Spring Break on the Norwegian Jewel: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by erikalea1970

Norwegian Jewel 4
Member Since 2011
56 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Spring Break on the Norwegian Jewel

Sail Date: March 2012
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
We were ominously greeted with a letter informing us that on the previous sailing they'd had an outbreak of gastroenteritis, and we had the option of cancelling our trip for full credit towards a future cruise. We didn't worry too much and just hoped for the best. Embarkation was delayed for extra sanitation measures, but we still boarded by around 12:30. We went straight to Tsar's for lunch (a friend said the buffet was a madhouse -- thank you Cruise Critic!) Service was a bit slow (and we were told as much before we entered) but we were happy to be onboard and our rooms were ready by the time we finished.

We were in mini-suite 11552 with Winnie as our steward. My 8-year-old son just asked me to mention that "Winnie was awesome!" She did take very good care of us. I was a little concerned in the final weeks before the trip that the mini-suite would be too small for all four of us, but I think it worked just fine. My sons, 14 and 8, More shared the pull-out bed with no problems, and the only time we had a major bathroom traffic jam was right after Great Stirrup Cay when everyone wanted to shower at once! (Our friend in another room let me come over to use her shower, which relieved the back-up.) But other than that we didn't have any trouble. I was surprised how much more spacious the mini-suite was than my friend's regular balcony room, especially the bathroom. The thick curtains between the two sides of the room and between the room and balcony allowed us to divide it into three sections when needed for privacy.

We had our M&G on Sunday morning, and it was pretty low-key. Thanks to Linda for stepping up to organize it -- I know you didn't realize you had volunteered to be our "group coordinator!" The best part was that Richard, the cruise director, was there and talked to my boys. They had seen him on stage the night before and had decided he was a real celebrity, so they were ecstatic that he talked to them, and then remembered their names for the rest of the cruise (and even recognized them by name from the stage one night.)

Unfortunately, I don't have much info to offer. My 14-year-old visited the teen club for about 4 minutes the first night, said that it was full of "surly older kids" and never went back. My younger son just wanted to hang with family, so he never even checked out the kids club even though he's usually pretty social. But we were having lots of fun together, so I didn't mind!

We did a lot of family games, including the digital scavenger hunt, the regular scavenger hunt, and several trivia and game show activities throughout the week. These were all run by the "regular" entertainment staff, as opposed to the Nickelodeon staff, which drew a younger crowd. For the grown-ups, we did all three martini tastings over the week, which were a lot of fun and definitely a good deal. The first one was run by Ed who then left for vacation. Orrestas (sp?) and Dino did their best on the other two tastings, but Ed clearly was a lot more comfortable in front of the group. The new guys admitted to being quite nervous, but we all still had fun. Volunteer for games -- they give away free extra shots!

We went to shows a lot early in the week and sort of wore out by the end. We enjoyed the welcome aboard show very much, and based on that came back to see David Naster's comedy and Jean-Pierre's comedy/magic, which were also fun. Band on the Run (typical cast singing/dancing with 70's theme) was OK. The boys loved the Pirate-themed acrobat act (my partner, Mike, and I used that night for a romantic dinner opportunity!), and my younger son and I only caught the end of Cirque Bijou, but it looked like it was a big hit. We made sure to catch the end so we could see the crew invited on stage and cheer for them.

We had our first dinner at Azura, and decided that we liked the atmosphere so much that we never actually had dinner at Tsar's. The food at Azura was good quality hotel-style food. Nothing to do back flips over, but very satisfying. We were not planning to do as many specialty restaurants as we did, but after enjoying the first two so much, we were eager to try more things. We went to Mama's, Le Bistro, Moderno, and Cagney's. All were excellent, and you definitely noticed the upgrade. We thought Mama's and Le Bistro were by far the best values -- Mike had Osso Bucco at Mama's that he thought was incredible (he's the foodie of the family) and I loved my seafood fettuccine as well. Le Bistro was our couple's dinner, and it was every bit as special in both ambiance and quality as I would have expected. Moderno was very good, but I thought $20pp was high for the meat-on-a-skewer concept. We had a very light lunch that day and I still couldn't finish all the samples of meat. My boys asked me to mention that they thought Moderno was the best meal of the cruise. Cagney's was also very good, but I wasn't sure why it was priced higher than Le Bistro, as I had an excellent filet there as well and the overall experience was I thought better at Le Bistro. Of course, Cagney's was the last night and I think everyone was getting a little punchy from being together 24/7 all week, so please take my lack of extreme enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Also, we had the a la carte sushi one day as a light lunch, and found it delicious with prices much lower than what we pay at home.

We did breakfasts in the Great Outdoors, the Garden Cafe, Tsar's, and the Blue Lagoon. The cafe had the most selection, but you had to put up with the hordes of people. Tsar's was a little slow but decent. I asked for one substitution one morning and did not get it, but ordering off the menu as written the food was fine. The Great Outdoors and Blue Lagoon had the best atmosphere (read: quiet and not as crowded, especially Blue Lagoon) but more limited selections. Lunch for us was in the buffet or Blue Lagoon every day except that first day in Tsar's. So over-all, our take on the buffet is that most of the food was good, and occasionally we came across something that we didn't care for. I'd give it 85% good and 15% "never mind, I'll go get something different." But with so much to choose from, we all found food we liked at every meal, and I personally never felt like I had to go back to the same choices again because there were plenty of good options. For most of the week there were servers at the buffets and you couldn't touch any serving utensils due to the previous outbreaks. People complained about it taking longer, but I actually missed the service when they removed the high alert status mid-week. We did order one $5 pizza to our room right after we got back from Nassau, and it was quite good.

The best desserts we had all week were the Chocolate Fondue and Vanilla Crème Brulee at Le Bistro, the Apple Crisp and Raspberry Crème Brulee at Cagney's, the Key Lime Pie at Azura, and the Brownie Sundae at Blue Lagoon (available 11am -- 5pm only.)

We chose the latest time slot for our luggage tags and took our time eating breakfast in the buffet. Afterwards we tried to move to the Crystal Atrium, but deck 7 midship was a zoo, so we hopped right back onto the elevator and went up to 12, walked forward past the pool area (a little chilly for us to stay out there, but some people were) and went to the card room for a game of Yahtzee that lasted until our tags were called. We took the forward elevators down and didn't even have to wait in line to leave the ship -- customs was also pretty well cleared out and we went right through.

Hope you future cruisers found some useful info! Like I said before, this was an awesome family vacation and worth every penny, even at the higher Spring Break prices. I would do it over again in a heartbeat. :) Less

Published 04/11/12
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: MA11552 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Cabin 11552 was wonderful - good size for two adults and two kids, with one heavy curtain dividing the room into two sections plus another to block off the balcony for three total separate areas when changing or otherwise needing privacy. There were four large drawers, two small drawers at the desk, and a wonderful large closet with a light that we didn't notice until we were leaving! The bathroom was AWESOME - glass doors separate the commode on one side and shower on the other from the sink in the center, so three people could be in there at once if necessary. We were right below the pool deck and could hear the music above during the day from the balcony, but it wasn't terribly loud, and I did notice some noise from movement of deck chairs above in the evening, but again, only from the balcony, not the room. Great views from the port-side balcony.

Read All Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony (MA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Great Stirrup Cay provided a nice outing although it was quite warm and I regretted not getting a clamshell earlier in the week - they were sold out by the night before. (I knew better from Cruise Critic and then forgot -- darn it!) We brought our own snorkel equipment, and I can tell you that snorkeling with my boys, pointing out colorful fish to each other under the water -- that was one of those blissful memories I will always treasure. I ended up unfortunately feeling ill after a bit and realized I was probably dehydrated after swimming in the sun, so I ended up going to the kitchen area to get water and eventually some $2 Gatorade. (Note: there is NO drinking water at the bars, and the kitchen is a hike from the Hippo Slide area! And a thumbs-down to the woman who saw me at the bar begging for water and when I sat down on the nearest bench, kicked me out of her seat even after I explained that I felt ill and just needed to sit a minute. BOO!) But Mike and the boys enjoyed more snorkeling, swimming, and Hippo Sliding once I assured them that I would be OK, and after almost two hours of sitting in the shade and sipping beverages I was able to eat and eventually resume enjoying my day, but by then everyone else had had enough sun! GSC is still being worked on -- no lazy river yet. I heard that someone said they reserved a cabana, but I wasn't aware of them being available, and the ones I could see from the beach had yellow tape in front of them and it appeared that workers were up there, not loungers, so I'm not sure. I do wish that there was more green on that island -- the dusty/sandy landscape is not all that appealing IMHO.

In Nassau, I was happy to have done my research so I could confidently walk past all the taxi drivers competing loudly for my business. One guy laughed when I said I was taking the Jitney, and another said "OK, Boss Lady." (I liked him.) We walked straight to Bay St. and George St. (one block inland and several to the right) where we caught the #10 Jitney to the Sheraton at Cable Beach. Riding the local transportation was eye-opening...they have fold-down seats that come into the aisle so NO space is wasted, and everyone is nice and cozy together. Most people were friendly, and the other few ignored us. We were glad for the local experience, even my teenager. The Sheraton was lovely -- the reception counter was slow, so it took a little while to get our wristbands, but then we enjoyed the pools, the beautiful beach, and a walk next door to the Wyndham for their pool and waterslide (very fun!) The hippo slide at the Sheraton costs $, and if you ride more than like 4 times, the one at GSC is cheaper. (Especially if you order before your cruise.) We had hoped to stop by the Fish Fry for a meal on our way back, but we left the Sheraton later than we had intended, and then a Jitney driver on the wrong side of the road called to us across the street and convinced us that he would get us to the Fish Fry. Well, he did, but not before going around to a bunch more stops out of the way -- it took 25 minutes to get back to where we had been standing in the first place!!! And then the bus was so crowded, I worried that we might not be able to find one with room after eating, as we had a little over 90 minutes left to eat and get back to the ship. Too close for my comfort, so we stayed on the bus to downtown. After we drove past the Fish Fry I realized we might have been able to walk back, but Mike and I are not in great shape anyway, so we left it alone. We bought some souvenirs in town, and were really bummed about missing out on local food when we entered the building by the ships and saw a conch fritter stand -- hooray! And right next to it, a beverage stand with the local beer, Kalik. The four of us split two yummy orders of fritters plus two beers each for the grown-ups, and my teen bought a soda and realized with glee that there was no tax added to the price. Everyone was happy, happy.
Read 5044 Nassau Reviews

We had planned to just walk to the trolley in Port Canaveral for a cheap trip to either Cocoa Beach or maybe a mini-golf place we had read about, but then the ship docked way on the north side of the port so that we really had to pay for a shuttle or taxi to go anywhere. We drive to Florida every year to see my mother, so we decided there was nothing we wanted to do badly enough to pay a lot to get there (and at 85 degrees, we thought mini-golf might be sweltering) so we stayed on board, played a game of Win, Lose, or Draw (aka Team Pictionary) and then enjoyed the relatively uncrowded pool.

Compare Prices on Norwegian Jewel Bahamas Cruises

Read more Norwegian Jewel cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Norwegian Jewel Review >>

Compare Prices on Norwegian Jewel Bahamas Cruises

Member Since 2011
56 Forum Posts
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money
Skip X

See Norwegian Jewel deals up to 82% off:

October Deals
Norwegian Jewel 74% Loved It

17-day French Polynesia & South Pacific From Papeete
See all Norwegian Jewel Deals >>