From Carnival to Norwegian: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Gulf Coast Fanatic
Overall Member Rating
From Carnival to Norwegian
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: New Orleans
Embarkation from N.O. was same as always; actually much quicker this time, as we were later(ish) in getting to the port. We usually arrive at 11:00 and wait in line, however this time we didn't arrive until 2:30; walked right through w/ no lines, awesome! Only issue I had was going through the scanners, the port security guy confiscated a pocket knife out of my wife's purse that I had given her some years ago. He stared at it and said "yep, longer than 4 inches". I looked at him and sarcastically said something to the effect of "Yeah you keep telling yourself that". He told me they'd "mail it back to us". I laughed and said "whatever". They never took our address. I then looked at my wife and LOUDLY said "You'll never see it again". I've taken that More knife on 3 previous cruises w/ no problem...it is legal length. I am also a police officer and really wanted to just snap on those $6 an hour nose picking security guards, but decided against it...it was time to get on the ship and have fun.
Anyway we boarded the ship and went straight to our room. Deck 4, room with a porthole window. Nice room, although considerably smaller than rooms on Carnival (didn't care). They knew it was our honeymoon and said we'd get some kind of gift. So we enter the room, and sure enough there is a bottle of wine, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries (that were INCREDIBLE!), and a card to take to the dining room for a free cake. Very nice indeed! Funny thing is, we also had TWO seperate single beds! We just laughed. I mean, we've been together for 16 years and just now got married, so no biggie, still though... :-) I was very impressed with the bathroom. Much more elegant than Carnival's pepto bismol pink bathrooms.
LAYOUT: Ok so we tour the ship to get to know the layout. Very different from Carnival, but we found it VERY easy to navigate. Basically, everything you need is on decks 7 and 12. Easy enough. Ship was very nice and well thought out (layout wise). We frequented the shop daily and nightly (after lunch and dinner, kind of our routine). The gift shop, "Trade Winds" I believe it is called, is HUGE! Just before entering the shop, you'll walk through the hallway where they put all the pictures they take on display (starboard side).
DINING: We ate lunch in the main buffet (I'm awful with names, I think it was called the Garden something). VERY good food for cruise ship buffets...much better than Carnival. It was also a MUCH better layout. Carnival's is a single file line, where as this is more of an open room with multiple buffet tables. So much easier to navigate, w/ little to no lines. And who doesn't love WASHY WASHY and the songs!? Fine dining we jumped back and forth between the Azura and the T'czar (again, names?). The Azura is a bit cramped and more contemporary, where as the T'czar was very, very nice. On a side note, if you're an ice cream lover like myself, the T'czar serves it in larger glasses :-) Unlike the buffet, food quality in the fine dining was......ok. Presentation was nice, but the selection and quality were mediocre. We dressed up every night, and went there more for the experience than the food. We didn't do any of the "pay" dining; we've paid a lot already, and find it ridiculous to pay additionally.
SHOWS: We went to a few, and loved them all. The Band on The Run was the best (imo). I found myself drooling over on of their dancers, Kate Barrett. I'm not gonna lie, she is gorgeous, and can dance like no other. My wife didn't mind, she just occasionally rolled her eyes and would say something to the extent of "you're a dork" :-)
PORTS: Cozumel, this was our 3rd time there. We love it, but decide to wing it (did that at all the ports). We each rented a scooter for 30 bucks each and took off. A couple of hours later, my wife wrecks hers. Long story short, we had to go to an ATM and get $400 to pay for the damages. Ugh, but, it is what it is I guess. Cozumel is beautiful, and we ate at Margaritaville.
Belize, we shopped. I bought a very nice Bulova watch for a ridiculous low price!
Roatan, BEAUTIFUL. We rented a "cab" and toured the island. Technically it was a 1992 Corolla w/ a driver, a guide, and us. Long narrow windy roads full of potholes. But we loved it! Tipped the driver and guide and they cried (!?). Reason is, the $ exchange rate is 20:1!
Costa Maya: BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL! The port there is wonderful...dolphins, a small beach, a long windy pool, shopping, and of course Senior Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Here's a tip, don't eat at Senior Frogs...they are smoking crack when it comes to their food prices ($15.50 for a burger).
Debarkation was 10 minutes from ship to car! I am NOT lying about that! Could not believe it.
We chose Norwegian this time to try a change. It was nice, no doubt. Most notably is the clientele, which is obviously due to the price. There was, however, a LARGE group that was on the ship, "Auqafest". It is a gay group. Supposedly they made up %25 of the passengers...we found it to be more like %50. Neither of us could care less, but I have to admit, by the end of the cruise I had had enough of the overweight, hairy men in speedo's making out. The (adult) pool was over run with them day and night. Luckily there weren't many children on board, as it was not exactly family friendly.
Also, for you first time cruisers, the sales pitch you get EVERYWHERE, both on the ship as well as ports, does tend to get old. Just thought I'd throw that in there.
In conclusion, we had a wonderful time. Was the price difference worth leaving Carnival to change to Norwegian? No. I think we'll go back to Carnival, but if given the opportunity would jump right back on board Norwegian again. Less