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By way of background, my wife and I are a retired couple in our 60's, and have sailed on approximately 20 cruises, most of them of 14-days or longer duration,. We book balcony cabins, and over the years have sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and NCL. This cruise represented our third cruise on NCL and our second on the Jewel, the last being an October 2005 cruise to New England and Eastern Canada shortly after the launching of the Jewel. The 12-day 10/9/06 sailing of the Jewel from Istanbul to Barcelona is the subject of this review, although for us it represented the first leg of back-to-back cruises which continued on from Barcelona to Miami. Our overall impression of NCL and the Jewel was once again favorable, although we found a slight deterioration in some aspects of the experience since our initial Jewel sailing in 2005. We enjoy most aspects of NCL's Freestyle Cruising, particularly having the ability to travel with no dressy clothing on a trip, which for us, represented being away from home for a month. We tend to eat in the same place at the same time, but still enjoy having the option to do otherwise. We dined in two specialty restaurants, Cagney's and Tepanyaki restaurants. Cagney's was a wonderful experience, and we proceeded to book this restaurant for two evenings on the second leg of our cruise. Tepanyakis was a pleasant evening, although we felt the food was rather ordinary and not up to the quality of land based Japanese steak houses. We tended to eat in Tsar's most meals, and avoided the Garden Buffet except when it was the only open venue available. Jewel rotates two captains, and the captain changed mid-cruise in Athens. The new captain is a delightful and personable young gentleman, and both captains added a great deal to the cruising experience. The evening entertainment in the theatre is generally quite good, although we didn't attend all the performances offered. The ports on this cruise were outstanding, and were the primary reason we selected this cruise. We booked two NCL tours and, while they were conducted as well as possible, we were a bit disappointed in how little one sees on a large bus tour in congested ports such as Istanbul and Athens. We used private van tours in Naples and Rome and found them vastly superior and at less cost. Although we enjoyed this cruise immensely, there are two major aspects of it we found disappointing. First of all, NCL has watered down the cruising experience considerably, as have some of the other major lines, and does not offer a great deal to passengers in the way of on board day time entertainment or other small extras once a part of cruising. There is very little in the way of interesting port talks or other lectures of interest previously offered on most cruises. Classes are offered in photography and computer usage, all at a rather steep cost of $30 per class. Internet usage is prohibitively expensive, and not a great deal is included in the cost of the cruise other than a room and meals. I realize the argument that this has kept cruise prices low, and I understand it reflects the efforts of the industry to appeal to a broader market. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that so little is offered in the way of interesting and fun things to do, particularly on a long cruise. During our 2005 sailing, we were very impressed with the quality and the presentation of the food on the Jewel. Unfortunately, since that time, NCL has changed its menus with fewer offerings, and more dishes which one might classify as rather ordinary food, with creative dishes, shrimp cocktails, quality steaks and similar items becoming almost a thing of the past. Frequently we resorted to the Striploin steak and the Caesar Salad which are always available, because we found little of interest on the menu. The approach seems to be, that if you wish something above the ordinary, you may dine in the specialty restaurants for an additional cover charge. My other comment relates to a seeming diminished attention to detail on the Jewel. Our understanding was that in the early months of the Jewel it was staffed with NCL's star hotel manager and its best crew from other ships. Since then, most of these experienced officers and crew have been replaced by others with apparent less experience, and this was reflected in many ways in the overall operation of the ship. Crew members often seemed confused and inexperienced, particularly in the dining rooms, but we had similar experiences at the front desk, tour operations and the like. Although the individuals appeared willing, their inexperience with the task at hand was sometimes evident. All in all, it didn't seem to be the tightly run ship it was in October 2005. To summarize, we enjoyed the Istanbul/Barcelona first leg of our cruise very much, but felt a little touch of sadness that the well run and beautiful Jewel of October 2005 had perhaps slipped a bit in the ensuing year, and hope that the trend toward bare bones cruising will not continue further. Also, we are hopeful that the apparent inattention to small details and the inexperience of many of the Jewel's crew will eventually end, and the ship will return to the glory of its first few months of sailing following its maiden voyage of 2005.

Norwegian Jewel - Eastern Mediterranean

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by MBMiner

Trip Details
By way of background, my wife and I are a retired couple in our 60's, and have sailed on approximately 20 cruises, most of them of 14-days or longer duration,. We book balcony cabins, and over the years have sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and NCL. This cruise represented our third cruise on NCL and our second on the Jewel, the last being an October 2005 cruise to New England and Eastern Canada shortly after the launching of the Jewel.
The 12-day 10/9/06 sailing of the Jewel from Istanbul to Barcelona is the subject of this review, although for us it represented the first leg of back-to-back cruises which continued on from Barcelona to Miami.
Our overall impression of NCL and the Jewel was once again favorable, although we found a slight deterioration in some aspects of the experience since our initial Jewel sailing in 2005. We enjoy most aspects of NCL's Freestyle Cruising, particularly having the ability to travel with no dressy clothing on a trip, which for us, represented being away from home for a month. We tend to eat in the same place at the same time, but still enjoy having the option to do otherwise. We dined in two specialty restaurants, Cagney's and Tepanyaki restaurants. Cagney's was a wonderful experience, and we proceeded to book this restaurant for two evenings on the second leg of our cruise. Tepanyakis was a pleasant evening, although we felt the food was rather ordinary and not up to the quality of land based Japanese steak houses. We tended to eat in Tsar's most meals, and avoided the Garden Buffet except when it was the only open venue available.
Jewel rotates two captains, and the captain changed mid-cruise in Athens. The new captain is a delightful and personable young gentleman, and both captains added a great deal to the cruising experience. The evening entertainment in the theatre is generally quite good, although we didn't attend all the performances offered.
The ports on this cruise were outstanding, and were the primary reason we selected this cruise. We booked two NCL tours and, while they were conducted as well as possible, we were a bit disappointed in how little one sees on a large bus tour in congested ports such as Istanbul and Athens. We used private van tours in Naples and Rome and found them vastly superior and at less cost.
Although we enjoyed this cruise immensely, there are two major aspects of it we found disappointing. First of all, NCL has watered down the cruising experience considerably, as have some of the other major lines, and does not offer a great deal to passengers in the way of on board day time entertainment or other small extras once a part of cruising. There is very little in the way of interesting port talks or other lectures of interest previously offered on most cruises. Classes are offered in photography and computer usage, all at a rather steep cost of $30 per class. Internet usage is prohibitively expensive, and not a great deal is included in the cost of the cruise other than a room and meals. I realize the argument that this has kept cruise prices low, and I understand it reflects the efforts of the industry to appeal to a broader market. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that so little is offered in the way of interesting and fun things to do, particularly on a long cruise.
During our 2005 sailing, we were very impressed with the quality and the presentation of the food on the Jewel. Unfortunately, since that time, NCL has changed its menus with fewer offerings, and more dishes which one might classify as rather ordinary food, with creative dishes, shrimp cocktails, quality steaks and similar items becoming almost a thing of the past. Frequently we resorted to the Striploin steak and the Caesar Salad which are always available, because we found little of interest on the menu. The approach seems to be, that if you wish something above the ordinary, you may dine in the specialty restaurants for an additional cover charge.
My other comment relates to a seeming diminished attention to detail on the Jewel. Our understanding was that in the early months of the Jewel it was staffed with NCL's star hotel manager and its best crew from other ships. Since then, most of these experienced officers and crew have been replaced by others with apparent less experience, and this was reflected in many ways in the overall operation of the ship. Crew members often seemed confused and inexperienced, particularly in the dining rooms, but we had similar experiences at the front desk, tour operations and the like. Although the individuals appeared willing, their inexperience with the task at hand was sometimes evident. All in all, it didn't seem to be the tightly run ship it was in October 2005.
To summarize, we enjoyed the Istanbul/Barcelona first leg of our cruise very much, but felt a little touch of sadness that the well run and beautiful Jewel of October 2005 had perhaps slipped a bit in the ensuing year, and hope that the trend toward bare bones cruising will not continue further. Also, we are hopeful that the apparent inattention to small details and the inexperience of many of the Jewel's crew will eventually end, and the ship will return to the glory of its first few months of sailing following its maiden voyage of 2005.
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