Norwegian Jewel - Western Caribbean: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by CanyonDweller
Overall Member Rating
Norwegian Jewel - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
We arrived at Miami Cruise Port at about 10:30 am and embarkation was a breeze. We would have been on board quite early if it hadnt been for the fact the Rosie ODonnell and friends arrived to watch the premiere of her HBO documentary about the first gay family cruise. It wasnt that long of a wait though and we were on board and relaxing poolside around noon. We normally book an outside or balcony cabin but this time decided to try an inside due to the fact that we are in our cabin very little and thought why spend the extra money if on a cabin when we can spend it in the ports instead. The cabin was just fine and we will probably book inside again. The Jewel is absolutely beautiful and the staff very friendly.
Since it is a sister ship to the Star it was very easy for us to find our way around. There were only minor differences (the locations of the Blue Lagoon and Photo Gallery were different for example) but not much else was different. The dining was excellent (we ate at Tsars Palace, Chin Chins and Cagneys as well as the Garden Cafe buffet and poolside). The Surf and Turf at Cagneys was the 2nd best meal I have ever had in my lifetime and the service was wonderful and prompt. We ate each night at 6:00 pm so the venues were never crowded and the service was always prompt and efficient.
We ate early so that we could make the first show at 7:30. The first show never seems to be as crowded. Two of the shows (Band on the Run and Cirque Bijou) were the two best we have seen on our 5 cruises. All of the shows were very good but those two were outstanding. I believe several of the performers were on the Star last year.
As far as the ports are concerned we enjoyed them all. After a day at sea our first stop was Roatan Honduras. Roatan was very nice even though it started out a little shaky. We had made arrangements with Coco View Resort to be picked up at the dock so we could go to their resort and enjoy some snorkeling and beach time but by 9:20 am (we docked at 8:00 am) their driver still had not arrived. One of the taxi dispatchers (a very nice lady whose name I cannot remember) suggested we try Half Moon Bay on the West End. She hooked us up with a wonderful young man named Ricky. Ricky was very nice and willing to share info on his island and its history. After about a 20-25 minute drive we arrived at Half Moon Bay and Ricky introduced us to our waiter, Shim. We were able to enjoy some wonderful snorkeling right off the shore and then enjoyed a great lunch. My wife and I shared a sampler platter of local fares (conch, beef, chicken etc.) and on top of that I ordered the lobster. The sampler was $22.00 and well worth it (we could not finish it all which rarely happens when Im on vacation) and the lobster was only $18.50 for 3 good sized tails. I finished the tails with the help of 4 local stray cats. I would highly recommend Half Moon Bay (www.halfmoonbaycabins.com) and we look forward to returning to Roatan some day. The people of Roatan are very, very friendly and one thing we really appreciated was that fact that the cab drivers were not pushy as they are in some other ports. While waiting for the Coco View driver to show up we were approached by several drivers and when we told them that we did not need a cab they simply said OK and walked away.
Grand Cayman was next and we just shopped and snorkeled again. I had read on one of the boards about a snorkel/dive site only a few hundred feet from the dock called Eden Rock. I did not feel like carrying our snorkel gear around with us all day so after several hours exploring the town we made our way there (look for a green roofed cafe called Paradise to the right of the docks as you are disembarking) and rented gear for $12.00 (unlimited time). Again I would highly recommend this spot for it's beauty and ease of use for snorkeling and diving.
In Jamaica we had booked a private tour with Marva Shaw (www.knowjamaica.com) but unfortunately Marva was called off the island and unable to make it. She instead sent one of her drivers, a young man named Shabba. Shabba was wonderful and for the price of a single shore excursion ($80.00) he was at or disposal all day to take us anywhere we wanted to go. We did Dunns River Falls, Fern Gully and shopping. For lunch we asked Shabba where he would eat (we are not into the chains like Hard Rock Cafe etc...) so he took us to a local place called The Ranch. Great food served on paper plates which sits just fine with me! Thanks for a wonderful day Shabba!! After a day at sea we arrived at Great Stirrup Cay (NCLs private island) and loved it. It was very relaxing and again some wonderful snorkeling. We were on the second tender in so we had no trouble locating a hammock under the palms which my wife utilized all day while I spent most of my time in the water. It was the perfect last day of a cruise.
Disembarkation was a breeze as we were off the ship early due to the fact that we put a deposit down on our next cruise and were the second group called to disembark. We called Tonys Transportation once off the ship and were back at the Ramada Inn by 9:00 am. All in all this was the nicest, most enjoyable and relaxing of our 5 cruises. Although one of our goals is to try all of the cruise lines we are having a hard time getting away from NCL. We really enjoy Freestyle Cruising and our two experiences have been great. Less
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