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.