed area, a few times two or three other people were in there. One major complaint is the relaxation areas are under the Spinnaker stage so forget any chance at relaxation when the bands or shows are going on. I will include here that the internet speed seemed adequate. I did not try streaming video or making VOIP phone calls, just basic emails and some social websites. We used only about half of the promotional 250 minute package. Overall service on the ship was very good. We never experienced more than a two minute wait at a bar and actually could find poolside servers, both things we found lacking on our previous NCL cruise in March. We never found a staff person unfriendly or unwilling to help. After a day or two we found which areas we preferred and the staff soon recognized us by name or beverage choice. We do agree with NCL’s basic daily service charge policy but also feel a small gesture of appreciation goes a long way towards staff happiness and better service, especially at repeat venues like bars, the theater and even restaurants. Our cabin steward was very good but obviously tired. Our butler was also very good, I would be grateful to have him again if he decides to sign up for another contract after 12 years with NCL. The concierge, Bruno, did all that was expected and more. There did appear to be a higher than normal amount of new, inexperienced or training staff, perhaps a higher than normal turn over or maybe training for the new ship(s). The lack of experience was noticeable at times, but all put forth the effort and were accommodating. While I tend to be more reclusive and would be happy in the spa or lounging in the cabin my wife enjoys NCL for the entertainment. Apart from the aforementioned finding a comfortable seat, I found the shows were enjoyable. They are definitely not what you get on the larger ships, although the final night show Le Cirque Bijou was close, but you also don’t have to worry about reservations. The acrobats, dancers, comedians, and staff talent show were all enjoyable. I didn’t enjoy the cover bands as much as my wife did. On this cruise all the suites were being allowed into the private Garden Villa/Owners Suite balcony area. We only sat there when dinner got us to the theatre too close to show time, otherwise better seats were available. Keep that seat availability idea within reason as I would still arrive at least 15 minutes before the show. That gives plenty of time for a good seat choice and to get some drinks. The only downside to the shows was the constant interruption of latecomers trying to find a seat, sometimes thirty minutes into the show. NCL really needs to enforce a no entry after the show starts policy. We do not sit in the lounges to watch the musical entertainers, but they seemed to attract audiences. For some reason I found it uncommon to be at the pool when a live band was playing; they were always setting up or taking things down with short sets in between. As mentioned above, Fyzz lounge would be great for a dueling piano or alternative comedian venue. Many entertainment and activities there were mediocre and poorly attended and most people seemed to prefer the Spinnaker Lounge. Bingo did not draw us in, but was well attended on the final day for the chance to win a free cruise. Deal or No Deal games were held in the theater and not well attended compared to the Away ships, maybe that is why they keep holding it in the atrium as it’s an obvious money maker for the ship. We were lucky enough to have multiple choices for disembarkation. Additionally we planned on staying in Los Angeles after the cruise so did not have an early flight to catch. We had Latitudes priority, could carry our own luggage for easy walk off and also could use the concierge for early walk off or use suite priority baggage tags. To make the most of our first day in LA we used Bruno for early walk off and were in the first twenty people off the ship. The line for walk off began forming early but only had about 40 people in it at 7:45 as our group left, they immediately followed our group off the ship. NCL actually docks at the San Pedro port right next to the USS Iowa battleship museum. Customs had seven or eight stations so I do not expect the lines became unbearable. I did not see any porters, but we may have been through too early. There were ample taxis, shuttles and Uber available. We had rented a car through Hertz on Sixth Street a few blocks from the port. They offer $7 towards a cab, but we decided to walk as it was nice enough along the waterfront promenade. Hertz gave us the $7 credit anyway. We later dropped the car off at LAX airport with very minimal fees. Part of this cruise was to determine if we would continue to use NCL as over the last couple years we felt NCL’s product was diminishing in value primarily based on recent customer unfriendly administrative regulations, cut backs and reduced menu/beverage choices. While some of these changes have been happening over the last two years there were four significant negative changes made after I booked and the only way I was made aware was through cruise critic, NCL quietly made the changes to their website and menus. While I won’t go into that here you can find more banter about those topics on the cruise critic NCL community forums. While these changes did have an effect on our experience I cannot say they would make me chose another line solely based on them. I realize being in a suite probably insulated us from some things like the room service fees and the dreaded nickel and dime claims for getting any extras - we paid them up front by booking a suite for a more all-inclusive feeling. With some of these changes a little willingness to make substitutions like bringing our own reusable water bottles, eating scallops rather than lobster and drinking beverage plan covered Bulleit or Jameson rather than the now extra fee The Glen Livet and we still felt fine. I have no solution for Coke diehards who cannot make it between ports. I do feel the cost for getting a more all-inclusive NCL cruise has increased as a whole, and currently initial suite prices are shocking. If you are tempted to want the extras be prepared, but with a bit of work and research you can still find some deals with NCL. I did not purchase any Cruise Next certificates but I will still look at NCL for future cruises. Because this is Cruise Critic I am relaying complaints on what overall I feel was a good value for the money spent. I don’t feel anything I mentioned either individually or even cumulatively overly affected our cruise experience. I think you have to be prepared for these little annoyances or cruising might not be for you. Many of these reviews are full of complaints blaming NCL for a myriad of things. While I have found NCL can often be its own worst enemy and can really drop the ball on occasion most of these complaints are due to lack of research into the product people are purchasing. So if you have made it through this review this far I hope you continue to read many other reviews and into the forums to better your cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We flew into Miami and had no trouble getting through passport control not like last time. We then had a night in an airport hotel and the next morning had transfers to the port. It took about an hour to get on the ship and our cabin was ... Read More
We flew into Miami and had no trouble getting through passport control not like last time. We then had a night in an airport hotel and the next morning had transfers to the port. It took about an hour to get on the ship and our cabin was ready deck 5 and an inside, the cabin was small but fine for our needs.We then had 2 days at sea before arriving at Cartagena but not long in port so we got a taxi to the walled city and found it interesting then 2 more days at sea On the sea days we had no trouble getting beds and we ate in the buffet and found it hard to get a seat some days.All the staff were friendly and helpful and kept the tables clean.They gave out fruit on sticks most days and on the day we went through the Panama Canal they gave out ice lollies a nice idea.We found the food in the main restaurants were not always hot but not a bad selection of food.The entertainment was very good with a good choice.Our other ports were Puntarenas Cortino Puerto Quetzal Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas In cabo we had to be back on board at 1 30 pm would have liked longer in this port.All told a good cruise with friendly staff Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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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