Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Journeygirl
- Sail Date: December 2014
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
We also compiled a list of pros and cons we'd like to share with other potential travelers. It always helps us to read the reviews and we hope our experiences might prepare future travelers for what they might expect on the NCL Jewel.
* Embarkation and Disembarkation in Houston went smoothly, very organized, nice new cruise terminal hub, parking was easy.
* Overall the Staff was great! Very friendly and helpful. We loved our room steward, Mia! However, there were days that rooms weren't made up until noon or later (maybe too many rooms for 1 steward?)
* Speaking of rooms...they are TINY. When sharing a Balcony with 3 or 4 (even when the 3rd and 4th are children) the room is "all bed" !! When prepared for the evening, you can't get to the balcony doors... definitely a negative...
* We loved the coffeepot in the room! Only cruise we've ever traveled that had coffee in the room... Big Thumbs Up!
* We didn't love the plumbing issues that 4 of our balcony cabins encountered... maintenance was quick to respond, but several days of plumbing issues got old. Guest services was very apologetic and offered us an evening at The Steakhouse (specialty restaurant) to make up for the inconvenience.
* Dining... Breakfast in the Garden Cafe Buffet was perhaps our favorite. Loved the variety and it was very good. Also loved the Crepe station in the evening (Chocolate Crepes with WhipCream and Powdered Sugar is now my fav!) Lunch and Dinner in the Garden cafe was average. Loved that staff was at all doors with hand sanitizer... "Washy, washy, Happy, happy!"
* Evening Dinner in the Tsar's Palace was fair. We were traveling with a large family group and made reservations every evening for 8pm. Our tables were always ready, but the meal usually drug out for 2 hours or better. Not sure why our service was so slow. Often the wait staff got our orders mixed up and the food was just average. We wonder if the cruise line is trying to push guests to the specialty restaurants (extra surcharge). There were moments they got everything right. The chocolate dessert night was one (except they ran out of my dessert and had to substitute another, which was just as scrumptious to be honest). And a Big Shout-out to Chester, the assistant waiter who went out of his way to make things right (as much as possible). Note: Read all menu descriptions... we had several dishes that we were not at all what we were expecting, escargo and chicken alfredo to name two... made for humorous memories but not tasty eating!
* The Specialty Restaurants... Some of us ate at the Steakhouse, La Cucina and Teppenyaki. Meals here were excellent and the wait staff was very attentive. Not sure if the food was worth the extra charge, but the ambience was nice.
* Room Service... Menu was very limited and the 2 occasions we used it, the wait was over 45 minutes. It might have been easier to go up to the Garden Cafe, get our meal and bring it back to our room. Also the pizza was an additional cost for Room Service, $5 per pizza (but free up in the Garden Cafe, go figure)
* One of our family members is on a Gluten-Free Diet and here NCL did everything right!
Kelli was given a personal Dietary Assistant for the cruise and almost without fail, every meal in the restaurant was great. However it was almost impossible to eat in the Garden Café Buffet, nothing is marked. The dietary assistant told her to call her directly before eating in any of the sit-down restaurants and she would bring the menu to her. Also she arranged for Kelli to look at the next day’s menu for our evening meal and pre-order it the night before. Very nice. One other nice perk is that the gluten-free pizzas on the room service menu are free of charge (rather than the $5 for everyone else!) Note: you must notify NCL of your dietary restrictions at least 30 days prior to sailing.
* Entertainment was enjoyable for all ages... Loved the Russian Duo "Deja Vu" and also the comedian David Naster. The comedic juggler, Scotty Cavanaugh was very good too. The children in our group also enjoyed the activities with Dora and all the Nickolodean characters.
* The "Kids-Only" Hot tub was a great idea and we liked that staff did "police" the other hot tubs to encourage children to give the adults their space :-)
* There is no free Sauna or Steam room on the NCL Jewel. It is $149 for the week. That being said, the Sauna/Steam room is extremely nice and was enjoyed very much by our dad.
* The professional photographers on the ship as a whole did a great job. We all have some great pics of us individually and as couples... However, when we all got together on formal night (23 of us!) for family pics, we were pretty disappointed in the photographer. He did a very poor job of arranging our family on the grand-staircase and seemed almost bored with his job. Granted, we were a big family, but this is their bread-and-butter! We bought a lot of pics, would have been so much happier if that particular photographer would have taken a little bit more time working with us. It's not often we can get the whole family together and this cruise was about making memories...
* Note for anyone traveling with a wheelchair...Hallways are narrow. Everyday when the room stewards were cleaning rooms, their cleaning carts, dirty laundry bags and other items lined the hallways, making wheelchair travel an adventure to say the least...
* We stopped in 3 ports of call... Cozumel, Belize City and Trujillo. Had a great time in each port, but chose to do independent excursions, so we don't have any reviews for NCL's excursions. Leaving and re-boarding the ship was well-organized, but prepare for lines to re-board if you wait too long in the afternoon. We docked at the pier in Cozumel, but had to tender in at Belize and Trujillo. The tender service was excellent, very smooth and well run.
Our family loved the week together. It was wonderful to just relax and not worry about the meals, cleaning, etc. We have traveled on other cruise lines and feel that NCL is just about average. Their service was excellent, the ship décor very pleasing and the entertainment enjoyable. However, service in the main dining rooms, along with menu options/taste, and the cabin issues, i.e. plumbing problems and the cabin's tiny size, as well having to pay for the steam/sauna room really did have an impact on our experience with the NCL Jewel.
Overall, it was a great Christmas cruise and the memories we have will keep us smiling for a long time.
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