The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, CA with stops in Astoria, OR and San Francisco, CA. The entire cruise was marked with excellent weather. I traveled to Vancouver the day before and got a small hotel room within walking distance of the ship at Ballantyne Pier. The hotel was an older one in a part of Vancouver where you did not want to be out at night, but it was okay as a transit room. The day of the cruise was uncommonly sunny for Vancouver, so I walked to the ship. My first view of the ship was incredible. I was one of the first people to queue up to check in at the pier and had to wait about a half an hour, but the check-in started right on schedule. Security wasn't as onerous as I was anticipating, so check-in went smoothly. The crew of the Jewel were still getting setup for embarkation, so there was not much going on. The Garden Buffet was open and I had some time to kill before my interior stateroom was ready so I went up to get some lunch. The amount of food was incredible, and it was good quality. The staff was attentive but went about their duties unless called for. I probably ate more than I had intended, but after walking about exploring the ship my stateroom was ready. The view of cruising under the Lionsgate Bridge leaving Vancouver was incredible.
The next day, our luck with the weather held crossing the Columbia River Bar and the sea was calm. Astoria is an interesting port; I took the Historic Astoria and Fort Clatsop tour that went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum (a great stop if you're interested in history), the Astor Column (not for those afraid of heights) and Fort Clatsop (where the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered over in 1805-1806 until leaving that spring to return to Missouri). The departure from Astoria was just as calm.
After Astoria was the first full day at sea. The first somewhat noticeable waves started today, but the Jewel easily kept steady. There was plenty to do, even if all you wanted to do was walk about the ship and see what was going on. The ship's schedule was provided to each cabin the previous evening, so it was easy to mark out what you wanted to do. I participated in the trivia challenges and attended a display of the cooks form the main premium restaurants. That evening was the Formal Evening for those who wanted to dress up. I did so and had an excellent roast beef dinner in the main dining room.
We pulled in to San Francisco early in the morning, but there was no fog so the view of the Golden Gate Bridge still lit up at night was incredible, as was the San Francisco waterfront early in the morning. On our way in we passed the fishing vessels that provide the fresh seafood San Francisco is known for. I had spent more money than I had allowed for getting to Vancouver, so I spent the day on board ship. Even being in port there was still plenty to do. I had made a reservation for La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on board, and had the best Chicken Parmesan while the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. A moment to remember, always.
The fourth day was spent cruising off the coast of Southern California. I attended an art lecture given by the senior auctioneer who was the head of the art auction later that afternoon. I kept my hands in place and admired the art I liked. The auction house, Park West, gave free prints for attending the auction. The Jewel pulled into Los Angeles in the Port of San Pedro early the next morning. We woke up to find ourselves moored right behind the USS Iowa museum. Very cool. I would have toured the old battleship if I didn't have a reservation for the bus from the pier to LAX that morning. Disembarkation was simple; my bags were waiting for me on the pier, and clearing US Customs took only a few moments. I found my bus and was soon on my way home.
Small, but it didn't feel crowded. I went by myself, so it would have felt more crowded with more than one person. When I do it again, I'll get either an oceanview or balcony stateroom.