Great ship, poor food/service, too much hard-sell: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by rajeevfromca

Norwegian Jewel 3
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Great ship, poor food/service, too much hard-sell

Sail Date: July 2012
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
Traveled in a group of 16 (half were kids) from Jul 21-28 to Alaska Inside Passage round-trip from Seattle. Overall, even though the ship facilities were good, I would not recommend it for its poor service, poor food quality and too much focus on selling pricey add-ons. It did not help that the Inside Passage itinerary through Sawyer Glacier afforded very little glacier views, and port stops were too bland (especially Skagway).

Ship facilities were excellent, new and welcoming. Colors/designs were a bit gaudy but you get used to it. We were in a mid-ship balcony suite, and it was a good size, lots of storage, good water pressure/temperature in the bathroom -- everything was as expected.

Gym had decent equipment (though half the ellipticals were out of order) and a reasonable schedule of activity classes. Good card room and library, though it filled up quickly at peak hours. Spa looked attractive though I did not use it.

Pool area was large and well More laid out. Two pools with hot water, two hot tubs with even hotter water, a water slide, towel hut, small number of chaise loungers. All in all, a good setup, though it was too windy for me to use it more than once.

There was an outdoor sports court that had activities ongoing and our kids had fun playing soccer and basketball there. There were some ping-pong tables scattered around and floor games in the promenade, but these were always occupied. The sun deck could not be used due to the windy weather.

Stardust theater was excellent, with lots of seating and good views. Nightly shows were of high quality, though the dance/acrobatic routines became repetitive after a while. Could have shown movies during sea days. Lounge music and dance parties were fun too. Atrium, bars and lounges were inviting and well fitted out.

The first time we entered the buffet area, we were overwhelmed with the number of people milling about, with no place to sit. This sense of crowding pervades many other parts of the ship (e.g. card room, gym), which I personally dislike a lot. It is as if you are in a constant rush to get ahead of others to get things for yourself.

The second thing that strikes you is the food quality, or lack of it. There is a lot of variety in the buffet, but very little flavor. You eat to fill your stomach, not to please your palate. Things are slightly better in the sit-down restaurants, but not much. Appallingly, even some of the paid restaurants, such as Italian (Mamas) and Asian (Chin Chin), are disappointing. (In contrast, the Teppanyaki and French were really good, though still pricey.)

The third thing that strikes you is the lack of service. No one helps you find a seat, or bring you water/coffee. Restaurant servers are not very accommodating or knowledgeable. Room service phone is busy constantly (!). Guest service desk is manned poorly, and they focus on restaurant reservations, not general help. The list can go on.

The fourth thing that galls is they are always trying to sell you something. Premium drinks, bingo tickets, gift shop, photos, specialty restaurants, etc. The daily flier had half its real estate devoted to selling things. All shows were prefaced by a sales pitch.

Along with this, the paid items were really quite expensive. Especially drinks. You could hardly touch a drink without dropping $10 a pop! The bars were nice looking, and quality of drinks was not bad, but price was a killer.

The safety drill was a joke. They made a big deal and got everyone together, aggressively policing them to make sure no one uses a phone during the drill, but all they showed was how to put on a life vest. Did not show location of lifeboats, or instructions about them.

Kids programs were not a hit with our kids at all. They felt it was like a prison, where they had to do very specific activities as if in school. They were a little too strict about kids and what age group could do what in each facility.

We got some wine in our luggage, thinking we will pay corkage on board (per their policy). They held our bags and did not deliver to our room, rather left a note saying they "suspect" we have brought liquor on board, as if it were illegal. I went down and they asked me to unpack, pull out the bottles and pay corkage right there. It made me feel almost criminal! A very shoddy way to deal with this. Worse, since it was so late in the day, I dragged the bags to my room myself -- they did not even offer to help. This is the worst experience of the whole trip.

The other lowlight was when we got close to Sawyer Glacier, the ship did not get close enough nor lingered long enough to get a good look, claiming we were late in our schedule. What? We came all the way to Alaska to see glaciers, and they could not spend an extra hour to get us a good sighting? Sawyer is not a very impressive glacier, and I have heard Glacier Bay is a lot better, and some even see ice calving there. A real miss! Less

Published 08/03/12

Cabin review: MA11038 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Excellent location -- highest deck for cabins, mid-ship access, close to gym/spa/library/card room/buffet. Quick elevator access to other areas. Plenty of drawers/closet storage. Beds were firm and comfortable. Balcony was a good size (door was very hard to open though!). TV nothing to speak of (extremely small, repetitive programming). Bathroom was excellent. Decent size, great water pressure and temperature (almost too hot at times). Room was generally quiet (no sound leakage from adjacent rooms), but in the mornings, there was pounding sound from the upstairs deck, and at night, I could hear the creaks of the ship.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Hired a local taxi for a 4-hr tour. Saw lots of salmon in a local creek, but not bears. Saw abandoned gold mine entrance, panning in the stream, etc. Drove to Mendenhall Glacier, and hiked to the waterfalls to get a close-up view of the glacier. Quite impressive.
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Hired a local taxi for a 3-hr tour. Saw lots of bald eagles, but no salmon or bears. Went to Totem Bight park to see native culture. Was ok, but not too exciting. Kids saw Lumberjack Show which they enjoyed. We strolled through the downtown streets which were pretty.
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White Pass Scenic Railway

The town is pretty bland, with a couple of streets full of souvenir shops. The train is over-hyped. Yes, it is scenic, going through mountains. But that is it. After 30-minutes, it all seems the same. Sitting through it for 3 hrs, and paying $120 per person seems like an overkill. Ship was in port from 7a-5p which is too long for such a boring town.

Walked to downtown. Wife did high tea at Fairmont Empress (pricey, but arty). Inner harbor and Govt St area is quite nice. Pedestrian friendly, scenic harbor with Parliament building backdrop. Took a taxi to Butchart Gardens, which were also very beautiful.
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